Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The Chimes (Christmas Books) by Charles Dickens, Richard Armitage (Narrator)

4 of 5 stars  ****

The Chimes, is classic Dickens rich with description and mood. The narrator for this Audio version is Richard Armitage, who is superb delivering its content. More than the story, itself, the richness of Dickens's choice of words creates visions and sensations worthy of captivating audiences, whether they be listeners or readers. Case in point, quote from, The Chimes:

Chapter Three, Third Quarter:

Black are the brooding clouds and troubled the deep waters when the sea of thought, first, heaving from a calm, gives up its dead. Monsters uncouth and wild arise in premature, imperfect resurrection. The several parts and shapes of things are joined and mixed by chance and when and how and by what wonderful degrees, each separate from each and every sense an object from the mind, resumes its usual form and lives again. No man, though every man is, every day, the casket of this type of the great mystery, can tell.

Listening to this short novel requires the listener to pay attention 'lest they miss the beauty of such prose.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates: The Forgotten War That Changed American History by Brian Kilmeade, Don Yaeger

5 of 5 stars  *****

This is a great book that describes the details of America's war with the Barbary Coast pirates of North Africa as the fledgling United States of America struggles to become a serious, prosperous country. This listener/reader's knowledge about this war is from high school history but, now, with this Audible Audio version of the book, a deeper understanding and appreciation for the sequence of events in the days of slow communication enlightens this reviewer to the sacrifice and bravery of the men who are willing to give their lives to secure freedom and safe passage of US merchant ships to trade with the rest of the world. 

Patriots who love the country from which their freedom and liberty derive, face an enemy that is the antithesis to the new Christian nation. This enemy is composed of Corsairs, pirates who are part of the Ottoman Empire, a Caliphate, who terrorize any ship that sails the southern coast of the Mediterranean from the 16th to the 18th centuries. Blackmail, butchery, and barbaric slavery intimidate nations into making this treacherous foe wealthy and powerful. European countries like Great Britain, France, the Netherlands, Denmark and Spain are willing to pay ransom for captured seamen or submit to coercion that brings the fickle leaders of Algeria, Morocco, Tunis, and Tripoli large sums of money, jewels, weapons, warships, cattle and anything else they demand. 

The United States becomes a paying member to this group for years under Washington, Adams, and Jefferson's presidencies. The obstacles in the way to confronting this formidable enemy are: a difference of opinion among America's leaders, financial debt that inhibits building a Navy and a force capable of defeating this enemy, and cooperation of Congress. 

It is Thomas Jefferson who listens to the men who have a history with the Barbary Coast and the pirates, themselves, before he decides to confront this nemesis who humiliates the United States in its first attempts to make peace with them. This is the body of the story where the details display the failures due to poor leadership, weather, and supplies, as well as the courage of those who turn the tables on the Corsairs and eventually create the safe shipping lanes for the United States and establish the young North American country as a force with which to reckon.

It is sobering to read this book and realize that the United States of America faces this enemy once again. The enemy is no longer the Corsairs but, rather, jihadists looking to serve a Caliph in a new Caliphate. The fanatical barbarism is the same ideology that perverts freedom, liberty, and everything for which the United States of America stands.

Friday, December 4, 2015

How to Publish Your Book by Jane Friedman (Goodreads Author and Narrator)

How to Publish Your Book by Jane Friedman

4 of 5 stars  ****

How to Publish Your Book is part of The Great Courses offered by Audible books. Jane Friedman narrates this course with eloquence and professionalism. This book dispels the myths that many may have about becoming a successful author just because they are published. She points to the internet ease of pushing a key to publish anything anyone writes. The self-published are not necessarily increasing their chances of success; rather, they can actually hurt their chances of becoming a successful writer.

This book lists the big publishing houses and what their editors are looking for when a properly formatted manuscript is submitted. The submission process is also important if one desires to have a chance at getting their work read. She lists the "Do's and Don't's" of submitting papers and approaching publishers. There is an etiquette in the industry that must be observed to enhance one's chances. Once an editor is reading a story, it must have a good narrative thrust, a cohesive intention from one chapter to another to hold the reader's attention or else the editor stops reading the story.

Ms Friedman also informs readers that the story, itself, is more important than grammar or spelling. When all is said and done, over 99 percent of new authors' submissions are either rejected or ignored. The publisher has a big investment in a published, distributed, and advertised book. They expect a respectable return for their investment. Because of this, they usually stay with known, well qualified, tried and tested authors whose novels appeal to a large population waiting for their next novel to be written.

This book is not intended to discourage writers; rather, it strives to be realistic by explaining the history of publishing and the nuts and bolts of the business. Advice comes in the form of "Do's and Don't's" throughout the process and the purpose why one writes. Jane believes that one should write about what is important to the writer and not write for the audience. She believes the best writing comes from such authors.

How to Publish Your Book is the kind of book this author and reader will refer to from time to time to avoid the wasted time people experience in writing then submitting their work for publication. I would call this a reference book because it is comprehensive in covering all the genres and their particular rules to follow when approaching the appropriate publisher.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Killing Reagan: The Violent Assault That Changed a Presidency (The Killing of Historical Figures) by Bill O'Reilly, Martin Dugard, Robert Petkoff (Narrator)

5 out of 5 stars  *****

One might think they know a celebrity such as Ronald Reagan. His storied Hollywood career and his most notable political roles as Governor of California and President of the United States reads as the common boy grows up to be a star and occupier of the most powerful office in the world. Killing Reagan: The Violent Assault That Changed a Presidency informs readers of a vinegar laced history with the sugarcoated stories of which one may be familiar. 

What this excellent Bill O'Reilly novel reveals is the greatness, Reagan's ideals, supersede his normal human being status. Reagan's passion for this country and its Christian principles couple with his ability to remember whole scripts to make him the Great Communicator. He accents the right words at the right times. His craft as an actor makes him a convincing politician; but this book credits Nancy Davis, the right woman who supports and protects her husband throughout his political and personal life, for much of his success. 

The family life of this man with his first wife, Jayne Wyman, demonstrates how estranged relationships become after the tragic death of a child. Christine Reagan is born prematurely on June 26, 1947. She dies hours later. Maureen, Ron and Jayne's first child, is born in 1941 and proves to be like her father with her interest in politics. The adoption of a child born March 18, 1945, Michael, is not enough to keep this couple together. Ron and Jayne concentrate on their movie careers and place the children in boarding schools. Jayne and Ron divorce in 1949. At this time Jayne is a registered Republican while Ronald is a Democrat. 

Ron and Nancy's children also prove how a perfect family is far from reality. Patti, born in 1952, rebels against both parents and writes a tell-all book calling her family dysfunctional. She even poses for Playboy offering more juicy gossip on scandals that feed a vicarious population. Ron Prescott Reagan, born May 20, 1958, also speaks out against his father's politics as a liberal talk show host. 

Beyond Reagan's personal life, Bill O'Reilly fleshes out behind the scene events, in monumental times, that live in history, today, as Ronald Reagan's great achievements. His political Conservatism brings America's economy into the balanced budget that escapes his predecessors. The military is stronger and acts as the deterrent which forces the Soviet Union to concede to Reagan's demands; such as, the reduction of nuclear weapons in the world and the tearing down of the Berlin Wall. 

This novel brings up the complexity of politics within politics which is not flattering to Reagan, at all. The Iran-contra scandal describes how accountability is an issue of integrity. What happens in an administration rests on the heads of state. Reagan admits that he does not know when he signs authorization for the clandestine operation. He tells Americans that he is sorry for not knowing about the illegal undertaking. This admission shows how Reagan is willing to suffer the consequences for his actions regardless of his repentance. Because of his owning up to what seems like absentmindedness, at best, Reagan is not a victim of impeachment. Nancy, later, admits that her husband has one fault, and that is, he is too trusting of those around him. Nancy's interventions in politics always stem from protecting her husband from this very kind of scandal.

This book ends with the decline of Ronald Reagan's mental capacity and physical health. Nancy devotes every waking moment to the love of her life. She cannot contain the sorrow when her beloved forgets who she is. In his last days, Patti comes home to live with her "dysfunctional" family. She keeps a journal and records the last days of the American President whose moment in time eloquently speaks the right words at the right times that make the world a safer, better place for a while. Ronald Reagan, a man of principle who matures into one of the best Godly Conservatives, creates a template for a free, prosperous America to shine as a beacon for all the world to see.

Friday, October 23, 2015

The Day of the Jackal by Frederick Forsyth

4 of 5 stars  ****

Forsyth writes a compelling thriller based on a true story about an organization, the OAS, composed of angry soldiers who feel French patriots died needlessly in Algeria when French president, Charles DeGaulle, pulls the troops out of that country without victory in a frustrating war. The OAS hires the world's deadliest killer, code name, "Jackal", to assassinate DeGaulle, who is the most protected man in the world. 

The story delves into the preparation of guns, credentials, and consorts useful to the Jackal's plans. Forsyth then elaborates on the French security team's efforts to thwart the Jackal once they learn about his existence. DeGaulle's arrogance makes the story more tense when he refuses to change any of his public appearances on his schedule. 

The detail of the plausible schemes with their alterations due to unexpected events are enough to hold the reader's interest. This reader saw the acclaimed 1973 movie before reading this highly recommended 1963 book. The movie seemed so dated and dry lacking the action which today's audience is so accustomed. I gave the movie a three out of five stars. The writing of Frederick Forsyth adds another star for this audience proving that, almost always, the book is better than the movie.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Hitler's Last Days: The Death of the Nazi Regime and the World's Most Notorious Dictator by Bill O'Reilly

5 of 5 stars  *****

Bill O'Reilly's compliment to Killing Patton for younger readers, Hitler's Last Days, reads as interesting and enlightening as all of his books. This historical account is full of pictures adding to the vigilance when investigating the facts about Adolf Hitler's life and the significant people who shape this era of war. Hitler's Last Days incorporates the people closest to him and their loyalty, or lack thereof, when Germany falls ending World War II. Hitler's health mimics the Fatherland in its decline and utter destruction during these last days.

After Hitler's suicide with his new bride, Eva Braun, O'Reilly advances the postwar stories of the victors and the losers: Patton's death, Stalin's Communism, Churchill's long life, Eisenhower's presidency, Gen. Omar Bradley's promotion to four-star general , the Nuremberg Trials, and more. Most importantly, O'Reilly paints a picture of the atrocious behavior the Nazis perform on the humans they deem subhuman. The Holocaust is the name given to those atrocities that the select Nazi groups in Hitler's circles commit. Those exempt from those crimes against humanity are the German National Army who adhere to the rules of war and the general population of Germany. This book demonstrates that evil, no matter how brutal and powerful it seems, loses in the end and suffers as much harm as it inflicts.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

God's People Want to Know by Dr. George Barna (Executive Director)

4 out of 5 stars  ****

This report conducted by the American Culture & Faith Institute, a division of United in Purpose, Dr. George Barna, Executive Director, is the result of a comprehensive study and survey about the issues that Christians find most important. A qualitative survey discovers the social and political issues on the minds of mainly Conservative but also Moderate Christians. Then a quantitative survey determines who wants to receive biblical teachings about the 22 issues.

Most pastors preach something about abortion and same-sex marriage but shy away from all of the other identified issues because of either lack of knowledge on the subject or fear of reprisal for becoming politically active from the pulpit. This could also bring division among the congregants who may consist of Moderate and Conservative Christians.

This study shows that Conservatives want their church to be more politically active but Moderate Christians would rather the church stay out of politics. The issues that are deemed most important are: Abortion, Religious Persecution/liberty, Poverty, Cultural restoration, Sexual identity, and Israel. The second tier issues are: Christian heritage, Role of government, Bioethics, Self-governance, Church in politics/government, Islam, Media, and Senior citizens. Lastly, these issues range from 51% to 69% in being most pressing: Patriotism, War, Government authority, Public school education, Political participation, Rule of law, Civil disobedience, and Government accountability.

A majority of Conservative Christians want to hear from their pastors what the Bible says about these issues, not necessarily their pastor's opinions. This puts a load of extra work on their pastors. The state of the world, America in particular, warrants that extra work. It is necessary to relieve the stress in the population who feel helpless. This report also reveals the drastic increase in politically interested citizens, Christian or not. It makes sense that the Christians turn to God seeking His word for guidance.

Monday, October 12, 2015

The way of the Master (seek & save the lost the way Jesus did) Study Guide by Kirk Cameron and Ray Comfort

5 of 5 stars  *****

I finish this book today but still have a few more weeks to actively engage with people and demonstrate its purpose. The Way of the Master: seek and save the way Jesus did is a work book that enables me to practice evangelism and witness to others. The urgency to be a better Christian is a result of my deeper understanding of God's word. 

Most people are probably unaware of the danger there is in living a life without the fear of God. That fear is spending eternity in Hell's fire. An opinion that it is enough to be good condemns us to such a fate if we do not repent for our multitude of sins and accept the Christ Jesus as our Lord and Savior. Jesus tells us that no one is good; only God is good. So, the unaware are not fit for heaven. 

Indifferent Christians, too busy with their own lives to care about anyone else, are like passive observers who watch an occupied house burning and do absolutely nothing, not even yell, "Fire!" It takes a true Christian to shake these people into reality and tell them what the Bible really says. Overcoming the fear that keeps us from being active in God's great commission is what this course is all about. Kirk Cameron and Ray Comfort teach us how to bypass the intellect and appeal to the conscience when speaking with people. The intellect can be argumentative and is easily fooled whereby the conscience is that inner arbiter who discerns between right and wrong. This is the way Jesus, the Master, demonstrates in the Gospel. 

I, now, utilize tools to break the ice when I approach someone to share the Gospel. Kirk and Ray show how they do this proven technique on videos shown in class. They share their fears and how to overcome them but, most importantly, they impress me how vital it is that we learn to share this information because God loves everyone no matter how bad or good we think they are. I feel I am acting on God's will in this course and not just satisfying my curiosity or thirst for learning.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Explore the Bible: Personal Study Guide Fall 2015 Genesis by Afshin Ziafat (General Editor), Omar Garcia (Goodreads Author) (Contributor), Doug Munton (Contributor), Mike Livingstone (Content Editor)

5 of 5 stars  *****

This Bible study of Genesis followed a study on Revelation, the last book of the Bible. The loop of this return to the beginning shed light on the promises God made to His people and their demonstration of faith in Him. What stood out as an unforgettable fact was that God was merciful, loving, and unchangeable even when His creation tried to circumvent the conditions of His will. The Ten Commandments, God's will, were given to Moses to instruct mankind how to behave so that an everlasting life with Him became possible. 

The study's focal point was how God tested His faithful to deepen their faith so that they no longer questioned when asked to do His will. It revealed that most people chose their own way while a very few remained faithful. 

Over time, the folly of one's own way degenerated into a society that intentionally tried to remove God from people's lives. The removed believer became the intolerant atheist or the non-practiced, unrepentant person who thought he or she was good enough because their own free will allowed them to escape the truth. 

Friday, September 25, 2015

Peace with God by Billy Graham, Jack Garrett (Narrator)

5 out of 5 stars  *****

An outstanding comprehensive book about peace with God and that peace within when one prepares oneself to be a worthy vessel for His Holy Spirit. Billy Graham is a master, dare one say, "Prophet," in sharing the Word of God.

This book is first published in 1953 and updated only to address the current times but not to change the ancient message left for humanity. Peace with God teaches the novice Christian God's will and jogs the memory of the diluted Christian into reality so that they may be at peace in this world of chaos. Such attainment is having the peace of God within which surpasses all understanding.

Graham elaborates why peace with God is vital for salvation on the Day of Judgment. In a time of self-absorption, sin is prevalent in a sin-laden people. In a time when the devil rules this world, Satan's deceptive ways fool many into becoming his servant by drawing them further away from God's will. When success in the world places man's pride above God and people seek their own desires, especially of the flesh, Evil wins the battle for the souls of everyone the Father loves. Peace with God is the voice God uses through his humble servant, Dr. Billy Graham, to remind the world that He, Elohim, Abba, I Am is the only power in all existence and His will must be done through Christ Jesus to achieve eternal peace, joy, and bliss in heaven.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Plunder and Deceit by Mark R. Levin

5 our of 5 stars  *****

Mark Levin does not write for Eighth-graders; he explains with expert logic the politics and history of our great nation in cogent, concise sentences filled with a vocabulary that explains so much in a word. The reader must pay attention to pick up his astute comprehension of the subject matter in Plunder and Deceit

This book targets the arising generation but directs all who enjoy this number one best-seller to appreciate the huge tasks and hurdles already in place for this generation as a result of greed and intentional misguidance in leadership and teaching by many Progressive professors in colleges and Universities. For example, a study of college students who begin their studies in 1980 have a worldview that Americans are responsible for so much of the strife in the world today. This present administration reflects this in its domestic and foreign policies. 

This book turns to Conservative solutions and backs up its claims citing the success of administrations such as Ronald Reagan's. It also points to Ayn Rand's Return of the Primitive: The Anti-industrial Revolution which says Collectivism, which restricts an individual's mind, promises universal abundance while denouncing Capitalism, which, they say, leads to poverty. Now, when Capitalism causes abundance and people feel comfortable and secure, Collectivism denounces people for being comfortable and secure. 

Part of the problem is an indifferent population that prefers to leave politics to the poly-sci majors. Such people reap the rewards of the politician they complain about but feel powerless to evoke change. They discover Progressives plunder their hard earned money to redistribute it in the name of equality, even though such a system has only led to massive poverty, inequality, despair, and oppression.

Levin accuses the Obama administration of promoting the "Degrowth" movement which deceives. This movement uses alarmist claims to scare the population into believing the government must come to their rescue to save the world. For example, Man-made global cooling, man-made global warming, and now, man-made climate change all have the same solution; which is, control peoples lives with regulations, increase taxation, and more restrictions for industries including control of new technology. The result is less freedom and liberty and more tyrannical power for a centralized government. This describes the very situation our forefathers revolted against in the first place. Mark Levin also suggests that with such a stranglehold on America's freedom and liberty, the unemployment rate and the number of dependents on social welfare programs explode. 

This book also reveals the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) deceives consistent with the "Degrowth" movement. Each one of the EPA's major regulations cause increase taxation of growth and production. This has an annual effect costing greater than $100 million, a major increase in costs or prices for consumers, and a significant adverse effect on competition, employment, and investment. This self-imposed adversity on America's economy and growth is the result of just one major regulation. There are 65 major regulations written for many industries; such as, Energy, Automotive, and Farming. The EPA also cripples use of affordable carbon based sources of energy making us dependent on foreign sources for energy. 

Mark Levin concludes Plunder and Deceit with hope; a biblical worldview to infiltrate society's politics, entertainment, and culture to change and save the Republic. He believes a peaceful rebellion can displace the tyranny that accuses Americans as being terrorists for disagreeing with the powers that be. The people are the sovereign power in a Republic, the greatest form of government demonstrated by America when it operates with a Judeo-Christian compass. 

The rising generation must become the strongest leading activists America has seen since its inception to restore its heritage. They must be ready to meet adversity, frustration, and the threat of jail and even death; but before an all-out physical revolution, there is a Convention of States, a peaceful way to approach the fight.

This reader loves the quote Mark uses in his epilogue of Plunder and Deceit from Frederic Bastiat (1801-1850) in his book, The Law, "Liberty is an acknowledgement of faith in God and his works."

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Explore the Bible: Adult Personal Study Guide - Summer 2015 by Jim Shaddix (Editor), Morris Baker, Andy Chambers

5 of 5 stars  *****

The discussion in my Life Group about this Bible Study book was most interesting and focused on what was written rather than subjective scenarios. I had a lot of misunderstanding cleared up after my reading and weekly class participation about the last book of the Bible, Revelation. The author, John the Apostle, did not offer his own interpretation of that which he was asked, by God, to write. John described what he saw and wrote it down with as much detail as he could. His writings completed the prophesies made much earlier by prophets, such as, Isaiah and Daniel. 

The doom and gloom that preceded my outlook of Revelation was replaced with joy and peace knowing that abiding in God's word meant God's Holy Spirit was abiding in me. By faith, only one death was promised to those who repented for their sins regularly. By refusal to repent, two deaths awaited those opposed to recognize their sinfulness. That second death accompanied the devil in the abyss, the river of fire.

Revelation was written about the times from the Resurrection of Christ, the descent of the Holy Spirit, included the first Resurrection of Saints, the Rapture; then the days of war, famine, pestilence, death, etc., the days of doom and gloom which were represented by The Seven Seals, The Seven Trumpets, The Seven Personages, the Seven Vials, and The Seven Dooms. Was it any wonder I had such a negative view of this holy chapter in God's word. Revelation concluded with The Seven New Things: New Heaven, New Earth, New City, New Nations, New River, New Tree, and New Throne. The choice became clear to either fear God and obey his commands, which instructed me to love and praise Him by loving others without covetousness, or live life serving another master, whether it be the devil, an inanimate object, or a prideful self. 

I had the pleasure of reading and discussing this edition of Explore the Bible: Adult Personal Study Guide - 2015, with others. It made me choose wisely. I chose one death by living in His word so that His Spirit lives in me. In the meantime, upon any transgressions, my sins and iniquities, I pray for God's forgiveness as I repented before in this ongoing process.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

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

5 of 5 stars *****

This Audiobook had me staying up late listening to an intriguing thriller with its fascinating characters. Julia Whelan narrated this murder mystery brilliantly. 

I loved the main character who was introduced as a teenager but was close to 30 at the story's end. Her life was headed in a safe but undesirable direction when one night of independence shaped her future; one that freed her from her mother's unloving grip but deprived her from a normal life with others. Elizabeth became "Liz" in her moment of emancipation; then "Abigail" when her tale resumed years later in a quiet town where she lived alone. The in-between years were slowly revealed once Abigail interacted with the community. She was very wary but felt obligated by the friendly nature of the town folk in this rural environment. 

Abigail was such a refreshing character who made me feel for her as a father and I enjoyed her as an exceptional human being. These characters that entered her life became the impetus to resolving the main issue stemming from that one night of emancipation which, in turn, led to her skill at isolation. One character, in particular, became the psychological bridge that started Abigail on the road to normalcy.

This was my first Nora Roberts book but it will not be my last.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Hillary Rodham Clinton: A History of Scandal, Corruption and Cronyism

5 of 5 stars

One appreciates truth through documentation of evil's sway over those who commit dastardly deeds. Such accounts must present facts that demonstrate strong implications, if not convictions, from damning evidence. Damning is a most appropriate choice word for Hillary Rodham Clinton, according to Bob Barr, who points out that she is a star pupil of Saul Alinsky, author of Rules for Radicals, which has a dedication in the front of his book to Lucifer, the first rebel who winds up with his own kingdom.

This booklet is a quick synopsis of the Clintons', Bill and Hillary's, political history. The purpose of the booklet is to educate voters as to the integrity of Hillary because she is a presidential candidate for 2016. Patterns of greed, scandal, corruption and cronyism follow Hillary from the time she started her political career until the present day.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed (Goodreads Author), Bernadette Dunne (Narrator)

5 out of 5 stars  *****

I gave the movie 4 out of 5 stars and this Audiobook 5 out of 5 stars for the entertaining introspection of Cheryl Strayed as she found herself, in more ways than one, on the Pacific Crest Trail. Cheryl Strayed's thoughts were a self-analysis penned in a cogent flow of great writing. Her story was coupled with a superb narration by Bernadette Dunne; thus, the additional star.

I particularly enjoyed her honesty when she discovered the male side of her being. Cheryl always knew her power over men growing up as a female; but she coped with her nagging problems, created by making bad decisions in a time of duress, by insisting on hiking alone. She watched the male hikers walk out of sight and felt the security of her own world that used to be a place of loneliness, a space she filled with regrettable behavior. The opportunity to be alone in her own world I liken to the man cave; not the social spot of fantasy football, beer, and hot wings but the place men go for solitude to work things out.

In herself, Cheryl found the strength she identified in her mother. Her growth came with much pain and required a fortitude she never knew she had. Cheryl Strayed's courage inspired the male hikers who crossed paths with her. She became the best she could be and overcame her demons that could have haunted her for the rest of her life had she not challenged herself in this personal quest.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

The Crisis by Winston Churchill

5 of 5 stars  *****

Review This is one of the best books I have read this year. I put the book in the bathroom so I would only read a chapter at a time once halfway through - it is one of those books I did not want to end too soon. I love the style, vocabulary, plot, history, characters, and charm of the era when and where the story takes place as well as the author's talent when he writes The Crisis at the turn of the twentieth century.

The language of that time in this fictional history maintains the story's integrity and is not intended to offend, at all. Winston Churchill, 
 himself, a native of St. Louis, incorporates the feelings, beliefs, and mores through the characters' interactions. These characters include both strong-willed, admirable men and women along with the self-important, deprived, and greedy.

The story begins before the Civil War in the considered American West, St. Louis, Missouri, and Illinois. St. Louis is a blend of Southerners and Northerners with the protagonist, a new arrival from Boston, and a flavor of immigrants from Germany. The community's distinguishing elders from both sides are congenial with one another but each have fervent opinions and loyalties when it comes to Union or Confederate. A much reviled and loved character emerges from Illinois; one who sees both sides of the inevitable calamity, who decisively follows his heart in burdensome times evidenced by his love of God and country. This man is Abraham Lincoln.

The story's palpable love interest piques the imagination with the reserved manner of the courting etiquette appropriate for these times. One woman, Virginia, a major character, is the desire of most men who lay eyes upon her but she dictates who is worthy. Her emotional fluctuations poignantly intertwine with the theme of the book, thus, both sides, North and South, unfold in the telling of her suitors' escapades. The best of the human spirit, the noblest qualities of men and women under the duress of war fill the bulk of the plot. The story ends after the Civil War but the story's memory lingers. The Crisis is written in an elegance that captures moments seen through Churchill's vision for every reader's pleasure.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Dead or Alive (Jack Ryan Jr.,#2) by Tom Clancy, Grant Blackwood (Goodreads Author), Lou Diamond Phillips (Narrator)

3 out of 5 stars  ***

Tom Clancy, God rest his soul, writes political and militarily feasible stories that are current for the time of their writing. One always enjoys the thrill ride he creates in Jack Ryan's adventures.Dead Or Alive includes Jack Ryan Jr., a testament to the volume of work the author shares with generations. 

The antagonists change in the span of Clancy's work, as well; this yarn dealing with radical Muslim terrorists. The Russians and Communists behind the Iron Curtain were the first villains in his initial books. Today, Russian adversaries could bring a Tom Clancy novel full circle as events unfold under Putin's aggressive advances to bring back the USSR. 

The major difference one encounters with this Clancy novel is the feeling one has for the characters. The protagonist's development over the years loses his naivete and innocence, even though he is always brilliant and fair. His sophistication seems to make him a member of the in-crowd with its own posturing language fit for a boys gym. It comes across as corny when this style of writing describes decision-making processes in the White House or other strategic headquarters. The writing is good but, at times, almost cliche with the military dialogue. The plot entertains but becomes predictable and lacks the riveting sensation one experiences with other Clancy novels. 

For these reasons, Dead Or Alive gets three out of five stars.

Monday, July 13, 2015

The Foundations Of American Government by David Barton

5 of 5 stars  *****

This companion transcript for the video by the same name is a refreshing return to the truth in History; in particular, the First Amendment and the Separation of Church and State.  These issues are in the scope of politics and social reform today.  It is important to return to the beginning, when the First Amendment becomes the introduction to the United States Bill of Rights, to learn the intentions of the founding fathers along with their desires to keep any one religion from ruling America.  This transcript also points out that there are those who wish to distort history to sway populations toward their own political  agendas.

David Barton's scholarly work employs his excellent collection of old and priceless books written by the hands of the remarkable men of their day.  The onus is upon each individual, today, to verify that which is taught in schools.  David Barton's collection of DVD's and books can be found on his website with this transcript and DVD set being a part of Building On The American Heritage Series.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The End of the Ancient World and the Beginning of the Middle Ages by Ferdinand Lot

4 out of 5 stars  ****

Copious and comprehensive describes Ferdinand Lot's The End of the Ancient World and the Beginning of the Middle Ages. The scope of information over hundreds of years reaches back into ancient history to compare the advancements, artistry, and lack thereof through the ages among many civilizations in the known world; basically Asia, Europe, and North Africa. Charlton Griffin, the narrator, uses just the right amount of snobbery in his articulation of events and the arts that demarcate the Ancient from the Middle Ages.

A great historian fascinated with the decline of the Roman Empire and the rise of Medieval times, Lot, for the first time, reveals the reasons Rome fell other than political and military. With perfect diction and pronunciation, Griffin explains that the mere size of the Roman Empire, with its asymmetrical demands, lead to the wealth transferring from the West, the needy, to the East, the providers. To meet the needs of the poor, increased taxation of that population only leads to despair and hopelessness. Suffice it to say, such a civilization is depressed and vulnerable to barbarian invasion.

Lot describes the barbarians and the existing empire through their architecture, literature, paintings, sculpture, geography, politics, social structure, linguistics, belief systems, as well as military prowess. A marked erosion of the pure art form becomes evident when a practical approach to life becomes more universal as wave after wave of marauders disturb the establishments of an anemic society. In some cases, the conquerors allow the existing social structures to remain for better compliance by subjects to their reign. In many other cases, the invaders impose their own customs upon the people and this change is responsible for furthering the distance between progress and stagnation.

This reader finds the subject of this book most interesting because the details of past civilizations are repeating in today's world. The trend of blossoming in a free society is evident more than it is in a suppressed one. Even in a strong, stable society, there are pitfalls that slowly wear away the best accomplishments. The characteristics about which Lot writes are prone to the flaws of man. The arts suffer, the military weakens, the economy is filtered through the greedy, and individuals are taxed into despair. The government must assert more power over the governed in order to make ends meet in the meantime. The powers that be in the realms of religion act in the same manner as the secular powers for preservation's sake. 

A book that eloquently shows the reader outcomes from past mistakes is necessary if a society desires to prevent complacency and rigidity in the extremes that lead to darker ages in the future.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

The Call To Follow Christ by Claude V. King

5 of 5 stars  *****

This devotional I read and studied over seven weeks with a men's ministry, The Herd, at my church. The Herd met to discuss each chapter and its significance every Wednesday evening. The rest of the week was spent devoting a portion of each day reading the chapters and suggested scriptures after praying to establish a connection with God. This practice helped me walk with the Holy Spirt on a daily basis. The outcome gave me a peace of mind that I could not achieve had I not prayed. The trials and tribulations still occurred but I tolerated and faced those moments without the resistance and friction that usually accompanied them.

I pulled another book off of my "unread" bookshelf as I was in the middle of this devotional reading and it turned out to be another devotional series, A Call to Christian Patriotism; only this book's subtitle was, A Weekly Devotional Essay Series. The daily and the weekly devotionals supported each other as I put action to the assignments that I created. My daily prayer focused my weekly Christian patriot application as I engaged in Gospel conversations with people spreading the Word which included America's foundation documents, The Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution.

The Call to Follow Christ came with a CD, music by Damaris Carbaugh, to enhance the book's messages. Music expressed each lesson so beautifully with its lyrics and melody. The experience was one I enjoyed so much that I noticed my interests changed over the seven weeks toward supportive choices that maintained a practice yielding a more joyous life and fuller relationship with God. 

Monday, May 4, 2015

Mockingjay (The Hunger Games #3) by Suzanne Collins, Carolyn McCormick (Narrator)

4 out of 5 stars  ****

This third book of the Hunger Games holds my interest to the end. I watch The Hunger Games on TV the day before I finish this novel and it refreshes my memory about certain qualities the characters possess. Suzanne Collins has a way of making the reader feel for her characters. This book is darker than the other two and it surprises me when a touching moment arises in the end. 

The gist of Mockingjay is struggle after achievement of the impossible only to be faced with despair pre-renewal. The dystopian genre is fraught with young heroes who experience death of family and friends throughout the story. The heroes, themselves, then prepare for their own demise in a realistic, practical frame of mind. It is cold and so different from the Romance novels that are so popular. The thread of a romance appears in this trilogy but one would not call it romantic. The end is a well crafted reflection of the story that evokes an honest range of emotions from those rapt by the tale.

Friday, May 1, 2015

The New Terrorism: How to Fight It and Defeat It by Van Hipp

4 out of 5 stars  ****

An intelligent account of who we are as America compared to the rest of the world. The greatest nation on Earth on a decline related to politics, economics, and military strength is also subject to the heart of its people; the soul of America. This slip in world stature is due to many variables and this author astutely describes America's situation.The New Terrorism is not a negative book, even though the current trends of change suggests that to be the case. On the contrary, the subtitle suggests optimism, How to Fight It and Defeat It

Van Hipp, the author, is fully capable of writing such a book because of his position as Chairman of American Defense International, Inc., and accomplished history over the past 25 years that involve him in American security and international policy at the highest levels. The End Notes at the back of the book reveal the comprehensive research that back up every statement made throughout the book. This lends credence to the veracity of each scenario in all the chapters. A glance at the table of contents tells the reader that he/she is about to embark on a significant education about matters that keep America free and prosperous; but more importantly, Van Hipp truthfully explains just who America is in this day and age of challenges from foreign ideologies and manipulated information. A cogent approach to meet these challenges starts with the common sense approach that utilizes the best of America, its freedom-loving people.

My First Edition, Feb. 25, is published by Countinghouse Press, Inc.. I notice a few errors in the editing and format spacing. These inconsistencies, in no way, detract from the message of this book. The information on its pages is most current and worthy to update everyone to the threats which America faces, now, and in the future.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Allegiant (Divergent #3) by Veronica Roth (Goodreads Author), Emma Galvin (Narrator), Aaron Stanford (Narrator)

4 out of 5 stars  ****

The dystopian trilogy of Divergent concludes with Allegiant, the sequel to Insurgent. The factions in this world unravel while chaos blossoms in the human qualities necessary for survival. Families are torn, heroes and heroines emerge out of tentative trust, and sacrifice becomes commonplace as the elusive truth becomes known; but not by all, and not all at once. 

Veronica Roth keeps the reader interested along daring episodes of life and death chapters. Somehow, a love story exists on a thread sewn throughout the trilogy, and the climactic ending hinges on this relationship. The yearning to be normal is also a common thread throughout Allegiant and this bonds many of the characters who change their allegiances because of it.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Explore the Bible Adults Minor Prophets Spring 2015 by George Guthrie (Editor)

5 of 5 stars  *****

The Explore the Bible series is such a penetrating dive into the meaning of the Word. The Minor Prophets, the subject of this book, are brought to life as they warn and teach, the people of their day, about their relationships with God, themselves, and each other. The warnings and teachings are not just relegated to those ancient times. Typical of the Bible, the Minor Prophets' writings are applicable to today's issues and today's population. Mankind eventually reverts to its fallen ways and requires the wisdom of the prophets, who predict the Christ Jesus, to repent and obey the laws of God. Even after the sanctifying gift from the blood of the cross, the arrogance of today's leaders mimic the behavior of those in the days of these prophets. The inspired words of these Minor Prophets explain the hope as well as the tragedy concerning the eternal soul. The lesson is that God's mercy and grace warrants daily effort to walk with His Holy Spirit. 

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow, Scott Brick (Narrator)

5 of 5 stars  *****

A deeper understanding and respect for Alexander Hamilton is the result of listening to this Audiobook, expertly narrated by Scott Brick. The scope of Alexander's life is comprehensive in this rendition educating this reader to the man's humble beginnings and his thirst for knowledge and stature. 

At such a young age, Hamilton reveals an uncanny gift for absorbing whatever he reads and possessing insight into using that information. He is also a remarkable judge of character at an early age. These qualities, recognized by his elders, transport him off of St Croix, where he discovers, first hand, the brutality of slavery, to America's northeast. Once in America, Alexander's burgeoning life links him to the very best this country offers in gentlemen, leaders, educators, lawyers, and politicians. Alexander proves himself to be one of the best, hard working intellectuals and charming gentlemen of his era. 

The Revolutionary war campaign teaches him about courage, honor, leadership, and decisive decision-making while being George Washington's right-hand man. Before the Revolutionary War ends, Hamilton has the foresight to design a solvent plan for recovery and growth immersing himself in every detail of the undertaking. He is responsible for so much of America's infrastructure concerning its economy, military, foreign policy, and trade protocols to make the new government self-sufficient.

This biography also shows the tender side of Alexander Hamilton with his family, devotion to friends, especially George Washington, and his social prowess to converse with nobility and the average citizen. Hamilton trusts the government and upper class more than he trusts the average man, however. This leads to his notorious battles with Thomas Jefferson, who thinks quite the opposite and is most wary of the government. This causes Hamilton to appear like an elitist; but the fact is, Hamilton trusts neither group; he just thinks the upper class in government are the best chance to deliver stability in society. 

Alexander Hamilton's demise occurs in America's most famous duel, an outlawed behavior that is still practiced circa 1800s. He is shot and killed by Aaron Burr, the Vice-President of the United States at the time. The body of this biography explains the intricacies leading up to this infamous duel before revealing the repercussions that ensue. 

Ron Chernow masterfully interweaves the significant people and events into Alexander's life. His style makes for an engaging account of a truly great mind who is partly responsible for the construction and survival of young America. Society owes so much to this man with a rarely-seen work ethic, intellect, ambition, and keen insight, who dies in his prime.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Miracles and Massacres: True and Untold Stories of the Making of America by Glenn Beck

5 of 5 stars  *****

Glenn Beck is a marvelous writer, a thorough investigator, and follower of Truth. This book demonstrates his storytelling ability as he pens 12 of history's Miracles and Massacres. The stories range from the Revolutionary days of America right up to the present day's encounter with a fundamentalist ideology that threatens the world. 

The author admits his style is the by-product of reading Bill O'Reilly's Killing series: Killing Lincoln, Killing Kennedy, Killing Jesus, and Killing Patton. This style reports facts while immersing one in the time and place of events. It also transports the reader into the minds of characters and illuminates the appropriate environments while seemingly unrelated segments converge into a familiar historical place in time. 

All 12 stories are slices of Americana, her citizens, and their actions. They build, prosper, and defend the core values written in the United States Constitution which delineates America's freedoms and liberties. One discovers that the great American experiment does not start out smoothly nor does it proceed without obstacles from mankind's fallen attributes; such as, greed and covetousness. The natural path of a blessed nation takes for granted what so many gave their careers, fortunes, and lives to begin and develop for their legacy. The Providential aspect of these stories points out that it is each generations responsibility to properly learn America's history and be the loving concept envisioned; the one that destines greatness and justice for all, the envy of the world.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Giver (The Giver Quartet #1) by Lois Lowry (Goodreads Author)

4 out of 5 stars  ****

I categorize this story as a "Dystopia" but it is really an attempt at "Utopia" within a "Dystopia." The crux of the wrinkle in this novel that separates it from other dystopian tales is the issue of free will. A broken society develops order out of chaos in a controlled environment. Certain elders are privy to the truth about the real world and have the responsibility of maintaining control in a fabricated society via medication and indoctrination which manipulates the wills of the population. The hero, Jonas, is one who discovers the truth and must summon his courage to do what is necessary to restore humanity to its proper, natural course.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Coolidge by Amity Shlaes (Goodreads Author)

4 of 5 stars  ****

This Audiobook is a delightful listen. The life of Calvin Coolidge, the United States' 30th president, unfolds from his early days in New England to his success in Washington D.C. with his moral and economic values identifying him throughout his lifetime. President Reagan once said that he admired Calvin Coolidge. This intrigue piqued the interest of this student of history, especially American history. Calvin applies the principles that made him a successful, respected individual to guide his career without much compromise. He surrounds himself with men he respects and who have similar ideas about achieving goals; such as, balanced budgets, long-term treaties amenable to all interested parties, and immigration when the United States can adequately care for immigrants, who, he feels, should learn English and familiarize themselves with American laws to promote assimilation into our country. The issues he faces are still facing our leaders today. Rather than point out the difference in politics between the 1920s and today, this non-fiction points to Coolidge, the man, demonstrating the integrity, missing in so many, that brings all of his qualities and faculties to bear for the benefit of all. The author, Amity Shales, presents Calvin Coolidge as a man history sees as one who knows and rises to the challenges of his responsibilities.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Tortured for Christ by Richard Wurmbrand

5 of 5 stars  *****

Tortured for Christ is the story about the author's persecution in Romania under Communism and the Underground Church which evolved out of necessity. Unlike many so-called Christians, Wurmbrand never compromised his faith nor informed on any followers during his persecution. He writes about the martyrs who witness to Christ in the hours of suffering and at the moment of death. The Christians rise above the hate for the persecutors but disdain the Communism that turns men and women into minions of evil. Many Communist soldiers, jailers, and torturers convert to Christianity as a result of the Godly love the Christians exhibit, even for their enemies. Wurmbrand is freed only to return to prison after being caught teaching and baptizing in the name of our Lord. Eventually, his freedom is purchased for a sizable sum and he is brought to America where he writes about the inspirational life and death scenarios that go on to this day around the world. 

With $100.00 and an old typewriter, Richard Wurmbrand wrote his first newsletter, Voice of the Martyrs. His voice is the voice of the forgotten persecuted Christians who exist in Islamic and Communist nations. He and his wife, Sabina, established offices in these countries to provide the Underground Church with Bibles and pamphlets, as well as food and clothing, for secret distribution to those who cherish these items like he did; their efforts guided by his words, "Hate the evil systems, but love the persecutors. Love their souls, and try to win them for Christ." 

This is a book of selfless sacrifice and perseverance for one's deep abiding faith. The reward is eternal life with our Father, the Creator.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Explore the Bible Adult Personal Study Guide - Winter 2014-15 by Tony Evans

5 of 5 stars  *****

This winter Bible study is about simple people making major differences in the world by rising to the occasion when God calls. It encompasses the live's of Esther, an orphan raised by her uncle, Mordecai, whose beauty and bravery is essential to deliver her people out of exile; Ezra, a scribe who keeps the word of God and the Hebrew traditions alive with his education and devotion which restores the chosen people to God's plan; and Nehemiah, the food taster, who teaches the people in the restoration to drop their bad habits and foreign gods.  

Adversity causes these people to repent as they turn toward God to rebuild Jerusalem with its walls and gates among the unfriendly neighbors who live there. The stories of these three heroes in the Bible are remarkable in their demonstration of valor, sacrifice, faith, and love. When the fate of the Hebrews hangs by a thread, a humble, meek individual is chosen to become champion of the many.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Forgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit by Francis Chan

4 out of 5 stars  ****

The author, Francis Chan, challenges the reader to identify the Holy Spirit in their life. Many people, today, have questionable religion; they attend church, do their demonstrative duty, but lack any serious consideration of God. This Christian book explains God as the Holy Spirit in us, whether ignored or not. For those caught up in the demands of making ends meet, the Holy Spirit gets lost, forgotten, without engagement with others. The Gospel teaches community participation in glorifying God. This is to keep alive His word in His children. The Holy Spirit works in people who know that life is not all about them. This Christian point of view is obvious on the pages of Chan's book. A sense of power is reassuring when readers realize their endeavors are more successful, more gratifying, when approached embracing God within them. Chan often refers to scripture to back up his claims. The book also suggests Bible studies and regular attendance of a church that teaches the word of God. This reader finds Forgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit a refreshing personalized presentation of the Holy Spirit. It keeps one honest and obedient. The book's lesson is to reverse the neglect and develop a personal relationship with God on a daily basis.