Thursday, December 31, 2009

Saving Cicadas by Nicole Seitz

Saving Cicadas is an extraordinary story about powerful family memories we all carry with us. But, are these really memories or former past selves that we have to deal with and learn from? If we do not acknowledge these pasts, do we remain stuck living past lives? In this story, God uses a child to speak to us. It is a mystery of God that reminds us that life is truly a miracle.
This is a difficult review to write without giving away the story. It is suspenseful and thought provoking. It has conflicting story elements which played havoc with my emotions. I cried with feelings of happiness and sadness at the same time. I can tell you the characters were developed in such detail you will feel their emotions as strongly as they do. The dialogue is so powerful at times I had to put the book down to digest. The overall message in this story was more than inspiring.
I absolutely recommend this wonderful novel, Saving Cicadas, to readers of every age. It is a quick read and you will not want to put it down until the end.

I am a member of Thomas Nelson’s Book Review blogger program.

Book Review by Mary Crocco

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The White Horse King

The White Horse King, the Life of Alfred the Great, by Benjamin Merkle

The White Horse King is a biography of King Alfred the Great. The inscription on the statue of King Alfred says it all; Alfred found learning dead and he restored it, education neglected and he revived it, the laws powerless and he gave them force, the church debased and he raised it, the land ravaged by a fearful enemy from which he delivered it.
Being Alfred’s birth order was the 5th son, not much was expected of him. Certainly it was unforeseen he would be king. Merkle describes King Alfred’s victorious combat with the fierce and ruthless Vikings, who plundered and pillaged the English coastlands and countryside throughout the book. There is one chapter called, Alfred the Wise, which gives the reader a wonderful view of Alfred the person. This is where we learn about Alfred’s lifelong love of learning that he incorporates in his religion and the law.
I found the book, The White Horse King, to be a quick, informative read into the history of AD 878 where England was being occupied by the notorious Vikings. I would have liked more information about Alfred the scholar, poet, law-giver, and architect vs. the seasoned warrior. However, this book entices me to read further and I would recommend The White Horse King as an enjoyable biography of a great king.

I am a member of Thomas Nelson’s book reviewer blogger program.

Book Review by Mary Crocco

Monday, November 16, 2009

5 Cities that Ruled the World

5 Cities that Ruled the World, by Douglas Wilson

5 Cities that Ruled the World is an overview description of how the cities of Jerusalem, Athens, Rome, London, and New York ruled the world. Douglas Wilson is a theologian and teaches college level ethics and logic. He is also editor of a cultural journal best known for its humor and satire, which Wilson fails to successfully interject throughout the book.
Wilson wants his readers to be reminded of liberty and the blessings liberty brings. He does this by devoting a short chapter for each city; Jerusalem represents the soul set free, stating it is a great and standing metaphor for spiritual liberty. Athens established the ideal of free inquiry, where we are grateful not for every idea to come out of Athens, but for the freedom to reject ideas. Rome passed on liberty under law, and gave us understanding of civic liberties and equitable laws. London set free our literary imagination, where extraordinary literature was made available for ordinary people. New York has shown us the freedom to trade, this city being the world’s financial center.
I think Wilson should have justified his choice of the 5 cities. The subtitle reads ‘Global History’; however, there are no eastern hemisphere cities. I see this book as a springboard for more in depth research, not only for cities that ruled the world, but for the biblical references. I would recommend 5 Cities that Ruled the World as a quick read listed as a young adult book.
I am a member of Thomas Nelson’s book reviewer blogger program.
Book Review by Mary Crocco

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Third Chapter by Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot

The Third Chapter by Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot

After seeing Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot on Bill Moyer’s Journal on PBS, I was anxious to read what words of wisdom Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot had to offer in her book, The Third Chapter; Passion, Risk, and Adventures in the 25 years After 50. I was disappointed to receive no additional pearls in her book.
To be fair to Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot, she did say who the forty people were that she interviewed for her book. She did disclose the fact that her subjects were not ordinary people of middle class, but rather from the highly educated and privileged upper class with extraordinary wealth. However, I did think I would learn a thing or two by reading the book, but this was not the case.
Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot is an educational sociologist who spent two years interviewing both men and women living in the third chapter of their lives; their fifties, sixties, and seventies. She wants us to realize this significant time in life where we may want to seek new meaning and greater challenges. The forty people Sara interviewed were lucky enough to be able to take risks and actually seek their new meanings and fulfill their challenges in their third chapter in life. They had the means to change their lives dramatically. Each has a different story and circumstances that precipitated the change they made.
The Introduction to the book shared the most insight and learning tools than did the stories from the forty people. After finishing the book, I had wished there were more revelations from Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot than from the people she interviewed. The stories were a quick read, knowing how most ordinary people could not even begin to relate to achieving these third chapter life changes of the elite.
This is a self-help book the reader will have to modify, as most people living in their third chapter of life do want to seek changes and challenges. However, besides the Introduction, there isn’t much for the average person to learn. This is one time where the TV interview was more informative than the book.

Book Review by Mary Crocco

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Get Off Your "But"

Get Off Your “But”, by Sean Stephenson
Published by Jossey-Bass
ISBN: 978-0-470-39993-4
Rating: Must read

If you want to be inspired to ‘get off your but’ and make positive changes to your life, then reading, Get Off Your “But”, by Sean Stephenson is a must read. Suffering from birth with Osteogenesis Imperfecta, a brittle bones disorder, Sean Stephenson shares with us his thirty year journey of his life. He has us realize our full potential in spite of any adversities we endure. Sean makes us realize there are no excuses to why we sit on our ‘buts’.
Sean shares his daily endurance to his physical disabilities to teach his readers we can overcome our fears and insecurities and learn more about ourselves. He gives us practical skills to help us to get off out ‘buts’ and live our life to the fullest. Sean lives his life in a wheelchair with his disease with ‘pain’ as his middle name. When asked if he gets used to the pain Sean replies, “No, at best I understand how to control it.” This is Sean’s message to his readers in his realistic guidebook, Get Off Your “But”. He shows us how we control our own life. We can feel sorry for ourselves, or we can Get off our ‘buts’ to make positive changes in our lives. Today Sean is a psychotherapist and a world renowned professional speaker.
What makes Sean so special? He learned how to displace his daily pain through self-discovery, “Pain was my teacher and I became its good little student.” Sean eliminated all his ‘buts’ and he encourages his readers to eliminate our ‘buts’. For example: Sure, I’d like to change, BUT….. I’m too old/too young. I’m too short/too tall. I’m too fat/too skinny. I’m not pretty /handsome enough. I’m not smart enough. I have a learning disability. Sound familiar? It sure did to me.
I had an unexpected life change at age 55 due to a chronic illness and have been sitting on my ‘but’ for nine months, ‘but’ I am disabled’. After reading Sean’s six lessons in his book, I am now off my ‘but’! Never before has a book gone beyond words on a page to real life behavior changes like Sean Stephenson’s book. Sean’s encouragements in his words and lifelong lessons have his readers participate in activities such as writing responses in a journal. This activity gives us true insights and helps us to get off our ‘but.’ Sean makes us realize we all have challenges and opportunities, and we can choose to sit on our ‘buts’ and make excuses or Get off our ‘buts’ and be successful in life. I chose to get off my ‘but’ after reading Sean Stephenson’s book, Get off Your “But” and I am looking forward to a sequel to keep me inspired to stay off my ‘but’.

Book Review by Mary Crocco

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Green, by Ted Dekker

Green connects the Circle Series; Black, Red, and White. This is Book Zero, the Beginning and the End, which can be the starting point for readers who have not yet read the trilogies, and it may also serve as an ending to those readers who have read Black, Red, and White. Green is a science fiction/fantasy story with spiritual parallels to the Bible. Thomas Hunter bears the burden of fighting good and evil, using the Books of History. In these Books, events following the year 2010 have yet to begin. Strangely enough, they began in the year 4036 AD, the future, not the past.
Green is filled with suspense, violence, and hate, however, love and romance is not forgotten in the story. I liked how Ted Dekker described the characters and battles Thomas Hunter fought in both worlds in great detail, which invoked nightmares if reading the book before bedtime. On the other hand, when reading the references to the Book of Histories, it made me stop reading, close the book, and think about my knowledge of the Bible. It was thought provoking to me because I currently have mixed feelings about my faith.
I would recommend reading this novel; however, I would advise reading the trilogies first. Without prior knowledge, I could see a reader becoming confused. The ending itself has me thinking Ted Dekker is leaving room for an ‘opening’ to The Circle in the future, another good reason to read the trilogies first. You decide if you agree after reading, Green, by Ted Dekker.
I am a member of Thomas Nelson’s Book Review blogger program.
Book Review by Mary Crocco