Monday, December 28, 2009
Many have likely heard of Abesbooks.co.uk the online book site were visitors can search, buy, and sell books of all kinds (including text books and rare books). Yet what many may not have heard of, I hadn't anyways, is Abe's Weird Book Room. With such noted titles as The Teach Your Chicken to Fly Training Manual by Trevor Weekes, The English: Are They Human? by G.J. Renier, and The Beverly Hillbillies Bible Study by Stephen Skelton it's easy to see why it's called the "Weird Book Room". Infact this section of Abe's site includes only books with the weirdest, strangest titles and subject matter that can be found. There were so many funny ones I figured I just had to pass the link along to all my own viewers and subscribers. Because a heart that follows after books, and even one that doesn't, is sure to get a kick out what you'll find there!
So, without any further delay, I bring you Abe's Weird Book Room!
Sunday, December 27, 2009
Everyone knows that in order for a child to grow up strong, healthy, and intelligent he needs to be well taken care of in the physical and mental sense. There should be shelter, appropriate clothes, healthy foods, and education. But what if these physical and mental things were the only aspects of a child's development we, as parents, paid attention to? What if we were to give our child everything in the way of food, clothes, protection, and education but never take the time to build them up emotionally? What would happen if a child's emotional well being fell to the wayside and was never nutured or encouraged?
In a perfect world no child would go without any of the above, yet unfortunately in today's busy society there are many parents/grandparents/educators who overlook the importance of an emotional upbringing. Every child should live a rewarding life. In order to make this more a reality than just an idea, it is important for parents to empower, educate, and inspire their offspring. Through open lines of communication and a parenting style that comes from the heart, we as parents can not only impact our children in the here and now but forever through the words and teachings we instill in them. For words hurt and words heal. It's all in the way you use them.
Shakespeare once wrote, "The voice of parents is the voice of gods; for their children they are heaven's lieutenants." Buddha is quoted as having said, "Whatever words we utter should be chose with care for people will hear them and be influenced by them for good or ill." That is to say, what we put in to our children emotionally is going to come out of them ten fold. If we work to influence their emotional beings through uplifting and encouraging conversations and dialogue we stand a chance of not only teaching our children social and emotional intelligences but also of creating in them more rounded, joyful, compassionate, and confident adults.
In her book, 365 Perfect Things to Say to Your Kids Maureen Healy shows in length just how many ways parents can incite their children and help make them more emotionally aware, insightful, and happy. Written in a list format, Healy's book is broken down in to three main segments: EMPOWERING (Where "your child gains: courage, confidence, optimism, connection, and self-trust.") , EDUCATING (Where "your child learns about: emotional awareness, social and service learning, ethical living, and universal truths."), and INSPIRING (Where "your child connects with his or her: inspiration, imagination, creativity, love of nature, art, and spirit."). In each she lists many suggested conversation starters that a parent can use to create a exchange with his or her child(ren). Many are thought provoking on a child's level, but many seem a little cheesy. I guess in that regard, this is one of those books you must pick and choose from. Not everything will work for everyone, yet I'm sure each person who reads this book will be able to pick out several key elements they find beneficial and helpful on some level.
I have to admit that my first impression of Maureen's book wasn't exactly the best. Truth be told, I thought a lot of her suggested conversation starters were just corny and sometimes lame. I get what she was trying to achieve through them; they just, unfortunately, did not all resonate for me. Also I could sense a strong new agey, Buddist vibe in a lot, though not all, of the author's writing. This is not surprising because she openly mentioned, on one of the first pages of this book, her ties to the Buddist and New Age movements. For some this won't be an issue. For me, however, as Christian it was a little too much. I want the best for my children just as much as the next mother, maybe even more, but I don't buy in to a lot of the "the universal harmony" crap that goes along with either of the aforementioned belief systems.
I don't want that to sound like I'm completely tearing down Healy's book, because that would be completely false. I do, again, think that there are quite a few really good thought provoking sayings in this book. Just to name a few from each section...
In the section on EMPOWERING-
#7 The Best (found on page 15)
"Ordering the best from life and expecting it often returns just that- THE BEST. So enjoy looking for the best in your SELF and OTHERS because soon the best starts looking for you."
#17 Everyday (found on page 17)
"You are loved every minute of every day in every way! I love you. God loves you. Your angels surround you and protect you on your way. There is nothing to fear as you let God steer. Enjoy being surrounded by UNIVERSAL love from above."
#35 Never Give Up (found on page 22)
"Never ever give up! Life has some bumps and bruises, ups and downs, highs and lows but never, ever GIVE UP. Being able to hang on and not give up is a GIFT to yourself that you are STRONG, CAPABLE and WILLING to see life through. Plus there are rewards coming to you."
In the section on EDUCATING-
#129 Happy Wishes (found on page 53)
"Everyone is the same. We all want happiness and to avoid pain. This truth connects every person. No matter what is occurring in life- look past the surface and see every person wants to feel happy. Even the grumpy teacher!"
#131 No Better (found on page 54)
"There is no better. Each of us is UNIQUE and SPECIAL. No one is better than anyone else. Every person has gifts that are being birthed within them. EVERY MINUTE. Respect the blossoming of everyone's gifts equally."
#150 Patience (found on page 58)
"Patients are not just for doctors! It is the ability to rest in knowing all is well, others can go first, and you can happily wait your turn. There is not RUSH in life. All the best things are coming to you so just be happy and let them SHOW UP right on time."
In the section on INSPIRING-
#298 Fully You (found on page 101)
"I want you to be FULLY you in everything you do! So enjoy discovering your self, taking your talents off the shelf and being fully the wonderful you. What do you fully want to do?"
#332 No Ordinary (found on page 109)
"There are no ordinary moments! Every second is special. Even if you are picking your nose or wiggling your toes! God is here, there and everywhere. So see the DIVINE light shining everywhere even at night."
#357 Seeds (found on page 115)
"Today's seeds are tomorrow's flowers. You can plant seeds and watch flowers rise up from the dirt. Or you can plant kind words and see all kind words spring up all around you! What type of seeds are you planting now?"
The above is just a taste of what readers can expect to find between the pages of Healy's new release, 365 Perfect Things to Say to Your Kids. I'll repeat that while I don't particular love every saying in this book, I do agree that there are some really great ones to be found. I think the author did a good job of structuring her writing so a young child can easily understand most, if not all, of the 365 sayings. Her simple wording and catchy rhyming text is undoubtedly one of the key componants that will help younger readers commit Healy's "truths" to memory. And while I probably wouldn't use the book in the fashion the author indicated, I would probably use it to get suggestions for cute notes lunchbox notes that I could send to school with my 6 year old daughter.
NOTE: Interested parties can look for this book on shelves next mont, January 2010.
Thanks to Maureen for allowing me this review opportunity!
~Bookish Mom, aka RebekahC
Friday, December 18, 2009
Have you ever found yourself secretly spying on your neighbor, wondering who they really are and what they really do? Have you ever imagined, if only for a second, that there was more than meets the eye and that your quiet little neighborhood wasn't really as quiet and quaint as it seemed to the naked eye?
Brenda Novak's The Perfect Couple does just that. With never a dull moment, this book takes the reader right behind the front lines and shows just how deceptive the human nature can be. One who at first appears to be the world's best neighbor can infact be a blood thirsty, psychopath. Meanwhile, one who appears to be looney off his rocker can indeed be as sane and harmless as a mouse.
Zoe Duncan is a lot of things but a bad mother is not one of them. Therefore, when her thirteen year old daughter, Sam, suddenly goes missing from her own backyard in the family's upper class neighborhood Zoe has no idea what to think. Struggling upwards from a life already ripe with trials and pain, Zoe is no stranger to living in fear of the unknown. Her own daughter's very existance in and of itself is born from grief, but even then she'd never in a million years wish her away. So where on earth could she have gone?
It's a mother's worst nightmare, and no one seems to have a clue as to what could have happened. Sam wasn't always one hundred percent thrilled to bits with the current social situation she and her mother were in. Now engaged to the older, rich, and oh so uptight, Anton, Zoe got used to telling herself this was the life she wanted. It was the security and well being she craved. Sam, on the otherhand, saw through the facade and wanted nothing to do with Anton. She knew the feeling was mutual because her existance only put an undue strain on the relationship. Zoe knows her daughter was unhappy, but she also knows that no matter how much Sam disliked Anton she would never just up and run off without a word. No, Zoe knows that for her daughter to have vanished without a trace it means that there is something far more terrible going on than she ever thought possible.
In a race against time, where uncertainly and blindness are her biggest enemies, Zoe must battle everything she thinks she knows in order to unbury the unfathomable truth and save her daughter before the clock runs out. With Jonathan Stivers, the P.I. assigned to her case by The Last Stand, a victim's charity & action group, Zoe must work to uncover the secrets behind Samantha's disappearance. It's not enough that she's completely stressed out with everything else she has going on, but when Stivers enters the scene so do some unfamiliar feelings that Zoe's not quite sure she's ready to add to the mix.
He's young, attractive, and dedicated to helping her get her daughter back- alive. Jonathan is everything she could hope for and then some, yet Zoe has every reason in the book not to allow her feelings to get muddled up in the drama of the day. No amount of sexual chemistry can bring Sam back, but perhaps if Zoe plays her cards right she can end up with an Ace in both hands. Sam is out there, and she has every reason to believe she's alive. However, only time will tell how involved Zoe can get without going over the falls of no return. Mr Stivers is here in a professional level to help her find Zoe and bring her home safely, but something about him allows him to calm her like a strong balm to a fresh wound. He knows how to say just the right things, do just the right things, and he seems to have a good theory on what could have become of Sam.
In a rushing game of cat and mouse, The Perfect Couple is a non-stop action thriller filled to the brim with exciting twists and turns. Who knew that delight and disgust could so easily go hand in hand?! Not just one but two major antagonists warp your mind and leave you re-evaluting everything you already thought you knew about those around you. Double check your locks, say that extra prayer over your child, and then settle in with a good drink and your very own copy of The Perfect Couple. Bound to scare and entertain you, this book offers an incredibly realistic picture of just how far a mother will go to save her child from an uncertain fate.
NOTE: This is a book that deals with the very strong and disturbing topic of sexual abuse among other things. As book #4 in Novak's THE LAST STAND series, it works to tie in past characters but does so in such a way that makes new readers to the series very comfortable in picking up here with this new release and not clear back at the start of book #1.
Anyone who would like to preview THE PERFECT COUPLE please feel free to check out an excerpt from the first chapter as generously posted by Ms Novak on her website here.
~Bookish Mom, aka RebekahC
Friday, November 20, 2009
You never know when I might play a wild card on you!
and the book:
Hannibal Books (September 30, 2009)
Mary Anne Phemister is a nurse, author, mother, grandmother and wife of noted concert pianist Bill Phemister. The Phemisters live in Wheaton, IL. She has also co-authored Mere Christians: Inspiring Stories of Encounters with C.S. Lewis.
List Price: $14.95
Paperback: 160 pages
Publisher: Hannibal Books (September 30, 2009)
AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:
A large, beautifully carved Chinese chest rests on curved wooden legs in my kitchen. Long-legged cranes decorate the top and sides in various poses. One bird in the background looking wide-eyed and perplexed, I’ve come to call “the bewildered one.” She reminds me of my mother, full of questions she dare not ask.
A furniture maker in Hong Kong sold this beautiful chest to my parents during their early, happier years of married life. Being practical and resourceful, they knew that this fragrant, camphor-lined vault could store and preserve the many curios and keepsakes that they would be collecting over the years to ship back home, someday. A skilled Chinese woodcarver had chiseled these revered birds into the outer teak frame, knowing full well its commercial appeal. Throughout Asia, red-crested cranes are symbols of long life and good luck.
My parents, however, believed in divine providence rather than in lady luck. To them, the force that operates for good or ill in a person’s life is not as capricious and precarious as luck. Good fortune is not the result of mere chance; it is part of God’s plan. Unfortunate circumstances, like the time my father almost died of food poisoning, are blamed on the enemy of our souls—Satan, the devil or the evil one. Hence, even when God allows bad things to happen to good people, it is not without some purpose. God is teaching us something or testing our faith. Our job on earth is to trust God, who has clearly instructed us not to lay up treasures on earth where moth and rust corrupt. Nevertheless, the few curios they brought home in this chest, fortified with camphor against pesky moths, could not be considered real treasures, merely mementos to display at missionary meetings.
My parents firmly believed that one should not—must not—expect to reap the rewards of living a virtuous life here on earth. However, in the life to come, all would turn out right. Then, all life’s troubling questions would be answered to our satisfaction. “All things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to his purpose” was a bible verse I had memorized at a very early age. Thus, I have always known that life has meaning and purpose. I have never doubted God’s goodness, although I have often questioned His methods.
This core belief, that all will turn out well in the end, that good will triumph over evil, that God rewards the faithful, was the force that enabled my mother to endure the countless challenges in her life. Her unshakable faith held her fast after the death of her infant son, Johnny, the puzzling alienation of her brother, Andy, and throughout her unhappy marriage to my father, notwithstanding all her attempts at being the good wife.
My parents’ acquaintance began at the suggestion of my father’s sister, Agnes. She had met Violet in Buffalo, New York and knew of her intent to go to Tibet as a missionary. Agnes suggested to her brother, Al, who was living in Shanghai at the time, that Violet would make him a good helpmeet. My father, who was on the lookout for a wife, then began a correspondence with this devout woman with a winsome smile, recently graduated from the Nyack Missionary College. Al eventually succeeded through his letters in persuading Violet to join him in China. Thus, Violet Anna Agnes Gibson and Alexander George Kowles were married on the very day the steamer docked in Shanghai harbor, September 6, 1938. She was just six days shy of turning thirty. Al, two years younger and two inches shorter, regretted these facts most of his life.
Why my parents went to China was never a mystery to me. In church service after church service they told of how God had laid on their hearts the burden for the lost. They were dedicated to answering the Master’s call for reapers to work in the harvest field for lost souls, as they would express it. They were merely obeying the great commission to go into all the world to bring the message of God’s love and salvation to people in heathen darkness. These words and phrases I heard often. I have never doubted their sincerity and resolve. They were more committed to their duty to obey Jesus’ imperative to preach the Gospel than to any other obligations, even to each other. Their marriage, based on their sincere desire to serve God, seemed to them at the beginning, to be God’s will. But before long, my mother began to recognize the smoldering notion that she had made a grave mistake. Where was God in this? How was God going to work this marriage out to his good?
“But you’re here,” my mother would say, dodging my question whenever I asked her why she stayed with my father for all those painful years. So, it was my existence and that of her other three children that enabled her to endure and be faithful. To her, the ever self-sacrificing handmaiden of the Lord and Al, divorce was unthinkable. God must have some purpose in it for her, she often reasoned throughout her prolonged heartache. It was her duty to persevere, to keep up family appearances for the sake of us children and “the ministry.”
I’m sure now that it was her strong sense of duty, her belief that marriages are made in heaven, her determination to endure to the end, bound and kept her locked in that disappointing marriage. Like the flight plans imprinted in those cranes’ brains, the mechanisms that steered the course of my mother’s life were those strongly implanted religious beliefs. I have inherited some of my mother’s sense of adventure, her perseverance, as well as strong religious beliefs, but for me, marriages cannot possibly be made in heaven. Where does it say that in the Bible? People make those choices, some good, some unhealthy. Somewhere along the line I have learned, contrary to family maxims, that if you make your bed, you don’t necessarily have to lie in it. You can get up and move, especially when one encounters, emotional, physical, sexual or even spiritual abuse.
Never once did I hear my mother question God’s sovereignty. To her, that would imply that the God whom she trusted with all her heart had led her down the wrong path. In her theology, and reinforced by my father with quotes from the Bible, that it was God’s will that she submit to her husband. She was committed (and coerced) to love, honor, and obey him until death intervened. “I accepted the future in simple faith that the Lord was leading me all the way,” she said. Simple faith did not permit her to question. A professional Christian counselor was out of the question, even if there were any around to be consulted a half century ago. Seeing a counselor pre-supposed that intense prayer and fasting and Bible reading were inadequate remedies to life’s problems. She told very few about her anguish, and never to her children while we were growing up.
During the time my mother kept the Chinese chest in her small apartment, it lay shrouded under a heavy, black brocade cloth. Stacked on top of the chest sat her phonograph player, her photo memory books, and piles of assorted record albums. Out of sight, the noble cranes lay hidden for decades until my mother moved into an assisted living residence. I remember her broad smile when I told her that I would take good care of her beautiful camphor chest, this lovely thing she bequeathed to me. She had begun to distribute her “things,” as she called them, to her four children. My mother lived to be eighty-nine. Clues to her life had been locked away in that Chinese chest for most of those years. In time, it was my joy to unearth some of the mementos and letters she had penned to her mother when she first sailed to Shanghai on the Empress of Japan to marry “by faith” a man she barely knew.
As I look at those cranes now, embedded in that chest that has come down to me, the bewildered one in particular seems to encapsulate much of my mother’s fascinating, woeful life. She, like the cranes, had mated for life, despite the unhappiness she endured. I suppose that if we children had all turned out to be preachers or missionaries to a foreign country, she would have felt some recompense, but none of us did. Throughout her lonely migrations to strange and foreign lands she kept searching for a resolution to the sadness she was feeling but could not verbalize. God did not provide the reconciliation to her husband and brother that she had so desperately prayed for. To bolster herself, she often took comfort in the words of the old hymn: “It will be worth it all, when we see Jesus; life’s trials will seem so small when we see Christ.” I am sure that now she has found the answers in heaven and has found peace--the peace that passes understanding. What has she learned over there? What have I learned from her life experiences? How does one resolve the problem of pain in a Christian worldview? C. S. Lewis has helped me understand what my mother knew and quietly bore: many questions in this life are left unanswered. Life in Christ is a faith journey indeed. The Bible reminds us that “our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed to us.” (Rom. 8:18 NIV) Trust and Obey were the three little words that guided the choices my mother made throughout the bewildered maze of her life.
When I initially received the e-mail about this book tour I knew I wanted to be a part of it. Not only was the name of the book incredibly intriguing, but the author's story revolved around her life on the Asian mission field- a place I too am familiar with. Fortunately for me, my experiences on the mission field were vastly different from those recounted by Mary Anne in this, her memoir. Infact, it was this varying account that really piqued my personal interest in the book to begin with.
Eager to see just how different our experiences really were from one another, I jumped right in to Lessons from a Broken Chopstick. What a story! Mary Anne may have lived in and traveled through many of the same areas as I did during my own time on the mission field, but what she experienced throughout was vastly different. Pushed by a father who was blinded by his faith, Mary Anne spent most of her childhood in China, Hong Kong, and Vietnam serving on a mission she didn't quite understand. And despite their negative undertones, it was these life experiences that shaped Mary Anne into the woman she is today.
Well written, interesting, and very enlightening. Lessons from a Broken Chopstick is a book that provides a thoughtful yet unique look behind the scenes of missionary life. It should be mentioned that not every missionary allows himself to be led by blind zeal, though in every situation God is/should be ones focus. For while every account is different, the final outcome can never be pre-labeled and will always be dependant on what cards God gives to you and what play you choose to make with them.
~Bookish Mom, aka RebekahC
Sunday, November 8, 2009
If you know what category your child's question would fall under, you only need to flip that section to search out an answer. What's wonderful is that this is a book you can really turn to in all those "I dunno" moments when your child asks you a question you simply haven't got a clue how to answer. Granted, there's no guarantee your child's question will be one that is featured in this compilation; however, with nearly 800 queries touched on within its pages I think it's fairly safe to say you've got a good chance at finding the information you need.
Saturday, November 7, 2009
In this day and age a person can find any number of self help books on the topic of love, romance, and relationships. But is the answer to it all really something as simple as can be captured and contained on the written page? Well, pick up a copy of Katharine Miller's The Curable Romantic: Advice for the Romance-Impaired and find out!
From companionship to courtship to relationship to jumping ship, this short and sweet compilation covers everything you need to know about romance and is nothing short of hilarious. Filled with tips and advice perfectly suited for the romance challenged, this collection of colorful essays will serve as a wonderful guidebook for anyone on the road to love. Should one find though that in their own personal situation this book fails miserably on that last bit, I can safely promise it will, at least, give the reader many a good laugh.
Take, for instance, my personal favorite, the section titled "Guide to Pet Names". It's more likely than not that everyone ever involved in any form of romantic relationship has at one time or another referred to [or been referred by] his/her significant other by an endearing nickname. However, have you ever stopped to really think about what inspires a person when he/she is selecting a pet name? In this segment of her book, Miller gives several interesting examples of cutesy nicknames couples have been known to adopt, and also gives some suggestions on how a person can decide on a name for their special someone. Behind the scenes we all know that each person's nickname is going to be unique to their own on situation, but these lists give many fun suggestions to get you started if you haven't already done so. With a "Positive", "Negative", and "Questionable" list it's easy to sense the author's comical flair.
And, seriously, who can't use a few good pointers when it comes to love? Nobody is perfect and anyone who's ever set foot in the dating pool of life knows there are too many things that can go wrong. Forget what to wear on your first date. What do you say when you get there? What if you like him and he likes you; then what happens? Or worse yet, what if he doesn't like you? If you do feel a spark and see yourselves going someplace, how to tell when the moment's right to take things up a notch? Love is a tricky beast to master, but with Miller's helpful and often humorous advice readers should be able to more properly arm themselves for what is yet to come in their relationships of the heart.
The Curable Romantic: Advice for the Romance-Impaired offers a fun and light hearted approach to romance. Whether you're currently in a relationship or living single, this is a book that's worth the quick read. Check out http://www.thecurableromantic.com/ for more information or to order your own copy today.
~Bookish Mom, aka RebekahC
P.S. Thank you Katharine for this entertaining review opportunity! Even though my mailman all but ruined my copy of the book by practically soaking it clean through in the rain, I still plan on passing it along to some of my friends to enjoy. Cheers!
Thursday, October 29, 2009
You never know when I might play a wild card on you!
and the book:
Regal (April 1, 2009)
Debora M. Coty is the author or contributor to several books, including Mom NEEDS Chocolate: Hugs, Humor and Hope for Surviving Motherhood. A resident of Florida where she lives with her husband, Coty raised two children and enjoyed a dedicated career as an Occupational Therapist before beginning to chase her God-given dream of writing. She is known for communicating sound biblical concepts with a refreshing, light-hearted style. Her writings can be read in her monthly newspaper column, Grace Notes: God’s Grace for Everyday Living.
Visit the author's website.
List Price: $14.99
Hardcover: 224 pages
Publisher: Regal (April 1, 2009)
AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:
A baby is an inestimable blessing and a bother.
As for you, be fruitful and multiply; populate the earth abundantly and multiply in it.
Genesis 9:7, NASB
There are a few things I’ve learned while fulfilling the “be fruitful and multiply” mandate.
Pregnancy draws you closer to your spouse. During an emergency stop in our driveway while I tossed my cookies in the grass, my husband, Chuck, tried to comfort me. Soon we were throwing up side by side. It was the most romantic thing he’s ever done. Those two brown spots on our lawn were the envy of all my friends.
Childbirth classes are invaluable informational sources. At the country hospital we’d chosen, one young farmer raised his hand the week after we learned about Braxton Hicks false labor contractions. He earnestly addressed the nurse instructor, “Ma’am, my wife’s been miserable all week. Could you tell us again about them Briggs and Stratton things?” He was the same strapping fellow who confided the first week, “We ain’t ever had any babies, but we’ve birthed a lot of cows.”
The budding momma’s swelling belly and the ledge over her innie-turned-outie navel aren’t the only evolutions in the body’s profile. Average-sized breasts become huge globes that bump into everything. It’s like having volleyballs attached to your chest. These alien chest globes take on their own personalities. I called mine the Bobbing Twins, Freddie and Flopsie. I addressed them directly: “Freddie, stop bouncing around or I’m going to fall off this bike,” or “Flopsie, you’re gonna have to squeeze into this DDD cup—there is no E.”
Finally, you’re in your ninth month. Ah, but the surprises are not over. After hours of sweating, teeth grinding and PUSHing, you are rewarded with a tiny screaming miracle. The little bugger has a surprisingly strong sucking reflex, and when he latches on, it feels like a vice grip to this incredibly sensitive part of your anatomy. You’re awfully glad you did that desensitization with the washcloth beforehand. I once commented to Chuck after performing this unpleasant ritual that rubbing myself with terrycloth made me empathize with that old table he was sanding.
“Hmmm. Yes, dear,” he answered, only half listening. I later overheard him inform his sister on the phone, “Debbie uses sandpaper on her chest to get ready for the baby.” No wonder his family thinks I’m weird.
Shortly after giving birth, my friend Julia (also a nursing mother) and I decided to take a well-deserved tennis break. Leaving the babies with their daddies, we headed for the courts. The blissful quiet was shattered by a wailing infant in a passing stroller, triggering that mysterious internal milk breaker switch. Julia and I simultaneously clutched our chests like gunshot victims at the incoming flood.
“Stop it, Freddie! Not now, Flopsie!” I pleaded with the Twins as two dark, wet spots appeared in strategic locations on the front of my white tennis shirt. Julia and I mopped ourselves between points with a soggy sweatband, bringing strange new meaning to the term, “bosom buddies.”1
Son of Man, thank You for the blessing of family and the miracle of babies. Make me more like You because they may end up being like me.
1. Adapted from “My Cups Runneth Over” by Debora M. Coty, first appearing in Today’s Christian Woman, November/December 2004 issue. Used by permission.
Friday, September 25, 2009
Friday, September 11, 2009
If you or someone you know lives in the Philidelphia area you have likely already heard the disheartening news about what's to become of their Free Library there in the months ahead. Unfortunately, it seems that due to state budget cuts or simple lack of financial planning all of the Philidelphia Free Libraries are at risk of being closed effective October 2, 2009. As anyone with a love for books knows, we simply can't allow this to happen!Books are a huge part of libraries, but what we must remember is that our libraries offer so much more than just the opportunity to read and borrow books. Additionally, they offer media services where patrons can check out audio and video products for use at home. They offer free on-site computer stations with internet service, so job seekers can look and apply for jobs; so students can do homework and online research; so seniors can get needed information about social security and other benefits. There are countless programs and services available to the community through the library, and all are free. That's why it is so important, especially in today's economy, for our libraries to be available and well funded.
With libraries being in such popular demand by children and adults alike, residents in the Philidelphia area must band together now to contact their elected state officials to let them know that losing the Philidelphia Free Community Library system is not an option. Let your voices be heard, and be sure to pass along the word to anyone you know who will also feel the loss should the government not come up with a budget solution quickly.
Here's the link to the Free Library of Philadelphia home page- http://www.freelibrary.org/ When you get there a pop-up window should open up with the link for how to contact your local Philadelphia region elected official(s). Also, should you be interested in more information on this, please feel free to check out the library's We Need Action Now! page.
~Bookish Mom, aka RebekahC
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
April is devoted to her brother Buddy, and knows that no matter how many ups or downs life throws her way he will always be there to help her through. What she doesn't consider is who will get her through when Buddy himself is no longer around. Killed in a tragic automobile accident, Buddy's death rips through April, tearing her to the core. Of all the things in April's messed up life, Buddy was the one thing, the one person she could truly count on. Without him, April's world grows bleak and dim, even more so than before.
It's not as though she's got a lot going for her. Stuck in a dead end job tending bar and caught up in an emotionally and physically abusive relationship, April finds her world completely coming apart at the seems. The downward spiral only quickens when Oliver, April's childhood best friend, shows up at her brother's funeral- with his new fiance'. As a child, April derived her deepest pleasure from the times she spent with Oliver and Buddy. They were inseparable. Unfortunately, as they grew up, April and Oliver also grew apart.
The skeletons in April's closet prevented her from going to college and making something of herself, but Oliver seized his opportunity when it arrived. The day that Oliver went off without April was the day he started living for himself, but even within his now sober and sensible world Oliver finds there is something missing. He's about to have everything a guy could ever hope for- a successful career and a gorgeous wife. Yet when Oliver returns home for Buddy's funeral it's as if the past all comes rushing back to him with full force.
Oliver always cared deeply for the audacious and broken April, and seeing her again after so many years causes a need to stir inside of him. A need to fix her. A need to heal her. A need to understand her. It's not as though he sets out on a road to claim her as his own. Be that as it may, the sexually charged atmosphere that was once thought to be extinguished only rushes to a full blaze once again. Neither knows what he or she really wants from the other, yet both find themselves drawn inexplicably together despite all that they know about one another.
Rich in story and drama, April & Oliver is a page turner that will make you fall in love with its disfunctional characters as they get back to the basics of who they are and why. Not to worry though, it's not all hearts and roses. And there's certainly plenty of angst to go around. However, this is a book that, when all is said and done, I believe will leave readers with a satisfied, heart warming grin on their faces. It's a story that comes together in such an irresistible way readers can't help but be drawn to the painful and romantic narrative. Perhaps it is one which will even cause readers to travel back in time, if be it briefly, to consider their own first love, possibly in a different light than ever before.
April & Oliver is, simply put, one I can't help but recommend!
****CAN'T GET BLOGGER TO ALLOW ME TO POST ANY IMAGES, BUT I'LL GET A COVER PIC POSTED AS SOON AS BLOGGER IS BACK TO NORMAL.****
~Bookish Mom, aka RebekahC
Monday, August 31, 2009
Not everything is as it appears when young girls begin killing themselves at The Perpetual Soul girl's school. Death by self inflicted trama appears to be the case with each victim, but something about these scenarios doesn't settle right with child psychologist Dr. Tempest Ivory or police Constable Patrick Painter. Based on evidence alone no foul play is suspected, and still both Ivory and Painter believe there's a deeper meaning to be found.
The unexplained deaths are worrisome and tragic; however, what is to be uncovered is far more chilling and disturbing. For Dr. Ivory, what she discovers will take her back through years of hidden pain to the most personally troubling time of her life. She's sitting on the opportunity of a lifetime in her singing career, the role of Gilda in Rigoletto. But she does what she does for a reason, and her own past is nothing, if not partially responsible, for putting her here. Her dreams of singing a big role aren't to be forgotten, yet at the moment there's more at stake than pride.
Meanwhile Constable Painter, not without his own emotional baggage, lurks in the wings attempting to cull enough information from the students and Sisters at the Old Soul to determine what is really going on. In twist of fate that neither was expecting, Painter and Dr. Ivory begin to realize their own families' secretive pasts both have a very real connection to the complicated drama unfurling before them. And suddenly, each has more at stake in the case than either initally assumed. With each passing moment, more blood could be on their hands if they can not solve the mystery of what's going on behind the doors of this Vancouver Island girl's school.
Even with all the technical opera talk, which I'll admit got a bit boring because it's not something that interests me, the book itself appears well researched and well written. The ease with which the author threads together the heavy subject matter of suicide, murder, and sexual abuse is remarkable. It's a story that will send chills up your spine and leave you reeling from the savageness of it all. In a day and age where, sadly, these kinds of things are more common place issues than they were many years ago, some readers may find the talk of abuse hitting too close to home. In that alone I would say tread lightly. For outside of that, if you enjoy a good story that presents you with a true-to-life tale that is both shocking and thought provoking, you'll like this book. I know this reader found it hard to put down once the story really got going.
Interested readers should note, A Hemorrhaging of Souls is no longer available for purchase in paperback. The author has informed me, however, that it is currently available in e-book format. Copies can be purchased for $2.99 from any of the following sites, with more sites to offer it soon:
- iTunes.com (apps store) -http://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewSoftware?id=309458737&mt=8
- smashwords.com - http://www.smashwords.com/books/search?query=nicola+furlong
- shortcovers.com (any day now)
~Bookish Mom, aka RebekahC
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Charles F. Emery III loved his father like no other. Together they became adventurers, making and experiencing many tales worth telling. Now finally having taken pen to paper, Emery has compiled those stories so that others too can know the man he grew up loving.
What you'll find between the pages of Dad, Dog, & Fish are Emery's most notable and entertaining life moments. As he recounts, through each chapter, his life experiences with his father, he not only is able to feel closer to him, but he allows the world to see just how special a man his dad was. Their connection, like most boy's with their father's is not hard to recognize. And the way in which Charles relays his childhood memories, and those from young adulthood, give just a glimpse at what growing up in the Emery house must have been like.
~Bookish Mom, aka RebekahC
Monday, August 24, 2009
I guess if I had to pick out one single overlying theme or idea expressed throughout this collection, it would be that the author wants to remind readers to never forget about what is to come tomorrow. No matter how many positives or negatives we face in our lives, there will almost always be another day. We, as a people, should strive to take pleasure in the moments we live in; likewise, we should take steps to ensure a good and pleasurable world for all the tomorrows yet to come.
~Bookish Mom, aka RebekahC
Anyhow, school is back in session and I am ready to get back in the swing of things. Today I should be posting three reviews that I've been sitting on while waiting for the chance to pop over here to get them up. I also have another one or two that will hopefully be ready within the week or thereabouts.
So, again, thank you for your patience while I've been slacking. I promise to try to do better in the future! :)
Thursday, July 16, 2009
Here we have a book that was very different from anything else I've ever read. When I first received the review request from the author I debated on whether or not to accept. Based on the book's description I knew the storyline was heavily based on the theory, or form thereof, of metempsychosis (ie rebirth). As a Christian, I'm not one who even remotely considers such a thing as truth, but I decided the book itself sounded like it could be fascinating. I agreed to review the book, knowing full well that whatever the author's beliefs, I'd be reading it purely for entertainment value.
The Nine Lives of Clemenza follows the spirit Clemenza through, just as the title suggests, nine very distinctive and unique lives. The prevailing thought throughout the book is that God creates every spirit, and then allows each to pick what form it would like to live in. Each receives a total of nine lives, after which point he/she can choose to become an angel, return to a past life, or even live out the rest of eternity in Heaven's retirement center. It's an idea that, in and of itself, is pretty kooky, but when compounded upon made for a very uniquely entertainly story.
Clemenza, who we meet before she even embarks on life number one, must carefully decide what life opportunities she'd like to endeavor and explore. Given the chance to choose any form of existance, she must then live her life to its fullest and take away something really important from each one. For upon return to Heaven at the end of each life, Clemenza is required to share with God at least one important thing she learned during her last life. It's important for her to learn as much as she can, because she never knows how her knowledge will come in to play in her next life.
I won't spoil things for the reader by telling what life forms Clemenza ends up choosing along the way, only that each has it's very own extraordinary story. I could tell the author put a lot of time and thought into developing each world and persona for Clemenza. Even when at the most basic of levels, Clemenza was still a thinking, acting, dedicated being. It was intriguing to see how Christine, when all was said and done, brought all of the lives together through a simple analysis of each. And while I put no stock in the idea of reincarnation, I thought the author's book was well written and interesting.
Religious and spiritual views aside, if one can agree to read this book from a fictionalized entertainment standpoint in lieu of a non-fiction stance I think you will quite enjoy the incredible journey Clemenza takes you on. It's not a book for everyone, of that I'm quite certain. I am glad I gave it a chance though, because I really did get a kick out of following Clemenza's story from start to finish. It was a quick and impressive read; one not without pain, grief, love, intense joy, and even an important lesson or two to be learned.
~Bookish Mom, RebekahC
It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!
You never know when I might play a wild card on you!
and the book:
Harvest House Publishers (July 1, 2009)
Stormie Omartian is the bestselling author of The Power of a Praying® series (more than 11 million copies sold worldwide), which includes The Power of a Praying® Wife and The Power of a Praying® Husband. Her many other books include Just Enough Light for the Step I’m On, The Prayer That Changes Everything®, and The Power of a Praying® Woman. Stormie and her husband, Michael, have been married more than 35 years and have three grown children.
Visit the author's website.
List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (July 1, 2009)
AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:
See God Pour Out His Spirit upon Them
Once you have released your adult children into God’s hands and dedicated—or rededicated—their lives to Him (as I described near the end of the introduction), then the first and most important way to start praying is to ask God to pour out His Spirit upon them. It doesn’t matter what else you need to pray about specifically; you will be heading upstream against a strong current if you and they are not moving with the flow of God’s Spirit.
Every day we want the Spirit of God to come upon us and carry us where we need to go. We want Him to open our eyes to the truth and open our ears to hear His voice. We want Him to fill us afresh with His Spirit so that our lives can be lived for Him and we can move into all He has for us. And that is exactly what we want for our adult children as well.
Ideally, our adult children will ask for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit themselves. But realistically, many young people don’t even think about doing that, or understand what it means or why they should. It would be wonderful if our adult children would pray for all the things suggested in this book over their own lives, but whether they do or don’t, they still need our prayer support.
Pray That They Will Welcome an Outpouring of the Holy Spirit
A glorious promise God proclaimed to His people was first heard in the Old Testament through the prophet Joel (Joel 2:28) and then quoted later in the New Testament by Peter. It says:
“It shall come to pass in the last days, says God, that I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, your old men shall dream dreams” (Acts 2:17, emphasis added).
We are living in the last days God is talking about. If you are not sure about that, read your Bible and then turn on the TV and watch it for a week. You will see unmistakable signs of it everywhere. The promise for our adult children in the words “your sons and your daughters shall prophesy” is that, when the Holy Spirit is poured out on them, they will be able to hear from God. They will have a word from God in their hearts, and it will become the motivating factor in their lives. And God will be glorified in the process.
When our adult children can hear from God, then they will know where He is leading them, and they will understand how He wants them to serve Him. They may not know specifics, but they will have direction. Too often young adults can’t figure out the direction for their lives because they haven’t heard a word in their hearts from God about it. This can carry on for years until you have adult children who are aimless and don’t feel any sense of purpose or calling. But when the Holy Spirit is poured out upon them, they can sense direction from God, and He is able to lead them on the right paths and secure their steps in ways they couldn’t begin to do on their own.
I have known too many good, godly, believing parents who had an adult child who did nothing for years after he (she) graduated from high school. In each case he (she) refused to go to a college or a trade school and couldn’t or wouldn’t find a job. The parents prayed and prayed and threatened and prodded and begged to no effect. Then one day, after they had prayed that God would pour out His Spirit upon him (her), their adult child got up off the couch, turned off the TV, and went out and made a life for himself (herself).
You might be thinking, Why didn’t those parents just throw their lazy adult children out? But it is not as easy as it sounds. When you throw them out they can get into a lot of trouble. They can become more vulnerable to evil influences because they are afraid or desperate. You must have the mind of God about this. You have to be certain that throwing your adult child out of your house is what God wants you to do. In some cases it may well be, but it can’t be a decision born of human emotions, such as anger. I know some parents who shipped their adult child out because they thought it would do him good, and it turned out to be a terrible decision because he fell under some horrible influences.
We have to keep in mind that God can do far more for our adult children than we can ever do, and so we must ask Him to speak to their hearts by the power of His Holy Spirit. They need to be able to hear from God regarding every aspect of their lives, from decisions they make about where they go and what they do to the people they spend time with and perhaps try to emulate.
Some adult children are going to be more open to hearing from God and receptive to the move of His Spirit in their lives than others. Some will not be open or receptive at all. At least not at first. Whether they are open or not shouldn’t affect your prayers. You pray what needs to be prayed regardless of what your adult child’s attitude is toward the things of God. Your job is to pray, and it is God’s job to answer. Remember, you have released your adult child into God’s hands. That doesn’t mean you have given up on him or her. You’re not saying, “You take him, God. I can’t deal with him anymore.” Or, “That’s it, Lord. I’ve had it. She’s all Yours now.” It means you have surrendered the burden you have been carrying for your adult child to the Lord so He can take it off of your shoulders. Then the burden you carry is in prayer.
Pray That They Will Understand the Power of the Holy Spirit
I wrote The Power of a Praying Parent more than 15 years ago, and it has served me and others well in all those years. I have seen countless answers to prayer in my own children’s lives, and I have heard from thousands of readers about the wonderful answers to prayer they have experienced as well. Those of us who started praying for our small children back then have seen them grow into adults. And we have also watched the world change for the worse in some way every day. We must now have a new strategy in prayer for our adult children. Our prayers for the flow of the Holy Spirit in their lives will become a powerful protective shield from the flood of this toxic culture. They cannot navigate it successfully without God’s power.
Today’s cultural environment will chew our adult children up and spit them out if they are not strong enough to recognize the destructive, dark, and powerful forces that are in it and be able to resist them. No matter how horrible our own background might have been, we weren’t confronted with the outpouring of evil they are facing today. It is becoming so dangerous that even our adult children cannot successfully withstand it on their own. They need the power of the Holy Spirit, and they need our prayers to help them understand how He moves in power on their behalf.
We must not only politely ask God for an outpouring of His Spirit on our adult children, we must get on our knees and cry out for it from the depths of our being. We must recognize that already a spirit is being poured out on them right now—the spirit of darkness, death, perversion, lies, destruction, and evil—and only an outpouring of the Holy Spirit can negate that in their lives before it harms or destroys them. Only an outpouring of the Holy Spirit can connect them to the power of God.
Pray That They Will Be Influenced by the Holy Spirit of Truth
The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth (John 16:13). We all must have Him functioning in that capacity fully in our lives. And this is especially true for our adult children. The Spirit of truth will bring the truth to light and expose the lies.
I am deliberately not telling many stories about my own adult children in this book, and that is not because there aren’t any stories to tell. But Christopher and Amanda are adults, and these are their stories to tell. And I hope that someday they will, for the outcome in each case has been great to the glory of God. However, I will say that each one of my adult children at one point presented us with a challenge that made it necessary to confront them about some choices they had made with regard to the path they were on. They each had gotten off the path God had for them because of bad influences in their lives. I am not blaming the bad influences, because obviously something in each adult child allowed them to be drawn toward what they clearly knew was not right.
This happened in separate years and ages for each of them, and they were dealing with entirely different issues. However, in both cases I had previously sensed in my spirit that something was not quite right in their spirits. A parent can look into their adult child’s eyes and see if the Holy Spirit is reflected back in all His purity, or if something has come into their mind and soul that is competing with His presence. And this is especially true when you ask the Holy Spirit of truth to reveal what you need to know in order to pray effectively for their lives.
My husband and I felt something was not right, but we didn’t have any hard evidence. So we just prayed that God would reveal everything that needed to be revealed, and that He would not let them get away with anything. We asked God to pour out His Spirit upon them and convict them of whatever was in their lives that was not glorifying to Him. We asked the Spirit of truth to reveal the truth to them and to us.
In each case, not long after we prayed, someone called us to say they were concerned about our adult child and why. We went to each one and told them what the Holy Spirit had put on our hearts. We also told them what we had heard, although not whom we heard it from. (I never reveal my sources.) They each immediately admitted to what we suspected and were deeply and completely repentant.
This was a turning point for each adult child, because they were different from then on. They were more serious about their lives, their futures, and the Lord. They became far more careful and wise about their associations and actions. The Holy Spirit spoke powerfully to them, and their hearts were opened to a new level of His work in their lives. All this could not have happened without the Spirit of truth penetrating their lives and revealing what they needed to see.
Even though I am not using many stories from my own adult children’s lives—except in a few minor instances such as this, where their privacy is not compromised—there are countless parents of adult children with whom I have talked at great length about the problems they have faced with their adult children. These conversations have given me more than enough examples to illustrate what I need to in each chapter. However, so as to protect everyone’s privacy, I will not mention any real names or specifics that would allow someone to be identified. Plus, nearly every example I am citing is based on more than one case. So it could be any one of a number of adult children whom I am talking about in this book.
All that to say, I have seen countless answers to prayers for adult children. Were I to tell you all of them, you would be greatly encouraged in praying for your own. I hope the ones I mention will give you the encouragement you need.
If you have an adult child who has grieved or worried you, or caused problems for himself (herself) or for you or others, ask God to pour out His Spirit on him (her) right now. Don’t waste time blaming yourself, the other parent, or your child. I am not saying your adult children don’t bear any responsibility for what happens in their lives. They certainly do. But the overriding factor is that only an outpouring of the Holy Spirit of God on your adult children is powerful enough to withstand the onslaught of the spirit of evil coming against them. Asking God to pour out His Spirit upon your adult children is a simple prayer with powerful ramifications, both for you and for them.
I have asked God to pour out His Holy Spirit on you and speak to your heart as you pray for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit on your adult children. I can’t wait to hear about the results.
Lord, You have said that in the last days You will pour out Your Spirit upon all flesh. I cry out to You from the depth of my heart and ask that You would pour out Your Holy Spirit upon my adult children. Pour out Your Spirit upon me and my other family members as well. Pour out Your Spirit on all of their in-laws, both present and future. Pour out Your Spirit upon whatever difficult circumstances each of my adult children are facing. Be Lord over every part of their lives and every aspect of their being.
Speak to my adult child’s heart and help him (her) to hear from You. Enable him (her) to understand Your leading and direction for his (her) life. Open his (her) ears to hear Your truth so he (she) will reject all lies. Help him (her) to move by the power of Your Spirit. Enable him (her) to rise above the onslaught of evil in our culture.
Where he (she) has walked away from You in any way, stretch out Your hand and draw him (her) back. Don’t let him (her) get away with anything that is not pleasing in Your sight. Convict his (her) heart and bring him (her) back to where he (she) should be. May the Holy Spirit poured out on him (her) completely neutralize the power of the enemy attempting to pour out evil in his (her) life.
I know You can do far more in my adult child’s life than I can ever do, and I invite You to do so. But if there is anything I should do—or should not do—make it clear to me so that I will do the right thing. Holy Spirit of truth, reveal the truth that needs to be seen both to them and to me. Guide me in my response to them always.
I pray my adult child will never grieve Your Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:30) but will receive Him as a gift from You (Luke 11:13). Fill him (her) with Your Spirit and pour into him (her) Your peace, hope, faith, truth, and power. Let a spirit of praise arise in his (her) heart and teach him (her) to worship You in Spirit and in truth.
In Jesus’ name I pray.
If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!
You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you.
Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come.
Prophecy never came by the will of man,
but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.
2 Peter 1:21
Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
I have been a fan of Stormie Omartian for several years now. Owning both her Power of a Praying Wife and Power of a Praying Parent I knew I had to also tour and review this lastest release by her. My kiddos are far from grown (They are ages 3 and 5 to be exact.); however, I knew The Power of Praying for Your Adult Children would be an insightful read even now. Plus I can easily shelf it again until my own girls are grown.
In her introductory section, Stormie discusses at length the many points she believes every parent of an adult child should know. Know that even when they're grown and not living at home, your parenting days won't be over. Know that no matter what they do or how they do it, you'll never be able to fix them- BUT God can! Know that no one is perfect, and that means you too. These are just a few of the points Stormie mentions in the beginning of her book, and each one holds a deeply inspiring message.
I think we as parents tend to try to make the world in to a perfect bubble for our kids. If and when something goes wrong, be it with the children themselves or the environment around them, we often times blame ourselves. But as Stormie points out, no one is completely equipped to properly manage and carry off everything except for God. Learning when and how to lean on Him is one of the most important messages I think any person, parents in particular, can grasp. In The Power of Praying for Your Adult Children not only are there examples of what can go wrong; there are also examples of how to appropriately pray the exact blessing and direction of God onto and for your children. Safe to say, parents with children of any age can certainly benefit from reading this book. Though, for obvious reasons, those with adult children will be able to reap the fullest of rewards from it sooner than the rest of us.
So, yes, I'm quite glad I took the review opportunity because what I read was not only very informative, but provided great principles that I can already begin to store away and set in motion for when my babies are truly no longer babies any longer.
~Bookish Mom, aka RebekahC
Friday, July 10, 2009
Not generally a lover of short stories, I wasn't expecting to be overly wowed by this collection. As I've been known to say on more than one occassion, short stories to me are usually too hurried and lack the backbone I feel is important in making a story flow and feel completely rounded. In this instance, it wasn't that I doubted the author's ability or even that I expected not to be entertained; more so I just didn't think I'd enjoy it as much as other "more complete" books. More complete, to me, means a book with one main plotline that is followed up with individual storylines that come together to form one whole story. (Think a novel.) However, when it came down to it, I was bowled over and totally drawn in by the complex nature of each individual story told in Haney's compilation.
Every story told a tale of relative simplicity but the manner in which each was told opened the depths to allow the reader a uniquely personal insight to the characters and their plight. I say "plight" because while each of the stories is told from a different perspective, all of them seem to have one common thread tying them together- a loss and/or deep and pervasive sadness. From the very start, in "An Ordinary Evening", we see a mother coping with the pending loss of her comatose daughter. You, the reader, experience the pain alongside the mother. You recognize her grief, and yet you can sense her hope that perhaps some good can still come when all is said and done. Or in "Sweltering", which was probably my absolute favorite of all the collection, we meet a couple who have more than just the intense Summer heat driving them apart. The cause of the couple's withdraw from one another is not immediately evident. However, as the story progresses, with the introduction of a stray cat, you begin to understand where the couple has come from and what driving force has unfurled the thickening distance between them. It's a story so moving, so stirring. So much, infact, that the act of reading it seems almost too personal, as if the couple really does exist and by reading their story you are not just observing but actively taking part in their emotional upheaval. This, truth be told, was the case with each of the eleven stories included in The Simplest of Acts. While all unique, each contains a richness that can only be fully appreciated when shared in its own intimate setting.
Unlike some other short stories I've had the displeasure of spending my time reading, each of these pieces seemed effortless to read. Every narative was complete and showed a distinctive beginning, middle, and end without coming across as overworked or rushed. Despite their brevity, each story was polished and exuded the author's true talent for storytelling. My hats off to her; for within these mere 101 pages, my mind has been changed once and for all wherein short stories are concerned. I'd be lying if I didn't say that as of here and now my eyes have been opened to a new and improved form of short story. I might not go out of my way to pick up just any old short story collection, but I fully intend to not give them quite the brush off I've been known to give in the past. Especially if and/or when Melanie releases a new collection, you can sign me up to receive a hot off the presses copy!
It was a tremendous pleasure to read and review this book. I'm disheartened to think that I might have missed it all together were it not for this blog, Bookish Mom Reviews. Without it I would have never received the review request from Ms Haney; and, therefore, I would have probably never stumbled on to the book by myself. And even if I did, let's be real, I probably wouldn't have given it a second glance, if not for the pure and simple fact that, again, it's a short story collection. So, yes, my utmost thanks goes to the author for this great opportunity. Thank you, Melanie!!!
~Bookish Mom, aka RebekahC