Saturday, April 28, 2007

Here’s Benjie! – Frances Walter & Violet T. Pearson

Some years ago my sister gave this book to me, I assumed as a joke. I just finished reading it with my daughter. As children’s books go, it is adequate, though not bound for a place on the shelf with the classics.

Benjie and his family are beavers. He, along with his Father, Mother, brother and two sisters go through the days and nights preparing for winter. During the course of the story, Benjie encounters friends—Cottontail the bunny, the otter family, and a grouse—and some enemies—including wolverines who just want to kill and eat him. The most entertaining of the stories is when a human tries to get a look at the inside of the Beavers’ lodge, only to be frightened away after almost drowning getting to the underwater entrance. The Beavers knew that he was an enemy; they did not know that the humans there were scientists and not hunters.

What children can learn about beavers and their ways is interesting and told in an endearing story that can be read by early readers or (as I did) by parents with their younger children.

—Benjamin Potter, April 28, 2007

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Saint – Ted Dekker

Christian suspense has reached a new high. Ted Dekker has done it again, and this time with a spy novel.

Carl Strople does not know who he is. What he knows is that he is trained to kill. He knows that he will kill for Kelly, his wife(?). Carl completes his training and teams up with Kelly to complete his first assignment—to assassinate a dignitary outside the UN.
Dekker keeps you jumping with his trademark twists and turns. He tells you the ending three or four times and then makes you question your assessment. During the course of the book he makes advertisement for previous books: Showdown, House, and the “Color” trilogy. You love and you hate Carl, you find yourself on his mental precipice with him as he learns who he is and who he is meant to be.

Keep ‘em coming, Ted. We want more.

—Benjamin Potter, April 25, 2007

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Update! Guardian of Light -- Steven Hunt

Here is the cover for Guardian of Light. Read the review here. And look for it in stores or online July 16.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Endangered Species – James M. Dunn, Ben E. Loring, Jr., & Phil D. Strickland

The men who collaborated on this book have been leaders in Baptist (and Southern Baptist) life for years. Especially Dunn and Strickland are associated with a more liberal version of the SBC than currently exists. Having said that, we should understand that these men were among the pioneers in true Christian ethics. Dunn went from Texas to lead the Baptist Joint Committee on Public Affairs, one of the first organizations to address ethical issues on a national and international scale. Strickland was the long-time director of the Christian Life Commission for the Baptist General Convention of Texas. All three men were a part of the Christian Life Commission of the BGCT team when the book was developed.

The book itself is a study in social issues, especially hunger. Royalties from original sales of the book were given to the World Hunger Fund of the (then) Foreign Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. The pictures painted as well as the ones used are heart-wrenching. I think that one of the reasons that this book stands out in my reading is the “Fable” introducing chapter 9. The chapter is dedicated to helping readers find what they can do to help combat the problem of world hunger. The fable is one of rich Americans dining sumptuously all the while poverty and hunger stares at them through the window. The solution is at once heartbreaking and thought-provoking. The statistics and stories told within its pages are now over thirty years old, but nonetheless poignant and indicting.

The book will leave the reader with a challenge to do something about hunger—at home and abroad. Overcoming the politics of society and Baptist life in general is a must when reading this volume, but it is an eye-opener that will not leave you alone, if you can find a copy.

—Benjamin Potter, April 10, 2007

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Lonely Street – Steve Brewer

Steve Brewer has become one of the lights that shine in the midnight sky of genre mystery writers. A long-time journalist and columnist for the Albuquerque Journal, Brewer is no slouch when it comes to the written word. When he decided to turn his pen to mystery writing the first result was Wilton “Bubba” Mabry, private investigator. Lonely Street is his debut.

It’s no coincidence that Bubba’s first appearance is in a book whose title reminds us of Elvis. The King plays a strong role in the case Bubba is engaged in. His openness to work any case if the money is right—and any money is right, coupled with his family background of kooks makes him the prime target for the likes of Buddy and “Mr. Aaron” who leave Bubba holding the bag with Elvis as his alibi.

This is the best of the Mabry stories that I’ve read to date. It’s a great debut novel, and a good precursor to the Drew Gavin mysteries that appeared a few years later. Brewer’s stories are usually fast-paced, and the characters are fun and loveable. This pbo eventually led to a hardcover career for Brewer. If you read it you’ll know why.

—Benjamin Potter, April 8, 2007

Monday, April 2, 2007

Head Game – Tim Downs

Tim Downs jumped into the fray of suspense writing with his Bug Man novels in 2003. He exploded with last year’s Plague Maker. And now the former cartoonist and writer of the comic strip Downstown has come into his own.

Cale Caldwell is an up and coming ad man who returns to his childhood home of Charlotte to slow the pace of life for his family. Having recently lost his wife, Cale is struggling to be a good father for his young daughter. Grace resents her new school and new friends who become mere acquaintances because of her mother’s untimely death in an automobile accident. And then the bottom falls out. Cale is faced with the news of his boyhood friend’s suicide, a possible lawsuit alleging that his docile family pet has savagely bitten a stranger, and now Grace disappears. With the help of his friend and former colleague in the Fourth Psychological Operations Group (4POG), Cale tries to iron it all out. Their information leads them to believe that Cale is the target of a vengeance-seeking officer who lost half of his troops in a leaflet-driven exodus of personnel from the front-lines in Kuwait during Desert Storm.

Characters are well-developed and action is exciting in this tale of intrigue and psychological puppetry. It is often difficult to determine who is truly in control. The twists and turns are sometimes unexpected, sometimes broadcast, and always welcome. Utilizing his artistic talents, Downs introduces this work to us with a six-page graphic depiction of the suicide note left for Cale’s benefit at his friend Kirby’s New York apartment. This is another page-turner that you won’t want to miss. It’s another edition in the new genre born out of the old Christian Fiction model. This new genre is one that will impress all readers of good fiction. Without the preaching of Christian fiction of only a decade and a half ago, new authors are telling an intriguing story that also is absent the gutter language and scenes that have long been the standard of mainstream publishing. Downs is an author to watch.

—Benjamin Potter, April 2, 2006

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