Tuesday, May 18, 2010

My review of Flirting with Faith by Joan Ball

Flirting with Faith
Joan Ball
Publisher: Howard Books
Published: 2010
ISBN: 9781439149874
Pages: 213

After reading Flirting with Faith, whether you are a Christian, atheist, or unclear about what you believe, you might arrive at the conclusion that it was a great thing that the author, Joan Ball, had her come to Jesus moment when she did. After reading the book, the reader is amazed at the experiences she endured—the death of both of her parents, a friend and a child and her son’s illness-- in a short period of time that would bring any Christian, saint, or sinner, to their knees. Faith came to Joan’s life, one might say, in the nick of time. Her survival in part depended on it. A Christian might say, “God is always on time.” And for Joan Ball, the atheist, He was “right” on time.

I was raised in the church and had been to church through my adult life, but never owned the blind faith that I had always desired. My journey, although different from Joan’s, was similar in some ways as that blind faith came over me unexpectedly all at once. I know the power of God and was able to witness it in my life which allows me to believe that the story she has penned clearly reflects her conversion experience.

Ms. Ball will face skeptics who might question her story but my being a Christian allows me to see that her story is valid without having been there beside her when it happened. God comes to all of us in different ways and at different times and that is reflected in Joan’s walk throughout the story. When one is truly anointed it is evident to those who know what “it” looks like if that anointing is real. Joan Ball is now walking the life of a Christian and is no longer an outsider standing on her toes peeking in.

This book is well written and clearly reflects the sudden and profound experience Joan Ball had in 2003 that would ultimately change her life forever. I feel that this author’s wit, honesty and humor guided this book allowing the reader to think of their own religious views while reading about her being “struck” Christian. Joan has walked with blind faith since that day allowing God to be her guide. She never stopped to question what she was feeling. She just stood up, owned it and has never let it go. That is the most amazing part of the story to me. She, like an infant navigating the world for the first time, embraced God and hasn’t questioned what He needed from her. She fervently acquired knowledge through reading the Bible, meeting with her pastor and the monks, and dove into Christianity as she had into her addiction, education and career. She had a great desire for her life to be in order and it is now held together by the one thing—religion—she never thought she’d embrace.

Despite your religious beliefs it is clear that something happened to Joan Ball that day which has affected her life and has changed her view of life since religion became a part of it. I look forward to reading another book by Ms. Ball as she continues her Christian journey.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Fast paced thriller!!

This is a page turning fiction novel that leaves you wondering, “Could I do that?” Life keeps us all very busy and at times it seems that bad things only happen to good people over and over again at the hands of the dredges of our society. There are times when people become frustrated with their life and it becomes evident in an outrageous act that affects others—work or school shootings, or other violent unexplainable acts where people just snap. This book reminds me of how fragile the heart and mind is.

Benjamin Cole rides the bus daily and has “bus friends.” He knows their first names but that is the extent of him truly knowing them. Despite that, there is a bond between all of the daily riders. Commuters establish a relationship with the other commuters. It may not extend beyond the train car, bus or the commuter parking lot but it is there nonetheless. Benjamin Cole is a good guy who looks out for his fellow man but when his world in the fast pace city is disrupted by one act where a “bus friend” dies, that all changes. Life as he knew it no longer exists. What evolves from this one experience affects the next moments of his life.

The life changing event takes place in the very first pages snatching your attention and never letting it go making it impossible to put down. Readers will be eager to find out what happens next on Benjamin’s journey but as soon as you think one thing may happen, there is another twist. To see the heart, mind and soul of a humble man evolve into those he hates is an amazing feat that Mr. Dickerson portrays with ease.

The author suggests that the reader makes this book come alive when in fact it is his amazing talent that brings the story to life. We all have felt like Benjamin Cole at least once in our lives and may or may not have acted upon it. This book allows us to open our eyes, heart, soul and mind to the world that we live in and takes us through a range of emotions—anger, joy, excitement, pain, fear—without ever leaving our chairs. Well done Mr. Dickerson. I am glad you found your voice and look forward to listening to it again… bravo!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Children's Book Review... Five Stars!!

Sam Brown
Herbert I AM-I CAN
Publisher: Outskirts Press, Inc.
Published: 2009
ISBN: 9781432748425
Pages: 48

Herbert has a dream to be a firefighter like is his father was. He is twelve-years-old and is unable to think of anything else. His dad died a hero saving a family in a fire. Herbert has visited the firehouse on numerous occasions and knew this was his desired goal especially after his dad’s death. In addition, he felt being a Boy Scout would better aid him in his efforts of becoming a firefighter. There were no meetings in his neighborhood but when his mother mentioned she had met a scout master, he was immediately interested in joining. The only problem was that the meetings were a few blocks from where he lived. He would have to walk past the one person he was afraid of on his trip home from the meetings donned in his Boy Scout uniform—Roscoe, the neighborhood bully.

Herbert’s fears became real each time he returned to his neighborhood as he was subjected to ridicule by Roscoe. On one spectacular day Herbert saw smoke coming from his apartment building while on his way home. After running toward it he realized it wasn’t his apartment on fire but Roscoe’s. Herbert never hesitated to save his enemy.

This book is a story filled with many life lessons that are imperative for children to learn—kindness, social responsibility, caring, fortitude—to name a few. I worked in a school district for many years with children who owned dreams as large as Herbert’s yet the tools I was able to utilize to offer guidance were not reflective of these children. I commend Mr. Brown while at the same time thank him for creating a book with the images of children that are not generally portrayed in a positive light. It will further enhance their learning. In addition, the safety tips in the back of the book are very important as families need to prepare for these situations. Their lives depend on it.

This book should be on the shelves in elementary school libraries, homes, public libraries and used as a tool during fire safety programs which occur annually in most school districts. I highly recommend this book!!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Great book for teenage girls!

The Attitude Girl
Mila Bernadkin
Publisher: Five Star Publications, Inc.
Published: 2009
Pages: 323

When we are introduced to the main character in the book, Vicky, we clearly understand the reason for the book’s title, “ The Attitude Girl.” Vicky, like a number of seventeen-year-olds, is self absorbed, too outspoken, a know it all and selfish. She becomes hot and cold as different experiences occur in her life forcing her to unwillingly look in the mirror catching a true glimpse of who she really is. Along with Vicky and her friends I experienced a range of emotions—happiness, sadness, anxiety-- and found myself at some points laughing out loud. Armed with her attitude Vicky goes through her senior year dealing with various issues but works hard to land on her feet as she enters into adulthood.

Vicky is intelligent but her quick wit is sometimes offensive. When her calm life becomes rocked by different obstacles it becomes evident how dangerous her tongue can be. Vicky attempts to control her harsh tongue but is unable to do so when her temper takes over. Vicky’s journey includes various life experiences—death, sex, pregnancy, drinking, abandonment, and family illness. It was enjoyable to see her growth through each experience.

Ms. Bernadkin clearly captures what it means to be a seventeen-year-old through the voices of Vicky and her friends. This coming of age tale is poignant and could be used as a learning tool for the “mean kids” and for those who suffer at their hands or words. This story is realistic, meaningful and quite powerful. I highly recommend this book for young girls but also for those who raise or educate them. Although it’s told in the voice of a teen it can be clearly understood and appreciated by adults giving the reader a better understanding of this sometimes tumultuous stage of life.