Friday, March 22, 2013

Around the World

Grounded: A Down to Earth Journey Around the WorldGrounded: A Down to Earth Journey Around the World by Seth Stevenson





A fun read.  Just enough detail without feeling bogged down in another person's over-fascination with place.  The key is the author's experience of places and people along the way.  Just the right amount of "protest" against modern life's fervency and superficiality.  What a challenge to dare to jump into the world's otherness with both feet!  You don't come back the same.  A journey doesn't have to be that far to be that good for you.



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The Greatest Golfer Ever

The Grand Slam: Bobby Jones, America, and the Story of GolfThe Grand Slam: Bobby Jones, America, and the Story of Golf by Mark Frost

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



The best part about this book was the insight into Bobby Jones' high character and how he was a man of his times.  The author did a good job introducing many famous persons from golfing history and describing the world of early 20th century golf, professional and amateur.  He could have saved a lot of pages by reducing the "blow by blow" accounts of the rounds Jones played.  By the time I got to the accounts of the four major tournaments Jones won in 1930, I had become so tired of descriptions of ball flights and such that I skimmed them over.  The closing chapters on Jones' life after golf and his poignant physical decline were well written and detailed enough.  Considering the equipment Jones played with and how consistently well he struck the ball under pressure against great competition, I think there is no choice to declare him the greatest golfer who ever played the game.



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Saturday, February 2, 2013

It's a Mystery to Me

Deadstick: An Owen Keane MysteryDeadstick: An Owen Keane Mystery by Terence Faherty

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


I met Terence Faherty at a writing conference last summer where he led a workshop.  I'm not a mystery reader but after learning that the protagonist is a "failed seminarian" I had to give the first book in this series a turn.   I purchased the eBook and read it in my Kindle.  I won't attempt to judge it against other books in its genre.  What I will do is say that I came to care about Owen Keane.  The story started too slowly for me, but I stuck with it and found the pace picking up about half way through.  Maybe I'm more used to the faster pace of current thrillers (i.e. Steve Barry, Greg Iles, James Rollins, etc.).  Another thing I enjoyed was his description of rural and urban locations in the northeast US.



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Short Introduction to the 21st Century's World War

The Crisis of Islam: Holy War and Unholy TerrorThe Crisis of Islam: Holy War and Unholy Terror by Bernard Lewis

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


I found this at my library's book sale.  After reading it I was surprised it was withdrawn.  It offers the casual reader a good short treatment of the current state of struggle between the worldviews represented by the West/United States and the Middle East/Islamist states.  A little dated by now, but it introduces enough information to help the reader decide what he/she wants to investigate further.



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Monday, January 21, 2013

Terry Brooks at his not quite best

The Measure of the Magic (Legends of Shannara, #2)The Measure of the Magic by Terry Brooks

My rating: 2 of 5 stars


I hold Terry Brooks as one of my formative authors.  I will read everything until he stops writing.  I saw him at an event in Noblesville, IN where he said he has ten more years to write.

This book seemed to not add much to the legend that is Shannara.  Some points were gripping but overall the story seemed forced or stretched -- like butter over too much bread.  If he writes a follow up to this duology I hope he returns to the epic feel of his earlier Shannara stories or even the Genesis of Shannara trilogy.



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Friday, November 16, 2012

Not Surprised by N.T. Wright

Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the ChurchSurprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church by N.T. Wright

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I expect anything from N.T. Wright to be deep, passionate, and thoroughly Biblical.  I was not disappointed in this book.  I used his DVD lessons in a class I taught at church.  He has a wonderful accent and the lessons were delivered in wonderful English settings of cathedrals and countryside. I found he content very informative and edifying but the book was definitely a neck-stretcher for my students.  I commend them for wading through it.  It deserves to be abridged for "ordinary" readers who need to be exposed to the core points he makes without having to run down all the side bars he follows answering arguments that regular church folk do not face.  Keep writing Professor Wright and I'll keep reading!



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One of Three Ways to Change America for Good

The FairTax Book: Saying Goodbye to the Income Tax and the IRSThe FairTax Book: Saying Goodbye to the Income Tax and the IRS by Neal Boortz

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Way to go Neal Boortz!  Your book depicts one third of my dream to change (i.e. breakup) the political-economic power game that has evolved over the last 100 years in America.  Such power is dangerous if held by the same person too long.  We need this and two other firewalls against the human tendency to evil.

1. The Fair Tax (as so wonderfully described in this book) would place economic power back into the hands of working individuals.  www.fairtax.org/

2. The Balanced Budget Amendment to the US Constitution (another barrier to uncontrolled government spending.)  www.balanceourbudget.com/

3. Term Limits on US Senators and Representatives would keep politicians focused on the task at hand, not worrying about getting re-elected again and again.  I'd also apply this limitation to Federally appointed judges who too often become legislators from the bench. termlimits.org/



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