Sunday, January 25, 2015

Review: Miracle on Voodoo Mountain by Megan Boudreaux

Miracle on Voodoo Mountain
A Young Woman's Remarkable Story of Pushing Back the Darkness for the Children of Haiti
By Megan Boudreaux
Thomas Nelson Publishing
ISBN: 978-0-5291-1094-7

Whenever I read Christian non-fiction, especially testimonies and memoirs, I always approach them with extreme cynicism. This is because as a Christian I've been burned by Christian platitudes and self-righteousness, and as a writer I've honed an ability to sense the ring of truth. Thus, my spiritual "BS" meter is pretty highly-developed. Therefore, if I read a book and say it's good and believable, I am to be trusted. This is a really really good book and it does what good Christian testimonies should do. It highlights the power of Jesus Christ in the world as He works through His people. And it shows us how needy, evil, and lost the world is.

It's the first-person memoir written by Megan Boudreaux about how she began working with and for poor, abused, orphaned, and/or enslaved children in Haiti. Throughout her narrative, Boudreaux is real, strong and good without being pretentiously pious, and also very informative about how dangerous uninformed American Christian charity can be.

After having repeated dreams of a tamarind tree in a suburb in Haiti, Megan decides to give up her perfect job and to follow what she feels is a call from God. In Haiti, she's a bit at a loss where to begin or what exactly she has been called to do. But one small encounter with a restovak -- an enslaved child-- starts her journey. One thing leads to another and soon she is feeding starving children, building schoolrooms, and being threatened by voodoo priests. She encounters corruption in various forms and discovers how poor children and well-intentioned Christian churches are used by false orphanages and child traffickers.

All the while, Boudreaux writes honestly, humbly, and in a conversational engaging style.

I'll admit, though, that the title turned me off initially. I avoid anything that seems hyperbolic. But the book really is about a great work done by a young Christian woman. I highly recommend this.

This wbok was sent to me free by Booklookbloggers in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Saturday, January 03, 2015

Review: Chewed Confessions by Cheryl Kirwan

  • Chewed Confessions 
  • by Cheryl Kirwan

  • File Size: 337 KB
  • Print Length: 178 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1 edition (April 22, 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00CHCQO68

I love omnibus novels, a collection of short stories composed of characters who are connected with each other by chance, location, or situation. In omnibus novels, a secondary character in one story will become a main character in another. Sometimes the omnibus is complicated as in Revenge: Eleven Dark Tales by Yoko Ogawa, where characters are unnamed, inter-connected to the extreme (yet often strangers to each other), and who affect each other's lives for the worst.

In Chewed Confession, characters are connected in a straight-forward linear manner. In this case, the characters in these stories are often friends, family, colleagues, or acquaintances. Thus the main character of one story might casually call a friend or family member and this friend becomes the main character in the following story. This is generally the pattern throughout.

The narrators in each character study are different flavors of gum. So the reader encounters two new characters with each story: a character and a gum with a flavor name. Hence we have narratives from Cherry ubilee, Minty Chocolate, Peppermint, Clove, Cinnamon, Mega Mint Delight, Summer Mint, Triple Bubble, and Fruity Explosion. They relate the lives of Jason, Peter, Abby, Piper, Rita, Matthew, Artie, Rudy, and Lester -- people of different ages, and sexes.

Despite the difference in flavors, the wads of gum generally have the same speaking voice and personality. They also have the same destinies: they are removed from a wrapper, chewed in distinctive styles depending on the personality and stress of the chewer, then discarded...either on the ground or in a bin. The human characters are either stressed -- because of divorce proceedings, civil lawsuits, dating and love and relationship issues-- or are going through life causing stress to others. The wads of gum describe the lives of the human chewers as they describe their own lives as they are chewed, tongue-throttled, etc.

This is a good collection of short stories. They work together as an omnibus novel although the overall feel is of a series of scattered events in the lives of disparate characters. In this way, they are like character studies and the wad of gum's summation at the end of each story gives a moral of the life event the reader has witnessed.  This can be a bit much but I suppose that gums chew on what they have witnessed or seen in the lives of their human chewers and moralizing become part of their personality as they share with other gum acquaintances what they have digested in their short lives.

It's a fun book. 

Friday, January 02, 2015

Review: A Plague of Unicorns

A Plague of Unicorns
Jane Yolen
ISBN: 978-0-310-74648-5

Even as a child, I’ve loved stories about the trials, journeys, and quests that boys endure. I’m not sure why. I’d like to think I focus so much on stories with boy teen protagonists for some wonderfully sane and enlightened reason. But I don’t think that’s wholly true. I suspect some part of it is my personality but the other part might simply be that I grew up on the stuff: Shakespearean characters, Grimm fairytales, cultural folklore, and all those tragic Bible princes tend to be pretty boy-focused.

The golden apples in Cranford Abbey haven't been particularly useful and so the monks and abbots have allowed the unicorns to nibble them. However, when Abbot Aelian arrives, he brings with him his greagrandmother's recipe for Gold Apple Cider. The unicorns and their nibbling will have to go.

But unicorns are not easily gotten rid of. Even though heroes come from many nations to battle them.

James is not a hero. He is a very energetic very curious future duke who continually pummels everyone for miles around with questions, especially unanswerable ones. He is the one who figures out how to get rid of the unicorns.

This is a fun humorous, little book. The vocabulary is easy enough for middle readers, although it takes place in a Roman Catholic world, and there are Roman Catholic words scattered throughout. Theis might be problematic for some children who have never heard words like abbeys, abbots, and turrets thrown around. But one does not have to be Roman Catholic to enjoy it and a child who reads about knights and dungeons will enter the worldbuilding of this story easily.

There is nothing offensive to Christians to it, no wizards or ogres. So Christian readers who are against certain fantastical elements should like it. It's not religious but people with extreme atheists or extreme Islamic beliefs might be upset about mentions of the Bible.  

The illustrations are black and white and nicely-done. Recommended.


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