Monday, January 1, 2018

Top Books I read in 2017

Movies and books are my passion. I read 61 books in 2017, and here are the top 5 I read last year. Interestingly, 4 of these books were from authors I had not discovered before. I will be reading more of their books in 2018.

A Criminal DefenseA Criminal Defense by William Myers (2017)
This is a smart defense lawyer novel that kept me guessing to the very end. It's the first book in a trilogy, apparently, and the second installment comes out this month.

Falling Stars (Kyle Achilles #3)
Falling Stars by Tim Tigner (2017)
I have not read a book by Tigner that I did not enjoy. He writes thrillers that are page-turners with a focus on new technology. This book is the sequel to Pushing Brilliance, featuring former CIA agent Kyle Achilles. It's good. And I have had the privilege of reading his beta versions and giving feedback on the plat and the text.

The End of Lies
The End of Lies by Andrew Barrett (2017)
This is another new author that gave me the chance to read a preview copy. Here Becky arrives home to find her husband stabbed to death and two thugs ransacking the house. She doesn't know what they are looking for but has to find it or they'll kill her. Nothing is quite what it seems in this fast paced mystery.

Stillhouse Lake (Stillhouse Lake, #1)
Stillhouse Lake by Rachel Caine (2017)
This was an Amazon First book. I love serial killer mysteries, and this is one of those with a twist. The protagonist is not the killer, who is in prison, but his wife. Living under a new name by the lake, trying to avoid the reaches of her husband, bodies start piling up and she falls under suspicion. Who is killing them? Who knows her identity? It's a great read. And it's another trilogy, with the second book out already.


No Exit by Taylor Adams (2017)
This was my favorite book I read last year. It's Christmas, but college student DarbyThorne finds herself stranded with four strangers at a Colorado rest stop by a freak blizzard. But when she sees a kidnapped child in one of the parked vehicles, this misadventure turns deadly. Adams ratchets up the tension, and inserts so many twists I felt like I was playing Twister! It's fantastic.

Happy New Year, and happy reading!

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Turkey Films 2017: current movies in theater

Turkey Day is upon us again, and we give thanks for our blessings. It's a great time to enjoy good family, good friends, good food, and of course good turkey films. This is where we substitute the word turkey for a word in the movie title.

So this year's theme is movies currently in the theater, box-office notwithstanding. So, without further ado:

Image result for turkey icon
  • Thor: Turkeyrok
  • Turkey on the Orient Express
  • Only the Turkeys
  • Thank you for your Turkeys
  • Victoria and Turkey
  • My Little Turkey: The Movie
  • The Turkey between us
  • Kingsman: The Golden Turkey
  • Last Turkey Flying
  • Subturkeycon
Some of these might be worth a watch ... or a gobble. Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 20, 2017

The Star -- reviewed by Deanna Evans

Image result for the star movie posterDeanna Evans, who works for one of the companies I sometimes get books from, has written a review of The Star. I thought you might like to read it. It can be found at

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Book Review: Movies are Prayers -- Talking to God at the movies

Image result for movies are prayers josh larsen book cover

ovies are Prayers: How Films Voice Our Deepest Longings; Josh Larsen, IVP Books (2017)

I picked this up as a dear friend told me about it and it intrigued me. I love movies and have connected them with my faith for over a decade. I have seen them as ways we can experience transcendance as we engage with movies, learning something about ourselves, life, and God, and sometimes even experiencing God Himself.  I had not necessarily thought of them as prayers.

Josh Larsen, cohost of the podcast *Filmspotting*, says “that movies, at their most potent, are not diversions or products or even works of art, but prayerful gestures received by God.” He further elaborates: “Movies are our way of telling God what we think about this world and our place in it. . . . Movies can be many things: escapist experiences, historical artifacts, business ventures, and artistic expressions, to name a few. I'd like to suggest that they can also be prayer.”

He divides the book into 10 types of prayer, each forming a chapter of the book:

1) Prayers of praise
2) Prayers of yearning
3) Prayers of lament
4) Prayers of anger
5) Prayers of confession
6) Prayers of reconciliation
7) Prayers of obedience
8) Payers of meditation
9) Prayers of joy
10) Prayer as journey

He uses various movies, from Buster Keaton silent film, to the most recent Star Wars movie, The Force Awakens, as well as books and scripture to illustrate his points. For the most part, just a scene or two from a film is used.

This book is a quick read and does communicate the writer’s thesis well. I have two main criticisms. First, it is short at just over 200 pages, with a good 25% devoted to notes. I had expected more. Second, I anticipated more in-depth analysis of some films. Larsen does that at the very end, as he takes the concept of prayer as journey and looks at one film. He does with Rushmore, exploring how it moves through the various stages in progression. That was what I wanted more of.

All in all, I would recommend this book. I’d give it 3.5 if I could.

Copyright ©2017, Martin Baggs