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Smashwords book reviews by Michael

  • Children of Na on June 07, 2014

    Stunning Effort! Unputdownable! “Children of Na” by A.L.Burgess is a bookworm's delight. I was just fascinated by this book as it combines so many of my favorite genres – science fiction, history, adventure, war thriller – and does so, so seamlessly. More than anything, it's a story of human spirit, and it's a story of freedom, the human quest for freedom and about the great lengths men can go to in their fight for freedom, even against impossible odds. And that is what our two heroes face in this book. Impossible odds. Yakob, a very young, brave, noble and incredibly smart Colonel in the Soviet Army is sought to be punished by his superiors for insubordination. He escapes certain execution, only to be captured by the Nazis. His is a battle to survive on a day-to-day basis, and to do so, he uses every wit at his disposal, and doesn't lose hope even once. Our second hero is Silas, a black slave born in 1831, in pre-Civil War American South. He is much more than he appears, and has unworldly intelligence. But he is still just a slave, and through his story we learn about the sheer brutality and cruelty of slavery, with the writer holding nothing back. What holds these multiple plots together is the science fiction about the far away Civilization of Na, one with infinite intelligence, which ultimately leads to its downfall. It's been a long time since I've been so completely satisfied by a novel, and I can't recommend it highly enough. Kudos to the highly talented writer of this book, A.L.Burgess, for doing just a great job with it.
  • No Solid Ground: Renewable Contentment and Sustainable Happiness in an Age of Uncertainty on June 08, 2015

    For long, I have been grappling with a sense of uncertainty over my future and futility of the things I do. I read many books, hoping to find some advice or some answer to my general unhappiness. Did reading professional psychologist and author Jeffrey Joe Miller's “No Solid Ground: Renewable Contentment and Sustainable Happiness in the State of Uncertainty” bring me the happiness I was looking for? No. But it did something more important. It filled me with a sense of understanding of who I am, about what I do, my life, the world I live in and what should be really expected out of it. I was amazed as I read the book that it's not just my life that is uncertain or unstable – the universe, the earth, nations, human life itself – everything around me deals with uncertainty. Earthquakes happen regularly, comets can strike any time, calamities occur all through the year, the climate is changing dangerously – so if you're one of those people who feels that it's just about you, it's time to wake up – we live in a highly uncertain world and things may actually get a lot worse in the future than better, because nature has a way of correcting itself. There is No Solid Ground, everything is in a state of flux – that is the central thesis of Mr. Miller's brilliant book. So what's the solution? Mr. Miller offers 5 steps that are an essential condition for organic contentment and happiness – Reflect, Release, Realize, Refine and Revolve. I will go through each of them briefly. Reflect – Reflect on the universe, earth, human life. Identify the problems that plague the modern society and the madness of denying the reality of the earth and life itself. Release – Once you understand the problem and its causes, it is time to Let Go. Realize – Find an antidote to the everyday madness, realize that we can be kind and caring to others, not disconnected and alienated. Refine – Turning from a state of emergency into a state of confidence and effective emergence. Refine is essentially about liberation, understanding who we really are. Revolve - We realize how we are not isolated, but in a constant relationship with time and universal energy. Mr. Miller has detailed descriptions of several exercises as well, that help you contemplate, make sense of the world and find peace within yourself, amid all the uncertainly around you. This was a deeply satisfying, intelligently written book, and made me think, contemplate, and hopefully, change. Very impressive.