Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Fates and Traitors Available in Paperback

Fates and Traitors, the novel of John Wilkes Booth and  the women in his life, is available to day in paperback. I reviewed the book last year. Here's a link to the review. 


 I enjoyed the book. I hope you do, too.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Rediscovering the Joys of Home

Eva at forth-five is a successful advertising executive in Phoenix, Arizona. She grew up in Oxford, Mississippi surrounded by her mother’s perennial gardens and the history and literary background of the beautiful Southern town.

However, not everything was peaceful in her family. Eva’s older sister, Bitsy, was rabidly jealous constantly accusing Eva of telling lies. Bitsy finally drove Eva away. She stayed at home, married an account executive, and took the position of good daughter.

It’s the parents’ fiftieth anniversary. Eva’s parents call begging her to come home for the celebration. She’s reluctant. A major project is about to launch, but her father is insistent to the point of buying an airline ticket, so Eva finds herself back at home having to deal with all the unresolved issues she left behind.

The book is filled with lush descriptions of the Mississippi landscape and Eva’s mother’s gardens. I loved the historical anecdotes about the area and particularly the information about the gardens.

Eva is a character you can sympathize with. If you’ve been bullied for your whole childhood, you’re not anxious to go back and repeat the experience. From her phone conversations with her sister, she knows that Bitsy will be sniping at her again.

What I didn’t like about the book was the attitude of the parents. They knew that Eva was being bullied by Bitsy, but they retreated behind a wall of wanting peace in the family and let it continue. I think this is a bad message for parents. Eva managed to survive, but it tainted her whole life.

The book is worth reading if only to linger in Oxford, Mississippi for a few hours.

I received this book from BookLook Bloggers for this review.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Pain and Hope Shape Our Lives

Our lives are filled with loss, pain, memory and hope. Beuchner writes poignantly about each of these emotions in his life.

Perhaps the hardest part to read is the first chapters on pain. Beuchner’s father committed suicide when Frederick was a young boy. For many years he couldn’t grieve, pushing the memory down. Because the memory was pushed down so hard it haunted him until finally he was able to talk about it. Now he writes beautifully about it. If you’ve lost someone under difficult circumstances, his story will resonate with you.

The other painful story is of his daughter’s struggle with anorexia and his difficultly coping with it. He recalls a friend coming to sit with him during this trying time. It reminds us how sometimes just being there for someone is enough.

At the end of the book Beuchner focuses on memory and what comes next. He conjures up memories of his grandmother. Although she has been dead for many years he feels close to her and has wonderful imaginative dialogues about the meaning of life and remembering.

If you struggle with loss, this is a good book. I particularly enjoyed the section of reflections at the end, short musings that give you something to meditate on.

I received this book from Handlebar Publishing for this review.

Thoughts about Finding God in Your Life

Frederick Beuchner writes as though he were having a friendly visit with you, sharing his views on God and reflecting on his own story. It’s a wonderful way to spend a few hours.

In the first part of the book Beuchner focuses on the arts, music, painting and literature as a way to become attuned to your life. Music is a particularly good way to be present in the moment. In music we can feel time. It helps us focus on being in the world.

In the second half of the book, Beuchner tells stories from his own life. I particularly liked the one about Maya Angelou. They were featured on the same program each telling their story. When he introduced Angelou, he spoke of the differences between their stories, but Maya focused on the similarities. Beuchner concludes that the justification for telling your own story is that it will resonate with others.

Some of the stories are poignant. Beuchner talks of his father’s suicide. It took many years for him to come to grips with his feelings. I think that’s why he so often tells the story.

This is a lovely book. It gives you much food for thought, a book to be savored not taken at a gulp.

I received this book from Handlebar Publishing for this review.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Blessings from a Struggle with Mental Illness

Sheila Walsh has struggled with thoughts of suicide. When she was a child, her father committed suicide and like many small children she was afraid she was responsible. For years Walsh struggled alone, not willing to let others into her deepest secrets.

Then she collapsed on stage with a mental breakdown and was hospitalized. This enforced hospitalization and a confrontation with her mother finally started her on the road to embracing her problems and coming closer to God.

The basic message of this book is that God loves us, and he’s there to support us in both small problems and big tragedies. Through meditation and prayer Walsh encourages us to be truthful and not hide our deepest problems. God is there for us. She found that when she was able to confront her problems and suicidal tendencies, she became closer to God and could more easily feel his presence.

I think one of my favorite scenes in the book is when during a speech, she feels the urge to tell people about her struggles and to invite those who face similar problems to come to the stage. She was emotionally humbled when not one or two women headed for the stage. Most of the audiance came. Too many of us struggle alone and try to hide our problems even from God. I recommend this book is for anyone suffering alone.

I received this book from Handlebar Publishing for this review.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Friendship and an Escape to Regency England

Mary Davies, a talented design engineer, works at WATTS, a high tech company in which she was one of the first employees. She loves her job, but her current project, Golightly, is not going well and Mary can’t seem to involve others in giving her help.

A very attractive management consultant, Nathan, tries to help her through the difficulty. He’s obviously interested in her, but Mary can’t let him in. In fact, she pushes him away although she’d like nothing better than to chase him.

With her job going sour, Isabel, Mary’s childhood friend, invites her to a two week trip to England to stay in a gorgeous Regency estate for a Jane Austen costume party. Each person will adopt a character from Austen and dress the part of a Regency lady or gentleman for the week.

Mary doesn’t want to go, but her father, who considers Isabel a second daughter, convinces her that Isabel needs her and she needs to get away. As the week progresses, Mary realizes in a frightening way how correct he was.

This is a lovely book. The start is rather slow, introducing us to Mary and her work problems, but when the two girls get to Bath, the action picks up. The descriptions of the house, Braithwaite, the grounds, and the wardrobes for the girls are delicious. They make you want to take the same holiday.

The characters, particularly Mary, Isabel and Nathan, are very well done. You may not like Isabel all the time, but her character is perfect for her difficult childhood. The other guests staying at the house are wonderful, particularly the child, Clara, and Helene, on a holiday with her much loved eighty-year-old husband. As the characters play their roles in the Austen party, they learn about themselves and become more accepting of each other.

I highly recommend this book, particularly if you’re an Austen Fan.

I received this book from BookLook Bloggers for this review.   

Devotions for Young Women

Although this book is aimed at young women, I think it could be enjoyed by all woman. In today’s world, young women face many challenges from dating and social pressures to bullying and friendship. The devotions in this book address these issues and others in easy to read language that brings the love of God to the young woman.

The book is structured for a full year of devotions. Each page contains a scriptural message and a devotion that focuses on an aspect of the message. In addition, there are lines at the bottom of the page for making notes.

I love the design of the book. It feels solid in your hand. The pages are thick giving it a feel of permanence. This is a book that you can use for years. The art on the pages echoes the cover design and gives the book an attractive artistic appearance.

I enjoyed the devotions and highly recommend the book. I think while they are designed for young women, mothers and grandmothers would also like the book. It gives insight on how to deal with some of the issues facing their daughters and granddaughters.

I received this book from Handlebar Publishing for this review.