A dramatic Christian devotional full of fire and brimstone—and hope and encouragement.

RENEW MY HEART, O GOD

DAILY DEVOTIONS FOR HEALING YOUR HEART

A daily devotional offers quotes drawn from Christian Scripture.

Horacek’s debut book has a simple goal: “to cultivate within the reader, a desire to consistently pray and read God’s Word and be transformed by it to become the whole person God intended you to be.” Using a typical devotional strategy, the author takes his readers day by day through a year, highlighting a different religious theme each month, illustrating that idea with quotes from Scripture, and then elaborating on those citations with spiritual and life lesson writings of his own. The author mostly eschews the seasonally themed narrative anchors of such an approach in favor of straightforward evangelical preaching of a bracingly old-fashioned kind. No matter what the date, Horacek is concerned with a more eternal narrative of Christian eschatology composed of equal parts optimism and encouragement (“The furnace of life brings about silver and gold of immense value”) and stern fundamentalist warnings: “Serve God acceptably, with reverence, awe, and godly fear. Although He is gracious and merciful, He will also ultimately destroy all His enemies with a consuming and devouring fire in the times of the end.” The version of Christianity presented here is a stark combination of daily affirmations and detailed descriptions of Christian end times, with the author repeatedly stressing the hopeful, participatory side of faith, telling his readers that Jesus “persevered and endured the scourge of the Cross” for them, and that “the Divine Whisper” confirms that they belong to God. “He knows the path of your life,” Horacek writes. “Let Him guide you in the way, moment by moment.” The author’s prose is vivid and fast-paced, and his amplifications on the Scriptural passages he chooses are always decisive and thought-provoking. His Christian target audience should find much to both challenge and comfort them in these pages.

A dramatic Christian devotional full of fire and brimstone—and hope and encouragement.

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-63575-372-1

Page Count: 469

Publisher: Christian Faith Publishing, Inc.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 28, 2019

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Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

A LITTLE HISTORY OF POETRY

A light-speed tour of (mostly) Western poetry, from the 4,000-year-old Gilgamesh to the work of Australian poet Les Murray, who died in 2019.

In the latest entry in the publisher’s Little Histories series, Carey, an emeritus professor at Oxford whose books include What Good Are the Arts? and The Unexpected Professor: An Oxford Life in Books, offers a quick definition of poetry—“relates to language as music relates to noise. It is language made special”—before diving in to poetry’s vast history. In most chapters, the author deals with only a few writers, but as the narrative progresses, he finds himself forced to deal with far more than a handful. In his chapter on 20th-century political poets, for example, he talks about 14 writers in seven pages. Carey displays a determination to inform us about who the best poets were—and what their best poems were. The word “greatest” appears continually; Chaucer was “the greatest medieval English poet,” and Langston Hughes was “the greatest male poet” of the Harlem Renaissance. For readers who need a refresher—or suggestions for the nightstand—Carey provides the best-known names and the most celebrated poems, including Paradise Lost (about which the author has written extensively), “Kubla Khan,” “Ozymandias,” “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” Wordsworth and Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads, which “changed the course of English poetry.” Carey explains some poetic technique (Hopkins’ “sprung rhythm”) and pauses occasionally to provide autobiographical tidbits—e.g., John Masefield, who wrote the famous “Sea Fever,” “hated the sea.” We learn, as well, about the sexuality of some poets (Auden was bisexual), and, especially later on, Carey discusses the demons that drove some of them, Robert Lowell and Sylvia Plath among them. Refreshingly, he includes many women in the volume—all the way back to Sappho—and has especially kind words for Marianne Moore and Elizabeth Bishop, who share a chapter.

Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-23222-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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SLEEPERS

An extraordinary true tale of torment, retribution, and loyalty that's irresistibly readable in spite of its intrusively melodramatic prose. Starting out with calculated, movie-ready anecdotes about his boyhood gang, Carcaterra's memoir takes a hairpin turn into horror and then changes tack once more to relate grippingly what must be one of the most outrageous confidence schemes ever perpetrated. Growing up in New York's Hell's Kitchen in the 1960s, former New York Daily News reporter Carcaterra (A Safe Place, 1993) had three close friends with whom he played stickball, bedeviled nuns, and ran errands for the neighborhood Mob boss. All this is recalled through a dripping mist of nostalgia; the streetcorner banter is as stilted and coy as a late Bowery Boys film. But a third of the way in, the story suddenly takes off: In 1967 the four friends seriously injured a man when they more or less unintentionally rolled a hot-dog cart down the steps of a subway entrance. The boys, aged 11 to 14, were packed off to an upstate New York reformatory so brutal it makes Sing Sing sound like Sunnybrook Farm. The guards continually raped and beat them, at one point tossing all of them into solitary confinement, where rats gnawed at their wounds and the menu consisted of oatmeal soaked in urine. Two of Carcaterra's friends were dehumanized by their year upstate, eventually becoming prominent gangsters. In 1980, they happened upon the former guard who had been their principal torturer and shot him dead. The book's stunning denouement concerns the successful plot devised by the author and his third friend, now a Manhattan assistant DA, to free the two killers and to exact revenge against the remaining ex-guards who had scarred their lives so irrevocably. Carcaterra has run a moral and emotional gauntlet, and the resulting book, despite its flaws, is disturbing and hard to forget. (Film rights to Propaganda; author tour)

Pub Date: July 10, 1995

ISBN: 0-345-39606-5

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1995

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