Sunday, December 4, 2011

Why Men Hate Going to Church by David Murrow

My head is reeling from the information contained in “Why
Men Hate Going to Church”
. How could I be so wrong when I thought I was so right? So many things that I thought made church “right”, it seems, turn men off from going. They appeal to me as a woman, but men are from a different planet in some ways and aren’t attracted to the same things I am. Murrow presents the case, point by point, that many aspects of church as we know it today has been feminized and the very things that draw women in, turn men away. After speaking to the whys and wherefores of his argument, he goes into concrete ways that a congregation can make small or large changes that will bring a healthy balance back to their gender numbers. He talks about decor, music, preaching, children’s ministry, youth ministry, programs – there’s something in here for everyone. This is a book that should be read and taken to heart by anyone who loves God and wants all men to love him and find a church home where they can worship Him without feeling like they are in a foreign country. I highly recommend this book.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

In Defense of Flogging by Peter Moskos

Picture this scene. You are standing in front of the judge, having been found guilty of fraud. The standard sentence is 6 months in jail. In a surprising turn of events, the judge offers you the possibility of 5 lashes or canings in lieu of prison time. Do you take the flogging and short-term pain, but walk out a free person? Or do you choose instead the conventional prison term and subsequent loss of freedom?

Peter Moskos, the author of “In Defense of Flogging”, holds to the belief that our prison system is flawed - inefficient, ineffective, and expensive. Instead of rehabilitating prisoners, prison is psychologically destructive and damaging to family and society. Moskos believes that flogging is a healthier form of justice.

I have to admit that I began this book as a sceptic. Even as he put forth his arguments a part of me said “yeah, but....does a civilized society hit? Parents aren’t even allowed to spank for heaven’s sake!” However, by the end of the book he had me convinced. His arguments are well researched and logical. The tone makes for an easy-to-read book that not only sets forth Moskos’s theories but also provides a blueprint for implementing the system.

Definitely not politically correct, but challenging and thought-provoking.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

So Long Insecurity (leaders guide) by Beth Moore

"So Long, Insecurity - Group Experience" is a leaders guide to the book "So Long, Insecurity" by Beth Moore. There are 10 weeks of study and an introduction included. The introduction has suggestions for leaders as per time frame, getting through the material, tone of the group and dealing with problems. Each weeks lesson includes a warm-up, word from Beth, digging in (which has questions), in the light of the Word, wrap-up and on-your-own activities for participants to do. In the sidebar there are "before you meet" assignments as to the chapters to read for the following session and a few thought-provoking questions to think about while reading.
I haven't read the book this quide is based on , but am intrigued to search it out. As a linear person this guide was very comfortable to navigate. I could see myself using it in either a group situation or even on my own, although a group would definitely be more advantageous as more points of view would be raised. I would recommend this study to any women's bible study group or several friends who want to get to know one another better and help each other grow.
I received a complimentary copy of the book for review purposes from Tyndale House.

Pattern of Wounds by J. Mark Bertrand

There are books about travel and then there are books that travel. "Pattern of Wounds" is a book that traveled. It traveled from my spot at the table to my husbands spot in the living room. And then from there to my bedside. From my bedside it might go to my husbands comfy couch downstairs. Yes, it was the battle of the book for a few weeks until we both managed to finish it (he won by finishing first, but didn't let on what the ending was). This murder mystery did have me perplexed at times keeping characters straight. But it was interesting from beginning to end. The main character is Roland Marsh who is a hardened cop with relationship issues that many can relate to. Keeping your work life out of your marriage can be hard, especially with a high-stress job like a policeman. Watching Marsh deal with the tensions added some depth to the story-line.
This book came to me free in exchange for reviewing from Bethany House.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

George Washington Carver by John Perry

A small man with a big heart. George Washington Carver was an small, unassuming man who had big dreams, big thoughts and the drive to bring them to fruition. Yes, he had a lot to do with multiple uses for the peanut. But he was so much more than the "peanut man". His life is a testimony to hard work, diligence, loyalty, friendship, encouragement and so much more. This story will inspire you to go beyond the ordinary and look to God for a great purpose in your life. My 11 year old son devoured the book and was amazed at George's accomplishments. "George Washington Carver" should be read by everyone, of every age.

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Canary List

My daughter warned me not to read this book. She said it was creepy. I didn't listen and went ahead anyways. For the first number of chapters she was right, but I kept on. "The Canary List" is a classic tale of good versus evil, conspiracy theories and doing the right thing even when it's hard. Creepy - yes. A good story - yes. Hard to put down - yes. Interesting to the last drop. You won't be disappointed if you like suspense thrillers with a twist.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Found by Margaret Peterson Haddix

This series for young adults (The Missing) sounded promising. I've enjoyed Haddix's books in the past. And I did get some satisfaction out of reading "Found" - the first book in the series. The premise of the story is interesting, but "Found" was not complex enough to encourage me to keep reading the following books.
The storyline follows Jonah, Chip and Jonah's sister Katherine as they come to realize that Jonah and Chip are not necessarily who they think they are. They may have been smuggled out of another time in history. There are opposing forces coming at them, including the FBI, and the trio has a hard time deciding who is really on their side. I can see this as an action science fiction movie.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Food Rules by Catherine Shanahan

This is a very handy book to have on hand if you are trying to eat in a more traditional way. It breaks down a wealth of information into "rules" or guidelines that will keep you on the right track. Shanahan is a MD who specializes in the promotion of health and reversal of disease using traditional food. Her other book is "Deep Nutrition". If you don't want to wade through all the jargon in that book, "Food Rules" is a good primer to keep in the shelf.
The book starts out with a few pages on the "why" of traditional food eating. Then it plunges into 118 rules to guide you toward good, healthy eating. The rules are arranged into 4 parts. Part 1 helps you shop. Part 2 gives you advice about food and nutrition. Part 3 talks about how to eat mindfully. And Part 4 is helpful for those doctors visits and lab tests - what do those numbers mean? The appendixes include a traditional diet food pyramid, recommended staples, foods not to eat and a week of recipes for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Ms. Shanahan makes eating traditionally very workable and easy to take baby steps with. This is a great reference and I'll be adding it to my bookshelf soon.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A Patchwork Planet by Anne Tyler

Anne Tyler has done it again for me. "A Patchwork Planet" is a heart-warming, "slice of life" story that draws you into the world of 30 year old Barnaby Gaitlin. Gaitlin is a young man who has struggled all his life because he marches to the beat of a different drummer than those around him. In his youth he was in trouble with the law and his mother especially has never let him forget it. As readers we share his most intimate thoughts about his family and friend relationships and happily see him mature and start to realize his true worth.
Barnaby works for a company called "Rent-a-back" that caters to senior citizens by doing odd jobs, running errands etc. He quite enjoys his job and is loved by all the clients. It was interesting to get into the minds of some of these elderly people and see life through their eyes. The compassion and friendship that Barnaby extended to his clients is an example to us all.

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Postmistress by Sarah Blake

There are two ways to study history. You can get the encyclopedia out and learn a list of names and dates. Or you can read novels about the time period and really get a sense of people and relationships and why things happened the way that they did. A more meaningful way to learn in my opinion. For history to have any meaning, for events to have an impact on how you live in the here and now, you need to get into the skin of the people living in the past. A novel serves the purpose well. "The Postmistress" is set in one of the most interesting-to-me times - World War 2. We see the early war years through the lives of three very different women who eventually come together in a heart-rending conclusion. I had a bit of a time getting into the first chapter, but then I was hooked and continued to read at every opportunity. The cover illustration of the version I read was lovely too, but if anyone can tell me what significance the dried flower has, I'd love to hear it. Take away question - is it sometimes right to do the wrong thing?

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Moby Dick by Herman Melville

This has got to be one of my most favorite books of all time. But confession time. I've never actually read the book. I've only listened to it twice. This time I wondered if I'd get all the way through, but it was as wonderful as the first time. Melville has a way with words that transport you out of your world into the life of the whaler. Apparently there are all kinds of life meaning in the characters and how they interact - including the whale. Google it sometime. But I take it just as an adventure story about a young man who goes to sea on a whaling ship with a strange captain named Ahab, who happens to be obsessed with catching a white whale called Moby Dick. It's full of big words that I really don't know the meaning of. Maybe one day I'll actually read a hard copy and look those words up. For now though, I'll savour it just for what it is - one whale of a tale. (sorry, couldn't resist). If you do listen to it, the version narrated by William Hootkins is fantastic.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Left neglected by Lisa Genova

Have you read Genova's other book "Still Alice"? You should. It's a wonderful book about a woman who gets early-onset Alzheimers. "Left neglected" deals with the brain as well, but this time injury as a result of a car accident. Sarah is left with a condition that causes her to not recognize anything to the left of centre - her left arm, leg, anything in her left vision. Apparently this is a common condition of brain injured patients. We see Sarah before the accident - a successful, albeit frazzled, business woman. And then we see her after the accident - barely able to clothe or feed herself, let alone walk. The novel follows Sarah through rehab and her processing of what this is going to mean to her as a career woman, wife, mother and person. Along the way we see her relationship with her husband and mother grow through the trials and tribulations, but come out stronger in the end. I was reminded of a favourite blogger of mine, Kate, who had a stroke a few years ago. Similar struggles but determination wins. Take away quote, "Because while I still hope for a full recovery, I've learned that my life can be fully lived with less."

Friday, August 19, 2011

The 100 Thing Challenge by Dave Bruno

I've read dozens of books on decluttering over the last 30 years or so. Being "organizationally challenged", I've needed all the help I could get. So I expected this book to be just one more "how to get rid of stuff in your life" that I might glean at least one tip from. Such was not the case. Yes, I did get some pointers, or at least refreshers, on only keeping the important things around you. But this was a more introspective book than that. And it was funny to boot. The journaling of Dave Bruno's personal, year-long goal to rid himself of consumerism was interesting to read and raised all sorts of questions about why we buy and is it important to keep doing so. He chose to limit himself to 100 items for the year, but suggests that that number might be different for others. His conclusions resonated with me and have reinforced my desire to simplify my life and think more about my purchases. Thank you, Dave, for the lessons. Thanks, too, for the blog to keep the conversation going.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Different Minds by Lorna Drew and Leo C. Ferrari

Alzheimer disease is becoming more and more common, or so it seems. My father has now been diagnosed with it and so what was once vague medical terminology has become a reality in my life. True to my nature I have started reading up on the disease. "Different Minds" is a non-fiction book that records the journaling of two writers, one of whom (Leo) has developed Alzheimers. The chapters alternate between Lorna and Leo, so you get two different perspectives on living with AD. The back of the book includes contact information for support groups and helpful websites. This would be a great introduction to the world of Alzheimers disease and how it affects the patient as well as the caregiver.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The House on the Gulf by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Having read Haddix's "Shadow Children" series and enjoyed them, I picked up "The House on the Gulf" off the library display shelf. It's a Young Adult fiction novel about a sister, brother and single mother who find an unusual way to make ends meet one summer when the mother is going to summer school. What looks like a simple house-sitting situation rapidly gets more suspenseful as a number of scenarios play out that just don't make sense to the sleuthing younger sister. This was an easy read that kept me thinking. The morals were good and the message of family togetherness was hopeful. The sister displayed resourcefulness in getting a part-time job and the older brother suffered consequences for his lying.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Bedtime Story by Robert J. Wiersema

If you are a voracious reader like me, one of the things that captivates you is the ability of a book to draw you in and take you to another world. Have you ever gotten so involved in a book that you felt a sense of the surreal? In two worlds at once? When reading a good book I hate to leave that "other world", it has become so real to me. What would happen if you really did enter the world of the book? How would you - or could you - get out? How did you actually get in there in the first place? This is what is explored in Wiersema's fantasy book "Bedtime Story". Weirsema follows a father and son as a book is read out loud at bedtime, gradually leading to tragic consequences. The father races against time to figure out what is happening to his son and how he can rescue him. This is not a child's book. But it will appeal to the child in you as well as satisfy the adult. Great read. I will definitely search out his other books.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Fine Art of Insincerity by Angela Hunt

This book was a sleeper. First it sat on my shelf for far too long after a friend lent it to me to read. Then I had a really hard time reading it and kept putting it down. But somewhere into chapter three something clicked and the three sisters who tell the story became real to me and I was swept into their lives. I have two sisters myself so it wasn't hard to find common points between my situation and that of the women in the book. Being the oldest I related to Ginger the most - those firstborn traits are hard to lose. I laughed and cried with these sisters even though the storyline was a little unbelievable. I'd like to think that I could go away for a weekend and come home with life all worked out and past hurts smoothed out. Not likely, but it was interesting to live with Ginger, Penny and Rosemary for a few days and see life through their eyes. I came away a little wiser and with more compassion for decisions made that don't fit my view of life.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Over-diagnosed by Dr. H. Gilbert Welch

Perspective. We all need it. Some people are better at it than others. When it comes to health I tend to see lions behind every tree. Every time I read or hear of a disease or condition, the symptoms resonate with me and I'm sure I have "it". Logically speaking I'm mostly healthy, but logic doesn't always factor in. Dr. Welch premises that with all the possibilities that modern medicine has for tracking down abnormalities in our bodies we may have taken medical screening to the extreme. He proposes that ALL bodies carry diseased cells around in them at all times - most of which will never go beyond a very small stage or will be eradicated by our body defence systems. However, if an x-ray, MRI or other scanning procedure is used, treatments may be begun that will have more of a negative effect on us than just leaving well enough alone. The book is very well written, easy to understand, and full of examples, footnotes and references. It covers most common ailments and cancers, and also includes a chapter on genetic testing which was very interesting.
His advice - if it's not broke, don't fix it. Good advice and I plan to take it.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Inner Circle by Brad Meltzer

I listened to this book over a period of several weeks while at the beach. The remarkable thing about it was that everytime I thought it was winding up, a new twist would occur and the story would go on. The book has a very complex story line involving conspiracy within the government of the United States. Through an unfortunate mishap an innocent archivist finds himself plunged into intrigue, conspiracy, lies and deception. All too soon he doesn't know who he can trust and what the truth is. Meltzer is a master of this genre and this novel will satisfy those who enjoy suspenseful thrillers.

The Keepsake by Tess Gerritsen

This was a perfect diversion read. Not too heavy or complex - just your traditional murder mystery. A well preserved mummy shows up in the basement of a museum, but turns out to not be thousands of years old as first thought. The police are brought in and the plot continues to thicken, twist and turn enough to keep you on your toes not knowing exactly how it's going to play out. I stayed up late several nights reading this novel, and fortunately it didn't give me the creeps even though there are a number of no-so-nice images described in the book.

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Sheer Ecstasy of being a Lunatic Farmer by Joel Salatin

I LOVED this book. In another life I would be a lunatic farmer too - one who respects the land, respects animals and handles both with knowledge and the understanding that we cannot abuse the system and expect to get away with it forever. In conversation-like fashion Joel Salatin tells of his family business raising cows, chickens, and eggs on a sustainable farm in Virginia. Joel travels widely helping to make people aware that it is possible to feed our country without resorting to chemicals, feedlots and monocrop, mega-acre farms. In this book he includes his philosophy, research and resources as well as practical how-tos. Each chapter concludes with takeaway points. For example, chapter one is titled "Growing Soil". The takeaway points were: 1. Herbivores and perennials are the most efficacious way to build soil. 2. Tillage and annuals account for the lion's share of erosion. 3. Depleted soil can be rebuilt and regenerated. 4. Carbon is the key to soil health.
You don't have to be a regular farmer to appropriate the wisdom in this book. Taking it to heart will help you better care for any size urban yard you have and give you an appreciation of the process behind organic farming and encourage you to support local suppliers of this type of produce and meat.

The Book of Lies by Brad Meltzer

(audio book) Suspense. Conspiracies. Murder. Chases. This book has it all. There's even some biblical history as a running theme, although it has been much elaborated on and is very speculative. Just what was the weapon that Cain used to kill Abel? Does it matter and is it worth getting killed over? Some people seem to think so. Alongside the standard thriller theme is a subplot of a father/son relationship. Just enough to make you want to go and hug your dad and tell him you love him.
I was kept on the edge of my seat with this one. A few rough words and descriptive violence scenes keep it in the adult category.

and I shall have some peace there by Margaret Roach

The cover of this book requires that you pick it up it's so beautiful and peaceful. The subtitle "trading in the fast lane for my own dirt road" was intriguing enough to cause me to toss it into my library bag and take it home. I love to read about people who have changed course dramatically in their lives, based on changing life values or re-evaluation of their lives or perhaps just finally getting to what they've always wanted to do in the first place.
This is a non-fiction book. So Margaret's introspective journey to finally leaving a well-paying, prestigious career working under Martha Stewart is particularly meaningful. And Margaret is touchingly honest. We hear the good and the bad. Warts and all, she doesn't hold anything back. It's like she took her journal and fleshed it out.
I enjoyed being alongside as she made the important decisions; I enjoyed her descriptions of the plant and animal life in her new habitat. I'm encouraged that she made this big step and is being successful at it. In fact, you can read an ongoing discussion at her blog "A way to garden".
A favourite quote from the book is Martha Stewart's motto "learn something new every day". Easy to do when you read a lot. :)

Noah's Compass by Anne Tyler

(audio version) This was a perfect night-time, knitting, listening-to novel. The main character is a middle-aged gentleman and the narrator had a voice that fit well with the age. Part of the fascination of this book was that Liam was 61 and considered himself old and ready for the rocking chair on the veranda. He's only 5 years older than me! Seeing the world through his eyes was a hoot.
Liam is a once widowed, once divorced father of three girls who has just lost his job. His dilemma now is to either get a new job (he was a teacher) or consider himself retired and spend the rest of his days reading his beloved philosophy books. Along the way he has conflicts with his children, a summer romance with a younger woman and much reflecting on what he has done with his life.
Another wonder-factor for me was his disconnect with his children. He seemed content to live his own life and let them live theirs and rarely the twain meet. This is so different to my way of dealing with family that I was left pondering the question of "am I too involved with my children's lives?"
Liam seemed to be looking for purpose in his life. I wish he didn't have the stereotypical religious evangelical Christian for a daughter. Rather than spouting cliches, she may have been able to lead him to a Jesus that could resolve the worry state his current life situation was causing .

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Broken Song by Kathryn Lasky

This is the sequel to The Night Journey. This book tells the story of Reuven Bloom who enters the story toward the end of The Night Journey. So we get the WW2 Jewish perspective from a young man this time, rather than a young girl. You will learn about what it was like for Jews in Russia during WW2 and also about the Jewish culture and customs.

The Night Journey by Kathryn Lasky

Those familiar with children's books will recognize the name Kathryn Lasky. She is a prolific writer. The Night Journey tells the story of a young Jewish girl in Russia during WW2 and what she and her family went through as they had to leave their home to find a safe refuge. Fascinating historical references. I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

Ice Cold by Tess Gerritsen

Prepare to be creeped out. This book kept me reading long past my bed time, with adrenalin coursing through my veins. Set in Vermont, a female medical examiner looking for meaning in life does something totally out of character and sets in motion the ride of her life - or is it her death? Do you like medical thrillers? Murder mysteries? Stories about polygamist lifestyles? You will enjoy this book. Easy to read and with just enough relational interaction to add depth and thought to a beach read. Warning - there are a half dozen or so F words.

The Law of Similars by Chris Bohjalian

While checking my local library for books on homeopathy I came across this novel with that as a theme. This author also wrote Midwives, which I listened to and enjoyed. The Law of Similars has a similar premise. Holistic medicine gone wrong - or is there another answer? This is a well written book, suspenseful and dramatic; the characters have depth. Did I read the whole thing? No. I skipped to the last few chapters to find out the end of the story. The main character revealed a little too much about what was going on in his mind re: most of the females in the book. I know that men think these thoughts; I just don't want to read about it. If you can get past that aspect of the book, you'll enjoy this.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Fiber Menace by Konstantin Monastyrsky

Just when you thought you had nutrition all figured out - "eat lots of fiber", someone comes along and proves you wrong. At first I was ready to toss this book on the garbage heap, but as I got further and further into it I realized that he made a lot of sense. All his claims are based on research and body physiology. He knows his stuff. And his "stuff" is a fascinating walk through digestion and how our body deals with the food that we take in.
I will reread this book and make notes and adjust my diet accordingly.
If you keep an open mind you might just find he's not too far out in left field.
Check out his website at

Saturday, June 25, 2011

The 39 Clues book series

The first book of the series was by Rick Riordan and entitled "The Maze of Bones". It held just enough promise that I reserved and just finished reading "One False Note" by Gordon Korman. I now have book 3 on reserve at the library, "The Sword Thief". There are 10 books in all.
The story surrounds two siblings, Amy and Dan. Amy is a shy, timid 14 year old and Dan is a typical rambunctious 11 year old boy. Several years earlier they were left orphans and have been raised by an elderly aunt. There is also a grama in the picture who is very wealthy, but for some reason she has not been raising the children herself. However, they visit her on weekends and are very attached. After the grama dies some strange requests arise out of the reading of her will and so start the children on their journey around the world looking for the 39 clues. Other members of the extended family are also racing to be the first to get to the 39th clue which will supposedly make them the most powerful person or persons on the planet. This makes for some hairy adventures.
Would I give these books to my avid 11 year old reader? No, basically because the children are constantly disobeying authority figures and getting into trouble and he doesn't need that kind of influence. They call each other disrespectful names and that could rub off.
One aspect of the books so far that I find interesting is the extensive descriptions of the settings that the books take place in. Lots of historical information is added in. It almost makes me think that the books were written to try and get kids to learn something while being taken in by the plot.
You can definitely tell that these books are written for children. There isn't a lot of depth here. Beach reading for sure. However, I want to keep reading to find out the final answer to the quest. I hope I'm not disappointed, but little would be lost as these are very quick reading.