Sunday, 31 July 2016

DIVINE HIDDENNESS AND HUMAN REASON by J L Schellenberg

Divine Hiddenness and Human ReasonDivine Hiddenness and Human Reason by J.L. Schellenberg
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

BOOK DESCRIPTION: Why, if a loving God exists, are there "reasonable nonbelievers," people who fail to believe in God but through no fault of their own? In Part 1 of this book, the first full-length treatment of its topic, J. L. Schellenberg argues that when we notice how a relationship with God logically presupposes belief in God, we have grounds to conclude that there would be no reasonable nonbelievers if theism were true, and thus given their existence grounds for atheism. This argument, he maintains, is not defeated by any of an array of counterarguments seeking to justify divine hiddenness drawn from the work of such writers as Pascal, Kierkegaard, Butler, and Hick, and from the author's own imagination arguments meticulously scrutinized in the book's second part. Divine Hiddenness and Human Reason has generated a great deal of interest and discussion since its first publication in 1993 and continues to set the agenda for work on its issues today." (Goodreads)

MY REVIEW: A fascinating argument against the Christian God's existence. This book is a challenging philosophical read but worth every minute. It's a detailed, rigorous argument. The author has an excellent understanding of the various Christian arguments and counter-arguments. In fact, in order to ensure he has considered every possible opposing arguments he even comes up with new ones that haven't been developed before - and then responds to them. This is a must-read for Christian and atheist apologists alike. Should generate a long and interesting conversation!

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Sunday, 17 July 2016

THE WARLORD'S SON by Dan Fesperman

The Warlord's SonThe Warlord's Son by Dan Fesperman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

BOOK DESCRIPTION: In a riveting tale of intrigue and betrayal, a journalist and his aide infiltrate Afghanistan on the eve of the American invasion.  Skelly, a jaded war correspondent, is looking for one last scoop.  Najeeb, his translator and guide, is an educated young man from the Pakistani-Afghani border with a secret past, a history with the Pakistani secret police, and his own motives for this risky adventure. Together they join a Warlord’s caravan as he seeks to start an uprising that will liberate the country from the Taliban. Along the way, they stumble onto what they think might just be the story of a lifetime. What they find is a shady world of hidden agendas, shifting allegiances, and sudden betrayals--a world where one wrong move would get them both killed and the only hope for survival lies in their loyalty to each other.

MY REVIEW: Really enjoyed this engaging story. The writing is excellent and very evocative. The descriptions of the various aspects of Afghan culture, politics, and history are informative but never overwhelm the narrative which moves along at a good pace. The characters are interesting and the story is intriguing.

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Tuesday, 28 June 2016

THE FIGHT FOR FREEDOM by Marcus Ferrar

The Fight for FreedomThe Fight for Freedom by Marcus Ferrar
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

BOOK DESCRIPTION: The fight for freedom – waged by warriors, democrats, politicians, slaves, civil rights leaders, free-thinkers and ordinary human beings – has stirred passions for thousands of years. This moving narrative recounts the exploits of leaders such as Spartacus, Boadicea, Lincoln and Gandhi, through to heroes of the modern age – Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela and Aung San Suu Kyi. Their enemies have been despots – for example Persia’s Emperor Xerxes, Stalin and Hitler – but sometimes also religions, ideologies, and even liberation movement leaders who became new tyrants.

MY REVIEW: This was a great read and I learned a lot. It is disturbing that so many people in the world, through history, have had to live under such oppression and had their human freedoms ignored or deliberately taken away from them. This easy-to-read history read like a novel and I found it inspiring and informative.

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Sunday, 12 June 2016

MURDER IN WASILLA by Mary Wasche

Murder in WasillaMurder in Wasilla by Mary Wasche
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

BOOK DESCRIPTION: A chilling tale of crime and romance in small town Alaska. A Boston law school graduate, new to Alaska and in over his head with his first big case, must defend an innocent man accused of murdering a kindergarten teacher whose naked, half-frozen body he spotted along the shoulder of an isolated highway. As Preston Mills adjusts to life on the Last Frontier, he falls hard for the defendant's spunky and appealing daughter. The crime very nearly goes unsolved due to the unique method of murder.

MY REVIEW: A fairly straightforward, easy to read, crime romance with more romance than crime. It’s a fairly mild read compared to a lot of modern crime fiction but it was enjoyable. The relationship at the centre of the story was more interesting than the crime itself — although the method of the crime was intriguing.

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Saturday, 14 May 2016

WASTELAND GODS by Jonathan Woodrow

Wasteland GodsWasteland Gods by Jonathan Woodrow
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

BOOK DESCRIPTION: After the brutal murder of his son is broadcast over the internet, Billy Kingston becomes consumed with alcoholism and thoughts of revenge.
But his outlook changes when a divine being named Dr. Verity offers Billy the chance to not only find the man responsible for his pain but to remove him from this world before he can commit the murder.
When the deal with Verity takes a wrong turn, Billy moves to the small, remote town of Benton Lake and the chance of a new life. Only Dr. Verity isn’t through with him yet. Not by a long shot...

MY REVIEW: A strange story. In one sense, you don’t really understand what’s going on until the last chapter. I would have liked more hints in the story pointing toward the ending than it being a complete surprise. The strength of the book lies in the exploration of the experience of loss and grief. There are moments of genuine suspense and horror but I didn’t find them always believable. The writing is good and I will check out the author’s next book. (NB: I received a free copy of this book through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program.)

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Friday, 6 May 2016

YOUR GUIDE TO THIS WEEK'S NEW CINEMA RELEASES

Ready for some goodies to watch on the big screen this week?

TOP PICK

Top of the list this week is the story of FLORENCE FOSTER JENKINS, a New York heiress who dreamed of becoming an opera singer, despite having a terrible singing voice. I’ve seen the French movie about the same character which was ok — and this one is likely to be similar. Variety’s Guy Lodge describes this movie as, ‘… an audience picture first and foremost: one wholly sympathetic to its eponymous subject's delusional drive to delight crowds with or without the requisite artistry.’ Looking forward to it. People ***1/2 ◉ Critics ***1/2

OTHERS TO SEE

MIA MADRE (My Mother) tells the story of Margherita, a director in the middle of an existential crisis, who has to deal with the inevitable and still unacceptable loss of her mother. For The Hollywood Reporter’s Deborah Young, ‘Simplicity and maturity of vision are the virtues here, good qualities but perhaps a little too understated for major attention-grabbing.’ People ***1/2 ◉ Critics ***

MAYBE/MAYBE NOT

THE MAN WHO KNEW INFINITY is another biopic about a famous man, this time, Srinivasa Ramanujan Iyengar. He grew up poor in Madras, India, and earns admittance to Cambridge University during WWI, where he becomes a pioneer in mathematical theories with the guidance of his professor, G.H. Hardy. It’s good to know about famous people that have flown under the radar for most of us. I have seen this one and will post my review soon. In the meantime, I agree with Empire who describes it as ‘Well intentioned and played, this shows flashes of what could have been, but is ultimately let down by its timidity towards the maths, and fails to make the case for its own hero's greatness.’ People ***1/2 ◉ Critics **1/2

If you saw Bad Neighbours then we probably know what to expect with NEIGHBOURS 2: SORORITY RISING. After a sorority moves in next door, which is even more debaucherous than the fraternity before it, Mac and Kelly have to ask for help from their former enemy, Teddy. Notice the phrase ‘more debaucherous’. Didn’t think that was possible — but there you go. Screen International ’s Fionnuala Halligan says it ‘… turns out to be an uneasy watch, awash with unconvincing performances, unfunny stereotypes, and dubious gross-out gags.’ Be warned. People *** ◉ Critics **1/2

TO AVOID

See above and you decide! wink emoticon

That's it for this week. See you at the movies!

NOTE Movie summaries are adaptations of movie summary on IMDB. Opinions are mine unless credited. People and critics scores are a rough idea of how movies are currently being rated on the “average”. These updates are written from an Australian perspective so openings of the movies in cinemas may vary in other parts of the world.

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

THE LIFE OF I UPDATED EDITION: THE NEW CULTURE OF NARCISSISM by Anne Manne



BOOK DESCRIPTION: Far from being the work of a madman, Anders Breivik's murderous rampage in Norway was the action of an extreme narcissist. As the dead lay around him, he held up a finger asking for a Band-Aid.

Written with the pace of a psychological thriller, The Life of I is a compelling account of the rise of narcissism in individuals and society. Manne examines the Lance Armstrong doping scandal and the alarming rise of sexual assaults in sport and the military, as well as the vengeful killings of Elliot Rodger in California. She looks at narcissism in the pursuit of fame and our obsession with 'making it'. She goes beyond the usual suspects of social media and celebrity culture to the deeper root of the issue: how a new narcissistic character-type is being fuelled by a cult of the self and the pursuit of wealth in a hypercompetitive consumer society.

The Life of I also offers insights from the latest work in psychology, looking at how narcissism develops. But Manne also shows that there is an alternative: how to transcend narcissism, to be fully alive to the presence of others; how to create a world where love and care are no longer turned inward.
 
MY REVIEW: A very in-depth, richly textured discussion of narcissism. Of particular interest are the case studies analysing real people that have demonstrated narcissistic personalities. Like the best books, there are things to disagree with. The writing is engaging and easy to read. The greatest temptation in reading a book like this one is that of labelling people you know -- so take care! It is hard to disagree with the thesis that our culture is becoming increasingly self-centred.

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