Monthly Archives: May 2013

Review of “The Witch of Blackbird Pond”

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For several years now I have heard people mention The Witch of Blackbird Pond. Not being someone who is into books about witches, I never really paid much attention to anything that was said about it.

Until I was reading through a book about all the ‘best’ books, and it had a synopsis of the book. I was immediately interested in the book! So the next time I dropped by my local library to pick up my stack of held books, I asked the librarian if they had a copy. They did, so I checked it out and carried it home, eager to start it!

“I am Katherine Tyler.”

The book was an easy read, since it was written for children, but I found it was an extremely interesting story. Set in 1687, it follows sixteen-year-old Kit Tyler from her arrival in Connecticut from Barbados, through the ups and downs of her intriguing and complex relationships with her Uncle Matthew, Aunt Rachel, cousins Judith and Mercy, the Widow Tupper, and Nat Eaton.

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At the beginning of the story, we meet a very selfish, self-centered, and proud Kit, who arrives in Connecticut very naive and spoiled, and we watch as the story unfolds, and Kit grows up over the course of a year, working hard, making difficult decisions, and begins to care about others.

“But someone ought to help her.”

One of the changes we see in Kit is her boldness in helping the Widow Tupper, a Quaker and outcast of the community, and Prudence, a neglected and lonely little girl. While Kit’s heart was not always right in giving help, and her methods were not the most honest, she was exemplifying James 1:27, by practicing true religion by going “to visit orphans and widows in their affliction”. While not proposing that the ends justify the means, I do think what we see in Kit is a flawed protagonist struggling to do the right thing.

“There is no escape if love is not there.”

Overall, I found The Witch of Blackbird Pond to be a very well written, powerful, coming-of-age story about a girl struggling to do what is right. Parents should be warned that the potentially offensive (for some) topic of Halloween is discussed. I thoroughly enjoyed the book, and look forward to reading it again! I would give the book an “A”.

Have you read the book? If so, what are your thoughts?

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Review of “A Promise Kept”

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Several years ago for Christmas, my Dad gave my Mamma a small little book, just 90 pages, which on the cover purported to be “an unforgettable love story”. Well, anyone who knows me knows that while I don’t mind books that have “love stories” mixed in, I am not one who typically goes for ‘romance’ books.

However, as I was recently putting books on our new bookcases, I stumbled upon the little book, and was intrigued by the cover, flipped the book over and saw on the back that it said “Joy is found in a promise kept”. And since Joy is my word for 2013, I decided to give it a chance.

I am so glad I did! From the very first chapter I was hooked.

“We would trust the Lord to work a miracle in Muriel if he so desired or work a miracle in me if he didn’t.”

The book follows the true story of a man and his wife after she is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, recounting how he completely rearranged his life to care for his sick wife, to love her and be faithful to her- even when she didn’t even know who he was. I was touched as I read of his devotion, dedication, and desire to care for her, taking seriously his vow to care for her in sickness or in health.

“It’s the nearest thing I’ve experienced on a human plane to what my relationship with God was designed to be: God’s unfailing love poured out in constant care of helpless me.”

I was so convicted as I read this man’s testimony to his love for his wife. It made me stop and ask myself, Am I willing to serve someone selflessly like that? Am I willing to set aside my life, my dreams, my plans to do what God puts before me? Am I willing to love someone that truly, that strongly?

“Only the ones who says no to self-interest for Christ and the gospel cause can ever find the treasure of true life–freedom and fulfillment in Christ.”

Overall, I found this to be a wonderful little book, a book that encouraged, yet also convicted! I would highly recommend it, and would have to give it an “A”.

Have you read the book? If so, what did you think?

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Review of “Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual”

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Michael Pollan’s Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual, is an easy read, if nothing else. Certainly not daunting, it is all of 139 pages!

“Eat food, mostly plants, not too much.”

Packed with valuable information and sound wisdom, Food Rules is a handy little book that is great for jumping feet first into healthier eating patterns. He covers everything from what to avoid eating, and what is best to eat, but does it in a very fun, easy to read way: he has sixty-four “rules” applicable to food, all about one or two pages long!

“Eat only foods that will eventually rot.”

I found it to be a very humorous read, but also a telling one. We in America too often rely on convenience over quality. I lost track of the number of rules it breaks to eat at McDonald’s, by the way… #11, #13, #14, #18, #19, #20, well, you get the idea!

“Don’t get your fuel from the same place your car does.”

I laughed so hard at this one! But it’s really true. When was the last time you saw raspberries at your gas station? I have personally never seen a quick stop that sold produce of any sort! (Not that there’s not one somewhere– a body can dream, right?)

“Eat some foods that have been predigested by bacteria or fungi.”

I definitely saw some areas in my life that need some work after I read this book, and I’m sure if I read it again in six months I would probably say the same thing. The good thing about this book, however, was that it breaks it down into concise little “rules”, so you can pick one to work on, then move to another one!

Overall, I really enjoyed reading this little book, and would have to give it a “B”.

Have you read the book? If so, what did you think?

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Review of “The Help”

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Recently my great-great-aunt pulled a book out and said, “You’ve got to read it!”

That book was Kathryn Stockett’s  New York Time’s Best Seller, The Help. So I agreed to give it a go.

Now, I saw the film when it came out back in 2011 without having read the book (not my usual habit) because my Mamma had read the book and filled me in on the main premise of the book. So I came at the book with a little different perspective than normal, especially since I loved the movie.

Thankfully, my Mamma was able to recommend that I skip pages 360-363 because they were inappropriate. I would recommend the same, though the pages might be a little different if you read the hardcover or movie tie-in editions.

“And then she say it, just like I need her to. ‘You is kind,” she say, “you is smart. You is important.'”

The Help is the first book I ever remember reading that was written through the eyes of three women– Aibileen, Minny, and Skeeter.

Set in 1960’s Jackson, Mississippi, the book follows the ups and downs of these three women’s lives and relationships. Unusual relationships, too, as Aibileen and Minny are black “help” and Skeeter is a young, white woman who just returned from Jackson after graduating from Ole Miss.

“Every morning, until you dead in the ground, you gone have to make this decision…You gone have to ask yourself, Am I gone believe what them fools say about me today?”

Personally, I could relate strongly with Eugenia Phelan, known as “Skeeter” throughout the book, the most. She was the slightly clumsy, bookish, sensitive, and dreamy aspiring writer, and arguably the main character of the novel. It is Skeeter’s dream that sets the plot of the story: to be a writer and to write about something real, something important. And so Skeeter risks everything- friendship, marriage, career- in order to make a difference in her culture.

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While I enjoyed the story very much, and several characters were very religious, I did find one passage  found on pages 336-337 particularly disturbing:

“When he start playing dress-up in his sister’s Jewel Taylor twirl skirts and wearing Chanel No. 5, we all get a little concern… His daddy would take him to the garage and whip him with a rubber hose-pipe trying to beat the girl out a that boy…I wish to God I’d told John Green Dudley he ain’t going to hell. That he ain’t no sideshow freak cause he likes boys.”

First of all, I have a hard time seeing that any black woman in Jackson, Mississippi in the 1940’s or 1960’s would be a supporter of homosexuality. But more than that, God says in Leviticus 18:22 that homosexuality is a sin: “Do not practice homosexuality, having sex with another man as with a woman. It is a detestable sin.”

And for those who object that only the “Old” Testament condemns homosexuality, read on. 1 Corinthians 6 says, “Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people-none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God.”

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“All I’m saying is, kindness don’t have no boundaries.”

The theme that came across strongest in the book was this one- that there really aren’t any “lines” between people. Not between blacks and whites, not between rich and poor. We are all people made in the image of God, made with a purpose. I think Skeeter said it best:

“Wasn’t that the point of the book? For women to realize, We are just two people. Not that much separates us. Not nearly as much as I’d thought.

Overall, I enjoyed the book, getting a better view of what it was like to live in Mississippi in the 1960’s. And while I appreciated the Christian overtones throughout the book, the author’s bias clearly showed through in her support of homosexuality. One final warning, there is also a large amount of foul language, including taking the Lord’s name in vain, in the book. I would give The Help a “C”.

Have you read The Help? If so, what are your thoughts?

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