A Heads-Up: Book Awards for 2017

*AWARDS and GIVEAWAYS*
It’s that time of year again! Almost, that is. 🙂 The Annual Book Awards at Prismatic Prospects are coming! Awards will open with this year’s Christmas Book Picks, followed by the awards for Favorite Covers, and the Favorite Reads honors will come next.

The schedule for the book award announcements:

*Christmas Book Picks 2017: Friday, November 3rd*
Favorite Covers 2017: Monday, November 27th
Favorite Reads 2017: Friday, December 1st

There will be book giveaways for my blog readers and visitors to enter and a little gift for the winning authors. So be sure to save the dates and stop by for the fun!

 

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The Myth of Equality: Uncovering the Roots of Injustice and Privilege by Ken Wytsma

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me. I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley for an honest review.

The Myth of Equality: Uncovering the Roots of Injustice and Privilege by Ken Wytsma

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

So. Is privilege in the United States real, or is it something that people imagine, for any number of reasons? Author Ken Wytsma takes a look at this issue in The Myth of Equality: Uncovering the Roots of Injustice and Privilege.

In my book reviews, I normally don’t make a big point of the author’s race or gender. Nevertheless, I’ll note that this book, which is directed toward a Christian audience, was written by a white man. And, yes, a lot of people—especially white people—should read it. It’s important to bear in mind that the fight for racial equality in the U.S. isn’t something any one race should be fighting for alone.

I’ll also note that this book isn’t out to just broadcast grievances, to shame the country, and to make people feel guilty. No, this is about seeing the historical roots of a very real problem, as you can’t truly remedy anything without getting to the bottom of it. The author also includes action points, so readers won’t be left with this problem without any idea what to do next.

The book has so many compelling points, like the need not to merely do acts of justice, but to become just. Or the idea that people might think they’re following the golden rule (“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”) when really they’re following the silver rule (“Don’t do to others what you wouldn’t have them do to you.”) The silver rule is passive. The golden rule requires action.

I highly recommend this book for the Christian community. If you think racial issues are “just politics” or not something that Christians should be too concerned about, I’d encourage you all the more to read this.

 

Gone: A Girl, a Violin, a Life Unstrung by Min Kym

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me. Blogging for Books provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for an honest review.

Five Gold Stars

Gone

Gone: A Girl, a Violin, a Life Unstrung by Min Kym

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

No violin meant more to former child prodigy and then professional soloist Min Kym than the 1696 Stradivarius she found at age twenty-one. When, years later, thieves steal her violin from her, they essentially steal much more than a wooden instrument. Min Kym relates her story of losing her violin and finding her voice in her memoir, Gone: A Girl, a Violin, a Life Unstrung.

This author brings not only music but also her instrument itself to life through her words, so that her violin is thoroughly personified on the page. I’ll confess that the extent of it made me uncomfortable at times, as I don’t believe I’ll ever feel so deeply for an object.

But, as a writer and a bibliophile, it’s not like I don’t get it. (I mean, you may not see me when I hug a novel I’m reading or kiss the spine of one of my own books when it’s finally in print, but know that I do get it.)

I won’t pretend that I understood all of the author’s musical language, or that I recognized all of the renowned names she mentioned–some I did, some I didn’t. I also had a little trouble following the logical flow of her thoughts, here and there.

Yet, it’s those intangible but very real somethings she taps into through music, those indescribable places where the soul takes flight… Whether one has the experience through music, literature, or dance, through culinary arts or through connecting with loved ones–even if we haven’t the words to truly do those places justice, the experiences are universal.

This memoir is a journey, one with soaring highs, desolate lows, and crucial discoveries, and it closes on a note of hope that makes the journey all the more worth it.

 

The Story of the Trapp Family Singers by Maria Augusta Trapp

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

The Story of the Trapp Family Singers by Maria Augusta von Trapp

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Countless people the world over are familiar with the collective singing sensation of Maria and Captain von Trapp and their several children from The Sound of Music, the Rodgers and Hammerstein film and the Broadway musical, which together garnered multiple Academy and Tony Awards. I wanted to read the real story behind it all, written by Maria herself, for a number of years before I finally did it–and it was quite the experience.

I was surprised at the amount of humor in the memoir, as the author relays the story of her family in such a personable voice, right from her opening line in “The Chapter Before the First” (since she’s worried that if she called it a Foreword or Introduction or something, we’d just skip over it, as she would.) And she and the Captain–well!

“I wish I could see your eyes when you read the announcement of my engagement,” the Captain writes in a letter to Fräulein Maria while she’s still only the governess of his children, referring to his possible betrothal to a certain Princess Yvonne.

All “flared up,” Maria immediately writes back, “My eyes are none of your business.” Heeheehee, now, Fräulein! Captain! You two.

It’s not all fun and games and a family in song, of course. The Nazi invasion into Austria makes things suddenly eerie. I mean, imagine your children coming home from school and reporting that the teachers are beginning to disappear, being replaced with new ones. Or you’re walking through town and see that the names of all the streets have been changed. It becomes illegal to greet your friends and neighbors with “hello” or any other salutations other than “Heil Hitler.” And speaking of the leader you’re supposed to hail, what do you do when you get a call declaring that your family has been chosen to sing for the FĂĽhrer’s birthday? What happens if you say no to Adolf Hitler?

I was somewhat more engaged in the first half or so of the book than the second, and the account in Maria’s letter toward the end had a depressing effect on me. But overall, this is a rich and delightful memoir full of hope.

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Yeah, sure. Like I’d really be able to resist posting clips from the legendary and simply awesome Rodgers and Hammerstein film, here. Definitely one of my all-time favorite motion pictures. 🙂