Sunday, July 23, 2006

Condensed Knowledge, Perfect Stranger, & Decorating Schemes

These last few days have been rough ones, so I've had a chance to do a lot more reading. A blessing and a curse I guess you could say. Poor Jess is out doing the grocery shopping by himself, with coupons no less! His sainthood is approaching!

Condensed Knowledge edited by Will Pearson definitely overloaded my brain. I don't think that this is a book meant to be read over the course of just a few sittings (or in my case, one day). There is so much info packed in here, I don't know how much I really retained, but there's superficial information about physics, biology, pop culture, music, and many other topics. The reader learns about the main movers and shakers in each subject as well as the info you need to know to sound informed about just about anything. I was a little disappointed in the writers' occasional liberal bent, especially about religion. While talking about Christianity, they can be a little flippant, and the gnostic gospels are discussed as part of the Scriptures. However, overall this is the perfect bathroom book. When you only have a few minutes to grab something to read, pick this up and learn a little something about the world.

A Day with a Perfect Stranger by David Gregory is the sequel to Dinner with a Perfect Stranger. It picks up shortly after the previous book. Nick has joined a Bible study and is changing his life around his newfound belief in Jesus. His wife Mattie is so uncomfortable with the changes that she's considering divorce. While contemplating this separation, she gets on a flight to Dallas and ends up discussing religion with the man in the seat next to her. No one who's read the first book or even the back of this one will be surprised at the identity of Mattie's seat partner. What is surprising is how he answers her questions about religion, a personal relationship with God, and why God allows evil in the world. While this book isn't quite as engaging as the first, it was an enjoyable read. I don't know that it would sway an unbeliever, but I know that it has provided good apologetics arguments for believers. Gregory keeps to the point and keeps it short, much like Jesus did in his teachings. This slim 100 page book will create some interesting discussions among believers and non-believers alike.

Decorating Schemes by Ginny Aiken is the second book in the Deadly Decor Mystery series. I think that this series is undergoing an identity crisis. It wants to be a humorous, light mystery, but real human drama keeps sneaking in. It's hard as a reader to take some of the characters, like Bella, seriously when she can't seem to string together a sentence without mispronouncing a word, but then Haley has so many demons she's fighting, it's difficult to balance them both in the same book. Bella is obviously a character, but Haley seems much more real. Haley, an interior designer, again stumbles upon a dead body while getting ready to remodel a home. This time the body is that of a young girl, and Haley's former nemesis Dutch Merrill is the prime suspect. Lily Tsu makes another appearance, but this time she comes off as far less capable. Haley's father does some things that seem so out of character, he seems unreal as well. Because the book tries to maintain a light edge, when Haley solves the mystery, the resolution seems extremely dark. What she finds underwater repulsed me and seemed out of place with the rest of the book. Aiken also leaves a lot of unanswered questions in this entry; I was a bit disappointed. Here's hoping she solves the identity crisis with the entry due in August.

I'm still reading Climbing Brandon (it's due tomorrow) and I've started The New American Revolution by Tammy Bruce. It's taking me awhile to get into her rhythm, but I really enjoy Tammy's writing, so I know that we'll both hit our strides soon. I'm giving prayers of thanks today: Eric, Pam, and Hana are safely home from Ethiopia and we should get to see our new niece soon. Today is my sister Cindy's baby shower, and I'm really hoping I can make it. Sometimes it seems to take a day or two just to recover from the painful days. I'm back to Brandon with Chet Raymo. Have a good one!

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