Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Review of STEELHEART by Brandon Sanderson

When a large explosion in the sky called Calamity gave some human beings on earth supernatural abilities, it was the hope of many that the Epics, as they came to be known, would use their abilities for the good of the world. They envisioned a world of real-life superheroes. But the opposite happened. The Epics only cared about themselves and some took the opportunity to use their power to dominate humanity. On the day that Steelheart, one of the most powerful Epics, turned against humanity, a young boy named David witnessed his father murdered by the Epic who would turn all of Chicago into his own steel empire. Years later, the sun no longer shines in the dark and oppressive city now called Newcago. David remembers the day his father died, and he's determined to join up with a group called the Reckoners to hunt down and kill Steelheart. David remembers something else from that fateful day. No one else knows about it. David saw Steelheart bleed.

STEELHEART by Brandon Sanderson was one the best novels that I've ever read. The concept was brilliant, and Sanderson pulled it off so well.

First of all, the fact that there are no good Epics was intriguing, as well as the questions it raises in the story. Did Calamity only give evil people abilities, or did receiving abilities make these people evil? Steelheart is a compelling villain who sees himself as a god. The other Epics are just as interesting, and I can't wait to see where Sanderson takes this story in future books (I believe it's supposed to be a trilogy).

David knows he's seen Steelheart bleed, but he doesn't know exactly what it was that weakened Steelheart. He just knows that in the moment of being face-to-face with Steelheart, it'll all come back to him. It's this tenacity and overconfidence that drives him to pursue his goal at all costs, including the safety of his new comrades in the Reckoners.

STEELHEART is a brilliant twist on the superhero story concept. I couldn't stop reading once I started, and once I finished, I wanted so much more.

Review Copy provided by Delacorte Press

Photo Credit: Random House

Monday, September 23, 2013

Review of AGAINST THE GODS by John Currid

I've always had an interest in the Old Testament and how God is presented in it. For that reason, I was interested in reading John Currid's new book AGAINST THE GODS. While it isn't exactly what I was expecting from the title, it does give incredible insight on the relationship between Israel's Scriptures and the writings and myths of other Ancient Near Eastern cultures.

Currid knows the OT very well, and he knows the ANE very well. He looks at the similarities between events recorded in the OT alongside similar stories in other cultures. He argues for the Bible's stories as authentic and their taking of a polemical stance against the false gods of other cultures.

The book is short, and it's only an introduction to polemical theology. This was my first exposure to the concept, and I found it quite interesting. The only drawback to the book is that it raised a lot of questions in my mind for which there were no answers in the book.

Review copy provided by Crossway Books

Photo Credit: Crossway Books

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Review of THE DOCTRINE OF GOD by John Frame

THE DOCTRINE OF GOD by John M. Frame is the second volume in his Theology of Lordship series, and it is a thick volume exploring theology of God, his character, and his attributes as revealed in the Bible. Frame seeks to fill a void left by the Reformers by outlining a clear doctrine of God. The core of this book is the concept of God as Lord, and specifically as Covenant Head of those who submit their lives to him. The book looks at the actions of God as recorded in the Bible as revelations of God's Covenant Headship.

A big chunk of the book is about God's creation of the world and how human freedom and responsibility fall within God's creation. Frame takes a deterministic view of God's sovereignty, arguing that God's foreknowledge of all events is based upon his foreordination of those events. He rejects libertarian freedom and gives some strong arguments against it. An interesting discussion he delves into is the concept of middle knowledge to reconcile human freedom and God's sovereignty, but ultimately he rejects the concept as Molinists such as Willaim Lane Craig propose it. 

Overall, I think readers will benefit from much that Frame outlines in the area of Theology Proper. However, I'm a believer in libertarian freedom, so I think Frame's foreknowledge-based-on-foreordination reduces God to the ultimate Creator of evil. I don't find his arguments against libertarian freedom unconvincing, though I do think his criticism of middle knowledge is one that proponents of that view have to honestly face. Outside of those criticisms, I appreciate the work Frame has put into exploring what the Scriptures reveal about God and his action in the world.

Review copy provided by P&R Publishing

Photo Credit: P&R Publishing


Dave Ramsey has been known as a man who has helped guide many people out of financial debt to reach a place finances are managed responsibly and successfully. Thomas Nelson has just re-released the Classic Edition of Ramsey's book TOTAL MONEY MAKEOVER. 

In this book, Ramsey seeks to uncover the money myths and false perceptions people have had that have led them to great financial stress and, sometimes, financial ruin. The first part of the book is about showing you that you have a problem. However, you may be picking this book up because you're already aware that you're struggling financially. This part may feel very repetitive after awhile if that's the case. 

The real benefit of this book is the practical guidance Ramsey gives for getting out of debt. He gives advice, such as saving a thousand dollars first-thing and begin paying off debt through a debt snowball. Learn how to save for retirement, pay off a mortgage, and save for your children's college. This is a great book for learning how to be financially fit, and it's one that I would recommend to anyone.

Review copy provided by Thomas Nelson through BookSneeze

Photo Credit: Thomas Nelson

Wednesday, September 11, 2013


Ken Davis is a great communicator. He's funny, and he knows how to keep an audience engaged. In his new book SECRETS OF DYNAMIC COMMUNICATION, Davis outlines the steps he takes to make sure he's prepared to give a dynamic presentation every time he gets up to speak. The book gives some important direction on finding focus in your presentations. You need to have focus if you want your audience to walk away remembering what it is you talked about.

Davis presents his SCORRE method for fleshing out your focused idea into a full-length presentation. He also gives advice on how to deliver in a way that keeps an audience engaged.

Any communicator would benefit from reading Davis' book and putting what he teaches into practice. It's a pretty short book, so it should be a quick read before sitting down to work on your next presentation.

Review copy provided by Thomas Nelson through BookSneeze