Monday, May 02, 2016

God's Double Agent

Bob Fu, an underground pastor teaching in a communist school, gives us his personal story - his life, the struggles of wanting better for his country, and his confinement in a Chinese prison for his faith.  Having read other books on the persecuted Christian in China (The Heavenly Man by Brother Yun), I wondered if it would be more of the same, not that the same is boring. But Fu's story showed me much I hadn't yet read, while confirming as the other books did, that there is still no religious freedom in China. China makes it appear there is with their government sanctioned church, but those who stand true to the Bible will find themselves under government surveillance, tortured and eventually imprisoned.

Two things will remain with me from this book. First a quote by a Christian brother of Mr. Fu saying, "Prison is where God prepares his church in China." Along this line, Fu, as a young Christian, knew he would not be able to withstand imprisonment, so he prayed and asked the Lord for three years. Three years later, Fu was imprisoned.  During his time there God used Fu to spiritually set captives free.

The second is a story of a blind Christian woman who Fu had a part in getting her rescued from China. (Fu now being in America). It was Christmas time and Fu had this woman in his home, I believe. There he watched her take a set of Christmas lights, dismantle them and then re-mantle them in a matter of seconds. Amazed, he asked her to explain how she could do that. Her answer was, this is what she did for years while she was imprisoned in China.  Christmas lights. Made in China. Christian prisoners imprisoned for their faith, handling our Christmas lights! Selah.

Lastly, a quote by Ben Franklin that the author prefaces his book with: "Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God."  God's Double Agent - A good read!    ~review by Patsy Scott

LaRose

Erdrich sets her newest novel in 1999 North Dakota. The first action of the book is a heart-stopper. (This isn't a spoiler, because all the blurbs and promo tell you from the get-go what will happen.) Landreaux, out hunting deer on the edge of his property, aims at a buck but shoots his next door neighbor's five-year-old son Dusty instead. Dusty does not survive. The two families are close, and their histories have been intertwined for years. In honor of an ancient Native American act of retribution, Landreaux and Emmaline turn over their son LaRose, who had been Dusty's best friend, to Dusty's parents Nola and Peter, telling them "Our son will be your son now." Heartbroken and stunned, the two families try to cope the best way they can, but in a way their attempts cause them all to feel the loss more deeply. LaRose is an amazing child, who is sensitive and caring and adept at understanding others' feelings. He tries his best to be what the families expect him to be, without demanding anything for himself. He is the last in a long line of LaRoses in the family, each of whom had special gifts that Erdrich reveals to the reader. Erdrich explores each member of the family's pain and eventual healing, along with giving us glimpses of life on and near the reservation. Recommended to readers who are curious about Native American life and like family dramas with depth and heart.
Submitted by Kelly Currie

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Speakers of the Dead by J. Aaron Sanders

In 1843, young journalist Walt Whitman becomes involved in the investigation of a series of murders after his friend is murdered and his wife, Lena, is wrongfully convicted. When Walt isn’t able to uncover the truth in time to save Lena from execution, he is driven to get to the bottom of the murders. It quickly becomes clear that these deaths are just the tip of the iceberg in a tale that involves political cover-ups, grave robbing, and the outcry over women studying to become doctors. Speakers of the Dead takes the reader on a journey that twists and turns and rushes along at break-neck speed through a New York City where no one is exactly as they seem, especially Whitman. Sanders flawlessly integrates his original characters and story into the lives of real people (Whitman, Elizabeth Blackwell, and others) and events of the time. This is historical fiction at its best; the reader finishes having learned about a specific place and time and the way in which the inhabitants navigated their world.

Fans of Caleb Carr’s Alienist series or anyone who loves a good historical mystery will be waiting with baited breath for the next book in this exciting new series. 
Reviewed by Portia Kapraun

Saturday, April 09, 2016

All Dressed in White by Mary Higgins Clark & Alafair Burke


     The second thrilling novel in the New York Times bestselling Under Suspicion series following The Cinderella Murder, featuring television producer Laurie Moran as she investigates the case of a missing bride.
     Amanda Pierce (Dubbed the Runaway Bride in local media) was preparing to marry her college sweetheart in a lavish ceremony at The Grand Victoria Hotel in Palm Beach. Then, with families and guests on site, the day before her wedding Amanda disappeared.
     Despite a thorough investigation, the police could not say with any certainty that foul play was involved in Amanda's disappearance. But, Amanda's mother, Sandra remains convinced Amanda's fiancĂ© Jeff Hunter murdered her for financial gain.
     Laurie Moran realizes a missing bride is the perfect cold case for her investigative television series, Under Suspicion.  She and her team set out to recreate the night of the disappearance at the Florida resort with Amanda's friends and family in attendance, hoping to shed a new light on the mystery as the series has done in past episodes.  With a jealous sister, playboy groomsmen, Amanda's former finance who is now married to the bridesmaid, and rumors about the "beloved" bride herself, Laurie and Under Suspicion host Alex Buckley quickly realize everyone has a theory about why Amanda vanished into thin air.
     A cleverly written whodunit that has a fantastic cast of characters. Filled with twists and turns that lead the reader first one way, then the next. All Dressed in White is a quick read because you find yourself unable to put it down.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

In The Cafe of Lost Youth

I am not exactly proud to admit that when I realized I needed a book to review for the blog this week, I walked over to our New Fiction shelf and plucked up one of the shortest books I could find, without even glancing at the cover. I'm not proud of it, but I could not be happier with the consequence. The title and cover of Patrick Modiano's In the Cafe of Lost Youth would not have enticed me to read this book, and that superficial oversight would have been a big mistake.
Modiano's work is a quick read not because of how short the book actually is, but because of how it is written - seemingly as a stream of consciousness, flowing as easily as the thoughts and conversations we have with ourselves at any given moment. A story is told from three points of view. Modiano doesn't announce when the narrator changes, there is simply a shift in the narrative. The narrators do not introduce themselves, but by the end of the book you know who they are and feel how they feel simply from having caught a glimpse into their thoughts. The story appears to be about a girl, Louki, who catches everyone's attention simply by being a part of the mystery, as it is said. However, what the book was about, to me, was an idea only mentioned in passing. It seems to be about neutral zones, black matter, and the people you meet in both spaces who play a part in "the mystery" and can stick with you long after you've left their presence to rejoin the real world.
Modiano makes the reader really reflect on themselves and their experiences, without openly asking them to. The awareness of your own stream of consciousness stays with you awhile after reading through someone else's. If you aren't afraid of delving into the "neutral zones," I would definitely recommend giving this a read.