They Thought For themselves

By Sid Roth I don't know how this book came into my hands. It was mailed directly to me by Sid Roth with a letter intimating that I am Jewish, though I am not. My heritage comes from a variety of places, with none being Jewish that I am aware of. That being said, I read this book about "Ten Amazing Jews" who, instead of following tradition for tradition's sake, thought through religious tradition and came to the realization that Jesus, or Yeshua, is the son of God. The New Testament is a Jewish book. The back of the book states that Roth "was instructed in a dream to find and interview people who had broken through the mold of their previous experiences to achieve their destiny." He found people from a variety of backgrounds including an atheist, a couple of Holocaust survivors, a concert pianist, a media executive and a Ph.D. Their stories are ones of growth and forgiveness. The individual's stories are interesting, and the strength it took for Holocaust survivors to forgive the atrocities done to them or get past their children believing in Jesus is amazing. But I did not really enjoy reading the book. I don't know if that is because it did not mesh with where I am in … [Read more...]


Where the Mountain Meets the Moon

By Grace Lin Where the Mountain Meets the Moon is an enchanting book for young readers, taking them on a journey with a young girl, named Minli, to find the Old Man of the Moon. Living in the Valley of Fruitless Mountain, Minli and her parents spend their days working hard in the rice fields and their nights listening to folk lore stories about the Jade Dragon and the Old Man of the Moon told by her father. Her mother’s discontentment with their meager living comes out in angry sighs and critical comments about filling Minli’s head with fantasy. Filled with questions, Minli takes it upon herself to change the family’s fortune by asking the Old Man of the Moon, but first, she has to find him. On her journey, she finds an extraordinary cast of characters that help her along the way, including a dragon who cannot fly. Her giving heart and quick mind carry her through the journey’s ups and downs. When she finally meets the Old Man of the Moon, she is allowed only one question, making her ponder between her family’s fortune and a friend’s need. The well written book weaves a wonderful web, subtly connecting the tales interjected throughout the journey. The characters grow … [Read more...]


Blue Moon Promise

By Colleen Coble Blue Moon Promise is a book that intermixes relationship, conflict and faith. Lucy Marsh's life is turned upside down after losing her job shortly after her father died, and she is caring for her two younger siblings on her own. The stage is set, and Coble immediately jumps into intrigue. Someone breaks into Lucy's home, and then an old friend of her father's shows up at the door with the proposition of marriage to his son. With no money and fearing for the safety of her siblings, she prayerfully considers the option. Why would someone break into their home? Did it have anything to do with her father's pawn shop business? Unanswered questions filled Lucy's mind as she accepts the offer. When she reaches Texas, her new husband is furious with his father and thinks the worst of Lucy. The book takes you through the building of their relationship, which is a bit predictable. What is not predictable is how all the characters, and the issues that plague them, have related roots. The book is a pleasant read, though Lucy's inability to accept that her husband, Nate Stanton, loves her gets a little old. How the other characters in the story, especially Nate's … [Read more...]


Canoeing with the Cree

By Eric Sevareid Imagine two teenagers paddling a canoe from Minneapolis to the Hudson Bay without the benefits of GPS, cell phones or tracking systems. That is what Eric Sevareid and Walter C. Port chose to do in 1930. It was the day after graduation from high school when they launched their used 18-foot canoe filled with supplies into the Minnesota River at Fort Snelling, amidst goodbyes of family members. Their four-month journey covered more than 2,200 miles of rivers, lakes and difficult portages. On the side of the canoe, aptly named Sans Souci, which means "without care," the boys announced their journey by painting "Minneapolis to Hudson Bay." They wrote articles about their adventure and the people they met, submitting them to the Minneapolis Star from various city stops. Canoeing with the Cree, first published in 1935, is an account of their journey. It takes the reader with the two young men through the waterways and portages, and details the cities and villages where they rested, repaired equipment and restocked their supplies. It also chronicles the physical and mental strength needed for a journey like that, and the struggles each encountered. At one point, … [Read more...]


The Cat Who Robbed a Bank

By Lilian Jackson Braun   A pleasant romp through the day-to-day life of detective-journalist Jim Qwilleran and his Siamese cats Koko and Yum Yum. The story takes place in a city called Pickax in Moose County, “400 miles north of everywhere.” It is September, a busy month with the local hotel reopening, the Highland Games celebrating the town's Scottish heritage taking place and a visit from the mysterious jewelry dealer, Mr. Delecamp. The reader follows Qwilleran along his daily routines with Koko and Yum Yum and his treks through the community, learning about the town, its people and their increasing anticipation. The cats begin to leave clues about an impending crime – the murder of Mr. Delecamp – which eventually help Qwilleran figure out the identity of the murderer. If you like to dig into the people of a community and mechanics of how the community works, this book is a good one for you. It is well written, and Jackson Braun gives unique fun personalities to the cats. If you are looking for a story that centers around the mystery, this is not necessarily for you. The mystery is a small portion of the development of the characters in the community. For … [Read more...]


Summer’s Child

By Luanne Rice Summer's Child begins in New England where a young pregnant woman, Mara Jameson, disappears without a trace from her grandmother's garden.Years later, people still remember her glowing smile and are still trying to figure out what actually happened. No body was found, though there were traces of blood at Mara's home. Her husband, Edward Hunter, was accused of killing her, but with no body and no proof, the case was unsolved. Police Detective Patrick Murphy was obsessed with solving the case, so much so he lost his wife in the process. He continued to look for clues after he retired. The book's chapters alternate between the town Mara disappeared from and the people left behind, and the people in a small fishing village in Nova Scotia. Though the book is well written, it is a little predictable. Early on, I had the feeling one of two women with nine-year-old girls in the Nova Scotia village was actually Mara in hiding, and the romance in the book was akin to the relationship between Novalee Nation and Forney in the movie "Where the Heart is." The circumstance and characters are a little different, but the relationship develops in a similar way. There … [Read more...]


The Husband

By Dean Koontz Ever wonder how you would react if a loved one is kidnapped for ransom? “The Husband” takes the reader on a journey through a gardener's mind and heart after his wife is kidnapped. The confusion begins when the kidnappers ask for a $2 million or they will kill his wife, Holly, though they know Mitch Rafferty, the gardener, does not have that kind of money. “You'll find a way,” Mitch is told. The kidnappers shoot a man walking a dog just down the street from where Mitch is standing to prove their point. He is given two days to comply. As Mitch struggles to come up with the money, evidence is staged making it look like he murdered Holly so he would not go to the police. He also learns things about family members, and ends up doing things he never thought he had the strength to do. The plot creates an interesting story, and I love the way Dean Koontz uses words, but there are a lot of areas in the book that have too much detail, at times seeming redundant. The purpose appears to be putting the reader in Mitch's mind to feel his emotions, but that could have been achieved without working so hard. … [Read more...]


Coming Home Crazy

By Bill Holm This book is a collection of essays and letters written by Bill Holm describing his experiences while he was on an exchange program teaching English at a university in China. It speaks of the cultural differences between here and there, the frustrations of living in China, the indomitable spirit of the Chinese people, and the love-hate relationship Holm builds with China. When Holm talks about coming home crazy, he does not mean insane. An anthropologist who taught with Holm said, "In Asia, you either lose your inner moorings, start to sink, go some kind of crazy, and just let it happen, or you will leave sooner than you expected and not learn anything." A few months later, Holm knew exactly what his friend was talking about. He woke up crazy in the way his friend described. It is waking up knowing the day would be a good day, though nothing would work, the comforts of the United States would be unavailable, and everything would go wrong differently than would be imagined. Holm's writing is honest, down to earth and fun to read. He has an interesting sense of humor, and the descriptions draw one right into the scenes, as if sitting next to him. I really enjoyed … [Read more...]


The Art of Racing in the Rain

By Garth Stein This book is a human drama told through the eyes of the family's dog, Enzo, named after a race car driver. The main character is Enzo's owner, Denny Swift, who is working at a BMW dealer and is working on his race car driving career. The book begins at the end of Enzo's life, when he is old and ready to release Denny of having to care for him. He has a unique understanding of the human and human emotions, and has learned, through watching TV, that when a dog dies, his next form human. He looks back to when Denny drives out to the farm and picks him out from a tangled litter of pups, and the story progresses from there to beyond Enzo's death. It looks at Enzo's relationship with Denny's wife, Eve, their daughter, Zoe, and Eve's parents, who Enzo calls “the twins,” and the complicated relationships between the family after Eve dies from a brain tumor. Throughout the book, Denny shares his love of racing and racing strategies with Enzo, and Enzo applies them to life. The title comes from Denny being one of the best drivers in the rain because he knows how to work with the rain instead of against it. I had to read the book because I love the title, and it was … [Read more...]


Pay It Forward

By Catherine Ryan Hyde In “Pay It Forward,” Catherine Ryan Hyde explores the idea of what this world would be like if instead of people paying back debt, everyone paid it forward using a 12-year-old boy as the instigator. Trevor McKinney and his mother, Arlene, live in the small California town where Reuben St. Clair transfers to teach. St. Clair, a scarred, bitter man, ends up in front of Trevor's classroom and challenges the students to change the world. As an extra credit assignment, students who choose to participate are to design a project to help others, follow through with the project and then present it to the class. Trevor designs a project to help three others in a big way with the catch that they each pay the debt forward to three others. If everyone followed through and helped three others, pretty soon, a multitude of people would be helped. Though Trevor thought his project was a total failure, he was unaware that it had really spread throughout the country. A reporter caught wind of what was being called a “movement” and tracked down Trevor. The book is well-written, hopping between believable characters in believable circumstances. It is a wonderful … [Read more...]