unbelievable

The Unbelievable Gospel by Dodson

Modern stereotypical evangelism isn’t the way it is supposed to be. It has become rote, by the numbers and simply unbelievable.

The Unbelievable Gospel
Say Something Worth Believing
by Jonathan K. Dodson
Zondervan
September 2014

The good news (pun!) is that there is a cure. What sinks is how obvious it is. What truly sucks is how underutilized. Be a real person and build relationships based on actually caring.

The world around us isn’t interested in hearing old words that don’t mean anything and canned responses to questions. But people are definitely still hurting and have needs that we know God had the answer for. How to bridge that gap? Do like Jesus and Paul did.

Dodson calls readers to real relationship and then customized metaphor for the Gospel. Instead of a one size fits all approach we should listen and then speak in the language and express the facet of the Gospel that would make the most sense to our friend.

This is a message that is very well written, scripturally sound, and so needed.


@ashertopia is the Managing Editor of BookGateway.com. He is an avid reader and a lifetime learner. His favorite genres include science fiction, fantasy, as well as theology and Christian living. His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

deepblacksea

Deep Black Sea by David M. Salkin

A team of scientists and sailors plan on living in a 5 story sphere on the bottom of the ocean, at 20,000 feet, next to an underwater volcano, for a year with no way to be contacted by the outside world and where rising to the surface could take days. What could go wrong?

Deep Black Sea
by David M. Salkin
Permuted Press
June 2014

In 2020, a new president is voted in office who believes that instead of focusing on different planets, like Mars, we should focus on the planet we still haven’t fully explored: ours, in the deepest oceans. So he pulls funding from Mars missions and fully funds an ultra-deep water sea lab that is meant to stay under water at over 20,000 feet for a year. He staffs it with the best and brightest from the Navy, NASA, and NOAA. These seven people – a skipper, a ship doctor, a mechanic/ sub specialist, a former top sonar man/ scientist, and three dedicated scientists – were trained and prepared far in advance and selected for their abilities and skills. The problem is that not everyone has the same agenda.

The NASA scientist Ted Bell, upset at being scrapped from the Mars mission determines that this trip is the perfect opportunity for him to do some human experimentation with exposure to a bacteria that lives in the most inhospitable place on the earth, with no oxygen, no food, and a toxic environment like none other – except for deep space. When he purposefully changes the landing site then introduced the dangerous bacteria to a crew member things quickly go downhill.

This book’s set up reminded me quite a bit of many films and books of similar setup: scientists mess with something that maybe they weren’t prepared for leaving the crew in a life or death situation where we know that many if not most won’t make it out alive. Think: the film Deep Blue Sea (1999), Jurassic Park (1990 book, 1993 film), and so on. This is not to say that this is derivative. But this is a tried and true formula to set up character dramas, thrills, and ultimately chills. It can be done really, really poorly or really, really well. Salkin fits firmly into the second category. This is a very taunt, fun read and very well done thriller.

Unlike most horror-thrillers, Salkin’s characters are interesting and their thought process and decision making makes sense and is credible. No “hey, let’s hide in the shed with all the hanging knifes” moments. Characters like Theresa go back and forth between Ted’s view and the other scientist’s views as she struggles between scientific discovery and her abhorrence to Ted’s methods. The main example of over characterizations would be in the relationship between two characters who seem to want to have sex in nearly every scene, and sometimes at both the start and end of scenes, once they start hooking up (no spoilers).

In my opinion, this book is perfectly set up for being made for a movie. It has everything that other survival horror movies has but it’s in a situation that hasn’t been done often or for a while. There have been some movies set at these depths but not many. And the pace of this book is very similar to that of a movie. I read most of it in a single night – not wanting to put it down. Very cinematic.

If you enjoy science driven horror/ thrillers, or survival horror stories this is a very well done book that I believe won’t disappoint.


@ashertopia is the Managing Editor of BookGateway.com. He is an avid reader and a lifetime learner. His favorite genres include science fiction, fantasy, as well as theology and Christian living. His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

The Answer to Bad Religion is Not No Religion by Thielen

answerToo often the main excuse for people who avoid going to God is the people who are supposedly Christian and how they mistreat others.

The Answer to Bad Religion is Not No Religion
A Guide to Good Religion for Seekers, Skeptics, and Believers
by Martin Thielen
Westminster John Knox Press
February 2014

There is a lot of bad press about Christians today. Sure, a lot of negativity is stirred up in Hollywood but there is enough smoke here to say a fire exists. So a message that clearly explains why someone shouldn’t abandon Christianity because of Christians is a welcome and needed one.

While I don’t agree with everything Martin Thielen writes regarding some specifics the can be no doubt that he is right in the broad sense. Christianity is much bigger than doctrinal distinctives. Interpretations and beliefs can vary and frankly everyone thinks they are right. But the truth is there is Christ and Him crucified then everything else. And any Christian who forgets they are a sinner and so would prefer other sinners not come to their church is a hypocrite. It is far better that everyone comes to know God and His love for us regardless of sin than for some to avoid God because they aren’t welcome. Sin is sin and the hope we all have through the process of sanctification is that we will stop sinning. That applies to everyone no matter their sin.

A great word that should be shouted from every pulpit: no matter your sin or your attitudes or culture, you belong in church. You belong with God. Don’t give up on Christianity!

I recommend this book highly.


@ashertopia is the Managing Editor of BookGateway.com. He is an avid reader and a lifetime learner. His favorite genres include science fiction, fantasy, as well as theology and Christian living. His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

Louise Loves Art by Kelly Light

Louise Loves ArtLouise is on the hunt to express herself perfectly through art. She loves to draw and put her “imagination on the outside.” When her masterpiece is finished it literally is – finished with scissors by her brother.

Louise Loves Art
by Kelly Light
Balzer + Bray
September 2014

Louise learns to see the art her brother does and to value it as well as her own art. Forgiveness through empathy. While it is a good lesson, it seemed more undeveloped than even a normal children’s book. The whole book is about Louise and her art. Her brother cuts it up on one page, cries and apologizes and she immediately turns her attitude around on the next. Then, “The end.” I love the turn around, but the ending is so abrupt I think the message doesn’t have time to settle in.

Kelly Light does a very good job with the colorful, black, white and red art herself. It’s bold, makes great use of white space and holds your visual attention. It is simple and bold. A good fit for a book featuring an art theme.


@ashertopia is the Managing Editor of BookGateway.com. He is an avid reader and a lifetime learner. His favorite genres include science fiction, fantasy, as well as theology and Christian living. His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

Screenshot_2014-10-02-19-12-29-1

Trillium by Jeff Lemire

When a World War I soldier meets a botantist trying to save humanity in the year 3797 sparks fly and time is undone and redone differently in a fantastic science fiction story that is a must read.

Screenshot_2014-09-30-18-00-28-1Trillium
TPB collects issues 1-8
by Jeff Lemire
Vertigo
August 2014

William Pike was never the same after a World War I where he lost too many men and perhaps his sanity. To reciver, he decides to go on an expedition to a supposedly lost temple of the Incas in Peru in 1921 where he finds even more blood shed, natives on the hunt and (inexplicably) Dr. Nika Temsmith.

Screenshot_2014-10-03-08-34-50-1Nika is a botanist researching Trillium, a flower that may hold the key to stopping an AI virus from wiping out humanity. She also finds a temple on the outer-rim of colonized space run by the all female alien Atibithians and partakes in a ritual with Trillium where she ends up traveling through a gateway from 3797 to 1921 and into relationship with William.

What transpires next is an at times confusing mash of time travel, time swaps, halucinations and ultimately the triumph (of sorts) of love as William and Nika fight to find each other again and save humanity.

Although he may be most well known commercially for his writing – especially on DC and New 52 titles – Lemire does an outstanding job with his art in this series. It is awkward, sketchy and moody and fits Screenshot_2014-10-03-08-50-46-1perfectly with the story. Nothing about the art or the story says “commercial” and nothing panders to those looking for eye candy sans story. More illustrated novel than slightly plotted art.

As interesting a story as this is I couldn’t for the life of me enjoy flipping the book upseide down for part of the story. I love that Lemire took a chance and went with his creative ideas but I think this goes too far. Like Spider-man 16 (1991) this is an idea that works in concept but in reality if tough to pull off. Especially if reading digitally.

My advice? Get the series in TBP and enjoy the story. Deal with the drawbacks of the upside down panels. Even with the annoyance this is a really well done science fiction series that deserves to be read.


@ashertopia is the Managing Editor of BookGateway.com. He is an avid reader and a lifetime learner. His favorite genres include science fiction, fantasy, as well as theology and Christian living. His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people.

The River by Beverly Lewis

riverShe looked once more at the dreaded river. Since Anna’s death, it had been such a barrier . . . a place and a moment she could not seem to move past. A line I can’t move beyond…The River

The River
by Beverly Lewis
Bethany House
September 2014

Tilly and Ruth, two formerly Amish sisters, are plagued by unresolved relationships when they reluctantly return to Lancaster County for their parents’ landmark wedding anniversary. Since departing their Plain upbringing, Tilly has married an Englisher, but Ruth remains single and hasn’t entirely forgotten her failed courtship with her Amish beau.

Past meets present as Tilly and Ruth yearn for acceptance and redemption. Can they face the future in the light of a past they can’t undo?

My Thoughts:

I often get asked if I tire of reading Amish Fiction. The answer is yes and no. I like that I know the books will be clean and centered around Biblical values. Beverly Lewis is not one that I tire of as she has changed a lot in her Amish genre. Mrs. Lewis was the first author to hook and reel me into Amish fiction and I guess you could say she is still hooking and reeling me in with her stories.

Tilly and Ruth are well developed characters that you just adore. Both of the sisters have unresolved hurts that have kept them in a place that they have been stuck dwelling in for far too long.

This is a story of redemption, healing, forgiveness, and family. Both girls have to find peace and resolve and be content in their decision that led them away from their Amish roots.

I’m not going to give away any spoilers but, this is a worthwhile story that will pull at your heart strings and break your heart at the same time.

Thank you for another wonderful story. This story ended with a wonderful conclusion. I look forward Beverly Lewis next book.


ReneeK is a sweet tea addicted mamma who loves to cuddle up to a good book. She blogs at Little Homeschool on the Praire and writes about family, homeschooling, having a special needs child, and about whatever else tickles her fancy.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

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Q&A with William Shatner (Video)

Video of William Shatner at Comic Con Nashville Q&A event from BookGateway.com! BG was one of the first, if the not the first, outlets to report about Shatner’s comments about JJ Abrams calling him about how he and Nimoy “might” appear in Star Trek 3! (Six minute mark). Our quotes, transcripts and video have been embedded and used in reporting across the globe!

Remember you heard it here first!

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Live Blog: Day 2 #WizardWorld Comic Con Nashville

Welcome to BookGateway.com’s Wizard World Comic Con Nashville live blog! Join me (Scott Asher @ashertopia) and David Mason as we blog everything that happens on day 2 of Comic Con Nashville! Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @BookGateway and #WizardWorld! On tap tonight: Q&A with creators and actors for the Walking Dead, Star Trek, WWE, interviews with artists and writers, and cosplay photos. Coverage starts 9/27 at 1 pm Central. Tune in for updates!

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Live Blog: Opening Night #WizardWorld Comic Con Nashville

Welcome to BookGateway.com’s Wizard World Comic Con Nashville live blog! Join me (Scott Asher @ashertopia) and David Mason as we blog everything that happens on opening night of Comic Con Nashville! Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @BookGateway and #WizardWorld! On tap tonight: opening ceremonies, cosplay and a bunch of quick hit interviews with artists and writers. Coverage starts at 9/26 at 7 pm Central. Tune in for updates!

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