Today I have the pleasure of reviewing The Latter Rain, by James Conis.
From the product description at Amazon.com:
The Latter Rain explores the symbols and types of the Book of Isaiah, creating a framework that can then be applied to other books of the Bible, helping the reader perceive meaning that was once obscured in symbolism. One such symbolic type is that of rain. While this type is not exclusive to Isaiah, it is used by Isaiah to symbolize the communication from God to man. In Deuteronomy, the Lord himself explains this concept:
1 GIVE ear, O ye heavens, and I will speak; and hear, O earth, the words of my mouth.
2 My doctrine shall drop as the rain, my speech shall distil as the dew, as the small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass:
3 Because I will publish the name of the LORD: ascribe ye greatness unto our God.
The term, Latter Rain, therefore means a period of time in the last days when the Lord will again pour out his spirit upon his children on the earth, thus leading them to truth and understanding.
This book clarifies these and other concepts pertaining to the last days. Through a methodical analysis of various books contained in the Bible, the reader is able to view the attributes and characteristics of God's communications to his prophets and disciples in ancient times, and to use these observations to predict what one should expect to occur in the period of the Latter Rain.
Castle Mountain Press is proud to introduce the book The Latter Rain. Although many books have been written about the prophecies of Isaiah, this book not only correctly identifies the symbols and types found in Isaiah, but uses this new information to make sense of the rest of the Bible. The reader of The Latter Rain, whether familiar with the scriptures or not, comes away from the experience with a completely new perspective on what the ancient prophets are saying about our day and age.
Here are my impressions about The Latter Rain:
From the Amazon description and the back cover copy, I expected this to be somewhat of an academic approach to the book of Isaiah. Upon reading the preface, I realized that this was not going to be the case. That was somewhat disappointing, as I really enjoy reading such books.
No matter. After reading the preface, it became clear that this book is Mr. Conis' own interpretation of the Bible. That's fine. We're all entitled to our opinions and interpretations of scripture. I was curious as to how well Mr. Conis would handle the task.
As it turns out, pretty well. I particularly liked his analysis of the stories of Joseph and Moses and how he tied them back to the New Testament. This alone is reason to read the book.
There were a few areas in which I think the book could have been improved. One thing that jumped out at me from the moment I opened the book is the word density on the page. The font is fairly small and compact, with small margins. My impression was that the publisher was trying to fit as much information as possible onto a page in order to get the page count down. This made it more difficult for me to read.
The book could also have been a bit more concise. There were times, particularly in the beginning, where it felt like there was a lot of repetition. I understand and appreciate the need to be thorough. Maybe I'm just a fast study and get it quicker than most. Once I grasped what Mr. Conis was saying, I was ready to move on. Often, I would be ready to go to a new topic before he was, so I found myself skipping over the scripture verses in order to get to the next point more quickly. Once I made it past the chapter on Ezekiel, however, things were moving on in a pace much more to my liking.
Overall, this book raises some interesting questions. It made me think, which is something I look for in non-fiction. Mr. Conis' positions are well thought out and easy to follow. I found myself pausing from time to time and thinking, "Hmm. That's an interpretation I've never heard before. It makes a lot of sense." Or, "Hmm. I think he's stretching just a little here. I don't think that interpretation is quite accurate. Still, if I just toss it out, the rest of it works pretty well."
To sum it up, there are some gems in The Latter Rain. You may have to do some skimming at times or set aside some of what you unearth, but when all is said and done, you'll have a nice, little stash. While not the most compelling book I've ever read, it is a worthwhile read, as it does a fairly good job of being the type of book it aspires to be.
You may purchase The Latter Rain through Amazon.
Thursday, March 24, 2011
Today I have the pleasure of reviewing KiTE by Bill Shears as part of his virtual blog tour. I received a copy of the book for review purposes, which in no way guarantees I will give it a favorable review. The following paragraph, taken from here, gives you a brief overview of what the book is about.
KiTE, by Bill Shears, is a science fiction novel set in Earth orbit. Mason Dash, operator of Kite, the flagship of Earth Orbit Maintenance Department’s debris sweeper fleet, suspects spacejackers on an abandoned space station may be using it as a platform for a terrorist attack on Earth targets. Sheila, his beautiful virtual companion, has been “enhanced” with an experimental free will module. Inside the computer system of Kite a digital uprising is under way. Sheila goes off on her own adventure and finds she’s forced to split her focus between Dash’s situation in the “real world” and an ambitious virtual tyrant who has also taken a fancy to her, and who wants to expand his empire beyond Kite. Meanwhile Dash finds the spacejackers are not what he suspected, maybe worse. And it’s just then that humankind’s first unearthly visitor appears in Earth orbit, who is none too pleased. Earth’s fate hangs in the balance.
This book was so much fun to read! As others have noted in their reviews, there is something in the way that Shears writes that brings to mind the late, great Douglas Adams. By the time I reached the end of KiTE, there was absolutely no question whatsoever that Adams has influenced Shears' writing; yet, despite Adams' influence, their voices are distinctly different. While Adams would include absurd, over-the-top elements in his stories, Shears takes a more "hard core" approach to his science fiction. The end result is rather wonderful, I think.
The characters are all distinctly themselves and believable, I might add. The dialogue is clever. The plot is intriguing. The book is fun to read. Wait. I said that already, didn't I? No matter. It's true. While parts of KiTE made me chuckle, I found myself smiling (inwardly, at least) throughout the book, and I think most people will too.
KiTE is not one of those books where you can check your brain at the door when you open its cover and begin to read. It's cerebral stuff. If you happen to like that sort of literature, and I do, then your brain will be most happy when you read KiTE. Be forewarned, you will probably have to put KiTE down periodically in order to give your brain a breather. But then, as soon as you have digested all that hard-core, science fiction goodness, you'll be eager to rush back to the book and dive right back in for another helping.
Since I know there are those out there who care about this sort of thing, I should let you know there is some mild profanity in this book. In terms of movie ratings, it would garner a PG rating. There are no graphic sex scenes between humans in KiTE. Now, if you are a subroutine in a computer program, yeah, there is a rather tame sex scene. At least I think humans will find it tame. I thought it was funny, myself.
Overall, KiTE is very well written. It's a book I can see myself re-reading. I don't read most books more than once. The fact that I would read this book again places it in exclusive company. I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys science fiction.
Friday, March 18, 2011
I haven't done any book reviews on my blog before, but I have plans to change that. So look for more reviews in the days and weeks to come.
For my first ever book review, I will be sharing my thoughts and feelings on Miss Delacourt Has Her Day by Heidi Ashworth. In all fairness to anyone reading this, I have to disclose that my wife and I were given a copy of the book as a gift. While Heidi and I have never met "in real life", I consider her a friend. Also, my name appears in the acknowledgements of the book because one of the characters uses a poem I wrote to reassure his true love that she is, indeed, the one for him. So while I have every reason to be biased here, I will be honest and objective.
I don't read romances. I don't like them. I'm more of a fantasy, science fiction, thriller type of guy. Before my dear wife "met" Heidi online, I had never even heard the term regency romance, much less ever read one.
Now I can say I have read a grand total of two regency romance books, the first of which was Miss Delacourt Speaks Her Mind. I really ought to review that one as well. To be perfectly honest with you, the only reason I ever read it in the first place was because Rebecca and I knew Heidi via blogging and I thought it would be cool to read a book written by someone I kind of knew. In a nutshell:
I. Loved. It.
Even though I don't like reading romance novels, and despite the fact that I am totally unschooled in the conventions of regency romance and had to focus on practically every bit of dialogue in the book in order to understand what I was reading, I fell head-over-heels completely in love with the book and the characters in it. So even if I Heidi hadn't included my poem in the book, I would have wanted to read it. In fact, I read Miss Delacourt Has Her Day before Rebecca did. That was because she decided to do that thing women sometimes do and saved reading the book as a reward for doing something she needed to get done. Whatever. I took advantage of the rare opportunity to read a book we're both interested in first and dove right in.
I. Loved. It.
I still struggled with occasionally not understanding why some things characters said were considered impolite or had weighty significance, but that's ok. Like I said, regency romances are not my thing. Still, Heidi's style of writing is charming, engaging, and so much fun to read. The characters from the previous novel, while already familiar, showed growth and evolution from the previous novel. This is something I expect to find in a sequel and was not disappointed. The characters are all very well defined and came to life right before my eyes.
The dialogue in Miss Delacourt Has Her Day is witty and engaging. I loved the banter between characters. While some of it was completely over my head, it was well written and moved the story along splendidly. I think this is one area in which the book really shines.
If there was any aspect of the book that I thought could have been better, it would be the plot. While not the most compelling action I have ever read, it was still more than sufficient to advance the story and resolve the issues the characters faced. It wasn't bad by any stretch of the imagination--far from it--but maybe, being a regency romance, the action isn't the focus of the book. Maybe the genre is more character- and relationship-driven. I don't know. This isn't my usual fare. Like I said earlier, I'm used to fantasy, science fiction, etc. I suspect that my opinion here has more to do with my literary preferences (and that Y-chromosome) than anything else. That said, the characters were so lovable that I really didn't care. I tore through the last half of the book and closed it feeling like Oliver Twist. Please, Heidi. Could we have some more?
There were parts of the novel where I laughed out loud, which is not a common occurrence for me. The fact that I was amused means I was able to become fully engaged and immerse myself in the story and fall in love with the characters. Considering my lack of affinity for the genre, this speaks volumes for the masterful skill with which Heidi wove this book together. I am impressed, which is something I don't say very often with the books I read. In fact, I am so impressed with Heidi's writing that I will eagerly read anything she publishes. This places Heidi Ashworth firmly among the elite ranks of my favorite authors.