Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Let The Journey Begin by Max Lucado - Book Review

From the publisher: Powerful, life-changing messages for a vital time in life.

Graduation is a time of excitement and uncertainty. For graduates the question is, will they face the future with or without God? Let the Journey Begin repack is filled with godly wisdom, encouragement, and guidance from bestselling and trusted author Max Lucado for students about to embark on new steps in their life journey. Graduates will be reassured that they are not alone-God is with them every step of their way.

This bestselling book will include thirty-two additional pages of new content, all consisting of excerpts, quotes, and scripture as well as an updated interior design to appeal to a new generation of graduates. Included are pages for personal goals, favorite verses of scripture, and prayers.

Let The Journey Begin, by Max Lucado, is a cross between a devotional, a gift book, and a book of advice.  It is short (less than 200 pages) with around 70+ readings, all a page or two at most. In addition, nearly all the readings have a short quote or scripture to support them.  It's not quite a devotional, in that it isn't all scripture or examination of scripture. Rather, it features selections from Max Lucado's other books, which focus on topics that are Biblically-based but not all are tagged with specific references or verses.  At the root of each selection is advice rooted in scripture, though. Some examples of topics include: Character Creates Courage; Rocking the Boat; Knowing God's Will; Looking Forward in Faith; and What We Really Want To Know, among many others.

The book is short, as I mentioned. It is divided into five themed sections: God's Plan for the Journey of Life - A Road Map for Success; Stop, Look, and Listen - Good Habits for a Good Journey; A Fork in the Road - Deciding Which Way to Go; Dangers and Detours Ahead - Slow Down, Avoid Disaster; and Two is Fine Company - A Friend for the Journey. There is also a place at the end for notes, or for planning your first steps on the journey of life.

This book, like all of Lucado's books, is a nice read. It is simple to pick up, read a selection or two, and think on the ideas. It is ideal for a graduate (we are in that season, after all) or for introducing someone to Lucado's writing and style. Due to these factors, I would recommend Let The Journey Begin.

I received a preview copy of this book from the BookLook Bloggers program in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

First week of Baseball/Softball

Cami and Griffin had their first games this week, in and around all our rain and wind.

Cami's team won, 3-2 (I think). It was a pretty tight game. Cami was 1-2, with a single. She eventually made it around to 3rd, but did not score. She didn't really have any balls hit to her at shortstop, but was involved in a relay once. Her second game was rained out.

Griffin's team tied, 4-4 (time limit and darkness). This is his first year (and most of his team's) of kid pitch, so there were a lot of walks and strikeouts. Griffin went 0-3, but got a little more confident with each at-bat. He played in the outfield and didn't have any chances.

Yesterday, because of rain, Trisha and I took the twins to a batting cage (Lexi was at a friend's house). It was cool watching them begin hitting better. They had a good time, and hopefully their hitting will carry over into practice and the games.

In addition to sports, this week Lexi has a piano recital, playing with other kids at a local nursing home.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Jupiter's Legacy by Mark Millar and Frank Quitely - Book Review

From the publisher: The children of the world’s greatest superheroes may never be able to fill their parents’ shoes. When the family becomes embattled by infighting, one branch stages an uprising, another goes into hiding. How long can the world survive when one family’s super-powered problems explode onto the global stage?

Mark Millar's Jupiter's Legacy is a cool book. The story revolves around the premise that the early superheroes were granted their powers after visiting a mysterious island during the Great Depression. The purpose of the powers was to return America to greatness.  Jump ahead to the present, and the children of all the heroes don't really know what to do with themselves.  Political machinations and family dysfunction ensues, leading to a tragedy for some and a bitter future for the rest.  

The chief characters in Jupiter's Legacy are the Utopian (Sheldon Sampson), Lady Liberty (Grace Sampson, Sheldon's wife), Walter Sampson (Sheldon's brother), Chloe Sampson (Sheldon and Grace's daughter), Brandon Sampson (Sheldon and Grace's son), Jules (Walter's son), and Hutch (Chloe's boyfriend, and the son of the Utopian's former best-friend/biggest nemesis).  Yes, it is a twisty family tree, but as the story progresses and connections are revealed, it becomes more and more fascinating.  The characters are well-drawn and are very interesting. The character development continues to build throughout the series, and several of the character arcs head off in directions that were a little surprising.  

When he is at the top of his game, Millar is as good a story-teller as anyone in comics, and with Jupiter's Legacy he has brought his "A" game.  The concept is perfectly executed.  Additionally, Millar slowly doles out background information that continues to expand the reader's understanding of what is happening in the present storyline.

Quitely's art is a perfect complement to the script. The characters are unique in their looks, and the settings are very well done.

My only complaint is that Jupiter's Legacy is merely the set-up to a much larger story. Future volumes can't come soon enough.

I highly recommend Jupiter's Legacy. It is a superhero story that doesn't read like a superhero story (I mean that in the best possible way).

I received a preview copy of this book from Image Comics in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman Vol. 1 by Gail Simone and others - Book Review

From the publisher: She is Diana—Princess of Themiscyra, founder of the Justice League, ambassador for peace, and warrior for women everywhere. She is Wonder Woman—and in SENSATION COMICS, she's taking a turn in the spotlight with comics' biggest talents!

When an unholy alliance of Arkham Asylum's worst criminals clips the Batman's wings and takes over Gotham City, she's there to take back the night!

When alien masterminds menace the mighty young superheroines known as Supergirl and Mary Marvel, she's there to lead them to victory!

When her enemies strike with the speed of the Cheetah, the sorcery of Circe, and the hypno-horror of Doctor Psycho, she's there to bring them to justice!

Collects Sensation Comics featuring Wonder Woman #1-5.

Sensation Comics featuring Wonder Woman is basically a collection of stories. Written by Gail Simone, amongst others, these tales look at Wonder Woman in varying situations, generally free from any backstory or continuity entanglements.  There are also multiple guest stars, including Mary Marvel, Supergirl, Oracle, Darkseid, Cheetah, Dr. Psycho, Catwoman, Poison Ivy, Penguin, Joker, Two-Face, Mr. Freeze, and Riddler.  They take place at various stages in time and place, as well.  Simone's story (my favorite of the group) is during the Zero Year event in Gotham, and causes Wonder Woman to empathize with Batman. Gilbert Hernandez writes a story that harkens back to the 40's and 50's, in both tone and art style.  There is a a tale that serves as a brief origin for Wonder Woman, and a conflict on Apokolips with Darkseid.

In addition to the various writers, their are multiple artists, each bringing a different style.  As stated, Hernandez represents the art style from early in Wonder Woman's career.  There is a very modern look to several of the stories, and even a cartoonish version, reminiscent of some of DC's cartoon television shows.

Because of the nature of the collection, there is no over-arching storyline.  There is also no real sustained character development.  The stories merely function as fun looks at Wonder Woman, in multiple settings.

I would recommend this to fans of Wonder Woman, or readers looking to sample Wonder Woman stories to decide if the main title is worth following.

I received a preview copy of this book from DC Comics and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015


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From the publisher (on Season 1):  Chuck Bartowski, ace computer geek at the BuyMore, is not in his right mind. That’s a good thing. Ever since he unwittingly downloaded stolen government secrets into his brain, action, excitement and a cool secret- agent girlfriend have entered his life. It’s a bad thing, too. Because now Chuck is in danger 24/7. Executive producers Josh Schwartz (The OC, Gossip Girl) and McG (Charlie’s Angels, We Are Marshall) merge techno-gadgetry, martial-arts smackdowns, narrow escapes and gorgeous spies in short shorts into this action comedy about a millennium Everyguy. It’s “Get Smart for a 24 world” (Troy Patterson, SLATE).

So, over the last two months or so, I watched all five seasons of the tv show Chuck. It is now one of my favorites. It is a great combination of Friends, Alias, James Bond, and Psych. It has action, suspense, humor, and emotion. It is a family drama disguised as an action thriller, masquerading as a comedy. The actors and actresses perfectly inhabit their roles, and bring the characters to life.

Having just finished the series finale, I want to say that it is as good a finale as could be made. It flows naturally from the current storyline, but contains call-backs to situations in earlier episodes. None of it feels forced, and the writers do a great job of wrapping up the story arch of Chuck, Sarah, Casey, Morgan, and the rest.  A hopeful series about family ends on the perfect note.

I highly recommend it to fans of the above mentioned shows. You won't regret the time investment.