Book Review: The Secret Holocaust Diaries by Nonna Bannister

My Review of The Secret Holocaust Diaries by Nonna Bannister

Married for well over 50 years, Nonna has kept a secret hidden from her entire
family. Written memories locked away and sewn inside a tattered pillow case are suddenly brought to light as Nonna shares her past with her husband and children. Raised in a well-to-do Russian family, the quiet life of a young girl is torn apart when Germany invades Poland.

Trying to flee persecution not only from the Russians because of her family’s ties to Csarist Russia, as well as the Germans as they eradicate all who stand in their way as war tears through Europe and Russia, Nonna and her family are innocents caught in the crossfire.

Nonna is the only member of her family who survives the war and the work/concentration camps she is sent to.

Nonna shares her story, mostly told from her recollections of the time as a young girl. Occasionally her memories do not match with historical accuracy, and her family (who published the book) interjects her story with additional information that gives historical detail to match Nonna’s time line of events.

There a scenes of great joy, of rejoicing in God’s goodness and grace as Nonna tells of her childhood and recounts family times with her grandmother, cousins, brother and parents. This contrasted to the memories of war, when her father is brutally beaten by German soldiers and everyone she has ever loved is taken away from her, adds to the poignancy and shock of this book.

We often think of the holocaust only from the perspective of the atrocities perpetuated on the Jewish people. Nonna and her family were not Jewish, neither were their neighbours and friends, but all suffered greatly, persecuted for their Christian faith and for their political ties.

If I had a negative about the book, was the fact that because most of Nonna’s story is told as “memories” or diary entries, occasionally the book bounced around a little and was hard to follow.

Still, it was a good read and I would recommend it highly.

Book Review: Girl Soldier by Faith J.H. McDonnell and Grace Akallo

My review of Girl Soldier: A Story of Hope for Northern Uganda’s Children by Faith J. H. McDonnell and Grace Akallo

I suppose timing is everything right now, and I downloaded this book on Kindle when it was free quite a while ago, but did not start reading it until this week.

With the viral explosion of Kony 2012 on YouTube, and the upcoming world-wide event that will try to bring to light the decades old atrocities that this man has perpetrated on the children (the invisible children) of Uganda, it is timely I would read this book.

When a book is written by two authors (as this one is), it is oftentimes difficult for a story to “flow”, and certainly such was the case with this book, however, I appreciated the historical details that made up at least three quarters of the book.

Sprinkled in between the historical and political background of Uganda as a nation torn apart by civil, and tribal war and the rise of tyranical bullies like Joseph Kony, is one young girl’s story of being abducted and then indoctrinated into the child army of Kony.

As a westerner reading the book, I cannot imagine the life the children of Uganda are experiencing nightly as countless thousands “commute” to cities to sleep because of their fear of being abducted from their families every night. We have no concept in the U.S. and Canada what it is like for all Ugandans at this time in their history.

Books of this nature, are important to bring the plight of a nation to our conscious awareness.

Read the book and pray for those children daily. God is still in control, even in the midst of such hardship.

Book Review: My Stubborn Heart by Becky Wade

My review of My Stubborn Heart by: Becky Wade

Kate Donovan, a thirty something woman, is frustrated trying to find “Mr. Right” but never finding the perfect man of her dreams. When she is invited by her grandmother to Redbud, Pennsylvania to restore the beautiful family home, she meets Matt Jarreau, a young widower, who is a man who captivates her attention with his good looks and charm, but also his broodiness with a hint of mystery.

The emotional love story is a bit too predictable, and I did not particularly like the language since the book is touted as contemporary Christian. I’ve read other “edgy” Christian fiction where language is used for effect but in this case the language is not necessary for the storyline and actually detracts from the overall enjoyment of the book.

Still, I found the story and the characters for the most part engaging and interesting.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers via LitFuse Publicity Group in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: The Only One He Couldn’t Have: Covenant of the Rose Saga by Kassandra Brown

My review of The Only One He Couldn’t Have: Covenant of the Rose Saga by Kassandra Brown

Book Description: ‘A thought, imaginary or reality? A precious moment let to die deep inside.’ I glanced to the midnight sky, stars twinkling back down on my
fragile features. I close my eyes, breathing in the tranquil aura that had settled upon my form only moments before. Thoughts among thoughts shield and barricade my mind from the gaining incubi. I hear and feel the oncoming intruders.

‘I feel I’m fading, I flicker out.’ Fallen! Out of hope and without doubt, I turn to confirm my suspicions. Valafar and Ronove’s forked tails swayed side to side as they stood alongside of Jayden, his black eyes tinted with blood lust, fangs bared…a winter white cloaked figure soaring above us on angelic wings. I had been brought back to Trenlay…

This is Kassandra’s first book and with a little more time and attention to her craft, I am sure that this will not be her last.

It is a difficult book to describe as it is contemporary but has a dreamlike fantastical element with spiritual, ethereal beings that makes it unique in genre. It will appeal to teens and young adults in particular.

I was a little overwhelmed by the “angelic” characters and the difficult names but the storyline was definitely intriguing enough to keep me reading.

I like to encourage first-time authors and I hope Kassandra continues to write. She has a great imagination and I’m glad I had the opportunity to review her first book.

Book Review: Katie’s Choice by Tracey Langford

My review of Katie’s Choice by: Tracey Langford

Having grown up with a mother who defines herself based on relationships with men, it is no wonder that Katie finds herself making the same mistakes as her mother did. When she finds herself pregnant and facing the possibility of being a single Mom with no hope or future for herself or her child, she takes the advice of her mother and gets an abortion. Katie must live with the consequences of this decision and the guilt and remorse she feels even years after the abortion.

The first half of the book is an honest portrayal of what a teenager in a crisis pregnancy is thinking and feeling. The author did a good job of showing the angst young unwed mothers face as well as how they rationalize their decisions for an abortion. It is only after the abortion, that women find themselves experiencing post-abortion trauma and regret what they have done and I am glad that the author chose to address this in detail in her book.

The book is written from a Christian world-view, which I also appreciated.

The book bogs down a bit in the middle, and admittedly I didn’t quite understand the Kaleo (gray wolf) nightmares that Katie kept having…it brought a supernatural element into the storyline that was a bit out of place to the rest of the story. That said, it was still a good book, with a great message, and definitely worth the read.

Book Review: The Legacy of Deer Run by Elaine Marie Cooper

My review of The Legacy of Deer Run by: Elaine Marie Cooper

Having read the first two of the Deer Run series by Elaine Cooper, I was definitely looking forward to the third book in the saga.

The author is a stickler when it comes to researching out the era and setting in her books, and the Legacy of Deer Run is no exception. Historical content abounds as well as an accurate portrayal of life and death during this time in American history.

Mary and Daniel’s Lowe’s children are now grandparents, and a new love story between Danny and Susannah emerges. Romantic and tender, without being graphic, this story has enough emotional angst to keep us intrigued and interested in the characters.

Legacy of Deer Run is a truly beautiful, heart-warming tale that will appeal to readers who enjoy historical romantic Christian fiction.

Book Review: Mission Impossible: Reaching the Next Generation Through the Small Church by Dr. Terry W. Dorsett

My review of Mission Possible: Reaching the Next Generation Through the Small Church by Dr. Terry W. Dorsett

Book Description: …It’s no secret that many churches are struggling to reach the next generation. The thirty-and-under age group has become one of the hardest to
reach in America. Some larger churches have developed innovative ways of reaching this age group, but many smaller churches are simply unable to use those types of innovative methods. Even so, they still want and need to reach the next generation. Dr. Dorsett has discovered, through both personal experience and extensive research, easy-to-use methods and ideas that any church can put into practice, regardless of size or budget. He believes that there is nothing a larger church can do that a smaller church is unable to accomplish. What is important is that every church, regardless of size, fulfills the call God has for them in the community where God has placed them.

Another practical book by Dr. Dorsett for anyone who is leading or Pastoring a small church. It has practical advice and ideas for any size church to reach the post-modern generation.

As a youth leader myself, I found the book helpful, if not daunting at times to carry out. Youth ministry is not for the faint of heart and requires a heart and love for youth that requires that “over-and-above” commitment to students that at times leaves leaders more often discouraged than encouraged. I read somewhere that we are only one generation away from “Godlessness”. That scares and overwhelms me at the same time with the urgency that church leaders (and lay leaders), as well as parents and families must appeal to and share the Gospel with our students.

I thank Dr. Dorsett and others who share that passion to reach our young people and disciple that next generation of believers.

Book Review: Developing Leadership Teams in a Bivocational Church by Dr. Terry W. Dorsett

My review of Developing Leadership Teams in a Bivocational Church by Dr. Terry W. Dorsett

It would have been nice if this handy book would have been available when I was going through seminary and was called upon to write my paper on bivocational
churches. It would have been a great resource then and certainly is a great resource now. It has practical advice and good information for leaders and lay leaders in small churches.

When I was in seminary I was taught that a good leader equips others for the ministry, the idea being to recruit, then train and then send out teams or individuals to do the work needed to further Kingdom work.

Dr. Dorsett’s book emphasizes this point in this book and gives practical suggestions how this can be brought about. Especially true in small churches that only have one full or part-time Pastor, it is vital that all share in the responsibility of teaching, preaching and discipling.

Book Review: Mother of Pearl: Luminous Lessons and Iridescent Faith – compiled by Margaret McSweeney

My review of Mother of Pearl: Luminous Lessons and Iridescent Faith Compiled by: Margaret McSweeney

“Poignant and thought-provoking, the stories serve to inspire, encourage, instill hope, and strengthen faith. The proceeds from the sale of Mother of Pearl will be donated to organizations helping struggling women and children. The charities include Wings (Women in Need Growing Stronger) to help fund the Safe House in the Chicago suburbs and to Hands of Hope to help build wells for schoolchildren in Zambia. Mother of Pearl celebrates the collective iridescence of motherhood.”

Margaret McSweeney has compiled a rich collection of essays from some of the most inspiring Christian women writers today. This book celebrates mothers, grandmothers and other significant women who have been our role-models and impacted our lives with their wisdom and counsel.

The essays are short but poignant, personal anecdotes and recollections from authors Tricia Goyer, Suzanne Woods Fisher, Robin Jones Gunn and many, many others.

Some stories shared are humourous, some heart-wrenching and honest. Topics include mother-daughter relationships, mother’s of preschoolers, children and teens, young marrieds, single moms as well as tributes to grandmothers. Every season of a woman’s life encapsulated in emotional snippets that inspire and encourage.

Other stories tell of failed marriages, heartbreak, miscarriage and health crises; everyday heartache where women leaned on God and sought out moms or other women to help them through the hurts.

This is a book that you will want to give as a gift to all those special women in your life…especially mothers, daughters and grandmothers.

(I am obligated to point out that I am one of the contributors of essays to this book, but other than my story “Cool Grandma”, I did not know who else had contributed or what they wrote until the publication of this book, so I feel I can still objectively review this book.)

Book Review: Tadeo Turtle by Janis Cox

My review of Tadeo Turtle by Janis Cox

A delightful picture book with a great message of “being yourself” because God made you for a special/unique purpose. Definitely a book for toddlers and preschoolers – I gave this book to my grandson who thoroughly enjoyed the brightly coloured pictures and easy-to-read rhyme as I read the book to him.

The water-colour pictures by the author/illustrator are visually pleasing and I also appreciated the “turtle crafts” at the back of the book too!

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