With great power comes great responsibility: a review of the fantasy novel, "Justi the Gifted"

Justi the GiftedJusti the Gifted by R.R. Brooks
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

R. R. Brooks fantasy novel, Justi the Gifted, is the story of a young man with destructive power that is called forth when injustice and violence threaten. While this power can be wielded in many circumstances, as Justi grows up he struggles to achieve some level of control over it, to reach some level of maturity in understanding the proper use of this gift. In some respects, this gift is an imperfect one - even with the best intentions on Justi's part, a certain balance is called for. Mercerio, Justi's love interest, has a gift of her own, one of mercy and peacemaking. Her gift helps to balance Justi's, and the fulfillment of good and order in their world depends on both gifts. Neither alone is sufficient. In the process of restoring their land and vanquishing its invaders, Justi and Mercerio are aided - and thwarted - by an assemblage of humans and gods, from parents and friends to seers and warriors and warlords who follow, however unwittingly, the will of their gods. The thread connecting discovery and danger moves the story along to the triumph the heroes seek ... but the consequences of an indiscretion on Justi's part leave room for a possible sequel to Justi the Gifted, making us wonder how a more mature Justi and Mercerio can apply their gifts in meeting a new threat.

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Take Heart: Prayers for the Terminally Ill

Take Heart: Prayers for the Terminally Ill by Judy Sliger
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Judy Sliger's "Take Heart: Prayers for the Terminally Ill" is not for the faint of heart. But then many people are not likely to read this unless they or a loved one are fighting cancer. And having the courage to face one's prognosis, or that of a friend or family member, already shows the potential reader of this book is not likely to be "faint of heart." Judy is open and honest, and she doesn't pull any punches. In these prayers she shares with us -- as she talks with God -- the heartaches and challenges and the daily grind of fighting something that has hold of you and won't let up. Even the challenges faced by her family and friends, as they deal with her illness, are something Judy lays before God. And in the process of sharing all this, Judy's prayers share a great deal of wisdom, wisdom we should all take to heart. Her faith in her Redeemer remains strong, despite her "trials and tribulations," despite her struggles, despite the times when her strength fails her for a little while. "Take Heart" is meant to be read in small doses; it will move you, and challenge you, and point you to the One who desires to stand by your side through everything.

Judy is my cousin's wife, and I am so thankful for this chance to get to know her a little better.

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Geek Wisdom

Geek Wisdom: The Sacred Teachings of Nerd CultureGeek Wisdom: The Sacred Teachings of Nerd Culture by Stephen H. Segal
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

"Geek-hood," I realize, is all relative. I'd like to think that I have the street cred to call myself a geek or nerd. Graduate degrees in science. Book-lover. Technophile. Fantasy author. But as I read through the snippets of "wisdom" in this book, I kept thinking perhaps my grown daughter is more of a geek than I am. I got most of the pop culture references, but I think she might've gotten more of them. And (a look of embarrassment crosses his face) I am Doctor-Who-illiterate (gasp!).

The "sacred teachings" were at times mildly humorous, or cute. But surely the editors could've found some profound gems of wisdom to throw in! Perhaps I expected too much. I just didn't get much out of this.

And there was no mention of "Nerds," the candy. Too bad.

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