Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Review of "My Imaginary Jesus" by Matt Mikalatos

Matt and his best friend Jesus are having lunch in a cafe in Portland, when a guy named Pete comes in and a few minutes later, punches Jesus in the face!  And so the adventure begins - an adventure that involves a talking donkey, an unlimited amount of different "Jesus-es" (I think my personal favorite fake Jesus was a toss up between Magic 8 Ball Jesus and Testosterone Jesus) and even a few bible characters.  Throw in a great deal of personal discovery and I found a winner.

I must admit, I was initially a little skeptical that I would enjoy this book....but I truly did!  I thought it was clever, witty, entertaining, AND seriously thought provoking....not always a simple combination to achieve.  I enjoyed the sense that it was a bit autobiographical, although it was technically a fiction book.  The author's sense of humor is evident (I laughed out loud a few times), but it's in no way irreverent or insulting.  His nods and inside jokes resonated with me.  I definitely recommend this book and look forward to reading more by Mr. Mikalatos.

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Review of "Beckon" by Tom Pawlik

Welcome to Beckon: You're not here by chance.

The story of three people who arrive in the same town, around the same time, for very different reasons:
Anthropology student Jackson Kendrick wants to validate his father's research and find out the truth about his disappearance.
Police Officer Elina Gutierrez is searching for her cousin, who disappeared in a suspicious manner...did he find a job, or was he kidnapped?
Devoted husband and retired businessman George Wilcox is desperate for his wife Miriam to be healed from Alzheimer's.  He will do anything for their lives to go back to the way they used to be, and he has been searching for a way to fix this for four years.
Once they (individually) arrive, crazy things begin to happen - and it just gets stranger and stranger.

This was an interesting read for me.  I'm not typically a huge fan of the "thriller" genre, and even after waiting a few days to write this review, I remain lukewarm towards this book.  I did appreciate the author's style of introducing each "main" character's story separately, but then weaving everything together without much retread - it was seamless and impressive!  Be aware that this book is pretty graphic and descriptive in regards to the human sacrifices.  Ultimately, I just have mixed feelings.

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Monday, July 16, 2012

Review of "Skip Rock Shallows" by Jan Watson

I've missed Jan Watson books!  So glad to get to revisit one of my favorite characters, Lilly Gray Corbett.

Lilly is all grown up and is a doctor now, and is at her first "post" in Skip Rock Shallows.  Skip Rock is a mining town and therefore injuries are common.  Initially she is ostracized and people are suspicious (after all, this is the early 1900's and women doctors are unusual); but after she saves a local's leg and they discover she is the cousin of a prominent family, she is accepted.  Throw in some conspiracy and a tiny bit of a love triangle, and we've got a story!

I enjoyed Skip Rock Shallows and can easily recommend this book (and all of Jan Watson's books, for that matter).

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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Review of "The Last Disciple" by Hank Hannegraaf & Sigmund Brouwer

Set in the first century, and based on the book of Revelation (the 'Last Disciple' refers to John), this book offers a different take on the Tribulation than the Left Behind series.  I find it interesting that both series are published by Tyndale House, especially considering the Afterword.

That said, here are my thoughts:  I felt this was a well written and intriguing book.  However, there are so many characters and subplots that at times I (and this could just be me) was a bit challenged to keep it all straight.  It well illustrates the excesses of ancient Rome and the abuse of power and corruption so common then.  I appreciated the author's research and seeming understanding of the times.

I can recommend this book; however, I don't feel that it's one I would personally care to re-read over and over.

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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Review of "The Tehran Initiative" by Joel C. Rosenberg

It's the sign of a great read when you find yourself (days later, and even after you've started a new one!) reviewing things and trying to reason them out in your mind.  This was one of those books.

In the sequel to "The Twelfth Imam", we rejoin CIA Operative David Shirazi and jump right back into the action, picking up immediately where The Twelfth Imam left off.  The crisis continues to escalate.  Even with nuclear weapons now in play, the White House is quite passive in their response to David's intel, and Israel is taking more and more action.  David's life is further complicated by his mother's cancer, as well as his growing re-connection with Marseille.

In a subplot, Dr. Malik (who David helped flee Iran) is now in a safe house in the US, but he is compelled to take to the airwaves as well as establish a Twitter account, sharing with his countrymen about his conversion and gaining tons of followers almost immediately.  (I loved the several technology nods to social networking, even in a number of different countries, throughout the book).

I can't wait for the next in this series, and I highly recommend both it and the first book, "The Twelfth Imam".

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Review of "Not in the Heart" by Chris Fabry

Truman Wiley.  Once a famous and celebrated newsman, he has separated from his wife, is estranged from his two children (one of whom is awaiting a heart transplant), and has a dangerous gambling problem.  Oh yeah, and he loves cats.

He is approached to write the story of a death row inmate who wants to donate his heart post execution to Truman's son.  As he delves deeper into the story, the information he discovers just may reveal a different killer - but if it does, what will happen his son?

I LOVED this book.  I loved the mystery, the heartache, the moral dilemma....all well written and touching - I can't say enough good things about this book.  You must get it and see for yourself!

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Thursday, July 5, 2012

Review of "The Twelfth Imam" by Joel C. Rosenberg

I'm not typically drawn to books set largely in the political arena, but I am so glad I picked this one up.

The Shirazi family escaped Iran in the late 70's, and has lived in the US ever since.  Following the events of September 11, their youngest of three sons, David, is driven by love for a girl named Marseille, and a hate for Osama bin Laden.  He is recruited by the CIA while still in his teens and they begin to put his extreme intelligence and background to use.  Meanwhile, the Twelfth Imam or Mahdi begins to appear, seemingly fulfilling Islamic prophecy.  Nuclear war is at stake, specifically intended to bring about the "End of Days", and many lives hang in the balance.

The author is excellent at building the "backstory" on the characters, and yet we move at such an intense pace.  This was my first time reading anything by Mr. Rosenberg.  It was incredibly intricate and truly, it's a long book - but never slow - and I just couldn't put it down.  I even found myself shushing my family.  :)  I also loved all of the real-life press citations that were used throughout the book.

I've just started book two, I can't wait to see what happens next, and I highly recommend this series!

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Monday, July 2, 2012

Review of "The Touch" by Randall Wallace

Dr. Andrew Jones, "Jones" to most everyone who knows him, has a gift.  An off the charts, special-like-no-one-is-special, gift.  However, a tragedy in his life has impaired him in a number of ways, and he is teaching others - but not practicing personally.

Dr. Lara Blair is the intensely smart and seeking researcher that on the surface has everything - beauty, brains, billions - and she is not truly satisfied in life or with herself.

The author employs a tiny twist and we are taken on a journey to discover that the most important "touch" of all.
I really enjoyed this book.  I would highly recommend it - it's a great, fairly quick read - and hopefully it will make you think as it did for me.

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