Tuesday, January 26, 2010

"Eternal on the Water" by Joseph Monninger

"You don't value a fire any less because someday it will go out." pg. 152

From the beginning of this book, we know that Mary will die. But this is not a book about her death. It is a book about living each day to its fullest - celebrating your life. It is also a book that will introduce you to Huntington's Disease.

Mary and Cobb, both educators, meet as each prepares for a trip on the Allagash River. Cobb is a first-timer, here to research Thoreau. Mary is back for a regular trip. The connection they feel is immediate and intense. It is truly love at first sight. As they journey down the Allagash, Mary educates Cobb about her study of Corvids (crows and ravens) and relates much of the mythology around them. He also meets the Chungamunga girls, of which Mary is a part. Each girl is threatened with a life-ending disease, but given the opportunity of spending some extended time on the Allagash. It is a moving journey. How many of them want to know they are on limited time, and how many want to live life without that clock ticking?

Then, Mary and Cobb come together in Indonesia. Here we meet Turtle Freddy and read of his work to save the sea turtles. The descriptions of people, places, and animals is breathtaking and realistic.

There are many interesting characters in this book, (Francis, Annie & John, Wally, Joan, Myrtle, etc.) each writing a part of Mary's story. Come, take a journey with them down the Allagash, to Indonesia, to New England, and the West Coast. This story will make you think about living each moment fully and completely.

Monday, January 25, 2010

"The Long Way Home" by Andrew Klavan

Memory loss. Murder conviction. Foreign terrorists. Charlie West is seventeen and this is the reality of his new life. Alone and on the run, Charlie tries to figure out what really happened in the past year. He doesn't believe that he killed Alex or that he joined a group of terrorists, but did he? Why can't he remember?

Charlie realizes that he has to go back home to find the clues that will prove his innocence. There is one place he feels is safe enough to use as a hide-out, so he heads for "Ghost Mansion." When he finds his friends waiting for him, Charlie gets the much needed boost he has been looking for. But, has he now put them in danger? What about Beth? He can't remember falling in love with her, but as she tells their story, he begins to fall in love again. Will she be a target of the terrorists? What does his Karate teacher, Sensei Mike, have to do with all of this?

"The Long Way Home" is the second installment in a YA series. While I hadn't read the first one, I was able to figure out what was going on. (Now I want to read the first one!) The book contains lessons in trust, faith, and courage that are appropriate for everyday life. I really enjoyed the book and found it to be a quick read. The series would make a great gift for the young adults in your life! I can't wait for the third one to come out in November, 2010!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

"The Poe Shadow" by Matthew Pearl

The year is 1849 and Edgar Allen Poe is dead. Quentin Clark considered himself Mr. Poe's lawyer and is very upset at the manner of death and the persecution he perceived laid on Mr. Poe. Why wasn't Poe able to start the magazine he wanted? Why were so few people at his funeral and his grave left unmarked? Quentin sets off to find the "real" cause and manner of death, leaving everything important behind. His engagement and his law practice are in jeopardy. But he doesn't see it. Quentin sees nothing but his desire to clear Poe's name and reputation. He does need help however, and enlists the aid of the man he believes is a man Poe used in his stories. But, who is the real Dupin? Who wanted Poe dead? Who wants Quentin to stop looking?

The premise of this fictional work is a good one, but I found myself bogged down with mundane things too many times. I love to read mysteries and wanted to love this one. It is good for those who love extraneous details and "stop and go" storytelling. I will look for more work by Matthew Pearl.

My favorite quote is: '"I see," he replied knowingly and with a tone of some satisfaction. "Mr. Clark, the most dangerous temptation in life is to forget to tend to your own business -- you must learn to respect yourself enough to preserve your own interests. If pursuing the causes of others -- even in charity -- prevents your own happiness, you will be left with nothing.' pg. 220

Thursday, January 7, 2010

"The Applause of Heaven" - Max Lucado

What a wonderful book! "The Applause of Heaven" looks at the Beatitudes and brings them to life with stories and lessons for everyone. Two of my favorite passages are:
pg. 51 "But when you mourn, when you get to the point of sorrow for your sins, when you admit that you have no other option but to cast all your cares on Him, and when there is truly no other name that you can call, then cast all your cares on Him, for He is waiting in the midst of the storm."
pg. 66 "And it is when we are out of options that we are most ready for God's surprises."
Max Lucado masterfully points out weaknesses we may have purposely to show the strengths we gain by trusting and relying on God. As he states on page 116, "You change your life by changing your heart."

Saturday, January 2, 2010

"Rediscovering God in America" - Newt Gingrich

Can you take a walking tour of Washington without leaving home? Yes. This 118 page book gives the historical background and significance of some of our nation's greatest landmarks. The list includes: The National Archives, The FDR Memorial, The Capital Building, and The White House. Newt Gingrich brings each monument/building to life with his words, while his wife, Callista Gingrich, uses her camera. Together, they enable the reader to experience the rich godly heritage of our country. While this book is short, it is packed with a wealth of information that makes it a great conversation starter and gift. How long did it take to build some of these structures? Were there set-backs in any of these constructions? Where will you find Scripture posted in Washington? It is amazing to read these pages and discover the answers to these questions.

I enjoyed reading this book and will give it to others. It felt like I had a personal guide to Washington D.C.; someone very knowledgeable, someone who believes what he writes. The pictures put me back in D.C. to really notice some of the things I didn't catch before. While I would have liked more pictures, the ones presented are wonderfully done. This is a great book for anyone, particularly those who love learning about the founding of our country.