Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith (review)

Imagine a serial killer operating in a society that has zero crime.  How do you investigate crimes that the government claims do not occur?  In Soviet Russia, the State would not admit the existence of such heinous crimes because that would show a fault within the Communist party system. Probing into evidence of murder would be a crime in itself. Smith relates the tale of Leo, a MGB agent who searches for a serial killer of the worst kind.  A child killer.  He must work quickly as another agent seeks to silence Leo.  This action packed story is full of twists and harrowing adventure.  Even the identity of Leo and his wife leave the reader guessing.  This is a breathtaking suspense novel of the best kind.

Living the Quaker Way by Philip Gulley (review)

The author of this book, Philip Gulley is a Quaker pastor that has written a simple, easy to read text on what it means to be a Quaker.The chapters are broken down into the 5 “testimonies” of Quakerism. They are: simplicity, peace, integrity, community, and equality. At first glance almost everyone would support these ideals. The problem is not in the ideals themselves but in how they are supported. Or perhaps I should say in how they are not supported. Just as every building needs a firm foundation, our life beliefs must be laid upon firm standards. Without this groundwork, our ideals can be easily swept away with the whimsy of time and fashion.
Simplicity is certainly needed in our materialistic society. We gather “stuff” to dust, to keep in storage, to impress the neighbors,etc. The call to live a simple life frees us to do much more meaningful activities with our time. What is simplicity? That question is left up to the reader to decide. What is simple for one person is materialistic to another. How would a beginner decide where to start? Does this idea mean throwing away all the good china?
Peace is another testimony that virtually everyone desires to achieve. The money spent on war and the upkeep of defense weapons would rebuild our infrastructure and replace aging schools many times over. However, now the reader begins to see some problems that the author does not address. The author keeps his focus on a general national level and does not address what one should do during a home invasion or an attack on a helpless neighbor. Entire societies do not value peace as we do. Some nations encourage hatred of other religions, cultures, and nations. They fill their airwaves with lies intended to fuel suspicion and enmity. Yes, diplomacy is valuable but not inerrant. Without any self-defense plan we are at the mercy of these violent cultures at home and abroad.
Integrity is the next topic. Telling the truth is one of the most important tenants of most religions. Quakerism is no exception. However, Quakers consider telling the truth to be just the beginning. They feel that they are constantly seeking Truth and that everyone has the ability to voice whatever Truth they have learned. Consider this statement in light of the preceding paragraph. Violent people and violent cultures espouse their version of truth vehemently. Where is the standard for truth?
Community is the next testimony to follow. We all function best in a community of concerned neighbors, church members, or school personnel. Sometimes we are in a community by circumstance and sometimes by choice. Whatever community we may find ourselves we should all use our gifts to work for the common good. The problem is knowing the boundaries of what makes the “common good.” Does the Quaker want us to impoverish ourselves for our neighbor? What is helping and what is fueling helplessness?
Equality is the last segment of the book. The ideal of equality is always dreamed of and sought after by anyone with conscience. The author stresses certain groups that he feels continue to be mistreated: the poor, gays, blacks, women, etc. However, Gulley does not provide the standard for equality. How do we maintain equality for women and not for unborn babies? Why is homosexual behavior condoned but not incest? If there is no standard with which to define equality, how will we work toward it effectively?
No one can argue against the Quaker ideals. We all want simplicity, peace, integrity, community, and equality. However, the Quaker way falls short in its effectiveness because it does not provide a firm foundation for its house of goals. It is tossed back and forth by every wind of modern teaching.
Another title to consider for this book would be: “Living the Wishy-Washy Way.”
I received a copy of this book for free from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.

Biggest Surprise of 2014

Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs was the most unexpected pleasure to read this year. I know what you’re thinking. You have heard the story many times. The movies depict Tarzan as the gentle muscle-man that rules the jungle like an extraordinary zookeeper. If that is what you are thinking then you are in for a great surprise too. The original story portrays Tarzan as the beast that he is. He was raised as an ape and acts like an ape. His amazing strength and agility would make any woman swoon. However, when he eats raw meat with blood dripping from his mouth most women would turn away in revulsion.
This tale reveals the conflict of a man raised as a beast reaching for a destiny that is not meant for him. Burroughs’s masterful writing captures Tarzan’s gradual realization that he is meant to be something beyond an ape. Yet, Tarzan still yearns for the jungle life. He craves the closeness of the family of apes. Gradually, he discovers his true self and begins the adventures worthy of the Lord of Greystoke.

Most Helpful Book for 2014

What Color is Your Parachute? 2015 is an upbeat manual for job hunters. The year 2008 makes everyone in the job search arena heave a big sigh. It was a pivotal year for creating jobs and finding jobs. The author uses current data to lead the reader past the problems of 2008 and find a career for today. He also has created a step-by-step guide to finding a vocation that “fits” every personality.
The book begins with an exploration of the events in 2008 and how these events effect the job search today. However, unlike so many depressing data diatribes, this book declares the post 2008 world to be a job search opportunity. What a refreshing viewpoint! Richard Bolles believes that all it takes to find a career (the right career) is a new and bolder approach. Throughout the book he uses poetry, cartoons, and easy to follow charts to make the book have an easygoing and positive note. With his encouraging perspective it seems almost simple to find the job that is just right for you.
Don’t let the simple flow of the text fool you into thinking that this book is a picnic of “fluff.” Richard Bolles has over 40 years of experience in career development and is determined to stay up to date with related information. He quotes several job statistics and includes web addresses to sites that give more data. The research is thorough and easy to double check with the internet.
The main purpose of the book is to help the reader use Bolles’ method to choose a career that would fit just right with the reader’s skills. Having a job is not enough if that job is not the right one for you. Bolles will help you pursue and win your dream. His method guides you in determining the skills and aspirations that have shaped you into the perfect fit for the job you desire.
This text is helpful for any step of the career path. You may be looking to change careers, get your first job, or return to work after military service. Using Bolles’ methods will help you discover your life mission and stride into a new career with confidence.
I received a free copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.

Favorite book for 2014

 

It is a common cliche to say that I could not put this book down. However, with this novel it is absolutely true. It was a daily struggle to force myself to stop reading so that I could go to work. Eric Blehm has created one of the best biographies I have ever read. Every emotion was tapped without manipulation. Righteous indignation, joy, admiration, suspense, and sadness.
Our hero’s last battle was described so well that my heart was racing.
I received this book for free from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.