Book Reviews

Africa

What do I have in common with the African lion? According to Stefan Swanepoel, author of Surviving Your Serengeti, the answer is we are strategic. Both the lion and I map out a plan to succeed in reaching our goals. Then we use teamwork to achieve those goals.

The lion is just one of seven animals Mr. Swanepoel uses to embody skills necessary to succeed in life. The other six are the wildebeest, crocodile, cheetah, giraffe, mongoose and elephant. Each animal plays its part in the story of East Africa’s great migration. Each animal’s primary skill perfectly fits it into the ecology of wild Africa.

Surviving Your Serengeti uses the 1,000 mile-long journey that almost two million wildebeest, zebras and gazelles annually run as a metaphor to describe the skills needed to succeed in business and in personal life. The animals who journey across the Serengeti experience hunger, thirst, predators and exhaustion. To get a feel for this great migration, view one of the videos at http://www.kenya.com/great_migration_overview.asp.

Our lives may not be at stake every time we set off to the office, but the skills used by various animals to survive and balance the ecology are useful in identifying the skills we need to succeed. Mr. Swanepoel masterfully tells a story of one couple’s safari to East Africa in order to put these skills in context of both African wild life and American corporate life.

My advice is to read the book, take the test at http://www.serengetibook.com/your-safari/what-animal-am-i/quiz/ (to confirm which animal embodies your strongest skill) and then listen to Perpetuum Jazzile’s version of the song Africa at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yjbpwlqp5Qw&feature=related.

The lyrics in Africa speak of a young man who didn’t like what he had become. If that describes where you are now, perhaps Surviving Your Serengeti will show you a way across your Serengeti.  ??

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Old Book Becomes New

Only You, Sierra, written by Robin Jones Gunn and published in 1998, has been released this year as an eBook. The eBook format on my Kindle had a few problems. Chapter headings appeared at the bottom of the page and some words were split in two (“ser vice” for example).

The story centers on sixteen year-old Sierra Jensen who is mature for her age. Her maturity, however, does not keep her out of trouble with her parents as she settles into a new community and her grandmother’s house. A new home, new school, and new semi-relationship with a college student keeps Sierra’s emotions in a constant tangle. The book ends without the happily-ever-after scene, but it is satisfying.

As I read the story, I found myself wishing Robin Jones Gunn’s books would have been available when I was a teenager. None of the books I read at that time reflected my Christian worldview. One of Ms. Gunn’s strengths is to model ways to cope with loneliness, insecurities, and change in a positive manner without being preachy. If you know a Christian girl between the ages of twelve and sixteen, I recommend buying this book for her, as well as Ms. Gunn’s other books.

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Bug Man Bugs Out

Nick is a forensic entomologist; he is an expert in bugs that eat decaying flesh.

In this third novel in the series, Nick is set to marry Alena, a woman whose dogs help police catch criminals. Theirs is a romance made at the crime scene.

Nick is so obnoxious that he has few friends. So when one of them is killed four days before the wedding, he takes off to find the killer. Naturally, Alena is furious. She trusts few men because her father abandoned her and this feels like another case of permanent rejection. When Nick fails to call her —on two occasions—as he’d promised, she loads up a few dogs and takes off after him.

That’s just the first hundred pages. The plot twists so many times it becomes a corkscrew. It takes a sharper mystery solver than I am to see how the book ends before the last chapter. It was a satisfying but not a happily-ever-after ending. Read Nick of Time if you want a good mystery and aren’t grossed out by maggots.

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