25 May 2011

Churched by Matthew Paul Turner

He spent his childhood trapped within the confines of countless bizarre, strict rules. And lived to tell about it.

In this first-hand account, author Matthew Paul Turner shares amusing–sometimes cringe-worthy–and poignant stories about growing up in a fundamentalist household, where even well-intentioned contemporary Christian music was proclaimed to be “of the devil.”
Churched is a collection of stories that detail an American boy’s experiences growing up in a culture where men weren’t allowed let their hair grow to touch their ears (“an abomination!”), women wouldn’t have been caught dead in a pair of pants (unless swimming), and the pastor couldn’t preach a sermon without a healthy dose of hellfire and brimstone. Matthew grapples with the absurdity of a Sunday School Barbie burning, the passionate annual boxing match between the pastor and Satan, and the holiness of being baptized a fifth time–while growing into a young man who, amidst the chaotic mess of religion, falls in love with Jesus. 
I wanted to like this book.  I couldn't wait for it to come.  I dived right into it the minute I received it and...well.  Let me start off by saying that it's a funny book to a lot of people. I know because I've read their reviews.  Other reviewers loved this book. It's been tagged as poignant, hilarious, truthful and refreshing.  Really?  Am I reading the same book?  Because I didn't get any of that out of this book. I got bored.  Maybe because I am a lifelong Californian.  Maybe you need to be from the bible belt to get this book.  I didn't find the author compelling or even engaged in the story he is telling.  AND  it's his story.  His memoir. If he isn't engaged in it then how can a reader get engaged? I may give this book a second chance as I was also reading the superb "Skin Map" simultaneously so maybe one outshone the other.  I don't know.  It's a great premise and has great promise but in this reviewers humble opinion it fell way short of the mark.
“I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review”.

The Skin Map by Steven Lawhead

Book Description

"I need your help with a project. It will be the adventure of a lifetime—of several lifetimes. But it will change you forever."
Kit Livingston's great-grandfather appears in a deserted alley during a tumultuous storm. He reveals an unbelievable story: ley lines throughout Britain are not merely the stuff of legend or the weekend hobby of deluded cranks—they're pathways to other worlds. To those who know how to use them, ley lines grant the ability to travel the multi-layered universe of which we ordinarily inhabit only a tiny part.
One explorer knew more than most. Braving every danger, he toured both time and space on voyages of heroic discovery. Ever on his guard, and fearful of becoming lost in the cosmos, he developed an intricate code—a roadmap of symbols—that he tattooed onto his own body. This Skin Map has since been lost in time. Now the race is on to recover all the pieces and discover its secrets.
The Bright Empires series is a unique blend of epic treasure hunt, ancient history, alternate realities, cutting-edge physics, philosophy, and mystery.

I really enjoyed reading The Skin Map. I need to say that I like it so much that I intentionally kept my reading to a minimum to keep the story going longer...otherwise I would have read it in one sitting.   It's that good.  It's a tale of mystery, suspense, romance, intrigue, history.  The characters are well drawn out and engaging.  The storyline is flawless, Mr. Lawhead is superb at his craft and his gift is as polished as it ever was.  The kindle version is a seamless read and all pages were formatted to perfection.  I can say with confidence that this is one of the best books I've read this year.  If you are in the mood for a good escapist yarn then I recommend The Skin Map without reservation.

12 May 2011

Saw a little guy just like this one today in my garden:)

05 May 2011

The Final Summit - Andy Andrews

Book Description

David Ponder is back. This time the fate of mankind is in his hands.
This is mankind’s last chance. Centuries of greed, pride, and hate have sent humanity hurtling toward disaster, and far from its original purpose. There is only one solution that can reset the compass and right the ship, and it consists of only two words.
With time running out, it is up to David Ponder and a cast of history’s best and brightest minds to uncover this solution before it is too late. The catch? They are allowed only five tries to discover the answer.
Readers first encountered David Ponder in The Traveler's Gift. Now, in The Final Summit, Andrews combines a riveting narrative with astounding history in order to show us the one thing we must do when we don’t know what to do.

Second in a two book series, the "Final Summit" is a book that is easily read on its own.  I have not read "The Traveler's Gift" and I didn't have any trouble understanding the story.  "The Final Summit" is an enjoyable read that has an interesting and engaging concept.  The hero, David Ponder, plays host to a bevy of historical figures as he tries to save mankind from certain doom.  We're talking Biblical proportion doom.  Oh, and he does so at the request of  the Archangel Gabriel.  This book does cover a bit of philosophical ground on its way to the solution.  However, it is no way a heavy read.  I found "The Final Summit" to be a nice respite from my day to day routine and along the way it gave me something to think about.  Not a bad deal in  my opinion.  If you like action packed, seat of you pants reads this may not be the book for you...mostly the book consists of dialogue and it does get a little tedious.  I didn't realize how much I like a bit action thrown into my reads but then again I guess you can learn something new about oneself from time to time;)  Over all I feel that I can recommend this book to most anyone.  It shouldn't take you very long to read even if the book doesn't beg to be finished before midnight (that only happens with the very best of books though).  So if you're feeling like you crave something a little philosophical, and wouldn't mind a bit of the historical thrown in, go on, give this one a go!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

04 May 2011

Max On Life-Max Lucado

Book Description

We have questions. Child-like inquiries. And deep, heavy ones.
In more than twenty-five years of writing and ministry, Max Lucado has been the receiving line for thousands of such questions. The questions come in letters, e-mails, even on Dunkin Donuts napkins. In Max on Life he offers thoughtful answers to more than 150 of the most pressing questions on topics ranging from hope to hurt, from home to the hereafter.
Max writes about the role of prayer, the purpose of pain, and the reason for our ultimate hope. He responds to the day-to-day questions—parenting quandaries, financial challenges, difficult relationships—as well as to the profound: Is God really listening?
A special addendum includes Max’s advice on writing and publishing.
Including topical and scriptural indexes and filled with classic Lucado encouragement and insight, Max on Life will quickly become a favorite resource for pastors and ministry leaders as well as new and mature believers.
I can only say good things about this book.  It is a concise and pleasurable read.  It is not a book that needs to be read from beginning to end rather it is a book that can be picked up from time to time and picked through.  A bit of perspective here, a little advise there and whole lot of common sense and guidance throughout.  Max Lucado is a well loved author and theologian who has proven himself to be a thoughtful and intelligent voice in the Christian world for years.  With this book he has used a question and answer format to address his readers most pressing, common and, at times, desperate questions regarding their faith and their personal walk with God.  Mr. Lucado guides his readers gently among some of the more difficult circumstances and questions of faith that inevitably creep up as we endeavor to make our way in an increasingly confusing world.  With gentleness, common sense and a strong basis in scripture Max guides the reader and I personally felt as I read this that my faith was strengthened with each turn of the page.

I hope that if you get the chance to read this book that you will not hesitate to add it to your personal library.  It could prove itself to be a useful reference for those times when you comes across a difficult time in life and find yourself in a crisis of faith.  You just might find that with Max Lucado's gentle words you will not find yourself despairing in the wilderness but rather emerging from that dark place with a stronger faith than before.

I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”