Ann Lovell

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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Review of "The Coming Revolution" by Dr. Richard G. Lee

The Coming Revolution: Signs from America’s Past that Signal Our Nation’s Future
By Dr. Richard G. Lee
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Category: Non-fiction, Political, Christian

Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Pub Date: January 12, 2012

Kindle Format: 3115 lines
Hardcover Format: 256 pages

Kindle edition: (Not yet available).
Hardcover: $24.99

Product Description from the Publisher: We are living in a time of monumental change.
Countless numbers of ordinary people, men and women from all walks of life, are joining forces to challenge the direction our national leaders are now taking us. Washington’s idea of change has failed, and most Americans are now frustrated, disappointed, and angry. The result is a long list of offenses, both perceived and real, that can easily set off a chain reaction that quickly becomes irreversible. And in the right environment, the situation can be explosive.

It is easy to see that many of the identical social and religious provocations that spurred the colonists toward the First American Revolution are present today, inspiring a new generation to seek what the Founders called “a new birth of freedom.” Signs are pointing to the fact that we are now standing on the threshold of a new American revolution, not with muskets and cannon balls this time but a revolution conscience, morality, and honor, dedicated to responsible social, moral, and political reforms, demanding change from the socialistic direction our political, judicial, and intellectual leaders have been taking us.

The Coming Revolution draws from the wellspring of America’s powerful past to reveal a nation of people who, under the hand of Divine Providence, will once again fight and win the coming battle for personal and national freedom.

Review: Well-researched and well written, The Coming Revolution is an ideal read for an American audience frustrated with revisionist history and the trend toward socialistic government. I received an advance copy for review from the publisher. The book is scheduled for release on January 12, 2012.

Lee, founder of The First Redeemer Church in Atlanta, Georgia, and “There’s Hope America” ministry, presents readers with a concise and understandable guide to America’s pre-revolutionary history, including the lost colony of Roanoke, the nearly-failed Jamestown experiment and the quest for religious freedom that drove Puritan settlers toward Plymouth. Through it all, Lee explains the essential role that the Christian faith of those early settlers played in forming the nation.

Most significant is Lee’s description of the “Great Awakening” of the 1730s and 1740s and its impact on the American Revolution. As Lee describes, the preaching of the Great Awakening emphasized the need for personal repentance and accountability before God as well as the importance of a personal moral code among those living in community. Lee asserts that the seeds planted in the Great Awakening gave colonists the courage to form a new nation based on “the consent of the governed” and guaranteeing political and religious liberty.

But “The Coming Revolution” is more than a history book. It might also be titled, “A Defense of the Tea Party.” In describing America’s past, Lee looks toward the future and is troubled by the trends he sees -- destruction of the nuclear family, decline in American educational standards and the rise of the welfare state. He lays the blame squarely at the feet of “progressives” currently represented by the Obama administration and challenges Americans to correct its course through a “revolution of ideas, an expression of faith and a renewed commitment to a higher cause.”

Lee should be careful, though. By promoting a third political party, he threatens to fracture conservatives rather than unite them, a move that could lead to a continuation of the socialistic policies that concern him. Conservatives need look no further than the candidacy of Ross Perot in 1992 to understand this concern. The introduction of a second conservative choice split the Republican Party and resulted in the election of Bill Clinton, gaining progressives a foothold and initiating America’s most recent slide toward socialism. For example, Clinton’s liberal belief that every American has the right to home ownership regardless of ability to pay resulted in Federal lending policies that drove America to the brink of financial collapse just a few years ago. By urging conservatives to form a third party in the 2012 election, history may repeat itself.

Instead, Lee’s agenda might be better served by encouraging a personal call to repentance along with intelligent and rational discourse among those from any political party concerned about our nation’s future. Americans desperately need to set aside political bickering and unify under a renewed vision that reclaims our heritage, promotes personal responsibility and strengthens families and communities. Of course, Christians understand that such a vision is impossible apart from a movement of the Holy Spirit. Thus, personal repentance and faith in Christ are the first steps to securing America’s future.

If readers take nothing else away from Lee’s book, they should ponder this: Lasting positive change – whether spiritual, social or political – only comes about as God’s Spirit works in the hearts of individuals. Before Americans can change the direction of their nation, they must first ask God to change their hearts.


Sunday, December 18, 2011

My 2011 Reading List

This year, my goal was to read 24 books (two a month). So far, in 2011, I have completed 33. I abandoned three, which I will explain below, and I am currently reading two. One of the joys of being a proud Kindle owner is the ability to acquire a variety of books at the push of a button. This is a Godsend in a country where both new and used English books are scarce and expensive. With the Kindle, I was never at a loss for a good book and often took advantage of the many free books offered on the Amazon site. That, coupled with encouragement from my friend, Phala, to start our own book club and from my daughter Lauren, to read her AP English assignments along with her, spurred me to read some things I probably wouldn't have chosen on my own.

I also learned about services that allow readers to request advance or courtesy copies of current books from various publishers in exchange for an honest review. (Thanks, Tessa Shockey!) The reading/blogging services I use are BookSneeze, Tyndale's blog network and NetGalley. If you are interested, the reviews are posted elsewhere in this blog.

And now, without further adieu I present my 2011 reading list! :-)

Those I'm reading now (but probably won't finish until 2012):
  • Les Miserables by Victor Hugo (Kindle Freebie and an assigned book from Lauren's AP English class).
  • Not for Sale by David Batstone (Kindle). A book about human trafficking. 
My favorites (in no particular order):
  • Wading Home by Rosalyn Story (Kindle Freebie). A story of the New Orleans flood.
  • The Help by Kathryn Stockett (Print, loaned to me by a friend). 
  • A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich (Print, found it at a used book store in the US)
  • Man's Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl (Print, found it at a used book store in Seoul)
  • Their Eyes were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston (Print, part of Lauren's AP English reading assignment)
  • Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott (Kindle). An excellent and entertaining book about writing. 
The ones I hated and cannot recommend:
  • Promissory Payback by Laurel Dewey (NetGalley review) Fiction detective novel. 
  • The First Tycoon by T.J. Stiles (Kindle). This is one I didn't finish. An historical book about Cornelius Vanderbilt. Too long. Too detailed. Too boring. Visit Biltmore House instead. 
Those I reviewed for BookSneeze, Tyndale House or NetGalley:
  • The Invisible Order, Book Two, The Fire King by Paul Crilley (Kindle, NetGalley)
  • Seeds of Turmoil by Bryant Wright (Print, BookSneeze)
  • Stumbling into Grace by Lisa Harper (Print, BookSneeze)
  • The Tehran Initiative by Joel Rosenberg (Kindle, Tyndale House)
  • Deepest Thanks, Deeper Apologies by Stephen Shortridge (Kindle, NetGalley)
  • Popular Clone by M.E. Castle (Kindle, NetGalley)
  • Flesh and Blood So Cheap by Albert Marrin (Kindle, NetGalley)
  • The Coming Revolution by Richard Lee (Kindle, NetGalley)
Work and Ministry Related:
  • Sex Trafficking by Siddharth Kara (Kindle) 
  • Just Courage by Gary Haugen (Kindle)
  • The Dragonfly Effect by Andy Smith (Kindle). One of the three I haven't finished but eventually will.
Others I read and liked (in no particular order):
  • The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (Kindle Freebie)
  • The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot (Kindle)
  • Great Expectations by Charles Dickens (Kindle Freebie)
  • Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann (Kindle)
  • The End is Now by Rob Stennett (Kindle Freebie)
  • Radical by David Platt (Print)
  • Alex Cross's Trial by James Patterson (Print)
  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (Print). Another of Lauren's AP English assignments.
  • The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baronness Emmuska Orczy (Kindle Freebie)
  • Hostage in Havana by Noel Hynd (Kindle Freebie)
  • A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens (Kindle Freebie)
  • Little Women by Louisa Mae Alcott (Kindle Freebie). The third one I didn't finish. I read it as a child and liked it. It was a book club read that I didn't finish in time for the discussion.
  • North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell (Kindle Freebie)
  • Lottie Moon by Regina D. Sullivan (Kindle)
  • Pearl of China by Anchee Min (Kindle, loaned by a friend)
  • To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf (Kindle)
  • The Santa Shop by Tim Greaton (Kindle Freebie)

As always, I welcome suggestions for other books to add to my 2012 "to read" list. We canceled cable, effective the end of this month, so I may have even more time to read in the New Year. :-)


Saturday, December 10, 2011

Review of "Promissory Payback" by Laurel Dewey

Rating: 2 Stars
Category: Crime, Mystery

Publisher: The Story Plant
Pub Date: August 2011

Kindle Format: 752 lines
Hardcover Format: 80 pages

Kindle edition: $0.89
Hardcover: $3.51

Product Description from the Publisher: Laurel Dewey’s Detective Jane Perry is quickly becoming one of the most distinctive, dynamic, and unforgettable characters in suspense fiction today. She’s rock hard, but capable of extraordinary tenderness. She’s a brilliant cop, but she’s capable of making life-altering mistakes. She’s uncannily talented, and she’s heartbreakingly human.

In this novella, Jane is called in to investigate the gruesome murder of a woman who profited greatly from the misfortunes of others. The case leaves Jane with little question about motive...and with a seemingly endless number of suspects.

Review: This was my first “Jane Perry” detective novel. I received a courtesy copy from the publisher to review. While the concept of Promissory Payback is classic detective fiction and the storyline is clever, the book’s many issues with character development keep it from a higher rating. Specifically, the actions and behaviors of many of the characters are inconsistent with the descriptions of their personalities and the dialogue is sometimes forced and unrealistic. I found myself rolling my eyes several times.

As Dewey continues to develop the character of Jane Perry in future novellas, she might consider creating a “softening side-kick” for Perry – one with whom Perry can talk over ideas, strategies, motives, etc., and who can bring out Perry’s softer, more human side. Of course, I understand the challenge of fully developing a set of characters in a novella as short as Promissory Payback, but the extra effort would raise the quality of this book substantially. Still, for $3.51 in print and $0.89 on Kindle, it’s a good value for a quick airplane or vacation read.


Friday, December 9, 2011

Review of "Flesh and Blood So Cheap" by Al Marrin

Rating: 5 Stars
Category: Juvenile Non-Fiction, History United States
Age level: 10 and up
Grade level: 5 and up

Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Pub Date: February 2011

Kindle Format: 1803 lines
Hardcover Format: 192 pages

Kindle edition: $10.99
Hardcover: $13.59

Product Description from the Publisher: On March 25, 1911, the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in New York City burst into flames.  The factory was crowded.  The doors were locked to ensure workers stay inside.  One hundred forty-six people—mostly women—perished; it was one of the most lethal workplace fires in American history until September 11, 2001.

But the story of the fire is not the story of one accidental moment in time.  It is a story of immigration and hard work to make it in a new country, as Italians and Jews and others traveled to America to find a better life.  It is the story of poor working conditions and greedy bosses, as garment workers discovered the endless sacrifices required to make ends meet.  It is the story of unimaginable, but avoidable, disaster.  And it the story of the unquenchable pride and activism of fearless immigrants and women who stood up to business, got America on their side, and finally changed working conditions for our entire nation, initiating radical new laws we take for granted today.

With Flesh and Blood So Cheap, Albert Marrin has crafted a gripping, nuanced, and poignant account of one of America's defining tragedies.

Review: It is no surprise that this book is a 2011 National Book Award Finalist for Young People’s Literature. I received a courtesy copy from the publisher for review and I was thoroughly engrossed from the beginning. Well-documented and easy to follow, Marrin does an outstanding job of painting a picture of life in New York City at the beginning of the twentieth century and the factors that led to the tragic shirtwaist factory fire on March 25, 1911. But Flesh and Blood is more than the story of a tragedy. It also paints a picture of the people of New York, offering thoughtful insights into immigration, the rise of the garment industry, workers’ and women’s rights, even organized crime. The growing pains experienced in the microcosm of New York City at the turn of the twentieth century shaped policies and decisions that influenced the entire country for years to come.

Marrin also does an outstanding job of relating the struggles of New York City garment workers in the early 1900s to the current conditions of factory workers in developing nations like Bangladesh and China, handling the delicate issues of wages and standards of living in a manner most pre-teens can understand. An excellent resource for intermediate social studies, this book is a must for every fifth grade classroom.


Review of "The Popular Clone" by M.E. Castle

Rating: 3.5 stars
Category: Juvenile Fiction. Action and Adventure.

Publisher: EgmontUSA Publishers
Pub Date: Available January 24, 2012

Kindle Format: 2556 lines
Hardcover Format: 324 pages

Kindle edition: $9.99
Hardcover: $15.99

Product Description from the Publisher:
Meet Fisher Bas: 12 years-old, growth-stunted, a geeky science genius, and son of the Nobel Prize-winning creators of the Bas-Hermaphrodite-Sea-Slug-Hypothesis. No surprise: Fisher isn't exactly the most popular kid in his middle school, tormented daily by the beefy, overgrown goons he calls The Vikings. But he senses relief when he comes upon the idea of cloning himself - creating a second Fisher to go to school each day while he stays at home playing video games and eating cheetos with ketchup. It's an ingenious plan that works brilliantly, until Fisher's clone turns out to be more popular than him - and soon after gets clone-napped by the evil scientist Dr. Xander.

Review: Who doesn't wish they could sometimes clone themselves rather than face harassing bullies at school, in the neighborhood or at the office? I received an advance copy of “Popular Clone” from the publisher and was drawn immediately to the character of Fisher Bas and the struggles he faces as a middle school boy. Unlike my own middle school experience, however, Fisher has the brains and the know-how to solve his problems by cloning himself and sending his clone into the battlefield of Wampanog Middle School to face his enemies, the Vikings. Of course, things don't go exactly as Fisher planned - and not everyone is who they claim to be. The result is an action-packed story with the just the right mix of evil genius, misfits, bullies and mad scientists sure to keep middle school readers engaged to the bitter end.


Thursday, December 8, 2011

New Living Translation Giveaway!

From November 29th through December 24th, the New Living Translation Facebook page will be offering lots of great prizes and something free just for signing up.

By visiting the giveaway entry page (located on the NLT Facebook page, the link is under the profile picture) and entering your name and email address you'll be entered to win a Life Application Study Pack and an Apple iPad 2. Also, everyone who signs up receives a free download copy of the Life Application Bible Book of Luke.

For those who enjoy the Life Application Study Bible, you won't want to miss this opportunity! Check it out!


Saturday, December 3, 2011

Review of "Deepest Thanks, Deeper Apologies" by Stephen Shortridge

Deepest Thanks, Deeper Apologies: Reconciling Deeply Held Faith with Honest Doubt
Written by Stephen Shortridge

Rating: 4 stars
Category: Christian devotional

Publisher: Worthy Publishers
Pub Date: October 11, 2011

Kindle Format: 1533 lines
Hardcover Format: 192 pages

Kindle edition: $11.99
Hardcover: $18.99

Product Description from the Publisher: Most Christians are content to spend their lives in churches where mystery is denied and doubt is unwanted. Where uncertainty is shunned and honest questions are stuffed into a corner, never to be brought out again.
This book is for the rest of us.

For those who live with distinct doubts . . . but whose passion for God remains deeper still. For those who have been confused by the world—and perhaps by our own desires—and still long to connect with a God who forgives and embraces us. For those who believe that our personal wrestlings can somehow make our faith mature—and our need for God complete.

Sharing his own personal vulnerabilities with soul-stirring reminders for your faith journey, Stephen Shortridge delivers a hope-filled work—encouraging mystery rather than explaining it, affirming doubt rather than removing it . . . for all who dare to be honest.

Review: Stephen Shortridge is an artist who writes like he paints. Deeply romantic, mystical and impressionistic, “Deepest Thanks, Deeper Apologies” recognizes that faith is more than “churchy” clichés and platitudes. Authentic faith is gritty, puzzling and enigmatic.

In this short devotional book which I received in advance from the publisher, Shortridge’s style is conversational; his voice gentle and his insights deep. Reading “Deepest Thanks” is like sitting down with the author/artist over a cup of coffee. But be warned: Those looking for a practical step-by-step guide won’t find answers here. Neither will those uncomfortable with doubt and mystery. Instead, the book’s greatest appeal is to spiritual thinkers who have wrestled with their faith and admit to honest doubt. Those readers will realize they have a friend in Shortridge.