Over The Edge – by Brandilyn Collins (2013)

Over The Edge

 

This novel by Brandilyn Collins highlights the issue of Lyme Disease. The main character, Janessa, is married to an influential medical researcher, Brock McNeil, who believes that the condition is easy to treat, and that there is no such thing as Chronic Lyme Disease. Then Janessa is bit by a tick that is purposely placed on her while she sleeps. Almost overnight she becomes so ill that she can’t take care of her daughter. Her husband doesn’t believe she really has Lyme Disease. Janessa struggles to find someone who can properly diagnose her.

The descriptions of how the tick bite is affecting Janessa’s body are so vivid that you can almost feel them yourself. It doesn’t seem that one tick bite could turn a person into an invalid, but the story is very true-to-life. In fact, the author herself has struggled with Lyme Disease, not once but twice. That is why this book is so compelling. If you’re looking for a fast-paced medical thriller to read, look no farther than “Over The Edge”.

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The Journey That Saved Curious George – by Louise Borden (2005, 2010)

The Journey That Saved Curious George

 
If you love the book “Curious George” and its sequels, you should pick up a copy of “The Journey That Saved Curious George”. You will find it in the children’s biography section of your library or bookstore. It is beautifully illustrated with drawings from Hans and Margret Rey’s books, along with photographs of the authors and scenes from World War II. The Reys, being Jewish, fled Paris on bicycles as the Nazi army invaded the country.

 
The story was very inspiring to me. The Curious George books are more than just entertaining tales. They are the work of two people who felt passionately about writing books for children, people who considered them important enough to be carried along on their hasty journey while almost all of their possessions were left behind.

 
Anyone about second grade or older will enjoy this book. You will find out what prompted Hans to choose a monkey as his main character. You’ll also learn what George’s original name was! Even though the book covers a frightening time in history, it is written in a lighthearted manner that keeps it from becoming depressing or heavy. This is an excellent biography for you to read with your young person as they learn about World War II.

Gifted Hands – by Ben Carson (1990)

Gifted Hands

 

He was poor, born in Detroit, and raised by a divorced mother who had only a third grade education. Most people would have predicted he was destined for a life of poverty and low-paying jobs. But Ben Carson had two things going for him: a God who loved him, and an encouraging mother.

Ben’s childhood was a struggle. His mother had to work multiple jobs to put food on the table for Ben and his brother Curtis. His eyesight was terrible. In school, he was looked down on and ridiculed. Most teachers really didn’t expect him to do well academically. The racial prejudice of the 1960’s made the school years even worse. By his teen years, Ben had developed a bad temper and had trouble controlling himself.

How on earth did this young man become an internationally-known pediatric neurosurgeon, the first to be able to separate Siamese twins joined at the head without either dying? You need to read it for yourself, in Ben’s own words. This book is full of evidence that the love and care of the God who made us, and a parent who sticks by us, can overcome any obstacle.

 
Excerpt:

Mother had already decided how we would spend our free time when we weren’t watching television.“You boys are going to go to the library and check out books. You’re going to read at least two books every week. At the end of each week you’ll give me a report on what you’ve read.”

That rule sounded impossible. Two books? I had never read a whole book in my life, except those they made us read in school. I couldn’t believe I could ever finish one whole book in a short week.

But a day or two later found Curtis and me dragging our feet the seven blocks from home to the public library. We grumbled and complained, making the journey seem endless. But Mother had spoken, and it didn’t occur to either of us to disobey. The reason? We respected her. We knew she meant business and knew we’d better mind. But, most important, we loved her.

“Bennie,” she said again and again, “if you can read, honey, you can learn just about anything you want to know. The doors of the world are open to people who can read. And my boys are going to be successful in life, because they’re going to be the best readers in the school.”

Darkness Over Denmark – by Ellen Levine (2000)

Darkness Over Denmark

 

If there was a bright spot in World War II, it was Denmark’s battle to save their 7,800 Jewish neighbors from extermination. Germany invaded the small country in 1940 because they needed the meat and other food Denmark produced. King Christian X and the Danish leaders made it very clear to their captors that there was no “Jewish problem” in their country, and they expected their people to be left alone. For several years, the Danes pretended to cooperate, while building up a good resistance movement. In 1943 a German diplomat leaked the news that the Nazis would be rounding up all the Jews and moving them to Theresienstadt, a concentration camp, in just a couple days. The entire country went into rescue mode, and managed to shuttle almost all their Jewish citizens to Sweden, which agreed to take them in.

The story is told using the testimony of Danes who witnessed those years. The book is relatively short – 152 pages – which is enough to give you a good account of what happened without making you read forever and a day. The author did not include graphic or gory details, therefore it is suitable for reading by almost all ages. It’s an excellent book with which to introduce people to not only the ugliness of war, but the heroic efforts of many.

 
Excerpt from page 11:

Within days of the occupation, King Christian resumed his morning horseback ride through the streets of Copenhagen. He ignored German soldiers when they saluted him, but responded to the greetings of Danes. The king rode alone, to the surprise of the Germans, who always saw their Fuhrer protected by security guards.

“Who guards the king?” they asked the Danes.

“We all do,” was the answer.

Somewhere Safe With Somebody Good – by Jan Karon (2014)

Somewhere Safe With Someone Good

 

This is the 10th book in the Mitford series, featuring Father Tim, his wife Cynthia, and the little town of Mitford. It returns to the flavor of the first four books – At Home In Mitford, A Light In The Window, These High Green Hills, and Out To Canaan. Not that the other books in the series were bad, they just moved around to other locations and new characters. In this book, the focus is back on life in this wonderful little town.

The book was sheer nostalgia for me. Father Tim is still agonizing over his weight, battling the old habit of saying “yes” too often, having lunch with his buddies J.C. Hogan and Mule Skinner, visiting seniors, and trying to straighten out one of the unruly Barlow kids. He ends up running the town’s bookstore, which seems like a great fit for him. By the end of the story, I wanted to hang out in the little bookstore.

Sometimes you just want a book that makes you feel warm and fuzzy, a book that tells of a place where there are no terrorists, no violence, no political unrest, just ordinary people that care about each other and take care of those in need. If you want to escape the nasty, problem-ridden world for awhile, pick up this book at your public library or a bookstore. Enjoy!

 

Cut Your Grocery Bill In Half – by Steve and Annette Economides (2010)

Cut Your Grocery Bill In Half

 

Cut Your Grocery Bill In Half – by Steve and Annette Economides (2010)

I thought I was doing a fairly good job of shopping for the family groceries, but this book gave me many more ways to trim the bill. Let’s face it, food is one of the largest expenses on the monthly budget. It’s a necessity, and a costly one. Just about everyone can use some tips on controlling the cost of eating.

Steve and Annette do a fantastic job of showing you exactly how they save money, but leave it up to the reader to customize the ideas to fit their family. They cover grocery stores’ marketing schemes, how to know if you’re really getting a good deal, setting up meal menus, cooking once a month, stocking up, using coupons or not, developing good supper habits, and much more. The book left me with the surety that I can use at least some of the ideas and stretch our grocery dollars farther.

 

 

Excerpt:

If you’re going to the store several times a week, commit to going only once this next week. Even if all you have is a small freezer attached to your refrigerator, you can still limit your trips to the store by planning a weekly menu. Okay, here’s the tough part, but we know you can do it. If you run out of an ingredient or forget an item, substitute it with something else, borrow it from a neighbor, or make a different meal – just don’t go back to the store. You can do it – it may take some time to perfect your system, but eventually it will be as easy as breathing.

Against Medical Advice – by James Patterson and Hal Friedman (2007)

Against Medical Advise

 

The Friedman family started out like any other family – a father, mother, sister, and brother, Cory. Life was normal until the day when Cory, just short of 5 years old, simply could not stop twitching his head. Before long he was making other repetitive movements. The doctor diagnosed him with Tourette’s Syndrome, and sent him home with a prescription to suppress the urge to twitch. The medication didn’t work, so another was tried, and another, and so on.

The book is written by the famous novelist, James Patterson and his friend Hal, Cory’s father. Cory’s mother, Sophia, kept meticulous records of her son’s medical care, which added to the accuracy of the family recollections. The story is told as if Cory is speaking, which allows the reader to experience what he was thinking and feeling as well as what he was doing.

“Against Medical Advise” covers the twelve years of hell that Cory and his family spent trying to find something that would control his symptoms. In addition to the Tourette’s, Cory developed Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, and Anxiety Disorder. The more the doctors tried to control it, the worse things got. He couldn’t function in school, and he barely managed at home. What finally worked is one of the most amazing stories I have ever read. It is an encouragement to all of us to never give up, and to be willing try something different and bold.

 
Excerpt from chapter 20:

“What’s so terribly wrong with me that so many smart people can’t help me figure a way out of it? It’s been more than six years since my body started jerking, shaking, quivering, twitching, and exploding on its own. I’m more out of control than ever, and I wonder why anyone thinks another drug is going to help after we’ve tried so many. I’m already eleven years old. My so-called childhood is almost gone.

Lately I’ve heard Dr. Pressler describe some of the things I do as compulsions. That’s why she’s prescribed Celexa, the first anti-depressant I’ve ever taken. Everyone thinks it could be a breakthrough for me, since antidepressants work on compulsions, but in my case, the medicine seems to make everything worse. Celexa hypes up the need to jerk my body to one side so violently that I hurt a nerve or something, and it takes days for me to stop jerking and hurting myself.”