Sunday, August 17, 2014

Review of 1 SAMUEL FOR YOU by Tim Chester

The God's Word for You series has been an insightful and refreshing dive into the pages of Scripture, with books from Tim Keller and Tim Chester. The newest book in the series is 1 SAMUEL FOR YOU by Tim Chester takes the approach that the other books take, but into an Old Testament historical book. Chester approaches the book as a book that records the historical events of God's dealing with Israel at that time, but it's also a book that features a lot of typology and foreshadowing of the Messiah.

Many people approach stories in the Old Testament primarily for the examples they can find for how to live a godly life. Chester shows, however, that the story is primarily about God and what God does even though people are flawed and relentlessly disappoint him. Chester does a great job of taking some of the wordplay in the Hebrew and helping modern day English speaking readers understand what the author was trying to communicate. Repeatedly, Chester shows how the story of 1 Samuel is really the story of God and points forward to Jesus.

The God's Word for You Series is very user-friendly and provides a lot of useful insight about what the Scripture is saying and how it should impact our lives. I hope to continue reading more books in this series.

Review copy provided by Cross Focused Reviews

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Review of 7 WAYS TO BE HER HERO by Doug Fields

Title: 7 Ways to Be Her Hero

Author: Doug Fields

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

What It's About: 7 Ways to Be Her Hero

Why I Read It: I've read Doug Fields' books on youth ministry in the past, and I was interested in what he had to say about marriage.

What I Liked About It: Fields is gut-honest throughout the book, and that's what makes the book so great to read. He uses humor throughout, but he's also very serious about what husbands can do to better serve their wives. One area that he covers in the book, that I also struggle with often as a husband, is the power of a husband's words, especially encouraging words to his wife. Another area that is vital is the husband's role of shepherding his wife's heart. This book is all about being a better husband and leading your wife closer to Jesus.

Review copy provided by Book Look Bloggers

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Review of WORDS FOR PICTURES by Brian Michael Bendis

Title: Words for Pictures: The Art and Business of Writing Comics and Graphic Novels

Author: Brian Michael Bendis

Publisher: Watson-Guptill

What It's About: Words for Pictures is a guide for anyone interested in writing scripts for comic books or graphic novels.

Why I Read It: I've always loved comic books and graphics novels. I've never written in that medium before, but I've always been interested in the process. Bendis's book is the perfect guide to learning how to write in the comic book/graphic novel medium.

What I Liked About It: As a fan of comic books, I've come across Brian Michael Bendis's name many times, so I knew this was a book by someone who was on the front lines of the industry. In fact, Bendis is one of the leading writers for Marvel Comics, and he's written for The Avengers and Ultimate Spider-Man, among many others. I loved his story about how he got into comics. He even includes some examples of his early work in learning the craft.

Bendis covers the way comic book scripts are created, from pitch documents to the actual script that an artist follows to create the visuals of the story. Bendis makes it clear that when you're writing a script, you're writing something that your audience will never see. Comics and graphic novels are a joint effort by the writer and the artist, so when you're writing your script, you're writing in a way that the artist will understand what you're trying to get across so that they can translate it into visuals on the page.

The book also includes several contributions and interactions with other leading writers and artists to give us an even wider look into the creative process for comics/graphic novels.

The book doesn't just cover the craft side of comic books, however. Bendis also guides writers through the business side of comic book writing. This includes how to break into the business of comic book writing, which is a difficult pursuit. It's also about how to run a writing business once you've broken in and established yourself as a comic book writer. This was an interesting part of the book because Bendis interviews his wife who handles much of the business side of Bendis's career. It was great to see her insight into what a writer must do to always stay in the profession.

To top it all off, the book includes a chapter on the questions Bendis is asked the most, complete with his insightful and honest answers. This is a great book, the best I've seen, if you're interested in writing for comics or graphic novels.

Review copy provided by the Blogging for Books program in exchange for an honest review

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Review of IF I HAD LUNCH WITH C.S. LEWIS by Alister McGrath

Title: If I Had Lunch with C.S. Lewis

Author: Alister McGrath

Publisher: Tyndale House

What It's About: If I Had Lunch with C.S. Lewis is a unique interaction with the writings and thought of C.S. Lewis as if he were our lunch guest.

Why I Read It: C.S. Lewis is probably my favorite author of all time, and I thoroughly loved McGrath's biography of Lewis. I found the idea of having a conversation with Lewis over lunch intriguing.

What I Liked About It: The layout of the book is great as each chapter takes one theme each from the writings of Lewis. For example, McGrath spends a chapter looking at Lewis's thoughts on the importance of story, and in another chapter we get a closer look at the character of Aslan from the Chronicles of Narnia stories. There are other chapters on education, friendship, the meaning of life, apologetics, the problem of pain, and heaven. McGrath spends the beginning of each chapter outlining Lewis's thoughts on the subject, with some context, and then engages in a hypothetical dialogue with Lewis on the subject. Because McGrath researched extensively into Lewis's life for his biography, he is the perfect person poised to give us a book like this. If you're a fan of Lewis's writing, If I Had Lunch with C.S. Lewis is a fun book to read that will give you a good overview of what was most important in Lewis's mind.

Review copy provided by Tyndale House as a part of the Tyndale House Blog Network

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Review of THE BLUE BOOK OF GRAMMAR AND PUNCTUATION by Straus, Kaufman, and Stern

Title: The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation
Author: Jane Straus, Lester Kaufman, and Tom Stern
Publisher: Jossey-Bass
What It's About: The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation is a comprehensive guide of English grammar and punctuation rules.
What I Liked About It: I'm an English teacher, and what I like about this book is the clear layout of grammar rules throughout. The different parts of speech are divided into sections with clear communicating of how they work in a sentence, rules that apply to them, and clear examples of the parts of speech in action. The book even includes quizzes, which are helpful if you're trying to brush up on your English grammar, or if you're a teacher, looking for a resource to assess your students' knowledge of grammar.

Review copy provided by Jossey-Bass

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Title: The Gamification of Learning and Instruction Fieldbook
Author: Karl M. Kapp, Lucas Blair, and Rich Mesch
Publisher: Wiley
What It's About: The Gamification of Learning and Instruction Fieldbook
What I Liked About It: As a teacher, I'm always looking for new and effective ways to engage students. I'm also very interested in the concept of gamification because I think game mechanics can be used to great effect to build motivation in people. This book does a great job of discussing games, gamification, and simulations and how to apply them to the classroom setting. I love the clear and comprehensive nature of the information covered. The authors outline the nature of interactive learning events, why they're important, and some basics of where to come up with ideas for them. Then there are contributions throughout the book of specific ways to incorporate ILEs to the classroom. If you're a teacher and you're into gaming, this is a great book for putting gamification into practice.

Review copy provided by Wiley

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Friday, July 11, 2014

Review of WRITING FANTASY & SCIENCE FICTION from Writer's Digest Books

Title: Writing Fantasy & Science Fiction

Author: Orson Scott Card, Philip Athans, Jay Lake, and the Editors of Writer's Digest

Publisher: Writer's Digest Books

What It's About: Writing Fantasy & Science Fiction is a comprehensive guidebook to creating fantastic storyworlds and characters for stories that have more of a fantasy or sci-fi focus.

Why I Read It: Many of the stories I love the most fall into the realm of either science fiction or fantasy, or at least have fantasy and sci-fi elements as a part of the story.

What I Liked About It: This book is really about creating a world for your story, and the variety of authors who contribute to this book cover a wide-range of elements you need to consider as you're crafting your story. Things like the society of your story, dress, weapons, religions, creatures. Everything that you can think of that has a place in either fantasy or sci-fi stories is covered in this book. One of the interesting parts of the book is the section on steampunk stories, and it might get you interested in trying your hand at one. Orson Scott Card, who wrote Ender's Game, is one of the primary contributors and the reason why I wanted to read the book. The other authors have just as much insight to offer, however, and it's a valuable addition for any fiction writer's bookshelf.

Review copy provided by Writer's Digest Books

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