Review of Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good

Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good

In Jan Karon’s latest Mitford novel, Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good, Father Tim and Cynthia have returned to their beloved hometown after their sojourn to Ireland, hoping for a respite. But as Uncle Billy would say, “There’s no rest for the wicked, and the righteous don’t need none.” They are immediately caught up again in the business of small town life, courtesy of characters old and new. Emma Newland, Father Tim’s former secretary, is looking for employment. Father Talbot, the new priest of Lord’s Chapel, is trying to watch over souls while ignoring the ache in his own. Dooley is wondering if his relationship with Lace Turner is worth a deeper commitment while Sammy, his younger brother, seems determined to cause as much trouble as he can without caring about whom he hurts. And Father Tim has lost his sense of direction. Will Father Tim find something he can put his heart into? Will Dooley overcome his past and find love? And will Sammy discover the grace he so desperately needs before it is too late?

Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good is the tenth book in the Mitford series but a stand-alone novel. Fans of Ms. Karon will not be disappointed. Readers are immediately transported to the idyllic small town set in the North Carolina Mountains, and are immersed in the endearing and sometimes complicated relationships that make Mitford a favorite place to visit. This is why Ms. Karon’s writing voice is often imitated but never duplicated. Her intimate knowledge of the setting lends to the homey, familiar feeling of the story, and the author seems to have regained the tone that has made the early books in the series a success. Karon’s style is lively, light, and warm-hearted, but not without depth. There are profound Christian themes throughout, and they are explored with some detail, which is logical as the main character is a priest. However, the story isn’t drowning in weighty religious language or moral overtones.

The plot of Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good is character driven and mostly seen through the eyes of Father Tim. The novel is structured in vignette style with many storylines, which only enhances the pace of the book and keeps the reader turning the pages. The majority of the conflict centers on the relationships of the characters. Father Tim, Cynthia, and Dooley display growth with each successive book in the series, and each minor character has a unique voice and personality in dialogue that adds color and variety to the narrative. Besides the fact that the book is not long enough, the only weakness is that Father Tim’s character is imagined in the mind of a woman and, at times, lacks a true masculine voice in thought or action.

Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good will appeal to Christians and non-Christians alike who enjoy an entertaining but wholesome read. It is a cozy, pastoral tale perfect for the fireside on a rainy day.

In conclusion, Ms. Karon should be applauded for a welcome addition to a wonderful series. It is by far one of her best efforts. It might be helpful for new readers to start from the first book to acquaint themselves with the characters and context. Nevertheless, Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good is a delightful treat, and makes Mitford a place where readers will want to return again and again.

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Review of Abraham

Abraham

In his book, Abraham: One Amazing Nomad’s Journey of Faith, Bible teacher and best-selling author Charles Swindoll takes an extensive look into the life of the patriarch of Israel. Swindoll masterfully chronicles this “Father of Nations” from his first interaction with God to his final moments on earth. His journey displays an incredible amount of courage and trust in Someone whom he had never seen but was determined to follow no matter where He led him. This account does not omit Abraham’s failures, but allows readers to draw from the lessons learned as they learn to walk with God as well.

Abraham is a well-researched and well-written edition for anyone interested in gaining a deeper knowledge of Scripture. The historical and cultural insights are both fascinating and helpful in understanding why the “Father of Nations” influence continues today. The lessons drawn from Abraham’s life can serve as both an encouragement and a warning for those who want a deeper walk with God. The only drawback to this book is the repetitive use of application in the last chapter, which made the volume longer than necessary. However, Abraham is another solid contribution from Charles Swindoll.

I was given a free copy by the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

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Air Force Band Flash Mob Playing Christmas Music

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Who’s Mike Riley? Great Man, Great Coach, Great Hire! By Randy York

Two years ago, when Wisconsin Director of Athletics Barry Alvarez was in search of a new Badger head football coach, the former Nebraska All-Big Eight Conference linebacker had Mike Riley on his short list. “I wanted Mike to talk with me about our job, but he wasn’t interested in leaving Oregon State,” Alvarez told me in a telephone conversation Thursday afternoon. Alvarez didn’t take the rejection personally “because I knew how many great jobs Mike’s turned down in the past,” he said. “Mike is really well thought of in our business. He’s one of the good guys in college athletics. He comes from a great background, has a really good offensive mind, and runs a very good program. I think he’ll be a great fit at Nebraska.”

The quiet, cerebral Riley was a defensive back on three SEC Championship teams and one national championship squad under the legendary Paul “Bear” Bryant at Alabama from 1971 to 1974. Riley’s dad was an assistant coach at Oregon State when Mike was leading his high school football team to back-to-back state championships in Corvallis, Ore. He’s a champion of walk-ons and in a motivational video describes two of “the greatest walk-on stories you’ve ever heard.” You can feel Riley’s passion when he talks about two Beaver walk-ons who once received college football’s highest national awards for receivers (Mike Hass won the Fred Belitnikoff Award) and kickers (Alexis Serna won the Lou Groza Award) on the same December 2005 ESPN night in Orlando. This 3-minute video captures the essence of Riley’s basic beliefs about motivating, teaching and coaching. He believes it’s important for the 99th man on a 105-player roster to know that “it’s going to be fair and he’s going to have a chance and a real opportunity to play.” It’s woven into the very fabric of Riley, who has coached the Beavers for 14 seasons (1997-98 and 2003-2014) with a three-year stint as the San Diego Chargers’ head coach (1999-2001) and a one-year stop as the New Orleans Saints’ assistant head coach sandwiched in between.

USA Today Columnist: Huskers Will Love Riley

“Mike Riley is the most optimistic, pleasant, gracious, accommodating head coach in college football. They’ll absolutely love him in Nebraska,” tweeted former New York Times writer Paul Myerberg, now the lead college football columnist for USA Today. To give an impression of Riley’s perception among peers, Myerberg tweeted that an FBS head coach sent him this text: “I just became a Nebraska fan today.” Myerberg tweeted six concise messages about Riley on Thursday, including one that envisions him “taking all of his many positives and multiplying them because of the assets now at his disposal.”

ESPN.com columnist Travis Haney tweeted: “Big winners this week: Nebraska media.” Like everyone else, including Alvarez, Big Ten Network columnist Tom Dienhart didn’t see the Riley announcement coming or its quickness. “Nebraska is the early leader for ‘kill my coffee on the keyboard’ hire. This will be hard to top, America,” Dienhhart tweeted.

Aaron Taylor Gut Feeling: “Football’s Tim Miles”

Aaron Taylor, Nebraska’s Outland Trophy winner on Tom Osborne’s 1997 national championship team, had good vibes. “Gut feeling that Mike Riley will be the Tim Miles for our football program,” said Taylor, who’s not the only one who feels that way. CBS basketball analyst Doug Gottlieb congratulated Nebraska on Riley’s hiring with this positive point to reinforce what Taylor believes, describing Riley and Miles as “two of the most liked/respected coaches in their sports.”

Another warm welcome for Riley comes from former Husker All-America and NFL defensive back Ralph D. Brown, now a college football analyst for Fox Sports West and TWC SportsNet. “I like the hire,” Brown said. “Mike Riley is a tremendous coach and I believe he will take the Nebraska program where it needs to be.” New York Giant cornerback Prince Amukamara may be sidelined for the season after tearing a biceps muscle last month, but the popular Husker All-American welcomed Riley to the Husker family with a “Go Big Red!”

Joe Schad, ESPN’s national college football reporter who frequently appears on the network’s College Football Live show, was equally enthusiastic. “Nebraska has hired not only an excellent coach in Mike Riley, but one of the most approachable, level-headed, likeable coaches on the planet,” said Schad, who added: “People who know Mike Riley talk about the chance for a ‘fresh start’ and Nebraska is a place where you can win a championship.” ESPN broadcaster Sam Ponder has nearly a quarter-million followers on Twitter, and she was equally effusive in her praise. “LOVE that hire for Nebraska,” she tweeted. “Handful of coaches I’d want my kids to play for/learn from…Mike Riley’s top 5 for sure.”

CBS Columnist: Media Will Love Mike Riley

Dennis Dodd, senior columnist for CBSSports.com, said: “Props to Shawn Eichorst for going strong and swift after Mike Riley. The media will love him…Mike Riley was always squeezing blood out of a tomato in Corvallis. More infrastructure at Nebraska. Love the hire.”

ESPN announcer Sean McDonough describes Riley as an excellent coach. “He’s the nicest guy in coaching,” McDonough said. “He did an amazing job at Oregon State, where he built one of college football’s worst programs into a winner. I’m excited to see what he can do at Nebraska with its resources and tradition. I am certain the great Nebraska fans will embrace this man of enormous character and integrity. This is a great hire!!”

Huskers in NFL Polk, Parrella Respect Riley

Two former Husker players – Carlos Polk and John Parrella – have a unique inside view of Riley because they played for him with the San Diego Chargers. Polk, a first-team All-America middle linebacker from Rockford, Ill., played eight years in the NFL, including his first seven as a Charger. His first year in the NFL was Riley’s last year at San Diego. Polk, now an assistant special teams coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, calls Riley an “excellent hire” because “he’s a man of great integrity. I think he’ll be a great fit at Nebraska. He’s a man who really respects tradition and a coach who knows how to get the most out of his players. He’s also a great recruiter. I’m truly excited to see what he does with my alma mater.”

A 2001 inductee into the Nebraska Football Hall of Fame, Parrella spent 13 years in the NFL as a defensive tackle. The Grand Island (Neb.) Central Catholic graduate played eight years with the Chargers, including three under Riley. A former Super Bowl starter with the Raiders, Parrella covered the playing field and the welcome mat in eight words when asked to describe Mike Riley. “Great man!” he said. “Great coach! Great hire for Nebraska!”

Send a comment to ryork@huskers.com (Include city, state)

Follow Randy on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/RandyYorkNsider

Voices from Across the Nation

Thank you for the great read on Mike Riley, a wonderful man. I am a 79-year-old lady back here in Eugene of all places. My husband, Wink, is a Beaver. We both couldn’t be happier for Coach Riley and all the joy that he will experience at Nebraska because of the resources he will now have. You have captured the Mike Riley that most of us know in your article. He IS one of the “nice guys” in football and in life, actually. It seems at times in athletics it’s all about winning, money, and a dog-eat-dog attitude. How sad! My husband feels privileged to have known Mike. Please pass on to him our best!!! Wink and Rita Guthrie, Eugene, Oregon

http://www.huskers.com/ViewArticle.dbml?DB_LANG=C&DB_OEM_ID=100&ATCLID=209795414

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Review of Killing Patton

Killing Patton

In their book, Killing Patton: The Strange Death of World War Two’s Most Audacious General, Authors Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard write a riveting account of the waning days of the Second World War and the last months of the life of one of the greatest Generals in U.S. History. The book begins with the history of the major German offensive in Hitler’s quest to dominate Europe, a quest that no one thinks is possible in the brutal winter of 1944 except for one man—General George S. Patton Jr. The battle action and colorful personality of every major player in the conflict comes alive in page-turning fashion. They show the classic struggle between good and evil as well as the complicated relationships between unlikely allies and murderous villains. Killing Patton is a well-written and well-researched description of a larger-than-life figure who was much more than a military genius. Patton understood the cost and the consequences of war better than any man of his time which posed a threat to people in high places. O’Reilly and Dugard give Patton’s life and death a fair and necessary treatment which rightly shows this American hero in his context.

Killing Patton appears to be a reliable narrative and is a must-read for anyone interested in understanding World War II and its ramifications for a post-war world. O’Reilly uses first-hand accounts, including Patton’s own diary and raises valid questions about the curious circumstances around the General’s death which can not be dismissed. Readers should be cautioned that there is strong language and graphic violence, butis a necessary read and well worth the time.

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Review of The Brickmaker’s Bride

The Brickmaker's Bride

In Judith Miller’s The Brickmaker’s Bride, Laura Woodfield and her mother must sell the foundry that her father worked so hard to build before he perished in the Civil War. Ewan, Scotch-Irish immigrant, must work in the brickyard to pay off debts to his uncle in hopes of purchasing passage for his three sisters to the States. But when Ewan’s uncle signs a questionable agreement with the bank and can’t keep away from the gaming tables, he puts everyone’s future in jeopardy. Will Ewan be able to keep the brickyard afloat? Or will his uncle’s manipulative ways undermine his efforts? And will Laura find true love in spite of the devastating secret she holds?

Having read a story that Judith Miller coauthored in the past, I had high hopes for The Brickmaker’s Bride. The story had potential. Most of the characters are appealing; the technical information about the brick-making process is enlightening, and the dialogue is authentic. However, the book seems long. The plot is uninteresting with few surprises, and it is rushed at the end. Laura lacks depth, and some of the characters are annoying. As a result, The Brickmaker’s Bride isn’t as good as it could have been. I give it two out of five stars.

I was given a free copy from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

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Holy Is Thy Name By Legacy Five

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