Contact Us Sitemap
Main Menu
Home
Learning Greek
- - - - - - -
Books
Movies
Music
Restaurants
Games
- - - - - - -
Hiking
Articles
More Articles
Blog
- - - - - - -
Java
PHP
PSP
Joomla!
CafePress Designs
- - - - - - -
Free Downloads
Web Links
Galleries
Subscribe to RSS
RSS Feed
Who's Online
Statistics
Visitors: 3130406
Login Form





Lost Password?


Hwy777.com
Blog Directory & Search engine
Home arrow Books

Books

Warning: Call-time pass-by-reference has been deprecated in /home/content/m/i/k/mikenoel/html/mambots/content/joscomment.php on line 43
A Year with G. K. Chesterton -- Kevin Belmonte Print
Written by Mike Noel   
Saturday, 15 December 2012

A Year with G. K. Chesterton -- Kevin Belmonte 

As the title suggests, this is a reading-per-day style book.  Each day contains a brief scripture excerpt, a comment on that scripture by Chesterton, one or two selections from Chesterton's published works, and a snippet from his literary biography associated with that day.  The readings are clever and insightful.  They are though-provoking, as daily readings should be, and help one to think about their own world view.  Especially when dealing with topics such as the nature of man, Christianity, and the place of religion in modern society.

 

Read more...
 
10 Christians Everyone Should Know -- John Perry Print
Written by Mike Noel   
Friday, 28 September 2012

10 Christians Everyone Should Know

This book is a collection of 10 mini-biographies of notable historical figures.  The list includes a diverse set of subjects ranging from Galileo to Bach.  All of the individuals were devoted Christians and each biography gives an overview of their accomplishments while showing how faith was central to their character and actions.

Read more...
 
Illusion -- Frank Peritti Print
Written by Mike Noel   
Saturday, 14 April 2012

Image

I must say that I was quite pleasantly pleased with Peretti's latest novel Illusion.  Out of the blue I received an invitation from the publisher (or their marketing team) to provide a blogger's review of the book.  Normally I'm not a Peretti fan but I decided to give it a shot.  I'm glad I did!  Illusion is a captivating, surprising, and entertaining book.  Although Frank Peretti is known for his supernatural thrillers he had departed from that genre entirely with this book.

Last Updated ( Saturday, 14 April 2012 )
Read more...
 
Real Marriage -- Mark & Grace Driscoll Print
Written by Mike Noel   
Saturday, 21 January 2012

Real Marriage

In Real Marriage Mark and Grace Driscoll attempt to provide solid advice to married couples. The topics cover a wide range of marital issues but the primary focus is on physical intimacy.  It maynot be the authors' intention to put the focus here. In fact, I would guess that the authors meant to show that improved physical intimacy would be an emergent quality once the other areas of the marriage were improved.  

The book is authored by both Mark and Grace Driscoll. Most books with coauthors will have authors alternate on chapters or will have one primary author as the "voice" of the book. Mark and Grace interwove their authorship seamessly on a paragraph-by-paragraph basis -- sometimes even changing author in the middle of a paragraph. The constant switching took a little getting used to but once I became comfortable with it I enjoyed that style.

Last Updated ( Saturday, 21 January 2012 )
Read more...
 
The Book of Man -- William Bennett Print
Written by Mike Noel   
Monday, 28 November 2011

The Book of Man

The Book Of Man: Readings on the Path to Manhood is the latest by William Bennett (author of The Book of Virtues and The Moral Compass).  This book is a collection of short writings collected from various authors sprinkled with original essays and profiles written by Bennett himself.  All of the writings, taken from such diverse sources such as Homer, Augustine, and Mark Twain, are focused on the point of what it means to be a man.  This may seem to be a presumptuous task and certainly vulnerable to accusations of male chauvanism or misogyny but Bennett does well to avoid these twins dangers.  In fact, one entire section (100 pages) of the book is devoted to the interaction between man and woman (and children) and he demonstrates nothing but the need to hold women in high esteem.


 

Last Updated ( Monday, 28 November 2011 )
Read more...
 
Ringworld -- Larry Niven Print
Written by Mike Noel   
Sunday, 30 October 2011

ringworld

Larry Niven's Ringworld is considered a science fiction classic.  Somehow I missed reading it back when I was in highschool.  I have a suspicion that I started reading back then but I must have stopped.  The first chapter or two were quite familiar but then after that everything was new.

The book revolves around the place called Ringworld.  This is a strip of land that orbits around a central star. The inside (sun facing) of this strip has been terraformed to build an earthlike environment.  The land spins so that centrifugal force balances against the gravitational pull of the star.  This land is incredibly vast with a surface area three million times the surface area of earth.

Read more...
 
They Also Serve -- Mike Moscoe Print
Written by Mike Noel   
Tuesday, 04 October 2011

they also serve

One of the things that comes with the territory in the science fiction genre is the fact that things don't always make sense -- at least not right away.  But in good science fiction all of the strange things eventually resolve into some sort of coherence.  Unfortunately this wasn't the case with They Also Serve by Mike Moscoe.  The crew of Second Chance makes a bad "jump" through space and ends up at a planet in some unknown area of the universe.   Against all odds, this is the same planent that another ship accidently stumbled across 300 years earlier.  In order for the crew to get back to their home planet they need to establish a base and build the required resources. Seems simple enough.

Read more...
 
The Final Summit -- Andy Andrews Print
Written by Mike Noel   
Sunday, 03 July 2011

The Final Summit

The Final Summit by Andy Andrews describes the "final" summit meeting of many of the world's great thinkers throughout all of time to address the issue of how to save mankind. The archangel Gabriel, supposedly at God's command, has organized this meeting.  But it is more than just a friendly gathering.  Gabriel announces that if the group of people cannot correctly find the answer on how to save mankind, they will be destroyed.  The group is given a time limit and some rules on how to conduct the meeting.  Under this structure, the majority of the book consists of 'conversations' between these notable people.  

Read more...
 
Orthodoxy -- G. K. Chesterton Print
Written by Mike Noel   
Thursday, 10 March 2011

Orthodoxy

Orthodoxy is one of those books that has developed some legend around it.  References to this little book pop up all over the place in Christian literature as if everyone who is anyone has read the book.  It always receives high praise.  So much so that the praise is simply assumed and never stated.  After reading this I too sense the richness of the book.  One time through is not enough.

If we consider Lewis to be the first layer of the apologetics onion then Chesterton is the second layer. A little stronger.  A little denser.  And certainly a little less obvious.  But this book is excellent. 

One thing that must be said right from the start is that Orthodoxy is metaphorical.  All throughout the book Chesteron relies on metaphor to make his point.  The logical rigor and abstract philosophy that Lewis brings to his works is just not there.  This can make the book either better or worse, depending on your likes.  As for myself, I simply took it for what it was.

I believe the Chesterton constantly resorted to metaphor simply because he is a poet.  By that I don't necessarily mean that he writes verse, I mean that he expresses passion and life through the use of words and word pictures.   Therefore, using metaphor is the natural way for him to make his point.

Read more...
 
He Who Saw Everything Print
Written by Mike Noel   
Friday, 17 September 2010

He Who Saw Everything 

He Who Saw Everything is an English verse redition of the Epic of Gilgamesh.  This is the oldest written work that exists still today.  It is approximately 4000 years old and has been peiced together from ancient Sumarian, Babylonian, and Akkadian scripts.  It is most interesting simply because of how old it is.  This story was told and retold by generations of man hundreds of years before the Greeks and other ancient cultures came on the scene.  

Last Updated ( Friday, 17 September 2010 )
Read more...
 
Climbing Parnassus -- Tracy Lee Simmons Print
Written by Mike Noel   
Wednesday, 10 February 2010
I have spent the last 22 months of my life learning Classical Greek. These last two years have significantly increased my interest in the Classic languages so when I saw an interview with Tracy Lee Simmons discussing the value of Classic language learning I was intrigued and decided to read his book. Climbing Parnassus is subtitled A New Apologia for Greek and Latin and that is what the book delivers. It is a 250 page argument for the teaching of Greek and Latin as a fundamental and core part of our education system.
Simmons is not delusional. He realizes that the battle for Classics has already been fought and his side lost. However, he feels that there is still something valuable to be gained by the few who will pursue these languages. He also makes the case that this course of study is not suited for everyone due to either limitations or interests.
Climbing Parnassus starts of with definitions. Simmons defines terms such as education, liberal education, and classical education in non-modern terms. These definitions highlight a distinction (that he implies has mostly been lost in the modern world) between "education" and "training". The latter refers to learning what to do and how to do it while the former refers to cultivation and formation of character and intellect. He goes so far as to say that the ancients would scoff at what we call education and tell us that it misses the point entirely.
After establishing definitions for his terms and concepts Simmons takes us through a history of the classical languages in education. I found this part of the book very interesting. It was enlightening to see that it has only been in the last 100 years that classical languages have fallen out of vogue with the educated elite.
Last Updated ( Wednesday, 10 February 2010 )
Read more...
 
Tales from the Arabian Nights -- Sir Richard Burton Print
Written by Mike Noel   
Monday, 21 December 2009
Most people have heard of Aladdin and His Magic Lamp or Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves. These are just two of the tales from the 1001 Arabian Nights. This collection, translated into English by Sir Richard Burton in the 19th century, provides an excellent spectrum of the these Arabian Tales. It is not easy reading to the modern American reader. The language and structure is obscure (by today's pitiful standards) so it takes work to read. However, it is worth the effort.
The stories provide abundant detail about the middle eastern culture, philosophy, and religion. A reader cannot escape the constant references to Allah and Islam. It is also impossible to not detect a very different view on the issues of life and death when compared to western culture.
While reading this I was struck with the absurd mythological aspects of the stories. Many of the stories contain overt religious messages but they are wrapped in incredible and unbelievable contexts. This made me rethink much about western culture and our myths, stories, and religious beliefs. Are the religious stories that we know and believe just as absurd to an outsider? Somehow I don't think so but then maybe that is just because I'm on "this side" of the perspective. It is almost as if the Arabian Nights stories combine highly fantastical stories, like our Little Red Riding Hood, or Hansel and Gretle, and combine them with deeply religious lessons.
Last Updated ( Monday, 21 December 2009 )
Read more...
 
Saturn -- Ben Bova Print
Written by Mike Noel   
Sunday, 27 September 2009
Saturn is an interesting novel about mankind's first exploration of Saturn. It is more focused on the trip to Saturn than any actual exploration of the planet (or it's moons or rings). The leaders on Earth put 10,000 people from various philosophical, vocational, and geographical regions on a large habitat and launched it towards Saturn. Most of the story takes place during the journey (25 months) while the different groups vie for dominance on the habitat. The interesting part of the story is the social experiment as we see how the different groups, with a fresh start, end up creating many of the same problems on the habitat that they were avoiding on Earth.
There is a bit of a surprise ending to the story. Not so much a surprise as a different twist on the entire story. It is subtle though. The reader has to be paying attention to the last page or two or they may miss out on the main point of the whole story.
Interesting characters and an interesting setting make the book a fun read but the more philosophical side of the book is a little weak. As is typical for science fiction, the handling of religion is a caricature. For those with a predilection to demonize religion this probably works just fine but for those who take a more reasoned approach to religion, it undermines the rest of the book.
Last Updated ( Wednesday, 04 November 2009 )
Read more...
 
The Black Rood -- Stephen Lawhead Print
Written by Mike Noel   
Sunday, 02 August 2009
The Black Rood is the second book in Lawhead's Celtic Crusades trilogy. The first book, The Iron Lance followed the story of a Celtic boy named Murdo as he traveled to the Holy Land and brought back the sacred lance. In The Black Rood Murdo's son Duncan follows in his father's footsteps, in rebellion, and returns to the Holy Land. Duncan's quest is to obtain the Black Rood.
The word "rood" derives from old English and means, roughly, a rod or a pole. In the context of this book the Black Rood is a portion of the cross that Jesus was crucified on. Duncan, being a devote Christian, accepts it as his mission to go to the Holy Land and rescue the holy relic from unworthy hands.
Lawhead's story takes on the flavor of an adventure story punctuated by strange visions and tantalizingly supernatural events. They are tantalizing because it's not quite clear if what the reader just witnessed was a supernatural intervention or if it was just a figment of the character's mind. And all along the object of the quest is a curious, mysterious, and sacred relic.
It seems to be Lawhead's trademark to end each book with a dramatic bit of tension, sometimes even shocking. This book is no different. After months of travel and captivity Duncan finds himself almost at the end of his journey when everything threatens to fall apart. And in the end Duncan learns that those things he thought were the most important were not.
Last Updated ( Wednesday, 04 November 2009 )
Read more...
 
The Eagle's Brood -- Jack Whyte Print
Written by Mike Noel   
Friday, 13 March 2009
The Eagle's Brood is the third book in The Calumod Chronicles series by Jack Whyte. This series is one of the best Arthurian legend series, intended for adult audiences, I have read. This book focuses mostly on Merlyn and secondarily on Uther, his cousin from their shared grandfather Picus Britannicus. The story is complete in itself but you can see the slowly moving events that have been progressing since the beginning of the series. The slow transformation of Britain from landscape dotted with Roman outposts to a barbaric land overrun with Celts, Saxons, Picts, Scots, and anyone else who thinks to come along. But there is a subtle order growing in the midst of the chaos. Some foreshadowing of what is to come.
There are two main conflicts that Merlyn deals with in this story. One is an internal conflict. An atrocity occurs and Merlyn believes that Uther committed the crime. He fights with his self because he believes that Uther is capable of committing the crime but he doesn't want to believe it. Throughout the story circumstantial evidence continues to build up and point at Uther's guilt.
The second conflict is between Camulod and Lot of Cornwall. Lot continuously wars against Camulod as he attempts to grow is power in the southwest corner of england. Harboring a personal grudge, Lot is especially vicious towards Merlyn and Uther.
The book is good, and like the others in the series, it is definitely intended for adult audiences.
Last Updated ( Wednesday, 04 November 2009 )
Read more...
 
The Black Tower -- P. D. James Print
Written by Mike Noel   
Monday, 26 January 2009
The Black Tower is P. D. James mystery novel. This is the fourth of her mysteries that I've read and to be honest, this one left me fairly cold. If this had been the first James novel I read I probably wouldn't be all that interested in her. The story was hard to follow and the characters were all too similar. So much so that they all kind of melded together so it was hard to keep track of who was doing what and why.
Last Updated ( Wednesday, 04 November 2009 )
Read more...
 
Red Mars -- Kim Stanely Robinson Print
Written by Mike Noel   
Monday, 26 January 2009
Red Mars is a semi-realistic story about colonization of Mars. It is classified as "hard sci-fi" since it is based on plausible science and technology. The story spends most of its time looking at the various characters and their interaction while the exploration and colonization of Mars is carried on as a backdrop to the drama. The plausibility of the endeavor is tantalizing in that it almost makes you believe that this sort of thing could happen in our lifetime or our children's lifetime.
This book has been considered one of the sci-fi top books since it was first written and so I have seen it prominently displayed on the shelves at most bookstores I visit. It has been at the top of my interest list for some time. A couple of months ago I saw the book at a used book sale and decided it was time to read it. Overall it was a good book. Parts of it were a bit hard to swallow and parts of it, particularly the strong secular humanism preaching, were just irritating. (Why is it that most science fiction authors feel that they need to promulgate that philosophy on the poor reader?)
Last Updated ( Wednesday, 04 November 2009 )
Read more...
 
A Mind To Murder -- P. D. James Print
Written by Mike Noel   
Wednesday, 19 November 2008

A Mind To Murder

A Mind To Murder is a great P. D. James mystery (of course all P. D. James mysteries are great) with the inspector Adam Dalgliesh called upon to solve a murder case at the Steen psychiatric hospital.  An eclectic array of doctors and staff members at the clinic are all suspects with their own motives and weak alibis.  Despite the reticence of his witnesses and the seemingly impossible circumstances, Dalgliesh is able to dig to the bottom of the quagmire and ferret out the killer.  

Last Updated ( Monday, 09 February 2009 )
Read more...
 
A Wizard of Earthsea -- Ursula K. Le Guin Print
Written by Mike Noel   
Friday, 14 November 2008

A Wizard of Earthsea

A Wizard of Earthsea is the first book in the Earthsea series written by Ursula K. Le Guin.  The central character is Ged, a young man who has the potential to be one of the most powerful wizards in all of Earthsea.  Ged starts as a boy who slowly discovers that he has vast talent to become a wizard.  He is soon adopted by a regional mage who promises to train him.  The boy's excitement is too much and he can't bear to follow the slow and subtle training that the mage offers.  In a foolish and impatient move Ged leaves and head to wizard school.  

 

Last Updated ( Monday, 17 November 2008 )
Read more...
 
More Than A Carpenter -- Josh McDowell Print
Written by Mike Noel   
Sunday, 09 November 2008

More  Than A Carpenter

I read this book once before years ago.  Back then I'm not sure I appreciated it as much as I did when I read it now.  I had forgotten how persuasive some of the simple and straight-forward arguments for classic Christian beliefs are.  McDowell does an excellent job of covering the issues in a clear and deliberate manner.  He covers everything from the deity of Christ to the reliability of the scriptures to the truth of the ressurection. A hardcore philosophical attack on the contents of this book would likely find some holes but I believe it easily covers 95% of the issues.  The other 5% is still up for grabs.

Read more...
 
Bladerunner -- Philip K. Dick Print
Written by Mike Noel   
Sunday, 09 November 2008

Bladerunner

Most people have heard of Bladerunner as a movie.  A few people know that this movie was based off a book by Philip K. Dick titled Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep. After the success of the movie Dick's book was republished and retitled as Bladerunner.  I have seen the movie a couple of times (I still don't see why it is considered one of the best sci-fi movies ever) and when I ran across the book in the library I thought it would be worth a read.  It was.

Read more...
 
Lost Languages -- Andrew Robinson Print
Written by Mike Noel   
Monday, 03 November 2008

Lost Languages

Have you ever wondered how Egyptian hierglyphics were deciphered?  Or what about the Myan calendar and script? Lost Languages is a book that goes through the history of how these languages were deciphered.  It also goes through a list of several ancient languages that haven't yet been "cracked".  In some cases it's doubtful that the language will ever be discovered unless some amazing new artifacts are found. At times the book is a bit technical but for the most part it is quite readable.

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 30 December 2008 )
Read more...
 
The Illearth War -- Stephen R. Donaldson Print
Written by Mike Noel   
Friday, 31 October 2008

The Illearth War

The Illearth War is the second book in The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever.  I added my comments on the first book Lord Foul's Bane on this site a couple of weeks ago.  As I mentioned then, I first started reading this series in High School.  At that time I only read the first book and didn't really like it.  This time I found the first book interesting enough to compel me to read the second.  It is unusual for the second book in a triolgy to be better than the first but that is the case with this series.  Much better, in fact.

Read more...
 
Lord Foul's Bane -- Stephen R. Donaldson Print
Written by Mike Noel   
Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Lord Foul's Bane

Lord Foul's Bane is one of the classic fantasy novels (series actually) from the 80's.  It was published in 1977 right on the heels of the great Tolkien revival that was sweeping across college campuses.  But Thomas Covenant is a completely different hero that the humble Baggins.  Covenant is an anti-hero.  He is more than reluctant to step in and save the world.  Instead, he actively refuses to play his role.  He tries his best to avoid getting sucked into the delusion, as he thinks of it.  Covenant is a leper who was magically transported from the real world to the magical Land.  He insists that it is all a dream designed to strip him of his sanity.

Read more...
 
Carve The Sky -- Alexander Jablokov Print
Written by Mike Noel   
Wednesday, 01 October 2008

Carve The Sky

What a fun and clever sci-fi story. In some ways this is better characterized as a mystery set in a science fiction universe.  Jablokov creates a believable world set about 400 years in the future.  By then humanity has moved off of the terrestial sphere and now people live on the moon, mars, some asteroids in the belt, and some even spend their entire life aboard large space ships that shuttle between the various bodies in the solar system.

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 01 October 2008 )
Read more...
 
Basic Economics -- Thomas Sowell Print
Written by Mike Noel   
Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Basic Economics

Somehow in all my college education I missed any classes on economics. Feeling like I might be missing some important information I decided to pick up a basic economics book from the library and read through it.  It was my good luck to find this particular book because it provides a broad overview of the entire field of economics but at a level that an ordinary person can understand.  I learned a lot from the book.  There was more than just some facts and statistics.  Instead the author spent a lot of time explaining how to think about economics.

Read more...
 
Two Years Before The Mast -- Richard Henry Dana Jr. Print
Written by Mike Noel   
Monday, 08 September 2008
TwoYears Before The Mast is an autobiographical account of a little more than two years of the life of Richard Henry Dana Jr.  During this period he lived the life of a working sailor on a merchant ship that travelled from Boston to the Californian coast.  The book goes into incredible detail about a sailor's life and the hardships endured in that trade.  It also sheds some light on the historical dawning of the west coast of the United States.  The California from the 1830's is nearly unrecognizable from the California that we all know today.  Dana's followup essay title "24 Years Later" tells of his return to California after the gold rush had completely transformed the coast.  Probably the most striking change was the city of San Francisco which went from a few houses to 120,000 people in a span of less than 25 years.
Last Updated ( Monday, 08 September 2008 )
Read more...
 
Gideon's Dawn -- Michael D. Warden Print
Written by Mike Noel   
Friday, 22 August 2008

Image

This was an absolutely amazing book!  I found it at a discount bookstore this summer and bought it as a last resort.  I was unable to find any other good books there and this one was the only one that showed the slightest bit of promise.  Then, even after getting it, I waited a couple months before I actually decided to read it.  Silly me.

So what was so good about it?  It's hard to describe. This in the fantasy genre but it avoids sounding like all of the other cliched books in the genre.  On the surface it is a story that has been done many times over -- a "normal" person is transported to an alternate world and discovers that he's the long awaited hero to solve their problems.  And in the vein of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, the main character in this book is not at all interested in being the hero.

Last Updated ( Saturday, 23 August 2008 )
Read more...
 
All My Holy Mountain -- L. B. Graham Print
Written by Mike Noel   
Sunday, 10 August 2008

All My Holy Mountain

All My Holy Mountain is the concluding book in L. B. Graham's Binding Of The Blade series.  Graham neatly wraps up the loose ends that he had left dangling since the very beginning of the series.  While things end predictably, it is entertaining none the less to see the
story unfold.

Last Updated ( Sunday, 17 August 2008 )
Read more...
 
The Dark Tower -- C. S. Lewis Print
Written by Mike Noel   
Sunday, 10 August 2008

The Dark Tower

When it comes to fiction C. S. Lewis is best known for his children's series the Chronicles of Narnia and his space trilogy.  There is, however, a collection of lesser known short fiction works.  The Dark Tower contains these works as well as a couple incomplete writings. The centerpeice of this collection is the 100 page beginning of the book The Dark Tower which was intended to be a sequel to Out Of The Silent Planet. There is another incomplete manuscript that tells the chronicles the events just after Troy was sacked. Two previously published short works and two unpublished, but complete, stories round out the collection.

Last Updated ( Thursday, 14 August 2008 )
Read more...
 
Father of Dragons -- L. B. Graham Print
Written by Mike Noel   
Wednesday, 06 August 2008

Father of Dragons

The books in the Binding of the Blade series get better with each installment.  Each book in the series starts right where there previous left off as if this was one, long, five volume book.  In this book we start to see all of the plans coming together (but things won't be resolved until the fifth book).  Even when all the plans that Aljeron and the others had been making have been falling apart, in Father of Dragons there is some hope.

Read more...
 
Blueprints: Solving the Mystery of Evolution Print
Written by Mike Noel   
Thursday, 31 July 2008

Blueprints: Solving the Mystery of Evolution

Despite the subtitle, I'm afraid that this book didn't actually solve the mysteries of evolution.  In fact, it didn't a fairly poor job of even trying to.  Most of the book revolved around a history of Darwinism from the middle of the 19th century till the late 20th century and an interesting narrative of how the fields of genetics and cellular biology arose.  At best the book, tried to show how some evidence can be interpreted with an evolutionary explanation.  While that's interesting, it certainly doesn't "solve the mystery" of evolution.  The book also suffered severely from a bad case of strawmanitis in that it characterized all who didn't "believe" in evolution to be mindless religious zealots who ignore scientific fact because it conflicts with their beliefs.  And finally, the book's coverage of australopithecenes did much more harm than good to the cause of evolution.

Last Updated ( Friday, 01 August 2008 )
Read more...
 
There Is A God -- Antony Flew Print
Written by Mike Noel   
Saturday, 12 July 2008

There Is A God

According to this book, Antony Flew, was one of the premier and influential atheist minds in the 20th century.  He pioneered many of the arguments and defenses supporting atheism.  Maybe of his papers and books are considered staples in the modern atheists philosophical arsenal.  Yet, in 2004, Flew announced that his lifelong philosophy of "following the evidence" had led him to the believe now that there is a God.

 

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 22 July 2008 )
Read more...
 
The Odyssey -- Homer Print
Written by Mike Noel   
Wednesday, 09 July 2008

The Odyssey

One of the books that most students have to read (or at least used to have to read) is The Odyssey.  I believe that in the past most students were required to read this in the original Greek but now we have several English translations available.  Somehow I managed to avoid reading any serious classic literature in my education.  I'm not sure that was such a good idea and so I'm now trying to rectify that situation.  The Fitzgerald translation is supposed to be quite good.  That's the one I read.

Last Updated ( Sunday, 13 July 2008 )
Read more...
 
The Summer Tree -- Guy Gavriel Key Print
Written by Mike Noel   
Wednesday, 09 July 2008

The Summer Tree

Perusing the science-fiction and fantasy section at bookstores as much as I have means that I've seen many books by Guy Gavriel Kay.  These books have always intrigued me and they've been perpetually on my list of fantasy books to read sometime.  A few weeks ago I finally bit the bullet and got The Summer Tree, the first book in the Fionavar trilogy. It wasn't what I was expecting but it wasn't bad. Based on comments I had read about Kay I was expecting something a bit more literary and Tolkienesque.  Instead, I found that the book was rather simple and even colloquial at times.  As I said, not bad, just not what I was expecting.

Last Updated ( Sunday, 13 July 2008 )
Read more...
 
Hyperion -- Dan Simmons Print
Written by Mike Noel   
Tuesday, 01 July 2008

Hyperion

Hyperion is one of those science fiction books that has been around forever (since the mid 80's) and I've never read.  I've seen it sitting on the bookstore shelves many times and it always looked interesting.  For some reason, though, I was led to believe that it was a futuristic retelling of Homer's Odyssey.  That was probably why it took so long for me to get to reading it.  I wanted to read The Odyssey first.  Now I see that the delay was unnecessary.  Hyperion is not a retelling of The Odyssey.  It is closer to a retelling of The Canterbury Tales but even that is not a very good comparison. 

 

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 01 July 2008 )
Read more...
 
XNA Game Studio 2.0 Print
Written by Mike Noel   
Wednesday, 25 June 2008

XNA Game Studio 2.0

The official book title is Microsoft XNA Game Studio 2.0: Learn Programming Now. As the title suggests, this book attempts to teach programming (in C#) using the XNA Game Studio environment.  The book works through several very basic games starting with simply coloring the entire screen a solid color and ending up with a "brickout" type game played with cheese, bread, and tomatoes. Each games introduces one or more new XNA concepts along with additional C# techniques. Already knowing C# meant that I could read through the book fairly quickly (it took me about 3 days) and pick out the XNA related topics.

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 25 June 2008 )
Read more...
 
Daggerspell -- Katherine Kerr Print
Written by Mike Noel   
Sunday, 15 June 2008

Daggerspell

 This is another of those fantasy books from the 80's that I somehow missed. The other notable entry in that list was the David Eddings Belgariad series that I reviewed a few months ago.  Daggerspell was better and more interesting that the Eddings books but it still had a few problems.  Or maybe just quirks.  I'm really not trying to be all that critical but some things just stick out like sore thumbs.  After reading Eddings, this book, and some old Shanarra I think I'm beginning to understand why people have always looked down a bit on the fantasy genre.  This book wasn't that bad though.  As I said, just some quirks.

Last Updated ( Monday, 09 June 2008 )
Read more...
 
Scarlet -- Stephen Lawhead Print
Written by Mike Noel   
Monday, 09 June 2008

Scarlet

Scarlet is the second book in Stephen Lawhead's King Raven Trilogy.  Just as with the first book in the series, Hood, this book is one of Lawhead's best.  The writing is easy going and accessible, the plot moves along at a good pace, and the characters are vivid and lifelike.  

Last Updated ( Saturday, 21 June 2008 )
Read more...
 
That Hideous Strength -- C. S. Lewis Print
Written by Mike Noel   
Monday, 09 June 2008

That Hideous Strength

 That Hideous Strength is the final book in Lewis's science fiction trilogy.  The first book, Out Of the Silent Planet the main character, Ransom, visits the planet Malacandra (Mars) and discovers an extensive and vibrant life outside of Earth which is referred to as the Silent Planet.  In the second book, Perelandra, Ransom travels to Perelandra (Venus) to stop another evil plot by Doctor Weston.  In contrast, the third book remains entirely on Earth.  In the third book Ransom is again called to thwart evil.  This time he is stopping an invasion of earth by the alien forces that exist outside Earth's protective shell.

 

Last Updated ( Friday, 13 June 2008 )
Read more...
 
The Journey of Man -- Spencer Wells Print
Written by Mike Noel   
Sunday, 18 May 2008

Journey of Man

In The Journey of Man author Spencer Wells puts forth a description and explanation of how modern man descended from a single man located somewhere in Africa around 60,000 years ago.  In more detail Wells describes the actual migration routes over the millenniums showing how man moved from one continent to another and eventually spread to every corner of the globe.  Wells is able to come up with these astounding details through the clever use of genetics, in particular the Y chromosome, and statistical analysis. 

Unfortunately there are many many details left out and lots of gaps that make the whole premise much less solid.  As I read through the book I found myself frequently scratching my head and wondering how the conclusion could possibly follow from the facts presented.  There was also very little description or explanation of how Wells obtained the genetic data that he bases the entire premise on.  

Last Updated ( Friday, 30 May 2008 )
Read more...
 
The Mammoth Book Of Fantasy Print
Written by Mike Noel   
Saturday, 16 February 2008

Mammoth Book of Fantasy

The Mammoth Book of Fantasy is yet another anthology that I read.  This time, I'm happy to say, there were a few stories in the collection that I thought were interesting.  Many of the stories in the book were not what I would call fantasy though.  That's probably because I have a limited or narrow definition of fantasy.  I think that I should really be looking at "heroic" or "epic" fantasy.   

Read more...
 
The Last Unicorn Print
Written by Mike Noel   
Wednesday, 30 January 2008

The Last Unicorn The Last Unicorn is considered one of the top fantasy books in the last 100 years.  Written by Peter S. Beagle in 1963 it boasts sales of over 5 million copies and translation into 20 different languages.  At least one animated film has been made from the story and there is rumor of a live-action film in the works which has garnered a lot of excited attention from the fans.  So I'm a bit baffled that I found the book somewhat lackluster.  It was mildly interesting but not extraordinary. 

Read more...
 
Fantasy: The Best Of The Year 2006 Print
Written by Mike Noel   
Saturday, 19 January 2008

Fantasy: the best of the year 2006When I read anthologies, such as this one, it is my intention to get broad exposure to different authors in the genre.  I fully expect to like some and dislike some.  In fact, it seems I end up disliking more than I like.  But there is always the hope of finding at least one gem in the pile.  In all of this I assume that the genre in the title is the genre I'm looking for.  In this case, with a title like "Fantasy" I was expecting a couple dozen short stories in the fantasy genre.   Silly me. Instead I got to read two vampire stories, a couple ghost stories, several science-fiction stories, and a supernatural thriller.  Hardly what I would expect for "fantasy".

Last Updated ( Saturday, 19 January 2008 )
Read more...
 
The Iron Lance -- Stephen Lawhead Print
Written by Mike Noel   
Tuesday, 25 December 2007
The Iron Lance
The Iron Lance is Stephen Lawhead's first book in the Crusades Trilogy. Starting off the northern coast of Scottland Murdo's father and brothers begin their quest to join in the crusades to rescue Jerusalem from it's captors. Leaving the young boy in charge the men expect to be back within the year. Due to incredible abuse of power and exploitation Murdo soon finds himself and the women in his care without land or home. Murdo follows after his father and brothers in the hopes that they will return and restore the land that was taken. Eventually, and against his will, Murdo ends up joining the crusades to retake Jerusalem. Befriended by a group of monks from the Cele De and finding himself disillusioned by all that occurred in the name of God, Murdo only wants to return home. When he find his father and brothers he is able to complete his business and return back home. Through the difficulties of the two year journey Murdo has become a man and returns home as a man.
Last Updated ( Monday, 31 December 2007 )
Read more...
 
Hood -- Stephen Lawhead Print
Written by Mike Noel   
Thursday, 18 October 2007
Hood
Hood is the first book in Stephen Lawhead's Raven King Trilogy. The trilogy is a retelling of the legend of Robin Hood but with a historical twist. After extensive research Lawhead is convinced that the real Robin Hood started in Wales, not England. In a small article at the end of this book Lawhead lays out his fairly convincing reasoning. But all of that aside, the book is excellent. Lawhead has always been a good story teller as there is some bardic lineage in his distant past. With Hood Lawhead's story telling abilities are out in full force. The story is full of deep and interesting characters, smart plots, and innovative scenes and settings.
Read more...
 
Dragonspell -- Donita K. Paul Print
Written by Mike Noel   
Friday, 28 September 2007
dragonspell
Dragonspell is the first book in Donita K. Paul's Dragon Keeper Chronicles. It is primarily intended for a young adult audience but it is an easy and fun read for adults as well. The story is alive with action and imaginative characters. The allegorical elements of the story are obvious but not over the top. I picked up this book based on recommendations I found online and I'm glad I did. I look forward to reading the rest of the series.
Read more...
 
Giver Of Roses -- Kathleen Morgan Print
Written by Mike Noel   
Saturday, 15 September 2007
Giver Of Roses
Giver Of Roses is Kathleen Morgan's first book in the Guardians of Gadiel series. As of now this is just the first book written in the series. Plans for the next two are set for 2008 and 2009 (according to the author's web site). I am looking forward to the next in the series. This book was well written and very entertaining. Morgan created likable and vivid characters that play in a sufficient but not overly complicated plot. The good guys are flawed and have their own hangups and the bad guys show a soft side that hints at a path towards redemption.
Read more...
 
The Belgariad (volume one) -- David Eddings Print
Written by Mike Noel   
Thursday, 12 July 2007
The Belgariad
Back in the 1980's, when I was in high school, I read every bit of fantasy I could get my hands on. I went through all the standards: Tolkien, Lewis, Donaldson, Anthony, Brooks, etc. Somehow my fantasy reading flurry passed over the books by David Eddings. Recently I rectified that situation by reading the first three books in the five book series title The Belgariad.
Last Updated ( Thursday, 12 July 2007 )
Read more...
 
Expendable -- James Alan Gardner Print
Written by Mike Noel   
Thursday, 14 June 2007
Expendable
In a society filled with perfect people what do you do with those born with blemishes and birth defects? Well, why not send them on dangerous missions to explore unknown worlds? Since they are not "perfect" they have become expendable -- Expendable Crew Members. And then how do you get rid of troublemakers and politically inconvenient people when an omniscient, omnipresent League of Peoples disallows "doing away with" someone? How about if you banish them to a planet that no one can escape from? There you have the whole Expendable story in a nutshell.
Read more...
 
The Call Of Earth -- Orson Scott Card Print
Written by Mike Noel   
Wednesday, 06 June 2007
the call of earth
A while ago I read the first book in Orson Scott Card's Homecoming series: The Memory Of Earth. It was interesting enough that when I came across the second book in the series, The Call Of Earth, it snagged me. Unfortunately it wasn't quite so good. The book dragged on quite a bit. Card expanded a lot on the concept of the Oversoul that he created in the first book. However, I think that was the problem with the book. He took it too far.
Read more...
 
Arena -- Karen Hancock Print
Written by Mike Noel   
Saturday, 17 February 2007
Arena
I was first introduced to Karen Hancock's book with the Guardian King series (The Light Of Eidon, The Shadow Within, Shadow Over Kiriath). Considering how much I liked those books I decided to check out her first published book, Arena. The back of the book describes it as a combination of The Pilgrim's Progress and The Matrix. This scifi allegory certainly does seem a lot like The Pilgrim's Progress or Hind's Feet On High Places but the similarity to The Matrix is a bit stretched. The story takes place in a science-fiction setting but it's not a virtual reality.
Last Updated ( Sunday, 18 February 2007 )
Read more...
 
Smith of Wootton Major & Farmer Giles of Ham -- J. R. R. Tolkien Print
Written by Mike Noel   
Thursday, 01 February 2007
Smith of Wootton Major & Farmer Giles of Ham
This book is a collection of two short stories by J. R. R. Tolkien: Smith of Wootton Major and Farmer Giles of Ham. Each of the stories reflects Tolkien's efforts to develop a mythology for England and his fascination with the fantastical. Smith is a story about Faery land and the adventures of a mortal, Smith, who finds himself suddenly having access to this magical realm. It is an exploration of the elvin and faery world.
Last Updated ( Thursday, 01 February 2007 )
Read more...
 
J. R. R. Tolkien - The Authorised Biography -- Humphrey Carpenter Print
Written by Mike Noel   
Friday, 26 January 2007
tolkien biography
tolkien biography
This biography provides an insightful, entertaining, and often moving account of the life of one of the twentieth centuries greatest writers. In this book Carpenter covers the specifics of Tolkien's birth and death, family and marriage, careers and living arrangements, and all of the other "technical" details that are expected in a biography. Throughout all of that he weaves in the story of how Tolkien's most famous works, The Hobbit and The Lord Of The Rings, were developed and finally brought to press.
Last Updated ( Sunday, 28 January 2007 )
Read more...
 
Dune -- Frank Herbert Print
Written by Mike Noel   
Sunday, 14 January 2007
Dune
Dune is considered by many to be a science-fiction masterpiece. It has been compared to Tolkien's Lord Of The Rings as similar in scope and magnificence. Unfortunately I didn't find it quite so stunning. The story was adequate but not all that intriguing and the characters were fairly stereotypical. It could be that Herbert defined those character types with this work (it was first published in 1965) and since then they've been copied much. Maybe that's why they didn't seem so unique. Because of these issues the book just didn't grab me or hold my interest so instead my mind started wandering and thinking about the between-the-lines stuff.
Read more...
 
Till We Have Faces -- C. S. Lewis Print
Written by Mike Noel   
Saturday, 09 December 2006
Till We Have Faces
Till We Have Faces is a wonderful retelling of the ancient Greek mythology of Cupid and Psyche. Lewis didn't simple restate the story but he took elements and modified them to give the story a different cast than the original. In this version Lewis explores themes of love, sacrifice, and the relationships between humans and the divine. Good fiction often prompts the reader to identify himself (or herself, obviously) in the characters of the story and then raises the questions implicitly that are explicitly raised as the character deals with the situations of the narrative. Lewis is a master of this as he wraps us up in the story so completely that we are unaware of the deep and probing questions he's putting to our soul. Seeds that are planted and nourished in our quiet contemplations. As the plants of those questions grow we begin to see the answer and it is fully realized with the plant flowers. Till We Have Faces plants those seeds.
Last Updated ( Saturday, 09 December 2006 )
Read more...
 
Mariel Of Redwall -- Brian Jacques Print
Written by Mike Noel   
Thursday, 26 October 2006
Mariel Of Redwall
As the title suggests, this is another of Brian Jacques' Redwall books. This story revolves around one small but ferocious mouse, Mariel. Mariel and her father, Joseph, are captured and tortured by the evil searat Gabool. After he throws Mariel to the ocean, leaving her for dead, she washes up on the shore near Redwall Abbey. With the help of the residents there, and the spirit of Martin the Warrior, Mariel begins a quest to defeat Gabool and rescue her father.
Read more...
 
Shadow Over Kiriath -- Karen Hancock Print
Written by Mike Noel   
Monday, 18 September 2006
Shadow Over Kiriath
Shadow Over Kiriath is the third book in Karen Hancock's Legend of the Guardian King series. With this book Hancock further demonstrate's her exceptional ability at telling a gripping story in a fantasy setting that feels real and hits home. It raises questions about the nature of evil and even about how much of that evil resides in us. It is an adult story and it deals with adult issues in a very adult way.
Last Updated ( Saturday, 20 January 2007 )
Read more...
 
Miracles -- C. S. Lewis Print
Written by Mike Noel   
Tuesday, 18 July 2006
Miracles
Miracles is C. S. Lewis' classic book in defense of miracles. If a skeptic reads this book in order to see how well the author can wriggle around semantics and play with historical fuzziness he will be disappointed. And, if he thinks that Lewis will stop with simply stating his case that miracles can happen, he will be shocked to find that Lewis puts together an argument that supports the fact that miracles must happen. Lewis' explanations are not for the light reader though. He relies heavily on sophisticated philosophical thought and assumes readers are very familiar with authors such as Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Hume, Hobbes, and so on. If the reader can keep up with the heady reasoning (I'm not at all sure that I did) then this book is full of rich and detailed discussions concerning much more than just simple stage magician type tricks that some like to call miracles.
Last Updated ( Tuesday, 07 November 2006 )
Read more...
 
Shadow In The Deep -- L. B. Graham Print
Written by Mike Noel   
Saturday, 27 May 2006
Shadow In The Deep
L. B. Graham's third book in The Binding Of The Blade series, Shadow In The Deep is his best to date. The series is set in a Tolkien-like world at a time when the evil power, Malek, has begun a massive invasion to try to take over the world. Graham's strength in these books is his ability to create a rich and engaging world that is vast in scope while developing real and exciting characters.
Last Updated ( Sunday, 30 July 2006 )
Read more...
 
Mastery - George Leonard Print
Written by Mike Noel   
Sunday, 26 March 2006
ImageIn this book George Leonard describes the concept of "mastery" and explains how to acheive it. Mastery is defined not as a goal to be achieved but as an acceptance, and even enjoyment, of the process of learning and growing in a skill. The journey is much more important than the destination. Leonard states that this focus on the process rather than the end result is counter intuitive to our western, result-oriented culture. He encourages the reader to look past the immediate gratification of results and embrance the times on the plateaus of development.
Last Updated ( Sunday, 30 July 2006 )
Read more...
 
The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe -- C. S. Lewis Print
Written by Mike Noel   
Friday, 25 November 2005
Image
The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe is one of those books that nearly every child has read. The story is exciting and moves along at a good pace. The characters are colorful, not too shallow and not too deep. And besides, all kids love talking animals. Adults like the book because of the deeper message. Christians see an explicit allegory that compares with the central Christian teaching of Christ. Others appreciate the right vs. wrong message and the act of self-sacrifice and love that it used to conquer the wrongs. It seems that this book can't go wrong.
Last Updated ( Sunday, 30 July 2006 )
Read more...
 
Buy Jupiter -- Issac Asimov Print
Written by Mike Noel   
Thursday, 24 November 2005
Image
A little Asimov goes a long way for me. It was 15 or 20 years ago that I read four books from the Foundation series. At that time I enjoyed them a lot but not enough to find other Asimov stuff to read. Recently I finished a collection of Asimov shorts called Buy Jupiter. The title of the anthology is taken from the title of one of the stories in the collection. The first few stories were interesting but by about halfway through the book I was pretty bored with it.
Last Updated ( Sunday, 30 July 2006 )
Read more...
 
The Abductors: Conspiracy -- Jonathan Frakes Print
Written by Mike Noel   
Friday, 11 November 2005
Image
This book had red flags all over it. That's probably why it sat on my bookshelf for a couple years before I mustered the courage to read it. The first red flag was the author. While being an actor doesn't preclude one from being able to write a book, there's is a good chance that the publishing house is willing to promote poor quality in the hopes that people will buy it because of the name. Secondly, I bought it for $1 at a dollar store. Books aren't sold at the dollar store for no reason. Thirdly, the title suggests a series ("The Abductors") but in almost 10 years book two hasn't been written. Despite the warnings I read the book. It was pretty bad but it could have been a lot worse.
Last Updated ( Sunday, 30 July 2006 )
Read more...
 
The Shadow Within -- Karen Hancock Print
Written by Mike Noel   
Friday, 11 November 2005
Image
The Shadow Within is the second book in the Legends Of The Guardian King series by Karen Hancock. With her first book in the series (The Light Of Eidon) Karen Hancock set the bar quite high for adult Christian fantasy and with this book she raises it even higher. The story continues a year or so after the first book ends. By this time Abramm Kaladorne has determined it is time for him to take his rightful place as the king of Kiriath. His first task will be to unseat his brother who has taken over the throne through deceit and treachery.
Last Updated ( Sunday, 30 July 2006 )
Read more...
 
Bringer Of Storms -- L. B. Graham Print
Written by Mike Noel   
Friday, 30 September 2005
ImageBringer Of Storms is the second book in The Binding Of The Blade series.  The first book was Beyond The Summerland. The first book ended rather abruptly with a significant twist of events that left most readers more than a little stunned.  It was expected that the second book would pick up where the first left off but it didn't.  Instead Storms skips ahead 17 years and we enter the world the way it is after 17 years of dealing with the problems introduced at the end of Summerland.  In some ways this works well for the book but it also clearly makes it a "second book" in a series. This book could never be read as a stand alone story. 
 
Last Updated ( Wednesday, 06 June 2007 )
Read more...
 
Long Dark Teatime Of The Soul -- Douglas Adams Print
Written by Mike Noel   
Sunday, 31 July 2005
Image
The Long Dark Tea-Time Of The Soul is Douglas Adam's second Dirk Gently novel. Gently is a private investigator, actually a holistic private investigator. That is, he believes in the total interconnectedness of all things. Therefore, his detecting methods involve pulling together the most unusual and apparently unrelated things and finding the common link. While the first book, Holistic Detective Agency, was fun and clever, Teatime seems to be too over the top. Adams has certainly given Gently some strange and apparently unrelated events but he doesn't tie them together in a clever way. Instead of explaining it all in "our" world, Adams moves the whole shebang off to a parrallel universe populated by norse mythological creatures. Once in that world we don't expect things to necessarily make sense so the tension of the juxtaposition of strange events is significantly reduced.
Last Updated ( Tuesday, 02 August 2005 )
Read more...
 
The Light of Eidon -- Karen Hancock Print
Written by Mike Noel   
Tuesday, 17 May 2005
ImageThe Light Of Eidon is the first book in the Legends of The Guardian-King series by Karen Hancock.  As a fantasy book it does an excellent job of combining all the elements of the fantasy genre (magic, mythical creatures, swords, and heroic quests) into a fresh, new story.   It also presents a deeper and more complex view of humans than many books do. 

The story spans about 2 years of the life of the main character, Abramm, also know as Eldrin.  At the beginning of the story Eldrin is preparing for his initiation into the religious order.  On the eve of his induction he is betrayed and sold into slavery.  His owner plans to train him and use him as a fighter in the gladiator fights.  
Last Updated ( Sunday, 17 July 2005 )
Read more...
 
Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency -- Douglas Adams Print
Written by Mike Noel   
Thursday, 05 May 2005

ImageWhat do a lost cat, a time traveler, a software engineer, a stuck sofa, and an Electric Monk have in common?  Well, it's hard to say unless you read Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency. Then it becomes clear -- almost. Adams' style, first shown to the world in his Hitchhiker's Guide series of books, is hard to describe.  Not because it crosses many genre boundaries but because it's hard to make words like irreverent, zany, witty, and clever combine in such a way as to give an accurate picture.  It's best just to read the books. But be warned, if you have even the smallest of religious bones in your body, be sure to wear your thick skin while reading this book.  His pokes at religion and belief systems are not mean-spirited but could be irritating if you're not expecting it.

Last Updated ( Saturday, 16 July 2005 )
Read more...
 
Grace In Autumn -- Lori Copeland, Angela Hunt Print
Written by Mike Noel   
Tuesday, 26 April 2005
ImageThis book is the second in the Heavenly Daze series (see The Island Of Heavenly Daze).  Like the first book this one has quite a few very funny situations.  The "testimony" time during the church service is close to the top of my list of funny situations.  But I won't spoil it.  In contrast to the first, though, this book contains more sad and touching moments.  It is also a lot more directly religious than the first book (not that this is necessarily a bad thing).  The moral message in the book, or rather the Christian message in the book, is very strong and direct.  In many ways I prefer for a story to reveal moral truth for me to discover rather than simply telling it to me directly.  Despite the preachy tone I still enjoyed the book quite a bit.
Last Updated ( Tuesday, 26 April 2005 )
Read more...
 
The Island Of Heavenly Daze -- Lori Copeland, Angela Hunt Print
Written by Mike Noel   
Monday, 18 April 2005
ImageIf you are ever looking for some light and fun (and very funny) reading then The Island of Heavenly Daze is a good place to start. It is the first book in a five book series covering the often hilarious antics of the residents of the very small island called Heavenly Daze.  At many points the book is side-splittingly funny.

Heavenly Daze focuses on the pastor of the town, Winslow Wickam.  In honor of his service with the community the church presents him with a unique gift that causes him to see himself in a different light.  Armed with his new perspective he uncovers a secret plot by the church ladies to replace him with a newer, younger, more vibrant pastor.  To protect himself he begins his own campaign to prove to the church that he is the best pastor they could ever have.  Needless to say, it doesn't turn out quite like he had planned.


Last Updated ( Wednesday, 20 April 2005 )
Read more...
 
The Depths of Time -- Roger MacBride Allen Print
Written by Mike Noel   
Wednesday, 29 December 2004
ImageSome time ago I decided to start reading through the Science Fiction bookshelf choosing at least one author from each letter of the alphabet. The intention was to develop a broad spectrum view of the Science Fiction genre. The Aldis book mentioned below was my first book in that effort. This book is my second.
Last Updated ( Wednesday, 29 December 2004 )
Read more...
 
Poirot Investigates -- Agatha Christie Print
Written by Mike Noel   
Monday, 06 December 2004
ImageRather then being a full-length book, Poirot Investigates is a collection of short stories involving the incredible deductive powers of Hercule Poirot.  I've read Poirot stories before but never have I been so struck by the obvious similarities to Sherlock Holmes.  The characters Poirot and Hastings so parallel Holmes and Watson that I'm certain it was deliberate.  And it was well done.
Last Updated ( Wednesday, 08 December 2004 )
Read more...
 
The Skystone -- Jack Whyte Print
Written by Mike Noel   
Wednesday, 24 November 2004
ImageThe Roman Empire began around 750 BC and lasted until 476 AD.  The decline of the Empire took over 100 years.  Slowly Rome found itself unable to maintain the mammoth political structure it had built.  The Skystone is a historical novel set at the time when the Roman Empire's influence in the West is waning.  In the midst of the dying Empire a new empire was born.  That was the empire ruled by Arthur. 
Last Updated ( Wednesday, 24 November 2004 )
Read more...
 
Galaxies Like Grains Of Sand -- Brian Aldiss Print
Written by Mike Noel   
Tuesday, 23 November 2004
Galaxies Like Grains of Sand Galaxies Like Grains of Sand is a book that portrays the history of mankind with short vignettes of select millennia during the 40 million year history starting with the 21st century. The history of the 21st century shows a warlike mankind that virtually eliminates himself with unimaginable technological weapons. Throughout the next several centuries the whole of the human race is reduced to a scant few scattered across the globe. The following chapters show the resurrection of mankind and the progress through technology, space flight, psychological enlightenment, mutation that brings cellular-level self-awareness, and finally the spread of humanity to hundreds of thousands of planets throughout the galaxy
Last Updated ( Tuesday, 30 December 2008 )
Read more...
 
The Sword Of Shannara -- Terry Brooks Print
Written by Mike Noel   
Tuesday, 23 November 2004
Sword of Shannara I read this book once before back when I was in high school. I found it just an entertaining this time as I did back then. Maybe the writing is a little bit clumsy but I also think that this was Brooks's first book. (Maybe I'm wrong on that, I don't know for sure). I plan to read the others in the Shannara series but I haven't yet.
Last Updated ( Tuesday, 30 December 2008 )
Read more...
 
Beyond The Summerland -- L. B. Graham Print
Written by Mike Noel   
Wednesday, 13 October 2004
Beyond The Summerland

Beyond The Summerland is the first book in a new fantasy series by L. B. Graham. This is Graham's first book and he seems to be getting off to a great start. The book is written in the Tolkienesque fantasy subgenre. Anyone familiar with Tolkien will quickly recognize many of the similarities.

The story is epic and adventurous. Graham also develops interesting characters with lots of depth and potential for future stories. For readers looking for a good, solid, old-school fantasy I think this is a great book. I certainly enjoyed it and can't wait to read the next one in the series.

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 30 December 2008 )
Read more...
 
New Way To Be Human -- Charlie Peacock Print
Written by Mike Noel   
Monday, 06 September 2004
New Way To Be Human

My feelings on this book are mixed. On my first reading I found that the first half was not very accessible while the second half was absolutely great. After finishing the book I decided to re-read it to see if I could understand the first half better the second time around. I didn't. It still didn't really work for me.

As the title suggests, the book is about a new way to live life, in particular, a Christian life. It attacks the status quo way of life for American Christians. Not so much as saying that this lifestyle is wrong as much as saying that it is anemic or just not as much as it could be.

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 30 December 2008 )
Read more...
 
Desert Hiking Tips -- Bruce Grubbs Print
Written by Mike Noel   
Wednesday, 21 July 2004
Desert Hiking TipsI found this little pamphlet-sized book to be very informative.  It's a very quick read but packs in a lot of useful information.  Some of the ideas are generic to all hiking (be sure to have a map, for instance) but other tips are specific to the desert.
Last Updated ( Tuesday, 30 December 2008 )
Read more...
 
Wild At Heart -- John Eldridge Print
Written by Mike Noel   
Tuesday, 15 June 2004
Wild At Heart

There are a few reasons that will compel me to read a book more than once. A good story or interesting characters are not enough. Although, usually those qualities will lead me to read other books by the same author. Sometimes I'll read a story and it just grabs me. It will resonate within me and encourage me to make a better life. Somehow the book is able to talk to my soul and heart. The Tolkien books are an example of this. These I will re-read.

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 30 December 2008 )
Read more...
 
Way of the Pilgrim -- Gordon Dickson Print
Written by Administrator   
Monday, 12 April 2004
Way Of The Pilgrim This was a great book to read. I don't want to give away much in terms of spoilers because it's worth reading. Let me just say that you really need to finish the book. At times it seems to follow a pretty standard storyline but there is a significant difference. Just read the whole thing before you decide to disagree with me.
Last Updated ( Tuesday, 30 December 2008 )
Read more...
 

Copyright 2004 - 2008 Mike Noel. All rights reserved.
This Site is powered by Joomla!.