Sunday, July 31, 2011

A Short Life Well Lived

Brian O'Connor might be blind, but he is very successful in the district attorney's office.  He has a loving wife and two beautiful children.  He has overcome odds and pushed forth to something close to the American Dream.  It all becomes meaningless when his son's broken arm reveals a malignant tumor.  With his son's uncertain future, O'Connor must ask himself where his faith has been rooted and learns that it is in himself.  As his son questions his own mortality, O'Connor is challenged.  Will his son over come cancer?  Will O'Connor find a faith deeper than himself?

The first thing you need to know about this book is that it is a novel.  It is fiction.  It is not real.  Write that on a bookmark to read to yourself as you go through this book because you will need the reminder.  If someone accidentally shelved this with biographies, a reader might not know the difference.  That said, this is a very powerful work.  Tom Sullivan has written a story that will pull at the heartstrings of every parent and grandparent.  For those whose lives have been touched by cancer, get a box of tissues, you will need them.  At the end, before your tears are dry, you will have hope though, for the book does not end in grief, but in hope.  The book does have some theological weaknesses, but I do not believe that every fiction book needs to completely present the Gospel.  Readers seeking a full Christ centered message should know that this book does not provide that.  The book does strongly proclaim that God loves us and we are not alone in running this race called life.  The Ruminating Reader gives this 5 out of 5 pieces of bacon. 

Tom Sullivan was born prematurely which caused his blindness.  Despite his disability, he enjoys a variety of sports.  He is an actor, singer, author, speaker, director, and producer.

Written by Tom Sullivan.  Published by Howard Books a division of Simon & Schuster Inc.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

An Unlikely Suitor

"Evicted?  We're evicted?"  Lucy's family earns just enough money to pay the rent and put some meager food on the table.  Now, with only a week's notice, they must pack up and go elsewhere.  Fatherless, with the family looking to her to guidance, she sets out to find them a new home.  She finds a place beyond her expectations.  With a new home, a new job, and even some new friends, might she hope for more in her life?  This story takes her out of her native New York to Rhode Island, beyond her circle of comfort into high society.  Her sister Sofia travels there as well and both women meet unlikely suitors.  Are they wise matches or dangerous?  Another woman, Rowena struggles to over come her handicap and exert her independence.  The lives of these three women are strongly tied together.  Will any of them find happiness?

I was interested in the books because it was set in 1895, in both high society and poor tenements.  There are many great stories set in this time period.  This book is one of them.  I stayed up way too late several nights to read because I didn't have enough time during the day.  When it ended, I was satisfied with the ending, but sad that it had come to the end.  I don't think the book has any trite or contrived scenes.  There's plenty of suspense to keep the story from being predictable.  If you're looking for an exciting beach read or storing up something to savor over apple cider this fall, add this to your list.  The Ruminating Reader awards An Unlikely Suitor 4 out of 5 pieces of bacon.

Nancy Moser is the author of over twenty novels.  She is a finalist for the Christy Award.  She has a degree in architecture as well as experience in music. 

An Unlikely Suitor written by Nancy Moser Published by Bethany House.

The Constantine Codex

Jonathan Weber and his wife Shannon enjoy traveling and exploring dusty old libraries.  On their most recent trip, they come across some manuscripts that appear to be very old.  Some quick mental work leads them to wonder if they have discovered one of fifty copies commissioned by Constantine; manuscripts that have written about, but themselves missing for hundreds of years.  As they try to validate their discovery, they are caught up into the international tension between Muslims and Christians and their lives are hanging on the line.  Have they found an excellent forgery or history changing documents?  How will the world, Christian and secular, respond to their finding?

If you like archaeology, history, mystery and/or suspense, this book does well in combining them.  If you have strong feelings about maintaining the purity of the Bible or Islam, you might want to move on to another book.  I guess that's a "walking the fine line" part of my review.  Maier writes an intriguing story that keeps the reader on edge.  I admit, I stayed up late a few nights to keep reading.  He opens a wonderful can of "what if?"  It won't just entertain you, but will challenge you to wonder how you'd handle such findings and information.  The Ruminating Reader awards 3 out of 5 pieces of bacon.  I'll read it again, but there were a few things I disagreed with (again, a personal matter).  If I take myself out, I'd award 4 out of 5. 

Paul L. Maier is The Russell H. Seibert Professor of Ancient History at Western Michigan University. He has written several nonfiction books and hundreds of articles.  Among his fiction collection are two book that precede The Constantine Codex.  He has traveled giving lectures and speaking on radio programs.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Folly Beach

"After all, this was the Lowcountry, where impossible becomes possible every single day."

Dorothy Heyward married the man she loved and spent the rest of her life loving him and building him up.  To the best of our knowledge, she died a happy woman.  Cate married Addison and spent her life being the wife she thought he wanted.  When Addison abruptly takes his own life, Cate learns many things about his life that she didn't know.  Her whole life gets turned upside down and she's left with practically nothing.  She flees home to take time to reassess her life.  She finds Dorothy, friends, family, and even herself.

I love Dottie's books, I really do.  I go back to them over and over again because they are fun to read and I have laughed out loud over them.  That said, I have mixed feelings about her latest novel.  This book is not written in the same format as her other books.I applaud her for trying something new.  She wants to play with her work, that's fine.  Unfortunately, I don't think she pulled it off.  I liked the story set in present times.  I liked the story set in the past.  I did not like how she tried to weave the two together.  There were too many coincidences or things left unexplained.  I do intend to read it again when I have the time because I'd like to give it another chance.  And as I said, I like the two stories.  The modern one is very much in line with her other stories.  The second story line is convincing as well.  For now, the Ruminating Reader gives Folly Beach four out of five pieces of bacon.  I recommend this book to anyone who likes her other works.  If you haven't read anything by Benton-Frank, I suggest Sullivan's Island as your introductory novel.

Dorothea Benton Frank lives with her husband in New Jersey and South Carolina.  She is involved in numerous civic and art groups.  She travels speaking on writing.  She has written over ten books.