Sunday, January 26, 2014

Book Review: An Elegant Solution

Book Overview:  For young Leonhard Euler, the Bernoulli family have been more than just friends. Master Johann has been a demanding mentor, and his sons have been Leonhard's allies and companions. But it is also a family torn by jealousy and distrust. Father and sons are engaged in a ruthless competition for prestige among the mathematical elites of Europe, especially the greatest prize: the Chair of Mathematics at the University of Basel, which Johann holds and his sons want. And now, their aspirations may have turned deadly.
Lured into an investigation of the suspicious death of Uncle Jacob twenty years ago, Leonhard soon realizes there's more at stake than even a prominent appointment. Surrounded by the most brilliant--and cunning--minds of his generation, Leonhard is forced to see how dangerous his world is. His studies in mathematics have always been entwined with his thoughts on theology, and now, caught in a deadly battle of wills, he'll need both his genius and his faith to survive.

My Review: 

Do you like math and numbers?  Complexity and mystery?  
Do you like books that have you turning impalpable corners, walking into dark alleys not knowing what lies ahead, apprehensive yet eager to continue on?
Then this book is for you!

This is my first novel I've read by author Paul Robertson and the feeling I get from this novel, this author was meant to write. His writing style is creative in his choice of words, colorful and expressive.  I am one who loves to feel the characters of a book and his definitely come to life.  He gives them meaning and purpose.

An Elegant Solution centers around the main character, Leonhard Euler, a young math prodigy, who suffers a devastating loss in his family and is brought to live with Master Johann who is a demanding teacher.  He soon finds himself caught up in a web of lies and suspected of murdering Jacob
Bernoulli.   Set in a small town of European community, the elite of all Europe of vying for the position of being the best ~ and will stop at nothing to accuse others of murder.  Poor Leonhard is definitely the scapegoat of many of the scholars and leans on his own experience and expertise in math to find his way out with an elegant solution.  

The twist of math and christianity is unique as it's not normally a combination one would find harmonized.   One of my favorite quotes from the book is Leonhard's grandmother telling him "family is for peace ~ there is trouble enough outside your door." This book is lush with detail and contains players that are both intense and charismatic.  The only flaw with this book is that it is not a light read - don't expect to pick it up and read it in one sitting. In fact, you may have to stop and ponder often what the author means by a phrase or tone.  

Does it help to have a background in math?  Sure, it certainly would but overall, it's still a unique read.  I would certainly entertain another book by this author based on this one.

About the Author: Paul Robertson is a computer programming consultant, part-time high-school math and science teacher, and the author of The Heir. He is also a former Christian bookstore owner (for 15 years), who lives with his family in Blacksburg, Virginia.

  Book review:  Kelly Santi

*Disclaimer:  I received this book for an honest review from Bethany House, a division of the Baker Publishing Group and was not required to write a positive review.  Any reflection of such is my own.



Saturday, January 25, 2014

Book Review: Bound to a Promise

Book Overview:  At six o’clock on a cold, foggy morning in Fresno, California, Bonnie Floyd’s horrific nightmare began … but she was wide-awake!
This may sound like the beginning of a fiction thriller, but it isn’t. This is a true story, and the nightmare was all too real. Life as Bonnie had known it was over, and the future she faced was unimaginable … unspeakable.
Bound to a Promise is a nonfiction novel, told in fascinating, page-turning fiction style. This astonishing true story will grab you with the first sentence and hold you captive until the very last page.
This is a heartbreaking story of intrigue, murder, and betrayal with more twists and turns than the wildest roller coaster ride. But it is so much more. This is a story of redemption. This is a story of grace and of forgiveness to a depth few of us will ever know.

–Sheila Walsh, Award Winning and Best-Selling Author, Speaker, and Recording Artist.

Based on Scotland Yard’s investigation, newspaper reports, court transcripts, and eyewitness accounts, Bound to a Promise has it all—exotic settings, courtroom drama, real-life adventure, convicting testimony, and puzzling mystery.

The key to this disturbing drama hangs on a very crucial and binding promise made to Bonnie. Did the promise maker keep that promise or was there a chance it was broken? The answer to that burning question had everlasting consequences both for the one who made the promise and to whom the promise was made.

My Review:  Reading this book, Bound to a Promise, has left me wondering ~ is the beauty that lies within it’s pages the poignant words of a daughter’s heartbreaking loss and subsequent forgiveness, or the faith that remains steadfast through-out?  The first would give one pause, a chance to question faith in humanity and perhaps one’s faith entirely.  But the second lends itself the one true reason to write such a book ~  to speak, to share, to write it all down and give glory to Him ....  now that’s a way to witness!

From the opening pages of her childhood, parents divorce, teeange spiritedness and meeting Donnie, the pages flow with character and ease.  I had to smile at her dialog with her dad and the “look list” they’d share, like #27 being that’s inappropriate or #20 don’t follow.  It gives great lead the strong relationship that Bonnie (Bean) and her dad shared as both a young child up to the point where he was lost to her in a senseless, sad murder. 

And it’s a savage murder indeed!  3 men who climb un-welcom
ed onto their boat while sailing in Antiqua brutally take the lives of Bonnie’s parent and 2 crew members.  They are caught and brought to trial.  And it’s through this trial that Bonnie shares the ‘meat and bones’ of this novel’s purpose, I believe.  And that is, as she states, God’s message: “the purpose in your heart is not to hate.”  It was brutal, violent, horrific and no one should have to hear that a parent(s) died in such manner, let alone sit through weeks after weeks of the trial that ultimately brings justice to a senseless crime.  But out of that, a bond is formed with Bonnie and Donaldson, one of the criminals that accepted Christ into his heart and the ensuing spiritual relationship was formed.  God calls upon us to forgive those in that we do not harbor unforgiveness in our hearts.  Bonnie has done that on an unfathomable level through her enviable relationship with God.  She not only trusted Him in her greatest moment of tribulation, but rejoiced Him in moments of triumph and wrote it all down.  It’s reflected in the crux of this unforgettable book as a wonderful tool of ministering to others.

There times most of us are stand still, reach into the corners of our minds and hearts and wonder “What is my purpose in life?” and I believe, having read this exceptional book, that Bonnie Floyd has most definitely found hers. 

~Reviewed by:  Kelly Santi

Disclaimer:  A copy of this book was provided to me (to review and give my honest opinion) by  The B&B Media Group.  The opinion expressed above is my own.

ABOUT BONNIE: Real, relatable and refreshing is the best way to describe Bonnie Floyd. She has an authentic love for God’s people. You will always find Bonnie out among the women and after only a few minutes with her, people experience first hand her passion for leading others into a deeper relationship with Christ.  You may read more about the author and her ministry at  this site!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Book Review: The Spiritual World of the Hobbit

Book Overview:
The huge success of the first of The Hobbit movies has added to Tolkien's already enormous popularity. As fans eagerly await part two of the trilogy, they will be excited to find out all they can about the spiritual themes in the story's mythological world. This book explores good versus evil in Tolkien's writings, the spiritual quest of Bilbo Baggins, the guiding hand of God's providence, and much more. The author specializes in taking complex topics in religion and literature and making them accessible to every reader. A great gift for Tolkien book and movie fans.

My review:    Have you ever walked past a window of a store and looked in, walked by then stopped, turned around and walked back to get a better look?  That's THIS book.

It's a book that will make you say hmmmmm.   Why?

It's colorful yet complex.
It's whimsical yet spiritual.
It's masterfully crafted.

Page after page you realize that this author has done his homework.   The reflection of his thoughts, ideas and proposals on The Hobitt from a spiritual perspective is unique, witty and thought provoking.   I know you might be thinking elves, goblins, dragons - that's mythology, not spirituality!  However, a closer look under the pages of the artfully crafted cover gives you so much more to read.  While it helps to have a basic familiarity with the original Hobbit by Tolkien and /or it's characters, Bell gives a new perspective by introducing a spiritual twist.  He reminds us that at times, key things to consider are like Bilbao - have a strong moral compass and a strong character.   He reminds us that they remain constant - it's who they are and how they think, much like many passages in the New Testament have shown us.   One key point that stood out for me - Leadership = Courage.  Well, AMEN I say!  Being a leader is perfecting an existing craft, one we can learn from.  Bilbao is no Abraham - or Noah, or Joseph per se - but the premise that we can all take that journey towards betterment, seeking, finding .... to seek for a truth or justice for the greater of all is certainly a message worth journeying towards.

Truly a different yet refreshing read, one that has been a long time in coming.  This book is not a light book.  It will make you think.  You may have to back up and re-read passages again.   Grab your favorite pen.  Or highlighter.  Take notes.  You'll be glad you did.

4/5 stars!  
Reviewed by:  Kelly Santi

*Disclaimer:  I received this book for an honest review from Bethany House, a division of the Baker Publishing Group and was not required to write a positive review.  Any reflection of such is my own.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Book Review: The Boy Who Walked Away

Overview: In the year 2162, a young boy named Jal Valhyn is caught in a maelstrom of violence and conflict.  His country is at war and the world's government based on humanistic principles that had fulfilled its promise of a halcyon peace for over a century has fallen.  Alone and helpless, he has an encounter with an invisible being that leads to a seven day journey.  With his two appointed companions, he sets out for a safe haven far from the world of danger and turmoil.  Each day's trek brings new friendships and a growing awareness that life has dimensions grounded in more than the material.  He intuitivitively grasps the source of the faith that sustains the inhabitants of an enduring peaceable kingdom.

My review:  Janes is clearly a skilled and talented writer, able to weave a tale of science-fiction with a spritual twist.  Her writing style is crisp and clear and certainly unique.

My honest impression of the first chapters is it's not an attention grabber.  There is a very slow start to this read and if not persistent enough, I may have even put it down unfinished.  But stick with it - the message is really wonderful once it gets going and the characters will enlighten you.

Jal is a young man in a conflicted place - a place beyond that we can't possible know yet in this time frame of 2013.  It's a relatable novel in that his journey is one of importance - both complex to understand yet a clear message.  It's not an overly storng book with a big impact.  If you are looking for a WOW factor, this book is more subtle yet still provides a good message, especially for the teenagers and beyond.  I think this book would better fit a High School age or older.  One thing that stands out for me with this author is her colorful vocubulary.
She's very expressive and writes with conviction and her love of prose shines through with each chapter.

I give this book a 4 out of 5 stars.

Disclaimer:  I received a free copy of this book/Ebook/Product to review.  I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations. I am part of The CWA Review Crew.  

Reviewed by:  Kelly Santi

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Book Review: Tender Mercies by Vicki Watson

My review of Tender Mercies:
 What can I say other than Vicki Watson has done it again!
This is my 4th book I've read in this series by this author and once again, Tender Mercies will leave you enchanted with her touching words, sharing God's word through her charismatic writing style and message of hope wrapped up in the pages of these adorable little girls and horses in her stories.

The book opens with the heart-wrenching chapter told by Sparky, 
a brand new foal born on a Kentucky farm, telling the story
from his point of view.  He learns to stand, try to walk and watch how his mom nuzzles and feeds on the hay.  They are befriended by the little boy who lives on the farm who overhears
his father saying they will be getting rid of the mares,
sadly, to become nurse mares to expensive thoroughbred horses
and the foals are left to the farmers demise.
However, The book alternates between his story and that of the girls.  Like the previous book, Tender Mercies brings back repeat characters Rosie, Carrie and Grandma, whom are
doing their utmost to rescue as many horses as they can
and help out at the Last Chance Corral.  
The corral is run by volunteer Victoria who does her best
to rescue as many horses as she can from the farms.
Rosie and Carrie are a wonderful as characters I've seen
in a book!  They are full of God's love and quickly put 
themselves to work, filled with the promise that somehow 
He will lead them to do what's right and just.
They love their horses and it shows!

This book, like the others in the series, is a delight to read.
I'm an adult and I was smiling ear to ear, eager to finish this cover to cover!  My 9 year old son also finished it in record time.  We are huge fans.  You dont' have to read the previous
books in order to read this one, it does stand alone on it's own but the series over all is simply remarkable. I highly recommend them especially for the younger, elementary school children.
The biblical tones through-out this book make it a refreshing read. Their willingness to help, not just the horses but the little cat they named Sparrow, are constant reminders of the good in this world. The reference to Matthew 10:29 is a wonderful touch.  This book would also be a great addition to the homeschooling families.

Learn more about the author and series:

You can see my review of her 3rd book "Clothed in Thunder" HERE.

Disclaimer:  I received a free copy of this book/Ebook/Product to review.  I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations. I am part of The CWA Review Crew.  

Reviewed by:  Kelly Santi