Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Book with a View November 2011
Title: Kathy’s Good News
Author: Dr. Wilson Awasu
Genre: religion, Christian education, children
Published: Outskirts Press, 2011
Reviewer: Sarah Moore of WITS
When people are offering advice to writers or politicians or even stand-up comedians, the sentiment to “talk about what you know” is often mentioned. What a person chooses to share is usually at its most powerful when it comes from a place of truth and experience. This is why, as a historian by former trade and now by hobby, I love to comb through primary sources. Reading the raw and personal correspondence between two people, the emotion, hopes, and concerns of that one moment captured in time can have a lasting effect on the consumer. When the central topic is religion and those related questions of eternal consequence, the ability of a text to grip you is even more heightened. Such is the case in Kathy’s Good News, the new release by Dr. Wilson Awasu.
Kathy’s Good News is a compilation of email exchanges that took place between Dr. Awasu and a twelve-year-old girl who heard him speak about his faith. She confides to Dr. Awasu that although she was raised in a Christian home, she never felt an intensely personal relationship with God. It seemed to be more of a mechanical process than a real connection. From this honest confession comes a written dialogue in which Dr. Awasu challenges Kathy with questions that force her to think deeply and reach her own conclusions.
The power of this book is not in an elegantly crafted phrase or vivid descriptions of background scenery. Instead, we get to witness the spiritual evolution of one girl as assisted by a mentor who does not want to feed her answers that she must accept blindly, but allows her to make her own discoveries. To me, I couldn’t help but think of the concept of the Socratic Method as applied to theology. In fact, I often found myself pausing to answer the same questions that were being put in front of young Kathy. Do I want a clear understanding of promise and faith while removing the confusion that my own church experience has given me? How do I go about bridging the gap between head knowledge and heart knowledge?
With this publication, Dr. Wilson Awasu shares a couple of important messages. First, one’s faith is a personal experience that should have a sense of relationship at its core. Why would we want any less of an intimate connection with a grand Creator? And second, Awasu encourages us to look at our own values and beliefs through the lens of a child. What if we had a filter of innocence instead of the cynicism and heartache that usually finds its way into our hearts by adulthood? What would we see differently?
Kathy’s Good News is an engaging read because we get a peek into the process of struggle and revelation that most of us work through at some point in our lives. And, it reveals the author as a kind and thoughtful teacher who values the individual growth of those who come to him for counsel. Check it out, and perhaps you will be compelled to ask some challenging questions yourself.
Title: The Disturbing Effect of Moonlight
Author: Mia Zabriskie
Genre: thriller, suspense, fantasy
Publisher: Mia Zabriskie Books (August 3, 2011)
Available on Amazon.com
Reviewer: Dana Micheli of WITS
This book should come with a warning: DO NOT BEGIN READING UNLESS YOU HAVE TIME TO FINISH IT.
In the vast sea of suspense novels, Mia Zabriskie’s The Disturbing Effect of Moonlight is a jewel that one feels proud to have discovered... And in this world of instant gratification, it has a real, old-fashioned twist that we so rarely see. You REALLY won’t know where this is all leading until you have nearly reached the end.
Like every place struck by tragedy, Los Angeles is a city divided into the Before and After. It has never quite been the same since that day in 1994 when the Northridge earthquake tore through streets, buildings, and lives.
Like every person marked by tragedy, 32-year-old Natalie Ryder’s life is also divided by an enormous chasm. On the one side: her happy childhood with her loving father, Jonathan and sister, Gabby; on the other is the emptiness she has felt since their sudden, unexplained disappearances nearly two decades before. Since then, her life has been filled with both unbearable pain and incredible blessings, but there has always been the gaping hole where her family used to be.
Now an “earthquake scientist” living in Seattle, Natalie would like to think that she has escaped both L.A. and her agonizing past. But when she learns that her father’s remains have finally been found, she returns to California. Cold Case detectives believe that Jonathan’s ties to the Armenian mob led to his murder, but Natalie refuses to accept it. Armed only with old police files and the materials found in her father’s backpack, she begins her own investigation. Every clue she follows seems to lead down another rabbit hole, but the one she is about plunge into is more terrifying than even she can conceive of.
With each turn of the page, Zabriskie’s masterful use of words brings forth a burst of Technicolor. Her descriptions of Los Angeles—both the upscale and the underbelly--are so vivid that you can alternately feel the sand of the beach between your toes and the despair of homeless, forgotten youths.
So call out of work; cancel your dentist appointment, and settle in for a great read. The end will have you craving more, but the good news is, Zabriskie is working on a sequel.