Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Things That Matter by Charles Krauthammer

I have been a fan of the Charles Krauthammer for a number of years but it had been awhile since I'd read more than a passing article here or there.  Things That Matter is a compilation of his editorials from a span of 30 years.

The first four sections of the book group essays within the following categories: Personal, Political, Historical, Global and then closes with a fifth section of more recent pieces specifically about Obama.

Although Krauthammer is a well known conservative thinker, there are plenty of essays that don't specifically deal with politicis. Many make observations about human nature, pasttimes, ethics, and historical events. Topics most anyone can enjoy and appreciate.  Short and to the point, it's a great book to have handy when you have just a few moments to read.

I may not agree with Krauthammer on everything, but his pieces are written in a very engaging style and provide a well-thought out defense of his views. Witty, humorous, sometimes sarcastic but always thought-provoking.  I appreciated the autobiographical glimpses into his family, medical training and the individuals who had played a significant part of his life.

If you'd like a book that may shake some of your ideas and put to work those little grey cells in your brain, then pick up Things That Matter.  At the very least, it may help you examine and appreciate the things that matter in your own life.

Things That Matter can be purchased from one of these retailers:

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of Things That Matter from Blogging for Books for the purpose of review. No other compensation was received.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Oswald: Return of the King by Edoardo Albert

This cover has got to be one of the most amazing covers of all times. The print choice and style of the raven fit perfectly with the book's time period. The coloring is a metallic red and gold which give hint to Oswald's royalty and pure gold character.

Oswald is actually the second in a trilogy, the first of which I had not read. The author did a stellar job of offering a very helpful summary of the main events in the first book that effectively explained the backdrop and influences that drove the characters in this story. The author also offered a very complete listing of characters (a list you may want to avoid if you don't want any hints to future marriage alliances).  

The book is set in the Dark Ages of Britain, a time of war and death as kings battled for territory and sovereignty. At the book's opening, Oswald and his siblings and mother, widow of King Æthelfrith of Northumbria are in exile on the island of Iona.  As converts to Christianity, Oswald feels called to become a monk but also struggles with feeling the obligation to regain the throne from the man who killed his father. By doing the latter, Oswald realizes that he can help spread Christianity by defeating kings who still believe in pagan gods.

The details and descriptions were true to the time period and the reader will feel immersed in the historical period. Descriptions of battle and the strategies used were fascinating. Practices of marriage for political gain were part of the strategy for victory. One such alliance becomes the Achilles heel for Oswald bringing enmity between he and his brother. The betrayal by a trusted companion wreaks further havoc and the reader is drawn into the suspense and treachery. 

This book beautifully captures the very real struggle between the forces of good and evil. When the last page arrives, readers will be counting the days until they can read the final book in the trilogy. 

What was particularly fascinating was that Oswald is based on a real historical figure mentioned by the historian Bede. The author gives a very detailed background to the time period and where Oswald fits into the larger picture. All in all, the work is an excellent glimpse into what life was like in the Dark Ages of England.

Oswald: Return of the King can be purchased directly from Kregel Publications for $14.99.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of Oswald: Return of the King from Kregel Publications for the purpose of review.