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Book Review

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Pope Francis - The Name of God is Mercy

on Mon, 05/23/2016 - 14:40

The Name of God is Mercy by Pope Francis
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was born and raised Catholic (though today I go to my wife's Lutheran Church to worship) and only 7 years old when Pope John Paul II was elected as Pope. So most of my very formative years and young adult hood were during his time as Pope.

I became fascinated by how historic and different this Pope was from those who came before him.

In only a short time, Pope Francis has struck me in the same way. When I saw "The Name of God is Mercy" at the Library, I quickly looked it over and thought it would be a good weekend read.

I was

JRR Tolkien: Author of the Century by Tom Shippey

on Sat, 04/02/2016 - 17:01

J.R.R. Tolkien: Author of the Century by Tom Shippey
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I've read Tolkien's standards and they have always appealed to me and in some ways it was more a feeling than an actual understanding of why. I moved on to HoME and many of Tolkien's translations, such as Beowulf, Sigurd, and the Fall of Arthur with more to come, such as Kullervo and Sir Gawain.

I recently read Shippey's "The Road to Middle-Earth" and followed it up with "Author of the Century".

These books helped me better understand in some ways that feeling.

I always understood that there was a depth to his work.

Book Review: Tatiana by Martin Cruz Smith

on Mon, 02/15/2016 - 19:19

Tatiana by Martin Cruz Smith
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Tatiana is the 8th installment of the Arkady Renko series by Martin Cruz Smith. The series started with 1981's Gorky Park.

I've always greatly enjoyed these books, because of the character of Renko. He is a police detective in Moscow, whose father was a ruthless World War II General. His mother committed suicide in the lake by the family dacha and did so using rocks collected by Renko then a young boy. Renko, like everyone, has issues.

In college my history courses were split between Soviet/Russian and the Middle East.

Book Review: Demons

on Sat, 12/26/2015 - 16:14

Demons by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Dostoyevsky is not for everyone. If you like a fast, exciting, page-turner, this is not for you.

The demons in this book are the ideas entering Russia in the late 1800's from Europe and are expressed by a range of characters living in a small provincial town outside St. Petersburg.

The book is organized in three parts. Part one introduces most of the characters and brings many of them together in the parlor of Varvara after Marya begs for help outside the church and is brought to the home.

The second part is focused on Stavrogin and then Peter

Book Review: Beowulf

on Sat, 12/26/2015 - 16:13

Beowulf by Unknown
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm a huge Tolkien fan, so last year I got his translation of Beowulf, but I'm not in a good position to rate this book. For whatever reason, while I consider myself a reasonably avid reader, I hadn't previously read Beowulf. As a result of not having read it before I really can't say if it is a good translation or not.

There is the translation, then Notes on the text of the Translation, Commentary, Sellic Spell, and the Lay of Beowulf.

Beowulf as a story is enjoyable, reads well, and provides some potential insights into the impact on Tolkien's own

Book Review: It's True, It's True

on Sat, 12/26/2015 - 16:12

It's True! It's True! by Kurt Angle
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This book was published in 2001 as a part of what appears to be a World Wrestling Federation promotional effort featuring bio's of some of its stars and major events.

I read it this week, because I live in Pennsylvania, my father was from Pittsburgh and was a hall of fame wrestling coach. It was his copy of the book I read.

Kurt Angle won the PIAA state wrestling championship, two national titles at Clarion (a small state school in western PA), a world title, and Olympic gold in Atlanta.

Reading the book was personally engaging for me

Book Review: Images of America: C.F. Martin & Co.

on Sat, 12/26/2015 - 16:10

C.F. Martin & Co. by Dick Boak
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is a part of the Images of America Series and focused on the C.F. Martin & Co. located in my hometown of Nazareth, PA.

The author is Dick Boak, who I got to know during the time that I helped run a local art and music center in town.

The book, as the series indicates, presents a history of the company through pictures and the captions provide context.

The book begins with the Martin family's immigration to America and follows their story from New York City to Nazareth.

The Fall of Arthur by JRR Tolkien

on Wed, 02/18/2015 - 03:49

The Fall of Arthur by J.R.R. Tolkien
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Fall of Arthur is a reasonably brief book at 220 pages.

This book could be approached in one of two ways.

The first is to read the unfinished, but original poem by Tolkien depicting "The Fall of Arthur", along with the "Notes on the Text..." and "The Poem in Arthurian Tradition," and end it right there roughly halfway through.

I should preface that most of what I know about Arthur is from Monty Python and Mark Twain. As such, I really enjoyed the information provided in Notes and the Arthurian Tradition.

Foxcatcher by Mark Schultz

on Fri, 01/02/2015 - 03:15

Foxcatcher: The True Story of My Brother's Murder, John du Pont's Madness, and the Quest for Olympic Gold by Mark Schultz
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

For background, I grew up wrestling in eastern PA, my father is a Hall of Fame high school coach, and my brother coaches today. I was in HS in the 1980s and remember the Schultzs' winning gold in 1984. My father received an autographed copy of DuPont's Off the Mat book (which I threw out after the murder). I even saw the Bulgarian team mentioned in the book at an exhibition at Lehigh University.

Gentlemen & Players by Joanne Harris

on Sat, 11/15/2014 - 15:11

Gentlemen and Players by Joanne Harris
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I knew nothing about Joanne Harris or the book Gentlemen and Players as I picked this up during a library book sale fundraiser and tossed it into my $5 take as many books as you can fit in a paperbag option. My daughter also had a bag so we grabbed about 40 books that day and took the approach of grab anything of interested there is nothing to lose.

I started this book, stopped and read another one, then returned and finished it.

For me, this book was good, not bad or great, just good.

The story is set at a private school in England