Monday, June 26, 2017

Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy

Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy *****
by Eric Metaxas
Overview: Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a pastor and theologian living in Germany during WW2. Like the title states, he was not only a pastor with a prophetic understanding of the times but also became a spy and a man who eventually gave his life trying to stop Hitler.
Eric Metaxas starts this biography from the very beginning with Bonhoeffer's parents and continues until his death a few weeks before the end of the war. The book is full of letters, quotes, photos, and rich details about this man's amazing life.
Positive elements: A wonderfully written book and powerful story of God's mighty working through Bonhoeffer and so many other men and women during this awful time in history.
Negative elements: Some might see the length of the book (608 pages) as a deterrent, but it is so worth the time to read.
Conclusion: I have wanted to read this hefty book because I have read so many of Bonhoeffer's quotes in other books. He was a genius and had an amazing gift of explaining things about God and about life. He didn't set out to be a great hero; he simply obeyed God day-by-day in a culture that was slowly drifting away from following Jesus and believing the Bible. His story has greatly impacted me.
Historically, I learned a lot about Hitler and WW2 from a German point-of-view, which was very interesting and horrifying.
I would highly recommend this book to anyone.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The Day it Snowed Tortillas

The Day it Snowed Tortillas *****
by Joe Hayes

The Day it Snowed Tortillas is a lot of little stories put into one book. My favorite story was "The Thief." It is about three brothers who go to live with their god fathers so they could learn to make money. Their family was poor. The first brother learned to make clothes. And the second brother learned to make shoes. But the third brother learned to be a thief. They can only find work at the palace so the king put the third brother to many tests because he was a thief. And that is why "The Thief" is my favorite story.  
by Sabrina Staples, 9                                                                                              

Monday, June 12, 2017

The Kidnapped Prince: the life of Olaudah Equiano

The Kidnapped Prince: The life of Olaudah Equiano  *****
By Ann Cameron

Overview: This was an awesome book about a black boy who gets kidnapped when he is little, then is sold into slavery. He gets kidnapped with his sister, who the people end up separating from him. He meets his sister one other time in his life, then they never see each other again. This book is about Olaudah's life as a slave, being passed from owner to owner. It's a very hard life. He does meet some people that are very nice to him, though. 

I love this book because it shows how in the end he trusts God even more than he did in the start. There are a lot of parts where only God was the one who rescued him. He has a really hard life, and there are a lot of details. This is also a true story. In 1789, Olaudah published his autobiography. This was a great story!

Positive Elements:  Friendship, and some love

Negative Elements: There is a lot of detail about his really hard life. 

Conclusion:  This was a great book which I think you should read. It would be good for ages 8 & up.

by Summer Staples, 11 



Touch Blue

Touch Blue *****
by Cynthia Lord 

Touch Blue is a book about a family who take in a foster child to keep their school open. On their little island, Tess and Liddy have to learn to get along with Aaron, the new foster child. Tess learns the importance of family, the love that you have to give them, and how important they are to us even if you don't realize it. Aaron learns the importance of trust. He had been to so many foster homes that he had lost trust. Tess has all these lucky things. And one of them is a piece of blue sea glass because the saying is, "Touch blue, and your wish will come."

I think kids 8 and up should read this book because I liked the meaning of the book.

by Sabrina Staples, 9

Monday, June 5, 2017

Life After

Life After *****
by Katie Ganshert
Overview: A passenger train in Chicago is bombed. There is one survivor. This is her story of coming to terms with why she lived and learning how to move forward with her life.

Positive elements: well-written, clean, some good twists

Negative elements: a bit predictable

Conclusion: This is the first book I've read by Katie Ganshert. Initially, I was worried that it might be depressing or graphically violent due to the subject matter. It was neither. I could tell from the near beginning who the heroine was going to fall in love with and almost quit reading the book. I don't enjoy books that are too predictable. But the story began to have some twists just as I was about to quit. So, I kept reading. 

I would recommend this book for a nice, relaxing read. It deals with some serious themes but not in a heavy way. And I loved that it was perfectly clean in every way.

The Lucky Few

The Lucky Few *****
by Heather Avis

Overview: After Heather finds out she can't have children, her and her husband begin pursuing adopting a baby. Then a baby comes up for adoption with Down Syndrome. Despite her considerable medical needs, they decide to adopt her. Over the next few years, God leads them to adopt another daughter out of the foster care system and then a son with Down Syndrome.

Positive elements: well-written, easy to read, powerful story

Negative elements: none

Conclusion: I really enjoyed Heather's honest look at adoption, especially in relation to Down Syndrome. I also enjoyed her perspective on the relationships she has with the birth parents of her children. Each relationship looks different, and she shares some of the things God has taught her through them. The book also has some really cute pictures of her kids.

This is a quick, easy read. You don't get bogged down in many of the actual adoption details or medical details. The book mostly focuses on the kids and how God grows their family in a special way.

This would be an encouraging read for anyone passionate about adoption.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

At Home in the World

At Home in the World *****
by Tsh Oxenreider

Overview: Tsh and her husband Kyle take their three young children on a nine-month trip to visit nineteen countries around the world. She writes about their experiences traveling as a family and her search to find balance between enjoying the comforts of home and traveling the world. She speaks about her search for peace and her struggle with depression. She shares some of her poetry and describes all the amazing food they eat on their travels.

Positive elements: well-written, enjoyable, and a little thought-provoking

Negative elements: made me green with envy to travel the world :)
Conclusion: I love her ponderings on the difference between stability and travel. She quotes monk Thomas Merton on stability, "By making a vow of stability the monk renounces the vain hope of wandering off to find a 'perfect monastery.' This implies a deep act of faith: the recognition that it does not much matter where we are or whom we live with."

Tsh shares a quote from Elizabeth Barrett Browning:
Earth's crammed with heaven,
and every common bush afire with God:
But only he who sees, takes off his shoes,
the rest sit round it, and pluck blackberries...

She concludes, "I've seen the earth crammed with heaven...Wanderlust and my longing for home are birthed from the same place: a desire to find the ultimate spot this side of heaven...I love finding one more new place to explore, I love sowing it to my kids, and I love wandering those new streets with Kyle. But unless the flickering bushes compel me to remove my shoes, traveling the world will never satisfy. Neither with the daily liturgy of normal life back home. The laundry folding and bill paying would do you in. I'd resign myself to plucking blackberries." 

I'd recommend this book to anyone who loves to travel or the idea of traveling.