Mystery and suspense fiction are some of my favorite kinds of fiction. And while The Angels’ Share isn’t necessarily suspense, it will keep you reading until you finish the book.
Set in the early 1930s, after World War 1 and Prohibition have ended, The Angels’ Share is the story of a young man trying to find his way, and a way for his broken family. The family owned a bourbon distillery in the hills of Kentucky. When Prohibition shut it down, and the family experienced the death of their youngest child, it seems like they have been beaten beyond recovery.
But a transient is buried in the potters graveyard nearby, and many believe that he was Christ returned to earth. The story unfolds, exposing dirty secrets, incredible miracles, and flourishing love, love between a man and a woman, and love for mankind as a whole.
The Angels’ Share is a great story, set in a historical context that is rare to find. And although it is centered around a bourbon distillery, the pros and cons of alcohol consumption are not a prominent part of the storyline.
I found The Angels’ Share a difficult book to set aside, and was captivated until the very end. I look forward to reading more fiction from James Markert in the future.
The Cold War era is a period of history I know very little about. I have read extensively on earlier periods of the twentieth century, and lived through much of the latter portion of it. But that period covering the 1950s, 1960s and into the 1970s has always been of lesser interest to me.
That changed somewhat when I was able to read The Tunnels, a history of the earliest years of the Berlin Wall. The Tunnels focuses on the escapes from East Berlin to the West, and those primarily achieved by using tunnels dug under the Wall and the death strip that buffered it in the East.
While many attempts were made, only a few succeeded, and only a couple really succeeded well. One such was a tunnel that was financed and filmed by NBC, in order to produce a documentary that would raise American awareness of the trials that East Berliners faced under oppressive rule. With the Cuban crisis looming in the Caribbean, the last thing the Kennedy Administration needed was another crisis in Europe. As a result, the media was pressured to hold off, or even to squelch this documentary and others like it.
I love reading a good legal thriller. It’s one of my favorite genres, and I have found several authors that I really enjoy. When I saw A Harvest Of Thorns, is seemed to be right up my alley, and I anticipated getting into it.
The story line was good, maybe even great. It’s a story based on the reality of sweat shops and slave labor, and addresses the rights of workers in developing countries who make the products we find on our shelves. It’s a novel that drives home a point. While it’s fiction, the individuals found within it could easily be real people. Their situations are not that different.
However, there was one glaring stain that ruined the whole book for me. More than a dozen times, the book used profanity. Now, before you accuse me of being overly sensitive, I have read plenty of material that contains such vocabulary. And I’m generally not offended. However, in this case, the publisher is Thomas Nelson, a Christian publisher, and I expected to find a story that was free of this kind of stuff. In that, I was greatly disappointed.
Very often, my kids ask to read my books. And very often, I let them read them, especially when they are books that are clean. This is one I will not be letting my kids read. And I’m severely disappointed by that fact.
I am always looking for good devotional material that will challenge me to grow. It seems like much of the material on the market is pretty basic, and doesn’t go very deep. When I first discovered The Good Book Company, and their For You series of commentaries, I was excited and impressed, because this was material that was not simple and underwhelming, and also not dry and academic either. And what made it even better, is that Timothy Keller was involved, who is one of my favorite authors.
So when a new devotional Bible study came out with his name on it, I was excited to dig into it. 90 Days in John 14-17, Romans, James is an excellent study, that guides you and encourages you to dig deeper into the Scriptures as you study.
The format is simple. The day’s passage of Scripture is laid out, some material is presented to read and think about, often with some though-provoking questions to get your mind working. There are also sections that suggest topics and thoughts for your prayers, and for application to your daily life. Finally, before the next day’s entry begins, there is a space you can journal your thoughts and prayers, and any questions you might have.
John Maxwell has released a new daily devotional for leaders, called Leadership Promises For Every Day. While a lot of the daily entries are from the Maxwell Leadership Bible, among other resources Maxwell has written, calling this a devotional is a bit of a stretch. It’s more of a daily leadership thought.
That said, it’s still a pretty good resource. I have had this on my desk for several weeks now, and have utilized it almost every day, reading the thought for the day. It always gives some concise bit of leadership wisdom for me to consider, and usually summarizes a more detailed and complex thought from one of Maxwell’s books.
The drawback to this is the fact that I have read most of Maxwell’s other works, so this is just restating what I have already read, most of the time. The reminder is great, but I would prefer something new and fresh sometimes too.
The book is bound in a nice leather-like cover, and the pages are very well designed. This would be a great gift for a student of leadership, whether in ministry or in the workplace. The daily thoughts are brief and to the point, and the size is sufficient for a desk or a drawer, or even a backpack or a bag.
While not the best resource out there for daily leadership material, this is still a handy book to have, and I have enjoyed using it. I look forward to whatever new nuggets of leadership wisdom it may bring.
One of my favorite periods of history is Old Testament history, especially around the time of the exile to Babylon. We know so little about this period, and the next few hundred years until the coming of Christ. It’s an intriguing period of history.
It is during this time frame that the events in the books of Ezra, Nehemiah and Esther occurred. And it is during this time frame that Daniel lived and served in Babylon. And Daniel is one of my favorite Old Testament books.
O. S. Hawkins has written a brief and easy to read overview of Daniel’s life and legacy called The Daniel Code. In this book, he looks at some of the major events recorded in the first six chapters of Daniel, and shows how they are especially relevant to our own times. The similarities are pretty overwhelming.
We live in a culture that has thrown truth out the window. Daniel lived in a very similar culture. Our biggest challenge is how to live lives of truth in such a culture. Daniel faced the same challenge, and he lived a life of integrity in the face of such challenges. He lived and served for a long time, under kings in both the Babylonian and Persian kingdoms. And he stayed faithful to God through several different extreme circumstances.
Over the past couple of years, I have developed a deeper interest in early Christian history, and even more, pre-Christian history. I have enjoyed digging into the beliefs and events surrounding the communities at Qumran, where the Dead Sea scrolls were discovered, and other events and occurrences during the late second temple period of Jewish history.
As a result, I read the book of 1 Enoch, and other period literature, as well as some more contemporary accounts of this time period. Most recently, I finished reading The Watchers In Jewish and Christian Traditions.
I found it to be very interesting and thought provoking. The concept of the Watchers comes from a brief statement found in Genesis 6, about the sons of God and the daughters of men. This small portion of Scripture has produced volumes of historical speculation and study, including 1 Enoch.
I feel that this is based on a faulty interpretation of this passage, and that the information contained in this short excerpt from Genesis 6 has been taken to mean something that it does not. My own views notwithstanding, I have enjoyed studying what other interpretations have been over the centuries. The Watchers is a great overview of that course of study. Each chapter is written by a different scholar, and provides an overview of the concept of “watchers,” the offspring of the sons of God and daughters of men, throughout these various periods of Jewish and Christian history.