Book Reviews

It is said that good writers are also good readers.  I hope this is true.  I read voraciously, and I like to share my thoughts on these books.  Below are reviews of the most recent books I have read.  Not everything I read will have a review.  For instance, my review work for Bloodstone Classic Fantasy Role-Playing Game Review is separate.  My wish is for you to be inspired to read the books below.  I read eclectically, so there are many different genres represented.  They link to my Goodreads page.


Bret's bookshelf: read

Pride and Prejudice
it was amazing
Pride and Prejudice is the tale of five sisters, the Bennetts. The story is largely told through the primary protagonist, the second-oldest, Elizabeth. The story is predominantly about an on-and-off love affair between her and the ultra-...
Between Two Worlds: The Art of Preaching in the Twentieth Century
really liked it
Stott has written another great book. Brief Summary This book deals with preaching in what was recently the contemporary culture. The concepts are timeless, so one must ignore the occasional reference to typewriters or overhead project...
Preaching and Teaching from the Old Testament: A Guide for the Church
it was amazing
Brief Summary This book deals with preaching and teaching from the Old Testament. The introduction points out that the Old Testament provides certain challenges for our contemporary culture due to its perceived archaic nature, its suppo...
Preaching the New Testament
did not like it
Beware this book. On the surface, this book seems fine. However, my discernment started kicking in after a few chapters due to the proliference of latinisms, which warned me that this book relied too heavily on Roman Catholic dogma and ...
Soulwoven
it was amazing
Jeff Seymour’s Soulwoven is the first book of an epic fantasy series you need to check out. The book itself is nicely done. The cover art is attractive, and the book is written with professional quality design and layout. Self-published ...
Pastoral Epistles
it was amazing
This commentary is part of the Tyndale New Testament Commentaries. It predominantly uses the NIV translation, which is not my favourite, but is acceptable. This book is on par with other commentaries, I think. Donald Guthrie knows what h...
The Rosewood Casket
it was amazing
The Rosewood Casket by Sharyn McCrumb is a wonderful amalgamation of mystery, Southern Literature, and ghost story bordering on Southern Gothic. My mother recommended this book to me, and I did not think I would like it much as I am not ...
Anointed Expository Preaching
really liked it
This book is written by father and son team, Stephen and David Olford. Both are ardent supports of proper preaching. Both have phenomenal careers that honour God. They have the expertise to specialize in this subject. The book itsel...
The Haunted Realm
it was amazing
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. The Haunted Realm is the second book of Emilyann Girdner’s Obsidian series. This is a wonderful collection and definitely one of the best in the contempor...
The New American Commentary Volume 34 - 1, 2 Timothy, Titus
it was amazing
This commentary is based upon the NIV version of the Bible. It is as good as most commentaries on the market. As commentaries provide additional detail and comments about the text, it is recommended that more than one commentary be used ...
Dissolution Of Thought: A long overdue visit from distant neighbours
it was amazing
Notice: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Kees Bijker has actually managed to make me like a science-fiction novel. He’ll make you like it, too. Dissolution of Thought: Book 1 of The Unification Tri...
Transforming Discipleship: Making Disciples a Few at a Time
really liked it
Ogden’s clever title covers the two foci of the book as he attempts to transform the practice of discipleship as well as create a style or method of discipling that is transforming. Many years went into testing the theories and procedure...
Growing Up: How to Be a Disciple Who Makes Disciples
really liked it
Robby Gallaty’s book is the first in a three part series, along with Firmly Planted and Bearing Fruit, about the discipleship process. As might be expected, the first book provides the introductory methods and reasons to begin a discipli...
Making Sense of the Bible: One of Seven Parts from Grudem's Systematic Theology
really liked it
I like Grudem's style. This book is attractive, easy to read, clearly laid out, and includes glosses, pertinent hymns for inspiration and worship, and is written in an approachable stylistic. I deduct one star for the lack of an index, t...
Defending Inerrancy: Affirming the Accuracy of Scripture for a New Generation
liked it
Geisler and Roach have done a nice job with this book. It is laid out well, attractive, and nearly complete with appendices, a notes chapter, and a bibliography. I deduct one star for the lack of an index, which is a no-no, in my opinion...
Lords of the Sea: The Epic Story of the Athenian Navy & the Birth of Democracy
it was amazing
This is definitely one of the best history books I have ever read. Hale does a wonderful job with this book. First off, the cover art is attractive. The Greek atop the dolphin, red-orange on a black background, is both intriguing and aes...
The Book of Enoch
really liked it
The Book of Enoch is certainly interesting. This is not a biblical book, but it is claimed to have been written by the biblical character. Many avoid the pseudepigrapha because they feel that the books are somehow inaccurate or falsified...
Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs
it was amazing
This commentary is based upon the NIV version of the Bible. It is as good as most commentaries on the market. As commentaries provide additional detail and comments about the text, it is recommended that more than one commentary be used ...
Job
it was amazing
Job
This commentary is based upon the NIV version of the Bible. It is as good as most commentaries on the market. As commentaries provide additional detail and comments about the text, it is recommended that more than one commentary be used ...
In Search of Gods and Heroes
really liked it
This book has a lot going for it. The cover art is attractive, and the text is pretty much error-free. I mention this because the publisher seems to be a hybrid publisher close to self-publishing, and my primary gripe with self-published...
Sermon on the Mount
liked it
This book is a commentary and is part of The Story of God series. The editors represent a diverse range of scholars from different denominational backgrounds and gender. I am neutral about this. Such an approach might be good if all the ...
The Message of the Sermon on the Mount
really liked it
I appreciate John Stott’s sincerity, insight, and writing style, so I expected to learn a lot with this book. I was not disappointed. The book covers Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount from Matthew 5-7, which is probably the best known of His d...
Before the Fairytale: The Girl With No Name
it was amazing
by Iscah
Seventh Night: Before the Fairtytale: The Girl With no Name by Iscah is a lovely book. This is one of the prequels to Seventh Night, but you don’t need to have read that book to enjoy this one. I have written a review of Seventh Night wh...
The Study of Liturgy
it was ok
This book is very much a niche-oriented tome. I think it succeeds on many levels but just does not reach its potential. The book covers the liturgical traditions of Christianity, the Roman Catholic faith, and various Orthodox religions. ...
Ruth, Jonah, Esther
really liked it
Roop has written a good commentary. This book (and series, I believe) has a Pietist traditional outlook. This is most noticeable in the author’s treatment of the poor, violence, and war. The commentary is well-laid out, broken up into su...
A Survey of the Old Testament
really liked it
This book provides a nice introduction to the books of the Old Testament in an accessible way. To begin with, the cover art is attractive. In fact, the book abounds with colour pictures and charts that really help the beginner or even th...
The Unity of the Bible: Unfolding God's Plan for Humanity
really liked it
This is the third or fourth book I have read about biblical theology. I think Fuller has handled the subject well and provided a great overview of the subject in a relatively short textbook. Biblical theology deals with the overall chara...
Conan: The Flame Knife
it was amazing
Of the Conan books I have read, this may well be my favourite. To begin with, the presentation is nice. The cover is exciting and well done by Sanjulian, whom I do not know otherwise. Conan seems to fight an ape or ape-like creature in ...
Seventh Night
it was amazing
by Iscah
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. And, to be honest, this is one of the best books I have ever read. To start, the cover is well done. It looks almost exactly like the design of the AD&D...
Paradise Lost and Other Poems
it was amazing
The works of Milton are one of those things I had always wanted to read yet never seemed to get around to. I have no idea how I made it through high school without reading more than excerpts, but that is what happened. I remember one of ...
Conan the Usurper
it was amazing
Conan the Usurper is not a tale in itself; it is a collection of four other tales plus an introduction: The Treasure of Tranicos The Phoenix on the Sword The Scarlet Citadel Wolves Beyond the Border I like these stories. Conan is older...
Conan the Fearless
really liked it
What can I say about a Conan book? I am not a huge Conan fan, but I did watch the movies when I was a kid, and I liked those. I ended up with three or four Conan books when I was a teenager, which I always liked due to the hot chicks on ...
A Student's Guide to Textual Criticism of the Bible: Its History, Methods & Results
it was amazing
Paul D. Wegner’s A Student’s Guide to Textual Criticism of the Bible: Its History, Methods, and Results provides a nice overview of the areas of biblical textual criticism for both testaments and general hermeneutics. As the title implie...
The Complete Works of O. Henry
really liked it
This edition is nice because it is complete. The introductory material about O. Henry and his works provides a good overview of the author and his work, and the historical/literary context is important in enhancing the reading of the sto...
The Labyrinth Wall
it was amazing
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. The Labyrinth Wall is Emilyann Girdner’s first book of the Obsidian series. She is off to a wonderful start. In this dark fantasy, dystopian world and its...
The Mission of God's People: A Biblical Theology of the Church's Mission
it was amazing
This is potentially a life-changing book. Wright is a great author and speaker. He is a careful and diligent scholar, and I appreciate his opinions and views about Jesus and, in this book, the expanded view (the correct view--expanded in...
Knowing Jesus Through the Old Testament
it was amazing
This review is for a previous edition published in 1992. There is no index or footnotes, which I regret, but Wright has done this on purpose to avoid making a "scholarly book." Thus, I did not take away any stars for it. This is a wonder...
Discipleship Essentials: A Guide to Building Your Life in Christ
really liked it
Greg Ogden has done a good job with this book. It is for small group study about discipling. It is set up in a similar manner to a Sunday School quarterly, which I think is acceptable since Sunday School would be one of the target market...
The Teaching Ministry of the Church: Second Edition
it was amazing
The goal of this book is to provide a biblical and theological rationale for the church's teaching ministry. Yount meets this goal in a logical and interesting way. First, the aesthetics of the book are fine. They are not phenomenal, bu...
Evangelical Ethics: Issues Facing the Church Today
liked it
I read this book for one of my seminary classes. It does have some positive qualities despite the blah overall rating. To begin with the positive, the book has an attractive cover and the layout is easy to navigate and the font is eye-pl...
Sixfold Fiction Winter 2013
it was amazing
by Sixfold
Wow! What a deal. Sixfold Fiction Winter 2013 was a free .pdf download. I expected it to be fairly hokey...boy, was I surprised. The cover art was nice, a public domain work or freebie, probably, but it was high quality and fit the work,...
Publish Like the Pros: A Brief Guide to Quality Self-Publishing and an Insider's Look at a Misunderstood Industry
it was amazing
DeFilippo has jammed this small book slap full of information the self-published author or those considering joining the self-published ranks need to read. At 88 pages, it requires little in the way of time investment. DeFilippo owns a p...
The New Perspective on Paul
it was amazing
James D.G. Dunn is one of the foremost proponents of the so-called school of the New Perspective on Paul (NPP). The NPP focuses upon Paul’s writing about the Law, with the concepts of “covenantal nomism” and “boundary markers” heavily pr...
True for You, But Not for Me: Overcoming Objections to Christian Faith
it was ok
This review critiques True For You But Not For Me: Overcoming Objections to Christian Faith by Paul Copan. As the title implies, Copan has compiled arguments that can be used against five common objections to or issues non-believers have...
The Case for a Creator: A Journalist Investigates Scientific Evidence That Points Toward God
it was amazing
This is a great book. Strobel provides scientific evidence for Intelligent Design. The book is laid out well. It begins with evidence refuting Darwinian evolution and naturalism, showing how and why what we were taught in school was wron...
Philosophy of Religion: Thinking about Faith
it was ok
I have to preface this review by saying I am generally annoyed by philosophy books. It seems like some sort of Cracker Jack pseudo-religious material compiled by a too-smart-for-his-own good man who thinks he has the answers to life. Sec...
Mere Christianity
really liked it
I am reviewing the 1980 edition of this book. When I bought it online, I did not realize it was a revised edition with segments from other books. This is a shame because I always prefer the complete edition of any book. Getting the wrong...
Ash to Steele
it was amazing
I had the good fortune to be the editor for this book, so I got to read it before anyone else. I must say this is the best book Karen-Anne has written so far, and I am not just saying that because she provided a clean manuscript! Ash to ...
The Future of Justification: A Response to N. T. Wright
really liked it
John Piper has written a book critiquing the views of N.T. Wright primarily regarding justification. I would first point out that Piper has done so in an engaging and non-hostile manner. He is concerned about some of Wright's views, but ...
The Story of Evil - Volume I: Heroes of the Siege
it was amazing
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a review. This is a great fantasy novel ending in a good versus evil smackdown cliffhanger. Johnson has done well on his first novel. He has woven the tale of secret identi...
The Heartbreak Killer
it was amazing
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a review. I love this book, overall. If your're into thriller/suspense, this is going to be a page-turner for you. The only thing I don't like about the book is aesthetics...
Southern Appalachian Celebration: In Praise of Ancient Mountains, Old-Growth Forests, and Wilderness
it was amazing
Since I skimmed through it at the bookstore, I knew I was going to like this book. I bought it, got it home, and read through it in a couple of days, though I did comb through the pictures a bit longer and sporadically thereafter. This i...
Mountains of the Heart: A Natural History of the Appalachians
it was amazing
This book rocks. Weidensaul is a scientist writing about the Appalachian Range. He has written a number of other nature books and is a licensed bird bander. I expected this book to be dry as so many books written by scientists are. It se...
The Christian Theology Reader
really liked it
I need to preface this review by saying I do not like this type of book. Readers contain snippets of various works so you can get a feel for various issues on a given subject--theology, in this case. As usual, there is not enough room to...
Dragons of Spring Dawning
it was amazing
Dragons of Spring Dawning is the intense conclusion to the Dragonlance Chronicles. It follows Dragons of Winter Night. The characters grow, achieve new things, and reinstate balance into the world, locking out the evil goddess, Takhisi...
Dragons of Winter Night
it was amazing
Dragons of Winter Night continues the saga begun in Dragons of Autumn Twilight. The forces of good continue to make inroads against the forces of evil, though the evil dragonarmies are clearly winning. Over the course of the novel, the g...
The Return of the King
it was amazing
The Return of the King contains books 5 and 6 of The Lord of the Rings sextet. Tolkien did not like the title as it gives away the ending, preferring, instead, The War of the Ring as a title. I rather agree with him, though this title qu...
The Two Towers
really liked it
The Two Towers contains books 3 and 4 of The Lord of the Rings sextet. I am slightly less pleased with this volume than I am the preceding Fellowship of the Ring and the following Return of the King. First, it belches off to a bad start:...
The Fellowship of the Ring
it was amazing
Ah, The Fellowship of the Ring. The beginning of the serious take on Middle-Earth (after The Hobbit), and the first of the sextet of The Lord of the Rings. Each book has two books in it, so it is frequently mistakenly referred to as tril...
Dragons of Autumn Twilight
it was amazing
As I am a huge Dungeons and Dragons fan, it is no surprise I love this book. it was published by the same company that owned D&D and has many similarities with game themes. A role-playing version of the books was later released. Although...
The Riverside Shakespeare
it was amazing
Oceans of ink have been written about Shakespeare's works, so I see no reason to add my two pence. As to this edition, though, I have many good things to say. It is an academic edition, and I am please with the book for a number of reaso...
Christian Theology
liked it
Erickson has done a reasonably good job with this book. It is an introductory survey of the major topics of systematic theology. On the positive side, he has done a phenomenal job in structuring this book so that it is easy to find infor...
The Hobbit
it was amazing
This is the first mainstream, lasting fantasy novel. Many claim Tolkien put fantasy on the map as a legitimate genre, and I agree with them. Although this book lacks the depth of The Lord of the Rings, it began what has become the most p...
Letting Go of Your Limitations: Experiencing God's Transforming Power
it was amazing
Disclaimer: I won a free copy of this book in a contest. I truly enjoyed this book. I think it is a great additon to any Christian's library. First of all, the appearance of the book is nice. The yellow and blue cover is attractive, and...
After the Rain
it was amazing
As a beta reader, I was in on this one early. In my opinion, this is the best of the trilogy. The action really ramps up, the forces of good and evil finally come to a showdown, and the ending--ah, that would be giving it away, wouldn't ...

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