112 - Enemies of the Heart

Enemies of the Heart is a repackaging of Andy's former book "It Came from Within."  The book is an excellent read, and I'd recommend if you haven't read either of these books go out and purchase one immediately.  I really appreciate Andy's pastoral heart and his excellent writing.  The book basically helps the reader understand the ins and outs of the things that are seeking to destroy us.  He includes plenty of Scripture and thought provoking insights to keep anyone busy digging into this book.  Stanley is an excellent communicator, and I wouldn't expect anything less than superb from him.  Turns out, he delivers again.

I received a free copy of this book from Multnomah in exchange for an honest review.

111 - The Alarmists

What's better than an end of the world style novel?  Not much.  Don Hoesel crafts a great story as the year 2012 comes to an end and people are panicking.  This fast paced book covers just a few weeks of time, but takes the reader all over the world exploring a mysterious mad man with countless riches and an inflated ego.  The book was an excellent read that offers the reader adventure, action, suspense, and some crime drama.  Hoesel writes from a Christian perspective and includes several concepts unique to Christian fiction.  All in all I found the book interesting, but not amazing.  It was readable, but not an earth-shattering work of fiction.  For Christian fiction it was pretty good though.

Bethany House gave me a complimentary copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

110 - Seraph Seal

The concept, around which this book is formed, is called scenario thinking or semiotics : the theory that the choices, beliefs, and habits of humans build paths to probable and possible futures. And that identifying and analyzing patterns of behavior can help us develop scenarios for potential outcomes. Looking closely at current events, Sweet and Wagner lead us on a journey to stretch our imaginations and consider the possibilities.

Eight births - all at 2100 on 21 December 2012 and all bearing a birthmark on the right calf - signal the Time of Becoming. One of those children, according to prophecy, has the potential to end the world as we know it. Putting the destiny of the world in the hands of a chosen defender, should Matthew Samael Serafino grow to power.

Jump thirty-six years, to 2048. The Earth is in trouble, after years of man's inhumanity to the planet. Technology has advanced; religion has gone underground. And Paul Binder, a cultural history professor born at the same time as the Eight, receives a mysterious letter, sending him on a quest to find the 2nd-century Diatessaron manuscript and "unlock the future of your world."

What follows is a journey, filled with prophesies and strange events, reaching from one possible future back into ancient traditions and forward again. Travel with Paul and the Eight from the United States to England; to Egypt, the Sahara, Israel, Syria, Italy, France, and the Cave of St. Anne on Patmos - where it is believed John wrote "Revelation." Share Paul's struggle to find and decipher hidden clues, and realize his destiny.

109 - Jesus, My Father, the CIA, and Me

The CIA element of the story is barely mentioned and doesn't actually seem to have a huge impact on Ian's story. The part regarding the CIA which was the most interested was at the beginning of the novel, where Ian talks about going to father's funeral and tells of the odd behavior of those who he believed were his father's co-workers. For most of the rest of the story, we never hear about the CIA, and it didn't really seem to impact Ian that much. The biggest part was when the family was almost forced to move out of country - almost.

Because the CIA was mentioned in the title, I expected it to be quite a large part of the story, possibly with stories about his father's travels, but there wasn't. I felt a bit cheated because of this. The book should be re-titled, Jesus, my Father, Alcohol, and Me.

Some of the most interesting, and generally funniest, parts of the novel were Ian's experiences with church. He grew up attending a Catholic church, and tells many humorous stories, from his first communion, to when his families nanny accidentally brought him to church two hours early for his first day as an altar boy.

In the end, I felt this book had some interesting parts. The stories from his church were generally funny, but sometimes insightful. It was heartbreaking at times, reading about a child desperate for his father's love yet only seeing a drunken mess. However, he sometimes wrote in near stream of consciousness, breaking off in the middle of a story to dive into a thought that didn't always resolve.

I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze 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

108 - The Final Summit

The Final Summit is the story of David Ponder. Mankind has become so vile and dissolute that the end of the world is coming. He must find the way to help humanity get back on the right course. The answer is two words. Time is short and he must summon a "traveler", which is a person from history, to help him find the answer. He only gets five helpers.
This book is a continuation of the other books about David Ponder. He is a 74 year old man that has suffered through the loss and regain of everything he has. Lately however, his wife has passed away leading him to consider suicide.
Gabriel the archangel comes to him to tell him he is in charge of a summit to determine what humanity must do. He goes and with the help of the other travelers works to find a solution to the problem set in front of them.
I received this book for free from BookSneeze.

107 - Max on Life

I recently read the e-book "Max on Life" by Max Lucado. This book is based on people writing to Max and asking all different kinds of questions that they have about life and life situations and Max responded to them based on a biblical view. Max referenced the bible in every answer he gave, and a list of verses he used to respond were included in the back of the book. Some of the issues he covers in the book vary from "Why am I here?" to "Why church?" to "Who goes to Heaven?" etcetera.

At first I wasn't drawn in, because it seemed as if I had already heard the questions and seen the answers before about why I am here and such, but as it got more towards the middle of the book about marriage and relationships, I got more into it. I was definitely impressed with the way Max biblically answered each question, giving backup from God's word for every situation.

Because of the wide variety of questions, I believe that this book would be helpful for every type of Christian, whether they are new or have been a Christian for a long time and I would recommend it.

106 - Story Engineering

I've read lots of books on writing good stories.  I've watched DVDs and listened to lectures on crafting and organizing a story.  I've studied the craft for a while and I've learned there are very few great books out there on the subject.  There are some good ones, some decent ones, and a few crummy ones.  However, there are only a few Great books.  This book was good, not great.  Larry Brooks did an excellent job of getting his points across and had more than enough information to merit a couple read throughs.  However, there was nothing truly groundbreaking about it.  I would recommend this book to anyone interested to sit down and start working on a novel.  I would not recommend it to anyone who had studied the idea of writing stories already.  This book makes an excellent primer, but a poor research book.

I received this book free from BookSneeze in exchange for an honest review.