Saturday, September 30, 2017

Aerial Geology, by Mary Caperton Morton

Mary Caperton Morton, travel writer and geologist, shares her love affair with North American geology in Aerial Geology: A High-Altitude Tour of North America's Spectacular Volcanoes, Canyons, Glaciers, Lakes, Craters, and Peaks.  Starting with a basic introduction to geology and the forces that have shaped the North American continent, she points out that "geology is best understood from the air. . . . the higher you go, the more you see, and the more you see, the more you learn."  So Aerial Geology is filled with pictures of geological features taken from mountain tops, airplanes, and all the way up to space.

Her point is well taken.  I have hiked around and visited several of the locations she covers.  It's tough to beat the feet-on-the-ground experience, seeing a place with your own eyes.  But to get the full picture of geological forces and formations, the high-elevation perspective is indispensable.  Besides the elevation perspective, Morton also has a great perspective on geological time.  She writes that "all these [geological] processes are ongoing. . . . [G]eologic time includes now."  When she discussing the timing and time frames of events, it sounds as natural as "The Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776" or even "My niece was born on October 15th of last year."  Obviously the time frames of the formation of mountain ranges or tectonic shifts are much greater, but she has a way of making it all sound familiar.  This includes projecting toward the future: "Visitors [to Cape Cod] should enjoy this area while they can.  Geologists estimate that the peninsula will disappear altogether in a few thousand years. . . ."

While the photographs are great, sometimes downright stunning, this is more than just a coffee table book.  For each of the 100 geological formations she features, she provides a brief but insightful account of its history and significance.  On one level, she inspires me to pay a visit to some of these places.  (How have I never heard of the Uinta Mountains?  I want to go!).  But taken all together, Aerial Geology sheds a lot of light on the big picture of the geology on the continent I call home.  With its soaring mountains, expansive plains, canyons and rivers, this is a fascinating place, made even more fascinating by Morton's beautiful and informative book.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the complimentary electronic review copy!

Friday, September 29, 2017

Theology in Three Dimensions, by John Frame

Leading Reformed theologian John Frame believes that he idea of triperspectivalism can be transformative for Christian belief.  In Theology in Three Dimensions: A Guide to Triperspectivalism and Its Significance, Frame provides a relatively brief introduction to triperspectivalism.  By this he means three perspectives: the situational, the normative, and the existential.  These are "three ways by which we may interact with experience, three emphases of our study. . . . each includes the other two."  He draws on his collaborator Vern Poythress's work.

Frame gives some examples of reading scripture from a triperspectival position.  He writes, "The significance of triperspectivalism is that it keeps us focused on the biblical bottom line, that God is nothing less than the Lord, and that his lordship is fully revealed in Jesus Christ." 

Drawing from a wide array of philosophical and theological sources, Frame packs a lot into a small book, but keeps it accessible to the educated lay reader.  But accessible doesn't necessarily mean helpful.  He did a much better job of describing the concept than convincing me that it matters. 

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the complimentary electronic review copy!

Thursday, September 28, 2017

No Middle Name, by Lee Child

Lee Child is best known for his Jack Reacher novels, two of which have been made into movies.  To fill in some of the gaps between novels, and to add to Reacher's back story, Child has, over the years, written a number of short pieces.  These are now collected in one volume, No Middle Name:The Complete Collected Jack Reacher Short Stories

This collection has quite a range of stories, including the "Reacher gets in trouble in a small town but ends up exposing a criminal conspiracy" story; the "Reacher as Army investigator" story, the "Reacher as a child" story, and some stories that include Reacher as a secondary character.  (I found the latter to the most entertaining, simply because it's a departure from the usual Reacher story.)

As you might expect from any collection of short stories, especially one that spans 18 years of a writer's career, some of these stories are better than others.  But I enjoyed all of them.  "Too Much Time" is the only story that hasn't appeared elsewhere.  Reacher fans will consider it worth the price of the book.  

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Paradox Bound, by Peter Clines

Peter Clines tackles the complexity and fun of time travel in his new novel Paradox Bound.  Eli lives in a tiny, inconsequential (he thinks) town that time seems to have forgotten.  Over the years, he has several encounters with the same mysterious woman passing through town.  On her last stop, he convinces her to take him along.  Turns out she travels through history in search of the American dream. 

In Clines's world, the American dream is an actual artifact that was lost many years ago.  Eli's friend Harry (short for Harriet) is one of dozens, maybe hundreds, of people criss-crossing the continent and traversing history in search of it.  To keep things interesting, a group of mysterious, faceless (literally) special agents pursure the dream hunters with deadly force.

Eli teams up with Harry, learning the ways of the road and the history of the search.  As they wander the country, pursuing leads, Harry meets some surprising figures (John Henry, James Dean, and, to his surprise, the owner of the company he used to work for) while gaining perspective on American history.  As Harry explains to Eli, the Freemasons had a large role in the founding of the United States, and they, in turn, were empowered by some Egyptian gods.  Eli said, "'So the whole American Revolution happened because of an Egyptian God?' 'Such a silly idea, I know,' said Harry.  'If it was true, there'd be huge obelisks in the nation's capital, pyramids on the currency, noticeable things like that, wouldn't there?'"  Good one!

Why do they want to discover the dream, and why do the faceless men want to prevent them from finding it?  Harry explains, "If one person actually possessed it, held it, the entire United States--and all its people--would all be whatever that one person dreamed.  They could impose their will on the whole country."  If all of this sounds far-fetched, abusurd, and maybe a bit stupid to you, you won't enjoy Paradox Bound.  But if you like a good adventure, if you don't mind suspending disbelief for some time-travel fiction, and if you have a few hours to kill by losing yourself in a fun novel, Paradox Bound might be up your alley.  I enjoyed it like I might enjoy a good mindless action movie.  It's fun, but not something that will stick with me for a long time.

Thanks to Edelweiss and the publisher for the complimentary electronic review copy!

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Three Jack Reacher Novellas, by Lee Child

Like many a Jack Reacher fan, I will read anything Lee Child writes.  He never disappoints.  Three Jack Reacher Novellas gathers stories that have been published elsewhere and give a bit of insight into Reacher's earlier years.

Deep Down (included in the paperback edition of A Wanted Man).  Reacher is recruited to investigate a potential leak on a team that is acquiring a new sniper rifle for the U.S. military.  Posing as a special forces sniper, he sits in on the tail end of their deliberations.  His assignment: socialize with the women on the team and see what he can find out.  He has no problem with the socializing part, but soon he learns that his cover may not be as strong as he had hoped.  Lucky for Reacher, he's smarter than the other side (as always).

Second Son (published in 2011 as a Kindle single).  As the new kid on base, young Jack Reacher is targeted by the local bullies and meets up with a cute girl from across the street.  When Reacher's brother is accused of stealing the answer key for a school placement test, and his father is accused of losing an important code book, Reacher is on the case.  This story shows Reacher's young toughness and his precocious investigative skills.  (I was reminded of Encyclopedia Brown.) 

High Heat (included in the paperback edition of Never Go Back).  While on summer break, sixteen-year-old Reacher leaves Korea to visit his brother at West Point.  Passing through New York, on his way to catch a bus, he sees a man slapping a woman.  Of course he intervenes, and of course it turns out to be more complicated.  The guy is a mob figure, the woman is an FBI agent.  Despite the threats, Reacher can't stay away, and helps shut down the mobster's operation.  Oh, and he also happens to help with the Son of Sam investigation.  This one seems to give even Reacher too much power and insight as a sixteen-year-old tourist, but it's fun how Child places the story within the events of the New York blackout of 1977 and the Son of Sam investigation.

Reacher's Rules (2012).  This is a fun compilation for Reacher fans.  Child puts together rules for living, quotes, and a few aphorisms collected from Reacher's experiences.  I got a kick out of the rules, in part because I can't see Reacher himself compiling it; it's just how he lives.  Some of the "Things You'll Never Hear Reacher Say" are amusing, like "Can you carry my bags?" or "I'll have to ask my wife."  Many of the tips, like "How to Open a Locked Iron Gate with a Chrysler" or "The Science of Burning Down a Building" are taken from the novels, of course, but told in a more analytical, detached way.  If you have read and enjoyed the Reacher novels, you will probably love Reacher's Rules.  If not, I'm sure you'll find it rather bizarre.

Three Jack Reacher Novellas don't have the punch and import of the full-length novels.  They are, however, enjoyable, especially for Reacher fans who like to hear Reacher's backstory.  The legend of Reacher continues.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Understanding Trump, by Newt Gingrich

Can anyone understand President Donald Trump?  If anyone can, in a political sense, it's Newt Gingrich.  The former Speaker of the House and congressman from Georgia, Gingrich was an early supporter of Donald Trump's presidential ambitions and became an advisor to his campaign.  His book Understanding Trump tells a bit of the story that got Trump to the White House, discusses some of Trump's agenda and perspectives, and lays out policy prescriptions for a way forward for the Trump White House.

The story of Trump's entry into the presidential race and the first days of his administration is familiar to most readers.  Less known is Gingrich's role.  Gingrich gives a nice summary of Trump's background, primarily his business life, while emphasizing the skills Trump gained in the private sector which he can apply to presidential leadership.  Trump has been known more for his "art of the deal," his practical approach to getting things done, and his emphasis on the bottom line more than for his ideological commitments.  I hope Gingrich is right, and that Trump will apply his business instincts to reducing waste and mismanagement in government projects and operations.  One example that stood out is the huge amount of money that the federal government spends to maintain vacant real estate space around the country.  Since real estate has been one of Trump's fortes, why not use his experience to sell or lease space, rather than let it sit and drain the treasury?

Gingrich spends some time talking about Trump's opposition in the press and academia.  There is no question that the press, as a whole, is vindictively out to get Trump and harm his presidency.  Gingrich recounts some of the remarkable examples of lies and half truths the press perpetuates in the interest of discrediting Trump.  The influencers of the nation are full of intellectuals yet idiots, the IYIs whose ideological commitments hold sway over facts and logic.  Gingrich recounts the rise of the IYIs and the hardening of the left; the Democratic Party of today has little resemblance to the party of LBJ and JFK, as it has become more and more driven by collectivization and identity politics.

Gingrich strikes a great balance of personal insight, historical perspective (his is an historian by training, with a Ph.D. in history), and policy experience.  Much of the latter portion of Understanding Trump is very wonky.  In fact, this is the best part of the book and of Gingrich's connection with Trump.  Gingrich's work in the congress brought a broad coalition together to pass significant legislation, and his conservative bona fides are strong.  In my opinion, the more influence Gingrich can have on Trump, the better.  I don't know what their current level of communication is, but Trump would be wise to keep those channels open.

If you're looking for criticism of Trump, you won't find much in Understanding Trump.  But if you truly do want to gain a greater understanding of Trump from an insider's perspective, whatever your personal political inclination, Understanding Trump is essential reading.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the complimentary electronic review copy!

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Texas Hill Country, by Eric W. Pohl

The words "the Hill Country" are sure to fire the imagination of any Texan.  There are lots of pretty spots across this great state, but the region with the most is surely the Hill Country.  Photographer and native Texan Eric W. Pohl is a lover and resident of the Hill Country.  He photographs and shares some of its beauty in Texas Hill Country: A Scenic Journey.  

With his gorgeous photography, he captures impressive vistas, beautiful landmarks, a few man-made spots, waterways, and, of course, plenty of wildflowers.  If you have a favorite spot in the Hill Country, you'll likely find it here.  Fredricksburg, Enchanted Rock, the Frio River, Pedernales Falls, Hamilton Pool, Lost Maples, and Garner State Park are some of my favorites that he pictures.  You will certainly find some places to visit or revisit.

Texans know what a treasure we have in the Hill Country.  Unfortunately, many others are discovering it as well.  Pohl's book focuses on the undisturbed, undeveloped landscapes.  Hopefully development and popularity won't ruin it for future generations.  And if you can't get there, stuck in the city or stuck out of state somewhere, Pohl's book will call you back.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the complimentary electronic review copy!

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Curious Encounters with the Natural World, by Michael Jeffords and Susan Post

Michael Jeffords and Susan Post must have a pretty cool marriage.  Both of them are biologists based in Illinois, but in their 34 years of marriage they have travelled the globe, observing and photographing the natural world.  Their new book, which includes essays and photographs from both of them, "is a lifetime of observations distilled into a single work. . . . The experiences we have chose to showcase range from encounters with unusual natural history phenomena in our own backyard to observations from the remote corners of the earth."

Curious Encounters with the Natural World: From Grumpy Spiders to Hidden Tigers features a wide variety of animals, as well as a sprinkling of landscapes, geological features, and plants.  Jeffords's and Post's love for their work and for the natural world oozes from every page.  Most of the book is one-page essays accompanied by a photo.  Their work is really beautiful, and the essays, which give some biological background as well as the circumstances of the picture, are enlightening.

The subjects are lean heavily to bugs.  I normally am not a big fan of spiders or swarming flies, but they make them somehow interesting and even endearing.  Post's essay on the mating habits of the crane fly and its connection to its setting will fill you with nostalgia and empathy for this little bug.  There are plenty of pictures of and essays about more picturesque and cuddly animals like beautiful birds, cuddly penguins, and majestic giraffes.

I appreciate the patience and commitment Jeffords and Post have exercised throughout their careers to capture these wonderful pictures.  The accompanying essays are informative, but the stars of this book are the photos.  I will never experience the natural world the way they have, but feel closer to it through reading Curious Encounters.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the complimentary electronic review copy!

Friday, September 22, 2017

Bible Matters, by Tim Chester

UK pastor Tim Chester is one of the most straight-forward, reliably orthodox, and inspiring authors I have read in a long time.  In Bible Matters: Meeting God In His Word, he encourages love for the Bible, not as a book, but as a direct line to the voice of God.  He says that he wants readers "to realize that every time you read the Bible, you're hearing the voice of God--just as surely, more surely, than if you have some kind of dramatic experience."

Chester's deep love of the Bible comes across throughout Bible Matters.  It's not a matter of idolatry of a book, but love of Jesus.  "I love to hear [Jesus'] voice. . . . [The Bible] enables me to hear my Savior's voice."  He supports the use of Bible reading plans, but encourages us not to see them as a list to check off.  (I have been guilty of that!).  I love his suggestion that as we read, "turn what you read into prayer."  I have found this to be a great way to engage the scriptures and personalize God's word for me.

He takes a hard line against the tendency to reject the teachings of scripture in favor of cultural trends.  For personal and/or cultural reasons, Christians sometimes will selectively read the Bible, choosing what they want to obey or recognize as authoritative.  "Most Christians are happy to accept the authority of the Bible until it teaches something they don't like." 

Bible Matters is a great resource for reinvigorating your love of the Bible, and reminding you why you read it.  I enjoy Chester's style of communication and the unyielding faith and confidence in God and his word that he conveys.  I recommend Bible Matters for all Christians, no matter where on their walk of faith they are.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the complimentary electronic review copy!

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Night School, by Lee Child

Lee Child's 2016 novel Night School takes us back to Jack Reacher's days in the Army.  After a medal recognition ceremony, Reacher is assigned to night school.  When he arrives, he and the other "students" quickly realized that the "school" is simply a cover to get them off the radar so they can jump into another investigation.  Reacher heads out to Germany, where middle-eastern terrorists and neo-Nazis compete for Reacher's attention.

Unlike most Reacher books, which feature Reacher as the reluctant vigilante and one-man force for justice, Night School has Reacher collaborating in a more traditional investigation. Intelligence comes in, as it tends to do, in bits and pieces.  The phrase, "The American wants a hundred million dollars" raises lots of red flags.  What could be worth $100 million?  Reacher and his colleagues are chasing a mystery, and the bad guys are chasing each other but they don't really know what.  The implications turn out to be much larger than Reacher, or even some of the bad guys, could guess.

The way Child puts it all together is interesting and altogether believable--way too believable.  As much as I enjoy the Reacher novels, I have to admit this one did not rank up there with my favorites.  I liked it, but it was a bit flat compared to earlier books.  Still, with plenty of suspense and a compelling mystery, plus some scenes of Reacher being Reacher, taking out a bunch of bad guys, Night School is fun to read.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Wake Up! by Chris Baréz-Brown

Do you ever find yourself on autopilot, going through life thoughtlessly and automatically?  Christ Baréz-Brown has some suggestions for you.  In Wake Up! A Handbook for Living in the Here and Now, he offers "54 playful strategies to help you snap out of autopilot."  In a sense, this is a book about mindfulness, but not meditation and yoga.  He is in favor of those things, but his ideas are more active and forward moving.  He encourages us to "deliberately . . . bring in new and different experiences to our lives that will provoke a heightened sense of consciousness as we engage with them."

Baréz-Brown's suggestions range from the silly to the commonplace, from the obvious to the surprising.  Physical needs play a part.  He's in favor of experimenting with cutting sugar, caffeine and alcohol, with cutting bread and dairy (at least for a time), and with making your own food rather than relying on packaged food.  He recommends turning off the TV, taking walks, standing while working, and dancing.  He encourages creativity, drawing and writing about one's day, writing an original song, or taking on someone else's identity just for fun (not identity theft, just being a fictional character, for instance).

He's into simplicity.  Try spending less than $5 a day.  Wear the same clothes several days in a row.  Enjoy nature.  Turn off your devices.  My favorite suggestions relate to other people.  Make amends with someone.  Write someone a letter.  Say yes without hesitation when someone asks you to do something.  Most of all, "make a pact with yourself to try to make everybody you meet smile."  I love that plan!

Wake Up! includes lots of space to journal, jot down ideas for action, draw pictures, make lists, and keep track of your decisions.  Baréz-Brown doesn't want you to sit and read this book straight through, but to read a challenge or two, do it, and keep a record of your results.  He offers a wide variety of activities.  I think any one of them will be challenging and will transform your day.  Do them all, it may just transform your life.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The Trick, by Emanuel Bergmann

Emanuel Bergmann strikes all the right notes in his first novel, The Trick.  It's moving, funny, nostalgic, sweet, and thoughtful.  Bergmann artfully weaves together the stories of two young boys from different eras who hope for more than what life seems to offer.  Moshe, the son of a rabbi in Prague, runs away to join the circus, leaving behind his family and his faith.  He learns the magical arts from a seasoned showman before striking out on his own as the Great Zabbatini, a decidedly non-Jewish identity, a necessity under Nazi rule.

Max, a little boy in modern-day southern California finds a record in his dad's old things that includes a love spell by the Great Zabbatini.  He hopes that this can bring his divorcing parents back together, so he goes out in search of the old magician.  The intersections of these two disaffected lives results in both comic and profound situations.

Bergmann's best bits capture the wide-eyed wonder of these two boys as they step out of their familiar surroundings.  We share young Moshe's first glimpses of the drama of magic and the circus, especially the stunning beauty of the magician's assistant (who later becomes his assistant and life companion).  We see Max's exposure to the realities of aging, of grown-up problems, and the darkness of certain periods of the past.

Bergmann balances the humorous, sometimes slapstick story with sensitive treatment of Max's feelings about his parents' divorce and Moshe's experiences performing for Nazis while hiding his identity and his survival of the death camps after he is exposed.  I enjoyed Bergmann's story-telling style, as he flipped back and forth from Moshe's youth to today.  The Trick is a real treat to read.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the complimentary electronic review copy!

Monday, September 18, 2017

Blood and Faith, by Damon T. Berry

With some trepidation I picked up Damon T. Berry's Blood and Faith: Christianity in American White Nationalism.  Why the trepidation?  As a white, conservative, Christian man, I prepared myself for the assault.  I fit every politically incorrect category.  I anticipated that he would be assaulting me by implication, assigning labels of racist and white supremacist to me.

Thankfully, I was wrong.  Berry, who teaches religious studies at St. Laurence University, traces the roots of white nationalism, focusing on the post-World-War-2 era in the United States.  The big picture of white nationalism in the United States is that it rejects Christianity and conservatism.  One of the intellectual founders, Revilo Oliver, had written for National Review and was involved in the John Birch Society, but subsequently "abandoned any defense of conservatism or Christianity and argued strenuously that other whites should do so as well."  Another leader, William Pierce, taught that "to protect . . . the white race itself, Christianity must be rejected."  Many were drawn to pre-Christian European traditions, such as Odinism, while others rejected religion altogether.  Some even were in league with Satanism.  Christianity, with its non-European, Jewish roots, was considered "one of the primary causes of the decline of the White race."

But then, causing a bit of whiplash, Berry tries to tie white nationalists and the "alt-right" (which he never really defines) with white evangelicals and the Trump administration.  This final part of the book was remarkable because while the first five chapters were careful and deliberate biographical and historical accounts, the last chapter and conclusion devolved into specious correlations and journalistic speculation.  So is this a scholarly examination or a political op-ed?  This was the accusation that I originally anticipated.  Berry spends the whole book talking about white nationalism's absolute rejection of Christianity, then concludes that white evangelicals are hand-in-hand in support of Trump.

So as a historical study, Berry's contribution is welcome.  These movements and organizations, though largely forgotten and little known, are around, lurking on the edges of American public life.  Despite some his unwarranted associations in the conclusion, Berry provides ammunition for those in American Christian life who want to demonstrate conclusively that it is anti-historical and unfair to associate white, conservative evangelicals with white nationalism.  As Berry describes them, the white nationalists are small, culturally irrelevant, and insular.  Their recent public appearances have been disproportionately publicized; they should be marginalized and ignored, not covered with fleets of satellite news trucks.  I, for one, hope that the white nationalists survive--only in the history books.

Thanks to Edelweiss and the publisher for the complimentary electronic review copy!

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Broadway Baby: My Favorite Things, by Rodgers & Hammerstein, illustrated by Daniel Roode

The Sound of Music is one of the most beloved musicals and movies of all time.  You probably know most of the words to "My Favorite Things."  Those who love the musical and the song will enjoy passing it along to their children in this new children's book illustrated by Daniel Roode.  Broadway Baby: My Favorite Things puts the lyrics of the wonderful song into storybook form, with colorful pictures.
Even without the context of the musical, it's a wonderful, happy book.  The pictures themselves don't recall the movie, really.  The kids aren't so much Von Trapp as they are "It's a small world after all."  (I don't mean that as a criticism, but as an observation.)  This is such a fun way to introduce children to a classic movie.  I defy you to read it to your kids without singing along!

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the complimentary electronic review copy!

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Broadway Baby: Do Re Mi, by Rodgers & Hammerstein, illustrated by Miriam Bos

The Sound of Music is one of the most beloved musicals and movies of all time.  You probably know most of the words to "Do Re Mi."  Those who love the musical and the song will enjoy passing it along to their children in this new children's book illustrated by Miriam Bos.  Broadway Baby: Do Re Mi puts the lyrics of the wonderful song into storybook form, with colorful pictures.
Even without the context of the musical, it's a wonderful, happy book.  The natural teaching opportunity for music teachers is great, too, as the book can be paired with a recording of the song or singing by a teacher.  The pictures themselves don't recall the movie, really.  The kids aren't so much Von Trapp as they are a multi-cultural "It's a small world after all" group.  (I don't mean that as a criticism, but as an observation.)  This is such a fun way to introduce children to a classic movie.  I defy you to read it to your kids without singing along!

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the complimentary electronic review copy!

Friday, September 15, 2017

Make Me, by Lee Child

Jack Reacher gets off the train in a small town because he is intrigued by the name: Mother's Rest.  This is the set up for Lee Child's Make Me, the 20th Jack Reacher novel.  Reacher asks around, and no one knows where the name came from--or they won't tell him.  Of course Reacher can't leave well enough alone, so his quick one-day stop turns into an investigation.  He happens to meet a female P.I. who is in town looking for her missing partner.  They team up to uncover the nefarious secret of Mother's Rest.

Make Me follows the familiar model of Reacher exposing a tiny town's secret criminal underbelly.  Mother's Rest is far off the beaten path, well outside of cell coverage.  A town-wide conspiracy of silence protects a criminal enterprise, the nature of which Reacher and his P.I. friend slowly discover.  The initial discovery is horrible, very illegal, but, in Reacher's mind, perhaps justifiable.  However, the pieces still don't fit and the ultimate reveal is beyond anything he imagined.  Reacher brings justice with his trademark brand of justice: kill 'em all and then disappear.

One distinction of Make Me is that Reacher actually meets an opponent who is better than Reacher anticipated.  Reacher takes him out, of course, but he got some good blows on Reacher, including a blow to the head.  The effects linger through the rest of the book, impacting his ability to be Reacher.  It makes me wonder if, in future books, Reacher will have to slow down and admit he's getting older, or if he'll heal up and this won't bother him again.  In any case, it's a rare admission by Child that Reacher is human after all.

Make Me follows the Reacher formula, with enough twists and turns to keep fans coming back for more.  The "small town covering up pure evil" trope might be getting old, though.  I wondered about the logistics, the secrecy, the longevity of the scheme.  It just seemed like too much to have sustained for as long as they have apparently sustained it.  Apart from that, Make Me is a worthy addition to the life story of Jack Reacher.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

A Time to Stand, by Robert Whitlow

Robert Whitlow is a practicing lawyer and a veteran writer of legal fiction.  I enjoy the genre, so I thought I'd pick up A Time to Stand.  Whitlow has been called Christian publishing's version of John Grisham, so it's probably no accident that Whitlow's novel about a race-fueled conflict in the South echoes Grisham's novel A Time to Kill.  I've read a lot of Grisham, and Whitlow compares favorably in style and skill.

Whitlow displays the great story-telling chops that it takes to make enjoyable legal fiction.  The main character, Adisa Johnson, is a corporate lawyer in Atlanta, on her way up the legal career ladder.  She returns to her tiny hometown to visit her aunt and ends up sticking around.  A local lawyer, for whom she had worked as an intern many years earlier, asks her to help him with a case.  His firm is representing a white police officer who shot an unarmed black teenager.  Adisa, who is black, is torn between her convictions about black-on-white police violence and racism, and her desire to pursue justice and honor the law.  Under conviction from God, but to the consternation of the entire black community, she chooses to work on the case.

Things become more complicated when she becomes romantically involved with a local pastor who is a leader of the movement to prosecute the police officer.  Adisa struggles with her own race-based predispositions, while the community at large comes to terms with racial tension that few were aware had been swirling under the surface in the peaceful town.  Whitlow is, of course, pulling this story straight from the headlines.  He strikes an insightful balance between the attitudes of the black community and the white community, avoiding the extremes of the violent groups, black and white, that have poured gasoline on simmering racial fires in recent days.  Adisa's wise aunt Josie voices Whitlow's take on the matter: "The kind of love that removes bricks in the wall of prejudice only comes from above.  Anything else is like a Band-Aid on cancer."  Later on, the pastor preaches that "there is only one definitive, all-encompassing answer to what divides us, isolates us, and causes us to mistrust--transformation of the human heart through the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ."

Whitlow avoids lecturing about race and racism while telling a thoroughly enjoyable and believable tale.  Yes, it's fiction, but I felt like the dialogue, the courtroom scenes, and the church scenes were well-written and realistic.  I do wonder how authentic A Time to Stand would seem to black readers.  Robert Whitlow is a white male, well into his legal career.  Adisa is a black female on the early end of hers.  Beyond that basic issue, I wonder how a black activist would relate to Whitlow's presentation.  To me (also white), it seemed balanced and realistic.  I'm just very curious what a black person would think. . . .  Personally, I'm with Whitlow.  No matter the details and circumstances, blacks and whites need to shed their pasts and prejudices and come together in love, and the best--perhaps the only--way for that to take place is through the power of Jesus.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the complimentary electronic review copy!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Still Christian, by David Gushee

David Gushee has been through the gamut of the Christian culture wars.  As pastor, professor, activist, writer, and high-profile spokesman for evangelicalism, he has seen the Christian right, the Christian left, and plenty of not-so-Christian Christians.  In Still Christian: Following Jesus Out of American Evangelicalism he tells his own story as it intertwines with political and religious life in the United States.

I especially enjoyed Still Christian because I feel like a fellow traveler with Gushee.  He attended Southern Seminary, then went to Union Seminary in New York for his Ph.D.  Returning to Southern Seminary to teach, he was struck by the change in culture due to the conservative takeover of the Southern Baptist Convention.  He stayed at Southern for several years, but left when his more liberal positions were less and less welcome.  I am a few years younger than Gushee, but experienced the same sorts of changes.  When I was at Baylor, the historic Baptist university began the process of becoming self-governing to protect itself from the hard-line conservatism.  The semester I graduated from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, the conservative faction successfully drove the president away.  Much of the theology faculty followed shortly after--as soon as they found positions elsewhere.

Like Gushee, my faith in Jesus was not shaken, but my faith practice was impacted deeply, and my faith in other Christians was diminished.  He writes, "I haven't been able to stop being a Christian.  Despite all the fighting, culture warring, and general craziness that I've seen, I am still doing my best to be a follower of Jesus."  While my wanderings have been personal and unknown to the public, Gushee's struggles have been linked to his career, including his high-profile written work.  He's had to face the choice between following his conscience and providing for his family.  Thankfully, for him, things have worked out professionally, but not often without stress and difficulty.

Gushee is quite vulnerable and personal in his memoir.  Part of his testimony is that he found himself too intellectual and thoughtful for typical Baptist life.  Of course, he doesn't put it like that.  But the tone of Still Christian is largely intellectually arrogance.  He leaves the reader with the impression that if Christians were only more intellectual, well-read, educated, smarter, and more thoughtful, they would flee from the fundamentalist, narrow beliefs of their historic faith.  I don't sense in Gushee's attitude, or in the attitudes of others on the evangelical left, an openness to the idea that Christians with traditionally conservative theological perspectives (or conservative political convictions, for that matter) came to their conclusions due to thoughtful consideration, deep study of the scripture, and prayerful conviction.  I got the sense that Gushee holds people who share his theological and ethical stances in high esteem, while people to his left are worthy of his consideration, but people to his right are clearly lesser lights.

For instance, he writes that "the resurgence of a doctrinaire Calvinism in contemporary evangelicalism is among the most odious developments of the last generation.  I abhor its version of God and most of its version of Christian ethics."  He can't just disagree; it's a stain on the church.  Similarly, one of the main points of division in Baptist life is the role of women, specifically the question of whether a woman can be a senior pastor.  The conservatives at Southern Seminary made this question the line of demarcation; anyone who believed women could be pastors was shown the door.  I get the sense that Gushee would be just as exclusive--anyone who does not believe women can be pastors would be shown the door.  How about each individual church decides who can be their pastor?

The final and most contentious cause of Gushee's separation from evangelism was his outspoken advocacy for gay Christians.  It amazes me that in a very few short years the belief that homosexual activity is sinful has come to be so controversial.  I do not doubt that there are many gay Christians.  I also do not doubt that gay sex is sinful, as is any other sex outside of the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman.  The church's treatment of gays and the singling out of homosexual sex as especially sinful has been terrible, historically, and a corrective is welcome.  But to swing all the way to saying gay sex is part of God's wonderful plan is to jettison scripture, church history, and sociological experience all at once.

I respect Gushee's work and his convictions on several points, even as I disagree with him sometimes.  But his journey exemplifies the tendency of liberal Christianity.  The drift to the left keeps on drifting and the farther it drifts, the harder it is to stop.  While I was on the "anti-fundamentalist" side of the "Battle for the SBC," the controversy drove me away from Baptist life.  I go to a non-denominational church now, but many of my college and seminary cohort are in Cooperative Baptist Fellowship churches, which, as Gushee points out, no longer means SBC-style churches who might allow women to serve in church leadership.  The CBF has become "an uneasy coalition of moderates . . . and real-life liberals."  If they are not already there, they are moving rapidly toward the universalism and moral relativism that mark many mainline churches.

Gushee is still a Christian.  I have no qualms calling him a brother in Christ.  I know I could learn much from his devotional and reflective life.  But Still Christian left me wondering, how far can Gushee go?  How far from historic theological and ethical principles can he wander and still consider himself a Christian?  Unfortunately, the sense I get from Still Christian is this: Look to your right and to your left.  People to your right are unenlightened; pray that they will grow.  People on your left are further along in their journey; follow them.  I think I would like David Gushee.  But I won't be following him leftward.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the complimentary electronic review copy!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Personal Stereo, by Rebecca Tuhus-Dubrow

Children of the '80s will enjoy the nostalgia trip in Rebecca Tuhus-Dubrow's Personal Stereo, part of Bloomsbury Acedemic's "Object Lessons" series.  She succinctly follows the rise, influence, and lasting societal impact of the Sony Walkman.  Sony introduced the compact cassette player, paired with lightweight headphones, in the late 1970s, and seemingly overnight they were everywhere, the most coveted new invention in memory.

Imitators quickly followed, of course.  I think my first Walkman (the word became generic for all brands, not just Sony) was actually the Panasonic Way.  I don't know that it had any great advantage over Sony's, other than I thought it looked cool.  Even with the imitators, there is no question Sony was the pioneer.  Tuhus-Dubrow spends a lot of time on the fans and the critics of the new technology.  I remember well the warnings about hearing loss, and the frowns of others when a Walkman user went through life in his or her Walkman-induced isolation.

Her reflections on the differences between Walkman use and smart phone use are interesting.  While both can give the user a sense of isolation, there is something more pure about Walkman use.  It's a single-purpose tool, not prone to the interruptions and distractions from the music that smartphones give us.

Personal Stereo is thoughtful, reflective, and honoring to the innovation that Walkman represented.  The Walkman spurred a revolution in the music industry, and, arguably, revolutionized the way we consume and enjoy music.  Tuhus-Dubrow fosters a deep appreciation for the Walkman.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the complimentary electronic review copy!

Monday, September 11, 2017

A Wanted Man, by Lee Child

A Wanted Man concludes a sort of trilogy of "Jack Reacher wandering around the upper midwest."  In 61 Hours, he is in South Dakotah.  He's blown up at the end of that book, but survives and finds his way to a tiny town in Nebraska in Worth Dying For.  At the end of Worth Dying For, he's dropped off at the highway, where he's picked up shortly after at the beginning of A Wanted Man.  I'm sure some fan has done a timeline of these three books.  Let's just say it was a very eventful couple of weeks for Jack Reacher.

The people who pick him up seem to be a trio traveling together for business.  As long as they get him closer to Virginia, he doesn't really care.  But when he figures out that the woman is a hostage, and the two men might be the men the state troopers at the road blocks are looking for, his ride gets much more interesting.  Of course, Reacher's insatiable curiosity and personal quest for justice will not allow him to let anything go.  He commandeers a sheriff's car for a while, flees from justice when an APB goes out for him, and finally recruits a couple of FBI agents to help him take down dozens of criminals.

I enjoyed A Wanted Man because I love Reacher's character, his deliberate way of figuring everything out, and his skill at staying alive and getting the bad guys.  But for this book, the whole interconnected criminal enterprise seemed cobbled together and incomplete, and the big, final confrontation was too rushed and unoriginal.  This, of course, is in comparison to other Reacher novels.  A Wanted Man still ranks above most action-oriented fiction.  So Reacher fans will not want to miss this one, especially to fill in the gap between Worth Dying For and his arrival in Virginia, in Never Go Back.  When I say it's not Child's best, it's still pretty darn good.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Her Right Foot, by Dave Eggers, illustrated by Shawn Harris

The Statue of Liberty, one of the most enduring symbols of our great nation, has a story to tell.  A wonderful modern-day story teller, Dave Eggers, tells her story in Her Right Foot, with illustrations by Shawn Harris.  You may know all about the famous statue, that it was built in France, that its framework was designed by Mr. Eiffel, who later designed the famous tower.  You may know that it was disassembled and sent in crates to the United States, where it was reassembled.

Eggers tells that part of the story, but he also tells the part you may not know.  The statue's right foot is portrayed in mid stride.  She is walking, and chains on the ground show that she has been unshackled.  "She is going somewhere!  She is on the move!"  Eggers's theory is that she herself is an immigrant, and for generations now she has greeted immigrants from all over the world the our nation.  Now she is walking because she is striding to meet the next immigrants, to welcome them to our shores.

Her Right Foot is beautifully illustrated, and Eggers's humor and depth capture the real meaning of the Statue of Liberty.  What a great reminder that our nation is a nation of immigrants and a beacon of hope to the world.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for the complimentary electronic review copy!

Saturday, September 9, 2017

The Atlas of Beauty, by Mihaela Noroc

Mihaela Noroc has travelled the world taking pictures of women.  500 of those picutres made it into her book The Atlas of Beauty: Women of the World in 500 Portraits.  She captures the faces of everyday women in their "native environment" whether on a city street or place of employment.  The wide variety and diversity of the women she captures is striking.  Many of her subjects fall into categories that are traditionally thought of as beautiful: young, slender, smooth skin, etc.  But the range of ages, skin color, hair style, and fashion is quite broad.  For every dancer, model, or media figure, there is a picutre of a refugee, an elderly woman, or a child.

Noroc's mission is to find and affirm the beauty in each woman.  She writes that some women did not want to have their pictures taken because they are not beautiful enough.  Noroc brings out their personality and features with her work, inevitably capturing their beautiful side.

While some of the women pictured look like me in terms of nationality, race or class, most did not.  She traversed Europe, Asia, Africa, and North and South America, photographing women on every continent.  Most of these women don't look like me, but picturing them here is a reminder that each of them is my neighbor, each is a part of my family, each is my sister.  I can always use a reminder that there is beauty in everyone, and that everyone is connected in the human family.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the complimentary electronic review copy!

Friday, September 8, 2017

The Capitalist Code, by Ben Stein

Because of his memorable role in Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Ben Stein is "the most well-known teacher of economics in the world." Many who know him only as an actor don't know that Stein is actually an economist and lawyer by education and training, or that he has authored or co-authored a shelf full of books.  In his latest, The Capitalist Code: It Can Save Your Life and Make You Very Rich, Stein covers some basic truths about investing and the economy, hoping to inspire young people to take the long view and prepare for their future.

Stein's advice is solid, and his good humor is unflappable.  I love how positive he is.  He starts out appealing indirectly to the social justice warrior, antifa, occupy young people, or anyone else who disparages capitalism.  The reality is that capitalism allows all of us, young and old, to be owners of businesses and take advantage of the stock market.  "The real story is that it's raining money . . . from corporate earnings, and if you don't put out your bucket, you are making a mistake."

Of course he advocates getting started early: "From the earliest possible age you can do so, buy and hold common stocks in a large variety of public corporations in the United States of America and hold on to them until you retire and need the income they provide by selling them."  The simplest, most efficient way to invest?  Index funds.  Compared to owning a business directly, or investing in real estate, index fund investing avoids the hassles, the overhead, the taxes, the liabilities, the payrolls, pretty much all the negatives of business ownership or landlording. 

Stein is a big advocate of doing what you love, but is frank about the need to have money.  When you're sick, have unexpected expenses, need income for retirement, one person you can depend on is the younger you who had the discipline and foresight to invest in stocks, a practice that can, in fact, save your life and make you very rich.  Sound advice, indeed.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the complimentary electronic review copy!

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Blitzed, by Thomas George

Every year at the NFL draft, the most talked-about position is the quarterback.  Who's going to be the next star?  Who will be the franchise quarterback who will save the struggling team?  In Blitzed: Why NFL Teams Gamble on Starting Rookie Quarterbacks, veteran sports writer Thomas George examines the quarterback position, taking the reader behind the scenes into the toughest role in all of sports.

Reviewing a wide variety of NFL quarterback's careers, focusing on the past decade or so, George makes the case that there really isn't a case for the best approach to acquiring, training, and utilizing a new quarterback.  Are the number one draft picks successful?  Sometimes.  Is it best to immediately play a rookie?  Sometimes.  Is it best to have them sit and learn under more experienced players?  Sometimes.  Is trading up for a first-round draft pick to get a good quarterback worth it?  Sometimes.
For every example, there are plenty of counter examples.  Who could have foreseen Dak Prescott's rise from a late-round pick to an MVP?  Who could have predicted that RG3 would flame out so quickly?  NFL buffs will enjoy George's abundant interviews and back stories.  He traversed the league and talked to many of the biggest name players and coaches to gain valuable insights.  But conclusions?  Not really.

As to the question of the subtitle, why do NFL teams gamble on starting rookie quarterbacks?  They're looking for the magic.  "Without a franchise quarterback, you are on a train on a track to nowhere."  It's all about dynasties, championships, and Super Bowls.  Every team is looking for the one leader who will get them there.

Thanks to Edelweiss and the publisher for the complimentary electronic review copy!

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

The Affair, by Lee Child

Even though The Affair is the sixteenth Jack Reacher book in Lee Child's popular series, it is set early in the Reacher timeline, as his time of service in the Army is coming to an end.  Jack is sent to a tiny Mississippi town with an Army base nearby to investigate a murder.  Tasked with going in undercover, Reacher attempts to take on the role of a drifter.  He sets out with only the clothes on his back, no bag.  He discovers the wonder of the pocket toothbrush.  He begins his habit of buying new clothes and throwing away the dirty clothes.

Once in town, he's immediately made by the local sheriff, who is a former MP in the Marines.  She initially tells Reacher to get lost, but he quickly makes himself indispensable to the investigation (and doesn't take long getting the beautiful sheriff in bed).  Despite stonewalling and misinformation from the Army, Reacher eventually cracks the case.  As we've come to expect, Reacher is a one-man department of justice, doing things his way, figuring stuff out and getting the bad guys.

This isn't the earliest book in the Reacher chronology, but it's an origin story of sorts, establishing some of his habits and lifestyle and ending immediately before Killing Floor begins.  Besides buying his first pocket toothbrush, he also learns about Western Union's ability to get him cash wherever he is in the country and introducing the logic of throwing away dirty clothes rather than laundering them.  Lee Child fans will love this addition to the Reacher series more than most.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

The Last Christians, by Andreas Knapp, translated by Sharon Howe

Andreas Knapp, a German priest in the order of the Little Brothers of the Gospel, has spent a great deal of time among Iraqi Christians in Kurdistan, in northern Iraq, as well as in Germany.  His new book The Last Christians: Stories of Persecution, Flight, and Resilience in the Middle East tells many of their stories.  Many of these Christians speak Aramaic, the language of Jesus.  Kurdistan includes northern Iraq, parts of Turkey, and Syria, which Knapp points out is the "birthplace of the first Christian churches."  Yet, as he listens in to some of their worship services, he wonders if these are "the last Christians, singing their last song with their last breath."

With the rise of the Islamic State in Kurdistan, Christians have been increasingly persecuted and driven from the region.  Knapp meets them in refugee camps and secretive worship services.  The opposition that IS gets from the west, including the U.S., puts a target on the backs of the Christians there.  They pay for Western politics with their blood.  He's not a big fan of George W. Bush's "oil-stained war."  Knapp wonders, "How could the United States or Britain be so indifferent to the bloodshed of innocent Christian minorities for the sake of their oil-driven politics?"  His perspective will force Western Christians to evaluate the impact of their words and policies.

However, he is no defender of IS.  IS has been responsible for brutal, murderous, oppressive acts against Christians (and, in fairness, against Muslims with whom they disagree).  Millions of Christians have been killed for their beliefs, while others have been forcibly converted to Islam.  They will destroy whole towns, and attempt to destroy "anything that harks back to Islam's acestry: age-old churches and monasteries that stand as testimony to Christianity's influence on Islam are blown up and bulldozed into the ground."

Knapp holds out hope for Muslims to live peaceably with Christian neighbors, calling on Christianity and Islam "to come together in a practical demonstration of the peacemaking power of religion."  He is not one to encourage Muslim immigration to the West, however: "Europe is under the illustion that the Muslim masses pouring into the continent are peaceable and tolerant.  By contrast, Saudi Arabia and Qatar won't take any refugees even though they share the same religion, language, and culture--precisely because they fear unrest and terror.  Bishop Petros adds: 'The Saudis are smarter than your government.'"

What stands out most in The Last Christians is the accounts of persecution.  These Christians' worship and practices look very different from mine, with their Eastern liturgies and ancient languages.  Yet they are my brothers and sisters, and are being systematically persecuted even now.  I know I need to pray for them and advocate for their freedom.

Thanks to Edelweiss and the publisher for the complimentary electronic review copy!

Monday, September 4, 2017

Auma's Long Run, by Eucabeth Odhiambo

Eucabeth Odhiambo grew up in Kenya.  While she now lives in Pennsylvania, where she teaches in the teacher education department of Shippensburg University, she returns to her home country in her debut novel, Auma's Long Run.  Auma is a teenager in rural Kenya whose village is being ravaged by AIDS.  She is torn between her responsibility to her family and her desire to become a doctor.

In many ways, Auma is just like girls anywhere in the world.  But her lifestyle is foreign to most Western readers.  She has to walk to the stream to fetch water, she lives in a mud house with no electricity or indoor plumbing, and has cows in the yard.  Her father works in Nairobi and sends money home to the family.  Everything changes when he arrives home earlier than expected.  Soon both he and Auma's mother have died of AIDS.

Auma loves to run and has become a local star, winning most of her races.  She wants to earn a scholarship for her running so she can study to become a doctor.  With her parents' sickness, her mother's efforts to marry her off, and her responsibilities caring for her younger siblings, it starts looking like she won't get to follow her dreams.

Auma's Long Run is a touching story that brings the realities of poverty and sickness in rural Kenya into focus, personalizing village life in a way that statistics and new items can't.  The target audience may be young girls, but boys and adults will be enriched and will enjoy this story of Auma's coming of age in Africa.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the complimentary electronic review copy!

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Engineered!, by Shannon Hunt, illustrated by James Gulliver Hancock

Is there a young, budding engineer in your life?  Check out Engineered! Engineering Design at Work, by Shannon Hunt, with awesome illustrations by James Gulliver Hancock.  Kids (and many adults) might wonder, what exactly does an engineer do?  Engineered! explains: engineers "use their math, science, and technology skills to find creative solutions to problems."  The problem solving flow chart is quite clear and impressive, and the examples Hunt provides really make engineering seem practical and incredible at the same time.

Need to land a delicate piece of equipment on another planet?  The engineers can help.  How about better ways to get from here to there?  Engineers show the way.  Maximize caribou habitats?  Call the engineers.  Update the sewer system?  Thank goodness for engineers.  How about printing skin grafts for burn victims?  Incredible, but truly some great work by engineers.

With the colorful pictures and pithy explanations, Hunt and Hancock will inspire their readers to think bigger about the problems in their world, to pay attention to the engineering solutions they see around them every day, and maybe, just maybe, think about engineering as a field of study and career.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the complimentary electronic review copy!

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Where Oliver Fits, by Cale Atkinson

Everyone fells a bit out of place from time to time.  Some people really struggle to figure out where they fit in.  In Cale Atkinson's Where Oliver Fits, Oliver is a little puzzle piece who simply cannot find his place.  He tries and tries, but he doesn't seem to fit anywhere.  He goes to great lengths to change his color and shape, becoming someone he's not, but that doesn't work out.  Eventually he realized that lots of other puzzle pieces were just like him, trying to be something they're not in order to fit in.  When all the pieces are just themselves, they discover that they fit together nicely!

It's a simple message, but one that everyone needs to hear at some point in their lives.  The earlier kids learn to be themselves and accept their physical characteristics and personality quirks, for better or for worse, the happier they will be.  In an age of bullying and body shaming, kids need to hear that they are unique and fill a spot in their world that no one else can fill.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the complimentary electronic review copy!

Friday, September 1, 2017

Man vs. Child, by Doug Moe

I don't know Doug Moe, but I think I'd like hanging out with him.  Besides being an actor, comedian, and writer, he's a dad, and has compiled some wisdom and tips for new dads in Man vs. Child: One Dad's Guide to the Weirdness of Parenting.  This is by no means a comprehensive how-to guide.  I mean, is there ever such a book?  Kids are complicated and are all so different, who can really write down all you need to know?  No, this book is just fun and funny.  (But there are some practical bits, for sure.)

Moe loosely organizes the book by subject and stage of development, sharing some of what he has learned during his years of being a dad.  One broad principle came through loud and clear: go ahead and accept the fact that being a dad means you must be willing not be cool, maybe even totally uncool, and that you just shouldn't worry about maintaining your dignity.  The good news is, what you do as a dad is much more important and rewarding that being cool or dignified.

Moe takes the reader from considering having a baby up to being dad to a big kid.  He offers some pretty good practical advice.  For instance, he points out that you will probably be expected to buy a changing table to match the crib.  But wait: remember that the floor is simply a very large changing table, and one off of which a baby won't roll!  I know I did some diaper changing on a changing table, but I have changed a lot more diapers right on the floor.  Maybe we could have done without the changing table. . . .

Man vs. Child reads like a book sometimes, and like a stand-up routine sometimes.  That makes sense, given the author.  It's funny and any dad is sure to share a laugh with Moe.  And who knows, the new dad who reads it might even learn a little about being a dad.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the complimentary electronic review copy!