Book Reviews 2018
January 14, 20202018You have to be living under a rock if you don’t know the basic premise of Jurassic Park. So, if you’re on of those people, stop reading now. But if you, like me, have seen the films and have never read the book, read on! I not only have never read Jurassic Park, I’ve never written a Michael Crichton novel. I have heard lots of great things about Crichton, so I was curious to see what he had to offer. It did not disappoint! It’s hard to compare a book you’ve read to a movie you’ve seen. In some ways, I think that the book is moderately better than the movie. There are so many similarities in the first half of the book that it follows pretty much identically to the movie. Then the movie does its Steven Spielberg magic and goes in its own direction. I thought the character development in the book was much different then in the movie. For example, I was surprised that Dr. Sattler (the woman with Dr. Grant) had such a little role in the book while she had a moderately important role in the movie. In the movie, the two children are unofficially led by the older sister, while in the book this is in the reverse. I also thought that the book solidifies the message Crichton wanted to portray, at least more than the movie does. Ian Malcom, a mathematician assigned to helping assess the stability of Jurassic Park, is one of the founders of “chaos theory.” In this theory, Malcom explains that if you bounce a ball in a linear system, you can predict every bounce that will happen. But, according to chaos theory, the ball bouncing will inevitably not go according to plan; perhaps because of an imperfection in the surface or some other variable. Malcom argues that Jurassic Park will never work because of chaos theory. What can go wrong will go wrong, in a sense. I think this idea underpins the entire novel. The moments where Malcom is receiving more morphine to help cope with his wounds, he goes on ever longer orations about the futility of the experiment and how it will be doomed to fail. Jurassic Park is much better than the movie. Check it out. 5/5 [...]
January 14, 20202018Bryan C. Taylor notes in the blurb detailing his first book that this is not a cancer story, but a love story. That is an odd statement when you first enter the world of Bryan and his future bride’s (Kailen) life. What starts out as a run-of-the-mill love story turns quickly into a cancer story. When Bryan and Kailen decide to get married, there is an understanding that he is marrying into her numerous health problems. The health of Kailen continues to decline in their marriage as she battles first numerous digestive ailments and then later breast cancer. The narrative turns abruptly from a heartwarming story into a tragedy. The subtitle of the book becomes almost ironic as you get deeper into it, a fact that you don’t fully appreciate until the end. As Taylor brings the characters to life, the hardships he and particularly Kailen had to endure are excruciating. He separates his experience into four parts: “The Hand and Heart,” about falling in love and eventually marrying Kailen, “The Bend in the Road,” the beginning of Kailen’s health problems, “War,” the worsening of her conditions, and finally, “The Gloaming,” the resolution. Throughout the book, every hospital experience, every unknown, every shot and illness gives you pause to consider the bravery and strength of these two young lovers; too young to have this weight thrusted upon them. In Part 3 of the book, “War,” Taylor chronicles the continual battle for Kailen’s life through chemotherapy and managing her aggressive cancer. Her doctor says, in one poignant section of the book, “But this is war. It’s going to be brutal for a while. Make no mistake, you’re in a fight for your lives. Staying alive is a conscious choice you’ll have to make, and it won’t always be preferable. But I can promise you one thing – I’ll fight alongside you every step of the way” (Taylor, Kindle Locations 1165-1167). And this, more or less, is much of what the book is about: the fight to stay alive with someone by your side every step of the way. But the book is not dull by any stretch of the imagination (in fact, I read it within one day; it is definitely a page turner). While it may be a chronicle of events, it is done in such a way that expresses much grander themes: 1) As a newlywed, the love that Taylor had for Kailen despite anything that may have happened or would happen to her stands out to me. At the beginning of their marriage, Taylor had a steep learning curve to understanding his new life. But after that, no embarrassing moment or vulnerability could make him love her any less, and he provided for her every need. I think this is an important lesson for picking your future mate; would they be willing to see you at the lowest low and still want to be with you? Have you chosen someone who would dote on you in your time of need? 2) The positivity and fight that Kailen had in ever insurmountable odds are traits that, had I been placed in this situation, I would want. In my own opinion, the sovereignty of God is such that everything happens for a reason. Reading through this book makes you give pause to how horrific this fallen world is. But even so, to think about how many people’s lives Kailen changed forever makes you think: was it worth it? At one point, Taylor states that people in over 54 countries had seen her blog. She had been an inspiration for people living in a quarter of the world’s countries. In my estimation, I believe it was worth it. 3) One of the most intriguing themes of this book is something I have thought about a lot. Taylor and Kailen are professing Christians, but I love his honesty in writing this account. He expresses everything from joy, to sadness, to anger, to the brink of insanity in some instances. He doesn’t hesitate from stating his true feelings, recognizing God’s sovereignty and ability to take away Kailen’s pain juxtaposed with the reality that He didn’t and He won’t. This leads to some directed anger towards God which displays a frank and honest view of this fallen world that Christians sometimes don’t have the courage to own. These are just some of the themes that stuck out to me throughout this book. I am by no means an emotional person, in general. In saying that, it seemed like every single page of this book had me on the brink of tears. At the end, I have no shame in saying that I wept. The true events in this book are filled with so much wisdom about suffering, death, and love. It was only at the end of the book that I could say no, it is not a cancer story; it really is a love story. Thank you Bryan for your courage and for writing this marvelous book. [...]
January 14, 20202018Over the past ten years, it seems as if a whole genre of memoirs has sprung up of ex-North Korean deserters. In 2016, I read the book “Dear Leader” which delved into the life of a former North Korean. It is a fascinating look into one of the most oppressive places in the world, which is also probably why these kinds of memoirs are so popular; to get an inside look at what everyday life might be like in the most secretive country on earth is a rare and privileged look. This particular memoir is about a man named Masaji Ishikawa. His father was Korean while his mother was Japanese. In the early Imperial Japan, the Japanese sent millions of Koreas from their homeland to Japan to do various work projects. Instead of sending them back after World War II, little Korea towns dotted the landscape where the industrial parks they worked in flourished. Ishikawa’s dad was one of the bullies of the Korean town they lived in, where he routinely abused the boys mother. An opportunity, sponsored by the Japanese and North Korean governments, in the form of an expatriot program to replant Korean citizens to North Korea in the wake of the Korean War opened up. Thousands departed the shores of Japan with the promise of food, wealth, and a better life in North Korea. The Ishikawa family immigrated to North Korea. Obviously things did not go well. There were routine food shortages; it was difficult to hold down a job; even if you had a job, you could not get paid. The family was extremely poor. This section of the book is absolutely heart breaking. The life they lived was a meager existence with little hope for things to get better. Eventually, Ishikawa found an opportunity to escape North Korea at the height of the food shortage in the 1990s. He had to leave his family behind to save himself. The end of the book comes with a cry for justice. The Japanese government sponsored this mass exodus of Koreans from Japan to North Korea but they cannot help his family; for a long time, they he wasn’t able to hold down a job in Japan because of the systemic racism in that country against Koreans. It is a difficult ending, one that created more angst then you began with. This was an interesting book and I was able to read it for free on Amazon Prime. [...]

A River in Darkness: One Man’s Escape from North Korea

The American Spirit: Who We Are and What We Stand For

The Lost City of the Monkey God

The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution

Even If You Don’t: A Love Story

The Martian

Yes, Chef

Gosnell: The Untold Story of America’s Most Prolific Serial Killer

The Stormlight Archive: The Way of Kings

All-American Murder: The Rise and Fall of Aaron Hernandez, the Superstar Whose Life Ended on Murderers’ Row

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

The Remains of the Day

The Stormlight Archive: Words of Radiance

The Stormlight Archive: Oathbringer

Endure: Mind, Body, and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance


Cork Dork: A Wine-Fueled Adventure Among the Obsessive Sommeliers, Big Bottle Hunters, and Rogue Scientists Who Taught Me to Live for Taste

What the Dog Saw and Other Adventures

After the Prophet: The Epic Story of the Shia-Sunni Split in Islam (2018)

I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life

Astrophysics for People in a Hurry

For We Are Many (Bobiverse #2)

A History of the World in Six Glasses

Jurassic Park

Vanished Smile: The Mysterious Theft of Mona Lisa

North: Finding My Way While Running the Appalachian Trail

Preaching That Changes Lives

The Feud That Sparked the Renaissance: How Brunelleschi and Ghiberti Changed the Art World

The Cuban Affair

The Rooster Bar

Star Wars: Last Shot: A Han and Lando Novel

When Breath Becomes Air

Only Human (Themis Files #3)


Mistborn: The Final Empire

Hell Divers

God Save Texas: A Journey Into the Soul of the Lone Star State

Star Wars: Thrawn: Thrawn (2018)

Ghost in the Wires: My Adventures as the World’s Most Wanted Hacker

PROOF: Finding Freedom through the Intoxicating Joy of Irresistible Grace (2018)

Gut: The Inside Story of Our Body’s Most Underrated Organ

The Girl Who Smiled Beads: A Story of War and What Comes After


Springfield Confidential: Jokes, Secrets, and Outright Lies from a Lifetime Writing for The Simpsons

Christianity Considered: A Guide for Skeptics and Seekers

Insurgence: Reclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom

Jurassic Park: The Lost World

The History of Jazz

How to Lose a Marathon: A Starter’s Guide to Finishing in 26.2 Chapters

Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything

Survival Guide for the Soul: How to Flourish Spiritually in a World that Pressures Us to Achieve

Brief Insights on Mastering Bible Study: 80 Expert Insights, Explained in a Single Minute

Star Wars: Thrawn: Alliances

The Bible Unfiltered: Approaching Scripture on Its Own Terms

A Mouse Divided: How Ub Iwerks Became Forgotten, and Walt Disney Became Uncle Walt

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Super Mario: How Nintendo Conquered America

Star Trek: Captain to Captain

The Darkness and the Glory: His Cup and the Glory from Gethsemane to the Ascension (2018)

Mistborn: The Well of Ascension

Mistborn: The Hero of Ages

English History Made Brief, Irreverent, and Pleasurable

Michelangelo: His Epic Life

Scientism and Secularism: Learning to Respond to a Dangerous Ideology

Michelangelo and the Pope’s Ceiling (2018)

Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company that Addicted America


What is the Gospel?

The Interdependency: The Collapsing Empire

Love Your God with All Your Mind: The Role of Reason in the Life of the Soul

The Consequences of Ideas: Understanding the Concepts that Shaped Our World (2018)

On Desperate Ground: The Marines at The Reservoir, the Korean War’s Greatest Battle

The Interdependency: Consuming Fire

The Reckoners: Steelheart

Tactics: A Game Plan for Discussing Your Christian Convictions

Firefight: the Reckoners book 2

Ethics and Moral Reasoning: A Student’s guide

Calamity: the Reckoners book 3

Skyward: Skyward


The Lost World of Genesis One: Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate (2018)

Legion: the Many Lives of Stephen Leeds

Reckoner’s: Mitosis

Tell the Truth: The Whole Gospel Wholly by Grace Communicated Truthfully & Lovingly

Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God

The Great Evangelical Recession: 6 Factors That Will Crash the American Church… and How to Prepare


Knowledge of the Holy


Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup

Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

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