Monday, February 28, 2011


Mira and her sister Natalia, grow up under the veil of their mother's madness. Norma was a schizophrenic often given to crazy outbursts, physical attacks on the girls, strings of verbal vulgarity, and generally making a nuisance of herself. Norma showed up at their workplaces, wrote them crazy letters, purchased a gun, cut Mira's throat with a broken bottle, and made life hell for these two girls.

Finally, both girls were forced to move away and not tell Norma where they were, it was the only way they could live their lives in peace. Years later, after learning that Norma is dying, Mira and Natalia come home and must sift through the feelings they each held against their mother.

This was a riveting, spellbinding, and deeply entrancing read. Mira Bartok's The Memory Palace is a lesson for us all in the sadness and extremely difficult lives people live when a family member is struck with mental illness. Throughout the book I found some humour but I also found a lot of misery and melancholy. This is a book everyone should read!

February 28, 2011

Saturday, February 26, 2011


I was very disappointed in this book. I found the plot to be very predictable, the characters under-developed, the pacing was slow, and the dialogue mundane. I don't understand this constant comparison betweeen Jane Austen and Cathleen Schine. Austen writes with such charm, appeal and an attractiveness. Her words flow along like a maple leaf rippling over the water on a stream.

I'm just left shaking my head, puffing out my lips that I'm finally finished and thinking it was even more difficult to read, in part, due to my yawning! Sorry, in good conscience, I just could not give this one a good review.

February 26, 2011


Mary Baxter has lost her young daughter to meningitis and her grief is so overwhelming that it's consuming her. Mary decides to join a knitting group where she meets a cast of characters you will fall in love with. As the women of the group begin to teach Mary the stitches and finer points of knitting, they each slowly begin to reveal the secrets they themselves harbour. Only through telling their stories, is Mary able to reveal her own and ends up finding that there is a life after death.

This was beautifully written with good character development and plot line. We even encounter a surprise along the way that will leave you with your mouth sitting open!

February 26, 2011

Thursday, February 24, 2011


Fiona Sweeney is a 36-year-old librarian from New York. She decides, somewhat naively, to move to Garissa, Kenya in Africa in the hope of educating the children and adults of the small villages dotting the vast landscape through reading books and learning English. Of course, their current language is Swahili. Fiona receives help with the library by a man named Mr. Abasi and soon her mobile library becomes a reality, thanks to the 'camels' who carry the books over the rugged terrain!! As they set off, the village of Mididima becomes her favourite stop and there she meets a cast of characters you will come to love.

Written with humour, naivete, wit, and drama, The Camel Bookmobile will be sure to brighten your day. It was one of those books that left me with my head leaning back in my chair with a huge smile on my face!!

February 24, 2011

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


At only 150 pages this was quite a short and quick read. Callie is a cutter, cutting her skin removes the emotional pain she feels and replaces it with a physical pain thereby taking her mind away from her emotional problems. However, she never cuts deep enough to die or warrant emergency treatment. Most people who cut do it for the attention and it is a clear sign that they want help but won't ask for it or are afraid to ask for it.

Callie is in a residential treatment facility called 'Sea Pines' but doesn't want to participate in any of the group discussions, won't talk about her own situation and what prompts her to cut, but she can only stay silent for so long before everything comes rushing out.

This book is more geared to a youth audience, but is good for parents who can learn a lot about various teenage problems like: drug abuse, alcohol dependency, cutting and severe emotional trauma. Overall, a fairly informative book.

February 23, 2011

Monday, February 21, 2011


The Flying Carpet of Small Miracles is such an enchanting and captivating story. The writing was so vivid that I felt as though I was Hala and experiencing what she was. I could see the devastation the bombs had created, could see the injured and burned children and heard their cries of pain as though I was standing right next to them. War is never a good solution and its ramifications are not limited to the area being targeted but instead have far reaching repercussions.

The children in this story have lost and suffered more in their short lives than most of us will ever have experienced in our entire lifetime! The resilience of the families is unbelievable.

The story follows Hala, a Muslim woman who is a British journalist covering stories in war torn Iraq. Hala ultimately makes a promise to two sisters to help them after being injured in the war but finds she isn't able to keep one of those promises and then must face the grandmother she also promised. The trauma that this causes her is surreal and affects her life in ways she didn't expect. Hala must come to terms with her broken promise to the sisters', the grandmother, and also for the lack of something within herself she has wanted for years but was unable to achieve.

This was a powerful, potent, completely unforgettable, and hauntingly good memoir!!

February 21, 2011

Saturday, February 19, 2011


Chinese parenting or Western parenting - which one is better? I never really gave much thought in the past about any specific differences between the two styles. I did, however realize that a lot of Asian children seem to be more 'gifted' academically, technologically, and musically than our Western children, but put it down to longer school hours and Saturday classes in the Asian world.

Battle Hymn Of The Tiger Mother is the true story of a Chinese Mom raising her two Chinese/American daughters in the Chinese parenting way. The level of respect, obedience, altruism, and integrity that is expected from the child(ren) is almost mind-numbing! An immensely enjoyable book that had me pulled in from the first page where Ms. Chua lists some things that Chinese mothers would NEVER EVER allow their Chinese children to do.

I understood completely the comparisons and the clash of cultures and the bluntness and almost arrogant and insulting way these children are raised in. But in the end, who is the better parent? Well, that's for each of you to decide after you've read this amazing, humbling, and brutally honest story. I'd highly recommend this book to anyone!

February 19, 2011

Friday, February 18, 2011


If I Stay is a tear-jerker that will illicit emotions about things buried deep inside you. There are so many words I could use to describe this story: inspiring, funny, visceral, humbling, touching, powerful, sad yet calming.

Young Mia is a cellist who lives with her wonderfully happy family who are all musically inclined, or at least enjoys and appreciates music for the feelings and emotions it can bring out in us.

Young Mia faces a tragedy that is so profound you'll be shaking your head wondering how such a young girl is going to be able to cope with what lays before her and the decision she has to make. This is a story that will stay with you long after the last page has been turned, a book for everyone!

February 18, 2011

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

THE HIDING PLACE (Corrie ten Boom)

This is one of the most remarkable stories I've ever read. The courage, the strength and the amount of faith in God this woman possessed is truly inspiring.

Corrie ten Boom and her family where prisoners of war during the German Occupation. Her father owned a watch shop and Corrie learned the intricacies of watch repair from her father. When the occupation first began, Corrie became part of the underground and was hiding Jews in an upstairs room which was concealed behind a false wall. Eventually the Germans raided Corrie's home and she, along with her father, sister Betsie and other family members were carted off to destinations unknown at the time. Eventually they ended up at Scheveningen and then after awhile to Ravensbruck where her father and Betsie died.

Living in deplorable conditions with infestations of lice and fleas they also suffered horrendous over-crowding and smells that would upset even the strongest of stomachs. Through it all Corrie and Betsie never lost their faith in God and preached His teaching to the other women prisoners as the truth and to provide hope in this crazy nightmare they were all suffering through.

Corrie was eventually released on a "clerical error" and later found out the week after her release, the women of her barracks were taken to their deaths in the gas chambers.

Upon Corrie's return to Holland she opened a place of "renewal" in Darmstadt in 1946 for people to come too. Another home in Bloemendaal served ex-prisoners and other war victims exclusively until 1950 when it began to receive peple in need of care from the population at large.

In 1959 Corrie was part of a group that visited Ravensbruck which was then in East Germany, to honor Betsie and the 96,000 other women who died there. This is where Corrie learned that her own release had been a clerical error and that one week later all women her age were taken to the gas chambers.

In 1968, Corrie ten Boom was 76-years-old and traveling non-stop in obedience to Betsie's certainty that they must "tell people." She traveled to 61 countries, including many "unreachable" ones on the other side of the iron curtain. In her mid 80's, poor health forced an end to Corrie's missionary journey and she retired to a "retirement house" in Orange County, California provided by friends. She was bedridden and unable to speak during the last 5 years of her life and finally passed away at 11:00p.m. on her 91st birthday, April 15, 1983.

What a legacy Corrie ten Boom has left behind. One of Corrie's favourite quotes: "Every experience God gives us, every person He puts in our lives is the perfect preparation for a future that only He can see." This was one remarkable woman who led a remarkable life and who is no doubt living a remarkable life in Heaven.!

February 16, 2011

Sunday, February 13, 2011


Ann and Peter Brooks have two daughters: twelve-year-old Kate and seven-year-old Maddie who live in the comfortable suburb of Columbus, Ohio. Their baby, William, had died causing unspeakable grief for Ann and Peter. One night while driving home from a family get together, Peter announces that they should separate for awhile and tells Anne that he "still loves her", but "he's not IN love with her..." anymore. As expected, Kate and Maddie don't take the news of their parents split very well. Peter collects some clothing and moves into a very tiny one-bedroom apartment, leaving the house for Ann and the girls.

Peter is a Professor at the School of Veterinary Medicine but is now doing research. After a years separation, Ann is feeling confident that she can deal with any problems or hardships. But, just before Thanksgiving, a serious and dangerous crisis hits and topples everybody's world upside down. Out at one of the lakes close to their home, Peter and some duck hunters discover hundreds of blue-winged teal birds, mottled brown and cream, bobbing upside down in the lake. They soon learn that the avain influenza virus H5N1 is loose in their community. Everyone is trapped inside their homes making life and death decisions in an environment where even opening your front door could mean the end of you and your family.

Ann now has to make choices that will affect the lives of Kate and Maddie and others around her. Quarantined in her own home, Ann is soon forced to make her first of many life or death decisions!

An excellent debut novel geared for everyone!

February 13, 2011

Saturday, February 12, 2011


In 2003 Kay Bratt was leaving her comfortable life in the United States and heading to rural China for four years as her husband was sent there to head up a team that was opening a new factory. Amanda, their youngest daughter, would travel with them to China. Heather, Kay's eldest daughter chose to stay behind and live with her birthfather, Kay's ex-husband.

Kay's first impression of China was disappointing at best and it took her quite some time to become used to the poverty, over-crowding, the smells, the noises, and the constant barrage of people. She needed something to do, something to focus on so she became a volunteer at a local children's orphanage.

Kay soon learns about China's one child policy which created an epidemic of orphaned children. Chinese parents didn't value girls because they couldn't carry on the family name so they were more often than not, left abandoned somewhere in a park, at a train station, on the steps to a government building and other such places. Children were also regularly abandoned due to disabilities and illness.

What an eye-opening experience this turned out to be for Kay! She began to keep a journal of her experiences and the book is written in journal form making it pleasurable and easy to read. The journal is a scorching account of young lives rendered disposable. In the face of an implacable system, Kay found ways to work with (and around) the rules to make a better future for the children, whom she came to love. While often painful in it's clear-sightedness, Silent Tears balances the sadness and struggles of life in the orphanage with moments of joy, optimism, faith, and victory. It is the story of hundreds of children, and of the one woman who never planned on becoming a hero but became one anyway.

February 12, 2011

Friday, February 11, 2011


A riveting, spellbinding, sad, heartbreaking, page-turning read!! Olga Lengyel's memoir of her years as a prisoner of war in Auschwitz and Birkenau during the German occupation is at best brutually honest, forthright and glaringly real. It is truly, truly hard to fathom that people actually survived this very dark period of history. I only wish her family had lived with her and couldn't even begin to understand how you learn to continue to live on after enduring something like that.

The book is a testament to Olga's immense strength, courage, bravery, vigour, and the sheer guts it took to live through the years of torture, death and humiliation that she did. I pray that nothing like this EVER, EVER happens again. Can we not learn to live peaceful lives beside each other with our fellow human beings?

During the entire memoir, I felt for her, sympathized with her, honoured her and give her a standing ovation for having the courage to even sit down and pen this memoir which must have been terribly painful for her to do. This is a book everyone should read and one that has now become part of my permanent collection.

February 3, 2011


Sixteen-year-old Tessa has been diagnosed with cancer and it's terminal - she IS going to die. Tessa decides to make a list of all the things that she wants to experience and do before her final day comes and first on her list!

As the story proceeds, Tessa continues to work off her list one by one interspersed with visits to doctor's offices, hospital stays for transfusions and other medical procedures. Keeping true to her list is her main priority.

Her younger brother Cal can be a pain in the rear end, but deep down he loves his sister, and Zoey, Tessa's zany friend is a weird one for sure. Unfortunately, her parents are divorced but Tessa lives with her Dad who attends all her appointments with her and holds her hand during yet another lumbar puncture, a very painful procedure. Her mother is somewhat distant and Tessa doesn't ever remember her mother telling her that she loves her.

In the mix she finds a love truer than she ever thought possible but at the same times realizes that it's not always easy getting what you want and that what you want isn't always what you need.

By the end of the book I was literally bawling my eyes out. Her death was written beautifully but I was so emotionally involved in the story that I felt I was standing by the side of all the family members as she took her last breath.

The book was uplifting and not written at all in a sad, cold, detached way that many novels about death are written, but it was rather life-affirming and happy if that's possible to believe. As with any death, it is painful, but that of a child or a teenager is even more so.

Great read!!

February 4, 2011


Sarah Nickerson lives in the affluent Boston suburb of Welmont where she leads an extremely busy and hectic life. Along with her husband Bob and their three children: Lucy, Charlie and Baby Linus, they don't have much time for family togetherness. Sarah is Vice-President of Human Resources at a large firm in Boston and Bob's job is facing many lay-offs and he's hoping he's not next. Without both their incomes they wouldn't be able to continue living in the affluent neighbourhood that they do now.

One day while driving to work, in a hurry as usual and about to be late for an important meeting, Sarah begins talking and texting on her phone and takes her eyes off the road for just a second too long. She rolls her SUV and crashes!

Sarah wakes up in the hospital and discovers she's already been there for eight days and the news about her injuries are not good. Sarah has a traumatic brain injury called Left Neglect which is also known as unilateral neglect and hemispatial neglect and is a REAL neurological syndrome that occurs due to damage to the right hemisphere of the brain. People with Left Neglect aren't blind but their brains ignore information on the left side of the world, often including the left side of their own bodies. Sarah has to learn to re-walk, feed herself, read, and do all the activities of daily living that we take for granted.

Although the story is fictional, the Left Neglect is REAL!! There are more people than you and I know that have been afflicted with this particular brain injury. Could you imagine waking up every morning and not being aware that you have a left hand, a left arm, a left leg, that there are words on the left side of the page you can't see or your brain doesn't register? Can you imagine, for one moment, how frustrating that would be?

As the story continues, Sarah spends a few weeks in rehab and is then sent home where her mother comes from Cape Cod to help her with her continuing therapy. Sarah and her mother had not spoken in many years after her young brother, Nate, died when they were young children. Sarah's mother huddled in her bedroom and was never a mother to Sarah after Nate's death and Sarah regrets her showing up now after all these years. However, through rehabilitation for her brain injury there is also another type of rehabilitation taking place between Sarah and her Mom, but they don't quite see it yet.

This was an outstanding novel and one which kept me reading late into the night. I'm so fascinated by this Left Neglect that I'm going to look it up on the internet and learn more about it. This is a story for everyone!

January 21, 2011


This was a harrowing book to read!! To think that in this day and age people can act so barbaric and commit unspeakable crimes against loved ones is truly horrendous. I am so stunned at Souad's story that I don't feel I could do her justice by writing my own review. What this woman has been through is atrocious, frightful, appalling, and extremely sad. I wouldn't want, in any way, to shame Souad or make her feel I said something in my review to hurt her feelings so I will leave you with the synopsis taken from the back cover of the book.

"When Souad was seventeen she fell in love. In her West Bank village, as in so many others, sex before marriage is considered a grave dishonor to one's family and is punishable by death. This was her crime. Her brother-in-law was given the task of meting out her punishment. One morning while Souad was washing the family's clothes, he poured gasoline over her and set her on fire.

Miracuously, she survived, rescued by the women of her village, who put out the flames and took her to a local hospital. Horribly burned to over seventy per cent of her body and still denounced by her family, Souad was able to receive the care she needed only after the intervention of a European aid worker. Now in permanent exile from her homeland, she has decided to tell her story and reveal the barbarity of a practice that continues to this day.

BURNED ALIVE is the first true account ever published by a victim of an "honor crime". Souad's inspiring testimony is a shocking, moving, and harrowing story of cruelty and incomparable courage...and an inspiring call to action to end a heinous tradition."

I personally, give Souad a standing ovation for having the strength and courage to tell her story. To stand up and be counted both as a woman and as a human being and to be immensely proud of who she is and what she has heart and my prayers will be with you always, Souad!!!

February 9, 2011


Imagine finding a baby with 3rd and 4th degree burns to over 70 percent of it's body left laying in a field to die? That is exactly what the villagers of a poor farming community just outside Langfang City in China found. With approximately 40 villagers seeking the sound of the horrendous shrieking cries scouring the field for the source, only one kind-hearted gentleman was willing to pick up the baby and thus begin the "Saving [of] Levi".

Only when this one lone man found it in his heart to pick up Levi did he really begin a chain of events that would not only save the child's life, but spark an amazing chain of events that would bring people from various countries and faiths together in a successful battle against time to save Levi's life.

This is a compelling and true story, a story of immense love, kindness, caring, faith and God and the power He has to invoke healing where He sees fit. My hat goes off to the many, many people spoken about in this book who aided in Levi's journey, but more so to the Bentley family for their daring, their deep faith and their unconditional love for an abandoned child who needed someone to care!

This story will touch your heart at its deepest level and will remind you that with faith and a solid belief in your God, that all things are possible. Good luck little Levi!

February 8, 2011

Thursday, February 10, 2011


Abigail and her husband Rich lived happily in Manhattan. On April 24, 2000 while Rich is out walking their dog he is hit by a car and sustains a traumatic brain injury. His skull was shattered, his perception of time and reality forever altered. After being hospitalized, Rich is moved to a home where they had experience caring for people with traumatic brain injuries.

Abigail lives alone with her 3 dogs and visits Rich regularly but she never knows from one day to the next how she will find him. Rich has no short term memory whatsoever and can't even remember what he did five minutes ago.

In this memoir, Abigail captures not only the experience of watching a loved one slip into an unreachable world, but also the amazing strength and courage it takes to face life's darkest nights alone. In reading this book, it made me think about how well or not well I would handle my life after such a tragic loss.

February 10, 2011


Personally, I found this book to be a little boring with not much of a story. It was quite uninteresting and lacked character development. I also found the story to be quite predictable, so I'll just leave you with the synopsis taken from the book cover and then you can draw your own conclusions.

"Lilly Gray Corbett loves living on Troublesome Creek, but she would much rather play with her best friend than watch her little brother and the twins. Her mama, Copper, is often gone helping birth babies, and Lilly has to stay home and help. When Aunt Alice sends a note inviting her to visit in the city, Lilly is excited to go.

Copper isn't quite ready to let her young daughter travel all the way to Lexington by herself, but she reluctantly agrees to let Lilly go. When Copper and her husband John hear news that Lilly's train crashed, they rush to find out if their daughter is injured or even alive!"

January 28, 2011


Considered to be the world's best bounty hunter (and I happen to agree), Duane "Dog" Chapman lays out in this book his ways of catching fugitives, the mistakes he's made in his life, the capture of Andrew Lustre in Mexico then finding himself in jail over it. I believe that incident took a huge toll on Dog and one he'll never forget. I think it was terribly unfair that he was NOT awarded the $300,000.00 award for Lustre's capture.

Dog is a deeply spiritual man who loves God, Beth and the rest of his family. Nothing else is closer to him in his life and his sincerity is genuine.

Dog understands the criminal's mind and the way they work and think as he himself was a criminal, spending time in Huntsville prison in Texas. He understands what makes them tick, what gets their goat, which buttons to push when on a bounty and trying to locate the scum that skipped the bond. You need to remember that Dog himself was once a drug addict and on the wrong side of the law. Dog has seen it all and done it all and although he only has a Grade 7 education, he is an extremely intelligent man who is worldly and knowledgeable about so, so many things.

Dog beat the strong odds against him by busting out of his drug addicted, gang-banger, prisoner ways and became a man to be looked up to and admired. He has a huge fan base from around the world and people flock to meet him, they know deep in their hearts that he is a sincere man who deeply feels every word he says. The advice he gives his jumps when he captures them is real, authentic and heartfelt. Dog is the man of "second chances!"

I would highly recommend this book to everyone, you'll be surprised at the man you're about to meet in this memoir. If you had a negative perception of Dog previous to reading this book, I can almost guarantee that pretty much everyone who chooses to read this WILL change their mind.

All the best Dog, keep on keeping the streets safe!

January 25, 2011


In his early twenties, Conor Grennan thought he'd take a year off work and travel around the world. However, he originally wanted to brag to young women that he was going to do something special during his year away like saving children and that's exactly what he ended up doing. Little did he know at the time that his 3-month volunteer stint in Nepal would turn into two years!!

These children were orphaned and Conor wasn't exactly sure if he wanted to get involved with a developing country in the middle of a civil war. But he soon came to learn that he felt more for these children that he thought he ever would. How could he walk away from these smiling children who were totally alone and had come to love him so very, very much?

The children weren't really orphans but servants for families who child traffickers were promising families in remote villages to protect their children from the civil war for huge sums of money and then lying and saying they would take their child(ren) to safety. The children would then be abandoned far, far from their original homes in the civil uprising of Nepal's capital, Kathmandu.

Conor soon found this bragging idea of his to be the adventure of his life when he becomes totally committed to reunite the children he had grown to love with their families, but it would be a very difficult job indeed. Conor would end up risking is own life on a journey through the legendary mountains of Neapl, facing the dangers of a bloody civil war and a debilitating injury to his knee and the threat of being snowed in, in the cold. Waiting back in Kathmandu was Liz, the woman who would eventually become his wife and share in his life's work.

Conor sets up a home called "Next Generation Nepal" and did fundraising back in the United States to buy the home, furnish it with furniture, stoves, beds, blankets, and pillows for the children he hoped to house there. He figured he could accept approximately 26 children and all these children came to love Conor dearly. With a total of $6,000.00 raised he began to build the home.

"Little Princes" was an inspiring, stirring, moving, page-turning adventure that you won't be able to put down. Beating this novel for the top spot in 2011 will be difficult although I've already said that about one other book this year!

January 26, 2011


"The Spare Room" is a short novel at only 195 pages about a woman named Helen whose old friend Nicola, is dying from cancer and comes to stay with her for 3 weeks so she can attend an alternative therapy clinic. Helen is excited about her friend coming to stay and does what she can to make sure she feels welcome by readying her spare room for her with a lovely rug, curtains, nice bedding and a few other touches.

Helen decides she is going to be supportive, encouraging and nurturing during Nicola's time with her but soon finds these feelings difficult to express when conflict appears in their opinions regarding this alternative therapy. Helen feels the people at the clinic are a bunch of quacks that are taking advantage of Nicola and sucking every last dime out of her in hefty payments for these treatments. Helen becomes more and more uncomfortable with the treatments that Nicloa is getting because they make her terribly, terribly ill to the point the woman can't even stand up and shakes so violently you'd think there was an earthquake occuring! Nicola, on the other hand, is hanging onto hope and desperately trying to avoid self-pitying herself and disregards Helen's caretaking.

You'll feel both sympathy yet understanding on Helen and Nicola's parts and although this book is fiction, it does read like real life and not a word is wasted here. It makes you stop to think about alternative therapy as being a choice in fighting cancer, but at the same time, reminds you to be "careful" and research any treatment options you do choose, well.

Excellent novel that is quick but sad, in a good way!

January 19, 2011


Gabriel McQueen was home for a weekend on leave from the military and his father is the Sheriff of a small town in Maine but the minute Gabriel arrives there is trouble. Gabriel is anxious to get to his mother's house to see his son Sam, but the Sheriff needs him for an important job first. Young Sam lives with Gabriel's mother after becoming a widower the year before when his wife Marianne died. It's been tough on them both.

Sheriff McQueen wants Gabriel to drive up the mountain to the old Helton place to check on Lolly Helton who is here for a weekend herself to get her deceased father's home ready for sale. However, they believe she is unaware that a huge ice storm is coming in and coming fast and there would be no way off the mountain if someone didn't get her right away.

With trepidation, Gabriel agrees to go but first stops at his Mother's place to see his son, collect some warm clothing, boots and thermos of hot soup and coffee. Quickly saying goodbye to his son Sam, and promising he'll be back in a couple of hours, Gabriel sets off on the rescue.

However, the weather isn't playing nice and the storm is advancing much quicker than everyone had thought and Gabriel's big Ford F250 truck is having trouble manoeuvering the steep, icy mountain road. He drives as far as he possibly can then decides he'll have to walk the rest of the way.

Through much slipping and sliding, enduring sharp, stinging ice pellets in the face, Gabriel reaches Lolly's house but sees two people with guns through her livingroom window and quickly realizes Lolly is in terrible danger. With his military training, Gabriele kicks into high gear and helps Lolly escape but her captors discover she's gone and goes after them.

It doesn't take the bad guys long to catch up when suddenly bullets are whizzing by Gabriele's and Lolly's heads. Can they make it out and back down the mountain alive? And do Lolly and Gabriele get more than they bargained for in the end?

Excellent read for a snowy afternoon!

January 18, 2011


Rosalind or Rose is the first born in the Andreas family, Bianca or Bean second, and Cordelia (Cordy) last. Recognize any of these names? They're all taken from Shakespeare. You see, their father, Dr. James Andreas is a professor of English literature at Barnwell College and he LOVES Shakespeare and raised his girls with the "...sonnets as nursery rhymes..." and taught his girls to say things like you're: "...a fat-kidneyed rascal..." while mad at a friend instead of calling them an idiot. To say Dr. Andreas isn't eccentric wouldn't be far from the truth.

Each daughter comes home because they've learned that their mother has breast cancer and the funny thing about the novel, we never do find out their Mom's name throughout the entire story. Hmmm....wonder why that could be? Anyway, Cordy who is broke and basically homeless steals a pregnancy test from a drugstore and confirms her suspicions that she is indeed pregnant. And how does she think she can be a Mom and raise a babe in arms when she has to "steal" the very test to prove she is having a baby? Bean gets caught stealing money from her company to finance her bent for expensive jewellery, shoes, clothing, and Broadway shows in Manhattan's elite district. Luckily for Bean, the company only requests her letter of resignation and a promise to pay back the money she stole from them. She immediaately goes home, packs her stuff, empties her ATM account and buys an old car from a friend and heads home to her parents. Bean realizes the company could have called the police and had her arrested like a criminal and she'd be in jail. She'd never even thought this as a possibility while she was 'doing' the stealling, only after she got caught.

Later, Rose, Jonathan (Rose's fiance), James and Rose's Mother were sitting in a Chinese restaurant having dinner when James says he has an announcement to make but before he can say anything, Rose's mother blurts out: "I have breast cancer." She further informs them they've been to the oncologist and the tumour is malignant, quite large but hasn't spread. She would have chemo first to shrink the tumour and then a mastectomy. The following day, Rose broke her lease, packed up and moved home, uninvited!

Rose asks Bean what she is doing here because her parents hadn't said she was coming home. Bean retorts: "I didn't tell them I was coming." Rose and Bean continue their "snipping" and "sarcasm" back and forth: "Not everyone wants to live in New York City" Rose says to Bean. "And that's a good thing. It's crowded enough already there", Bean retorts. "You really quit your job?" asks Rose. "Yes. Why is that so hard to believe" answers Bean. "I don't know. I guess I just thought you might have mentioned it to us or something. That you were plannning to" responds Rose. "What, in our chatty once-a-week calls?" Bean sneered, and on it went. Rrreeow, and the cat's nails come out!!!

Beans begins to realize that her mother is dying, she herself was a criminal, Rose was a bitch and life wasn't about to get better anytime soon.

These three sisters are always imagining and playing in their heads what they think each of their other sisters would say about something they were doing or seeing. They perceive each other as "snippy, snappy and sarcastic."

Cordy arrives home at 2:00 o'clock in the morning and Rose finally had her wish that all three sisters were home again. Remember, she is pregnant.

Rose begins to realize her "need" and "desire" to be the caretaker for everyone in her family and her life comes from within herself. There are no extrinsic factors, it's all intrinsic. Rose also begins to realize that their parent's lives didn't just suddenly start with the birth of the three of them. But that they both had lives prior to them. Hmmm...what a humbling thought, and it dawns on her that she doesn't really know her mother at all.

Cordy too is finally figuring out that her parents were human too, that they had: "...dreams and feelings and scars."

But in the end, they discover they are much, much more alike than they could have ever dreamed and that "snippy, sarcastic" bond; well, let's just say it too is much more than they ever imagined possible. These 'Three Weird Sisters' could NEVER function alone, without each other and there is a lot more to this story that what I've mentioned here.

Eleanor Brown has penned a stupendous novel and one that everyone should read! I was sorry to see it end and would love to see a sequel!! You're gonna love it!

January 17, 2011


Ian, a former executive and his 10-year-old daughter, Mattie, are grieving for the wife/mother they lost through death ten months ago. The pain of their grief is real and so intense that it is affecting them emotionally, physically and spiritually. Kate was the nail that held this family together and without her that nail is coming lose and the bond between Ian and Mattie isn't what it used to be. Each of them misses Kate so much that the grief is overwhelming.

Kate had left a birthday package behind for Ian with instructions not to open it until his birthday which happens to be today. Inside he finds a beautifully written letter expressing her undying love for Ian and Mattie. In the letter Kate asks Ian to take Mattie on the trip to Asisa that the three of them were going to take to celebrate their 15th wedding anniversary. With the letter are 12 film canisters, 6 for Ian and 6 for Mattie which they are not to open until they are in the country that represents the name on the front of each canister and they are to follow their "original" itinerary. Japan was where Ian and Mattie fell in love.

A year and a half after Kate's death, Ian and Mattie are sitting in a restuarant in Tokyo, Japan trying to decide which type of sushi to try: the ones on the blue plates, green plates or red plates. Each one represents a higher priced meal. Ian was not happy about returning to Japan and felt Kate was asking too much of him. He still had too much grief and felt: "...he couldn't walk through memories that could never be relived", but for Mattie's sake he was going to try and convince her he was having a good time.

Mattie wanted to open the first cannister the following day but Ian convinced her to wait an extra day as he just wasn't ready to deal with it. Mattie however, knew that her Dad was worried about the canisters as she had seen him suffer so much but Ian was totally unaware of this knowledge Mattie had. He didn't know she could hear him crying in the shower late at night.

The first person they meet is Akiko, a school teacher who was out on a field trip with her students. Ian stops and tells the teacher he and his wife used to teach English in Japan which surprises Akiko because she also is an English teacher! Ian and Mattie go back to the school with Akiko and her students where Ian teaches them a game called "Chinese Whispers". From there, he and Mattie continue their travels throughout Asia and meet many wonderful people who are kind and understanding. Their experiences mean different things to each other but never far from their minds is Kate. Their enduring affection for her is overwhelming and grief is hard, painful work.

This novel is about a spiritual and emotional journey. A novel of family, love, transformation and how death doesn't mean we need to stop loving our dearly departed no matter how much time has passed. I think Kate new she was the nail that held this family together which prompted her to pen the letter and make the request for travel in the first place. One of the things that Ian and Mattie learn is: love is forever enduring!

John Shors has once again penned an incredible novel and one that will stay with you long after you've turned the last page! His knowledge and research of the people and places in each novel are so thoroughly researched and his ability to handle the written word is unbelievably magnificent!! Thanks John for another great novel!!

January 11, 2011


In "Dragon House", the "street children" are the heart and soul of the novel. A heart and soul that beats and is alive with consciousness, thought, feeling, will and moral nature!

Iris lives on the 20th floor of a high-rise apartment in Chicago, Illinois. Her father has passed away five weeks previously from cancer. As a young child Iris was hurt and confused about her father's frequent absences and couldn't understand how he could love her so much but still leave her. As the years progressed and she became a teenager, her feelings of pain and confusion turned to resentment until she'd graduated from college and began to understand why her father had been gone as often as he was. He had some very deep emotional wounds leftover from the war in Vietnam. Not only from the atrocities of the war itself as one would expect, but most importantly to him, the "street children". Prior to his death he had begun to work on a center to house 20 female street children but unfortunately passed away before ever completing his dream.

Four days prior to leaving for Saigon, Iris receives an unexpected visit from an old neighbour named Mrs. Woods'. She has come to beg Iris to take her son Noah with her to Vietnam and explains that he had returned from the war in Iraq with one leg missing and half of his forehead. Iris had known Noah growing up and was devastated to hear this horrible news regarding the extent of his injuries. However, Iris doesn't understand what a man in Noah's condition could possibly get out of visiting Saigon, or how it would make him happier and better able to cope with his devastating injuries, but she agrees and tells Mrs. Woods that she'll take Noah with her.

Once in Saigon or Ho Chi Minh City, we meet Mai and Minh, street children who play a game called "Connect Four'' to win "one" American dollar per game and then turn the money over to a horribly cruel man named Loc. The atrocities Loc has layed upon these two children is nothing short of cruel and abhorrent and as the story progresses so does his expectations of Mai and Minh. The price of disobedience on their part is very high and totally devastating. The two children sleep under a bridge inside a traditional fishing boat that they swam out on the water to claim. The boat only contains a blanket and two extra sets of clothes each. However, it also contains a false bottom that holds $14.00 American dollars, a year of savings that Loc would beat them for if he ever discovered it. Mai and Minh hope one day to escape and leave Loc far behind but this is an extremely dangerous idea because if captured, the punishment would be severe as Minh learns later why he is missing one hand.

Qui is 51-years-old and her grand-daughter Tam is 7-years-old. Tam is ill with a fatal illness and Qui spends her days selling books to tourists to make enough money to purchase the pain medication that Tam so desperately needs. Tam's own mother abandoned her and is in Thailand. The sad thing is that Tam is dying and Qui tells Tam that one day she would: "...fall into a sleep that would magically take her into a different world, into a realm where children weren't sick, where they swam in warm seas, where they awoke each morning nestled between their mother and father." Tam so believed in this that Qui could never destroy this belief. Qui is beside herself with worry over Tam as she begins to have more and more bad days where her breathing is hard, she is tired, has no appetite, her heads hurts and her little joints ache so, so badly. The entire story of Qui and Tam will have you weeping on bended knees.

Iris, in the meantime, has settled into her hotel room and is frightened and wondering why she had come and thinking perhaps she shouldn't have and maybe just allowed her father's dream of opening his center for street children to die along with him. Hesitantly, Iris and Noah set out to find the Ben Thanh Market area where the center is located and are utterly stunned and touched to find what the sign reads above the center! Inside they meet Thien, her father's cook and assistant. Thien is a beautiful woman with a beautiful voice and the personality of an angel. She tells Iris about the "street children" who are dirty, their hair is uncombed, some are crippled, abandoned, and that the streets destroy them. They often begin to: "...steal, to sell drugs, to sell themselves. They have no choice." She tells Iris that her father understood this and it was why he wanted so badly to open this center so these children could come in off the streets and learn and be safe. Thien asks Iris to walk through the streets with her to see first-hand what she is talking about.

Noah as this point is still self-absorbed and drinking heavily. He enjoys sleeping because his world is dark and his body cannot remind him of his painful injuries, the loss of his best friend Wes in Iraq and his anger and hatred toward those whose: "...lies cost him his friend and his leg." When Noah is awake, he feels his world is actually dark. He is afraid for the world because he lacks the power to save himself from his thoughts, his pain and his hatred. He is spiteful of his loved ones as he is: "...envious of their happiness, their lives free of pain..." and the fact they can't understand his own suffering. When he looks into a mirror: "...he sees a stranger." He eventually reveals to Iris, his bitterness at government for what he saw as "lies" to the deployed soldiers, that Iraq was hiding weapons of mass destruction but none were ever found. Although they did capture Saddam Hussein and helped and watched people topple statues of Saddam, his anger is due to the death of his friend Wes and others like him because the government lied about the weapons. He feels had the government not done that, they wouldn't have been pulled from Afghanistan and sent to Iraq and all those soldiers who died needlessly would still be alive today.

We also meet Sahn, a policeman who patrols Le Cong Kieu Street and takes bribes from store owners for protection and for Sahn to turn his head away from items they may be selling illegally. But...we also learn an important secret about Sahn which if anyone found out about, he'd lose his job and become destitute. The only person who knows his secret is Qui!

The entire message in this novel is about the plight of street children, not only in Vietnam but around the world. The suffering, starvation and costs to their hearts and souls is inconceivable. This is a huge problem in our society today and it doesn't get nearly the attention it should. In such rich countries like The United States of American and Canada, it's hard to believe that we too are affected by the plight and suffering of "street children." Wouldn't it be wonderful if every city, town, and village in the world had a center for street children? That is one project that I myself would love to be a part of!!!

John Shors has written a story that is of the utmost importance and needs to be read by EVERYONE!! Next time you pass that kid on the street and they ask for a buck, think about Qui, Tam, Mai, Minh and others like them, I know I will. This is one story that will stay with me forever!!

January 10, 2011


In the 'Seventeen Second Miracle', Rex Connor learns in one summer afternoon in 1970 when his gaze is diverted for just "17" seconds, what tragedy can happen. Forty years later the waves of that day still ripple through the lives of many people, including Rex's son, Cole.

Cole Connor is a patient teacher and he has long shared his father's story with those in need. This fall, Cole has invited three struggling teenagers to learn about Rex Connor - and the 'Seventeen Second Miracle'.

The teens will hear how Rex remade his life seventeen seconds at a time-by performing small acts of kindness that sometimes had life-altering consequences. As Cole's student's learn, miracles can happen-with a little help from you. When this knowledge is put to a surprising test, what the students discover may transform your world, as it did theirs. A 'Seventeen Second Miracle' could change your life-if you let it.

Mr. Wright has such an enormous gift for writing fiction. His stories always touch the heart and soul of all who read them and they teach us something that we ponder in our minds for days and weeks to come.

January 4, 2011


John Bevan was adopted along with the other older two boys in his family: Scott and Tim. Their adoptive father was an Apple Orchardist with his own father.

This family suffered through a lot of tragedy. John's mother died in a tragic car accident but doctor's were able to save John. John's adoptive Grandpa dies and then his college age brother, Tim, who drowned in the Atlantic Ocean died and this is just too many losses for such a young man like John to endure.

During high school, John meets Emma Jane and falls in love with her. Somehow he just knows Emma Jane is the woman he's going to marry and he does, eventually. Together they have a beautiful daughter whom they name Lou, Lou, a cute, precocious and smart little girl who is the light of their lives. Soon Emma Jane is pregnant again and through ultra-sound learn this new baby is going to be a boy and they name him Willard. Tragically, Emma Jane is in a car accident one night and she dies along with her and John's unborn baby. Doctor's efforts to deliver Willard are successful, but their attempts to save his life are not.

John, filled with overwhelming grief immediately withdraws from all aspects of life and love. He decides to build and erect two crosses at the scene of Emma Jane's accident - one for Emma Jane and one for baby Willard. Leaving Lou Lou behind with Emma Jane's parents, John visits the crosses each and every day in his ever deepening grief and sorrow when one day he meets a man who appears to be repainting and caring for the crosses John made and erected. He begins to have conversations with this strange man whose only name seems to be the "Cross Gardener". Soon John realizes that he is healing more and more with every conversation with this man. isn't until they take a journey together that John really comes to see what he must embrace in this world, from the secrets of his past to the sorrow of his wife's passing - if he is to start life anew. And only as this journey ends does John realize "who" this 'Cross Gardener' may have been all along.

You will be so totally surprised by the ending of this story and to find out "who" the 'Cross Gardener' is!!

Jason F. Wright's ability to write stories of the heart is phenomenal and reminds me a lot of Richard Paul Evans. I've read some of Wright's other novels like: 'The Christmas Sweater' and the 'Wednesday Letters' and each was as truthful and touching as this one!! This is a story that everyone, young and old will enjoy and it will satisfy and leave you with a lot to think about.

January 2, 2011


Such horrific tragedy has been bestowed upon this family living in the Gaza Strip. Dr. Izzledin Abuelaish lost his wife to leukemia, three of his daughters and a neice in a bombing of his home and suffered irreparable grief.

The story is heartbreaking, sad and full of struggles and pain. However, it is Dr. Abuelaish's response to the loss of his children that made news and headlines around the world as well as winning him humanitarian awards. Most people would seek revenge in this instance but not Dr. Abuelaish, instead he called for the people of the Middle East to begin talking to each other, to learn to settle things and treat each other as they are, brothers in humanity! Palestinian, Israeli, Egyptian, Jewish, or whatever does not matter, we are all human with the same feelings and emotions.

Dr. Abuelaish's biggest wish is that his daughters will be the LAST sacrifice on the road to peace between Palestinian's and Israeli's.

This is a book we can ALL learn something from. If YOU think YOU have a hard life, read this book and see how deeply ashamed you feel for complaining. My wish is for Dr. Abuelaish's wishes to come true, that peace will be restored in the Middle East and with that, the knowledge that his daughter's did not die in vain.

January 1, 2011