Friday, November 16, 2012

Memoirs of Movember: Day 16

Day 16
Ahhh, Friday. Time to break from the stress of work and concentrate on growing moustaches.  My son decided to join today's Movember picture while wearing a racoon hat. I wonder if I could get my stache as soft and fluffy as that hat? Anyway, I am over halfway through the month and I still haven't had an excuse to by some stache wax for shaping and/or moulding. Would be nice to try some sort of braid as well, unfortunately this month is not long enough for that. I can't believe how many students have stopped me in the hall and said, "nice moustache!". Fortunately I am poor at judging sarcasm, so I will assume that "sick moustache" means that it looks pretty fantastic.

If We Survive by Andrew Klavan

          If We Survive is a story about a group of young people along with their pastor that travelled to small South American country to help rebuild a school that rebels (called the Volcanoes) have destroyed. The country happened to be on the verge of a revolution while the young people were down there. Soon before they were ready to leave, they find themselves running for their lives in danger of being executed from the rebels. They seem to find new perilous circumstances around every corner, battling nature and an army of rebels.
          I generally enjoy Andrew Klavan books. Andrew's previous release (Crazy Dangerous) was a great mystery, and had my attention the whole way through, it kept you guessing. I was hoping for similar intrigue  and mystery that Crazy Dangerous provided it's readers when I requested to review If We Survive. I was disappointed with the mystery aspect, the only mystery in this book are the characters and how they became the way they are. That being said, this was not labelled in the mystery genre, it is a young adult adventure book, and for that genre If We Survive delivers.

           You will find the book to be a page turner with action from beginning to the end. I enjoyed the character development and growth that you would expect to see in young people going through a traumatic experience. The book felt like it was telling a non-fiction story and that made it all the more interesting to me. All in all, I enjoyed the book and I am exited to share it with a few young people that I know will enjoy it. 4/5 stars.

This book was provided to me for free by Thomas Nelson's reviewers program, for my honest review.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Dreams and Visions by Tom Doyle

Dreams and Visions by Tom Doyle
I was interested when I first saw this book because I have heard many similar stories through various conversations with people. I wanted to hear the first hand accounts, and this book delivers what I was hoping to read. Not only does it provide us with well documented stores of encounter from around the world (and it is divided as such), the author gives us a good explanation of the culture around which this is happening; understanding the context enhances the power of these encounters. 
Tom Doyle clearly has taken the time to research and understand the culture behind this particular people group. This has allowed him to thread these stories together seamlessly.

The premise of the book is that, there are Muslims around the world that are unreachable, so Jesus is taking it into his own hands and reaching out to them in dreams, visions and encounters.

You will read about extreme Muslims and those you would lease expect, turning to Jesus. You will also encounter Jesus heart for people as you read this book. Jesus' central message in the dreams and visions is simply, "follow me because I'm the true God" and "I love you" over and over again.  We then see him providing many ways for them to receive answers to their questions, through other Christians in disguise and Bibles showing up when they need them.

The only flaw with the book is that it often goes into too much detail that does not always seem necessary. It could have got to the points a lot quicker with slightly less background of the individuals and had more impact. Ideally it could have been a bit more like "Foxe's Book of Martyrs" style, with the main points of the events stated in a short summary.  If you don't know much about Muslim people and God's plan for the nations, I would recommend picking it up. 4.5 stars.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Review: 90 Devotions for Kids: Adventures in Odyssey

I was really looking forward to a devotional book for my kids, they love Bible stories and it would be nice to have an aid to apply the themes behind the stories. I have to be honest, I was a little disappointed  when I received this book in the mail. Not because the content was bad, but simply because my kids seem to be a little to young to benefit from the book. My oldest is 6 years old and I was hoping there would be some pictures to go with the stories. and colour, but this book does not provide either. Also the book refers time to time to the Adventures in Odyssey characters and stories, and my kids have not seen either.

All my personal disappointment aside (not being able to put it to use right away), I thought the devotionals were great when geared toward older kids.  The stories are short enough, engaging, and Bible based. All of the devotions have themes, challenges, memory verses, and activities to keep the kids engaged and walking out what they learn in the devotionals. I know a few kids at the proper age that will benefit from my gift. I just wish the book would give the age appropriateness.

For Older Kids: 5/5

FTC DISCLOSURE: I received this book for free from Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for an honest review. I was not obligated to write a positive review.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Book Review: The River by Michael Neale

It's rare to come across a book that "flows" the way The River does.  This novel is not just a story but it is like immersing yourself in a song. Michael Neale has brilliantly woven a wonderful story into a work of art.
The River is a story about a young man that has witnessed a life altering tragedy in a river at the age of 5 and his journey to healing that brings him back to the same place he began. I found myself unable to put the book down, it was no work to read through the story and you find yourself enjoying every page.

This novel has no content in it, that feels like filler, you will find yourself immersed in the story the whole way through.  Although, I understand a lot of the parallels the author was trying to convey in the story that have to do with life; I don't think it was necessary for the enjoyment of the book. The book is blatantly allegorical but it doesn't take away from the book. It reads like a story your grandfather might read to you while sitting at his feet.
It is hard to believe that this is Micahel Neale's first novel, but after reading it you can understand why he is a songwriter.

For people that just want to hear a good story, I would definitely recommend this book to you. I find it a hard book to review because it feels like I would be revealing a perspective on a work of art. I believe parts to the story that any person can find themselves connecting with.
I can't remember when I last gave 5/5 stars on a book. Check it out!

I received this book free for my honest review from

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Book Review: Serpent of Moses by Don Hoesel

Serpent of Moses by Don Hoesel is a adventure novel about Jack Hawthorne who recovered part of Moses' staff (The Nehushtan), but he ends up getting captured in the process. His friends are looking for him and he is looking for a way out, but can he get out with the artifact or will he lose it to the others that want it?

I have not come across enough Christian author's that can write a "Indiana Jonesesque" novel that is worthy of the genre. When I saw this book available, I did not know it was the second in a series, so I went out and bought the first (Elisha's Bones). I loved the first book. It was everything you could ask for in an adventure novel and the fact that they were pursuing a biblical artifact made it all the more appealing to me.
The second book took much longer for me to get through, partly because I had less time to read it and partly because it was not as good as the first in the series. The writing in both books is great, the characters are as well. The reason why I found the second book to be much more exiting is because of the pursuit of the relic itself. The first book you are going through Jack Hawthorne's adventures exited to see how he is going to retrieve Elisha's Bones. In the second book, you are given a scene where he has found it immediately and the rest of the book becomes a pursuit of Jack himself. I found it took away from the mystery and anticipation in the book, the last chapter got interesting but it took me a long time to get there.
If Don Hoesel continued in writing more Jack Hawthorne novels, I would be curious to see where he goes with it. Hopefully he can reclaim the adventure and mystery of the first novel.

I would give the first book 4.5 out of 5 and the second a little less than 3.5 out of 5.

I received this book free for my honest review courtesy of Bethany House Publishers
A Division of Baker Publishing Group

Friday, August 31, 2012

Review: Safely Home by Randy Alcorn

This is a story about 2 men with a history together. One man was American, one was from China. They went to school when they were younger and life circumstances took them to different paths. The American with a broken marriage and a lot of money/success, the China man quite the opposite, in fact having to live underground for his faith. The American's job takes him on a journey to that which he finds he could take advantage of his old friendship with his pal in China.

It took me a LONG time to get through this one, I was reading other books during this time that had me more interested. While it had aspects of interesting story line piqued my intererest once and a while, it was never able to fully grab my attention.  I could see an appeal to a certain audience, I am a huge fan of the "Heavenly Man" book. But in knowing this book is a work of inspired fiction, I just could not bring myself to be interested. Perhaps this is because I have read "The Heavenly Man by Brother Yun".
Other than my personal opinion of the book, it was well written and Randy Alcorn knows how to put together a story.
3/5 stars for me

I received this book free for my review from Tyndale House Publishers.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Hiking Through: Finding Peace and Freedom on the Appalachian Trail by Paul V. Stutzman
Hiking through is true a story of Paul V. Stutzman’s  journey  hiking the entire length of the Appalachian Trail (AT). Paul was a successful Restaurant manager that found himself in difficult times with the loss of his wife to cancer.  With the loss of his wife it seemed like a good time to fulfill his lifelong dream of hiking the AT, also taking a hike with the feeling that God wanted to meet him along the journey.
As much as I love hiking, I have never done anything more than 10 km’s let alone 3500 km’s.  I have not read any other books on a similar type journey, so I have nothing to compare it to. That being said, I enjoyed the journey that Paul takes you on. This book has opened my  eyes to a whole other culture and community of hikers out there that I never knew existed. As you read through you can feel yourself being drawn into this culture and understanding why they do what they do.  Paul does a wonderful job describing the scenes and personalities that he meets along the way.
Hiking Through has it all: humour, adventure, excitement and grief; all weaved brilliantly into a true story. Paul does a wonderful job giving you a glimpse into his inner struggles, feelings and thoughts on his journey and life in general along the way.  He does a wonderful job comparing his hike to his past life and the paradox that it creates.
This book is not simply about hiking. This book is about relationships, hardships, victories, determination and finding God through it all.  Paul finds himself meeting different people on the journey, he goes through many difficulties, he climbs mountains and walks valleys; there are times he wants to give up and times where he needs help to make it through. The whole journey that Paul takes could represent everyone’s journey in life with its ups and downs and relationships, that’s what makes it appealing to readers that are not necessarily hikers.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through Baker Publishing Group : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Monday, April 23, 2012

BOOK REVIEW: Crazy Dangerous by Andrew Klavan

I have never read a book by Andrew Klaven before, but I noticed that he wrote the novel, True Crime, that was turned into a Clint Eastwood movie. The last few novels I have read we're disappointing; it has been a long time since i have read one of those books that you just cannot put down. I was excited to try an author that was new to me and has been proven successful. When I received, Crazy Dangerous, I was not disappointed.  From the beginning of this novel until the end it was hard to put down.

Crazy dangerous is a novel about a 16 year old pastors kid named Sam. As a typical teenager struggling with identity, Sam is faced with many difficult situations that seem to get him into more trouble and even more difficult situations. He then encounters a girl his age named Jennifer.  Jennifer has demonic hallucinations in which Sam finds himself getting directly involved.  Are these the hallucinations of a schizophrenic? Or are they a foreshadowing of events that lead to tragedy. The writing is fabulous, its an easy read. The book has twists, turns and filled with mystery that will have you not wanting to put the book down.

 I am now an Andrew Klaven fan and I am looking forward to picking up more of his books.

I recieved this book free from Thomas Nelson's program for my honest review

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

DVD Review

DVD Review: Three Hearts

Presented by Samaritan’s Purse, Features Cissie Graham-Lynch, and Directed by Arthur Rasco

Three hearts is a documentary, chronicling three Mongolian youth (aged 3, 16,18) with heart defects and their journey to America to get surgery.  The organization is called Children's Heart Project from Samaritan's Purse, an organization spear headed by Franklin Graham's daughter, Cissie Graham Lynch.  I had know idea what this DVD was about when I put it into my DVD player, but it did not take long before I was engrossed in this documentary that was emotional, joyful, hopeful and spiritual.  Here you have three children that are on the road to a certain early grave with little hope. No surgical hospitals, little money, little resources and an absence of the knowledge that there is a loving Father God. All of this changes when they are chosen to be part of The Children's Heart Project. 
The documentary takes you from family life in Mongolia to the American hosts in Texas. You will find your self jealous for the compassion you see in the people involved. The best part was seeing the children  the families changed by the love and hope that they find in Christ.

While this documentary is clearly a project aimed at getting people involved in support and prayer and perhaps giving current supporters a glimpse into what they are sowing into, it was encouraging to see what work IS being done, and it causes you heart to be filled with compassion.

This DVD was provided free from the reviewers program for my honest review.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Book Review: Chasing Mona Lisa by Tricia Goyer and Mike Yorkey

Chasing Mona Lisa is a war time tale of adventure, action and conspiracy.  The Nazis are invading Paris and pillaging their history and culture and shipping out of Paris.  With Paris on the brink of Liberation who will preserve what is left? Are the precious artworks in Paris safe now that Paris is liberated, is it really liberated and free from the Third Reich?  Swiss OSS agents Eric Hofstadler and Gabi Mueller are on the chase to recover one of the worlds most famous and valued paintings; The Mona Lisa.

I am a big fan of Historical Fiction. This book gives us a very realistic picture into World War II in Paris, you can read from the descriptions that there has been a lot of research put into creating this novel. The author(s) do/does a great job putting you into the story and imagining what it was like at the time. What is lacking in the novel is the character development. To be fair, when I received the novel, I was not aware that the man characters (Eric and Gabi) were in a previous novel by the same authors. There very well may have been a lot of character development in the first novel;  as a stand alone novel I found it very difficult to connect to the characters. This book is full of action, but it was difficult to get me on the edge of my seat because I have no attachment to the characters.

The downfall of this novel may also be it's strength, it iswell researched.  Sometimes it was a little too much information, and I found out more about the war than I did about the plot of the story. With a bit better balance in research and integration of plot and character development, it would have made for a better read.
A fan of war time novels, I could see really enjoying this book. I also don't see much of a connection to the novel being labelled as a Christian Novel. I don't strictly read Christian Novels, but I don't know why this book would be in this category, save for the modest language and content.

This is not a bad book, it is not a must read either. I wish I would have read the first novel by these authors first, to see if there was any more character development.

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.
Available at your favourite bookseller a division of Baker Publishing Group

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Book Review: The Emancipation of Robert Sadler by Robert Sadler with Marie Chapian

         I've read other stories about slavery in the US south. Many of those stories were inspiring, shocking and stories that leave you dumb founded by the capability of evil in the human heart. The Emancipation of Robert Sadler is all of this and more. What I found in this book that is lacking in many of the others is the stories of the way God was moving and did miracles in the midst of slavery.  How God enabled Robert to overcome in the midst of evil and become a messenger and a powerful man of God that will lead at least hundreds to the Kingdom.

       I finished this book feeling my lack and my ignorance of the ever speaking voice of God. Robert's obedience to heed the word of the Lord by always having an ear open to hear God's voice and to act upon it, left me in prayer for the same manifest in my life. I was pleasantly surprised to see a large section on which Robert visited my city (Winnipeg, Canada) and a reservation that my foster brother is from.  Who knows how Robert's visit that many years ago had an effect on where my brother's walk with the Lord today.
        The book itself is a very easy read, I finished it in a matter of 3 days. It will leaving hanging on every word. It takes you through his life as a slave, his freedom, and his ministry.  I recommend this book to everyone, simply because slavery did not end with the US south. There is today the largest slavery movement happening on your front doorstep; it's called human trafficking and the sex slave trade. Be rest assured that there are similar stories going on even now with what you will find in The Emancipation of Robert Sadler.  It will leave you inspired and hopefully open up your eyes to the Lord's ability to use anyone he chooses.  

You will find this book sitting on my shelf beside another inspiring story with many similarities; "The Same Kind of Different As Me".

"Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.
Available at your favourite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group