Book Review: The Burning White by Brent Weeks

Book Review: The Burning White by Brent Weeks
Cover
Cover image taken from the book’s Amazon buy page for review purposes under Fair Use doctrine.

Spolier Free Summary: (Note: Once more, it’s very hard to review a final book in a series. I’ll do my best.)  The Burning White is the final novel in the Lightbringer Saga by Brent Weeks. Gavin finally faces the truth about the existence Orholam, and the truth will set him free. Kip, accepting the role of Lightbringer, returns home for the final defense of his chosen home. Karris and Andross scheme. Tia walks down a dark path of death, hoping a light shines anywhere. Everything comes to a head, and all questions are answered in this final volume. I have to admit, I didn’t get the answer that frustrated me so much with The Blood Mirror. I think that’s just a whiff that Weeks will have to accept. Lucky for him the series as a whole is great.

 

Character:  Tisis stole the show in the last book, so I was mad she didn’t get that much attention in this book. That said, every one of these character arcs were amazing! I must give proper respect to Gavin, who’s growth was beautiful. I also must give a nod to Andross here. A lot of cool things happen that reveal motivations, and that amplifies the sympathy of all of these characters.

Exposition: We still have a few dumpy sections, but that’s going to happen in a series this deep. I’ll say that while there was some slow-down here and there, the general pace of the novel (and series) was just fine. The dumpy sections are portions I think most fans of epic fantasy have come to expect so long as the author doesn’t abuse the privilege. Weeks doesn’t.

Worldbuilding: The world only gets bigger, and we see a lot more of the religion in this world in this book. I don’t know if Weeks is Christian or not, but I can promise you he did his research. It was actually super fun for me to count off the sheer number of Bible Easter eggs as I saw it, particularly near the third act to the end. I don’t think people who haven’t read the Bible or aren’t that familiar with it would catch as much (or mind), but it’s hard to know given how much of the Bible I read. I found those ties to be satisfying, but I wonder how others might respond. I expect they wouldn’t notice.

three-book-covers
Other books in the Lightbringer saga.

Dialogue:  I’d still say the same that I’ve always said. I can’t argue the characters all have unique voices (though I do think so). Yeah, they’re all pretty much flippant, arrogant people with sly comments for every situation, but it’s fun to listen to. It’s witty and entertaining.

Description: Weeks is still a minimalist in this regard. There was more description in this book than others, but the necessity was there given the number of action scenes and new locations to account for.

Overall: This was a wonderful start to my 2020 year in reading. It’s going to take a strong book to take its spot at the top of my best-read stories of the year, and I can say that nothing so far has com anywhere close. I don’t know if I’ll finish the new Stormlight book before the new year, but that would be the competition I expect. Who knows though. I loved this book, and at the moment, it’s the best I’ve read so far in 2020. This book is a fantastic end to a satisfying conclusion. While I still enjoyed it, I’d have to say I liked Night Angel better, but I think that’s more of a compliment to Night Angel than a knock on Light Bringer. There’s a lot to love about this conclusion.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

A new 4-Star Review for The Journals of Bob Drifter!

A new 4-Star Review for The Journals of Bob Drifter!

Greetings all,

Bob CoverI’m always happy to announce reviews for my work, and it’s even cooler when it’s a good one. I found this review for The Journals of Bob Drifter on Goodreads. Writers typically have to challenge themselves. Original ideas are a debated myth in these days, so finding ways to stand out or be unique are important. I appreciated the reader calling Bob ” … different than any other book … ”

Thanks for reading,

Matt

Book Review: Debt-Free Degree by Anthony Oneal

Book Review: Debt-Free Degree by Anthony Oneal
Cover
Image taken from the book’s Goodreads page for Review Purposes under Fair Use doctrine.

I’m a firm believe in the Dave Ramsey program, so when Debt-Free Degree by Anthony Oneal came out, I snatched it up. First, I have sons. Two of them will be in college in just five years. While we’re working our way through the baby steps, we’re no where near where we need to be yet to save for college.

This book is best for people who have younger kids, but what I like about it is it gives you steps to take at each grade level in each financial position. It talks a lot about planning and helping the mindset of your child.

What I don’t like so much about it is that while it talks about how “many scholarships” there are and how “we need to apply” for them, I found very little actionable information. Where do I go to apply? Where do I go to find all those scholarships. I imagine the organization’s website will have more resources, but I wish the book was more of a step by step, how to than it was a “here’s how to get your kid’s mindset ready.”

Oneal
Image of Mr. Oneal taken from his website’s bio for review purposes under Fair Use doctrine. 

The book has value from a planning standpoint, especially in regard to preparing and working with a child to identify and move forward with a career path. I just wish it had more meat and potatoes in the scholarship department.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

Book Review: The Heart of Anger by Lou Priolo

Book Review: The Heart of Anger by Lou Priolo
Cover
Cover for the book taken from its Amazon buy page for review purposes under Fair Use doctrine.

The Heart of Anger by Lou Priolo is a Biblical perspective on raising children who are troubled by anger.

The thing that stuck with me the most about this book was the distinction between righteous and unholy anger. It also provided a means to put God front-and-center in any interaction with another person (not just a child).

The book also gives tools and procedures for corrective action. Oddly, it doesn’t have any information on punishment. It speaks a lot about discipline, but only in the context of its original meaning (to place one’s self under control). I would have liked some perspective on the topic of punishment.

One reason may be that this book focus most on discipline in terms of teaching, which should always be the priority in any interaction between a parent and his (in my case) children.

I found this book taught me far more about my anger and my perspective than it did about my son (who I read this book hoping to help). Don’t get me wrong; this book helped me find alternative ways to reach my son. However, I found this book helped me personally (if in a convicting way).

Lou
Image of Mr. Priolo taken from his website for review purposes under Fair Use doctrine.

I don’t just recommend this for believing parents; I recommend this book for any believers who feel they might struggle with frustration and anger.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

Book Review: Twelve Unlikely Heroes by John MacArthur

Book Review: Twelve Unlikely Heroes by John MacArthur
Cover
Image taken from book’s Goodreads page for review purposes under Fair Use doctrine.

Twelve Unlikely Heroes by John MacArthur is another book in the vein of Twelve Ordinary Men.

This story talks about 12 heroes from the Bible, but they may not all be the heroes you’re thinking of.

This didn’t have the staying power or resonance that 12 Ordinary Men had on me, but it was nice to read. Most of the stories show how people pass from fear to faith, so people who are struggling with spiritual issues of courage would certainly benefit from reading it.

The book also does a great job of showing how it is God who equips men who can then serve Him to do His will.

I think what I liked most about this book was the insight it gave regarding God’s grace and patience when calling people to action. This book talks about a few judges (from the book of Judges), and each of them had moments of extreme doubt. Honest, humble prayer always yielded results. That is an encouraging thought.

John-MacArthur-Primary-2I don’t know if there are more books from MacArthur of this sort, but I still think Ordinary Heroes was the strongest of the batch. However, this book is still a nice look into characters of the Bible. It lets us study those characters and glean insights about how God works (or can work) in our lives.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

Book Review: Transcendence and Rebellion by Michael G. Manning

Book Review: Transcendence and Rebellion by Michael G. Manning

Transcendence and Rebellion is the final book of The Riven Gates series, and the last

Transcendence
Cover image for the book was taken from its Amazon buy page for review purposes under Fair Use doctrine.

Mageborn saga book. My review for book one of this series is here. My review for book two is here. My review for the first the last book in the previous series is here. My review for the earliest series (Embers of Illeniel) is here.  My review for the central series (Mageborn) is here.

Spoiler Free Summary:  Mordecai’s power has grown so much that the very world is now in danger. The only hope of saving the world might be for his own children to plot his death, but Tyrion, influenced by the being who’s put everything into motion since Tyrion was a boy, might ruin any chance the youngest generation has at saving the world.

Character:  I like how everything came together in this book. I won’t say I got everything I wanted out of the end of this saga, but I feel like the characters all had a chance to shine. For a cast this massive, that’s hard to do. Mordecai shines, as does Matthew. All the characters have motivations one can empathize with. They are all charming and sympathetic. It’s very fun seeing how everything comes together in Manning’s universe.

Exposition: This is probably the weakest area, but not because there was too much. I’m not sure what I missed between book two and three of this series, but the biggest element of the plot seemed to come from nowhere to me. Since I listened to this on Audible, that might be the cause. However, I actually wanted a bit more in this regard to help me track all the plot lines and character threads.

Dialogue: As is typical in a book from Manning, there was a lot of conversations used to get plot information across.  It’s still not enough so much that the book isn’t great, but it’s obviously  there. It reminds me a lot of the feeling I got whenever Buffy and the gang were in the library. There were key points in the book where I was like, “Ok, here comes the dissertation on how we got here.” I love Buffy for the record, so it’s not that big a deal.

Description:  This time I wasn’t as blown away as I normally am, but his “weakest” work in this book is still head and shoulders beyond everyone else in the business. If you’re a young writer seeking to understand how to incorporate description into a story, you should study Manning’s work.

Overall:  I might do another post sometime down the road just to talk about the scope of this series. I don’t think this saga holds up to Wheel of Time, but I really feel like there’s something to be said for fourteen or so books that all share the same history. This is a saga you can enjoy for a long time, and I think you should. I loved this series a lot. I probably wouldn’t put it against my top three all time, but I might put it in my top ten (if not top five). There’s just too much to enjoy and too many characters to fall in love with to deny this series a place among the best in fantasy. I think there were a few books that dragged the story down for me (more than Wheel if you want to throw Crossroads of Twilight at me). However, the weakest books in the series are still not bad. I couldn’t recommend this series strongly enough. Rebellion landed at number two in my best books of 2019, and it’s worth so much more than the cover price.

Thanks for reading

Matt

Book Review: Evidence That Demands a Verdict by Josh McDowell

Book Review: Evidence That Demands a Verdict by Josh McDowell

 

 

Evidence
Image taken from Christianbook.com for review purposes under Fair Use doctrine

Evidence by Josh McDowell is an apologetics book that provides evidence and counter evidence to uphold history as it’s documented in the Bible. Right about here some readers might be inclined to stop paying attention, but allow just to make this argument:

When you wen to school, you read a book that told you what happened and believed it. When the world presents a theory as fact, especially in schools, people accept those facts. I’m not actually arguing any of the information in the Bible in this post; I’m only presenting the observation that one reason why the historical record in the Bible is refuted is because it’s the Bible.

Evidence takes on questions such as: “Was Jesus a real person?” “How old is the Earth?” “Was Moses a historical figure?” “Is there evidence for the plagues of Egypt?”

This book took me a very long time to go over. For analytical thinkers, this book is packed with relevant scientific data presented for consideration. I typically consider myself an analytical thinker, but this book is currently miles ahead of where I am in terms of theory and analysis.

I’d be very interested if McDowell broke this book down into smaller parts and provided more context and analysis on those specific chapters.

As I study the Bible more and more, and look at history, I become more convinced of the historical accuracy of the Bible. This can create some inflammatory points of debate I’d rather not go off on.

McDowell
Image of Josh McDowell taken from his Goodreads author account for review purposes under Fair Use doctrine.

I mention the above simply to provide context on what Evidence does. This book doesn’t just state what the Bible says. In fact, it provides detailed archeological information along with multiple plausible theories. The struggle is it’s like reading three different (and information-packed) textbooks.

I’ll probably read this again in a few years after I’ve done some lighter research. At this point, it feels like calculus, and I’m just learning to count with my fingers. For people with a higher knowledge base in science or a deeper understanding of the Bible, it’s probably perfect.

Any time someone studies and tries to learn more about God, it’s a good thing. There is a lot of valuable information here for readers, but for my part it feels more like a challenge to study more as opposed to the direct answers I wanted.  That’s more a problem with my expectations than what the book actually does.

I’m still studying up on my apologetics now, and as I grow, I’m confident more if this information will make even more sense.

Thanks for reading

Matt