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Safely Home
Safely Home
by Randy Alcorn
Edition: Hardcover
14 used & new from CDN$ 12.34

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Reality Fiction, July 16 2004
This review is from: Safely Home (Hardcover)
Safely Home is a masterpiece. None of my friends and family who have read this book has been disappointed in it. All have been deeply touched by its timeless story of persecution. It will be read in the future alongside Foxe's Book of Martyrs and Through the Gates of Splendor. This fictional account describes and conveys a reality and moves the reader to action in a way that no stack of facts or statistics ever could.
One of the most gripping aspects of this book is the description of China. Alcorn captures the current state of change in China and gives the reader a vivid description of the widely divergent lives of those in the cities compared to those in the countryside. As I read this book I almost felt the glitz of Shanghai and the gray of Pushan. Alcorn also accurately describes the state of longing of many Chinese. One particularly poignant quote is found on page 70: "Do not confuse China's skin with her bones. Yes, many people have a more comfortable life. The main goal is to make more money, to own more things. Posters of the money god are everywhere - on shopwindows, at businesses, in homes. Getting rich is the main topic on television...we still have our old idols, the demons that have plagued China. And now we have your idols also."
The reality of persecution of believers around the world is at the heart of this book. In Safely Home the suffering is described in detail as well as the many ways it impacts those who are not imprisoned. Alcorn even dares to describe the pressure to remain silent facing believers in the United States. In his effort to portray the suffering of Li Quan, Alcorn almost gets bogged down in the telling of the tale. However, this is not a major fault; and the slowing of the pace may even serve to better describe (if this is even possible to do) the languishing times facing those imprisoned in places lacking the religious freedoms of the US.
Books of this kind have little value if they fail to motivate the reader to action. I didn't know when I began this book that it was so closely associated with Voice of the Martyrs (although I began to wonder about half-way through). Just as Ben Fielding's faith meant little until he act upon it, this book will mean little to us or eternity until we act upon it. My wife has a poster hanging in her office. Written in Chinese it's a quote of Hebrews 13:3: "Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering." We may not be a position to physically minister to them, but I believe that Safely Home was written to make us aware and compel us to continue to pray for those persecuted for the faith.

Always Use Protection: A Teen's Guide to Safe Computing
Always Use Protection: A Teen's Guide to Safe Computing
by Dan Appleman
Edition: Paperback
23 used & new from CDN$ 0.11

5.0 out of 5 stars Timely Book, June 28 2004
I wish the students of the university where I work would read this book...I wish the faculty and staff would read it as well. I wish my mom and younger brothers would read this book.
It was refreshing to find a book that tells the average computer user what they need to know to protect themselves when using a computer, both on and off the Internet...without making them feel stupid or forcing them to muck through tons and tons of details and complexity. I really appreciate the position that both technology and behavior are necessary to keep oneself safe when using a computer. Sure, the particulars will change over the years, but the lessons of personal responsibility and being necessarily cautious will endure.
This book covers all the major security threats faced today by average users. While targeted at teens, most anyone who uses a home computer, uses email regularly, or shops online will benefit from this book. It hits it all...wireless security, proper passwords, using a credit card instead of a check card when online, refusing 3rd party cookies... Chapter 5, the one on firewalls, does get long...but the author readily admits and warns the reader about that ahead of time.
At our university, we constantly fight the notion that, "the school has a firewall, so if my computer gets infected when using the school's network, it's your fault and the university should fix my computer." This book, and I'm so glad to see it covered starting on page 59, explains that when getting on a local network equipped with a firewall / router protecting you from outside attacks you are still vulnerable to attacks and infections from other local machines. It's your responsibility to install a software firewall and antivirus program to protect yourself from other students bringing infected systems in behind the firewall. I'd like to see that all incoming students read this book...either as part of their orientation or as part of their basic computing class.
Another issue we face at our university that's addressed in this book are the emails that pretend to be from someone else but are really from an infected third party. I routinely get calls from users wondering why they are getting virus warnings about messages they never sent or from others on our campus. This situation is explained (with pictures!) on page 25. I'm almost tempted to steal the picture and explanation to give to people when they call...instead I'm going to recommend this book to them!
Thanks for this timely book.

In the Company of Soldiers: A Chronicle of Combat
In the Company of Soldiers: A Chronicle of Combat
by Rick Atkinson
Edition: Hardcover
51 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

2.0 out of 5 stars Belongs in the Company of Michael Moore, June 21 2004
I picked up this book expecting to get an account of the stories of the individual stories of soldiers who, for whatever reason, fought in the sands of Iraq...the stories of dads and sons and brothers and even sisters. What I got instead was a thinly-veiled criticism of those who led our nation into this battle. There were very few details of individual soldiers, and the little bit of information provided was decidedly negative...grunts were portrayed either as "We're gonna blow Saddam to Hell" types or those who scrawl "This places sucks" on the walls of the privys.
Actually, I didn't finish this book. I was shocked the first time I came across criticism of Bush, criticism that obviously was interjected into the account in the months following the war. What finally did it for me was the following quote from page 216: "To be sure, much fighting remained before Baghdad hove into view. Soldiers would still kill, and soldiers would still die. Civilians would die, too, like the ten slaughtered on Monday when a family van barreling down Highway 9 was riddled with 25mm cannon fire by skittish Marine soldiers." Are you kidding me! Atkinson has gone to length to talk about the suicide bombings already facing the military at this point...none of which he actually saw...I'll get to that later...and then he describes American soldiers as skittish slaughterers? I'd be willing to wager that if Mr. Atkinson had been manning that 25mm gun at a checkpoint, and a van was "barreling" toward his position...that he wouldn't have been thinking, "wow, I wonder if there are innocent civilians in there." I bet he'd been thinking, "holy crap, that thing's probably loaded down and gonna blow us away," right before HE opened up on it.
A high school student with a subscription to Newsweek, USA Today, and CNN could have written this book. Philosophical disagreements aside, I didn't like the book because the majority of it was filled with general stories and accounts of the war not personally witnessed by the author. He routinely included information about other theater actions...mostly to further criticize the military and administration.
This book seeks to portray the leaders of our military and nation and incompetent and inept and our most valuable weapon systems as impotent. This book is dishonest about it's aims. I know where to turn if I want read about the mistakes of the current administration, and I know where to turn if I want to read books by those who whole-heartedly support Bush. I guess I don't know where to turn to place myself in the company of soldiers.

Joe Schmo Show: Season One: Uncensored!
Joe Schmo Show: Season One: Uncensored!
DVD ~ Ralph Garman
Price: CDN$ 64.98
28 used & new from CDN$ 21.88

4.0 out of 5 stars Guilty Pleasure, June 18 2004
I'll admit it. I watch the Joe Schmo Show.
I'll admit it. I love this show and think it's hilarious.
I'll admit it. I cried when saw the montage of Matt clips at the end of the series as they talk about what a great guy he is.
First, this series is a guilty pleasure because it is at times a little racy and raunchy, and I could do without much of that stuff. I've DVRed all the episodes during the recent Schmo-Out Marathon...and I won't buy the uncensored DVD because of the language and nudity and other junk.
Ok...confession over...on to the merits...
This show is the result of tons of careful planning and detailed development of the "characters" whom the actors really make come alive...all except Gina...whom I thought was kinda lame. Satire rules supreme on the Joe Schmo Show. It ridicules and embraces the reality genre at the same time as it parodies and relies upon the basic elements of Survivor and the bazillion other shows: immunity challenges, reward challenges, confessional times, stereotypical cast members, and on and on and on. This is a reality show with all the unpredictability coming from only one individual...and actors and writers and producers who must instantaneously respond to him.
The show ends so well. After letting Matt in on the secret, they go back and highlight some of his best times. Matthew Kennedy Gould is a great individual. I think an unexpected result of the show was the revelation of the goodness of his heart. I don't think anyone anticipated that happening nor the way Matt touched the lives of the crew. He always seemed to do the right thing.
If you're sick of canned reality shows...and love to see good individuals get the praise they deserve...and appreciate some tongue-in-the cheek satire...tune in to the Joe Schmo Show.

The Rule of Four
The Rule of Four
by Ian Caldwell
Edition: Hardcover
111 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars Finishes Flat, June 18 2004
This review is from: The Rule of Four (Hardcover)
It's been about a week since I finished the book, so I've had some time to let the book settle in and my impression to firm up.
Whenever I read fiction, the real judge of its quality for me is whether or not I'll ever be interested in reading it again. Was the story compelling enough, were the characters interesting enough, and was there anything in the book that grabbed me and made me want to come back. I don't think I'll ever be interested in going back and rereading this story.
The premise of the book is interesting: a 500-year-old book with a mystery that's unraveled by two Princeton students. However, all of the other supporting details and developments just weren't captivating or, at times, even plausible. I enjoyed reading about the social life of students at and the campus of Princeton University, and the book started out well enough in the first chapter. By the end, I was thinking "whatever" and "yeah, right" as the book twisted in unpredictable ways...not unpredictable because it was just a shocking twist...but unpredictable because the foundations and character developments were not there to support those twists.
I admire the research and efforts put forth by the authors of this book. I just wish that they had crafted their story a bit more.
Also, this book is about unraveling a series of puzzles and codes found in the Hypnerotomachia. This fact may tempt a reader to believe that it's trying to benefit from the recent popularity of The Da Vinci Code. I don't think this is the case.

Big Fish (Bilingual) [Import]
Big Fish (Bilingual) [Import]
DVD ~ Ewan McGregor
Offered by newtownvideo_ca
Price: CDN$ 10.35
47 used & new from CDN$ 1.03

2.0 out of 5 stars Forced, forced, forced, June 7 2004
This movie is forced...the dialogue is forced...the images are forced...the cuteness is forced...
I like the point that the movie seemed to make: listen to loved ones and their (annoying) stories because when they're gone they live on in our memories and through those stories. However, the manner and course that this movie took to make this point wore me out.
My mother-in-law had heard many good things about this flick and grabbed it for us to watch as a family. No problem. When the movie opened, and I saw Tim Burton's name flash on the screen, I thought, "Uh, oh. It's going to be weird." Then I realized the Ewan McGregor was in it, and I thought, "Uh, oh. This could be painfully cheesy." Big Fish was on both counts.
I understand that part of the charm of the movie was to be the intricate web of details and colorful language of the father's stories...but...they just didn't seem "real". Yes, I know that there was supposed to be a blending of the real and unreal...but the stories felt more like someone was trying to be cute and artsy and clever with language instead of the down-home, fanciful, and folksy character of the father. I couldn't by the "way" the stories were told.
This movie also lacked continuity...which was supposed to have been provided by the stories. What does a car submerged in a river with a naked lady swimming by (whom I'm guess was the oft-referred-to Big Fish)...when the car then turns up in a tree after the storm the next morning...have to do with the rest of the movie? Maybe I'm just a simpleton, but I didn't get the symbolism...
The most redeeming part of the movie is the very end, when the sons tells the story of how the father dies, weaving in all of the other stories of his life...but it wasn't worth sitting through all the rest of the forced scenes and subplots and one dimensional characters to get there.
Instead of wasting over 2 hours watching this flick, sit down with your parents or grandparents and listen to their stories. Don't let the stories of their youth be a big fish that gets away when they're gone.

Perl For Dummies
Perl For Dummies
by Paul Hoffman
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 22.56
32 used & new from CDN$ 6.54

4.0 out of 5 stars Nice Intro to Perl, June 7 2004
This review is from: Perl For Dummies (Paperback)
This book seems to follow the pattern of most Dummies books I've read...give a good overview of the major considerations of the topic at hand, provide a few examples to help give the reader a feeling of empowerment, and indicate that there is much more to learn.
I came to this book needing to learn perl well enough to write some simple text modification programs for work. While this book does not replace a semester-long university course on the language (which is what I'm used to), it does give the reader enough information to jump in and start writing some simple perl programs...if your comfortable with the OS you're dealing with and if perl is already installed (I'm not sure I really could have accomplished those tasks with only the knowlege from this book).
I guess my take on this book and other Dummies books are like those infamous Cliff Notes from high school...simply reading these books won't make you an expert, but they can give valuable insight and pointers that you might not easily gain on your own. As an additional tool coupled with a little bit of programming experience and the provided perl documentation, Perl for Dummies has helped me get up to speed quickly and complete several important projects...which I don't think I would have been able to do otherwise.

Jesus Among Other Gods
Jesus Among Other Gods
by Ravi Zacharias
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 13.18
54 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Misses Its Audience, Aug. 11 2003
This review is from: Jesus Among Other Gods (Paperback)
Jesus Among Other Gods was recommended reading for the students in our discipleship program during the past year. While this book is intended to be read by teenagers, most of the students in our group who started reading it did not finish. I recently reread the book to try and understand why.
First, I think that the opening chapter in the book gives the wrong idea what the book is about. The very personal account of the author does grip the students. And why not? Most young adults are grappling with the same ideas of what is truth and where should they invest their life. To follow this chapter with a discussion of unique characteristics of Jesus (His virgin birth and sinless life built upon a question of "Where do you live?" - which seemed forced) seemed to lose the students. I think they were expecting some more of the personal account of a man's quest for truth and how he sorted that out from all of the other religions vying for his attention and somehow missed the transition.
Also, students should read the last chapter after the first. When I reread the book, I honestly got bogged down after the first chapter...until I got to the last chapter. In it I found some more personal accounts of a search for Christ and a better foundation of why the discussion is even needed. Sadly, many Christians (and students in particular) avoid any kind of thinking. By asking them "Who are you looking for?" (as the last chapter is titled), we've moved from the author's search for Truth to our very own...now I'm ready to read about the claims of Jesus and how they match up to other faiths. It would have worked for me.
I'm sure there are many criticisms of this book, many based upon the simplifications of issues at hand. However, remember that this book is geared for students, many of whom have never really considered the position of Jesus among the pantheon of the world's gods. This book can be a starting point for that discussion. Students should not expect to read through this book like a novel; rather, it should be seen as textbook to introduce them to realm of apologetics. The book does address the critical claims of Jesus, the very real differences from three other world religions, and the personal desires of many people to find a god who will serve as our personal pleasure genie - answering all my questions, canceling out all my pain, and instantly fulfilling all my desires.
Overall, I was satisfied with the explanation of the existence of evil in the world and how Christianity offers the best explanation. The importance of the cross, the validity of the resurrection, and the uniqueness of the Bible are just a few issues the book adequately addresses. Jesus truly is unique among all other gods.

Invert/Sex Has Price Tag
Invert/Sex Has Price Tag
by Stenzel
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 10.82
58 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Worth the Cost, Aug. 9 2003
In the course of my ministry to teenagers, I have read many books on sexual abstinence, God's design for sex, and the terrible consequences of sex outside of marriage. Some are great and others not. Some are candid while others seem afraid to approach the subject head on. Sex Has a Price Tag is a well-written and honest look at the biggest battle teenagers face.
Today's students grow up in world where more absolutes are not an accepted reality by many people. As such, any discussions about sexual morality that are based only upon the standard set by the Bible are automatically dismissed by a vast number of people, leaving them to buy into the "if it feels good to me it's ok" lie. In this book students will be confronted with the unambiguous, unequivocal standards of sexual purity found in the Bible, but at the same time the author seeks to reach out to an audience who wants to ignore those truths. The costs of sexual activity before marriage and the reasons it should be avoided are broken into three categories: 1) your beliefs (what you choose to accept about God's design), 2) the wise counsel of others (what other students who did not choose abstinence say), and 3) medical facts (statistical evidence about STD's, teen pregnancy, and the "safe sex" deception. Simply telling students to abstain because of the medical reasons and advice from other people is only telling them half of the story. We shouldn't be surprised the personal experiences of others and medical evidence support the same perspective found in the Bible. An open look at the empirical evidence leaves you at the same standard set by the moral absolute. By combining what they won't refute (medical facts and the relative opinions of others) with what they want to discount (God's Word), the author successfully invites students into the discussion and gives them the opportunity to find the real power to overcome these struggles: God's power.
You or your teenager may have no desire to know or serve God. This book won't make you a Christian. But Christians and non-Christians alike will benefit from the practical and understandable discussions and illustrations in this book. In the final sections you'll find some great common sense advice and some relevant truths from Scripture to help in this battle. Please, let this book help you count the cost of sex before marriage so that you can make a wise decision and not pay a terrible price.
There is a glaring editorial error at the very beginning of the book. In the introduction, two-and-a-half paragraphs from page seven are repeated on page eight. Don't worry...the rest of the book is fine...go ahead and finish it.

The Air I Breathe: Worship As a Way of Life
The Air I Breathe: Worship As a Way of Life
by Louie Giglio
Edition: Hardcover
35 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars An Essential Message, Aug. 5 2003
Your life is more than a stream of unrelated, unconnected random events. Your daily life is a chance to respond to the eternal God in honor and celebration. Just as the title suggests, this little book builds upon the idea that worship is the all encompassing part of our lives, regardless of the object of our worship. Written in a clear, conversational style, this book can easily be read in one sitting (and I suspect many people do devour it that way). It isn't a weighty discourse on the theology of adoration (whatever that may be!) but a personal, intimate invitation to the reader to reconsider the implications of even the smallest parts of our lives. It asks us to think about our worship as service...as continuous...as more than songs. I love the last chapter as it talks about "going worshipping to church". I will be using this book (and its included discussion questions for each chapter) with high school and college students in my church as part of our discipleship program this year. If you will let Him, God will use the message of this book to transform your religion into a life a personal, real, vibrant responses to His limitless love for you as seen in the cross. I love this little book and am grateful for it.

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