Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Survivor's Club book review

From the back of the book:

"Each second of the day, one of us faces a crisis, whether it's a car accident, violent crime, serious illness, or financial trouble. Who beats the odds and who surrenders?. . .. .in this book are gripping true stories, astonishing scientific research, and the author's own adventures inside elite survival schools and the government's airplane crash evacuation course."

Think--"Drama in Real Life" from the Reader's Digest. That's what these stories remind me of. True stories of people who survive unbelievable things. There's the woman who trips and falls on her knitting needles, not realizing for several minutes that one of them has punctured her heart. And the woman who falls 6 miles from an airplane and survives. And the woman who survived a mountain lion ripping at her neck and face. There are stories of people who were in the twin towers on 9-11 and survived, and stories of survivors of the holocaust. There are stories of our American soldiers, and the types of training they endure, as well as stories of emergency room patients. All fascinating!

Interspersed with the stories are interesting scientific facts and research, as well as advice on how to BE a survivor. For instance, did you realize that people who attend church once a week live six years longer than people who don't? While this is not a Christian book, per se, the author gives God credit for answered prayers and supernatural intervention.

There is way too much in this book for me to do it justice in this small review. Let me just say it's one of the best non-fiction books I've read and I had a hard time putting it down. There were many of the stories I enjoyed repeating to my family, they were so interesting. The library has it, and it would be a good book for a reluctant teen reader--even if they just paged through and read the stories, and skipped the advice sections.

"God @ Ground Zero" book review

God @ Ground Zero tells the story of a crisis chaplain who spent several weeks in New York City listening to people share their stories in the weeks after 9-11. He spent time with the firefighters--just listening. He spent time at Ground Zero, helping to dig through the rubble, and listening to the workers there. He spent time listening to individuals he met in the city. There are a lot of different stories in the book. Everyone the chaplain met had a story to tell. All of them are interesting, touching, inspiring, some heartbreaking, and through them all, the chaplain just listens. That's the thing I took away from the book--how helpful a listening ear and a simple touch are to someone who is hurting.

The Little Professor of Piney Woods

I happened upon this book by accident one day in the library. I don't remember what I was looking for, but I saw this title, and knowing Piney Woods is just down the road, so to speak, from Pearl, I checked it out.

The Little Professor of Piney Woods is the story of Professor Laurence Jones, who came to MS from the North in the early 1900's with a desire to start a school for the rural black children. He taught a few children to read sitting on a log under a shade tree, and that was the beginning of his school. It wasn't easy for him. He had to overcome poverty, ignorance, racial barriers, and sickness, but in time, a school was built with the blessing of the white community, a miracle in itself. It's a fascinating story of people coming together and pulling together to accomplish a near impossible task. I loved it!

"The Shack" book review

"The Shack" by Wm. Paul Young.

Published in 2007, I'd be surprised if you've not heard of this book. It's been the #1 New York Times Best Seller, and has over five million copies in print. People rave about it, and either love it or hate it. I loved it. I think the author did a wonderful job of both telling an enthralling story and making God real to the readers. It is not a "preachy" book, but it has a strong message of love and redemption. It's a very hard book to describe or categorize. It just has to be read and absorbed!

From the back cover:

"Mackenzie Allen Philips's youngest daughter, Missy, has been abducted during a family vacation and evidence that she may have been brutally murdered is found in an abandoned shack deep in the Oregon wilderness. Four years later, in the midst of his Great Sadness, Mack receives a suspicious note, apparently from God, inviting him back to that shack for a weekend.

Against his better judgment he arrives at the shack on a wintry afternoon and walks back into his darkest nightmare. What he finds there will change Mack's world forever.

The Shack wrestles with the timeless question: Where is God in a world so filled with unspeakable pain? The answers Mack gets will astound you and perhaps transform you as much as it did him."

"The Shack is spiritually profound, theologically enlightening, and life impacting. . ." Steve Berger

". . . The beauty of this book is not that is supplies easy answers to grueling questions, but that it invites you to come in close to a God of mercy and love, in whom we find hope and healing."
Jim Palmer

"This book has the potential to do for our generation what John Bunyan's "Pilgrim's Progress" did for his. It's that good." Eugene Peterson

Going Rogue by Sarah Palin--book review

"On September 3, 2008, Alaska governor and vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin delivered a speech at the Republican National Convention that electrified the nation and instantly made her one of the most recognizable women in the world." -- book cover

I enjoyed this reading this book. Far more than a political commentary, Palin recounts her life of growing up in the wilds of Alaska, marrying and having children, deciding to get involved in politics, the importance of her faith, and the trials of being a working mother. I learned a lot about Alaska, the largest state, by far, in our United States. Palin makes Alaska sound like the most beautiful place on earth. Sarah Palin's description of "politics" --both Alaskan and Presidential--and all that includes, was fascinating-a true, behind the scenes look at the way laws get made and things get done--or don't get done, as the case may be. I loved reading about everything that goes on in order to elect a president for this country. I enjoyed reading about Palin's children, and the things they did together as a family. Her faith shines through every sentence of the book. Palin is a Christian who applies God's laws to her everyday life--both at home and in the political arena.

Even though the 2008 election is long over, Sarah Palin is still letting her voice be heard. If you'd like to understand her better, or just want an enjoyable book to read, pick this book up and read it.

"Girl Soldier" book review

"Girl Soldier-- A story of Hope for Northern Uganda's Children" was shocking and unbelievable. It's a story that I wouldn't have read if it hadn't been true, due to the gruesome horrors described in it. It wasn't an enjoyable read, but it was educating. More than 30,000 children have been been kidnapped and forced into being soldiers in Uganda--forced to carry a machine gun--forced to kill family members and friends--forced to march long ways with little or nothing to eat, but what they are able to scavage for themselves--forced to become hard and inhuman in order to survive.

The book weaves together Grace Akallo's story--kidnapped at age 15, and forced to endure savagery, starvation, rape, abuse and other horrors--with Faith McDonnell's historical and spiritual insights on Uganda's wars over the past 30 years--to tell the story of Uganda's forgotten children. It is a story we all need to know, because these are children just like ours, and their story deserves to be heard, and it demands a response. How can we sit comfortably in our American homes and ignore the suffering of these little ones? Even though the book was written in 2007, and things may be some different in Uganda now, the children who were kidnapped, and their displaced, refugee families will never be the same. The country will take years and years to recover.

"For most of us, the enourmous monolith of the suffering of Africa is impossible to imagine, much less enter into. This book represents a significant door." Michael Card

"Girl Soldier is not fiction, yet that fact becomes harder to believe with every page we turn. How did we not know about this sooner? Why are we not doing more?. . ." Adrian Bradbury

"The world has ignored these innocent children for decades as the turmoil in Uganda has escalated into one of the world's biggest humanitarian crises..." Rev. Robert W. Duncan

If you'd like to read more you can check out these websites:

Book Review "The Help"

The book club at the Pearl Library is reading "The Help" by Kathryn Stockett. While I'm not in the book club, I'd heard about the book and decided to read it. I loved it. The characters are so real that after reading the book I felt like I'd actually peeked into their lives. The book is set in Jackson, MS, in 1963, and is the story of several white women and their colored maids, and the laws--both written and unwritten--that govern their lives. "The Help" is not primarily a "Civil Rights Story", although the Civil Rights Movement is a part of the story, but rather a story told through the eyes of 3 women--a young, white college graduate, trying to make her way in a man's world--a black maid, raising her seventeenth white child--and another black maid, who is the best cook in town, but can't keep a job because of her sassy mouth. These women, and their friends and families, allow us to walk beside them for a year, and learn from them, and wonder how we'd have acted had we lived in Jackson, MS at that time. I guess there may be some who read the book knowing exactly how they acted in Jackson in 1963, but I was just a child living in a northern state, so all I can do is ponder.

From the back of the book:

"Stocketts characters, both black and white, are so fully fleshed they practically breathe."

"Aibileen, Minny, and Skeeter show that people from this troubld time came together despite their differences and that ordinary women can be heroic."

". . . a story that made me weep as I rejoiced for each of humanity's small but steady triumphs over hate and fear."

I hated to come to the end of this book. I wanted to keep reading, to find out what happened in each of the lives of the characters. I hope this author will write another book soon.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Books and More Books!

I have loved reading since I was in the third grade. I lived in a small town, where I was allowed to ride my bicycle to the library, and check out as many books as the library limit would allow. These I would take home, and finding a quiet spot, I'd read for hours, until my Mom would call me for lunch, or supper, or chores. In a day or two, I'd be riding back to the library for another basketful of books, and on and on, throughout the summer. The characters in those stories became my friends, and taught me many things.

But long before I was able to read to myself, my sweet mother would read aloud to me and my sisters. During the summer, we would push a baby buggy down the street to the library, where we'd fill it with picture books, and push it home again, ready for an afternoon of adventure. The Sneeches, the Elves and the Shoemaker, Winnie the Pooh and Tigger, Teddy Bear of Bumpkin Hollow, Flicka, Ricka and Dicka, and many, many more became a part of my childhood. I look back on those carefree days with such gratefulness. This poem says it all:

You may have tangible wealth untold;

Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.

Richer than I you can never be--

I had a mother who read to me.

(Last stanza of The Reading Mother by Strickland Gillilan)