Author of Life of Pi brings us another tale of animals, but this time we are not amused. In fact, we are disgusted, just as he intended. Once in a whiAuthor of Life of Pi brings us another tale of animals, but this time we are not amused. In fact, we are disgusted, just as he intended. Once in a while, tragedy is perfectly appropriate....more
For all his deep thoughts of faith and reason, the wretchedness of man, theology and the controversial schisms of the church during his time, the hearFor all his deep thoughts of faith and reason, the wretchedness of man, theology and the controversial schisms of the church during his time, the heart of Blaise Pascal, French philosopher and physicist of the 1600s and author of his famous Wager encouraging belief over apathetic agnosticism, can perhaps be best summed up in this simple declaration: “I love all men as my brothers, because they are all redeemed. I love poverty because he loved it. I love wealth because it affords me the means of helping the needy. I keep faith with everyone. I do not render evil to those who do evil to me, but wish them a condition like my own, in which one receives neither good nor evil at the hands of men. I try to be just, genuine, sincere and loyal to all men, and I feel special affection for those to whom God has most intimately joined me. And whether I am alone or in the sight of others, in all my doings I am in the sight of God, who must judge them and to whom I have devoted them all. These are my feelings. And all the days of my life I bless my Redeemer, who implanted them in me and who made a man full of weakness, wretchedness, concupiscence, pride and ambition into one free from all these evils, by the power of his grace, to which all glory for this is due, since nothing but wretchedness and error come from me.”...more
Fifteen-year-old Emma, with no father figure, and a mother often gone to work at morally dubious jobsWar can be a convenient scapegoat for mistakes.
Fifteen-year-old Emma, with no father figure, and a mother often gone to work at morally dubious jobs to scratch a living, played more the role of parent than sister to the much younger Julia. Nevertheless, being still a child herself, she had not yet learned the adult trick of self-deceit in blaming Nazi Germany for her irrevocable choices. She can never forgive herself, therefore, for leaving her sister alone in their London flat on that dreadful night of the Blitz. Of course, while she was pursuing a rare opportunity to design beautiful gowns for a living, her dream job, she could not have known that bombers were that moment heading straight toward the center of her universe.
Only after senseless decades of loss, pain and hard-fought wisdom would she see through the years into the real secret of a charmed life: there can be no secrets. By facing fully the guilt, the ghosts, the messiness of life and its myriad complexities, and by accepting what can and cannot be changed, might she be able to find that gem of hope in the dark. Susan Meissner’s World War II tale is a lovely reminder of what is important in life, and an impassioned plea to seek out that which has been lost. ...more
Vianne and Isabelle, sisters living in a quaint rural French village in the late 1930s, respond very differently to the dangers of occupation by the NVianne and Isabelle, sisters living in a quaint rural French village in the late 1930s, respond very differently to the dangers of occupation by the Nazi Germany. Vianne, a young wife and mother, must say goodbye to her husband soldier for an indeterminate time, and must transform herself into the strong backbone of her fledgling family. Isabelle, single, flirty and impetuous, must rapidly face the consequences of her irresponsible behavior and grow up within months rather than the years she had taken for granted. Both face challenges never dreamed of in order to survive, as well as to rebuild their fragile relationship with each other and their estranged father. The war reveals uncomfortable and unlooked-for truths within themselves, humbling each one to the deepest depths while also allowing hope for new growth. Gods are made and unmade in the trenches of life’s darkest battles....more
For those who wish to prove, or perhaps disprove, once and for all the claims of this famous Jesus fellow, The Case for Christ for Kids, by Lee StrobeFor those who wish to prove, or perhaps disprove, once and for all the claims of this famous Jesus fellow, The Case for Christ for Kids, by Lee Strobel and Rob Suggs, presents a, erm, body of evidence for those who wish to put their faith or the faith of others to the test. Looking at historical documents, witnesses, hoax theories, they use standard court evidence procedures to weigh disparities in perspective and consistency, as well as delve into theories of hoaxes, conspiracy, and hallucinations. After all, lots of megalomaniacs have claimed to be God over the millennia, and we have called them all nutcases except for this one. What makes this guy believable, and why has he had such a large impact on humanity? Wonderfully conversational, it can be read aloud as a devotional to your family or youth group, or even just to yourself, as a means to solve this mystery of a Savior on a cross....more
Managing the tension between diplomacy and heroism in the best of times can stave off political conflict; in the worst of times it can lead to the deaManaging the tension between diplomacy and heroism in the best of times can stave off political conflict; in the worst of times it can lead to the death of millions of innocents. For the Dodd family, newly appointed as ambassadors to Berlin in the first six months of Hitler’s rise from Chancellor to popular German dictator, the challenge to keep communications with the enemy open while at the same time warning the American public of the imminent dangers of the Third Reich ultimately proved impossible. How do you convince a generation enamored with this new rock star who was industriously saving downtrodden Germany that he is, er, well, Hitler? Sane people cannot think like a madman, and America, to its own credit as well as loss, could not imagine the devastation he and his followers had planned for those who opposed him. Like any megalomaniac, he projected a righteous and charismatic public persona, yet ambassador Dodd, unlike those who only met The Fuhrer for brief periods, saw his monstrous need for domination behind the smiling mask. Standing alone for the American ideal, Dodd ultimately lost his job due to political backbiting and watched helplessly as hell and earth collided. While some say he failed as a diplomat in that he could not hide his disdain for fascism long enough to hold off Nazi advances, others say his lone voice of reason, if heeded early on, could have vastly altered the dreadful course of World War II.
Erik Larsen, true to form, brings history to riveting and devastating life in this novel based entirely on direct quotes from letters, newspapers, and interviews of Dodd, President Roosevelt, Hitler and many friends and relatives whose own clandestine activities certainly added complications to the already difficult job at hand. We think this kind of horror could not happen again, but Hitlers arise in every generation. We must ask ourselves whether we are willing to waste precious time dancing with an irrational and immoveable enemy, or stand up for what is right at our own personal cost. ...more
“The very problems you must overcome also support you and make you stronger in overcoming them,” said George Yeoman Pocock, legendary boat builder for“The very problems you must overcome also support you and make you stronger in overcoming them,” said George Yeoman Pocock, legendary boat builder for the top rowing teams of the country in the early half of the last century. He was speaking of water, which a rower does battle against with all his might, but which also provides both the muse for the sport as well as the endurance required to win. His Boys in the Boat from the University of Washington went to the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, owing to much more than mere sportsmanship and water lore. These rugged working class young men faced incredible personal and political odds and much better-equipped foes in the national and international arenas, winning with their hearts and minds as well as their bodies. Personal tragedy, relentless poverty, the Great Depression, the rise of Hitler, as well as hours of brutal training in the Seattle winters refined them into “something beyond the sum of its parts, something mysterious and ineffable and gorgeous to behold.”...more
Royals are fascinating. They seem to get away with the craziest of things, feats of tyranny and wealth and even terror, simply for being born in the pRoyals are fascinating. They seem to get away with the craziest of things, feats of tyranny and wealth and even terror, simply for being born in the proper family. The Tudor family of England, in particular, perhaps best known for fat King Henry VIII and his many wives, or possibly the extravagant collars and wigs of his famously unmarried daughter, Queen Elizabeth, ruled for almost two centuries and not only made for wonderfully scandalous headlines, but also managed to carve a world leader out of an otherwise insignificant island nation. Known for their pomp, intelligence and dramatic twists of power-play at court, they nevertheless ruled the country with unprecedented determination and insight.
Jane Bingham’s thorough account traces the royal lineage from end of the War of the Roses through one hundred and fifty years of prosperity, additionally providing delectable details of personal practices and foibles. We like to think royals, for all their celebrity, are human like ourselves. How else can we explain why they would apply poison on their skin and into their eyes to improve their looks in old age; why would they marry off a precious daughter to an infant son of an ugly cousin; or why they would sooner kill a nephew than raise him when his father dies in battle? Ironically, insecurity seems only magnified by royalty. The higher one wishes to climb, the more brutal the stakes to those around them, yet for all their outlandish behavior, the Tudors thrust England onto the world stage as a contentious naval and political force, securing it as the future world leader of culture and trade. ...more
If you want a safe life, don’t read history. Or question the government. Or be different or otherwise stand out in any way. So young Sasha Zeidek learIf you want a safe life, don’t read history. Or question the government. Or be different or otherwise stand out in any way. So young Sasha Zeidek learns, in Breaking Stalin’s Nose, during the most momentous twenty-four hour stretch of his life. Having grown up adoring his dictator and aspiring to become a devout patriot himself, the true nature of his family’s bitter struggle comes to light after an unfortunate incident involving a plaster nose in a hallway at school. Now his dream-filled future, as well as his father’s, is uncertain at best. He realizes that everyone around him is willing to turn traitor, that nothing is as it seems, and that cruelty and injustice thrive where ignorance and fear join forces. He sees hope in the bravery of the few whose love enables them to take risks against all odds, and now he must choose whether he is willing to become yet another blackened face in the school’s yearbook....more