Best Friends for Life ★★★★☆

bestfriendsforlife (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Best Friends for Life
Series: ———-
Author: Michael & Judy Phillips
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Non-fiction
Pages: 240
Format: Paperback

 

Synopsis:

The Phillips tell 4 different true stories (with particulars changed for anonymity’s sake) about young couples they knew and how they proceeded through their dating, into marriage and how those marriages turned out.

The Phillips are convinced that “dating” has such an abysmal track record when it comes to marriages that last after dating that they want to explore other avenues. Their suggestion? Marry your best friend. Basically, make being friends with the opposite gender a higher priority than romance and really know what you want in a spouse instead of letting it all hang on hormones and feelings.

What does God, through the Bible, say about what is important in a marriage? The Phillips use very few specific Bible verses but count on their audience already having a decent grasp of Scripture. They are writing for someone who already wants what is best according to God’s will and is searching that out.

 

My Thoughts:

I read this originally back in 2000. At the time, I had graduated from Bibleschool. Mrs B was still in highschool and we hadn’t a glimmer of the others’ existence. I was mad to marry and was reading all the advice books I could get my hands on. I wasn’t going to be an “old” man like my dad when he got married. For the record, he was married at 28. I ended up being 30. Ironic isn’t it? So I figured if I could get all that advice then Mrs Right would fall into my lap and whammo, we’d have the perfect married life because obviously we’d have BOTH read all kinds of these books and know exactly what to do and what things to NOT do.

The funny thing is, I actually was friends with Mrs B long before we ever were romantically involved. I met her on Xanga, a blogging site (not sure how much traction it still has any more). She’d written a post about going to a medieval wedding and ended her post with “Have a good Sabbath”. I asked her what she meant by “Sabbath” as I was a Saturday Sabbath keeper and it turned out she was a 7th Day Adventist so she kept Saturday as well. We were friends for a couple of years online but figured we’d never meet. She was in California, I was on the East Coast. I didn’t like to travel and she had nothing to draw her to the East. But then a friend of mine, who I’d gone to Bibleschool with, decided he was going to get married. In California. He was in the Navy and would soon be shipping out in a Sub (subbing out?) and I didn’t know when I’d see him next so a group of us all went to California. I informed Miss Librarian and invited her as my plus one. Her brother, Sir Grumpsalot, came with her to chaperone and my friends were at the wedding, so it was safe all around. After the wedding that night, I asked her if I could court her. I called her mother that week and a year later we were engaged and 6 months after that we were married. Now, 10 years later, we’re STILL happily married.

Now, when I read this book back in 2000, I couldn’t have predicted this set of circumstances. In fact, I didn’t WANT those set of circumstances. I wanted somebody else. She has since gotten married to a wonderful christian man, has a family and is a bedrock of Faith for her family. But she wouldn’t have been right for me nor me for her. It took God to bring the correct Mrs Right into my life. That is what this book is about more than anything. It isn’t a hard and fast set of rules that the Phillips promise will bring you the right spouse. But they give solid advice about involving your parents, your friends, and most of all, not letting your hormones and feelings be in control. They are right.

They also give several examples of how people have changed what they’ve suggested to work for their particular set of circumstances. Some of the things they suggest simply weren’t viable for Mrs B and I, such as having family time with each other’s families while we were courting. The Phillips are very open that what they are suggesting isn’t the end and be all but they do strongly advise young people and their parents to put much more effort into the whole process than just “Oh, we’re in love”.

Reading this again, for our 10th Wedding Anniversary, it is uncanny how much God drew us both down this path in our relationship with each other. I for one am thankful for that. Our marriage is strong, we are happy and content with each other and while our lives together haven’t been what we’ve expected (Mrs B was diagnosed with crohn’s disease in ’10), our foundation of friendship has taken us through the times of hospitalization, lack of work, etc.

The book is a bit dated in regards to things they call out in American Culture, ie, what they considered a cliff is only a mere step compared to the moral cliff America has chosen to step off of now. It was eye opening and a good indicator of just how fast our country has gone down the path of immorality.

But ultimately, God Himself is in charge. He has taken responsibility through Jesus Christ and one day He will return and make it right again. I want to be ready for that and I hope you will be too.

★★★★☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

 

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Play the Man ★★★★☆

playtheman (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Play the Man
Series: ———-
Author: Mark Batterson
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Inspirational Non-Fiction
Pages: 224
Format: Hardcover

 

 

Synopsis:

Synopsis taken from the book:

“Somewhere along the way, our culture lost its definition of manhood, leaving generations of men and men-to-be confused about their roles, responsibilities, relationships, and the reason God made them men. It’s into this ‘no man’s land’ that New York Times bestselling author Mark Batterson declares his mantra for manhood: play the man. In this inspiring call to something greater, he helps men understand what it means to be a man of God by unveiling seven virtues of manhood. Mark shares inspiring stories of manhood, including the true story of the hero and martyr Polycarp, who first heard the voice from heaven say, ‘Play the man.’ Mark couples those stories with practical ideas about how to disciple the next generation of men. This is more than a book; it’s a movement of men who will settle for nothing less than fulfilling their highest calling to be the man and the father God has destined them to be. Play the man. Make the man.”

 

My Thoughts:

I read this book over the course of July for our men’s group at church. One of the reasons there were so many “man” posts in July.

It started out a bit rough. I felt like it was an updated version of John Eldredge’s Wild at Heart and I didn’t find that particular book at all helpful. But once Batterson got into the 7 Virtues of Manhood, things turned around.

The specific 7 Virtues didn’t really enter into the equation. I was more encouraged in how Batterson showed that being a Man of God was something purposeful, something you had to set your mind to. It was goal oriented and something that will last for your whole life. Just because I’ve done X, Y and Z in the past doesn’t mean I get to slack off and coast later on. A Godly Man is always striving after God and since God is Infinite, our striving will never end. Some days I might have found that thought discouraging, but not during this book. It reminded me of just how great our God is and how much He loves us.

Batterson also goes into Jesus as Man a little bit and that was good too. Too often I think of Jesus as a superman just gliding through His life, snapping His fingers and making everything work. It was good to be reminded that He had to learn to read, that He pooped His diapers (or whatever the equivalent was in 4BC) and that He had hormones too. And yet through it all, He was Perfect.

The final thing that really made this work for me was that Batterson isn’t trying to change the whole culture with some “7 Virtues” program. He doesn’t say that this book will change the whole nation if only we all follow it. He presents it as something that each man must do on his own and must pass on to his sons. He makes being a Godly Man that individuals responsibility. He looks at the building blocks. If the foundations are solid, you can then build a good house. He also practices what he preaches with his kids and I found that immensely encouraging as well.

★★★★☆

bookstooge (Custom)

Mere Christianity ★★★★★

merechristianity (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Mere Christianity
Series: ———-
Author: C.S. Lewis
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Theological Non-Fiction
Pages: 190
Format: Massmarket paperback

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Lewis turns some radio lectures/talks into book format in which he talks about Christianity and humanity on very basic levels and very broad terms. It really does come across as someone trying to have a casual conversation about an important subject and it feels like Lewis gets the balance of casual and importance just right.

 

My Thoughts:

I read this completely because of my reaction to Toll the Hounds. I needed a good anti-dote to Erikson’s horrific existentialism and his debasement of Redemption. If any one could help, strengthen and encourage me in my Christian faith, Lewis is the man to do it.

I deliberately didn’t take notes and actually tried to read through this as fast as I could, kind of like chugging some medicine. Not because it tasted bad, but I knew if I stopped to taste it, I’d start eating it drop by drop to get the full taste and I needed a large dose of medicine NOW. It worked well. No man is sufficient to himself and we ALL need help and encouragement along life’s way.

This was not a heady and deep look into the various thoughts of Christian doctrine and how this church and that church have come to the conclusions they have, etc, etc. This was very much like Lewis having a conversation with you and much like any good conversation, if you aren’t ready for it or don’t want it, then it won’t work for you no matter how good it is. So I certainly wouldn’t just blanket recommend this to everyone. If you don’t know anything about Christianity and want to learn something without committing yourself or getting dragged into theological depths you simply aren’t even aware of, this is the book for you. If you are a Christian who needs some reminders and some encouragement, this is the book for you.

I COULD have taken notes. Pages of them. But that might just be me and how I deal with non-fiction. I go into a gear where I feel like I need to write a book report whenever I read non-fiction. However, I did underline one phrase that really stood out to me:

For mere improvement is no redemption, though redemption always improves people…”

Attaboy Lewis!!!

I am giving this a conditional “best book of the year” tag. Conditional because I don’t read enough non-fiction for there to be enough to truly choose from. Also, I really don’t like comparing escapist fare (no matter how enjoyable) with a serious book like this. Comparing them would mean they are equal and they aren’t and I don’t ever want to get into the mindset where they are.

★★★★★

bookstooge (Custom)

Blessed Resurrection Day!

death_defeated

 

But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he[a] lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you.” So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. And behold, Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.”

Matthew 28:5-10

 

He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.

Acts 1:3

 

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me….

….13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain….

….19 If in Christ we have hope[b] in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.

20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep….

I Corinthians 15:3-8, 13-14, 19-20

 

Resurrection Day is one of the few days in the year where I lay aside my normal pessimism,  melancholy and general New England dourness and simply celebrate the Hope I have in Jesus Christ.

God bless you all.

 

bookstooge

 

 

 

Curse of the Wendigo (The Monstrumologist #2) ☆☆☆☆½ DNF’d@64%

curseofthewendigo (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Curse of the Wendigo
Series: The Monstrumologist #2
Author: Rick Yancey
Rating: 0.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Horror
Pages: 464/DNF’d at 64%
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Will Henry and his master rescue a friend of the Monstrumologist’s at the man’s wife’s behest. Upon their return, they attend the annual Monstrumologist meeting in New York. The man is not better and the wife is an ex-fiance of the Monstrumologist.

I abandoned this at the 64% mark.

 

My Thoughts:

Warthrop the monstrumologist had a fiance who then married his best friend. The woman reveals that she is still in love with Warthrop and they commit adultery while the best friend lays dying in a hospital. Ouch, right?

Then there is this wonderful piece of narration about it from Will Henry:

‘Some would judge them. I do not.

If it was a sin, it was sanctified-

the trespass consecrated by the act itself.

He met himself in the purity of her eyes

and obtained absolution upon her altar.’

~Page 215

 

All I could think of was the verse from Isaiah:

Woe to those who call evil good and good evil,

who put darkness for light and light for darkness,

who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!

Isaiah 5:20

What kind of messed up thinking is Yancey putting into his book? I want NO part of something so abhorrent. I DNF’d this book and I’m abandoning the series and I’m now going to avoid Yancey.

☆☆☆☆½

bookstooge

 

Bookburners: Season One Volume One ☆☆☆☆½

bookburners (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Bookburners: Season One Volume One
Series: Bookburners
Author: Max Gladstone
Rating: 0.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 295
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

New York Police Detective Sal gets sucked into the world of the Bookburners when her brother opens a magical book and ends up in a coma after a demon possesses him.

Now under the auspices of the Catholic church with Father Menchu, with Presbyterian layman and former demon possessed Liam, super duper fighter secret keeper Grace and Archivist Asanti, Sal is out to capture dangerous magical books that could have a huge negative impact on the human race.

 

My Thoughts:

This is the first half, 8 short stories, of the first volume of the Bookburners. It is a collection of short stories that tell an overall bigger story. Things were flying along right up until the last story. Then I had 2 serious issues.

A transgender character is one of the main side characters and everybody in the group is perfectly fine with it, including the Catholic Priest and the layman Presbyter. The one character who does have a problem with the whole transgender issue is literally demonized by the author. Not going to be reading more of that!

Then you have the relationship between Sal and Liam. They end up sleeping together once and then wonder where things are going. By the end of this volume, Liam has decided since he was damned for being demon possessed, what’s a little fornication on the side? It was horrible to read and yet shows the mind set of most 21st century people in this day and age. There is no mention of Jesus Christ, just the Catholic Church’s traditions. There was no power towards Salvation.

So no more of this for me.

☆☆☆☆½

 

bookstooge

 

Lord of Light ★★☆☆½

lordoflight (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Lord of Light
Series: ———-
Author: Roger Zelazny
Rating: 2.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SFF
Pages: 304
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Humanity has made it through the stars and to a new planet. At least, one spaceship did. But on this planet, they found it inhabited by incorporeal demonic beings, other sentient beings of various powers and the crew of the ship all gained mutant powers. Combining these powers with their technology, they became veritable gods and began the conquest of the world.

They conquered. They rule. They live in heaven while the rest of humanity starts the cycle of civilization all over again.

One of the gods, the Buddha, Sam, opposes them at every turn. He starts new religions, he tries to jump start innovations. Sam is killed, many times, is sent to Nirvanna, goes into hiding and eventually weakens them enough that humanity can begin remembering its heritage.

This is the story of the Lord of Light throughout the ages as he opposes the gods in many different ways.

 

My Thoughts:

I’ve never been a big fan of Zelazny. I was introduced to him in my early teens through the Amber books. I was too young and didn’t understand them and stopped at book 2. When I read the whole series again decades later, I was very underwhelmed. So I wanted to try one more of his books to double check my opinion. Yep, Zelazny is not for me, at all.

While I was reading this I felt like I was reading a combination of John Wright’s Count to the Eschaton series and Dave Duncan’s Seventh Swordsman. Both of those obviously came much later but since I had read them first, well, the punch from this was gone.

Zelazny was obviously in love with Buddhism when he wrote this and it miasmates from almost every word. No, “miasmate” is not a real word, but I’m having the problem of getting across the bone deep stench that permeates a dead corpse and somehow applying it to this story.

There was nothing technically wrong here. I just don’t like Zelazny’s style and his choice of conveying a Science Fiction story was sideways instead of being told straight forward. So I can now say with 100% certainty that I don’t like Zelazny’s writings and I’ll never read another again.

If you’ve never read any of his stuff, this might be a good place to start. It is a standalone and showcases his style to the tee. With the Amber you’re potentially committing to 10 (albeit very short ones) books. Chances are if you like this you’ll like his other stuff. My experience also leads me to think that if you don’t like this,you won’t like his other stuff as well.

★★☆☆½

bookstooge