Book Reviews: Isis Trapped, Or Rival Miracles

October 16, 2017



Jesus’ Miracles, illustrated by Daniel Fernandez                6.5

Fighting Isis by Tim Locks                                                    7

Trapped by Sam Scarborough                                              4

Without Rival by Lisa Bevere                                               5


The titles of this series of children’s books of Jesus’ Miracles slightly misleading. The Miracle At The Wedding, Jesus Heals A Sick Little Girl, Zacchaeus Meets Jesus and Two Fish & Five Loaves Of Bread speak only of the biblical tales of Jesus reworded for a young readership, but the various authors involved have added new, fictional extrapolations to each scripture-based story. So youngsters can consider the tale of the young couple who whose wedding feast Jesus and Mary attended, and the challenges they faced as their families began to integrate. Or the boy whose concern for Jairus’s daughter – his friend – played a role in prompting Jairus to request help from Jesus. Then there is the young man whose context overlaps with tht of Zacchaeus, giving him special insight into the actions of Jesus later in the story. And there the friends who come from broken homes who find themselves on the scene when Jesus feeds the 5 000. This approach will help bridge the gap for children who read or are taught the Bible stories but can’t quite wrap their heads around how those can be assimilated in their own lives. These books are useful teaching tools, but also entertaining standalone titles. – BD


Fighting Isis is the true story of a man who goes to war, paid for by himself.  Disgusted with the atrocities committed by Isis and the fact that Britain stands by watching, Tim Locks travels to Kurdistan to join up with the Kurd military. He describes the circumstances at the frontline, which is at the time rather static, with Pesh and Isis watching one another without much fighting. So Tim, bored with patrolling, watching and waiting, travels back to the UK and then returns to join another volunteer group who are engaged cleaning up villages around Mosul. This book tells how, just a few kilometres behind the front line, life goes on as if nothing special is happening. It is actually unbelievable how Western volunteer groups are adopted and used by the military. Tim has to buy his own weaponry on the black market, draining his personal savings. He is active on social networks, requesting donations and recruiting and dealing with wannabes. He returns to the UK in the first quarter of 2016 after a year’s service, disappointed that he was not used as much as he was willing to give. Nevertheless, it’s a great story of a man’s dedication to doing something to relieve the suffering in Kurdistan. – DB


Diaries are personal documents written for private satisfaction and sharing (perhaps) with close friends.  Exceptions are plentiful, and many have become classics. This happens when a personal life story has a universal message that intrigues or reflects a human condition that the reader can associate with. Trapped has these qualities. The book relates the experience of a woman who starts a dream relationship, moves to London and finds herself and her daughter trapped in a nightmare of abuse and neglect. Yet I found it hard to finish reading this book. It is a day-after-day account of maltreatment with little variation: a continuing melodrama and litany that becomes  hard to digest. The language is disgustingly forceful and not suitable reading for her seven-year old daughter.  Wouldn’t Scarborough want to share this epic experience with her child? This book fails to make it into the “classic” range. – DB


Without Rival is a revival book of sorts for women who feel rejected, are uncertain about their station in life and are seeking help and encouragement. Bevere is a writer, counsellor and public speaker who uplifts women, sourcing and interpreting Bible verses and using examples of women in biblical times who succeeded in enriching their lives. This book offers religious guidance and can be best described as a pastoral sermon book. This restricts its value and usefulness for people who don’t necessarily share her beliefs but who are in need of support of this kind. Go for it if you are that way inclined. – DB