Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Primal Creatures By Eric Wilder

Primal Creatures By Eric Wilder is a fiction novel  which blends a detective mystery with a horror story involving werewolves to create an entirely new genre. This mystery takes place in the unique, beloved setting of Louisiana on a secluded island.  Authentic local details and description transport the reader to New Orleans with its colorful traditions and local folklore. The reader is introduced to local tales of Werewolves otherwise known as rougarou- also known as the Cajun wear wolf.   Also in this tale are the  superstitious religious beliefs and traditions of  voodoo. In this classic battle of good vs evil, the concept of a specific "god" is irrelevant and vague.  In the voodoo belief, a specific belief in a specific diety does not matter and is not specifically defined.  Nevertheless the characters find they must defeat an undefined evil that is embodied in the physical form of the rougarou.   The author's talented writing brings the reader face to face with the horrific transformations of  murderous werewolf -like creatures who masquerade under the guise of solitary monks. 

The book features well developed yet eccentric characters. The main character, is a private investigator named Wyatt Thomas who finds himself investigating a very suspicious death that occurs in a strange  monastery- exclusive scenic resort.  Everything about this story represents a contrasting enigma starting with its unusual setting- an isolated island that is the home to a suspicious band of young mysterious monks  yet shared by  wealthy vacationing  members of the entertainment industry.  The hero himself is quite unusual- despite his educated background and financial stability, it  does not seem plausible that he never used a cell phone, sent an e-mail nor has he ever used a computer in this modern age.  With his extensive resume that includes law enforcement and his legal education, it is difficult to believe that he is entirely ignorant of technology and  computers.  In a role reversal, Wyatt finds himself learning the basics of computers and technology from  the uneducated, homeless young woman he finds hiding in his quarters - who does not even have a high school degree.  He befriends the young sidekick,  Sierra, who seems more like a homeless puppy than a woman capable of landing a government job or attending a university.  Ironically, this unruly, uneducated former prostitute is immediately tamed and finds herself paired with an aging, reclusive bird watching, professor- mentor, as  well as a paying government job, and subsidized college enrollment with Wyatt's help. 

 As with many modern detective novels, this book includes some adult content and suggestive themes that make it unsuitable for some readers.    In this day and age, many readers expect this type of material in order to hold their attention, hence it is commonplace especially in detective fiction.  Those readers who normally enjoy detective novels and the element of the supernatural  will enjoy this detective novel by Eric Wilder.  The unique setting and werewolf element makes this story unique.  The surprise ending and supernatural horror twist will grab the reader's attention and make this story memorable.  As a blogger I received this book for the purpose of writing this review from the author.  This book is published by Gondwana press.

Monday, February 25, 2013

I've Had My Baby , Now What? by Shalay Struhs

I've had my Baby, Now What? by Shalay Struhs is a book written for new moms providing helpful tips for good health and emotional well being during the postpartum period.
This book came to my attention as a blogger and captured my interest as I too have just delivered. Struhs uses personal anecdotes to share with the reader, her difficult postpartum experiences. Unlike the author, my postpartum experiences have been positive- especially this time around having had a healthy perfect baby after experiencing the grief of a late term loss and then a high risk pregnancy. Contrary to the premise that pregnancy is one of the happiest times in a woman's life- it wasn't for me. Yet due to the prevalence of post partum depression I am sure many readers will relate.   Nevertheless the author made some valid points such as the importance of healthy eating, drinking enough water to remain hydrated and the value of sleep and excercise.  She provided important medical correlations between healthy habits snd hormonal balance as well as physical health. I sm certain the medical community would back up many of the facts provided about the link between food, activity and physical health.  Yet some of the specifics might be considered alternative methods and not as practical for many women.  For example some organic food is too expensive and prohibitive as well as some of the nutritional suppliments.  Also yoga and alternative medicines such as accupuncture are not the first choices for many women due to time or cost.  To the author's credit, she recognises this and suggests more mainstream diet and excercise alternatives as well  that will more readily fit into most mom's lifestyles and budgets.  My first impression after reading this 24 page book is that it would be most appropriate as a brochure or pamphlet rather than being marketed and sold as a book for $11.95.  I believe this would be perfect for distribution at hospitals and doctors offices to patients or sold for a significantly reduced price.  For a$11.95 most  readers would expect at least a 200 page book. The author has an impotant message to deliver to new moms. The professional and easy to read format makes it easy for the reader to follow along.   The price for me is a big issue as it may be for many readers and is probably going to be a deterrent for sales. For this reason I believe it would be worthwhile for the author to reduce the price or perhaps re-consider the format of this book and publish it as a pamphlet or brochure.  As a blogger I received this book from the author published by Outskirts press for the purpose of writing this review.

Dancing Upon Barren land by Lesli A Westfall

Dancing Upon Barren land: Prayer, Scripture Reflections, and Hope for Infertility  by Lesli A Westfall is a very good resource for anyone who finds themselves suffering the grief of pregnancy loss, stillbirth or infertility.  The statistics are grim- it is difficult to believe here in the unites states alone, that one out of every 160 births is a stillbirth!  And that is a conservative estimate.  This statistic does not even include the higher numbers of pregnancy loss from miscarriage that occur before 20 weeks or even the rising prevalence of infertility in this country alone.  Sadly, the grief of pregnancy loss, still birth and infertility is largely unrecognized.  In the midst of the pro life movement and the attention given to young unwed women contemplating abortion, the very real pain and anguish of a mom who has either lost her beloved baby or faces infertility is ignored.  Nevertheless it is these moms who are more at risk in terms of physical health complications as well as emotionally- than any other group of women. 

Finally there is a book to address the spiritual needs of women facing infertility, pregnancy loss and stillbirth.  Having gone through the grief of infertility herself, the author, Lesli Westfall is uniquely qualified to minister to these suffering women.  Her small, yet to the point book is an excellent resource for women buried in grief, disappointment, anger and even jealousy.  She offers true hope that goes beyond the single minded goal of simply motherhood.  In contrast to other fertility related books, she opens up the avenue of hope by pointing to other goals and accomplishments apart from motherhood that a woman may find fulfillment from.  The fact of the matter is that statistically, many grieving and struggling women may never become biological mothers on this side of eternity- no matter how sincere their prayers are or how faithful they may be.  Sometimes God simply has other plans that do not include motherhood.  Leslie recognizes this and shares with the reader how she found satisfaction and peace by attaining other God given goals and accomplishments apart from motherhood.  This is true hope that any grieving woman may grasp- that happiness and purpose can be found even if God does not grant motherhood.  This is an important message that I feel will empower even the most grief stricken reader.  One thing I would have liked to see included in the book would have been more explanation on page 100 on how God healed her from her grief and sorrow.  As Lesli explains it, "that's a story for another book". Though she hints at her age at being an issue, I also think the reader may benefit from more specific details of her infertility.

As a resource this book includes relevant scripture and prayers that a woman can turn to and revisit at any time.  This concise book ha a section where the reader can turn to when struggling with infertility treatment, anger, finances, grief, jealousy as well as a host of other issues.  As the forward suggests, this makes the book useful as a manual that can be kept at one's bedside. 

As a blogger for Litfuse publicity I received this book published by DUBL for the purpose of writing this review.

The website for the author's online ministry is available by following the link provided:

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Harold the High Knight and Princess Megan by Micheal Andrisano

Harold the High Knight and Princess Megan by Micheal  Andrisano  published by Outskirts Press is a new fantasy adventure novel written with the elementary school aged audience in mind. This book is reminiscent of the fantasy  tradition of C.S. Lewis with the collision of the real world and  imaginary worlds.

While this storyline will appeal to elementary aged children, the 213 pages of small font text is more appropriate for the older independent middle or junior high level reader. I could imagine this as a suitable story for parents to read to their children each night before bedtime.  Nevertheless, the intricate story and detailed fantasy world is very engaging and will be certain to appeal to children of all ages.  I can imagine this story would be enjoyed by young children as well older children.  The mixture of fantasy and reality makes the characters and the circumstances are easy to relate to.  The main characters, Harold and Megan are very well developed.  The backdrop of their homelife is  plausible and believable.  This element of  reality contrasts well with the fantasy world that the two children are introduced to.  The adventures transport the reader to new worlds to interact with a host of imaginary characters. 

Written in a conversational tone, the writing mimics the style of a young excited child who barely stops to take a breath while telling a fascinating tale.  Perhaps that was the intended effect of the author, with his unique, non-traditional literary style which transcends and breaks from traditional rules of writing. The writing has an authentic child-like touch which gives it more appeal to the young reader.

There are a few illustrations within the text that compliment the story -- but it would have been better if there were more illustrations throughout.  Everyone has heard of the phrase that you shouldn't judge a book by its cover.  Nevertheless that is normally the first impression when a customer decides on a book to purchase- especially a child. The cover's cartoon illustration is too simple and does not sufficiently depict the fantasy elements of the story.  A more detailed fantasy art  on the cover would do the story more justice and make the book more appealing to the prospective reader.  The integration of Irish culture and folklore will certainly appeal to those readers of Irish ancestry.
 As a blogger I received this book for the purpose of writing this review.

Pepper Parrot's Problem With Patience by Carole P Roman

Pepper Parrot's Problem With Patience by Carole P Roman is a new book in the Captain No Beard series.  This pirate themed book teaches children an important moral about patience, tolerance and acceptance.  This book combines important values and integrates them into a popular pirate themed book that will appeal to young children.  This book would make a perfect bedtime story for parents to read to their children.

The first book in the series, Captain No Beard by Carole P Roman is a new, vibrantly illustrated children's book based on the popular pirate theme.  This inviting new book introduces children to the friendly pirate named Captain No Beard, and his frigate as well as the host of friendly talking animals.   Basically this is the perfect introduction to childrens pirate literature - like pirate literature 101 complete with the typical pirate talk and pirate cliches with explanations as well.  There is a pirate reference on every page and even references to Davey Jones's locker and a mermaid appearance and treasure too.  The ending presents a suprise twist that kids will enjoy.  There is a hint to this in the subtitle of the book.  Personally i feel the subtitle gives away a little too much as to the unexpected ending.

 As a blogger I received this book from the author for the purpose of writing this review. Both books in the series are  available for purchase on Amazon.

Friday, February 22, 2013

I Want To Do Yoga Too by Carole P Roman

I Want To Do Yoga Too is a new illustrated children's book by Carole P. Roman, author of the illustrated pirate series featuring Captain No Beard.  This short little book is targeted for a very specific audience and is written specifically for yoga going moms with young children.  I imagine this book would be suitable for waiting rooms or distribution at yoga classes or with gym memberships.  This book is complete with authentic eastern details such as a simple lotus flower drawing, a new age all knowing evil eye, and an Islamic letter- symbol.  The simple, distorted childlike line illustrations contrast starkly with the careful, attractive paisly clip art.  This book is reminiscent of modern folk art. The cartoons will appeal to young readers. As a blogger I received this book from the author for the purpose of writing this review.

Captain No Beard by Carole P Roman

Captain No Beard by Carole P Roman is a new, vibrantly illustrated children's book based on the popular pirate theme.  This inviting new book introduces children to the friendly pirate named Captain No Beard, and his frigate as well as the host of friendly talking animals.   Basically this is the perfect introduction to childrens pirate literature - like pirate literature 101 complete with the typical pirate talk and pirate cliches with explanations as well.  There is a pirate reference on every page and even references to Davey Jones's locker and a mermaid appearance and treasure too.  The ending presents a suprise twist that kids will enjoy.  There is a hint to this in the subtitle of the book.  Personally i feel the subtitle gives away a little too much as to the unexpected ending. As a blogger I received this book from the author for the purpose of writing this review. This book is available for purchase on Amazon.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Draw the Circle by Mark Batterson

Draw the Circle :The 40 Day Prayer Challenge by Mark Batterson is part of a growing genre of 40 day devotional books.  The 40 day wilderness account in the new testament gospel of Matthew chapter 4 has inspired countless books and devotionsls based on the 40 day principle of changing one's life and growing closer to God.  Though the themes vary- the 40 day devotional pattern is significant. In contrast to yearly devotionals, 40 day devotionals tend to be more focused in a specific themed and can be complered in a more managable amount of time.

Batterson's devotional is based on his original book- The Circle Maker.  Nevertheless, those readers who never read the previous book can still enjoy this independent devotional.    As the bible teaches prayer can change lives.  It is a wonder how so many Christians overlook something so basic as prayer.  The author brings to light the real power of prayer for the individual and the lives around him or her.  Based heavily on personsal anecdotes and scripture the reader is empowered to seek out the power of prayer for himself.  Many of the stories center around how the reader can minister to those around him- strangers as well as familiar faces alike.  It teaches the reader to be in tune with the proddings of the Holy Spirit.   This book is certainly not to encourage the introverted solitary individual.  The author encourages the reader to take a chance- a risk- and leave tge confines of his circle of comfort- to discard social norms of personal space and privacy- in order to reach out to those in need,  The idea is that we are tools of the Holy Spirit sometimes called to do a work or deliver a message for others- even strangers.  For those who want a comfortable book while sitting at home - for self help- this isn't it.  This book is for those who want to get out and make a difference.

As a blogger for booksneeze I received this book published by Zondervan publishers for the  purpose of writing this review.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Another piece of art from the Richard Bledsoe Collection

The ornate royal crown contrasts with the plain, sullen face of the tired old woman. I can only imagine that the wearer of the heavy crown bears the full moral burden of the weight and responsibility of the ominous oversized headpiece.  Her unenthusiastic, lethargic expression expresses her reluctance to wear the crown which itself resembles the appearance of an old ruined city rather than a royal piece of jewelry.  Her sagging, tired, half closed, glassy eyes expose lifeless orbs that can barely focus.  Her face reflects years of overindulgence.  Any enjoyment from the luxury and excess afforded by her royal position is long gone. The large exaggerated, oversized pearls on her limp sagging ears are the only hint of femininity.  The pearls reflect excessive wealth as well as wastefulness.   They serve no purpose but to weigh her down.  The oversized plush overcoat, and lethargic bloated expression suggest greed and overindulgence of a tyrannical regime that unjustly amasses wealth at the expense of the sacrifice of others.  As the bible declares, in James 5:3 "Your gold and silver have become worthless. The very wealth you were counting on will eat away your flesh like fire. This treasure you have accumulated will stand as evidence against you on the day of judgment" NLT.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Briar Patch Gospel by Shayne Wheeler

The Briar Patch Gospel- Fearlessly Following Jesus into the Thorny Places by Shayne Wheeler is part of a growing trend of an emerging genre that challenges traditional religious practices and thought.  What first comes to mind when one ponders the Great Commission of the New Testament gospel of Matthew might be beautiful gothic churches, dusty prayer books in Latin and mysterious religious statues and icons.  Many defer the role of spreading the good news of the Lord to the preacher, priest or reverend.  For many, the bible is a dusty old book, unopened on the bookshelf or perhaps an old volume- an heirloom- that is fragile and passed down from generations past.

Wheeler challenges these antiquated ideas and makes the claim that each one of us is called to preach the good news.  And in fact we are called out of our comfort zones to share the bible's message.  Written in a personal conversational tone to the modern generation, the author uses anecdotes from his real life experiences of sharing the gospel message in the most unlikely and unexpected of places.  He challenges the reader to do the same as well.  Based on biblical scripture and principles, the author illustrates how each one of us is called to follow and share the message of Jesus everywhere just as Jesus did in his lifetime. The splintered  woodwork cover graphics with its graffiti reflects the  harsh reality of the world we are called to preach in- in direct contrast of the comfort zones of much of middle class America.  It is interesting to note that the author includes quotes in the beginning of each chapter from an assortment of well known secular personalities and leaders as well as well know Christian writers.  As a blogger for Tyndale, I received this Tyndale Momentum book for the purpose ofwriting this review.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Jesus Is __________. By Judah Smith

Jesus Is __________.  Find A New Way to be Human By Judah Smith is a new book written for today's modern generation.  This book introduces both the non believing reader as well as the Christian to a new way of thinking about Jesus and His purpose.  This book challenges the strongly held traditions and misconceptions about Jesus that many people hold onto. 

As the title indicates, the author, a young pastor of a large church, invites the reader to think about who Jesus is and what Jesus means.  The reader is challenged to fill in the blank with what he or she feels Jesus means.  Additionally, Smith takes the reader on a journey that focuses on the traits of Christ and how the reality of Jesus as depicted in the bible stands in direct opposition to the myths that society and traditional religions have created.

For example the author points out that "in reality, for many people, the greatest hindrance to receiving the grace of God is not their scandalous sins- it's their empty good deeds". (page 15)  I am sure that many readers will be offended by this confrontation.  Nevertheless its the truth that Jesus taught- about salvation based on grace and not works.  Smith continues on, by using biblical passages and stories to illustrate the concepts and points.  For example, he provides several examples from the gospels where repentant sinners such as tax collectors were justified in contrast to the hypocritical Pharisees.

The book is divided into several sections based on a specific trait of Jesus in which The Jesus Is _______ (blank) is filled with a specific adjective.  For example, the blank is filled with the following adjectives and descriptions: friend, grace, point, happy, here and alive.  Each trait is covered by three chapters for clarity.  In a personal tone, Smith actually speaks to the reader in easy to understand language that is true to biblical teaching. he combination of biblical accuracy as well as the personal conversational tone is sure to draw in readers of all ages: believers and nonbelivers alike.  In fact, the format of the book encourages the reader to fill in the blanks with his own options as well- as the adjectives listed by Smith are just the beginning of the possibilities.

As a blogger for booksneeze I received this book published by Thomas Nelson publishers for the purpose of writing this review.