Review – A.D. 30 by Ted Dekker

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Book Description:

A sweeping epic set in the harsh deserts of Arabia and ancient Palestine.

A war that rages between kingdoms on the earth and in the heart.

The harrowing journey of the woman at the center of it all.

Step back in time to the year of our Lord…A.D. 30.

The outcast daughter of one of the most powerful Bedouin sheikhs in Arabia, Maviah is called on to protect the very people who rejected her. When their enemies launch a sudden attack with devastating consequences, Maviah escapes with the help of two of her father’s warriors–Saba who speaks more with is sword than his voice and Judah, a Jew who comes from a tribe that can read the stars. Their journey will be fraught with terrible danger. If they can survive the vast forbidding sands of a desert that is deadly to most, they will reach a brutal world subjugated by kings and emperors. There Maviah must secure an unlikely alliance with King Herod of the Jews. – Click here for full description.

First Impressions

If you do a quick search or click here, you will know I’m a big Ted Dekker fan, so when I was offered to review A.D. 33 I didn’t hesitate. Having read The Legend of Sheba by Tosca Lee I was curious about the way Dekker would deal not only with historical fiction but with the historical Jesus (Yeshua in the book).

Story

Unlike what we may think, it’s not Jesus the one narrating his own life, it’s not a Christmas story, and definitely it’s not about Jesus performing endless miracles. It’s actually about a girl called Maviah,  who has gone through a lot of problems since she was born. And it’s Maviah’s life the one that eventually collides with the life of Jesus.

The story evolves and unfolds naturally. I didn’t feel Dekker was in a hurry to introduce Jesus or Jesus’ teachings in the first pages as in a hurry to look preachy. Instead, as we get to know Maviah’s life and those around her, the need for redemption makes its appearance by itself.

For those worried about the author putting his own words in Jesus’ mouth, it’s good to know that in this case Dekker was clever in creating and re imaging different situations where he was able to actually quote Jesus’ teachings straight from the Bible. And there’s an appendix at the end where he presents each teaching with the corresponding passage.

Characters

I haven’t read all of Dekker’s books so I’m not sure about this, but I think this is one or maybe the first time where the protagonist is a woman.  Maviah the main character has a unique voice, tough she’s a young girl, there’s a maturity in his words and actions from the beginning. There’s a lot to learn from Maviah’s life, I guess almost everyone can feel identified with her in one way or another.

Judah is another strong character and plays an important role in the story, he’s the link between Maviah and Jesus. And yes, he also provides the romantic side although this is not the main focus.

There are many characters and most of them are just as attractive as the protagonists. Everyone has its own voice and most important everyone play a role in the story and are part of the whole narrative. It may be for their evil intentions or their virtues but to me all of them became memorable.

Conclusion

This is one of those books that are not only a good work of historical fiction. It’s impact and message goes beyond the time you take to read and finish the story and if you allow it this also becomes part of your own story. I recommend this book for those who already know Ted Dekker, but also for those who are trying to find something fresh and inspiring for their lives.

Rating: 

I received this book from CenterStreet in exchange for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Review – Emissary by Thomas Locke

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Book Description

With his twenty-first birthday, Hyam begins a journey that will lead him to his destiny–or his doom.

Hyam has always shown a remarkable ability to master languages, even those left unspoken for a thousand years. But now the shadow of suspicion that was cast upon him as a child prodigy at Long Hall is lengthening, and he must keep his identity hidden–or face annihilation.

As Hyam’s mother slips toward death, she implores him to return to Long Hall before he settles down to farm his land. This journey born from duty becomes an impassioned quest for the truth. War is coming swiftly, and Hyam must rely upon his newfound powers and the friends he meets along the way in order to unravel the puzzling past and ensure that he–and the realm–will have a future.

First Impressions

After reading the description, this book seemed to be a good one to pick up for review. I really like fantasy with a touch of epic battles plus the cover is just amazing and intriguing.

Story

This is a story about a boy trying to find his identity. That sounds really generic, doesn’t it? Well, the good thing is that this boy’s story in search for identity goes beyond only that. I liked the way the author put the main character in different environments and situations in a quest that began as an individual issue with Hyam looking for his identity and purpose, but later became a kingdom issue, with different people cooperating for a common cause.

The worlbuilding was amazing, , I couldn’t find weak points. There are enough details to recreate every place the author is describing. I had this feeling of arriving a city and meeting new people that was there long before me.

Characters

When I’m reading fiction I like to read characters living in a fictional world but behaving like a real human, and I’m glad my expectation was met while reading Emissary. Hyam is the hero of this story, he’s maybe not the perfect hero, but he’s in the way not to become one but in the way to be a better one.

Joelle could be considered as the second main character in the book. The book constantly shifts from Hyam’s PoV to Joelle’s, this may be a little tiring at the beginning but it becomes natural after a few chapters, and the good thing is that both stories come together in a really cohesive and natural way.

Spiritual Content

Thomas Locke is a pseudonym for Davis Bunn, who has published several books for the christian market. Emissary is the first book that seems to be written for the general market, so don’t expect a ‘christian message’ (whatever that could mean to you) in this story.

Actually to those concerned with the use of magic, there’s plenty of it in this book. There’s not a complex magic system as in some epic fantasy books, but there are certain rules and ways magic can be used. The main character is constantly relying on magic to achieve his purposes from the very beginning and there are many characters that use magic as well.

The only thing I didn’t like about Emissary was Hyam’s dependence on the magic orbs used through his adventures. I’m looking forward if this will bring any consequences in the next books. Why? well, because I wouldn’t like to tell a story that encourages the use of magic or anything else to accomplish the little and the big fights in life.

Conclusion

This was an exciting reading, I hardly wanted to put the book down. I loved the setting of the story and the interaction of the characters. I’d recommend you this book if you like Tolkien or Lewis, I know the publisher is already promoting this book among the fans of these writers, but after finishing Emissary I can say it is indeed true.

Rating: 

I received this book from Revell in exchange for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Reseña – Antes de Morirme de Jenny Downham

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Descripción del libro:

Un día como cualquier otro te enteras de que te quedan unos pocos meses de vida. Un golpe difícil de asimilar, sin duda, pues ¿cómo afrontas semejante realidad? ¿Qué mecanismos psicológicos se desatan ante la certeza de lo inevitable?

Primeras Impresiones

Por el nombre lo primero que pienso es: “De seguro otro libro de chicas muriendo por alguna enfermedad no antes de conocer al amor de su vida”. No he leído Bajo la misma Estrella, solo he visto la película, y sin embargo sentí tenía enfrente algo muy similar.

Historia

Para hacer el cuento largo, corto, la historia trata de una chica que está diagnosticada con leucemia, tiene poco tiempo de vida y antes de que se le acabe decide cumplir varios deseos que tiene en una lista personal. Dichos deseos van desde cosas muy sencillas e infantiles hasta algo mas complejas como infringir la ley. En el proceso nuestra protagonista conoce a un chico y sin quererlo se va enamorando.

Me costó bastante trabajo agarrar el ritmo con el libro, demasiado, mucho. No fue hasta la mitad que empecé a agarrarle un poco de ritmo e interés. Aun así, gran parte de la historia es bastante predecible. Le doy el merito a la autora por intentar crear una realidad bastante palpable y creíble. No le doy tanto por darme otra historia genérica acerca de los últimos días de vida de una chica desahuciada.

Personajes

Tessa, la protagonista es una adolescente que si bien está sufriendo, padece de una actitud pésima. No se si una conducta como la de ella sea ‘normal’ para alguien en su circunstancia. En lo personal creo que no hay pretexto para todas las tonterías que hace de principio a fin, no llega un momento en que la madurez se asome, ni en lo más mínimo.

Zoey, es el segundo personaje que acapara la historia, y es compañera de aventuras de Tessa. A diferencia del balance que esperarías de la ‘amiga’ de la protagonista, Zoey parece hacer todo lo contrario.

Terminé buscando algún otro personaje que pudiera rescatar la historia, y lamentablemente ni siquiera el padre de Tessa pasó la prueba. Tenía el complejo del papá complaciente, que no solo cumplía los caprichos de la hija, sino que terminaba sometiéndose a ellos.

Contenido

Hubo ciertos temas de los que no disfruté para nada, no solamente por el hecho de que fueron incluidos, sino también por como fueron abordados.

El primero de ellos es el del sexo entre adolescentes. No solo es un hábito común y corriente en la historia, sino que la autora se encarga de romantizarlo, como queriendo ganarse la aceptación de parte del lector. Debe quedar claro que hay descripciones gráficas del acto sexual en varias ocasiones. Tessa tiene dieciséis años.

El segundo es el tema del aborto. No entraré en detalle para no arruinarles la historia, pero el simple hecho de que la autora considerara el aborto como una opción, me parece bastante fuera de lugar e innecesario. Sobra decir que estoy en contra del aborto en cualquier situación y creo que la inclusión de el en la historia no aporta nada.

Conclusión

Aunque parece ser una historia inspiradora y conmovedora, Antes de Morirme me pareció todo lo contrario. Me dejo con un mal sabor de boca y con la duda de saber si ‘agarrar la vida por los cuernos’, como la autora lo describe, es ser alguien caprichoso, tonto y que toma decisiones sin pensar en las consecuencias, pero sobre todo, si es un pensamiento tan fácil de aceptar para muchos. Definitivamente creo que hay cosas mejores.

Calificación: 

Aclaración: Recibí una copia de este libro gratuitamente de editorial OCEANO para esta reseña.

Review – City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett

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Book description:
The city of Bulikov once wielded the powers of the gods to conquer the world, enslaving and brutalizing millions—until its divine protectors were killed. Now Bulikov has become just another colonial outpost of the world’s new geopolitical power, but the surreal landscape of the city itself—first shaped, now shattered, by the thousands of miracles its guardians once worked upon it—stands as a constant, haunting reminder of its former supremacy.

Into this broken city steps Shara Thivani. Officially, the unassuming young woman is just another junior diplomat sent by Bulikov’s oppressors. Unofficially, she is one of her country’s most accomplished spies, dispatched to catch a murderer. But as Shara pursues the killer, she starts to suspect that the beings who ruled this terrible place may not be as dead as they seem—and that Bulikov’s cruel reign may not yet be over.

I don’t even know how to start this post. This is the first time I actually don’t finish a book I’m trying to review. So, please note that my opinion on this book is solely in my personal experience and perception of my unfinished reading.

I was attracted to this book because of the description, and yes, the cover. The story seemed to be a mix between fiction, mystery and fantasy. I was really excited to start reading this masterpiece.

The thing is that I started reading City of Stairs since October and every time I wanted to just sit and read I’d put the book down after a few pages. Normally I’d end a book this length in no more than two weeks.

One of the reasons was the names the author chose to use for people and places, they’re like a mix of Russian with something else. I had a hard time not only guessing the pronunciation but this also became a distraction.

The worldbuilding is really good, at least until not only places and cities were described in detail, making you feel like they really existed, cities, buildings, and the history behind each one of them.

But after a hundred pages or so the reading became exhausting. Normally I’d finish a book just for the sake of finishing it, but I just can’t continue with this one.

Finally, I’d recommend you to check these two links (here and here) for a more complete and maybe more positive review of this book.

Rating: 

I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Reseña – ¿Cuan bueno es suficientemente bueno? por Andy Stanley

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Descripción del libro

¿Debe de haber más de una manera para entrar al cielo? El autor guía a creyentes y escépticos por igual al descubrimiento de la enorme gracia y misericordia de Dios. Excelente herramienta para la evangelización.

Primeras impresiones

Tomé prestado este libro, entre otros, de mi pastor. Conocía de Andy Stanley por su libro de Visioingienería, que no he leído. Al ver que no era más que un libro de apenas 90 páginas decidí darme la oportunidad de leerlo. Además de que la edición es bastante práctica al ser de pasta dura y de bolsillo.

Contenido

Con tan poco espacio, creo que Stanley ha hecho un excelente trabajo en cuanto al contenido. Uno no necesita ser cristiano para poder entender o recibir el mensaje. El lenguaje usado es bastante sencillo de entender y está dirigido a una audiencia mixta, con eso quiero decir que tanto un cristiano, como un no creyente puede leerlo con la misma facilidad.

El título describe la intención del autor y a través de los pocos capítulos Stanley explica desde cero la percepción del ser humano hacia la eternidad, ¿Estamos calificados? ¿que o quién nos califica? ¿cuál es nuestra parte? Pero no todo se trata de preguntas, sino que el autor también provee las respuestas, no de manera neutra como queriendo complacer a alguien, sino siendo directo con lo que la Biblia dice al respecto.

Conclusión

Cuando terminé de leer, pude repasar algunas cosas que ya sabía, otras que había olvidado y algunas otras que me llamaron la atención. Además creo que este pequeño tomo es un excelente regalo para cualquier persona, al final creo que todos nos hemos hecho la pregunta de la portada.

Puntuación:

Aclaración: No obtuve este libro para ser reseñado ni se me requirió escribir una reseña – Yo elegí hacerlo. Todos los pensamientos y opiniones expresados son propios.