A short, straightforward devotional manual.

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WISDOM, REFLECTION, AND GRACE

A faith memoir that aims to bring Christians closer to God.

“The only way to live a happy and fulfilled life in a fallen and depraved world,” writes Martin-Egwuonwu in her nonfiction debut, “is living a life according to the word of God.” Her brief but biblically literate work hews to a line of devotional simplicity. She centers each short chapter on some essential aspect of her faith—honoring God, giving oneself over completely to Jesus Christ, trusting in divine forgiveness, treating one’s body as a temple—and anchors her observations in scriptural quotes. Readers are urged to make God the priority in their lives—to please him, rather than pleasing others in the world around them—and the author reinforces her requests with blunt encouragement on how to simplify one’s faith: “Seek God first,” she writes. “Pray regularly. Confess your sins regularly before God asking for forgiveness and repentance. Be passionate about building an intimate relationship with the Lord.” The insistent theme, repeated throughout the book, is one of redemption, of second chances made possible by the infinite mercy of God: “No matter what your spiritual blindness is (greed, sex, drugs, unbelief, gambling, abuse, unforgiveness, etc.),” Martin-Egwuonwu writes, “our Lord and Savior can heal you to live in the image of His Son, Christ Jesus.” The author aims to reassure readers that no matter how confused or lost they might feel, God will help them. As she lays out examples from the Bible to illustrate her points, she effectively reinforces them with her own confessions of being a “broken Christian” who once wandered away from her faith. The intended readership for this book is obviously fellow Christians, and for many of them, its short passages will provide simple, unpretentious food for thought.

A short, straightforward devotional manual.

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4582-2132-2

Page Count: 108

Publisher: AbbottPress

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2018

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.

SEVERAL SHORT SENTENCES ABOUT WRITING

New York Times columnist and editorial board member delivers a slim book for aspiring writers, offering saws and sense, wisdom and waggery, biases and biting sarcasm.

Klinkenborg (Timothy; or, Notes of an Abject Reptile, 2006), who’s taught for decades, endeavors to keep things simple in his prose, and he urges other writers to do the same. (Note: He despises abuses of the word as, as he continually reminds readers.) In the early sections, the author ignores traditional paragraphing so that the text resembles a long free-verse poem. He urges readers to use short, clear sentences and to make sure each one is healthy before moving on; notes that it’s acceptable to start sentences with and and but; sees benefits in diagramming sentences; stresses that all writing is revision; periodically blasts the formulaic writing that many (most?) students learn in school; argues that knowing where you’re headed before you begin might be good for a vacation, but not for a piece of writing; and believes that writers must trust readers more, and trust themselves. Most of Klinkenborg’s advice is neither radical nor especially profound (“Turn to the poets. / Learn from them”), and the text suffers from a corrosive fallacy: that if his strategies work for him they will work for all. The final fifth of the text includes some passages from writers he admires (McPhee, Oates, Cheever) and some of his students’ awkward sentences, which he treats analytically but sometimes with a surprising sarcasm that veers near meanness. He includes examples of students’ dangling modifiers, malapropisms, errors of pronoun agreement, wordiness and other mistakes.

Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-307-26634-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2012

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