Saturday, April 21, 2018

The Only Girl in the World, by Maude Julien

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I love reading stories of survival.  This is most certainly one of those.  I finished this a couple weeks, ago but life keeps being life and taking up all my time.

This woman... You know, I have to believe that God made certain spirits super strong and wise because He knew what they would be up against when they came to this earth.  She was born into an interesting situation.  I say interesting, but really... there are no words.

Her mother was six when her father found her family.  They were struggling and he was wealthy, so he said he would take care of her.  He promised she would have the best education and be well-looked after.  He did just that.  She was in boarding schools and received the finest education.  His purpose was a twisted one, to say the least.  As soon as she was of marrying age, he married her.  He wanted to raise up a child of his own - born on a specific day with blonde hair and a girl.  Somehow he orchestrated the part of that plan he could and she was born on the day he wanted and happened to have blonde hair.  In a nutshell, he wanted to raise a superhuman who would someday rise up among the human race.

She faced grueling tasks in order to shape her into the person he believed she was and would become.  Grueling by definition means extremely tiring and demanding.  That's putting it lightly.  As a child, she only got maybe six hours of sleep a night, had to endure ridiculous "tests", and was never loved either verbally or physically.  But by age 10, she started to see through her father's... I want to say psychotic-ness.  Nothing else can describe this man.  He was delusional in every sense of the word.  She was blessed with a strong mind and was able to finally see her way out of his grasp.  Her mother was brainwashed by him and showed her no love or affection.  In fact, she believed her mother both feared and was in awe of her father. 

The story ends well.  She grows up, is saved by a music instructor who sees quite clearly the situation she was in and how she needed an escape.  He cleverly provided that escape and she was finally able to leave the prison that was her home.  Her survival tactics amaze me.  The things she did to stay sane amaze me.  She is a remarkable woman whose strength was necessary to be able to withstand her childhood and her parents. 

It's definitely a good read.  Shocking and flabbergasting; this woman is amazing.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

The Invisible Girls, by Sarah Thebarge

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This book.  This is why I love memoirs.  To read these stories of real people feels like I'm adding them to my own life.  By reading them, I feel like they're becoming a part of my life, adding color and character and depth and sweetness.  I love these people.  I wish I could embrace them and tell them I know their story.  I wish I could thank them in person for sharing their lives with me.

I learned about this book at a job interview.  I never got the job, which I'm quite ok with - it would've been a move of desperation on my part to accept it, anyway.  But, this book...  I am so very glad I went to that interview.  The person I interviewed with and I were somehow on the topic of religion or people or something.  I can't remember exactly how this came up but she mentioned a woman speaking to the congregation at the church where she attends and how she wrote a book about her experiences.  I told her those are my favorite kind of books and made a note to see if my library had it.  They did and I am so glad.  What a sweet story of strength, courage, and survival.  But mostly about love.

I finished this book over a week, ago - I've been making notes as I read because it was something I had to digest a little at a time while trying to take it in all at once.

It's a brave woman's story of her unusual upbringing, followed by a change in her parents and their ways of doing things, which led to her well-educated future.  She alternately tells two stories - one of her battle with breast cancer at age 27 and the other of falling in love with a Somali refugee family. 

As I read of her battle, my heart just broke.  (This book made me cry almost every time I picked it up to read it.)  That she could not only feel so alone but BE so alone... I sincerely hope her "friends" read this and feel the guilt they deserve to feel and then some.  The people who were supposed to bring her meals and didn't, my gosh.  How could they? How could they? The visits stopped, communication stopped.  Her fiance left her.  It's incredible the way she made it through her lowest points.  She questioned God the whole time, wondering where He was or if He even cared and how could He let this happen to her?

But then - oh, then - she meets the sweetest family on the bus.  She cares for them, clothes them, feeds them, loves them... and in turn, they help her heal.  They help her find her purpose, they help her find God.  More, they help her see that He was there the whole time.  She likened her trial to a mother who happened to be a doctor she worked with.  Her daughter was sick.  The nurses had to hold her down to get an IV started and her daughter just cried for her, pleading with her to help her.  Yet, she stood by the wall and let the nurses do their thing.  When they were done with this traumatic event, the mother scooped her little girl up and reassured her that she was there.  She felt like God had done the same thing.  He had to let the trial do its thing.  But He was there, hurting along with her.  And when she finally got through it, He was there to scoop her up.  I can't put into words her testimony at the end (mostly because I don't have the book to reference and she put it so gracefully), but it was so great and so profound. 

This is definitely a book I would highly recommend.  It was so well-written and touched my soul.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Illusions, by Richard Bach

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I finished this a bit, ago.  My daughter borrowed this book from a friend and loved it.  She couldn't stop talking about it or quoting it.  Some of the things she said had me curious... something about a messiah.  We're religious folk so I had to check it out to see what exactly my daughter was filling her head with.

It's an interesting book, I'll give it that.  Nothing I needed to be worried about as far as controversial teachings, by any means.

A man meets another man, both own planes and give locals a ride for a small price.  The first man figures there's something about the other - he feels drawn to him and can't figure out why.  Turns out, the second man is a so-called messiah of some sort.  The first man has the makings of one and is to learn to hone his "skill" from the second who's just trying to live a normal life and not draw a crowd.

One thing I found strange was this messiah basically said everyone is their own messiah, which I do not agree with.  There were some concepts I was on board with, though.  The general message that I did agree with is the mind is more powerful than we give it credit for and we more or less limit our own abilities simply by thinking things are impossible.

This is a work of fiction and was originally published in 1977.  It's not like The DaVinci Code where one ends up questioning the reality of certain notions and ideas, it's just a pointless book about two men who cross paths and one teaches the other about life (or what is reality and what isn't - it's full of fanciful and ridiculous ideas at times).  The author either had some crazy views or some profound understandings about certain things.

It wasn't a quick read for me because I didn't find it to be a page-turner.  It could be a quick read for someone who was more into it than I was, I'm sure.  It was an ok one-timer.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Mata Hari's Last Dance, by Michelle Moran

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Another excellent book by Michelle Moran.  I have read them all and I've loved every single one.  She writes so very well.  It's obvious as you read her work that she does her research.  She writes historical fiction and certainly has great talent. 

I've seen a documentary of sorts on Mata Hari - I knew she was a dancer for "social events" and that she was thought to be a spy.  She wasn't just a dancer... she was an exotic dancer.  Yeah, she danced in the nude.  Quite a shock and sensation for the time period.  "She earned her title on her back" is a line from this book, speaking of another character, but I think the same could be said for Mata Hari.  She was never at a loss for lovers.  Sugar daddies, really.  haha  They paid for her places of residence, clothing, jewelry, etc.  Her love was for one man, though.  Well, three... She was a spy, but for whom? Her side of the story says France.  She was executed (shot in the chest by 12 men) because she was tried and convicted as a spy for Germany, which she was not.  This isn't proved until after her death, of course.  She had children with an abusive man, lost her parents at a young age, and had a rough go of it, at first.  She made a lot of money through her shows and lovers.  She died with as much dignity as she could muster.  She was a teller of tales so the author notes knowing her real story might never be possible. 

Very entertaining - I read it in one day.  I would definitely recommend it, as I do all of this author's books. 

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Half Broke Horses, by Jeannette Walls

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Another excellent story told by this woman. 

It says "a true life novel" on the cover because it's the stories of her grandmother, her mother's mother, as she remembers them and her own memories of her, told in first person point of view.  She said she wanted to do it this way so grandmother's personality could really be felt.  And it was. 

After reading this, I can see where her (the author) mother gets her "unique" way of looking at and living life.  The Glass Castle had me wanting to slap her (the author's mother).  Seeing how she was as a child and teenager kind of puts things into perspective.  This book starts with her grandmother as a little girl and continues up through her own (the author's) birth.  Her grandmother was a sensible woman with a strong personality, her mother was kind of a flake, in my opinion, but not wholly because of her upbringing.  I think she was just one of those apples that fell a little far from the tree.  The author brings sensibility back to the family because of her upbringing (in spite of, really), and I think she definitely has a lot of her grandmother in her.  They're both smart, strong women who had it in them to survive what life handed to them.

If you're going to read this or The Glass Castle, read this one, first.  It's not necessary, but the chronology would fit nicely.  And you might have more kindness in your heart towards the author's mother instead of the utter disbelief and pretty much disgust that I had for her. 

Definitely a book I would recommend.  It's a good one.  I love the way this author writes - I hope she puts out more stories as I've now read them all. 

Thursday, December 28, 2017

The Noel Diary, by Richard Paul Evans

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My turn came up for the newest RPE book... I started it last night at about 8pm - and finished it this morning at 1:30am.  It was good.  haha

He said in his emails leading up to the release of this book (if I remember, correctly) that this story has more of his personal life experience than any of his other books.  It's his wife's new favorite of his.  So, naturally, I had to read it.  I just didn't plan on reading it in one night.  haha

Like his others, it was very well-written.  I think that's why they're such quick reads - they just flow.  He certainly has a way with words.  The more books of his I read (I've read them all... except his science fiction series - which are still written well, I just don't dig that sort of storyline.  I read the first one, which I loved.  But mostly through the second one, I decided it just wasn't my thing.), the more I feel like I can see a lot of who he is through his writing.  I wonder how much of his stories come from real life experiences and people he's met.  He kind of hints at things like that in some of his recent books I've read.  It's almost like he's sneaking in small confessions or something.  haha

This is a story about a boy-turned-man, still hurting and trying to heal the pain of his childhood.  He finds someone along his journey who is attempting the same thing, only to find their lives are more intertwined than they knew upon meeting.  Of course, there's the love story - not too sappy.  They never are.  I love that about his books.  Clean and nice - not too much gush.  And there are always additions to the story that make them not sticky sweet.  I like that.  These things could happen in real life... One can hope, anyway.

I would highly recommend this book, too.  I recommend all of his books.  He has a flair for the written word.  I'm certainly glad he didn't hide his talent under a bush and instead shared it with the world.  He's my fave.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

The Mistletoe Inn, by Richard Paul Evans

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This! This is the perfect example of why I love RPE's books! Oh, how I love them!!

He writes so incredibly well! In this book, he inconspicuously gives tips on writing and publishing and becoming an author, in general.  He has a writer's retreat, just like in this book, he even uses his agent's name as a character - a literary agent, actually.  It's about a woman who's ready to give up on love and her writing aspirations when she comes across a writers workshop - for romance writers, of all things.  Her father pays for her to go but she's reluctant because of some not good news he just gave her... but that's all I'm going to say.  You'll have to read it to find out how wonderful it is.  ;)

I love his way of weaving a story; of creating the characters and plot line and all the details in between.  I love that I got to read this before Christmas (I had been on a waiting list).  I'm still on a waiting list for his newest holiday book, which I would imagine will still be a few weeks before my turn comes up.  Won't stop me from reading it, though. 

Man, I love his books.  This one renewed my desire for more - it almost has me wanting to go back and read every single one of them.  He's clean, funny, real, and just so knowledgeable about what he writes.  It's apparent he pulls from his own life in many cases... or at least I would imagine he does.

He just knows women so well and writes them so well and knows how to pull at their heartstrings.  His romances are never cheesy and always just right.  I love them, for sure.  (Not that I haven't made that clear, yet.)

As always, I would definitely recommend reading this if you want something light, quick and enjoyable.  I just saw that it was made into a movie just this year - of the Hallmark sort, of course - and I want to see it! I wish I had cable! Maybe Netflix will pick it up for next year... One can hope.  :)

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

The Christmas Sweater, by Glenn Beck

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I found this book at Goodwill and am very glad I bought it.  I normally don't buy books till after I've read them and will likely read them, again.  I'll be reading this, again.  It was a sweet book.

It's a work of fiction but based on his true life experiences.  It's heart-breaking at some parts and uplifting at others... he wrote it very well.  It's a story of redemption and forgiveness and spiritual growth.  Very good for this time of year.  Again, I'm unsure of how much to say about it because I don't want to give the story away.  It's about a boy who learns one of life's hardest lessons and experiences the opportunity to make things better.  There's an unexpected twist at the end - one I wasn't sure I was in favor of, but I decided I do like it.  The emotions portrayed had to have been felt by the author to be woven into words the way they were.  My heart goes out to the author and am glad for the happiness he was able to find in spite of his own battles.

I do recommend reading this and am always willing to lend it out.

Friday, December 1, 2017

The Mistletoe Secret, Richard Paul Evans

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It's been a busy month! I started three books... and finished one! #success

I've read one other of the Mistletoe series,  The Mistletoe Promise, likely during the three years I didn't post about what I read.  It was nice.

This one was just that - nice.  Nothing spectacular.  I sometimes feel as though some of his books are simply to fill a contract... that or I'm losing my zen for romance.  And in case RPE happens upon this blog entry (I was trolled by an author I somewhat harshly critiqued, once - it happens.), I love you, you're awesome, keep writing, I love your work, you're a rock star.

It was a simple romance, one that needed a little knowledge about at least the geography and history of the location it's mainly staged in.  Richard does do his homework.  I have no doubt he flew to the place he wrote about and did a little research.

It was a sweet story.  Maybe a little obvious.  The ending was pretty easy to guess, the further into the story I got. 

But it was good.  I have the third one on hold at the library (and two other books to finish).

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Rosemary's Baby, by Ira Levin

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Before those of you who know me and also know this book gasp in horror at my possible reading of it, know this - I didn't.

I was nearly halfway through, though, before I decided to stop.  That's when it started to become disturbing.  Before that, it was just intriguing, nothing dark.

I have heard of this story, only by title, and knew it was something of a - well, I can't say horror novel because I didn't relate it to that in my mind.  (I do, now.)  I thought of it more as a somewhat eerie story about a woman who lives next to neighbors who want her baby. 

Nope.  Not even close.  Well, ok, a little close.  I only know this because I read the summary of the story on Wikipedia. 

But, dude.  If I had known the extremity and depth of the darkness that is this book, I never in a million years would've even given it a second glance.  This woman's neighbors do want her baby, but only because they're a cult/coven and want it for their devil worship.  Apparently, the child is an actual spawn of satan.  (I don't capitalize that name on purpose.)  Her husband was in on the drugging and, well, everything that happened after, so that this baby could be made.  He did it because he was promised success in his career as an actor if he did. 

Who comes up with this crap? What dark and twisted mind actually conjured up a story like this? Good gravy!

I wish I had had the sense to look into it, further, before I started reading it.  This is why I'm posting this - to warn others who wish to avoid such ugliness.  My brain wishes to cleanse itself of the small bit of disturbing content it did read. 

Don't read this.  It's horrible.