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Feb 20, 2011
Mended HeartMended Heart by Mary Manners

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Mended Heart is a sweet story with enough emotion to keep one turning the pages. The story contrasts two people with vastly different backgrounds who must both overcome their upbringing before they can move on with their lives. The characters were engaging and easy to identify with.

I did find the repetitive and sometimes over-the-top descriptions a bit wearing and they had a tendency to pull me out of the story. The author worked too hard to use less common comparisons, which often resulted in me having to stop the storyline and think about her descriptions. And I may have developed an aversion to spearmint gum after reading about it over and over again.

But the writing aside, the story was worth the read, a good take-along book for the beach or on-the-go reading.
Feb 18, 2011
Stories Behind The Greatest Hits Of ChristmasStories Behind The Greatest Hits Of Christmas by Ace Collins

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I enjoyed this book! The author did a great job of telling the stories, including the historical perspective and some cultural influences behind these Christmas songs. Both Christian and secular songs are represented. I was amazed how many were written by Jewish authors or scored by Jewish composers!
Feb 7, 2011
Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and LifeBird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott

My rating: 1 of 5 stars


This book came highly recommended by a writer I both admire and respect. For that reason, I gave it every chance and read more than half of it before shutting the cover for good last night. I have never read a book or article by Anne Lamott other than this one, I know nothing about her personally, but this book turned me off completely. She talks about God and going to church, yet ridicules evangelicals and snidely refers to the Lord as "she". The book contains vulgar language including taking the Lord's name in vain and the use of the F word.

As far as writing content, I found nothing in here that I haven't found in other books. Anne Lamott believes in seat-of-the-pants style writing. In the first two thirds of the book, there was nothing much except the repeat of "listen to the characters" and how to do that. She uses examples from a class she teaches, usually by mocking the students, and her humor throughout tends to be derogatory in nature.

The book overall is well written and easy to follow, but the content did not appeal to me or encourage me to keep reading. I would have shut the cover much sooner except for the respect I have for the person who recommended it.
Feb 2, 2011
Setting the Record Straight: American History in Black & WhiteSetting the Record Straight: American History in Black & White by David Barton

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Mr. Barton has an agenda and it comes through from the first pages of this book. He wanted to set the record straight on which political party has furthered the civil rights of Black Americans throughout our history. He did exactly that. The last quarter of this book is footnotes and supporting documentation of what he has put forth in the preceding pages. Mr. Barton does not like what the Democratic Party historically did in regards to civil rights and Mr. Barton is obviously a Christian. If either of those would offend the reader, do not read this book.

I found many aspects of this history fascinating. As a life-long history buff, particularly American history, I found a lot within its pages to keep me reading on. One aspect that I had only a nodding acquaintance with was the extend to which Black Americans were involved in our national government in the years immediately following the Civil War. Men went from slavery to Congress in literally a handful of years. Only in America! And while the southern states were still under Republican majorities, many Black Americans also served in the southern states' legislatures.

One thing I did not know, had never read about or studied, was the extent to which the Democratic Party was involved with the Ku Klux Klan. I knew that some members of the party had been involved in the Klan, but Mr. Barton presents a strong case that the party as a whole was actively involved. I followed a few of his footnotes on this and will follow up some more when I have time.

I also had not realized that during the almost 100 years when lynching was practiced, one quarter of those lynched were white. The whole issue of lynching and the numerous attempts to stop it was very interesting reading. While it seems like ancient history, it really wasn't that long ago.

If you enjoy history and learning more than what your high school textbook included, if you enjoy reading about brave Americans who dared to stand up for what was right, and if you aren't offended by some obvious writer bias... I recommend this book.