Browse Category: English

Review – Fawkes by Nadine Brandes

Book description

Thomas Fawkes is turning to stone, and the only cure to the Stone Plague is to join his father’s plot to assassinate the king of England.

Silent wars leave the most carnage. The wars that are never declared but are carried out in dark alleys with masks and hidden knives. Wars where color power alters the natural rhythm of 17th-century London. And when the king calls for peace, no one listens until he finally calls for death.

But what if death finds him first?

Keepers think the Igniters caused the plague. Igniters think the Keepers did it. But all Thomas knows is that the Stone Plague infecting his eye is spreading. And if he doesn’t do something soon, he’ll be a lifeless statue. So when his Keeper father, Guy Fawkes, invites him to join the Gunpowder Plot—claiming it will put an end to the plague—Thomas is in.

The plan: use 36 barrels of gunpowder to blow up the Igniter King.

The problem: Doing so will destroy the family of the girl Thomas loves. But backing out of the plot will send his father and the other plotters to the gallows. To save one, Thomas will lose the other.

No matter Thomas’s choice, one thing is clear: once the decision is made and the color masks have been put on, there’s no turning back.

First impressions

After reading the Out of Time series by Nadine Brandes, I was excited to know she was releasing a new book, a historical fiction story nicely packaged in a hardcover book with an amazing cover. This could be one of those books you can safely buy because you like the cover and still be confident the story is just as good.

Review 

I’m not so much into historical fiction, but if you add fantasy to the equation, I’m sold. Fawkes is not only inspired by true historical events, in this case the gunpowder plot, but it has a creative magic system that adds flavor to the narrative.

Story

Color power is controlled by speech which in turn can only be effective by wearing a mask given to you by your parents. The influence of the power of each mask is dictated by its color. In Nadine’s words (visit her insta account for pics):

Green masks control green things—plants and trees and growing things mostly. A lot of apothecaries are Greens for this very reason.

Ironically, this the story about Thomas, a boy that cannot use color power, but most importantly, he doesn’t have a clue about his own father. The one who is the one supposed to care for him and help him in the process to bond with a color. Oddly enough, when he finally gets to find him he’s introduced by Guy Fawkes in a plot to kill King James I. 

Characters

Thomas seemed to me a very polite character, because of his age he obviously has this reckless attitude towards adults and problems. He struggles with the person he wants to become, the person others expect him to become and ultimately the person he is supposed to become once he find the truth about himself.

Emma, which belongs to the Igniters, is very interesting character and as you can guess she becomes Thomas’ love interest. The good thing about romance in Fawkes is that it becomes part of the story and not central. Nadine builds a love story slowly through pages filled with big doses of action and political turmoil, giving the readers a balanced story. But Emma is not only that, she’s a character with a personal and difficult story to tell (one that certainly deserves an spin-off).

Finally, can I talk about White Light? This may or may not contain spoilers so just be cautious. White Light is a background character that has very little participation but brings deep truths into the view. I liked the way it spoke differently to each character and the way Nadine crafted the story so you can make you own theories.

Conclusion

Fawkes is a standalone novel, an awesome standalone novel that has the ability to make you part of the gunpowder plot and absorb you into a fictional London filled with magic, intrigue, romance and a search for your identity. If you’re unsure about reading Fawkes because of the fantasy touch, give it a chance and you’ll not be disappointed.

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

Review – Unimaginable by Jeremiah J. Jhonston

Book description

A Stirring Account of Christianity’s Power for Good

In a day when Christians are often attacked for their beliefs, professor and speaker Jeremiah Johnston offers an inspiring look at the positive influence of Christianity, both historically and today. In Unimaginable, you’ll discover the far-reaching ways that Christianity is good for the world–and has been since the first century AD–including:
– How the plights of women and children in society were forever changed by Jesus
– Why democracy and our education and legal systems owe much to Christianity
– How early believers demonstrated the inherent value of human life by caring for the sick, handicapped, and dying
– How Christians today are extending God’s kingdom through charities, social justice efforts, and other profound ways

Like It’s a Wonderful Life, the classic film that showed George Bailey how different Bedford Falls would be without his presence, Unimaginable guides readers through the halls of history to see how Jesus’ teachings dramatically changed the world and continue to be the most powerful force for good today. This provocative and enlightening book is sure to encourage believers and challenge doubters.

Review

I’ve heard about a couple of books dealing with this same topic and always wanted to dive into one of them but never took the time to do it until now. I’m happy Unimaginable is the first one I read about this important subject, one that I believe is important for every believer to understand.

From the very beginning it’s obvious that Johnston is passionate about Jesus and about the impact of Jesus through history, and the good news is that the author is passionate about history.

The book is divided in three parts:

I. The World Before Christianity
II. The World Without Christianity
III. The World With Christianity

When reading Unimaginable you can feel you’re reading an overview of history itself, but when necessary, Johnston points to the specific parts of history and human civilization that have, or haven’t, touched not only by Christianity but by religion and belief in the divine in general.

The point I want to make here is that human civilization, which by its very nature requires law, is not only founded on belief in the divine but was also generated by this belief. Without a sense of the divine, would humans have created civilization? – Jeremiah J. Johnston, p.30

From the ancient Rome to the sad reality of WWII we witness a world of hopelessness and world leaders that chose to turn their backs from God’s principles to face terrible consequences. I really liked the section dedicated to not only the philosophies, but to the lives of some influential thinkers. There’s a clearer idea of why some of them decided to see the world through dark lens and how their thinking affected not only their contemporaries but is still affecting in our present.

But not everything is bad news, the last part narrates the way Christianity flourished in the Roman world and a call to be transformed in the middle of any situation.

Rating:

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

Review – Siren’s Song by Mary Weber

Book description

After a fierce battle with Draewulf, Nym barely escaped with her life. Now, fleeing the scorched landscape of Tulla, her storm-summoning abilities are returning; only . . . the dark power is still inside her.

Broken and bloodied, Nym needs time to recover, but when the full scope of the shapeshifter’s horrific plot is revealed, the strong-willed Elemental must race across the Hidden Lands and warn the other kingdoms before Draewulf ’s final attack.

From the crystalline palaces of Cashlin to the legendary Valley of Origin, Nym scrambles to gather an army. But even if she can, will she be able to uncover the secret to defeating Draewulf that has eluded her people for generations? With a legion of monsters approaching, and the Hidden Lands standing on the brink of destruction, the stage is set for a battle that will decide the fate of the world.

My review

It was a long time ago I read the first book in this series, and it has come the time when I can finally finish it with Siren’s Song.

As with the last book of any series, there’s always a sad feeling about it, but at the same time, it’s great to see characters like Nym and Eogan grow as characters themselves, but also grow in you as you become attached to them.

There’s action and there’s romance in this book, but it’s balanced enough so you can enjoy the story and specially the ending that’s been a favorite for many readers.

If you’re looking for a fantasy story, sprinkled with action and romance, the Storm Siren series is perfect for you.

Rating:

Review – The Baker Compact Dictionary of Biblical Studies

Book description

When it comes to the realm of biblical studies, students of the Bible are often overwhelmed, both with the sheer volume of information and with all of the unfamiliar terms, concepts, and topics. Like any other field of study, the serious study of the Bible has developed a specialized vocabulary. The key terms in this important field are defined in The Compact Dictionary of Biblical Studies. It provides clear, concise, and accurate definitions to help students of the Bible make sense of the specialized language of biblical studies.

Review

The Baker Compact Dictionary of Biblical Studies is a dictionary with a clear purpose, according to the authors, they wanted to share useful definitions for Bible students using their own experience as the main source, although they want it to be accesible for everyone.

The dictionary does not only include word definitions like “Nephilim” but also concept definitions such as

dominical saying

From the Latin dominus, meaning “lord” or “master”, a saying or teaching attributed to Jesus Christ. p. 64

The size of The Baker Compact Dictionary of Biblical Studies makes it great, not only as an academic study but also as a pocket book you can take with you and read wherever you go. Because of the short definitions and explanations its a great learning tool you can carry in your backpack or purse.

Conclusion

The Baker Compact Dictionary of Biblical Studies it’s a great place to start to someone that may feel intimidated by those big and complicated dictionaries out there. If it’s only for the sake of learning or understanding something better this will make a great choice.

Rating:

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

Review – The Last Arrow by Erwin Raphael McManus

Book description

When you come to the end of your days, you will not measure your life based on success and failures. All of those will eventually blur together into a single memory called “life.”

What will give you solace is a life with nothing left undone. One that’s been lived with relentless ambition, a heart on fire, and with no regrets.

On the other hand, what will haunt you until your final breath is who you could have been but never became and what you could have done but never did.

The Last Arrow is your roadmap to a life that defies odds and alters destinies. Discover the attributes of those who break the gravitational pull of mediocrity as cultural pioneer and thought leader Erwin McManus examines the characteristics of individuals who risked everything for a life they could only imagine. Imagine living the life you were convinced was only a dream.

We all begin this life with a quiver full of arrows.

Now the choice is yours. Will you cling to your arrows or risk them all, opting to live until you have nothing left to give?

Time is short. Pick up The Last Arrow and begin the greatest quest of your life.

Review

Having read a lot of good comments about McManus’ last book, I wanted to read this one for myself, so I didn’t hesitate when it became available on of the review program I’m part of.

The Last Arrow is about moving on from our past, from the things trying to hold us back and start living. But living according to the plan God has for us.

It’s an inspirational reading that will shake you and make you to start living a meaningful life.

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 – Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner

Book description

Where are you guys? Text me back. That’s the last message Carver Briggs will ever send his three best friends, Mars, Eli, and Blake. He never thought that it would lead to their death.

Now Carver can’t stop blaming himself for the accident and even worse, a powerful judge is pressuring the district attorney to open up a criminal investigation.

Luckily, Carver has some unexpected allies: Eli’s girlfriend, the only person to stand by him at school; Dr. Mendez, his new therapist; and Blake’s grandmother, who asks Carver to spend a “goodbye day” together to share their memories and say a proper farewell.

Soon the other families are asking for their own goodbye day with Carver—but he’s unsure of their motives. Will they all be able to make peace with their losses, or will these goodbye days bring Carver one step closer to a complete breakdown or—even worse—prison?

Review

Goodbye days is a novel that starts slow with a story that gets weirder through the first chapters. A circle of friends that through an accident becomes just one of them.

This is a slow paced story, Zentner wants you to get the feeling that you’re there, and there’s not only enough descriptions about surroundings to make you feel that, but also the emotional environment that encapsulates the inner thoughts of the protagonist.

Conclusion

Not a story for everyone. If you like contemporary novels, then Goodbye Days is for you.

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 – The Essential Guide to Healing by Bill Johnson and Randy Clark

Book description

The Bible is full of accounts of miraculous healing. And God is moving as amazingly today as he was back then. Thousands are being healed all over the world–and his children are part of it. For the first time, premier renewal leaders Bill Johnson and Randy Clark team up to equip Christians to minister healing. Grounded from start to finish in Scripture, Johnson and Clark lay out the rich theological and historical foundation for healing in the church today.
Full of inspiring stories, this book offers practical, proven, step-by-step guidance to ministering healing, including how to — understand the authority of the believer in healing — create an atmosphere of faith — receive words of knowledge — implement the five-step model of healing prayer The ministry of healing is not reserved for a select few. God’s miraculous healing is part of the Good News–and every believer can become a conduit for his healing power.

First impressions

I’ve read a couple of books by Bill Johnson and it’s worth to say that he’s a great teacher. This is my second time reading Randy Clark and I think I just discovered another great teacher to follow.

Review

I bought this book a year ago, and after reading two chapters I dropped it and it stayed on my bookshelf for an entire year, until I knew I had to finish it someday. I’m not sure why I left this unfinished but I’m grateful I re-discovered it.

The book opens with testimonies from both authors and how were their experiences on healing in their personal lives and ministries. After this introduction Randy takes a couple of chapters to not only explain the importance and relevance of healing today but also to give a theology on healing for those who are a bit skeptical about the gifts of the Spirit being active and available today.

The middle of the book belongs to Johnson, who shares personal experiences about healing and the personal attitude as believers that we should have if we want to experience and get hold of the supernatural in our lives and churches. When reading Johnson’s part I felt challenged to look and ask for more and I thinks this is the intention, to don’t settle for less than the “normal” in the Spirit.

Finally, Randy takes the reins again to share a 5 step “model” (he says he doesn’t like that word) of prayer for healing, giving practical insight about the authority and power we have as believers.

Conclusion

I recommend this book to everyone. There’s no really a “type” of reader for this book, If you are a Christian, then you need to read this book. It’s practical, inspiring and a contains deep truths to be lived by every believer.

Rating:

Review – Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

Book description

“Are you happy with your life?”

Those are the last words Jason Dessen hears before the masked abductor knocks him unconscious.
Before he awakens to find himself strapped to a gurney, surrounded by strangers in hazmat suits.
Before a man Jason’s never met smiles down at him and says, “Welcome back, my friend.”

Read the complete description here.

First impresions

When I knew that Blake Crouch was the mind behind Wayward Pines I knew I had to read Black Matter. I thought it’d have that mystery and intelligence just like the TV show (at least the first season) and I was not wrong. Warning: spoilers ahead.

Review

It wasn’t easy when I wanted to start reading Black Matter, actually it took me some effort to get along with the pace. The story starts giving you a detailed background about a couple of characters, Jason and his family among them, and then about some places and events as well . The best thing is that the action arrives just in time and then the pages start turning by themselves.

Dark Matter stretches the possibilities about the Schrödinger’s cat experiment and Quantum superposition, we’re introduced to Jason’s life, just as he experiences it and lives it. Jason it’s a scientist that put aside many of his dreams in order to search for a normal life with a family. We get a plot twist soon enough and then everything Jason knew to be true becomes a lie or you could say it becomes a half-truth.

The first part of the book focuses on the struggles Jason faces to understand what’s happening, which in the long term involves mental and physical suffering. In his fight to find the truth, he’ll be involved with people and places that have been part of his past but with a very different present. Yes, I know it sounds crazy… and it is.

The second half of the book is charges with action and adventure. It’s here when it’s almost impossible to put the book down. You’ll encounter places and landscapes that could belong to a futurist setting but also some that you could find a post-apocalyptic book. Then you’ll also find some situations that may give you a headache.

Conclusion

Dark Matter was among the finalists as the best book in the science fiction category in the last Goodreads awards and though it didn’t win, it’s definitely a very recommended reading for those looking for a good science fiction book with unexpected but creative plot twists.

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.