Friday, April 26, 2013

The Secret Gospel of Ireland: A Review

 Photo Credit: Amazon

I LOVE learning about history. So when I saw the title of this book, I had to read it. Christianity, Ireland, Politics, and Science! This book has it all. And it is described well. They track the famous thinkers, Augustine, St. Patrick, John Calvin, Martin Luther and the lesser known thinkers, Columbanus and John Scotus Eirugena. I learned so much about ancient philosophy and society. It really helped me to see the world in a much larger scope than simply my life or even the life of my country. And quite honestly it gave me a huge sense of peace that God really is in control and has a plan. So I don't need to stress so much about each decision made by a leader or idea thrown out there by society. God really is in control and he really does work all things for the good.


My Amazon Review:

This book did an amazing job of sharing the important events in state ruled Christianity from its adoption in the Roman Empire to the creation of the United States. The authors profiled the thinkers and how they came to their ideas. They traced the inclusion of those ideas in affairs of state. And eventually those ideas that began with St. Augustine ended with the scientific method and a democracy of the people and for the people.

The history of Christianity was lived out over the geography of the Western Roman Empire, parts of Africa, and Ireland. Therefore all of the thinkers are not from Ireland. However the idea that began in Ireland was lived out in all of the other thinkers. So by tracing the ideas of Ireland you can find democracy and the scientific method. 

Who knew there was so much going on in the Dark Ages?


Book Description

July 1, 2012
As the light of their empire faded into history, the ancient Romans made one last-ditch effort to plant the seed of their civilization in a foreign land—they launched a mission to bring Christianity to Ireland. And there, on a little Emerald Isle that had never been conquered and occupied by Rome, something extraordinary happened. In the process of converting from paganism to Christianity, the ancient Irish developed a remarkable approach to the Christian faith that would one day make science, democracy, and our modern world possible.

In this joyous and illuminating journey through more than ten centuries of history, James and Leo Behan follow the astonishing story of how the holy men of Ireland shepherded the West from antiquity to the modern era. With their powerful brand of “Irish Christianity,” the monks of Ireland transformed Europe and produced the key that would ultimately unlock the awesome potential of the Christian faith.

Sure to intrigue, entertain, transform, and capture the imagination, The Secret Gospel of Ireland lifts the veil that has for so long separated science and democracy from their Christian roots in ancient Ireland. More than a book, it is a revelation in which history, philosophy, and theology come together to show how our civilization floats in a sea of faith that was born on the Emerald Isle centuries ago.


Product Details

  • Paperback: 234 pages
  • Publisher: Skywest Publishing (July 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0985458305
  • Price: $12.59

Disclaimer: I received a free copy (after I requested it) from NetGalley in exchange for a review. The opinions are my own and are in no way influenced by anything other than the book. And I added the links to Amazon because that is where I reviewed it. I was not asked by Amazon, NetGalley, or any affiliate to add the links to Amazon.

Friday, April 5, 2013

A Mystery and Some Poetry: 3 Book Reviews

Treachery in Bordeaux

If someone is wine lover, they would probably like this better than I did. There were many very technical wine terms and I got a little lost. The crime wasn't quite what I was expecting, but once again, I'm not a wine lover. So I may not have really gotten the significance. The conclusion seemed rushed. And it was a little jumpy overall. It didn't flow really well.

Positives: Most of the characters were described beautifully. There were many settings that were very well done. There were moments of brilliance in the novel.

If you are a wine lover, you will probably like this book a lot. If you are not, you might get a little lost.

Description
Benjamin Cooker is a renowned winemaker and critic turned gentleman detective who sets out to find who is trying to take down the prestigious grand cru Moniales Haut-Brion. Is it negligence or sabotage? Who would want to target this esteemed vintner? Cooker and his assistant Virgile Lanssien search the city and the vineyards for answers, giving readers and inside view of this famous wine region. Treachery in Bordeaux is the first of the 20-book Winemaker Detective series that delves into the underworld of a global luxury industry.


Title: Treachery in Bordeaux
Author: Jean-Pierre Alaux, Noël Balen
Paperback: 103 pages
Publisher: Le French Book (August 6, 2012)
Language: English

Disclaimer: I received a free copy (after I requested it) from NetGalley in exchange for a review. The opinions are my own and are in no way influenced by anything other than the book. 
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Bone Fragments

A wide range of places and peoples and times to cover the topic of war. It is brutally honest. It is poignant. It is real. He holds nothing back. These can be read quickly, but should be read often to enjoy them fully. I really don't have enough words to describe my emotions in reading these poems. So know that it was moving and memorable. Go pick up a copy for yourself.

Description

Set in Iraq, China, and many other places, Bone Fragments reflects the kaleidoscope of life at war, evoking the colors, sounds and sorrows of those in battle, and those left behind. Sharply poignant and touched with sadness, Gabriel Gadfly's poetry encompasses 150 years of conflict and serves as a moving testament to human resilience in the face of tragedy. From the American Civil War to the recent upheavals in the Middle East, this anthology seizes the atmosphere of battle in the smallest of moments -- a soldier pining for a love left behind, the first kill of a new recruit, the loud chattering of teeth in the cold.... Gabriel Gadfly offers an anthology of wartime reading in remembrance of those whose lives have been affected by the many wars fought in human history.


Title: Bone Fragments
Author: Gabriel Gadfly
Paperback: 106 pages
Publisher: 1889 Labs Ltd. (July 26, 2011)
Language: English

Disclaimer: I bought this book and just decided to review it all on my own.
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Ventricle, Atrium

Another volume of honest and poignant poetry. He holds nothing back. The smallest details and mundane rituals have been celebrated as much as the first kiss or the first coupling. There is much here to cause fond memories to resurface. There is also much to cause fears to resurface. Read with caution because your emotions will be engaged.


Description

Love is in the details. In the fingers finding a hand in the dark. In the stretch and curve of a spine. In the goose bumped shoulders and taste of the skin. Gabriel Gadfly's much anticipated second anthology is a vivid and tender tribute to the life cycle of love - the sex, the laughter, the pain, the sweetness, the fear, the vacancy. Filled with yearning, this arresting collection finds beauty in all that love has to offer, from the mundane to the abstract. With Ventricle, Atrium, Gabriel Gadfly explores love at all its junctures, through sickness and health, in good times and in bad, offering sharp and remarkably precise observations on the tiny, all-important details of love.


Title: Ventricle, Atrium
Author: Gabriel Gadfly
Paperback: 98 pages
Publisher: 1889 Labs Ltd. (January 15, 2012)
Language: English

Disclaimer: I received a free copy (after I requested it) from Story Cartel in exchange for a review. The opinions are my own and are in no way influenced by anything other than the book. 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Fast Food Vindication: A Review

As this is a blog about stories, it seems like a good idea to add book reviews here. I love reading and you might be interested in what I am reading. And just so we are clear, I'm stealing the layout for this from The Deliberate Reader.

 Photo Credit: Amazon


I am probably like many other Americans, busy! Yes in an ideal world I or my husband would go shopping for fresh ingredients for dinner every night. Except there are days when I have meetings until 5 and then he has a meeting at 6 and dinner needs to happen somewhere in there. There are days, like Sunday and Wednesday, when dinner doesn't seem to fit in before church and after church it is too late to cook something. The solution is often fast food. By now, we should all realize that fast food can be very bad for us. Of course, so are most of those recipes on Pinterest that look so amazing!

So what is one to do when you want to be healthier, but you also have lots of places to be? So far the answer has been feel guilty. And that is a bad answer. This book has a better answer!

The fast food industry is not solely to blame for the obesity problem in America. The biggest blame falls on .... AMERICANS! Even our cookbooks have changed their portion sizes to reflect what we now consider 'normal.' (I learned that in the book.) Lisa Tillinger Johansen takes and honest and realistic look at the fast food industry. There are good things about it, smaller portion sizes, healthy side options, and hiring from within. And there are bad things about it, triple cheese burgers, extra large fries, and sodium content. She does not minimize those points. She is neither too positive nor too negative about fast food. She is just honest and realistic. She is also honest and realistic about the sit down food industry and what we are cooking in our homes. If you want to be healthier by taking small steps that will last and will still fit in with your busy schedule, pick up this book!

My Amazon Review:
A realistic look at the chaos that has become the fight over the American diet. She reminds you of what you already know and makes observations that most wouldn't think of. She even includes research most wouldn't hear about. She doesn't demand immediate changes, but suggests small changes all around to become healthier. There are many observations and ideas she shares that I have incorporated into my eating habits and will continue to use for many years.

Publisher's Description:

Description

For years, dozens of books, documentaries, and magazine articles have targeted the fast food industry as the cause for many of society’s ills, ranging from the obesity epidemic to the proliferation of dead-end jobs. Now, hospital dietitian Lisa Johansen makes the bold case that the fast food industry is actually a positive force in society. Johansen takes the reader from the industry’s scrappy, entrepreneurial beginnings to its emergence as a global business generating hundreds of billions of dollars annually. Far from a blight on society, the fast food industry has distinguished itself by providing a product that meets high standards of quality and safety, often healthier than meals served at home and in sit-down restaurants. The myth of the “McJob” is debunked by true-life cases of corporate titans who succeeded by virtue of the fast-food chains’ practice of promoting from within. And, relying on her years of counseling patients at one of the nation’s largest health networks, Johansen shows the reader just how easily fast food can be incorporated into a healthy lifestyle. Lively and informative, FAST FOOD VINDICATION destroys the media myths and paints the true picture of an industry that touches the lives of millions.

Title: Fast Food Vindication
Author: Lisa Tillinger Johansen
Paperback: 244 pages
Publisher: J. Murray Press (October 4, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0578110431

Disclaimer: I received a free copy (after I requested it) from NetGallery in exchange for a review. The opinions are my own and are in no way influenced by anything other than the book. 

Monday, April 1, 2013

Temple Run 2: Fan Fiction


Author's Note: I do not own any of these characters or settings. This is just a fan fiction story I dreamed up based on the game Temple Run 2.
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He woke up as daylight broke through the darkness of the cave and fell upon his face. She was gone already. She was always up early on her days to run. He had tried to get up early once, but the brain haze only made him run straight into a fire bar. The 3 days of regeneration reminded him that he had to this his way just like she had to do it her way. They had agreed to this. Not so long ago (at least it seemed like not so long ago) they argued about everything, how much water to take, how to map the ruins, where to camp. Now arguing seemed pointless.
He stood up and wandered to the mouth of the cave. He knew he should go find food and start the fire, but he had to wander where she was at. He worried about her. What if she didn't duck put of the way of a fire bar? What if the rope burned her hands and she let go? Of course she would just regenerate like she had before, but watching her struggle and scream through the process was hard on him. She never remembered the regeneration or so she said. Just weeks ago or so it seemed, he worried she would trip and fall or get dehydrated. He was trying to protect her. She didn't know that, so she argued against his stubborn conservative tendencies.

"This was just supposed to be a job." He said to the wind because there was no one else to listen. "That stupid effin statue."

He paced at the mouth of the cave. Two months ago... Had it only been that long? He didn't have the patience to go count the days now. Something like two months ago, he had answered an ad for an adventurer. While many thought he was crazy to pursue adventure as a career, he found it to be a profitable and adrenaline packed lifestyle. And there were plenty of treasure hunters out there with big dreams and big pockets that lacked the courage to go get it. That's where Guy came in. Over the years he had run into plenty of danger from militia men, wild animals, and other treasure hunters. They were nothing he couldn't handle with a little skill and a little money.

Then came Scarlett. He first saw her and set up his defenses assuming her to be the competition. Then Mr. Theo informed him that she would be his partner. Mr. Theo had expressed concerns about their opposing genders. But Scarlett informed them both quite firmly that nothing got in the way of the job. And that has certainly been born out as true even after Barry and Kharma had been lost to the Fog. That next day Guy was slow to get up and on the way. He had never lost a team member before. He wasn't yet ready to face the day without them. Scarlett however got up early and was ready to move along.

"Now is not the time to grieve. Now is the time to live. Grief will only earn us the same fate as them. There is no time for it in these ruins."

He knew she was right. She was always right. Even the day they found the monkey statue. He ran over to it and started to pick it up. She cautioned him because they had yet to fully map the temple itself.  They hadn't read all the inscriptions and the ones they had read warned of horrendous consequences.

"We know about the fire bars. We have our gloves for the rope climbing. And our weapons for the animals. What else can tent throw at us?"

"I don't know, but I would like to find out before we go moving their idols."

"Now who is being 'conservative'?"

"I would call it smart."

Smart. She was right about that too. He hadn't listened because the thought of being done and leaving had been right there in front of him. He could see the way home and he could see Scarlett without this business between them. He didn't want to listen. He wished he would have though.

He grabbed the statue and nothing happened. He handed it to her and nothing happened. No earthquake. No falling beams. No ancient beings chasing them. They walked out of the temple and nothing happened. They went back to camp and slept. They got up the next morning and the statue was gone. In its place was a note.
It read: Your selfish greed has betrayed you. Now you are doomed to search these ruins until you learn the true value of this statue.

What could that mean? They didn't know, so they argued. They left the cave and continued arguing. As they walked, they noticed their speed increased without their trying. In fact, they tried to slow down and couldn't. They stopped arguing as fear took control. They focused on staying alive as their speed dangerously increased. They both missed a turn and fell from the crumbling wall. Part of the way down, he blacked out. When he woke up, they were in the cave again. He didn't know how much time had passed. Only later would they find out that the regeneration process took 3 days and the one being regenerated would remember nothing. However, the screams issuing forth during the process would haunt the other one for days and weeks later.

He knew he had wasted enough time. He left the cave to do the chores for the one left behind. He found the roots and berries they had eaten for weeks. He found no birds or fish. He returned and stirred the fire to find the coals that were still burning. He stoked the fire to bring it back to life. Then he waited. He dreamed of leaving this place and settling down with Scarlett. He couldn't imagine a job either one of them might want or even be qualified for. That didn't stop him from imagining a home and a life with her.

He heard a noise and sought its source. He left the cave and saw Scarlett stumbling back early. "Thank God she can walk back." He thought.

"Any luck?"

"A few new bruises." She said showing him her multi-colored legs. "A little more singed hair." She said holding up her ponytail. "And some more rope burns." She said showing him her palms.

They were silent with the weight of one more try weighing on them. He put his arm around her shoulders and led her into the cave. They sat next to each other looking at the walls.

"I'm tired." She sighed.

"You can go to bed early tonight"

"Not like that. I'm tired of looking for this stupid thing. I'm tired of failing. I don't even want it. I don't think I even want this life anymore. I just want to go home. "

"Yeah. Me too. The money that Mr. Theo offered just isn't worth it. I would pay him at this point if I could just go home. What do you miss the most?"

"Guy. I don't think we should discuss this. We cant get back there. We don't even know what the note means. What will we do when we find the statue?"

"What if it isn't about the statue? The note said the value of the statue. I don't know about you, but I don't think the value is about money."

"What is it then?"

"I don't know what it is, but I know what it isn't. It isn't worth my family and friends. It isn't worth the pizza I'm missing. It isn't worth the home missing. It isn't with my future. It isn't worth...."

"Worth what?"

"Nothing."

"That's not what you meant. Say it."

"If I do, we can't go back."

"We can't go back now. Say it."

"It isn't worth you. Every time you leave I spend half the day worrying about you and the other half dreaming of leaving here with you. Listening to you scream and watching you thrash around when you regenerate tears me up. I don't want you to have to go through this. I want you to be able to walk out of here and live your life the way you want to. I cant lie because I really want you to want me to be a part your life. But mostly I want you to be happy."

Scarlett said nothing. Guy looked at her expectantly. She looked at the ground and picked at the dirt. As he was turning his head to look away, she raised her head. He stopped mid turn. He waited ti hear her voice. He kept waiting. He didn't hear her voice though. He felt her hand. She was intertwining her fingers with his. She finally said one word, "Yeah."

With that one word, they both had bared their hearts and found them to be same. This time there was an earthquake and falling beams. They stood up hand in hand and ran. They didn't know where they were going. They ran solely on instinct. Ways that had been previously blocked were open. Walls that had been crumbling were strong. They ran until they were out of breath.

"I think the shaking stopped."

"And so have the ruins. Look! The Forrest." She said shaking with joy. The hope of life gave them new energy and they started to run. They ran until they couldn't see the ruins anymore. They stopped for breath.

"Guy, is this real? Are we going to wake up back there tomorrow?"

"I don't know. But look, your bruises are gone. That has to be a good thing."

"I can't believe it yet. I don't want to think we are going home if we aren't."

"I know. Let's keep going. When we find someone, then we will know it is real."

"Right. Let's go this way."

"Why?"

She turned and glared at him. "Because that is north. The town we need to get to is to the north. The wind that is blowing comes from the east. And by the tree growth at the top of the trees shows that this is the direction the wind blows most of the time. So this way."

Guy laughed a hearty laugh. "You always have been smarter than me."

She eyed him suspiciously and then smiled. "I'm glad you spoke the value of the statue. I'm not real good with words, but I'm looking forward to the time we have to work on that."

He wrapped her up in his arms and kissed her on the forehead. She smiled again and they set off in the direction she had indicated.