Showing posts with label Adult Bio/Autobio/Memoir. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Adult Bio/Autobio/Memoir. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

In the Cleft:Joy Comes in the Mourning by Dana Goodman

Genre: Inspirational, Autobiography
Source: I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

Dana Goodman is definitely a courageous woman.  I say this ot because she has had to handle the death of three family members  such a short time, but because of how she handled it. God does't promise hid children a life of eas. He promises to walk with us continually through these dark valleys. This raw look at Dana and her grief was not sugar coated.  It was not full of only the great things God helped her through.  This was full of reality. Her true thoughts and feelings.  Feelings that God was a puny God who could not help her.  Anyone who has lost someone to a slow diseas has the feelings. Not everyone will admit it.  That doesn't mean as Christians that we don't have them. It means when those feelings hit us, we rely on God to walk with us, and if need be to carry us for awhile. This book was hard to read because at this moment I have a friend who is walking this same path.  Her daughter has been sick for such a long time and now her brain cancer is ravishing her body.  It is painful to watch my friend go through this.  Like Dana, she is such an inspiration as has her daughter been to us.  She has leaned on God and let us know how tough it is.  She is not walking this valley alone but with Jesus at her side.  This is a book I think everyone should read whether they are or have gone through anything like this.  I will definitely recommend this to family and friends. I am sharing this with my other who teaches a Grief Share class at church and has since shortly after losing my father and my sister.  You can find other grief resources on Dana's site.

Where you  can find Dana: 

Friday, August 5, 2011

I Want to Know My Future – Linda Dipman.

Publisher: Outskirts Press
Pages: 285
Source:  Bostick Communications
Genre:  Autobiography

I will state from the very beginning that I felt disappointment. The disappointment was not in the writing style or anything other than I felt the author was afraid to be up front with potential readers about the topic of her story. No matter what my personal Christian beliefs are about homosexuality I will say this. No one should be discriminated against because of sexual orientation, race or religion. That being said, this is the story of two mothers who are divorcing their husbands for issues within their marriage. They then form a bond that brings them together into a relationship. Elizabeth's ex-husband, friends and church don't approve. They go beyond voicing their disapproval, they set out to defame and ruin her based only on her choice of lover. The court system sided with the ex-husband for many diffferent reasons. The book was well written telling a heart-wrenching story with a fairly happpy ending. Would I have picked this book up knowing it was about a woman fighting to keep her children who have been removed from her because of her sexual orientation? Probably not. I usually don't read books about homosexuality. As a reader and reviewer I don't have to agree with religious or philisophical beliefs of the author. Based on the story line alone this was a good book. I read it straight through.

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Betrayal of Maggie Blair - Elizabeth Laird

Publisher:  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt  April 18, 2011
Pages:  432
Source:  Review copy from Netgalley
Genre:  Young Adult Christian Historical Fiction

To say I enjoyed this book is an understatement.  Elizabeth Laird has created a setting so detailed you are mentally transported back into 17th century Scotland.  This is the story of 16 year old Maggie who lives with her grandmother after her father’s death.  Her grandmother is not liked by most of the people around her. As a bitter and hateful old woman she spits her venom on everyone around her.  When a newborn dies the neighbors have a way to get rid of her.  They accuse her of being a witch and burn her.  This was often the case during this time period.  It didn’t take much to be accused of witchcraft.  Maggie escapes her grandmother’s fate through the help of a family friend.  She makes her way to her uncle’s house where she is welcomed.  She soon learns things are not going well for her uncle.  The king wants to remove God from the church and set himself up as supreme being.  It is kind of like the story of Daniel in the Bible where those who did not bow to the king and worship him were thrown in the lions den.  In this story the king has men watching the people.  They have secret meetings to try to figure out what to do about the king.  When many of them are arrested Maggie finds herself doing whatever she has to do just to save her family.

Problems with religious differences is not new.  It can be traced back to Bible times.  Elizabeth Laird has used her ancestors to help bring this plight to light.  There was a lot of Scottish history that I probably would not have learned if it had not been for this book.  I really enjoyed it and can’t wait to recommend it to my friends.  Unfortunately they will have to wait until April to read it.  But it is worth the wait.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Denial A Memoir of Terror - Jessica Stern

Publisher:  Ecco, 2010
Pages:  299
Genre:  Adult Memoir
Source:  I received a copy from Goodreads first reads for review.
All opinions expressed in this review are mine alone.

In 1973 15 year old Jessica Stern and her 14 year old sister encounter a man in their step-mother's house.  he is armed with a gun.  He rapes them both threatening to kill them if they don't comply or if they say anthing.  Fast forward several years and we find Jessica is now a successful expert on terrorists and terrorism.  She finds that the things that should terrify her don't and simple things do.  She makes a decision to find out why.  It is during this exploration she goes back to the files on her rape.  The case is re-opened and she faces many people she has trusted in her life to help her find the answers.  She discovers things about her father that may explain why he did not return immediately from a trip to Europe after finding out about his daughters.  He completed his business and then returned. 

For me this was a tough book to read.  In her chapter called Denial she talks about being victimized over and over by those who are skeptical about events.  I don't believe people willingly do this but it causes further damage none the less.  The victim is then force to react in a way where they shut down emotions, pretend events never happened or they themselves re-victimize themselves by the choices they make.  I think anyone who has ever suffered any type of trauma, whether it is the loss of a family member, a form of abuse or whatever should read this book.  I  thought of my cousins daughter who was involved in a terrible accident with her family.  Her baby was killed, the oldest suffered permanent brain damage.  Her husband wanted her to just wanted her to get over the accident and move on.  They weren't his children.  His ex-wife didn't understand "what the big-deal was the kid was dead just move on", yet told her what she would have done if her kids had been in the car and been injured.  Her ex-husband stole money the community was raising for the oldest kids hospital bills.  One person after another took the opportunity to kick her when she was down and then when she finally fell apart and became suicidal they said they couldn't understand what happened. 

We all find ways to deal with our trauma.  Some of us try to handle it ourselves or seek counseling.  Others take it out on themselves or those around.  Maybe if this book had been around they would have handled things differently.

Monday, April 19, 2010

A Woman Soldier's Own Story The Autobiography of Xie Bingying

Pages:  336
Source:  Library

At the age of twenty Xie joined a group of classmates on a trip to Central China.  She had taken and passed a test that allowed her to join a military group headed for training.  Hyer family and school were unaware of this decision.  This along with many other decisions she made from an early age branded her a rebel.  These same decisions would cause her trouble throughout her life until she came to America and raised a family here.  This was not a quick read.  However, I will say her guts and gumption kept me reading.  I knew that living in a society that treated women pretty much as property was tough.  When Xie's mother bound her feet so she would have tiny feet, and because it was the custom and others were talking about how big her feet were, she took it upon herself to unbind them.  This is not a pleasant thing to do.  When forced to marry someone she had been promised to as a child, she forced her husband to divorce her before consumating the marriage.  This book was not only her story, but the story of women in China during that time.  Her strength of character and belief in her dreams made her someone to admire.  This was a wonderful book.  It is not something I would have read if it had not been for needing to read it for the "ABC Author Challenge".  I'm glad I found it and can recommend it.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Thin Places - Mary E. DeMuth

Page:  224
Publisher:  Zondervan, February 1, 2010
Source:  Received from a giveaway

Thin Places by Mary DeMuth is an honest look at how God took the aches and pains of her past and showed her how he was with her throughout, even when she didn't understand where he was.  Growing up in a home where she felt she was an inconvenience, especially after the loss of her father and living through sexual abuse by her babysitter’s sons.  She realizes that God has always been there for her and always will be.  The sadness is almost overwhelming yet the hope is always there.  Hope that someone wants her, loves her and can protect her.  She finds that hope in God.  This is her story of her journey through these trials.  This book was hard to read at times.  The hope she carries throughout is contagious.  I have passed this book on to my mother who I know will enjoy this book as much as I have.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The View From Brindley Mountain & Small Kingdoms

The View From Brindley Mountain by C. Eugene Scruggs

Pages: 532
Publisher: BookSurge, 2009
Review Copy received from publisher

This book is a trip down memory lane. Cullen is a town in Alabama that was founded for immigrants from Germany. As I read through the book I watched the town grow and evolve. I have always loved reading about this era. Some of the things were familiar to me even though I wasn't born until the latter 50's. Growing up on my great-grandmother's farm without a lot of modern conveniences gave me the experience of watching things evolve in my own life. This is a trip back in time to what some may say was an easier time but in reality was just as difficult but maybe less stressful in many ways. I felt like I was in one of the little towns surrounding where I grew up, a town where life was a little slower in pace.
Small Kingdoms – Anastasia Hobbet
Pages: 344
Publisher: Permanent Press, 2010
Received review copy from publisher

This is the story of five people whose lives usually would not cross. This story is set in Kuwait after Saddam Hussein has taken over. We are given an opportunity to view the different lives, prejudices, and cultures that shape these people. For example, Kit is the American wife of a businessman. They have moved to Kuwait with their two children. Kid has built walls around her to keep her safe and protected in this foreign land. She feels like a fish out of water in this strange place and must reach out to total strangers if she is to survive.

Hanaan is considered one of the lower class people. She is Palestinian by birth. She at one time was a linguist at the university. It is because of this we meet Theo. He is introduced to him as he shows up for his first appointment with Haanan to learn Arabic. She is considered an outcast because of her Palestinian heritage as well as the fact that she brings men into her home. It doesn’t matter that it is to teach them Arabic. She is looked down on.

The fourth person is Mufeeda. She is considered to be upper class. Her husband is a doctor so she has a lot to live up to as far as the duties of a wife of this class. She is a devout Muslim and questions her husband’s religious beliefs. She has a servant/cook who seems ill-suited to her job. She is a cook in Mufeeda’s household. It seems that bad luck follows her everywhere. She is from India and she is holding a secret that will involve all of the characters if she is to survive. The stories of each character are intertwined in such a way that we get a good snapshot of life in Kuwait. We see the prejudices based on where the people came from and their religious beliefs. Each of these people will risk everything they have to help Emanuella, the young cook. It could be very costly to all involved. This was a good book. I felt it was well written. It presented you with one character and their point of view.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A Collection of Past Due Reviews

The Laceyville Monkeys Say the Right Words
Author: Harriett Ruderman
Illustrator: Beerly Luria
Publisher: Illusion Press
Source: Publisher Review copy

Let me start off by commenting on the illustrations for this book. The use of bright water colored pictures was wonderful the emotions expressed on teh the character's faces were well portrayed and helped the story line along. Hepzibah comes to Laceyville to enter her three monkeys in their talent contest. She takes them to Granny's house and hey perform for her. Granny decides to enter them as her own. However when she instructs them to dance and sing and tumble, she does it harshly and they just stand there. The trainer comes and saves the day. The lesson of speaking softly and kindly is portrayed with words and pictures. I enjoyed this book. This is a book I believe every parent should have and read before their child is born. After the birth of their child they should read it to their child at least once a week. I deal with students in middle grades and often can tell how they are spoken to at home. I loved this book and look forward to sharing it with my grandchildren

Martyn Pig by Kevin Brooks
Publisher: PUSH
Pages 230
Source: I purchased

Martyn Pig has had a hard life. His mother divorced his father and left him with his dad. His father is a drunk who only stays sober when his sister is coming for a visit. She had tried to get custody of Martyn. Martyn finds himself in trouble when he accidently kills his father. Enter his friend Alex and her boyfriend Dean and the trouble has begun. This book kept me on the edge of my seat all the way through. I felt the anxiety that Martyn felt while he was going through all his different situations. I have a hard time keeping this book on my shelves. this was a re-read for me. I first read it seven years ago when it first came out. I have had to purchase four new copies since that time because they have been stolen or just loved to death. This book is great for any kid because they can relate to it in so many ways.

GUTS by Gary Paulsen
Publisher: Scholastic
Pages: 148
Source: I purchased it

Move over Bear Grylls. Gary Paulsen, author of the Hatchet Books has soften been asked about his characters. A lot of his characters and their circumstances are based on actual events that have happened to him in real life. When I read about how he had sucked the eyes out of fish or eaten the guts of a squirrel. Maybe this is why my boys find this a really great book. He is a true survivalist and the reader of this book has a lot to learn from him. I enjoyed this book immensely. I realized he did not sugar coat anything. He talked about several instances where he observed people killed. The saddest was the story of the little boy feeding a wild deer and he and his mom didn't understand the signs and the deer kicked the boy killing him instantly. It is no wonder that his books are so realistic. They are based on events that actually happened to him.

An African Tale by Enna Neru
Publisher: Outskirt Press
Pages: 160
Source: Publisher's review

I have read a lot of myths but none have enchanted me the way this one did. The lessons to be learned about saving our resources were right on in this day and age. I enjoyed the idea that when the people became wasteful the water was collected into a stone in the shape of a diamond and buried in the desert until someone found. I felt sorry for Ledimo in the beginning of the book. His father was a terrible person. He used his sons ability. Jealousy, greed, hunger for power led to the downfall of Ledimo. It seemed like it took him a long time to learn his lesson. The idea of power being passed down to twins so that they had to cooperated seemed like the plausible thing to do. I enjoyed this immensely. I had not yet finished it when one of my students asked if he could read it next. He had been reading the back of the book. Since I teach reluctant readers, any book that can make them ask tot read it is excellent in my opinion. I would definitely recommend this book to all of my students.

One Speaks: Sacred Relationship Revealed by Richela Chapman
Publisher: Outskirts Press
Pages: 296
Source: Reviewers copy

Richela chapman makes some valuable points in her book, "One Speaks". The first chapter reminds us that before we can love someone else, we must first love ourselves. She encourages us to treat our heart and should as the temple that it is. For so many of us we have gotten lost along the way with excess baggage that makes it difficult to do just that. Something that I found helpful was in the reflections at the end of chapter 70. For years I have written down things when I was angry and then either tore them up and threw them away or flushed them down the toilet. Not once did I ever consider imagining the words actually being spoken to me and then thinking about my emotional reaction to them. I believe that is why the angry thoughts would resurface time and again. I enjoyed the reflection activities at the end of each chapter. As a teacher I made my students reflect on what they have learned and what they have read. For me this seemed so natural.

A Walk for Sunshine by Jeff Alt

Publisher: Dreams Shared
Pages: 297
Source: Reviewer's Copy

I can remember when I was younger doing walk-a-thons to raise money for various things at our schools. The longest I had walked was 20 miles. I believed that was a lot until I read this book. Jeff alt walked 2,160 miles to fulfill a dream and raise money for a worthy cause. When I walk today I complain if I have to walk in a little bit of drizzle or if the weather is too hot. Jeff walked in downpours, snow, extremely cold weather or extremely hot weather and still kept on going. His dream was to walk the Appalachian Trail, a personal dream while raising money for the Sunshine Home where his brother Aaron was. This book is his inspirational story of how he accomplished this and the friends he made along the way. I had to ask myself when I finished this book, would I have the courage and stamina to do this? I laughed at the simple things, such as his realizing how bad he smelled when he hurt his ankle and had to get a ride to Gatlinburg. I would have been terrified to have crossed paths and then stood up to the group they called "The Vegetarians." Jeff tried to make hiking a pleasure in so many ways for so many people on the trail. I know I will never hike the trail long distance as he did. The next time I am on it I will remember him and bring some of his inspiration with me. I loved the maps at the beginning of each chapter and found the gear list and tips for taking children hiking especially helpful I have several friends who have been asking for an opportunity to read this and I will gladly share this inspirational book.

Grandfather's Story Cloth by Linda Gerdner and Sarah Langford
Grandfather's Story Cloth was one that so many people can relate to no matter what their cultural background. Chersheng's grandfather has Alzheimer's disease. He doesn't always remember his family, the time period, or where he is. This is upsetting to Chersheng and his younger brother. When their mother brings out a story cloth that the grandfather had made, the grandfather was able to share stories of his life in Laos. Chersheng decides to create something that will help keep memories for his grandfather of his time in America. this brought back memories of my grandmother who had alzheimer's disease. It often tears families apart. I loved the added information in the back of the book about alzheimer's disease, the Homong people and story cloths. I thought that it was great that this was a bilingual book. This is a great asset to my shelves.

The Unicorn Treasury by Bruce Coville
Publisher: Magic Carpet Books, 2004
ISBN: 978-052052164
Source: A gift from my daughter for my classroom

When my daughter was younger and we owned a ceramic business, she painted a unicorn that she still has today. As she got older and more adept at painting it was repainted a lavender with sparkles all over itl The mane and tail were glittery pink and it had a golden horn. It came as no surprise when she handed me a book full of unicorn stories, poems and unicorn lore. The stories were very crisp and refreshing. This collection of stories and poems were told by some of my favorite authors like C.S. Lewis, Jane Yolen and Madeleine L'Engle. That is not to say the other contributors were not good. I was not familiar with many and that made the book even more charming. The cover art was gorgeous. It takes anyone who has ever loved fairy tales and transports them back into that world. It was snatched up the minute I put it on my shelves. This is a must read for all who love unicorns.

The Ruby Key by Holly Lisle
Publisher: Orchard Books, 2008
Pages: 361
ISBN: 978-0545000130
Source: Library

I am picky about the fantasy I read. The reason I read this book was simple, I had taken some writing courses from the author and always loved what she wrote online. So, I figured I would try one of her books. Ruby Key is the story of Genna and Dan who lived in the village of Highbrush. They have hatched a plan to save their mother who is sick. The only night they are allowed out is the night they make their offering to the Nightlings who leave gifts for them in return. They know to go out at night might mean their death or they could become slaves of the Nightlings. to save their mother they must go out at night and venture to the taander tree to gather its sap. While out they encounter a nightling who becomes their friend. They find out that there is a problem brewing in their village and they join forces with the Nightling to try to set things right. I loved the way it ended. It was finished nicely, yet was finished in a way that a sequel would fit nicely. The characters and plot were definitely well developed. I would expect nothing less from Holly. I will also read more of her books. I enjoyed them quite a bit.

The Never Pals by Rocky Kuznik
Publisher: Outskirts Press, 2009
ISBN: 978-1432703035
Pages: 480
Source: Reviewer's copy

The Never Pals is the story of two neighbors who have never really had anything to do with each other. Frank Bingham sells cars for Frenchy Mandril. He is Frenchy's best salesman. When things go wrong, Frenchy leaves Frank to clean up the mess. He can't really stand Frenchy and his ignorance. He often wondered about Frenchy, "Why is it those parents of his decide to make a human form that included a moronic brain? Then choose to provide him living space on this particular planet is way beyond me." To me this was absolutely hilariously. I kept asking myself if he hated it so much, why didn't he find a different job?
January Thornton works for King's Crib Inn. He runs his kitchen like a drill sergeant. He takes great pride in what he puts out. However, his suggestions to the general manager often fall on deaf ears. The manager seemed to be in the throes of dementia. he didn't seem to know he had a secretary. He was unaware of many things that were going on under his nose.
Frank and January meet in their driveways and January suggests they go down to Florida for a couple of weeks and get away from the stress of their jobs. This is exactly what they do. They meet a couple of girls and as usual, Frank can't just stick with one thing. January has actually started a relationship. Their differences on vacation are as different when they are home.
Both have unique experiences which involve a robbery and attempted murder. This was a fun book to read. I liked January's character best. He seemed more level headed whereas Frank was out for fun and for himself. Need something to pick you up and give you a laugh? This book is the answer to that.

Messy Tessy by Leah Orr
Illustrated by Josephine Lepore
Publisher: AuthorHouse, 2009
Source: Review copy from Publisher/Author

Tessy is your typical child who likes to keep her toys handy. Mom wants her room to stay clean. When mom goes away and Aunt Fran comes to stay, things quickly get out of hand. With Aunt Fran's help the mess is cleaned up. Well most of it. This was a cute book. I remember my sister pulling so many of these antics and me playing mommy and cleaning up so our mother would not know about it. This was a really cute book. I look forward to sharing it with many little ones. I really like the idea that Lea Orr donated the proceeds of her first two books to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, to help find a cure. This is something very close to her as her daughter was diagnosed with CF. I look forward to future books. These make great read alouds for my grandchildren.

Who Wants to be a Poodle I Don't
Author: Lauren Child
Publisher: Candlewick Press, 2009
Pages 38
Source: Publisher Review copy for Picnic Basket

I read this book twice. I loved it. They rhyme and story line were wonderful A story told from he perspective of the poodle. I have always wondered how much dogs liked being pampered. According to Trixie Twinkle Toes Trot-a-Lot Delight, poodles would like to be treated like other dogs. It is okay to be pampered on occasion but not constantly. It is also not appropriate to give them long names. One think that I like even more than the story were the pictures. It looked as if they used scrapbooking papers and possibly fabric to create the looks. It was bright, cheery andgave the feel of elegance. By this I mean the poodle was pampered and the owner bought expensive items so teh choice of backgrounds and papers used gave the impression of elegance. This book will be a gift to one of my young friends, Charlotte. She is 4 years old and loves to read to her mommy (an art teacher at our school) every night. I know the two of them will thoroughly enjoy the book.