Friday, September 30, 2011

The Queen


By Steven James

Read the Back:

While investigating a mysterious double homicide in an isolated northern Wisconsin town, FBI Special Agent Patrick Bowers uncovers a high-tech conspiracy that ties together long-buried Cold War secrets with present-day tensions in the Middle East.

In his most explosive thriller yet, bestselling author Steven James delivers a pulse-pounding, multilayered storytelling tour de force that will keep you guessing.

The Queen is the latest Patrick Bowers thriller from the author Publishers Weekly calls a "master storyteller at the peak of his game."

My Thoughts:
This is the 5th book in the Bower Series by Steven James. Preceding books are: The Pawn, The Rook, The Knight, and The Bishop. This is, however, the first book by Steven James that I have ever read and I must say that he did NOT disappoint me in one bit! I didn't feel lost from not having read the other 4 books, which, to me, is an important thing within series of books.

This book is packed full of interesting characters in a great variety of situations. There is action on every page! This is another book that initially runs parallel story lines so that takes a little getting used to. I also found some of the initial descriptions of a crime scene to be a bit graphic, but it didn't distract from the story so that's a bonus!

This has a good blend of action and suspense as well as the "romantic" side too. I felt fulfilled by this book as it read just as if I were watching a movie. It was a quick read and it was enjoyable the entire way through.

I will definitely be reading the others in the Patrick Bower series and I recommend that you pick up a copy of Steven James' The Queen for yourself!

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favourite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Realms Thereunder


By Ross Lawhead

Read the Back:


A homeless man is stalked by a pale, wraithlike creature with a mouthful of needle-sharp teeth. Maimed animals and a host of suicides cluster around a mountain in Scotland. And deep beneath the cobbled streets of Oxford, a malicious hoard besieges a hidden city.

Freya Reynolds is a university student with a touch of OCD and an obsession with myth and folklore. Daniel Tully is living rough on the streets of Oxford, waging a secret war against an enemy only he can identify. Years ago, they found themselves in a world few know is real. They have since gone their separate ways and tried to put that adventure behind them.

But the mythical world is now bleeding into our reality -- a dark spiritual evil that is manifesting itself in forgotten corners of the British Isles. Alex Simpson is a Scottish police officer who specializes in hunting mythical creatures. Together, they must confront the past, the present, and points beyond to defeat the ultimate threat to humanity.

Nothing they've seen so far prepares them for what The Realms Thereunder.

My Thoughts:

I had a very strong Love/Hate relationship with this book from the very beginning. At first, I hated it. I found it very hard to follow and was getting annoyed with the languages that were presenting themselves. Then, once I figured out the general layout and flow of the book, I enjoyed it more and more. (though I still didn't like dealing with the language).

The action and adventure that is in this book is amazing and I did find myself holding my breath a few times. The characters and creatures in this book are presented in such a way as to allow the reader to really imagine and extrapolate on how the author describes them. I enjoy this about a book. It lets me imagine things how I think they'd look.

The story lines are easy enough to follow, but there were a few parts, honestly, that I skimmed. However, I feel that it was the author's intent for the reader to do so and, as you'll see when you read this book, it helps the reader to really relate to the character of Freya in that moment.

There is a whole lot going on in this book and it really has you discovering new twists and turns right up through the end of the book. I definitely recommend picking up a copy and I look forward to reading the next book in Sept. 2012.

Book has been provided courtesy of Thomas Nelson and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favourite bookseller from Thomas Nelson.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Stuck DVD Study


By Jennie Allen

Read the Back:

We are often so stuck in invisible struggles in our hearts and minds, we barely have space for God. These deep struggles, these stuck places, are familiar to every one of us: brokenness, anger, discontentment, fear, and sadness. Stuck takes on these struggles within us so that we can encounter God. Because until we recognize that we are stuck and in need of God, we will miss what He has for us.

Jennie Allen's Bible studies are designed to draw women close to God and to each other. These shorter studies dig deep quickly, creating experiential conversations and allowing women to wrestle with Scripture in a deep and authentic way throughout the week.

Features include:
- 8 sessions on DVD
- Study Guide with story-driven teaching, Scripture study, and short
five-day-per-week lessons
- Leader’s Guide for facilitating group study
- Conversation cards help to facilitate more spontaneous and authentic
- Promotional resources for churchwide campaign

Additional Stuck study guides can be purchased separately (ISBN 9781418548742).
One kit is recommended for each group of 8-12 women.

My Thoughts:
This study is really different from many studies I've done and that's a good thing :D The chapters in the study are: Intro, Broken, Mad, Discontent, Scared, Overwhelmed, Sad, and Unstuck. The titles really describe what the chapter deals with. I was given the chapter of Mad, which was really ironic as I have been talking with my husband about anger management and this really spoke to me.

Basically the best way for me to review this is to explain how it is I think this curriculum would best work. I could see a group of women gathering and opening with prayer for the session. Then the video clip for the chapter (which ranged from 5-10 min. long) would be played. The corresponding scripture listed in the book would then be read. There are responses to the scripture that could be discussed with the group as a whole. The next section of the book is an inward reflection on yet another scripture and each individual's life. This would work well as a "take a few minutes by yourself and think on this, we'll then come back together as a group and share if you feel comfortable" section. Then there is a section with projects that could be done at the gathering or at home as a sort of "homework".

I enjoyed the DVD clips greatly as the pictures that accompany Jennie's speaking are so metaphorical and really drive home the point that she is making.

I definitely think that the conversation starting cards that come with the kit would give an added value to it, but I didn't have the opportunity to see those. This is not designed to be a solo study, and although you could do it by yourself, I feel that the encouragement and discussions that would come from doing this in a group would be greatly beneficial to anyone.

This curriculum would definitely be great for any group of women. It would be a nice retreat curriculum too if you broke it down into several chunk sessions.

Samplers of the Book and DVD have been provided courtesy of Thomas Nelson and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. DVD-Based Study available October 2011 at your favourite bookseller from Thomas Nelson.