"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."

Thursday, October 2, 2014

September Books

Tumbling Blocks by Earlene Fowler -- another book I found at a book exchange (so free), and it's "a Benni Harper mystery" which meant nothing to me. Still, I read it - a bit of a murder mystery, but nothing scary in the least.  OK filler book, but I doubt I'll look for more Benni Harper mysteries.

A Long Way Home by Saroo Brierley -- from the front cover:  "As a five-year old in India, I got lost on a train. Twenty-five years later, from Australia, I found my way back. This is what happened in between."   Pretty neat story!

We'll Always Have Paris by Jennifer Coburn -- after losing her father at a rather young age, the author believes her own life will be short and decides to visit Paris, and a few other European places with her daughter so her daughter will always have these wonderful memories with her mother.  The book is part "this is how our trips to European cities went" and part flashbacks to the author's life growing up with divorced parents who were still friends and rather dysfunctional or perhaps typical for this era. 

Saturday, August 30, 2014

August Books

Julie & Julia by Julie Powell  - a Texan living in New York City decides to go through Julia Childs' cookbook and make a few new dishes most every night. And she blogs about it and gets somewhat famous.  She's a pretty funny writer with a sailor's mouth. And she doesn't like Republicans.

Global Mom by Melissa Dalton-Bradford -- as I started this book and read through the first half or so, I thought "oh, yet another nothing-much-ever-goes-wrong, charming Mormon family life."  It was very neat reading about this family's years in Norway and France. So interesting especially when the author contrasted the two - and had to get her second son's name approved when he was born in Norway.  About two thirds of the way through the book, however, I was stunned and flipped back to the acknowledgements and "about the author" sections to see if what looked like was going to happen, really did. And it did.  Ahhh, tear out my heart.  I think I was teary-eyed or downright crying through much of the last third of the book.  I first heard of this book from Bridget's blog.

Once Upon a Town by Bob Greene  -- a book about a small town (North Platte, Nebraska) that set up a canteen to meet the soldiers during World War II as they were traveling across the country by train. The author talks to some of the soldiers who passed through, to women who were children or adults back then, and talks a bit about life in North Platte today (well, when he visited there researching for the book.)

Sword of God by Chris Kuzneski -- this is totally not my usual type of book. I saw it at a book exchange (it was free) so I decided to bring it home.  And for some reason it was the book I chose to read earlier this week when I needed a new one. I'm trying to read some of the books I have at home before going back to the library.  It was about a couple guys who were finding clues in a terrorist plot involving one of their former comrades.  Parts of it take place in South Korea while other parts take place in Mecca.  I occasionally felt like I was watching an episode of Hawaii Five-0 except there was no Steve, Danno or Hawaii.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

July Books

Still Waters by Jennifer Lauck -- the last book I read in June was about Jennifer's growing up years - well, until around age 12. This book takes off from there, and talks about her life with her new parents, reuniting briefly with her brother, schools and work and starting a family.


Show Me the Way by Jennifer Lauck -- so, yeah, the library had another one of her books and this is three in a row that I've read by this author.  This one had a few flashbacks from Jennifer's childhood and young adulthood - a few familiar, and a few new stories. But mostly it was stories from her pregnancies, children's births, and dealing with her young children. I know parents adore their children, and I do love my nephews, but I was reminded throughout this book of how happy I am not having any children of my own. 

All In by Mark Batterson -- we read his first book just before going to Syria. He always challenges me, and makes me want to DO something. Which I rarely do.  Boo.  Lots of good stuff, but one thing I noted that applied to me:

"Our prayers tend to focus on external circumstances more than internal attitudes because we'd rather have God change our circumstances than change us."  (pg. 121)

Miracle in the Hills: The Lively Personal Story of a Woman Doctor's Forty-year Crusade in the Mountains of North Carolina by Mary T. Martin Sloop, M.D.  -- my mom found this in the library...fun to read about this lady's life in Crossnore, NC

A Farewell to Mars by Brian Zahnd -- "an evangelical pastor's journey toward the Biblical gospel of peace."  -- I saw this on the new book shelf at the library, and then one of my favorite authors whom I follow on Facebook recommended it a few days later.  Such a challenging book!  Especially for those like myself in a culture that often seems to want to bring peace through violence (war).  Great read!

The Guns of August by Barbara W. Tuchman -- a friend sent this to me for my birthday. We had been talking about World War I together, and I suppose he thought it would be good for me to read more about it. He googled "best English books on WWI" or something like that, and this was recommended.   I didn't even know who sent it until I inquired on Facebook about a book appearing in my mailbox.  There were parts of this book that I found interesting, but I must admit I'm not a big fan.  It took me exactly 2 months and 1 day to finish this - though I did not read some every day. I did try to read a page or ten most days, but there were plenty of days where this book was completely ignored.  So glad I finally finished it today (7/25) so I can included it on this list!

Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven by Susan Jane Gilman -- the author recounts her 1986 trip to China with a friend from college - wow

Stronger by Jeff Bauman -- I saw this in the new book section of the library; it's from one of the guys who lost his legs after the Boston marathon bombing in 2013 - I enjoyed reading his story

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

June Books

Can't believe it's already July! This year is flying!

Shadowed by Grace by Cara C. Putman -- I found this novel in the new book section.  It was about a photographer who went to Italy during the final months of World War II in search of her father.  It wasn't really all that interesting to me although it made me think of my times in Europe which have been nice.  Need to visit Italy one day.

Last Train to Paris by Michele Zackheim -- another book from the new books shelf at the library, and I liked this one much better. It's about a reporter who covers news in Europe during WWII.  The reporter is Jewish, and it was interesting reading about her adventures, her family, and her friends there.

Listen to the Squawking Chicken by Elaine Lui -- a Chinese-Canadian tells her story which includes so much about her mother's influence on her life. I learned quite a bit about Chinese culture (at least her version of it) in this book. The part about filial piety (pg. 58) was quite interesting especially at how much it differs from how people raise children here.

Jesus, My Father, the CIA, and Me: a memoir ...of sorts by Ian Morgan Cron -- I found this book at Goodwill awhile back and finally read it this month.  The author recounts his years growing up with an abusive alcoholic father, and his own struggles with drinking too much, too young in an effort to earn his father's love.  My favorite part was when he recounted his childhood to an elderly black woman whom he met at a church he attended in Denver when he was in seminary.  The part about Jesus asking him for forgiveness and her reply that "love always stoops," really touched me.  (pg. 175)

The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen by Syrie James  -- I read a similar book about Louisa Mae Alcott that I really liked more than I thought I would. So when I saw this one at the library, I decided to see if it were similar.  I liked it.

In The Presence of My Enemies by Gracia Burnham -- I'm over a decade late reading this memoir, but I saw it at a local thrift store, and it drew my attention. I remember when New Tribes missionaries Martin and Gracia Burnham were kidnapped by the Abu Sayyaf, a terrorist group, in the Philippines in 2001.  It was interesting reading this account of how they were treated, and how they passed the time during their year-long captivity.  I especially enjoyed reminders of God's faithfulness to them even during those very low points, and found myself praying for these awful men, that God will show them their need for salvation through Christ. I prayed that the lives of the Burnhams showed them the peace and joy they can have in following Christ rather than a horrible ideology. 

Blackbird by Jennifer Lauck -- a biography my mom finished and said was good.  It was. But so sad, too. I wanted to jump into this book a few times and intervene on this child's behalf. Goodness, there are some mighty cruel people in this world.  I'm reading the sequel to this book now. Not sure if I will finish it in time for this post. (nope)

Saturday, May 31, 2014

May Books

Roadside Assistance by Amy Clipston -- a girl tries to find her faith after losing her mother to cancer

Secrets Over Sweet Tea by Denise Hildreth Jones -- this book is based around a community and church family - eh, my mom read it and passed it along

The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott by Kelly O'Connor McNees  -- So this author enjoyed reading about LMA, and wondered if there was a romance in her life so she uses a summer the Alcotts went to Walpole, New Hampshire and creates a story about Louisa's "lost summer" of meeting some guy that she adores, but also her attempts at getting published. I liked this more than I thought I would!  And I got it at an area book exchange.

The Bible and the Land by Gary M. Burge - I enjoy these colorful books, and I requested this one on my Amazon Wishlist.  The author talked about the wilderness, water, bread, names and such things mentioned in the Bible from that culture.

Rainwater by Sandra Brown -- I found this at one of those book exchanges. I realized right away that I'd read it before, but decided to read it again. It was an easy read - just an ol' fiction book

Stolen Innocence by Elissa Wall -- a friend sent this to me for my birthday.  Interesting read.  "My story of growing up in a polygamous sect, becoming a teenage bride, and breaking free of Warren Jeffs"  -- I won't even bother mentioning yet again how much I detest men who "speak for God" and ruin so many lives

December 1941:   31 Days that Changed America and Saved the World by Craig Shirley -- this is quite a big book that I bought on a whim at Barnes & Noble a few months ago.  I remember it was in the bargain books, and I thought the subject was interesting. Curious what the US was like just before, during and after the bombing of Pearl Harbor?  This book shares interesting tidbits not just about what was happening militarily, but also cultural news such as:

The power of movies in 1941... "One of the biggest stars of the era, [Clark] Gable, took off his shirt in the movie 'It Happened One Night' to reveal his bare and masculine chest.  Unlike most men in America, he did not wear a T-shirt and as a result T-shirt sales dropped 40 to 50 percent in one year."  (pg. 32)

Of course I got to wondering later if perhaps the war and maybe a shortage of cotton or people using clothes more contributed to this drop.  This book was so-so.  Not terrible, but not the best either. 

Accidental Pharisees by Larry Osborne  -- "Avoiding pride, exclusivity, and the other dangers of overzealous faith."  -- I had this one on my Amazon wishlist and got it for my birthday. I think a friend recommended it to me.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Original Glory

I "liked" some Facebook page awhile back, and I read this on my news feed today.

What do you think?

"To teach a child from their earliest years that they are inherently bad and capable of all sorts of evil is to mock the divine image in which we were created, and not only provides a license for sin, but subconsciously programs people to live debased and immoral lives. Teach your children that they are the offspring of divine perfection, and that the Father, Son and Spirit smile upon them and all that they are.
Original glory trumps original sin. Original sin is Adamic mythology, but original glory is truth redeemed and revealed through Christ."

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

April Books

I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up For Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai -- I've been wanting to read this one, and found it at a local library.  I enjoyed reading more of Malala's story, and hope she and her family will be able to return to their home one day.  It was interesting reading her views on the Taliban, Benazir Bhutto, the Americans, and, of course, schools for girls!

Code Talker: A Novel about the Navajo Marines of World War Two by Joseph Bruchac -- an interesting way to learn more about the Navajo Indians and their work for the US during the war; my friend Joni recommended this to me a few years ago, and I finally found it at my library.

Cut Me Loose: Sin and Salvation after my Ultra-Orthodox Girlhood by Leah Vincent -- I heard a short interview with this author on NPR, and then found this book in the new section of my library; If you enjoy books about people leaving their super-strict faiths, you may enjoy this book.  It was more graphic at times than I expected. I couldn't help feel anger at her parents for how they treated her. It reminded me of fiction books I read as a teen about Amish teenagers breaking away from their faith and being shunned.  No unconditional love in these families!

The Jewish Gospels: The Story of the Jewish Christ by Daniel Boyarin -- "Throughout this book, we have been observing how ideas that have been thought to be the most distinctive innovations of Jesus himself or his followers can be found in the religious literature of the Jews of the time of Jesus or before."  (pg. 133)  We're talking things like a suffering Messiah who atones for our sins, the possibility of a divine "Son of Man" (which the author claims is more of a divine title than "Son of God") and Jesus keeping kosher.

For the Benefit of Those Who See: Dispatches from the World of the Blind by Rosemary Mahoney -- I happened upon this book in the new book section of my library. Earlier this year I read the memoir of a deaf person so I thought it would be interesting to read about blindness.  The author shares about her experiences with the blind in Tibet, and later teaching English to a group of international students at a school for the blind in India.  Through her students I learned how blind people are treated in Germany, Japan, Kenya, Liberia, and Tibet.  I heard stories of other cultures, and even how people have reacted when their eye sights have been restored and they've seen for the first time (it's not as much fun as you'd think:  can you imagine humans not being as good-looking as you'd always imagined? and that's not the real issue just a mere shallow vanity thing)  My kind of book. Very interesting once you get past the introduction which dwells on how much the author would hate to be blind and her squeamishness when her boyfriend undergoes LASIK.  I almost decided to not read any further, but I'm glad I persevered. 

The Nazi and the Psychiatrist by Jack El-Hai -- the subtitle is "Hermann Göring, Dr. Douglas M. Kelley, and a Fatal Meeting of Minds at the End of WWII" and it is about that, but it's mostly about Dr. Kelley, his family background and practice both during his time in Nuremberg and beyond.  I didn't know he'd worked in nearby Winston-Salem, NC, for a time after his stint in Germany.  He sounds like a very troubled man, but who wouldn't be hanging around a bunch of Nazis and trying to understand them!  Plus his grandfather...and mom.

Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus: A Devout Muslim Encounters Christianity by Nabeel Qureshi --  I really liked this book more than I thought I would.  I'd put it on my Amazon Wishlist a few months ago because someone had mentioned this guy to me. I tend to like conversion stories to varying degrees, and wanted to hear more about this guy.   The first many chapters conveyed how he grew up, his deep love for his faith, and how he enjoyed debating Christians in the United States.  He seemed to really love learning as he stated how often he'd visit his father's library to learn more about his faith and how to argue against Christianity.  You cannot help falling in love (um, can't think of a better way to put this) with his parents and just their sweetness and devotion.  Their family life is truly one to be envied.  Alas, he becomes best friends with a Christian who defends his faith, one who challenges him...and much of the book is about this amazing friendship, and how the two guys interact and learn more about each other's faiths.  It was quite an enjoyable read the last two days. None of the Islam bashing that one can find in many other books. 

Prototype by Jonathan Martin -- I believe this was on Rachel Held Evans' list of favorite books in 2013. I put it on my Amazon wishlist and got it for my birthday.  The author is a pastor of "liars, dreamers, and misfits" and he does a nice job of sharing his heart for people and for creation - restoring the world as Jesus would.  At one point he says we long for restoration, not escape, and he reminds us of the beauty all around us.  I read this as I was lying outside in the shade under a tree, with the bright blue sky sparkling above me. Birds were singing especially loudly and cheerfully.  It was a pretty neat moment. I like the part around page 147 about God coming down to earth, and how His doing that is "the descent of God's Kingdom peace into the chaos of the present."  Jesus brought the "comfort and delight of God's very own touch to humanity," and the other Comforter i.e., the Holy Spirit, came to do the same - and still does.   I was challenged by the chapter on community and sharing yourself and getting involved in one. I resist this to no end. I like the idea of it, but hate it at the same time.  People are messy. People take time. People want listening ears, and emotional support, and sometimes monetary support, and involvement - and, I'm often too selfish and wrapped into my introverted ways to reach out - or allow myself to be vulnerable.  "'Can't I just have a relationship with Jesus and not the church?' Actually, no.  you can't."  UGH! 

A Short Stay in Hell by Steven L. Peck -- a couple Mormon bloggers mentioned this book as something that really stuck with them so I added it to my Amazon Wishlist and a sweet friend sent it to me for my birthday. It has large print and is only 104 pages so I finished it in about an hour.  The first 80% of the book I was thinking this was so bizarre and I didn't really get it. But then it all sort of sunk in.  My first thoughts were that, hey, I would totally be fine if the Baptist version of hell were wrong, and lost people went to a huge library for a "short stay" and then they could be with God for the rest of eternity.  I have NO PROBLEM AT ALL with a more merciful God, and my views of hell being wrong.  I'd love to think of folks like Hitler and Bin Laden searching through books for the stories of their lives right now.  But then this book progressed and I was thinking hell was everyone being white, Americans, and being surrounded by SO MANY BOOKS. And, hey, I love books (note most blog posts these days are books I've read each month.)  I realized loneliness and lack of hope and even "short stays" in hell can be hellish.

The Lost Childhood by Yehuda Nir -- a rather interesting memoir of a Polish Jew and how he, his mom, and sister survived World War II.