Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Three Cups of Tea

"Three Cups of Tea" by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin

This was a wonderfully insightful book. I am amazed that just one man can accomplish so much. It made me look at the war in Afghanistan so differently. It is a true story of a man who attempted a climb to K2 and wound up lost in a Pakistan village. He was treated so kindly and saw the people there give so much when they had so little. He made a promise to come back some day and build a school. He kept his promise and so much more. "I have seen that community and a close relationship with the land can enrich human life beyond all comparison with material wealth or technological sophistication. I have learned that another way is possible." Sometimes technology and all the things that we have get in the way of the most important thing in our lives, the people we love. "That day, Haji Ali taught me the most important lesson I've ever leaned in my life," Mortenson says. "We Americans think you have to accomplish everything quickly. Haji Ali taught me to share three cups of tea, to slow down and make building relationships as important as building projects. He taught me that I had more to learn from the people I work with than I could ever hope to teach them." When we sit down with people and talk with them, to take the time, we learn so much. "You have to attack the source of your enemy's strength. In America's case, that's not Osama or Saddam or anyone else. The enemy is ignorance. The only way to defeat it is to build relationships with these people, to draw them into the modern world with education and business. Otherwise the fight will go on forever." And as I type this we continue to send more troops to fight a war that has been waging for 8 years. This book will inspire you and lead you to form new ideas on war.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

American Anthem

"American Anthem" by BJ Hoff

This was three books in one, 550 pages but oh so good! This book has romance, drama, heartbreak, music and nineteenth-century New York all wrapped up with a Christian theme. The story that is threaded throughout is one of struggle, loss but also of hope in the One who sees us through all of our ups and downs. A favorite quote, "The only thing I know for certain is that God's love is beyond our comprehension. In fact, it seems to me that His love is as much a mystery as His will. As to why He does what He does or doesn't do what we think he should do-well, I suppose that's where faith comes in. Sometimes there's simply nothing else to do but trust Him." That is what faith is about, just trusting in the One who created us, that He is going to do what is best for us, even when we don't understand. Another quote, "We are different kinds of people, we Americans. We come from different countries. We share different beliefs, different traditions, different dreams, and different music. But one thing we share in common. We are all God's children, all blessed by His love and His grace. For truly God has bestowed grace to this nation and its people, so that with all our differences, we might yet exist in unity. May we never cease to be mindful that we will exist as a great nation only as we are faithful to our great God." Wow, how our country and it's people need to hear this now. At a time when our differences are tearing us apart and our leaders have stepped away from the God who gave them the ability to lead. May we as believers strive for unity and not be afraid to make our voices heard where they are needed most. A very good book and one that brings tears to your eyes yet joy to your soul.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Fair Game

"Fair Game" by Carol Cox

This was the second book but not really a series. It had a few of the same characters but the main characters were different. I actually liked this book better than the first one. The book is about a girl who moves to Chicago to find her father and some adventure. She ends up finding romance and God's calling on her life. This one was a little less predictable and a little more intriguing. I enjoyed how the main character persevered despite some difficult circumstances. A little more than half way through the book I got hooked and couldn't put it down. A part of the book that made me think was when a man was people watching and saw a young couple that looked so happy strolling along. Then he said, "But if they hadn't made their peace with God, that happiness would only be temporary. Lord, draw them to Yourself. Let their joy be eternal and not based on the here and now." He prayed for perfect strangers, he saw their need for God, that their earthly joy would soon disappear. I want to be the kind of person who sees with God's eyes and prays for all those who need His lasting joy.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Ticket To Tomorrow

"Ticket To Tomorow" by Carol Cox

This is the first book of two. It is a Christian romance mystery. I am not too big on mysteries but this one wasn't a who done it book so I didn't mind. It was an easy read but not totally predictable. I enjoyed the easy banter between the characters and the way that God was threaded throughout the story. A part that hit home for me was about how we as humans judge people when God is the only one who has the right to judge and how when we stand before God it won't matter our status in this world just that we are His child.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A Severe Mercy

"A Severe Mercy" by Sheldon Vanauken

This book was given to me by my friend, as she is a big fan of C.S. Lewis. This book includes 18 letters to Sheldon from C.S. Lewis. This is a story of a mans journey to Christianity, his love for his wife and his grief in loosing her. It is a touching book of love given and lost. It is an interesting book as to how Sheldon came to research Christianity and thus became a believer. It takes a lot of mind power and thinking to read this book as all who are in it are scholars or writers of some sort but it is good because it does get one to start thinking. Sheldon and his wife make a pact to never let anything or anyone come between their love for one another. It is a beautiful thing that they attempt and even more beautiful when it is God the Maker of love that comes between them. Sheldon deals with his grief in such a touching manner, trying to find the meaning in his wife's death and trying to carry on her love of God. This book is proof that when one seeks God they will find Him and that He works all things, even the death of someone we love, for good.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

And You Know You Should Be Glad

"And You Know You Should Be Glad" by Bob Greene

My dad picked this book up for me at the 99 cents store. Now you may think it probably isn't going to be that good if they are selling it for 99 cents. But it was good, surprisingly good. I have a best friend that I cherish and this book reminded me of how precious those friendships are. This book is about two boys becoming friends and the story of their life long friendship. It is a true story and is written when they are in their fifties and one is dying of cancer. The story moved me and I had so many parts that were really insightful. You may not even have to read the book after reading this review!
  • "When you're older, it's much more difficult to ask for help. The instinct to do that has been trained out of you by life." How many times a day do my girls ask me for help without having any reservations? But when we become adults we think we need to do it all by our selves. This reminded me that friends are there to help, and that they want to help.
  • "There would be a brief silence, like an invisible ellipsis, then we would be right back where we were, where we always were." With the best of friends it doesn't matter how long it has been when you see or talk to each other you can just pick up where you left off. I love that.
  • "Fleeting moments of kindness can echo forever."
  • "After half a century, a voice across the miles can say 'Hi.' And you never have to ask. You know. Always." The familiarity of best friends. I love that across the miles I know it is her when I hear her voice. No other words need be spoken, just hi. And from that we can even tell how the other is feeling.
  • "There are a handful of people, during your lifetime, who know you well enough to understand when the right thing to say is to say nothing at all. When the right thing to do is just sit there with you-either in the room, or on the other end of a telephone line. To be there." Hold on to these people, they are priceless.
  • "He was tasting his life. He was savoring who he was, and where he had been, who he had known...he was tasting it with a fierce and pervading kind of appetite." The "he" in this sentence is the man who is dying of cancer. I want to taste life now. Enjoy the moment now.
  • "In most people, you don't notice its absence: Indifference, after all, is usually not visible. When overriding mercy is present, though, it shines like a beacon; when it's there in a person, only then do you perceive how many others lack it, and what a rare and good thing it is." I pray that Christ's mercy shines like a beacon through me.
  • "Life, when you let it, can thrill you." So often we miss the little things and let the worries take over.
  • "The best pictures, the most lasting and most vivid, are the ones you see with your heart. They never fade, and they never get old."
  • "We all, it seems, yearn for something that will let people know we once were here."
  • "I don't know how a man becomes so lucky, so blessed; I don't know what a man does to deserve such a friendship." I feel this way about my best friend. God has truly blessed me by putting her in my life and I am so very thankful.
  • "Friendship doesn't die. This thing that costs nothing, this thing priceless beyond measuring-never ends. No one can take it from you."

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Wednesday Letters

"The Wednesday Letters" by Jason F. Wright

I received this book for my birthday from my parents. My dad is excellent at picking out books that I love, he knows me oh so well. And yes, I really enjoyed this book. It is about a man who writes letters to his wife every Wednesday. When he and his wife die their children find the letters and discover so much they didn't know about their parents and about themselves. It truly makes you want to start writing letters. I love that the epilogue is written by hand and put in an envelope at the back of the book. I think it was a very clever way to end the book. I enjoyed this story of love, discovery and forgiveness. I am thinking of writing my own "Wednesday letters". Here is a quote that I liked from one of the letters, "Sometimes my best isn't good enough, sometimes I need a little more, that's why my Father has sent me here, to learn to ask of the Lord. I must learn to ask of the Lord, in all that I do. Yes, I will learn to ask of the Lord, and all my dreams will come true."

Friday, October 16, 2009

And If I Die

"And If I Die" by Jon Aubrey Anderson

I finally got to read the third book in The Black Or White Chronicles. I was a little dissapointed. I still think the first book was the best. And I didn't really like how this one ended, it left too much to the imagination, I needed a little more closure. It wasn't as exciting as book one but it did fill in some of the gaps by going back in the life of a few of the characters. I loved the main point of the book though. It being that God has ordained our lives from the beginning of time. What we are doing now He knew we would do. Sometimes we come to a moment in our lives and know that everything that came before, every moment, was leading us to that point. It makes my mind spin but it makes me smile. Smile that God is in control no matter what happens.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Last Song

"The Last Song" by Nicholas Sparks

Alright, I admit I am a BIG fan of Nicholas Sparks. Read them all. Loved them all. But I must say I think this is his best one yet. I don't know how he can keep writing better and better but I think he does. I got this book for my birthday on a Tuesday and had it finished by Wednesday. It was sooo very good. It had just the right amount of drama, love, tragedy and soul searching in it. He even incorporated God a lot in this book. The end is perfect! It just made me say awe. That is how books are supposed to end, with closure but a little something left for the imagination. It is a story about two kids who have to go stay with their dad for the summer, against their will. It is about finding out what you thought was the truth for what really is. It is about protecting your children and allowing them to make their own choices and believing in those choices. It was a great book, I highly recommend it.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Wedgwood Gey

"Wedgewood Grey" by John Anderson

Alright, book number two, not quite as good as the first. It got good in the middle though. It added a few more characters and the previous main characters took a back seat. I think that is why it wasn't as compelling. But again I was amazed at the forces of darkness and the very real stance we need to take against them. "Don't waste today's fuel on yesterday's journey." This was a quote that I liked. So many times I spend today fretting or feeling guilty over yesterday. Yesterday is gone, move on and make today what it needs to be. Really, I only have enough energy for today anyway. I am looking forward to reading the last book but you will just have to wait as my mother has to finish it first. But trust me, I am breathing down her neck to hurry up!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Abiding Darkness

"Abiding Darkness" by John Anderson

This is the first in a three book series. The first chapter had me hooked! There should be a warning though as the first chapter is a little gruesome and if you are afraid of snakes you might not want to read it. But it is only the first chapter and it sets the stage for the rest of the book. This book is based in Mississippi in 1945. It is about a special little white girl and her black friend. They are smack dab in the middle of the first war, as in spiritual war. It opens your eyes to what really goes on in the spiritual realm and what we are up against. So often I forget. It is the author's first novel and very well written. I really couldn't put it down and I am already working on the second book. There is one main character that is in the midst of the spiritual war again and again. At the end of the book his angel said this, "The day is not far distant when he will be called upon to be stronger still." God calls us to be strong in the midst of the battle. We need to rely on Him for our strength because sometimes the battle seems too much, we are too weary. It is a powerful story and one that I guarantee you won't want to put down. Stay tuned for the other two books in the series.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Help

"The Help" by Kathryn Stockett

Another good read. This book is about Mississippi in the 1960's. It is about the black maids that work for the white women. It is about how their lives are intertwined and how one white woman stands up to the lines that are drawn between the two races. It is a novel but the author grew up in Mississippi and had a maid that raised her and her siblings. (Oh, and by the way this is her first novel.) It is a very interesting book. I have always been fascinated with slavery and that era. I have wondered if I would be strong enough to stand up for the rights of all people or would have just gone on with the way things were. The author writes at the end that understanding is vital to our humanity. There is one line that she loves and it also stuck with me: "Wasn't that the point of the book? For women to realize, We are just two people. Not that much separates us. Not nearly as much as I'd thought." So very powerful. We may think we are better, more educated, have more money or are better parents. We may think we don't have as much, we aren't as holy, we aren't as good. Whatever it is but when we stop and think we are just people, all created in His image. Not that much separates us. Not nearly as much as we'd thought.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Twenties Girl

"Twenties Girl" by Sophie Kinsella

This was a fun book to read. It was a good break from all the serious books that I have been reading. Just a fun, light book. It is about a girl who is visited by a ghost, her 105 year old great aunt. She didn't know her aunt and throughout the story she gets to know her and all her history. Her aunt helps her see her life for what it really is and helps her through some tough situations. It is a funny book with lots of laughable moments. Here is a quote that I like, "It's easy to discount family. It's easy to take them for granted. But your family is your history. Your family is part of who you are." I think so often we take our families for granted, that they will always be there. Then one day they aren't and we find out we really didn't know anything about them. I want to pass on my family history to my girls but I can't do that if I don't ask those in my family who are older questions about their lives. Take the time, before you know it the times has gone and so has your family.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Bad (Good) Mother

"Bad -Good- Mother" by Aylet Waldman

Let me start out by saying don't read this, don't waste your time. I actually can't believe that I kept reading but when I pick up a book I have to finish, even when it isn't worth my time. The author is from Berkeley and she is everything you think of when you think of Berkeley, everything. All that said there were a few good chapters. The book is about how us mothers struggle with being "good" mothers. How everything we do is looked at as bad or good depending on who you ask. This is why I picked up the book, I struggle with the good mom bad mom syndrome daily. One chapter talks about how men do "men" jobs around the house and women do "women" jobs. I like this quote that says why she thinks this happens. "By surrendering certain skills, you are affirming your belief that the other person will remain there to care for you in that way." We all want to be taken care of in some way or another and by letting him take out the garbage we know he will be there to do it forever. I like that. Another chapter I liked was about what kind of mothers we think we will be and then what kind of mothers we really end up being. My world was rocked by my two girls and I can honestly say I never thought I would do/be some of the things that I have done/been. She says, "There are times as a parent when you realize that your job is not to be the parent you always imagined you'd be, the parent you always wished you had. Your job is to be the parent your child needs, given the particulars of his or her own life and nature." In other words, set aside your ideals and train your child the way they should go. Good stuff, stuff to live by.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Quick, Before the Music Stops

"Quick, Before the Music Stops" by Janet Carlson

This book was an okay read. It is about a woman who was a professional ballroom dancer in her twenties but gave it up for a family. When her marriage is falling apart her husband gives her lessons for Valentines day and she finds life lessons through her dance lessons. It has many good life lessons but was a bummer because she realized them too late, or so she thought, to save her marriage. It seems quite a few of the boks that I have been reading lately have to do with marriages failing and by the time I read this book I was tired of people giving up, but that is just a side note. Here are a few quotes I liked: "One of your best qualities is your stick-to-it-ive-ness. That's why you get wrapped around the axle as opposed to just flopping down on the road underneath it." Most people just lie down and take what is coming, I hope that I am wrapped around instead of flopping down and taking it. I am such a planner, I am always one step ahead. I have come to realize that in this strength is my weakness. I have a problem being present in the moment. So does the woman in this book. "I've been mesmerized occasionally by the notion of living in the moment, recognized its importance, and I do see how living my life in the future, with a to-do list in my hand and worry in my heart, means-and here comes the existential panic-that I'm not really living." I really need to take the quote to heart. I am trying more to live in the moment, to really enjoy the moments with my girls, it just isn't easy for me, it doesn't come naturally. Alright, last quote: "Unlike locks, boundaries aren't for keeping people out. They're for knowing who you are." I just like that one, we all need help with boundaries and this helps me to see them for what they are, something good not bad.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Same Kind of Different As Me

"Same Kind of Different As Me" by Ron Hall & Denver Moore

This book is Amazing! A must read. It will inspire you. Make you cry and make you laugh and see homelessness in a whole new light. This is one I want to read again and I never read a book twice, it bores me. It is about a homeless black man who grew up picking cotton in virtual slavery and a rich art dealer and his wife who are determined to help the homeless. It will leave you in awe of how God works. It will inspire you to go out and do more for Him, to listen to that still small voice because BIG things do happen. Read this! It will restore your faith in the good of people and your faith that God is working in this world today through ordinary people like you and me.

A Reliable Wife

"A Reliable Wife" by Robert Goolrick

Let me start out by saying you never know what you are going to get when you pick out a book at the library. This was a very interesting book. It had so many twists and turns. I can usually predict what is going to happen in any given book but this one kept surprising me, even up to the very end. Now this book is not a christian book by any means. It is about a man who puts an ad in the paper for a wife and a whore who responds, only he doesn't know she is a whore. So with that said there are some parts that you might want to skip over. But I had to keep reading as it kept me on my toes and I couldn't believe that it continually had new twists that I couldn't predict. A very interesting read and a story about how our pasts haunt us when we don't deal with them, about love in all the wrong places and where that takes a person.

Daniel Isn't Talking

"Daniel Isn't Talking" by Marti Leimbach

This book is about a family dealing with the diagnosis that their son is autistic. What is interesting is that the author has an autistic son but the book is a novel. I found the book very intriguing as it weaves what I am sure are real happenings of life with an autistic child with what the author probably wishes had happened in her life. It was a good dose of reality yet it had lots of funny moments. It opened my eyes and taught me how special the moms are that have autistic children. My favorite quote, "Other people don't have children with autism. They aren't entitled to an opinion." You shouldn't judge unless you have been in their shoes. You just never know what someone is going through.

Andy Andrews-The Traveler's Gift & The Noticer

"The Traveler's Gift"

This book is about seven decisions that determine personal success. I found it to be a pretty good book with insight on things that I wrote down to try and do every day. It is about a man whose life seems to be falling apart. Then he goes on an "adventure" and is told about seven decisions to help him to personal success. It is interesting and an easy read. Nothing profound but things that are good to be reminded about none the less.

"The Noticer"
Amazing book! Was a very easy read that I just gobbled up. You won't want to put it down, I promise. It talks about how people's lives are falling apart but that all we need is a little perspective. This book helped me to see things differently and I want to read it again to get even more perspective. My favorite part is when a man is sharing a meal to a homeless boy on the beach. The boy clearly isn't thrilled with the food, Vienna sausages and sardines. The man asks the boy what he is eating and he says, "Vienna sausages and sardines. Same as you." To which the man replies, "No, you ate sardines and Vienna sausages in the sand. I dined on surf and turf with an ocean view." It is all about perspecitve. I say, "Read this book!"