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Showing posts from April, 2016

The Sparrow by Maria Doria Russell

Wow. Just wow.  The novel begins in 2019 at the Arecibo Observatory when the program there picks up a transmittal of music from Alpha Centaury.  The Jesuits are the ones that sponsor a mission to the system and send a team to the planet, Rakhat, to explore. It is clear from the beginning that only one of the team - a priest by the name of Emilio Sandoz - survives the mission and the story is therefore told in flashback, alternating between what happened on the mission and his relating the story in the contemporary time. Sandoz has returned to great controversy because the Jesuits sent the mission without UN oversight and because it ended terribly. Sandoz returns as a shell of the man that he was and we are left to sort out why.
This book was simply amazing.  Doria deals with many heavy subjects in such a terrific way: the benefits and risks in absolute faith in a benevolent God, the role of God in the lives of people who believe and people who don't, and how that would effect int…

Simple Happiness by Jim Ryan

I received this from the publisher to review, as an up front, so I was unsure as to what to expect. But when I started to read it, it was like a breath of fresh air and couldn't have come at a more opportune time - a time when I'm trying to take control of my life and change it in ways that are more positive, starting with the power of positive thought. Jim Ryan is a motivational speaker and he brings that power to his writing and this book in a really wonderful, refreshing way.

The Chapters are very short and can be read one day at a time, almost like you're doing daily meditations. What I would have liked to do and will do going forward is read one a day in the morning and then journal on it that night to see how well the lesson went for that day.  52 could also be a magical number - one devotional per week (for one year of devotionals/meditations). Each chapter has a simple message that may be obvious to some or all of us, but which you (I know that I don't always)…

My Grandfather Would Have Shot Me - by Jennifer Teege

I have always had a morbid curiosity with the Holocaust.  OK, not just THE Holocaust, but any sort of situation where people can do horrendous things to each other. I make no excuses: I am looking for answers. I want to know WHY people the things that they do.  It helps me to process things that are very difficult and emotional for me. So when I saw this book, I was excited. I was hoping it would give me answers and it provided a woman's account of her struggle to come to terms with who her family members were/are.
Teege discovered, at the age of 38, that her maternal grandfather is Amon Goeth (the Commandant of Plazow and who was made famous by Schindler's List). As a result of her discovery, Teege decides to research her family by traveling to Poland and Israel and attempting to reconnect with her mother Monika (Amon's daughter). Teege writes the book with historian Nikola Sellmar.  Teege documents the personal memoir part of her journey while Sellmar provides us with …

Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

The first novel I read by this author was Americanah and I enjoyed it so I've been looking for another by this author for quite some time.  This is also a novel about Nigeria - specifically, it is about the Nigerian Civil War, which occurred between 1967 and 1970 - and is told from three different perspectives - Ugwu (a servant in a wealthy Nigerian family), Olanna (a wealthy, black Nigerian) and Richard ( a white Englishman). The book jumps about dramatically - and alternates between the period before the war and the period during/just after the war has ended.

Adichie focussed on the war from a purely civilian standpoint - the military and its characters are ancillary at best - and the main characters go from relative wealth to squalor. There are stories of raids, mass murders, genocide and abduction, some of which are experienced by the main characters. I enjoyed that the perspective was that of a civilian one. However, the choppiness of the period changes made it sometimes dif…