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Books with a Beu

Jamie Beu, owner and co-author (with his wife) of CatholicFamily.info, is a "cradle Catholic", devoted husband, and father of two girls. He is a regular contributor to his parish newsletter, as well as an impassioned defender of the faith who is able to both support and challenge others as necessary -- all in an effort to build-up Christ's Kingdom on Earth. To this end, he does a lot of reading - not just of religious books (for education and research), but also of secular books, both to decompress as well as to keep a finger on the pulse of pop culture (the better to relate to others, as well as to help restore the culture).

Currently reading

Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters: 10 Secrets Every Father Should Know
Meg Meeker, Meg Meeker
Dan Simmons
Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life
'John Townsend', 'Henry Cloud'
Boundaries Face to Face: How to Have That Difficult Conversation You've Been Avoiding
Henry Cloud
Jesus of Nazareth
Pope Benedict XVI, Adrian J. Walker
Permutation City
Greg Egan
Truth and Tolerance: Christian Belief and World Religions
Pope Benedict XVI
Is Jesus Coming Soon?: A Catholic Perspective on the Second Coming
Ralph Martin
Prelude to Foundation (Foundation: Prequel, #1)
Isaac Asimov
Autobiography of a Saint: Therese of Lisieux
Thérèse de Lisieux, Ronald A. Knox, Vernon Johnson

Without Warning

Without Warning - John   Birmingham Not your ordinary "apocalyptic" book.

Most "end of the world" or "return to the dark ages" books involve some sort of disease (The Stand) or nuclear war or financial collapse. This one is unexplained (yet - there will be sequels), yet elegantly simple. The "what if" in this case is: what if (by an as-yet-unknown method) the bulk of the United States of America went away? What happens to the world order without Team America: World Police (explicit lyrics warning)?

Very much in the style of a Tom Clancy book, this story shifts all over the world: from France to Gitmo; from Hawaii to Kuwait; even the middle of the Pacific. The difficulty with reading such globetrotting books is that there is a lot going on in a short span of time. Therefore, it can be easy to lose the sense of how concurrent some events are and how much time went by between events. The way this long book handles that problem? Omnia libra est divisa in partes tres: the first section is the first 24 hours after "the event"; the second part is one week after; and the last third is one month after.

One of the most glaring drawbacks of this book is that once you're between the halfway point and two-thirds through, you begin to realize there is no way all these plot lines are going to be neatly tied up. In fact, it becomes quite obvious that you're reading the first book of a new trilogy (unless the author decides he's going to throw a huge twist and resolve it all in the most depressing way possible!).

The only other criticism is that you know certain characters will end up in certain positions or coming together in some way - there is a little suspense regarding the process by which this will happen, but not enough to really surprise you.

That said, there are some fun surprises along the way (who dies, who was involved in other things unbeknownst to the main characters), as well as some interesting "cameos".

All in all, it's best to know going in that you are reading the 1st of 3 books, and not a standalone book. Still, this was an interesting read, especially for Ameriphiles.

A better book I'd recommend along the lines of "rebuilding America from the remains": Executive Orders by Tom Clancy.