Friday, August 3, 2018

Book Review: Auschwitz Lullaby: A Novel by Mario Escobar

This book presents an interesting twist of the story regarding survival  at Auschwitz. The author tells us about a pure German woman named Helene, who is married to a Roma and has five children with him. An unusual union given the time and the distrust between both Germans and Roma and that union is about to be tested even more. The year is 1943 and Helene is under no illusion what fate awaits them. While she as a German is free from prosecution, both her husband and kids are subject to prosecution by the Nazis. And so one day in 1943, the knock occurs at the door and the policy arrive to deport the family. Helene can choose to stay behind, but is determined to protect her family and her children as much as possible and so she does the unthinkable - she vo9luntarily joins the transport to Auschwitz.
Arriving at the camp after a ride of several days, they are greeted by chaos and mayhem. Her husband is separated immediately and so it is up to Helene to protect her children and ensure that they have a chance to survive. Helene is not only German, but also a trained nurse, a skill very useful in the camp that has rampant outbreaks of diseases. The author goes on to describe in vivid detail not only the horrific daily routine in the camp, but also the attempts by Helene to set up some kind of normalcy for her children and the other children in the camp.
Not giving in to the Nazis, Helene makes daily attempts to protect the children, not just from the horrors of Auschwitz, but also the horrors of war, by giving them glimpses of what a normal childhood outside of KZ and war would look like. This is a very moving book, that shows that hope can overcome many obstacles.

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Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. The opinion expressed in this review is my own and has not been influenced by any third party.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Book Review: Leaving Cloud 9: The True Story of a Life Resurrected from the Ashes of Poverty, Trauma, and Mental Illness by Ericka Andersen

While this book at its center is trying to push the message that God can save you, the actual story is one that people outside of the Christian religion can also find solace in. It describes the life of a boy growing up in poverty and a single parent household marred by abuse, drug addiction and neglect. From these roots, the boy after having a rough life himself is finally rescued by being diagnosed with a mental illness and once properly treated can find himself in much better circumstances as a father and husband. While religion may have played some role in this change, the real change came about when the mental illness was diagnosed and treatment was received.
it is widely accepted that homeless people have a higher percentage of mental illness and that mental illness not only contributes to homelessness, but also to drug problems and alcoholism. This book is yet another example of how important diagnosing mental illness is and how we as a society should seek to assist these people rather than pretend they do not want to fit in. Providing diagnosis and treatment can turn many of these former outcasts into productive society members.
I wish the book had focused more on the connection between mental illness and the number of issues that can derail a person and related to mental illness rather than see religion as the source of healing. The story told in this book needs to be told, but the focus on religion is actually a disservice to the message that this book exemplifies when pointing out that mental illness can cause a number of issues, each of which on its own can derail the life of the person afflicted.
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Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. The review is reflecting my personal opinion and has not been influenced by any third party.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Book Review: Once Upon a Farm: Lessons on Growing Love, Life, and Hope on a New Frontier by Rory Feek

Who does not know about the lovestory between Rory and Joey? The bitter sweet story of love found and lost and Rory now living with Indiana and the memory of Joey has moved so many people. This book is now Rory's way of not only dealing with Joey's death publicly, but also showing the readers that live goes on and there is always hope for tomorrow.
Rory describes his life on the farm with Indiana and his two grown daughters,  but Joey is always present in spirit. No one could have predicted what life would bring when Rory first moved into the farm with his daughters many years ago. There was no Joey and certainly no Indiana. In the years to follow, similar to how to describes on his Facebook page, Rory chronicles in this book the ups and downs of life since that day and while Joey plays a significant part, the reader learns that so many other people contribute and have contributed to Rory's life and his happiness.
The book is a collection of anecdotal stories that show how life on the farm developed for Rory, how first Joey and then Indiana entered his life and how he now realizes that grief can be overcome and there is a bigger plan for his life on the farm that he could have anticipated even a few years ago.
Even for people that are not a fan or not familiar with the story of Rory, this book is an entertaining read that show how the life of a single father evolved over the span of a couple of decades.

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Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. The opinion expressed are my own and have not been influenced by any third party.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Book Review: The Road to Freedom: Healing from Your Hurts, Hang-ups, and Habits by Johnny Baker

The author used to be an alcoholic and in a very frank, no nonsense book tells about his road to recovery and how he managed to stay sober now for more than 20 years.  His Road to Freedom is the freedom experienced when not all his thoughts center around where to get the next sip from, but the lessons taught in this book can be used for any kind of addiction, whether it is alcohol, drugs, eating or gambling.

While God plays an important role in the road to recovery for the author, this book has sufficient general lessons that non-Christians can also learn from this book. The ten lessons included in this book have topics such as admitting you have a problem is not a sign of weakness. This is the important first step when seeking recovery. Acknowledging you have a problem is the beginning of every recovery because it shows that you admit to yourself that something in your life can and must be improved. Additional lessons include that people may be hurting in ways that you can not see and may never know about as well as a lesson on small steps may have a more prolonged effect than a quick overnight change.

While some of the lessons are clearly based on Christian principles and God, the majority of the lessons are general and the overall style of the book, despite the serious subject, if entertaining and at times funny. I can recommend this book to anyone who is struggling with an addiction or people with friends that may need help because this book contains steps that all of us can take to assist those struggling with addiction.
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Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. The opinion expressed in this post is solely my own and has not been influenced by any third party.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Book Review: The Faith of Dolly Parton: Lessons from Her Life to Lift Your Heart by Dudley Delffs

Dolly Parton has been well known for a number of years, even decades. But I am still learning new things about this singer, such as the fact that she provides books to a large number of children through her Imagination Library. This book also taught me some new insights into her person and character.

This entertainer write4s her own songs, still performs live after more than 50 years in the business and has built up a great amusement park in Dollywood. While she never hid her Christian faith, she is also accepting of other believes. This book is using Dolly's faith to generate life lessons that we all can adhere to - such as stay humble no matter how much success you may have now. Also have a belief that things will get better, no matter how hopeless a situation you may find yourself in now. This book is a great book to guide people through life because, even though Parton is a Christian, the guidance included in the book can help and be used by people of all faiths.

What really impressed me and still impresses me the most about Parton is the fact that she remained a human being throughout her life. Success did not change her into a celebrity persona, but Dolly remained Dolly. So take this book and enjoy it, it may teach you something new about Dolly and may give you some advice for life, but it will certainly entertain - it is like reading a story about a friend and neighbor.

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Disclaimer: In exchange for an honest review I received a free copy of the book. The opinion in this review is my own and has not been influenced by any third parties.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Book Review: Only One Life: How a Woman's Every Day Shapes an Eternal Legacy by Jackie Green and Lauren Green McAfee

I found it interesting that the book was written by a mother and daughter team because this writing approach fits very well the message that this book has. The main message of the book is the fact that what we as women teach our kids and the beliefs we instill in them will outlive us and form a strong basis for future generations. This underscores that crucial role that we as women play in shaping the future.
While this book has a very Christian slant, the overall message is still valid and very empowering for all women of any faith. The authors do pick some examples of women from the Bible, such as Mary Magdalene. But there are also examples of women such as Catherine Booth and Harriet Tubman, given the reader a variety of role models to strive after.
The authors use these examples to give us women an understanding about how these role models shaped future generations and therefore to some degree the world we live in today. I found this book and all its examples of great women to be very empowering because it gives us reason to understand that our influence, if not adequately reflected in the work environment, can still transcend our own life by focusing on the future. We can lead, by raising our children to be good citizens and live out our ideals, furthering the goal that we hoped to achieve with these ideals.
 This is good book to read for every woman, but especially for women who may be stay at home moms and maybe question what they are contributing to the world outside their home. You are contributing, raise your kids and send them out into the world - thereby you are changing the world too!

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Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. The opinion expressed is solely my own and has not been influenced by any third party.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Book Review: The Weaver's Daughter: A Regency Romance Novel by Sarah E. Ladd

 The author managed to write a traditional historical novel set in the Regency age that has all the components of a love story interwoven with enough drama to keep the reader engaged throughout the book.

Two families at odds in the village of Amberdale. The mill owners are the Stocktons and the Dearbornes, a family of weavers, find themselves often on opposing sides.  Two members of these families may be able to break the war between the families. There is Kate Dearborne, the beautiful and strong willed descendant of the weaver family. On the other side, Henry Stockton, around the same age at Kate, was believed dead, but managed to survive the war he served in and has now returned to Amberdale to modernize the family mill business and increase profits even more.

Of course no romance can spark between Stockton and Dearborne families or can there? Kate and Henry keep seeing each other often enough and despite Henry being pursued by a more fitting woman, the daughter of a business partner, Henry and Kate cannot deny the attraction that exists between them. Soon Kate and Henry realize that for the sake of the village and to ensure the livelihood of all, working together is needed rather than working against each other. The rest, as they say, is history.

While the story is not surprising with many twists, the book is a nice, relaxing read that is perfect for a holiday or a lazy afternoon. The author has a relaxing way of telling her stories and the story itself, while having some drama, is rather tame as a modern love story. Overall, a well done novel that is entertaining and perfect for a beach read this summer.

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Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. The opinion expressed is solely my own and has not been influenced by any third party.