Monday, August 29, 2011

Embrace Me

Book:  Embrace Me
Author:  Lisa Samson

When a "lizard woman," a self-mutilating preacher, a tattoed monk, and a sleazy lobbyist find themselves in the same North Carolina town one winter, their lives are edging precariously close to disaster . . . and improbably close to grace


First Line:  It's amazing how good a priest looks when you've got nobody else to turn to.

I wasnt sure about this book. It seemed to start off slow to me, but somewhere in the middle, surprise kicked in & I was involved in the story.  I dont want to give away any surprises - because it is what made the book for me...

& maybe you'll get it sooner - I'm a tad slow on picking up things - but it was a very cool twist in the book.

I loved the characters - Valentine & her fiesty attitude.  As someone who had been bured, I especially related with her issues & how she felt.  I also loved her "freak" (their words - not mine) partner who she helped.  Such a sweet soul.  I wanted Lella for my own friend.

You will love Augustine as you meet this tattoed monk & all he does - even with his grey dreads.

In the end, the story of forgiveness is all it took to win me over.

My Rating: 4 skeins

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Lost & Found

Book:  Lost & Found
Author: Carolyn Parkhurst

What do a suburban mom and her troubled daughter, two recently divorced brothers, a pair of former child stars, born-again Christian newlyweds, and a couple of young millionaires have in common? They have all been selected to compete on Lost and Found, a daring new reality TV show. In teams of two, they will scour the globe - from Egypt to Japan, from Sweden to England - to battle for a million-dollar prize. They must decipher encrypted clues, recover mysterious artifacts, and outwit their opponents to stay in play.

What starts as a lark turns deadly serious as the number of players is whittled down, temptations beckon, and the bonds between partners strain and unravel. Before long the question is not only who will capture the final prize, but at what cost
First Line:  "By the sixth leg of the game, we have accumulated the following objects:  a ski pole, a bishop from a crytal chess set, a sheet of rice paper, a trlobite fossil, an aviators helmet & a live parrot.

I love reality TV... & this book is right in there - with a race that is similar to "The Amazing Race" - teams of couples that have interesting stories travling around the world together, learning more about each other - the good & bad - & seeing who makes it to the end.

There are MANY characters here & I actually had to write them all down - in teams & who they were... & then they end up switching so I had to mark that as well... I think I would have been a little lost if I didnt have my "cheat sheet" (I'm such a nerd)

Each couple had interesting stories, but the relationship between Laura & Cassie is what holds it together - a mother/daughter duo that is trying to learn to continue life after a tramatic night that changed both of their lives (Dont want to give any spoilers away)... I also loved the relationship between Laura & her NEW partner, Carl.  That was a fun twist...

Each chapter is told from someone's view point... we even get the host of the show giving us a few chapters.

While I wasnt expecting some of the language & "adult content" - it was a fun book that held my interest & made me anxious to see how it was all going to end.

My Rating: 4 skeins

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Ask Billy Graham

Book:  Ask Billy Graham
Compiled by:  Bill Adler

The World's Best-Loved Preacher Answers Your Most Important Questions

Would you like to know what Billy Graham thinks about the most important issues of daily life? What about politics, presidents and terrorism? This book contains answers to questions many of us would ask Billy Graham if we had the good fortune to sit down with the person many call "America's Pastor". Best-selling author Bill Adler arranges topics from Graham's sermons, speeches, interviews, television appearances and writings in an easy to follow Q and A format.

Topics include Billy Graham on: Humor, Politics, Prayer, Technology and Religion, Race, Money, the Church, and Growing Older.

Hear Graham's responses to questions like

*What will heaven be like?
*Why does God bring on natural disasters?
*What do you think about the mixing of religion and politics?
*What do you say to an atheist who doesn't think there is a God?
*What is the greatest spiritual threat facing the United States?
*How can we achieve world peace?
First Line:  Would you like to know what Billy Graham thinks about his life, his work & his family?
I love Billy Graham.  Love his teaching, love his passion, love him.  I think his presence is powerful for God.  I have had the privilege of seeing him in person twice.  I have read most of his books, including his autobiography.  I think he's a treasure of our country, as well as the world.
So I was excited when I found this book on a clearance shelf. 
This book is made up of different questions that has been asked to Mr. Graham over the years from different media sources.  The chapters are broken up into topics - Faith, death, Jesus, Presidents, family ...
It is such a quick read ... I literally got through over 200 pages in one afternoon.  And such a good 'quote' book - so much in simple sentences that I want to write down to remember.  A few of his simple answers even brought tears to my eyes...
The only downside to me on this book (& its not really a downside - just something that bothered me) - was some of the questions were repeated in different chapters.  I was just wanting more & more & didnt want to waste time with the things I've already read.  But if you were just going to a chapter for the topic, I can see why that would be helpful.
If you love Billy Graham (& who doesnt) then this book is a must!
My Rating:  4 skeins
(This book was provided to me by Tyndale Publishing Team in exchange for an unbiased review)
Book:  Growing up Amish
Author:  Ira Wagler

Ira Wagler was born in 1961, the ninth of a Canadian Amish couple's eleven children. At seventeen, in the dark of night, he left the religious settlement, but it was only nine years later that he finally left the church for good. His favorite Bible verse is from Psalm 34: "Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart." In this new memoir, he tells what it was like growing up Old World Amish and what it felt like leaving it for a strange new world. Far more than picturesque; Growing Up Amish conveys one man's heartfelt experience

First Line:  One fateful, starless, April night, I got up at 2:00 am in the pitch black darkness, left a scribbled note under my pillow & walked away - all my earthly belongings stuffed in a little black duffel bag.

I'm usually a fan of biographies & memoirs.  I think people's lives are so interesting & insightful, so I was excited to read this book.  Especially because the Amish life is so different from my own & I love to know more about it, as it seems to be a guarded community.

I was also excited to see the author was a blogger.  If I know you blog, I instantly relate to you & feel like we're blog-family...

I have to say though, this book just wasnt for me.  I did enjoy the writing & I did enjoy learning more about the inside of the Amish lifestyle, but for me, the story just didnt hold my interest very well.  Just areas that I would have liked to known more about or the reasons why Ira did something, those points would be quickly mentioned & the story moved on.  But points of church services & gathering buggies were longer detailed... for me, I just wish it were backwards from each other.

I always feel funny when a book doesnt "reach" me because I know it can still reach someone else & really hold someone else's interset - but, for me, this book was nice.  Not life changing, no "ah ha" moments, just nice.

My Rating: 2 Skeins

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Thirteen Reasons Why

Book:  Thirteen Reasons Why
Author:  Jay Asher

Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a strange package with his name on it lying on his porch.  Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannan Baker - his classmate & crush - who committed suicide 2 weeks earlier.

Hannah's voice tells him that there are 13 reasons she decided to end her life.  Clay is one of them.  If he listens, he'll find out why.

Clay spends the night crisscrossing his town with Hannah as his guide.  He becomes a first-hand witness to Hannah's pain, & learns the truth about himself - a truth he never wanted to face.
First Line:  "Sir?" she repeats. "How soon do you want it to get there?"

I have heard & read so much about this book so I was anxious to get my hands on it.....

& I was not disappointed.

This book goes through the tapes that Hannah makes before she makes the decision to end her life. 

I dont want to give anything away, but the 13 reasons sort of build on each other & it really shows how things in life are connected as you move on in this world.  How situations can build on each other, snowball, & sometimes grow out of control.

It also shows how someone can get frustrated & loose all sense of hope.

It is a heart wrenching story really.  My heart goes out to the character, Clay, who we follow as he listens to the tape.  He is on the list of the reasons why, & it breaks his heart.... & my heart FOR Clay. Which shows how good the writing is, that I connected so much with this character.

I would love to read another book on how these 13 people interact with each other after hearing these tapes...

Be warned, once you start this book, you wont want to put it down.  You'll want to know who the next tape is for, & what happened to drive Hannah to a place of despair.

On a personal side, I want to scream at Hannah that its stupid to let other teenagers drive you to that point of hopelessness, but we know that suicide is a reality that happens so much in our society.  This is really a great insight to keep an eye out for the teenagers you know in your life...

Favorite quotes from the book:
"Its hard to be disappointed when what you expected turns out to be true" -Hannah

"I'm listening to someone give up.  Someone I knew - someone I liked.  I'm listening.  But still, I'm too late" - Clay

My rating:  4 skeins