Mini-reviews: The Templar Legacy by Steve Berry; We Live in Water by Jess Walter; When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor…and Yourself by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert

templarlegacyTitle: The Templar Legacy
Author: Steve Berry
Genre: Thriller
Publisher: Books on Tape
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Source: Audiobook from the public library
Audiobook reader: Paul Michael
Audiobook length: 15 hours and 44 minutes
First line: Jacques de Molay sought death, but knew salvation would never be offered.

Goodreads blurb: The ancient order of the Knights Templar possessed untold wealth and absolute power over kings and popes . . . until the Inquisition, when they were wiped from the face of the earth, their hidden riches lost. But now two forces vying for the treasure have learned that it is not at all what they thought it was–and its true nature could change the modern world.

Cotton Malone, one-time top operative for the U.S. Justice Department, is enjoying his quiet new life as an antiquarian book dealer in Copenhagen when an unexpected call to action reawakens his hair-trigger instincts–and plunges him back into the cloak-and-dagger world he thought he’d left behind.

It begins with a violent robbery attempt on Cotton’s former supervisor, Stephanie Nelle, who’s far from home on a mission that has nothing to do with national security. Armed with vital clues to a series of centuries-old puzzles scattered across Europe, she means to crack a mystery that has tantalized scholars and fortune-hunters through the ages by finding the legendary cache of wealth and forbidden knowledge thought to have been lost forever when the order of the Knights Templar was exterminated in the fourteenth century. But she’s not alone. Competing for the historic prize–and desperate for the crucial information Stephanie possesses–is Raymond de Roquefort, a shadowy zealot with an army of assassins at his command.

Welcome or not, Cotton seeks to even the odds in the perilous race. But the more he learns about the ancient conspiracy surrounding the Knights Templar, the more he realizes that even more than lives are at stake. At the end of a lethal game of conquest, rife with intrigue, treachery, and craven lust for power, lies a shattering discovery that could rock the civilized world–and, in the wrong hands, bring it to its knees.

This was a fun, fluffy, entertaining listen. I haven’t read The Da Vinci Code, but this seems to be in the same genre – a historical thriller. I liked the mystery and action, and really liked the main character Cotton Malone. The author’s personal views on Christianity were all too apparent, but that didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the story. The narration by Paul Michael was excellent, covering a range of accents, and pulling me into the world of the book.

weliveinwaterTitle: We Live in Water: Stories
Author: Jess Walter
Genre: Contemporary fiction, short stories
Publisher: Harper Collins Audio
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Source: Audiobook from the public library
Audiobook reader: Edoardo Ballerini, Jess Walter
Audiobook length: 4 hours and 55 minutes
First line: Bit hates going to cardboard.

I feel possessively proud whenever I read a Jess Walter book, as he is a Spokane native, and lives near my neck of the woods. He is very versatile, with the two novels that I’ve read completely different from each other. This versatility is very evident in these short stories. I loved the fact most of the stories were set in Washington and Idaho, but I do wish the narrator, Edoardo Ballerini, had done some research into the pronunciation of local place names. I was occasionally pulled out of the story when he mispronounced the names of cities I am very familiar with. Other than that, though, after listening to this one and Beautiful Ruins, he is rapidly becoming one of my favorite narrators.

whenhelpinghurtsTitle: When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor . . . and Yourself
Author: Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert
Genre: Christian nonfiction
Publisher: Christian Audio
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Source: Free download from Christian Audio
Audiobook reader: Danny Campbell
Audiobook length: 7 hours and 17 minutes
First line: Have you ever done anything to help poor people?

As someone who grew up in churches that continually pushed the idea of short term missions trips to “help” the poor, I have since become concerned that the short term missions movement is not helping the people it is intended to help. The trips often become vacations for the people who go – usually teens – and seem to have no lasting impact on the economical or spiritual needs of the location visited. This book articulates that reality, with facts and anecdotal evidence that back it up. But the authors don’t just criticize the current model for helping those in poverty, they lay out a systematic, development-based plan that will truly help those in need. I highly recommend this for anyone interested in missions, and it should definitely be read by pastors and church board members.

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8 Responses to Mini-reviews: The Templar Legacy by Steve Berry; We Live in Water by Jess Walter; When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor…and Yourself by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert

  1. bermudaonion (Kathy)
    Twitter: bermudaonion

    The Templar Legacy does sound kind of like a Dan Brown book so I’ll probably skip it. I’m not a big fan of that type of book.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies

      Kathy – I didn’t know if I was a fan of this genre, but I found it entertaining.

  2. irene says:

    All books look interesting enough, not all my genre, but thank you for your view. I haven’t read Da Vinci Code either. We might be the only two in the world who have not.

  3. irene says:

    My niece is a missionary type girl. She goes for 3 or 4 months to a place at her own expense, and I have to agree I’m not sure what impact she has on those she visits/works with, but she certainly roughs it. She presently in Tanzania. She’s started a blog so we can see what she’s up to, sometimes very dangerous situations. I wonder what those she visits think? Thank you for planting that thought in my mind.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies

      Irene – it’s hard to know – I do not think that all short-term missions trips are harmful, and some do a lot of good, while others maybe do more harm. I do know that most people involved in going on a trip have good motives at heart.

  4. Trisha
    Twitter: Trish422

    I really enjoy the occasional historical thriller, especially when it’s couple with a bit of conspiracy, so thanks for the suggestion. The last book there, When Helping Hurts, is one of those books that sounds a bit depressing. I do wonder about mission work; my cousin went and I’m pretty sure it was more vacation like, but my colleague went and is was definitely more helpful.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies

      Trisha – it could have been depressing except that the authors offer very concrete ways in which we can help the poor – both at home and abroad – in very productive ways.

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