Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Code 13 by Don Brown

Code 13 by Don Brown is the second installment of The Navy JAG series. Code 13 centers around the legality of a proposed drone project that has powerful advocates on both sides. Because of the billions of dollars that stand to be gained or lost depending on one's business ventures, various outside interest groups get involved to try and sway the legal opinion in their preferred direction.

Code 13 is better than the first book in this series (which I reviewed here). The characters weren't quite as oversized as before. There were definitely some overhanded and less than subtle statements and attitudes, but in this installment, there were at least hints of nuance. The overall plot was much tighter and easier to follow as well. The pace is fast and Brown does a good job of maintaining the suspense of what will happen next. While there is definitely room for improvement, Code 13 is much more like Brown's earlier works that I generally enjoy.

Anyone who enjoys military fiction will probably enjoy Code 13. Those interested in drones and how they can be used in various aspects of American life will also find this book interesting. It does raise interesting questions about where the line is between protecting Americans and violating their right to privacy. Overall, I wouldn't recommend this book to everyone, but there are some groups that will find it an interesting and enjoyable read.

I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookLook book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255

Night Driving by Addie Zierman

Night Driving: A Story of Faith in the Dark by Addie Zierman is the story of the author's two week car trip with her two young sons from Minnesota to Florida and back. Zierman interweaves the events of her trip with her internal struggle of a period of darkness in her faith.

This is Zierman's second memoir. Her first, When We Were on Fire (which I reviewed here) recounts her journey out of the Christian culture bubble from adolescence to adulthood. Night Driving picks up a couple of years later when Zierman finds herself once again sinking into darkness and trying to escape. She can no longer "feel" God and is desperate to avoid the pit she previously fell into. Her solution is to literally escape the dreary winter of Minnesota in exchange for the sunny beaches of Florida, and hope that at the same time her spirit escapes the winter it finds itself in.

Night Driving is just as readable as Zierman's first book. While I didn't find myself personally relating to this one quite as much as I did the first, I still found a familiar story with elements that resonated. It can be a struggle for those who were brought up to believe faith was all about feeling to not get discouraged and depressed with the feelings disappear. It's not only something one learns to deal with as one matures in their faith, but is also something that often requires a deliberate frame of reference mind shift. Zierman's journey through this shift is honest and encouraging for any who may find themselves in the same position.

I would recommend Night Driving to anyone who may find themselves in a "winter" in their faith. It would also be helpful for anyone who doesn't understand how discouraging that can look and feel. Zierman's honesty allows the reader to take what they can, and leave the rest. There is no pretense to wade through. Night Driving is another great addition to the collection of the millennial memoir.

Blogging for Books provided this book to me for free in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255

Friday, April 8, 2016

Answering Jihad by Nabeel Qureshi

Answering Jihad: A Better Way Forward by Nabeel Qureshi is a primer on understanding jihad and how it affects our world. Qureshi was raised as a devout Muslim. In his early twenties, after an in depth investigation of Islam that led him to reject the faith he was raised he, he converted to Christianity.

Qureshi states in the preface that he felt more comfortable addressing these questions individually rather than writing a book. However, he felt compelled to do so by the recent terrorist attacks in San Bernadino and Paris as well as the fiery responses to these attacks offered by certain American presidential candidates. As he says, "...lives are in the balance, and we must respond carefully. I cannot feign impartiality. Ignoring the reality of jihad endangers my nation, while responding with fear endangers my Muslim family" (11).

In Answering Jihad, Quershi provides a very understandable and basic explanation of both modern and historic Islam, jihad, and how people, specifically in the West, should respond to both. Using a question and answer form, Quereshi address eighteen questions he commonly gets asked, including "Is Islam a Religion of Peace?" and "How Does Jihad Compare with the Crusades?" Qureshi acknowledges that his treatment of each question is very basic and gives suggestions for resources that provide a more in depth look.

There are four appendices included at the end of Answering Jihad. They are "A Selective Timeline of Jihad in Islam," "Muhammad's Words on Jihad in Sahih al-Bukhari," "What Is the Caliphate?" and "Ahmadi Muslims and Details about My Former Sect of Islam." There is also a two page glossary of common Arabic and Islamic terms used throughout the book.

Overall I enjoyed Answering Jihad. I learned some important distinctions about subjects that are too often painted with a broad brush. This is a subject relevant to every American. Wherever one falls on the political spectrum, everyone can benefit from more information, and less fearful rhetoric. Answering Jihad is accessible enough to be a useful tool to aid in this conversation, therefore, I recommend it to anyone willing to more thoughtfully engage in this crucial topic.

I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookLook book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255