Sunday, February 27, 2011

Black History Month: My Tribute to Langston Hughes

Selected Poems of Langston Hughes
Before Black History Month completely escapes me, I want to pay homage to one of my favorite poets, Langston Hughes.  I first learned about Hughes in the fourth grade when the best teacher I ever had, Ms. Rogers, divided us up in groups and assigned us different people to research and make a display for the school's "Black History" exhibit held in the cafeteria.  My group got Langston Hughes and our exhibit was comprised of  some of his poems written on poster board with illustrations that we drew and colored.  I never forgot the beauty of those poems. 
So on the last day of February in celebration of Black History month, I am posting a couple of my favorite poems by Langston Hughes.

Winter Moon
How thin and sharp is the moon tonght!
How thin and sharp and ghostly white
Is the slim curved crook of the moon tonight!

Dream Boogie
Good morning, daddy!
Ain't you heard
The boogie-woogie rumble
Of a dream deferred?

Listen closely:
You'll hear their feet
Beating out and beating out a-

You think
It's a happy beat?

Listen to it closely:
Ain't you heard
something underneath
like a-

What did I say?

I'm happy!
Take it away!

hey, pop!


Hughes' semi-autobiographical book, Not Without Laughter, is also well worth reading.  In his actual biography, The Sea, Hughes explains where the story and his own life actually diverge:

I wanted to write about a typical Negro family in the Middle West, about people like those I had known in Kansas. But mine was not a typical Negro family. My grandmother never took in washing or worked in service or went much to church. She had lived in Oberlin and spoke perfect English, without a trace of dialect. She looked like an Indian. My mother was a newspaper woman and a stenographer then. My father lived in Mexico City. My granduncle had been a congressman. And there were heroic memories of John Brown's raid and the underground railroad in the family storehouse.

But I thought maybe I had been a typical Negro boy. I grew up with the other Negro children of Lawrence, sons and daughters of family friends. I had an uncle of sorts who ran a barber shop in Kansas City. And later I had a stepfather who was a wanderer. We were poor--but different. For purposes of the novel, however, I created around myself what seemed to me a family more typical of Negro life in Kansas than my own had been. I gave myself aunts that I didn't have, modeled after other children's aunts whom I had known. But I put in a real cyclone that had blown my grandmother's porch away. And I added dances and songs I remembered. I brought the boy to Chicago in his teens, as I had come to Chicago--but I did not leave behind a well-fixed aunt whose husband was a mail clerk.

The Life of Langston Hughes: Volume I: 1902-1941, I, Too, Sing America (Life of Langston Hughes, 1902-1941)The Short Stories (Collected Works of Langston Hughes, Vol 15)

Friday, February 25, 2011

Book Review for Changed by Faith by Luis Palau

Changed by Faith: Dare to Trust God with Your Broken Pieces . . . and Watch What Happens

A woman is left alone for two weeks with her husband's best friend. He flirts, she makes the wrong choice. She regrets, her husband doesn't forgive. She's finds herself divorced, alone, broken....

A man grows up in the slums of a Costa Rican city. He's abused by his father and drinks to forget ....

A wealthy business man has it all, drive for success, status, big house, every material possession he could ever desire, neglected family.....

An angry, bitter woman in Bolivia, decides she's going to change the social injustices and rampant inequality of educational and job opportunities in her country. She runs to Cuba and becomes one of Che Guevara's henchmen, committing murder and acts of terrorism...

A Marxist leader enjoys the power and privileges of belonging to the upper echelons of a totalitarian regime in another South American country...

What do all these people have in common?

I once read a Peanuts comic strip by Charles Schultz, the creator of Charlie Brown. In it Sally, Charlie Brown's sister, is jumping rope. Suddenly she stops and bursts into heart rending sobs. Linus comes running up to her and asks what's wrong, what happened? Sally looks at him and replies, “I don't know. Suddenly it all seemed so futile.”

And that's the answer to the question. Each of these people came to a point in their lives where they lost their raison d'etre. They could no longer see the point of what they were doing. Something was missing from their lives. It all seemed so futile.

In Changed by Faith, Luis Palau introduces us to several such people and also includes many personal stories about his own family. He describes being raised in Argentina by a workaholic father who finally came to faith only to die when Palau was ten. Even though Palau was raised in a Christian home, it took many years of grinding poverty as his mother attempted to singlehandedly raise seven children and some Bible teachers that didn't pull any punches for Palau to finally come to true Christian commitment and faith.

And that is the second group of people he addresses in the book. People who have grown up in church, consider themselves Christians but have arrived at the same sense of meaninglessness that the above-mentioned people had come to.  Palau tells us how sterile Christians can come to the joy-filled life of victory, purpose and meaning when they truly surrender their lives to Jesus Christ.

Much of the problem, Palau asserts, is that even many Christians don't read the Bible. Either they don't truly study the scriptures, or they pick and choose what they will believe and obey. This can only lead to the same hollow living that unbelievers endure.

The most interesting part of the book for me as a believer, is the personal stories of the people I described at the beginning of this essay and how each of them turned from a life ignoring God, rejecting God, or even raging against God- to a life devoted to Him.

For people who are in the same boat, this book contains solid scriptural teaching that can lead each “dry and thirsty” soul to the “Streams of water” that never run dry and eternally satisfy.

One negative:  At the end of the book Palau tags on, almost as an afterthought, constructive ways Christians can live victoriously by helping their community.  Of course that is a good thing, but when he went on to describe strategies to do so he started sounding like he was preaching the social gospel. When he sited good examples from the books, "Blue Like Jazz" by Donald Miller and "The Shack" by William P. Young I had to scratch my head.  Both of these books deviate from scripture in defining Christianity and even the Trinity.  Since Palau spends a good part of the middle section of his book discussing the need to become biblically literate and testing everything with scripture, I think he needs to practice what he preaches.
    However, it's possible that he didn't actually read either book but simply heard about them because the rest of his book is quite orthodox.

In conclusion,I recommend this book for people who are not Christians but are searching for “the thing” that is missing in their lives; for people who consider themselves Christians but suffer from a sense of emptiness; for new Christians; and finally, for believers who would like to understand how to counsel the aforementioned groups.

I received this complementary copy from Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for my honest review.

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Monday, February 21, 2011

The Navajo Code Talkers by Doris A. Paul

I've always been interested in learning more about the group of Navajo Indians that were used to communicate in code during WWII. So when Dorrance Publishing CO. offered a complimentary copy of such a book in exchange for an honest review I eagerly requested a copy.

Doris A. Paul wrote The Navajo Code Talkers in 1973. The fact that it is currently in its fourth decade of publication is testimony to the fact that it is a well-written, well-researched and credible documentary of General Cates's Fighting Fourth Marine Division of Navajos and their significant contribution to the Allies' success in the Pacific Ocean Theater.

   Paul includes many interesting facts about the Navajos and how they came to play such an important role in WWII. Prior to the war, the Navajos led a primarily isolated existence. Few of them had ever left the reservations or could even speak English. What prompted the Navajo nation to serve in the War? According to the Navajo Tribal Council at Window Rock, a unanimous vote on June 3, 1940 took place passing the following resolution (which I quote in part):

  Whereas, the Navajo Tribal Council and the 50,000 people we represent, cannot fail to recognize the crisis now facing the world in the threat of foreign invasions and the destruction of the great liberties and benefits which we enjoy on the reservations....
…...we resolve that the Navajo Indians stand ready as they did in 1918, to aid and defend our government and its institutions against all subversive and armed conflict and pledge our loyalty to the system which recognizes minority rights and a way of life that has placed us among the greatest people of our race....(Chapter 1, pg. 2,3)

But it was Philip Johnston, a white missionary kid who had lived with the Navajos since the age of four and who himself spoke Navajo fluently, that came up with the idea to use the Navajo language as a code.

It was not the first time that Native Americans were used for communications in war. Many tribes, speaking their tribal tongue, were used with great success when communicating across enemy lines in both Europe, Africa and the South Pacific. This was the first time, however, that an Indian language was used as a code. Paul describes how this language was used and has comprised an exhastive catalogue of all the code words and alphabet letter codes.

Also included are many photos of these courageous men in action.

The Navajo Code Talkers not only provides a full account of the history and work of these First American Marines, but also combines many personal accounts that are both humorous stories as well as suspenseful. One of the biggest dangers for the Navajos was being mistaken for Japanese. More than one Navajo found themselves in danger of “friendly fire” until someone from their unit could verify their identity.

On a lighter note is the description of these “Native Marines'” reaction when they heard of the Japanese' surrender:

   The Navajos' innate imperturbability was thoroughly and completely shattered when early one night in August, 1945, news came over the division radio net that Emperor Hirohito had asked for “peace terms.” Naturally the Navajos were the first to learn this good news. The overjoyed Navajos decided that a celebration was in order. As tom-toms were not items of issue, they headed, au naturel for the bandsmen's tents. Grabbing drums, and later any instruments available, they Indian-danced their way toward the officers' tent country. The bandsmen, also au naturel, were in hot pursuit trying to retrieve their drums. (Chapter 7, pg. 96)

One thing that I found disturbing and caused me to rethink the heretofore one sided view we've been presented about the Japanese internment camps in America is the following quote:

   American forces were amazed to discover the ability of the Japanese to speak English without a trace of accent or Oriental inflection- but the mystery was partially solved when it was found that many of the dead Japanese wore American high school class rings, and that many of the officers were graduates of American universities. (Chapter 6, pg. 67)

Then there was Tokyo Rose. This was a name that the American troops gave her, she actually called herself “Orphan Annie”. Tokyo Rose was a Japanese American who was visiting relatives in Japan when the war broke out. During the war she served as a media propagandist, basically serving Japan by attempting to break the American soldiers morale and spirit with disheartening messages over the radio. I looked up Tokyo Rose on the internet and the first available sources try to white wash her work for the Japanese or even dismiss it as mostly urban legend. One source says that later this woman justified what she did, calling it “entertaining satire.” As I mentioned at the beginning of the review, this book was written when many eyewitnesses were still alive.  The following is a quote from one of the author's sources:

  This is what she (Tokyo Rose) said that morning over the radio before the men hit the beach: 'We know where you are.....about to try to take Gloucester. But back home the 4-F's are lying easy and having a good time with your sweethearts...your loved ones that you left at home. People are having a great time in the city of Los Angeles, Denver, Kansas City, YOUR city. They're praying and they're hoping and they're saying, 'Please, God, let this war go on four more years at least. We're getting rich; we're making good money; we're having such a good time.' Your very sweethearts that you trust-your wives- they're in bed in the state of Utah, Arizona, Ohio, Texas, Pennsylvania. Think about that, First Marine. Think about that. You're about to hit the beach. Think about that! (Chap. 6, pg. 69)

I don't know about you, but that doesn't sound like satire to me.

The book continues after the war to follow up on the Navajo marines, how they were honored and how their participation in the war opened up the world for the Navajo nation. Prior to the war most Navajos refused an education.

 Before 1946, officials of the Bureau of Indian Affairs had to round up Navajo children, practically kidnapping them, to force them to go to school. After the war, they couldn't hold back the tide. The whole educational system had to be revised to meet the demand. (Chapter 8,  pg. 108)

All in all, I found this book to be an enjoyable, interesting and informative read. If you like to read about history, war stories, linguistics, codes and Native American culture, then The Navajo Code Talkers is the book for you.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

An Irresistably Sweet Award!!

I have won yet another award!! Yay!!  Thanks to Creations by Laurel for awarding me.  You can check out her blog at

Ok.  The rules for this one is to list five guilty pleasures.  Let's see:
1.  I spend way too much time on my blog.

2.  I also spend too much time checking out funny videos on youtube.

3. I cannot, I mean, CANNOT keep chocolate in the house.

4.  I like staying up late reading, no matter how early I have to get up.

5.  I really, really love sleeping in when I don't HAVE to get up.

Ok.  Now here are 5 bloggers whose sites I think are worth visiting. 


Go and visit these sites.  They're worth viewing.

Book Review for Curiosities of the Civil War by Webb Garrison and other Civil War books

Curiosities of the Civil War: Strange Stories, Infamous Characters and Bizarre Events

Ever since I visited West Point, I have become a Civil War Buff. So when BookSneeze offered  Curiosities of the Civil War  by Webb Garrison, I eagerly requested a complimentary copy in exchange for my honest review (had to fit that in somehow).

Webb's intention in writing this book was to cite unknown and unusual tidbits of information regarding this tragic war between the states. The book is divided up into nine sections and each section lists brief anecdotes under different themes. For instance, Part one contains little known facts about Lincoln and Jefferson Davis (Davis lost his sight in one eye during the Mexican War, Lincoln may have had Marfan syndrome which would have accounted for his elongated features).

The section also provides brief facts about famous people at the time, apparently with the intention of debunking any myths that give credit to otherwise honored individuals. E.g. Walt Whitman was a nobody until after his death when Europeans first, then Americans recognized his poetry. Matthew Brady didn't really see any Civil War activity; his hired photographers took all the photos et al.

I found those parts to be a bit negative but other sections are rather interesting. There's a section that recounts different men who kept fighting even after they were severely wounded or even lost limbs.

Another section tells about women who followed their husbands into battle, providing support and home cooked meals. Some wives even stayed with their loved ones during imprisonment.

The section called, “No Two Military Events Were Identical” includes some graphic hand to hand combat scenes and includes a particularly memorable quote from a Federal officer:

 The shells shrieked and screamed over our heads, and each shell seemed to cry, 'It's you, it's you!' as if flew on its errand of death. (Chapter 11, pg. 123: "Sights and Sounds of Combat")

Webb includes facts on the machinery, artillery, boats ships, how black soldiers were treated and an informative chapter on different inventions that were produced as a result of the war. A couple examples of these are dehydrated food and an assembly line machine that rapidly produced shoes to replace foot gear that quickly wore out due to heavy use (this particular invention benefited Union soldiers, Confederates got to go barefoot throughout the war).

Garrison does not appear to like our 16th president. Lincoln is painted in none-too-flattering hues. If his book was your only source of information on the subject you'd think one of our most beloved presidents was a corrupt, politicking cronier who only served his own and his buddies' interests.

Nevertheless, if you enjoy collecting every source you can about this monumental time in our country's history, then this book is a good addition.

Here are some other books I've acquired about the Civil War:

                                                      A War to Petrify the Heart

This is a collection of 197 letters from Richard T. Van, a 24 year old Union soldier from Dutchess County New York. Van Wyck wrote these letters to his family and fiancee while fighting with the 150th New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment.

His first battle was at Gettysburg where he aptly describes the horrendous carnage:

  We did terrible execution, literally piling the Rebs up in masses....I never was on a battlefield before and the Lord preserve me from such a sight again.

That wasn't to be. The 150th were then packed on trains and sent west to join Sherman's armies as they “cut a swath” through Tennessee, Georgia and the Carolinas.

The letters are in an easy to read style with the plain-spoken Mid western tones of a northerner. There's no charm or manner to his mode of speech, as he honestly describes the battles, his comrades, southern women (whom he refers to as “tobacco chewing angels”-something he found almost as shocking as the war) and the southern soldiers (whom he considers more honorable then his drinking, gambling Union companions). He told his family that this was a “War to petrify the heart,” hence the title of this book. I bought this book at West Point and recommend it to all Civil War and American history buffs.

The Civil War by William C. Davis

This is a three book collection. One book is about the battles, one about the leaders and one on the fighting men. As the other book, it contains  a lot of written information,  photos and paintings.

Eyewitness History of the Civil War by Joe H. Krichberger

This book is a collection of stories and letters by people who witnessed the Civil War first hand. It's a favorite of mine because instead of a dry chronicle of what happened, it becomes a personal rendering as men and women from both sides of the Mason Dixon Line describe what they saw and heard in their own words.

Mathew Brady by Barry Pritzker

Finally, if you like documentary photography, you'll enjoy this book that is filled with Civil War photos taken by Brady and his troupe of photographers.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Review of When the Hurt Runs Deep

When the Hurt Runs Deep: Healing and Hope for Life's Desperate Moments

Kay Arthur's book, When the Hurt Runs Deep is for people who are suffering through past and/or present circumstances. Arthur attempts to point people to God through His word in the midst of their hurt. It is an honest evaluation of how and why we suffer and what we can do about it.

In the first section Arthur deals with suffering and hurt that a person is not responsible for. Maybe you were abused as a child or a loved one is terminably ill. Arthur provides a side by side analysis with real life scenarios and the Biblical accounts of Joseph and Job. She draws on what God has to say about these godly men's sufferings and what He has to say to us about our own struggles with trauma or hard circumstances in our own lives.

The second section explores the different ways a person can bring suffering on themselves, perhaps through drug or alcohol addiction or having an abortion. Arthur discusses the stories of Judah's disobedience to God and particularly King Manessah. Through scripture she shows that no matter what anyone has done, help and healing can come through confession and prayer. I appreciate that she doesn't gloss over the need to admit our wrongdoing and confess it as sin. She clearly and accurately asserts that no forgiveness and recovery can take place until this initial step is taken.

In the final section Arthur discusses why we, as Christians, must suffer at all. She tackles many of the fallacies that some Christians believe -such as feeling entitled to a trouble-free or prosperous life now that they have come to salvation. She shows scripture to reveal the cost of discipleship and the hardship that can be expected to come for Christians.

The end of the book has an individual or small group study guide. Kay Arthur's personal narrative style suffuses with compassion. God has used her own trials to allow her to be a comfort to others. Indeed, through this book Arthur demonstrates 2 Corinthians 1:4 (the God of all comfort) “who comforts us in all our troubles so we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort that we ourselves have received from God.” (NIV)
I received this book as a complimentary copy in exchange for my honest review by Blogging for Books.

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Sunday, February 13, 2011

Stylish Blogger award

I just received a Stylish Blogger Award.  I think that is very sweet.  Thanks to Books, Personally at who has a very stylish blog with great reviews, if I say so myself.   Now I'm supposed to say seven random things about myself and pick 15 other bloggers for the award.  I've never done anything like this before so here goes:

7 Random Things About Myself:
1.  Ironically, I review books I wouldn't normally choose to  read, I'm a classic literature bluff.
2.  My middle name's "Paula" (this is supposed to be random, right?)
3.  I want my own horse.
4.  I've never been to China, but plan to travel there.
5.  I speak Spanish.
6.  I have a sister who's an architect.
7.  I have another sister who is married to a man from Cyprus.

  Well, I don't know how informative or interesting that is but those were truly random thoughts about myself.
Ok:  I am awarding the Stylish blogger award to:


I don't know if theses bloggers consider themselves stylish but I think their blogs are worth visiting and I hope you do!  Take care and happy blogging!

Incidentally, those who were picked who would like to pass the award on, here are the rules:
1.Comment back to the person who awarded you. 
2. Thank them on your blog. 
3. List 7 random things about yourself.  
4. Pick 15 other blogs that you think deserve the award and notify them.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Romantic Valentine's day books

Literary Blog HopThe question:  Can literary books be funny?  The answer:  Of course.  The best, most biting, driest and brilliant wit there is exists in classical literature.  Hope you enjoy my post.  It's not funny but it is classical.  Thanks for visiting.  I'll visit back!
The Complete Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm All-New Third Edition

In honor of Valentine's day I am reviewing one of my favorite genre of literature: Arthurian romances. There are many out there but here's a few that I've read or am reading.

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
Sir Gawain represents the ideal knight in Arthurian romance. He is one to keep his vows regardless of danger or possible death. In Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, King Arthur and his knights are celebrating Yule at the round table. Suddenly, they are interrupted by the festivities by an intruder. They hear steps echoing down the hall, getting nearer and nearer until at the entrance way to the room stands a giant green knight. This knight challenges all the men present to take their best shot at cutting his head off. If they don't succeed then he gets to take a swing at their head. All the knights look at each other. Finally, the youngest and yet untried knight, Sir Gawain stands and accepts the challenge. One might wonder what this has to do with Valentine's day. Well, of course Sir Gawain has a lady love (doesn't every knight) and his challenge with the Green Knight takes him on a perilous journey that requires him to prove himself not only as a worthy knight but also as a faithful lover.

JRR Tolkien's translation is the best, in my opinion, but the version by Selina Hastings and Juan Wijngaard is also nice because of its beautiful medieval style illustrations.

Sir Gawain and the Loathly Lady

This is one of my favorite stories about Sir Gawain. King Arthur is traveling through the woods when he is accosted by a black knight. This knight challenges him to a duel but Arthur has left his sword Ex Caliber back in Camelot. Immediately he finds an evil spell cast on him and his strength gone. Since fighting an unarmed person is no sport, the knight then tells the king he must answer a question in three day's time or then they will surely duel and Arthur will die. During the three days' time King Arthur comes across a woman sitting by the side of the road. In the words of the book:

She was the ugliest living thing he had ever set eyes on, a freak, a monster, a truly Loathly lady.

Her nose was like a pig's snout; from a misshapen mouth stuck out two yellowing rows of horse's teeth; her cheeks were covered in sores; she had only one eye, the rueumy and red-rimmed, and from a naked scalp hung a few lank stands of hair....

This “Loathly lady” knows the answer to the question but she gives it with a condition. King Arthur must marry her to one of his knights. As you may have guessed, Sir Gawain agrees to marry her. You'll have to read the book to find out what all transpires. Hastings and Wijngaard have a beautifully illustrated edition of this book as well.

Arthurian Romances

Chretien De Troyes is credited with being one of the earliest writers of Arthurian legend (ca. 12th century). In this collection from Penguin Classics he includes stories of Erec and Enide (I've written a more thorough review on them in an earlier post), Sir Lancelot, Yvain (also known as Gawain) and Sir Percival. I confess this book is on my TBR pile so I cannot give an actual review but here is what the back cover says:

An idyllically happy marriage in which a husband is so involved that he neglects his duties as a knight; love endangered by a husband who is more interested in athletic chivalry than in his wife; timorous young love.. together these stories offer the most complete expression we possess from a single author of the ideals of French chivalry and of courtly love.

I'm shortly going to read this book after I finish Thomas Bullfinch's Age of Chivalry and will soon write a review of both books but I thought it was a nice addition to my “romantic Valentine's Day post.

The top photo is the back cover illustration of The Complete Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm ( Jack Zipes). Hmmmm..... It might be time to do some folk tales reviews...

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Monday, February 7, 2011

Review of books just in time for Valentine's Day!!

Ok! Valentine's Day is just around the corner! Here's some great reads for married couples or those that are preparing for marriage.

The Purpose of Passion: Dante's Epic Vision of Romantic Love by Kurt Bruner and Jim Ware

The authors of The Purpose of Passion take a unique approach in writing about the matter of love. Kurt Bruner and Jim Ware use the literature of Dante to show us how Dante viewed love and how we should view it too. The first section discusses Dante's book La Vita Nova (the Good Life).  In it Dante first meets the love of his life, a beautiful green eyed woman named Beatrice. This woman becomes the symbol of all love to him. Dante is mesmerized and obsessed with her.

He's eight years old.

 However, his first love is not extinguished as time passes but becomes fuller and richer. Never mind that Beatrice dies while still very young and he ends up marrying someone else. The authors show us Beatrice came to represent for Dante an ideal rather than actual romance.

The next two sections takes the reader through Dante's Inferno, Purgatory and Paradise. In Paradise Dante finally meets Beatrice again. This time she is not only the embodiment of romantic love but points Dante to the love of all loves, Christ's love.

     This may all seem far fetched but Bruner and Ward actually do a very good job escorting us through the different stages of the Inferno, where we meet love gone wrong, to say the least. In section 2  of the book (called Love Gone Astray) Dante encounters different people who are in hell for their wrongful love. Which is to say they didn't love at all. They cheated, lied and murdered justifying their crimes by calling them "love." Or their love became perverted, but we don't need to go into that. Reading Dante's Inferno is not for the faint of heart. The section ends with a quote: “Love your neighbor as, not for, yourself.

From there we move to paradise where people got love wrong on earth but are corrected and are able to move finally to Paradise where all love is right, all our imperfect love is made perfect and how all types of love- filial, romantic and agape -are combined to marry us to our perfect lover, Jesus Christ.

For those who have experienced the “inferno”: a broken heart, rejection, a perversion of what was supposed to be a good love, they will find the authors comments about Dante's beliefs and our current trends in society relevant and meaningful. For those who are currently in love and in a serious relationship, Purgatory and Paradise have many thought-provoking chapters that give insight and direction. Ward and Bruner attempt to show us how one cannot have true romantic love without surrendering our lives to Jesus Christ and having a love affair with Him first.

If you like classical literature and enjoyed Dante's famous works then you will enjoy reliving them while having a new light cast on them. You'll probably want to go and reread them. In conclusion, I recommend the Purpose of Passion as a great premarital counseling resource.

7 Things He'll never Tell You...but You Need to Know by Dr. Kevin Leman 

Dr. Kevin Leman takes us on a hilarious tour of the mind of man (according to him it just has one button). Each chapter is written in a humerous yet telling way (Chapter 1: “It's Thursday, and I'm out of words already but if you want to keep talking, honey, go ahead. Chapter 2: (“Think of me as a four year old that shaves.”) If you're married  (and if you're a woman reading this) you will discover with relief that your husband is not weird, he's a normal male (Chapter 5: “I've thought about sex 33 times today, and it's not even noon.”)

Underneath all the humor are truths that are crucial to the emotional health of your husband and to the happiness of your marriage (Chapter 6: “What your man fears more than anything else... and how you may be doing that very thing in subtle ways.”)

For women that care enough about their man to get inside his head and understand him better this is the book for you!

 Kiss Me Like You Mean It: Solomon's Crazy in Love How-To Manuel by Dr. David Clarke

Kiss Me Like you Mean it by Dr. David Clarke is probably my favorite book. Warning: It's pretty hot and steamy and I recommend it for couples that either are already married or are shortly about to get married. Dr. Clarke uses lots of case studies from his years as a marriage counselor that make his book interesting and easy to bring home. Interwoven with the personal stories is a step by step walk through of the Song of Solomon. Clarke explains each chapter and section in this exceptional book of the Bible to reveal what King Solomon had to say about passion and romance in marriage. A wonderful Valentine's day gift for the significant other in your life.  One you should read together. 

Friday, February 4, 2011

What am I currently reading?

Book Blogger Hop

For all you bloghoppers, here's my answer to this week's question:
I’m currently reading 3 books: The biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer by Eric Metaxas along with “The Call to Discipleship” by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, which is an excellent way to read his biography because you’re getting not just what people said about Bonhoeffer but what he said himself. If you like history, especially German history, you’ll enjoy these books.

I’m also reading “The Miracle at Speedy Motors” by Alexander McCall Smith. This is more of the same from him (I have the rest of the books in the series) which is to say it’s an enjoyable light read that takes you to another continent and culture with some mystery thrown in. I’ve always loved Africa and want to go back and stay longer this time. Until then, I’ll just have to read about Mma Ramotswe in Botswana.

I hope you'll take time to scroll down and read my book reviews as well.  Have a great weekend to all!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Review of Left at the Altar by Kimberley Kennedy,204,203,200_.jpg

I was given a copy of “Left at the Altar” by Kimberley Kennedy from BookSneeze. This was a simply delightful book! I can already hear some of you: “Now hold on, Sharon. Delightful? Is this book about what I think it is?” You bet your sweet patootie it is! And Kimberly doesn't pull any punches either. She completely exposes herself. This gorgeous, highly successful TV anchor woman doesn't leave out a detail of every hope, dream and joy that gets smashed during her wedding rehearsal when Lew, her fiance, tells her that he, “just can't go through with it.”

To add insult to injury, he sends his sister to break the news to everyone else and to ask them to be sensitive because the whole thing was “very hard on poor Lew.” His family then proceeds to secure the band that was to play for the reception to perform for a dinner they would  give later that day for would be wedding guests. Good old Lew takes his brother to the South of France where the honeymoon was to be (why waste money?) and afterwards moves into the house they had bought together.

Do you hate Lew, yet?

The rest of the book is Kennedy's step by step journey from hating and blaming God (she never could bring herself to blame Lew), going through all the stages of grief (that she describes very well and accurately-which I unfortunately know from experience) to her journey back to God and discovering some painful things about herself through self- or rather Godly- examination. This examination allows her to understand that the real blame lay within her own proud, driven-to-succeed nature that had to be in control of every aspect of her life and a refusal to yield to God's will for her life.

Kimberley's honest evaluation of her own character and review of her relationship with Lew (lots and lots of red flags that she ignored because she was going to get what SHE wanted) gives the rest of us invaluable insight and wisdom that will hopefully help others avoid the painful path she walked down.

This book also provides much comfort for all of us who have gone through loss and rejection- not just those who have been stilted at the alter, but women who have experienced abandonment through divorce, death, or unexpected break ups. Kennedy has an irrepressible optimism and sense of humor that keeps this book from being a dreary pity party and allows the reader to enjoy her story with laughter as well as tears. I read it in two days because her intimate style of writing was so engaging. I was at the end of one chapter before I knew it and had to “read just one more.”

Kennedy includes in her book many personal stories of other ladies who have gone through the anguish of being deserted, either by a boyfriend that was surely “the one” to women who have had their husbands walk out. She also has a surprising chapter from the “cad's” perspective. A few brave men explain their actions and their honesty provides the female readers (as if a man would read this book) with a rare opportunity to get inside the male head and better interpret the interplay in their next relationship. I probably found that chapter to be the most useful.

Kimberly also gives her own steps to recovery as well as advice to the rest of us. To all my fellow BSFers out there, one of her steps was to get involved in a good, solid Bible study (guess which one she belongs to?).

I'll close with a story Kennedy shares that became the theme to her recovery from grief, feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness:

While Kimberley was at the mall, a complete stranger approached her. This woman knew her story (it had made the headlines, of course, since she's a TV personality). The lady just told her one thing: “Man's rejection, God's protection.” With that, the woman walked away. Kimberly writes that she has repeated that phrase to herself over and over again. She has come to understand that ultimately God allowed her to go through this dark valley because He knew it would lead her to His door. Or maybe I should say it led her to the door in her heart that He had been knocking at all her life.

Do I think you should read this book? Let me put it this way: I'm asking you to please read this book!