Thursday, June 30, 2016

31 DAY WRITING CHALLENGE!

So I slipped a couple weeks ago and wrenched my ankle. Not a new event for me. However this time, certain symptoms just wouldn't quite go away. Well, turns out I have a tiny fracture. So, I'm in a walking cast, but I'm supposed to take it easy. The upside is, I have a legitimate reading excuse!! As in I basically get to read as much as I want.

I'm also taking advantage of my recovery time by doing a writing challenge for July! I would love to see what you writers out there write for this challenge so post your responses in the comments or use the hash tag #31daywritingchallenge and let me know how it's going!

Monday, June 13, 2016

Mindful Monday: Lilac Girls




Lilac Girls, the debut novel by Martha Hall Kelly, takes place over the years of the late 1920s to the late 1950s. This moving work of historical fiction takes us deep into the devastation of not only countries, homes, and terrain, but much more intimately of the individuals who suffered through the horrors of German occupation during WWII.

One of the stories follows Kasia, a Polish teenager, as she attempts to survive life in Ravensbruck, the all women's concentration camp, especially after she is forced to undergo agonizing experimental operations and is left permanently damaged. One of 74 women to undergo these horrifying medical experiments that left several dead, and most others scarred or disabled for the rest of their lives, these women came to be known throughout the camp as "The Rabbits", one because many of them could only hop in order to get around, but also because they were the human manifestation of laboratory rabbits.

Meanwhile in America, Caroline is desperately trying to keep displaced French families together, stay in contact with those left in occupied France and care for the thousands of French orphans, even after the French consulate id officially dissolved in New York.

Herta, a woman aching to practice medicine after fighting to get her medical degree is finally offered a position, but what will this new position ask of her, mean for her, and for her native Germany?

This book appealed to me first because of it being from the point of view from three different women, from entirely different walks of life, countries and cultures even, whose lives intersected in ways none of them ever could have imagined. 

Based on real life women, Caroline and Herta, as well as a compilation of real women brought to life through fictitious Kasia, we are given much more than a glimpse into the struggles and day to day lives of these women. Their stories are ones that changed history. Not every choice they made was right nor easy. We are reminded that not everyone gets a happily ever after. Sometimes, we just get an after. 

But we are also reminded that we have choices. We can fight in our own way against injustices. We can keep trying even when things seem hopeless. We can let our past shape us for the worse or for the better, and we can decide to let it rule us or we it. Above all, we can still love, even in the worst of circumstances.

There were multiple parts that brought tears to my eyes. Multiple parts that made my skin crawl, or stomach turn. The truths of camp life are grotesque, yet those men and women did their best to remain dignified. 

Rating: RD  (Reader Discretion due to some language, sexual encounters, and historical elements of life in a concentration camp.)

AWBB Points: ! ! ! ! !   5/5

I recieved a free electronic copy of this book for the purpose of review. All thoughts and expressions contained in this post are entirely my own.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Fiction Friday: After Anna




Every mother's nightmare, your child gone missing without a trace.

When five year old Anna disappears outside her school, the trail runs cold fast. Despite an urgent search by locals and police, there are no leads. Desperate and loosing hope, Julia's entire world is crumbling around her. Not only is her daughter missing, dead, enslaved or worse, but now the entire world seems convinced that it is her fault. When all hope seems lost, Anna suddenly emerges, unharmed and with no memory of being taken. For Julia, however, her nightmare is far from over.

This was an exciting, fast moving thriller. With interesting twists, a sinister motive, and more than one unsolved mystery this story was intriguing and well written. Realistic characters run the gamut of  every emotion one could face in a situation like this. A great read for those long airplane rides or an afternoon in a coffee shop.

 Rating: GA (General Adult, some instances of language.)

AWBB Points: ! ! ! .    3.5/5

I purchased my copy of this book and chose to review it. I have not been compensated for this post, all thoughts and expressions are entirely my own.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Fiction Friday: Burial Rites




Based on real events, this work of fiction by Hannah Kent gives readers an intimate portrait of the final year of Agnes Magnusdottir's life before she is to be executed for murder.  Agnes was the last person executed in Iceland and numerous truths and tales abound regarding the famous murders and the convicted criminals.

Agnes finds herself in the reluctant custody of a farming family awaiting her execution. She has requested the young assistant priest, Toti, to help her through her final days. Shunned and ignored by nearly all in the family, Agnes' conversations with the priest are often her only source of human comfort. Slowly Agnes begins to share bits of her life, but can anyone ever see her for more than that of which she has been convicted? Can inexperienced Toti really help a convicted criminal prepare to meet her own execution? 

This story is deeply powerful, and exceptionally human. The characters, many of whom were in fact real people, are crafted in careful detail with all the curves and dents and sharp edges that are inextricable to the human experience. The dark as well as the light, mixed up with the hardships of life, especially in a place and time where survival was too often marked with desperation and pain. 

Within the sod walls where all in a household, servants and masters alike, share the work, food, drink,  sweat, cold, stench, and chamber pot. They sleep in the same room, tend shared flocks, dig the same rocky soil urging what few bitter greens and potatoes will to grow, and celebrate the harvest with neighbors. The shared experience of surviving harsh winters, watching loved ones die, and hearing The Sagas recited by the glow of a hearth knitted people together. 

Despite the gray horizons, cutting blizzards, and backbreaking work depicted, the people and land of Iceland leave a deep impression. For me it is one of deep respect for those who lived through those ages. Kent's portrait of Iceland is beautifully written and makes me ache to  walk those valleys, cast my eyes upon the rugged mountains, and breath in the frigid crisp fjord air. 

This book is raw and unapologetic in it's portrayal of servant life in that era, but in being so, one truly understands the characters and their situations as if you were witnessing it rather than merely reading about it. An appreciated and impressive skill by the author in my opinion. 

This is a touching story, a moving one, the kind that sticks with you for a long time. The kind that makes you reflective, somber, and solemn. The kind that settles heavy in your gut. Probably because it is true, and that this reminds us that stories have many sides, people have many layers, colors, and untold truths. It reminds us that we are mortal, that life can change in an instant, and that we can so easily and vainly lose it all.


Thursday, May 26, 2016

Throwback Thursday: Prairie Tale A Memoir





Originally published in 2009, Mellisa Gilbert, famous for her starring role as Laura on television's Little House on the Prarie series, opens up about what growing up on tv was like, working with Michael Landon, life and love after Little House, motherhood, marriage and more in her memoir.

Gilbert dives into her life with honesty and humility. She doesn't gloss over the messy bits and mistakes, but neither does she dwell on them or make herself out to be a victim of fame either. Despite being a child star, she looks back on those years with the same kind of normal worries and awkwardness as any kid or teenager, and she shares her many fond memories of that period of her life. But she also shares her confusion and anxiety from knowing she was adopted, becoming a big sister, and the duality of real life and acting. Experiencing plenty of firsthand heartbreak, making and losing friends, but eventually taking responsibility for her own challenges, addictions and flaws, Gilbert recalls her life in a matter-of-fact way.

It is hard not to feel drawn to her warm personality through her writing, and I enjoyed getting to know this busy and influential woman. However, a caution to sensitive readers, growing up in Hollywood is a messy business, and Gilbert does not make light of this, some parts of the book do contain sex, drugs, and language, a good number of these parts being brief and easy to skim over, though towards the more grown-up parts of the book the chapters are sprinkled with a little more bad language, mostly in the context of recalled conversations.


Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Travel Tuesday: Got Here As Soon As I Could

Take a trip to Maine!



Ever since I was about ten years old, I have wanted to visit Maine. As a teenager I fantasized about living there after I graduated. My husband and I briefly explored the idea of working our way up the east coast and back down again, but that proved harder to make a reality after we had a newborn and bills to pay from having to replace the transmission in our truck three times. Sadly, I still haven't made it to the state which calls me, but I will, someday. Meanwhile, I thoroughly enjoyed Sarah Smiley's humorous collection of memories and experiences of falling in love with the last state she ever thought she wanted to live in.

Life with three boys was already busy and loud for Sarah's family when her husband announced that they were being reassigned. Despite hating the idea and swearing she would not stay one day past their assignment, Sarah fell head over heals in love with Maine nearly the minute she arrived. That is not to say she didn't face significant culture shock and readjustment issues. 

I loved reading her lighthearted take on the very hard job of parenting, and how she takes in stride her own flaws as a mother, wife, and woman. I laughed as I also deeply related to many of the day to day chaos life as a family presents, and how we all deal with it in colorful and crazy ways. 

This was a fun book to read, and was great to be able to read in between managing my own household chaos. The self-contained article format made it easy to pick up my place and not feel like if I had to put it down that I was leaving in the middle of a saga. It's a great book to have with you for those times when you have to wait, and just want to read something light and funny!


Monday, May 23, 2016

Mindful Monday: Smarter Faster Better





While primarily focused toward building business productivity, this book contains many useful tips that can boost our personal performance in a variety of settings. 

At the outset of each section is a real life experience of how individuals have been successful by employing the particular point of discussion, then the author goes on to break down why these techniques are useful and how to best develop and implement them into daily life. 

The book looks in depth at eight points and how they affect our goals in life or business. They are:

1. Motivation
2. Teams
3. Focus
4. Goal Setting
5. Managing Others
6. Decision Making
7. Innovation
8. Absorbing Data

Within each section, real, applicable suggestions are highlighted explained. Also identified are pitfalls in thinking that lead to mistakes, overlooking important information or ideas, and harmful mental habits that can sap our productivity.

I went through this book slowly, carefully reading so as to get the most out of it. I found it very interesting, and identified more than a few ways I can make personal application of much of the information presented. 

This is a fantastic book for managers, team members, collaborative partners, independent entrepreneurs, and anyone else looking to become more productive in whatever venture they are diving into!



Friday, April 8, 2016

Fiction Friday: Man of War




Only one transport ship made it out of the attack on earth intact. After fifty years, the only communication the survivors and descendants of the Magellan have with the dwindling resistance fighters left on earth come in the form of short range transmissions recieved by daring pilots who return to earth at great risk to themselves and the transmission teams. This latest transmission retrieved by Captain Gabriel St. Martin may change the entire way of life on both sides of the fight against the alien invaders, or it could destroy everything.

When I found this book on Amazon for .99 cents, I was happy to take the risk. I say risk because I am picky about space fiction. I don't like ridiculous scenarios and poorly explained science. This book is wonderfully void of both of those genre traps.

Instead I was thoroughly able to dive into a story that hooked me from the start, logically explained (theoretical) complex space travel and other related elements, instantly connecting me to the characters and cause alike. This story pieces together the intimate struggle of communities that rely exclusively on each other while still having to navigate delicate personal relationships and loss, all while trying to fight an enemy that seems impenetrable. The action and suspense is very well written and indeed had me eagerly turning my digital pages. 

There was one glaring typo, and one element of the story that I was disappointed in, it had to do with a later explanation for events leading up to a face to face meeting with the enemy and the after-events. I can't go more into depth without giving away too much of the story. Despite my personal opinion on that minor detail, I enjoyed the story.

I found this story to be close enough to our time to feel relatable, but with plenty of very interesting scientific developments and advancements. The characters were a great mix of different personalities, likes and dislikes, weaknesses and strengths. It seemed easy to like some right away while finding others less amiable, but as the story unfolds, we get to see other aspects of these men and women and suddenly it becomes harder to dislike some so much, as others show that they are still only human. 

A fully engaging story and cast, and a great cliffhanger ending to rope us into the next book in the series, which is of course, not out yet.


Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Whippersnapper Wednesday: Average

My apologies for the tardiness of this post, it was supposed to be up and running this morning. However, I am out of town and currently without regular internet service, so I had to make a trek into town for Wifi. Anyhoo, I’m here to tell you about a really fun book, Average, and best of all, interview the author, J.C. Thompson!




First let me tell you about Average.

Quin’s dad is a superhero. A really amazing, has lots of powers, can fly and everything superhero. Quin is not. Quin has no powers. Zip. Nada. As you can imagine, this makes the father-son bond a little awkward. While Quin is trying to come to terms with the fact that he is, well, average, his dad is having a harder time with that. As a result, he has a tendency to drop (sometimes literally) Quin into situations that might make whatever latent powers he believes Quin has emerge. Yeah, even more awkwardness. As if that were not enough for an average teenage boy to deal with let’s throw in being stocked by a giant, vicious, teenage boy-hungry…poodle?! Quin’s quest for answers and acceptance bring him face to face with danger, adventure, and the far less glorious side of superpowers.

My thoughts…

Fast paced and smartly written, this book was not at all predictable. The surprises and plot twists were woven excellently between the character relationships, which were realistic and relatable. I appreciate Quin’s relationship with his dad having challenges, but also that they both really care for each other, even if they don’t understand each other. I loved the fact that it is suspenseful and adventurous without being overly violent or scary. This means I’ve had no problem with my son, 13, and daughter, almost 10, reading it, both of whom really enjoyed it as well. This is a great book to read when you are procrastinating on homework or chores!





Now, I'm very excited to introduce you to the author, J.C. Thompson! 


Where did you get the idea for Average? It was actually a dream I had, wherein my DAD was a superhero who dropped a house on me to try to trigger my "latent super strength."

Was it originally a YA story? If not, how did it become one? I actually tend to put very little thought into genres when I'm working on a story. Which is probably a bad habit. But I just start writing and see what happens.

What do you most want your readers to take away from the story? That they're awesome.

Do you have a favorite part? I really enjoyed writing George in general - he's just a likeable guy. But there's one scene in particular when George and his son, Quin, have a pretty heavy conversation about Quin's mother. Although the book is pretty lighthearted, I love that portion because it makes George - this invincible superhero - human.

What scene was the most fun to write? The entire Laguardia family, especially when they're all together. The characters - the way the interact with each other - are very familiar to me, just hyperbolized.

Which was the hardest and why? Any of the fight scene, action-type situations. Those scenes are totally necessary but... weren't really what I had in mind when I first outlined the story. So, when I had to fit them in, it was hard for me to make them work within the overall tone of the story.

Which character do you most relate to and why? Probably Quin, which is convenient since the story is written from his point of view. But there's a little bit of me in all of my characters - both positive and negative. This is truth for everything I write but it really came out here. A lot of the discussions that the characters have in Average are debates that I've had with myself. Adam and Dante were actually taken from a one-act play I wrote several years ago called "Things I say when I talk to myself."

If you could choose a superpower, what would you choose and why? Here's the thing: they all have downsides. Or are just useless. I do really like the idea of flying, though. That'd be pretty awesome.

Today people cant fly or have x-ray vision, but do you believe that people have other kinds of superpowers? Sure, people do all sorts of amazing things - it's just a matter of semantics. There's people out there who are capable of things no one else can do or even explain. And everybody has something that they're fantastic at.

What would you say yours are? So, you know how Quin spends the book looking for his superpower and being fascinated by those of others? That's pretty much autobiographical.

A big theme in this book is about wanting to be accepted as we are, what advice would you give to those who feel like they just dont fit in or are not good enough? Fitting in is grossly overrated. There will always be someone who appreciates you the way you are - and others who won't. That's just life. The trick is to accept yourself.

What other books inspire you or you would recommend? I read pretty constantly and voraciously so it really depends on the situation.


You started writing when you were fairly young, what advice would you give to other young people who find a talent that they enjoy, to cultivate it into a possible career? Just keep doing it. I wrote for about 10 years before I made a dime. And that's pretty common. But you need to be persistent and not get discouraged when things don't go exact the way you expect. Eventually, you'll find your niche. 

Many thanks to the author! Get your own copy of Average here!
I purchased my copy of this title and chose to review and interview the author. All thoughts and opinions in this post (except those expressed by the author himself) are entirely my own. I have recieved no compensation, and the link to Amazon is a courtesy to the author and because I think it is a great book!

Friday, April 1, 2016

Fiction Friday: Stay





When Savanah "Van" Leone watches her best friend marry the man she has been in love with since she met him her first day of college, she feels even more lost than when her mom died. A loss which still fills Van with hurt and sadness, as well as tumultuous feelings for her best friend's mom who also happened to be Van's mother's employer. Growing up in the carriage house of the family her mother worked for as a maid meant sharing her mom and creating some blurry lines between the families. 

As a way to escape the heartbreak of watching her only love marry someone else, Van tries to drown her sorrows with vodka and reruns of Rin-Tin-Tin. Before she even knows what she is doing, she has ordered a German Shepherd pup via the internet. Joe, is not exactly the puppy Van thought she was getting, but instead is a huge energetic lug who only knows Slovak commands. 

In the process of trying to keep the beast from destroying her house (that she is now being kicked out of thanks to the pretentious homeowners association) or dying, Van discovers that she just might love this furry walking disaster after all. With Joe's help, Van discovers some pretty amazing new friends, and how to re-navigate life without those she may have lost.

There were so many parts of this story I loved! I love how big a mess of things Van seems to have made of her life. I love how unsure she is, how vulnerable, and needy. We've all been there at some point, and we have made choices that hurt, even if they were right. I love that the process of Van giving herself permission to love herself and fulfill her own needs is neither easy nor a clear unobstructed path. And of course, being a huge dog person, I totally get the mayhem, laughs, and unconditional love these wonderful creatures bring into our lives.

My only complaint about this book is the recurring swearing. The story could absolutely maintain it's full integrity and emotional depth without the swear words. For the most part though, they were fairly easy to skim over, but even still it marred some of my free enjoyment of the read.




I recieved this book through a free little library exchange and chose to review it on my own. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this post are entirely my own.


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Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Whippersnapper Wednesday: The House of the Scorpion





Matteo Alacran knows he is different than other humans though he doesn't understand why this gives others cause to despise him and treat him as a monster. He knows he is a genetic copy of the greatly feared El Patron, lord of a giant opium operation, so powerful it is in fact it's own country, but Matt does not exactly know what this means for him or his future. With very few people Matt can trust, he must find a way to keep his friends close, but his enemies closer.

The world Matt grows up in is both beautiful and wretched, and he experiences it in a singularly unique way. A world in which, though he is gifted with the finest of things, he is often deeply lonely, and always a prisoner. Escaping Opium proves as difficult as remaining, and very nearly as life threatening. Matt is confronted with many moral dilemmas that leave him questioning everything he thinks he knows, most importantly who he really is or can be.

One of the more realistic dystopian novels I have read, this book brings up so many of the controversies of ethics and consequences of scientific advancement that revolve around the ugly truth of money speaking louder than laws. 

I found the plot and setting intriguing. There were elements that made me disgusted by their nearness to reality, and others that tugged at my emotions in the cause of justice. A slower paced read, heavy on human connections and internal struggles, there is still a good amount of action. The story is neither stale nor boring, but some parts did feel a little long. The characters were interesting contrasts in human nature. From the cruel, to the indifferent, to the kindhearted, we get a glimpse especially of the darker side of humanity with this cast.

A poignant novel that I will not soon forget.



I recieved my copy of this title through a free little library exchange and chose to review it on my own. All thoughts and opinions contained in this post are entirely my own.

Get your own copy here!




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Friday, March 25, 2016

Fiction Friday: The Butterfly Code



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Aeris Thorne was just looking for a quiet summer. Spending time with her dad, and reconnecting with old friends. Trying to focus on her composing, and practicing for her new position in the New York Philharmonic were the main items on the agenda. Until she met Hunter. Lead scientist at the secretive Phoenix Research Lab for Highly Contagious Diseases, Hunter and his team have everyone in town on edge, and more than one have warned Aeris to stay away from Hunter Cayman, including her father. Is Hunter really dangerous, or is there some other reason everyone wants her to stay away?

When I first started this book, I honestly thought it was going to be rather predictable and I wasn't feeling terribly excited. By chapter three, I was hooked, and my reservations were gone. It wasn't predictable, rather it was fast paced, intelligent, and exciting, much to my delight!

A great mix of science, action, and emotion, the characters are smart, but imperfect. The plot takes an old idea and completely gives it a fresh, modern, scientific edge. The author struck a good balance of employing realistic scientific elements without bogging the story down with complicated concepts. I don't want to go into too much detail because I don't want to give anything away! You'll just have to read it yourself!

Crossing several genre's and age groups, this book has mass appeal. And for those who like to keep the story going, this one does not disappoint, promising more of the mystery still to be solved.






Get your own copy here!

                                                                  


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Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Whippersnapper Wednesday: Young Fu of the Upper Yangtze





First published in 1932, author Elizabeth Foreman Lewis wrote a compelling story set in 1920's Chungking, China. Young Fu grew up on the farmlands far away from the city. His father's death however leaves his mother in a difficult position to provide for herself and her thirteen year old son. The two begin a new life after she is able to secure her son an apprenticeship with a well known coppersmith. As Young Fu grows in skill and knowledge, not only in his trade, but about the city and life itself, we see the transformation of boy to man. 

Though written in and about a bygone era, this story is easy to get lost in. The descriptions of city life and the people Young Fu encounters are vibrant, full of the feel of the setting. It becomes easy to see life through Young Fu's eyes, even almost able to smell, taste and feel his world. 

A fantastic title for young readers, but easily enjoyed by adult readers as well, this Newbery Medal winner is timeless in the lessons of coming of age.




I found my copy of this title in a free little library exchange. I have chosen to review it and all thoughts and opinions contained in this post are entirely my own.


Get your own copy here!


                                                                   

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Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Travel Tuesday: The Sunday Philosophy Club

This post contains affiliate links.



Take a trip to Edinburgh with all it's charms.

When Isabel Dalhousie witnesses a young man fall to his death from the upper floor of Usher Hall, she is both brokenhearted at seeing such a young life snuffed out, and not entirely convinced it was just an accident. Not being able to resist a curiosity, Isabel takes it upon herself to try and dig up any possible connections that may have been missed. 

I was looking forward to this book, and dove in readily. Very soon though, I found the plot somewhat thin, lacking the deeper hook I was desiring. I stuck it out, and though I did like several of the characters, Cat, Jamie, and Grace, I had a difficult time developing a real affection for Isabel, not that she didn't have some charming qualities. Perhaps it is just me, but she came across to me as more of a busybody rather than a sleuth. 

And perhaps I am way off here, but I felt jilted that at no point in the book do we get more than passing references to The Sunday Philosophy Club. I had been under the impression that this would play a large roll in the book, perhaps undertaking the mystery as a group effort, so I was greatly disappointed that we didn't even get to meet the other members.

I finished the book with an overall sense of general frustration. I had really hoped it to be smart and clever and quick paced, but it fell flat in my opinion. However, others have given this book great praise, so maybe they are getting something from it I missed, or perhaps I just wasn't in the right frame of mind while reading it. 

I have learned this was the first in a whole series, and I'm reluctant to dive into more of them, but a part of me is also curious to see if the series improves and grows on me. Perhaps there is a bit of Isabel Dalhousie in me after all.

Rating: GA - General Adult readers

AWBB Points:  !      1/5

I purchased this book marked down from a large retailer and decided to review it on my own. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this post are entirely my own.

Get your own copy here!


                                                                   

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Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Travel Tuesday: Pearl of China





Masterfully written, Anchee Min pulls the reader into the story and transports them directly into a time and country full of people as rich in character as they are diverse. Pointedly and unapologetically, indeed at times even graphically, realistic in her depictions of both the incredible beauty as well as the tragic poverty and suffering of a people and country under transformation, she seems to flawlessly sew together a vast spectrum of flaws, virtues, and vulnerabilities into a remarkable tapestry of human nature.

Following the life story of author and humanitarian, Pearl S. Buck, Min gives us a peek into her life through the eyes of a fictional friend who serves as a compilation of several important women who loved and supported Buck. We get to know Buck and her family through the experiences of a native, who not only watches but lives through many changes and challenges including an abusive arranged marriage and the rise of communism.

This book made me fall in love with China and with Pearl Buck. It motivated me to track down a beautiful 1931 edition of her most famous work, The Good Earth. I am waiting for a kid free weekend to disappear into that one.

Considering that Ms. Min's work, in the same path as Mrs. Buck's herself, has been banned in the country depicted in both of their writing, it is my opinion that Min must have done a pretty good job telling not only Buck's story, but simultaneously that of many in such desperate conditions that they lack either the ability or freedom to share their own.




Get your own copy here!


                                                                   


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Monday, March 14, 2016

Mindful Monday: Twelve Years a Slave




This powerful account of Solomon Northrop's personal story more than once brought up a lump in my throat and tears to my eyes. 

Kidnapped and sold, Solomon finds his exasperated insistence of his rightful freedom brings him only more punishment. Never giving up on trying to find a way to escape or get word to his friends in New York to beg for their intervention and rescue, he finds himself on plantations deep in Louisiana.

A resident of Louisiana for thirteen years myself, three of which we lived less than 40 miles from the location where Northrop was enslaved for twelve years I think brought an entirely closer bond to his story. Having been crippled myself by the overwhelmingly oppressive summer heat and humidity, I can only barely imagine life for those who day after day worked past the point of heat exhaustion, year after year. I had no trouble smelling the great pines, the soil in the humid fields, the particular stale mud of the bayou swamps, and this gave me an almost immersive experience while reading this account. 

There are some who might argue that this autobiography is no longer relevant, that it is purely historical in value. I would heartily disagree. This man's experience is as important for individuals to read about and meditate on as it was when it was published in 1853, in some ways even more so in our era. 

It saddens me that nearly everywhere, too many of the attitudes that ruled and caused so much pain and suffering 150 years ago, haven't changed enough. There may be better laws to protect an individuals rights, but it is scary how deeply entrenched the racial divide still dwells. One of the things that affected me deeply throughout was how generous this man who suffered so greatly still was in his portrayal of his situation and oppressors. He always assigns them respect, even when they clearly are despicable human beings. That is true integrity.

This book should be on every high school reading list. It should be discussed at length. It should be central to the dialogue that is taught as American History.

I downloaded my electronic copy for free from Amazon.com. I chose to review it and share my thoughts and opinions herein.




Get your own copy here!

                                                                     


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Friday, March 11, 2016

Fiction Friday: Dressed for Death




A week at a luxurious estate in full Regency glam and glitz takes a deadly turn and leads amateur sleuth Drew Fartherling down a treacherous track in search of answers. Putting those he loves at risk and calling into question his own instincts, Drew gets far more than he bargained for during his stay at Winteroak House.

A welcome break from some of the heavier and intense titles I've been reading, I eased through this book in a day and found it satisfyingly mysterious while allowing me to still relax. The characters were charming, and the plot was enticing, swift, and well crafted throughout. While I had my suspicions, a few of which turned out to be at least partially true, I was also equally surprised by several twists and turns up to the very end. 

I enjoyed following Farthing as he struggles internally and comes to seriously doubt his own perceptions and abilities. I felt it gave the genre a refreshing angle.

Having not read previous Drew Fartherling mysteries, I found that it was not critical to enjoy this title. No doubt, followers of the series will not be disappointed. A wonderful title to read on vacation or travel, or when one needs to unwind.



I recieved a free copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers for the purpose of  honest review. All thoughts and opinions in this post are entirely my own.

Get your own copy here!

                                                                   

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Thursday, March 10, 2016

Throwback Thursday: Uncle Tom's Cabin




Today we are going back to 1850. The year which saw one of the most abominable laws passed in the history of the United States, that being The Fugitive Slave Act.

It is during this time that we are introduced to the cast of characters in Uncle Tom's Cabin. According to the author, while the characters themselves are fictional, every experience they face are based on very real events told to the author by the individuals who suffered them, by eyewitnesses, or credible third parties.

On one hand I am ashamed that it took me until I was 34 years old to read this integral, historical treasure. As sad as it is, it was and still is equally necessary. On the other hand, I wonder if the powerful lessons contained within would have reached as deeply into my heart. Even if they hadn't been able to impact as fully, I believe this should be required reading, which says a lot because I don't support a whole lot of required reading.

This book hurt to read, as any truly valuable literary tool should. It hurts 150 years later when, although slavery in theory is outlawed, there is still so much hate that holds people captive. There are still humans in this country and throughout the world who suffer similar and worse conditions because of the color of their skin, their religion, their place of origin, or their disabilities. 

We see the news articles, web feeds, and viral videos everywhere. In this manner it almost becomes celebrated rather than repugnant and entertainment instead of evil.

It is all too easy to see in these pages modern day sufferers. Homeless or poor individuals, migrant or illegal residents, and sadly those with communication disorders who cannot speak for themselves, especially children, who are rarely listened to even when they can speak well. 

It is the least of my responsibilities to learn from these pieces of history, to teach my children well how to look upon and respect and treat with kindness all persons, because we are all humans and deserve as much. 

Acts 10: 34, 35  34 At this Peter began to speak, and he said: “Now I truly understand that God is not partial, 35but in every nation the man who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him."