Sunday, January 31, 2016

It's Monday What Are You Reading

Book Date It's Monday

Hi!  Did everyone enjoy the first full weekend of carnival?  What?  Your town didn't have several parades on several different routes this weekend, with promise of more next weekend?  Yes, it's Carnival time here in New Orleans.  I was a party pooper and stayed home and read and blogged.  I also got some cooking done.  My husband collects doubloons--aluminum coins tossed from Mardi Gras floats so he spent most of the weekend on the parade route.  I like parades when the weather  is nice and we don't have to stay too long.  I may go next weekend one day, if it is warm.  

As I said, I spent the weekend blogging and reading, but the posts were for my financial planning blog and for a customer who is paying me to blog for his business.  The only book I got read was

I'll review it later this month, but I enjoyed it.  On my lunch hours I've been reading 

which so far is just a pretty basic personal finance book.  My NetGalley queue is getting longer and I need to get some read.  Maybe one of these will be up next:

Hope you have a good week.  

Friday, January 29, 2016

Book Blogger Hop: January 29-February 4

Book Blogger Hop

Book Blogger Hop is hosted at Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer.  This week's question:

Can you pass by a bookstore without stopping in?

Yes.  If anything, book blogging has ruined the pleasure of going to the bookstore.  As much as I read, there is no way I could afford to feed my habit at new book stores.   Pre-blogging, I'd mostly read library books, with some used books and a very few new ones.  A bookstore gift certificate was a real treat--a chance to pick out what I wanted without guilt.  Now, with a huge backlog of NetGalleys (and plenty more available where they came from) plus whatever tour books caught my eye, plus whatever was pitched to me that I chose to catch, a bookstore just seems like more of the same.  I guess there is some truth to the military statement that familiarity breeds contempt.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

It's Monday: What Are You Reading?

Book Date It's Monday

Hope everyone is having a good week.  I'm trying to read more and this week I've got three reviews:

Talk about a tear jerker--a dying father writes his story so his daughter will be able to know him.  My Review.

My Badass Book of Saints Maria Morera Johnson

Do you see the saints a pious "good girls" that you not only can't emulate but who you don't really want to emulate?  This book tells a different story.  My review.  

A domestic violence victim learns another way of living from Quakers in the neighborhood.  My review. 

Message to My Girl: My Review

Message to My Girl: A Dying Father's Powerful Legacy of Hope

About the Book:

Doctor Jared Noel knew he was dying for almost six years, from the age of 25. But when it looked as though he would not live to see the birth of his child, he began a Givealittle crowd-funding campaign to raise money for a course of chemo treatment that would keep him alive long enough to meet his unborn child. This remarkable campaign, covered by nationwide media, raised an incredible $170,000 in two days. Jared not only lived to see Elise born but also enjoyed her first nine months. Jared's blog, initially written to alleviate boredom during rounds of chemotherapy, attracted hundreds of thousands of readers. He used it to challenge the taboos of death and dying with humor and unnerving honesty, and wrote with clinical precision and pragmatism. Jared had the knack of turning conversation stoppers into conversation starters. In his final weeks, Jared put his story together with the help of writer David Williams, primarily so that his baby daughter Elise might one day know her father. This is Jared's story, but it is also a profound meditation on life and death, and everything in between.

My Comments:

When I was in high school I read a book called Death Be Not Proud , the memoir of a father about his teenage son who died of brain cancer in the 1940's.  Message to My Girl: A Dying Father's Powerful Legacy of Hope reminded me of that book in that both followed men who knew they were going to die but who chose to live with the time they had.  I don't remember much about Death Be Not Proud but there was a movie made from the book and one scene etched in my memory is Johnny crossing the stage at graduation on crutches with his head wrapped in bandages.  Message to My Girl: A Dying Father's Powerful Legacy of Hope reminded me of that scene.

Jared Noel was a man of faith and his faith permeates this book but his faith isn't a preachy or saccharine faith.  Jared was a man who was forced to confront his own mortality decades before most of us give it a thought and who drew strength from his faith. As we travel with Jared from his pre-cancer life through Diagnosis Day through is final days he doesn't tell us what we should believe or how faith should change our lives; rather he talks about the feeling of vocation he had about going to medical school and then serving people in the Third World.  He talks about trying to grasp meaning from suffering--and then realizing that he was asking the wrong questions. Jared admitted that being a man of faith was not normal for scientists and told of how he wrestled to reconcile faith and science.

The copy I had was an ARC from NetGalley and is subject to change before final publication, however there are some quotes I want to share with you:

I have asked for healing if it is possible in the context of the bigger story--the one I believe in but no not necessarily understand.  And that healing has not come.  I have never despaired because of this though.  Faith is a framework through which we engage with realities, not with fairy tales or illusions.  My own story, in which I have not experienced miraculous healing, sets me apart of many of the triumphant stories that are often peddled as proof that faith works or God is real.  The message about how well your life will go if you are a Christian is largely nonsense....But in my case, my faith community got to hear from someone who did not get healed....It is one of the things I hope for as I die--that I challenged people of faith to be pragmatic and to deal with realities, not with illusion.
Mercy.  The outworking of justice.  The response of love.  Mercy is justice in action--actually engaging with the suffering of other people.  .... Mercy steps in...and demonstrates compassion.   

At times the book was hard to read.  My Dad died almost two year ago and I was there for the last few days.  The descriptions of the dying process brought back back memories, but yet I wouldn't have missed those days with my Dad for anything.  I blessed to be there with him and thank God I was given that privilege.  Still, my Dad's death was the death of an old man who had "run the race".  Jared was a  young man who spent his "prime years" being sick and dying.  Yet he managed to reach a lot of people via his blog and via his church activities.  He refused to stop living just because he was dying.

I enjoyed this book and had tears rolling down my face as it ended were I knew it would end.  I'd like to thank the publisher for making a review copy available via NetGalley.  Grade:  A.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Book Blogger Hop: January 22-28

Book Blogger Hop

Book Blogger Hop is hosted at Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer.  This week's question:

Can you remember a time in your life when you were not reading?

Absolutely.  I remember that I could hardly wait to go to first grade because that is when you got to learn to read.  It only took me a couple of weeks to figure it out and I was off to the races with my favorite activity.  My first favorite book was "Ann Likes Red".  By the end of first grade I was reading Carolyn Haywood's Betsy books.  

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Review: My Badass Book of Saints

My Badass Book of Saints Maria Morera Johnson

About the Book:

In this edgy, honest, and often audacious book of Catholic spirituality, blogger and popular podcaster Maria Morera Johnson explores the qualities of twenty-four holy women who lived lives of virtue in unexpected and often difficult circumstances.

In My Badass Book of Saints, Johnson shares her experience as a first-generation Cuban-American, educator of at-risk college students, and caregiver for a husband with Lou Gehrig's disease. Through humorous, empowering, and touching portraits of twenty-four spiritual mentors who inspired her, Johnson shows how their bravery, integrity, selflessness, perseverance, and hope helped her and can help others have courage to reach for a closer connection to God.

She presents remarkable holy women and saints--including the gun-toting Servant of God Sr. Blandina Segale who tried to turn the heart of Billy the Kid, and Nazi resister Irena Sendler who helped smuggle children out of the Warsaw Ghetto during World War II--in a way that brings their vivid personalities to life and helps readers live out the challenges of their lives with virtue and conviction. The book includes a group discussion guide.

My Comments:

In My Badass Book of Saints, Maria Johnson talks about how she grew up seeing the saints as flat figures shown on holy cards, not as real women who were like her--and who she could be like. My Badass Book of Saints covers not only canonized (officially recognized) saints but also some women who have not, and probably will not be canonized--actress Audrey Hepburn, author Flannery O'Connor and photographer Dorothea Lange.  

Each chapter has a theme.  First, Johnson tells a story from her own life that deals with that theme.  Next she discusses two saints, one of whom lived relatively recently and one who lived long ago and is canonized.  For example, one chapter is on seeking peace and reconciliation.  First, Johnson talks about a cousin of hers who was a religious sister and who went to Rwanda to work after the genocide there in the 1990's.  The two "saints" in this chapter are Immaculee Ilibagiza  who spent weeks during the genocide hiding with other women in a small bathroom and who forgave her attackers and St. Rita of Cascia who forgave her abusive husband and those who killed him.  Each chapter concludes with reflection questions, making this a good book to use for a women's group.  Questions for this chapter include defining "peacemaker" and naming a women in your life who meets that definition.  Readers are also asked to think of times when they were peacemakers, and how that made them feel.

All the saints mentioned are women, and this book is clearly directed at women.  Johnson's style is conversational; I can imagine her telling those stories to her girlfriends over lattes or margaritas.  Non-Catholics often wonder about Catholic's devotion to the saints.  Even putting aside for a moment the power of their intercessory prayer, the saints are great role models.  It sounds like Johnson is about my age and I know as a girl growing up in the 1960's and 1970's I scoured the library bookshelves for stories about girls and women who actually did something; who were interested in more than just romance.  When we see those pious-looking figures on holy cards, it is easy to forget that while prayer may have been the fuel, action is what got these ladies noticed, and that we are all called to act in many ways throughout our lives.  

I'd like to thank the publisher for making a review copy available via NetGalley.  You can read more about Maria Johnson and some badass saints on her blog.  Grade:  B+

Monday, January 18, 2016

Review: Home to Cedar Branch

Home to Cedar Branch: A Quaker Café Novel

About the Book:

After a betrayal ends in tragedy, Katy seeks refuge from her abusive husband, Hank, in her quiet hometown of Cedar Branch, North Carolina. Taking up residence on the old family farm and landing a job at the local Quaker Café, she hopes to leave her troubled past behind.

At the café, Katy finds allies, kind people willing to protect her and offer advice. There’s the gracious owner who insists that manners prevail, the no-nonsense cook who tackles life with a cast iron frying pan, a Yankee transplant who doesn’t bow to convention, and a shrewd Southern lawyer who sees a chance for Katy to profit from her predicament. But when Hank discovers her whereabouts, Katy’s newfound peace is broken. As a heated standoff involving Hank, local and federal law enforcement, and the media ensues, how far will the Cedar Branch community go to avert violence and save lives?

My Comments:

The story starts in a humorous fashion--two boys climb a tree and and get on the roof of the doctor's office, hoping for a view of naked patients.  They fall through a skylight and catch the doctor with his pants down with a patient, a patient who happens to be the victim of domestic violence.  It is a small town and of course everyone is talking about it.  When the woman's truck-driver husband gets home he kills the doctor.  Katy leaves their town and returns to her brother's farm.  While her husband sits in jail, Katy and her children get to know the Quaker neighbors and try to start their lives again.  

Much of the story is set in the Quaker Cafe, the small town Main Street cafe where "everyone" gathers.  The sense of community is in stark contrast to the relatively isolated life Katy led during her marriage.  Eventually there is an armed stand-off between Katy's husband and the police and in the middle of that stand-off are the Quakers, who, if you remember your history, are pacifists who do not believe in violence as the solution to problems.  It was interesting to see how these people lived up to their ideals in a situation that seemed to call for them to be abandoned.  

The book is the second in a series and it stood well on its own.  There were a few characters who seemed to have little point in the story, but perhaps they will have their moments in other books. 

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

Friday, January 15, 2016

Book Blogger Hop: January 15-21

Book Blogger Hop

Book Blogger Hop is hosted at Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer.  This week's question:

Do you think you will ever get tired of blogging?

Yes, but hopefully not for long.  If you look at my archives, you'll see that I'm writing much less often than I once did, and I've had a few months where I have published very little.  I think I'm coming out of the funk a little--I pre-wrote this post and all the other Book Blogger Hop posts since July on one night, on the same weekend I also wrote a bunch of posts for a blogging challange.  I've been reading more so hopefully the posts will come too.  

It's funny, I figured out that my posts became less frequent when we switched from a desktop to a laptop computer.  I hated typing on the laptop, and was always hitting the trackpad.  I decided to buy a keyboard, and so far, I'm very happy.  

Serioulsy, blogging regularly can get to be a chore but my stats show that if I don't post reguarly, I lose readers.  Since I like to have people read what I write, I do try to keep it up.  Will I ever quit?  Probably, but I don't have any plans to do so in the near future.  

Friday, January 08, 2016

Book Blogger Hop: January 8-14

Book Blogger Hop

Book Blogger Hop is hosted at Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer.  This week's question:

Have you made any improvements on your blog since your started your blog? 
Did you change the format? Did you change your header? 
Did you add or remove items from your side bar?

Many times.  I stared with some basic old Blogger template.  I learned that some folks with Blogger blogs had found third-party templates and I tried a couple of those.  I used backgrounds from Cutest Blog on the Block and similar sites.  I'd add things to my sidebars, and take them off.  When Blogger brought out their new templates I upgraded.  I've had my current look for about two years, I think.  I haven't been as inclined to play with my blog lately, but I suspect that one day I'll grow bored with this look and try something new.

Monday, January 04, 2016

Blog Tour: Your Heart's Desire

Your Heart's Desire

About the Book:

It's almost New Year's 1946, a perfect time for Caroline Marshall to start a new chapter in her life. Widowed three years ago when she lost her husband in the war, she has decided to move with her nine-year-old son to join her sister's family in sunny California. Her sister's new house has a basement apartment for Caroline to rent, and though jobs for women are scarce with so many veterans returning from the war, it seems the local chocolate factory is hiring. The apartment turns out to be rather dingy, and the job may be working the assembly line--a step down from Caroline's office job as a secretary back in Minnesota. But Caroline is determined to make a great new life for herself and her son. As she goes about making that happen, she keeps running into a handsome stranger--at the diner, at church, and he even works for M.G. Chocolates. With a New Year, a new home, and a new job, is Caroline ready to find new love? 

My Comments:

If you are looking for a Valentine's read that is as sweet a chocolate candy, this may be just the book for you.  Firmly set in the post-WWII era with the returning soldiers, the women moving out of the factory and back to the home, and the moms having babies every year or two, this is the story of a war widow who moves across the country to start a new life. Everything pretty much goes her way and in the end, it is happily ever after.  At times there were hints that life for everyone, particularly her sister, was not just a box of chocolate, but those hints were never developed.  In short, the book is exactly what you expect when you look at the cover--and to use a chocolate analogy, who likes biting into a chocolate from a box and finding out that it isn't what you had hoped, but rather the one you didn't like?

I'd like to thank the publisher for providing a review copy.  Grade:  B.  

Sunday, January 03, 2016

From My Archives: September 2006

I hope you are enjoying these periodic trips into my archives.  I enjoy writing them, and seeing how my blog has changed over the years.  I wish I had kept screen shots of how my template has changed; I have vague memories of some of those ones I used, but most are long forgotten.

I offered the link to World E Bookfair though I have to admit I've never used it, that I can recall.  I reflected on what it means to "pick up your cross".   I wrote about my 9/11 memories.  Helicopter Parenting was another topic I addressed.  

I had two Hurricane Katrina related posts:  In one, I recounted our deacon's story about a couple who needed help, and also talked about the different faith-based responses to a crisis.  I the other, I described a driving tour of the area a year after the storm, and evidently before I had high-speed internet or had figured out how to easily add photos to my posts.

Are you a blogger?  How has your blog changed over the years?

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