Book Review – The Madonna of Pisano

Touted as “A new twist on The Scarlet Letter”, this book held my attention from the first page. I felt it was a healthy mix of The Scarlet Letter (which I have not read, but will) and The Thornbirds.

 

Set in Sicily in the 1800s, it’s a story of rape, betrayal, disgrace, love, and forgiveness. It’s a real page-turner and will keep your attention throughout the book.

 

I received a complimentary copy from the author in exchange for an honest review and I honestly loved this book. I’m encouraging my husband to read it and will most likely offer it to the book club at my church to read. There are, to date, two more books in this series that I plan to also read.

 

Read it! You won’t be disappointed.

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Book Review: The Most Excellent Way to Lead

I’ve had some pretty bad jobs in my life – well, all my life. There might be a few exceptions, but, for the most part, my working life was not worth writing home about. After reading this book, I discovered that my poor working experience was not due to the job, the companies I worked for, or the work I did, but rather because of the leadership style of the manager.

Before you think I’m a disgruntled employee, I’m not. I went to work daily with the attitude that I was working for the Lord and I worked my tail off to do a good job, because that’s how I was raised. Additionally, I’ve taken several management courses while working on a master’s degree and have read several management books.

This book was an eye-opener. The author, Perry Noble, who started a church in 2000 with 15 people meeting in a livingroom and now, just a mere 16 years later, has a congregation of  over 30,000, a staff of 400 and an annual $50 MILLION budget.

I think he knows a thing or two about leading.

In his book, Mr. Noble uses the standards set forth in 1 Corinthians 13, the “love chapter”. By using the guides set forth – “love is patient, love is kind, etc.” – he skillfully and successfully adapts those guides to leadership. Instead of ruling with an iron fist, creating fear and discontent in the employees, he rules – er, rather, leads – in love.

In one of his summary statments at the end of the first chapter (these summary statements appear at the end of every chapter), he says, “If we practice leadership by love, we will become leaders other people actually want to follow.”

If you’re a manager, or a manager-wannabe, I highly encourage you to read this book. It’s easy reading, yet packed with valuable information and insight – and love.

I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. And, honestly, it’s by far the best book I’ve ever read on management and leadership.

Before I Forget

Product DetailsSynopsis: “I know where I’m going. I’m still myself. I just can’t remember things as well as I once did. So on short trips, I work hard not to be confused. I’ll say to myself, ‘What are we going to do? How long are we staying?’ It’s like I’m talking to my other self – the self I used to be. She tells me, ‘This is what we need to buy – not that.’ I’m conscious of that other self guiding me now.

Restaurateur, magazine publisher, celebrity chef, and nationally known lifestyle maven, B. Smith is struggling at sixty-six with a tag she never expected to add to that string: Alzheimer’s patient. She’s not alone. Every sixty-seven seconds someone newly develops it, and millions of lives are affected by its aftershocks.

B. and her husband, Dan, working with Vanity Fair contributing editor Michael Shnayerson, unstintingly share their unfolding story.

Part memoir, part caregiver’s guide, this work is a unique entry on the Alzheimer’s shelf. Crafted in short chapters that interweave their narrative with practical and helpful advice, readers learn about dealing with the day-to-day challenges of Alzheimer’s, family realities and tensions, ways of coping, and coming research that may tip the scale, as well as lessons learned along the way.

At its heart, Before I Forget is a love story illuminating a love of famly, life, and hope.”

I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I wanted to read Before I Forget because my mother suffered, if not from Alzheimer’s (she was never diagnosed), certainly from severe dementia.

Combining their own personal story with conversations with Alzheimer’s experts in the medical field with known facts and research – along with unknowns, this book is very helpful for any family member or caregiver dealing with Alzheimer’s patients. And, sadly, as the baby boomers continue to age and as people live longer because of advanced medical technology and people taking better care of their bodies, there will be even more people diagnosed with this dreadful disease.

One thing I learned reading this book is that a diagnosis could only come after a person died and an autopsy was performed. Now, because of PET (positron emission tomography), a patient can be diagnosed before death. This helps the clinical trials to learn what medications may help cure Alzheimer’s because the research scientists will only test patients with an Alzheimer’s diagnosis and, therefore, won’t waste valuable research time and money on non-Alzheimer’s patients. Sadly, Medicare won’t pay for a PET exam and the cost for a patient is $5,000.

I could go on and on about this book, but I won’t. Again, I highly recommend it to anyone with aging parents or for a man/woman who’s spouse is dealing wiith dementia of any kind. It will help you understand what’s going on with your loved one. I also recommend it to caregivers of any kind – even those who work in hospitals or nursing homes.

The Tank Man’s Son: A Memoir

24345781SYNOPSIS: In the tradition of “The Glass Castle” and “Angela’s Ashes” comes the most unforgettable memoir you’ll read this year!””What did it mean to be the Tank Man’s son? To grow up overwhelmed by my father’s presence and personality? It was as if I didn’t exist, as if I was just something else for my father to crush.””So begins the haunting memoir of Mark Bouman as he recounts the events of his childhood at the hands of his larger-than-life, Neo-Nazi father in brilliant, startling detail. From adventure-filled days complete with real-life war games, artillery fire, and tank races to terror-filled nights marked by vicious tirades, brutal beatings, and psychological torture, Mark paints a chilling portrait of family life that is at once whimsical and horrific–all building to a shocking climax that challenges even the broadest boundaries of love and forgiveness.An epic tale of redemption and reconciliation, “The Tank Man’s Son” is a literary tour de force that is sure to become an instant classic.

Excellent book! I was gifted with a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review. And, honestly, it was a fantastic book! The author, Mark Bouman, and his older brother, Jerry, his younger sister, Sheri, along with their mother, were subjected to daily insults and beatings – verbal and physical abuse – by their father/husband. He had an eccentric personality – he owned a tank! – but it was also very volatile. This book is about life growing up – without friends and no real comfort at home. It all ends good and I definitely recommend it.

As I was reading this book, it struck me how good of a home life I had growing up. I lived a sheltered life – and I knew it. I never knew how horrfic some kids had it – until I read this book.

This book was easy to read and had some humorous tales in it.

I give it 5 stars.

The English Girl

The English Girl: A Novel (Gabriel Allon Book 13)

This is definitely not a book I would have read had I known what it was about. That being said, I loved it!

I found this book at a library’s book sale and was intrigued by the title because, after all, I am an English girl by heritage. Well, that’s where the similarities end. This novel is about kidnapping, murder, international espionage, governments, lies, deceit, and so much more.

I have never read a book like this – and never knew I wanted to. But, once I started reading this book, I couldn’t put it down. I’m passing on this book to my husband because I think he’ll really like it. Good job Daniel Silva!

After I wrote this review on Goodreads, I found out there are more books with Gabriel Allon as the main character. I must read them all!

Book Review: Love Without Limits

Product DetailsThis book isn’t exactly what I thought it would be, but was actually better than I’d expected.

Nick Vujicic is an evangelist and motivational speaker who travels the world telling people about Jesus. Nick is unique in that he was born without limbs – no arms and no legs.

I’ve seen Nick preach on YouTube videos. He’s very entertaining, yet has a unique way of telling the truth of Jesus. He’s worth a listen!

At the age of 10, he attempted to drown himself in the family bathtub He’d given up his desire to live knowing how unique he was – and endured countless bullying because of his looks.

But, he read a scripture in John 9:As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.” After reading the scripture, Nick knew God had a plan for his life.

I picked this complimentary copy to read because I was curious. How could a woman love a man without limbs? I mean, he can’t hug her when she cries. He can’t really help around the house? What would sex be like?

This book answered all those questions – and more! Anything is possible when God is in it.

I thought this book would strictly be their story, but it was written to help us as well. It gave advice, it offered counsel. It was all about encouragement.

I highly recommend this book to any young marrieds or anyone anticipating marriage. Actually, I recommend this to anyone!

I have no words

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Reading it was an assignment in lit class in high school, followed with watching the movie. The two changed my life forever. It continues to be my absolute favorite book and movie.

Today, Harper Lee, the author of this incredible, life-changing book, died at the age of 89. My heart is broken.

To Kill a Mockingbird taught me that “black lives matter”. That all men are created equal, regardless of the color of their skin. I learned that there are evil people – in all races. I read this the first time in the late 60s, early 70s when racial tensions were high. Maybe that’s why it had such a huge impact on my life.

This book taught me other things as well: the carefree days of summer, the innocence of children, respect for those less fortunate than ourselves.

And then there’s Boo. This book taught me to respect the wishes and privacy of others.

Atticus was the dad we all wished we had and Scout was the girl all little girls wished they were.

I haven’t read Go Set a Watchman yet, but I will. I can almost ensure it will never have the same impact that To Kill a Mockingbird has had.

RIP Harper Lee. I am forever grateful for the life lessons you have taught me. Your death has had the same impact on me as your book has. I will never forget you.

The Mapmaker’s Children

   The synopsis reads: “When Sarah Brown, daughter of abolitionist John Brown, realizes that her artistic talents may be able to save the lives of slaves fleeing north, she becomes one of the Underground Railroad’s leading mapmakers, taking her cues from the Slave Quilt codes and hiding her maps within her paintings. As the country steers toward civil war, Sarah faces difficult sacrifices that could put all she loves in peril. A century and a half later, Eden Anderson, reeling from personal disappointment, moves with her husband to an old house in suburban Washington, D.C., a last-ditch effort to save their marriage and start a family. In the house’s cellar, she discovers a long-hidden porcelain doll that holds extraordinary secrets from the days of the Underground Railroad. Sarah and Eden’s connection soon bridges the past with the present, forcing each of them to define courage, family, love, and legacy in a new way, illustrating the ways in which history and destiny are interconnected on one enormous, intricate map.”

     I’ve always been fascinated with stories of the civil war, slavery and their eventual freedom, and the quilts. When I saw this book, I knew I had to read it. I was not disappointed.
     The author, Sarah McCoy, successfully intertwined the two leading ladies and the two centuries in which they lived. There are only two things I would have liked to have seen: more of Sarah’s artwork being mentioned and used in the book and that Sarah and Eden would have been related. 
     Overall, an excellent book and I highly recommend it.

I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my review.

A Book Review: The Other Typist

When I first saw this book I was intrigued by the title. I spent my life as a secretary and was blessed by God to be a fast and pretty accurate typist. Although I hated being a secretary (and the more glorified title of “administrative assistant”), I did learn to love to type. I used to say, “Just sit me in front of a computer and give me straight typing and I’ll be happy”.

So, when I saw this book I knew I had to have it.

First, the synopsis as printed on the back of the book: “Confessions are Rose Baker’s job. A typist for the New York City Police Department, she sits in judgment like a high priestess. Criminals come before her to admit their transgressions, and, with a few strokes of the keys before her, she seals their fate. But while she may hear about shootings, knifings, and crimes of passion, as soon as she leaves the room, she reverts to a dignified and proper lady. Until Odalie joins the typing pool.

As Rose quickly falls under the stylish, coquettish Odalie’s spell, she is lured into a sparkling underworld of speakeasies and jazz. And what starts as simple fascination turns into an obsession from which she may never recover.”

To me, this book was a prime example of what can happen if you fall into the wrong crowd. I had my doubts about the type of person Odalie was from the very beginning. I didn’t trust her. And Rose shouldn’t have.

I saw myself in Rose – young (well, I was once!), naive, wanting to fit in and be accepted. And when this new girl comes on the scene who is everything Rose is not – and was accepted by her – well, I can see how Rose followed after her like a little puppy dog just wanting to be petted.

This book was set in the 1920s – the days of prohibiition, speakeasies, and jazz. And sin abounded! By the end of the book, Rose was a changed woman – or was she?

I liked this book. It wasn’t exactly what I thought it was when I first started reading it, but that’s ok. I’m not even sure what I thought it would be. Yes, I would recommend this book. The end is where it gets really exciting!

Blackkatte Blogs About Books

I’ve always been a reader, but in the last year, I’ve stepped up the volume of books I read. Let’s just say I discovered Goodreads and have accepted the Reading Challenge. Last year I set a goal of reading 30 books. I read almost 50. This year I set the reading goal at 60 and have so far finished 8 books. Granted, some of those books were started in 2015.

Something else that has helped me increase my reading volume is the “Book Buddies” at my local church that I joined last year. I’ve enjoyed meeting with these ladies monthly as we discuss the books we read. And, we always visit about other things too. There’s something about the fellowship of like-minded ladies talking about things we have in common.

Last week I discovered “reading to review”, therefore, my blog will include reviews of books I’ve read. Others’ reviews will be better because sometimes I don’t get very wordy. Rather, I think it may be because my brain works faster than my fingers can type.

Probably the best book I’ve read so far this year was The Book Thief. Another book I enjoyed – and it was totally not a book I would have chosen to read had it not been recommended to me – was Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.

I’m not going to review those books for this blog now, because I’m just starting to do this. And, I’m not saying I’m going to review every book I read. Guess you just have to stay tuned! Continue reading “Blackkatte Blogs About Books”