Thy Kingdom Come: The Promise of the King

Thy Kingdom Come: The Promise of the King is a Biblical fantasy written by Rick Schworer. The book covers the creation of the Universe and the attendant fall of Lucifer down to the end of Joshua’s life. Schworer retells biblical stories and adds in some details. There is a lot to like about this book from the cover image to some great ‘one-liners’. (When Cain retorts to Adam something along the lines of “I guess obedience doesn’t run in our family” or when a casual observer remarks that an 80 year old man is climbing a mountain for the fifth time.

As other reviewers have mentioned, the book is short. This becomes an issue because of the size of the task that the author is undertaking. The book literally spans about a dozen characters over several thousand years, often with no more than a few pages on each character. This really isn’t enough time to develop the characters or their scenes. What were the characters’ physical appearances? What color hair or eyes did they have? What kind of food did they eat and how did they cook it? More description here could have helped. I feel like the author is relying on readers to be familiar with stories of the old testament. Someone who reads this book without knowing Biblical stories would feel like there are gaps. Some of that is unavoidable in a work of this nature, however.

FAIR WARNING: This book stays pretty true to a literal interpretation of the Old Testament so your feelings on reading it will be colored by your view on that. For instance, there are thousands of people slain without remorse and in one scene one of the characters is lauded because he killed a couple suspected of inter-national dating.

Three and half stars.. Click the link to buy the book at Amazon

Heaven’s Night by Harry Aderton

Heaven’s Night – by Harry Aderton

Review by Bill Pottle, author of Alizel’s Song

As someone who writes in multiple genres including this one, I feel that I have a good perspective on just what Aderton has accomplished with Heaven’s Night. Writing speculative Christian fantasy of this type is extremely difficult. Most of the action is set in Heaven, so the author must supply all aspects of the world including what and how angels eat, sleep, fuel their bodies, etc. It is no simple task to describe how things might be like in Heaven, and what writer can live up to how the reader has already imagined it in his mind?  To further complicate this genre, the reader already knows (at least in general) how to story is to end. What happens if someone dies in Heaven? If no one can die, it’s not going to be much of a war. With all these constraints, how could someone craft a compelling story?

Well, you will have to ask Harry Aderton because he has done just that. Of all the other books I have read in this genre, Heaven’s Night outshines the rest. He has also added elements generally not found – he has found a way to insert a touching love story and a father’s love for his son as well. The book was long but it didn’t feel long as the action was fast paced and I was genuinely concerned for what would happen to each of the characters.

The book comes as a very reasonably priced ebook as well as a hardback. Get your copy today.

Antifragile by Nassim Taleb

Antifragile: Things That Gain From Disorder is a very important book. This is one of those seminal philosophy books that can (hopefully) change the way people as a whole think. The book covers the concept of antifragility, things that improve in some way when subjected to stress. Although the concept has been around forever, the word itself is new. Taleb is highly distrustful of complex systems and models, believing that the only thing that can reliably be predicted is that something will go wrong somewhere. He noted the fragility of the banking system, and has made a fortune multiple times by betting that the stock market will crash.

Some examples in the book include the fact that if one airplane crashes, lessons will be learned and all future airplanes will be less likely to crash. However if one bank crashes, the other banks become more likely to crash. Humans introduce fragility by trying to constrain systems. If we put out small forest fires, we are setting ourselves up for a large fire.

The book covers a large number of topics including ethics (bankers should have to pay back past bonuses if the firm later crashes), government, medicine (where much harm is introduced with good intentions) and general philosophy.

Reasons for four stars instead of five: The author is condescending throughout, and the book could have been shortened a good 50 pages if he wasn’t always trying to convince everyone how smart he is. Also, convexity and concavity were central points when they are really the same thing (ie, convex to harm = concave to benefit)

Overall this is an important book that should give much useful advice to individuals, companies, and governments.

Four Stars. Purchase book on Amazon.

Polly! by Stephen Goldin

(Click on the cover to purchase at Amazon)

The start of the short description for Polly! reads “Blasphemous…highly offensive” — and VERY funny. I agree on this, sort of. If questioning the nature of God is considered blasphemous, then perhaps it is. I don’t really agree that questioning the nature of God is blasphemous, it’s more human nature than anything.

As for highly offensive, I feel for something to be “offensive” the reader must choose to be offended. Instead I see this book as the author questioning the nature of God (or gods) and  this may indeed be offensive to some people.

As for the final, very funny part, I see it hit more on this. There are parts of the book that are very funny. There are parts of the book that are less funny and more philosophical but overall the book is an enjoyable read. While I don’t agree with all the ideas that are presented, I did enjoy the book overall.

The story presents Herodotus, who is having a really bad week. His wife has left him, he owes the IRS several thousand dollars, the bookstore/home he lives in burned down and he’s got no insurance to help on that front. He leaves to his brother’s house, gets a speeding ticket and then shortly afterwards, his car breaks down in the middle of nowhere. Or rather in the middle of nowhere but next to the driveway to a mansion. A mansion with a snowman in the middle of July. It’s here where he meets Polly, a beautiful young woman, the owner of the house and much more. She’s an acrobat, an international financial consultant, gourmet chef, environmental activist, lawyer, and more.

The book is well-written and I did enjoy it. It’s not for everyone but for those who take the time to read it, you may very well find you would have liked to spend more time with Polly when it’s all over.

The Hidden Son by Dianna T. Benson

U.S. DEA Special Agent Lelisa Desmond thought she was taking a vacation with her best-friend/boyfriend to clear her head and figure out her next step; little did she know that her next step would involve running for her life and fighting against the clock to prove her innocence. When someone she is close to is mistakenly killed in her place, Lelisa makes it her mission to take down the man she believes is responsible. It is a race to find out if she can take him down before he takes her down.
The Hidden Son is Dianna Benson’s debut novel. This is the first novel in the Cayman Islands Trilogy. Dianna has a background in Communications and left her career in the travel industry to become a writer. Dianna has worked as an EMT since 2005 and loves the rush of responding to medical emergencies and helping people in need.
Even though this is Mrs. Benson’s first novel, it reads as though she had written dozens before it. Each page leaves you wanting more. The characters are well-written and I found myself thinking of them as if they were real people. The only thing I found about this novel that bothered me a little was the title. I kept wondering when I would understand what the title meant, then when I found out, it almost seemed forced, as if an explanation had to be added to the book just so it would make sense. I love the cover work, and the book itself is a great read, but I feel the title should have been something that corresponds to the main character in some way. However, I am still looking forward to the next book in this trilogy and would definitely recommend The Hidden Son to anyone who loves a good action novel.

What the Dog Saw: And Other Adventures by Malcom Gladwell

What the Dog Saw cover image

What the Dog Saw is Gladwell’s 4th book. He has always had a knack for being …. interesting. There is just no better word to describe it. He can do this at a level that takes things that would normally be considered mundane and make readers think “man… I had always wondered about that.” He will answer questions like “Why are there many varieties of mustard but only one kind of ketchup?” or “What can NFL quarterbacks teach you about how to hire teachers?” The topics are very interesting and there is enough quality here for a five star rating.

However, a couple of things held it back. First of all, although the book is ‘new’ the articles were actually published in the New Yorker magazine 10-15 years ago. This in and of itself wouldn’t be an issue, except it feels like he is missing a paragraph or two at the end of each article updating the reader on what has happened since. He asks open ended questions where the answer might be some version of ‘only time will tell’ but then when time has given some insight, doesn’t go back and contact his sources to see what became of them.

The other criticism of some of the work is that he writes things in a misleading way. Consider the article on the FBI’s use of profiling techniques. In the beginning he talks about how the profiler made amazing predictions that led to the capture of a suspect. Then, after he has argued that profiling is actually little more than a clever use of the same tricks psychics use, turns around and says that actually the profiler in the original example didn’t say what Gladwell had originally described him as saying. It’s understandable in a way, because that’s how people come to get information, reading first only one report in the news about a amazing discovery, and then later seeing that the original wasn’t reported with complete accuracy.

In the end this book will be a worthy read for anyone who is a Gladwell fan, unless the said person has already read all the pieces from the New Yorker.

Reviewed by Bill Pottle

Three and a half stars

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Review: Avatar: The Lost Airbender – The Promise Part 1,2 and 3

Review: Avatar: The Lost Airbender – The Promise (Multiple Authors) is a 3 part graphic novel that is canonical to the Avatar series. After the end of the Nickelodeon miniseries, many fans felt somewhat incomplete. Although the main storyline was resolved, there were many questions left to be answered. The most important of these (What happened to Ursa, Zuko’s mother) is still unresolved, but will be answered in The Search, the first installment of which drops on April 2nd.

When Avatar: Legend of Kora came out, many fans were excited to learn the answers to these questions, but the series had skipped ahead several decades. The Promise helps bridge what happened in those years. The story mainly deals with the Fire Nation colony of Yu Dao, and the tension that builds as Aang and the Earth King try to remove a colony that has been there a century. Zuko goes to get advice from his father, and tries to find his own way to protect his people without going down the same road as Ozai. The books are well constructed, but quick reads nonetheless. They are indispensable for any true Avatar fan. (Well, unless, like Sokka, you get the ‘ooglies’ from seeing Aang and Katara call each other ‘sweetie.’)

5 Stars

Reviewed by Bill and Katie Pottle

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Review: Avatar: The Last Airbender – The Lost Adventures

Avatar: The Last Airbender was one of Nickelodeon’s most popular animated shows and the show has a cult following worldwide.  Understandably, there are many fans out there who just can’t get enough.The Lost Adventures (multiple authors) is a collection of 28 stories (5 Water, 9 Earth, 12 Fire, and 2 bonus) set during the original series. The book contains several asides during their travels that weren’t important enough to mention in the main story, as well as several ‘missing’ stories that fans might have been wondering about. For instance: How did Aang get on the Fire Navy ship after Ba Sing Se? How did Zuko and Mai originally get together?

The danger with extra books like this is that they will be written by someone not involved in the original creation and they may lack the ‘feel’ of the original. Fortunately, this book feels exactly like the series since it was written by many of the original writers. The trademark humor is definitely there, and Sokka plays a big part in many adventures (including one where he becomes a Fire Nation War Hero).

All in all this is a must read for anyone who wants more of Team Avatar. The only downside is that the book seems over too soon, but that is a necessary evil in this type of work. Overall, we give this work 5 stars.

Buy this book on Amazon.

Review by: Bill and Katie Pottle

 

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