Game Plan

0140369708-01-_sx450_sy635_sclzzzzzzz_Game Plan by Thomas J. Dygard
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

The Barton High Tigers’ head coach is injured and everyone is worried who’ll be the coach for Friday’s upcoming game, enter the student manager. Game Plan by Thomas J. Dygard follows Beano Hatton as he is propelled from nobody student manager to acting coach with all the pressures of school work and getting players to follow his lead, all while figuring out how to actually coach and prepare for a game.

Except for the first chapter, the narrative follows Beano Hatton beginning for being called to the principal’s office for the first time in his life—though not the last he’d have that week—and being asked to coach the Tigers football team against rivals Carterville. Except for telling his best friend Danny to cover for him as student manager, Beano keeps quiet until the Principal gives the team the news and hands it over to Beano. What follows is an awkward, stressful week as Beano figures out how Coach Pritchard scouts and makes up game plans while at the same time attempting to get the team to follow his lead, easier said than done with the star quarterback having an issue with him. But once Friday night comes and the ball is kicked, Beano has to manage the game.

From kickoff to the final whistle, Dygard writes a convincing flow of a football game which after the narrative build-up before and through the game of Beano making coaching decisions makes for a thrilling last third of the book. The first two-thirds of the book reads like a made-for-television young adult movie, but actually good. Though some of Dygard’s dialogue and words choices are a little off, they would be far superior to what one would hear and see on the aforementioned movie. The only other fault would be Dygard basically not having Coach Pritchard not have any notes on upcoming opponents which sounds far-fetched even for a little town high school coach with a staff of one.

Game Plan is one of those young adult sports books that is simply a good read that can be done in a day because it draws you in and frankly is nearly perfect for a book of its genre. Thomas J. Dygard hits all the right narrative keys to make this book keep the reader interested in how a nobody student manages to gain enough confidence of the football team to lead them through the last game of the season.

Tournament Upstart

ccbf31666864d71596e2b687177444341587343Tournament Upstart by Thomas J. Dygard
My rating: 2.5 of 5 stars

A small-town basketball team is playing against teams from the big cities looking to shock the state of Arkansas. Tournament Upstart by Thomas J. Dygard follows a little Class B team that’s decided to play against the big boys of Class A for the state championship, unfortunately not only do they have those teams to contend with but also their own internal struggles.

Taken from the perspective of their 23-year old rookie coach Floyd Bentley, the Cedar Grove Falcons arrive at Talbott State University trying not to be overawed by the big arena or facing the defending state champions in the quarterfinals. But after their upset victory, season-long tensions among the players boil up to the surface after Floyd’s inexperience with such a big event occurs. Over the next two days, Floyd attempts to get everyone back on the same page on the team even as they achieve another upset and then battle for the state championship that comes down to the final shot.

While the game action is well written, the basic set up at the beginning of the book—primarily how a team could go up a Class and the tournament still have the correct amount of teams—quickly raised questions followed closely by Floyd’s “mistake” which didn’t make much sense if you looked hard at it. The internal divisions were not bad, but they did strain the narrative somewhat.

Overall Tournament Upstart had a good premise but the young adult narrative quickly falls apart if looked at too closely. It’s not bad, but I’ve read other of Dygard’s work that I find better.

Need More Books from Women Authors

I’ve been meaning to send out this appeal to my 100+ followers primarily because I want to be well read and one of the ways to do that is to have more books written by women on my bookshelf. According to my stats on LibraryThing, I’ve read 212 male authors compared to just 31 women which if those numbers look bad just think it’s 87%-13%. These are not good numbers and I need to improve them in some form or fashion. So I’m asking for your help.

Before you give me your suggestions, I’d like to list the women authors (of all genres) that I’ve read or will:

Isabel Allende, Catherine Drinker Bowen, Lois McMaster Bujold, Marjorie Chibnall, Cinda Williams Chima, Cassandra Clare, Susanna Clarke, Suzanne Collins, A.C. Crispin, Emily Dickinson, Julie Ecklar, Diane Eickhoff, J.M. Fenster, C.S. Friedman, Amy Goldstein, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Edith Hamilton, Jeanne T. Heidler, Robin Hobb, Barbara Kellerman, Mercedes Lackey, Jenny Lawson, Gillian I. Leitch, Lois Lowry, J.V. Jones, Erin Morgenstern, Diane Munson, Ella M.W. Robinson, Lisa Rogak, Donna Rosenberg, J.K. Rowling, Linda Sejic, Mary Shelley, Josephine Tey, Barbara W. Tuchman, Alison Weir, Ellen G. White

I’ve already started a list of authors (and books) to get my hands on, but it needs to be longer or filled out.  So any suggestions you might have will be added to this list with acknowledgement and thanks.

Katherine Addison– The Goblin Emperor
Maya Angelou– I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings **thanks Erik**
Katherine Arden– The Bear and the Nightingale (Winternight #1)
Margaret Atwood– WHICH ONE?
Jane Austen– Pride & Prejudice/Sense & Sensibility **thanks Stooge**
Carol Berg– Lighthouse Duet or Sanctuary Duet or Bridge of D’Arnath **thanks YouKneeK**
Octavia Butler– Xenogenesis trilogy (aka Lilith’s Brood) **thanks YouKneeK**
Emma Bull– War of the Oaks
Sarah Cawkell– Valkya the Bloody (Warhammer) **thanks Savage***
C.J. Cherryh– The Dreaming Tree (Ealdwood 1-2)
Agatha Christie– And Then There Were None/Endless Night **thanks Stooge**
Kate Elliot– Cold Magic (Spiritwalker #1) **thanks YouKneeK**
Margaret Frazer– The Novice’s Tale (Frevisse #1) **thanks Mrs. Lee**
Nalo Hopkinson– Brown Girl in the Ring
N.K. Jemisin– Dreamblood Duology **thanks YouKneeK**
Laurie R. King– The Beekeeper’s Apprentice (Mary Russell #1) **thanks Mrs. Lee**
Nicole Krauss– The History of Love **thanks Erik**
Ursula K. Le Guin– Earthsea Trilogy **thanks Stooge**
Jane M. Lindskold– Through Wolf’s Eyes **thanks Stooge**
Robin McKinley– The Blue Sword (Damar #1)
Elizabeth Moon– The Deed of Paksenarrion
Claire North– Touch **thanks YouKneeK**
Naomi Novik– His Majesty’s Dragon (Tremaine #1) **thanks YouKneeK**
Nnedi Okorafer– Akata Witch
Ellis Peters– Cadfael **thanks Mrs. Lee**
Mary Doria Russell– The Sparrow **thanks YouKneeK**
Dorothy L. Sayers– Whose Body? **thanks Mrs. Lee**
Amy Stewart– Girl Waits With Gun (Kopp Sisters #1) **thanks Mrs. Lee**
Catherynne Valente– The Orphan’s Tales **thanks YouKneeK**
Jo Walton– The King’s Peace **thanks YouKneeK**
Helene Wecker– The Golem and the Jinni
Martha Wells– The Cloud Roads (Raksura #1)
Michelle West– The Broken Crown (The Sun Sword #1)
Mary Wollstonecraft– A Vindication of the Rights of Woman

Any suggestions you have for an author and/or work, please comment. It’ll be much appreciated.

Kings & Queens of England and Scotland

0789442450-01-_sx450_sy635_sclzzzzzzz_Kings & Queens of England & Scotland by Plantagenet Somerset Fry
My rating: 2.5 of 5 stars

Kings & Queens of England and Scotland by Plantagenet Somerset Fry is a 96-page concise reference book about the monarchs of England, Scotland, Great Britain, and the United Kingdom. Though is primarily focused on the monarchs of England (and successor unions) with each ruler getting their own individual article from 1066-to-present, while the Scottish monarchs were only briefly covered in comparison. Not all the information given in monarch articles is correct, at least to those readers well versed in history, but overall the book is a good reference book.

Jedi the Last (William Shakespeare’s Star Wars Part the Eighth)

1683690877-01-_sx450_sy635_sclzzzzzzz_William Shakespeare’s Jedi the Last: Star Wars’ Part the Eighth by Ian Doescher
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The fallout from the First Order’s destruction of the New Republic’s capital and the Resistance’s destruction of her enemy’s superweapon even as they look to bring Luke Skywalker back in William Shakespeare’s Jedi the Last by Ian Doescher. Beginning almost immediately after the previous film, the middle installment of the sequel trilogy finds the First Order looking to takeout the remnant of their opponents only this adaptation is not on screen or a book but on the stage in Elizabethan prose as Shakespeare would have written.

Adapting The Last Jedi was definitely the hardest Star Wars film that Doescher had to deal with because of the how awful the Rian Johnson written-direction film is. There is only so much Doescher could do to make this adaptation to make it readable, unlike The Phantom of Menace in which he only had to develop Jar Jar Binks. He had to salvage so many poorly written characters, including those long established like Leia and Luke as those newly introduced, that to even have this published in a timely manner meant he could only polish them so much. Since this is a review of the adaptation and not the film, I will applaud the excellent work Doescher did in making the at times bad dialogue into some more passable, the continuation of footnoting translations of Chewbecca’s few lines, and great narratives for the fight scenes. However I must also commend Doescher for the wonderful easter eggs in reference to James Bond, Rogue One, and yes the sly acknowledgements that Johnson underdeveloped or ruined so many characters in particular Rey.

Jedi the Last is the most controversial film of the franchise and Ian Doescher did the best job he could in making it into a passable stage play in the style of William Shakespeare. As a result my rating is celebration of Doescher’s hardwork and like the rest of the Star Wars fandom we look for to what he must deal with in Episode IX.

Star Wars

The Book of Acts

7845427d445908d5976364a7177444341587343The Book of Acts by Wilson Paroschi
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Acts of the Apostles follows the men who in three decades totally changed the world by spreading the gospel of Christ first in Jerusalem then Judea and Samaria and finally to the entire world. Wilson Paroschi’s The Book of Acts is a supplement for the Adult Sabbath School Bible Study Guide (3rd Quarter) of the same name and at 128 pages is not intended to be commentary on Acts, but it is a valuable study guide regardless if you starting the Bible with or without the corresponding Sabbath School Quarterly. And for further study, Paroschi ends the book with a list of recommendations for further study of not only Acts and the events that take place but the early Church as well.

The Histories (Tacitus)

0192839586-01-_sx450_sy635_sclzzzzzzz_The Histories by Tacitus
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

The death of Nero begins a Roman bloodletting that Augustus had thought he had completely ended as four men will within a year claim the title Emperor. The Histories by Tacitus follows the aftermath of Nero’s death as a succession of men claimed the throne until the Flavians emerge to return the Pax Romana.

Tacitus begins his work with those who had prospered under Nero worrying for themselves while the rest of the populace celebrated and setting the stage for the eventual assassination for Galba and the rise of Otho, who the former had passed over as his chosen successor. Yet at the time of his death Galba was facing a mutiny on the German frontier that had installed Vitellius as their choice as emperor, a task that Otho took to quash and retain his own throne. The invasion of Italy by Vitellius’ legions brought war to the core of empire for the first time in almost a century and witnessed the defeat of Otho’s forces before he committed suicide. The rise of Vitellius brought Vespasian, the leader of the legions fighting the Jewish War, into the fray as he accepted the proclamation of his legions as emperor and soon found the supporters of Otho and others joining him. After the crushing defeat of his forces, Vitellius attempted to abdicate but the Guards wouldn’t let him resulting in his death by Vespasian’s soldiers. On top of civil war in Italy and the final phase of the Jewish War under Titus, a Gallo-German uprising at first claiming support for Vespasian became an invasion and rebellion that took numerous legions to suppress and the aftermath would be alluded to in Tacitus’ own Germany.

Although The Histories are incomplete, from the beginning Tacitus brings his aristocratic ideology and politics in focus early by showing only someone with political realism and firm hand on the legions can prevent civil wars and the rioting of the masses. The writing is quick-paced, going hand in hand with the rapid succession of events but Tacitus does give excellent portraits on the prime actors in this historical drama the played across the Roman world. The only thing a historian would have against Tacitus would be the twisting of the chronology to suit his own purposes. Yet like Agricola and Germany, my biggest complaint is how Oxford World Classics edition is structured with the Notes at the very end of the piece and making the reader use two bookmarks so they could go back and forth.

The Histories, the first of Tacitus’ two large scale historical works, shows the horrors of civil war and the according to Tacitus the dangers of leader who cannot control the legions and masses. Even though the we are missing over two-thirds of the overall work, the portion we have that covers the Year of Four Emperors shows the breakdown of society in vacuum of strong leadership that is important not only in that time but throughout all of history including down to our own time.

Joseph Bates: The Real Found of Seventh-day Adventism

41s96pjypgl-_sx450_sy635_sclzzzzzzz_Joseph Bates: The Real Founder of Seventh-Day Adventism by George R. Knight
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

While those who would eventually form the Seventh-day Adventist Church were Millerites, only one was influential in both that his work after the Great Disappointment would standout and provide the underpinnings of the eventual largest Adventist denomination. Joseph Bates: The Real Founder of Seventh-day Adventism by George R. Knight is a comprehensive look at one of the most important men in the Adventism movement before and after October 1844.

Beginning with a young boy looking for adventure as a sailor, Knight fully covers the life of Joseph Bates until his death as a senior statesman of the Church he helped to found still looking to serve Christ. In covering Bates career at sea, Knight pulls out traits—both potentially benefital and harmful—that would serve him as he preached the soon coming of Christ as part of the Millerite movement and later his development of Sabbatarian Adventism. After retiring, Bates who had already shown a keen interest in reform, firstly himself and then his own ship’s crew, launched himself into numerous reform movements until he heard Advent message of William Miller and seeing it as the ultimate reform movement wholeheartedly went to spread the good news. Though not a primary leader, he was a major secondary leader within the Millerites that both chaired conferences and went out preaching. After the Great Disappointment of October 1844, Bates began studying and joined those Adventists that believed something did occur though not the fanatics that tainted this group of post-Disappointment Millerites. It is at this point in which Knight carefully covers Bates life over a decade, though focused on a four year span in particular, in which Bates became both the first theologian and then first historian of Sabbatarian Adventism and would lay the foundations of essentially all major doctrines that set the Seventh-day Adventist Church apart from other denominations. Knight covers Bates relationship with both James and Ellen White in full during this period and after as the trio would guide the “little flock” over the next two decades until his death.

In approximately 220 pages of text and reference, Knight use Bates’ own autobiography as well as research first discovered others including two of his own students to give the reader a full sense of the life of Joseph Bate as can be expected. Though the book is not strictly chronological, Knight structures the book in such a way as to give an overview in a certain period of Bates life in one chapter and in the subsequent one focus on a particular aspect during that period with it most typically being theological in nature. This keeps the book engaging for the general reader and not getting them bogged down or overwhelmed with detail of having a strictly chronological book from beginning to end. Yet while these choices by Knight create a very good and readable book, there just seemed to be something off with his writing that made me feel that it was up to other books that he had authored.

Joseph Bates: The Real Founder of Seventh-day Adventism is a very good book for those, whether Seventh-day Adventists or not, looking to understand the history of denomination that Bates helped to found. As the preeminent Seventh-day Adventist historian, George R. Knight presents the Bates the man of both virtues and flaws and how he shaped the Advent movement. I highly recommend this book for those interested in SDA Church history.

William Miller and the Rise of Adventism

2018 Reading Plan (August Update)

Hello everyone,

July was one of the those months that I know what happened (completed six books)and what was accomplished (year goal achieve!) but really feel blah when it comes to reading.  Let’s cover the positive first as this month’s biggest accompishment was achieving my reading goal for the year of 45 books (Edgedancer) and then surpass my 2013 reading total of 46 (Ulysses) and am fairly on my way to get to my 2014 total.  Here’s a quick look at my stats for far this year:

Overall Total: 49 (108.9%)
Original List: 29 (64.4%)
Total Pages: 17095 (348.9 per book)

My most important read of the month was James Joyce’s Ulysses, which ended up being alright until I simply lost track with what was going on. My most frustrating read was Philip Samaan’s Abraham’s Other Son, which I though would take two weekends but stretch out over the entire month and brought to work on the 30th to finish up before the end of the month. In-between were some fairly good reads, but the best this month was Brandon Sanderson’s Edgedancer mainly because it had the best characters and narrative compared to anything else I read.

With the completion of Balance of Power, I’m switching from a four book “cycle” (nonfiction, fiction, Discworld, Reread) to a five book “cycle” (A: nonfiction, fiction, nonfiction, fiction, nonfiction; fiction, nonfiction, fiction, nonfiction, fiction; repeat) that will last through the end of the year and into the beginning of next year.  However because of the amount of fantasy books (majority Brandon Sanderson) I’ve been getting my hands on recently, I realized I’m going to have to redo my reading schedule near the end of the year so I can more fantasy in sooner and as early in 2019.

Like this blog, I’ve been feeling disjointed and mainly that’s because of my allergies going haywire since the beginning of June, resulting in three visits to a doctor which lead to an appointment with an allergist on August 1.  However, I’ve had to stay indoors until the appointment which meant no walks outside for fresh air and sun.  In addition in the lead up to the appointment I’ve had to get off all medication that could influence the testing and among the medication has been stuff to help me sleep.  I haven’t that much the last three nights (as of July 31) and am looking forward to the appointment not only to find out what’s wrong but to enjoy walks again as well as sleep (precious sleep).

Well I’m going to end my (potentially disjointed) rambling and let you look at the year-to-date book list:

Founding Myths: Stories that Hide Our Patriotic Past by Ray Raphael
How’s Inky? (Living Forest #1) by Sam Campbell*
Evita: The Real Life of Eva Peron by Nicholas Fraser
Making Money (Discworld #36) by Terry Pratchett
Too Much Salt and Pepper (Living Forest #2) by Sam Campbell*
Mirror Image (Op-Center #2) by Jeff Rovin- REREAD
A Brief History of Seventh-day Adventists by George R. Knight
Foundation (Foundation #1) by Isaac Asimov
Eeny, Meeny, Miney, Mo–and Still-Mo (Living Forest #3) by Sam Campbell*
Unseen Academicals (Discworld #37) by Terry Pratchett
The Wars of Gods and Men (Earth Chronicles #3) by Zecharia Sitchin- REREAD
A Tippy Canoe and Canada Too (Living Forest #4) by Sam Campbell*
Politics by Aristotle
Foundation and Empire (Foundation #2) by Isaac Asimov
On Wings of Cheer (Living Forest #5) by Sam Campbell*
I Shall Wear Midnight (Discworld #38) by Terry Pratchett
Games of State (Op-Center #3) by Jeff Rovin- REREAD
Moose Country (Living Forest #6) by Sam Campbell*
The Rise of the West by W.H. McNeill*
The Wonder That Was India by Arthur Llewellyn Basham
Second Foundation (Foundation #3) by Isaac Asimov
The Seven Secrets of Somewhere Lake (Living Forest #7) by Sam Campbell*
Snuff (Discworld #39) by Terry Pratchett
The Lost Realms (Earth Chronicles #4) by Zecharia Sitchin- REREAD
Loony Coon (Living Forest #8) by Sam Campbell*
William Miller and the Rise of Adventism by George R. Knight
The Martian by Andy Weir
Fiddlesticks and Freckles (Living Forest #9) by Sam Campbell*
Raising Steam (Discworld #40) by Terry Pratchett
Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson*
Acts of War (Op-Center #4) by Jeff Rovin- REREAD
Beloved Rascals (Living Forest #10) by Sam Campbell*
Sweet Sue’s Adventures (Living Forest #11) by Sam Campbell*
Calamity Jane (Living Forest #12) by Sam Campbell*
Agricola and Germany by Tacitus*
Organizing for Mission and Growth by George R. Knight*
City of God by St. Augustine
Typee: A Peep at Polynesian Life by Herman Melville
The Shepherd’s Crown (Discworld #41) by Terry Pratchett
Genesis Revisited (Earth Chronicles #4.5) by Zecharia Sitchin
Orbit of Discovery by Don Thomas*
Myths in Adventism by George R. Knight*
The Stuart Age by Barry Coward
Edgedancer (The Stormlight Archive #2.5) by Brandon Sanderson*
Ulysses by James Joyce
Good Omens by Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett
Balance of Power (Op-Center #5) by Jeff Rovin- REREAD
Abraham’s Other Son by Philip Samaan*
Joseph Bates: The Real Founder of Seventh-Day Adventism by George R. Knight
Lord of Light by Roger Zelazny
The Major Works of Anselm of Canterbury
Pacific Vortex! (Dirk Pitt #1) by Clive Cussler
When Time Began (Earth Chronicles #5) by Zecharia Sitchin- REREAD
Red Rising (Red Rising #1) by Pierce Brown
The Rise and Fall of the American Whig Party by Michael F. Holt
The Mediterranean Caper (Dirk Pitt #2) by Clive Cussler
Light Beareres: A History of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church by Richard W. Schwartz
State of Siege (Op-Center #6) by Jeff Rovin- REREAD
The Guide for the Perplexed by Moses Maimonides
Golden Son (Red Rising #2) by Pierce Brown
The Rise and Fall of the British Empire by Lawrence James
Iceberg (Dirk Pitt #3) by Clive Cussler
Divine Encounters by Zecharia Sitchin
Morning Star (Red Rising #3) by Pierce Brown

* = home read