Friday, October 31, 2014

Review of MIRACLES by Eric Metaxas

Miracles are often debated topic, and rightly so. If miracles happen, then they are clear evidence of something or someone intervening into the natural processes of the laws of nature so that a miracle can occur. The possibility of miracles is intimately tied to the question of whether or not God exists. In his new book Miracles, best-selling author Eric Metaxas explores the concept of miracles and does a great job of illustrating their importance and possibility.

The book clearly defines miracles as something God does in the world, and miracles require God's intentional action to occur. Many believe that if miracles ever have occurred, they only occurred long ago, and we live in a different world now. Metaxas is quick to point out, however, that the laws that govern our universe today are the same laws that governed our universe thousands of years ago. Therefore, miracles are either possible at all times or at no time in history. This is an important point because the implications are that the miracles we read about in the Bible are still possible today.

Metaxas deals with the debate of faith versus science and deftly shows that science and faith are both about exploring God's world and discovering more about him and his creation. They aren't mutually exclusive. In fact, he points out, many scientists have been led to faith because of the evidence they've seen in their scientific studies of God's existence.

The book looks at the miracle of life and the most important miracle of all for Christians: the resurrection. The second half of the book shares real-life miracle stories. Metaxas was careful to only include miracle stories that fit a certain number of criteria to qualify as a definitive miracle.

I've always love C.S. Lewis' book on miracles, and it was good to see Metaxas quote Lewis on multiple occasions. This book is written for today's generation, and it's an important exploration of the concept of miracles and why God performs them.

Review copy provided by Dutton Adult

Thursday, October 30, 2014


For the last few years, it seems like young adult fiction has ruled the publishing world. From the popularity of YA series like Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, and The Twilight Saga, it seems that what is commonly referred to as young adult fiction appeals to a broader ranger of people than just young adults. In the updated edition of her book Writing Great Books for Young Adults, Regina L. Brooks covers some of the characteristics of the YA genre that seem to appeal to so many appeal. She introduces writers to the process of writing a young adult novel.

Of course, this is really a book about writing novels in general. Many of the concepts of writing a novel stay the same, regardless of the genre you're writing in. However, Brooks sprinkles in many key concepts that are specific to the YA genre throughout. Brooks takes writers through the process from an initial idea all the way to securing an agent and pursuing publishing. Everything in between is extremely helpful in terms of developing characters, story lines, and weaving all of the components of storytelling together into a coherent whole.

If you're interested in writing in the YA genre specifically, and more importantly if you're interested in connecting with a wide audience, this book will help you to develop the skills to move in the right direction.

Review copy provided by Sourcebooks

Review of WILLIE'S REDNECK TIME MACHINE by John Luke Robertson & Travis Thrasher

Though I do enjoy watching Duck Dynasty, it was Travis Thrasher's name attached to this book that convinced me to read it. The Robertson family is obviously well-known and the concept behind this book and the four others in the Be Your Own Duck Commander series is a fun one as you imagine the world portrayed on the show with some supernatural/sci-fi twists. In Willie's Redneck Time Machine, you journey with the main character, making decisions that help to shape the story experience you end up having. The book functions as a Choose Your Own Adventure type of book, and that makes it a fun way to read. It's an interesting approach that Thrasher has taken to join up with John Luke Robertson to write these books.

I'm a high school English teacher, and this kind of book will definitely appeal to some of my students. My children are too young to get it at this point, but they would likely enjoy it when they're older.

Overall, if you're looking for a fun adventure type story that features the Robertson family, you'll probably get a kick out of this book.

Review copy provided by Tyndale House Publishers

Monday, October 27, 2014

Review of NKJV Study Bible

I've always been a fan of the New King James Version of the Bible for its language structure and commitment to accuracy. The NKJV Study Bible features the complete NKJV text and several extras that make studying the Bible much more intuitive.

Each book of the Bible features a slick introduction that gives us some of the primary characteristics of the book such as genre and key concepts, as well as a basic outline of the book. The commentary notes on the bottom of each page help to give insight about what a particular Bible passage means. There are full color photo illustrations throughout, cross-references, passage titles, and much more that help you to study the Bible with understanding and with the goal of transformation.

The NKJV Study Bible is a great Bible study resource all in one book.

Review copy provided by BookLook Bloggers

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Review of BONHOEFFER ABRIDGED by Eric Metaxas

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a fascinating man who is known for his insight into being a disciple of Jesus and the concept of community in the body of Christ. There's much more to his life than just those things, however. When Eric Metaxas' biography on Bonhoeffer came out a couple years ago, I wanted to read it, but never got around to it.

Now, Thomas Nelson has made BONHOEFFER ABRIDGED available, which includes much of the text of the original book, but much is taken out as well. The idea is to keep in the bare essentials. Bonhoeffer's life put him right in the middle of what was going on during World War II. He was very outspoken against Hitler and even participated in a plot to assassinate the German leader. Bonhoeffer's life was filled with tragedies and trials, and he exhibited a solid faith in Jesus that is encouraging to many to this day.

BONHOEFER ABRIDGED is an accessible biography from a masterful writer.

Review copy provided by Book Look Bloggers

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Review of THE SOUL by J.P. Moreland

J.P Moreland is one of the most trusted Christian philosophers, and in his book THE SOUL: HOW WE KNOW IT'S REAL AND WHY IT MATTERS, he wrestles with one of the most debated topics in the world. Do people have souls? It's an important question because it concerns whether or not there is life after death and whether we are only what people can see, that is, our physical bodies.

Moreland outlines his argument by first defining some important terms, such as events, dualism, and physicalism. He states that neuroscience, while important, can neither prove nor disprove the existence of the soul. He then looks at the way the Bible treats the concept of the soul-body union. Throughout, he shows evidence that human beings are intricate combination of both soul and material and that humans can exist, at least temporarily, outside of the body because of the existence of the soul. The soul is what gives us identity.

This is an important book and one that requires a lot of thought because of the complexity of what is discussed. I definitely recommend it.

Review copy provided by Moody Publishers

Review of FRAMING FAITH by Matt Knisely

Photojournalist Matt Knisely makes a profound connection between our love of storytelling and the way God interacts with us in the world. His new book FRAMING FAITH is about capturing the moments that matter in life, the moments that God is most clearly speaking. Knisely calls people to break from the constant distractions that our world, especially today with all of the technological options in front of us, puts in front of us. When we can begin to learn to look and listen to the world around us, and really be present in the moment, we can see the story that God is telling through our lives.

Knisely is a photojournalist, and he shares some great insights about life as someone who is constantly trying to capture profound stories in an image. The way he discusses story in the book really resonated with me because I'm a storyteller, and it was great to see the way God works through this to draw us to him, to make us feel, and to profoundly change us.

FRAMING FAITH is a challenge to stop and truly see the world we inhabit and the God who is working in the midst of it. This is definitely a unique and encouraging book.

Review copy provided by Book Look Bloggers

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Review of THE HAPPINESS OF PURSUIT by Chris Guillebeau

Chris Guillebeau has made pursuit a key aspect of the way he lives his life, having journeyed to every country in the world. He has a popular blog and is a bestselling author. Guillebeau's unique approach to life has been an encouraging model for many people, and now, in his new book THE HAPPINESS OF PURSUIT, he shares page after page of his insight on living life in pursuit of a quest.

Guillebeau recounts his personal journey and what led him to the quest he's been on. He defines the idea of a quest and why it's important. He sees the quest as something that brings fuel to a person's life. Throughout the book, he shares personal stories, as well as the stories of others who have found their quest.

THE HAPPINESS OF PURSUIT is for people who want more out of life. It's for people who want some solid advice to follow on how to pursue their life goals.

Review copy provided by Blogging for Books


SONGS OF A SUFFERING KING by J.V. Fesko is one of those books that seeks to reveal Jesus from the Old Testament. When we want to learn about Jesus, we usually turn to the New Testament, and often the gospels in particular, because Jesus is literally there in that story. The Old Testament is before Jesus was born. Yet the Old Testament is a prequel to the New Testament that foreshadows Jesus through every story in some way.

In SONGS OF A SUFFERING KING, Fesko looks specifically at the first 8 Psalms in the Old Testament and how they relate to Jesus. He makes the connection from David to Jesus and shows how these Psalms point forward to the life and work of Jesus. Through the Psalms we see the conflict that rages in the world between God's will and human rebellion, and we see God as one who promises to bring redemption through his Son.

Fesko's book will help you to see the Psalms in a fresh light.

Review copy provided by Cross Focused Reviews

Review of CAN I REALLY TRUST THE BIBLE by Barry Cooper

If the story of God's creation and interaction with the world is contained in the Bible that Christians read from every day, it's highly important that the book be trustworthy in what it communicates. The Bible is a unique book in the way that it's structured and the extraordinarily odd events that it records, all while claiming these things really happened. Christians and non-Christians have often debated the Bible's authenticity as God's word, and a new book by Barry Cooper seeks to offer the most compelling arguments for the Bible's validity in a clear and concise manner.

CAN I REALLY TRUST THE BIBLE is a small book that packs a lot of information about what it means for the Bible to be God's word. He tests the Bible's own claims about itself before testing the ways in which it rings true with the way reality is. While the Bible is unique, Cooper shows it to be a trustworthy guide on our journey of communicating with God. It records what is true of God and what God envisions for mankind.

The book can be read quickly, so if you're looking for a quick resource on the Bible's validity, this book is it.

Review copy provided by Cross Focused Reviews

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Review of BE THE DAD SHE NEEDS YOU TO BE by Dr. Kevin Leman

I have a daughter who is five years old, and I love that little girl more than I can quite express through words. I feel an incredible responsibility to be her father and raise her to be the best that she can be. BE THE DAD SHE NEEDS YOU TO BE by Dr. Kevin Leman is a book about being a great dad. He explores the unique reality of raising a daughter and what a daughter needs most from her father.

It's a book about the influence a dad has and how to maximize that influence. There are plenty of challenges in raising a daughter, but even more opportunities for shaping a daughter's life to be a uniquely great one.

As a father of a daughter, I think this is an important book to read and to wrestle through as Leman offers insight on the level of influence a father holds in his little girl's life.

Review copy provided by Book Look Bloggers