Fun Style. This was a mostly light book that took a rare tack, and that is generally fun when executed well – which it absolutely is here. There is a fair amount of drama here, but the most interesting part about this book is absolutely the notes each man leaves on the other’s door. The author even includes them in the text (as well as actually typing them out), so bonus points for going a bit above and beyond creatively. Beyond that, this is a fairly standard MM romance, with all that the genre entails. Maybe a bit more preachy about being explicitly egalitarian in the relationship than many are, though apparently many readers like the genre specifically for this feature of it, so perhaps that would be a bit of a selling point in and of itself. Not one I particularly care about, but eh, it didn’t really detract from the story – which is what I absolutely do care about. All in all, very much recommended.
Fascinating. This book is from a guy that started in NASA in the era right after Apollo and seemingly left right as SpaceX and the other private space agencies were finding their first successes. It is highly technical, yet also very approachable – Dye actively tries to explain as much of his “NASA-speak” (his term) as possible while not getting bogged down in too many details. This covers the entirety of his 40 ish years in NASA, from his first days as a co-op student through his last years planning the recovery missions should a Shuttle be stranded in space in the years after the Columbia disaster. Great insight and sometimes hilarious stories, though it ultimately suffers from the same bad taste of an ending that soured Kranz’s Failure Is Not An Option. In its final chapter, it more often comes across as a bitter old man not understanding the new dynamics of the agency he helped mold, rather than as someone truly hopeful for the future of space exploration and what the promise of the new and immediately future eras. Still, a truly worthy read from one of the people who doesn’t have the name recognition of a Kranz or a Chris Kraft, but who was arguably just as important in getting NASA to where it is today. Very much recommended.
No Formulas. Just Numb3rs. In this book about how math shapes our lives, British math professor Yates doesn’t take us into the algebra, geometry, and even trigonometry that we all use daily – whether we realize it or not. Instead, he takes an approach similar to the now decade old US television show Numb3rs, starring David Krumholtz and Rob Morrow, wherein he shows applications of higher level mathematics in fields such as epidemiology, medicine, law, journalism, elections, and several others. Yates cites real world examples including unjust convictions and Ebola outbreaks and many others to show how math was used incorrectly and what the math actually showed in that situation, to help the reader begin to get an overall sense of math without getting bogged down in the technical calculations. Truly an excellent book for even the more arithmophobic among us, as it shows the numbers all around us and explains how we can have a better sense of them.
Disclaimers: 1) I LOVED Numb3rs back in the day and would still be watching it if it were still on the air. 2) I have a computer science degree and very nearly got secondary mathematics education and mathematics bachelors degrees at the same time as my CS one – so obviously I’m a bit more attuned to math than others.
We’ve never met, but from what you said about yourself in Executing Grace, we come from a roughly similar background. You grew up in Tennessee, I grew up on the exurbs of Atlanta. We’re within a decade of the same age, and we were raised in similar conservative church backgrounds. We’ve both made something of ourselves that those in our hometowns may never have suspected us capable of back in those days.
I’m currently working on what I call a “2018TBR” project, where I set before myself a set list of books I wanted to read in 2018 – over 100 books in all, and I allowed for books to be added due to my Advance Reader Copy work with a few authors and publishers. Your book, Executing Grace: How the Death Penalty Killed Jesus and Why It Is Killing Us, was on that list and I finished reading it today after having just started it yesterday. (Such is the norm for many of the books, and why yours was the 30th book I have read this year.)
Just so we are upfront with one another, despite agreeing with the premise of Executing Grace wholeheartedly and finding the stories you presented moving, the overall execution of the book was simply lacking. I won’t rehash what I’ve already put openly on Goodreads and Amazon, my normal places for reviewing books. Instead, I want to try to appeal to you personally.
Continue reading “An Open Letter To Shane Claiborne Regarding Executing Grace”
Earlier today, I read a post on BookRiot titled HOW THE POLITICAL CLIMATE LED ME TO ROMANCE NOVELS, and the title held such promise. Unfortunately, the article itself went on yet another political diatribe. So allow me, if you will, to explain in my own way how the political climate of late has led me to read ever more.
In 2017, I read 80 books. In 2018, I’ve got closer to 120 or so on deck, and we’ll see how many of them I actually read. This, after struggling in 2008 to even read 53 books. Of course, 2008 was very different in terms of the US political climate and my own life. In 2008, I was newly married and working 100 miles (one way) from home. This was before the era of eBooks, and even audiobooks weren’t quite on full mp3 the way they are now. So I had to lug around physical books and could only read on my lunch break or a few hours at home – hours dominated by sleeping, eating, and spending time with my new bride. So 53 books that year was quite an accomplishment – one that my new bride said I should never ever repeat.
But over the last couple of years, I find the political discourse in the United States to be ever more rancorous, and honestly even I – the former Libertarian Party official and political blogger/ activist – am honestly getting sick of it. While I still debate more on Facebook than I should, I’ve also unfollowed quite a few pages, unfollowed or defriended many people, and blocked over 1500 people on Facebook in 2017 alone. But even with all of this, there is just so much discord out there. You almost can’t discuss a political topic, even among the closest of friends, without people speaking harshly to each other and in many cases seemingly coming close to throwing punches. And it doesn’t matter the topic or your position. Someone is inevitably going to disagree, and then the fight is on.
Continue reading “How The Political Climate Led Me To Read More”
Over the last month or so, I’ve been listening to Frank Viola‘s Pagan Christianity: Exploring the Roots of Our Church Practices via Audible on my 10k runs. The entire book has been utterly fascinating, particularly for someone like me who saw quite a bit of this over the years but could never quite give it voice.
The story of the Letters of Marvin Snurdley was a particularly fascinating example found in Chapter 11 (of 12), but the only place I could find it online was on a blog called “Common Sense Atheism“, and since they go on to attack Christianity in general, I thought I would copy it here with no commentary other than these notes and a strong recommendation to acquire and study this book for yourself. The story, in case it isn’t clear, is a direct examination of exactly what happened to form the largest single piece of the New Testament: The Pauline Epistles. Frank then does a great job throughout the rest of the chapter of examining and explaining why the issues presented in the story of the Letters of Marvin Snurdley unfortunately affect us all in the real world.
Continue reading “Frank Viola’s The Letters of Marvin Snurdley”
I finally finished reading David Murrow’s “Why Men Hate Going to Church (updated)”, after having put it down for a couple of months while I read other books and worked on other things.
The best I can say about this book is that it is a gold mine, in the truest sense of the term. You see, my wife watches Gold Rush on Discovery Channel, so I wind up watching quite a bit of it with her. On that show, various crews move around literally TONS of earth, searching for a few specks of gold. That is EXACTLY what you will be doing reading this book – searching through tons of detritus (to put it gently) for the occasional HINT of something worth noting.
To say I was disappointed in this book would be a statement in contention for understatement of the year, at least. Upon seeing the title and even a couple of the other BookSneeze reviews, I actually requested BookSneeze make this available in eBook format, which is how I read all my books now. I was hoping for something as mind blowing and concrete as Shaunti Feldhan’s seminal work, For Women Only: What You Need to Know About the Inner Lives of Men. Instead, the “research” in this book at one point literally consisted of the author standing outside an Alaska sporting goods store and asking 97 men what they thought was masculine or feminine about church.
And that is the most glaring flaw of this book – little to no actual research to base the author’s claims on. Instead, he draws on what he personally sees and how he personally feels. Which is fine, if the title would have been “Why Me and My Friends Hate Going to Church”. But in purporting to talk about a genuinely real crisis, the author falls flat on his face due to so little research on the topic. Add to this the guy’s blatant homophobia and misogyny – he dislikes any song that mentions a love of Jesus, because it sounds too gay – and you pretty much have a recipe for disaster. Indeed, one of the reasons I put the book down for a couple of months was because of the sheer number of times I was almost ready to destroy my Kindle just to get this book away from me. But I agreed to participate in the BookSneeze program (a truly great program, btw), and I didn’t want to review the book without completing it, so here I sit, having now done so.
Overall, I’d give this book 0.5 stars out of 5. It has enough good in it that if you’re DESPERATE for something to read and can get your hands on a free copy, I’d say it is better than nothing – but not by much. Had I paid for the book, I’d be demanding my money back.
Skye Jethani’s With: Reimagining The Way You Relate to God was my first book through the BookSneeze review program, and I’m honestly glad I found the program and this book on it. You see, this is one of the more mind blowing books I’ve ever read – which is saying something, considering I’ve read books such as Ted Dekker’s Circle Series and most books Bill Myers has put out.
If you want to quit reading this review now, I’ll leave you with this: READ THIS BOOK. You will NOT regret it.
One of my favorite authors, Jeremy Robinson, has a contest going right now for a signed hardcover of his new book due out next month, THRESHOLD, or even just a non-signed hardcover. I have a couple of his self-published paperbacks (ANTARKTOS RISING and DIDYMUS CONTINGENCY), which is pretty cool – those were the first two books of his I ever owned.
The contest is simple: Take a pic instore of INSTINCT’s latest incarnation as a mass market paperback to be entered into a drawing for a signed advanced reader copy of the next Chess Team book due out in March, THRESHOLD.
Note that beside my elbow is the other copy the store had, on the center aisle display after I moved it there from being hidden in general fiction.
The other way to enter the contest, and get a free copy of THRESHOLD, was to shoot a video of telling someone about INSTINCT and Jeremy Robinson.
Here’s my in store video, as shot from my Black Berry Bold2:
For those who don’t have an e-reader and therefore can’t get some of Robinson’s titles such as THE LAST HUNTER: DESCENT or THE ZOMBIE’s WAY (as Ike Onsoomyu) or his friend Jeremy Bishop’s TORMENT, the INSTINCT mass market paperback is an excellent introduction to an amazing author. Go pick it up!
There are a few authors who I read virtually everything they write. Early on, they included Tom Clancy and Stephen Coonts, and as I matured I moved on to guys like Dale Brown, Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child, and Lee Child.
A couple of years ago, when I was still active on MySpace, a new, self-published (at the time) author friended me, and I bought a couple of his early books.
I’ve been hooked ever since.
The author in question is one you’ve probably never heard of, but need to if you like solid action-adventure books. You know, the kind that you just do NOT want to put down, where the action is almost non-stop, balls-to-the-wall, what’s-gonna-happen-next kinda stuff.
His name is Jeremy Robinson. He claimed that in writing his latest Kindle-only book, THE LAST HUNTER, that it was his best yet, so I wanted to attempt to rank each of his books thus far on my own scale.
First, a brief synopsis:
ANTARKTOS RISING was the first I read from him. This is a disaster story unlike any you’ve ever seen. It starts out looking like Day After Tomorrow, winds up looking like 2012 – and that is just the beginning. After the crustal displacement (ala 2012), Antarctica is now situated along the equator, and the ice melts off. The earth’s remaining population, eager for new land now that much of the former Northern Hemisphere is frozen solid, sees this new land as the perfect place to relocate, and a contest is divised between several nations, with a single goal: whoever gets to the center of the island first gets the prize. What they don’t know is that the island isn’t as devoid of life as they think – ancient life of Biblical proportions…
THE DIDYMUS CONTINGENCY is a time travel tale of a man and his colleague who invent a time travel device. The man, deeply scarred by the loss of his wife years earlier, uses the machine to travel back to the time of Christ in an effort to discredit Christ. Without giving too much away, suffice it to say that the book offers a new and fairly unique look at the life of Christ, and the overall story is filled with so many twists and turns, some of which are Bill Myers-level mindblowing.
KRONOS takes the Jonah legend and basically says “what if the fish were still alive?”.
PULSE is the first adventure of Robinson’s Chess Team – Bishop, Rook, Knight, Queen, and their leader, King. These are a super-super secret group of Delta Force veterans that not even Delta is allowed to know about. In this one, a modern day genetics company is involved in trying to find a way to enable human regeneration – of any body part, including the head. Along the way, they discover the ancient epitome of regeneration – the Hydra. There’s a problem though: all of the company’s test subjects turn into zombie-like killing machines that are nearly impossible to kill thanks to their regenerative powers. The Chess Team must find a way to stop these monsters – and more – while fighting a desperate battle to stay alive.
INSTINCT is the second Chess Team book, and whereas Pulse was a globetrotter, this one is largely set in one location – a remote area of virgin forest along the Cambodia/Laos/Vietnam border. A virus has been unleashed that can and will kill every male on the planet if a cure is not found – and it is only discovered after it does, in fact, kill the President of the United States of America. The Chess Team is sent to the forest along with Pawn, a CDC scientist, to track down the cure and bring it back. Can they do it in time?
BEYOND is a pure science fiction tale of the discovery of life on Europa, a moon of Jupiter. After a meteorite strikes in the Arctic and shows signs of life, a team is sent to Europa to find out what else is there. Just remember: in space, no one can hear you scream. 😉 (2018 Note: This book is now called BENEATH.)
THE LAST HUNTER is a tale based in the ANTARKTOS RISING world, predating Rising by a few decades. In it, a 13 year old boy goes back to Antarctica, the land of his birth, with his family. While there, he is abducted and broken, forced to learn an entirely knew way of life. In time, he is shown what his captors expect from him – but what they don’t know is that he is far more powerful than they’ve ever dreamed. This book is part one of what Robinson says will be a 6 part series: 3 leading up to Rising, one paralleling Rising, and 2 concluding the Rising story. (2018 Note: This book is now called THE LAST HUNTER: DESCENT. The entire Last Hunter saga can be found in THE LAST HUNTER: COLLECTED EDITION.)
Now, ranking these, I think I’ll go with this:
Continue reading “GREAT Author”