Wednesday, February 21, 2018

The Collector by Nora Roberts (Goodreads Author), Julia Whelan (Goodreads Author) (Narrator)

5 of 5 stars  *****

A delightful read/listen. From beginning until end The Collector engages with style that produces imagery and clarity. The characters are fitting, likable protagonists and dangerous antagonists. The ideal lives of the successful, fortunate, rich and famous blend nicely with the struggling, adequate, common but formidable. The scenario could be hokey but Nora Roberts avoids the contrived by creating a thrilling plot in which she imbues her characters with real human qualities. The pace keeps one interested throughout the entire story.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Food: A Cultural Culinary History by Ken Albala

5 out of 5 stars  *****

What a glorious trip through history via food choices by peoples throughout the world. The presentation by Ken Albala is upbeat and pleasant. Fascinating subjects can fall flat because of dry narration but not with Food: A Cultural Culinary History

Culture spreads easily along temperate longitudinal zones making food introduction to new territories possible. Food becomes a major reason for trade between remote places that offer certain fruits, vegetables, spices, and grains. Nobility arises as the wealthy share new foods at banquets with their affluent friends. Preparation requires employing servers and, most importantly, chefs who work hard to master the art of cooking. This becomes a status of power within the community. 

Cities burgeon as recipes spread among commoners who are healthier because of the variety of food. Different parts of the world develop their own cuisine. The written word preserves the practical manner in which food is grown, harvested, prepared, and enjoyed. 

Food is responsible for the temperament of the citizens of cities relying on climate, soil, and observation. Gastronomy develops out of necessity to feed populations in diverse regions. Agriculture determines whether or not a land is arable enough to sustain people before it applies its knowledge for growing plants and rearing animals.

The style of growing and preparing food, today, evolves from a country's economy since certain crops yield wealth from trade around the world. This limits the variety that the family farm yields and most people eat what is processed according to government regulations. This series of lectures ends with a look into the future that sees society pursuing healthier lifestyles. This may entail more organic foods with locally raised livestock. The informed consumer leads this trend that could very well improve a population's overall well being.

Monday, January 22, 2018

The Hero With a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell, Arthur Morey (Narrator)

4 out of 5 stars  ****

I have a quote by Joseph Campbell that hangs on a plaque by my front door, "We must be willing to get rid of the life we've planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us." This statement implies that there is another plan for our existence other than what we want or choose for ourselves. 

As a Christian, I feel this refers to God's plan; but Campbell contemplates deeper into mankind's psyche. He identifies a need to explain the compulsion we have to journey into unexplained worlds where discovery of dreams and myth have universals, aspects in common, throughout the world in every culture. Much of this classic work is filled with legends and lore of cultures from around the world.

The stories are fascinating, the analysis revealing. The Hero With a Thousand Faces and other books by Campbell show how this topic is his life's pleasure. The final chapters talk about the author and the extent of his study along with the efforts to preserve his published and non-published material. I respect the devotion of this scholar as what he says in this writing is worthy of further thought by those who read, listen, and dream.

The Paradigm: The Ancient Blueprint That Holds the Mystery of Our Times by Jonathan Cahn

5 of 5 stars  *****

Jonathan Cahn presents a comparison between an era in history involving the northern tribes of Israel, and modern day; in particular, the Clintons rise to power until the present. This model of political and religious power is separated by thousands of years and, yet, the coincidence is uncanny.

The main event, which Cahn alludes to in each time frame, is worthy of divine judgment because of its offensive nature to God, the Creator. That event is the killing of innocent children and fetuses. The country's leaders support this practice in a society that trends toward Godlessness.

The Bible provides the paradigm for such a culture in the writings about King Ahab and his pagan wife, Jezebel, who worships Baal. The ancient characters have modern day antitypes in the paradigm. The parallels are amazing.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Explore the Bible: Personal Study Guide, Acts 13-28 by Danny Akin (Editor), Dwayne McCrary

5 out of 5 stars  *****

I get so much out of this Bible Study series. Every Sunday the Fishers of Men, my study group, meet to talk about a chapter with an appointed leader who uses the teacher's edition of our study guide. This leader prepares each week to engage and explain more than what the class reads in our paperbacks. 

Valuable lessons of life become apparent with our discussions, one person's input enhancing another's perspective. Lessons taught hundreds and even thousands of years ago are still fresh today. It is as if mankind understands but is incapable of maintaining adherence to God's desire for us. This awareness imparts the necessity for such classes. The most difficult aspect in such a group is finding one that is compatible and fun. 

This month's subjects cover biblical scripture from Acts 13 - 28. I learn how "tolerance" is more than perseverance and patience; it is accepting another's point of view even though it is opposite of my own. This act diffuses my anger and frustration over any issue or circumstance where I am confronted about my opinion or perspective. 

Another key lesson is on "gossip." Gossip may cause me to bear false witness to my neighbor. This violates the Ninth Commandment. The ease at which this occurs brings up a healthy discussion about how the News is mainly negative, or bad news. We spread bad news about the world and each other without thinking whom we may hurt. Talking gossip seems to be the antithesis to sharing the Gospel, which is spreading the good news.

Out of our talk we agree that bad news spreads faster and farther than good news because it is particularly interesting to us in a morbid way. A friend suggests it is because we (mankind) are so attached to the flesh and this world. To rise above this we must be more attached to our spiritual side (born again) by being in touch with God's Holy Spirit. We conclude that we cannot do this alone, we need a Savior, Jesus Christ, who died for our sins, our inability to consistently obey the Ten Commandments.

So whether I agree or disagree with any point someone brings up in class, I am, now, tolerant of their point of view and do not try to convert them to my outlook. A debate may ensue but there is never an argument, only another observation presented with love.

Friday, January 5, 2018

The Stolen Sky (Split City #2) by Heather Hansen

5 out of 5 stars  *****

Arden and Dade develop their relationship as a couple in this book. They hardly have time to work on their complex romance as he, an affluent Solizen (elite), and she, an Undercity rebel, are running for their lives throughout the story.

The Stolen Sky abounds with betrayal and perseverance in a dystopian society. The elite families manipulate the government (govies) and the rest of the population by controlling life-sustaining Vitamin D (VitD) and doling out addictive drugs to pacify broken spirits. Dade steals VitD and gives it to the impoverished as the Ghost; hence, the introduction to Arden, the self-sufficient, savvy sister of Niall, leader of Split City's number one antagonist faction, the Lasair.

This thrilling adventure catapults one on missions of rescue and sabotage. Many new characters of significance play roles in Dade and Arden's lives by rescue, healing, and plotting against competing bands of criminals, govies, and families. Through it all, the two protagonists have a virgin trust of each other that the plot continues to test. Trust for anyone else is suspect, at best. Unexpected revelations engross readers while pages turn toward the climax. When that time arrives, one is left wanting more.

Heather Hansen writes this sequel to The Breaking Light with captivating style, an imaginative plot, and most interesting characters. This reader is in the Split City from the very first page until the last.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Born to You This Day: Christmas Reflections on the Savior by Cissie Graham Lynch

5 out of 5 stars  *****

This short but deep devotional by the granddaughter of the greatest Evangelist in my lifetime, Billy Graham, settles my busy world into moments of Peace, Love, and Joy. I welcome her thoughtful words in this hectic holiday season. Time seems short until Born to You This Day: Christmas Reflections on the Savior provides a path away from my world and into the world created by He who loves and is willing to grant His blessings for my recognition of Him as the Father of Creation and worthy of my praise.

Pending tasks at hand squirm in my mind robbing me of the comfort that rests in stillness. I pick up this devotional and read with those troubling thoughts suggesting I drop the reading and get back to work; but I ignore the annoyance and discover an ease that frees my being from self-manufactured duties. What book has such a power as this.

At the end of each chapter is a list of scriptures from the Old and New Testaments that are resources for the author's enlightened summary.