Welcome to my blog where I share my book reviews
and life along the winding road

Friday, May 27, 2022

One Heart At a Time - Delilah


Delilah is a well known radio personality and I've mostly listened to her during late night driving. She has a calm demeanor and always offers the voice of reason along with well chosen music.

She has also shared over the years her struggles, her joys and her family of several husbands and seemingly  never ending additions of children to her family.

In addition to her own children, Delilah adopted ten more and many through her organization Point Hope in Ghana where she visits frequently and is very involved in the running of the center for children who have "fallen through the cracks" of society.

Despite many heartaches and challenges, she continues to have a resolute faith in God. Especially traumatic was the death of her son, Zachy. Unfortunately, a doctor prescribed medication for him when he was depressed. The medication was not recommended for anyone under the age of 25 as it has been known to give children suicidal ideas in over 40% of cases, according to her book. She also stated that he stopped taking the drug because of side effects and she stated that stopping abruptly could also cause harm. Most of this was not known to Delilah at the time because the doctor refused to discuss her son's treatment with her.  Even after Zach gave the doctor permission to talk to Delilah, he didn't return her calls.

Her message in her book is that we can all do something. While perhaps not on the scale of Point Hope or adopting ten children, but we can all look for ways to help those in our community and each other. One Heart at a Time is a heart wrenching book, but also a book of hope for the future.

Friday, May 20, 2022

Myself My Enemy by Jean Plaidy

 Myself My Enemy by Jean Plaidy is an historical fiction of Henrietta Maria of France who married Charles I of England. The royal family believed in divine right - that they were put in place by God to rule the country and governed with the idea that they could do no wrong. Unfortunately, Charles I subjects didn't share his view and after tumultuous years where they were taxed heavily for lavish spending of the court and their concerns that his Roman Catholic Queen, Henrietta Marie, would influence him and return England to Catholic Rule, the Puritan Oliver Cromwell seemed to be a radical and welcome change. Going from one extreme of royal opulence to the basic Puritan religion didn't last long, but to make sure Charles I didn't try to regain his throne, he was beheaded, leaving Henrietta Marie without a country or a title. She had refused to be crowned Queen of England because she would not set foot in a Protestant church. But she was a powerful influence over those around her and despite living in a protestant country, tried to influence the children and others to the Catholic faith. Eventually, their son, Charles II returned to England without the need to gather an army and became King of England.

Friday, May 13, 2022

This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger

 This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger is more than a story of four orphan children running from an abusive children's home, it is about the rivers that run into the great Mississippi and the river bank inhabitants trying to eke out a living during the Depression.

Odie O'Banion and his brother Albert are placed in the Lincoln Indian Training School when they become orphans - the only white boys in a school set up to completely to eviscerate the Native American way of life, language and heritage. Many such government "schools" were set up around the country, taking young children from their homes and families, supposedly to assimilate them into society. When Odie is trying to protect himself, an accident occurs forcing Odie and Albert to flee. They take with them a young girl whose mother has recently died and an Indian boy and travel in a canoe along the river in the quest to find a kindly aunt who lives in St. Louis. Along the way they encounter the kindness from some and mean spirit of others, but each is struggling with something they have lost. 

This is a powerful story and no matter the struggles we are having today, it is nothing compared to the utter desolation and without hope those who struggled through the Depression felt. The Native Americans had the added despair of their children plucked from their homes and placed into government Indian Training Schools supposedly to learn how to live in America. I find it so sad that people don't pool their resources and learn from each other, rather than decide that everyone should be of like mind and culture. Everyone has a different and interesting story if we bother to listen.

Friday, May 6, 2022

Lady Clementine by Marie Benedict


Marie Benedict writes Lady Clementine from Clementine Churchill's point of view of her married life with Winston Churchill. Although Winston Churchill is 9  years older than Clementine she finds they have much in common including their childhood where they both felt unimportant to their mothers. Clementine's mother had a separate house from her children who were raised by and lived with a governess. Churchill's mother travelled the world with various lovers and was not involved in her children's lives. Clementine was not sure who her father was but thought it could possibly be Algernon Bertram Freemon-Mitford, her mother's brother-in-law.

At 23 and a new wife, Clementine quickly became involved in politics and didn't take the sidelines. She was anonymously involved in women's suffrage and wrote an article in the Times as CSC. Six years after their marriage, Britain is involved in WWI and Winston as First Lord of the Admiralty, orchestrates the disastrous Dardanelles Campaign where over 50,000 troops  died. Clementine embarks on the war effort and campaigns for housewives to make gas masks, joins the Munitions Workers Auxiliary Committee to run 9 canteens across northern London providing meals for workers. Meanwhile after being dismissed from the Admiralty, Winston goes to the front but takes his staff, a bath and other indulgences.

And so continues their battles with Winston on the front of political and war campaigns and Clementine helping out and organizing where she can.

In another era Clementine's efforts may have been more well known and she may have been a leader in her own right. What I found sad though is that in the book her son Randolph says "Your whole existence focuses upon him (Winston) and his requirements. He demands all of you and there is no space left for your children to have needs." Despite Winston and Churchill lamenting over the lack of affection from their mothers, they both seem to have repeated the same fate with their children.


Friday, April 29, 2022

After the Rising and Before the Fall by Orna Ross

 After the Rising and Before the Fall by Orna Ross is an historic novel covering several decades. 

Note: Several of the characters are referred to by different names.

Jo/Siobhan returns to Ireland to attend the funeral of her mother Mairin/Mrs. D. While coming across an old flame, Rory O'Donovan, her thoughts return to the past and along with a case of journals and letters begins to uncover the history of her family. Jo's family and the O'Donovans have been  tragically and romantically intertwined since the battle to free Ireland from English rule. After an Anglo/Irish 1921 treaty was reached, southern Ireland and a few counties in Northern Ireland were given a similar status to Australia with their own rule but with the English Crown still remaining as head of state.  Jo's family and also the O'Donovans became split between those who voted for the treaty and peace (pro-treaty) and those who wanted a completely free Ireland (Free Staters) and wanted to continue fighting. Some of them joined the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and took their focus from the English and began fighting with Irish friends and neighbors. Jo's grandmother, Peg, follows it all in her diary. 

This was one of my favorite books of this year and very well written. I did, however, question a period in San Francisco which I thought unnecessarily covered the AIDS problem in the 1980s which erupted in that area and didn't feel it added to the story.

Friday, April 22, 2022

Fever by Robin Cook

 Robin Cook is skilled at writing medical thrillers. If you haven't read his novels, you may, nevertheless, remember some of them as movies

Fever was published in 1982. 

Charles Martel gave up his medical practice and turned his talents to researching after the death of his wife, hoping to find a cure for cancer, but his research wasn't advancing fast enough and he was helpless  when his daughter, Michelle, developed a fever and was diagnosed with leukemia. But it wasn't just the diagnosis that scared him, he discovered chemical waste was being dumped in a local river which ran past his daughter's play house. Up against the research company he worked for, a local recycling plant, and the oncology doctors who seemed to be experimenting on Michelle without success, Dr. Martel takes matters into his own hands to save his daughter.

Braiding Sweetgrass also touches on the problems of chemical waste in our lakes and rivers.

Friday, April 15, 2022

Imagine Heaven by John Burke

 A friend gave me Imagine Heaven by John Burke. We've lost many friends and neighbors the past two years (due to illnesses - not Covid).

It's a very encouraging book with many accounts of Near Death Experiences (NDEs). The common theme, through the accounts, is a bright light, surrounded by loving angels with friends and family who have died and Jesus in white and surrounded by light. Most said they experienced a "movie of myself and entire life," but without condemnation. They also experienced how their actions had a Butterfly Effect on others. 

Most experiences resulted in the person who returned to realize that it was love and kindness and not possessions or monetary achievements that were important. Some noted that they found out even a small kindness by them had affected another in a meaningful way.

All God needs us to do to change the world is to love God so we can love our neighbor as much as ourselves.

Random Acts of Kindness is a great way to show appreciation to others. Facebook has a Random Acts of Crochet Kindness page and Random Acts of Crochet Kindness USA page.