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Craig Stephans (Elizabeth City NC)

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The Brothers Karamazov: A Novel in Four Parts and an Epilogue
The Brothers Karamazov: A Novel in Four Parts and an Epilogue
by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 15.89
58 used & new from CDN$ 6.97

3.0 out of 5 stars Tough read but rewarding classic, July 17 2004
This was without compare the slowest, painstaking read yet for me. I am in a book club with two others and neither finished it because it is so heavy. I found enough treasures in it to keep me going, but it was tough.
The book is strong on character development and dialogue but weak on action and plot advancement. Dostoyevsky takes many opportunities to discuss philosophy, theology/spirituality and politics. Most of these treatsies are enlightening as are the characters speaking.
I have so often seen quotations taken from this book that I expected to enjoy it much more than I did. It felt like work, but I am done and glad that I read it. I'm sure you will be too if you can get through it.

The Maker's Diet
The Maker's Diet
by Jordan S. Rubin
Edition: Hardcover
112 used & new from CDN$ 1.68

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Provides good insight into health & nutrition, July 12 2004
This review is from: The Maker's Diet (Hardcover)
Is there a divine plan for health and nutrition that we can follow? Jordan Rubin emphatically says there is in The Maker's Diet. Based on his study of scriptures, health and nutrition, and his own experience of sickness and recovery, Rubin presents a diet and overall wellness plan that he believes lines up with God's plan for healthy people.
The Maker's Diet begins with Rubin's inspiring story of his battle with severe Crohn's disease. His doctors called his case the worst they had seen. During college, Rubin went from the picture of health to death's doorstep-6'1 and weighing 111 pounds due to digestive problems related to Crohn's disease. Rather than giving up after over a year of sickness, Rubin clung to his faith in God and sought one more solution. The final try was a man who had developed a Biblically-based diet and health plan. This early version of the Maker's Diet saved Rubin's life and led to his complete recovery and healing over the course of several months. He includes astounding before and after pictures of himself that demonstrate the diet's effect.
This experience inspired Rubin to enhance the Biblically-based diet through additional research and create Garden of Life, a health and wellness company.
Rubin's in-depth analysis of the typical American's diet compared to what he considers to be a healthy, nutritious diet impacted me. In the recent weeks since reading the book, I have changed my grocery shopping and eating habits to better follow the book's general guidelines for healthy eating.
Rubin emphasizes the benefits of natural and organic foods in contrast to the nutritional deficits found in processed and engineered foods. He also compares the nutritional value of foods God included in the diet plan for the Israelites versus those excluded such as pork and shellfish.
While he makes no claims that his diet is a "cure-all," he believes "the book was inspired by God and that the practical protocol it contains can greatly improve your health."
The Maker's Diet offers a 40-day diet plan targeting not only weight loss but overall health and disease prevention. It consists of three phases. The general diet is a list of foods to enjoy and foods to avoid during the phases. For example, Rubin encourages readers to enjoy beef but to avoid pork. For all of the food, he recommends natural, organic or free range products for reasons he specifies. He includes sample meals and recipes. His diet also includes regular fasting for physical and spiritual health.
His Garden of Life company supplies many nutritional supplements and products to complement the diet. He recommends some of these but also lists various other suppliers of natural foods and products for the reader's benefit.
Some of Rubin's comments focus on healthcare and exercise. These are not Rubin's areas of expertise. His sincere though pedestrian writing about these topics offers little insight and may do a disservice to readers who follow his advice too literally. At times he seems combative toward the medical profession, as he contradicts what physicians and medical experts would advise regarding medicine, vaccinations and exercise.
He does come across as an expert in nutrition and natural remedies. Although not from mainstream or even physical universities, his advanced degrees are in naturopathic medicine, nutrition and natural therapies.
I think The Maker's Diet will benefit all readers who are willing to make changes in their diets. It offers general guidelines and specific programs to follow. Throughout the book, Rubin expresses the importance of his relationship to God and the Biblical foundation to his diet. In addition to his own miraculous story, he includes testimonies of sick people who recovered on this diet and overweight people who lost weight while on it.

Magnolia (Widescreen)
Magnolia (Widescreen)
DVD ~ Tom Cruise
Price: CDN$ 9.99
37 used & new from CDN$ 1.28

4.0 out of 5 stars Powerful, impacting movie, June 28 2004
This review is from: Magnolia (Widescreen) (DVD)
This is not a perfect movie but I think it comes across powerfully. The acting is superb. Tom Cruise's character suits him well and Julianne Moore plays her part so daringly that I ended up hating her and then pitying her. The other actors/actresses all do a great job. The film is fast-paced, a good thing considering it lasts about 3 hours. There is a coming together of several seemingly unrelated stories. A common thread that I picked up is the severe pains caused by personal, self-serving decisions that hurt loved ones. The message of the movie is powerful and compensates for some of what I consider the movie's shortcomings--such as the seemingly constant yelling and cursing--much usage of the f-word (just like in real life) and several scenes drowned out by loud music and an odd even of the sky raining bullfrogs, an event that plays an integral part in the climactic ends to the several stories.

Robinson Crusoe
Robinson Crusoe
by Daniel Defoe
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 5.41
51 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Creative, pioneering adventure tale, June 8 2004
This review is from: Robinson Crusoe (Paperback)
Not only is Robinson Crusoe an extremely well written, entertaining novel, but it was the first of its kind. Defoe's novel is fresh and intriguing today just as it was when written.
Defoe's language reveals classic appreciation of the English language that really appealed to me as a reader. His narrative accounts of adventure, shipwrecks and survival are precise and captivating. this book is made up of many short stories tied together in following the main character. The character grows and matures through his trials and becomes a man worthy of emulation.
Defoe shows brilliant insight into humanity through his writing as his main character challenges nature, savages, and his inner darkness. I enjoyed the spiritual aspects of the book. Any close look at a character such as Crusoe would be lacking if it did not follow his spiritual transformation as well as his physical changes.
There are some brief slow parts interspersed in the book that are more like speedbumps in a great tale that many have tried to imitate but failed.

Case For A Creator
Case For A Creator
by Lee Strobel
Edition: Hardcover
64 used & new from CDN$ 0.40

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Case for a Creator is a Slam Dunk, June 7 2004
This review is from: Case For A Creator (Hardcover)
For decades, many scientists, educators and the media have portrayed the theories of Darwinian evolution and the naturalistic formation of the universe as the products of proven science. Public schools and universities continue to teach these theories as the exclusive explanations for the formation of the universe, living creatures and human consciousness. As recently as last month a scientist believing in a Creator was scratched from an NPR program discussing creation, and teachers are still prohibited from criticizing Darwinism or favorably discussing intelligent design theories in public schools.
But is science really backing up Darwin and the spontaneous creation of the universe? Is belief in God as the Creator of all things consistent with the latest discoveries in science? Lee Strobel's latest book, The Case for a Creator, attempts to determine and explain whether the arrow of science is pointing in the direction of God or Darwin.
Strobel presents solid scientific and philosophical evidence supporting the idea that God as Creator is the only reasonable theory for creation. Strobel's case is built on information garnered from interviews with several experts in the fields of biology, physics, cosmology, astronomy, biochemistry and the human mind.
Strobel's latest book follows the patterns of his previous books, The Case for Christ and The Case for Faith. In all three books Strobel creates a narrative of investigative journalism delving into the mysteries in question.
The Case for a Creator begins with Strobel providing an introduction to the conflict between theories of Darwinian evolution and intelligent design. He gives his own history of buying into the godless theories of creation hook, line and sinker during his years in high school and college. It was his faith in these theories that led him to accept atheism as a reasonable approach to life. His later investigations into the evidence for Christ and faith led him to reject atheism and to accept Christ as Lord and Savior.
The premise for this book is found in a quote by Stephen Meyer, Ph. D, one of the experts interviewed by Strobel. He says, "Science and faith are not at war. When scientific evidence and biblical teaching are correctly interpreted, they can and do support each other. I'd say to anyone who doubts that: investigate the evidence yourself."
The Case for a Creator invites readers to investigate the evidence. Strobel lays it out for you in as readable a manner as I think possible.
Critics claim that Strobel sets the table in favor of a Creator by interviewing only experts who believe in the Creator rather than other theories. It is true that he does not interview any atheistic scientists, but he uses many of their arguments to query the experts he interviews.
In fact, he regular quotes Darwin and his supporters. He quotes several other opposing scientists such as Stephen Hawking and Stephen Jay Gould. Strobel presents many of the theories opposing theism. What becomes clear while reading this book is that many educators and researchers are committed to keeping God out of the equation at all costs, even at the cost of clinging to outdated and imaginative theories of creation.
Strobel gives his readers plentiful ammunition to attack the theories espoused by the evolutionists and atheists in any arena. As he shows, the holes in atheistic theories require much more faith to fill than is required to believe that an intelligent God created all things according to Biblical truths.

The Rundown (Widescreen) (Bilingual)
The Rundown (Widescreen) (Bilingual)
DVD ~ Dwayne Johnson
Price: CDN$ 9.99
83 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable--Best "Guy" Movie in a While, May 12 2004
I had delayed watching Rundown because I assumed it would be poorly scripted with less than adequate actors. I finally got it when my dad and I wanted to watch a tough entertaining movie. We were definitely satisfied with Rundown. The Rock comes through solidly as an action figure--tough guy. His moves are good and his acting passes. The script is entertaning. Christopher Walken fills a gap lacking in many action movies. His character is ruthless but witty. The combination of actors and actresses gives a good balance, and the story is positive. If you are looking for a good action movie, check out Rundown.

St. Patrick of Ireland: A Biography
St. Patrick of Ireland: A Biography
by Philip Freeman
Edition: Hardcover
27 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Biography of the Man, St. Patrick., May 11 2004
Although the holiday bearing his name has become associated with legend and myth, St. Patrick, the man, lived such a life that warrants admiration and commendation from Christians everywhere. The man behind the myths exemplifies the Christian life of sacrifice, reliance on God, love and passion for souls, and unfoundering hope in eternal life through Jesus Christ.
Philip Freeman's book St. Patrick of Ireland presents the life and times of St. Patrick. Patrick's story is inspiring and astonishing. It reads like an addition to the Book of Acts in the Bible.
Patrick was born in Britain in the late fourth century to an aristocratic family. Irish marauders kidnapped him from his home when he was 15 years old and took him as a slave to Ireland. He labored endlessly for six years before escaping and returning to Britain and his family.
Patrick had atheistic beliefs when kidnapped, but during the course of his slavery he was transformed into a devout Christian, burning with love for Christ. After several years of religious study, Patrick willingly journeyed back to Ireland on a mission to share the message of salvation with a godless people known for their barbarianism and paganism which he had experienced first hand.
Freeman tells the story of Patrick's life from information garnered from the two writings left by Patrick. These are two letters Patrick wrote from Ireland to Britain that relate significant events of his ministry and life in simple, honest language. Freeman also references other historical texts and archeological discoveries to explain the culture of Patrick's world.
Freeman displays his expertise in Irish history by offering the reader a comprehensive picture of the cultures in which Patrick lived. Freeman is a professor of Classics at Washington University in St. Louis and earned his Ph. D. in Classical Philology and Celtic Studies from Harvard University. His expertise in Irish history is apparent by his writing. He adroitly fills in many of the blanks concerning Patrick's life.
This biography illustrates the ordeals and sufferings of Patrick while a slave and while a missionary in Ireland, as well as highlighting his amazing accomplishments. At every turn Patrick faced opposition from Satan and from men. Freeman's writing reveals Patrick's closeness to God by emphasizing portions of Patrick's two letters that Freeman interpreted and included in full in this book.
Through Patrick's own words, we see his enthusiasm and love for the Irish. His words are reminiscent of Paul's writings to the Thessalonians and Philippians. They are the words of a shepherd about and to his sheep.
In his letter of confession, Patrick writes of his compulsion to preach to the Irish, "I must proclaim my good news, I must pay God back in some way for all that he has done for me here on earth and what he will do in eternity-blessings no one can even imagine...The love of Christ carried me here to be a help to these people for the rest of my life."
Freeman's biography of Patrick tells a story of transformation-the transformation of a selfish boy to a Christian man and the transformation of a pagan people to a people brimming with love for Christ. This story will change your perspective of the Christian life and will give you a reason to celebrate St. Patrick's Day as a day of devotion to God.

Purple Sun: An epic tale of war and redemption
Purple Sun: An epic tale of war and redemption
by Lawrence McAuliffe
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 16.64
25 used & new from CDN$ 1.69

5.0 out of 5 stars Everything You Hope for in a Novel--Ranks with the Best, April 21 2004
Lawrence McAuliffe has written an entertaining, creative and thought-provoking novel. His story consists of all of the ingredients that I think readers desire in fiction. He writes eloquently, even exquisitely at times. He uses imagery and descriptions that will make you stop to re-read lines several times to savor them. He superbly develops diverse characters: a southern-black couple--the man a Vietnam War Veteran, a Wyoming newspaper editor, a Vietnam Veteran freelance writer/loner, a Vietnamese woman, an ex Vietcong soldier, Buddhist monks, and an American soldier searching for a connection to God-all true to life, dead-on accurate portrayals.
The story is about war, life, death, redemption, reconciliation, remembering and relationships with God and others. McAuliffe skillfully crafts the events so that they stir the reader's imagination and lead to variable interpretations and insights. He doesn't just tell a story; he presents episodes of life, drawing the reader into the circumstances. As he was a soldier and chaplain in the war, he writes with the experience of action and the wisdom of a spiritual mentor.
This book succeeds at combining fiction with spirituality, something many books try and fail to do. Although shorter in length, Purple Sun is written in the classic tradition of Les Miserables by Hugo and Brothers Karamazov by Dostoevsky, and A Farewell to Arms by Hemingway, and it reminds me of A Separate Peace by John Knowles, also a story focusing on relationships before a backdrop of war.
As soon as I finished it, I thought of several people to share it with right away. I think you will appreciate the author's honest, humble approach to writing about serious issues without being overly serious. This book will definitely speak to you; only you can find out what it will say to you.

Dont Waste Your Life
Dont Waste Your Life
by John Piper
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 14.23
108 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring book on livng a passionate Christian life, April 9 2004
This review is from: Dont Waste Your Life (Paperback)
Anytime you need a spark in your passion for Christ, a John Piper book is a dependable igniter. Don't Waste Your Life targets Christians desiring to live a meaningful life that produces lasting fruit.
Piper is a prodigious Christian writer who has authored more than twenty books. He pastors Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis. I have read several of his books, and he continually offers solid, refreshing Christian teaching.
In Don't Waste Your Life, Piper tells the reader about his personal discovery of the single passion worth pursuing in life. He writes, "It was not always plain to me that pursuing God's glory would be virtually the same as pursuing my joy. Now I see that millions of people waste their lives because they think these paths are two and not one."
He describes a typical married couple working through life to accumulate wealth so that they can retire and leisurely collect seashells in Florida. He calls this course of life a waste. Any life that treasures anything above Christ is a tragedy, writes Piper.
According to Piper, we were created for more than merely providing for a family and trying to live a good life. For Christians, Piper writes of a cause that is paramount to all others.
He encourages us to consider the cause of Christ, the greatest king who ever lived. He writes, "The greatest cause in the world is joyfully rescuing people from hell, meeting their earthly needs, making them glad in God, and doing it with a kind, serious pleasure that makes Christ look like the treasure he is."
Piper avoids rules, formulas and steps to living a fruitful live. He proposes becoming single-minded in possessing a passion for Christ and for glorifying him above all else in our lives. As we do this continually, we are sure to live satisfying, fruitful lives, says Piper.
Piper accomplishes more than covering the basics of living the Christian life. Using personal stories, quotes from other writers, and many scriptures, he emphasizes the values of Christ and his calling upon our lives.
Piper summarizes his view of Christ's calling upon our lives, "God seldom calls us to an easier life, but always calls us to know more of him and drink more deeply of his sustaining grace."
The book consists of ten chapters with each chapter having several sections. A theme that runs through the book is the virtue of taking risks in life for the glory of Christ. Piper emphasizes courage as characteristic to the Christian-courage to take steps of faith, to risk losing life to gain glory for the name of Jesus.
He writes, "There can be no weary resignation, no cowardly retreat, and no merciless contentment among Christ's people while he is disowned among thousands of unreached peoples."
Piper calls Christians to arms in a battle that we can join no matter who we are or where we are. We can advance Christ's kingdom in the workplace or on the missions field. If we become passionate about living for Him, we will experience his passionate joy and avoid wasting our lives.
Don't Waste Your Life succeeds in creating passion and purpose in the reader. Piper concludes the book with a prayer that will help the reader communicate the desires of his or her heart to God.

Ripley's Game [Import]
Ripley's Game [Import]
2 used & new from CDN$ 17.50

4.0 out of 5 stars Thrilling, suspenseful movie, April 2 2004
This review is from: Ripley's Game [Import] (VHS Tape)
I enjoyed this movie. It reminds me of Hannibal with Anthony Hopkins. John Malkovich perfectly plays Tom Ripley. He is the evil protagonist that you end up rooting for. The intrigue in the movie stems from an innocent Italian husband and father being pulled into the role of assassin as part of a sick game played by Ripley.
The movie contrasts the sociopathic Ripley who easily justifies killing with a conscience-stricken picture framer who can't stomach killing others but learns to do it. The movie also shows the consequences of evil actions--that there is no such thing as getting away with it, even for the conscienceless Ripley.
The acting is superb and the plot driven at a face pace. The events are realistic and not far-fetched like so many thrillers recently.
With a main character like Tom Ripley, no one is safe in the movie. He is cast as very much like Hannibal Lector--the refined psychopath.

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