Book Reviews 2017
January 14, 20202017I first discovered Lesley Hazelton from the book “After the Prophet,” which discusses the Sunni-Shi’a split in post-Muhammad Islam. I couldn’t help but to read this book after enjoying “Prophet” so much. Jezebel was the Queen married to Ahab in ancient Israel where the Bible tells us a significant amount. She was foreign and not a Jew, a sin Ahab would pay dearly for. The Bible tells us she also had to deal with the pesky prophets Elijah and Elisha. With this information, Hazelton tries to convince us that Jezebel, despite what the Bible may convey to us, that Jezebel has been unfairly demonized. She wasn’t a “harlot” queen as they like to say, at least Hazelton argues. While the perspective is interesting, I believe where Hazelton goes too far is to assume that 21st century ethics and morals are embodied in an ancient peoples. For example, Hazelton argues that Jezebel was actually a powerful woman who acts and looks like CEO Cecil Richards who is being unfairly oppressed by the evils of a crazed religious man. Elijah, to Hazelton, is the enemy in this revisionists’ history; his weird dietary habits and uncouth clothing leave the reader thinking he was a crazed man who hears voices and not as much a prophet of God. I think Hazelton has an interesting perspective, but I ultimately think it is wrong. Hazelton does too much to personify the 21st century woman and in turn, does a disservice to the ancient peoples. [...]
January 14, 20202017I love jazz. I will admit that unashamedly. I do not like the reputation that jazz has. Typically when any young person aspires to be a jazz musician, the conversation will most likely evolve into a warning about the dangers of drugs. The jazz of today is a far cry from the bop era where it spawned from. Today, jazz is a sophisticated art form that is performed in concert halls and fine dining establishments. It wasn’t always like that, however. It was in the 1960’s that jazz became intertwined with the indelible reputation of drugs. Martin Torgoff looks at this relationship between jazz, the beat generation, and how it helped the drug culture of the 1960s and beyond. What transpires is a plethora of anecdotes from all kinds of jazz musicians. Billy Holiday, Lester “Prez” Young, Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, and others. These pieces could be books all on their own. The unique strain that runs through all of them is tragedy. They are all minorities in a racist America trying to explore new forms of expression through music. Black musicians like Holiday suffered from poor management and, frankly, abuse from every level. She would trade drugs for gigs, pressured to have sex back stage by her manager, raped, beaten, and stoned. Others, like Parker and Davis, helped fuel the drug craze of the 1960s. Louis Armstrong smoked weed perhaps every day of his life after his career picked up. Jazz musicians, seeing the influence that Armstrong made in the music community, sought to emulate his example. What happened was a careening dive into harder substances. By the time Charlie Parker came onto the scene, drugs were synonymous with jazz. Torgoff, in perhaps the most poignant section of the book, explains that for many black musicians, drugs were a way to deal with an ungrateful nation. Many young black men went off to war to fight for this country and came back to a culture that despised them and saw them as second class citizens. The coping mechanism in the all-black bars and bistros where jazz was played was drugs. Torgoff explores the beat generation and their commitment to drugs as well. None of this was as interesting as learning about jazz musicians to me, however. This is a sometimes graphic book that delves into some of the lesser known connections of drug culture, and a good, if very sad, read. [...]
January 14, 20202017After reading Lesley Hazelton’s “After the Prophet,” I have become immensely interested in Islam. In the west, there is a lack of understanding regarding the actual beliefs of Muslims, whether you are on the right and find all Muslims to be abhorrent or on the left and believe all Muslims to be demonized. The fact of the matter is there is a disconnect between what we think we know and what we actually know, particularly about religious belief. That’s why I appreciate Nabeel Qureshi. This book traces his life as a devout Muslim in his early life. His parents took him, religiously, to the Mosque for service; he prayed five times a day as we was suppose to; he memorized the Koran and lived a pious life. But something was missing; as he went off to college and was exposed to other views, he began questioning the center of his entire life. Through men who came into his life that helped him recognize the validity of the Christian Gospel, he began to see a transformation. Even though he had grown up a certain way believing certain things about Islam, the pull of the Gospel could be no match to the knowledge of his childhood. What is so brilliant about this book is that it not only speaks to the beliefs of Muslims, but it also demonstrates how to respond to Muslims who have the same kinds of questions. While in its most basic sense, this book is a memoir but Qureshi has managed to turn it into an effective tool for apologetics and evangelism as well. This book is fantastic and I think more Christians should read it in order to understand a different perspective. [...]

Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City

C. S. Lewis’s “Mere Christianity”: A Biography

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2017)

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2017)

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (2017)

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: Parts One and Two

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis

The Bible Tells Me So: Why Defending Scripture Has Made Us Unable to Read It

Bop Apocalypse: Jazz, Race, the Beats, and Drugs

We Are Legion (We Are Bob) (Bobiverse #1)

Star Trek the Next Generation: Headlong Flight 

After the Prophet: The Epic Story of the Shia-Sunni Split in Islam (2017)


Star Trek: Prey: Hell’s Heart 

Sleeping Giants (Themis Files #1)

Jonathan Edwards

Columbus Day (Expeditionary Force Book #1)

Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus: A Devout Muslim Encounters Christianity

Inside Delta Force: The Story of America’s Elite Counterterrorist Unit

SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome (2017)

SpecOps (Expeditionary Force Book #2)

A Confederacy of Dunces (2017)

Waking Gods (Themis Files #2)

Bloodlines: Race, Cross, and the Christian

Star Wars: Thrawn: Thrawn

Star Wars: The Thrawn Trilogy: Heir to the Empire

Star Wars: The Thrawn Trilogy: Dark Forces Rising

Star Wars: The Thrawn Trilogy: The Last Command

Jezebel: The Untold Story Of The Bible’s Harlot Queen

Agnostic: A Spirited Manifesto

The First Muslim: The Story of Muhammad

Star Wars: Aftermath

Star Trek: Prey: The Jackal’s Trick

12 Way Your Phone Is Changing You

Star Trek: Hearts and Minds

Six Days of War: June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East

Steve Jobs

Wine. All the Time.: The Casual Guide to Confident Drinking

Huế 1968: A Turning Point of the American War in Vietnam

Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking

Outliers: The Story of Success

iGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy–and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood–and What That Means for the Rest of Us

Leonardo and the Last Supper

Michelangelo and the Pope’s Ceiling

Ranger Games: A Story of Soldiers, Family and an Inexplicable Crime

Blood, Sweat, and Pixels: The Triumphant, Turbulent Stories Behind How Video Games Are Made

The Maltese Falcon

The Interdependency: The Collapsing Empire

The Fold

Paradox Bound

Escape from Reason: A Penetrating Analysis of Trends in Modern Thought


Leonardo Da Vinci

An Exorcist Tells His Story

The Storm Before the Storm: The Beginning of the End of the Roman Republic

The Swerve: How the World Became Modern

Einstein: His Life and Universe


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