I have been given the opportunity to do some reviews on some books from a few different publishers. Some of them do not quite fit into the focus I have for Living Infuzion, but obviously have some good information. Here are some of my perspectives on some pretty good books! Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Last Sacrifice - Hank Hanegraaff & Sigmund Brouwer

"Helius, Nero’s most trusted adviser, anticipates the death of his sworn enemy, the legendary warrior Gallus Sergius Vitas, scheduled to die a gruesome death in the arena. However, the badly beaten man who appears in the amphitheater is not who he seems. Rescued by a stranger and given a mysterious scroll, Vitas is told he must decipher this letter to find the answers he needs—a letter that Helius is also determined to decipher and to keep hidden from Nero. As Nero’s reign of terror grows, so does his circle of enemies."  (Publisher's Description)

I bought this book at a local christian book store after reading the first book, The Last Disciple.  It picks up right where the previous book leaves off.  As with the first novel I again found this book hard to put down.  It is a gripping read of Roman rule under Nero and the persecutions that first century Christians endured.  Nero was a very evil man, and to read what the believers of that day endured made my cry and give me goosebumps.  I would recommend this to those that like biblical fiction.  I am anxiously waiting the final book in the trilogy!!!

The Last Disciple - Hank Hanegraaff & Sigmund Brouwer

"First-century Rome is a perilous city as Nero stalks the political circles and huddled groups of believers. To be safe, Christians must remain invisible.  Gallus Sergius Vitas is the only man within Nero’s trusted circle willing to do what it takes to keep the empire together. He struggles to lessen Nero’s monstrosities against the people of Rome—especially the Christians. But as three Greek letters are scrawled as graffiti throughout the city, Nero’s anger grows.  As the early church begins to experience the turbulence Christ prophesied as the beginning of the last days, an enemy seeks to find John’s letter, Revelation, and destroy it. Meanwhile the early Christians must decipher it and cling to the hope it provides as they face the greatest of all persecutions." (Publisher's Description)

I bought this book on a whim because it was in the clearance section at the local christian book store and loved it so much I went back and got the second book as well.  The Last Disciple takes place during the Roman Empire and the rule of Nero.  A time when first century Christians were hunted down for their faith and sent to the arena as public entertainment.  I found it very hard to put the book down especially when reading of the scenes in the arena.  The faith of those sent to the lions because of the gospel gave me goosebumps.  Without giving too much away, I will say there is a scene in the end that brought me to tears.  A true example of laying down ones life for another.  The novel ends with a few unanswered questions that made me glad I had rushed back and bought the second book.  I highly recommend this book to any one who enjoys historical fiction.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

NIV Faith Girlz! Bible

Let’s face it, boys and girls learn things in different ways, and this Bible puts the emphasis on how girls learn.  It uses the standard NIV for the Scriptural text, so I won’t be commenting very much on that, other than to say that it is a very popular English translation of the Bible, and it is very easy to read, and is appropriate to the age being aimed at for this Bible... the tween girl.

Bibles by theme like this are all about the additional notes.  The ones added here are perfect for a young woman in her tweens (9 to 12).

There are notes called “Dream Girl” that plays on the imagination, and asks questions to try to get girls to think about what something in Bible time would have been like.  It goes through a story, and puts it in modern novel-like structure.

“Bring It On!” is a kind of self examination quiz.  It asks a question about how the girl would behave in a certain situation and gives them three possible answers.  Then on the next page, based on the answer they chose there is a scripture reference to look up to guide them in that choice.

“Oh, I Get It!” is a set of notes that expands on items in the text and uses modern biblical scholarship.

Each book of the bible has in introduction.  This kind of thing is pretty much standard in bibles today.  They contain a  who wrote the book, when it was written, where it takes place, the main characters (Cool Characters), Bad guys to watch for, the main point of the book, and how it connects to the rest of the bible.  This kind of thing is really important for studying the Bible.

“Treasure This!” suggests certain verses that would be good for memory.

Part of the Bible is that we can identify with some of the characters, and either learn from their mistakes, or follow after their successes.  “Is There a Little (Insert Character Name) in You?”  These are little summaries of some of the people throughout the Bible, with some key traits from their life.

“In Your Own Words” is a way for a girl to test her understanding of a Bible.  Basically, she would read the story, and then choose three words to summarize it so that she could tell it to someone else later.

The layout and composition of this bible is all done in pinks and flowers and flourishes.  I did find it interesting to read some of the more serious subtitles that the NIV has, be written in pink.  Truth be told, other than the lack of appeal to a boy reader because of all the pink, a boy or a girl could learn a lot from all of the notes.

This is definitely a bible for the tween girl today, and I recommend it for anyone looking for a bible for study for the young tween lady in their life.

I was provided a complimentary copy of this bible by B & B Media Group for my review.  I was free to review it as I saw it.

Monday, June 4, 2012

The NIV Boys Bible

I’m coming at this as a father of three kids, and as someone that works with the 9 to 12 year olds in my church.  This Bible is right where I am in my life right now.  And this Bible is a real eye-catcher.  The translation chosen is the New International Version, which I believe is still the most loved, and most popular English version of the Bible.  The cover they have chosen looks like the metal used for deck plates on ships and on steps on heavy trucks.  Very Boy.  It’s a great choice for a boy Bible.

I love this kind of Bible.  There is so much depth to Scripture, but as young men are beginning to think about right and wrong and their spirit it is a great idea to present the Gospel and all of the story of the Bible, but also highlight some things that a young man would find interesting, or just plain fun.  Here are some of the sections that this Bible uses:

Each book of the Bible has an introductory page.  It puts the book into a historical context, tells us who the author is (when known), and spells out all the main people in the book.

There are inserted panels that ask the question that I had when I was the target age.  So “What’s the Big Deal”?  That is really something that people of all ages or stages in their walk wonder.  These panels help to spell out a bit of culture, context and characters and just point the reader in the right direction.

“Makin’ it Real” panels are SO important.  So many people think that the Bible is just an old book, but really it is something that applies to people today... now more than ever.  These insert panels help people be able to apply the Bible to their lives today.

The “Check It Out” inserts bring to light an important verse, or a interesting facts and trivia from the Bible.  It’s stuff that is there in the text for the most part, but the panel draws it out with a bit more explanation.

This was my favourite of the insert panels, and it is something that really makes this a Bible for boys.  The “grossology” panels grab those items that boys would love to know about... gross-out stuff from the Bible.

I was really impressed with this Bible, and I think that for the tween boy, this is an excellent selection!

I was provided a complimentary copy of this bible by B & B Media Groups for my review.  I was not required to give a positive review.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Flame Of Resistance - Tracy Groot

Publisher's description: "Years of Nazi occupation have stolen much from Brigitte Durand. Family. Freedom. Hope for a future, especially for a woman with a past like hers. But that changes the day American fighter pilot Tom Jaeger is shot down over occupied France. Picked up by the Resistance, Tom becomes the linchpin in their plan to infiltrate a Germans-only brothel and get critical intel out through Brigitte, a prostitute rumored to be sympathetic to the Allied cause.
D-day looms and everyone knows that invasion is imminent. But so is treachery, and the life of one American pilot unexpectedly jeopardizes everything. He becomes more important than the mission to a man who cannot bear to lose another agent and to a woman who is more than just a prostitute, who finally realizes that her actions could change the course of history."

I was very excited to review this novel.  One of my favorite time periods is WWII, and Tracy Groot did not disappoint.  The characters have great depth and the story is full of intrigue and suspense.  Once I got the characters code names down (some have more than one) the book was hard to put down.  The choices that Brigitte has had to make to survive are heart wrenching.  I loved the parallels between Brigitte and the biblical Rahab.  I highly recommend this book!!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for an honest review.

Everybody's Daughter - Michael John Sullivan

"What if you had a chance to ask a loved one for forgiveness – after they died? What would you say? Would you give up your own lifetime of happiness for someone else? Michael Stewart confronts these questions as he travels back in time through a mysterious tunnel in an old church when the Romans ruled with brutal violence and Jesus preached his peaceful message. His teenage daughter Elizabeth soon follows Michael, but is surprised to discover that her father is nowhere to be found.  Little does she know that Michael has returned safely to the present, leaving her to battle a vicious Roman soldier. Separated by centuries, Michael is trapped to fight his own battles in the present day.  Elizabeth’s disappearance, and the discovery of her blood in his car ignites a rush of judgment as the FBI focuses on him as a person of interest. Michael’s only hope for saving his daughter rests in the hands of his best friend – a local pastor with secrets of his own – and a mysterious old journal containing tales of miracles within the walls of the old church itself. Thrilling and suspenseful, Everybody's Daughter takes readers on a miraculous journey of their own, where salvation can be found in acts of sacrifice and hope remains forever eternal through the passage of a tunnel."

This is a wonderfully written book.  I did not know that this was the second book in the series.  I was a little lost at points, but the author does a fairly good job of filling in the back story from the previous book so that I could understand what was going on.  I loved reading the sections where Michael and his daughter Elizabeth are back in biblical times.  I felt like I was right there with them.  It will be interesting to see how the story ends up in the final novel of the trilogy.

I was provided a complimentary copy of this book by the B&B Media Group in exchange for my fair and honest review

Submerged - Dani Pettrey

Bailey Craig left the small town of Yancey Alaska to escape a sordid past and vowed never to return.  When her beloved aunt dies in a plane crash, Bailey is forced to return and settle the estate.  Determined not to stay a moment longer than necessary, she does what she can to avoid seeing people in the town, including the one person she hurt the most, Cole McKenna.  But when two deep sea water divers turn up dead, and questions begin to arise about her aunt's trip to Russia, Bailey's expertise in Russian history become invaluable to the investigation.  Will Bailey & Cole be able to find the murderer in time, or will they become one of his victims?

Submerged is a fast paced, action packed adventure.  Dani Pettrey weaves a wonderful story full of mystery and suspense, that grabs you from the opening chapter and doesn't let up.  It was very hard to put this novel down!  I found it very hard to believe that this is Mrs. Pettrey's first novel.  The theme of God's redemption and forgiveness is woven so seamlessly throughout the novel.  Bailey is a woman with a rather sordid past who has been unable to truly forgive herself and move on.  Cole carries guilt about how he treated Bailey when she needed him the most.  I loved reading about the different members of Cole's family and look forward to her exploring these characters in future novels.  I highly recommend this book to any lover of a good mystery. You won't be disappointed!  I eagerly await the next book in this series!

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