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Saturday, May 14, 2016

Running on Red Dog Road

Running on Red Dog Road: And Other Perils of an Appalachian ChildhoodRunning on Red Dog Road: And Other Perils of an Appalachian Childhood by Drema Hall Berkheimer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Description:
Gypsies, faith-healers, moonshiners, and snake handlers weave through Drema’s childhood in 1940s Appalachia after Drema’s father is killed in the coal mines, her mother goes off to work as a Rosie the Riveter, and she is left in the care of devout Pentecostal grandparents. What follows is a spitfire of a memoir that reads like a novel with intrigue, sweeping emotion, and indisputable charm. Drema’s coming of age is colored by tent revivals with Grandpa, jitterbug lessons, and traveling carnivals, and though it all, she serves witness to a multi-generational family of saints and sinners whose lives defy the stereotypes. Just as she defies her own.

Review:

Running on Red Dog Road and an interesting first hand account of life in Appalachia (specifically West Virginia). We are transported back in time to the 40's and 50's when coal was still the primary source of energy, the war separated families, and (as is still the case in many Appalachian families today) grandparents raised the grandchildren.

Berkheimer walks us through her past is a personal and real way. She brings to life the truth of her grandfather's teaching that, "the places and people we come from sear into our very being and follow us all the days of our lives". Written in a simple, conversational manner you can't help but fall in love with the story. And for those of us who grew up in Appalachia, it is nice to see a story come out that highlights the beauty of that life.

 

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

A moment of weakness review

A Moment of Weakness (Forever Faithful, #2)A Moment of Weakness by Karen Kingsbury
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Jade and Tanner could love be any sweeter "that" summer? And yet misunderstanding and misinformation leads to heartache. Jade finds herself wed to another, a man less than ideal. And yet......all hope is not lost when divorce and a nasty child custody case bring Jade and Tanner together again.

I appreciate that Kingsbury addresses real life, less than perfect issues. Even the "best" Christian makes bad choices in their life. It is how you respond to those choices that matter. I especially loved the prayer life/God conversations each had with God. Kingsbury does a good job of showing different views of what that can look like. And Tanner's acceptance of God's gift, all I can say is make sure you have a box of tissues!

While the story is predictable, and you probably already know how the story is going to end, it is an enjoyable pleasure read with a good moral compass. After all, isn't that what Kingsbury does?

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

I am N review

I Am N description:

Yousef, whose mother threatened to kill him for having a Bible, now smuggles Bibles the way his family once smuggled drugs.
After Parveen’s employer beats her for attending church, Parveen begins to help other young Christian women who work in Muslim houses.
Abdulmasi kills hundreds of Christians in northern Nigeria with no remorse—until the day he chooses a new life of faith and sacrifices everything for a God of love.


What can we learn from these faith-filled brothers and sisters around the world? How can we pray for them? And what do their remarkable stories teach us about a God whose light shines in a dark world?

I-Am-N reminds us that we are each “N”—as radical Muslims in Iraq identify followers of Jesus the Nazarene. Wherever we live, we have camaraderie with those who are persecuted. So come meet their families. Read their stories. Deepen your faith in a God who gives us the courage to shine in a dark and hurting world.

My review:
 You almost can't turn on the news without hearing about ISIS or troubles in the Middle East.  In I Am N, The Voice of the Martyrs strives to move the story from sensational headlines to personal connections.  Each of the 17 stories are real.  Some end horribly in martyrdom.  Others end with new Christians reaching out to others in their community sharing the truth of Jesus despite the personal risks.  All will bring home the reality of what it truly is to abandon self and whole-heartedly serve God.

My church had already committed to praying for the Christians facing Islamic extremists several months ago.  You will see many of us wearing orange (because of the jumpsuits the prisoners are often wearing when shown on the news) bracelets with Hebrews 13:3 on them as reminders of our brothers and sisters in Christ who are living it first hand.  This book has helped to guide how I pray for these people. 

The only negative (besides the obvious need to write such a book) is that the writing seems very impersonal and almost cold.  Not that I think the authors don't hurt for those they write about, but as if they have distanced themselves from the horror.  The stories present the facts with little emotion.

As an effort to share the stories of those who are N, Voice of the Martyrs has truly succeeded.  I dare say you will be changed after reading this and will no longer be able to read the headlines or watch the news without realizing that every person being terrorized by ISIS has a story, has a family that loves them, has a desire to live....and yet their faith in Jesus love is such that they refuse to turn their back on Him.  I never thought I would see persecution like in the days of Nero.....yet here we are......

Looking for Home review

Looking for Home Description:

 With his mother dead, his father gone, and his older brothers and sisters unable to help, eight-year-old Ethan Cooper knows it’s his responsibility to keep him and his younger siblings together—even if that means going to an orphanage.

Ethan, Alice, Simon, and Will settle into the Briarlane Christian Children’s Home, where there’s plenty to eat, plenty of work, and plenty of talk about a Father who never leaves. Even so, Ethan fears losing the only family he has. How can he trust God to keep him safe when almost everything he’s known has disappeared?

The first book in the Beyond the Orphan Train series, Looking for Home takes us back to 1907 Pennsylvania and into the real-life adventures of four children in search of a true home.

My Review:
When I was given the opportunity to review this book I was a bit confused.  I had never heard of the orphan trains.  Apparently (according to Wikipedia anyways)
The Orphan Train Movement was a supervised welfare program that transported orphaned and homeless children from crowded Eastern cities of the United States to foster homes located largely in rural areas of the Midwest. The orphan trains operated between 1853 and 1929, relocating about 200,000 orphaned, abandoned, or homeless children.
In this series Richardson bases the main characters on the lives of 4 orphans and their experiences.  While names have been changed the events are as close to accurate as the memories of those the characters have been modeled after.

That being said, I think this would be a great way to introduce younger children to this time in history.  The main character, Ethan, is 8 years old in 1907 when this story begins.  He is the oldest of the children being sent to the orphanage with his 3 younger siblings and is tasked with looking out after them.  His older siblings had obtained work and thus were able to support themselves, but unable to support their younger siblings.  Ma has passed on and Pa is out "working on a boat" but we are led to believe that he has abandoned the family. 

As the first in the series this 12 chapter, 170 page book covers the children's trip to the local orphanage and their first year there.  It is written in such a way that an elementary age child would easily be able not only read the book but connect with the characters.  I believe this would also be a wonderful read aloud for lower elementary students as well.  And if you are a lover of living books, this would be right up your alley. 

Look for reviews of the next 3 books to come soon!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Cable left, cable right review

Book description:


Knitted cables, with their three-dimensional twists and turns, are a common element in lots of patterns -- but most patterns don’t include directions for executing them. Cable Left, Cable Right, by expert knitter Judith Durant, eliminates the mystery with detailed, in-depth instructions for creating 94 different styles of cable, from perfectly plain to fantastically fancy. Close-up photos and clear instructions teach you the techniques you need, including design options like braids, diamonds, and pretzels so you can make your cables truly one-of-a-kind. This book is the perfect companion to any knitting pattern featuring cables, giving you the information and skills to make polished, beautiful, and unique cables for any project.

 My review:  

 If you knit, you should own this book!  I knit hats for a charity organization and found the cable patterns in this book inspiring....you can bet there are going to be several donated hats sporting patterns from this book.

I found the directions easy to follow and the step by step pictures were beautiful as well as helpful.  What I really enjoyed was the time that Durant took to include all of the possible chart symbols and what they mean as well as most of the abbreviations included in cable patterns.  This makes is easier to understand both written and charted patterns, including those not this book, not that you will need to look elsewhere.

With everything from beginner (how to do both left and right crossing single cables) to the more advanced (knitting cables WITHOUT cable needles) and tons of gorgeous patterns you will find yourself pulling this book down quite often.  And while I will be using the patterns for hats, I can easily see these incorporated in blankets, sweaters and even socks!  

Friday, November 6, 2015

Crochet One Skein Wonders review

Crochet One Skein Wonders for Babies Description:

Irresistible! This collection of 101 projects makes it easy and fun to crochet adorable clothes, toys, and accessories for the babies and toddlers you love. Each project uses just one skein of yarn, many take just a few hours to complete, and plenty are suitable for beginners. Hats and caps, bootees and socks, mitts, dresses, tops and bottoms -- plus blankets, bibs, soft toys, bottle cozies, diaper bags, and more -- there’s something here for every baby! These original patterns were contributed by 54 designers around the world, and each one comes with complete instructions, charts, schematics, and beautiful photographs.

My Review:

If a baby or toddler needs it, mom could use it, or it just looks adorable there is a pattern for it in this book!  Full of projects using both charted and written instruction as well as patterns for all ability levels you are sure to find the perfect project to give as a gift or make for your own child.  And the fact that each project can be made with one skein of yarn or less you just can't go wrong!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Eve Review

Eve Description:

When a shipping container washes ashore on an island between our world and the next, John the Collector finds a young woman inside—broken, frozen, and barely alive. With the aid of Healers and Scholars, John oversees her recovery and soon discovers her genetic code connects her to every known human race. She is a girl of prophecy and no one can guess what her survival will mean...

No one but Eve, Mother of the Living, who calls her “daughter,” and invites her to witness the truth about her story—indeed, the truth about us all.

Eve is a bold, unprecedented exploration of the Creation narrative, true to the original texts and centuries of scholarship—yet with breathtaking discoveries that challenge traditional misconceptions about who we are and how we’re made. As The Shack awakened readers to a personal, non-religious understanding of God, Eve will free us from faulty interpretations that have corrupted human relationships since the Garden of Eden.

Eve opens a refreshing conversation about the equality of men and women within the context of our beginnings, helping us see each other as our Creator does—complete, unique, and not constrained to cultural rules or limitations.


Thoroughly researched and exquisitely written, Eve is a masterpiece that will inspire readers for generations to come.

My Review:

Let me begin by saying I enjoyed reading The Shack and I truly felt like it gave me a new perspective on God.  So when I was given the opportunity to review Young's new novel, Eve, I decided to do so.  Eve is a quick read, I finished it in a matter of hours.  The story is engaging and I found that I couldn't put it down as I was compelled to see how it would unravel.  

That God was able to take a severely physically and emotionally broken Lilly (the main character) and not only make her whole again, but help her to recognize just how loved she was by God was a redeeming quality of this book.  Unfortunately I found that many of the other aspects of the book caused me concern.

First, which considering that this is a novel it may seem inconsequential to some, is that the book is written from the point of view that the account of creation in the Bible is not a literal account.  Specifically that it took millions of years for God to create the world rather than the Biblical account of 6 days and a day of rest.  While this is more of a personal belief it was something I found disturbing.

Second, Young's interpretation of the creation of Adam and Eve take a lot of liberties with the story.  Adam was created as an infant, whom God nursed.  Eve was born as an infant after Adam's pseudo-pregnancy with her and then Adam raised her to adulthood.  God's decision to create Eve was not so much because "it is not good for man to be alone" (Genesis 2:18) but because Adam was dissatisfied with being alone.

A third concern with the story is that Young incorporates the fable of Lilith in the storyline, turning Lilly into Lilith-who offers herself to Adam as a substitute wife.  While the characters do state twice that Lilith is a "fable", the inclusion of this fable in the story of creation that was "thoroughly researched" is disconcerting to me.  I realize that it is fiction, but should someone who is not strong in their faith read this it could create a stumbling block.

There are a few other concerns that I had, such as Eve not leaving Eden when Adam did (Genesis 3:23-24), Eve's rejection of Adam after God confronted them (another liberty taken as there is no mention of this in the Bible) and others.  There were enough that I am uncomfortable recommending this book.  While it does seem the author's purpose was to empower women (in the acknowledgements Young writes, "Thank you to the myriad of voices being raised world-wide that will make this century the Century of the Woman...") it is my opinion that to do so by distorting God's word is an injustice.