Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Review of Story Genuis by Lisa Cron

A couple years ago, I read Lisa Cron's first book, Wired for Story, which dove into the brain science that makes storytelling so important to us as human beings. I came to the book as a fan of Jonathan Gottschall's book, The Storytelling Animal. Wired was great because it confirmed so much of what I already suspected as a storyteller. There's something encoded into us to enjoy stories and to be moved by them.

With Story Genius, Lisa Cron's second book, she dives into the practicalities of actually telling a story that appeals to people. It takes all the brain science from the first book and applies it to the storytelling process. Not all stories resonate with people. Some just don't connect with people at all. As storytellers, we want to tell stories that people are intrigued by and that don't leave them after they've read the last page.

Cron tackles some misconceptions about how to tell a story in the beginning of the book, challenging some common wisdom. At times, it feels like she's just arguing semantics, but she makes some great points. Storytelling begins with a character, and it's the inner journey of that character that causes us to resonate with the story so well.

Story Genius will give you much to think about in terms of being a better storyteller.

Review copy provided by Blogging for Books

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Review of The Gap of Time by Jeanette Winterson

The Gap of Time by Jeanette Winterson is a modern retelling of William Shakespeare's play, A Winter's Tale. In fact, the story is referred to as a "cover version" of Shakespeare's play. In the original story, a powerful king is blinded by unfounded jealousy and ends up banishing his young daughter and his wife dies tragically. Shakespeare tells a story that is full of tragedy and yet ends in a powerful redemption.

The Gap of Time takes this story and brings it into a more modern world, taking place in American City called New Bohemia (New Orleans). Like in the play, a man named Leo ends up separated from his young daughter because of a blind jealousy. From the very first page until the end, it's the intense story of a father's mistake and a redemption that shouldn't be possible.

While The Gap of Time doesn't perfectly capture the essence of Shakespeare's play, it works as a great ode to a masterpiece. It's a compelling story and is sure to keep readers going until its climactic end.

Review copy provided by Blogging for Books.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Review of THE CALLING by Rachelle Dekker

Rachelle Dekker, daughter of bestselling author Ted Dekker, returns to the intense dystopian world she established in her debut novel The Choosing with the second book in the series The Calling. In The Calling, a secondary character from the first novel takes center stage as he leads a team of Seers back into Authority City to rescue other Seers out. The Seers recognize the oppression of the leaders in Authority City and the false representation of God's law, but they're nearly powerless to do anything about it. As Damien Gold, the city's newest president, ramps up the executions of the followers of Aaron, the Seer's mysterious leader, Remko, Carrington, and their team must risk their lives and the future of their movement in order to save as many people as they can and show the Authority that they won't just accept things blindly anymore.

I loved The Choosing, and as a longtime fan of Ted Dekker, I was very impressed with the skill Rachelle exhibits that's every bit as intriguing as her father's. There's no doubt that she learned a lot from being the daughter of Dekker, but her stories have a distinctive feel that's all her own.

The story was reminiscent of when I read The Hunger Games. It's a very different story, but it definitely had that feel. In fact, it's one of the reasons why I enjoy the story because when I finished The Hunger Games trilogy, I wanted to read something that made me feel the way that story did.

The first book in the series was written from Carrington's perspective, and the The Calling is from Remko's perspective. The transition from female to male voice in between books was flawless and you get a real sense of the struggles Remko deals with, especially his fear. The only complaint I have about the book is that I wish the theme of the book hadn't been written as a subtitle on the book's front cover. I would have rather discovered that from my own reading of the story, rather than having it fed to me before I even began the book. Of course, that's a publisher issue rather than an author issue. The theme is handled well, and I could identify with it.

Rather than ending this review with a "If you're a fan of Ted Dekker... ," I'd say if your a fan of fast-past thrillers that deal with some of the world's most burning questions, check out The Calling. I look forward to the conclusion of this trilogy.

Review copy provided by Tyndale Blog Network

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Review of HAPPINESS by Randy Alcorn

I've enjoyed Randy Alcorn's work ever since discovering his book Heaven in the wake of my grandfather dying several years ago. What I enjoy about Alcorn is his commitment to digging deep into the Scriptures and discovering what others often miss along the way. That's very much what reading Heaven felt like when I first read it.

In his latest book, Happiness, Alcorn tackles the question of whether or not God wants us to be happy. Christians are frequently taught that God cares more about our holiness than our happiness. Often, we're told to have joy instead of happiness, as if the two are completely separate things. With these teachings in mind, many Christians assume a life of grudging sacrifice is what God most wants for us. Happiness presents a God who not only desires our happiness but is himself infinitely happy.

Like Heaven, Happiness dives into the relevant Scripture passages to challenge the assumption that God isn't interested in our happiness. It turns out that God cares deeply about our happiness and fights for it every day.

Happiness is a game-changing book because it challenges something many of us have accepted as part of the Christian narrative for so long. Happiness is important. God is happy, and he wants to share and expand his happiness with us.

Review copy provided by the Tyndale Blog Network

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Review of THE HEAVEN PROMISE by Scot McKnight

Heaven has been a popular subject to write about in recent years. It seems there's this enduring hope that there's something beyond this life and beyond the brokenness we currently experience. In The Heaven Promise, Scot McKnight tackles some of the most asked questions people have about heaven and seeks to answer them with biblical insight.

Many people have developed serious misconceptions about what the Bible teaches about heaven, and McKnight's book seeks to tear away these misconceptions. Like Randy Alcorn's Heaven, McKnight tackles the relevant passages from Scripture to paint a picture of heaven that is often very different that what most people have come to understand.

I enjoyed the tone of this book and the hope that it gives for the biblical conception of heaven. My favorite book on the subject is Randy Alcorn's Heaven, but this a great addition to the conversation.

Review copy provided by Blogging for Books

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Review of FREEHAND FIGURE DRAWING FOR ILLUSTRATORS by David H. Ross

Drawing from a photo as a reference is difficult when you're first learning how to draw, but not as difficult as trying to create a drawing on paper from just your imagination. The proportions inevitably end up imperfect, and your drawing itself comes out looking nothing like you imagined. That's why Freehand Figure Drawing for Illustrators is such a helpful book.

This book helps you to develop the skills to draw any figure without reference and create drawings that come out just as you imagined them. After some foundational instruction on perspective in drawing, the author, David H. Ross, walks readers through several types of figure drawings, giving them the reference points to draw any figure from imagination.

If you want to learn how to draw from memory, Freehand Figure Drawing for Illustrators will help you to develop the skills you need.

Review copy provided Blogging for Books

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Review of THE STORY OF GOD'S LOVE FOR YOU by Sally Lloyd-Jones

I have loved reading the Jesus Storybook Bible to my children because it paints a clear and endearing picture of God and his pursuit of us in the life of Jesus. Now, Sally Lloyd-Jones repackages the text of the Jesus Storybook Bible for adults. 

What's great about Lloyd-Jones' writing is that the stories are beautifully told and cover key points in the entire biblical story. A common refrain of the book is that every story of the Bible whispers the name of Jesus. It's a fresh retelling of the redemptive story that is faithful to that story.

If you've never read anything by Lloyd-Jones, The Story of God's Love for You is a great introduction. If you have children, the Jesus Storybook Bible is just as great.

Review copy provided by Book Look Bloggers