Monday, December 5, 2011

Run at Destruction by Lynda Drews

I think this is my second true crime book.  I don't know what made me pick Run at Destruction.  Of course it probably had something to do with my obsession with the Nancy Cooper trial.  She was a runner.  And a love triangle sounded scandalous and would probably make for a good story.

The book is written by the victim's best friend over 20 years after the incident.  It is a story about a case back in the 80s.  A woman dies from a combination or carbon monoxide poisoning and drowning in her bathtub (sounds like something that might happen to me on one of my bad Ambien nights.  I could probably accidentally kill myself on that stuff.)

The woman's husband was having an affair with one of his co-workers.  All of them are teachers.  All of them are runners and very involved with the local running community.

The book takes you through the events of that day, flashes back to things that happened in the past and takes you through the trial.  But the best part of the book I thought was the last chapter that talks about what has happened to all the main players in the story since the trial.  I felt like there was too little in that last chapter and too much in the rest of the book.  I felt like it could have been condensed a little more and was a little slow at times.

It was a very interesting case though.  And the way it is left, it still leaves the question on if Pam's death was suicide, murder, or accidental death.  I think based on what I read it was murder, but I guess only the husband and God know the truth.

I give this one 3 out of 5 stars.

Heaven is for Real for Kids by Colton Burpo

I had heard a lot about the adult version of this book Heaven is for Real.  So when I saw the opportunity to get a copy of this book free to review I was excited.  I was hoping this kid's version would summaize what was in the adult version.

The story is basically about a 3 year-old boy Colton who is really sick and breifly dies, goes to heaven, but is eventually revived.  When he comes back he tells his parents about what happened while he was "dead".  It is a true story. 

Apparently he meets his sister that he never met (his mom had had a miscarriage that he never knew about it).  He also tells his parents of other things he had no prior knowledge of.  He meets Jesus and experiences different aspects of heaven that for the most part line up with what scripture says.

This book is written by Colton (now 11) for kids.  The language used is simple and easy to understand and there are illustrations to show the story he tells.

I really wanted to love this book, but I didn't.  I don't have kids so I don't know for sure, but I feel like this book would raise more questions than it would answer.  And it is just a little boy's story of heaven, not necessarily truth (which I believe can only be found in the Bible and will never be fully known until we get to heaven).  I also thought some of the illustrations were kind of creepy.

I don't know that I would read this book to my kids (if I had kids).  I am going to show it to my friend to see if she wants it for her 5 year old though. 

I give this one 2 out of 5 stars.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Best Friends Forever by Jennifer Weiner

I generally love Jennifer Weiner books.  I loved Good in Bed, In Her Shoes and Certain GirlsBest Friends Forever did not disappoint.  It was not a life changing book, but it was a good, quick, enjoyable Chick Lit read.

Addie Downs and Valerie Adler became best friends when Valerie moved across the street from Addie when they were just little girls.  Valerie was the skinny, pretty, outgoing, eccentric one and Addie was the down-to-earth, too nice, stable, overweight one.  Valerie envied Addie's perfect family and Addie envied Valerie's seemingly exciting, easy life. 

Something happens in high school that drives Valerie and Addie apart, but 20 years later Valerie shows up on Addie's doorstep needing help.  Addie drops everything to help her old friend.

As the story unfolds we see flashbacks to their childhood friendship, how their lives have changed over the years, and the incident that drove a wedge in their friendship.

It was a really enjoyable story with a sweet ending.  I especially liked the flashbacks to their childhood friendship.  It made me remember being 10 and riding bikes and going on vacations with friends.  I miss being a kid.

I give this one 4 out of 5 stars.

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

I LOVED this book.  I fell in love with it from the first page when I realized it was written from the point of view of the dog!!  I am so head over heels in love with my dog and often wonder what he is thinking.  Now thanks to this book I now wonder how Cam would tell my story.  What would he have to say about our life together?

The Art of Racing in the Rain is written from Enzo's perspective.  Enzo is Denny's dog.  It tells the story of how Eve, Denny's wife, enters the picture.  It tells the story of how their daughter Zoe joins the family.  It tells the story of Eve's tragic and unexpected death.  And it tells the story of how Denny fights for his family all through Enzo's eyes.

You are probably wondering where the title comes from.  Denny is a race car driver.  Not like NASCAR race car, but like fancy Italian cars racing.  Enzo has learned a lot about racing from Denny and watching races with Denny, and even riding in the race car with Denny.

Oh and did I mention that Enzo likes TV and learned on a documentary that when dogs die they come back as a man?  And Enzo can not wait to come back as a man!

I laughed, I cried, I flew through this book.  I give it 5 out of 5 stars!  A great read!!

Here is a trailer for the book:

It apparently is also in development to become a movie.

And the book is very well written and filled with great quotes.  Here is one of my favorites:

“Here is why I will be a good person. Because I listen. I cannot speak so I listen very well. I never interrupt, I never deflect the course of the conversation with a comment of my own.

...I beg of you, pretend you are a dog like me and LISTEN to other people rather than steal their stories.” 

And go here for a lot more great quotes from the book!

Same Kind of Different as Me by Ron Hall and Denver Moore

You should read this book.  Seriously.  If you have not read it, you should put it on your "to-read" list.  Same Kind of Different as Me is the true story of a wealthy art dealer and a homeless man and the unlikely friendship they find.

The book alternates between Denver, a former plantation sharecropper who jumps a train to escape his bleak future and ends up living his life as a homeless man for years, and Ron, a wealthy art dealer whose wife convinces him to serve the community at a homeless shelter.  That homeless shelter is where their paths cross and God moves in both of their lives.

This story really did make me view homeless people and serving others differently.  If you really want to make a difference in someone's life it doesn't happen in a day. 

It was inspiring to watch how God worked in both of these men's lives to change them and each other.

The book is very well written and will suck you in.  It is open and honest and tells their imperfect and inspiring story beautifully.  Not only is it a good story, but it may change your life- read it!

I give this one 4.5 out of 5 stars.

It looks like it is in production to become a movie.

Here's a good interview with Ron and Denver about their story:

Mistaken Identity

You may remember this story from the news a few years ago.  Two girls, Laura Van Ryns and Whitney Cerak,  were in a van that was in a wreck.  One girl died, the other lived, but the authorities had mistaken the identities and gotten the two girls mixed up.  For weeks the Van Ryns had thought they were in the hospital with their daughter/sister, while the Ceraks thought they buried their daughter/sister.  They did look very similar, but how could you go weeks not knowing the girl you were caring for was someone else?

I remember hearing about this story on the news and then seeing the two families on Oprah.  It is a really crazy story.  How does something like that happen?

This book is written by the two families together and they flip-flop between the two families to show you what was going on in each of their lives as story unfolds.

I really can't imagine being on either side of the story.  And you think they would all be mad about the whole thing.  I mean can you imagine being told your daughter was dead and then a month later them saying "Oh sorry we made a mistake. She's actually alive and another family has been by her side this whole time."?  Or could you imagine praying for your daughter/sister's recovery and being by her side for weeks only to discover it wasn't her and another family had actually buried your real daughter/sister?

But these were two families of great faith.  They worshiped God through it all.  No matter what the circumstance,  they prayed, they hoped, they trusted God.  It is a truly incredible story.

I listened to this one on audiobook and I found myself driving with tears in my eyes several times throughout the story.

One of the best parts of the book is towards the end when Whitney is talking about her thoughts in the months after the accident.  She feels all this pressure and guilt of "Why me? Why did I live?" and she felt like people expected great things of her because her life had been spared.  But she finally has to shrug off all that guilt and pressure and just live her life.  I loved that.

There were times I felt it might come across as them pushing their faith on the reader too much instead of just telling the story, but that is why they wrote the book in the first place- to share their faith and hopefully share The Gospel with others.  They didn't want to profit from what happened and didn't want to write a book about it, but the opportunity to share Christ with others is what drove them to do so.

I give this book 4 out of 5 stars.
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