Jacqueline and the Judge

I just read the most incredible book. It’s called Jacqueline and the Judge. It’s not a book I ever would have picked up, but the author offered to help me with my book, so I entered her giveaway contest, and lucky me, I won a copy for free. I started reading yesterday and finished today.

The writing is vivid and descriptive and retains your attention from the moment you pick it up. I love the way the author weaves in the details you need to know throughout the story without being intrusive about what we authors call “info dump”.  The plot is fascinating, the twists in the story are incredible.

By the time the big surprise came, I completely believed the same thing the main character believed. That is the sign of a well-written book. The author has signed options for movie rights on two of her books, so you’ll be hearing more about these from others soon.

Get a copy now. You won’t regret it. In fact, I think you’ll do exactly what I did—I bought her two other books, Regressions, and Double Identity. I’m not going to start reading them yet because when I do, I’m certain I won’t be able to put them down. I’m going to have to schedule reading them so I can get other work done.

Enter the Giveaway Sweepstakes

I’m doing a giveaway at Amazon. You can enter the sweepstakes here: https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/fd64076132f8f6f2

The contest last ten days, after which twenty people will win a free Kindle version of my book. You have to enter to win, but the winners are selected randomly. So you don’t have to rush over this minute. Don’t forget to enter before July 7th, or you’ll miss the opportunity.

If you read my book, please post a review. I will appreciate it.

After Saigon fell: Daily life under the Vietnamese Communists

This book was so boring that I couldn’t continue. It’s a dry recitation of facts with no life at all. Even though the author is relating stories about his time in Saigon after the communist takeover, it lacks any kind of vitality at all. I would have thought that a book about that period of time would be filled with danger and intrigue. it’s not.

Lost Years: My 1,632 Days in Vietnamese Reeducation Camps

This is a compelling story of what it was like to live in a Vietnamese Reeducation Camp. The conditions were brutal. The guards varied between brutal and greedy, stealing the precious few items the prisoners had managed to acquire. Food was scarce, and at times the prisoners almost starved to death. The psychological abuse was the worst.

For anyone who thinks communism is a good idea, this book should be required reading.

The Jefferson Lies

What a wonderful book. Barton walks the reader through each of the major lies being told about Jefferson; he was a racist, he was a deist, he established the University of Virginia as a secular institution, he fathered at least one child by Sally Hemmings, he hated the clergy, he advocated for the abolition of religion in the public square, and he wrote his own Bible. Then, with each lie, he proves, with Jefferson’s own words and writings, that they are lies, scurrilous lies that defame the character of a good man.

He also carefully explains each of the five “modern” methods for destroying history and truth; Deconstructionism, Poststructuralism, Modernism, Minimalism, and Academic Collectivism and how they turn true history into lies. He also explains how to overcome them.

He does all of this with scrupulous sourcing, particularly of original sources. The book is 214 pages. The notes span 52 pages.

This book should be read by every American, especially those who hold a poor opinion of Jefferson.

Good For One Ride

This is an interesting book. The author makes good use of language to convey the thoughts and feelings of the main character, who is portrayed as an engineer in a support function yet exposed to the terrors of war. The writing is confusing at times, but a strong sense of time and place carries it along. Overall it conveys a clear vision of what it’s like to serve in a combat zone and the effect that has on a person’s mind.

The Kindle edition suffers from massive problems with formatting. Chapters begin in the middle of pages, some paragraphs suffer from what appears to be paragraph returns in the middle of sentences. The book also suffers from a lack of editing, which exacerbates the difficulty of reading through the disjointed formatting.

Here are three examples of the formatting problems:

The first letter of the first word is on a separate line from the rest of the letters in the word. The early paragraphs are formatted oddly as if returns were inserted in the middle of paragraphs. Finally, new chapters begin in the middle of pages.

The Preface

The Shack

I’m currently reading The Shack. Frankly, I never even heard of the book until my editor stated that my manuscript, Prayers Were No Help, reminded her of it. I thought I should read it to understand what she meant and so I would be prepared to answer questions about my story if they were asked.

The writer is certainly descriptive in his use of language, and the premise of the story is a good one, in my opinion. It is, in fact, similar to the premise of my book—a man suffers a devastating loss and struggles to deal with it until heavenly intervention turns his life around.

Without giving away the story, in case you’ve not read it, there was a place in the story where I almost stopped reading the book entirely. The main character is introduced to three celestial beings. One is an African-American woman. The second is an Asian woman. The third is a Middle Eastern man. The device seemed so trite to me that I literally stopped reading, shook my head and put the book down. I’m all for diversity, but in this case, it was so patently obvious it smacked you in the face.

If I ever use a device like that in one of my books, someone please slap me.

UPDATE: I”ve finished reading the book, and I have some things to say. However, they would be spoilers for those who have not read it (or seen the movie), so I will hide them from view. If you read past this point, you’ve been warned.

I’m very disappointed in this book. I can’t believe that it’s a best seller. First, the device of using an African American woman as God, an Asian as the Holy Spirit and a middle-eastern man as Jesus (although that at least makes sense) smacks of a desire to deliberately inject diversity into the story. Then, as if to convince you of his message, he adds a Hispanic woman as another spirit later in the story. Really? Could you be more obvious?

And then there’s the scene where God, Jesus, the Holy Spirt, and Mack drink wine and break bread together. Seriously? Your main character has communion with the Trinity? The devices the author uses are so transparent they take away from the power of the story. Each time I came across one, I had to moan, put the book down, shake my head in amazement and force myself to keep reading.

On top of that, he ends the story by revealing that it never really happened. It was all in the main character’s (Mack’s) mind. At the end of the book, as he’s leaving the shack, he’s t-boned by a drunk driver and ends up in a coma. When he regains consciousness, he finds out from his wife that the accident occurred on the way up to the cabin, not as he was leaving.

It’s a little like toying with a cat. As the cat approaches the moving ball, you yank it away and laugh at him.

In short, the story isn’t believable, the author’s use of contrived devices works to make it less believable, and his theology is questionable at best.

On a scale of one to five, I would give the book a two. Its descriptions are vivid, and the writing is well done. The story is a mess.

Seven Ways To Improve Your Life

Life is made up of habits. It takes sixty-six days to form a new habit. Once you consciously and deliberately perform an action for sixty-six days, it becomes a part of your lifestyle.

Here are seven habits you can build that will make your life happier and more successful.

  1. Begin each day on a positive note
  2. Eat healthily
  3. Handle your business
  4. Approach problems with gusto
  5. Pay attention to details
  6. Pay yourself a compliment
  7. Yield nothing to the negative

Let’s take each of these in turn.

Begin each day on a positive note. The key to happiness is your attitude. If you develop a positive attitude your life will be more stress-free and successful.

How do you do that? By affirmatively beginning your day with positive reinforcement. As hokey as it sounds, start the day with a positive affirmation, and your life will be better. Say, “Today is going to be a great day” or “I feel fantastic this morning“.  Say it even if you don’t mean it. Voicing the positive will elicit the positive.

Eat healthily Your body is an engine. High-performance engines require high-performance fuel. Eating healthy means not only eating the right foods but the right amounts. Overdoing anything is detrimental. Overdoing eating has drastic affects on your long term health. Being the habit of eating healthily today. Don’t put it off.

Handle your business. Procrastination builds contempt. You despise yourself for doing what you knew needed to be done. Do ONE thing each day. Make a list of what needs to be done, and check it off. You’ll have to add to it, of course, as new things come up, but merely viewing a list of things you’ve already accomplished motivates you to do more.

Approach problems with gusto. When problems inevitably arise, tackle them head-on. Don’t shy away from them. Find a solution and do it. Problems will eventually be so terrified of your action orientation that they will cease coming around.

Pay attention to details. Life is made up of details. Ignore them at your peril. Make a list, if you have to, and take care of every detail. Don’t pass a nit on the floor without picking it up. Don’t leave things laying around your house. Clutter leads to depression. Cleanliness is good for the soul.

Pay yourself a compliment. This might come as a surprise to you, but no one cares about you more than you do. While others will compliment you, you need to compliment yourself. Every time you do, you build your self-image. Tell yourself, “You did that well” or “You look nice today“. If you’re not comfortable doing this, your self-image has problems.

Yield nothing to the negative. Negatives erode. They’re like water over rocks. Eventually, the rock’s appearance is shaped by the water into something nondescript. If your life is to have any meaning you must be unique—stand out from the crowd. You do that be being irrepressibly positive. Don’t let the negatives erode you. Refuse to accept them. Turn them around and make them positives.

Build these seven habits, consistently and affirmatively, and you will enjoy life with a gusto that few people enjoy.

 

 

Prayers Were No Help

Prayers Were No Help is available on Smashwords, your favorite ebook retailer, and on Amazon.

I was starting to understand what he was saying. “I thought about that, yesterday. Did I miss a miracle because I did not really believe it when I asked for it?”

“Yes! Exactly. God’s still in the miracle business. Always has been. So few people really believe in him now that he’s been put on the back burner. He’s been turned into a fire extinguisher when he should be the reason the house never catches fire to begin with.”

Puzzled, I probed him further. “How do you turn him into the reason the house never catches on fire?”