Preface - A few months ago I decided that I should start reviewing things that I enjoy as a way of recommending them to others. As I have stated before, my intent for this website was to fill the world with more positive, Biblical things to fight against all of the negative, non-Biblical junk out there. Even if most days this fight seems like I’m going at a forest fire with a garden hose, it is my belief that small things can make a big difference. In this time of heavy consumption of mass media, I figured it was a good time to start posting a few things that can help block out the junk besides my writing. So far, I have posted a review of one of my favorite podcasts and also a review of movie that my wife and I recently enjoyed watching. In that same vein, I am a big believer that good books, even non-Christian ones, can help in this fight. Today, I figured that I might post about some recent books that I have read.
I read a lot – at least one book a month, but most months I average between 3 and 4 depending on the genre that I am reading and whether the book is engaging or not. It should be noted that I rarely read non-fiction books, so if you enjoy them, you probably won’t be getting a huge number of suggestions from me, but there are some.
The format for my reviews is that I will be simply providing a synopsis about each and why I liked them in general. Finally, I am going to divide my list into my own general categories so that you get a varied list. If you are trying to find a book in a specific genre and I don’t mention anything, feel free to message me as I might have a suggestion. Today I will post my first few categories because there are a bunch. Here we go.
Lead Me Home – Amy K. Sorrells – I love this book. This is a book about normal people, living normal lives, but who also live their life for Christ – YES! How many books have you read (or movies have you watched) where you have thought, “Well, that situation would have been a good time to pray”. In this book, the characters do! The story is set in a small midwestern town and deals with the issues that people in that setting deal with, but in a Biblical way. Why is this so refreshing? Amy also has a few other books set in different, but similarly homey situations and they are all very good reads – How Sweet the Sound and Before I Saw You.
Agents of the Apocalypse / Agents of Babylon – Dr. David Jeremiah – This two book set is a sort of historical fiction covering two books of the Bible- Revelation and Daniel. Each book lays out the book of the Bible as if it were a story with individual chapters dividing it up into easy to read and digest narratives. I really enjoyed these books and they increased my understanding and enjoyment of both of the books of the Bible.
After Acts – Brian Litfin – The is a very interesting book that covers what happens to each of the Biblical disciples and other surrounding characters after the occurrances in the book of Acts. The author provides a lot of research and connects his writing to Biblical and historical sources, detailing facts, fiction and myths for each person. If you want to know what went on after Jesus ascended back to heaven, this book delivers.
Rescuing the Gospel: The Story and Significance of the Reformation – Erwin W. Lutzer – Have you heard about Martin Luther, but don’t know much about him or other members of the Reformation? This book covers most of the major aspects of the Reformation in a very informative and compelling way. My only negative is that this is pretty straight history so don’t expect a story like in Dr. Jeremiah’s book. Regardless, I really enjoyed this book and it drove me to pick up other books on the history of the Church.
Daemon – Leinad Zeraus (Daniel Suarez) – An excellent book to start off this section of my list as it is one of my favorites. If you want a negative glimpse of what the very near future could look like, this is the book. Daniel Suarez published this in 2009 and since then some of the storylines have come true. The book deals with the inter-connectedness of all of the individual computer systems – utilities, transportation, homes, media – and their interaction in our lives and how it all could be used by someone to take control. If you are looking for a techno-thriller, I can’t think of a better one than this. Besides Daemon, Daniel has quite a few other books that I would put at the top of my lists as well. FreedomTM is a follow-on to Daemon. Kill Decision deals with killer micro-bots that exhibit insect characteristics, a very real future reality. Change Agent deals with identity changing criminals who use CRISPR type DNA editing technology to become completely new people.
State of Fear – Michael Crichton – Be warned, if you are a rabid climate change believer, this might not be the book for you! But, if you are skeptical about the increasingly urgent affixing of climate change blame, this is a must read. In this book, climate change eco-terrorists cause large damaging and seemingly natural climate events to change people’s minds and to eventually attempt to control them. Mr. Crichton did his homework for this book, in fact, he wrote the afterward laying out the data and his beliefs completely.
The Cuckoo’s Calling – Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling) – Do you love hard-boiled L.A. detective crime stories? How about British mystery novels? How about BOTH at the same time? Yes, and Yes! Well, now that you are interested, you might have noticed the author’s name – yes, it is J.K. Rowling under a pseudonym! Don’t worry though, my muggle friends, this book is still for you because there is not even the hint of a wizard, faceless baddie or a bewitched castle in the entire book. Seriously though, J.K. Rowling is an excellent story teller and this is an excellent book, now turned series, of soon to be 5 books. The lead character is irreparably flawed (and disabled), his reluctant secretary is charming yet tantalizingly engaged and the crime story is exactly what you expect in this type of book, but not so much that it is ever boring.
The Wretched of Muirwood – Jeff Wheeler – Another one of my favorite books by one of my favorite authors. This book is set in a very different universe from ours and fulfills all of the fantasy genre’s must haves – swords, magic and a Gandalf/Dumbledore style grandfatherly figure. I have read this book at least twice and will probably read it again soon. It is the first in a very good 3 book set called the Legends of Muirwood and has a follow-on series set in the same universe called the Covenant of Muirwood. Besides this book, Jeff has other books set in 6 different and sometimes connecting universes. The King’s Poisoner is probably my next favorite title by Jeff – it is the lead book in his King Fountain series. Overall, Jeff is an incredible writer. I always pre-order his books and once I start reading one, it is hard to put down. If you love Fantasy books, Jeff Wheeler’s writing is the best out there right now.
Theft of Swords – Michael J. Sullivan – A very good pure fantasy book, that leads off a series of follow-on books. Sounds Familiar? Well, it is, but it is not. This book is the Fantasy version of your typical “buddy-cop” drama and it is awesome. The lead characters, Royce and Hadrian, are very different, but play off of each other very well – think “Lethal Weapon”, but with swords. The plot is engaging and funny with a hint of romantic interest. I have yet to read this a second time, but I will probably put it into the schedule for a few weeks from now.
The Name of the Wind – Patrick Rothfuss – A warning – This book is frustrating, in a good way, but also in a bad way. From the good perspective, the storyline and the writing is fantastic. On the bad side, It is a 3 book set and there is no third book in sight! I MUST HAVE IT! I read The Name of the Wind around 2012 and really loved it. It is a 5 star book for me and I grade very harshly. 5 stars mean that I liked the book so much that I have read it more than once and will read it again. The issue, as I said, was that the ending demanded another book, and there was none! Finally, about a year or so later, the second book, The Wise Man’s Fear came out and I picked it up immediately, and loved it, but again, it has another cliffhanger ending! Guess what – We long-suffering Patrick Rothfuss fans have been waiting 7 years for the 3rd book! So, if you want an incredible story and a great book that leaves you hanging for over 7 years – pick this one up. (And don’t get me started on Game of Thrones)
Non-Fiction & Biographies
A Walk in the Woods – Bill Bryson – I am going to give you non-fiction fans only one book suggestion this time – maybe you will get a few more next time, but as suggestions go, this is an excellent one. The book is the story of the author’s crazy idea to walk the entire Appalachian Trail. For those not familiar with the AT, as it is called, it is an over 2,000 mile long set of connected trails that start in Georgia, end in Maine, traverses the most rugged, rural and uninhabited portions of the Appalachian mountain chain and takes between 5 and 7 months to complete. The journey is difficult for a seasoned hiker, but very challanging for most anyone else. Bill is a very humorous and engaging writer and his story will make you want to pick up the AT challenge as well. The book does a very good job of letting normal people into the closed world of thru-hiking with it’s unique traditions and somewhat romantic disconnected life.