Robin W. (BumbleBob) - Reviews

1 to 11 of 11
The Berenstain Bears Big Book of Stories
The Berenstain Bears Big Book of Stories
Author: Jan Berenstain, Stan Berenstain
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4.6/5 Stars.
 7
Review Date: 8/26/2009
Helpful Score: 1


I grew up on these stories and love that they are collected in this one volume for easy access and variety.


Dethroning Jesus: Exposing Popular Culture's Quest to Unseat the Biblical Christ
Review Date: 1/30/2009


"Dethroning Jesus" is an in-depth evaluation of Jesus as viewed in Christianity and Jesusanity. Bock and Wallace describe each of these viewpoints in a lengthy introduction that lays the groundwork for the reader to follow the debates set forth later in the book. Christianity is described as the belief in Jesus as the "anointed one" and messiah found in the Bible, a fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies. Jesusanity, however, is described as the belief that Jesus, while being a teacher and spiritual leader, was solely human and not divine. The background information and scholarship of Jesusanity is detailed and gives the reader a decent framework to evaluate and understand each claim. Six claims are discussed in this book and range from the validity of the gospels to the new revelations in recently found gospels to the claim that Jesus was not physically resurrected. Each claim is clearly laid forth with the evidence and writings written about each claim described with the writers' arguments against the claims. Each claim is concluded with Bock and Wallace's educated opinion.

The reader can form their own opinions for themselves based on the evidence suggested. Bock and Wallace are proponents of the Christian view of Jesus and this is a good book to read if you want to learn more about Christianity as opposed to a more liberal view of the Bible. "Dethroning Jesus" is not an easy read and does require the reader to have a thorough knowledge of the Bible and early Christianity. Bock and Wallace refer to many works of theology and Christian criticism that are not completely relayed to the reader of this book. If you want to know what they are referring to, you need to purchase a few more books.

"Dethroning Christ" is clearly written by men in academia and might be a bit complex for many people to understand. Without having read "The Gospel of Thomas" I have to admit that I was a bit confused as I read their debate into whether it was an authentic and valuable description of Jesus. That being said, this book is well researched and clearly shows many points of views into Jesus. The reader will come away from this book knowing a lot more about how varying groups view this man who is always at the center of so much controversy.


The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials, Bk 1)
The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials, Bk 1)
Author: Philip Pullman
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 508
Review Date: 7/2/2007
Helpful Score: 11


I have learned long ago that I enjoy books for the quality of the material and that I shouldn't discriminate based on the intended audience of the book. His Dark Materials
Book One-The Golden Compass, by Philip Pullman is an excellent example of a fantasy novel created for young adults that transcends that category. In my opinion this Young Adult category, in its best sense, means that foul language and sexual content have been eliminated from the story. Although I enjoy a little foul language every once in a while I notice no lack in a novel when it is absent.
This novel follows a young scamp of a girl through a world that is very similar to our nineteenth century world. Lyra resides, as an orphan, at Oxford and is thrust, through her own intense curiosity, into a religious and metaphysical maze of treachery. Gradually she is able to piece together answers to a number of strange occurrences that include disappearing children and a beautiful woman with a golden monkey. You see, there is at least one big difference in this world. People have physical representations of their souls, called deamons. While children have deamons that are able to change form at their whim, adults have deamons in a fixed form. This is at the heart the novel and allows Lyra to finally begin to uncover what a mysterious substance, called Dust, really is.
Philip Pullman pulls the reader into this piece through a fantastic portrayal and adventure of a young girl that one can easily relate to amidst the strange world that she lives. I was enthralled throughout the whole book as I could never begin to guess what would happen next. The flaws in each character give this story something to sink your teeth into and allow you to truly engross yourself in this tantalizing world. One thing that intrigued me was the idea of a physical soul. Each character seems to have a deep and affectionate bond with their deamons, but I can't help but wonder what would happen to a person filled with self-loathing.


It
It
Author: Stephen King
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4.2/5 Stars.
 143
Review Date: 8/26/2009


This is one of my favorite Stephen King books. It is a great mixture of horror, fantasy, and humor that keeps the reader enthralled to the very last page.


Ottoline and the Yellow Cat
Ottoline and the Yellow Cat
Author: Chris Riddell, Chris Riddell
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 2.8/5 Stars.
 2
Review Date: 1/30/2009
Helpful Score: 1


"Ottoline and Yellow Cat" is a wonderfully illustrated tale about the escapades of a little girl and her friend, Mr. Monroe. Chris Riddell does a fantastic job of creating detailed and intriguing drawings that really catch the eye. The imagination of this little book pops from the page as the reader follows Ottoline through the detective work of who is stealing jewelry in her neighborhood.


Shades of Gray: A Novel of the Civil War in Virginia
Shades of Gray: A Novel of the Civil War in Virginia
Author: Jessica James
Book Type: Perfect Paperback
  • Currently 2.7/5 Stars.
 9
Review Date: 1/30/2009
Helpful Score: 1


Jessica James "Shades of Gray" is a sweet and romantic tale about a young woman, Andrea, who works as a Union spy during the Civil War. The reader sees her start out as a scout dispatching messages across enemy lines and watches as she progresses to more dangerous duties. Andrea meets the handsome Captain Hunter, a Confederate Officer, and saves his life from drowning as she tries to outwit him. The reader watches as her life becomes more and more tangled with this dashing officer's life. Andrea is a bit impetuous and has a temper, too; what ensues is tale that follows Andrea as she gets into scrapes and more serious problems and works her way out of them by sheer willpower.

There are a few problems with this book that make it hard to recommend. No reader picks up a historical romance and expects to find a completely plausible story line; that being said, this plot has some twists that are so forced that it is hard for the reader to get engrossed in the story and it does not seem to jump from the page and draw the reader in. The writing style is on the juvenile side with very little descriptive elements and conversations comprised of one line banter between characters.

The plot moves along quickly at some points and drags at other points as the reader watches Andrea meet a Union officer in one chapter, falls in love with him in the next, and watches him die a few chapters later. Given this quick pace of action, the novel is long at over 500 pages. It is written as if it should be an epic, but falls short of the mark.

While "Shades of Gray" is a pleasant piece with plenty of twists and turns to keep the reader interested, its superficial and jumpy plot will cause the reader to forget it existence in a weeks time. Andrea's immature beginning to foreseeable transformation along the length of this work makes her hard to relate to or even care about too much about because we have seen it all before. I don't mean to be too harsh, but my only regret is that I took the time to read all 524 pages of this book when I think a more concise version would have done a better job.


Stewards of the Flame
Stewards of the Flame
Author: Sylvia Louise Engdahl
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.3/5 Stars.
 2
Review Date: 1/30/2009


Sylvia Engdahl is an acclaimed writer of juvenile fiction who terminated a long hiatus from writing to publish the masterpiece "Stewards of the Flame". This science fiction novel follows a starship captain, Jesse Sanders, as he is stranded on a planet run by a dictatorial medical establishment that takes health to the extreme. Jesse becomes imprisoned in a hospital were medical personnel force treatment on him for alcoholism after he gets a little intoxicated at a local bar while on leave from his ship. Jesse manages to escape the grueling treatment of this hospital with help from some new found friends. These friends however, have a lot of secrets and the reader sees Jesse transform as he begins to understand an underground movement on this planet that involves Para psychological and the freedom to die.
Engdahl does a fantastic and thorough job of researcher the theory behind this novel and the detail that is revealed in paranormal states and higher consciousness is truly astounding. The explanations and dialogue lean heavily towards scientific theory and tend to be a little dry at times with the plot taking a backseat to the descriptions of how these characters can manipulate their own minds. This novel is concise enough to be an academic thesis on paranormal states and the training that reaching these states requires. Engdahl does provide enough of a futuristic love story between Jesse and one of his new friends to keep the reader interested in what will happen next and we do see that there is a lot more mystery surrounding what a mysterious organization means to do on this planet. Jesse is a revealed to be someone more than a stranded stranger on a planet and becomes someone with the possibilities of being a savior.
This novel is a unique look into a world that has too many similarities to our own world and does a fantastic job of making the reader think about how much power our government should really have over our health and medical decisions. Engdahl has taken an idea that is rarely written about and managed to create a suspenseful and thought provoking novel that seems so plausible that it sends chills up my spine. I highly recommend this science fiction masterpiece to individuals that enjoy fully delving into the realm of other possibilities and want to fully realize Engdahl's perceptions into the human mind. This work is truly a masterpiece of Para psychological science fiction and manages to entertain the reader as it informs.


Then We Came to the End
Then We Came to the End
Author: Joshua Ferris
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.2/5 Stars.
 158
Review Date: 1/30/2009
Helpful Score: 3


Then We Came to the End explores the relationships of people trying to keep above the increasing boredom of a high-powered world of marketing along the Magnificent Mile in downtown Chicago. The reader is immediately swept into this chaotic office environment and introduced to employees and employers in a sporadic fashion as the plot twists and turns through time; there is no linear progression of people or events as this tale unfolds. Through the unique perspective of a collective "we", Joshua Ferris illustrates how universal office life is across the country. The people he portrays can be in any office in any city and prototypes of these people are everywhere as this office is a paradigm of trends around the country. Many of these employees are from the same mold and seem almost interchangeable with each other as they state "[m]ost of us liked most everyone, a few of us hated specific individuals, one or two people loved everyone and everything". The reader follows the lives of these employees as they deal with strange coworkers, the kidnapping of a daughter, divorce, and unexpected pregnancy. We see these employees navigate through a less than wholesome office environment as major layoffs are occurring.

This work of fiction can be a bit tedious as the story jumps from one time period to another. Ferris chooses to reveal plot points in a slightly confusing manner exemplified in the character of Tom who, very early on, loses his job but keeps being pulled into the story as previous time periods are being described. The reader finds that past events are being described as if they are happening in the present. Are you confused yet?

The collective perspective of all the employees at once does drive home the essence of this monochromatic and universal office life, but in doing so, it does not allow the reader to empathize with the interchangeable protagonist. By creating this strange perspective, Joshua Ferris makes a clear statement about office life at the expense of understanding the employees themselves. The reader can never begin to understand the individuals in this work because we never see them as individuals, but as units of a whole that happen to act differently at times. An employee, Jeannine becomes the focus of the collective when she deals with the loss of her child in a strange manner. The reader, however, only sees the reaction of the collective and can only understand Jeannine through reactions of that collective.

In spite of some issues with this work, Joshua Ferris paints this mundane portrait in such a satirical and humorous way that the reader can't help but laugh and relate to many of the plot twists and descriptions. Then We Came to the End is an intriguing look into the fictional world of office life and Joshua Ferris does an excellent job of portraying this harrowing life. Readers can fully relate to the antics of employees and laugh at the dead-on descriptions of offices across the country.


The Time Machine and The Invisible Man
The Time Machine and The Invisible Man
Author: H. G. Wells
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.6/5 Stars.
 11
Review Date: 2/13/2007
Helpful Score: 2


This is an excellent classic that can introduce you to the world of Science Fiction. It's an easy read and everyone should take the time to read this master.


Two Guys Read Moby-Dick
Two Guys Read Moby-Dick
Author: Steve Chandler, Terrence N. Hill
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 2
Review Date: 1/30/2009


The title "Two Guys Read Moby-Dick" exemplifies the content of this book by Steve Chandler and Terrence N. Hill. This is written by two men who obviously love to write and are very good at conveying ideas and humor in a laid back medium, email. The reader is briefly introduced to each writer and Terry states that "[t]his didn't start out to be a book." These two men set out to read Moby-Dick and talk about it along a set time period. The ensuing dialogue reveals that while they discuss what they have read, their impressions of Moby-Dick, and the life of Herman Melville, they managed to talk about a lot more. Terry and Steve discuss their pasts, baseball, their friendship, and everything in between. The reader, through the course of this work, gets to know and understand each man and their unique personalities.

This is not a work of critical evaluation of Moby-Dick. Steve and Terry clearly state that this electronic letter writing is an exercise for their enjoyment so that they can read a novel that they lied about reading in High School. Their responses to Melvilles masterpiece are mixed throughout this book as ideas and opinions are revised by each writer over the course of months. It is clear that Terry and Steve have been friends for a number of years and that long distances that separate them have not stifled a deep friendship and sharing between the two. They have private jokes that they share and the reader is included through the use of italicized comments to clarify what they are writing about. Steve and Terry maintain a constant dialogue over the course of months and throughout traveling to other countries.

The final opinion is not clearly stated and it is a little ambiguous as to whether these men found it worthwhile to read Moby-Dick, but that conclusion is in keeping with the style of this book and does not detract from the reading experience. I did find some of the conversations to be very male oriented in regards to the subject matter; baseball and other sports were continually being brought up. It did occur to me that I might get a lot more out of this book if I were a "guy", but it did not detract too much from my reading experience. There were many times that I could not stop myself from laughing out loud at Steve and Terry's comments and their wit was worth the wade through topics that bored me. This fresh approach to writing as a form of conversation was a nice change from critical commentary that takes itself way too seriously.


Well Witched
Well Witched
Author: Frances Hardinge
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.4/5 Stars.
 6
Review Date: 1/30/2009
Helpful Score: 2


"Well Witched" is full of dark dreams and frightening revelations into the lives of three young children. The reader follows the paths of Ryan, Chelle, and Josh as they try to get back to their homes by stealing wishing coins from an old well. Little do they know that a well witch wants to be paid back for those stolen coins by forcing the children to fulfill wishes for her.
As the tale continues, we see into the lives of the innocent Chelle and Ryan, and the not-so innocent Josh. They develop frightening powers to facilitate the wish granting all seem to steer clear from their power except for Josh. He has always seemed to have a power over Ryan and Chelle and they are dragged along these adventures that seem to be taking tragic turns.
It took me a little while to start enjoying this book as I found it difficult to empathize with the characters right away. However, the characters quickly begin to realize the moral implications of what they are doing and the reader sees that Ryan and Chelle are starting to shape their own actions instead of being pulled along by the well witch or Josh. I think this is a very sweet and mysterious novel about peer pressure, family life, and morality. The twists and turns of this fantasy keep you enthralled and eager to see what will happen next to these children. I finished this well-written children's book with a feeling of deep satisfaction and enjoyment.


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