Monday, September 22, 2014

The Autobiography of an Execution

"The Autobiography of an Execution" by David R. Dow

The author is a lawyer for inmates on death row in Texas.  This book is about why he fights for these inmates.  The author does a good job of geting the reader to think about where they stand regarding the death penalty.  It is easy to think of a person that committed brutal crimes as not human at all but in this book we see that they have families, they are someones father, son, brother.  "Belief is a decision; it doesn't just happen."  We chose to believe, we make efforts to understand what and why we believe something.  "There are beutiful things about her I know about that you don't, because you are too judgmental to see them.  If you have a friend, you have to take them as they are."  Just like a spouse, or a child, good and bad we love them for who God made them to be.  "After you kill the bad guys, you're just as angry as you were before, but there ain't no one left to hate."  So does killing really solve the problem?  "If we are going to execute people in our society becasue we believe that it is an appropriate punishment for people who callously and irresponsibly take another's life, then the people with the power not to execute ought to take responsibility themselves for imposing the punishment, or at least not negating it.  It's easier to kill somebody if it's someone else's decision, and if somebody else does the killing.  Our death-penalty regime depends for its functionality on moral cowardice."  A good book to get one to think about why you believe what you believe.  A good insight to how the system works and what really happens to those sitting on death row.

The Peach Keeper

"The Peach Keeper" by Sarah Addison Allen

Another good read by this author.  I enjoy the wimsy she intertwines in the everyday of real life.  This book is about 30 year old Willa who is trying to get out from under her past.  Living in the same town where her family came to financial ruin many decades ago has proven harder than she thought.  Soon her past literally gets dug up to be dealt with.  Willa finds love and friendship who those she least expects.  "She'd padded her life with so much calm that she didn't think anything could penetrate it."  No matter how much we try and plan, life will creep up and get in the way.  "Superstitions are man's way of trying to control things he has no control over."  We try and explain things that only God knows the answers to.  "How could someone with a life this full feel this empty?  When we fill our lives with things we find in the end that we really had nothing of importance at all.  "Because we're connected, as women.  It's like a spiderweb.  If one part of that web vibrates, if there's trouble, we all know it.  But most of the time we're just too scared or selfish or insecure to help.  But if we don't help each other, who will?"  I think this is ture for all people, not just women.  We are all connected and most of the time, all too scared or selfish to intervene.  God calls us to help one another.  "When you're a teenager, your friends are your life.  When you grow up, friendships seem to get pushed further and further back, until it seems like a luxury, a frivolity, like a bubble bath."  I think this is sad.  We need friends, we need each other.  Life is hard, we need someone to help carry the load and make us laugh when all we want to do is cry.  "Happiness is a risk.  If you're not a little scared, then you're not doing it right."  Happiness takes a little courage.  "All we have is our deep and abiding love for each other.  We can't lose that or we lose ourselves."  "Fate never promises to tell you everything up front.  You aren't always shown the path in life you're supposed to take.  But...when you're really lucky, you meet someone with a map."

Friday, September 12, 2014

Garden Spells

"Garden Spells" by Sarah Addison Allen

I have been enjoying this author so much.  Her writing is magical and fun.  She writes about deep issues but in a light hearted way.  She intertwines funny, mystical, and serious very well.  The Waverleys are a curious family who have a magical garden with an apple tree whose fruit is said to be prophetic.  Claire Waverley has magical dishes she serves when she caters.  Claire likes her life just the way it is, she likes her routine.  Evanelle, her cousin, has gifts for people before they even know that they need them.  All of the sudden Claire's wandering sister, Sydney, returns with her young daughter.  Claire's life is turned upside down.  Claire begins to deal with the hurts of the past as Sydney opens up to her life after leaving home.  Can these sisters find common ground?  "Sydney was family.  Claire had learned the hard way that you weren't supposed to take them for granted."  It's so easy to take family for granted.  They will always be there, their family, right?  Of anyone, family should be who we apprecatie the most.  "This woman had been abandoned too many times to let anyone in again."  It's a sad state when someone has been so hurt that they can't bear to have anyone else enter in.  Foster kids tend to be like this.  They act tough, like they don't need anyone because they are tired of loving and being left.  "You are who you are, whether you like it or not, so why not like it?"  We can change some things about ourselves that we don't like but accepting ourselves is a good step to loving ourselves.  "When you tell a secret to someone, embarrassing or not, it forms a connection.  The person means something to you simply by virture of what he knows."  So be careful who you share your secrets with. "When you're happy for yourself, it fills you.  When you're happy for someone else, it pours over."  That's the truth.

The Girl Who Chased the Moon

"The Girl Who Chased the Moon" by Sarah Addison Allen

Enchanting would be the word I would use to describe this book, also magical.  A teenage girl comes back to her mother's hometown to live with a grandfather she never knew in a town that isn't readily accepting.  Emily comes to find answers to a life her mother never told her about.  Julia bakes cakes that everyone in town loves but no one knows the reason that she cant stop making them.  Julia is calling out to a love that was lost, hoping her cakes will bring that love back.  It's a quirky little town where mystical things happen.  "We get to choose what defines us."  Events happen in our lives that we have no say over but we do get to say what will define us.  "Let them live their lives without our baggage."  I found this profound.  So many times we put our stuff on others instead of letting them live the lives they were meant to.  Family traditions, family curses, our worries and fears, not all of it is bad, but we need to let our children blaze the trail that was meant with them and it is so much easier when they aren't carrying extra baggage.  I enjoyed this free spirited book.  It was light with some good messages and just fun to read.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Things I've Learned from Dying

"Things I've Learned from Dying" by David R. Dow

The author says this is really a book about life.  You learn a lot about how to live life in the face of death.  David is a death row laywer.  In this book he talks about a case he is working on.  While he is working on this case, trying to save an inmates life, his father in law is dying of cancer.  He learns many lessons from his father in law and from the inmate, many of these lessons are about letting go and just being there.  I liked this book and am intruiged to read his previous book.  "I can either spend the rest of my life trying to exted my life, or I can spend the rest of my life living my life."  Sometimes life is extended only to endure more suffering.  Sometimes life is just worth living the rest you have to the fullest.  "No matter how much you change who you are, you cain't change what you done."  Even if we aren't the same person anymore, we still have to pay for our mistakes.  "Sometimes one's imagination sees what it wants to see."  "One thing I've learned is that in the face of tragedy you are powerless to prevent, there's no greater empathy than quiet."  Sometimes all we have to offer someone is our quiet, there are no words to make it better but sitting with someone in their pain is powerful.  "All you can change is yourself and your own small corner of this earth.  That, and you can help other people change theirs."  And change is a powerful thing, it's also contagious.  "The reason it's easier to be bad than good is that being good takes awareness and effort.  You can't just sit there.  But all you have to do to be bad is coast."  I think this is a genius statement and so very true.  Being bad is easy, it comes naturally.  Being good takes effort and a lot of people don't want to take that effort.  "Time does not heal all wounds.  Some pain becomes part of who you are."

Lost Lake

"Lost Lake" by Sarah Addison Allen

This was a really great book, really great.  I now want to read all the books this author has written.  Kate spent the summer at Lost Lake when she was 12.  It was the last best summer she had.  Now she is grown up, coming out of the fog of losing her husband.  She has a daughter to raise and her mother in law has taken over in her fog of grief.  On a whim Kate decides to give her daughter one last best summer at Lost Lake.  Will it still be there?  Will her great aunt still be running the place?  Eby, her great aunt, has decided to sell Lost Lake.  She is old and so are the cabins.  People come to say their goodbyes, but can Lost Lake be saved before it's too late?  "Children always know when their mothers are crazy-they just never admit it, not out loud, to anyone."  Children know more than we give them credit for.  "She wanted to say that waking up is the most important part of grieving, that so many women in their family failed to do it, and she was proud of Kate for fighting her way back."  Coming back from, or out of grief really is the hardest thing.  It takes being willing to live again and after you've lost someone you love so much living is the hardest thing to do, it takes the most courage.  "If we measured life in the things that almost happened, we wouldn't get anywhere."  We can't live in the almost.  "No amount of love and no amount of money would change people who didn't want to change." Amen to that.  Prayer and God is what changes things.  "When your cup is empty, you do not mourn what is gone.  Because if you do, you will miss the opportunity to fill it again."   A good book filled with laughable moments and moments that will make you think.  A funny book with depth.