Monday, February 29, 2016

Young Adult Review: Light of the Last

Chuck Black gives readers a thrilling, edge-of-your-seat page-turner in the final book in his Wars of the Realm Trilogy. Fans of the series - you really do need to read the first two books to appreciate and understand the third - will not be disappointed in "Light of the Last" - albeit they may wish Black would write another book in the series. The author certainly leaves things open for another trilogy. Here we find God's true plan for Drew Carter, who can see into the world of battling angels and demons. Forced to work for the CIA, Carter finds himself in the line of fire multiple times, eventually becoming a part of a plot that would befit a Tom Clancy novel. Romantic interest Sydney and tech friend Ben are drawn into the international threats, too, while we also get a piece of the story told from angel warrior Validus' perspective. Carter's own journey to salvation in Christ is quite powerful and inspiring.

Chuck Black's writing has improved, but is still held back by his usual flaws. The book's sentence structure is often elementary (albeit, with perfect grammar). Black tends to skip over long amounts of time with quick descriptions, and he opts to tell much of the story as it develops, rather than using flashback and inner-thought dialogue to keep the story going. As a result, even with the quick timeline, the book lasts more than 300 pages (in smaller print). Black also relies on a complete change in point of view (and historic setting) for just a few pages to relay key information about Carter's lineage. Even with this revelation, among others, we are left wondering if there could be more to Drew Carter's significance. We want more. Even with his simple writing style and occasional violation of basic style rules, Black continues to give readers a great story with engaging characters, from the last angel ever created to the most skeptic special agent.

*Disclaimer: I received this book for free in exchange for my honest review.

Children's Book Review: All Things Bright & Beautiful

Katy Hudson provides enchanting illustrations to accompany the classic hymn "All Things Bright and Beautiful" by Cecil Frances Alexander in this glorious, hardback picture book. The watercolor paintings show three adorable children flying kites, picking wild berries and enjoying mountain rivers, flowers, and birds. The children have come to camp with their parents, and the various wildlife ("creatures great and small") rome the hills or hide away in corners as the moon and the stars come out. Hudson's stunning drawings match the hymn perfectly, while the book concludes with the appropriate Scripture selection of Genesis 1:1,31. The rich meaning behind the text combined with such lovely pictures make this a children's book that even adults will enjoy keeping on their bookshelves.

*Disclaimer: I received this book for free in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Nonfiction Review: Expository Apologetics

In his book on Expository Apologetics, Voddie Baucham Jr. rightly emphasizes the importance of always leading our discussion and debate partners back to the gospel. Baucham gives a thorough treatment of Romans 1 and 1 Peter 3, reminding the reader that the Bible and general apologetics are meant for all, not just the high-minded intellectual - and that what man (who has rejected God) will always really need is salvation. "The wrong way is to assume that man's greatest need is information. The right way is to remember that man's greatest need is illumination."

However, while Baucham certainly encourages more intellectual discussion leading to the declaration of the gospel, his own methods presented seem to focus on using Biblical presuppositions - something that might remind the reader of evangelist Roman Road-type methods. Baucham implies that departing from the Bible is akin to becoming like the fool, and he uses Paul's question and answer style in Romans and Acts as examples.

Baucham writes, "We must remember that men believe in God, and that they suppress that belief in unrighteousness. We must remember that our goal is to know what we believe and why we believe it, and to be prepared to communicate that in a natural, cogent, winsome manner." Therefore, we have here a course for those who might need to respond to those who would use the Bible against itself. But the reader might also remember on her own that not all unbelievers will recognize this, and not all conversations will be solely about defining what Christians believe. Baucham's own example (his response to homosexuality) comes across as simple, tired and insufficient (and it's the only example he gives).

Readers will get more from the author's exposition on major Scripture passages than they will get in actual examples and help for the defense of the Christian faith in everyday life.

*Disclaimer: I received this book for free in exchange for my honest review