Friday, December 28, 2012

The Best Failure...EVER!

Well, it's obvious that I won't hit my goal of 39 book reviews, or even come close to reading all of the books on my list.

The experiment failed.

But you know what? I'm okay with that...

I have read some amazing books this year - many that I would have never picked up if it weren't for the advice of others. And I know, personally, that I read over 39 books - but counting ones I've already read, or that I read to the girls just didn't seem right...though I enjoyed them, every last one.

So, do I give up the experiment for 2013?

Absolutely not.

 This time, I am going to be less structured and start the new year with 40 blank spaces. And I will fill in the list at the end of the year!

 I cannot wait to get started! 

I'm looking for any and all of your suggestions for books to read in 2013...starting NOW! 

Onward and Forward!


Monday, November 19, 2012

Too Close for Comfort

I am a die hard C.S. Lewis fan, so when this book showed up, I must admit I was intrigued. Very shortly into the book, I realized that I would be disappointed. But perhaps that is because it is too similar to an iconic book and an amazing writer's original had big shoes to fill.

I did, of course, enjoy the format of the book - the conciseness of it among other things. But, the characters seemed almost too coarse and gritty...Lewis didn't need to make the presence of evil "over the top" in 'The Screwtape Letters' - we just could just feel the evil from his seemingly divinely-inspired writing. Platt almost seemed to be trying too hard to convince the reader that the characters were....bad.

Overall a good read - maybe I would suggest reading it BEFORE you read Lewis's work - if there is still anyone out there that hasn't read it.

* I received a free copy of this title by the Tyndale Publishing Company. I was not paid, instructed, or expected to give anything but my honest review.

Monday, November 12, 2012

A Reminder...MacArthur style...

The subject of good intentions versus faith in action came up in our devotional today, and that is precisely what John MacArthur writes in his “Truth About” book , “The Lordship of Christ.”  As in any other relationship, loving Christ takes effort , sacrifice, and action – not just sentiment.

Though short in pages, this book is tall in message and is a sort of challenge to the “faithful” of today.  Are you willing to put in the work and abide in Christ or will you continue to ignore the Truth to be the sole proprietor of your life?  MacArthur challenges you to decide…and act.

I found this book to be a bit “dry” for my taste, but MacArthur did remind me of the necessity to further explore the questions he poses a bit deeper.  I believe some of his other own works do exactly that.

* I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com  http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program.  I was not required to write a positive review.  The opinions I have expressed are my own.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255

Book #23

Oh the joy of a good book!

A friend of mine recommended this one, the author being a friend of hers, as she knew how much I love historical novels.  And let me tell you - this sweet romance delivered!!

For those of you that don't know me well, my favorite historical romance author is Diana Gabaldon for her incredible ability to transport you in near literal terms; through sights, sounds, smells in such vivid, lush description that you mourn returning to reality when you put down her books.  And her characters...oh, lordy!  I still swear sometimes that I've actually met these people.  Because of her books, I nearly packed all of my belongings and moved to Scotland - not just to seek the descendants of the heart-melting main character Jamie - but to research all of the incredible places Ms. Gabaldon describes throughout the story!!  I went into a physical depression at the end of her first book which actually led to a strange aversion to starting the second for fear of what would happen when I finished THAT one! 

And so, when I discovered the main male character in Ms. Frantz's novel was another strong, good looking Scotsman, well....!  There was, admittedly, a mixture of curiosity and denial.  NO ONE could live up to my Jamie.

I was wrong.

While "Love's Reckoning" is not nearly as detailed or involved as my beloved "Outlander" books - I found the characters to be just as human, just as loveable, just as real.  It's setting in Pennsylvania in the 1700's was incredibly authentic.

And I can prove it.

As I told several people, three quarters of the way through the book, I had to put "Love's Reckoning" down.  I was so irritated, so frustrated, so incredulous at the author's gall at putting the main character, Eden, through so much!!   A girl simply seeking the love of the Lord, to help orphans, to be loved by a (Scottish!!) man despite the cruelty it exposed her to by her own father and sister....and to have all the upheaval in this poor girl's life get worse and worse!! She was so good, so deserving, so pure...

I found myself  literally yelling at her when she made naive decisions that I knew would end up badly.

Soon I began venting  my frustration on Silas, the Scot (!!).  Why didn't he do more for her, to protect her, to keep her from making those silly, naive choices?!

Why...was he so human?

That's it.  Right there.

Ms. Frantz has written an incredible story of two very human people who fall in love while discovering the meaning and the consequences of life,  in the words of the Bible, and in the situations we all find ourselves in that often lead us down the wrong path...but never without the promise of redemption.

I am thrilled to have found a Christian Historical Romance novelist of this caliber (she has other books with other historical settings and other wonderful characters)...and as this book is titled as part of the "Ballantyne Legacy" - I cannot wait to read what Ms. Frantz has in store for my new friends next! 

Book #24 : I've been feeling the "itch" for a good Historical tome lately. With Lincoln coming out in theaters at the end of this week, I am diving into Ms. Doris Kearns Goodwin's book "Team of Rivals" that the movie was based on.

Onward and Forward!!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Book #22 - but really #21...

"The world turns on our every action, and our every omission, whether we know it or not."


I have been blown away by books before. 

Books have made me angry, made me cry, and made me truly lament the last word on the last page.  I have often wandered around after I read a good book because I wasn't sure how I would ever be able to find the next great read...

But this book puts most of those books to shame.

There were several moments in this book that I had to get up and blow my nose and wipe my eyes before I could continue...but, let me back up a bit before I rush off on an emotional tangent.

In "Cutting For Stone" we have an author, Abraham Verghese, that has learned how to use words to evoke very specific emotion - allowing you to literally feel and see and even smell the places he brings you - and to be honest, many are not pleasant to the average reader. It is in one of these rather unconventional locations - a mission hospital in Ethopia - that the author reminds you of what the word "humanity" actually means, why our Lord  tells each of us not to judge another, and how every life really can be intertwined and affect so many others.

The synopsis of this book is easy to find and read for yourself - but what it has no way of explaining is how rich and moving such a seemingly simple story can be.

There's nothing about this book that makes it an easy read. If you are uncomfortable with "real life" or an unsterile environment - or if you are only comfortable reading stories that give you "warm fuzzies" - this is not your book. If you are looking for a "quick read" - forget it; you will have missed out on so much that Mr. Verghese had to offer you. You must have time to allow the writing to encompass, to engulf you. I let myself literally abide within the pages and took very few breaks - no book A.D.D. on this one and I was surely rewarded!  Don't let the slow start deter you...I promise, before you know it, you will be transported to a different time, a different country, and much different circumstances than the comfy chair you sit in as you read...just like I was!

Book #22 is going to have to be some historical tome or a classic.  Just can't imagine anything else coming right after this...Aunt Nancy, you never cease to amaze me with your suggestions.  Each has been better than the last.  But I must say, I think you outdid yourself on this one! 

Onward and Forward! :)

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Book #21...a failure...

Well, this is the second book that I have started and been unable to finish.  And boy, did it stir up all kinds of emotions!

"The Betrayal" by Kathleen O'Neal Gear and her husband (both two of my favorite authors) seemed like the perfect match for me.  It challenged some of the history that the Church has spelled out to be how Christ lived and whether the power Christ held was a bit more "human" than some would suggest - that he wasn't the "meek" man we all know, but more of a political-type figure with masses of not-so-nice people willing to work for him, which made him the real threat to Roman leaders.

Before you call me a complete heathen, I must explain.  First, the book cover didn't challenge the existence of Christ in any way.  These authors are both lettered to the hilt in educational degrees in both the languages of the original translations of the Bible and of early church history itself.

Second, when it comes to my faith - thank goodness that God knows me better than I know myself.  He understands that I question everything and want to see it from all viewpoints before I'm comfortable with saying, "This is what I believe."  There is a verse in the Bible, it's exact location escapes me, where a man says in one simple phrase, "Lord, I believe everything you are doing and saying, yet I have this nagging little bit of doubt...BUT, I trust you to help me work through all of that..."

Oh, found it...Mark 9:24 NIV   "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief."

The authors attack my faith and my belief as early as the introduction, challenging me to read the book in the hope that by the end, I would see that my new knowledge might have "threatened my faith" but at least I would know the "truth."

I had a conversation with a friend very recently about being cautious with the things in our lives that affect our faith - evil can be introduced to us without us even recognizing it, especially in things that seem benign or even informative.

And, to be honest, I've already got a grip on "the Truth."

That said...admittedly, the style of the book was also very difficult.  They used actual ancient translations for common names and moved back and forth between story lines that I found very difficult to follow.  That extra challenge made it hard for me to even want to try and see the whole thing through. For that very reason, by the third chapter, I put this book away. I've moved on! Next up?'ll see! :)

Onward and Forward!!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

I've been reading...I promise!

Granted....time has passed and there's been no proof that I have read a single line of a single book up to this point.  But, I promise you - the lack of proof is not for lack of effort behind the scenes.  All of my creativity of late has gone into science experiments, endless flipping of math flash cards, gentle (and sometimes not so gentle) encouragement when one or both of the girls is frustrated, or hormonal, tired or homicidal.  (Believe me friends, I fall into each of those categories myself at one point or another.)

But there is blessed relief in the pages of my beloved books.  There is a certain irreplaceable satisfaction to putting another book on the stack after the "whump" of the back cover hitting the hundreds of pages behind it; that signal a finality as well as of a new beginning.

And I'm here to report on the four times I've done just that in the past weeks...

Book #17 was indeed "The River of Doubt."  I now believe, without doubt, that my husband is in some way related to Theodore Roosevelt - both never seem to know when to quit and get a bigger grin on their face the bigger the upcoming challenge.

Book #18 was "Soul Detox" - a reminder that everything in our day-to-day lives has potential to steer us away from our Father and His plans for our lives - and the importance of shedding our spirits of these things for our own good.  Easier said than done for me personally, but it was definitely an "eye-opener" kind of book and one that I plan to store in my library for future reference. (With up-and-coming teenagers who will be oblivious to the World's "charms" but will think they already have life figured out, I see lessons galore in these pages.)

Book #19 was a repeat but was necessary for a future reading.  I re-listened to "A Discovery of Witches" by Deborah Harkness.  "Huh?" you're saying...didn't we just hear about "shedding our spirits" of things like that?  Listen, I loved Harry Potter, I love Vampire and Witch and Werewolf stories.  Do I plan on going out and joining the Occult?  No.  This author, like Rowling, and others tell a GREAT story. They involve facing adversity, and the power of love, friendship and loyalty...good things.  So, I'm not going to classify this one as anything other than an awesome read.  Ms. Harkness has now come out with the second book of her trilogy...and I'm hoping it's as much of a page-turner as this one.

Book #20 was James Herriot’s “All Creatures Great and Small.” After years as a vet tech, I could relate to so much of what he wrote about.  His descriptions of the care he gave to both animal and their owners was not only a look into the life of a veterinarian with the day-to-day craziness (and sometimes grief) they face, but also was a reminder of the gentleness and wisdom one can find in the strangest and most unexpected of places.  It was the perfect read right before bed…

So, I am still terribly far behind on my goal to read 39 books this year.  I think I’m supposed to be on book #30 or something like that – but I’m not going to give up. 

Next one up…”The Betrayal” by two of my favorite historical novelists – Kathleen O’Neal Gear and W. Michael Gear.  It’s an “alternative look” at the historical life of Jesus…sure to stir up some mental juices!

Who KNOWS what book will fall into my lap after that! (I know I'm supposed to be following my "list" - but as a human being (I know, hard to believe, right?) and, might I add, the RULE MAKER ....I'm deviating.  :)

Onward and Forward!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Book #16

It's like I'd forgotten how to read - or at least lost the will to open the next cover and spend the time and energy it always takes me to become part of the story inside.

For months it's been like that.

I've even found myself dreading the books I've been reading to the girls, sometimes skipping nights with the "You shouldn't have watched that movie before bed - now it's too late" excuse much too often.  When is it EVER too late to read the next chapter of a book to your children?!  I even started book with their books, and sometimes set aside classics like "Call of the Wild" to go watch a mindless chick-flick.

"WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME??!!" I blurted out to the mirror (I tend to stare at myself in accusatory ways in the hopes that I can guilt myself into changing.  It's never worked, but for some reason, its usually the first thing I do when I feel bad...TMI? <giggle>.)

The answer came after we finished our second week of homeschool and I finally felt like I had a little routine going...

I am apparently completely incapable of doing two things at once.  It was why I couldn't diet while going to college and why I've (rather conveniently) been unable to remember how to do housework since graduating.  When I'm focused heart and soul on one thing...I just don't have the gumption for anything else.

Lazy?  No will power? I dunno. But, I'm going to cling to something a darling, sweet friend said. "Well, that means that the ONE thing you're doing is going to come out well.  If it's got all of YOUR attention - its bound to be good."  XOXO

Okay, okay...that's not going to work.

So - at the recommendation of my mother (God Bless that woman's soul for putting up with me the past...well, forty years!) I picked up "Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine, and the Murder of a President" by Candace Millard. (It's "professional" breakdown is here.)

It is a great book; a book about the "what ifs" of History, the dark ironies of Time, and it continuously evoked thoughts of another America that "could have been" had our 20th president not been assassinated by a completely loopy psychopath with delusions of grandeur. I liked the author so much that the next book I'm reading is by her as well. (See it on the sidebar under "The Book I'm Reading Now".)

Yes.  I went back to what I do best, History, to get those "juices" flowing again.  The good news is - it worked!  The book bug is back but I've since discovered that I am seven (SEVEN !!) books behind schedule for my goal - so there is going to be some serious Kindle Fire happening here! (Oh, Lordy - I do love that thing...but if I must be next book is a hardcover.  And so is the next. But I promised that  I would never go back through my rantings and ravings about the feel of a good hardcover...)

Uh-oh, you say!  But what about that "problem" you have with only being able to do one thing at a time?  What about the housework, and homeschooling the girls?

Heck - Hubby's been doing the dishes and laundry all of this time anyway - and maybe I can just read all of those books out loud to the girls as I go...
                                       ...surely that counts as homeschooling....right?


Onward and Forward!!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

She Lives!!!

Life is known for throwing curve-balls, even in our best laid plans.

I finally graduated this May and thought of nothing more than all of those books I'd be able to annihilate throughout all of those "wide open" days to come.

Day One: I made a pot of my favorite tea. I picked up the next book on my list.  I read the first sentence.

"Ahhhh...." I thought.

Then I read the first sentence again...

The buzzer went off on the dryer.

I read the first sentence again...

Needless to say, I have not yet gotten to the second sentence in that book and two months have passed!

Don't be fooled - that's not to say I haven't been reading!  I've devoured two novels with the girls - each night hopping on the bed and giggling with anticipation about what that next chapter might hold.  (Friends, if you ever have a moment, read "Mara, Daughter of the Nile."  It is part of Emily's reading curriculum...mystery, romance, murder, a genuine heroine...all of it was in there done in such a tasteful way.  Kind of like a good movie on the BBC, you know?  No smut - just page turning good!)

And now I'm neck-deep in nutritional books.  For those of you that don't know my little family that well, you would'nt know how intestine-ally challenged we all are - and frankly, the Momma's sick of it!!  I was gaining weight and felt horrible, Brad was fatigued constantly, Emily and Tink were being prescribed medication to get them "regular"....ugh. Soooo....I went to work - aaannd, EUREKA!

We've been talking for years really about changing what we ate, how we ate it and where the food we ate came from.  But, I couldn't get all of the pieces to fit.

That changed with one moment of indecision on movie night.  Brad was out on a train and the kiddos were sleeping so I chose a movie with a cool cover.  Seriously - that's how I picked it.  "Forks Over Knives." ...and our lives will never be the same.

So, I've been reading quite a few medical publications, recipe books, and now two books written by some incredibly intelligent doctors...I say that because they've cured my family of EVERY problem that each of us had.  Thank. you. God.

To me, that's what reading should be all about - Life Changing and Miraculous.

So, no, my book list is not being checked off just yet.  I feel "the call" every once in a while...but I just got a new nutrition book in the mail today may still be a few more days yet!

Hope all of you are traveling to incredible places between the pages this summer!  Would LOVE to hear what ya'll are reading! ;)

Onward and Forward!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Book #15

People always ask me, "how do you have time to read, with kiddos, a household to run, and school...?"

Folks, my answer is simple. 

Those things all suffer when I find a really good book.  And for twenty-four hours, no teeth were brushed, no dinner was made, no homework was done - unless somebody else did it - while I read Half Broke Horses.

Shocking, right?

Well, I can't exactly explain why I couldn't put the book down, other than to say that from now on, when someone says the words "real life" for the rest of mine, I will forever envision the sights, sounds, smells, and truths of this book and what Lily Casey Smith lived through.  She was gritty, no-nonsense, real, and lived by lessons like:

"...even though I was getting a better education at home than any of the kids in Toyah [her hometown] I'd need to go to finishing school when I was thirteen, both to acquire social graces and to earn a diploma.  Because in this world, Dad said, it's not enough to have a fine education.  You need a piece of paper to prove you got it."

(Funny - even back then people gave homeschoolers grief!)...


"I had learned a lot [in Chicago] - about myself and other people.  Most of those lessons had been hard ones.  For example, if people want to steal from you, they get you to trust them first.  And what they take from you in not only your money but also your trust."

I will also forever wonder where the moral and work ethic disappeared to that people like Lily lived by throughout the early decades of the 20th century...absolutely incredible.

The people that reviewed this book claimed it was "Little House on the Prairie" for adults.  I saw it more as a "Little House on the Prairie" reality TV show with happenings that I wouldn't have survived through the first page!

Great read with the voice of a woman you can swear you are sitting next, not sipping on tea, more like slamming back a whiskey.

Thanks, Nancy, for another great book!! :)

Onward and Forward to Book #16!!!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Book #14

Well, once again I have to admit that I wasn't very open-minded when I started this book.  Ever since I took that "Science Fiction Literature" class at the way-too-early hour of 8 o'clock in college, I have dreaded reading sci-fi books.  To be completely honest, I totally stereotyped the people I thought that enjoyed such writing and convinced myself that those people were entirely too logical, technical, and had way too much hand-eye coordination to be someone I could relate to. (Yes, I'm also admitting that I lumped sci-fi lovers with video-gamers...I've confessed already to being a total book snob!) :)

I've recently discovered that this stereotypical person that I'd "pooh-poohed" for so long as "not my crowd" included my own mother.  Whoopsie.  And, now...another confession.

I loved this book. 

Probably not for the reason that a "normal" sci-fi lover would (oops, there I go again...) I actually fell in love with Ender, in a "momma" kind of way. In the end, his humanity was incredible despite what he was put through before he'd even reached adolescence. 

I am purposefully NOT going to go into any detail about the book because I am petrified of giving away any secrets....I will only say that I was totally shocked by the ending...

...and in keeping with my snobbery...I would like to complain about the last sentence...AFTER you read it.

Thanks, W.R., for the suggestion!  And for all of you Sci-Fi lovers, I guess I've joined your ranks...though I still have absolutely no tolerance for video games! <lol!>

Onward and Forward to Book #15!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Some A.D.D. reading...

 (And those that pretend that they're not!)

This book was so much more than I expected…
Honestly, a lot of Christian inspirational or self-help books can leave a bad taste in my mouth.  The people writing them strike me as judgmental, or whiny, or “too good to be true” and I usually throw the book aside in frustration.
This book was the complete opposite.  I actually hi-lited, scribbled, wrote notes in the margins, and relished every word.  Sheila Walsh “gets it.”  She chucks her Bible when she’s mad, she yells, she asks the tough questions – it’s all out sabotage on the lies that your spirit has been told and she won’t stop until you “get it” too.
We’ve all been broken in some way in our lives, and when that happens, we have a tendency to drift away from the peace we’re promised by Jesus.  Sheila Walsh tugs you back in these pages, reminding you of those promises, and illustrates how that brokenness can actually bring you the relationship you’ve always wanted with Him in an intimate, love-filled way.
A definite must read for all people who struggle with the “why me/us, why now?”  and the “Where ARE you, Lord?!!”…even if you’re “pretending you’re not.”

I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com http://BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Book #13

As school is finally in the homestretch I thought for sure I would have more time to read, but reality is quite the opposite.  I find myself sneaking off at strange times of the day and night to catch a few lines now and then, but I've been unable to do anything substantial. 

It was different when I was reading "Their Eyes Were Watching God." I truly believe I could have gotten a better score on my last Evidence test if I had quit picking up that book to steal away to another time...and to another place.  Written in southern black dialect from the earlier decades of the 1900's, I had to read each and every word syllable by syllable, each paragraph line by line - and it was delicious.

It's perhaps another story, like "To Kill A Mockingbird", that I can't add any extra thought to or make any remarks that haven't been made...but what a story! (So I won't do it any injustices, it's "blurb" is here.)

What a woman, Janie, the lead character is!  She is proof positive that no matter what your situation, your education, your color, your gender, your is love - the way it leaves you wanting and dreaming; the determination to find it and the surprise that you feel when it comes, and the situations you find yourself in when its "true."

My favorite part of Miss Zora Neale Hurston's writing is the way she describes things that most of us take for granted.  Like, instead of just saying, "The sun rose..."

...the line is written,
"Every morning the world flung itself over and exposed the town to the sun."  

Oh, the extravagance of the sun just simply rising!  That is the essence of this book...the extravagance of every day life...told like you've never read it before, I'm positive.

This is by far NOT an "easy read."  Not that it begs for Cliff notes, but it is slow going because of the dialect. I will promise you though that if you take the time to read it, word by word, line by line - you'll find yourself sneaking away and avoiding things you're supposed to be doing just like I did...  :)

Thanks, Kim W., for another great suggestion! :)

Onward and Forward to Book #14!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Just Checking In...

Didn't want you all to think I'd given up...but after "To Kill A Mockingbird" it was really hard to concentrate on anything else. (How do you pick a book to follow up Harper Lee's magic?)

 I've been reading a couple of books that were not on my list to help me "get back into the groove."

I finished a great book by Sally Clarkson that really helped to refresh my "mission" as a mother.  She has such a sweet, accepting outlook on motherhood that reminds me that there should be no expectations of perfection in my role as the temporary protector, nurturer, and guide to these incredible "little people" that God has lent to me.  And, I feel so validated in her reflection on what I'm actually trying to accomplish raise intelligent, thoughtful, loving, responsible, Godly children that I will one day send out into the world to continue the cycle.  That in itself sounds nearly impossible for one person to do, and I have always complained that there was no "manual" for parents to follow to help in raising children.  Mrs. Clarkson gently reminded me that there is indeed a book full of all we need to know to raise great kids laid out in 66 easy to read chapters...the Bible!  Excellent book! (Of course I mean "The Mission of Motherhood" AND the Bible!!)

The other book I'm reading (and relishing) is Robert K. Massie's "Peter The Great", an 800+ page tome that I dove into after a great lecture on Russian history.  HAD to know more! 

This one will take me a I can officially start back on my list and...

on to Book #13..."Their Eyes Were Watching God."   I've been told I will need Cliffnotes for this book, but I'm going to give it a try without and see what happens!

Onward and Forward!!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Book #12

Shakespeare’s works are obviously timeless and magical…but according to Christopher Moore’s book , Fool,  they’re completely and wretchedly romanticized!

Take King Lear for example.

I’ll leave it to you to refresh your memory of the plot of King Lear, a dark story of betrayals, murder plots, unruly children…”and ghosts. There’s always a bloody ghost!”  Now imagine that the one who really survives and gets the girl isn’t who you’d expect…

When you read Moore’s take on things, from the perspective of the king’s jester, the world seems just a tad…different.  Raunchy is a word that keeps coming to mind.  Though the verbage is definitely 13th century, for some reason it doesn’t seem to be arranged as… artistically??…as the famous play we read in school.  In fact, I’m sure uttering more than three sentences of this book out loud would get you expelled.

All that to say, the premise of the story is actually quite smart! To take a famous work like King Lear and completely rearrange the viewpoint to such a lesser character…well, of course its raunchy, racy, sexy, rude,  crude, and dirty (are you catching my drift here?)  Life for the court fool was far from romantic! And for poor “Pocket”, the jester of such a King as Lear, there were matters of life and death at stake.

I am serious when I say that this book isn’t for the lighthearted or easily offended! (This isn’t even close to Monty Python!)  In all honesty, I only finished it because I couldn’t imagine how it all played out…and while the author’s idea was witty and well-done – he isn’t one I’ll be looking to read more of. I'm sure Mr. Moore could care less...most of the people that have reviewed this book say that it and the others Moore wrote are amazing, brilliant, and ridiculously funny if you check here

Despite the fact that I’m apparently more of a “Pollyanna” than I thought so far it’s been really interesting to see what others are reading! J

Onward and Forward to Book #13

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Book #11

What could I possibly write about “To Kill a Mockingbird” that hasn’t already been said?
I closed the book after the last page and took emotional inventory:
“I feel the will and the strength to do and be good, like I was raised to be, completely revived.
I feel a renewed hope in mankind that overshadows the disgust I so often feel.
I feel not the least bit of shame for outright crying when Scout said, “Hey, Boo,” while shedding her own blurry tears.”
My life has been permanently altered.
I might need a few days to get into Book #12…
Onward and Forward!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Book #10

Now this was a true tome.
I had honestly never heard of Dietrich Bonhoeffer before this book was suggested to me.  Now, I could probably tell you anything you want to know, from his childhood to his untimely death at the hands of the Third Reich only days before their surrender.  (That's how well written this biography is.) This man, this “pastor, martyr, prophet, spy” was a man before his time and another casualty of a horrendous violation of humanity.  His quest to bring the church to the proper place in the minds and hearts of his fellow Germans, one could argue even the world, was truly inspiring.
The author does an incredible job of making Bonhoeffer someone you feel you actually knew, and, as a Christian, proved he was someone that truly understood what the Church should stand for.  After this book, I think his image of Christianity has still yet to be realized, which is, sadly enough, part of what he died for.
This book is a 624 page biography (it’s synopsis is here) that goes into incredible detail about not only Bonhoeffer, but of many of the leaders of the church of Germany at the time, its history, German history…it’s mind boggling, really, the amount of information that the author, Eric Metaxas, squeezes into this book!
For that reason, I do not recommend this to anyone that isn’t specifically interested in the time period, this man, or a new perspective of a war of atrocities that touched places and institutions that many would not necessarily think of.  It's a hefty undertaking for someone just looking for Christian inspiration.

I learned so much that I hadn’t known about the infiltration of the Nazi terror into its own German churches; more proof of the chaos in the minds of the German people who did not recognize the threat to their own religion until it was too late, and obviously Hitler’s delusions of grandeur and insanity. Dietrich Bonhoeffer saw it all coming from the very beginning and was desperate to stop it...and paid the ultimate price for his efforts, as many did during that time.

Onward and Forward to Book #11

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Book #9

There is a line in this book that resonated so deeply in my soul that I had to put the book down and walk away for a minute.  I stared out of the window at the grass, the waving trees…my eyes welled with tears and I kept murmuring, “I’m so sorry.  I’m so sorry.” as I squeezed them tightly shut. 

One of the main characters in the book had re-discovered part of our past - “our past” meaning humanity’s - a part that no one liked to talk about because it was “too terrible”, “too despicable”, “too horrible” to discuss…the deportation in France by the French Vichy Police of over 8,000 Jews – more than 4,000 of them were children.  These children, already mourning the very recent deaths of their fathers (earlier sent away to the gas chambers,) were ripped from the arms of their mothers who were then, right in front of their little eyes, carted away to be gassed at Auschwitz. The children followed only days later.  Very few children escaped.  None of the adults survived.

Most of France seemed to chose to pretend it didn’t happen, or chose to forget that it did, which I think is worse.  The rest of the world supposedly just never knew.

That makes me sound a little odd, I know…crying over something I took no part in or that happened so long ago, so far away...but then again, I’ve never tried to hide my emotional side.  My children know long before they look that silent tears flow down my cheeks while we watch moving stories or read well crafted books. 

They know that a good historical documentary will bring just as many tears as fiction, if not more.
I remember reading about this particular event, not while learning about World War II in early schooling, but just very recently in a well-taught college class.  I remember being incensed, and embarrassed at humanity…and angry that it had been swept “under the rug.” There have been many such events that I’ve recently learned about in the annals of human history.

“Sorry for not knowing.  Sorry for being forty-five years old and not knowing.” p.192

I’ve always puzzled over people who choose not to learn more about an historical event, or refuse to watch the news, because it’s “too horrible.”  (If you are one of those people reading this, please note that I said I puzzled over this, I did not say that I judge you.)  Personally, I feel its almost a sense of duty to pass along this knowlege to as many people as possible; that it's a lie to keep the truth about who we are as human beings - what we're capable of doing to each other - a secret.  It completely dishonors the people who struggled, died...survived...that's unbearable to me for some reason.

Perhaps I am too passionate about my History studies.  Like the main character in the book, I too feel a physical change after discovery of horrors that have occurred in our past.  There have been so many, so many are still happening that so many people are not aware of. 

Perhaps I would be a happier person to not know…

…read this book, and let me know what you think.

*Please note that there is so much more to this book than just the historical part I've mentioned.  Here is a complete synopsis.  I just always seem to gravitate to the history...wonder why!? :) 
Thanks for the recommendation, Nancy.  I've obviously had my head in the history books for too long to not have found this book  earlier! I can’t honestly say that it was life-changing because it brought forth, just more strongly, feelings I’ve already had.  But it definitely impacted my soul the way a really good book should.

Onward and Forward to Book #10!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Book #8

I was pleasantly surprised to find this book full of concepts that rang so true in my head and my heart that I had to go back and read them again.  Truth be told, I will have to go back and read the whole book again, and possibly again, to finally be able to absorb all that this book has to offer.  And that makes the book, and its message, all the more valuable!
I have always admired C.S. Lewis, not because I was well versed in his philosophies, but because like many children, I fell in love with the seven amazing books he wrote about two “Sons of Adam” and two “Daughters of Eve” that fall into a mystical land through the back of their uncle’s coat cupboard.  Many a time did I push on the walls of the back of my closet in every new house we owned…hopeful to the last that Narnia was waiting for me on the other side. 
But, as an adult, I grew to appreciate Lewis for different reasons, the main one being his candid admittance as an atheist that he was wrong.
This book, put together by the author, Terry Lindvall, PhD., with some magic of his own, shows even more to admire in Lewis; his acceptance…no, more his determination to prove, that joy is an absolute requirement of Christian faith.  This joy takes many forms, through laughter, in jest, in flippancy and satire.  All play important roles in making sure that we acknowledge what God really meant for our lives and our hearts. Suffering, heartache, disappointment and pain run rampant in our lives, in our homes away from our true home.  But God tempers all of this with incredible occasions and outburst of pure, unadulterated joy - all ours for the taking, if we are willing to look for it, accept it, and share it.
This book is no easy read.  (Here's a synopsis in more "professional" terms than my own.) It probably took me twice as long to read than it should have simply because there was literally so much to absorb.  Some of it, I can admit, was way over my head at the moment but was not completely lost to me. It still settled in my mind somewhere in a place that I can “chew” on it and decipher it in my heart to be absorbed later.
This was a life changing tome for me simply because it did surprise me with its resonance with my own beliefs – both in faith and in C.S. Lewis’s character.  I imagine, years from now, this book will be dog-eared and tattered with many a note in the margins…a sign on my bookshelf of its immense value in everyday life.
Onward and forward to Book #9!

* I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255