Book Review: A Song for Arbonne by Kay (4.5 Stars)

A Song for Arbonne by Guy Gavriel Kay

4.5 out of 5 stars

Read in April 2009

Halfway through this book I had an epiphany. In fact, I woke up in the middle of the night with a realization – Kay’s A Song for Arbonne has few if any traditional fantasy elements woven in it’s rich tapestry of love, music, honor, courage, tragedy and hope. Yet I was so enthralled with the lives of his characters that I could not bear to be parted from them. The greatest tragedy of the entire tale was that it ended. I yearn for more, as I strain to hear the plaintive echo of the final fading note.

This was the February 2010 book of the month at the Fantasy Book Club group at GoodReads.  To view the discussions, follow this link:  02-3/10 – A Song for Arbonne

Book Review: The Accidental Time Machine by Haldeman (3.5 Stars)

The Accidental Time Machine by Joe Haldeman

3.5 out of 5 stars

Read in May 2009

A very quick read for me. A time travel tale with vaguely described quantum physics (string theory and gravitons) and shallow character development. A satisfying ending, but too happy and convenient with a dash of poetic or ironic justice to appeal to me. The religious aspects didn’t disturb me; in fact, they intrigued me. I look forward to the book club discussion.

The Science Fiction & Fantasy Book Club at GoodReads read this book in May 2009.  To review the main discussion thread, please visit this link:  The Accidental Time Machine — Joe Haldeman

Book Review: Left Behind by LaHaye and Jenkins (3 Stars)

Left Behind by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins

3 out of 5 stars

Read in August 2009

I reminded myself quite frequently while reading Left Behind that is was fiction. Christian fiction. Fear-driven apocalyptic (aka end times) Christian fiction. But definitely fiction.

I avoided reading Left Behind for nearly fifteen years, mostly because I avoid anything hyped or overhyped.

Just so you know a bit of history about my faith, I am a believer, a disciple of Christ, or more colloquially a “Christ-follower.” While I still use the term Christian, a pastor recently mentioned in a sermon that the term “Christ-follower” delivers a more accurate message of who and what we should be and the example we should all strive towards.

The point of view filtered through the two central characters in Left Behind – Rayford Steele and Cameron ‘Buck’ Williams – provided an up close and personal view as they experienced being left behind after the Rapture (Jesus returning to Earth and resurrecting all his followers, living, dead and innocent (i.e. the children), bodily to Heaven). Two very different perspectives strive to discover the why and how of the disappearances, to the benefit of the reader.

Rayford loses his wife and son, but not his daughter. Bruce loses his sister-in-law and her children and several co-workers.

Rayford, the self-centered, assured and confident jetliner pilot, grieves bitterly but humbly seeks answers from one of his wife’s former pastors, also humbled and shocked at having been left behind.

Buck, an ace reporter for a large news magazine, finds himself more than neck deep in world-changing people and events, as he investigates the disappearances and gathers theories for a comprehensive cover story. His cynicism protects him from realizing the consequences of denial until nearly the point of no return.

Most of the other characters play supporting roles, often only there to spur on the discourse of prophetic teachings almost literally ripped from the King James Version of the Bible, dripping with red letters.

The only other character of note, of course, is Nicolae Carpathia, the up and coming political powerhouse that promises world peace and ultimately delivers it, on his own terms. As impressive and heart pounding as the culminating conflict in the U.N. conference room was, I would have been more impressed had Nicolae convinced Stonagal to murder Todd-Cothran and kill himself. Nicolae pulling the trigger himself seemed cliche, but then brainwashing everyone present by sheer force of will, except Buck, helped seal his power as the Antichrist.

Comparing the two conversion experiences, I preferred Buck’s last-minute-must-forge-ahead one to Rayford’s poleaxed one. Neither conversion appealed to me, since both were fear driven due to the apocalyptic change wrought on the world. Such a heavy emphasis on prophecy is appropriate for this setting, but hard to stomach as an evangelizing tool towards the reader. At least Rayford read the four Gospels in one sitting before moving on to the “Shock and Awe” of Daniel and Revelation.

As a fictionalized attempt to codify popular prophetic teachings (I don’t pretend to be an expert on Amillennialism, Post-Millennialism, Pre-Millennialism, Pretribulationism and Posttribulationism), the authors did a good job of weaving the characters credibly among the events related in Revelation, Daniel, Ezekiel and other prophetic books of the Bible, putting a human face and experience to the horror of being left behind.

For a less fear-based study of the Book of Revelation, I highly recommend The Throne, the Lamb & the Dragon A Reader’s Guide to the Book of Revelation. My status updates also included comments with links to helpful web blogs and articles.

I am glad I finally read Left Behind but I won’t be joining the Tribulation Force any time soon.

Rise and Fall of Digital Empires

I did a happy dance this morning as I read through my morning Flipboard cover stories.  This headline caught my eye enough to drill-down and read the entire article:

Microsoft threatened as smartphones and tablets rise, Gartner warns

The Guardian, April 4, 2013

This came as welcome news to me, especially after last week’s devastating development where Amazon gobbled up GoodReads.  Microsoft used to hold the top spot on my boycott list, but thanks to BYOD (bring your own device), I can see the digital writing on the wall for the fall of Microsoft.  At least I’ll keep hoping and dreaming of that day.


Dare I compare Microsoft to Ancient Rome?  The terrain may be different (virtual instead of reality), but the goals appear similar (world conquest).  Instead of taking centuries to rot and collapse, our modern day equivalent is fading into obscurity and irrelevance in a matter of decades.  In my lifetime, the hardware has changed dramatically since the mid-70s and the software no less so.


For everyday consumers, I’m not sure Microsoft can salvage their sinking ship.  Apple and Android seized the day and their stars are still rising.  In the corporate world, Microsoft will remain strong and may succeed in wrestling and cajoling enterprise customers into SaaS (software as a service) licensing agreements.  I just don’t see the desktop completely disappearing in some industries (like legal where I’m employed).  Document production is still done fastest with a real keyboard, but perhaps voice recognition apps will make even QWERTY disappear soon.

So with Microsoft slipping sliding away, I can return my boycott sites on the next worst case and keep spreading the bad news about Amazon.  Buyer Beware!  Author Beware!