Saturday, March 26, 2011

Gray Matter Review

Title: Gray Matter
Author: David Levy with Joel Kilpatrick
Pages: 304
Publisher: Tyndale

Gray Matter by David Levy is an excellent non-fiction account of his career as a neurosurgeon and his steps of faith to make prayer a central part of his career.

One of my favorite things about this book is what he doesn't write about. Many non-fiction auto-biographies will spend 4 to 5 chapters discussing the main character's background, family history and what had they had for lunch when they were 7 years old :-) Levy and Kilpatrick do an excellent job of getting right into the action by describing a consult and surgery of a women with a brain aneurysm. The story delves into Levy's calling to pray for his patients before surgery. There are several different surgeries highlighted throughout the book.

Levy's stories carry heavy emotion (especially since many of these cases are life or death matters) and he does an excellent job describing his own inner turmoils he deals with as a surgeon. Several times I was really pulled into the stories of people that were entrusting their lives to a doctor, who was in turn calling on the Lord, that all things might be done in his name.

Toward the middle part of the story, as Levy becomes comfortable praying with his patients, he shares his experience of helping patients ask for forgiveness from those that have heart them in the past. Some of these parts of the book feel a little bit like a psychology/psychiatric session, but for the most part it was done in the right way.

I will finish with two final notes. Some of the surgeries and consults seemed to run together and be similar, but again not to the point of annoyance. If you are interested in a faith-based novel with excellent and fascinating descriptions of neurosurgery this novel is for you. Great read!

4.5/5 Stars

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Dragons of the Valley Review

Title: Dragons of the Valley
Author: Donita K. Paul
Publisher: Waterbrook
Pages: 370

Dragons of the Valley is the wonderful sequel to The Vanishing Sculptor by Donita K. Paul.

Invasion is upon the land of Chiril and the main character Tipper Schope is tasked with protecting the statues crafted by her father from falling into the wrong hands.

The eccentric wizard Fenworth, librarian Librettowit, prince Jayrus, artist Bealomondore, and many of the characters from the first book join this tale. Several new races are introduced which in turn presents several new faces that take a prominent place in the story.

As noted by some other reviews, I found this one a little harder to get into compared to the first book. There was quite a bit of running around in the first eight chapters and different characters going this way and that on mini-adventures. For the most part it starts to all come together about mid-book and that is where this novel starts to shine.

I thoroughly enjoyed Donita Paul's use of witty dialogue especially Lady Peg (Tipper's mother) and the banter back and forth between the wizard and librarian. I found myself laughing out loud several times.

There is one dastardly character introduced in this story and his name is The Grawl. With the addition of this bad dude the story does have a darker tone when focusing on his plans. The way this evil character was written into the story was done perfectly and the ultimate conclusion of the story involving this character brings shows redemption.

Several times in this story I was hugely encouraged by the spiritual message. Paul has a canny ability to write a crazy tale of fantasy, but still pull in elements of the Christian faith to ask tough questions, encourage people, and illuminate grace. As this was written by a Christian author, by a Christian publisher, with an allegorically Christian God as the creator written into the story, this should be expected if you chose to pick this one up.

Looking forward to the third book!

4/5 Stars

Note: I was provided a free review copy of this book by Waterbrook press through Librarything early reviewers program.