Midpoint

Midpoint: A Memoir by Patricia Angeles

Book Reviewed by Daniel Ryan Johnson

In Midpoint: A Memoir, author Patricia Angeles reveals many of the important moments in her life that helped shape the person she has become. The stories contained in this memoir help paint the picture of a woman growing up in the modern world. One of the reminders found throughout the book is how small the world has become and that there are more ways in which people are alike than different.  Purchase Here.

Despite growing up in Manila, the majority of the tales from Patricia’s childhood could just as easily have been set somewhere in the United States. The stories contained within Midpoint: A Memoir mostly focus on growing up and finding your place in the world. The author makes it clear that while the book is meant to be an enjoyable read for anyone who picks it up, the audience at the forefront of her mind is her daughters. The stories aim to show that anything is possible while also demonstrating that things are not always easy and that everyone makes mistakes.

The snippets of Patricia’s life vary in tone. However, she carries a level of humor throughout the book. Refreshingly, she does not shy away from admitting to not being perfect, which is not always the case with autobiographies. Rather than ignore her mistakes, she highlights them and takes us through where she went wrong with the invaluable tool of hindsight. Throughout Midpoint: A Memoir, Patricia carries a feeling of good cheer. Whether writing about a funny story from her youth, or a trying time that left her shaken, it is clear that she realizes it all led her to the life she has now, which she wouldn’t trade for anything.

While almost anyone can find relatable material in many stories throughout this memoir, there are still moments when the unique challenges faced by an immigrant and a minority remind us that this small world we live in can be experienced very differently depending on your background. Midpoint: A Memoir is an easy read full of the short stories that make up a life. Patricia Angeles has a thoughtful and elegant way of writing that enables the reader to immerse themselves in her life, one tale at a time.

 

 

Keep Quiet Black Boy

Keep Quiet Black Boy: A Leadership Guide to Mentoring Millennials by Rev. Dr. Jerome Frierson

Book Reviewed by Lily Andrews

Keep quiet, Black Boy” is a nuanced leadership guide to mentoring millennials and a transparent empirical Christian guide whose thought and concept have been drawn from a line of real experience and multifaceted surveys and interviews, which culminate in the author’s passion to break a hideous cycle that has limited many young African American men for decades.  Purchase Here.

Coming from a black community where humiliation, discrimination, oppression, poor economic status, racism, and agony stood paramount, the author carefully carves this book in skill and ardor into an eye opener, whose sole purpose is to enlighten and deliver infinite wisdom and liberating truths to similarly disadvantaged African American young men, who he strongly feels have a greater need for social support than others.

As an experienced preacher, the author bases his research on Christian values and biblical foundation making this a transformative handy guide for the Christian community. The bustling findings derived from well-thought questionnaires and surveys not only draw the reader’s attention to detail but interpretation as well.

Keep Quiet, Black Boy” is a vast read that has employed candid talk and dialogue, a writing style that makes this read natural and original all through. End notes, biblical testimonials, and a vast list of references qualify this book as authentic and also make readers appreciate the deep and exhaustive research undertaken by the author. The author’s objective to have mentorship as the basis for this sumptuous study not only showcases it as an integral tool for transformation, growth, and development but also as a rewarding and fulfilling tool whose benefits are abounding.

Rev. Jerome Frierson intelligently manages to issue an essential clarion call to the church, school, and community leaders to stand up for African American young men, by creating mentorship and awareness sessions in a world that deeply advocates for sponsorship rather than mentorship. His boundless effort to see a generation thriving and flourishing stands appreciated and valued.

Keep Quiet Black Boy: A Leadership Guide to Mentoring Millennials” by Rev. Jerome Frierson is, without doubt, a much-necessary read in modern times and an incentive to adduce further discussion on the subject of a complex subject little voiced.

 

Embracing God in the Right Perspective with the Right Foundation of Faith in Him

Embracing God in the Right Perspective with the Right Foundation of Faith in Him by Chris Tham

Book Reviewed by Lisa Brown-Gilbert

Author Chris Tham guides and inspires, with his work in Embracing God in the Right Perspective with the Right Foundation of Faith in Him. Within the text of this work combining spiritual and intellectual wisdom, spiritual stimulation abounds as he imparts his heartfelt template for study and contemplation which leads to uncovering your true spiritual self-buried within. Purchase Here.

Moreover, he delves into our relationship with God, and his desire for us to be like him in thought and deed in addition to maintaining faith and understanding that we are all children of God, no matter your walk of life, and worthy of an abundant life and afterlife, which culminates into a solid spiritual foundation for surviving life. Additionally, the proceeds from the sale of the book go to charitable organizations which helps to further the nurturing intent towards his fellow men of author Tham’s work.

Immediately engaging, this comprehensive and scholarly tome waxes on transcendent truths, throughout, dutifully demonstrating the expansiveness of God’s love proven through biblical text. Also, within this work, author Tham offers the spiritually inclined a significantly insightful, inclusionary, and lucid approach to the spiritual realm as well as attending to the scriptural mindset.

Altogether, this work is fueled by deep dives into biblical interpretation using a variety of resources, not just the bible, including works like the Quran, wisdom from other well-known figures like Lao Tzu, as well references to other spiritually based works. He also includes juxtaposing, well-known biblical figures and their stories of connection, faith, and wisdom, including Abraham and Isaac, King David and King Solomon, Elijah and Elisha, Moses and Joshua.

Moreover, Chris Tham furthers his studious journey into fomenting a faith-filled relationship with God, with earnest exploration of existential topics delved into from his thoroughly researched perspective. He dives deeply into the heart of each pertinent subject necessary for soul growth and healing.  His work garners the spiritual curiosity, by providing answers to questions and issues necessary for building the foundation for true spiritual growth.  He includes topics such as Who is God? and Who are you? Who is the Devil? Knowledge vs Truth, The Three dimensions of Man, Who are the evil spirits?, Trinity of God and much more.

What truly stands out in this work is the author’s tangibly authentic intention to lead others to their true selves through his thorough exploration of each topic. Albeit while this is a large book filled with many great perspective-altering points, I found Chapter 4; The Three Dimensions of Man to be an outstanding exploration of the aspects of the multifaceted human, viewed as essentially composed of spirit, soul, and flesh. His work within this book emphasizes on the spirit aspect because, with attending to the spirit first brings enlightenment; while on the other hand attending to the flesh first, keeps one mired in struggle and fighting with darkness.

Overall, Embracing God in the Right Perspective with the Right Foundation of Faith in Him by Chris Tham made for a heartfelt read that I enjoyed. And while persistence is required for this read, because this is a large book that is expansive in its scope, it is well worth the effort because this is a spirit-based study guide that allows for the accessing of the deepest of spiritual levels.  In fact, this is somewhat of a survival guide for the spirit affecting the mindset and speaking to the soul.  With each well-written chapter, came a wealth of insight, which is sure to give hope and inspiration to all its readers and I do recommend this work for spiritual readers from all walks of life.

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The Pulse

The Pulse: Book 1 by Owen Garratt

Book Reviewed by Daniel Ryan Johnson

The Pulse is the first novel in an epic post-apocalyptic series chronicling the quest of Jack Broderick. The novel tells the story of a man struggling to get back to his family on the other side of the United States after a solar storm destroys all electronics on earth. Unlike your standard end-of-the-world novel of today, there are no zombies standing in his way. Instead, the only monsters he faces are other survivors of the pulse.  Purchase Here.

 Owen Garratt’s tale of the fall of civilization in the days after a global catastrophe is both shockingly brutal and refreshingly realistic. He is able to convey myriad responses to this tragic event that all ring true. The characters in the novel are down to earth and believable, even with Jack Broderick’s ability to survive bordering on the supernatural. The Pulse feels like a genuine portrayal of a tragic event, with the characters enjoying moments of tranquility and humor that help protect them from being overwhelmed by the grief and horror of their situation.

 Owen Garratt’s writing is stripped down and vivid all at once. When reading, you are fully submersed in the scenario playing out on the pages without being bogged down by too many overly descriptive disruptions to the flow of the story. Jack Broderick’s history of growing up in rural America and later working as a health and safety professional gives him a near encyclopedic knowledge of how to manage in the new world into which he has crash-landed. 

 Jack is easy to like, and you find yourself rooting for him right away. Despite all the potential dangers he encounters on his journey to reach his family, the biggest obstacle he will face on the road may be himself. Jack’s savior complex gets him in trouble before the pulse hits, and continues to put him in harm’s way throughout the novel.

 The Pulse is an action-packed page-turner, with Jack Broderick constantly jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire. Upon completing the novel, you will likely find yourself searching the internet for news of when the next installment of the series will be available so you can continue the journey across a burning America with this broken man who can’t help trying to fix everyone else.

 Click Here to View the trailer for The Pulse

 

 

Dark Dweller

Dark Dweller by Garith Worthington

Book reviewed by Lilly Andrews

“The future belongs to those who learn more skills and combine them in creative ways.”― Robert Greene.

So it is with “Dweller”, written by Gareth Worthington, a multi-award storyteller. Here, a helium mining mission to Jupiter by a team of explorers and scientists from the Earth is on course. Helium is the second most abundant element in the universe but it’s interestingly so scarce on the Earth. The team understands that acquiring it means getting rich as proved by the many scientists who have become billionaires after such operations.  Purchase Here.

Unlike what they expected, Jupiter’s orbital path seems altered and an escape pod revolving towards their vessel seems to not only jeopardize the mission but their lives seem threatened. The team suddenly stands mesmerized at the site of a young girl trapped in the pod. Her strange demeanor and fearful words are both scary. Who is she? A plan decades in the making is almost being ruined. Is she in danger or is she a danger to the mission?

A new assignment to pick a research scientist in Europa, one of Jupiter’s moons is about to derail their dream further. They are literally balancing on a knife’s edge. Aggravating challenges like gravitational shift, rapid temperature change, extreme nausea, radiation, and unimaginable cold atmospheres tear the team apart. It is now the survival of the fittest.

This ode boasts strong lucid language and solid action that will make you clench your fists and heave your chest in anticipation and thrill. Further, the oeuvre is peppered with an intense emotional atmosphere as exhibited in the outspoken and radical nature of the characters. Like a medieval troubadour, the sceneries careen through an array of emotions that are by turns poignant and vibrant. This leaves readers searching and hoping that the next chapter will introduce a ray of light to the already intense narrative.

This is a solid visceral read for everyone with an interest in knuckle-hard science fiction from one of the literary giants of our time. It is irrefutably several notches above what you usually get in any fiction work.

 

 

The First Assignment

The First Assignment by Billy Kramer

Book reviewed by Timea Barabas

What happens after death? This is one of the greatest questions. While there are numerous theories and visions of the afterlife, there seems to be no absolute universal certainty of what lies beyond. Billy Kramer joins the ranks of wonderers by offering a cohesive and immersive narrative of the afterlife and life in The First AssignmentPurchase Here.

This young adult fantasy novel opens the gates to a gripping tale of self-discovery, becoming, and the interconnectivity between people. The tale, characters, and events evoke a strange familiarity in the reader. Some elements seem like a distant memory lost in the fog of time or a dream that dissipates at first light.

The First Assignment centers on life after death following the experiences of seventeen-year-old Shawn Turner. After waking up under strange circumstances, Shawn finds himself transported to a brave old world. Alone among strangers, his survival instincts kick in while he tries to understand his new reality.

Shawn is just one of many recently deceased who were chosen to join Wayward Academy. An academy of the dead in service of the living. This complex institution is a learning center, work center, and living space for those enrolled. While reapers seem to take the center stage, this is merely one of the groups that animate the space.

Bombarded with new experiences and concepts, pulled down by the weight of the unknown, Shawn soon finds comfort in the familiarity of new friendships. He soon builds a connection with a few other first-year students at the WA. Through shared experiences, whispered secrets, and knowing glances, Shawn begins to gain strength.

After being subjected to a series of intellectually, emotionally, and physically challenging tests, the new students are assigned to their respective jobs. Then, Shawn receives his first assignment. Waiting for someone to die offers Shawn ample space for introspection. Bound by strict regulations and under supervision, he sees a glimmer of hope to break through the chains and make a difference. However, taking this path would mean silencing his survival instinct.

Billy Kramer creates a magical universe caught in a mystical realm somewhere between life and darkness. The First Assignment builds the foundation of a new worldview that invites further expansion. While Book 1 may be finished, Book 2 lingers on the horizon.

 

Blood Moon

Blood Moon: The Rising Series: Book 2 by Heather Graham and Jon Land

Book Reviewed by Russell Ilg

APOCYALPSE POW!

Those who thought the notion of teenagers saving the world ended with this season’s “Stranger Things” need to think again. Heather Graham and Jon Land go that great television series one better in the equally great BLOOD MOON, a riotous, rollicking, roller-coaster ride that makes us feel like kids again.  Purchase Here.

The book is actually a sequel to “The Rising,” the name now born by the series as a whole. For those unfamiliar with how the journey started, that prequel introduced us to high school All-American football player Alex Chin. Alex is the ultimate illegal alien because he’s actually from another world, smuggled to Earth in possession of a secret that’s the only thing that can prevent the total destruction of our, and now his, world.

We found out near the end of “The Rising” that the secret in question is actually an organic computer chip implanted in Alex’s brain. And, while it may be the only thing that can save humanity, it’s slowly killing him. BLOOD MOON pretty much jumps off from that point, with Alex and his former tutor, and current love interest, Samantha Dixon on the run from enemies both human and otherwise. They’re once again aided by Raiff, an adult refugee from Alex’s world whose own emotions are thrown into a tizzy when Elaina, the woman he has loved from afar since he was a boy himself, appears up close.

Elaina is Alex’s birth mother who sent him across the spacebridge, kind of a wormhole on steroids, with Raiff when Alex was a mere infant. Only Elaina understands the significance of the four mysterious keys Alex and Sam are chasing around the world, following cryptic clues outlined in an ancient manuscript written in a language only Alex can decipher. Having relied on Sam’s tutoring to survive high school, he now finds himself imbued with new skills and knowledge as a result of that leaky computer chip, and BLOOD MOON is as much a race to save Alex as it is to save the entire world.

Don’t let the science fiction label dissuade you from digging in. Graham and Land give us only what we need to know and not a shred more. That makes the sometimes fearsome, and sometimes throwback, technology accessible for even the least geeky among us. And readers will especially enjoy both the eerie origins of the Golem legend brought literally to life, as well as a brilliant homage to the skeletal swordsmen featured in the original “Jason and the Argonauts.”

Graham and Land have concocted an action-adventure tale of rare pathos and heart, layering emotion atop a constant stream of escalating set pieces that turn BLOOD MOON into one long, unabated chase scene that goes from zero to sixty in a nanosecond. The book’s relentless pacing leaves us even more breathless than our young heroes as we race alongside them, cheering every step of the way. This is storytelling at its absolute best, a smooth and savory blend of “Terminator” and “The Day the Earth Stood Still,” blended with the best from the old “Outer Limits” TV show. Tumultuous and terrific, BLOOD MOON is an instant classic that’s a masterpiece of form, function and fun.

Against the Current

Against the Current in the Silent Service by R.W. Herman

Book Reviewed by Timea Barabas

Against the Current in the Silent Service is a gripping memoir by R.W. Herman about navigating the uncharted waters of life. Through the pages of the book, the author takes a deep dive into his personal life while in the service of the Navy and his winding road of self-discovery.  Purchase Here.

While this memoir was written as a continuation of the author’s debut book, The Unopened Letter, it is well-rounded enough to stand as an independent read. This first book details the author’s experiences in the Navy during the Vietnam War Era, offering a peek behind the curtain of history from a uniquely personal perspective. Readers already familiar with the author’s life will finally know the answer to what happened next and why the author is called Commander. Those freshly introduced to R.W. Herman’s writing will discover an alluring and thrilling personal universe.

After building a reputation as an exceptional sailor (with an intriguing rebellious streak) R.W. Herman aims to become a commissioned officer. However, career advancement lies at the end of a winding road sprinkled with obstacles. To succeed, Herman must navigate the troubled waters of the system, inner struggles, and family life. At one point – which turns out to be a stepping stone for his dream future – the author is thrown into the foreign universe of submarine service.

Herman’s life story of trials and tribulations is an inspiring illustration of how hidden currents may guide our lives to the shores that we recognize as home. Also, his drive and ingenuity in thriving in adverse conditions keep the reader glued to the pages of his life. What is more, Herman skillfully decodes hostile conditions and uses the data and his knowledge as a world-building kit.

Readers might expect the setting for Against the Current in the Silent Service to be within rigid Navy and Marines confines. However, that is not the case. The story expands from within these systems touching on some of the great literary themes of love, loss, self-discovery, and freedom. The author interprets freedom as self-acceptance and allowing oneself the liberty to pursue the realization of a future self and a future us.

What is truly impressive about the read is the multiple levels of complexity that embrace the core story. The systematic exploration of social dynamics stands out as particularly relevant. Herman captures the fragile and subtle couple dynamics as two individuals jointly venture into a shared future. However, he also peers into the cracks of a seemingly rigid and stern system to uncover shifting and often unpredictable dynamics driven by a complex mixture of self-interest, duty, preservation, and sacrifice.

Against the Current in the Silent Service is an effortless read that can easily entrap readers into its flawless web of writing. While Herman displays an in-depth knowledge and understanding of the Navy and communication systems, his life story is not weighed down by technicalities. All that remains is to witness a most captivating life unfold in the pages of this book.

Abigail and Sega's Magical Train Ride

Abigail and Sego’s Magical Train Ride by J.A. Kundert

Book reviewed by Teri Takle

The year 2026 is almost upon us.  What does that mean?   That will be the 250th birthday of our country.

What could prepare you for this event?

A unique book about the 200th birthday with a multitude of historical events which strongly shaped our country and culture would be perfect.

It is 1976 in Chicago.   Eleven-year-old Abigail Stromberg has a challenging Bicentennial Assignment for school.   The project focuses on how her ancestors contributed to the country between 1776 and 1976.   For Abigail, her father’s Swedish ancestry is clear and straightforward.  Abigail has straight dark hair and does not resemble her father.   Why won’t her mother talk about her past?  However, her mother is evasive about her background.  What secrets is she withholding?

How can Abigail complete the assignment with only one side of her family?  Purchase Here.

Abigail and Sego’s Magical Train Ride is a time warp story roller-coasting throughout the Transcontinental Railroad to the present time of 1976 while intermixing lifestyles, events, and influential people of both times.  Adding supernatural assistance helps to explain the past in their current time while fulfilling a family’s lifelong dreams.

Abigail and Sego’s Magical Train Ride is a delightful romp for those of us over the half-century mark.   Numerous references to people and events of a prior time are enjoyable to remember, such as Nancy Drew books, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Polar Express Line, Ted Nugent, Moon River, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and many references to our country’s western expansion.

The reading level of this book is perfect for tweens, and I highly recommend they make a list of references they don’t understand and either research them or discuss them with an older adult.

Abigail and Sego’s Magical Train Ride is a perfect intergenerational story for a family to share.   There is a multitude of historical references to both people and places that require a little background for most teenagers.   As a stand-alone novel, the author could also add author notes explaining the importance of these people and places.    Also helpful would be a preface explaining life in Chicago during 1976 explaining the Navy Pier, the Gold Coast, and places unique to the area, including the Chicago L train.

All in all, Abigail and Sego’s Magical Train Ride is an enjoyable romp through time.

 

Dak Ackerthefifth and the Ethics of Heroism

Dak Ackerthefifth and the Ethics of Heroism by Joshua Joseph

Reviewed by Ray Palen

“You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain.” – The Dark Knight
Purchase Here.

That quote from filmmaker Christopher Nolan resonated with me as I read this complex and extremely satisfying novel from Joshua S Joseph. The protagonist in this, a young Indian man with the unique name of Dak Ackerthefifth — a name blamed on the same slip of the entry pen used on Ellis Island while in-taking droves of new American citizens to our country.

DAK ACKERTHEFIFTH AND THE ETHICS OF HEROISM is more of a spiritual journey than a work of fiction and the reader is privileged to go along for the ride. Throughout Dak’s life he seeks to understand the precept of what it means to be a hero. We understand that for one to be a hero you must pick a side — hero or villain — but we also learn that life is not that black and white and often times it is not clear as to which side you are on. The story begins with the death of his parents, Richard and Rudy. Our narrator indicates that the death of parents is the way every good hero story starts — but be mindful, this is no Disney tale.

Richard Ackerthefifth was a ballpoint pen magnate who allegedly died during a business trip to the Congo — or so Dak’s mother told him. Rudy was left to raise 8-year-old Dak and his younger sister, Emily. Regrettably, or in keeping with the hero plan, Rudy passes away when Dak is 14. Her death is blamed solely on Crazy Uncle Ji. He was not an actual ‘Uncle’, but was given that honorific title by their mother. Shortly after Rudy was diagnosed with cancer, Crazy Uncle Ji gave her a cocktail of various supplements which initially helped her but then quickly pushed her into a physical nosedive that she never recovered from.

Now, young Dak is sent to Boarding School while Emily is placed into foster care. It is while attending the Ellsworth School that Dak had his first taste of heroism. Initially, Dak thought this came from the altercation he got into with another student over the death of one of their classmates. Actually, his heroic act took place on a class ski trip. A smaller classmate, Pard, was partnered with Dak on the trip and he slipped from the chairlift while it was climbing up the mountain. Dak grabbed Pard and held on until it was safe to let go, essentially saving Pard’s life.

The next chapter in Dak’s journey involved his moving in with his Aunt Rhoda once he was ‘done’ with Boarding School. She lived in Manhattan, which ended up being the ideal testing ground for Dak’s theories of heroism. The trouble was that Aunt Rhoda was a ‘hideous human being’ who was taking care of Dak more for the benefits she received from the Foundation his father had left behind than out of any sense of familial responsibility. At one point, his sister Emily comes to stay for a short visit. Emily implores her brother not to let her be taken back to foster care again, an experience that has included a number of different families each ending with her being sent back into the system. Unfortunately, Dak is not old enough yet to make such a decision and his Aunt Rhoda explains that foster care is what Emily needs as she suffers from various mental issues that require constant supervision.

As Dak is experiencing the world as a young man he continues to question everything and put all his experiences through various philosophical and ethical filters. He ponders on the concept of Interaction versus Isolation. The philosopher John Paul Sartre stated ‘Hell is other people’. To feel Sartre’s Hell, one must feel isolation while being amongst other people and not feeling saved by any interaction with your fellow man. Dak gets his best opportunity to truly interact with human nature when he takes on his first job. He is hired to do odds and ends at a management office that handled various tenant buildings around the NYC area. His boss was a Jew, Mr. Frank, a fact that allowed Dak to further explore the differences between his own Roman Catholic upbringing and other religious precepts.

Eventually, Dak is utilized by Mr. Frank because he is not one of the ‘Jewish tribe’ to collect back rent from various tenants who are in arrears. It is here where he meets Esther, a young woman who play a pivotal role in Dak’s journey. In his initial meeting, where he is attempting to collect overdue rent, Esther gives Dak quite an earful. She was the tenant from hell and a professional problem for him to solve. Subsequent visits find Esther warming towards the unassuming Dak and she becomes a font of good stories and advice. For instance, she tells Dak how fortunate it is that both his parents died when he was young as he never had to experience taking care of them when they were older and physically/mentally wasting away. It is also with Esther that Dak has his first sexual experience.

Dak focuses on the concept of approval and recognizing that, as a physical being not in isolation, we are ever seeking out the approval of ourselves from other people. This leads him to his next serious interaction with another tenant named Lissa. He will have a physical relationship with her and also spend some time living with her as well. Dak looked at his time living with Lissa as a vacation and understood that even the most satisfying vacations had to eventually end. On the home front, Emily had now graduated from foster care and is taken in by Aunt Rhoda. The three of them are all at a point where they abhor the presence of one another and bounce around the home like solitary electrons failing to make contact with each other.

One day, Dak finds Aunt Rhoda unconscious on the floor of their apartment — a situation that Emily had not even noticed. He rides in the ambulance with her to the hospital. Even though everything is tried to save her, Aunt Rhoda eventually succumbs to her malady and passes away. While in the hospital, Dak ponders that idea that real heroes are practitioners of medicine. However, he cannot truly buy into this idea as so many of those in the medical field do not actually care about the people they are treating. It is not long after Rhoda’s passing that a face from the past returns, Uncle Ji. Ji now is able to speak to Dak, adult to adult, and explains that the facts behind each of his parents deaths were not what Dak had been led to believe. He also provides Dak with some information, a ‘gift’ as he refers to it, that he can use as political leverage against his employer, Mr. Frank. Unfortunately, that gift backfires and Dak is fired from the only job he ever had.

Dak rebounds into his next serious relationship, this time with Esther’s sister, Dina. Now unemployed, Dak moves in with Dina and it is there where he meets with my favorite character in the novel, Abe. Abe is Dina’s brother and he is an extraordinary thinker and debater of concepts, both religious and otherwise. His first interaction with Dak begins with a diatribe on the Jewish and Palestinian conflict and how that arose. Abe likes to hear himself talk and he also likes someone who will question and challenge him, which Dak provides for him. If you have ever seen the Richard Linklater film, Waking Life, in which pairs of characters converse philosophically with each other on a myriad of subjects, you will understand my feelings about the scenes between Dak and Abe. There are a few chapters involving the two of them together and it provides the best dialogue in the novel.

At one point in a Sushi restaurant, Dak, Dina, Abe and his lover Katie are chatting — or, more to the point, listening to Abe speak — when Dina finally calls him out for his cynical banter. She shares with Dak a quote from Tom Robbins that makes him think: ‘We waste time looking for the perfect lover, instead of creating the perfect love’. On another occasion, Abe asks Dak how he would feel if he were able to shut society down. Unhook the world from their wireless devices and disconnect everyone from everything they utilize to get them through their lives. Dak indicates that this would finally make him a hero. It is at this point, towards the end of the story, where Abe provides Dak with just such an opportunity and it opens everything up all at once for Dak, finally providing him with answers he has spent his life searching for.

DAK ACKERTHEFIFTH AND THE ETHICS OF HEROISM was both and exhilarating and exhausting read as it provides so many various concepts that require the reader to disengage from our current culture and seek to find true meaning in our lives. It is a participatory novel requiring the reader to think and dive in deep along with our ‘hero’. Dak is the ideal figure to go on this journey and I was sorry for that ride to come to an end. I give much credit to author Joshua S Joseph, who refers to himself as an author, philosopher and consumer of shadows. He is definitely someone that would be interesting to chat with.