Monday, October 31, 2011

Monday, September 26, 2011

Book Review: Unbroken

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Unbroken is a life-changer. Without wanting to spoil the true tale for anyone, I will provide a short and nondescript summary here in the interest of possibly hooking readers into this terrific and terrible story.

Basically, Louis Zamperini is a young trouble-maker who ends up running in the 1936 Olympics before falling into the sadistic clutches of Japanese guards at POW camps. The book mainly covers the insane brutality Louis faces as he struggles to survive malnutrition, disease and unimaginable inhumane treatment. The "Bird" is one tormentor who will bring Louis so close to madness, and you'll have to read the book to see how Louis becomes a sensational inspiration.

Unbroken is a must-read for anyone interested in experiencing the pain and anguish of an American POW in horrific Japanese prison camps during World War II. Readers may be emboldened by witnessing an unyielding will to survive in the literal face of hopelessness.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Book Review: The Last Oracle

The Last Oracle (A Sigma Force Novel)The Last Oracle by James Rollins

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

As escape fiction, The Last Oracle definitely entertains and engages the reader in a great variety of intriguing topics: ancient prophecy, parapsychology, nuclear ambition and new world order, just to name a few.

I think this book starts off with an iron fist, sags in the middle, and then offers a speedy and fitting ending. Since I don't expect much realism in thrillers, I applaud Rollins for his use of exact detail to illustrate his terrific imagination. But even in lands of make-believe, there is some expectation of reasonable believability.

In this novel, I struggled with Monk's story and how it finally circles back to Sigma Force. For me, Kowalski's comic relief distracts from moments when the stakes are quite serious. The characters and ambitions are very interesting, but the connecting of dots definitely reads as contrived to me.

I enjoyed escaping into The Last Oracle, but The Judas Strain fascinated me.

View all my reviews

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Book Review: Be A Man!

Be a Man!Be a Man! by Larry Richards

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I truly enjoyed Father Larry's conversational and powerful narrative. This is a clear call for Christian men to be strong in their faith, starting with family and permeating into all other areas of life. Father Larry defines manhood as being in love with God and truth, devoutly serving your wife, modeling morality for your kids, and being an ethical leader at work and in your community. He outlines and discusses these focal points: 1) focus on God, 2) live like a son of God, 3) repent, 4) embrace the Holy Spirit, 5) be strong, 6) be loving, 7) be wise, 8) live as a creation, 9) be holy, and 10) change the world. Of all the significant anecdotal advice, his case for giving every single day to God was most moving for me. Father Larry makes it clear that strong faith is a daily practice, not something only for Sundays or holidays. He also asks, if you would likely attend church for a million dollars, why wouldn't you attend church for eternal life? Father Larry definitely makes his readers think.

This is a very good book for men of faith to read and discuss. For a five-star rating, I would have liked more explanation on the focal points. In my view, Father Larry packs ten books into ten chapters. This is terrific for inspiration and overview-driven discussion, but I would have really enjoyed a more thorough read.

View all my reviews

Monday, March 21, 2011

Book Review: The Judas Strain

The Judas Strain (Sigma Force, #4)The Judas Strain by James Rollins

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I think James Rollins is a fantastic entertainer of a novelist. This is the first of his that I have read. What appealed to me in the beginning was his crafty use of sensory language. He really knows how to tell a story, sentence by sentence, with an efficient word economy. As an adventure story, "The Judas Strain" definitely offers high-octane prose filled with telling details regarding Marco Polo, the human anatomy, and terrorist/pirate/special agent warfare. If you can allow yourself to sit back and enjoy some of the cartoonish scenes that are impossible to see play out in reality, then this is a great read! I will go back to Rollins, and I may visit other SIGMA Force novels, notably "The Doomsday Key." As I tend to approach books with an interest in how authors may use the forum of fiction to deeply explore the human condition, I will save my five-star rating for such masterful work. But without any regrets, I recommend "The Judas Strain" to anyone interested in a very well written modern adventure.

View all my reviews

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Fathers and Sons: A Pinewood Derby Story

My sons enjoyed their first ever pinewood derby race this weekend. The event brought out the father and the child in me. On the fatherly side, I used a hacksaw and carving knife to shape two oblong blocks of wood to each son’s request. My older son wanted a red Ferrari Testarossa with blue stripes across the top while my younger son preferred a forest green Porsche 928 with bulldog and checkered flag decals. We certainly don’t own either automobile, but the Internet’s a great place for viewing such dream cars.