Tuesday, May 31, 2011

"The Sword of the Lord" by Andrew Himes

While separation of church and state exists in the United States today, a look at the culture and politics of the country shows that religion still has a major influence in society. This is because religion and history will forever be tied together in the US. When you look at the history of immigration and expansion, the Civil War, the Civil Rights Movement and other critical time periods, Christianity is heavily linked to the mood and actions of the times.

In The Sword of the Lord: The Roots of Fundamentalism in an American Family, Andrew Himes lays out this connection between US history and religion in an easy to read and gripping manner. Himes is the perfect person to tell the story - his grandfather, John R. Rice, was a leading fundamentalist and editor of the popular The Sword of the Lord newspaper.

Anyone interested in the history of the United States and the role Christianity played in its development will find this book invaluable. From the immigration of the Scots-Irish in the 19th century (bringing with them the Calvinist religion) to the religious struggle between abolitionists and slaveowners and the development of post-civil war fundamentalism to the rise of the moral majority in the 1970's, Andrew Himes has everything covered.

With all of that it would be understandable to expect the book to be academic or dry but it is far from that. This book is highly engaging, and whether you have no knowledge of American history or a degree in history you will learn something new.

Himes writes the book from his own perspective, both as a child growing up in a family of fundamentalist preachers and as a teenager and adult who questions the inconsistencies of the movement and searches for life meaning in many different places outside of religion. Few other people could give such insight into this movement. This book is honest and fair - while he may disagree with much of what was taught he is still respectful of the people and movement.

This book is not just for those interested in fundamental Christianity, it is for anyone interested in the history of the United States. This book will give you great insight into how the country has gotten to where it is and the way in which Christianity will forever play an important role in the United States.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Book Blogger Hop!

Happy Friday!!! It's time for the Book Blogger Hop, an awesome weekly book party hosted by Jennifer at Crazy For Books. We had a lovely long weekend last week, and this Friday has snuck up on us quickly. Things are very exciting around here as this weekend is my 5th wedding anniversary! Hard to believe it's come so fast and yet, as my husband often says, sometimes it feels like 50!

This weeks hop question is: What book-to-movie adaption have you most liked? Which have you disliked?

So I often don't watch movies if I really liked the book. I just don't want a book that I loved to be ruined by what someone else thinks it should be. For example, I haven't seen the movie The Reader (book by Bernard Schlink) because I loved the book so much and I don't plan on watching it. However, one of my favourites has to be (and it's not a movie but a mini-series):
The No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith. I absolutely love the series and while I hadn't planned on watching the mini-series I caught some glimpses of it at my sister-in-laws and gave it a chance. Loved it! At first I didn't like the character of Mma Makutsi, because it wasn't how I had imagined her, but she grew on me.

The one I disliked:
Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella. Too many changes. They made Rebecca American instead of British! Right there they lost me. As well, while the book was highly hilarious, the movie was just unfunny. This is the classic example of why I don't like to watch the movies of books I absolutely adored.

Have a good weekend!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

"The Picture of Nobody" by Rabindranath Maharaj

Seventeen-year-old Tommy and his family have just moved to Ajax, a small town close to Toronto. His parents are Ismaili Muslims who immigrated to Canada before Tommy and his sister were born. Life in Canada has been fairly good to the family and they consider themselves Canadian.

But the arrest of a terrorist group in Toronto turns things upside down in their world. Tommy's sister starts to wear the hijab and hang out with a new group of friends. And Tommy, someone who was barely noticed before, is singled out at the coffee shop he works at and starts feeling the sting of racism.

When a group of young men begin to bully Tommy, he commits an act of revenge against the group's ringleader and has to deal with the consequences of his behaviour.

The Picture of Nobody by Rabindranath Maharaj takes an issue that is familiar to everyone and puts a voice to it that is not often heard - those who are dealing with the fallout in their everyday lives, especially those who are just trying to live a typical Canadian teenage life. This book helps to bring an understanding of the many people who are affected by the terrorism that is ever-present in today's society.

The Picture of Nobody is a part of the Good Reads series. Good Reads books are a partnership of ABC Life Literacy Canada and Grass Roots Press, with support from Human Resources and Skills Development Canada.

Good Reads allows you to discover Canada's best authors. Good Reads authors write stories using clear language, creating enjoyable and accessible books for adult learners as well as a wide range of readers. Good Reads are:

Short: Less than 100 pages.

Fast-paced: Stories you can't put down

Easy-reading: Clear language and layout

Good looking: Terrific covers

Canadian: Written by Canada's best authors.

Check out Good Reads books and ABC Life Literacy Canada at www.goodreadsbooks.com

Monday, May 23, 2011

It's Monday What Are You Reading?

Oh dear. I'm not doing so well reading-wise, and this meme is a reminder of that! It's Monday, What Are You Reading is a weekly meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey. Usually it is a weekly organizing tool for me when it comes to my reading, but as of late I haven't had much to organize. That's okay though, it's for good reason - the warm weather is here and the family is spending much more time outdoors. I think things are going to slow down around this blog for the summer.

Last week I did get one book read - Words by Ginny L. Yttrup. I read it as part of the Christian Fiction Book Club and you can see my post here.

I have a few books I plan to read next, though I'm not sure in what order or timing:

The Sword of the Lord by Andrew Himes
The Guardian Angel's Journal by Carolyn Jess-Cooke

Monday, May 16, 2011

It's Monday What Are You Reading?

Happy Monday!!!! This meme is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey. The organizational freak in me loves this meme because it gets my reading organized for the week. However, this is the first week that I don't really have much of a plan! That's okay, because it's a busy week for me so I probably won't get much reading done anyway.

What I Read Last Week:
The Cause Within You by Matthew Barnett
Daughters-in-law by Joanna Trollope
Bringing Up Girls by James Dobson

What I'm Reading Now:
Irma Voth by Miriam Toews

What I'm Reading Next:

Friday, May 13, 2011

Book Blogger Hop!

Happy Friday, it's time for the hop! Stroll on over to Crazy For Books and check it out! Tons of book bloggers in one spot, what more could you ask for?

This week question: Are you going to Book Expo America (BEA) and/or the Book Blogger Convention BBC this year?

My answer: Unfortunately no. I would love to go to something like that but there are many reasons why I can't. One is that I don't live in the US so that's a lot of money for travel. Plus I'd have to get my passport renewed which wouldn't happen in time and is more money. Plus I have a 4 year old and 2 year old who need to be looked after. Plus that's the week of my 5th wedding anniversary and we're taking a trip for that. Plus....anyways, lot of reasons I can't go, but I would love to be there. For all those who are going, enjoy!!!!

Have a great weekend everyone!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

"Curly Like Me" by Teri LaFlesh

When it comes to curly hair Teri LaFlesh has been there, done that. Her biracial heritage has given her tightly curly hair that for years she didn't know how to manage. She tried relaxers, jheri curls, weaves and extensions, which all resulted in damaged hair. Along the way, she began to embrace her curls and set on a journey of how to care for her natural hair, which has now resulted in gorgeous waist-length curls.

In Curly Like Me: How to Grow Your Hair Healthy, Long and Strong, Teri shares everything about her hair journey and shows how you too can develop a regimen that will lead to healthy hair.

There is such a wealth of knowledge in this book. Teri shares tons of "before" pictures and isn't ashamed to let readers see the many mistakes she made with her hair. She details in-depth how to care for your hair, what products and tools to use and what ingredients to look for (and look out for) in your hair care products. Most importantly, she shares the beauty of curly hair and how to embrace your natural hair.

I love reading anything I can find to do with natural hair so of course I picked this book up. My daughter has very tight, coiled, kinky hair and I sincerely hope that when she looks back at pictures of her childhood she will be remembering all the fond memories and not thinking "oh my goodness mum, what did you do to my hair?" (I think I'm doing pretty good so far!)

There is tons of information in this book. Teri's message is that when you figure out how to gently and correctly care for your hair, you will be able to grow it long and strong and she shares exactly how she has done it. It is definitely inspiring to see where her hair is at.

My only criticism of the book is that it seems to be a one size fits all approach. Biracial and Black hair comes in all types and textures and what works for one person doesn't always work for another. A few of her techniques I have tried before with my daughter and not had much success. However, what this book does show is that there is a regimen out there that will work for your hair and it takes a bit of experimenting to find it.

If you are at a loss for what to do with your curly hair then this book is a great starting point. If you've been taking good care of your curls, this is still a good book to read, you never know when you might pick up some great ideas. Even if you don't take anything away from the book, you'll be able to identify with Teri's curly hair journey and you will appreciate her willingness to share all when it comes to her hair.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

"Little Princes" by Conor Grennan

When Conor Grennan set off for Nepal in 2004 to volunteer at an orphanage, he figured it would be just another stop on a year-long trip around the world. Instead, his time at the Little Princes Home near Kathmandu turned his life upside down as he discovered a mission, love and faith.

In Little Princes: One Man's Promise to Bring Home the Lost Children of Nepal, shares his journey into a world far from his American upbringing. When he set off to volunteer, Nepal was in the midst of a civil war. In remote areas the rebel Army, Maoists, were abducting children to serve in their army. To save their children, desperate parents sold their children to men who promised to take the kids away for protection and an education. However, these men were traffickers, and the children were either sold into slavery or brothels. The Little Princes Home where Conor volunteered had rescued 18 of those children.

When his three months were up, Grennan made a promise to the children that he would be back to visit in a year. And he not only kept his promise, he returned to Nepal and set off to reunite the children with their parents and opens his own home, dedicating himself to saving the lives of children in Nepal.

Little Princes is an incredible book. Of the many books out there detailing the work of North Americans in the Third World, this is one of the best. Grennan writes as though he is relaying the story to you over a couple of beers. It is humorous - he freely admits that he decided to volunteer at an orphanage to give him a good line when picking up women - and educational, giving readers an easy to understand run down of the civil war in a country we don't often hear about in the media.

But beyond that, this book is inspirational. Conor Grennan shows that an ordinary person can make a difference for families halfway around the world. He lived in an impoverished country in the midst of civil war and cared for eighteen young boys and girls. Not only did he fall in love with the kids, he risked his life to reunite them with their families, hiking through dangerous terrain in rebel controlled areas to meet the parents and let them know that their children were safe.

Grennan isn't the only person working hard in Nepal to save the Little Princes and thousands of others like them. The book introduces you to the many hard-working Nepalese and Westerners who have dedicated their lives to these children. If you're looking for a book that will inspire you and prove to you that miracles do happen, then pick up this one.

Monday, May 9, 2011

It's Monday What Are You Reading?

I hope everyone had a lovely weekend, I enjoyed my Mother's Day very much as I got to do a lot of clothes and shoe shopping, for both myself and the kids. It's always a good day when you buy yourself 3 pairs of shoes! It's Monday, What Are You Reading? is a weekly meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey. I love this meme because it always gets me ready for the week.

What I Read Last Week
Whole Foods to Thrive by Brendan Brazier

What I'm Reading Now
Daughters-in-law by Joanna Trollope
Bringing Up Girls by Dr. James Dobson

What I'm Reading Next
Irma Voth by Miriam Toews

The Life Ready Woman by Shaunti Feldhahn
Left To Tell and Led by Faith by Immaculee Ilibagiza
Hatteras Girl by Alice J. Wisler

Saturday, May 7, 2011

"Easy Money" by Gail Vaz-Oxlade

Wouldn't you love to have more money? Then you wouldn't have to worry about it so much. Well, what if you could have less worry with the same amount of money you currently make? Gail Vaz-Oxlade says that is very possible.

On the television show Til' Debt Do Us Part (Slice), Gail Vaz-Oxlade shows in-debt couples how to take control of their money and erase their debt forever. She has also written numerous best-selling books on the same subject. In Easy Money, Gail provides you with the basics you need to know about managing your money, saving and paying down debt.

In the book, Gail covers the topics of needs versus wants, budgets, credit, debt, planning, saving and choosing bank accounts. The book is short (86 pages) so Gail gets straight to the point in her typical no-nonsense way.

If you are currently in financial trouble this is the best place to start. If you're looking to trim your budget or save a little extra money, you'll find help here. Let Gail Vaz-Oxlade show you how easy it is to take control of your money.

Easy Money is a part of the Good Reads series. Good Reads books are a partnership of ABC Life Literacy Canada and Grass Roots Press, with support from Human Resources and Skills Development Canada.

Good Reads allows you to discover Canada's best authors. Good Reads authors write stories using clear language, creating enjoyable and accessible books for adult learners as well as a wide range of readers. Good Reads are:

Short: Less than 100 pages.

Fast-paced: Stories you can't put down

Easy-reading: Clear language and layout

Good looking: Terrific covers

Canadian: Written by Canada's best authors.

Check out Good Reads books and ABC Life Literacy Canada at www.goodreadsbooks.com

Thursday, May 5, 2011

"Sweet Valley Confidential" by Francine Pascal

For any woman who grew up in the 80's, Sweet Valley Confidential by Francine Pascal is probably their most anticipated book of 2011. It's ten years later and the girls are adults, twenty-seven-years old, and life has certainly changed since their high school years. Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield have had a "falling-out of epic proportions" and haven't spoken to each in eight months…is revenge in the cards or can forgiveness be shown and life in Sweet Valley get back to the way it always has been?

Okay, seriously cheesy I know. It wouldn't be Sweet Valley if it wasn't. I was born in the 80's so I was more of a Sweet Valley Twins girl, but I did read some of my older sisters Sweet Valley High books. Obviously not enough of them because I couldn't remember most of the people mentioned in this book, but I still look back fondly at the girls and how I devoured all of the Twins books (who didn't want to start a Unicorn club at their school….just me, huh?) But unfortunately, like for many others, Sweet Valley Confidential did not live up to my expectations and memories.

I share the same criticisms as others. The character of Jessica was highly annoying, using "like" way too much and sounding like a whiny teenager. This is supposed to be an adult novel, aimed at the books legions of fans who are now also adults. But aside from the mention of orgasms and quite a few F-bombs, it felt like another teenage novel.

The storyline of the betrayal falls rather flat - for many die-hard fans of Sweet Valley it's hard to believe what took place. And speaking of die-hard fans, if you're looking to catch up with your favourite characters beyond the twins you're either going to be angry at the way they turned out or annoyed that they barely got any mention.

As I mentioned before, I didn't read many of the SVH novels (especially the later ones) but if you read the reviews on GoodReads it turns out there are many inconsistencies in this book.

So after all that can I say anything good about this book? Hardly. It was a nice idea to go back and forth between the present and the past in order to draw out some of the drama of the betrayal. But by doing that AND alternating between the characters it got a little muddled.

I'm not mad that the girls changed quite a bit, how many of us are the same now as we were at 16? Unfortunately, the ten years in between and everything that contributed to these changes were just glossed over. There was big disconnect between this book and the series we all hold so dear to us and that will surely disappoint any fan.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

"Anatomy of a Disappearance" by Hisham Matar

Nuri is a young boy on vacation with his father when he spots the beautiful Mona sitting by the pool. He is taken by her, enthralled and in love. It seems like Mona is able to fill the void that has been left by the sudden death of Nuri's mother a year earlier.

But when Mona and Nuri's father meet, Nuri's feelings are pushed to the side as they fall in love and quickly marry. Nuri is soon sent away from his family in Egypt to boarding school in England and he is consumed by the happiness of Mona and his father. He wishes there was some way to get his father out of the picture, after all he was the one who saw Mona first.

Then suddenly, Nuri's father disappears, kidnapped in the night. Nuri and Mona's world is torn apart as they begin to learn that they never really knew the man at all.

Anatomy of a Disappearance by Hisham Matar is an incredible novel that asks the question "when a loved one disappears, how does his or her absence shape the lives of those who are left?" The weight of this question makes one think that this book will be heavy reading but this is where the book truly excelled for me. The storyline flows effortlessly, it's light but still full of substance, something that in my opinion is difficult to achieve and the mark of an excellent story-teller.

This is a quick read, and you'll be captivated the whole way through. The story is told in the voice of Nuri, and it is a voice that you hear, not just words on the page. Things may not be tied up the way the reader hopes, but that won't leave you disappointed. If you're looking for a quick read that isn't fluff, then this book is an excellent choice.

Check out other stops on the blog tour:

http://jennifersstory.squarespace.com/ April 28

http://justalillost.wordpress.com/ May 2

http://www.fredasvoice.blogspot.com May 5

http://bibliomama2.blogspot.com/ May 12

http://inthenextroom.blogspot.com/ May 13

http://theliteraryword.blogspot.com/ May 16

Hisham Matar on Libya in The New Yorker

His Twitter account

A recent Toronto Star profile

Monday, May 2, 2011

It's Monday What Are You Reading?

It's Monday, What Are You Reading is a weekly meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey. It's a great way to keep track of your reading if you're one of those organization loving people like I am!

What I Read Last Week:
A Tiny Bit Marvellous by Dawn French
Sweet Valley Confidential by Francine Pascal

What I'm Reading Now:
Bringing Up Girls by Dr. James Dobson

What I'm Reading Next:
The Memory of Love by Aminatta Forna

Over at Faith Filled Reading:
This week I posted three book reviews:
In The Midst of It All by Tiffany L. Warren (fiction)
How Women Help Men Find God by David R. Murrow (non-fiction, by guest reviewer Nicole)
Mom's Bible (NCV) from Thomas Nelson Publishers