Thursday, December 20, 2007

I love this book! I love the idea of this book! Masha Hamilton is an extraordinary person who has written a novel based on reality. Her story is about a restless young American librarian, Fiona Sweeney, who is searching for meaning in her life and chooses to travel in Africa to help start a library carrying books on the backs of camels.

The Camel Bookmobile is real and serves northeastern Kenya near the border with Somalia. In her interview with me, Masha told me she and her daughter actually went to Kenya and traveled with the Camel Bookmobile. I believe she has captured the culture of the region. It's people are divided by how they feel about the bookmobile, some embrace it, others oppose it, viewing it and Fi as a dangerous corrupting influence. This is a story about the unintended consequences of seemingly generous acts.

There is also an opportunity to support the Camel Book Drive created by Masha. Go to the website to learn how you can help.

Powerful and thought provoking are words I use to describe this novel. What do you think?

listen to interview

Thursday, December 13, 2007

HELL FOR THE HOLIDAYS By Chris Grabenstein
No this book isn't about visiting your in-laws during the holidays! The premise of this action packed novel came to author Chris Grabenstein after reading a story in a newspaper.

The novel opens with a kidnapping. A young boy is grabbed on Halloween for no apparent reason. There are no ransom demands and he comes home unharmed. FBI agent Christopher Miller finds himself going up against a group of home grown domestic terrorists who are copying Al Qaeda's tactics by operating in cells with a twisted fundamentalist doctrine as their guide book.Their initial plan is to bring down an airliner as it takes off from JFK. Miller can't seem to get anyone's attention because the focus is on foreign terrorism. This is a rock 'em, sock 'em thrill ride of a novel that will give you way more to think about during the holiday season that gaining a few pounds and what's under the tree with your name on it! In addition to a really good story, Grabenstein has provided us with food for thought. What do you think?

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Sunday, December 2, 2007

THE PENGUIN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH: A Meg Langslow Mystery by Donna Andrews
Penguins in the basement! A body in the basement! What a way to start out a mystery novel! Donna Andrews had my attention from the first sentence. I couldn't wait to find out more. And there is more, lots more. This delightful book is well-written and full of fun. I really enjoyed reading it. It's my first Meg Lanslow mystery, but it certainly won't be my last!

Meg and her fiance' Michael are renovating a lovely old home when the body of the owner of the local zoo is found dead in the basement. The zoo had been on the verge of going broke and the animals had been "farmed out" for temporary care to various members of the community. When word of the death of the zoo owner gets out, animals are "dumped" at the doorstep of Michael and Meg, thanks to Meg's father offering to take in any that had become too much trouble. Facts about a canned hunting ring have local hunters and animal activists up in arms and the zoo owner is suspected of being involved. This is a rollicking read and you will enjoy it.

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TEACHING KIDS TO CARE: Nuturing Character and Compassion by Bettie B. Youngs, PhD, EdD, Joanne Wolf, PhD, Joani Wafer, Dawn Lehman, PhD

Bettie B. Youngs is the author of the Tasteberry series for teens. I am familiar with this body and work and the wonderful response she received from teens themselves! This is not an extension of that work, but it is an extension of Dr. Youngs continued interest in helping society and young people in particular. This is not a "parenting" book, but rather a book about a movement, Kids Korps USA, a nonprofit organization that involves kids throughout the country in community service projects. "Teaching Kids To Care" is a practical guide for instilling the concept of "caring" in today's kids.

Interdependence, Connection, Perspective, Gratutude, and Inspiration these are the five essential touchstones necessary to guide children to become productive, well-adjusted, compassionate individuals. We have all seen children on the news or in the mall who are anything but the kind of individuals described. "Kindness" and "caring" seem to be lost concepts to the overly stimulated, overly connected, I-want-It-Now generation of children. This book gave me hope!

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Another book by this author reviewed here: The House That Love Built
THE HOUSE THAT LOVE BUILT: The Story of Millard and Linda Fuller, Founders of Habitat For Humanity and the Fuller Center For Housing by Dr. Bettie B. Youngs

I know there must be those who do not know about Habitat For Humanity and all of the wonderful homes that the organization has built for millions of the world's poor. It has to be where the idea for the reality home makeover show came from. It never occurred to me that an organization of this magnitude could have started with two individuals. It really blew my mind. Things change over time, as they have a tendency to do, and the beloved nonprofit Linda and Mallard Fuller had founded fired them. Nonprofit boards can be fickle! This was certainly not the end of the vision and the Fuller Center For Housing was born.

This is an interesting and surprising book. If you enjoy biography, you will find this book fascinating.

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Another book by this author reviewed here: Teaching Kids to Care