Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Life Is Better at the Beach by Christina Vinson- Book Review

From the publisher: Take long walks. Watch the sunset. Shoes are optional.

This beautiful four-color book of inspirational photos, Bible verses, quotations, and short writings invites you to escape the buzz of the everyday and into the tranquility that the beach offers. Each section of this book will cover a “beach rule” and encouraging thoughts on how you can incorporate that mind-set or behavior into your daily life.
Much of Jesus’ ministry happened along the seashore, where He told His followers about the peace and rest His Father offered them and modeled the best way to live. In the same way, this book transports you to a favorite beach locale and helps you apply rules for beach living to everyday life—rules to slow down, to notice the beauty in the little things, and to incorporate rest into even the most stressful times.
Full of serene images, inspiring quotations, and restful Bible verses, this book will be a natural addition to your coffee table or desk, as well as a lovely gift for that beach-loving friend.
For as the waters fill the sea, the earth will be filled with an awareness of the glory of the Lord. —Habakkuk 2:14 NLT

I loved this book. Life is Better at the Beach is, as my son said, right up my alley, as I love God and the beach.  Christina Vinson used a combination of pictures, quotes, and devotions to put me in a beach frame of mind.

First, the major part of this book are the short (1-2 page) devotions. Using the beach as a metaphor, Vinson connects God and His plan, using scripture, to encouraging us to live like we do on a beach vacation. These devotions are easy to digest and contain a lot of good advice.

Aside from the devotions, Life is Better at the Beach contains wise quotes about God and the beach, multiple Bible verses that support the topics discussed, and 15 Rules for the Beach. Additionally, and maybe my favorite part of the book, there are a ton of beautiful and serene pictures, several of which I wish were available as prints.

Overall, Christina Vinson's Life is Better at the Beach is a fantastic devotional book. It is beautiful to look at and enlightening to read. I highly recommend it to any fans of beach living, and anyone wanting a different type of devotional book.

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

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Dragon Age: Magekiller by Greg Rucka - Book Review

From the publisher: Legendary writer Greg Rucka begins an all-new story set in the immersive dark fantasy world of Dragon Age!

Tessa and Marius are mercenary partners united by an unbreakable bond and compelled to eliminate those who use magic to hurt others. When they betray a powerful patron who intended to kill them once their job was completed, they’re forced to run and join the Inquisition. With the breach in the sky tearing the world apart, there’s more to fear than Venatori and an angry former employer. Can Tessa, Marius, and the Inquisition overcome the greatest threat Thedas has ever faced!?

Collects Dragon Age: Magekiller #1—#5.

Dragon Age: Magekiller by Greg Rucka is a limited series based on the Dragon Age video games. First, I haven't played the games, and have no knowledge of the storylines, so I can't judge whether this graphic novel fits in or not; I'll be reviewing it solely on its own merits. And as far as that goes, I liked it.

Rucka tells the story of Marius and Tessa, two mercenary mage killers, who get wrapped up in bigger and bigger conflicts. They first get involved in a plot to assassinate powerful mages for the ruler of a country, which leads to an infestation of demons, which leads to working for the Inquisition, which leads to, well, you get the picture. This is a standard sword and sorcery-type story, and it's fun. There isn't a lot of depth with the characters, although both Marius and Tessa show flashes of having the potential to become very interesting leads (maybe Rucka can explore this in future volumes). There is a lot of action and adventure, some bad guys, monsters, and demons, and a hint of romance.

I thought Greg Rucka did a nice job with Dragon Age: Magekiller. It was a fun, easy, adventurous read. I would recommend this book to fans of the Dragon Age game (I'm curious how it fits in) and anyone who enjoys sword and sorcery tales.

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

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Dark Night: A True Batman Story by Paul Dini - Book Review

From the publisher: The Caped Crusader has been the all-abiding icon of justice and authority for generations. But in this surprising original graphic novel, we see Batman in a new light -- as the savior who helps a discouraged man recover from a brutal attack that left him unable to face the world.

In the 1990s, legendary writer Paul Dini had a flourishing career writing the hugely popular Batman: The Animated Series and Tiny Toon Adventures. Walking home one evening, he was jumped and viciously beaten within an inch of his life. His recovery process was arduous, hampered by the imagined antics of the villains he was writing for television including the Joker, Harley Quinn and the Penguin. But despite how bleak his circumstances were, or perhaps because of it, Dini also always imagined the Batman at his side, chivvying him along during his darkest moments.

DARK NIGHT: A TRUE BATMAN STORY is the harrowing and eloquent autobiographical tale of Dini’s courageous struggle to overcome a truly desperate situation. It is a Batman story like none other and one that will truly resonate with fans. Art by the incredible and talented Eduardo Risso (100 BULLETS, TRANSMETROPOLITAN).

Dark Night: A True Batman Story, by Paul Dini, isn't really a Batman story, or at least not in the sense of the typical comic book story. This book tells the story of how Dini was violently attacked and had his face smashed in during a mugging. It also follows on with his reaction and recovery from the attack, both emotionally and physically.

To understand how Batman plays a role in this book, Dini relates some of his background. He grew up a fan of comics and cartoons, particularly Batman. He went on to be a writer for many cartoons, but specifically for Batman: The Animated Series. Much of his inner monologue is a conversation with various cartoon/comic book characters, focusing on Joker and Batman.

Dini is very honest as he relates his story, almost tragically so. He lays bare his failed relationships and his social struggles. He is extremely transparent as he details his reactions immediately following his attack, and of the weeks and months that follow. Without giving away any details, Dini's story is very much a story about overcoming tragedy, and while his particular road to recovery (helped along by his cartoon friends) is unique, there is something universal and encouraging for those who face a similar road.

I highly recommend Dark Night: A True Batman Story by Paul Dini.

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

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

NIrV Minecrafters Bible, Hardcover - Book Review

From the publisher: Do you ever feel like it's more fun to exist in the computer world than the real one? Is that the only place you can control your destiny? Well, God is the original great world builder, and he gave us the power and the skills we need to make changes in the real world. The Minecrafter’s Bible, NIrV contains the full text of the New International Reader's Version (NIrV) of the Bible (from Genesis to Revelation) as well as 24 color tip-in pages featuring full-color illustrations in the style of wildly popular virtual-world-building games. Featured stories include the days of creation and great builds of the Bible.

The Minecrafter's Bible jumped out at me, because I live with a nine-year-old Minecraft fan. I decided to take a look at this new format to see if he would like it.

The Minecrafter's Bible is a standard NIrV (New International Reader's Version) of both the Old and New Testaments. In fact, it is pretty ordinary as far as themed Bibles go. What makes this particular Bible unique are the 24 color story inserts. Each of these look at one particular story, passage, or event from the Bible. They are illustrated in the Minecraft pixel style and contain a short summary of the story, the book, chapter and verse of the story, and an activity to go along with it. Highlighted passages include The Ten Commandments, David and Goliath, the Armor of God, the ABCs of Salvation, etc.

For further help, I asked my nine-year-old for his opinion. He was excited because this Bible was the nerve (NIrV) edition, like they use at church. He thought the Minecraft theme was a good idea. He also liked the Minecraft style pictures. He has already taken it to church with him, and is more excited to look at/read this Bible than his old children's edition. So, I'd consider that a success.

In my final opinion, I'd rate The Minecrafter's Bible as an average edition. It doesn't have a lot of extras. However, what it does have is kid approval. As far as I'm concerned, that's what is important. I'd recommend this Bible to young fans of Minecraft.

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

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Spring Sports Seasons are Finished

This past week, Cami's softball season came to an end. Her team lost in the first round of the playoffs. However, they played perhaps their best game. Cami walked twice, but was thrown out trying to score (she did make a nice slide to try and get under the tag, though). She fielded several balls at 2nd and 3rd, and had a fun time. All of her teammates received softballs with a descriptive word written on it from the coaches; Cami's said "Dedication". She is really wanting to keep improving, and is looking forward to fall ball.

This week starts the summer sports camps season, with the girls attending basketball camp.