Josh's Blog

Category Archive : Book Reviews

A Higher Call by Adam Makos

I finished this book over the weekend and I must say I am sad that it ended. A nonfiction recount of two airmen flying warbirds for opposing countries in WW2, who met over the skies of Germany on December 20th, 1943. One pilot, Franz Stigler, a Luftwaffe Ace with the call of family-torn vengeance under his wings, decided at the last minute to turn his fully-armed BF-109 into a protective escort for a badly crippled American B17, flying it safely beyond the German iron curtain and out to sea, thereby saving the lives of its pilot and remaining crew. The book also provides an fascinating glimpse into what it was like to be an aviator from both sides of the war. Look for a in-depth review of this very much recommended novel by Adam Makos shortly.

Eight Bells and Top Masts

Finished a great book today, Eight Bells and Top Masts by Christopher Lee. It is the book of a young seaman, still in his teens, taking to the water as a crew member aboard the Tramp, an old steam driven freight ship with routes spanning around the globe, top and bottom. On the way we get an idea of what life is like out there, especially when you’re a rookie amongst a seasoned crew. We also get a glimpse of the world as it were during the time period our sailor is in, the early 1950s.

The best way I can describe this book is, if you’ve ever opened up an old National Geographic magazine – like from the 1970’s and back – and got lost in its sepia-toned pages of new worlds abroad, old (but then, new) car brochures and the occasional cigarette advertisement, then this book is for you. The historical events that take place come alive and pull you in, all from the eyes of this real-life young lad, who is now an old man.

Most importantly, this book contains an underlying wisdom that is chock full of meaningful takeaways, in quotes, perspectives, encounters, and more.

I highly recommend this book.

Quarantine Books Part II

A terrific book that I bought here in London about two years ago. I let my Mother borrow it and she couldn’t put it down. Im happy to say that I couldn’t either. This book is an interesting character study of an eccentric middle aged woman  who must cope with the  struggle of day-to-day life while under the insufferable shadow of a deeply tragic childhood. We see the world through her eyes as she pushes forward, meeting a host of characters along the way, each tied to a crescendo of experiences.  4/5

A tale of a girl who loses everything in England, and must relocate to Africa to live with her grandmother on a wild game reserve, where poachers are a constant threat to the animals. Her new life begins in a big way, as she discovers a knack for the supernatural, and develops a special bond with a mythical-like giraffe. This is a very nice get-away book that is great for older children. 4/5

Quarantine Books

Christopher Hitchens: God is not Great – How Religion Spoils Everything – Religion through the view of one of its greatest contemporary critics, Christopher Hitchens. As an ever developing non-believer myself, I stumbled across Mr. Hitchens through one of his many YouTube debates, where he can be seen systematically dismantling the views of several religious prominents, especially within the three Abrahamic faiths. Rating: 7.5/10 – Thoroughly well written, but at times perhaps a bit self-indulgent at the sake of meaningful objectivity.

Steven Pressfield:  Gates of Fire – a fictional and largely militarist recounting of ancient Spartan civilization up to its famous clash with the Persian Empire in the Battle of Thermopylae. This was recommended to be by my Father after discussing the film, 300. Rating: 8/10 – I thoroughly enjoyed this ride with Xeo, and his journey with the Spartans.

Sam Harris: Lying – a psychologist view on lying and its profound effects on both the deceiver and the deceived, even in the case of the small white lies we tell our children. It also examines the cathartic benefits of always telling the truth under (almost) any circumstance. I stumbled upon Sam Harris as recommended viewing on YouTube after watching several C. Hitchens interviews and debates. Rating 8/10 – there were several aspects of this essay that I wish were expanded upon, namely, techniques to implement a 100 percent truth principle 100 percent of the time, when we live in a world that operates around a multitude of multifaceted deceptions.

Guitar Head: Guitar Fretboard – Master the Guitar Fretboard in less than 24 hours – Short and sweet guide to memorizing the guitar fretboard through the use of mnemonics and visuals. Rating: NA Although I’ve completed this book, I have not yet given its lessons the required attention.

Gordon R. Dickson: The Dragon & The George – This book was recommended by none other than legendary metal icon Ronnie James Dio (may he rest in peace), in a random interview I saw of him on YouTube. When a science experiment goes wrong, a man and his fiancé are transported into a fairytale world of dragons, knights, and castles. The man, who now actually has taken the over the body of an existing dragon, must rescue his fiancé, who has been captured by an evil knight. Along the way he makes friends, who join him on his journey. Rating: 7.5/10 – an easily accessible and fun escape from the maladies of quarantine. Thank you Ronnie!