Sunday, December 9, 2012

Review of Translucent Facts: Cutting Boards and Roses by Barbara Sutryn

This is a beautiful love story, not a romance as the present genre is represented. This is gentle, tender, true love shown by people who love God and almost everybody around them.
As other people have noted, without naming a single person or place, we the readers always know who we are with and where we are in the book. I feel privileged to have seen a bit of these people's lives.
Decades ago I read another of Sutryn's books: The Sign Painter. I still have it on my shelves, and wish I could make everybody read it. Now she has written another that I wish I could make everybody read.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Review of The Deepest Waters by Dan Walsh

The Deepest Waters is another book I won in a promotional giveaway and truly enjoyed.
At first I thought the cover showed a ship sailing off the edge of the world, but what I thought was falling water on closer inspection turned out to be grasses on a shore. I think the picture is a symbolic of the story.
The story begins with the deep grief of the many widows on a ship that has managed to rescue a couple hundred women and children from a sinking ship that was carrying California gold to New York. But only six of the hundreds of men were rescued before the ship sank.
The crew on the rescuing ship divvies up their food amongst the widows. During the struggle through the storm and then becalming, the ship runs out of food. Laura discovers that her husband has never told his cold family in New York that he is married. She has never met them, and considering his description of them in his final letter to her, she does not want to meet them. But where is she to go? She has left her small family behind in California during the Gold Rush, and has no idea how she will pay to get back, or even if she will reach land after this disastrous honeymoon cruise.
There is a bit of Shakespearean feel to multiple reunions and feel good endings. There is only one really bad guy in the whole book, though there are people who view things through different lenses than Laura does. The captain of the rescuing ship is a Christian and a slave-owner. The slave, who is glad to finally have an owner who treats him well, is kind to Laura and shows her how to have gratitude during trying times. He had lost his children years before when a prior master sold them. There is another captain who thinks that a bird hitting him in the head is a sign from God. There are steamship company owners who try to sneak away from liability. And there are speculators who lost everything in the sinking of the ship with its cargo of gold and men. And there is a silly mother who faints a lot. Sorry, I have trouble abiding such a person.
I enjoyed reading the adventure and the history and the bumping of people against one another's needs and assumptions. I think most people would enjoy this book.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Review of The Reunion by Dan Walsh

The Reunion is one of the three books sent to me by Dan Walsh after I entered one of his giveaway promotions. I'm so glad I won because I found a new author I enjoy reading.
The book has one of the cutest covers I have ever seen: Title and name in a red box against a green canopy of trees, and below that a red trailer house with red curtains and a string of Christmas lights along the top. The skinny door makes me doubt I could enter easily. In front sit two directors chairs with green backs, and in front of them rise a marching horde of green weeds.
Aaron Miller, the main character and Vietnam war vet, does not get to live in that cute trailer; he lives in a storage shed of a trailer park and is the maintenance man. No one knows he is a war hero, except for the three war buddies who want to find him and bring him to their annual reunion. They hire a reporter for the search.
There is some romance, bleh, but not for Aaron, also but not so much that those of us who hate romance (in books, not real life) will find it hard to bear. At the end, there are multiple reunions and fantasy happy endings etc. A feel good book. I like feel good books. It even has a funny explosion in it. If you are getting a little tired of the dreary you are reading, try one of Dan Walsh's books.
I am giving this book to a Viet Nam vet friend of ours. I think he will enjoy the gentle love for all our vets.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Divine Wedgie: Bonaventure for Environmentalists

The Divine Wedgie: Bonaventure for Environmentalists: In a previous post , reference was made to the necessity for the Christian to be concerned for the environment, whilst at the same time b...

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Review of Double Vision by Randall Ingermanson

I enjoyed this thriller by Randy. AND. One of the protagonists has Asperger's Syndrome. AND. He is not the butt of a bazillion jokes. AND. Two women fall in love with him, one by a natural process, and the other by the stress induced by running from corporate killers. Two women. In love with an aspie. I admit it induced some giggles in me since for some of us spectrum folk the problem is the screaming as women run away from the aspie men. I also felt some exasperation as the women thought about his calmness and broad shoulders and how that was a comfort in the crisis; and what I thought about was how so many non-spectrum women bitch about their spectrum husbands after a few years of marriage and how they are going to die because the man isn't loving them the way they want. Heh. Last week on twitter I read somebody's quote: Men marry expecting their wives to never change and are surprised when they do. Women marry expecting their husbands to change and are surprised when they don't. But let's get back to the novel.
The novel includes fun helpings of physics and programming and computing, almost all of it without any math for the mathphobes among you. It includes a death that hurts, personal clashes, friendship, and lots and lots of suspense. It is a quick and fun read. And except for most of us in elementary school, I can recommend the book to anyone who can tolerate the genre of suspense.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

THE SENTIENT LIFE: After Midnight Thoughts: A Confessionary Blog

THE SENTIENT LIFE: After Midnight Thoughts: A Confessionary Blog: "For so much of my life I had been defending Christianity because I thought to admit we had done any wrong was to discredit the religious sy...

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Review of The Skin Map

This book by Stephen R. Lawhead opens with: Had he but known that before the day was over he would discover the hidden dimensions of the universe, Kit might have been better prepared. At least, he would have brought an umbrella.
Those words grabbed me. I prepared for a rollicking adventure, and that's what I had in this novel as I followed Kit and his girlfriend. Some people have complained that the plot is confusing. I did not think so as Lawhead carefully depicted each time and place and person. I love reading stories told in spiral or parallel or with an unreliable narrator. This story is told like beads scattered on a floor, and it was fun figuring out where each bead went on a necklace.
The story gradually became more serious, and at the end, betrayed and bereaved Kit is lost in time; and I find it hard to wait for the next book in the trilogy. What is he going to do????

A Canvas and a Cross

A Canvas and a Cross

Thursday, February 2, 2012

One Thousand Gifts by Anne Voskamp

The other day I read a portion of One Thousand Gifts in the morning while we were doing our Bible reading and prayer. We had just read about Jacob, and so I read to best beloved what Anne had to say about Jacob wrestling with the angel.
Anne is dealing with a son after a fracas in the kitchen and after the shouting has stopped, she tells her son a story:
     "There was once a wrestler like us. His name was Jacob. And on a night when he was all alone, staring up at the stars in the dark, unable to sleep because he was scared to go meet his brother the next day, this brother that he had run away from because the brother had wanted to actually take his bare hands and kill him. Talk about taut family ties."...  
      "... Jacob was terrified to meet his brother Esau. And all night long, he wrestles hard with a man, flailing and thrashing and struggling and he grips his fingers deep into the leg, the torso of the man, and he utterly refuses to let go, right till the sun embers kindle up the horizon. It's hard. He's exhausted. He's confused.....
     "And when the man can't overpower or throw off Jacob, he touches the socket of Jacob's hip on the sinew of the thigh. The man breaks Jacob. Then day breaks. And he commands Jacob to let him go.....
      "But Jacob, he refuses to let the man go. He doesn't even really know who the man is, can't clearly see his face, but he begs, "I will not let you go until you bless me." And the man turns to Jacob and gives him a new name. Names him Israel, the God wrestler. Says to him, "You've wrestled with God and you've come through." All that while Jacob hadn't known who he was wrestling. Just a man in the dark, a man he couldn't see. And in the black, all that night, it was the face of God over him that he was struggling against. God is behind the faces, son. Can we see?"...
     "And you know what Jacob named the place? Peniel-- means God's face. He said, "I saw God face-to-face and have lived to tell the story!"
     I smile. "But there's more to the story. There's always more to every story." His lips twitch a sad smile and I see it. I half grin. "A long time ago, a preacher named James H. McConkey asked a friend of his, a doctor, "What is the exact significance of God's touching Jacob upon the sinew of his thigh?"
     "And the doctor told him, "The sinew of the thigh is the strongest in the human body. A horse couldn't even tear it apart."
     "These are the words I have never forgotten, what preacher McConkey said: "Ah. I see. The Lord has to break us down at the strongest part of our self-life before He can have His own way of blessing with us."
     Like this morning, breaking us down at the tough parts...Then we see. See the blessing.
     ...
     "And when Jacob went out the next morning to meet that brother he dreaded? After the dark of the wrestle, and being torn right apart in his strongest part, by a man he didn't even know was God-- do you know what he said? He looked into the face of his brother, that brother who had wanted to kill him, and he said, "To see your face is like seeing the face of God." (Genesis 33:10 NIV)....
     "Wrestle with God, beg to see the blessing, and all faces become the face of God. See, son?"
     ...
     Like Jacob, we ask, breathless and heaving, where He is, who He is, for His name here, the only real blessing. "Please tell me your name." We have named the graces and there found His name, Glory, and in the face of man we have seen the face of God. Then Him, the blessing, God, joy-water in the desert.
     But wells don't come without first begging to see the wells; wells don't come without first splitting open hard earth, cracking back the lids. There's no seeing God Face-to face without first the ripping.
     Tear the thigh to open the eye.
     Wrench the socket of the hip, the tough grizzle of the heart, and heal the socket of the eye. It takes practice, wrenching practice to break open the lids. But the secret to joy is to keep seeking God where we doubt He is.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

This is such a cool story!

http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/the-five-elements-of-the-heart-mind/#comment-4343

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Review of The Coroner's Lunch by Colin Cotterill

This book is only the second book set in Laos that I have ever read. The setting is fascinating. The suspense is high. The coroner is sweet, except when he is sarcastic, but his victims deserve it, and being sarcastic endangers his life, so you admire his bravery.

He is a communist and had fought for Laos to become communist. At age 72, the communists finally won and he assumed he could retire from being a physician. The party screws him over and makes him the country's only coroner. He learns how to be one as he turns the pages of a French pathology textbook. His assistants are a nurse who reads gossip magazines at work and a man with Down's Syndrome.

When three bodies are found in a lake with marks of torture on them, the incident threatens to cause a war between Laos and Vietnam. He works to find the truth of the deaths, hoping the truth will avert the war. He is also working on the cause of the death of an official's wife, and then the death of the woman who allegedly confessed to the crime.

And then somebody starts shooting at him. He wonders how to keep himself and his assistants alive while he keeps on ferreting out the truth.

Hmong spirituality is treated seriously. I never know what the tribal beliefs of the Hmong were, so that is also fascinating.

I am going to buy a lot more books by Colin Cotterill.

Review of Dragons of the Watch by Donita K Paul

I won this book at a Christmas writer's meeting.
Some books I take to the used book store for credit; some I like enough to pass on to others. This book will be given to my nieces who like fantasy. It has some romance in it which did not offend me!!!! Only if you know how much I hate romance will you know what a remarkable statement that is. I liked the romance because the characters involved took their time to get to know each other and fell in love because they admired each other's character.  I liked the puzzle solving and bravery of the protagonists. I even liked the little dragons. If you know a girl who likes fantasy, this would make a good present for her.