Starting 2017 Right– The Art of War: A Novel Review

The Art of War: A Novel by Angela Panayotopulos is an eerie, heart-wrenching story about a pair of Greek twins in the rubble of World War Two. Kallypso (Kalli) and Gabriel (Gabe) have grown up in the Mediterranean sun and surf of the small Greek island of Mythaki. The book follows brother and sister through their idyllic childhood to their nightmarish existence under Nazi Germany.

The twins must learn that sometimes life can change with just the stroke of a mad man’s pen. The trouble begins when Mussolini decides that Greece is his next target. On Gabe’s joyous wedding day, the Italians invade the picturesque island to occupy it for their leader. Although their presence casts a dark cloud of reality over the village, it is not a soul crushing experience. The Italians and Greeks live quite happily with each other. This comfort is so complete that Kalli finds herself being wooed by an Italian soldier.

These simple days are replaced by the frightening realization that Germany creeps ever closer to their island paradise. The Art of War is a celebration of the Greek culture and the universal similarities that connect us as humans. No matter how bleak the story becomes, there are characters who can see past the symbols and skin tones we all hide behind. That is the magic of this story:  humanity still manages to march forward.

Even when the twins surrender to the gender roles expected of them in a time of war, they still have a deep connection.  They know each other’s pain, and they know if the other lives. In a world of uncertainty, this becomes their only hope, the thing that gets them through. Even during the darkest moments of the story, the hope is always there. Although hope is constant, this story is no fairy tale; no white knights, and no good natured nymphs save these people from the history we all know. That is the novel’s power.

When Germany finally lowers its crushing boot on the island, Kalli is the victim of a demented general’s god complex. As she struggles to come to grips with the world she knew slipping away, a young German soldier finds her irresistible. Even though everything in their situation dictates that a love story can’t be, they still manage to form a type of love. A love built on surviving. Make no mistake, this is a love story, but it is a story of what a person is capable of with love – not hearts and flowers.

Ms. Panayotopulos transports her reader back to the carefree lifestyle of island life. Her images are beautiful and soothing. The love of the culture overflows from every page. Not only does the story praise the allure of Greek culture, it borrows well-known themes from their mythology. The Odyssey has a heavy influence on this book. Literary geeks will enjoy these small nods to the classic myth.

Kalli and Gabe are easy-to-love characters. Kalli is strong-willed and good natured. It is these qualities that make her the object of affection for her male counterparts. Gabe is the kind of man every woman wants. His ability to steal hearts makes the reader cheer for him even more. Ms. Panayotopulos characters are worth the investment.

Recommended.


Why this post, right now:

I’ve had a rough holiday season. I’m not going into the details because you guys don’t need or want to hear my moaning and wailing. Besides, there is always somebody out there who can trump your “worst day.” So I’m not going to play that game.

My point is though, one of my favorite things to write on Helium.com  was book reviews. I looked forward to an interesting book review topic. The Art of War: A Novel was a book I found and posted the topic myself. The writer is a self-publisher and if you are curious about her and her book this is her website http://www.art-of-war-novel.com/. It is also available on Amazon.

So, yeah I think I wanted to remind myself of what I enjoy about this writing thing. This kind of work is really energizing to me.

Happy 2017 everyone! Hopefully, we’ll all be in a new positive state of mind by the end of this year.

 

 

 

 

A Break Down of Ecclesiastes

In twelve chapters King Solomon covers all the things that people allow to become idols. From pleasure to work, King David’s son tried everything under the sun only to find it was all “Meaningless.”

Solomon was the second child of King David and Bathsheba. When he was permitted to take the throne God told him he could ask for anything. The young king asked for wisdom. It was granted to him. His reign was known as Israel’s golden age.

But the saying “Ignorance is bliss,” has some truth to it. It’s common for someone who has access to large amounts of knowledge to lose their faith. To turn their focus inward to their personal growth. With multiple wives and many of them foreign pagans, Solomon began to lose his faith in the God of his father.

Anyone who suffers the pain of watching their life fall apart can most likely find the cause in the Book of Ecclesiastes. The lessons are timeless and it startles many with how relevant the themes are today. But the truth of King Solomon’s words very seldom strike a chord until a life lies in shambles. No one wants to turn their eyes from God, but the slope is steep and minor decisions to ignore God’s teachings lead to full-out rebellion.

Chapter 1.

Solomon begins his manic depressant rant lamenting his wisdom, referring to it as “Meaninglessness.”

He says, “For with much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge the more grief .” (Ecclesiastes 1:18)

Chapter 2.

Chapter two begins with the quest for pleasure being like chasing the wind. The more one drinks, indulges, and seeks out pleasure, the more empty it becomes. Solomon says the work of his hands meant nothing to him. He would still die as a fool does.

Chapters 3-5.

Chapter three sports one of the most well-known verses in rock and roll history. “To everything there is a season…”

“and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant, and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build…” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-3)

All things are appropriate in their time. Death is inevitable, harvest always comes, and the healer is just as important as the soldier. Solomon continues that it is good for a man to enjoy his work, but he will never see the fruits. Again Meaningless. He goes on to say that work is pointless without a friend to help when one falls. Chapter five warns of speaking in ignorance.

“Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God.” (Ecclesiastes 5:2)

When in the presence of God, silence is golden. This last statement is true in all aspects of life. Think before speaking, honor hierarchy, and humble yourself when dealing with others.

Chapters 6-8.

Chapter six bemoans the accomplishments of a man who gains endless wealth and legacy, because he will never see the fruits of his work. If one primarily worries about his reputation, bank account, and the effects of his family’s actions on his reputation, he will never have peace. Chapter seven states wisdom does not equal righteousness. Chapter eight questions why the wicked live long lives and the righteous die young. It makes no sense to him. He also resented the fact that bad things happen to good people and the wicked prosper.

Chapter 9.

Chapter nine states that the righteous and the wicked are the same. “No man knows when his hour will come.” (Ecclesiastes 9:12)

Chapter 10.

Chapter ten reveals that status has nothing to do with righteousness. Solomon says,

“Fools are put in many high positions, while the rich occupy the low ones, I have seen slaves on horseback, while princes go on foot like slaves.” (Ecclesiastes 10:6-7)

Status means nothing if a fool possesses it.

Chapter 11.

Chapter eleven warns not to try to understand God’s ways, some things are unexplainable. Solomon tells the young to enjoy their youth. Youth is meaningless, and often wasted.

Chapter 12.

Chapter twelve gives the total meaning of Solomon’s search. Honor God. Above all things, turn to God, then the world has meaning. One knows their place when they honor God, their eyes are opened to the bigger picture. The young need to understand this.

“Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: fear God and keep his commandments for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14)

So to recap, the lessons found in Ecclesiastes:

  1. Knowledge comes with a price.
  2. Everyone dies.
  3. Friendship makes toil worth the effort.
  4. Respect God.
  5. Think before speaking.
  6. Wealth and reputation can not be taken (carried) into the kingdom.
  7. Wisdom does not equal righteousness, in fact wise fools are more dangerous.
  8. Bad things happen to good people.
  9. No one knows their time.
  10. A fool is a fool no matter what his station in this life.
  11. Respect God
  12. Honor and Respect God.

How Helium worked:

For Helium novices, Helium was segmented into “Hubs.” Members could suggest article titles within a Hub. This particular piece was a suggestion under the Spiritual Hub. Multiple writers could write an article about the topic. Then the other members would read and rate the articles on the same subject side by side. The best articles rose to the top (hence the site name, Helium.com.)

Now, about this piece:

At the time I wrote this article I was experiencing a spiritually awakening. I am a believer in Christ and I do think the Bible is God’s word. I grew up the daughter of a preacher’s kid, so the Bible was a constant subject.

I had just gone through a divorce and my faith became the only way of life that made sense to me. The Book of Ecclesiastes is the ultimate chronicle of regret. I felt I could relate to the subject manner at that time in my life. You can imagine my surprise when I realized that there truly is nothing new under the sun.

If you are at low point in your life right now, maybe the lessons from this reading will help you find peace of mind.

Are there any writings, movies, or music that helped you make sense of a dark time? I’d love to hear about it.

 

 

 

Hi! Welcome back!

Hey it’s been a long time since I posted here. To be honest I cleared this blog page of all my posts, because it didn’t have any focus. I almost deleted it. But I realized that I didn’t want to lose this site, I just needed to regroup and decide what I really wanted to do.

I think I’m going to start by posting my reworked pieces from Helium.com. For those who don’t know, Helium was an online writing community that gave freelancers a place to share what they knew. It was also a place where they could share what they knew about a particular passion they had. I personally found a home in the review subjects. Lots of movies and books I would never have considered otherwise.

It was a great place for a new writer to practice and mess up. When I first started freelance I recommended Helium for newcomers so they could see if their style would play well to an online audience.

Unfortunately it changed hands and the culture changed. Before long the site was taken down and we writers could take our work and post it elsewhere. So my work’s  new home will be here.

As I became more established on Odesk (now called Upwork) I drifted away from Helium and learned how to write for money. I miss the non-judgemental culture that Helium.com had, because it was meant to be educational and supportive and nurturing. I was introduced to what makes a great online content writer and I took those lessons to heart.

I honestly think that if Helium.com had not existed I would still be a frustrated writer wanting out of my full-time job and thinking I just didn’t have the chops to put my Communication Arts degree to use. Thank you Helium! In your early days you really encouraged a lot of us newcomers to  just grab hold and try. Thank you for giving me a place where I could try.

So that’s my first post of B.W. Harold’s Reboot. Are there any former Helium members out there? What was your first proving ground for writing, or any hobby or dream career? I would love to read your comments!