Sunday, 18 January 2015

A BRIEF ETERNITY by Paul Beaumont

A Brief EternityA Brief Eternity by Paul Beaumont
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

BOOK DESCRIPTION: One glorious spring day in London, Jesus Christ rudely interrupts the morning rush hour by returning to Earth. The Second Coming has begun and Jerry, hitherto oblivious to Jesus and all of his friends, finds himself transported to Heaven to live a new life in Paradise. And that's when his troubles really begin...

Witty, provocative, subversive and surprising, A Brief Eternity examines mankind's fondest wishes for love, redemption, happiness, immortality and, paradoxically, for death. Along the way it provides answers to the most important questions about the afterlife: what's the food like; who cleans the toilets; and how will the Islamic suicide bombers react when they realise they're all condemned to Hell, forever?

A Brief Eternity is best read soon, while there's still time. Just in case...

MY REVIEW: Because of my lifetime conditioning in relation to the Christian Jesus there were times when I felt very uncomfortable, particularly when the author had him swearing using very coarse language - but then the point of the book is to make the reader uncomfortable! This novel is wickedly incisive in its satirical critique of Christian fundamentalist, literalistic readings of the Hebrew and Christian bibles on salvation, heaven, hell and other related matters. Parts of it are laugh-out-loud funny and Beaumont presents genuine surprises in the plot. The writing is mature and easy to read - I couldn’t put it down. The ending of the book is brilliant! For those willing to read with an open mind and not easily offended, there is much to think about.

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Wednesday, 14 January 2015

DARKNET by John R Little

DarkNetDarkNet by John R. Little
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

BOOK DESCRIPTION: Cindy McKay is Seattle’s beloved radio personality. She has fifty thousand friends she talks to every day, but the one secret she can never share is the horror of her personal life. There seems to be no escape, until she finds the hidden wonders on the dark side of the Internet. Maybe there is freedom from the daily suffering she faithfully endures. But, when everything is anonymous, who can Cindy really trust? She quickly finds that nothing is what it seems, and the solution she had hoped for makes her current problems seem like passing dreams. Cindy has opened the door to DarkNet, and in doing so has unleashed a true nightmare.

MY REVIEW: A short, punchy, fast-paced, sometimes shocking story that draws on contemporary anxieties related to the internet. Unsophisticated but a good read. Had me unwilling to put it down until I had finished. Good escapist entertainment.

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Sunday, 11 January 2015


Jesus, Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible & Why We Don't Know About ThemJesus, Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible & Why We Don't Know About Them by Bart D. Ehrman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

BOOK DESCRIPTION: Picking up where Bible expert Bart Ehrman's New York Times bestseller Misquoting Jesus left off, Jesus, Interrupted addresses the larger issue of what the New Testament actually teaches—and it's not what most people think. Here Ehrman reveals what scholars have unearthed:
  • The authors of the New Testament have diverging views about who Jesus was and how salvation works
  • The New Testament contains books that were forged in the names of the apostles by Christian writers who lived decades later
  • Jesus, Paul, Matthew, and John all represented fundamentally different religions
  • Established Christian doctrines—such as the suffering messiah, the divinity of Jesus, and the trinity—were the inventions of still later theologians

These are not idiosyncratic perspectives of just one modern scholar. As Ehrman skillfully demonstrates, they have been the standard and widespread views of critical scholars across a full spectrum of denominations and traditions. Why is it most people have never heard such things? This is the book that pastors, educators, and anyone interested in the Bible have been waiting for—a clear and compelling account of the central challenges we face when attempting to reconstruct the life and message of Jesus. — back cover of book

MY REVIEW: An excellent, plain language survey of critical scholarship on the nature and development of the New Testament documents of the Christian bible. As the author points out, scholars have known the information presented in this book for many, many decades - it’s just that the person in the street is not told about it. The information will be a bombshell for those who are not aware of this information - and a brilliant summary and discussion for those who already do. The author is an agnostic and is often asked why he continues to study the Bible. His answer, provided near the end of this book, is that ‘The Bible is the most important book in the history of Western civilization. It is the most widely purchased, the most thoroughly studied, the most highly revered, and the most completely misunderstood book—ever! Why wouldn’t I want to study it?’ Bart Ehrman is clearly an expert in his field. But he has the ability to make his area simple to understand without dumbing down the material. For anyone interested in the Bible - atheist, agnostic, or believer - this is a must read.

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Wednesday, 7 January 2015


The Agony of the Gods: Softly Falls the SnowThe Agony of the Gods: Softly Falls the Snow by Tom Wolosz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

BOOK DESCRIPTION: Who is killing the Gods? Man created The Machine. The Machine gave to each man or woman a world of their own design, to do with as they pleased. They became Gods – omnipotent, absolute rulers; but also vain, arrogant, hedonistic and brutal. Now someone is killing them. The enforcer, a servant of the Gods, is tasked with finding the killer, but first he must train a new apprentice. Given a list of worlds to investigate, they set out trying to find a key to the identity of a killer they cannot hope to overcome. In their travels they come across worlds dedicated to the study of butterflies, to the perfection of music, to eternal war, and to a magical storybook existence where animals talk and act like characters from a children’s story; and on each world they find a brutal disregard for the people who serve the Gods. As the death toll mounts, and the pressure from their masters to find the killer increases, they learn more and more about the strange universe of The Machine, and about themselves. But soon they face the ultimate question: is the killer a monster…or a hero? 

MY REVIEW: A fascinating, though difficult, read. I got about a third of the way through and found I was really struggling to find the motivation to continue. It seemed slow and lacked tension - except for the relationship between the enforcer and the apprentice. But after reading all the glowing reviews of the book, I decided to push on - and am glad I did. THE AGONY OF THE GODS is a very different read to the usual fare - and so achieves the purpose of the publishers of the book to produce books that different. The story is actually pretty intriguing and delves into all sorts of issues in a very subtle way. The investigation of who is killing the “Gods” almost recedes into the background at times and focuses more on each of the worlds that the enforcer and apprentice visits and the issues going on there. Once I shifted my focus within the narrative, the book actually became quite enjoyable and I started wondering just where the author was going to take me. I don’t think this book will be for everyone. But if you are looking for something more sophisticated and “literary”, but with a tinge of mystery, then this might be for you. I’m looking forward, now, to the next book this author gifts us with.

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