"You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me."

-C.S. Lewis

What we read has such an impact on us, and I am always on the lookout for something that will inspire me to be a better person. Here is a sampling of books that have been in the teetering stack sitting on top of what is rumored to be my bedside table.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Mermaid Moon, by Colleen Coble

     In Mermaid Moon, we meet Mallory, who must return to her Maine hometown after the sudden death of her father.  Shortly after arriving, she realizes that her father may have been murdered.  She is joined in this theory by Kevin O'Connor,  a local game warden who is an integral part of her past.  And her father's death isn't the only foul play to occur.  One by one, more tragedies strike until Mallory realizes that she may be the next target.  With the help of Kevin, Mallory seeks to resolve the issues of a distant past that has come back to haunt her.  

     I think the setting was the true star of this Christian romantic suspense.  Coble writes such brilliant descriptions that I really felt I was living in a coastal Maine town with her characters.  The book is worth the read just for that.

     Other than that, I found it difficult to get into the plot.  Multiple traumatic events happen in this book, and the characters seem to take them in stride for the most part.  Mallory doesn't seem to grieve much for her father, which I found odd.  And she keeps finding excuses for other terrifying events that happen.  I found myself more intrigued by Kevin and his family politics than I did by Mallory and her many crises.

     Coble is a talented author, and I'll read more of her books.  This one was just all right for me, but her writing is such that I want to seek out what else she's written.

     Disclaimer:  I was given this book by the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.   

     Three out of Five Stars

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Planet Middle School, by Kevin Leman

     I'm a big fan of Kevin Leman's works, and so I jumped on this one as soon as I saw it.  This is the first parenting book of his that I've read, and it certainly lived  up to the high standards of his other books.

     Leman, a psychologist, writes about the middle school years from the seasoned perspective of a father of five grown children.  But he also writes of current issues that middle school students face in a world overrun with technology and loosening moral standards.  The book discusses the psychological effect that so many changes at one time have on children of this age.  It explains why your sweet little child has now become unpredictable and confusing to you as a parent.   More importantly, it tells you how to handle frustrating (maddening, blood-pressure-raising) situations in a way that will leave your relationship with your middle schooler intact on the other side.

     This book is full of practical advice that you'll be able to use quickly.  If you're the parent of a middle school student, odds are that you'll be using advice found in this book within 12 hours of reading it.  It's not wishy-washy like some parenting books are.  It gets right down to the nitty gritty and gives you concrete solutions that leave your child feeling respected while you retain your authority as a parent.  

     Leman is respected in the Christian community, but this book really doesn't mention his faith more than a couple of times.  It's a resource that all parents will be able to use.  It's a light read - Leman's style is quite humorous and you will laugh out loud - but it's full of such solid advice that it's really a must-read.

      Five out of Five Stars

Thursday, February 4, 2016

The Other Side of the River, by Robert D Halpert, MD.

     Halpert has written a work that discusses Stonewall Jackson and the faith that inspired him.  It's an interesting concept, as I've never read anything that handles this subject matter.

     Unfortunately, the style of the novel made it difficult to read.  It almost has the feel of an Erik Larson book, but where Larson's books have clearly defined point of view and smooth flow, this book does not.  It alternates back and forth between nonfiction and fiction styles - sometimes within the same paragraph.  The juxtaposition of the two does not work well.  The nonfiction portions were often long and didactic, and I would forget in a chapter who the point of view character was.  As a result, transitions were choppy, and the resulting confusion made this a very tough read for me.  My confusion detracted from the subject matter.

     On the plus side, it is meticulously researched and clearly the author spent a great deal of time putting in many interesting details.  I do think this would have worked better as a straight nonfiction book.

     I so wanted to like this book, and I am disappointed that I have to give it such a poor review.  But it was such a tough read for me that I really can't give it more than two stars.

     Disclaimer:  I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher for a fair and honest review.