Book Reviews

Reading List for June, 2019

The Story Luke Tells: Luke’s Unique Witness to the Gospel by Justo Gonzalez

Church historian Justo Gonzalez looks at Luke’s writings. I liked his overall approach and he had some good insights. The author’s soft spot for Liberation Theology is kept to a minimum. Worthwhile if you are studying Luke or Acts.

The First American Evangelical: A Short Life of Cotton Mather by Rick Kennedy

Cotton Mather has often been a peripheral figure in other books I have read, but I never knew that much about him.

Now I do.

Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Soccer Scheme by Donald J Sobol

I devoured the Encyclopedia Brown mysteries as a kid. Now I’m reading them to my boys at lunch, one mystery at a time. We enjoy seeing if we can solve the mysteries before reading the answers in the back.

Fun fact: Encyclopedia’s real name is “Leroy”. I’ll never be able to listen to Jim Croce the same way again.

The Sharpened Sword by Catherine MacKenzie

I was looking for some good Christian biographies to read to my boys after lunch. From the cover his looked sufficiently adventurous…but I was largely disappointed. While it does provide a decent overview of Knox’s life, I found it much lacking in action and drama…something that should be easy in a biography of John Knox.

The Battle Cry of Freedom by James McPherson

I’ve read a LOT on the Civil War, including Shelby Foote’s massive, three-volume history. Twice.

However, Battle Cry of Freedom has earned a place at or near the top of my go-to books on that subject. In fact, after listening to the Audible version, I just may take the rare step of purchasing a print version for my library, and a Kindle version for note-taking. That’s how great it was.

What set it apart? A few things: 1) The detailed exploration of the years and events leading up to the war, 2) the author’s absolute refusal to succumb to either Northern triumphalism or Southern “lost cause” propaganda, and 3) the superb narrative style.

Very highly recommended.

Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson

A while back I was casting about for some good fiction to read, and several friends recommended the “Mistborn” series by Brandon Sanderson. So, with some trepidation, I used one of my Audible credits on the first book in the series: The Final Empire.

And wow…just…wow! Gripping from beginning to end. How gripping, you ask? I listen to my audio books while either running or driving. And last night I ran several extra laps just so I could be sure to get to the end of the final battle scene. THAT’S how gripping it is.

Mistborn: The Final Empire has everything you would want in a fantasy novel…adventure, intrigue, magic, suspense, good-vs-evil with some blurry lines between the two…all brought to life with superb writing, outstanding character development, and snappy dialogue.

If I have one complaint, it’s that now I’m going to have to read the entire series.

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