Saturday, September 10, 2011

Ten on the Tenth - Book Reviews

I realized recently that I've read quite a few books over the past couple of months that I have not reviewed, so I thought I'd share a review of ten of those books with you today. I  hope you'll find a book or two to add to your reading list (and you might find one or two to avoid!).

First,I'd read about Brene Brown's books on several blogs, and checked out The Gifts of Imperfection from our local library. The book is about living a wholehearted life and focuses on three ingredients of living wholeheartedly: courage, compassion, connection. I enjoyed the book and her honest assessment of how she had not been incorporating many of the guideposts of wholehearted living into her own life before the research that lead to this book. One of my favorite guideposts was #7 - Cultivating Play and Rest in our lives by "letting go of exhaustion as a status symbol and productivity as self-worth." I also agree with her assessment that "there's no such thing as creative people and non-creative people. There are only people who use their creativity and people who don't."

Robbie and I had recently watched the movie Paper Moon and saw that it was based on the book by Joe David Brown, so we picked up a copy & both read it. It's the story of a young girl traveling through the south with the man that is probably her father. He is a con man and they spend their time swindling people out of money,then hightailing it to the next town. The movie actually only portrays about half of the book, so there were new behind-the-scenes stories to add to the movie version. I enjoyed the book and movie.

This is the book my book club chose for our September meeting: Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay. It is two stories woven into one: the first is the story of a 10-year-old girl who lived through the Vel d'Hiv' roundup of Jews in France in July of 1942 and how she escaped transportation to Auschwitz; the second story is of a 45-year-old American journalist living in France in 2002 who is assigned a story on the roundups. This is a very well-written book, a page-turner that keeps you wondering what will happen next. While the material about the Nazi's treatment of Jews during World War II was difficult (as always) to read, this book also focused on the French police's part in these roundups. I honestly have never read much about what happened in France during the war, so this was a good book for learning about one more atrocity of the war. (Things we should never forget least they are repeated in future generations.) This is a fiction book, however the historical accuracy of the events during July 1942 were well researched.

The Journal of Ben Uchida: Citizen 13559 Mirror Lake Internment Camp is one book in the Dear America series of Junior books. My younger sister gave me several of these books last year, and I pulled this one from my to-read pile recently. I actually read this right after Sarah's Key, although I had not planned to read two World War II books, both revealing inadequate or completely wrong decisions by a country's government. Each chapter in this book is written in the form of a journal entry of a young Japanese boy who was placed with his family in an internment camp in the United States during World War II. I know a little history of this embarrassing time in US history, and have read other fiction accounts of life in these camps. I enjoyed this perspective from that of a young boy, old enough to understand what was going on but still not understanding why it was happening to him and his family. There were times that I thought the writing was a little too thoughtful for that of a pre-teen boy, however I realize that these books are designed to entertain and to inform young readers. There was also a section where the dates were mixed up - out of order and incorrect (if Friday is the 12th, Sunday won't be the 15th!), but overall it was a good story and historically accurate. I love this sarcastic quote as the young boy discusses how all the buildings looked exactly the same and were not marked within the camp: "They want to see how long it will take the average twelve-year-old kid to go crazy because he has to spend all day running around in circles just to find his way back to where he lives."

My Mama loaned me her audio copy of Mike Huckabee's A Simple Christmas: Twelve Stories That Celebrate the True Holiday Spirit earlier this year, and I listened to it off and on in the car while doing errands over a period of several weeks. Each chapter is a story from Mike Huckabee's life (growing up, his wife's bout with cancer early in their marriage, being a pastor, serving as governor of Arkansas, running for president of the United States) focused around the Christmas season during that time in his life. It was an enjoyable and informative book and well-read by Mike Huckabee himself.

I picked up Jennifer Grant's Good Stuff: A Reminiscence of My Father, Cary Grant from the new books shelf at our library because Robbie enjoys reading memoirs about various entertainment stars. When he finished the book, I read through it. I honestly felt like this was the book Jennifer Grant needed to write as part of her therapy of coming to grips with her life (or something like that). I honestly didn't enjoy the book as it seemed rather filtered (only sharing the good things) and was filled with name dropping that was unnecessary (in my opinion). I would not recommend this book as a easy or informative read.

When I was researching topics and books for the upcoming Ladies' Bible Study that I'll be leading, our pastor loaned me his copy of Robert Morris' The Power of Your Words. Robert Morris is the pastor of Gateway Church in Southlake, Texas. This is a well-written book about how the things that we say can impact our lives and the lives of others. It's a Christian book and focuses on truths from scriptures about how we should and shouldn't use our words. I enjoyed the book and found it very enlightening. [I did not choose it for our Bible Study primarily because I wanted to focus on a book of the Bible and use a study geared toward women.]

This is another book I checked out from our local library. It caught my eye while I was browsing the scrapbooking section. What About the Words? focuses on creative journaling on scrapbook pages. There were lots of inspiring examples of layouts and a variety of journaling ideas. I always enjoy these types of books because they inspire me to create!

I've never read a book by A.W. Tozer, who is a well-known Christian pastor, author, and magazine editor, so I picked up We Travel an Appointed Way at the library. The book is one of a series of books containing a collection of Tozer's editorial columns from his time as editor of Alliance Life magazine. While the articles themselves were interesting, I found the writing style difficult to read therefore hard to follow at times.

And last, but not, least is Patsy Clairmont's new book Stained Glass Hearts. I have enjoyed several of Patsy Clairmont's earlier books and heard her speak at a couple of Women of Faith retreats, and this book was no exception to her excellent writing, which is interspersed with her delightful sense of humor. This is a Christian non-fiction book that discusses how God uses the brokenness of our lives and turns them into a colorful story (thus the stained glass theme). At the end of each chapter, she lists ideas for exploring various forms of art in order to enrich our minds. I had not originally planned to look up any of the suggestions, however I found myself intrigued and really enjoyed searching for some of the paintings she described (like Picasso's The Three Musicians) and checking out photos of ancient mosaics. I would definitely recommend this book. [For this book only - Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”]

For those of you who've stayed with me through this long post, I want to share my favorite quote from Stained Glass Hearts. This thought from Patsy Clairmont comes near the beginning of her chapter about books and reading. "If it were up to me, I would mandate people wear pages of great books as clothing (copies, of course). Then no one would be boring." She goes on to say that if a conversation becomes boring at least we could "pipe in fresh water by reading a sleeve or two, quoting a collar, or scanning a shoe."

If you've read any of these books, please share your opinions in the comments, and I'd love to hear about any great books you've read lately.

This post is part of Shimelle's Ten on the Tenth. To see more Ten Things posts, click here.


  1. An interesting selection,Melissa....not sure about wearing pages of books though!!!!

  2. have not read any of those books yet but fancy giving Sarah's Key a try

  3. Wow, that's a lot of reading. I'm not familiar with many of the books, but some sounded very interesting. Thanks for the review.

  4. I've not read a single one of those, but am tempted to put a couple on my list. You must read all the time!

  5. I'd not heard of any of these except Sarah's Key which has been on my shelf for over two years. (Not read, I might add.) Several of these looks very interesting, but I have a pile I'm anxious to get started on once I catch up with the magazines that have piled up this summer. I just finished Cutting for Stone. It's very long, but well worth the effort.

  6. Lovely reviews Melissa - thanks. I fancy Sarah's Key and may recommend it to my book group if the library has enough copies.

  7. Love books too not read these ones yet.
    Will look for.. what about the words and good stuff.
    Thanks for sharing.

  8. had to visit my fellow Texan~I'm very impressed with your reading list~

  9. I would be very interested in Sarah's Key, it sounds very good. As for the one about the Japanese internment camp, that would also be one I would consider reading. My grandfather was sent to an internment camp in Kananaskis for being German... not something our government talks of.

  10. Interesting list Melissa! I too fancy reading Sarah's key, but also Brene Brown's The Gifts of Imperfection. Thanks for sharing!

  11. Great books reviews, as always, Melissa - I love your honesty. A few I've heard of and some not, so I might just have to stick a pin in the list. :)


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