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Mark Nenadov "arm-chair reader" (Essex, Ontario Canada)
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The Private Life of Spiders
The Private Life of Spiders
by Paul Hillyard
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 24.70
24 used & new from CDN$ 17.50

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent!, Aug. 5 2016
A good coffee-table-book-style introduction to spiders. Though I suppose a coffee table book with spiders about spiders is not everyone's cup of tea! Nevertheless, one could learn a lot by just perusing this book and the photography is stunning.


Common Spiders of North America
Common Spiders of North America
by Richard A. Bradley
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 107.00
20 used & new from CDN$ 88.89

5.0 out of 5 stars Pricey, but Really Good, Aug. 5 2016
This is an excellent resource and if you are interested in spiders and can afford it, it's definitely worth your while. It's perhaps most perfectly tailored for someone who has used Herbert Levi's "Spiders and Their Kin" and wants to go to the next level. The artwork is superb and it gives really detailed treatments of many common species.


Black Mischief
Black Mischief
by Evelyn Waugh
Edition: Paperback
11 used & new from CDN$ 10.86

2.0 out of 5 stars Blech., Aug. 5 2016
This review is from: Black Mischief (Paperback)
This is my least favourite Waugh novel so far. It has some strokes of genius, but it lacks the polish and brilliant prose of some of Waugh's other works.


Secrets of the JavaScript Ninja
Secrets of the JavaScript Ninja
by John Resig
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 33.70
44 used & new from CDN$ 7.49

5.0 out of 5 stars Solid., Aug. 5 2016
This is a must read for those who work with JavaScript frequently, are inquisitive about how things work, and aren't just satisfied to depend on some of the abstractions that libraries provide. In fact, it reveals many of the tricks that the libraries use.

If you are not faint of heart and are less than a total expert, this book is going to move your understanding forward significantly! There are many examples provided--so be prepared to roll up your sleeves!

The sections on closures, scope, and functions are fabulous. The book really does a good job of focusing on ninja knowledge and conveys the language with precision and passion.

I feel like I learned a lot of new things, but it is an intense journey--I will be very happy if I retain 25% of it.

I definitely plan to return to parts of this book now and then to refresh and shore up on areas that may not have fully sunk in.


Forensics: What Bugs, Burns, Prints, DNA and More Tell Us About Crime
Forensics: What Bugs, Burns, Prints, DNA and More Tell Us About Crime
Price: CDN$ 9.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Wow!, Aug. 3 2016
This book is excellent. Fully Engaging, enthusiastic, and detailed, it gives an excellent look at the history and current state of forensics. Unless you are intimately aware of the broad range of forensic techniques, you will likely find plenty of things to surprise you. I would broadly recommend this book with the caveat that you'll probably want to make sure you are not squeamish. There are plenty of gruesome murders and other crimes which are not for the faint of heart!


How Google Works
How Google Works
by Eric Schmidt
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 29.37
51 used & new from CDN$ 16.49

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent--Lots of Good Stuff Here!, Oct. 16 2014
This review is from: How Google Works (Hardcover)
he book is not, as some might conclude from the title, primarily focused on Google's search technology but rather Google's management practices. While I'm pretty sure I'd have a quibble with a few minor things here or there, this is an excellent resource and a fun and profitable read. Though the book is speaking to managers throughout, I believe just about anybody, especially engineers, can be benefit from it.


The Threefold Cord: The Dark Harvest Trilogy, Book 3
The Threefold Cord: The Dark Harvest Trilogy, Book 3
Price: CDN$ 9.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pretty Good!, Oct. 10 2014
This is an engaging read in the fantasy genre. I first heard of Jeremiah Montgomery's fiction in an interview he did with the Reformed Forum podcast. He's an Orthodox Presbyterian Church pastor,and it was interesting to hear about how his Christian faith comes to bear on his writing. I also listened to an interview he did with Shaun Tabatt. I found the interviews fascinating, so when I saw a review copy available on NetGalley, I quickly signed up for it, even though I hadn't read the previous two books.

I was a bit concerned that jumping into the third book of this trilogy might leave me a bit disoriented, but thankfully that was generally not the case. Even when I found myself struggling at a few points early on to keep up with the episodes and names, there were enough hooks and twists to motivate me to press on. This is a rich fantasy story filled with war, alliances, intrigues, and complicated family relationships. The world Montgomery constructs is fascinating, curious, well-crafted, and ultimately believable.

Montgomery is a highly talented writer, and this book is well-written and readable. He has a great handle on how to surprise the reader and use indirection and there are plenty of twists and thrilling turns. Though religion is a prominent theme and the references to Christianity are very thinly veiled at some points, but they fit into the story well and are not over-the-top or "preachy." It well reflects reality, which is often complicated and not always neat and tidy. Montgomery has done a good job tying things together satisfactorily, but yet leaving some intriguing loose ends!

This is a great read and I'd recommend it to those who generally enjoy fantasy books. I'm also starting to think that I might need to read the previous two books in the trilogy!


Chance and the Sovereignty of God: A God-Centered Approach to Probability and Random Events
Chance and the Sovereignty of God: A God-Centered Approach to Probability and Random Events
by Vern S. Poythress
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 33.99
16 used & new from CDN$ 17.02

4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, Sept. 19 2014
Essentially, this book seeks to apply the Biblical worldview to topics like chance, happenstance, and probability. Poythress is fascinating thinker and really has a great way of communicating his ideas.

I began this book with a great deal of excitement, having recently listened to the author's interview on the Reformed Forum. It's a highly ambitious project. I would say that not only did he avoid failing, he succeeded in bringing forward a highly readable and helpful resource on the subject.
Poythress seeks to show how a proper view of chance and probability is bound up in the nature of God and the worldview which most accurately reflects the universe God created. For instance, Poythress says that "the very concept of probability depends on the relationship of God’s faithfulness to his creativity"

Poythress is relentless at bringing the Bible to bear on these topics. He reveals the breadth of Biblical revelation on the subjects and presents it all in a very digestible format, even with many helpful diagrams!

If you really dig the rest of the book, don't forget the appendices! It's loaded with material. The essays there, especially the one on the probabilities of gambling, are worth the price of the book. The appendices are probably almost 1/4 of the book!

One caution: If you don't have a strong mathematical background, you may find certain parts of this book rather overwhelming and will need to skip through some parts. I found certain parts a bit "over my head", though I generally stuck through with it. I simply don't have a strong enough math background to be able to digest the top 1% of this book in terms of complexity. I sort of wish he simplified some of it, or perhaps pushed it into the appendix, though I must say that the appendix is so loaded that that probably wasn't be an option. Don't get too worried about this, though. You could basically skip half of this book and still find a ton of meat to "chew on". There's so much to this book beyond the most complex mathematical parts. The handling of the instances of "happenstance" in the Biblical narratives is excellent.

As one other minor critique, I feel like the "Alternatives are not really better" section in the "Disasters and Suffering" chapter could have used some further development. It seems like Poythress sort of rushed through that part.

All in all, this is a unique, momentous book, and Poythress has done a valuable service to Christians who want to think thoroughly through issues like probability and chance.


Give Them Grace: Dazzling Your Kids with the Love of Jesus
Give Them Grace: Dazzling Your Kids with the Love of Jesus
by Elyse M. Fitzpatrick
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 15.46
41 used & new from CDN$ 10.14

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, Aug. 30 2014
I laid aside my skepticism of books that have words like "dazzle" in their title for a while to read this book, of which I've heard some rave reviews.

In essence, the first 90 pages (or so) are largely consumed with establishing a theological foundation. One's view of the book will be significantly coloured by their perspective on that foundation.

As you can gather from the two star rating, I am not fond of this book. That said, I don't regret reading it and learned a few things. One must applaud the authors for attempting to write a "fresh" parenting book that isn't the "same old stuff". The book does get better after the 90-or-so-page-mark, the content is a bit more nuanced and practical. I like that it seeks to magnify the grace of God. I like that it attempts to lead parents away from prideful self sufficiency and away from Christless parenting. I like that it tries to get parents to thoughtfully engage in parenting in a way that is gracious and points their children to the gospel. While I can't recommend the book, I *do* like that the authors are seeking to challenge people to discern what is distinctively Christian in their way of parenting.

That said, I believe there are some significant theological problems, both in explicit statements and in general emphasis. Those who have been in Reformedish circles over the last couple of years will immediately see the connection with the controversial Tullian Tchvidjian. This should not come as a surprise when Tullian himself says in his foreword that Elyse "taught me a ton" about the gospel. The book's theology is basically that of Tchividjian and has more of a Lutheran theological flavour than a Reformed one. After all, five of the ten chapters begin with a quote from Luther or Lutheran theologians. I am almost tempted to theorize that beyond writing the foreword, Tullian may have been the "ghost writer".

The outlook if the whole book is affected by the basic emphasis of the 'Liberate Conference' or 'Grace Lit' fad. Such a perspective pervades the first 90-or-so-pages and is the underpinning of the rest. The third use of the law is severely under emphasized. The underlining assumption is that there is only one proper and safe motivation to obedience--gratitude. One might say the book's outlook leans significantly in the direction of "soft antinomianism"--not necessarily overt antinomianism, but undertones of it. As Tullian is known to do, the book utilizes Gerhard Forde--who it should be noted is even regarded by many Lutherans as having antinomian tendencies.

In many places the gospel is "over applied". And the distinctions in the different "levels" of obedience, while having some value, are perhaps taken too far and given too much weight. If you are going to read it, I believe the theology and practice of the book should be taken with a grain of salt, and you will have to be prepared to take the good and throw out the bad. I will not get into a deeper theological discussion of these issues I'm noting, since this is a book review, not a theological dissertation. I will simply say that if you've seen any problems in Tullian Tchividjian's theology, you will probably find them here as well.
I believe there are other problems with the book, beyond its theological perspective, and these further add to my justification for the two-star rating I gave.

Some of the examples of conversations are unhelpful. I like that the book gives concrete examples of what parents can say in different situations (many, parenting books are far too abstract). However, a good many of the examples are unrealistic and unhelpfully verbose. They are tedious and unlikely to dazzle a kid--even if approximated with some adjustments. And there is little specific guidance as to how "age appropriateness" fits in to the equation, other than a reference to the different types of obedience and an observation that they are more or less relevant at different ages.

Furthermore, one or two of the suggested speeches seem to be lacking in wisdom and tact. The worst of them almost sound like a stereotypical Christian parent from a sitcom or the Simpsons. Seriously: you are going to lecture your kid on his eternal state when he blows his team's baseball game? I can't imagine how that sounded good even in the "laboratory" of theory! I doubt it would "dazzle" any kid. I realize they are just examples, but I think these flaws seriously compromise the usefulness of the examples. If you read the reviews, the vast majority of the non-4-or-5-star reviews bring up this aspect.

The writing style leaves much to be desired. Even though the general flow is jumpy and flighty at times, there is, on the other hand, too much rehashing and repetition. Dramatic words like "dazzle", "drench", and "bombarded" are over used.

I also think the tone could have been worked on, especially for a book about "giving grace"--leading the reader to believe that perhaps the author's law vs. gospel categories are perhaps not as "airtight" in practice as they are in theory. Even some of the speeches that are meant to "give grace, not law", seem sort of "legal" (by their definition of "legal/law", not mine) in tone. The comments at the end of the chapters about "what the Holy Spirit may be teaching through the chapter" (not an exact quote) may add to the perception of a "preachy" and "talking down" feel to the book.

I would love to see a book come out which had some similar goals, but with a better theological foundation/framework (more sound on law/gospel issues), written better, and more concise and realistic examples. That improvement would trickle down to many minor details in the book--making it a stronger book all-round. Such a hypothetical book may not get Tullian's endorsement, but it would at least be more robust and realistic. And I suppose there is always the recourse of a tried and tested J. I. Packer endorsement.


The Obsession Book of Timbuktu
The Obsession Book of Timbuktu
by Bruce Meyer
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 15.84
18 used & new from CDN$ 13.21

4.0 out of 5 stars Have You Been to Timbuktu?, Aug. 20 2014
This book makes me want to go to Timbuktu. This has got to be one of the best and most innovative books of contemporary poetry released in the last few years. I say that both in terms of the design elements of the book (the graphics, the fonts, the layout) and the content (the cohesiveness of it all to a theme, the colourfuness/craftmanship of language, the thoughtfulness of it, the obvious delight of the poet, the connection to history and other literature). How refreshing it is to see a book of recent poetry that is thematically sophisticated and plunges the reader into a historically and geographically astute journey. I mean, how many books of poetry have you seen that have a Dramatis Personae at the end? Please do not be mistaken, this does not mean I enjoyed the poetry all the way through.I found myself getting impatientand rolling my eyes part way through at a few places. That said, I also found myself approaching the edge of genius at a few points as well. It really is quite a wild journey--be warned.


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