Sunday, May 24, 2015

The Sunday Post

The Sunday Post

Hello fellow book bloggers.  I've been in a slow stretch for a few months, not participating in  link-ups or even reviewing a whole lot of books, but I seem to be getting back in the groove.  How about you?  Do you go through phases or do you blog pretty regularly?  I've written about books since 2007 but became a serious book blogger in 2008.  I reviewed several books per week through most of 2014, and participated in various linkups, but for about the last year, my enthusiasm has been waning.  Sometimes I'll read, and then put off doing the review.  Other times I'll sit and play Candy Crush rather than read, or I'll surf through various feed readers reading articles on all sorts of topics.  However, I've read a few good books lately and I've given myself permission not to review everything I read, so while I may never get back to reviewing three books a week, I do think I'm back in the game, with the new rules I've set.  

I reviewed Lisa Genova's Inside the O'Briens which follows a family whose father has been stricken with Huntington's Disease, a fatal genetic degenerative neuromusuclar disease that strikes people in their forties and fifties.  We not only see Joe dealing with his disease but also his children dealing with whether or not they should undergo genetic testing to see if they will get it--and what to do with that information once they have it.  

On a far less serious note, I reviewed Let Me Love You Again, which is a pretty basic romance.  

What does marriage mean and when is a marriage worth saving are topics explored in Save Me, which I reviewed. 

I interviewed author Sherry Boas, who writes books about a family affected positively by a woman with Down Syndrome.   

I shared a recipe for Sweet and Sour Pork Chops from this lovely cookbook and announced the winner of a free copy of the cookbook.  

I wrote a message to high school seniors.

Also, I have started a financial planning blog, and this week I reviewed a book on finances for those of us who aren't as  young as we once were.  Check out my blog "Racing Towards Retirement" and my review of 

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Review: Inside the O'Briens

Inside the O'Briens: A Novel

About the Book:
Joe O’Brien is a forty-four-year-old police officer from the Irish Catholic neighborhood of Charlestown, Massachusetts. A devoted husband, proud father of four children in their twenties, and respected officer, Joe begins experiencing bouts of disorganized thinking, uncharacteristic temper outbursts, and strange, involuntary movements. He initially attributes these episodes to the stress of his job, but as these symptoms worsen, he agrees to see a neurologist and is handed a diagnosis that will change his and his family’s lives forever: Huntington’s Disease.

Huntington’s is a lethal neurodegenerative disease with no treatment and no cure. Each of Joe’s four children has a 50 percent chance of inheriting their father’s disease, and a simple blood test can reveal their genetic fate. While watching her potential future in her father’s escalating symptoms, twenty-one-year-old daughter Katie struggles with the questions this test imposes on her young adult life. Does she want to know? What if she’s gene positive? Can she live with the constant anxiety of not knowing?

As Joe’s symptoms worsen and he’s eventually stripped of his badge and more, Joe struggles to maintain hope and a sense of purpose, while Katie and her siblings must find the courage to either live a life “at risk” or learn their fate.

My Comments:
My dear readers, there is something I have to tell you.  I'm sure some of you have guessed, but for those who haven't, I'm going to come right out and say it:  I'm dying.  I don't know exactly how much time I have left, but my day is coming.  Ok, I'm not dying anymore today than the average woman my age is, but none of us make it out of this world alive, and I don't expect to be the exception.  However, there are people, people who feel fine, people who have no symptoms, who know that they are going to die young and who know what will likely kill them.  They have the gene for Huntington's disease, a genetic, progressive neuromuscular disease that manifests itself to most people when they are in their 40's.  Those of us who do not have parents who had Huntington's do not have to worry (providing our parents are old enough, or lived to be old enough, to have manifested the disease); those who have a parent with Huntington's have a 50% chance of developing the illness.  

This is the story of the O'Brien family.  They are Irish-Catholics who live in the Charleston area of Boston.  Joe O'Brien is a Boston police officer and the father of four adult children.  Gradually, he and his wife, especially his wife, come to the realization that something is wrong.  After being diagnosed with Huntington's Disease, he realizes that his mother, who he had been told was institutionalized due to alcoholism, actually died of Huntington's Disease.  As we follow the O'Brien family through the first years after Joe's diagnosis, we see how this awful disease changes their lives.  The now-adult children have to decide whether to have genetic testing that could reveal whether they will follow in their father's jerky footsteps.  While we learn something about all the family members, the main characters are Joe and his youngest daughter, Katie.

Katie has always felt like she lived in her sister's shadow, but now she has a boyfriend and a job she likes.  She has dreams for the future.  But does she have Huntington's Disease?  Does she want to know?  What difference will knowing make?  Those are the thoughts that run through her mind.  Two of her siblings have chosen to know; one adamantly claims he does not want to know.  She isn't sure. In order to undergo testing, Katie has to visit a genetic counsellor.  The protocol then calls for her to return for another appointment, if she wants the test.  Finally, once the results come in she has to return to the counsellor, who will open the envelope in her presence, and, perhaps, predict the type of death she will die.

While certainly not religious fiction, this was a book about faith.  The O'Briens are Catholic and, unfortunately, not so unlike many Catholic families today.  After baby number four, Joe refused intimacy with his wife until she went on the pill, It took his devout wife several months to give in, but she did give in--and then got a dog that she named Yaz.  She want to Mass regularly; he didn't, and now the kids don't go.  Even in his illness, Joe does not return to Mass, but he does start going to the church after daily Mass and sits in the pew in which he sat as a child.  One day he comes home and finds his wife in despair and sees that she has removed the many religious items from their home, and he convinces her that God is there and cares.

This book had me in tears and praying for families that face this disease.  I don't know what I'd do in Katie's place.  What do you do if the test is positive?  Do you get married?  Have kids?  Seek experiences now since you know you don't have a long future ahead of you?  Wallow in self-pity?  Worry that every forgetful moment, every muscle twitch, every bit of clumsiness is the beginning of the end?

I'd like to thank the publisher for making a review copy available via NetGalley  Grade:  A.  

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Let Me Love You Forever: My Review

Let Me Love You Again (An Echoes of the Heart Novel Book 2)

About the Book:
An endearing series about love, family, and the magic of small-town life.

Selena Rosenthal left behind her high school sweetheart, who was the love of her life, seven years ago.

Now, she and the once-rebellious Oliver Bowman are back in Chandlerville—after his foster father’s heart attack and Selena’s contentious divorce—to deal with her secrets, the recklessness that caused their breakup, and the almost-strangers they’ve become to each other and their families.

As soon as his father is stronger, Oliver must return to the successful career that helps support a new generation of foster kids. But he’s falling for Selena again, her daughter has a hold on his heart, and he can’t imagine leaving behind his brothers and sisters once again.

More attached by the day to their charming hometown and families, Selena and Oliver fall in love for the second time.

Has fate brought Chandlerville’s prodigal children together again…this time forever?

My Comments:
It's a romance novel; of course the prodigal children will come together forever.  It's the journey that is the story; not the ending.  

I liked both Selena and Oliver and enjoyed watching them grapple with their pasts and move to the future.  It turns out that one thing they share is a history of substance abuse.  Of course neither feels worthy of the other's love and both have demons they need to confront before they live happily ever after.  

Honestly, this is a pretty basic romance novel, and since it is part of a series set in a small town we get to meet a lot of peripheral characters who have little part in the story, but I'm sure many of them will be featured in future books.  

I'd like to thank the publisher for making a review copy available via NetGalley.  Grade:  B

Short Review: Save Me

Save Me

About the Book:
Daphne Mitchell has always believed in cause and effect, right and wrong, good and bad. The good: her dream job as a doctor; Owen, her childhood sweetheart and now husband; the beautiful farmhouse they're restoring together. In fact, most of her life has been good--until the day Owen comes home early from work to tell her he's fallen head over heels for someone else.

Unable to hate him, but also equally incapable of moving forward, Daphne's life hangs in limbo until the day Owen's new girlfriend sustains near-fatal injuries in a car accident. As Daphne becomes a pillar of support for the devastated Owen, and realizes that reconciliation may lie within her grasp, she has to find out whether forgiveness is possible and decide which path is the right one for her.

My Comments:
I read this one quite some time ago and I guess I forget to write the review at the time since it is still showing as un-reviewed and there is no review on my blog.  The main thing I remember is that I didn't like the characters and thought that their problems came about mainly because they concentrated their lives on achieving career goals, not on family. I think Kristyn Kusek Lewis is a talented writer; I just wish she'd come up with characters I like.  

I'd like to thank the publisher for making a review copy available via NetGalley.  Grade:  B-.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Author Interview: Sherry Boas

I've reviewed several books by Sherry Boas, so I was definitely interested when Catholic Word asked me if I wanted to interview her.  Sherry's comments are in bold type below.

Hi Sherry!  I'm a fan of your Lily books and I'm so glad you agreed to take time for this interview.
I looked at your website and the photos of your kids are great.  I understand why you are vague on the details about them, but can you tell us a little about them--their genders and approximate ages (teens, toddlers, pre-teens, etc.).

My children range in age from 9 to 16. They are awesome gifts from God and make our lives rich and joyful.

All of your kids are adopted, and none of them were the healthy, perfect white infants that so many adoptive parents want.  How old were your kids when you adopted them?  Do you have any advice for parents considering adopting special-needs kids?

We adopted all our children when they were infants. If you feel you may be called to special needs adoption, pray, research and have courage. Let love guide you, not fear. Love will determine whether each placement is right. Love doesn’t require you to say yes to everything. Sometimes love means saying no. But fear is never a good decision maker. As our beloved St. John Paul II always reminded us, “Be not afraid!”

Your website said you homeschool your kids.  Is this something that you think you would have done if your kids did not have special needs, or is it something you chose to do largely because of your kids' special needs?

I was led to home schooling after seeing the fruits of home schooling in families I knew or read about. It seemed they had a very close bond and that’s what I wanted for my family.

In Until Lily, we learn that Lily works, uses public transportation independently and lives in a group home.  What type of future to you envision for your children?  I have a son who has autism and so far, I've found adulthood to be harder than the school years. I can't imagine having to worry about four kids with special needs and what they are going to do when I'm gone.

From what it looks like now, thanks to so many miracles, I think most of my children will be independent. My daughter with Down syndrome is the one who will require help all her life. I think she will hold some kind of job and live with family or in a group home. Her older brother, who is now 15, has expressed a desire to help her through life, which I think is beautiful. If it doesn’t end up working out that way, I pray God will send the right people into her life, and as she gets older, we will begin to make more solid plans. She is only 12 now. But I know it’s a worry, and I hear what you say, loud and clear. Adulthood for people with special needs can be a real challenge. Perhaps we as parents must rely on God’s providence even more at those times. And work very hard and pray for the strength to endure whatever suffering and sacrifices are necessary because that’s what love requires.

All the Lily books are published by Caritas Press, and your bio on their website says you are the owner of Caritas Press.  As a book blogger I've started to learn about the business of books and I'm still trying to figure things out.  What is the difference between owning a company like Caritas Press, and self-publishing?  Is there a difference?  Does Caritas Press publish books by other authors?  Do you want to?  Did you try to publish any of your books with other publishers?

I started as a self publisher in 2011, when I published the Lily Trilogy, but my mission unexpectedly grew and now I have a small publishing company called Caritas Press. I do publish other people’s work, including children’s books, but I wouldn’t be able to do any of it without my publishing partner, Catholic Word, which handles all my distribution, marketing, order fulfillment and accounts. Catholic Word is the reason I was able to make the cross-over from self-published author to publisher, so their decision to take on my titles has been a huge blessing.

In my review of The Things Lily Knew, I asked my readers:  If adults could take pre-conception pills to eliminate defective eggs or sperm, would that be a good thing?  I'm not talking about something that would hurt an already conceived zygote, embryo or fetus; rather this hypothetical drug would work on gametes (eggs and sperm).  What is your answer?

Such a good question. It is the question that the main character in The Things Lily Knew has to face. I would love for people to read the book and see if it helps them decide for themselves!

In your books it becomes clear that for Lily's family she is a catalyst for salvation--both salvation in the everlasting sense and in an earthy sense, as the family was better off here on earth because of the interactions with Lily.  Fast forward twenty years.  A drug has just hit the market that cures Down's Syndrome or a condition that one of your other children has.  I know you can't fix chromosomes but this hypothetical medicine provides what is missing because of that extra chromosome, and studies have shown that if people with those conditions take this medicine and then undergo extensive tutoring (because they were so far behind to start with) they can achieve normal intelligence/abilities.  Would you give the medicine to your children?

Another really good question. Probably similar to the question of cochlear implants for people who are deaf. If I were deaf, I assume I would sign up for that surgery. But I have heard some in the deaf community say that deafness is something that doesn’t need to be fixed. For myself, if there was a magic drug that had no side effects and could make my memory better, I would probably take it. I think it would improve my quality of life to be able to remember where I put my car keys and what chapter contains the scene where Lily gets married, for instance, and I don’t think it would change my personality. I think I might view medication for improving intelligence in those with intellectual disabilities the same way. On the other hand, one would have to wonder if such a medication would change one’s personality, and then that becomes a tougher question.

Your bio says that you spent ten years as a journalist.  Now you are a novelist.  How do the jobs compare?  Why did you decide to switch fields?

I quit my very demanding job as a reporter at a daily newspaper in 1998 when we adopted our first baby. I became a stay-at-home mom and have loved every minute of it. Then in 2009, I decided to try writing a book, and that turned into a trilogy, which I published in 2011, and then a series, and I began to see how I could publish other books as well. I have been blessed to be able to do it all at home, in the stolen moments between laundry and times tables, and late at night when everyone has gone to bed. It has been a blessed journey!

I'd like to thank Sherry for taking the time to visit with us. I've enjoyed getting to know her and hope you enjoy her books as much as I do.

With the Help of Thy Grace: The Winner is Michele decided that Michele should win With the Help of Thy Grace Cookbook which is generously being provided by Catholic Word, which is the leading Catholic publisher group in the United States, with over 35 publisher members producing books, study programs, audio and videos which provide answers to the burning needs and questions relevant to today's Catholic.

So, what is Michele getting?  She's getting a cookbook with good recipes and some good spiritual readings to go with them.  Here is one of the recipes (with permission)

Sweet and Sour Pork Chops (page 101)

6 pork chops, pat dried (I used what was in the package)
1 cup flour (probably didn't need that much)
salt and pepper
2 Tbsp oil.

Dredge pork chops in flour, salt, and pepper.  Brown on both sides in skillet with oil.  Drain and remove chops. Place in 9X13 casserole.  Sauce:

1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
2Tbsp soy sauce
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 cup chopped green onion (I didn't have this so I substituted 1/2 pack of onion soup mix)
1 medium chopped green pepper (putting this in would assure it would not be eaten at my house)

In mixing bowl, combine above ingredients, blend and pour over pork chops. Bake in 325 degree oven for 45 minutes, basting every 15 minutes.

These were a big hit at my house.  I also tried cutting some chicken breasts into pieces that were a couple of bites each, flouring and browning as above and then cooking on top of the stove in that sauce.  The chicken disappeared!

Michele blogs at The Frazzled Family Dinner and at  Barrels of Monkeys where you can see her beautiful quilts.

Friday, May 15, 2015

My Message to High School Seniors

Used with Permission

I was cleaning out my email the other day and ran across something I wrote to my alumnae association listserve.  Since it is graduation season, I thought I'd share it:

Some say you are leaving the best years of your life....I say how sad to think you've had the best when you've just begun.  Life is what you make of it, and most of us make our life after high school much  better than our life in high school

A prom date is fun, but a loving faithful spouse is better--and lots of folks who couldn't get a prom date find loving faithful spouses, and some who had their choice of prom dates end up alone, or with people who aren't loving or faithful.

Good grades are a sign of intelligence, but they aren't the only sign of intelligence.  Find out where your talents lie, and use them to make life better for you, and those around you.

I wish I could tell you that the girl voted "Most Beautiful" will be fat and gray thirty years from now--and maybe she will be, but probably not.  However, your zits will heal, you'll find a hairstyle that fits you and clothes you like wearing, and most of you will be able to look in the mirror and like what you see.

High school kids can be really mean to those they don't like; adults just don't bother with folks they don't like; in general they see little reason to pick on someone.

You may have been called an egghead, nerd, or a goody-two shoes in high school; in life that means you are the smart one who works hard and on whom  people can rely--the person who stands up for what is right rather than bending with the wind.

Hopefully you had good high school years; nevertheless I pray that for all of you, the best is yet to come.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Quick Review: A Catholic Mom's Guide to Working from Home

A Catholic Mom's Guide to Working From Home: 101 Tips to Help You Make Money Without a Commute

About the Book:
Many families have a problem: we want to pay the bills, but it is difficult – sometimes impossible – to survive on one income. But then we have these precious babies, and we want to stay with them, to witness their special moments and to care for them in the best way we can. In the words of Mother Teresa, “Love begins by taking care of the closest ones – the ones at home.” 

So what should we do? It is like a grown-up tug-of-war with your finances and career on one side and your kids on the other. 

Society tells women that we can’t have it both ways. But I am telling you that you can. You can stay at home with your children and also make money, and I will give you 101 tips to make it happen. 

This guide will give you, in a Catholic context, ideas on: how to decide the job that is right for you, how to make time for an at-home job, work time vs. family life, Catholic spiritual advice and practical tips on everything from taxes to web design. 

If you want to start making money at home, this is the booklet for you.

My Comments:
This Catholic mom isn't really looking to work from home; however,  I have a college-student daughter who is home for the summer and not currently employed, so when offered a free copy of this book for review, I grabbed it, hoping it would tell me how she could get rich this summer.  Unfortunately, after reading all 101 tips, I've come to the conclusion that she will not be ready to pay her own way to school this fall or Europe next summer.  

Actually, if you would like to start working from home, this book is a good little guide to get the wheels in your head spinning, though I would have liked to see a little more concrete direction as well as an indication of the likely income.  Suggested jobs are writing, making crafts, running an in-home daycare, selling things, working for a company like Avon, or seeing a need and meeting it.  While it lists these jobs, there is no real direction about how to go about getting them and making them pay though there is some general advice about not getting in over your head with expenses and about how to legally set up a business.

The strong part of the book is the spiritual aspect.  Jennifer Rainey reminds you that if you are too busy to pray, then you are too busy.  As the book is aimed at stay-at-home moms, it reminds readers that taking care of the kids comes first and discusses how to fit your work around them.

The book itself reads like an extra-long blog post.  There is a bold-faced tip and then a paragraph or two of explanation--right out of "How to Write a Blog Post".  

I'd like to thank Jennifer Rainey for the free review copy.  Grade:  B.  

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Review: A Small Indiscretion

A Small Indiscretion: A Novel

About the Book:
At nineteen, Annie Black abandons California for a London winter of drinking to oblivion and looking for love in the wrong places. Twenty years later, she is a happily married mother of three living in San Francisco. Then one morning, a photograph arrives in her mailbox, and an old obsession is awakened.

After a return trip to London, Annie’s marriage falters, her store floods, and her son, Robbie, takes a night-time ride that nearly costs him his life. Now Annie must fight to save her family by untangling the mysteries of that reckless winter in Europe that drew an invisible map of her future.

My Comments:
Jan Ellison is a talented writer who weaves together a story of three different time periods into smoothly flowing novel about the life of Annie Black.  Annie spent a winter in London and while there has affairs with two men.  She thought she has left that life behind when she married her husband and they set up a typical middle class life in California.  Then one day her past caught up with her and the partial truths she told others (and had come to believe herself) reared their ugly head.

The story raises some interesting points.  How much about your past should your spouse know?  How much should your children know?  How much of our memories are real, vs embellished to fit our image of ourselves?  How do our "indiscretions" (usually on this blog they are called "sins") affect others?  

I'm afraid I never grew to like Annie, the main character in this story.  While I found her  somewhat  believeable  (and incredibly stupid) as nineteen year old, her actions as a married mother of three went beyond stupid into the utterly selfish category.  I disliked the men with whom she had affairs (and I'm pretty sure I was supposed to dislike them), I thought her husband was a great guy and I wished I knew more about her son.  

Annie and her husband are lapsed Catholics.  The book mentions that they had their children baptized because it made his parents happy.  When tragedy strikes, She goes into a church and she said that her hope turned into a prayer.  Later, to deal with the tragedy, her son goes to a Buddist monastary for a one hunded day silent retreat.  One generation rejects the spiritual, the next seeks it.  

I'd like to thank Leyane at FSB Media for sending me a review copy of this book.  I was not obligated to write a positive review.  Grade B.  

Monday, May 11, 2015

Review: As Waters Gone By

As Waters Gone By

About the Book:
Emmalyn Ross never thought a person could feel this alone. Sustaining a marriage with a man who’s not by her side is no easy task, especially since her husband currently resides behind impenetrable prison walls. His actions stole her heart’s desire and gave their relationship a court-mandated five-year time-out. What didn’t fall apart that night fell apart in the intervening years.

Now, on a self-imposed exile to Madeline Island—one of the Apostle Islands of Lake Superior—Emmalyn starts rehabbing an old hunting cottage they’d purchased when life made sense. Restoring it may put a roof over her head, but a home needs more than a roof and walls, just as a marriage needs more than vows and a license. With only a handful of months before her husband is released, Emmalyn must figure out if and how they can ever be a couple again. And his silence isn’t helping.

My Comments:
What is it like to have a spouse in prison?  For many, the answer is "I don't have a spouse in prison;  I  have an ex-spouse in prison".  Emmalyn's husband is in prison for a crime he committed, but the action was not typical of his behavior.  Emmalyn, unlike many spouses of convicts, remains faithful and hopes to pick up the pieces of her marriage when he gets home.  Unfortunately, home as they knew it isn't theirs anymore due to financial problems, Emmalyn decides to move into a cottage her husband had used for hunting, a cottage far away from her critical and overbearing mother.  

When Emmalyn arrives on Madeline Island, she meets Boozie, the owner of the local bed and breakfast.  While Emmalyn has never really practiced religion, Boozie is a devout Christian and through Emmalyn's interactions with Boozie and other island inhabitants she comes to know Christ and to reach beyond herself to help those in need.  She also comes to see that God has answered her prayers, just not in the way she wanted them answered.  Emmalyn also learns that while in prison her husband has undergone a religious conversion too.

Obviously the book is Christian fiction, and if conversion stories aren't your thing, well, this book is one.  However, it is not just a story of finding Jesus and everything being perfect in life.  It is the story of a woman who was wallowing in self-pity, who in a lot of ways was in a prison of her own making, who by reaching out to others and by allowing others to reach her, broke through the bars in her life to the freedom God wanted for her.

Cynthia Ruchti is a talented writer who paints beautiful pictures both of landscapes and of the souls of people through her use of words.  This book is a winner and I give it an A.  

I'd like to thank the publisher for making a review copy available via NetGalley.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Captain No Beard Strikes Again

I recently received the latest two books in this charming series about a group of kids who pretend to be  pirates and the life lessons they learn. Fribbet the Frog and the Tadpoles: Captain No Beard  features Fribbet telling the other crew members about the new tadpoles at his house and how they develop.  He also admits that he isn't sure he likes them because they take up all of Mom and Dad's time.  Captain No Beard admits that his baby sister can be a bit of a bother, but he loves her and is glad he has her.

In A Flag for the Flying Dragon: A Captain No Beard Story the kids are again playing pirate ship.  This time, there is a new younger child playing with them and as often happens when the little kids want to play with the big kids, conflict ensues because the little ones can't do what the big ones can and seem to be in the way.  Captain No Beard comes to the rescue again with a job the little one can do, showing once  again what a good leader he is.

I'd like to thank Carole P. Roman for providing complimentary review copies of these books.  They will be donated to my daughter's school library.  Grade:  B.  

Thursday, May 07, 2015

A Love Like Ours: My Review

Fall in love with Becky Wade's new book, A Love Like Ours, a story of healing, romance, and cowboys. A glimmer of the hope Jake thought he’d lost returns when Lyndie lands back in Texas, but fears and regrets still plague him. Will Jake ever be able to love Lyndie like she deserves, or is his heart too shattered to mend?

To celebrate the release of her new book, Becky is giving away a $100 cash card and a book-inspired prize pack!


One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A $100 cash card
  • A copy of A Love Like Ours
  • A copy of the Secretariat DVD
  • A scarf
  • A dog-tag/cross keychain
  • A pair of earrings
  • A Scarf
  • A Texas-shaped cutting board
  • A Jake Porter mug
love like ours - prize pack 

Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on May 26th. Winner will be announced May 27th on Becky's site.



Some Chrisian romances are nothing but clean romances between people who happend to go to church. Others are stories of the characters' spiritual lives that happen to have some romance thrown in. Finally, there are stories that preach a strong conversion sermon while telling a good romantic story, which  is what this book does.  Jake and Lyndie were childhood best friends until her family moved far from their Texas home.  Both moved on with life; he became a Marine and was injured on duty and now suffers with PTSD.  She is an artist and illustrator who really wants to be a jockey.  Now he owns a horse ranch and her family has returned to Texas.  She is about thirty and while a part of her wants a husband, she is comfortable not being married.  He does not want to get close to anyone.  

I liked watching these two become re-acquainted and I loved the way Becky Wade made Lyndie's handicapped sister a source of healing.  All too often in our society those deemed imperfect are cast aside, yet I've known families that were truly blessed by children who were severely handicapped.  

The book is part of a series and there are times those who have not read the first book, Undeniably Yours, will wonder why some of the characters even make an appearance in this book, but A Love Like Ours stands well on its own.

I'd like to thank Litfuse for sending me a complimentary review copy.  Grade: B.

Friday, May 01, 2015

Review: The Liberation of the Camps

About the Book:
Seventy years have passed since the tortured inmates of Hitler's concentration and extermination camps were liberated. When the horror of the atrocities came fully to light, it was easy for others to imagine the joyful relief of freed prisoners. Yet for those who had survived the unimaginable, the experience of liberation was a slow, grueling journey back to life. In this unprecedented inquiry into the days, months and years following the arrival of Allied forces at the Nazi camps, a foremost historian of the Holocaust draws on archival sources and especially on eyewitness testimonies to reveal the complex challenges liberated victims faced, and the daunting tasks their liberators undertook to help them reclaim their shattered lives. Historian Dan Stone focuses on the survivors - their feelings of guilt, exhaustion, fear, shame for having survived, and devastating grief for lost family members; their immense medical problems; and their later demands to be released from Displaced Persons camps and resettled in countries of their own choosing. Stone also tracks the efforts of British, American and Russian liberators as they contended with survivors' immediate needs, then grappled with longer-term issues that shaped the postwar world and ushered in the first chill of the Cold War years ahead.

My Comments:
I've read a lot about the Holocaust over the years, but its end, the closing down of the camps, is a subject about which I have not read a lot.  While this book had some interesting information, I found it repetitive and tedious at times.  Perhaps that's because I was looking for more personal anecdotes and instead found a textbook-like treatment of the problems of displaced persons in Europe after WWII and the political situation at the time between the Western Allies and the Soviet Union.  For most survivors, Stone postulates, the liberation of the camp wasn't an event so much as a process.  Many had been marched across Europe ahead of the approaching Allies, we sick in bed and abandoned by the Nazi who fled as the Allies got close.  They needed food and medical care.  Then, instead of being able to go home to community and family, most survivors had no family left and their former communities did not want them back.  

I'd like to thank the publisher for making a review copy available via NetGalley.  Grade:  B-

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