Book Review: From a Certain Point of View, edited by Ben Acker (Three Stars)


Book Review: From a Certain Point of View (Star Wars Disney Canon Novel)

(Three Stars)

“As if all the stories we heard as children were true.”

Forty authors celebrate the fortieth anniversary of the Fourth Episode, but first movie, set “long, long ago in a galaxy far, far away.” What could go wrong?

“As Obi-Wan will soon learn, the most beautiful form of mastery is the art of letting go.”

Despite the prominent Disney appellation, not much goes wrong. Uneven quality, but a better-than-average anthology of stories surrounding A New Hope from the points of view of often-peripheral characters. A bit self-referential and tongue-in-cheek, but Continue reading

Book Review: In Praise of Folly by Erasmus (Three Stars)


Book Review: In Praise of Folly by Erasmus

Three Stars

“So here, though Folly speaker be, and argument which it guides the tongue, wisdom’s the lecture meant.”

Published in 1510, Folly is an essay on the social practices of the day (1510) formed as an argument in her own defense by Folly personified. In the tradition of Boethius’s Consolation of Philosophy and leads to Gulliver’s Travels and Candide.

“There is another sort of madness that proceeds from Folly; so far from being any way injurious or distasteful, and this happens when bye a harmless mistake in the judgement of things the mind is freed from those cares which otherwise gratingly afflict it.”

Written before the invention of the printing press, it raises the question: who could afford to copy such doggerel? Perhaps its ridicule of Continue reading

Book Review: The Smoking Gun Sisterhood by Thad Brown (Three Stars)


Book Review: The Smoking Gun Sisterhood by Thad Brown

(Three Stars)

“I’m not much of a theologian; but I don’t think any of them made it to the pearly gates.”

Have to take these as they are presented: a sister sub-genre to Girls-with-Swords fantasy. Not that magic is involved, beyond people shooting four and a half pound, .50 caliber automatics one-handed. Hate to be one of the “tongue-clucking critics” mentioned in the preface, but the reader must not only willingly suspend disbelief, but must murder it. It’s all good clean fun–if you ignore the blood and powder burns.

“Not ratting out another biker to the cops was an ingrained part of the code they all lived by.”

Though the stories were published in 2009, they have an 80s vibe–pay phones, fifty-cent beers, and all. Questionable police, gang, and mob procedures, but it’s not that kind of story. Lots of lengthy descriptions and sermons Continue reading

Book Review: Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave (Five Stars)


Book Review: Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave

(Five Stars)

“I was brought up to believe that everyone brave is forgiven, but in wartime courage is cheap and clemency out of season.”

Outstanding. A penetrating look at love, war and humanity presented with external and internal dialogues that are simultaneously honest and humorous. Gives the reader a sense of time, place and circumstance which few authors achieve. Captures the feel of being at war, in love, immortal, dying, indignant, and learning to doubt everything, then learning to trust again.

“You are a mousetrap of a friend, all soft cheese and hard springs.” “I use you for practice. One day I’ll have a husband.”

Loosely based on real people (the author’s grandparents) in London and Malta at the onset of Continue reading

Movie Review: I Can Only Imagine, directed by Andrew and John Erwin (Five Stars)


Movie Review: I Can Only Imagine, directed by Andrew and John Erwin

(Five Stars)

“Every feel like everything in your life is building to one big moment? This is it.”

Not just a really good Christian movie, a really good movie. Well written, well acted, well filmed and well produced. Based on the story behind MercyMe’s song by the same name.

“God can forgive you, I can’t.”

All about redemption, in many different forms.

“I saw God transform him from the man I hated to the man I wanted to become.”

Christian books and movies need to be good books and movies. They don’t get a bye because they are faith-based. This movie vindicates that opinion.

“The dad I wanted is about to leave me. How is that fair?”

Book Review: The Shadow of the Lion by Mercedes Lackey (Five Stars)


Book Review: The Shadow of the Lion (Heirs of Alexandria #1) by Mercedes Lackey et al.

(Five Stars)

“Just as simple as original sin and just as seductive.”

Excellent. Amazingly deep, rich epic fantasy set in an alternate timeline very close to Renaissance northern Italy. The nations, myths, religions, factions and families are close enough to historical that the student of history has a leg up on the fun. Yet Lackey has shifted emphasis, history there, motives somewhere else just enough to create a fascinating new universe.

“There is such a thing as evil in the world, which cannot be persuaded, but only defeated.”

Amazing that Lackey produces such good word so quickly. Nonetheless, there are signs of this story being rushed to print. For example, modern expressions, Continue reading

Book Review: The Spy by James Fenimore Cooper (Three Stars)


Book Review: The Spy: A Tale of the Neutral Ground by James Fenimore Cooper

(Three Stars)

“The law was momentarily extinct … and justice was administered subject to the bias of personal interests.”

Wonderful Romantic adventure “inspired by a true story” during the American Revolutionary War. Well-developed plot. Cooper’s first “hit.”

“The heart which has not become callous, soon sickens with the glory that has been purchased with a waste of human life.”

So, why hasn’t it more famous, and why wasn’t it made into a movie? Why only three stars? Because, being a very early work, it lacks the stirring storytelling for his later works. In fact, it’s awful. Twenty-five years later he was “compelled to admit there are faults so interwoven with the structure of the tale … it would cost less to Continue reading

Book Review: The Shadow of What Was Lost by James Islington (Four Stars)

Book Review: The Shadow of What Was Lost (Licanus #1) by James Islington

(Four Stars)

“Everyone has a darker nature. Good men fear it, and evil men embrace it.”

Excellent epic medieval fantasy. Large and varied cast with credible motivations and conflicts. Everyone has secrets; some don’t know their own. Good story telling. Conflicting views of reality add depth to a coming-of-age, gathering-the-team tale.

“The only secrets a mind cannot give up are those it doesn’t know.”

Nice cover art. Useless, unreadable Continue reading

Book Review: The Kingdom of God is Within You by Leo Tolstoy (Three Stars)


Book Review: The Kingdom of God is Within You by Leo Tolstoy

(Three Stars)

“Human life is a combination of the animal life and the divine life. And the more this combination approaches to the divine life, the more life there is in it.”

Expected more from the author of War and Peace. Anyone who can organize and tell such a gripping, true-to-life tale ought to be able to frame an effective argument on any topic which he sincerely believes. Not so. Perhaps the circumstances of this book’s writing and publishing are partly to blame. Tolstoy wrote this in response to the criticism of his earlier work What I Believe. This book was so critical of the established Russian Orthodox Church that he could not publish it in Russia.

“Physical coercion is not acceptable to moral regeneration. The sinful dispositions of men can be subdued only by love. There is great security in being gentle, long-suffering, and abundant in mercy.” William Lloyd Garrison, 1830

That said, today’s reader should skip the first two chapters, or read them last, as they are Continue reading

Book Review: Armored, edited by John Joseph Adams (Four Stars)


Book Review: Armored, edited by John Joseph Adams

(Four Stars)

“An awful lot of people go crazy, when you take the humanity away, and lock them inside a box.”

Better-than-average anthology. While some stories are SF combat, some aren’t. The common thread is that all involve a future version of whole-body armor. Explores many interpersonal and philosophic issues. My favorites were: Field Test, Don Quixote, and N-body Solution.

“It was never about armor … it was about the man inside.”