Thursday, September 15, 2011


A Trick of the Light by Louise Penny is also available in audio from McMillan Audio and you can win a copy of your own!

This latest in the Chief Inspector Gamache series is, in my opinion, Penny's best work yet and has, just in a week, climbed to number four on the The New York Times Best Seller list!

I'm giving away a copy here on my blog.  All you have to do is comment on my review of the book here, plus, you must become a Follower of my blog.  You can follow me by becoming an email follower and/or, by joining my blog through Google Friend Connect. Both are secure and your information will be used for no other purpose.  You can find both options at the top of the left column on my blog.  Also, if you friend me on Facebook and post a link to the contest on your wall, you will get your name entered two additional times!  Good luck!

I will hold a drawing on the 1st of October 2011 and notify the winner personally and also post their name on the blog.

Here is an audio excerpt from the book -

Monday, September 5, 2011

Book Review - A Trick Of The Light by Louise Penny

Once again Louse Penny blows my mind with a smash hit!  A Trick of the Light, her seventh in the Chief Inspector Gamache series, has surprised and astonished me.

After seven volumes of her novels, plus a near daily reading of her very candid and personal blog, I feel like I know Louse Penny pretty well.  We've even enjoyed some personal correspondence.  Still, the depth and breadth of her imagination, coupled with the richness of her humanity, leave me stunned every time I finish and reluctantly close one of her books.

I don't spoil novels by even dropping hints about their contents.  This time, though, I'm tempted.  There is so much I would like to tell you.  So much I'd like to entice you with.  As always, I'd like to suggest you go back to the beginning and start with Still Life.  This series is best enjoyed in order.  I know lots of people who've read one or two out of order and say they stand alone just fine.  It may seem so, lacking the big picture.  But the series is becoming more and more, for me, all about the big picture.  About my own big picture.  As if Louse knew me as well as I think I know her.

Now, as I am a Mormon, and as I have a mostly Mormon audience on LIVE AND LEARN; it has come time to talk about the elephant in the room.  This volume is quite abundant in its use of the F-Bomb.  Perhaps I should address this issue separately, but this is the time it matters most for me, so shoulds aside, I'm going to address it now.

I don't like that word.  It curdles my blood.  I wish it never existed.  I rejoice that nothing worse seems to be emerging in it's wake; but as its use becomes ever more common I don't think I'll ever be resigned to hearing or reading it.  I could, and previously have written diatribes about the crude, base, degrading ignorance it represents.

That said, I still recommend this book.  Please be patient and let me tell you why.  There is a reason people use such vile language, perhaps several.  Usually, it is associated with a desperation to be heard.  More and more humanity is crying out for relevance and meaning.  More and more, that desperation has invaded mainstream lives.  When we were in Montreal, a tour guide informed us of the hundreds of empty churches in that once devout city.  It is happening everywhere.  People have cut their moorings and in many cases justifiably so.  Subsequent generations have often never known the blessing of being tied to something stable, reliable.  Myriads are adrift, frustrated, and increasingly desperate for safe harbor, anchorage.

Is it any wonder that desperate to be heard, frustrated, they turn to language that calls attention to their plight?  In my work with fellow addicts I encounter such desperation on a regular basis.  My heart is filled with compassion for them.  The more I listen, really listen to their hearts, the less desperate they become to be heard and the less frequently they lash out with such language.  They are hurting and like the woman in labor, who often says things she would ordinarily not say; I feel to excuse them.

I don't like the F-word, but today it has new meaning for me.  It is no longer the expletive of a scum bag, but a cry for help.  A plea for compassion; which all to often is met with rejection that compounds the agony of the drifting soul who uses it.

Please don't be tempted to judge Louise Penny for sharing, in a frank and poignant way, what I am so feebly trying to express.  I guess she could soft petal the desperation, loneliness and emptiness of which this word is so common a symptom, by somehow toning it down; but then, I for one, would not have learned the lesson.

Louise, herself, is not so crass, nor is Chief Inspector Gamache.  I take comfort in that.  It gives me comfort that neither she nor her protagonist are adrift and that their example and centeredness are so juxtaposed to the other that we can see, and so, want what they have.

There is a difference between prudence and prudishness.  If you choose the former, you will love this book (The previous volumes are not nearly so full of such language.  This one is.  For a reason.)  If you choose the latter, you won't benefit from the story either, probably.

A Trick Of The Light is about contrasts, about opposition, about light amid darkness.  If you refuse to consider the darkness, you'll hardly appreciate the light.

A Trick Of The Light is about honesty, about the truths and lies we tell ourselves, and others.  It is about truth's effect on relationships.  Truth is I am better and more honest with myself for having read this important book.

Way to go Louise.  A Trick of the Light is your best yet.  Bury Your Dead is still my favorite.  But this one is certainly your best.

Five glorious Stars

My review of Louise Penny's Bury Your Dead.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Book Review - The Miracle of Freedom - 7 Tipping Points that Saved the World by Chris and Ted Stewart

Seldom has a book held such a soul deep captivity on my attention as Miracle of Freedom - Seven Tipping Points that Saved the World!

It is so easy to take the liberty we enjoy for granted; or it has been.  It is not so easy any longer.  I will always cherish the journey this book took me through to arrive at my current and profound appreciation for what we've been so freely given.

Of the 110 or so billion people who have lived on this planet only about four percent have lived under any privilege resembling the freedom we currently enjoy.  The rest, the great majority, have languished under oppression so appalling as to make me wonder how it could possibly be.  How could human beings be so cruel, thoughtless, greedy?  Speaking of the privileged and abusive few.  Or, how could the masses be so passive, in their squalor, deprivation and subjection?  Then you are forced to realize that for millennia, no one knew of or thought of life any other way.

I was amazed at how Stewart and Stewart made such a profound case for such obscure moments in world history.  I was amazed at how few were the brave souls who stood against oppression to give us what we now enjoy.  Clearly, the blessing of liberty was not the norm.  Clearly, it took thousands of years to prepare the earth for what we currently seem to take for granted.  Certainly, the hand of God was in those pivotal moments when, against overwhelming odds, a few brave men and women stood against forces that would have prevented progress toward this glorious age of abundance and emancipation.

This book is an interesting read; full of stories, miracles, inspiration and awe.  I could hardly put it down.  It filled my heart with gratitude and hope; while it reminded me how fragile and temporary our freedom might be, should we lose track of its value and lose courage for the constant battle that is required to maintain it.  Left to itself, the natural tendency is toward decay and so it is with individual liberty.

I will never again look at my blessed freedom with such careless disregard.  The depth of my gratitude, as I write this, amazes me.  How could one little book make such a profound difference?

Somehow, as I read the book I realized that freedom doesn't emerge on a national or global scale before it emerges in individual lives and hearts.  Many of those to whom we owe so much had personally climbed out of the captivity of ignorance, fear, doubt, excess and depravity long before they gave that gift to their fellow citizens.  So it must also be, with us.

Five Stars!
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