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Reviews Written by
Rodge (Ontario, Canada)
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The Faith of Christopher Hitchens: The Restless Soul of the World's Most Notorious Atheist
The Faith of Christopher Hitchens: The Restless Soul of the World's Most Notorious Atheist
by Larry Alex Taunton
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 29.05
29 used & new from CDN$ 10.52

4.0 out of 5 stars A fair and fascinating account of Hitchens' hidden side, Aug. 22 2016
This is a fascinating story of a man who turns out to be more than his public persona. He had surprising friendships with evangelical Christians and had a surprising distaste for those who claimed to be Christians but were less than genuine in their faith. He did not, so far as we know, become a Christian before he died. But this book is a fair, and surprising, and fascinating account of Hitchens' openness to those who did not see the world as he did.


Station Eleven
Station Eleven
Offered by HarperCollins Publishers CA
Price: CDN$ 13.99

3.0 out of 5 stars An implausible dystopian novel with literary pretensions, Aug. 17 2016
This review is from: Station Eleven (Kindle Edition)
You have to suspend your disbelief before delving into this novel. For one thing, this fast-moving flu that creates the pandemic - it would kill off its victims before they would be able to spread the disease everywhere, which somehow happens here. For another, the survivors seem uniquely passive as far as rebuilding the old world. Twenty years before old technology begins to be restored? Children whose eyes "glaze over" when hearing about the old world, rather than being curious and trying to recreate it in their imaginations?

The implausibility is somewhat redeemed by moving back and forth in time and using a meditative style, rather than trying to horrify the socks off you. Nonetheless, I can't understand why this book is so well-regarded. The good writing and literary pretensions can't make up for severe implausibilities - this is just an excuse to meditate about the modern world through the eyes of a dystopian future.


Economy of Desire, The
Economy of Desire, The
by Daniel Bell
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 27.20
21 used & new from CDN$ 11.05

3.0 out of 5 stars An uneven effort, strongly conscientious, but lacking clarity, Aug. 15 2016
This review is from: Economy of Desire, The (Paperback)
This is an uneven critique of capitalism, and it's unclear what Daniel Bell means by his "divine economy". This book is most effective in it's dismantling of Christian baptisms of capitalist systems and wisely avoids espousing socialism or other options that have clear weaknesses. Unfortunately Bell is unable to articulate a clear alternative - not helped by his tendency to drown sentences in qualifiers and jargon. Essentially the call is for the church to provide a clear counter-cultural example to the market idolatry of capitalism. We can appreciate this, but its not an original message. At best this is a supplemental text for a Christian seeking a Christian understanding of economics.


North of Hope: A Daughter's Arctic Journey
North of Hope: A Daughter's Arctic Journey
by Shannon Polson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 20.78
30 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars Unsentimental, poetic memoir of grief, Aug. 15 2016
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This is a poetic and occasionally touching memoir of loss and grief. At its core is the devastating loss of a father and stepmother to a grizzly bear attack in Alaska during a rafting expedition. Polson goes on a parallel rafting expedition in a effort to process her loss. I appreciated the quality of writing and the lack of sentimentality in the journey, although some of the observations ("no simple answers") are getting tiresome in this modern age. Of course there are no easy answers, no simple answers. It was interesting to see how Polson's faith came across in this memoir - I don't know if there are any references to the Bible in here, certainly not many. This was clearly a very personal and intense memoir to compose and I think it's best for a fairly narrow audience.


Heyday: Britain and the Birth of the Modern World
Heyday: Britain and the Birth of the Modern World
by Ben Wilson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 35.38
20 used & new from CDN$ 22.58

5.0 out of 5 stars Superb history of a major historic decade, Aug. 9 2016
Ben Wilson has written a very engaging history of the fifties. That is, the 1850s. He weaves a global narrative and convincingly portrays a significant period in time, a time of great optimism, a time of gold rushes, a time when Britain hit the pinnacle of its power and the telegraph was beginning to make itself known, allowing a new information age to dawn. However, this globalisation had a dark side as well . . . empires could concentrate their power to effectively oppress others. Slavery became more entrenched rather than less in a pure capitalism, pure free trade environment, leading toward the cataclysm of the American civil war.

Big idea histories of this nature are a hazardous undertaking but this one passes with flying colours.


Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics
Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics
by William Lane Craig
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 25.46
45 used & new from CDN$ 16.40

4.0 out of 5 stars Strong apologetics handbook, Aug. 5 2016
This is an essential and coherent overview of the main points. Craig's goal is to paint a case based on broadly accepted evidence to undergird the Christian faith. This goal is certainly accomplished. Some chapters may be overly technical and I can't say if Craig accomplishes his mission in all areas. If you're looking for one book that sets out to proof Christianity is a coherent and intellectually acceptable option, this is certainly one book to turn to. Other books are more comprehensive, this book is more focused on making the minimum argument


Julian Fellowes's Belgravia
Julian Fellowes's Belgravia
by Julian Fellowes
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 24.74
27 used & new from CDN$ 15.16

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining soapish Victorian plot, Aug. 4 2016
This entertaining novel is a serviceable soapish Victorian pastiche. The twists and turns are as they should be, of course quite predictable in many cases and the early setups are better than the very predictable conclusion. I would take Trollope over this of course, but there are less irritating ways to spend a day or two. Certainly an entertaining read that doesn't seem too removed from the world of Downton Abbey.


Girls on the Edge: The Four Factors Driving the New Crisis for Girls - Sexual Identity, the Cyberbubble, Obsessions, Environmental Toxins
Girls on the Edge: The Four Factors Driving the New Crisis for Girls - Sexual Identity, the Cyberbubble, Obsessions, Environmental Toxins
by Leonard Sax
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 17.77
44 used & new from CDN$ 7.48

4.0 out of 5 stars Worth reading for any parent, Aug. 4 2016
Following up his book on boys, Sax brings us another on girls in trouble. Once again, identifying the factors that are troubling girls in the modern world proves the most valuable element of this book, while the solutions are perhaps more uncertain.


Boys Adrift: The Five Factors Driving the Growing Epidemic Of Unmotivated Boys and Underachieving Young Men
Boys Adrift: The Five Factors Driving the Growing Epidemic Of Unmotivated Boys and Underachieving Young Men
by Leonard Sax
Edition: Hardcover
22 used & new from CDN$ 10.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Well worth the read for a parent, Aug. 4 2016
This thoughtful book is well worth the read. The initial identification of the five factors harming the progress of boys today is quite valid in my opinion. The solutions are perhaps a little more hit and miss.


Stalin: Volume I: Paradoxes of Power, 1878-1928
Stalin: Volume I: Paradoxes of Power, 1878-1928
by Stephen Kotkin
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 41.16
31 used & new from CDN$ 8.35

5.0 out of 5 stars Impressive first volume of new Stalin bio, July 25 2016
This first volume in a biography of Stalin is also a broader account of the Russian Revolution - which leads to us observing Stalin from a distance for much of the book and not getting close and personal. For that, you might need to read Montefiore's Young Stalin, although that book is dismissed by Kotkin as reading "like a novel." Kotkin here is doing something quite different - he gives us a broad historical overview in which to understand Stalin's emergence. In this reading, Stalin's later personality is not read back into his early history but rather seems to be a more emergent phenomenon. Not as readable as a popular history, this book is still quite readable and understandable, comparing favourably with say, Ian Kershaw in a successful marriage of accessibility and academic rigour.


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