Sunday, April 23, 2017

What She Left Behind

This is an intriguing novel by Ellen Marie Wiseman. Izzy Stone is in foster care because ten years ago her mother shot her father dead. She refuses to visit her mother in prison or even to read the letters she receives from her. Doctors have determined her mom is sane, but Izzy can only accept what she's done by believing she is unstable. And she fears this for herself. Her latest foster parents are curators of a museum charged with clearing out a defunct asylum; this is where Izzy finds Clara's journal. Clara was a longtime inmate of the asylum, but was not mentally ill. There is a dual timeline to tell the stories of both young women that is nicely interwoven. The author took quite a bit of creative license in treatment Clara received at the asylum; as if being committed against one's will were not horrifying enough; some of the treatment she has ongoing in the 1920's and 30's were discontinued as inhumane in the 1880's. And there was definitely criminal activity going on that no one questions or stops in both timelines.

The Life We Bury

A debut novel by Allen Eskens, this book tells the story of college student Joe Talbert and Carl Iverson, a stranger Joe interviews for his biography assignment. Carl is a hero from the Vietnam War; he is also a convicted rapist and murderer. He has served 30 years of a life sentence, but has been medically paroled since he is dying of cancer.  Joe comes to believe in Carl's Innocence and sets out to prove it before Carl dies. The consequences of this decision are incredible.

Friday, April 21, 2017


An eye - opening non-fiction work by Jeanne Marie Alaska's. It is the story of Dr. Bennet Omalu, an immigrant from the corruption, fraud, and civil war of Nigeria. In America he became a neuropathologist; one day "Iron Mike" Webster was the body in front of him in the morgue in Pittsburgh. Once a Hall of Fame center for the Steelers, after retirement, Webster suffered a steep mental decline. Out of curiosity, Dr. Omalu preserved Webster's normal appearing brain for study. What he found was evidence of disease caused by relentless blows to the head. After he found this evidence in two more players' brains, he took on the NFL; and realized America has its own brand of fraud and corruption.  The story is well written, reads like a novel, good stuff.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Luckiest Girl Alive

A debut novel by Jessica Knoll,  this was an engrossing read. I didn't like the main character, TifAni FaNelli, at all until she began growing. Standing up for herself in a mature way. We meet her as she's reinvented herself: shortened her name, a glamorous job, wardrobe, fiancee.... Why did she have to reinvent herself? Made me first feel sympathy, then empathy for her. Why do women feel "less than"? Why are so many of us feeling unbearable pressure to have or do it all? This book explores that a little and gives insight into what happens when that pressure bursts. A good read.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Orphan Train

This is a novel by Christina Baker Kline. It details the life of one young girl on an orphan train; trains that ran regularly from the East Coast to the Midwest from 1854 to 1929 bringing orphaned and abandoned children by the thousands, often to a life of indentured servitude at the end of the line. Vivian is one such girl.We meet her as she is 91 and going through the detritus of a lifetime. We get her story juxtaposed with that of Molly, a seventeen year old girl in her umpteenth foster home, helping Vivian clean her attic to avoid going to jail. Vivian and Molly become friends; helping with school assignments and moving into the computer age. And closing out chapters of lives; for they were more akin than they realized. Recommended.

Forty Martyrs

By Philip F. Dealer, this is a novel - in - short - stories. It was recommended by a local librarian, is set locally, and I have once attended the eponymous Catholic Church. I thought I couldn't go wrong suggesting this for my book group. Oops! It's a lot racier than anything we've read before. Deaver deals with fairly real situations; the wounded warriors of life. We may have a lot to talk about in book group after all.

Friday, April 14, 2017

The Broken Way

A daring Path Into the Abundant Life. Ann Voskamp seems to be a polarizing author; people either like her style or they don't. That's the opinion of her popular blog. This book is not her blog made large; if you have trouble with her blog - style, go ahead and try this book. If you are trying to follow Christ yet aren't sure what that looks like, try this book.

At points while reading, I felt absolutely undone. At points, I felt I could do this Jesus-walk. Mostly I felt acutely aware of my own brokenness. However, "it's all okay. Maybe the love gets in easier right where the heart's broke open." Brokenness brings abundance. May my brokenness bring Him glory. A highly recommended book.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

This Is Where You Belong

The Art and Science of Loving the Place You Live. By Melody Warnick, this is an interesting book. It tells how to feel more rooted in today's mobile society. By researching place attachment - the deep sense of connection that binds some of us to our cities and increases our physical and emotional well-being - Warnick came up with a list of things to do to make her latest move Home. She lists ten activities to make yourself feel at home in the place you live; from walking and biking to acclimate yourself to volunteering to staying loyal after a disaster. It's well researched and not dry at all. However, her principles are not meant for the working poor (buy local, eat local food). She does allocate just a portion of your budget for these goals, however... I don't see how they would work for our family. Other things she suggests, yeah, I want to get started on or do more of. Recommended.

A Mother's Choice

This is an eBook I read by Kristen Noel Fisher. I usually choose fluff for my ebooks, since I only read them while waiting at appointments and such. This book left me feeling decidedly torn; not only did Autumn's mother make an unbelievable choice, but the author made her characters Catholic. There's absolutely no way the choice could have happened from a Catholic mindset. It was too unbelievable. I will not read this author again, most likely.