Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Life and Work of Dwight L. Moody by A. W. Williams

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The Life and Work of Dwight L. Moody
by A. W. Williams

Hardback: 416 pages
Publisher: unknown
Released: 1900

This book was reprinted in 2006 by Cosimo Classics (ISBN-13: 978-1596050327)

Source: Inherited from my grandmother's library.

Book Description from Goodreads:
Dwight Lyman Moody was the great evangelist of the 19th century--a child of a large working-class family who went on to preach to an entire nation. Both Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant attended his revivals during their presidencies. Here, in a work that is part biography and part tribute, is the story of Moody's life-from his stolid New England childhood to his adult conversion to fundamentalist Christianity to his late ministries, including:
  • his Chicago ministry
  • his missionary work during the Civil War
  • the story of his faith that inspired his fiery defense of the Bible
  • his massive evangelical meetings during the 1870s and 80s in England, Scotland, and the United States

Published in 1900, just a year after Moody's death, the book also includes essays and reflections on his life by those he worked with and motivated, and other accolades.

My Review:
The Life and Work of Dwight L. Moody is a biography about D.L. Moody (February 5, 1837 - December 22, 1899) written within a year of his death by someone who had occasionally worked with him. Though it started with some information about his family and upbringing as a child (since this influenced his preaching style), most of the book covered events from 1871 to 1899. After Moody's conversion to Christianity, the book focused mainly on his various ministries. We weren't told much about his wife, children, and family life beyond the fact that he had them.

The book included excerpts of some of Moody's sermons and other documents, descriptions of his evangelical meetings by those who were with him, interviews with and tributes by those who knew him, and descriptions of the various schools he helped found (Northfield Seminary, Mount Herman School for Boys, and the Chicago Bible Institute). Some sections near the end read a bit like a fundraiser campaign (to raise funds for "Moody's dearest projects to keep them running") and some parts contained more detail than most people care about. However, it was an interesting book and I learned a lot about Moody that I didn't previously know. The book contained a number of black and white photographs showing Moody, those he worked with, and the places he preached.

The chapters covered: Moody's boyhood and early life; his early career in Chicago; his conversion; his ministry during the Civil War and the Young Men's Christian Association; Moody's first church; Farwell Hall; preaching beyond Chicago; the Great Chicago Fire; Moody and Sankey in England and Scotland; the Great Revival in Philadelphia; The Northfield Seminary; The Northfield Conference; Mount Hermon School for Boys; The World's Fair Campaign (in 1892); Chicago Bible Institute; Moody's Last Campaign (in Kansas City); Moody's funeral at Northfield and memorial service in Philadelphia; and various tributes by different people who knew him.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Read an excerpt using Google Previews.

Monday, November 29, 2010

And the winner is...

It's time to announce the Gratitude Giveaways winner. Including Twitter entries, we had 30 people enter. Using a random number generator and numbering the entrants in the order I received them, the winner is:

who won Once an Arafat Man by Tass Saada

Congratulations! I'll be contacting you for your address.

For those who didn't win, you can always buy a copy of this book from your favorite bookstore.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

How Much More Longer by Steve Elder

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How Much More Longer:
How to get real now about living the life you want
by Steve Elder

ISBN-13: 978-1414114774
Trade Paperback: 130 pages
Publisher: Pleasant Word
Released: January 18, 2010

Source: Review copy through Maryglenn McCombs Book Publicity.

Book Description from Back Cover (slightly modified):
Steve Elder--speaker, wealth advisor, and professional coach--often counsels people about their life goals. His painful experiences with a near-death car crash when he was a teenager and later a bankruptcy led him to ask hard questions about his life's purpose: What is it that you want? And how much longer will you wait to honestly answer that question? With a passion born of deep trauma and tough choices, How Much More Longer will convince you that the time to decide how to live is now.

While the stories in this book will make you laugh, its messages are serious. What do you want? To live a real, transparent, full life, or continue walking on eggshells, failing to confront areas in your life that need attention?

Filled with personal anecdotes, down-to-earth advice, and thought-provoking questions called "On the Road to Real", this book challenges us to take action and claim the life we desire...now.

My Review:
How Much More Longer is an enjoyable read that's part memoir and part motivational talk. The first few chapters were memoir style with insightful comments from the thoughtful perspective of maturity. After that, the style changed into a motivational talk illustrated with funny stories from the author's life. If you can laugh at yourself even when things are bad, then you'll enjoy the humorous style of this book.

The author encouraged the reader to really live life to the full, engaged in every moment instead of just surviving. At the end of each chapter, the author asked a few questions of the reader. They usually were to help the reader figure out what type of life it is they really want to be living.

While the author did mention stories that occurred at his church and said things like "thank God," this wasn't a religious book in the sense that he didn't specifically say things like "look to God for your purpose."

Overall, I'd recommend this book to those who feel like they're existing in a haze of busyness rather than living a full, engaged life and who want to know how to change.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt from Chapter One
"Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever." --Lance Armstrong

The first thing I saw was Michelle.

The next thing we both saw was my left index finger, hanging by a strand of skin.

What I did not know was that my new stubby friend was the least of my immediate concerns.

July 9, 1984. The setting was a perfect summer night. I left the country baseball park after watching a couple of games--I didn't play that night, though I did have practice. My teammate Randy asked for a ride out to see friends play because his car was broken down and I was taking him home. Tough break for Randy, as you will see...

I was driving on a small rural road when my little Honda Accord met up with a 1975 Chevelle driven by a drunk driver. In the clash between the two cars, my Honda lost the fight. My passenger and baseball teammate Randy and I awoke to a new reality. Innocence was gone, along with all sensation throughout our bodies. That turned out to be a temporary but welcome reprieve from what was about to become my new teacher--pain.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Gratitude Giveaways: The Summit or Once an Arafat Man

Gratitude Giveaways Hop

As a part of the Gratitude Giveaways - Blog Follower Appreciation Hop, I'm holding a "your choice" giveaway.

book coverYou can enter to win either:
The Summit by Eric Alexander
Once an Arafat Man by Tass Saada.

Read my review to learn more about The Summit by Eric Alexander.

book cover
Read my review to learn more about Once an Arafat Man: The True Story of How a PLO Sniper Found a New Life by Tass Saada.

This contest is for USA & Canada residents only.

To enter the giveaway:

1) you can twitter me saying "Hi @genrereviewer. Enter me in the giveaway for ___________." For example, if you wanted The Summit, you'd twitter: "Hi @genrereviewer. Enter me in the giveaway for THE SUMMIT by Eric Alexander."


2) You can leave a comment to this post asking to be entered and naming which novel you'd like to win. Please also leave some way for me to contact you--or follow this blog so you can see the winner announcement. I'd be fun if you also included why you're interested in reading this novel.

Last time I did a "your choice" giveaway, people chose more than one book. If you do this, you still only have one entry (like everyone else) but, if you win, I'll select which novel to send to you.

This giveaway ends on November 28, 2010 at midnight. The winner will be randomly selected. I'll announce the winner on Nov. 29, 2010 on this blog.

If you entered using twitter, I'll send you a @ or DM telling you of your win and asking where to send the book. If you entered using the blog comments, you'll need to leave your e-mail address or check back to see if you won so you can e-mail me your mailing address. If the winner hasn't responded with a mailing address within four days, I reserve the right to pick a new winner.

I hope everyone has fun with this!

The blogs participating in the Gratitude Giveaways Hop:

The Summit by Eric Alexander

book cover

The Summit
by Eric Alexander

ISBN-13: 9780892217014
Trade Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: New Leaf Press
Released: Nov. 1, 2010

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description from Back Cover:
It's one of the greatest challenges one can face on Earth: an ascent to the top of the world on the slopes of Mount Everest. Eric Alexander experienced grace and a faith-empowering journey he will never forget as part of a record-setting team in May 2001, scaling the heights of Everest with his friend, blind climber Erik Weihenmayer.

  • Experience some of the most dangerous locations in the world, including abject terror on Ama Dablam, a blind ski descent of Russia's Mount Elbrus, and up Kilimanjaro in Africa with four blind teens

  • Gain wisdom in the application of trust, courage, innovation, teamwork, leadership, and integrity to overcome your own Everests

  • Discover practical faith lessons learned on the highest peaks of six continents

Here is the powerful story of Eric Alexander and his unique life journey of helping to guide people with disabilities as they overcome the most perilous places of the world.

My Review:
The Summit is a memoir by a man who has climbed some of the tallest and most difficult mountains in the world...and usually with a blind person on his team. His vivid descriptions of the various climbs gives the reader a good idea of what climbing extremely high mountains is like (both the good and the bad) and the special challenges created by climbing with a blind climber.

The author gave details about his climbs up Mt. Ama Dablam (including blind Eric W.), Mt. Everest (up to base camp, including 3 blind men & a quadriplegic; up to summit, including blind Eric & a documentary crew), Mt. Elbrus (including blind Eric; both Erics skied down), Mt. Cook (including blind Eric), Mt. Pisco (including 3 "at risk" teens), Inca trail to Machu Pichu (including 9 blind teens & 9 sighted teens), Mt. Kilimanjaro (including 4 blind teens), Mt. Aconcagua, and Mt. Denali.

Between the stories of his mountain climbs, the author described the training, dangers, and doubts he had at home in Colorado and talked about meeting his wife. There were some spectacular full-color photographs from the mountain climbs in the center of the book.

However, I'd expected the book to include a bit more from the blind climber's perspective. There were a few quotes from Eric W. (mostly about incidents involving the author) and the author explained how he and the other team members helped to guide Eric W. on a climb, but it was in terms of what the author did for Eric W. rather than from Eric W.'s perspective.

The author also didn't use a linear time-line and this sometimes made things confusing. In fact, he split his account of the Mount Everest climb in two and told about a variety of other climbs in between. Personally, I would have enjoyed the overall story more if it had been told in order. This also would have allowed the reader to better see his growth as a person and a climber.

I also felt like the author craved acknowledgment of his achievements and harbored contempt for strangers who were more adverse to risking their life. Because of this, he kept expecting his team members to see him as a failure or reject him anytime he made a mistake or turned back for health reasons. I found this mildly exasperating. However, it's great he's willing to support and help his blind friend (and others) achieve their climbing dreams.

The author did talk about his Christian faith and how it helped him on the various climbs. He ended each chapter with a reflection section about what the climb taught him that related to the Christian faith.

Overall, I'd recommend this book to those interested in what it's like to climb Mt. Everest and other tall mountains.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt from Chapter One
April 14, 2000, Day 29 — The relentless storm only added to the drama of retreating that day. With 4,000 feet of air below us, we would descend in what we call “full conditions,” meaning the foulest of weather, over the jagged, rocky, extremely exposed terrain that now had a coat of ice and snow, not only on its surface, but on our ropes as well. It was slick, at least the parts angular enough to collect snow on that steep and often vertical terrain. Rappelling, climbing, slipping, sliding, and banging our way down the ridge in what at times was a whiteout, gave me a new perspective on what it would be like to be in my blind climbing partner, Erik Weihenmayer’s shoes.

The three of us, Chris Morris, Brad Bull, and I, had just grunted our way from the 20,000-foot perch of Camp Two to the lower and more comfortable accommodations of Camp One at 19,000 feet on Ama Dablam. We were tired and very relieved to see our tents just yards away. My tent was one of the farthest from the fixed lines leading us down onto the platform terminating just before camp. My tentmate at this camp would be Dr. Steve Gipe, who had remained at Camp One as the team ascended. Dr Gipe’s intentions were to attempt the summit from Camp One as the team fixed the route up higher, then later rejoin the team as everyone was leaving Camp Three for the summit.

As I approached my tent I could almost feel the warmth of my bag and a nice cooked meal, and was already beginning to think of sleep. In fact, I may have been half asleep and daydreaming when it happened. Chris Morris said he thought I was a "goner" and Dr. Gipe kept yelling, "Stop! Stop! Self arrest!" Brad Bull started to pray. I know God heard his prayer.

Camp One is perched at the top of a 600-foot, mostly smooth, yet steep slabby rock face. If you are familiar with the rock formation outside of Boulder, Colorado, called the Flatirons, it would be similar to this with little blocky features that would give a falling person flight at times. I was ten feet from my tent and scrambling over the rocks, which were scattered all over the top of the face. As I made my final few steps to the tent, one of these rocks shifted, toppled over, and caused me to lose my balance and fall to my stomach on top of it. I was caught off guard to say the least, because I had stepped on this particular rock a number of times before, but it was my heavy load and the thoughtlessness of my step brought on by fatigue that caused it to turn over.

I felt like I was Coyote in a Roadrunner cartoon. My body started to drop, yet somehow my head seemed to linger in space. I hugged the rock and as I did, it started to slide over the edge with me on top of it. I knew that if I didn’t let go I would tumble some 600 feet down, being crushed by this rock that was now in my arms. So I decided to let go, and take my chances, hoping that I would be able to grab on to the ledge in front of me as my feet began their way down. With gloved hands hitting the loose and partly snow-covered edge, I had no chance as my hands deflected like a soccer ball off the goal post in a botched goal attempt. This wouldn’t be a completely vertical fall. I would, in some moments, be afforded the luxury of abrasive granite shredding me and my clothes.

My head smacked the rock, and as I began my freefall and slide for life, all I could think of was a series of four-letter words. Words like: “Stop! Help! Grab!” And then over again: “Grab! Grab! Stop! Stop! Help! Help!” Perhaps one or two other four-letter words were spoken, but I can’t recall what they might have been. People often ask me what I was thinking in that moment. I have to laugh because it’s not as though I could have paused in mid-flight and reflected on the matter, concerning myself with the various methods I would have employed to bring myself to a complete stop. In fact, I kid and tell them, "I was thinking what anyone would have been thinking: 'Do these pants make me look fat?'"

The fall was sudden and quick, yet it seemed to last all afternoon. I slid, crested a precipice, landed again on my belly not far below, repeating this endlessly during the course of my rapid plunge. Fortunately, I was still wearing my helmet, multiple layers of clothing, and my backpack, which at times padded me from the impact of the hard granite. During the course of this tumble, had I caught my foot on a ledge or begun to cartwheel, I most certainly would have fallen the entire distance to a rocky death below.

Read more of chapter one and two.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Getting to Yes by Roger Fisher, William Ury

book cover

Getting to Yes:
Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In,
Second Edition
by Roger Fisher & William Ury

ISBN-13: 9780140157352
Trade Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Penguin Book
Released: December 1991

Source: Bought through Half.com.

Book Description from Back Cover:
Getting to YES offers a concise, step-by-step, proven strategy for coming to mutually acceptable agreements in every sort of conflict--whether it involves parents and children, neighbors, bosses and employees, customers or corporations, tenants or diplomats. Based on the work of the Harvard Negotiation Project, a group that deals continually with all levels of negotiation and conflict resolution from domestic to business to international, Getting to Yes tells you how to:
  • Separate the people from the problem;

  • Focus on interests, not positions;

  • Work together to create options that will satisfy both parties; and

  • Negotiate successfully with people who are more powerful, refuse to play by the rules, or resort to "dirty tricks."

My Review:
Getting to YES is a book about how to come to mutually-satisfactory agreements with people, from your spouse and kids to your boss at work or even in a hostage situation. The real-life examples tended to be business-related or based on national-level events, but it was easy to see how each principle could be applied in any situation. It was easy to follow the points and see how to apply them.

Quite likely some of their suggestions won't be new to you. Either you did it and didn't know why it worked, you read it in a marriage/relationship book, or learned it from someone. But you'll learn why it works plus new things you hadn't thought of before. Overall, I'd recommend this book to anyone interested in improving their working relationships (and I'm including spouses in this).

The book covered: why merit-based negotiation is better than haggling-style negotiation; how to carry out merit-based negotiation and why it works; how to negotiate successfully with people who are more powerful, refuse to play by the rules, or resort to "dirty tricks; and a summary of the main points of the book. The second edition included answers to 10 questions that people repeatedly asked them after reading the first edition.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt from Chapter Two
Everyone knows how hard it is to deal with a problem without people misunderstanding each other, getting angry or upset, and taking things personally.

A union leader says to his crew, "All right, who called the walkout?"

Jones steps forward. "I did. It was that bum foreman Campbell again. That was the fifth time in two weeks he sent me out of our group as a replacement. He's got it in for me, and I'm tired of it. Why should I get all the dirty work?"

Later the union leader confronts Campbell. "Why do you keep picking on Jones? He says you've put him on replacement detail five times in two weeks. What's going on?"

Campbell replies, "I pick Jones because he's the best. I know I can trust him to keep things from fouling up in a group without its point person. I send him on replacement only when it's a key person missing, otherwise I send Smith or someone else. It's just that with the flu going around there've been a lot of point people out. I never knew Jones objected. I thought he liked the responsibility."

....[People] see the world from their own personal vantage point, and they frequently confuse their perceptions with reality. Routinely, they fail to interpret what you say in the way you intend and do not mean what you understand them to say. Misunderstanding can reinforce prejudice and lead to reactions that produce counterreactions in a vicious circle; rational exploration of possible solutions becomes impossible and negotiation fails. The purpose of the game becomes scoring points, confirming negative impressions, and apportioning blame at the expense of the substantive interests of both parties.

....On both the giving and receiving end, we are likely to treat people and the problem as one. Within the family, a statement such as "The kitchen is a mess" or "Our bank account is low" may be intended simply to identify a problem, but it is likely to be heard as a personal attack.

Read from chapter one using Google Preview.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Forensics by D.P. Lyle, M.D.

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Howdunit: Forensics
by D.P. Lyle, M.D.

ISBN-13: 978-1-58297-474-3
Paperback: 448 pages
Publisher: Writers Digest Books
Released: April 4, 2008

Source: Bought through Half.com.

Book Description from Back Cover, slightly modified:
Just because you don't have all the tools and training of a full-time medical examiner, doesn't mean you can't learn your way around a crime scene.

In Forensics, award-winning author and TV show consultant D.P. Lyle, M.D., takes each area of forensics--from fingerprint analysis to crime scene reconstruction--and discusses its development, how the science works, and how it helps in crime solving. This comprehensive reference guide includes:

  • Real-life case files and the role forensic evidence played in solving the crimes

  • A breakdown of the forensics system from its history and organization to standard evidence classification and collection methods

  • Detailed information on what a dead body can reveal--including the cause, mechanism, and manner of death

  • The actual steps taken to preserve a crime scene and the evidence that can be gathered there, such as bloodstains, documents, fingerprints, tire impressions, and more

Forensics is the ultimate resource for learning how to accurately imbue your stories with authentic details of untimely demises.

My Review:
Howdunit: Forensics is a basic course in forensics. Though the subtitle says it's a guide for writers, there's a lot more information in it than an author could use in a novel without bogging the action down (though I do highly recommend they read this!). It's actually a book for anyone interested in learning the basics of forensics. It doesn't say things like, "In your novel, you could do this..." but simply gives real life examples of how everything works or how real criminals act.

The book was well-written and interesting. I never had a problem following what the author was explaining even though it did get technical at times. A wide range of topics were covered with enough depth that most people would learn all they cared to know. Brief, real case files or made-up examples were used to demonstrate how a certain technique is used to reconstruct the crime scene or help identify a criminal. The book covered murders, but also theft, arson, and forgery. It talked about determining if a death was from natural causes, accident, suicide, or homicide. The author also gave a little history about how various techniques were developed and improved over the decades.

Overall, I'd highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to know more about forensics.

Topics covered: Medical examiners versus coroners; gathering evidence; the steps involved in an autopsy and what can be discovered; how to discover the identity of a dead body; determining the time of death; determining how the victim died; identifying what caused the wounds; what to look for in suffocation cases (including hanging and strangling); using blood and bodily fluids to help identify the criminal; using DNA to identify the criminal; how to identify when toxic substances (including drug overdose and poisons) caused death; fingerprints; using bloodstains to reconstruct the sequence of a crime; finding, preserving, and using impressions (of shoes, tires, tools, and fabric); finding and using trace evidence (hairs, fur, etc.); identifying the gun type and specific gun used in a crime from bullets, etc.; arson investigation; handwriting and forgery examination; and profiling. The appendix contained more information about the various tools used in forensics.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt from Chapter One, page 9
This book will not deal with the techniques of law enforcement and investigation but rather look into the functions of the criminalists, the crime lab, and the medical examiner. This is still a huge undertaking, and as we go along you will see that the domain of forensic science involves many scientific disciplines. It is organized in many different ways.

As I said earlier, the development of modern forensic science paralleled advances in science, particularly the physical and biological sciences. The invention of the microscope, the development of photography, the understanding of the physics of ballistic trajectories, and the discovery of blood typing and DNA analysis are examples of such advances. Before these scientific principles and procedures were applied to criminal investigations, they underwent many years of refinement.

Read more using Amazon's Look Inside Feature.