My Story in Black and White – The Autobiography of Jesse O. Thomas – A Book Review

My Story in Black and White – The Autobiography of Jesse O. Thomas

by Jesse O. Thomas/ Rosemary Braxton

Reviewed by Richard R. Blake,

A Marvelous Story of Persistence in the Face o Adversity and Injustice

“My Story in Black and White” presents an absorbing account of a period in Black history, including antidotes that reflect a vivid observation into the relationships, behind the scenes drama, and an overall picture of the progression  made possible by the cooperation these personalities (black and white) that influenced the direction and motivation taken by educational institutions, government agencies, and economic environment during the first 50 years of the 20th century. The book is adapted from original autobiographical notes of Jesse O. Thomas, facilitated by his daughter Rosemary Braxton.

The author captures an amazing glimpse into the life, brilliance and accomplishments of George Washington Carver’s scientific imagination, and of the impact of Booker T. Washington’s life and influence on government officials.

While an undergraduate at Tuskegee Institute, Jesse Thomas came to the attention of Booker T. Washington and President Theodore Roosevelt. The results of these contacts opened doors for Thomas to become an outstanding influence and spokesperson for educational causes, for the underprivileged, for racial inequality and for integration, and desegregation.

Readers will find nuggets of truth which lie hidden away in Braxton’s detailed account, begging to be discovered, mined, polished and recognized as true gems of treasured wisdom.

““My Story in Black and White” is the story of a man who believes that regardless of the circumstances of birth, racial identity, or heredity it is man’s purpose to fulfill his destiny by making a contribution to make toward advancing the world during his generation. Jesse O. Thomas is an example of this kind of man; a man of accomplishment and purpose.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes.  The opinions expressed are my own.

Robert D. Reed Publishers, P. O. Box 1992, Bandon, OR 97411, 9781934759981, $ 14.95, 2015, 360 pages

Finding Home with the Beatles, Bob Dyland and Billy Graham – A Book Review

Finding Home with the Beatles, Bob Dylan, and Billy Graham

By: Jess Archer

WestBow Press, 1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403978-1512721614, $ 11.95, 2015, 124 pages

Reviewed by Richard R. Blake,

Struggles with Insecurity – On a Path Leading to Finding Home
In her book “Finding Home with the Beatles, Bob Dylan, and Billy Graham” Jess Archer describes a transitory life style with inescapable adjustments; of creating new family routines in another rented house or apartment in a new neighborhood, with new schools, stores, and doctors, over a period of 15 years.

Jess opens her heart to the reader with candor and frankness in a way that help them identify with her anxiety struggles, fears and doubts as well as discovering new insights into finding answers to their own questions of faith, purpose, and spiritual meaning.

Archer’s sensitive poetic nature, beautiful descriptive phrases, and her gift of communication enhance her writing skills. Add her sense of humor and light hearted wit, and you know you are in for an exceptional read.

“Finding Home with the Beatles, Bob Dylan, and Billy Graham” will resonate with three audiences: those touched by the Billy Graham Crusades going back to the well-publicized crusade in Los Angeles that launched the Crusades in the early fifties, the fans of the music of the Beatles and Bob Dylan who were searching for purpose and meaning to life, and the generation who responded the Youth Crusades of the Nineties.

Brilliant writing. Highly recommended.

Letters from My Father’s Murderer – A Journey in Forgiveness – A Book Review

Letter from My Father's Murderer - A Journey in ForgivenessLetters from My Father’s Murderer – A Journey in Forgiveness

By Laurie A. Coombs

Kregel Publications, 2450 Oak Industrial Dr. N. E., Grand Rapids, MI 49505

978-0825442292, $14.99, 2015, 230 pages

Reviewed by Richard R. Blake

From Vengeance to Forgiveness – A Search for Truth, Justice, and Understanding,

Laurie Coombs’ ‘memoir “Letters from My Father’s Murderer – A Journey in Forgiveness” opens with the  details leading up to  and the aftershock of the tragic death of her father, a murder victim.

Devastated, but determined. Laurie went on with her life; finished her college education, married her fiancé, Travis, and began a family. On the surface things looked well, however, Laurie was experiencing a paralyzing anxiety and depression.  Laurie walked away from her family’s church as a teenager, her skepticism left her broken and angry. As the hatred of her father’s murderer heightened she became obsessed with questions of justice and a spirit of bitterness.

Responding to a friend’s invitation, Laurie, Travis, and her girls visited a nearby church. Although still skeptical, Laurie returned to the church week after week.  She experienced a deepened awareness of the possibility of healing from her emotional and mental symptoms through faith.  Jesus offered peace and forgiveness. Her hunger for truth led to her redemption, personal peace and a heartfelt passion to share her story.

Laurie’s journey of forgiveness led to a definite step of obedience to connect with the murderer of her father.  Her process of forgiveness and healing led to corresponding with Anthony, her father’s murderer. These letters are recounted in the story of God’s working in their lives through the process of forgiveness, redemption, and reconciliation.

Coombs’ writing is articulate, well organized, and authentic. I came away with a deeper awareness of the emotions felt by the survivors and the bitterness evidenced in victims who have lost loved ones due to tragic circumstances. “Letters from My Father’s Murderer” is timely and relevant with an important message for the families who are grieving in response to the tragedy of crime, accidents brought about by others, and those losing loved ones while in the service of our country.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

Book Review: One Life Matters by Marty Angelo

Once Life Matters: A New Beginning

Marty Angelo
Impact Publishing (2006)
ISBN 0961895446
Reviewed by Richard R. Blake for Reader Views (5/07)

While on a roller-coaster ride of self-destruction, Marty Angelo experienced the thrills and pinnacles of success and the despair and depression of the pits of personal failure.  For fifteen years he pursued a career as a music business entrepreneur.

“Once Life Matters: A New Beginning” is his life-changing memoir. Such well-known celebrities from the music industry as Jimi Hendrix, George Harrison, John Lennon, Janis Joplin, and Rob Grill all had a part in Marty’s rise to success as a manager and promoter.

Although outwardly successful, Angelo was searching for more, for meaning. During this fifteen-year journey he experienced the powerful hold of drugs, alcohol, and rock/disco music on his life.

In March of 1981 Angelo had reached rock bottom.  It was at this point that Marty experienced a dramatic and powerful life-changing conversion to Christianity. Since that time, he has become a strong witness of God’s saving grace, mercy, and forgiveness.

In Marty’s own words, “It took me thirty-five years, but I finally found peace through Jesus Christ. The decades of the wild life I led, along with the few times when I was close to finding the right path, weave an amazing story. I’m not proud of the many problems I created for myself–the incredibly stupid things I did–but I’m not running from them or trying to cover them up either. In fact, by telling my story here, I hope you, dear reader, can learn the lessons I learned without going through the trials and dangers I faced.”

Since his conversion in 1981, Marty has served significant roles in full-time ministry with Chuck Colson’s Prison Fellowship, as a counselor with Teen Challenge, and as director of evangelism and court liaison with the Faith Farm Ministries.

Angelo’s writing is engaging, entertaining, informational, and inspiring. He made himself vulnerable, exposing his weaknesses as well as his strengths.  I appreciated the no-holds-barred approach in telling his story, balancing the message of his newfound life as a follower of Christ with his experiences in the music industry and well as a glimpse into his life while serving time in the Federal prison in Lexington, Kentucky.

Marty views this book as a ministry. It is his prayer that readers will discover the truth of God’s Word and be motivated and encouraged to take a stand for God.  This is a book that will challenge hearts, offer hope, and I believe it will change lives, which is, I am sure, exactly what Marty intended it to do. I feel confident that “Once Life Matters” has that kind of potential.

As Reviewed for Reader Views

Book Review: Five Minutes to Midnight Stories of God’s Faithfulness in Central Asia by Andrew Sieberhagen

Five Minutes to Midnight – Stories of God’s Faithfulness in Central Asia

By: Andrew Sieberhagen

Koozzz Publishing, 133 Colonial Woods Drive, Mount Vernon, Ohio 43050, 9780983076049, $ 10.99, 2012, 154 pages

Reviewed by Richard R. Blake

A Ten Year Journey – A Glimpse into the World of Pioneer Missions

Andrew Sieberhagen reflects on his ten year journey ministering in Central Asia in his book “Five Minutes to Midnight.”  He shares memorable moments when God revealed Himself in times of crisis. In these incidents God used unexpected strangers and quiet miracle s as a sign of his faithfulness and intervention in answering prayer.

Each chapter includes a Scripture truth or promise, and inspiring story, motivating challenge, faith building instruction, or a life enriching lesson with a section titled “Points to Ponder.” Andrew is a gifted story teller and an articulate communicator. Andrew’s passion for missions and his commitment to following God’s call on his life come through in his writing.

“Five Minutes to Midnight” is compact in size, profound in content, and life changing in its impact. Highly recommended.