Friday, April 28, 2017

This shelter business

After Psalm 91

This shelter business:
why, I don’t know, I see
the word shelter and I imagine
a desert of sand and searing heat
rocks burning at the touch
and heat of course the heat
a searing sun sucking coolness
from the ground
from my skin.

And yet this shelter, I find,
is a shadow arching over me
protecting me from heat
a refuge from dust and wind
a shield staring down the terror

a shadow
a cleft in the rock
sheltering me from enemies
sheltering me from others
from myself

Photograph by Rajesh Misra via Public Domain Pictures. Used with permission.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

“Burke’s Revenge” by William Brown

Bob Burke, retired from the U.S. Army’s elite Delta Force, is now living near Fort Bragg, North Carolina. His home is called “Sherwood Forest,” and the estate comes complete with its own band of “merry men” – computer geeks, retired Special Ops soldiers like himself, his pregnant wife Linda and her daughter Elle. He remains chairman of a telecommunications company in Chicago, but he has put good people in charge of running its day-to-day operations. Life should be relatively quiet and serene.

Except this is Bob Burke, and “quiet” and “serenity” are two words that don’t associate with him. At a small college in nearby Fayetteville, a sociology professor named Henry Shaw and just returned from a trip to the Middle East. What no one but the FBI suspects is that Shaw has set up an ISIS cell, with members from both students in the college and soldiers at Fort Bragg. Shaw has become a Muslim, and is going to bring jihad to Fort Bragg.

To say that Burke’s Revenge, William Brown’s third Bob Burke suspense/thriller novel, is packed with action is to be guilty of gross understatement. From desert towns in Syria to the sleepy environs of Fayetteville, Brown stages more car bombings, killings, and explosions than a half-dozen similar novels combined. And the action bleeds authenticity, with descriptions of guns, knives, airplanes, and explosives so vivid and real that you know this is an author who knows what he’s writing about.

William Brown
Brown, the author of seven previous novels, has established himself as a master of military suspense, whether it’s World War II or the contemporary war against ISIS. He knows his military and how it operates, and he knows its politics, and how it operates. And he puts the knowledge of both to good use.

The more they understand, the more Burke and the people he’s working with realize that Shaw, and deadly as he is, may be just a side show. Three members of ISIS from the Middle East are also on the ground in the Fayetteville area, and what they are planning is worse than any car bomb or building explosion that Shaw dreams up. (I should point out that Shaw is a totally despicable villain, without any redeeming qualities, and it may cause me to look at sociology professors in an entirely different light.)

Burke’s Revenge snaps and crackles with action and excitement. It’s a wildly entertaining read.

Related - My reviews of Brown’s previous books:

Top photograph of Fort Bragg by Jonas N. Jordan, U.S. Army Corp of Engineers Digital Visual Library via Wikimedia.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

“Everbloom: Stories of Deeply Rooted and Transformed Lives”

Forty-one members of the Redbud Writers Guild have come together to provide stories of hope and redemption, often from very deep and very dark holes. Editors Shayne Moore and Margaret Ann Philbrick have assembled these 41 stories into Everbloom:Stories of Deeply Rooted and Transformed Lives.

Organized into four sections – “Roots,” “Trunk,” “Branches,” and “Blossoms,” Everbloom is filled with a broad diversity of stories and poems – nothing seems similar or repetitive. These accounts do have one thing in common – they are riveting accounts of scenes, issues, events, tragedies, and triumphs in the lives of Christian women.

A missionary kid watches a local man beat his wife, and sees her father unable to do anything about it.

An old tree is cut down.

A career move takes away everything and everyone who is familiar.

From childhood, a woman lives with fear of abduction.

A much-wanted baby is lost in miscarriage.

A young woman is gang-raped.

A brother kills himself.

A short-term missionary trip becomes an introduction to AIDS in Africa.

A woman who can’t stop bleeding.

A pastor who becomes an activist for ageism – when her professor husband is told by his Christian college that they have to let him go for budget reasons, and, oh, by the way, could he train his younger replacement?

And more. A lot more.

These stories are the stuff of real experience and real life. But they’re more than stories – they’re lessons we can all apply.

Each story and poem has a prayer and a writing prompt, so the book becomes more than a collection. It’s an invitation to consider your own life and your own experiences.

I’m not familiar with all of the writers and poets included in the book, but I do follow the writing of several, including April Yamasaki, Leslie Leyland Fields, and Sarah Rennicke. That’s the other benefit of the book – to find new people to read and follow.

Everbloom is moving, and often heart wrenching, but it always about hope.

Top photograph by Rostislav Kralik via Public Domain Pictures. Used with permission.