Kick your shoes off and enjoy the ride of your life!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

A Sound Like Fire

A Sound Like Fire, by K D Veron
WestBow Press A Division of Thomas Nelson
English, 444 pages

After a brief Prologue where a new mother is slain and her day-old baby is delivered to a wealthy aristocrat, our story gets underway with Dax Soileau in a Jerusalem prison in July, 2020. He and his fellow prisoners live in squalor, and the only way they are able to pass the time and maintain their sanity is to hear Dax's life story, as he is the newest person to join the ranks of the imprisoned. We find out that Dax used to be a United States senator, living a high life of privilege counter to his Christian upbringing and against the pleadings of his Christian younger brother, Zack. As the pages turn, we find out that Dax and his cellmates are some of the last Christians on earth, those who received Christ after the Rapture, and the Great Tribulation is in full-swing. Dax lays out his journey from rejecting God to finally coming to the truth and his life after salvation and before this final incarceration.

It took me a bit to get into the story, but once I did, I enjoyed reading it. The plot is good, and I think a decent picture is painted of how so many deceive themselves and are deceived by Satan into rejecting Jesus. God's grace is evident in the lives of many of the characters who finally hear the Lord's call and respond.

My biggest complaint is with the writing style. Again, not to say that I am a perfect writer by any means, but this manuscript shows evidence of either a sloppy editor or no professional editing at all. The perspective from which the story is being told isn't always clear. There are many consecutive sentences with repeated words (e.g., "something began"..."something began"..."something began"); such verbal repetition is something my editor counsels my co-author and I to avoid, and constantly saying something "began" is a weak statement (I think it falls under the passive voice)--instead of saying "The sun began to rise over the horizon," it would be better to say "The sun rose over the horizon," or something to that effect. There are quite a few typos, too. I know that digital versions sometimes have typos and have dealt with that with many other titles I've read on the Kindle, but there are more than really should be present.

There are some scenes that might not be appropriate for younger readers, and I would be hesitant to allow someone who isn't at least in high school to pick up this book. Not that things are necessarily graphic, but topics come up that younger readers might not be emotionally prepared to handle. Parents, I would suggest reading this book first before giving it to your children.

Finally, as I've seen on Amazon.com and the bookstore at WestBowPress.com, the hard copy of this book is outrageously expensive: $30.95 for a new softcover, and $43.95  for a new hardcover. While I understand that this is very likely a much smaller printing company than many of the ones from which I get my non-Christian fiction titles (and spend less than $25 on nearly 1000-page hardcovers), the cost of this book could be a lot better (this is a complaint I have about a lot of Christian books, fiction and non-fiction; not only can I not afford to buy them very often, I think it further drives the notion that Christians talk a good talk but are just after the money). If you have a Kindle or Nook--or at least a computer program to read their respective file types--I would recommend going that route as you can pick up a digital version for less than $4.00.

Overall, I'd give this book a hesitant 3/5.

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.”

Monday, January 16, 2012

A rough start to the year

It's been a trying couple of weeks, and now how I planned to start this year. It actually started the Monday before Thanksgiving. I started P90X again that evening. Since I had stopped working out in late August, I'd put back on the weight I'd lost, and was pretty unhappy with it. While doing push-ups as part of the routine, I felt a little tweaky in my right knee and figured I'd just overdid it.

For the next month I had a little bit of trouble walking properly. My right leg wouldn't straighten quite right, but I thought it would work itself out. It was also painful to roll over in bed. Finally, the week after Christmas, my leg was bothering me enough that I decided to go to the chiropractor. I had x-rays taken as part of the initial evaluation. My right hip was 1/4 - 1/2 inch higher than my left, and my lower back was kinda messed up; from the side, the typical curve wasn't visible, but form the front the lumbar spine curved to the right just above the sacrum before curing more or less back to the center where it belonged. I got adjusted Wednesday and Thursday after Christmas, and Monday and Tuesday after New Year's. I was feeling better, which was great.

Unfortunately, Thursday after New Year's I woke up in terrible pain, unable to stand upright or walk very well. I went to the chiropractor twice that day and twice Friday. The chiropractor didn't want to do it, but she suggested I go to urgent care for some muscle relaxants and pain relievers. I can't say for sure that they really did much. A big frustration is that when I go for my adjustments, I have difficulty getting down on my stomach; it causes a fair amount of pain in my leg.

Sleeping is still difficult as I have trouble finding a comfortable position...at least, one that lasts for more than a few seconds. Exhaustion does usually take over, but I wake up several times during the night.

The good news is that I am recovering, though slowly. I'm hoping that the recovery continues so I can start working out again. Of course, I'll be starting out slowly. But this video helped put some things in perspective: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ozt-V0PPJaw I need to make lifestyle changes. This is another cool video, showing how much progress a guy made in 136 days: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f1RYK_lybxA&feature=related. I like the idea of taking a picture each day...it'd be neat to put together a similar time-lapse video.

Hope you all are having a good day. God bless! :D

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Ride of a Lifetime

The Ride of a Lifetime, by Kitty McGregor
WestBow Press a division of Thomas Nelson
English, 208 pages

Lucas McCade has retired from the PRCA rodeo circuit. Now, he is moving his wife and son, neither of whom he has seen much of for many years as he has spent nine months out of the year on the road, from their Texas home to a working ranch in Oklahoma. McCade has been given a new lease on life after a near-death experience in his last ride, and though he is no Bible scholar, he has a genuine saving faith. His wife, Hannah, is grateful for the time the family will now have to spend together, but his son, Connor, is bitter about being moved away from home after his sophomore year of high school; he has had to leave friends and the joy of the football field behind. Starting over isn't easy for anyone. Despite initially feeling at peace with God over attending a church in the area, Hannah is upset over the show that is being displayed and the lack of genuine faith and conviction. Still feeling that God wants them there, she and Lucas decide to stick it out. However, no one in the family has any idea of what lies below the surface of the area where they now live.

I thought this was a pretty good story overall. I think the writing style was okay, but it lacked some measure of polish. I don't say this because I am some great writer myself, but because things I've had to learn through being published have been hammered into me. One complaint I know Christians will raise is the use of a little bit of swearing. I believe it was only one word used a handful of times, but it will still offend several people, I'm sure. I try to find ways around such language when I write, though I will admit it lends a certain degree of credibility to some characters.

I appreciated that this book tackles the issue of spiritual warfare, something many Christians are happy to ignore. Even I don't think about that area of things too often, potentially to my detriment. It's a fine line to walk, however, because some people see demons around every corner and behind every sin. Believe me, my flesh is bad enough that it doesn't need demonic influence to get me to do things that displease God.

Overall I'd give this book a 3/5. There is a lot of promise, and with the door left open for a sequel, I'm looking forward to seeing where Ms. McGregor might take this story next.

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.”

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Moments of Truth

Moments of Truth, by John MacArthur
Published by Thomas Nelson
400 pages, English

John MacArthur has been one of my favorite authors and preachers for a decade. Some of the first sermons I listened to were from the Gospel of John dealing with the crucifixion. As a young Bible college student, I was not aware of how starved I was for solid, biblical preaching. With over 40 years of preaching experience, the depth of his knowledge of Scripture is staggering. I don't want to hold him up as a standard or idol (nor would I expect him to appreciate such treatment), but I will say he has been a tremendous inspiration to me to study God's Word more diligently.

His newest book is a devotional. Each month is given a general theme, and that theme is expanded using excerpts from many of his other books. In a few short paragraphs each day, he packs in a great deal of truth, much of which the church at large today seems to have ignored and/or forgotten. However, even with what he offers in this book, I would caution readers to not make this devotional their sole source of daily reading. No matter what someone has to say about the Bible, the best thing we can do as Christians is to read the Bible itself. Nothing will replace spending time actively engaged in the Word. But, I will say that this book will make for an excellent starting point for further study.

All in all, I would have to give this book a 5/5 rating. It would be an excellent gift, and should prove quite useful for Christians at all stages in their faith.

Note: I received a free copy of this book from BookSneeze.com in exchange for a fair review.