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June 2023

It’s been a long year, with quite a lot of reading, but no posting. This amazing book is what it took to inspire me to write again. I found myself thinking of all the readers I know who would enjoy this book. This true story follows a Czech family from their early beginnings in a free Czechoslovakia, through the tumult of World War II, into the fire of the Communist takeover, and out into the world as they wander in search of a forever home. I highly recommend this book for anyone who enjoys true historical accounts. But far from being a dry recounting of historical facts, Kapra celebrates the importance of peace, family, love, home, courage and freedom.

Abby Johnson was passionate about helping women in crisis, and served as the director of her local Planned Parenthood clinic. Although she worked at Planned Parenthood, Abby truly disliked abortion, and made it her goal to reduce the number of women who needed to receive abortions. Then, Abby witnessed an ultra-sound guided abortion at her own clinic, and instantly knew that things would never be the same for her again.

I could not put this book down. From the opening chapters, I was drawn into Abby’s story. She tells her story honestly, and points out the good and the bad in both the pro-choice and pro-life movements. It was amazing to see how God worked in her life to bring about change for the good, and how God used the faithful prayers of believers to reach out to Abby. It was eye-opening to read about how some in the pro-life movement have been so hurtful to the very women they proclaim to be helping. If you are truly sincere in wanting to end abortion in this country, Abby’s story is one you must read.

World War II Fiction

22nd January 2011

When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit by Judith Kerr: This juvenile autobiographical novel tells the story of 9 year old Anna and her family.  Anna’s family must flee their Berlin home for the relative safety of Switzerland, leaving friends, family, and most of their belongings behind.  Anna’s life as a refugee is completely different from the one she left in Germany.  In spite of the hardships and danger, she learns to cherish her family even more, and even finds satisfaction in making their new life together.

Black Radishes by Susan Lynn Meyer: Gustave and his family leave Paris just ahead of the Nazis, settling in a small French village that happens to be just across the river from Nazi occupied France.  Even though the Nazis technically aren’t in control of Gustave’s village, the Vichy French government is still in complete cooperation with the Nazi agenda.  Gustave comes to realize that he must face his fears and help the people close to him, even if it means risking his life to do so.  While the story is fiction, many of the events in the book are based on real events from the Meyer’s father’s life.

While We’re Far Apart by Lynn Austin: Penny, trying to escape her domineering parents, agrees to care for handsome Eddie Shaffer’s children, Esther and Peter, when he goes off to war.  Jacob Mendel, still grieving after his wife’s death, spends every spare moment searching for his grown son and family, trapped in Nazi controlled Hungary.  Esther and Peter, missing both mother and father, desperately need someone to love and care for them.  Everyone is searching for meaning, comfort and reason in a broken world.  This was definitely one of Austin’s best books.  The stories of the characters are alternately told, without being distracting.  While the ending was somewhatpredictable, there were a few surprises, and throughout the book, God’s love, mercy, providence and unseen workings are gently shown, without being preachy or overly dramatic.

Stones in Water by Donna Jo Napoli: Roberto and his friends are taken from their Italian town by German soldiers and sent to a work camp deep in Nazi occupied Europe.  Struggling to survive and to protect his best friend, Roberto must find the courage to finally fight for his freedom.  An excellent book.  There is a sequel, Fire in the Hills, that I am eager to read.

Book Overload

08th October 2009

The stack of books on my desk, waiting to be reviewed, is insurmountable.  I will never get to them all.  So for the sake of time, I need to do a combo post.  Here are the books I’ve been reading the past few weeks.  Most of them have been fantastic:

The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf–Two young girls are missing in the woods.  Told through multiple perspectives, the families work to find their girls, and one of the girls, Callie, works to regain her voice.  I had a hard time putting this one down.

Day After Night by Anita Diamant–A fictional account of the October 1945 rescue of Jewish detainees from the Atlit internment camp in Israel.  A grim reminder that the plight of the Jews didn’t end with the surrender of Germany.

The Road of Lost Innocence by Somaly Mam–The autobiographical account of Somaly Mam, who was sold into prostitution in Cambodia as a young girl, was able to escape, and returned to help other girls.  An amazing and heartbreaking story that continues today.

While I’m Falling by Laura Moriarty–A college student and her mom try to figure life out.  I love the way Moriarty writes about mother-daughter relationships.

Blood on the River: James Town 1607 by Elisa Carbone–A fictional account of Samuel Collier, page to Captain John Smith and his journey to Jamestown.  I read this after having visited Jamestown Settlement.  The book brings the familiar story to life.

The Last Book in the Universe by Rodman Philbrick–I can’t believe I didn’t discover this book earlier!  A love of reading and writing saves a dystopic civilization.  Great book.

Lost and Found by Andrew Clements–Twin brothers take turns going to school, and in the process, discover who they are as individuals.  Not my favorite by Clements, but well done nonetheless.

Shackleton’s Stowaway by Victoria McKernan–One of the most amazing adventure stories I’ve ever read, based on the real journey made by Ernest Shackleton and his crew as they attempted to cross the Antarctic continent in 1914.  Highly recommended.

OK, so I got what I deserved reading this book.  When you read a “tell all” book written by a famous actress, you should expect the strange.  Spelling writes about what it’s like to raise children in the limelight.  She herself longed for, and never got, a “normal” childhood.  Now she’s trying to create an idyllic normal childhood for her children.  Someone should tell her that if you want “normal,” maybe you should cancel the reality show being filmed in your house.  Maybe you shouldn’t let your best friend (she calls him her “gay husband!”) sleep in your bed when your real husband is out of town.  Maybe you don’t need to spend an entire chapter documenting the “normal” Halloween costumes you and your kids wore one year.  Maybe you shouldn’t live in Hollywood.  Maybe you shouldn’t write “tell all” books!

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