Fiction · Heather D · In the Library · Relationships

Not My Daughter | by Barbara Delinsky

Not My Daughter

Not My Daughter by Barbara Delinsky
(Doubleday, 2010, 343 pages)

Susan Tate is a high school principal who has worked hard to get where she is. She was a teen mother who is raising her seventeen year old daughter Lily single-handedly. Because of her own circumstance, she has launched a high-profile campaign to educate students about preventing unwanted pregnancy.

Lily reveals to Susan that she is expecting a baby. If that wasn’t trouble enough, she learns that Lily’s two best friends are also pregnant. They have formed a pact. Susan is struggling with the news because she thought at home she had done everything right when it came to Lily. When it came to her students, she was sure she was doing everything possible to help prevent teenage pregnancies. She and her daughter are very close and Lily knows what her mother has gone through to make sure they have everything going in the right direction for them. Lily is a wonderful daughter and Susan has a successful career. Now Susan has to decide yet again what would be best for her and Lily while Lily slowly realizes the impact of her decision to become pregnant.

Even though this book is fiction, there are situations that are true-to-life. Yes, of course there is some drama but it is not over the top. The author did a great job of coming up with scenarios that were very realistic and possible in the world we live in today. She also included some hard life lessons that could happen in any family which is why I think this would be a great read for teenage girls and all moms. I think this book will give readers a lot to discuss including mothers and daughters. This is a heartwarming story that will grab and hold your attention to the end.

Fiction · Jean R · Mystery

A Good Killing | by Allison Leotta

A Good Killing

A Good Killing by Allison Leotta
(Touchstone, 2015, 320 pages)

A Good Killing by Allison Leotta is the fourth novel in the Anna Curtis series. Anna Curtis is a federal sex crimes prosecutor in Washington, DC. In A Good Killing, Anna receives a disturbing phone call from an old friend in her hometown of Holly Grove, MI. Anna’s sister, Jody, is the lead suspect in the death of Holly Grove’s beloved football coach, Owen Fowler. Anna returns home to defend her innocent sister who may not be so innocent after all. Coach Fowler may not have deserved all the honors and respect that he’s been given over the years.

A Good Killing is the first book that I’ve read by Allison Leotta. I didn’t realize that Anna Curtis was a series. A Good Killing can easily be read as a stand-alone novel.

I was interested in this book because the book cover mentions that Allison Leotta is a female John Grisham. Unfortunately, I didn’t care for the subject matter of this book. I should have gotten a clue when I read that Leotta was a federal sex crimes prosecutor in Washington, DC for twelve years. The book is well-written, but I don’t think that I will be picking up any other novels by Leotta.

Fiction · Mystery · Stephanie T

Private Down Under | by James Patterson and Michael White

Private Down Under

Private Down Under by James Patterson and Michael White
(Grand Central Publishing Hachette, 2014, 345 pages)

The glamorous life of the rich and famous offers no escape from crime in Sidney, Australia. Craig Gisto built his private eye business into one that is world-renowned. Just as he is about to entertain his clients and the local elite in his new headquarters his party is crashed by a dead body. The victim is none other than the kidnapped son of the wealthiest Australian. The victim’s body was severely beaten and mutilated. On top of this investigation, Gisto finds that his case load grows daily as more of the rich and famous call on the talents of his team to solve mysteries. Patterson once again tells an intriguing detective story.

Fiction · Romance · Stephanie T

Whiskey Beach | by Nora Roberts

Whiskey Beach

Whiskey Beach by Nora Roberts
(Putnam Adult, 2013, 484 pages)

From the hustle and bustle of the big city to the calm serenity of the beach, Eli Landon seeks to put the trauma of his wife’s murder behind him. He returns to Bluff House, a family refuge after encouragement by his grandmother. In this large historic house he is able to settle down and return to normalcy and his writing.

Eli’s grandmother, the present owner of Bluff House, is recuperating in Boston with her adult children after falling. Eli has come to house sit and try to return to his passion, writing. The housekeeper, Abra Walsh is in and out and constantly trying to get under his skin.  While he thinks she is a nuisance, he soon realizes that he likes her more and more. Eli eventually discovers that someone is invading Bluff House in search of lost jewels…

Nora Roberts tells a tantalizing story of romance and intrigue.

Andrew S · Essays · Non-Fiction · Religion

Prophetic Fragments | by Cornel West

Prophetic Fragments

Prophetic Fragments by Cornel West
(Eerdmans, 1988, 294 pages)

This is a collection of essays, reviews, and other short pieces from Cornel West. The essays are broken up into three sections dealing with religion and politics, religion and culture, and religion and contemporary theology. West states that the aim of the book is “to examine and explore, delineate and demystify, counter and contest the widespread accommodation of American religion to the political and cultural status quo” (ix). Many of the pieces are dated, especially the reviews of theologians like Harvey Cox and Hans Frei. That said, West’s perspective on the symbiotic relationship between religion and cultural institutions remains insightful. I particularly enjoyed his analysis of the source of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s theology in “Martin Luther King, Jr.: Prophetic Christian as Organic Intellectual,” and the examination of West’s Anglophilia in “Not-Always-Perfidious Albion.” West’s unique voice makes every subject he covers entertaining, as well as interesting.

Andrew S · Non-Fiction · Religion

Reformed Catholicity | by Michael Allen and Scott R. Swain

Reformed Catholicity

Reformed Catholicity: The Promise of Retrieval for Theology and Biblical Interpretation by Michael Allen and Scott R. Swain
(Baker Academic, 2015, 176 pages)

I’m not sure if my slight disappointment with this book is due to unrealistic expectations, a misunderstanding of Allen and Swain’s intentions, or a failure on the authors’ part to deliver on the promise of the book. It’s probably a combination of these things. I’m extremely sympathetic to, even excited about, the thesis of the book. Too much Reformed theology lacks an orientation to the catholicity of the faith and ignores the fact that the tradition is and should be shaped by encounters with other traditions. This is confident Reformed theology – confident of the contribution the Reformed tradition has to make toward the Church catholic and confident that the tradition needs the insights of those outside its fold. These are attractive features, and yet I’m not sure that these excellent guiding principles are fleshed out in a satisfying way.

The book’s thesis contends “that there are Reformed theological and ecclesiological warrants for pursuing a program of retrieval, that we can and should pursue catholicity on Protestant principles, and that pursuing this path holds promise for theological and spiritual renewal” (13). Allen and Swain helpfully survey various modern retrieval movements. These are movements which perceive major failings in modern theology and attempt to correct them through reappropriation of, usually, premodern elements of the Christian tradition. The authors see the Reformed tradition as one which can actively participate in this task of retrieval, offering distinctive and helpful parameters for pursuing catholicity within the broader Christian tradition. They examine at length a classically Reformed understanding of the relationship between the Church, Scripture, and tradition, arguing for the properly catholic context of the interpretation of Scripture.

In so far as it goes, the book is a very helpful model for confessionally Reformed theologians who want to constructively engage with other Christian traditions in the process of biblical interpretation. However, the authors critique theologians who “focus on discussion of methodology,” and lament that “one still looks in vain for books on various doctrinal topics that really tackle the task of theological exegesis at length” (125). The critique is valid, and it applies to this book. Allen and Swain essentially offer a discussion of methodology with few examples of how such an approach shapes the reading of actual passages from the Bible and even fewer examples of how such readings shape doctrine in a way that promotes visible catholicity. This was my major disappointment with the book. It is an example of methodological catholicity with little to say about what visible catholicity should look like. Perhaps my expectations weren’t in line with the goals of the authors, but it seems that they were aiming at something they didn’t quite achieve. Criticism aside, it is a very helpful book, and will hopefully inspire more studies of the catholic nature of Reformed theology and practice.

Early Reader · Fiction · Julia P · Juvenile · Picture book · Vivs

Bubbles, Bubbles | by Kathi Appelt — Mama, Do You Love Me? | by Barbara M. Joosse

Bubbles Bubbles

Bubbles, Bubbles by Kathi Appelt; pictures by Fumi Kosaka
(Scholastic, 2002, 18 pages)

My reading life has changed a bit since having a baby back in January. Picture books are now a regular part of my rotation and they have the highest completion rate (shocking, I know). Even though my daughter hasn’t hit 5 months yet, early literacy is important and I’m doing what I can to try and raise a “reader.”

Bubbles, Bubbles is a book about bath time. The book’s nameless protagonist (along with her rubber duck and frog companions) gets ready for her bath. The book has bold and engaging pictures which will catch your child’s eye. Also, Appelt uses fun words and repetition to make for a lively reading experience. I got some giggles out of my daughter more than a few times with the ways I played with rhymes and exaggerated words.

Mama, Do You Love Me

Mama, Do You Love Me?
by Barbara M. Joosse; illustrated by Barbara Lavallee
(Scholastic, 1991, 27 pages)

Mama, Do You Love Me? exceeded my expectations. My daughter received it in a basket of books from her great grandmother and I just appreciated that it offered up diverse characters (a topic that has received a lot of discussion recently). The story is about a young girl who wants to know just how much her mother loves her. The daughter’s questions and the mother’s responses are sweet. Even when the daughter goes to extremes (what if I turn into a polar bear?!) her mother explains that even if she was scared or surprised there are no limits on the love she has for her daughter.

This book definitely lends itself for engaging your child throughout the reading. I’d echo the mother in the book’s sentiments and talk to my daughter about how much I love her (I promise I’m not being cheesy). A nice addition to a long line of books that highlight the love between parents and their children.

*Since the picture books we read are obviously going to be on the short side I’ll plan on combining reviews into a single post like you see here.*