Monday, October 31, 2016

BOOK REVIEW : ONE OF A FEW BY JASON B LADD

I received a free copy of this book, as well as the audiobook, in return for an honest opinion.




TITLE : ONE OF A FEW
AUTHOR : JASON B LADD
PAGE COUNT : 309
RELEASE DATE : 2015
SERIES : -
FOLLOWED BY : -
GENRE : NON-FICTION, RELIGIOUS
GOODREADS






A US Marine fighter pilot explores life’s important questions as he prepares for combat, searches for truth, and wages spiritual warfare during his mission to become a better husband and father. 

Jason B. Ladd grows up in a military family with loving parents but spends his young life filled with spiritual apathy. 

Ladd enters the US Marine Corps, becomes a fighter pilot, and sees combat in Iraq before life events align to nudge him into profound spiritual inquiry. Digging deep into his quest for truth, he realizes the art and science of fighter pilot fundamentals can help him on his journey. 

Filled with stories that contrast his spiritual apathy with his post-Christian worldview passion, One of the Few is the compelling life story of a spiritual seeker engaged in a thrilling profession combined with a strong, reasonable defense of Christianity. 

For fans of Ravi Zacharias, Lee Strobel, and Frank Turek, Ladd’s remarkable journey shares the transformative power of faith during a time when belief in God is dismissed and religious liberty in the military is attacked. 


Plenty have warned my life is not remarkable enough for a book. I've decided not to believe them.

That is my favorite line of the book, even just a few pages in. It immediately drew myself enough attention to my own life, to understand how every person's story IS remarkable, IS book worthy.

As written above, this book is written by Jason, a marine pilot, who have been searching for the meaning for life, in the form of Christian worldview. How this worldview changed who he was, and build who he is today.  

To be honest, this is not a type of book that I would read on my free time.  It is not that I am not into non-fiction, it is just how (1st) it is about religion, and (2nd) the book is filled with military jargon, terms, and traditions that I am not familiar with, which is quite confusing to start off with, and to hold on to.  I have been putting it away and picking it back up again for those reasons.  So, I apologize Jason, if it took so long for me to review this piece of yours.

Jason have been sooo patient with me, waiting for the time I eventually post this review.  And now I feel terrible for not loving to the most of it.  It is not all bad, yet it is not all good, just like every other book.  And here are my reasons why:



Why it is good
I personally love how each of the chapter begins with two different quotes, from two different people; one as a secular view, while the other, a biblical view.  This gave deep and diverse perspectives towards a certain topic which in this case made me respect the author for not only viewing the world from just one point.

"Man is naturally good." - Jean Jacques Rousseau

"There is no one who does good, not even one" (Rom/ 3:12) - Apostle Paul

I appreciate how well this book is written with intellect and kind knowledge which I believe the author possesses far before the book was planned, and this aspect of writing made the book mature. It doesn't seem rushed, nor does is seem ungainly.  To my surprise, I enjoy this book, aside from the fact that it is about religion (a topic I am not highly interested with). 

Before the beginning of the universe (the singularity, the Big Bang, etc...), there was no time; there was no place. At the moment of creation, nature (and thus natural laws) did not exist. Therefore, the event of creation could not be produced by natural causes. This makes the creation of the universe a miracle by definition.

Aside from that, reading the book up till the end, left me in awe.  The live lived by the author, how he evolved as a person, how his worldview mature in every step of the way, how he overcame what ever, is a beautiful growth that I have yet to admire.  Growing up in a secular family, must not be easy for a person to gain faith this strong, yet this book is done.  The author knows what he is talking about, and he have been through a lot of thoughts before putting it into words.  He seems to know what is wrong and what is right, what is there and what is missing, what is safe and what is fatal, what is weird and what is certain, what is to believe and what is to not.

Show these movies to a kid without worldview guidance and they end up thinking anyone who joins a group that believes in a higher power must be dumb, gullible, or just plain crazy. 

And I agree.

This book also covers up many topics from faith, alcoholism, sex, relationships, love, and many more (I should've note them all down), so readers can follow how he contemplates all of those topics into his worldview.

Why it is not that good:
Maybe the reason why I cant connect entirely with this book is because I myself, am not a believer. I am born a Buddhist, and have been till today.  And the reason behind my worldview is because I have two loving parents who are very devoted to this religion since the day I was born.

And so it felt(emphasize on felt, which is entirely subjective upon my opinion), that the author seemed to not realize that there are more than one worldview, that also understands and have helped countless of people into leading a beautiful and meaningful life.  And as sensitive as this could have continued, I would have to say that if taken objectively, this book is a great read for people who are interested in diving deeper, or finding verification of the Christian worldview, from the perspective of a marine pilot. 

Regarding the deity of Hinduism, Ravi Zacharias points out how the "playfulness of Krishna and his exploits with the milkmaids in the Bhagavad-Gita is . . . an embarrassment to many Hindu scholars." Regarding Islam, Zacharias continues, "Mohammed's marriages to eleven wives have been fascinating subject for Muslim scholars to explain."
Siddhartha Gautama abandoned his wife and son to seek enlightenment, and Bhagawan was a sex guru who never married. ...
....
Then we have Jesus, the only spiritual leader who lived a sinless life and actually claimed to be God.

The other thing about this book that I dont highly enjoy is how the author likes to exaggerate an ordinary occurrence, which when done exceedingly is not exactly compelling.

Audiobook review
The narration was decent, but not highly entertaining.  Yet I understand that it is not a fictional read, but I have heard other non-fiction audiobooks more interesting that this.  

Audiobook rating : 3/5 stars

MY BOOK RATING:





Tuesday, September 13, 2016

BOOK REVIEW : THE BUNKER DIARY BY KEVIN BROOKS

--WHAT THE ACTUAL HECK--


TITLE : THE BUNKER DIARY
AUTHOR : KEVIN BROOKS
PUBLISHER : PENGUIN
PAGE COUNT : 268
RELEASE DATE : 7TH MARCH 2013
SERIES : -
FOLLOWED BY : -
GENRE : THRILLER, MYSTERY, SUSPENSE
GOODREADS



Room meets Lord of the Flies, The Bunker Diary is award-winning, young adult writer Kevin Brooks's pulse-pounding exploration of what happens when your worst nightmare comes true - and how will you survive?

I can't believe I fell for it.

It was still dark when I woke up this morning.

As soon as my eyes opened I knew where I was.

A low-ceilinged rectangular building made entirely of whitewashed concrete.

There are six little rooms along the main corridor.

There are no windows. No doors. The lift is the only way in or out.

What's he going to do to me?

What am I going to do?

If I'm right, the lift will come down in five minutes.

It did. Only this time it wasn't empty . . .



I knew about this book just a couple of weeks ago, when I was asked by a friend of mine if I had known anything about it, which I obviously didn't, and she told me that it might be the type of book that would blow your mind away.  And for that, I got excited and searched for the book.  Well, she is about right!  This book kept me up at night and at work and kept me guessing whats going to happen next, until... BAMM! I reached the ending and was just left speechless.

So this is a story about captivity, but just a warning : NOT A HAPPY ENDING one.  It was written in a diary format, of a boy, names Linus.  He was just a teenage boy, who came from a rich background, and nothing particularly special about him.  He was the first to be in "kidnapped", and then came 5 others one by one. 

By the first half of the book, I thought I knew where this was going.  I thought that it was so predictable and easy, although I have enjoyed reading it.  But as I dive deeper to the book, weirder things kept happening.  And as this book was written in a diary format, not everything is revealed.  You can only read what the writer wants to write in his diary.  So some of the things were just left out, you just don't know what happen to the parts where he didn't write about.

To some people, this book might appear as disturbing, but I don't really think so.  I think it is more depressing than disturbing.  And add a little suspense.  This is the type of book that I want to keep reading, but nt because every page is such a page-turner, but just because I really need, NEED, to know what is going to happen in the end...

I have to say that I hated the ending so much.  So much, that I get to love it.  I think it is a brilliant way to finish a book, but in a very annoying way.

Overall I think that the writing style is easy and fun.  The characters were believable, real, yet there're more to it.  It is like in real life, where every single day you spent with a person, another new thing you learn about them.  And that's what I find with these characters.  This is also the reason why some o the time they were just unpredictable and left me shocked at what happened to them or what have they done.  The plot was fun to carry on to, ut again, it is annoying to the fact that it is depressing and so sad, but in a great way.

For those of you who LOVE thriller suspense story, I guarantee, this is a book for you.

-SPOILER ALERT-

I am not a type of person who read a mystery book and can come up with several theories related to the plot.  But while reading this gem, I kept on thinking- well, wishing- that the villain is going to explain somehow, as to why these 6 people were chosen, and at random.  I also didn't expect any deaths to happen!  That's because in the first half of the book everything seemed just fine.  I thought that the villain was just "playing", a psycho, or something along that line.  But as I think about it, why would a psycho even bother cleaning out a bunker and renovating it into such a place? I mean, it need energy and money to even begin this from happening.  So...?

Or maybe this is a type of experiment, of human nature.  They could be some kind of lab-rats the "villains" were trying to study.  But then it is just so absurd, I just can't. Man...

--END OF SPOILERS--

I thought that this book would be great if there is a continuation to the story.  Either we can read the diaries of other members of the captivity, or maybe do another kidnapping session and have another new person write a new diary.  I just hope to know what's going on, thats all.. *cries in the corner*

MY RATING


Saturday, September 10, 2016

BOOK TOUR! - RESURRECTION : AN AMERICAN JOURNEY BY WH "BILL" WISECARVER + GUEST POST


TITLE : RESURRECTION : AN AMERICAN JOURNEY 
AUTHOR : WH "BILL" WISECARVER
PUBLISHER : CREATSPACE
RELEASE DATE : 26TH JUNE 2016
SERIES : -
GENRE : SCI-FI, FANTASY, THRILLER
GOODREADS

"Is there something in the air here in Washington, DC that drives everyone insane?" Leila Freyan thought. The twenty-seven year old math genius knew Kirk Danner was a keeper of secrets. Only now did she realize how dangerous those secrets were. The plan is viable, she thought, but he might be crazy. Could he be trusted with such power? Could anyone? The Order's plan to plunge her world into a new Dark Age was accelerating. But Leila Freyan's generation was unhampered by the ghosts of the past. She realized instantly she'd need the talent of her generation to stop them. Freyan's on her own mission now. An American Journey is the newest in the Resurrection saga. Nothing is as it seems in this political thriller, and now we are taken into the heart of the issues facing all Americans and offered some realistic solutions.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR : WH "BIL" WISECARVER


WH Wisecarver has been at the forefront of American history for over three decades. Born and raised in San Francisco, CA, the former U.S. Marine and TOPGUN graduate served as a national security advisor and Counsel for the Senate Armed Services Committee. As an attorney and financier, he has over twenty years experience in international business.


SPECIAL GUEST POST

The Voice of Science Fiction and Fantasy.

Why it's needed now more than ever.


---WH Wisecarver---


In eras of political correctness, mass media political agendas, and a corporate controlled society of an unaware, misinformed populace, only one genre of fiction has consistently refused to submit and provide alternative paths for society and the warnings of the consequences of inaction: Science Fiction and Fantasy.

The voice of sci-fi isn't new. When Jules Verne and H.G. Wells were writing, the academic-scientific elite, and politicians of the time scoffed at the thought of space travel, undersea exploration, and the danger of weapons of mass destruction, claiming such things impossible, ridiculing such nonsense while paraphrasing the head of the US Patent Office in the 1890s: "Everything that can be invented, has been invented." Fortunately for us all, the young "geeks" reading this "nonsense" didn't think so. One geek in particular even started thinking about the possibility, coming up with a crazy theory in 1905 that E=MC², forever changing the way the human species understands our reality. The geeks reading the pulp science fiction of the 1930s weren't intimated by the established opinion of their time either. What an enlightening discussion it would have been to hear the politically correct scientists and politicians of those days comment on the destruction of Hiroshima, the nuclear submarine USS Nautilus, submerged travel underneath the North Pole, and watching humans transverse the lunar landscape in vehicles brought from Earth.

But science fiction and fantasy has never been just about technological advancement. That's just the tip of the iceberg the authors delivered. A less obvious, but infinitely more valuable contribution has been their ability to shed light upon, warn of, and offer alternatives to the social mores and political trends of the times. It was in his 1984 that George Orwell warned the world what was happening in Stalin's "worker's paradise" the intellectual elites of the West were crowing about at the time. Herman Hesse wrote his fantasy, Steppenwolf warning of the moral apathy of bourgeois society to totalitarianism in 1929 Germany. One can only speculate the outcome if Germans had read Hesse's fantasy more carefully and took heed.

It would be the generation after World War II that started to get Orwell's and Hesse's messages. But these geeks were again labeled politically incorrect by the intellectual and political elite. They were called ignorant kids, and "beatniks." But the social upheaval of the 1950s released a new generation of sci-fi fantasy authors who would carry the torch. They gave us a new vision of how science and technology can provide new alternatives for our future and perceptions of social justice. In a flash, our vision changed when enlightened on the last page of Robert Heinlein's (spoiler alert for those who haven't read it) hero in Starship Troopers isn't the American high school football all-star we imagined through the whole of the novel. Or who didn't understand Heinlein's message as he picked apart the insanity, hypocrisy and immorality of much of the politically correct consumer-corporate society of the 1950s elites, through the eyes of a Martian come to earth in Stranger in a Strange Land?

Most of science fiction and fantasy genre's social commentary and alternatives are dismissed by the intellectual and political elites, yet who was discussing what determines “life” and disseminating western philosophical traditions to the masses before Isaac Asimov's I Robot in 1950? When did people first become alert to the danger of taking human judgment from computers before Arthur C. Clark's screenplay 2001 A Space Odyssey or the danger to all mankind when great powers fight to control a scare commodity before Frank Herbert's Dune?  Although all a great read, the art of these authors is powerful in their message and their warnings. Will the next generation of "geeks" get the message of William Gibson's dystopian electronic future in Neuromancer? If history is telling, the answer is yes.

I am often asked why my recent historical novel, Resurrection: An American Journey uses an extraterrestrial civilization to explore the current political and social disarray of our current society and how a new generation must wake up to where we are, how we got here, and what to do about it. I point out that I answered in the preface: "Today only in fantasy may one speak truth." In my view, once issues are understood, the solutions are easily "grokked."  





Thanks so much for the guest post Mr. Wisecarver! I am excited to read this book as soon as I can and review it in the future. Wish you all the best with your book!

Thursday, July 14, 2016

BOOK REVIEW : THE BFG BY ROALD DAHL [AND A LITTLE TRAILER REVIEW]


TITLE : THE BFG
AUTHOR : ROALD DAHL
NARRATOR : GEOFFREY PALMER
PUBLISHER : PUFFIN BOOKS
PAGE COUNT : 195
RELEASE DATE : 2001 (FIRST PUBLISHED IN 1982)
GENRE : CHILDREN, FANTASY, FICTION
GOODREADS

Captured by a giant! The BFG is no ordinary bone-crunching giant. He is far too nice and jumbly. It's lucky for Sophie that he is. Had she been carried off in the middle of the night by the Bloodbottler, the Fleshlumpeater, the Bonecruncher, or any of the other giants-rather than the BFG-she would have soon become breakfast. 

When Sophie hears that they are flush-bunking off in England to swollomp a few nice little chiddlers, she decides she must stop them once and for all. And the BFG is going to help her!


'You may think you is eight,' the BFG said, 'but you has only spent four years of your life with your little eyes open. You is only four and please stop higgling me. Titchy little snapperwhippers like you should not be higgling around with an old sage and onions who is hundreds of years more than you.'

Well I must be 10 then!

What was I doing back in my childhood?! Is it not as colorful as I thought or what?  And it's quite sad when I ran into books like this.  When I was younger, I remember my teacher telling stories like Charlie and The Chocolate Factory, but I never did try to read the book or explore the author.  I guess I was just that lazy kid after all, hah!  Well I was triggered to read this children's book after watching the live action movie adaptation in early 2016, and I just have all those goosebumps running all over my neck till the top of my head.  I miss being lost in a whimsical magical world where all we have to deal with were witches, and dragons, and human eating giants!  I heard that there was another animated adaptation in the past, in 1989 i think, but even that, I didn't know.  What a miss-out!  I was a little angry with myself knowing that I didn't really read much as a kid. But here I am, 21 years old, reading and listening to Roald Dahl's The BFG.



I believe we all know how the story goes.  

I really enjoy the usage of funny grammar and spelling which showcases how goofy the giants can be. I can surely imagine reading this as a little girl, grinning through the pages, with those cute little illustrations.  This time I listened to the audiobook as well and Geoffrey Palmer did a really fantastic job! It is the abridged version so some of the sentences were cut off but aside from that the voice act is imaginative.  I really can't wait to watch the movie, which is any time soon!

The story is very amusing and even though many of it does not make any sense, they are just solely enjoyable! 

I take that many people hated the movie adaptation trailer, but I just don't get the hate! I think it is awesome and I really can't wait to see more.  I love the effects, I love the casting, I love the music, I might be uisng the word 'love' just a bit tooo much now. 

I think I'll be reading another Roald Dahl's book in the near future. I am going for Matilda. I believe that it's a good story too. 

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Book Review : The Summer That Melted Everything By Tiffany McDaniel

I have received an advance copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.


TITLE : THE SUMMER THAT MELTED EVERYTHING
AUTHOR : TIFFANY MCDANIEL
PUBLISHER : ST. MARTIN PRESS
PAGE COUNT : 320
RELEASE DATE : 26TH JULY 2016
SERIES : -
FOLLOWED BY : -
GENRE : COMTEMPORARY, FICTION


Fielding Bliss has never forgotten the summer of 1984:
the year a heat wave scorched Breathed, Ohio. The
year he became friends with the devil.

Sal seems to appear out of nowhere - a bruised and tattered thirteen-year-old boy claiming to be the devil himself answering an invitation. Fielding Bliss, the son 
of a local prosecutor, brings him home where he's welcomed into the Bliss family, assuming he's a runaway from a nearby farm town.

When word spreads that the devil has come to Breathed, not everyone is happy to welcome this self-proclaimed fallen angel. Murmurs follow him and tensions rise, along with the temperatures as an unbearable heat wave rolls into town right along with him. As strange accidents start to occur, riled by the feverish heat, some in the town start to believe that Sal is exactly who he claims to be. While the Bliss family wrestles with their own personal demons, a fanatic drives the town to the brink of a catastrophe that will change this sleepy Ohio backwater forever. 


"Dear Mr. Devil, Sir Satan, Lord Lucifer, and all other crosses you bear,
I cordially invite you to Breathed, Ohio. Land of hills and hay bales, of sinner and forgivers.
May you come in peace.
With great faith,
Autopsy Bliss"

BOOK TRAILER, BY TIFFANY MCDANIEL

I rarely read synopses when I receive books, I like being surprised and not knowing what's going on. Well sometimes, too much of the unknowing confuses me, like this book. I was a little confused reading the first few pages of this book.  I guess it's because of what I thought it would be, judging by its cover.  I couldn't tell if some of the writings were metaphorical or not, and also the timeline was all over the place.  But it all makes much more sense after taking time diving into the core.

This is a story about a man named Fielding, narrating a story of his childhood, back when he was 13 years old, in a very hot summer of 1984.  In that short period of season, many things have happened. Things that the 13-year-old Fielding wouldn't have guessed.  On that summer he met Sal, claiming to be the 'devil' his father had invited.  That was the start of everything.  The beginning of the end for Fielding.  That summer, Fielding gained and lost love ones, knew new things he have never know before, explore his town and its men, grew out of innocent, learn to hate the things he once loved.
I think of all the devils I've seen in my long life, I know now how brief the innocent, how permanent the wicked.

This story started out dark and religious, and ends with so much emotional rides!  The alternating timeline shifted from the innocent, gullible, and young Fielding, to the dark, angry, complicated and old man.  It also showcases how the innocent isn't innocent anymore, how the bad isn't always bad, how the old regrets his past.

My thoughts on this book : First of all, let me just say: I love the title.  I think it attracts apprehensions and I did feel intrigued the first time I saw the bright and fun cover!  Who doesn’t love a well done typography? This cover reminds me of one of the cover from I’ll Give You My Sun by Jandy Nelson.

I enjoy how this book bring up topics such as dealing with fears, racism, homophobia, domestic abuse, disability, and other social issues which certainly fit what’s contemporary.  It also focuses a lot on religion, although not in an annoying way.  It speaks about life, heaven, hell, the Devil, and God Himself.  It also talks about friendship, family, and love, which is one of the winning point of the book!  This book is so beautifully written, I cried a couple of times specially on the second half of the story.  It was a crazy emotional ride for me.  Call me weak, I don't care, this story is amazing.  I really wish this book to be a best seller, and who knows, be a motion picture, and by then, I'll be crazy not to watch it.

Aside from that, I also love the 1980's vibe. I love how unique every character is, how this story sends such a powerful meaning but in a really subtle way.  I have experienced happiness, sadness, anger, confusion, care and affection throughout the pages. Thumbs up for Tiffany's debut novel!


MY RATING

INTERVIEW WITH TIFFANY MCDANIEL

The characters of your book have amusingly weird names, where did you find the idea for those names?
I always say the characters name themselves and it’s up to me to know and discover the characters’ authentic selves enough that I find the name that already belongs to them.  Sometimes I see a word for that day, or I get the flash of a word in my mind, and these are the characters’ hints, I think.  Saying to me, “Here is my name.  Write it for me, won’t you?”


You begin each chapter with little quotes from Milton's Paradise Lost, can you explain a little about how you chose those quotes and the story behind your keenness towards Paradise Lost?
I first read Milton’s epic masterpiece when I was in college.  It’s one of those works that has stood the test of time, and will continue to do so because it balances that line between good and evil, between the fall of man and our rise.  When I was thinking of my chapter titles, I immediately thought of “Paradise Lost.”  I only hope I’ve done Milton proud by including his beautiful quotes.  They are on their own masterful phrases.  And in my novel they are that which shines the most.   


What inspired you to write this story? What started it all?
The novel started first as a title.  It was one of those Ohio summers that I just felt like I was melting and thus the title was born.  I always start writing a novel with two things: the title and the first line.  These two things really create the path for the rest of the story.  As far as what inspired me to write this story, I always say it’s the characters themselves.  My characters feel very real to me, as if at some point I will actually meet them, if not here in this world, perhaps in the one after.  They exist and in their existence they inspire me to tell their story as honestly as I can. 


As a reader I cried a bunch of times throughout the story, how was your emotional journey writing this book?
Well, I am sorry to hear of your tears, but secretly happy for them as well.  As an author my only hope is to write something that affects the reader because then as an author I feel worthy of the reader’s time.   

As far as my emotional journey goes—when I began writing this novel, I was at a point in my life when I really feared I’d never be published.  I had already gone through years of rejection and heart-ache brought on by the publishing process.  I wrote my first novel when I was eighteen-years-old and didn’t get a publishing contract until I was twenty-nine.  The Summer that Melted Everything got me that contract, so my emotions toward the novel and in writing the novel is heavily felt.  It’s the novel that has in essence saved me.  It has been the life boat out of the raging waters.  Where would I be without it?  Perhaps drowned and given to the sea-bed floor.     


Is there going to be a follow up on this story or are you going to just end it here?

I think this story has had its true end.  However, my characters and their lives do not start on the first page and end on the last.  There are so many experiences they’ve had, and will have, that I’ll never write.  What I’ve captured in The Summer that Melted Everything is a moment for all of them.  But just like our own moments, they have others that will continue to evolve their being and their spirit.  And while I’ll end The Summer that Melted Everything here with my writing of them, they will continue forward in ways not yet revealed to us, if they ever will be.  

Thank you so much for taking time to answer my questions, Tiffany! I wish the very best!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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