Thursday, August 4, 2011

Book Reviews...

Quote for the Day:
"Always read something that will make you look good
if you die in the middle of it." 
~P.J. O'Rourke

I realized that I hadn't done any reviews of the books I've been reading and listening to I thought I'd update you on what's been on my bedside table and on my MP3 lately.

Two audiobooks that I recently finished listening to are "Picking Cotton"  by Jennifer Thompson-Cannino and Ronald Cotton.   

Synopsis:  Jennifer Thompson was raped at knife point by a man who broke into her apartment while she slept. She was able to escape, and eventually positively identified Ronald Cotton as her attacker. Ronald insisted that she was mistaken-- but Jennifer's positive identification was the compelling evidence that put him behind bars. After eleven years, Ronald was allowed to take a DNA test that proved his innocence. He was released, after serving more than a decade in prison for a crime he never committed. Two years later, Jennifer and Ronald met face to face-- and forged an unlikely friendship that changed both of their lives.  In their own words, Jennifer and Ronald unfold the harrowing details of their tragedy, and challenge our ideas of memory and judgment while demonstrating the profound nature of human grace and the healing power of forgiveness.

I actually remember hearing it on the news when Ronald Cotton was released based on DNA evidence.  This was something very new to us at the time.  I think he was the first prisoner who was released based on DNA evidence AFTER having already served part of his time.

This is a moving book about forgiveness, but also an eye-opener about things such as "eye witnesses" and biases in the judicial some evidence is purposely not allowed in based on the judges decision.  We like to think our justice system is blind and is equal and fair...but I'm learning there is so much that goes on behind the scenes that we are not privy to.  It's kinda scary since we put our faith, lives and trust in a justice system that has it's flaws.  

Another book I listened to recently is "Staying True"  by Jenny Sanford.  

Synopsis:  Sanford—the wronged wife of Mark Sanford, disgraced governor of South Carolina, who famously refused to stand by him when his affair came to light—delivers a crisp and affecting reading of her memoir of her family, career, faith, and the very public implosion of her marriage. She's surprisingly relatable and possessed of a very dry wit. When the news of her husband's affair broke, her husband asked her what to say in his first public appearance. She told him, Don't talk about your heart. Watching him sob (carry on in Jenny Sanford's words) during a mea culpa almost completely devoted to matters of his heart, she was surrounded by her posse of friends, one of whom observed, He wasn't hiking the Appalachian trail, he was getting some Argentinean tail. Even if Sanford's piety occasionally finds best expression in platitudes, she turns out a memorable listen; after a while her detachment and the edge to her voice seem less like drawbacks than signs of her admirable reserve and steeliness of character.
Let me just warn you that Jenny Sanford is a devout Catholic and talks openly about her faith and how it made her who she is and how it guided her throughout this ordeal.

I have also recently finished listening to "29 Gifts:  How a Month of Giving Can Change Your Life" by Cami Walker.  
Synopsis:  At age thirty-five, Cami Walker was burdened by a battle with multiple sclerosis, a chronic neurological condition that made it difficult for her to walk, work, or enjoy her life. Seeking a remedy for her depression after being hospitalized, she received an uncommon prescription from an African medicine woman: Give to others for 29 days.  29 Gifts is the insightful story of the author’s life change as she embraces and reflects on the naturally reciprocal process of giving and receiving. Many of Walker’s gifts were simple a phone call, spare change, a Kleenex. Yet the acts were transformative. By Day 29, not only had Walker’s health and happiness improved, but she had created a worldwide giving movement.
The book also includes personal essays from others whose lives changed for the better by giving, plus pages for the reader to record their own journey. More than a memoir, 29 Gifts offers inspiring lessons on how a simple daily practice of altruism can dramatically alter your outlook on the world.

Currently, on my bedside table is "Bad Dog:  A Love Story"  by Martin Kihn.  I'm about 3/4's done and am thoroughly enjoying it!

Synopsis:  Meet Hola. She’s a nightmare, but it’s not her fault if she tackles strangers and chews on furniture, or if she runs after buses and fried chicken containers and drug dealers. No one ever told her not to. Worse yet, she scares her family. Hola may be the most beautiful Bernese mountain dog in the world, but she’s never been trained. At least not by anyone who knew what he was doing.  Hola’s supposed master, Marty, is a high-functioning alcoholic. A TV writer turned management consultant, Marty’s in debt and out of shape; he’s about to lose his job, and one day he emerges from a haze of peach-flavored vodka to find he’s on the verge of losing his wife, Gloria, too, if he can’t get his life—and his dog—under control. 
Desperately trying to save his marriage, Marty throws himself headlong into the world of competitive dog training. Unfortunately, he knows even less than HolaHola first needs to learn how to sit. 
It won’t be easy. It certainly won’t be pretty. But maybe, just maybe, there will be cheesecake.

All four of these books are EXCELLENT and I highly recommend them!  
I have just started listening to a new audiobook but so far I'm not sure it's gonna be on the recommendation list.  I'm going to have to listen a little more to figure out if I'm going to make it to the end of the book or not.  Once I either finish the book or decide it's not worth my time, I'll post a review and let you know what I think of it...for whatever my opinion might or might not be worth!  :)   


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