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Humble Orthodoxy: Holding the Truth High Without Putting People Down
Humble Orthodoxy: Holding the Truth High Without Putting People Down
by Joshua Harris
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $9.99
73 used & new from $0.48

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful for Such a Small Book, May 17, 2013
Humble Orthodoxy, by Joshua Harris, is a concise booklet. It has only four chapters, spanning just 60 pages*. However, with those 60 pages, Harris writes about a message absolutely relevant to Christians today, and that's one concerning love.

Humble Orthodoxy is a follow-up book to Harris' Dug Down Deep (reviewed here). It's practical and to the point. In Chapter One, "Your Attitude Matters," Harris lays the groundwork for why this book is important. Too often, Christians are either too humble or too orthodox, and each camp is plagued with problems. Harris writes,

"Christians need to have a strong commitment to sound doctrine. We need to be courageous in our stand for biblical truth. But we also need to be gracious in our words and interaction with other people." (p. 3,4)

Harris takes no credit for the term humble orthodoxy, but his teaching on the topic is nevertheless powerful. It's refreshing that's he's candid, for he, too, has much room for improvement.

This book packs a punch. My copy is filled with underlines and stars. The message is humbling (intentional pun!) and challenging. Harris makes his point, and at least to me, it's one that I am trying hard to infiltrate in my life. Pride is insidious. It's toxic. It's detrimental to the gospel and it's keeping millions of people in sin. I don't want my life ruled by pride or by my own personal truths/agendas, and Joshua Harris' Humble Orthodoxy is an excellent resource to help combat that.

I highly recommend Harris' little book, Humble Orthodoxy. It offers a message that each and every Christian needs to hear. A message on humility is not a fun message, nor is one on orthodoxy, but they are messages that are still important. I pray that God works in my heart to make it more aligned with His truth. I want to have genuine love and compassion for each person I encounter in my life. I want to also hold fast to the Truth that God has revealed.

* There's an additional study guide section in the back.

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FTC Thingy: This book was delivered on the wings of a three-winged Pegasus, festooned with spring rolls and lucky Vegas dice. It also was delivered free of charge in exchange for my honest (to goodness) review. I was not obligated to review this book positively, nor was I obligated to feed the Pegasus my last Oreo cookie, either, though I did manage to do both.


Dinosaur Train Little Golden Book Favorites (Dinosaur Train)
Dinosaur Train Little Golden Book Favorites (Dinosaur Train)
by Andrea Posner-Sanchez
Edition: Hardcover
27 used & new from $0.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For Fans of the Show, May 15, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This is a cute little book that my daughter enjoys reading. She's a big fan of the PBS show. This is an omnibus edition, where all three little golden books are combined into one. The artwork is sharp and the stories are familiar. Highly recommend to parents who have kids that love the Dinosaur Train.


The Radical Question and A Radical Idea
The Radical Question and A Radical Idea
by David Platt
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $9.99
59 used & new from $0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Great Introduction to Platt's Works, January 22, 2013
This review is long overdue. I received David Platt's The Radical Question and A Radical Idea back in November, right in the midst of my selling my house and various other things. As such, the book disappeared from my mind. Really a shame when you consider the importance of this little work.

Platt is best known for his challenging book Radical, a book which I've perused but never fully read. The book is essentially a message to each and every person that calls themselves a Christian. The message is simple to hear, but incredibly difficult to follow. The message?

Well that's what The Radical Question* addresses. How much is Jesus really worth? Is he worth everything? The Bible makes that a mandate, quite clearly, and Platt expounds on this for the 21st century Christian. There are practical examples established, though following those examples takes true commitment.

If you've never read any of Platt's works (or listened to the man preach) then you're missing out. His heart is in his message, and the gospel of Jesus is nothing to shy away from. The Radical Question and A Radical Idea is a great introduction to David Platt's writing, but only should be read for the uninitiated into his catalog. For those familiar you won't find anything new here. A quick little book definitely worth the message.

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*Note: The Radical Question is essentially the first chapter of Radical with some modifications, making it a succinct little message book that's the perfect size for a gift (especially graduates).


KHOMO ® DUAL Black Case Polyurethane Cover FRONT + Hard Rubberized Poly-carbonate BACK Protector for Apple iPad 2 , iPad 3 & iPad 4
KHOMO ® DUAL Black Case Polyurethane Cover FRONT + Hard Rubberized Poly-carbonate BACK Protector for Apple iPad 2 , iPad 3 & iPad 4
Offered by Onix Venture Group - Case Cover & Accessories
Price: $16.95
2 used & new from $16.95

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Okay for the Price, October 9, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
My main reason for purchasing this case was cost savings. I had no desire to spend a lot of money on an Apple case/cover when I could get something else that would do "nearly" as good. The magnetic front works smoothly for me, always turning on and off the ipad whenever I open/shut the cover. The back is solid and smooth and I think will offer protection if I ever drop the thing. The cover is pretty weak when it comes to using it as a prop to hold the ipad up at an incline, and I usually just wind up propping it up with something else instead of messing with the loose folds. Lastly, the cover does not close completely flushed against the front of the ipad, meaning that there is a slight gap between the cover and the screen near the bottom. To remedy I just lay the thing on its face whenever I'm done. All said, this case could benefit from a little more love put into it, but it meets its primary purpose for me, so I'm not complaining.


From the Library of C. S. Lewis: Selections from Writers Who Influenced His Spiritual Journey
From the Library of C. S. Lewis: Selections from Writers Who Influenced His Spiritual Journey
by James S. Bell
Edition: Paperback
Price: $15.58
44 used & new from $0.64

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Some Good Stuff, Some Boring Stuff, and Very Little Lewis Insight, August 27, 2012
From the Library of C.S. Lewis is a reference book filled with selections from C.S. Lewis' personal library. This book, compiled by James Stuart Bell and Anthony Dawson, is broken into eighteen sections. The primary focus of the book is to highlight works (and writers) who influenced Lewis' spiritual journey, as Lewis is regarded as one of the finest Christian thinkers of the 20th Century. There are a few other sections that are not dedicated to religion (such as a section on fantasy & imagination), but these are definitely the minority of page takers.

I found the concept interesting and so I requested a review copy from the publisher. I like Lewis (especially Mere Christianity), but I'm not fanatic about him by no means. I'm also finding myself getting a bit more interested in biographical works as I'm getting older, and I'm a believer that you can tell a lot about a person by the types of things they read.

Unfortunately, my initial excitement quickly faded. Page after page I read through archaic texts and dated sermon notes. The material was interesting, but my daily dose of deep theology and introspective meditation could not handle deluge. As such, I took to skimming things, and that's not what I wanted to do. So then I decided to read devotionally, just picking a page a day or something and seeing what was said. I noticed a lot of repeated writers and works, and I suppose these were more influential on Lewis than others, but that's pure speculation on my part.

Each selection is presented with a title, its source, the text, and then a mini author biography (Twitter-esque). This format is perfect, and each selection spans at most three pages. Much of the text is heavy and deep, as I've said, and I recommend it in small chunks to avoid duress. This format inevitably leads to bias, as quoting out of context is wont, but I believe the intent of Bell & Dawson is to tease the Reader to dig deeper into the cited works.

From the Library of C.S. Lewis is an interesting little reference book. It is dry and sometimes complicated, but that will fluctuate based on the Reader and the day. There are many pearls of wisdom in this book, and it was a pleasure to think about how they affected Lewis' works (and life). I would have liked more descriptive correlations between works and Lewis' life, but that was outside the scope of the book. To a casual Lewis fan this may not be the book for you, but if you would like to find out what kind of things C.S. Lewis liked to read, then by all means check out From the Library of C.S. Lewis.

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FTC Thingy: I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. Nothing more was required. I was not coerced or bribed to review positively or negatively, nor was I offered any extra incentives for a positive review (i.e., baked goods, especially cookies). As such, this review is reflective of my inner self's inner self.


Hustletown
Hustletown
Price: $0.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A Tragic Punch to the Gut, July 27, 2012
This review is from: Hustletown (Kindle Edition)
Hustletown is a short story that transports the Reader into the haunted mind of a man trapped in a life of lies. While the story only takes a few clicks on the Kindle to read, those few pages are filled with excellent prose striking imagery. I've read this story a few times and I'm continually impressed with its simplicity and depth. If you're looking for a short read that'll get your mind to thinking, check out Hustletown. Easily recommended.


Go and Do: Daring to Change the World One Story at a Time
Go and Do: Daring to Change the World One Story at a Time
by Jay Milbrandt
Edition: Paperback
Price: $10.96
43 used & new from $0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating and Inspiring, June 27, 2012
Go and Do, written by attorney and director of the Global Justice Program Jay Milbrandt, is an ambitious book with a simple goal in mind, to get the Reader to get up, go out, and actually do something to change the world. (Ambitious, see?) Through real life stories Milbrandt himself experienced, written with passion and potency, Go and Do is a challenging and thought-provoking book.

Go and Do is part memoir and part rally call. Milbrandt's sincerity shines on every page, and it's easy to see that his heart lies in helping others. He's very candid about his life and his plans, opening the book with a story from his college years. He reveals how his goals were to basically graduate and get into a high-profile law firm and make the big bucks. Instead, after he found himself overseas and looking into the faces of children of the red light district in a Thai city, his plans took a sudden and unexpected shift.

Jay Milbrandt, to use one of his terms, "came alive." He found that actively participating in helping out those in need was something that he enjoyed. Doing it actually made him feel alive, and he realized that this was what he wanted to be doing with his life. Yes he had a law degree, and that could be used for justice and aid, but what he found even more useful was simply being present. Time and time again he saw that his presence, just playing with kids or listening to their stories, made more of an impact than any gifts.

Soon Jay founded the Global Justice Program at Pepperdine University and set out to get students into a "go and do" lifestyle. This book is largely a collection of how going and doing affect people, both the ones going and the ones being visited. The stories are fascinating and inspiring, but the depravity of the world is also terribly eye opening. It's wonderful to know that there are people--many, many people--that are willing to go and do and help out, whether it's traveling to a faraway land or going to a homeless shelter just down the street.

Milbrandt has a true passion for helping others, and his book instills that mindset in the reader. His heart lies overseas, but he respects that other's may be in their own towns and communities. His main argument is to find whatever makes you come alive, whatever you're passionate about, and get involved. Does human trafficking stir something deep in your soul? Is water quality an issue you're interested in? Do the hungry of Uganda twist your gut a different kind of way? Whatever it is, just get involved in it and live life with a purpose of helping out people. No one is more special than anyone else and everyone is able to help.

Go and Do is an interesting book that I very much enjoyed. It's further solidifying the feeling in my soul to get more active in helping out others. I'm not entirely sure yet where my heart lies, but I do know that I need to be doing so much more. I am incredibly fortunate and blessed beyond my wildest imaginings. I help where and when I can, but I squander a lot, too. Books like Milbrandt's Go and Do and Stearns' Hole in Our Gospel stir my heart and make me want to be a better person. More than that, they make me realize that it's really quite simple to do, to change the world. And what loftier goals can a person have?

--""Go and do" is not a zero-sum game. We don't have to hang our lives on one anchor in order to go and do. We certainly need individuals who are willing to make huge sacrifices to serve. I, however, don't find it realistic for the majority of us. It's more realistic to envision a properly tensioned life system." - Pg. 111

--"A lifestyle is not a series of random acts, but a strategic, long-term relationship with kindness. It's intentional." - Pg. 50

--"...you are meant to change the world by changing yourselves." - Pg. 203

FTC Thingy: I received this book free of cost from Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for an honest and open review. I was not required to write a positive review. Also, no cookies were exchanged, if you're wondering.


Farm Fresh Southern Cooking: Straight from the Garden to Your Dinner Table
Farm Fresh Southern Cooking: Straight from the Garden to Your Dinner Table
by Tammy Algood
Edition: Paperback
73 used & new from $0.01

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Rather Tasty and Easy to Follow Recipes, June 26, 2012
This could be the first time I've ever reviewed a cookbook. I'm not really even sure how to review a cookbook. Obviously the recipes are important, but what else? And aren't recipes prone to human error and experimentation?

I was intrigued by the premise of Farm Fresh Southern Cooking, as its subtitle promises recipes "straight from the garden to your dinner table." I'm a bit of a gardener myself, and so I was intrigued. Then, after reading the book description, which spoke of farmer's markets and the joys found there, I was double-plus hooked. I requested the book from Thomas Nelson publishers, and soon it was at my home. I've decided to review this book as two separate sections, one on the book itself, the other on a selected recipe.

The First Part: The Book
Farm Fresh Southern Cooking is printed on nice paper with gorgeous colors that really accentuate an organic and healthy lifestyle. I'm not certain, but I believe the front and back covers are made from recycled paper, bound surprisingly strong for a paperback cookbook. A criterion for cookbooks is that they must have pictures of the food that I will be preparing. Thankfully, Algood has several of her recipes photographed, but there are still plenty that are not. Another interesting bit for this cookbook is the interjected features about the different things found at farmer's markets and the farmers who brought them there. Algood has several of these one-page essays about all types of products (hams, tomatoes, honey, etc.) and their providers, and she includes contact info. for some of her favorite providers.

The meat and potatoes (I love puns!) of a cookbook is the recipes. True to her word, the recipes all focus on home grown garden vegetables and farmer's market crops. Additionally, Algood seems to have included uncommon vegetables in many of her recipes, things that plenty of farmers grow but not too many people seem to eat. The recipes are all relatively simple and seem to be presented plainly, and from the two that I tried I had no issues.*

The Second Part: A recipe review of "Skillet Chicken Thighs"
Whenever Keisha and I cook chicken we almost always buy and prepare boneless-skinless breasts. The cost savings of legs/thighs/wings just isn't enough to lessen the things we like about breasts. That said, when I read through the recipe for this meal, I thought the ingredient combination sounded delicious, and we pretty much had everything available but the chicken.

I picked up some thighs and prepared the meal, making a few substitutions for things that I didn't have. (Note: Apple cider vinegar is not a good substitution for red wine. Now I know.)

---(recipe appears on Page 174)**
3Tbs. Olive oil, divided
6 large chicken thighs
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
3/4 lb. button or cremini mushrooms
3 c. grape tomatoes
1/2 cup dry red wine
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary
1/4 c. chopped fresh basil

1. Wash chicken thighs. Sprinkle with salt & pepper and add to preheated hot skillet.
2. Meanwhile, if you don't know the fancy mushrooms, just chop up any available.
3. Saute chicken 5 minutes on each side with warmed olive oil.
4. Transfer chicken to large bowl once finished.
5. Chop up fresh rosemary and basil and garlic and other things.
6. Add mushrooms to skillet. Saute until wilted. Add to removed chicken. Add the remaining oil to skillet, as well as tomatoes, wine, garlic, and rosemary. Cover and reduce heat to medium. Cook 5 minutes.
7. Crush half of the tomatoes with a potato masher. Return chicken and mushrooms to skillet. Reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer uncovered for 20 minutes.
8. Place chicken on platter. Stir basil into sauce. Adjust the seasoning if necessary and spoon over chicken.

The meal actually turned out pretty tasty even with my substitutions. I do think had I used red wine instead of the vinegar the meal would have been even better, but even so, it was still succulent and different. The thighs were very juicy and tender, though I had to cook mine slightly longer than the recipe called for.

I also did not have any fresh basil, as my plant was in its infancy at the time. (Now its a behemoth, like all the rest of the herbs in the garden.) Even so, the plated presentation is pretty, but would have been better with a touch more green. The colors remind me of something Middle Eastern, especially with the tomatoes on there contrasting.

All in all, Southern Cooking is a fascinating and simple cookbook with quite a few practical recipes. There are several pictures and interesting tidbits to read. If you enjoy farmer's markets and like to cook and try new things, this book is a sure bet.

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*The other recipe I made was "Hot Water Cornbread." Now Keisha (and my mamaw) both make some of the world's finest iron skillet cornbread, so I was hesitant to even try this. Nevertheless, intrigued by the simplicity and the few ingredients I did. The result was okay, and a fan of greasy, fried goods would approve. I personally prefer the fluffier, less deep fried stuff.

**My presentation is obviously much different than the way Algood presents. I take no credit for the recipe.

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FTC Thingy: Ironically, I did not receive cookies or anything like that, but I did receive a cookbook from the publishers, which cost me zero dollars, and a solemn oath that I would review the thing on my blog honestly. I have endeavored to do just that, and my appetite was sated thanks to the cookbook at hand.


The Voice Bible, Hardcover: Step Into the Story of Scripture
The Voice Bible, Hardcover: Step Into the Story of Scripture
by Greg Garrett
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $24.41
85 used & new from $9.64

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Wonderfully Refreshing Way to Read Scripture, May 16, 2012
Last Fall I had the pleasure to review a new translation of the bible known as The Voice. At the time, only the New Testament was available. No longer is that so. Thomas Nelson, a well respected publishing house within the Christian community, now offers a full bible in The Voice translation.

In short, The Voice is a dynamic blend of translation and paraphrase, reading like a cross between The Message and the ESV. The translation team was composed of scholars, musicians, poets, and other artists to accentuate the narrative style found within the bible as opposed to the traditional formal style. The Voice is designed to be read aloud, formatted such that it's like reading a script for a play. It really is amazing how the narrative flows by reading aloud.

Translation is something that I take very seriously, be it for a bible or for a classic Russian Dostoevsky novel. It is a daunting task to translate a work, and nothing will ever fully translate 100% true to the author's original intent. One typically must either rely on word-for-word translations, compromising the tone of the work, or rely on a tonal translation and take some liberties with word choice. Here, Thomas Nelson explains that,

"While care has been taken to accurately translate the individual words from the original texts, careful attention to how the idioms of the original languages are understood in English has also been taken. But it doesn't stop there; The Voice considers the narrative links that help us to understand the drama and passion of story that is present in the original languages. The tone of the writing, the format of the page, and the directness of the dialog allows the tradition of passing down the biblical narrative to come through in The Voice."

As I was already familiar with the New Testament, I chose to read from the Old Testament for this review. I chose Deuteronomy, curious to see how things would be handled. In short, I was blown away. When Jesus was being tempted by the Enemy in the desert, one of His responses to Satan was quoting part of Deuteronomy 8:3, a familiar verse to many. Compare the ESV translation to The Voice below and see what you think.

...man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. (Dt 8:3 ESV)

What makes you truly alive is not the bread you eat but following every word that comes from the mouth of the Eternal One. (Dt 8:3, The Voice)

These essentially say the same thing, yes, but the wording of the second one has much more of an impact to me. Perhaps it's because I'm so familiar with the ESV wording that its meaning has been lost over time, almost becoming cliche if I'm reading casually. However, as The Voice is unlike any other bible I've ever read, this verse really jumped out at me. In fact, the entire book seemed to be full of these little gems. Am I simply reading more critically because this is a new translation? Yes, that's probably somewhat true, but I'm also noticing things that I'd never noticed before, too, picking up on certain phrases and words.

The ESV is still my go to bible, and I suppose it always will be. I love the care that went into that particular translation, and I feel that it is the clearest translation for me to read and study. That said, The Voice is an excellent reference to have and read from simultaneously, and doing this has yielded incredible insight to God's Word. If you're interested in a bible reading experience, look no further than The Voice.

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FTC Thingy: I got this fo' free! Holla. All I had to do was write an honest review, which I did. I did not request any cookies this time around, and I did not receive any cookies this time around, either. Go figure.


Act of God
Act of God
Price: $0.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Light, Fun, and Quick Read, May 7, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Act of God (Kindle Edition)
Paul Byers' Act of God is a collection of seven short stories in the vein of old Rod Sterling Twilight Zone episodes. Most of these tales are sci-fi related, though all are "soft" and easy to read. I was asked to review the book by Mr. Byers himself, and I thought the stories sounded appealing. As I like to do with anthologies, I've reviewed each story below, using the GoodReads Star Rating (not the Amazon Star Rating, which would be slightly higher results than the ones used below) for each piece.

"Shooting Star"
Evan Grant is a astronaut, a devoted husband and father, and he always keeps his promises. The day that he is to make a routine space flight for research Evan finds out that he is going on a different mission. He'll be flying instead a bit farther away, where he'll connect with a floating, broken cargo ship and try and salvage its priceless cargo. Murphy's Law applies to this story and to Evan, and I felt like I had to really suspend my disbelief a fair bit, but this was a great piece to start the collection. 3.5*

"Rescue Mission"
A Commander in charge of a simple rescue mission to a distant planet finds out that the mission is more than "simple." The Commander's second-in-command, Jerrock, constantly threatens to usurp orders, and this mission is no different. This story was very clunky in some parts, and I felt that there was too much telling and not enough showing. However, the tale was short and enjoyable enough, and the ending was certainly a surprise. 3*

"The Journal" was both frustrating and fun. The dialogue seemed very clunky between the three friends, and I felt that the plot pushed ahead too quickly for the full impact to sink in. I was left with many questions, one primary one reducing my overall enjoyment of this story. Probably my least favorite of the lot. 2*

"All that Glitters" was somewhat reminiscent of "Rescue Mission," as there is some hefty tension between a ship's captain and his chief sub-officer. However, where "Rescue Mission" was focused on a rescue attempt, "All that Glitters" had a crew of astronauts who were in the mining business. The captain orders a stop to scout out an uncharted world hoping to find enough minerals and gems to make him a rich man. What he finds is something else entirely. 2.5*

"Annihilation"
This was a familiar and predictable fun story, with a twist that I saw coming a mile and a half away. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the way it was written and felt that the mood it exudes was fitting and exciting. 3*

"Act of God"
This is definitely my favorite short in the collection. The tale is a familiar one: a disaster wipes out a food supply for a group of people, and in order to survive they begin a lottery system among the population. Those selected will, uhm, presumably become ground, uhm, foodstuff. That's not explicitly said or described, but certainly inferred. Anyway, this story was compelling, fast-paced, and ended on an excellent note that left me pondering my choices. I also felt that it was the best written piece of the lot. 4.5*

"Eye of the Beholder"
There was a lot of build up for this story. The author was being intentionally vague and withholding, constantly referring to things familiar but unsaid. The love story angle between the characters was also clunky and bland. That said, the piece moved along at an adequate pace that led a conclusion/climax so bizarre, so unexpected that I can't help but recommend this story. If only for the oddity of the outcome. It's guaranteed to make you scratch your head, roll your eyes, and laugh. 4*

Ultimately, an arithmetic mean of the GR-Stars gives a rating of 3.2, putting it solidly in the "Liked" category. The formatting for the Kindle left a lot to be desired, especially for paragraph breaks and dialogue splitting. The prose also was also all over the place, from confusing to clear and well worded. Nevertheless, the stories were all enjoyable to varying degree, and I'm glad to have had the opportunity to read them. If you're looking for a relatively light sci-fi short story collection, consider Paul Byers' Act of God.

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FTC Thingy: No one ever sends me cookies. I don't know why that is. I'm not bitter or anything. I received this book for free from Mr. Paul Byers in exchange for a review. I was not obligated to laud praises on the book, nor was I under an oath to heap coals. My review policy has always been to review honestly and express how I feel while remaining respectful and fair. I am a man of integrity, though I'm not a fool. If I were offered fresh cookies and a book, I might be willing to compromise my ethics. As such, no cookies were exchanged, and so I gave only an honest book review. Such is life.


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