Friday, March 26, 2010

"Have a Little Faith' by Mitch Albom [4 1/2]

In the beginning, there was a question.
'Will you do my eulogy?'
As is often the case with faith, I thought
I was being asked a favor.
Actually I was being given one...

Have a Little faith begins with an unusual request: an 82 year old rabbi from Mitch's old
hometown asks him to deliver his eulogy. Feeling unworthy, Mitch insists on understanding the man better, which throws him back into a world of faith he'd left years ago.
Meanwhile, closer to his current home, Mitch becomes involved with a Detroit pastor -
a reformed drug dealer and convict - who preaches to the poor and homeless in a
decaying church with a hole in it's roof.

When I read the back cover and the inside cover...well let's just say I put off reading this book until the last week before book club.

It has turned out to be a very touching and moving true story of one man's journey in life, his losing faith and finding it again, and the divine spark that is inside all of us.
I thought this book was going to be about religion, but it is so much more than that....
While there are many different faiths in this world it all comes down to the same thing,
we all want to be heard and we all want to be loved and appreciated and forgiven.
It's about believing in something that is bigger than yourself.
You will be deeply touched and uplifted by this extraordinary book.
A must read for everyone...

I rate this book 41/2 ****

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Discussion Questions for 'Have a Little Faith' by Mitch Albom.

1. Have a Little Faith asks, "What if our beliefs were not what divided us, but what pulled us together?" How would you begin to answer this question? Which of the world's ills could be healed, what wrongs could be made right, if religion was more of a unifying force?

2. How would you react if someone you knew asked you to write their eulogy? How would you go about doing so?

3. In describing the journeys of faith taken by the Reb and Pastor Henry, Mitch Albom discusses his complicated relationship to his Jewish beliefs. Talking about one's religious faith is a personal endeavour; do you find it easy or difficult to talk to others about religion, specifically your relationship to it? Are you comfortable discussing religion with someone with different beliefs?

4. In continuation of the above question, do you think anyone can ever 'win' a religious argument? What do you think lies at the core of disagreements about religion?

5. How can many faiths coexist? If different faiths have different beliefs, how can they all be correct/ Does one faith have the right or obligation to convert the other? When Mitch asks this of the Reb, he explains that just as there are a variety of trees, multiple faiths all come from the same God [page 160]. What do you think about the Reb's explanation? Can dialogue and debate about different beliefs, as the Reb argues, really enrich one's own faith?

6. Compare and contrast the Reb and Pastor Henry. How are their stories similar, different? Did you identify with one man more than the other?

7. Were you uncomfortable with Henry's troubled past, especially when he admits his violation of the Ten Commandments? What did you think of Mitch's hesitation towards him? Do you think that someone who turns so far away from God, even though truly repentant, can really be a "Man of God"?

8. Think about some famous eulogies delivered in recent memory: Charles Spencer's eulogy of his sister, Princess Diana; Oprah Winfrey's of Rosa Parks; Cher's emotional tribute to her former husband Sonny Bono; President Obama's stirring remarks about Senator Edward M. Kennedy. Re-read Albom's eulogy of the Reb at the end of the book - what does it have in common with other eulogies you've heard or read? What makes a eulogy truly memorable -does it rely solely upon the personality of the person who died?

9. Have you ever experienced a crisis of faith? How did you approach it? Was it resolved? Was there a lesson you took away from it?

10. Consider what the Reb says to Albom in the chapter "May:Ritual": 'Mitch, he said, 'faith is about doing. You are how you act, not just how you believe.' Do you agree with Reb's sentiment?

11. Re-read the anecdote that Albom relays on page 76, about his interpretation of the story of the parting of the Red Sea. What does this story mean to you?

12. "It is far more comforting to think God listened and said no, than to think nobodies out there" [page 82]. What do you think of what the Reb says here? Do you agree?

13. Both the Reb and Pastor Henry describe what they believe to be the keys to happiness. What do you think the secrets to happiness are? Where might faith fall on such a list?

14. After reading Have a Little Faith, were you inspired to learn more about religions other than your own? What are some commonalities between different religions?

15. If you had to write your own eulogy, what would you say about yourself? How would you most like to be remembered?

"The Postmistress" by Sarah Blake [3]

It is 1940 and half the world is living through the horror of the Second World War,
but America still believes it is safe from the bloodshed.
In Franklin, a small town on Cape Cod, Iris James is the postmistress and she firmly believes
her job is to keep and deliver people's secrets, to pass along the news of love and sorrow that letters carry. But one day she does the unthinkable: she doesn't deliver a letter and instead slips
it into her pocket.
Every night Iris and Emma Fitch, the young doctor's wife, tune in to Frankie Bard;s radio
dispatches; anguished bulletins sent from the air-raid shelters and
Underground stations of London during the Blitz.
One night in a bomb shelter, Frankie meets a doctor from Cape Cod with a letter in his
pocket, a letter Frankie vows to deliver.
In the last desperate days of the summer of 1941 Frankie leaves a traumatized London,
rides the trains out of Germany and records the stories of refugees
desperately trying to escape . The townspeople of Franklin listen and the war seems a life-time away, but Iris and Emma, unable to tear themselves away from Frankie's voice,
know better.
A truly beautiful front cover and an interesting read for the back cover is what appealed to me.
Sadly I was a little disappointed with the novel.
[First of all, let me just warn you there is bad language in the story.]
The novel is about the secrets we must bear or bury. It is about what happens to love during wartime, when those we cherish leave.
While the novel tells the story through the eyes of three women, most of the content centres around
Frankie Bard and her reporting of the war in England and Europe. Frankie's reporting will touch you and leave you thinking about the horror that comes with war, and the sadness that those left behind face.
The novel is entitled The Postmistress...
which you would think would be about Iris James and her life as the postmistress. It is only
to a small degree, which is why I'm a little disappointed. I don't think the title matches the story
to well. I guess I was hoping to find out a lot more about Miss James and what her story was.
I did find the story a little confusing at first, maybe due to the writing style, a little difficult to follow sometimes. Once you got into the part where Frankie starts to travel it did get interesting.
I stopped and started with this book so many times because I did seem to loose interest in it.
It's not a long book, with just over 300 pages.
For me it was a once read, I'll not pick it up again.
I have read better wartime love stories.
I rate this book 3 stars...just!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

"44 Cranberry Point' by Debbie Macomber [4]

Dear Reader,
I love living in Cedar Cove, but things haven't been the same since a man died in our B and B.
Turns out his name was Max Russell, and Bob had known him briefly in Vietnam. We still
don't have any idea why he came here and - most important of all -
who killed him. Because it now appears that he was poisoned. I sure hope somebody
figures it out soon!
Now that we're providing the only news in Cedar Cove these days. I heard that John Bowman
and Maryellen Sherman are getting married. And Maryellen's mom, Grace, has more than her share
of interested men! The question is: Which one is she going to choose? Olivia - I guess it's Olivia Griffin now - is back from her honeymoon, and her mother, Charlotte {who's in her mid-seventies at least}, seems to have a man in her life, too. I'm not sure Olivia's too pleased....
There's lots of other gossip I could tell you. Come by for a cup of tea and one of my blueberry muffins and we'll talk.
Book four in the Cedar Cove novels.
This series draws you back with each novel that you read. Her characters are so warm and endearing that you just anticipate the next visit to Cedar Cove.
While the author says that each novel can be read on it's own and she does a quick recount of each individual, it really is best to start from the beginning, as you become more involved with the characters with each successive novel.
Book four has the final resolution to the mystery of the man that died in the Beldon's B and B.
But there's another mystery developing, and this one involves the McAfrees.
Newly weds Olivia and Jack are have some teething problems living together...
Grace is trying to come to terms with the loneliness in her life...she still loves Cliff, but he won't speak to her...
Cecilia and her husband Ian are in for a rough patch again...
Maryellen and Jon get married, but Maryellen hides something from Jon that could cost their marriage...
Where also introduce into the life of Rachel Pendergast a nail and hair technician at Get Nailed...
While there are many characters in these stories the author has written it so well that you don't get lost with what is happening.
So curl up in front of a warm fire with a nice cup of hot chocolate and just enjoy....
I rate this book 4 stars.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

"A Matter of Class" by Mary Balogh [4]

Reginald Mason is wealthy, refined, and, by all accounts, a gentlemen.
However, he is not a gentlemen by birth, a factor that pains him and his father,
Bernard Mason, within the Regency society that upholds station over all else. That is,
until an opportunity for social advancement arises, namely, Lady Annabelle Ashton.
Daughter of the Earl of Havercroft, a neighbor and enemy of the Mason family. Annabelle finds
herself disgraced by a scandal, one that has left her branded as damaged goods.
Besmirched by shame, the earl is only too happy to marry Annabelle off to anyone
willing to have her.
Oh yes the cover sucked me into getting this novel...that was until I realized it was a regency favourite theme.
A really quick read with under 200 pages and very light and easy to read as well... but then this isn't the first time I have read something from this author, she is great.
A wonderful story about two families that hate each other because of class distinction and the circumstances that eventually join the two families.
Reggie and Anna have been forced to marry each other and both enter into the engagement resenting each other for their current state of affairs... but is it all what it seems to be?
There is a delightful twist to this story which I didn't see until nearly the end, but I won't say anymore as I don't want to spoil it.
A must read for those of you that love this period of romance.
I rate this book 4 stars.

Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George (4)

Returning home from the war, young Galen finds work with his mother’s family in the royal gardens. There he learns that the king’s twelve daughters have a secret: every night they dance their shoes to tatters, but no one knows how or why. When prince after prince tries and fails to find the answer, and the family is haunted by accusations of witchcraft, Galen decides to help. Armed with a pair of silver knitting needles and an invisibility cloak given to him by a strange old woman, he follows the princesses and unlocks the secret of their curse.

Aren't you just diggin the cover ...... And jealous that it is hardback to boot ...... lol .......

Excited when this was chosen as a book club read as I have wanted to purchase this for a while ...

It is a retell of a old fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm entitled 'The Twelve Dancing Princesses' .... But a more lighter version ....

I have to say I really enjoyed this novel it was a light and easy read ... And I finished it in two sitting .... I would definitely give it to my daughter to read as it is a young teen read ...

The story is about a young Hero named Galen and how he goes about to save the Princesses from the wicked King Under Stone ( Booooooo ) .... As all fairy tales there is romance and also magic ....

My only complaint with the book was the ending .... The book flowed really well until the end and then in a couple of short chapters it was all tied up very quickly ... Too quickly in my opinion .... I would have liked to see a few more chapters :( ........

If you are looking for a easy read or a good wee book for your teen daughter then this book is for you ........ Ohhh and there is a bonus of some knitting patterns at the end ....

I rate this book 4 stars

Books in the series in order
Princess of the Midnight Ball
Princess of Glass
(25th May 2010)

Betrayals by Lili St. Crow (4)

She's no angel . . .

Poor Dru Anderson. Her parents are long gone, her best friend is a werewolf, and she's just learned that the blood flowing through her veins isn't entirely human. (So what else is new?)

Now Dru is stuck at a secret New England Schola for other teens like her, and there's a big problem - she's the only girl in the place. A school full of cute boys wouldn't be so bad, but Dru's killer instinct says that one of them wants her dead. And with all eyes on her, discovering a traitor within the Order could mean a lot more than social suicide. . .

Can Dru survive long enough to find out who has betrayed her trust - and maybe even her heart?

This is the second book in the series Strange Angels and it is just as good as the first book ... But again the only downside with the novel is the language .... There is a fair few swear words in the book so be warned ...

At the end of the first novel Dru just made it to secret Training School where she thought she would be safe ..... She is sorely mistaken ....... Just when you think you know who all the bad guys are you are proven wrong ......

The two main boy characters are brilliant you have the newly changed werewolf on one side and the hunky Christophe on the other ..... Can Dru learn all she needs to know in order to survive? ...... And when she finds out about her past who can she trust to turn to? ....

Cannot wait for the next part of the story ........ Where I would say Dru is going to kick Butts !!!

I rate this book 4 stars

Novels in the Series in order
Strange Angels

Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick (31/2)

For Nora Grey, romance was not part of the plan. She's never been particularly attracted to the boys at her school, no matter how much her best friend, Vee, pushes them at her...until Patch comes along.

With his easy smile and eyes that seem to see inside her, Nora is drawn to him against her better judgment, but after a series of terrifying encounters, Nora's not sure whom to trust. Patch seems to be everywhere she is, and to know more about her than her closest friends. She can't decide whether she should fall into his arms or run and hide. And when she tries to seek some answers, she finds herself near a truth that is far more unsettling than anything Patch makes her feel.

For Nora is right in the middle of an ancient battle between the immortal and those that have fallen - and when it comes to choosing sides, the wrong choice will cost her life.

What is it with all the gorgeous covers at the moment ..... It is not doing my already loaded bookcase any good .... or I hasten to add my bank balance .. lol ...

I really really wanted to love this book but I found it abit slow and in parts which is a real shame ... Sometimes I just wanted to hit the character of Nora over the head for being so silly .... This is definitely an older teen read as I found some parts of the book abit dark for a younger reader ... But in saying that I did read the novel in a day and the story line is good ...

It is about a girl called Nora and a mysterious handsome Stranger called Patch who basically turns her world upside down ....... There is a good tension between the two characters that does work ... like I said I would love to give this book 5 stars but I did feel abit pulled at times that the main hero of the story is quite a dark character and one that I really don't want my daughter to meet .... I know the author was trying to do a bad boy/ loveable character but I felt it tipped to much to the bad Boy end ...

It will be interesting to see what the other girls review of the book is like ... As reviews for this book are mixed ... you either love it or hate it ... Will I go out and buy the second book in the series when it comes out .... Probably but not in a huge rush ...

Interesting idea of a story but torn because it was abit dark for me !!!

I rate this book 31/2 stars

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl (41/2)

There were no surprises in Gatlin County.
We were pretty much the epicenter of the middle of nowhere.
At least, that's what I thought.
Turns out, I couldn't have been more wrong.
There was a curse.
There was a girl.
And in the end, there was a grave.

Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she's struggling to conceal her power and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever.

Ethan Wate, who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. When Lena moves into the town's oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and determined to uncover the connection between them.

In a town with no surprises, one secret could change everything.

Finally back to the land of the book reviews ......... Hopefully you guys missed me .... lol ....

Anyway back to the book ...... The cover is what drew me to read this novel .... It is really pretty ... And I promise you that you will not be disappointed with this read .... It does what it says on the cover .... You will be intrigued ....

It is told from the point of view of Ethan who is a country boy who has lived in Gatlin all his life and it is pretty much boring ...... Until he starts to have vivid dreams about a girl he has never met before ......That is until he turns up to school one day and she sits beside him ....

It may take a a few chapters to get into the story line as there is alot of information but it is just setting up the rest of the novel and once you start you will not be able to put it down :)

This book is such an easy read and it flows beautifully ( excuse the pun ) If you love your fantasy then you are going to lap this book up ....... It has a little bit of everything including magic ... I love the way the authors have incorporated their southern roots into the story line .... It so works ....

You will love the relationship with Lena and Ethan ... You will love the other characters as well from Ethan's voodoo Grandmother to Lena's strange magically family ........

As a first novel I am really impressed and eagerly awaiting on the second one ...... This is a great book for a teen ... The characters are great ... The story line will keep you on your toes ... And it has a great ending :) ........ Full marks girls :)

I rate this book 41/2 stars ....
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