For decades the accepted wisdom has been that America's mainline Protestant churches are in decline, eclipsed by evangelical mega-churches. Church and religion expert Diana Butler Bass wondered if this was true, and this book is the result of her extensive, three-year study of centrist and progressive churches across the country. Her surprising findings reveal just the opposite - that many of the churches are flourishing, and they are doing so without resorting to mimicking the mega-church, evangelical style. Christianity for the Rest of Us describes this phenomenon....
I'm about halfway through this book right now and honestly, I'm not sure if it's horribly written or just read that way. The Narrator runs the full range from Barbie to Disney Princess, and when she attempts to do Latino accents I feel like I'm stuck in some horrible fifties film.
Butler Bass's discussion of transformation within mainline Christian churches is at times engaging, facile, enlightening, smug, and rose-colored. I had read a lot of reviews of the print book and many seemed to be from non-Mainline Christians reacting to the implied criticism of fundamentalism. So I expected it to be smart, critical, and pointed. Instead it's bland Americana. So far there is one hopeful moment when she refers to the African American church, but then she veered of on Desmond Tutu. She's doing case studies of different congregation, but it's less like participant-observer scholarship and more like postcards from a road trip. In the diversity section she raves about the diversity of several of the churches only to follow up by saying that the only area in which they are not diverse is racially.
Again, if it weren't for the narrator's tone I could perhaps be more generous, but it's just so spunky it seems totally out of place dealing with serious subjects.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
Jailed as a scapegoat for Stalin's famines, Vavilov had traveled over five continents, collected hundreds of thousands of seeds in an effort to outline the ancient centers of agricultural diversity. Gary Paul Nabhan weaves together Vavilov's story with his own expeditions to Earth's richest agricultural landscapes and the cultures that tend them.
Ken Wilson has a dull introduction to Nabhan's book, and his convoluted writing style ruined the narrator for me. Gave up on this after little more than an hour. I'll try reading this book on paper to see if it Nabhan holds my attention better.
0 of 1 people found this review helpful
Now, in his most daring act yet, E. Lynn Harris writes the memoir of his life from his childhood in Arkansas as a closeted gay boy through his struggling days as a self-published author to his rise to New York Times best seller status.
I love E. Lynn Harris's novels and hadn't gotten around to the memoir, though it was highly recommended by a colleague. When I heard he'd passed this summer, I really wanted to read it. The books is excellent: 5 stars. The narrator, though, wasn't as good as those who've done Harris's novels. For the first couple of hours he sounded uncomfortable with Harris's voice. I think I'd like to read this one again on paper to get my own feel for it.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful
In a small village at the foot of the Italian Dolomites, the gardens of a deserted farmhouse have lain untouched for decades. But the new owner, keen for renovations to begin, is summoned urgently to the house when his workmen disturb a macabre grave.
I was looking for a good Venice mystery for my mom to read when she's there.
A Noble Radiance is a pretty good read, although I find the main character rather maudlin and self-indulgent. Anna Fields, the narrator, is superb. If you like her in this, listen to her in Louise Erdrich's novels, where she has much better writing to work with.
Prob'ly best for those who are already fans of the series. Because of all the snarky comments about tourists, I prob'ly won't pick this for my mom.
In the world of interconnected novels by Louise Erdrich, Four Souls is most closely linked to Tracks. All these works continue and elaborate on the intricate story of life on a reservation peopled by saints and false saints, heroes and sinners, clever fools and tenacious women. Louise Erdrich reminds us of the deep spirituality and the ordinary humanity of this world, and these works are as beautiful and lyrical as anything she has written.
Erdrich wrote TRACKS in 1988 and FOUR SOULS in 2004--nearly two decades separate the writing of these two books, yet, listening to them both, all of that seems purely imaginary in the "real" time of the two novels. Erdrich's writing is finely honed: her characters Fleur and Nanapush will stick with you. Anna Fields does a magnificent job with the narration!
7 of 7 people found this review helpful
The beloved Ezekiel Rawlins now has a steady job, a nice house with a garden, a loving woman, and children. He counts the blessings of leading a law-abiding life, but is "nowhere near happy," and though he tries to leave the street life behind, he still finds himself trading favors and investigating cases of arson, murder, and missing people. People who can't depend on the law to solve their problems seek out Easy.
This is a great collection of EZ short stories by Walter Mosley. They come between A Little Yellow Dog and Little Scarlet, and fill in a lot of the gaps between those two novels. Really enjoyable. ME Willis is a delight. Characters like Mama Joe, bring added depth. Gone Fishing was written before these stories, and there's references to what happened.
If you want a novel, then you won't be satisfied with short stories, but I really enjoyed seeing how Mosley works with the short story form and also the way the stories link together.
9 of 9 people found this review helpful
Tananarive Due, author of The Living Blood won the American Book Award and is praised as Stephen King's equal by Publishers Weekly. In The Good House, Due sets a story of ancient powers and modern retribution in a small Pacific Northwest town. When a young woman returns to her grandmother's empty mansion, she is pitted against demonic forces that have poisoned her family for generations.
And this is exactly why! I'm a big fan of Tananarive Due's THE GOOD HOUSE. Fabulous. Creepy. Scary (for me--I know you hardcore horror fans have a much higher tolerance!). I must be the only reader in north America who loathes Stephen King, and I'm not usually a fan of horror. (I'm more science- and speculative fiction). I can't praise this book enough. (as a side note, I was also introduced the cubano group The Orishas through this novel). This is a long book, so near the end you may find yourself running into a bookstore so you can finish it quickly, but I see that as proof that the author totally draws us in.
54 of 58 people found this review helpful
Paris Minton is a man who would just as soon walk away from trouble as stand up to it. But in 1950s Los Angeles, sometimes trouble just comes and gets you. When one of L.A.'s wealthiest women hires Paris and his friend Fearless Jones to find a missing nephew, Paris steps into the a complex and terrifying corner of the black bourgeoisie, and wonders whom he should fear more - the people he's looking for or the people he's working for.
Mosley is great! Paris Minton and Fearless Jones are an interesting departure from EZ Rawlins and Mouse. I really enjoy how Paris keeps emphasizing himself as a coward. And it's great to see Mosley's Los Angeles from a couple different angles. Don Cheadle gives a GREAT reading. This is what audiobooks are all about! I haven't liked a reading so much since Ossie Davis.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
Easy Rawlins is out of the investigation business and as far away from crime as a black man can be in 1960s Los Angeles. But living around desperate men means life gets complicated sometimes. When an old friend gets in enough trouble to ask for Easy's help, he finds he can't refuse. Bad Boy Brawly Brown is the masterful crime novel that Walter Mosley's legions of fans have been waiting for. This book marks the return of a master at the top of his form.
It's amazing to me how much Mouse--Raymond Alexander--haunts this novel. There's some odd revision going on---prob'ly only noticeable if, like me, you're listening to the books one right after another.
The narrator, ME Willis, is pretty good. He uses more accents to distinguish between characters, especially the women. It can be a bit jarring, since characters from previous novels (with different narrators) suddenly have these whole other ways of talking. The accent for Primo is lousy---pure Frito Bandito. Plus, I guess I just got hooked on Stanley Bennet Clay's characterization of Mouse and Primo.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
November 1963: Easy's settled into a steady gig as a school custodian. It's a quiet, simple existence - but a few moments of ecstasy with a sexy teacher will change all that. When the lady vanishes, Easy's stuck with a couple of corpses, the cops on his back, and a little yellow dog who's nobody's best friend. With his not-so-simple past snapping at his heels, and with enemies old and new looking to get even, Easy must kiss his careful little life goodbye - and step closer to the edge...
I listened to Black Betty and White Butterfly--both read by Stanley Bennet Clay, who makes Mosley's characters come alive. Mosley's YA novel, 47, is read by Ossie Davis, and will make you mourn that artist's passing all over again. In contrast, this narrator, Howard Weinberger, is AWFUL! I want my moeny back!
1 of 2 people found this review helpful