Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Review: The Book that Made Your World: How the Bible Created the Soul of Western Civilization by Vishal Mangalwadi

I downloaded this book for review, but didn’t get to it right away. What a sad mistake. This probably the freshest Christian writing I have read in a long time. Bravo for the author! It inspires, reveals a lost history and lets the reader inside some of the Eastern religions in a way I had not seen before. There’s an impressive group of recommendations for this book but I generally don’t pay much attention to them. For some reason I did this time and it isn’t the usual list that congratulate each other’s work. He has drawn praise from a wide range of readers.

I literally anticipated reading the next page and chapter. A rare thing for me. Reading about something that some in the West have taken for granted or dismissed from the perspective of a people that did not have such a book was humbling, indicting, and awesome. It had been a long time since I have experienced such uplifting work. Read this book! is all I can say.

This book was provided for me for review from BookSneeze, Thomas Nelson.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Review: Story Engineering: Mastering the 6 Core Competenciew of Successful Writing by Larry Brooks

An endorsement from Chelsea Cain on the back cover of this book says, “This book will make you smarter about the craft. Period.” I totally agree with that opinion. This is a book that covers ground I not seen in other books about how to write the novel you know you can. Maybe the other books I’d read had this information, but he explains it in a way I can understand more clearly. I discovered why one of my forays into such an endeavor was minimally successful and the other attempts much less so. There is much to commend this book to the DIY group of novelists out there.

His repeated, and I mean repeated insistence, that all the core competencies must work together is so important I cannot omit it. Seems reasonable, but in the pages that surround all that insisting I found that even some of the foundational ones were weak or missing in my attempts. How about yours? Please read this book. Go the extra mile or so up front and see if he’s telling you the truth. He does cover “pantsing” too, but believes that all the rewrites essentially are doing what he recommends as the upfront work.

The biggest nit I have to pick with this book is that the reader will need a machete to chop through some of his introductory work. I found myself asking when he was going to get to the point, especially in the first chapter or so. Maybe he subscribes to the “tell them, tell them again and then tell them one more time” school. I don’t know, but I did find the repetition that preceded the point frustrating. But, persist because the teaching points and illustrations he uses are worth the slog through his jungle.

I’d recommend this book to nearly anyone who is an aspiring novelist and maybe even playwright since some of the principles or core competencies come from that literary form. Read it and see.

This book was provided to me for review by BookSneeze in exchange for this review.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Quince, Hill Country, Tacos, and Tin Roof

Wow!  It's May already.  Not sure how that happened, but the calendar says it's so.  Part of last month was a vacation and a nice one too.  The quince, as they called it for short, came off without any major glitches and the honoree was sooo pretty in her fancy dress.  It was definitely her evening to shine.  And shine she did.  A little girl, no more.  She has officially joined the ranks of young lady.  I guess in the old days this was a signal for the suitors to line up for their evaluation as possible marriage material.  Not so nowadays, but the custom remains anyway.  

Had some time in the Hill Country after the party and some relaxation was just what the doctor ordered, in a manner of speaking.  There was no doctor or any order from one, but the time was nice.  Didn't know why the skies were so hazy, but discovered later that range fires were burning all over the state.  They didn't get much news coverage, but after a million or so acres a few sites picked up on it. Yes, there are pictures of all that and I may go find one to post in a few, but for now words will have to do. 

That pretty much covered the vacation.  Oh, exception massive quantities of Mexican food.  I'd forgotten how good it was.  Puff tacos, flautas, real salsa verde, breakfast tacos, and that sticky caramel-pecan candy!!  Just doesn't get much better.  And amazingly, I gained not one pound or even ten.  I guess I should also mention the guacamole bean burger here too.  It's not officially Mexican food but it's still a real treat for the little taste buds. And since I'm on food---the absolute best grilled ribs, chicken and sausages were prepared by Nick.  He's the master of the grill and we were treated to some of his cooking.  Yummy!

Oh, another couple of things about the vacation---while we were at the cabin it rained.  So what?  Well, it was the very first time I had ever heard rain on a tin roof.  People had talked about it with such fondness I just knew I had missed one of life's simple pleasures.  It is very nice.  What I remember of it.  It's also very soothing, relaxing.  I slept through most of the experience it seems.  I'd recommend it and would love to get another chance at hearing it again.

As you may have guessed by now I thoroughly enjoyed this vacation.  I found the place I belong and want to return soon.  No, I will not divulge the location of the cabin.  The Hill Country is all you need to know.  

Well, it's been a while since that vacation and the routine has settled about me again.  The course work has resumed, slowly.  Got the final report from the previous course and did well there.  That also was the catalyst to get started again with the current course.  Other than that it's just been the usual stuff for me.

I received the gift Bible from Tyndale about a week or so ago.  It's one called the Mosaic Bible.  After using it for a while now I've got to say I wish I'd found it sooner.  It combines an NLT translation with some devotional material that follows the Church calendar.  The devotional section is separate, which I like much better than having it intermixed with the biblical texts.  There's also some color plates for folks that enjoy art as a tool for meditation.  Sometimes I do. The back has a short Hebrew and Greek dictionary with some very good instructions about doing a word study for yourself.  Of course, a concordance and maps are there as well.
Sounds big and bulky, but it isn't.  The size and weight, which can be a problem for some folks, is just right, I think.  I like enough to include this link for anyone who is interested. 

Just highlight and click.  The link worked for me from here so hopefully it will do so for you.

The sun is going down now and it's nearly time to think about dinner.  Or not.  I am in the process of reading another book for review here.  It's a little meatier than some I've done so it may be another couple of days before I can get that posted.  We'll see.