Review – The Legend of Sheba by Tosca Lee

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Book description:

There is the story you know: A foreign queen, journeying north with a caravan of riches to pay tribute to a king favored by the One God. The tale of a queen conquered by a king and god both before returning to her own land laden with gifts.

That is the tale you were meant to believe.
Which means most of it is a lie.

The truth is far more than even the storytellers could conjure. The riches more priceless. The secrets more corrosive. The love and betrayal more passionate and devastating.

Across the Red Sea, the pillars of the great oval temple once bore my name: Bilqis, Daughter of the Moon. Here, to the west, the porticoes knew another: Makeda, Woman of Fire. To the Israelites, I was queen of the spice lands, which they called Sheba.

First Impressions

A couple of weeks ago I had the fortune to be receive an eARC for Tosca Lee‘s The Legend Of Sheba – Rise of a Queen. Before, I have just read The Book of Mortals series in collaboration with Ted Dekker but I was curious to read a work of her own. Coincidentally I was reading 1 Kings 10 when I was told I’d take part reading an advanced copy.

Story

You don’t have to be a Bible geek to understand the story. From the very beginning  every detail you need to know about places, governments, customs and religious stuff is broadly explained as part of the story itself. As you read you get to know and understand what matters. It’s remarkable the way Tosca goes into all these old traditions of the kingdoms involved without  feeling you’rereading a history book.

Characters

This is a first person novel, which means the whole thing is narrated by Sheba. As a guy I was able to distinguish her experience in the story as well as I was able to perceive the manly and kind of seductive personality of king Solomon. I felt empathy for the eunuch who served the queen as I felt repulsion for some of the characters and their evil actions. I have to say that even though each character had its own voice, I was lost sometimes due to the number of them. You may be familiar with this feeling or maybe you have a super memory for characters.

Spiritual Content

This is Biblical fiction and you’ll surely find Biblical content. But what I liked about The Legend of Sheba was the realism given to the story. God is mentioned, sure, but there are mentions of other gods and rituals from other religions. King Solomon, the same from our Bibles, also has a big role in the story, but is the same king Solomon who was led astray into pagan worship at the end of his life.

Conclusion

Tosca Lee is a genius, seriously, and this story is a proof of that. One thing, tough, is that I’d recommend this book to older audiences, there are references to rape, sex and pagan rituals that could not be properly understood by some even they’re part of the story.

Rating:

ismeniA couple of days ago Tosca Lee released Ismeni, a short prequel for The Legend of Sheba. The best part is that is totally free in eBook format. You can find it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble among many others, click here to see more options.

Remember, Ismeni was released past Tuesday as a prequel but The Legend of Sheba will be available on Sept. 9th.

I received this eARC from Simon and Schuster  in exchange for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Reseña – El único e incomparable Iván de Katherine Applegate

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Descripción del libro:

Iván es un poderoso pero tranquilo gorila espalda plateada. Vive en la salida 8 del centro comercial Gran Circo, allí se ha acostumbrado a los humanos que lo observen a través de las paredes de cristal de su jaula. Rara vez echa de menos su vida en la selva. De hecho, casi nunca piensa en ello. Cuando conoce a Ruby, una bebé elefante que ha sido apartada de su familia, Iván comienza a ver su hogar de una forma distinta. (más info aquí)

Primeras Reacciones

Normalmente no reseño libros que caigan en la categoría de infantiles así que este será la primera excepción. No estaba seguro si elegirlo o no, pero después de las buenas reseñas que encontré por la red, además de los múltiples premios que ganó me orilló a elegirlo. El buen gusto de la portada también tuvo que ver.

Historia

La historia es bastante sencilla y si te gusta investigar encontrarás que gran parte de la historia está basada en hechos reales. Varios de los animales en verdad existieron y varias de las situaciones por las que pasan en el libro lamentablemente también fueron reales. Lo interesante es que la autora dio en el blanco al recrear la historia e inyectarle buenas dosis de esperanza, humor y aprendizaje. Aunque este libro está catalogado como ‘infantil’ el mensaje que comunica es universal y cualquier joven o adulto puede disfrutarlo.

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Personajes

La historia es narrada por Iván y todos los personajes que intervienen en la historia son contados con la mano así que no corres el peligro de perderte o confundirte. Cada personaje tiene una personalidad distintiva que ayuda a que la historia fluya con naturalidad y hasta el ‘villano’ de la historia te causa cierta empatía cuando conoces su historia. Las palabras y frases utilizadas a lo largo de la historia son bastante simples pero de cierta manera te hacen creer que es la forma en que un gorila se expresaría, no hay otra manera de explicarlo.

Conclusión

En medio de libros llenos de historias fantásticas llevadas al extremo, El único e incomparable Iván de Katherine Applegate es una opción bastante recomendable para quienes buscan una historia común y corriente con un mensaje bastante positivo que no solo hará reflexionar a los pequeños sino a cualquier persona dispuesta a prestar atención.

Calificación:  

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

Reseña – RVR 1960 Edición Especial con Referencias

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Después de varias entradas en inglés toca el turno de una en español. Esta la primera vez que reseño una Biblia y no es algo tan fácil como esperaba. Antes que nada, mi reseña no es de cada libro, eso tomaría algo de tiempo. Mas bien, mi reseña es sobre esta presentación en específico, la Biblia Edicion Especial con Referencias.

La versión de esta Biblia es la Reina Valera 1960, es de las más usadas en el idioma castellano y de la que también existen diferentes revisiones. Sin embargo y como mera opinión personal ha sido mi preferida desde que era niño.

Hablando de los interiores esta edición contiene:

• Palabras de Cristo en rojo
• Página de presentación/sección de registro familiar
• Síntesis de cada libro de la Biblia
• Armonía de la vida de Cristo
• Plan de salvación
• Mapas a todo color
• Cinta marcadora
• Referencias a pie de página
• Cómo leer toda la Biblia
• Panorama histórico de la Biblia
• Apariciones luego de la resurrección
• Qué leer cuando
• Jesús y los diez mandamientos
• Historia de los apóstoles
• Concordancia de 64 páginas

A pesar del número tan grande de características estás son bastante tradicionales y antiguas y las encontrarás en casi cualquer edición. Muchas de ellas como las síntesis de cada capítulo son bastante breves. Sin duda todas las secciones del final servirán como una buena introducción para quienes apenas tienen un encuentro con las Escrituras.

bibliarv60Esta edición solo contiene referencias, asi que debes de prestar atención si lo que estás buscando es una Biblia de estudio. Las referencias son bastante útiles al momento de entender el contexto de un versículo o al relacionar la aparición de otro versículo similar en otro libro. Todas las referencias vienen al pie de la página y no son para nada intrusivas al momento de leer.

Hablando del exterior esta es una Biblia empastada en símil piel con costuras. Pero por experiencia propia puedo decirte que dicho material tiene una duración bastante larga si se tiene cuidado con el. La pasta es gruesa y reforzada por dentro por lo que en verdad creo que puede soportar bastante bien un trato de uso normal sin maltratarse. La única decepción que tuve fue el color ya que el color oro/marron es un color oro brillante que no se alcanza a apreciar en la fotografía del empaque, el color oro es un amarillo brillante.

Para terminar, creo que esta edición es bastante accesible tanto para uso personal como para regalo. No es una Biblia llena de comentarios o material extra pero aún así las referencias son suficientes para quien busca un buena biblia de uso diario.

Aclaración: Recibí una copia de este libro gratuitamente de B&H Publishing Group a cambio de una reseña honesta.

Review – Foundations in Comic Book Art by John Paul Lowe

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Book description:

Artists seeking a way to break into the exciting world of sequential art first need to master the tools, techniques, and habits used by their favorite pencillers, inkers, and digital artists for creating dynamic, exciting comic artwork. In Foundations for Comic Book Art, the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD)—a leading force in art and design education—enlists one of its top instructors, John Paul Lowe, to provide aspiring comic book makers with a thorough primer for creative comics, featuring must-know concepts like contour drawing, mastering perspective, using photo-reference, and adding digital patterns. Examples from the works of SCAD faculty, alumni, and students are paired with Lowe’s easy-to-follow, step-by-step lessons and exercises for readers, demonstrating the vital processes all would-be sequential artists have to know before joining the ranks of the comic book–making elite.

Introduction

Reading the description of this book I was expecting something basic or ‘fundamental’. I was expecting specific topics for beginners with clear tutorials and illustrations. Somehow I thought I’d get to know and understand the ‘vital process’ of all those who want to break into the comic industry. At the end I know one thing, this book has a great description based on great content but it doesn’t deliver.

Content

Yes, you’ll find an interesting introduction about drawing and a couple of chapters about it, there are interesting concepts and exercises but I felt like the author was really shallow in his exposition at the expense of having really big and nice pictures and illustrations used as a reference.

This book is 10.9 x 8.5 x 0.5 inches, which means it’s big, big enough to keep a balance between the written content and the graphic examples. But instead the examples and illustrations took almost all the space of the book. Every chapter was divided by a two full page random illustrations and there were times I felt most of the examples given in each chapter served more as fillers than something else.

Don’t get me wrong, after reading and following the tutorials, you’ll learn a couple of new things just like I did. But after being honest with myself I found this book being more like a portfolio or printed ad of the SCAD and its alumni. Maybe I’m totally wrong but this was my personal impression.

One thing I really liked were the chapters where Lowe shared his tool recommendations. He doesn’t only share what you need but why you need it and where you can get it. He even shares the best options to choose for those who are just starting and want to practice.

Conclusion

I’d recommend Foundations in Comic Book Art to those who want to have a glimpse about basic drawing and basic tools used by professionals. It’s a good start if you’re interested to become a future artist in the comic book industry.

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.

Review – simplify. by Bill Hybels

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Book description:

Exhausted. Overwhelmed. Overscheduled. Sound familiar? Today’s velocity of life can consume and control us . . . until our breakneck pace begins to feel normal and expected. That’s where the danger lies: When we spend our lives doing things that keep us busy but don’t really matter, we sacrifice the things that do… Read more.

Introduction

A couple of years ago my youth pastor borrowed me his copy of Axiom by Bill Hybels, and it was a great book about leadership, offering simple yet practical proverbs. When I saw that simplify. Hybels‘ newest book was available for review I didn’t hesitate to request it.

At first glance and after you read the first pages it’s easy to believe this book it’s only for those people working in full time occupations: business man, pastors, first class leaders and the like. But the more I read the book, the more I realized Hybels didn’t have in mind a particular group, but quite the opposite. Every chapter was accessible for every kind of person I could think about, from busy parents to high class entrepreneurs.

According to Hybels:

Simplified living is about more than doing less. It’s being who God called us to be, with a wholehearted, single-minded focus. It’s walking away from innumerable lesser opportunities in favor of the few to which we’ve been called and for which we’ve been created… – Bill Hybels

Content

I noticed certain pattern in the chapters, and I believe the order is not coincidental or without purpose. Hybels starts with tangible issues as personal activities or attitudes, those that fill our ‘bucket’ or give us energy or those who drain you and leave you depleted.

Another that falls into this category is the chapter about having an over scheduled life vs. having an organized life. There are practical advice given to  keep a balance on everyone’s priorities. There’s one quote from this chapter that stands out, and actually it doesn’t come from Hybels, but from one of his friends when he was seventeen:

How would you spend your time if God were in charge of it?

And then as I was saying there is other part of the book that deals with intangible issues like forgiveness and relationships. For both cases personal stories  in these areas are provided for a better understanding. Hybels is a pastor and his wisdom in these matters doesn’t come only from information or deep understanding of the Scriptures, but from present and past experiences in his life.

Each chapter finishes with an action step section,  where some questions are laid down for you to answer in order to start simplifying your life. As you finish each chapter you’ll start recognizing the benefits this can give to your life. Do not skip these sections since surely they’re a fundamental part of the reason you want to read this book in first place.

Conclusion

I don’t like to make comparisons but if you like John C. Maxwell, my guess is you’ll like Bill Hybels. Both are recognized as a top teachers on leadership and the way they deliver their ideas is similar as they both use many examples from real life and make a call to apply the acquired knowledge into the daily life of any kind of person.

Rating: 

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

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