Book Review: Jesus Land: A Memoir

I finished this book over a week ago, and I cannot stop thinking about it.  It wasn’t an easy read, but it certainly was thought-provoking!  Written by Julia Scheeres, it was also published as Another Hour on a Sunday Morning in the UK.

Julia is the youngest of four children (one boy, three girls) in a very strict Calvinist family. When she was three, her family decided to adopt a boy. They were a bit taken aback when there were no white babies available and ended up with a black child, David.  Bigoted themselves, David’s new mom was afraid that his blackness would rub off on her whenever she touched him.  Julia, however, had an instant bond with him and loved him unreservedly, becoming best friends.  When David was a few years older, they decided he needed another brother ‘like him’, and adopted Jerome. These are the three children that move to small town Indiana in the early 1980s. Continue reading

Book Review: Killing Lincoln

I’m not a Bill O’Reilly fan.  In fact, if I had paid attention and realized that this was written by him, it might have influenced my decision to read the book.  Instead, I saw the book on a ‘best of 2013’ list and thought it was intriguing (plus I’m on a biography kick right now) so I added it to my library list. And I’m glad I wasn’t biased by the author’s name over the title.

To be fair, I don’t know how much was O’Reilly written and how much was the coauthor Dugard.  But from the first chapters of the book, written during the time when my native city of Richmond was being overtaken by Grant, forcing Lee on his way west toward Appomattox, I was intrigued at the way the story unfolded.  Lincoln’s involvement in the last days of the war, what Booth Continue reading

Nicholas Sparks should be banned from publishing

Today was my friend K’s birthday. (Happy 31st girl!) She took the day off and wanted to hang out this morning, so we went to see a movie. Unfortunately, there is a dearth of great flicks out at the moment, so we chose to see Dear John, which is based on the Nicholas Sparks novel of the same name.  Now, I would have enjoyed it anyway just because, well, hello, Channing Tatum!  (He may not be the world’s greatest actor, but come on! Check out those pecs!  Yummy.  Where was I?)  Oh, so we chose to see this movie, and I am currently 2/3 of the way through the book too.  The movie is similar to the book, with a few significant differences, but it is pretty much your standard Nicholas Sparks’ film–lots of schlock, lots of trite lines, boy meets girl, boy loves girl, boy and girl have agonizing relationship, blah blah blah.  Your typical sappy chick-flick tear-jerker.  (Yes, I cried.  I cry at marshmallow commercials.  So sue me.)

Anywho, maybe it’s the last five days worth of wedding-related relationship-required postings, but I started thinking. Continue reading

Happy Birthday!

Hard to believe, but ten years ago today a little book came out that changed the face of children’s literature and book publishing forever.  I must admit, I didn’t even read it until there was a sequel, and of all people was inspired by hearing Rosie O’Donnell wax rhapsodic over the protagonist on her now-defunct daily talk show.

As a lifelong bookworm, I was thrilled that there was something out there that got children interested in reading again, and that a book had been written that not only had kids begging their parents to take them to the bookstore but also was a work of art that didn’t speak down to the kids.  There is nothing more insulting that children’s literature that doesn’t inspire you to think, encourage creativity, and stir imagination.  Drivel that meets these three categories are the reason why many kids hate reading–my own brother included.  But this little book not only changed that, it also allowed reading to become a family affair as it was just as enjoyable for adults as it was for their children, and as battles over who’s turn was next in the rotation reached a frenzy I know of more than one family that ended up purchasing more than one copy.

Better yet, as the sequels kept coming, the voice of the protagonist kept aging.  Reading the final installation is a different world from the initial introduction, as the writer smartly assumed that the readers were growing with her books and that things could evolve and get more intricate, detailed, fanciful, and complicated.

So here’s to you, Harry Potter, and may your Sorcerer’s Stone always bring good fortune to those that read it.  And also to the author–may JK Rowling be known as not only the richest woman in England but also as someone that took the chance that someone would enjoy reading about an eleven year old bespectacled scrawny kid and how the misfit and friends was the one that saved the world.

Why I Read

There are two groups of people: bibliophiles and those that read a book a year if they’re lucky.  There are many levels of bookworms, from the collector to the packrat to the obsessive, and I’m not sure where I fall.  I do, however, read every day.  Sometimes I finish a book in one sitting, sometimes I just get a few pages in.  I usually have several books going at a time–one for the home ‘library’, one for the car, and one for when I’m tired of TV.  But I read.  I read a lot.

Awhile ago I was asked to provide, in writing, why I was one of the ones that read instead of one of the ones that chose not to lose themselves in the written word.  Here is my response (and I’ve not got the faintest idea where the last bit of it came from!):

Why I read Continue reading

Yada Yada

So awhile ago I was in the evil place–also known as a bookstore–and saw a book on sale for about $5.  So what the heck, I picked it up.  It was called the Yada Yada Prayer Group. I did not realize at the time that it was the first of seven books, but it was cheap and a fun read.  While it was like a lot of contemporary Christian fiction (aka, schlocky and full of stereotypes) it was still an okay read.  So I finished it, hit the library, and have finished the first three books in four days.  The themes haven’t changed much, still schlocky and stereotypical, but the thing is stereotypes are stereotypes for a reason.  There’s a little bit of truth behind all of it.  And while it might make you cringe and while you might say ‘no, that’s not me’, the truth of it is that there is always a little something that you can relate to.

The books aren’t fantastic fiction, by any means, but they are an easy read.  I think one of the things that really rings true is that among this group of twelve women are various ethnicities.  Two hispanic, one South African, three black, and the rest white.  Messianic Jews, Christian, searching for God, and an ex-con among them, but still a diverse mix.  Thrown together by circumstance and not by choice they then have an experience that draws them together as a group. Continue reading

Today I caught up with an old friend.

You know how sometimes, without even meaning too, you lose touch with someone from your past? We all have friends that are that way or pastimes that have ended, even though we do not want them to do so. You keep meaning to get in touch, you keep meaning to visit, you keep meaning to reconnect. But somehow you always run out of time, you never quite make it, you never remember.

I’ve been guilty of this just as much as the next person. Girls that I grew up with that I have then disconnected with. Girls that I was thick as thieves with in college and then haven’t spoken to but a handful of times in the last five years–if that much. (J, this means you!) Girls that I miss horribly as we did everything together for years. Girls that I stood up for as they got married, sometimes more than once come to think of it. I am not the greatest at keeping in touch, I will freely admit, as once I come home I usually do not want to speak to anyone since i am on the phone/computer all day. One of my closest friends I praise all the time–we met at a conference ages ago (ten years?  Good grief, C, has it really been that long?) Continue reading

Friends are awesome

So today, I sat down and finally finished an email response to a friend who emailed me ten days ago.  Just trying to catch up, and then the wordy email reply.  In the email, I mentioned how I had read (again) the entire Harry Potter series and was looking for something to read that was decent, because everything I had read since just didn’t hold up.  And then on and on about other things.

So what do I find when I get home from work today?  Two boxes on the front step.  One of them was from my friend.  It was full of books.  She absolutely rocks.  I now have plenty of material to get me through the holiday weekend.  Ask and ye shall receive!

So thanks, my darling friend, and your thank you note will be in the mail tomorrow!

A Disappointed Bookworm

So there are different kinds of books: books that I buy in hardback, books that I buy in paperback, books that I read with the full knowledge that it goes in the used bookstore box the minute I’m done, books that I reread every year, books that I may not read every year but I keep because I may want to reread them someday.  I have two library cards, one for the city and one for the county, yet I rarely use them.  I have over $350 credit at the used store, I can wait.  If it’s something I must read, I usually buy hardback.  At any given time I can have as many as four going at once–one for my lunch break, one for the hammock, one for the living room comfy chair, and one for the ‘at-home-library’ (which, to be fair, is more of a magazine room).

After spending 19 months reading nothing but textbooks and articles for my MBA, I spent six months reading fluff–well, when I wasn’t sleeping that is.  I needed nothing but brain bubblegum there for awhile, as I had no brain cells left that would allow me to read anything with a complicated plot to follow.

Then I went on a medical thriller run.  Forensic procedurals, mystery series, you name it.  Then I wanted something comfortable, something familiar.  So about three weeks ago (well, maybe four) I started rereading all the Harry Potter books.  Started with the first, just finished the seventh yesterday.  But then I was at a loss.  I haven’t been book shopping in a long while, so I needed something from around the house to read.  I have my lunch book, which is a fun little who-done-it tale, but then tonight in the hammock I picked up something that should have been enjoyable but instead was two hundred pages of nothing.  Not even good enough to be considered fluff, it was about a hundred and fifty pages longer than it should be, it could have been a lovesick eleventh grader’s creative writing essay.

What a disappointment when you finish reading something that is an easy but intelligent read like the Harry Potter books and then pick up some dreck like this.

Any recommendations for something good?