Category Archives: Book reviews

Book Review – Even Silence Has an End: My Six Years of Captivity in the Colombian Jungle by Ingrid Betancourt

I vividly remember watching a breaking news shot of Ingrid Betancourt, a former Colombian presidential candidate, and her fellow hostages stepping out of the helicopter that rescued them from hell. A hell that she had been in for almost seven years by the terrorist group FARC, The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, a Colombian Marxist-Leninst revolutionary guerilla organization involved in the continuing Colombian armed conflict since 1964.

At that time I had never heard of FARC. I just saw a woman who had been held as a hostage and rejoiced in her freedom. Then I heard about how the Colombian Army pulled off the rescue and that made it even better! If you don’t already know then I won’t spoil it for you in case you want to read the book.

It was a long and emotionally wrenching read. Ingrid as well as the other hostages endured a horrible and depraved existence often times in heavy chains that would have quickly sent me over the edge. I was so impressed with her immense bravery and cunning fortitude. She was able to put aside great fear of all of the unknowns that the Amazon Jungle held in planning escapes. One hostage was able to use information and advice that she gave him to escape. She would make the best Girl Scout leader of all time!

This is the first book that I have read on my Kindle and the battery gave out just as I realized that she was about to be rescued! I was exasperated. The battery was so low that it took a very long time to regain enough juice for me to continue reading. I felt as if I were looking down into a little world where the people below couldn’t see me but I knew what was going to happen next, almost like a puppeteer. I was so excited for them!

It pains me to think there are still others held in the jungle by the FARC. It is such a grueling, heartbreaking life. Please remember to pray for them.

Ingrid learned to be ever so grateful for the simplest things in life and to voice that gratefulness to God. Things that we take for granted such as writing paper and pen. A dictionary and Bible. These treasures brought her great joy and sustained her on this most dreadful journey through hell.

Every Silence Has an End: My six years of captivity in the Colombian Jungle by Ingrid Betancourt is a heart stopping, gut wrenching, highly inspiring book and I would love to meet Ingrid some day.

Evacuate the Animals Also

Here is the Evacsak that can be used as a hands free method of evacuating cats, kittens, small dogs and birds during an emergency. Keep it beside your pet’s food or on the coat rack. Somewhere that you can grab it fast. I keep my cat’s crate in the hall. Does it look good? No. But I know exactly where it is in an emergency. Now if I could just train her to go in it when it rains or storms! She is scared of rain so she immediately goes under the bed. When a storm does pop up I grab the dog’s harnesses and leashes and hang them on the door knob in the hall or put them on the dogs according to how bad the storm might become.

There is a lot of great information about taking care of and evacuating dogs, cats, birds and horses in the book, Out of Harm’s Way by Terri Crisp and Samantha Glen. If you have a pet you need to have this book. If like me you don’t want to read the horribly sad stories of the animals that she and others have rescued during catastrophic events then skip to the section in the back about how to handle evacuation preparedness. Trust me some of the animal rescue stories will never leave you.

Even if you don’t have pets I encourage you to read this book so you can help others who do. Family, friends or neighbors who have more than one pet would sure appreciate an extra hand during a difficult time. Maybe you could help an animal shelter. There will certainly and unfortunately be a huge need for help after a disaster and the more prepared you are the better help you can be.

Please recommend this book to all of your family and friends. Also please re-blog this post. Every animal deserves a fighting chance. We can help ourselves but they have to depend on us. Step up to the plate and be an animal hero. Consider buying an Evacsak for someone you know or several for a shelter.

Root Fences

This is such a clever idea – root fences

Root-fences

as seen in this very interesting and informative book

Diary-of-an-Early-American-BoyRussell Deasely from the fabulous site, The Top 10 of Anything and Everything, found this nice photograph of an actual root fence. Click this link and scroll down a ways to see one.

The Life of Pi – Book Discussion Guide

I found this fabulous book discussion guide by the Skokie Public Library for the book The Life of Pi by Yann Martel. It is in pdf form. Loads of discussion material here.

I read the book several years ago and found it to be quite interesting and rather startling at the same time. My grandson just saw the movie so we have been having a lot of fun talking about it. I thought it was a bit much for an eight year old but then again I am only the grandparent.

It’s the kind of book that can be read over and over and probably should be. As an animal lover it was difficult for me to read so I know that I will not watch the movie. Probably not the kind of book you want to read before going on a cruise nowadays with all of the craziness going on in that industry.

Mother Theresa A Jerk? Maybe

Many, many years ago I read three books about Mother Teresa. The first two were exactly what you thought they would be. They painted a picture of a wonderful, saintly woman who did so much for the sick and poor.

The third book however brought up a lot of questions and pointed towards a woman not quite as nice as everyone would like to believe. In Mother Teresa: Beyond The Image by Anne Sebba I distinctly remember a part where someone overheard her crossly snatch away a literal crumb of bread that a person was hiding. She scolded them for hiding food and if they didn’t believe God was going to take care of them. We are talking about a sick and dying person who was malnourished and used to being hungry. I don’t see Mother Teresa’s actions with that person as being very Godly or kind and loving. That book really opened my eyes and I have thought differently about her ever since. It seems she wanted the fame although not the money and did not care that much about people. It was also as if she were gathering up points with God for doing good works which the Bible clearly states can not be done. Jesus and Jesus alone paid for our salvation by his blood.

So I challenge you, read the book for yourself and see what you think. Anytime you read about someone you need to get more than one perspective. We all know that the media monster hypes what they want us to see and that is not always the truth.

Not Really A Book Review

I was skimming through this book that I purchased at Goodwill and came across what I think is a very interesting point.   The Depression is an embarrassing thing. It is a shame to the system: the American Way that seemed so successful. All of a sudden, things broke down and didn’t work. It’s a difficult thing to understand today. To imagine this system, all of a sudden-for reasons having to do with paper, money, abstract things-breaking down.

Oops I had a huge senior moment. If you read this prior to 1:08 Wednesday,  I made a huge mistake in what I wrote. I previously said the statement in purple was by someone from The Depression times. It was not. They are from todays times. Opps, senior moment. Sorry about that.

It appears that this  book will be interesting, sad, insightful and most certainly depressing. It will also be worthwhile reading.  A look at history through the memories of individuals is always an eye-opening experience.

The Color of Lightning by Paulette Jiles – Book Review

The Color of Lightning by Paulette Jiles is the gripping story of two men whose separate lives are tried and tested to extremes at the end of the American Civil War.

Britt Johnson was a free black man who moved his family to North Texas to start a new life where his wife hoped to become a teacher and he would be a freight hauler. Samuel Hammond was a Quaker who had just taken part ownership in a ship when a turn of events instead landed him the job of Indian Agent.

Britt Johnson’s family was almost destroyed by a horrendous Comanche and Kiowa  attack. Samuel Hammond’s seemingly impervious Quaker faith takes a beating during his tenure as an Indian Agent in North Texas around the time of 1863.

In this historical novel Paulette’s writing style develops both men’s personalities simultaneously as both are dealing with Native American problems of their own. Britt’s cautious and shrew nature serves him well on the most momentous undertaking of his life rescuing his family from the Native Americans. If it hadn’t been for Samuel’s tempestuous time as an Indian Agent his sincere and unfailing faith would probably never have faltered during his lifetime.

I enjoyed Paulette’s writing style as a break from the violence every few chapters was very welcome. Her extremely descriptive style allows the reader to become completely enveloped in the vastness of America that for a time only a few people knew. It was a place of freedom as well as great peril.

Reading The Color of Lightning was a journey through fear, history and a psychology course all bound up together. I laid the book down, walking away from it crying many times saying that I could not continue on. Every time I went back to it knowing that I had to find out what happened to these people whose lives were so drastically altered.

I would now like to read more about the different Native American groups as well as the beginning of the American Civil War.

Paulette Jiles lives on a ranch near San Antonio Texas and has conducted a lot of research into the story of Britt Johnson as the history of North Texas and the Comanche and Kiowa people. I plan to read her other books, Cousins, Enemy Women, and Stormy Weather.

The Gospel of Rutba

I have not had a chance to read this book yet but as soon as I can I will. I read Greg Barrett’s other book, The Gospel of Father Joe, several years ago and it was very inspiring. I have been on-line friends with Greg for some time now. He travels to places that most of us would never want to go, to share the Gospel of Christ if possible and to tell people’s stories. Check it out. Go on now, pick it up and give a read.  I’m almost certain that you will enjoy it and be moved by it.

The Social Lives of Dogs by Elizabeth Marshall Thomas

I finished reading it. I can not even begin to tell you how wonderful this book is. I think every human being whether they have a dog or not should read this book. It is just as heartwarming as it is heartbreaking at times. The bond that this woman and her husband have with all of their dogs, cats, and birds is beyond amazing. You will be stunned by the many things you learn about dogs and their most often misunderstood feelings. I can assure you that you will never look at a dog or cat or bird the same way again.

This woman is my hero and this book will forever be my favorite book. I will search every thrift store high and low for copies of this book to give to every family member, friend, neighbor and even strangers. I will find as many copies as I can to donate to animal shelters for people to take home with their new pets.

As for all of the dominance theories to dog training they are rubbish and I will never again adhere to any of them. Dogs deserve more respect than those programs give them. A dog truly is or could be man’s best friend.

If you want to understand you dog better and make a true lifelong bond then get this book as fast as you can.

If you or anyone you know is keeping a dog in a little fence at the very back of your yard then you are inflicting horrible pain and suffering on a member of your family and you need to fix that situation. A dog wants nothing more than to be as close to you as it can get. So by banishing it to the fartherst part of the yard you are telling it that is an unwanted, unloved bad dog. It cannot begin to fathom what it has done wrong. And we all know it hasn’t done anything wrong.  Think about it. And read the book.

The Social Lives of Dogs – Elizabeth Marshall Thomas

Even if you don’t have a dog and are not a dog person you should read this book. You will be amazed, surprised and touched. If you are’t then you just are not human. I cried from the very beginning and there are so many touching moments throughout the book. I’m only halfway through and I had to stop and tell you about the book. I do have to say that I would have done things different than the woman who wrote this book as far as the dog that she found on her front porch one day. Busy or not give a stray dog food and water to tide them over. They can not get it for themselves! Would you like to be lost, scared, confused, hungry and thristy for days on end? Well dogs don’t like it either. You can almost always help yourself. Please remember an animal can’t. Give a helping hand. Inspite of that little detour of a rant I do recommend that you read this book. It will give you an entirely new appreciation for dogs. It will show you that if you truly pay attention to your dog that they have been trying talking to you all along. Personally I think cats are the same.