Wednesday, December 30, 2009

2009 Favorites

Bookvisions was created in April of 2009.  Not in any special order, here is a list of my top ten favorite books received for review this year with links to my reviews.  Be sure to leave a comment if you have read any of the books and let me know what you thought of them.

















The Crossing Places by Elly Griffiths









Midnight in Madrid by Noel Hynd
















Silent Desperation by Jeffrey M Bryan




The Apostate Theory by Patrick J. Roelle





The Light, The Dark, & Ember Between by J.W. Nicklaus






When God Turned Off the Lights by Cecil Murphey





Thursday, December 24, 2009

Annie's Second Wind by Wally Carlson

Amazon.com  link for Annie's Second Wind


Book Description:
Abruptly the wizened figure that had been in a coma for three weeks sat up and pointed a gnarled finger at her sister. "Annie, the island farm is yours now. It is your legacy to guard." Annie winced, A DEATH BED PROMISE. A debt ridden farm in the middle of nowhere. How could it get worse? And then it did.... As the sole surviving relative to twin great-grandbabies, Annie is game, but the state says she's too old, too weird, and the farm still uses an outhouse. Annie needs a little help from her friends, a host of very eccentric aging American heroes with plenty of spunk to burn.

My Review:
Annie’s Second Wind by Wally Carlson started out well, but at some point the characters started to become annoying instead of quirky. There were a few interesting story lines, but the book just didn’t seem to focus anywhere. Starting out strong, the characters come together to revive the family farm on a rustic island. At some point word of mouth creates a desire by the terminally ill to come to the island to live out their last days. The stated plot of the book, which is the adoption of the twins by 78 year old Annie, doesn’t occur until the second half of the book. The behavior of Annie before and following the custody conflict made me want to root for DCFS to take the babies as far away as possible.


I think Annie’s Second Wind will appeal to readers who like numerous off-beat characters and cheering for the underdog. While it was not what I like or prefer, others may enjoy the humor and the story of friends coming together for a purpose. There are some interesting recipes at the end of the story, and several are a must-try!

About the Author:

Wally Carlson lives minutes away from Seven Sisters island in the Pacific Northwest with his wife, Vicki, close to his four adult children, his last "only child" Taylor, a chubby Jack Russell named Pal, a breast-cancer survivor wiener dog, Mindy, and twenty-five Rhode Island Reds.

I Used to Know That –Stuff you Forgot From School by Caroline Taggart

Amazon.com Link for I Used to Know That

Book Description:

This small but mighty collection will trigger your memory with fun facts you learned in school-from adverbs to the Pythagorean Theorem. Witty, engaging, entertaining-a book you'll pick up again and again.

Author Caroline Taggart discovered two things while researching this book and talking with other people: One, everybody had been to school. And two, they had all forgotten entirely different things. Contained in this handy little book are the facts that you learned in school, but may not remember completely or accurately. Covering a variety of subjects, this book features all the most important theories, equations, phrases, and rules we were all taught years ago.

Rediscover:

* History: The first president to occupy the White House was John Adams in 1800

* Religion: The seven deadly sins and the names of the twelve apostles

* Literature: In which Shakespearean play "The quality of mercy" speech appears

* Science: The periodic table of elements devised by a Russian chemist in 1889 includes the symbol for lead (Pb), silver (Ag), tin (Sn), and gold (Au)

* Nature: How photosynthesis works

The information-presented in easy-to-retain, bite-sized chunks-is accurate and up-to- date. It will touch a chord with anyone old enough to have forgotten half of what they learned at school. Here is a perfect gift for every perennial student.

My Review:
It was as I feared! Some of the information in this book I never did learn in school as a product of the Louisiana school system many years ago. That said, I Used to Know That is a fun and interesting book with many tidbits of information that can be used for a quick reference guide or to brush up a little on the major subjects of Math, Literature, English, Science, History, Geography, and General Studies.

Authors of classic literature, fractions, geometry, algebra (eek),the skeletal system, periodic table, U.S. presidents, countries and their capitals, and planets are just a few of the topics covered in this jammed packed little book. This is an entertaining book for those interested in trivia. It would also be good for quizzing school-aged children or to just remember facts that haven’t been needed for a few years.

About the Author: Caroline Taggart has been an editor of non-fiction books for nearly 30 years and has covered nearly every subject from natural history and business to gardening and astronomy. She has written several books and was the editor of Writer's Market UK 2009.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Think and Make it Happen by Dr. Augusto Cury

Amazon.com link for Think and Make it Happen


Book Description:

Take control of your past, your memory, your emotions, your life!


While in medical school, Dr. Augusto Cury became fascinated with the impact a healthy mind can have on emotions and life. After many years of research and founding The Intelligence Institute, he concluded:

• Every person is a genius because everyone has the power to think.
• Harnessing "mind power" has been scientifically proven to enhance a person's physical, mental, and spiritual well-being.
• The human act of thinking is the greatest wonder of the universe.

In Think, and Make It Happen, Dr. Cury unveils the multifocal intelligence process showing readers how to master their emotions, stress, thoughts, and relationships, as well as how to become creative thinkers and revolutionary leaders. Complete with a 12-week program, participants will learn to apply the universal laws for quality of life to their own lives: authorship, beauty, creativity, sleep, thoughts, emotions, memory, listening, dialogue, drive, and spirituality and celebration and start experiencing the life they desire.

My Review:
Think and Make it Happen was not at all what I expected. The title makes the book sound as though it is a fluffy self-help book to make all your dreams come true. In fact, I found the book to a serious and powerful book, intricate in detail, to assist the reader to become emotionally whole with the ultimate example of a healthy psychological image. Using Jesus Christ as the perfect role model for emotional health, the author gives the reader tools needed to begin to work on learning to think in a different way.

While this may not be an easy book to read, the insight gained from the suggestions could potentially change a life of fear, anxiety, or grief to one of freedom and joy. Each thought-changing step is explained with suggested actions or examples. One section that I especially enjoyed was the “Finding Serenity” which contains five steps to improve our mindset.


I highly recommend this book for anyone struggling with lack of control over emotional issues. Think and Make it Happen would be a good book for individuals, small groups, Christian psychologists, and church libraries.

About the Author:
Dr. Augusto Cury is a psychiatrist, psychotherapist, scientist, and best-selling author. He developed the Intelligence Academy Quality of Life Program and created the theory of multifocal intelligence.

Monday, December 21, 2009

My Impossible Dream by Chuck Randall

Amazon Link for My Impossible Dream



Book Description:
My Impossible Dream is a testament to the impact one person has on the lives of many, to the tremendous good one can bring about whatever the chosen path, to the responsibility each of us carries to make a positive difference in this world. Do they still make men like Chuck Randall? He was a solid strength of character, holding to his principles, enforcing no drinking and no smoking among his players. His rules were as much a challenge then as they are now and contributed to his incredible wins on the basketball courts. But what mattered most was the respect he gave his players as individuals and as equal partners on the team. They were all one, working toward the same goal, no one more important than another, each fully supporting the other and giving his all. It is no wonder that the respect he gave returned to him a hundredfold.

My Review:
My Impossible Dream is a very nice story about an even nicer man. Coach Randall’s accomplishments in basketball are nothing compared to the impact he had on those he coached. His honesty, his integrity, and his love for those boys and men he coached are his true legacy.

If you are not a basketball fan, you will still enjoy the story of the coach’s life. If you love basketball, you will relish the story of his ups and downs with the places and people he coached. The author introduces the reader to the family, friends, and players of Coach Randall with stories, photos, letters, and even lists of players for the real basketball fans.


The story of how the coach was cheated out of the royalties for his slam-dunk rim invention is sad, but Mr. Randall’s real treasures are being stored up in heaven for him. We need more coaches like Chuck Randall in sports today.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Countdown in Cairo The Russian Trilogy by Noel Hynd

Amazon.com link for Countdown In Cairo

Book Description:

When federal agent Alexandra LaDuca travels to Egypt to investigate the possible sighting of a former mentor, she is thrown into the deadliest game of double cross in her career. An American woman working alone, she must rely on her wits, her training, and her skill with lethal weapons not just to succeed, but also to survive.

A CIA agent whom she believed to be dead appears to be alive; and why is he dressing like an Arab and speaking Russian? Tough, savvy, and cool under fire, Alex pushes herself to the limits as she puts her life on the line once again for her faith and her country—all while working with a mysterious new partner who may or may not be trustworthy.
My Review:

Countdown in Cairo is the third of the Russian trilogy series. You can read my review of Midnight in Madrid (the second in the series) here: Midnight in Madrid


Of course, like most things I do – I am reading them out of order, but that did not take away from the stories as they can each stand alone perfectly well.

Countdown in Cairo starts out with a dramatic beginning with the morgue as the backdrop and then drops back to the beginning of the story. The set up to the main story was slow at times, but that is because the story is rich in detail of locations and background. It is certainly worth the wait! There are a number of background facts about the Russian events mixed in with the fiction creating an interesting blend.

All three of the books feature Alexandra LaDuca, a strong female character that is smart, formidable, and a woman of faith. There were more spiritual elements to this story than the other books as Alex has struggles with moral consequences in her employment and with forgiveness.  This is another GREAT book by this author.


About the Author

Noel Hynd lives in Culver City, California. He has over four million books in print throughout the world and is the bestselling author of the highly acclaimed novels The Enemy Within, Flowers from Berlin, and Cemetery of Angels, and the previous titles in the Russian Trilogy, Conspiracy in Kiev and Midnight in Madrid.



A copy of the book was provided for the review

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

40 Loaves by C. D. Baker

Link for  40 Loaves – Breaking Bread with Our Father Each Day by C.D. Baker at Random House

Book Description:  There are many questions we’re not supposed to ask when playing by the religious rules. It makes people uncomfortable. So why is it that Jesus invited questions and even asked some of them himself? What is it that you’re afraid to ask God? It’s a risky prospect to begin asking–but far riskier to continue simply trying to get by without knowing. Author C. D. Baker asked himself 40 soul-searching questions which started a conversation in his heart and ultimately showed him more about God than He ever expected.


Can we become more honest with who we really are and find who God says He really is at the same time? Come indulge yourself in daily readings with an honest exploration of your secret fears and thoughts, and know that you will always be welcomed in God’s unconditional love.

My Review:
I absolutely loved this book. 40 Loaves is a devotional type book that asks and answers questions Christians are afraid to ask. The book begins with a “Dear Reader” where the author illustrates his compassion and understanding of struggling Christians and those who need to know they are not alone with their questions.
Just a few of the 40 Loaves are:

• Why am I so uncomfortable with doubts?

• Why don’t I have more faith?

• Why am I so afraid of death?

• Why are some Christians so hard for me to like?

• Why can’t I relax around God?

Each chapter also has a short “Food for Thought” and a prayer or scripture.

40 Loaves is both encouraging and challenging as the author explores the thoughts and questions we have about Jesus, faith, and feelings. For this review I read through the book as a whole, but I am going to go back and read it as a devotional with reflection and prayer. This is a book that came to me when I needed it most, and I was truly affected by its message.

The author’s website is here: C.D. Baker

About the author:
C. David Baker founded an award-winning business before redirecting his career to write full-time from his small farm in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. He is the author of eight books, including six novels, one of which was nominated for a Christy Award. He has contributed articles to the Christian History Institute’s international publication Glimpses, and to Christian Singles magazine. Baker has a Master’s degree in theological studies from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland.
 
 
Thank you to WaterBrook Mulnomah Publishing Group for the review copy.

Primal by Mark Batterson

Link for Primal

The premise of Primal is that we should strip away religiosity and worship in a pure basic way by showing compassion, be in awe of God, and love God with your all. There are several nice examples of how one person can make a difference by making small contributions. The author describes experiences that he has had in his work with missions, even a coffee shop purchased by his church with all of the profits going to missions.

The first part of the book was about compassion which the author translates into giving money sacrificially to help the poor and starving in third world countries. This is a noble goal, but corrupt governments of those countries stand in the way. The author also encourages the reader to join the Junky Car Club website and describes his own membership in the club so he can live frugally and give more. Unfortunately, he also talks about his “First” African safari, boating to Blue Grotto on Capri Island off the coast of Italy, condo vacations in Colorado, helicopter trips over Grand Canyon, and living on Capitol Hill. Of course every Christian should give sacrificially and will be blessed by it, but in today’s economy too many people are struggling to support their own families. They have already given up vacations and fancy cars. 

I was totally enthralled at the beginning of the book, but in my opinion, the book did not deliver what it promised.

This was book was provided for review by WaterBrook Multnomah.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Silent Desperation by Jeffrey M. Bryan

Amazon.com link for Silent Desperation





Book Description:  Written through the emotional rollercoaster of decades, each story and poem captures the human condition in convincing detail, from the greatest love to unalloyed hurt. Yet throughout, the writing is entertaining, offering characters and situations that expand the imagination and pass along the conceptual epiphanies that inspired them. Like a silent cry from the depths of personal experience, the stories and poetry in Silent Desperation capture the greatest life has to offer.


My Review: Silent Desperation by Jeffrey M. Bryan is a wonderful collection of short stories and poetry. The author has produced a creative blend of futuristic tales and, as the title describes, stories of silent desperation. My favorite stories were Eyes of Echo with its fascinating description of actions concerning a crisis in space, and One Dark Night with its armed robbery with a twist. I admit that I am probably not competent to judge poetry, but I was quite moved by Mr. Bryan’s poems, What I have Seen and World of Evil, World of Hope.


The entire book shows great emotion while still being entertaining. Silent Desperation is an interesting, emotional, and quite remarkable collection of stories that conveys emotions that honestly touched my heart. I highly recommend this book.

About the Author:

Jeff Bryan lives in sunny Florida with his wife, Arlene. Both from Illinois, and having attended High School together, they had the good fortune to share homeroom class for all four years. Five years after High School graduation, the couple met quite coincidentally in the frozen foods section of a local grocery store. They were married the following year. Now, after more than 22 years of marriage, they have three beautiful daughters, three cats, and one dog.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Mommy’s Black Eye - Children Dealing With Domestic Abuse by William G. Bentrim


Amazon.com link for Mommy's Black Eye

Mommy’s Black Eye is a book that we wish would never need to be written. Unfortunately there is a need, and one that continues to grow. The author, William G Bentrim, is a former teacher and guidance counselor. In his calm and understanding approach, he explores this topic for children in a household where abuse has happened. Using a mama bear with a black eye and answering questions asked by the children, the author leads the conversation so that the children will not feel any blame or fear. There is also additional information for the parent on coping and for additional resources. This is an amazing children’s book that should be in every library or a special book for a child in an abusive household.

Mr. Bentrim is also the author of:

I Like to Whine, Dealing with Whining Children


Daddy Goes on a Trip, Dealing with Travel and Deployment


The Adventures of Hardy Belch: The Hardy Belch and Tiny Adventures

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Ciao Italia Five Ingredient Favorites - Quick and Delicious Recipes from an Italian Kitchen

Amazon.com link for Ciao Italia Five-Ingredient Favorites

Website: http://www.ciaoitalia.com/



About the Book:  Preparing delicious Italian cuisine at home does not have to be difficult.  Quick, easy, economical, and tasty - it's all possible with the help of Mary Ann Esposito, celebrity chef and host of Ciao Italia with Mary Ann Esposito television's longest running cooking show.  With 75 recipes, accompanied by 16 color photos of heavenly dishes, Esposito makes authentic, traditional Italian cuisine accessible and easy.

About the Author:  Mary Ann Esposito is the creator and host of the long-running PBS series Ciao Italia, celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2010.  She is the author of eleven successful cookbooks, including Ciao Italia Slow and Easy and Ciao Italia Pronto!  She lives in Durham, New Hampshire.  For information about all of her books visit Ciao Italia.

My Review: I only enjoy cooking a meal if it is easy enough that I can enjoy the process and the end results. Ciao Italia Five-Ingredient Favorites has recipes for hearty Italian cusine that are inexpensive and easy to prepare. She begins the cookbook with a wonderful introduction to the basic ingredients to keep on hand. Of course, five ingredients for the pantry, five for the refrigerator, and five for the freezer. Each recipe section begins with a clever introduction and five tips for that food type. For example, the Pasta section begins with her introduction, "Pasta Police", an amusing comment on incorporating pasta in your diet in a healthy way.


My first-to-try recipes include Zuppa di Paradiso (Paradise Soup), Cheesy Stuffed Meatballs, Coal Miners’ – Style Spaghetti and Tortine di Gianduja e Banana (Chocolate, Hazelnut, and Banana Tartlets). Mmmm- Nutella is one of the ingredients!

As in my other cookbook reviews, I always consider the ingredients needed and whether I will be able to easily find them in my small-town area. There were a few cheeses that I am not familiar with, but even in the two small towns around here, there is a good cheese selection.  I don't think I will have any problem finding them.  One of the towns has a large Italian heritage population, and the local grocery store reflects that in its selection of products. 

This is definitely a great gift for a bridal shower gift, Christmas gift, or an addition to your own cookbook collection. A great everyday book!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Decoding The Lost Symbol by Simon Cox

Amazon.com link for Decoding The Lost Symbol


Book description:

Based on extensive research, this A-to-Z guide lists the real people, organizations, and themes featured in Dan Brown's latest novel, explains their histories and their meanings, reproduces and analyzes the symbols themselves, and provides insider knowledge gleaned from years of exhaustive study. From the monuments of Washington, D.C., to the secrets of Salt Lake City and the hidden enclaves in Langley, Virginia, Cox knows where the facts are hidden about the Freemasons, Albert Pike, the Rosicrucians, the Founding Fathers, and more.

My Review:
Decoding The Lost Symbol by Simon Cox is the go-to book for those who want to read The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown. If you have read Dan Brown’s books, you know that they are filled with symbolism, conspiracy theories, secret societies, and historical oddities. The author has created a book that gives an insight to some of these references in The Lost Symbol. There is quite a bit of information about Freemasons, Thomas Jefferson and buildings in Washington DC. Some of the other topics are Ancient Mysteries, some Biblical references, historical figures and even one of my favorite artists, Albrecht Duer.  A fun book whether you read Dan Brown's book or not!  Here is an article  and some photographs from the book reprinted by permission:

An article by author, Simon Cox:
I don't read much non-fiction. I simply don't have the time, and when I do, its not generally from the "thriller" genre. So how come I have written three guide books to three thrillers? The answer is simple. Dan Brown. What Brown has managed to do brilliantly within the framework of his novels, is weave facts and fiction seamlessly together in a coherent and logical way, the like of which is rarely seen. I'm not saying its all perfect -- indeed, as I point out in my guide books, some of his factual research leaves much to be desired -- but he does have an uncanny knack of being able to hit the zeitgeist of the moment when it comes to historical themes and ideas.

Brown seems to follow certain pre-set rules within his Robert Langdon based novels. Generally there is a religious element and this element is stacked up against a scientific element. Then there are the codes and clues -- mainly left within an historical framework -- mathematical conundrums being a favorite of Mr Brown. Finally there are the secret societies that seem to be the glue that holds the stories together. In The Da Vinci Code, we see an exploration of the sacred feminine and an alternative life of Christ. In Angels & Demons, the very heart of Christendom, the Vatican is central to the story and in The Lost Symbol Brown takes it all a step further as he espouses the ideals of deism and universal godhead. Essentially what Brown has written are three books that have woven between them a central theme of tolerance to all faiths, but above all, an acknowledgement that faith plays an essential role in the development of mans consciousness and being. As a historian, I can attest to the fact that this mantra was crucial to most if not all ancient cultures. In this respect Dan Brown is carrying on a long standing tradition.

The Lost Symbol is at first glance a less remarkable book than its predecessor, The Da Vinci Code. It seems to lack the one major hook, the heart in mouth fact that suddenly makes gasp out loud as you read the page. However, this book is a slow burner. Its message of tolerance and universality is not at first obvious -- but the more you read and digest the message within the pages, the more you realize that this time 'round, Brown has a clear and decisive meaning that he is trying to get across. When I first saw this I was aghast. A novelist trying to change the way the world thinks from inside a story of chases and code breaking. But then, think about it. Brown has an audience unlike any novelist ever has. The Lost Symbol was awaited as if it were the harbinger of a new messiah after the enormous success of The Da Vinci Code -- some eighty million people the world over had become instant fans of his writing -- he had an audience who patiently waited for every word on every page. What better way to change the world.

It remains to be seen if the book will have any effect at all. Its early days yet and the response, though swift in sales, has been less than that of The Da Vinci Code. However it is to be remembered that The Da Vinci Code itself was very much a slow burner of a book at first -- not really exploding until some time after its launch. I have attempted to give a clear and easily understandable view of where Mr. Brown researched his facts and what parts of his book are fact and what fiction. It was a writing exercise that I really enjoyed, just as I had with the other guides. Decoding The Lost Symbol is a book that I am very proud of, especially given the incredible time constraints that I was under -- it was fun to do and fun to write. I hope you will enjoy it too, should you choose to pick it up and should you choose to explore some of the themes and ideas within The Lost Symbol itself. I encourage debate and criticism and can be contacted via my website at: www.decodingthelostsymbol.com.

Copyright © 2009 Simon Cox, author of Decoding The Lost Symbol: The Unauthorized Expert Guide to the Facts Behind the Fiction

Author Bio
Simon Cox, author of Decoding The Lost Symbol: The Unauthorized Expert Guide to the Facts Behind the Fiction, was the founding editor in chief of the successful newsstand magazine Phenomena. Having studied Egyptology at University College London, he went on to work as a research assistant for some of the biggest names in the alternative history game, including Graham Hancock, Robert Bauvel, and David Rohl. He splits his time between Britain and the United States.



Monday, December 7, 2009

Tea Party Revival, The Conscience of a Conservative Reborn by Dr. B. Leland Baker

Amazon.com link for Tea Party Revival


The Tea Party movement has been in the news for some time now, but what exactly is the Tea Party movement and who is involved? Their purpose has been so distorted by the news media, that it is interesting to finally read what seems to be an accurate account of this movement and its purpose.

The author describes the movement as fiscal conservatives who believe in constitutional compliance, smaller Federal government, state’s rights, less spending, lower taxes, and individual rights, responsibility, and integrity. As our country hemorrhages money, it is difficult to argue with these very basic requests. The author discusses why the checks and balances in the U.S. Government are important and how they have stopped working. The book also lists some of the Federal departments that are unconstitutional and why they should be eliminated. The last part of the book is a copy of the United States Constitution.

The book is informative and thoughtful. It has captured the essentials of this new grassroots movement that has caused such uproar with our politicians. My only criticism of the book is with the first page in which author lists twelve specific changes in the government that the tea party revival requests. The book clearly states that the Tea Party movement is not an organized political party, so there cannot be an agreed upon specific list of demands. The movement is just Democrats, Republicans, Independents, and even non-political Americans who want a fiscally conservative government and the ability to keep more of the money they earn.

The Tea Party Movement individuals have been subjected to ridicule and disparaging remarks. Even a former President of the United States called the group's participants a vulgar sexual slang term. The citizens of this country do not deserve that type of treatment. I hope those who are not familiar with this movement will take the time to read Tea Party Revival.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Not So Common Courtesy – The Owner’s Manual by Mitzi Taylor


Book Description:
Where in the world did Common Courtesy go?! I don't want to ruin this story for you, but I found out Common Courtesy is dying a slow and painful death. I want it back, so welcome to my journey.

My Review:
Not So Common Courtesy is a very funny look at what seems to be a behavior that is disappearing in today’s society – common courtesy. Rude and discourteous behavior is almost a badge of honor these days. With her delightful sense of humor the author covers courteous behavior in: drive-through lines, communication, personal, public places, traveling, driving, and pets. The book is written in an interactive style with pages for the reader to enter their own information. There is a “Pay it Forward” page to sign and then pass the book to someone else. There are also pre-printed note pages to pass along to others and some blank ones to fill out.


I enjoyed the book very much, and I think this would be a perfect gift not only for adults, but also for older teens. I would also like to see Not So Common Courtesy  in every library. Meet the author on her website here: Mitzi Taylor



My pet peeves?

1. People having personal conversations loudly on their cell phones in public.

2. Those who do not respect personal space-Please do NOT touch my hair, and do not ask me to cut my hair and donate it to a “charity”

Once in a Blue Moon by Leanna Ellis


Amazon link for Once in a Blue Moon

Book Description:

Bryn Seymour was nine years old when her mother died under mysterious circumstances on the same day Apollo 11 made its historic lunar landing. Forty years later—divorced, working as an obituary writer, and duly cynical—she meets Howard, a conspiracy theorist who knew her mom and believes a small Texas town may hold clues to what really fueled her demise. Seeking closure, Bryn goes along for this men-in-black ride. But upon meeting Howard’s son Sam, an outspoken Christian, she can’t decide whose beliefs are more pie-in-the-sky.

The gravity of life has pulled Bryn down for decades. But a perfect love could be her first step to soaring. It only happens once in a blue moon.

My Review:

Everyone has their secrets. Bryn Seymour has a life-long heartbreaking secret and a heart that has been broken too many times. Howard believes there are conspiracies going on all around him.  There is a loving but distant relationship with his son, Sam and the emotional issues that crossed generations are obvious.

Leanna Ellis has created a fun, smart, mysterious, and quirky novel that just may be my favorite book this year. It has such an interesting storyline with eccentric characters, a unique mystery, an emotional spiritual struggle, and a truly romantic love story. Each of the well developed characters touched my heart, and I could feel their life struggles. I loved everything about the book and I hope there is a sequel in the works!

Runt by Ray Shoop

Amazon.com link for Runt: Memories of a Dyslexic Bastard.



Book Description:
Runt knows there are things within him that makes him different; just what they are is not clear. His dad calls him a 'runt bastard', his teacher calls him a 'defiant brat', and his mother doesn't call him at all. His brother skips grades, while he has to repeat them. The only good thing in his life is Bee, his slightly older niece.

My Review:
Runt is a view of life from the eyes of a child of a backwoods mountain family. It is a wonderfully vivid tale of the family in times of financial hardships, war, and losses. Runt knew he was different and could not learn in the way his brothers did, but he was unique in his own way and learned to work around the abuse and neglect he received at the hands of his family. His one constant pillar is Bee.

An excerpt from the book:
Both his eyes glared at me. I said nothing; he didn’t expect an answer. I hoped. It was difficult at times to tell what he wanted. Sometimes he backhanded me for not answering and sometimes for answering. Most of the time, I kept quiet.

I was hesitant to read this book as it is difficult for me to read about children being abused, but this book was so compelling and the character of Runt was so resilient, that the book was a joy to read. The author’s humor also comes through in the story.  Here is the author's home page Ray Shoop.
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