Blessed Among Us

BlessedAmongUs.jpgBlessed Among Us is a collection of short biographies (3 paragraphs at most) of individuals who, through their lives, exemplified virtues such as service to others, humility, courage, compassion, etc. Written by Robert Eslberg for the Give Us This Day monthly publication, they were eventually compiled into a book.

This book covers people from all walks of life. While this book predominantly focuses on the lives of Catholic Saints and Catholic individuals, it does not limit the biographies to solely Catholics, featuring biographies of individuals like Martin Luther King Jr., Anne Frank, Fred Rogers, and Mohandas Gandhi to name a few. The purpose of this book is not to promote one denomination as superior, but to show how individual lives can change the world simply by making selfless choices.

Often times, when I read stories about people from history, religious or not, I do not feel as if I can relate to them. Their deeds are far beyond anything I believe I am capable of or their experiences are not comparable to my life. I find it discouraging – how can I ever hope to make a difference when I’m not special or talented or gifted?

This is one of the reasons why I enjoy Blessed Among Us so much. While some of the individuals featured are naturally gifted, extremely brave or devout, or make some extraordinary discovery, many of those featured are simply “normal” (at least by my standards). They didn’t discover a cure or save somebody’s life; they just lived – lived a life doing what they could with what they had to make the world a better place.

Authors, Artists & Artisans!

Had a nice time at the Higher Ground Books & Media‘s “Authors, Artists & Artisans!” event.

I spent way too much money, but hey, I got some Christmas gifts! (Thanks Michael Fehskens and Meaghan Fisher: Children’s Author)

Met some authors that I’ve read (J.Kevin Earp) and several that I’d like to read (Mina R Raulston, Parker Stevens, and Carolyn Williams). My reading list just got longer!

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Granite Flats (BYU TV)

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A TV series produced by Brigham Young University TV. From Wikipedia: “Because BYUtv is intended for a family audience that shares Mormon values, there is no smoking, no adult or extramarital content, and all alcohol consumption is portrayed in a distinctly negative light.”

While they do get into the topic of religion in a couple of instances, it is nothing that Christians should find offensive as the moral values are applicable regardless of one’s faith, and as the above statement indicates, it is clean and family friendly (a relief in my opinion.) It can be intense (at least that is what my 12 year old sister says), and I rather agree. It is intense because of the high level of emotion that certain characters display in some situations. It is a GOOD show! The children actors are really talented.

Granite Flats (BYU TV) can be viewed on Netflix.

The White Tower

The White TowerThe White Tower by by Michael Wisehart is the first book in the series The Aldoran Chronicles.
This is now one of my favorite books. Below is my review that I posted on Audible.
Would you consider the audio edition of The White Tower to be better than the print version?

I’ve only listened to the audio version. I will say that as much as I love the narrator, I’d probably prefer it in hard back. This story switches between A LOT of characters, which I find frustrating at times. I like to follow the character arcs of only one or two characters at a time. The print version would allow me to follow one character and then go back and read the stories of the other characters (or skip the character’s I don’t care about). It is too hard to do that with the audio book.

What other book might you compare The White Tower to and why?

This is my favorite book since Michael J. Sullivan’s “Riyria Revelations” (also narrated by Tim Gerard Reynolds). I consider both books a “page turner”, and I have a hard time putting either of them down.

I will say this book is more violent than the Riyria Revelations; it is not really graphic in its violence, but the torture instances make me a little uncomfortable, so very sensitive readers might get a bit squeamish, again not graphic, just the description of the pain that the character’s face is kind of uncomfortable.

Have you listened to any of Tim Gerard Reynolds’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

I’d actually even say this is his best narration yet, but then again, I’ve never listened to a bad narration of his. There are a lot more characters in this book than in others he’s narrated, and he does a superb job making each of them unique.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

The torture scenes make me a bit squeamish when the pain the people are experiencing is described. The scenes aren’t graphic like rated-R films; there is no graphic blood or extreme description of torture techniques, but the thought of the torture and the people’s pain still makes me uncomfortable (as it should).

I will say that during heightened intense moments, the author knows how to throw a bit of humor in there. So, there are definitely some nice laughs along the way.

Any additional comments?

I think the author does a great job of capturing the human person, showing a wide range of emotions from all characters. The character’s are human despite being set in a fantasy world. I think this is one of the first books I’ve listened to/read that you really connect with and empathize with the characters, even those that make questionable decisions. (Not so much the truly evil characters; they are evil, but some that border evil or simply make questionable choices – those you really get to empathize with or at least understand why they did what they did.)