Thursday, November 12, 2015

The Ology by Marty Machowski

The Ology: Ancient Truths Ever New
(New Growth Press, October 2015)

A page-turning storybook of theology for kids

In the cellar of the old stone cathedral, Carla and Timothy uncover a life-changing treasure, a carefully wrapped ancient book known as The Ology. What adults might describe as a beautifully illustrated storybook of systematic theology, the kids discover to be a story of adventure, mystery, and wonder that leads them to the truth about God, themselves, and the world around them.

Truth is for kids, not just for adults! So The Ology gives kids of all ages a beginner’s theology book to help them understand who God is and how we, as his children, relate to him. Arranged within a traditional systematic theological framework, each truth in The Ology is also connected to the larger redemptive story of Scripture. The doctrine of God, for example, is presented in the larger framework of creation, where the attributes of God are more clearly on display. The Ology takes abstract theological concepts and makes them easier to understand with the use of creative examples, illustrations, and analogies. The goal is not to say everything that could be said about a theological topic, but rather to share the key thoughts behind a theological concept. The Ology is a starting point to learning theology and aims to create a hunger and desire in children to learn more as they grow older.

Designed for six-year-olds through preteens, this flexible resource includes built-in adaptations for use with younger or older children, so that entire families can enjoy it together. Read The Ology to preschoolers, read it with grade-school kids, and let older kids discover the “hidden” truths by reading the corresponding Scripture passages for each section. However you read it, The Ology will give your children a gift that will last a lifetime—a solid foundation of life-changing biblical truth that will point them to the God who loves them and gave himself for them.

Check out this preview!

A companion The Ology CD from Bob Kauflin and Sovereign Music is also available.

Learn more and purchase a copy.

 Marty Machowski is a Family Life Pastor at Covenant Fellowship Church in Glen Mills, Pennsylvania, where he has served on the pastoral staff for over twenty years. He is the author of the Gospel Story for Kids series, which includes "The Gospel Story Bible," "Long Story Short," "Old Story New," and the "Gospel Story Curriculum," as well as the Advent devotional and curriculum "Prepare Him Room." He and his wife, Lois, and their six children reside in West Chester, Pennsylvania.

Margie’s Comments: With a 17-month-old granddaughter, I’m looking for books that teach sound biblical doctrine without being dry and boring. While The Ology is written for children a little bit older, there are still things that her parents can do with the book to give her a strong foundation in the tenets of our faith. (Thankfully, she has parents who want this for their children.)

I love the short chapters, and the illustrations are spectacular. Not only does each page of text contains Scripture, each illustration also has other Scripture references to expand and make the book useful to read over and over with children as they grow older. As a former elementary schoolteacher, I look for these possibilities when looking for teaching material. While the book was written for children, its usefulness expands well into the teen years and adulthood. I’m very impressed with what Marty Machowski and New Growth Press has done with this book.

And just for the record, while I received a complimentary copy of The Ology from the publisher in exchange for a review, I’m passing the book along to my son and daughter-in-love to use as they train their children to love the Lord and His Word.

Friday, November 6, 2015

War for the Waking World by Wayne Thomas Batson

The War for the Waking World 
(Thomas Nelson, October 2015)

About the Book:
Would you be willing to fight for your dreams?

Fifteen-year-old Archer Keaton has the ability to enter and explore his dreams. He is a Dreamtreader, one of three selected from each generation. Their mission: to protect the waking world from the Nightmare Lord who dwells beyond the Slumber Gate. But as Archer’s dreams become more dangerous and threatening, so too does his waking life.

In this fast-paced conclusion to the exciting fantasy trilogy, the dream world and the waking world bleed into each other when a rift is formed between the two. People in the real world suddenly find their waking lives resemble their wildest dreams. Now it’s up to Archer and his fellow Dreamtreaders to race to reverse the rift before too much damage is done and to battle Archer’s ex-best friend, Kara, who sits on the throne of the Nightmare Lord. Kara is building an army of her own. Will Archer be strong enough to stand against her?

Learn more and purchase a copy.

About the Author:
Wayne Thomas Batson is an American writer. He has been married to his wife, Mary Lu, for seventeen years and has four children. He currently works as a teacher at Folly Quarter Middle School teaching sixth grade English language arts and is the youngest of four children. His most recent series, "Dreamtreaders" published by Thomas Nelson Inc (2014), is a modern-day paranormal YA adventure dealing with the subject of dreams.

Margie’s Comments: War for the Waking World is the final book in the Dreamtreaders trilogy by Wayne Thomas Batson. I am grateful to Thomas Nelson for providing ebook copies of the first two books in the series so the third one wasn’t confusing to read. 

As one of three Dreamtreaders in his generation, Archer is faced with having to deal with the rift of the dream world breaking into the waking world . . . virtually alone. Even his best friend is now sitting on the Nightmare Lord’s throne, turning her back on their friendship. The characters carry odd names, but they are well drawn and develop and grow (or fall backward in their development) into the full stature of their roles in both the dream and waking worlds. War for the Waking World begins with Archer and his family experiencing the nightmare and chaos of the rift blending the two worlds together. The plot of the third book has its own clear arc, but it also contains the final stage of the overall plot arc. I love the author’s descriptions, making the dream world believable. The action is nonstop until the very end where all the loose ends are tied up with satisfactory freshness and hope for the future, a place where evil is locked up and truth reigns supreme. 

While War for the Waking World is mostly a standalone novel, I would recommend that you read this series in order. By reading the third book first, you could be lost the entire time trying to figure out the Dreamtreaders’ worlds, both the dream world and the waking world. This series is true fantasy, so if this genre doesn’t appeal to you, you probably won’t care for this. However, for one who loves fantasy, including the idea of alternate worlds bleeding into the “real” world, I highly recommend this series.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Valley of Decision by Lynne Gentry

Valley of Decision
(Howard, September 2015)

Every choice has a consequence in the explosive conclusion to the Carthage Chronicles as Lisbeth returns to third-century Carthage for a thrilling final adventure.

Thirteen years ago, Lisbeth made an impossible decision—leave third-century Carthage and her husband Cyprian behind for good. She knew it was to protect her daughter Maggie, so Lisbeth gathered the strength to move on with her life.

All these years, Lisbeth has thrown herself into her work and raising her headstrong daughter, all to live up to the promise she made to Cyprian. But Maggie is sick of being protected. In an act of teenage rebellion Maggie decides to do what her mother can’t—secretly returning to the third century on a quest to bring her father back, leaving Lisbeth no choice but to follow.

With Maggie’s surprise arrival in Carthage, chaos ensues. She finds her grandmother on trial for murder and attempts to save her, but instead the diversion sparks a riot that nearly destroys the plagued city. Only one thing will appease the wrath of the new proconsul of Carthage: the death of the instigator.

Will Lisbeth arrive in time to save her daughter from the clutches of Rome? How can God possibly redeem such a slew of unwise decisions and deep regrets? Filled with heart-wrenching twists and riveting action, Valley of Decision brings the romantic adventure epic, The Carthage Chronicles, to an electrifying conclusion.


Lynne Gentry has written for numerous publications. She is a professional acting coach, theater director, and playwright. Lynne is an inspirational speaker and dramatic performer who loves spending time with her family and medical therapy dog.

Margie’s Comments: I’ve been privileged to read and review all three books in Lynne Gentry’s Carthage Chronicles. But even knowing the twists and turns the story had taken in the first two books, I was still surprised at several plot twists in this exciting concluding third book, Valley of Decision. Yet when I tried to analyze why I was surprised, I couldn’t really put it down to any one thing. The characters acted in the ways I would have expected from them. The story made perfect sense. And the author stayed true to her writing style—one I have always enjoyed. I truly loved the time travel aspect of the story, combining the historical with modern day technology and medical expertise. (Did I mention I’m also from a family with a strong medical background?) Even my husband, who usually avoids anything “speculative,” including time travel, has enjoyed reading this series. The only negative I have to say about the first two books is that they left me hanging, having to wait on the next book to have some closure. However this third book neatly wrapped up every loose end. I highly recommend The Carthage Chronicles by Lynne Gentry.