Tuesday, October 28, 2014

It Is Well With My Soul - A Review

It Is Well With My Soul

Shelly Beach

A Review

One of my favorite self-help books was written by M. Scott Peck.  I know that not all of my readers will agree with all that he has written - I don’t either.  But the first words I read by him still ring true, “Life is difficult.”  

Though Shelly Beach may not quote M. Scott Peck, her thesis is that what he wrote was true.  Using the difficult life she has experienced and the lives of others, she has written a devotional that focuses on the lessons that can be learned from the pain can come from life - whether it be health issues, family problems, or aging itself.  No one is removed from the pains of life - but we have the choice as to whether they will draw us closer to God or allow us to run from him.  A choice we each have to make.

As a spiritual leader for a small group of seniors, I am becoming increasingly aware of how people can be empowered or frightened by an unknown future.  It is my pleasure to walk with them as they seek to find their way in God’s world.  This book will help me and my friends in that journey.

This review is based on a free electronic copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review.  The opinions expressed are my own.

Rogerson’s Book of Numbers - A Review

Barnaby Rogerson

A Review

I like MATH.  I remember seeing a book years ago that started at one and moved slowly through important numbers in science.  Rogerson’s Book of Numbers takes a different approach.  Though not starting with , it starts with large numbers and through 270 pages moves down to zero.  Each entry is interesting and provides references in history, science, and culture that adds value to specific numbers.  For example, early in the book, the author discusses the average distance of 237,600 miles that separate the earth and the moon.  

237,600 MILES OR 30 EARTHS

237,600 miles is the average distance between the earth and the moon, a number which suggests an intriguing inner harmony to our universe, for it is thirty diameters of the earth, sixty radii of the earth or 220 moon radii. The mystical author and numerologist John Michell would reveal these figures with the full force of a relevation (sic) during his lectures. A self-declared ‘radical traditionalist’, Michell campaigned long and hard against the destruction of England’s ancient number systems in favour of the decimal system.

Though the book is not a spiritual book, it does touch on a great many spiritual topics.  Immediately after discussing the distance between the earth and the moon, the book moves on to discussing the 144,000 who will be saved as proclaimed as by the Jehovah’s Witnesses.  Besides referencing the JW believe, the author also quotes from the source of their belief, Revelation 7:4-5.  

But spirituality is not limited the Christian tradition.  A few pages later the author briefly (note - all the notes are brief) discusses the 124,000 prophets sent before the coming of the Prophet Muhammad.  

The last entry is a reference to the Buddhists nirvana.  Quoting Buddha,

‘Where there is nothing; where naught is grasped, there is the Isle of No-Beyond. Nirvana do I call it – the utter extinction of aging and dying … That dimension where there is neither earth, nor water, nor fire, nor wind; neither dimension of the infinitude of space, nor dimension of the infinitude of consciousness, nor dimension of nothingness, nor dimension of neither perception nor non-perception; neither this world, nor the next world, nor sun, nor moon. And there, I say, there is neither coming, nor going, nor stasis; neither passing away nor arising: without stance, without foundation, without support. This, just this, is the end of stress.'

Hence, the author ends with “nothingness” as his final entry.  

As the book demonstrates throughout, mathematics is not just a study of numbers, theories, and skills;  mathematics is embedded, deeply embedded, in cultures around the world.  Though at one level, the book is filled with trivia, at another level it provides insight into people throughout history and around the world.  The book is written for the average adult reader, though it will be of more interest to the reader with an interest,  even if not a background, in mathematics.  It is not necessary to read every entry to enjoy its contents - though, if you are like me, you will end up picking up the book again and again to read entries missed on earlier scans.  

The book was worth the time reading - and I will look forward to picking it up again in the future.  It needs to be a ongoing work - numbers are missing (infinity and negative numbers are the most obvious).  But that does not distract from the work as presented to today’s audience.

This review is based on a free electronic copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review.  The opinions expressed are my own.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Deceived - A Review


Irene Hannon
A Review

Deceived is a romantic thriller well-worth the time spent reading, except for one small flaw.  First, what did I like.  The story starts 15 miles from my home near the Rochester, NY, metropolitan area.  Hilton is a township with a population of 6000 located on the shores of Lake Ontario.  The death of Kate Marshall’s husband and son had sent her for a tailspin - including an addiction to valium.  

But life was about to change when a young boy, about her son’s age, crossed her path as she rode down the escalator.  Her life again took a tailspin, but this time she found the help she needed in the person of Connor Sullivan, former Secret Service agent and now a partner of Phoenix, Inc.  For the next four weeks life went up and down as Kate, Connor, and other members of the Phoenix staff looked for answers in the past and the future.

The book will hold the reader’s attention - a bit of healthy romance will draw in the attention of whose interest lies in that direction, the thrill of the hunt will draw in those looking for a more thrill centered experience.  A hint of faith will also draw the Christian reader’s attention to the book.  

If this is the reader’s first look at a book by Irene Hannon, he or she will not be disappointed.  On the other hand, that is exactly where I found disappointment.  The plot of this third book in the Private Justice series paralleled her second book (which I previously reviewed) so closely, I found myself anticipating much of the book before I read it.  Had I not read an earlier book, this book could have received a five.  With the very similar plot lines of the two books, I will give this book 3.5 stars.   

This review is based on a free electronic copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review.  The opinions expressed are my own.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Nun Too Soon - A Review

A Review

This current book is the continuation of a series originating from another publisher by the same author: Alice Loweecey.  Though I have read of the earlier works, but found Nun Too Soon. to be an enjoyable read.

The current book is the first in a new series starring ex-nun Giulia Falcone-Driscoll, with a secondary role played by her husband, Detective Frank Driscoll.  The current case involves a professional who is charged with murder - the question that must be answered is he guilty of fraud but innocent of murder.  Along with the employees of Driscoll Investigations and the Cottonwood, PA, Police Department, the local gossip rag, The Scoop, gets itself involved into the middle of the mess that surrounds this crime.    

The book held my interest as I stayed up late nights to finish the book over the past week. I will be looking for more book coming from this series.  

This review is based on a free electronic copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review.  The opinions expressed are my own.

Monday, October 6, 2014

The Computing Universe - A Review

A Review

I began my computing journey early by most standards - in 1966 as part of an explorer post sponsored by IBM in Sacramento, CA.  We spent time learning COBOL (which made little sense to me at the time) and FORTRAN (a good match for beginning interests in the sciences).  I had no idea how early in the history of computers my experience came - I grew up with computers, at least as portrayed in Sci-Fi from the late fifties and early sixties.  

Later, my formal education would allow me to program in FORTRAN and Assembly Language.  Other environments presented themselves as I completed a Masters degree in Computer Science Education at the University of Evansville.  Eventually, I spent nearly 24 years teaching computers at the postsecondary level in both public and private institutions. I enjoyed that career.

This book, The Computing Universe, allowed me to re-walk through much of that career - its history and its accomplishments.  The book begins with history and jumps into the details that define the field of Computer Science as defined by its science and art.  I remember one question on a final exam for a course that I took as part of my Masters degree asked, “Is Computer Science an ‘art’ or a ‘science’.  My reply to the question was neither, it is a craft.  Many people can put together a computer program, but it takes a well-trained practitioner, a craftsman,  to create a really good program.  The Computing Universe convinces me that I was correct then - and it is still true today.

The authors claimed to  have aimed the book at the high school senior or college freshman, though I expect that parts would be more readable off the shelf to a college graduate.  The chapter entitled “Mr. Turing’s amazing machines” (sic) begins by saying “WARNING: This chapter is more mathematical in character than the rest of the book. It may therefore be hard going for some readers, and they are strongly advised either to skip or skim through this chapter and proceed to the next chapter. This chapter describes the theoretical basis for much of formal computer science.”  I would suggest similar warnings be attached to other chapters as well (e.g. the chapter on “Algorithmics”).  Having said that, I would think that the book might be readable by anyone with a college education or the high school preparation for a college education.  Though not written as a textbook, the book could serve as the text for a entry level Computer Science course designed for non-majors (given appropriate lecture support) or as an ancillary text in the first course of a Computer Science major.

I enjoyed the review of my last fifty years - from high school to retirement.  I would invite anyone with an interest in Computer Science and its foundations (both historical or theoretical) to join me in reading The Computing Universe.  

This review is based on a free electronic copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review.  The opinions expressed are my own.

The Confession - A Review

The Confession.cover.jpg

A Review

Robert Whitlow is one of my go to authors and The Confession is evidence why.  A legal thriller that will hold the reader’s interest from page one - a car wreck with a dead teen and his friend.  But the story takes place ten years later as the surviving teen is beginning to build his career and (hopefully) a family.  

But as many must learn, the past can not be hidden and the truth will come out.  Whether in a car wreck or at the scene of a gunshot, lives are inevitably changed.  And when the truth is revealed it will Grace and Mercy to move into the next phase of life.  Many years ago I heard a couple of simple definitions of Grace and Mercy:

Grace is getting what we don’t deserve.
Mercy is not getting what we do deserve.

Holt Douglas, a relative new assistant DA, and his new friends, Greg and Valerie Stevens, would need to learn the meaning of those words - both from God and from each other.  And they do.
I hope that the author is not done with these characters - there is still life in a community with some borderline corrupt politicians and lawmen, and a new lawyer with little allegiance to the existing power brokers in town.  Life is not done for a new believer, with a new job, and a new wife - a life I would like to read more about.  But even if this is the only story with these characters, the book is worth the time spent reading it over the past week.  It was for me, I expect it will be for others as well.

This review is based on a free electronic copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review.  The opinions expressed are my own.

Tell Me About Prayer - A Review

Tell Me About Prayer.jpg

A Review

The is a delightful look at prayer from a young child’s perspective.  The entire text of the book is found on the CD along with 11 additional songs.  The story itself also includes four of five songs - also included on the CD.  Because the CD includes the story, the book is suitable for pre-readers as well as early readers.

The story should be easily understood by children of all ages - each page includes colorful pictures that will hold the child’s attention.  The story is read by Conductor Steve (Elkins), an award winning music producer, and a chorus of children’s voices.  Along with the story, most pages also include a potential memory verse that will become familiar with the child as he or she replays the CD.  

My only concern is that, sadly, the lyrics of the 11 additional songs are not provided in the book or on the CD.  No link is provided to a location on the INTERNET for these lyrics, though some are familiar and a little searching may assist in finding the additional lyrics.

The lively music, the colorful images, and the truth of scripture make this a wonderful gift for a parent, grandparent, or Sunday School Teacher to give a child as a Christmas or Birthday present - or at any time of the year.
This review is based on a free copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review.  The opinions expressed are my own.