Sunday, March 28, 2010

Review: Chronological Guide to the Bible

True to its title, "Chronological Guide to the Bible" goes through Biblical events in chronological order, providing historical insight and background. Unfortunately, rearranging things to fit a historical order makes for a confusing format. The book's cover claims it "works with any translation," but with its confusing format and lack of organization, readers will find it difficult to look up the many suggested passages or navigate their way through the book when looking for specific events.

Divided into nine epochs, the book includes book summaries and outlines, time lines, maps, reading guides, and random side bars (if you can even call them that). Colored pictures and informational facts make the read a bit easier, but the overall layout is too random and has too much white space.

That said, "Chronological Guide to the Bible" still makes an interesting reference book if the reader is willing to wade into the book and find its hidden gems. If the reader has time, he may also read the book straight through, which allows the book to flow more easily.

I received a free copy of this book from in return for my honest review.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Review: Buried Alive

I dreaded reading “Buried Alive” by Roy Hallums. Nonfiction of this type (especially involving politics and war) usually doesn’t float my boat or keep my interest. But once I started reading Hallums’ captivating story of his hostage situation, I instead dreaded having to put the book down. Even with all its technical language referring to guns and helicopters, and even with its not necessarily graphic, but detailed descriptions of Hallums’ surroundings and treatment, my interest never faded.

A contractor in Iraq, Hallums spent ten months in captivity after he happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and was kidnapped by a group of Muslim extremists raiding his office for information. The extremists held him for ransom, all the while beating him, barely feeding or bathing him, and forcing him to sleep blindfolded and handcuffed on hard surfaces. At one point, Hallums and others were kept in an underground cell, the entrance to which was covered with cement every few days after captors gave them food. Hallums was literally “buried alive.”

Hallums tells the story from his perspective, but takes breaks from the intense moments he spent in captivity to tell the story from the home-front, quoting American officials who worked to rescue him and focusing on his own family’s efforts to keep his name in the media - to keep his case urgent.

“Buried Alive” reminds me of how lucky I am to live in America. I don’t know what I would do under the circumstances Hallums was subjected to. I certainly don’t think I’d come out as healthy as he did, or alive as he did. Hallums’ testimony of how he kept faith, hope, and prayer alive during his captivity will inspire readers as it inspired me. I fully recommend this book.

I received a free copy of this book from in exchange for my honest review.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Chimes Articles: Credit Cards and Arrest on Campus

Credit Card Laws Put Restrictions on Both Consumers and Card Companies

Man Escorted Off Campus

By Kathryn Watson and Harmony Wheeler Today

Campus Safety escorted a man out of the library in handcuffs at about 12:10 p.m. Friday.

Campus Safety officers arrived on the scene about a minute after they received a call from the library. Officers from the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department soon arrived and escorted the man off campus, said Justin Shelby, public information officer for Campus Safety.

A library employee said the man had been demanding access to the library and yelling for about 35 minutes when Campus Safety arrived. Campus Safety officers told the man to calm down as he continued yelling about his rights to accessing the library. Witnesses say the man, described as elderly and Asian, yelled things like “Don't do that” and “I'm heart patient” as officers handcuffed him. The man was “yelling, cursing and pestering animatedly,” Shelby said.

Officers found no weapons on the man, but determined he still posed as a possible threat.

“We were concerned about the officers' safety and the safety of the students and the other people in the library,” Shelby said.

Shelby said the same man had been reported to Campus Safety earlier in the week, when he was warned that his presence on campus was considered trespassing and escorted off campus.

Campus Safety is following up on the incident and will have more details later.

Review: The Sweet By and By

I love reading books that are almost impossible to put down. Every night I read “The Sweet By and By” by country singer Sara Evans and writer Rachel Hauck, I waited until my eyes were red to stop reading.

Evans and Hauck provide lovable, realistic characters readers can easily related to. As the main character, Jade, slowly reveals her past, the reader learns along with her that, which people can forgive and forget, they can’t hide their past forever. The past affects the present; it makes us who we are. Engaged to a wonderful man, Jade must face her past in order to fully commit to a future. Along the way, she heals broken relationships with her mother, her ex, and, most importantly, God.

The book does not come without its faults, however. The writing can be hard to follow at times, and some things don’t fit. Jade’s encounter with her ex doesn’t have enough purpose, and one scene that switches to her father’s viewpoint is the only scene of its kind. Evans and Hauck tell the rest of the book from Jade’s and her hippie mother’s points of view, so the father’s viewpoint doesn’t fit. Jade’s conversion is also unrealistic, too quick, and too emotionally charged.

But even with its faults, and its title that doesn’t completely fit the book, “The Sweet By and By” makes a good edition to any woman’s book shelf. I certainly couldn’t put it down. It’s told at the perfect pace and reveals each new twist just when the stakes need to be heightened to keep the reader’s attention. Most importantly of all, the characters speak to the reader’s heart, something every good book needs.

I received a free copy of this book from in exchange for my honest review.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Review: Beautiful Mess

I like country music. It’s OK. And I like a good story about someone conquering life’s challenges. So, Diamond Rio’s “Beautiful Mess” seemed like a choice read for me, even though I’d never heard of the country group before. The title captured my attention, along with the interesting cover. However, once I began reading, the my attention span was cut short and it took me several months to finish reading the book. It was not the choice read I expected.

“Beautiful Mess” tells Diamond Rio’s story, starting with the band as a whole, going into chapters about individual members of the band and their histories, and ending with the band as a whole. While the band’s stories do sometimes contain touching, beautiful messes, some chapters are beautiful messes in themselves. The beginning and end are the most interesting parts of the book, especially the ending, which turns a beautiful mess into a beautiful whole.

Getting to the end was difficult for me, though. Maybe it’s just because I don’t normally read or enjoy biographies. Maybe it’s because I’m not a fan of the book. Or maybe it’s because the book was poorly written. The point is, while fans may enjoy this book, I did not. “Beautiful Mess” is a mess. It fails to connect, and it’s focus could easily be narrowed down to a book on the band alone without any histories of band members.

On the bright side, the photos are nice, and the audio version that comes with the book (downloadable online) was the only reason I was able to finish the book.

I received a free copy of this book from in exchange for my honest review.