Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Book 43 - A Twisted Faith

A Twisted Faith by Gregg Olsen

It’s amazing what some people will do in the name of religion … and this book tells the story of one man, Nick Hacheney, who exploited his position as a spiritual leader at a small church in Washington State to satisfy his own desires of the flesh.

But that’s not what was so incredible about this story. After all, we’ve heard enough scandalous church tales in recent years that we’re pretty much immune to them. What made this true-crime story stand out – for me at least – was how gullible so many young women of his congregation were. Married, single, young or old, they not only believed they were doing “God’s will” by having sex with this man, but several of them actually fell in love with him, including the barely legal daughter of the pastor.

Oh … and they also believed Nick’s story about a mysterious post-Christmas fire that destroyed his home and his beautiful young wife.

I found this book to be quite gripping, and had a hard time putting it down. I kept hoping for someone to come to his or her senses and see Nick Hacheney for the person he was … an overweight, oversexed sociopath. It was an agonizing wait. In the end, good triumphed over evil, but not before taking a lot of people down first.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Book 42: Middle Age: A Romance

Book 42: Middle Age – A Romance by Joyce Carol Oates

I have always enjoyed Joyce Carol Oates’ writing, from the time I first read Garden of Earthly Delights back in high school. Now that I am … um … no longer in high school, the title of this book appealed to me right away.

This was a very enjoyable and thought-provoking novel about the inhabitants of a wealthy suburb of New York. After the accidental and heroic death of one of their favorite gentleman artists, they discover that he was not necessarily who he appeared to be … and neither is anyone else! This is personality study at its finest, with plenty of humor, pathos and wisdom to spare. For anyone facing middle age – or refusing to do so – enjoy the ride that this book takes you on!

Book 41: Dinner with a Perfect Stranger

Book 41 – Dinner with a Perfect Stranger by David Gregory

Occasionally a book comes along that inspires my spirituality and makes me feel that things are right with the universe. This was not that book.

Brief (100 pages) and conversational in tone, the basic story of Dinner with a Perfect Stranger is that a successful but overwhelmed businessman receives an anonymous invitation to meet Jesus Christ at a nearby restaurant. He accepts – just for the hell of it (excuse my choice of words) – and sits down to a most interesting meal with a “perfect stranger.” 

The message is a familiar one – trust in God, all is well, focus on your loved ones and not on money and career. And it should have been a reassuring one, but it contained far too many fundamentalist undertones (us vs. them) for my comfort. So in the end, the best thing I have to say about this book is that it was “blessedly” short.