Saturday, October 24, 2015

Book Review: A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson

Bill Bryson is a best-selling American author of very funny travel memoirs,  as well as books on the English language and science.   Here he tells the story of his trek through the wilderness along the Appalachian Trail with a companion who is even more unprepared for the trek than is Bryson, himself.  

Both men are middle-aged, sadly out of shape, trying to carry heavy packs on their backs on a 2,200-mile trail that begins at Springer Mountain in Georgia and ends at Mt. Katahdin in Maine.  Bryson and his companion have no outdoors experience, but Bryson, in particular, wants to enjoy the scenery before it is ruined by acid rain and over-population.  At times the two hikers are nearly defeated by the trail, but they are determined to reach their goal.  Bryson masterfully portrays the different hikers they encounter, which include students, senior citizens, Boy Scouts, and other adventurous trekkers, with his usual highly descriptive and humorous style. 

I thoroughly enjoyed Bryson's grasp and use of the English language and grammar.  Perhaps, I have been reading entirely too many first run e-books that have failed the spell and grammar check options of the authors' computers.  Shortly before I started the book, I happened to see a preview of the movie adaptation and was never able to get the image of Nick Nolte out of my mind, as I read.  It was masterful casting for that character, but I much prefer to use my own imagination when reading.

I do have several issues with the book.  But, I will only elaborate on these two:   

Bryson seems to take issue with the fact that the Appalachian Trail never integrates with the rest of the areas it passes through as trails and paths do in most of western Europe.  He uses the example of paths in Luxembourg that connect "the whole of Luxembourg, not just its trees".  Having walked some of those Luxembourg paths, I do agree with the quoted words; but why can't the Trail stand on it's own merits without being tied to another landscape...which I feel it does.

He made a couple (or more ) comments about hillbillies being affected by "corn liquor and generations of profoundly unbiblical sex"  that almost caused me to throw away the book in defense of my Arkansas  Ozarks heritage.  It amazes me that a person of such cosmopolitan character and education can still exhibit such prejudicial stereotyping of a locale of which he obviously has no first-hand knowledge.

In spite of my criticisms , I do think the book a good read.  The Appalachian Trail should be experienced by every American, if only a mile or two, at a time.  Some readers have taken umbrage with the whining and complaining and the littering of the terrain with excess gear exhibited by the two main characters.  But, in defense of Bryson and the "Nick Nolte" character, this adventure was clearly an arduous and exhausting endeavor that few middle-aged, unprepared persons would even attempt, much less without some whining and complaining and questioning their sanity.  Even so, the littering of such a pristine wilderness was unsettling.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Review of Predatory Kill

Legal Thriller: Predatory Kill

by Kenneth Eade


SYNOPSIS:  Brent Marks had paid his dues as a lawyer, having taken his share of divorces and drunk driving cases over his 20 year career, but had finally reached a place in his life where he could take on cases of social importance.  What he least expected was for April Marsh's predatory lending case against the big banks for wrongful foreclosure on her parent's home to turn into a murder investigation.  April’s parents were brutally attacked in their Santa Barbara home; her mother murdered and the only witness to the crime is her father, who survived the attack but is completely incapacitated.  The police have no leads, but April believes the predatory lender is behind it.  Are banks really that above the law?

This book really kept me involved, which was a surprise, as I generally become bored with courtroom proceedings.  Having been a juror, I certainly identified with Brent Marks' observation that he had to keep the jurors from lapsing into boredom induced unconsciousness.  He certainly succeeded with this story, which is fast-paced with plenty of action inside and outside of the courtroom.

As I am sure Mr. Eade intended, the book raised many disturbing questions about justice and the power of the banking industry.  Can a citizen ever hope to obtain complete justice over mega-business or must justice always be some type of compromise?

I really enjoyed this very thought-provoking story and look forward to reading more of Kenneth Eade's political and legal thrillers.  If I have any criticism of this book, it lies in the confusion I encountered with character names that were too similar in spelling or sound.

Just to reinforce Mr. Eade's message concerning mortgage fraud cases, here is a link to an article about a Sacramento CA trial in Aug 2014.

And, for Kindle readers, Amazon has this book for $.99 right now.  Hope you enjoy it.


Friday, October 3, 2014

Review: The Grave Robber by Mark Batterson


The Grave Robber, How Jesus Can Make Your Impossible Possible, by Mark Batterson is a wonderfully entertaining presentation of the seven miracles found in the Gospel of John and shows how miracles are sill happening today.  With the skills of a true storyteller, Batterson combines the miracles of scripture with stories of his own experiences and those of friends and acquaintances. 

Batterson points out that miracles are what draws one to Jesus, but the supernatural events create more questions than answers.  His stories explain that miracles were the main focus of Jesus' ministry and how that ministry of miracles is still available to us in our daily lives today.

This is a great read that will energized your faith.  Don't miss it.

*** The opinions in this post are all mine. I recently became a Family Christian blogger and as such received this complimentary book from Family Christian Book Store.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Review: Thunder by Bonnie S. Calhoun

One hundred-fifty years after nuclear holocaust in America, Selah is facing an arranged and unwanted marriage. It is the day before her eighteenth birthday, and she is hunting a particular type of rabbit that she has discovered is not contaminated by radiation during the apocalyptic events of the past. What she is really after are Landers, mysterious people from a land across the water whose small boats occasionally crash against the shore of her land. She knows she should leave the capture to the men, but Landers bring a good price when sold, and she hopes that a capture would make her so valuable to her father that her marriage might be postponed.

Selah's plans fall apart when the Lander she catches is stolen by her brothers--and Selah wakes up the next morning expecting to celebrate her birthday only to find the Lander's distinctive mark has indelibly appeared on her own body. Where once Selah considered herself the hunter, she now finds herself one of the hunted. And so begins her quest for discovering her true identity.

Calhoun adeptly describes a strange new world that has evolved into specialized, though deliberately isolated communities...juxtaposing the inequalities of living with scientific advances against living in the wild and off the land. This is a very well written multi-themed story that, according to the publisher, will appeal to someone between the ages of twelve and seventeen. The combination of futuristic scientific progress, political chicanery, wilderness survival, armed combat, and, of course, romance will catch the interest of both male and female readers. Additionally, the novel addresses many other themes of concern to adolescents: love, ethnic diversity, and friendship, family relationships, fear of the unknown, sociocultural status, sexuality, trust.

I was surprised to find myself becoming engaged in the storyline, but I do enjoy stories of man overcoming the elements when rebuilding after a devastating catastrophe. It is an excellent Young Adult fiction, but I must disagree with the reader age range. My recommended range would be fourteen to nineteen, as the scenes of violent death are better dealt with at an older age. Having said that, I don’t feel a story of people trying to survive the aftereffects of nuclear war would ring authentic without the characters dealing with the reality of death.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Thunder is author Bonnie S. Calhoun's first Young Adult novel and is the first book in her Stone Braide Chronicles series. In her everyday life, Bonnie is a seamstress and clothing designer, and teaches workshops at writers' conferences.

*** The opinions in this post are all mine. I recently became a Family Christian blogger and as such received this complimentary book from Family Christian Book Store.