The Time Mom Met Hitler, Frost Came to Dinner, and I Heard the Greatest Story Ever Told: A Memoir by Dikkon Eberhart

memoir-books

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. Tyndale House provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for an honest review.
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Five Gold Stars

The Time Mom Met HitlerThe Time Mom Met Hitler, Frost Came to Dinner, and I Heard the Greatest Story Ever Told: A Memoir by Dikkon Eberhart

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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

Then she looked at me with that deep, human, gestative wisdom that many women have, and which I don’t.
“We know what we’ve lost. We don’t know what we’ve gained.”

Within and outside of its context concerning a certain newborn’s genetic condition, it could take me quite a minute to unpack an observation like the “lost and gained” one, spoken by the author’s wife. But there are a number of statements that gave me pause while reading The Time Mom Met Hitler, Frost Came to Dinner, and I Heard the Greatest Story Ever Told: A Memoir by Dikkon Eberhart. Yes, it’s a mouthful, and it’s one of those nuanced but personable, intelligent and beautiful memoirs that makes you think and evaluate life, especially your own.

Literature and poetry enthusiasts and artists can find particular pleasure in reading about how the author relates to literary greats, to the arts, and to his father, a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet. Added to that, the themes of struggling with one’s identity and looking for answers to longstanding inner turmoil are universal.

Though its desired effect wasn’t lost on me, I thought the amount of earlier material repeated word for word later on in the book was a little much.

Still, the memoir is wonderfully woven overall, as well as entertaining, human, and redemptive.

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Favorite Reads 2014

Annual Favorite Reads Banner Jewels

I received complimentary copies of most of the books I mention here from the publishers in exchange for honest reviews, which you’ll find in the posts I’ve linked to.

At last! I’ve been anticipating this post since I started book blogging earlier this year. As this blog is all about hope and inspiration, these are the books that most fit that bill for me in 2014 and that I highly recommend to fellow readers. I’ve purposely listed them in an eclectic order. Here we go!
*And to the authors of the winning books, if you’d like a little gift for making the list, see the bottom of this post.*

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Keeping QuietThe Fine Art of Keeping Quiet by Charity Tahmaseb

Contemporary Fiction/Young Adult Fiction

★★★★★ from me

If I had to describe all the places this book took me as I read it, it would require a book’s-worth of space for me to make it plain. Here’s a brilliant novel that can do a world of good for any reader around twelve-years-old and up, a story that shows us what happens when you lose your voice as a person. How are you going to get it back? This is the kind of beautiful work I can see myself reading over and over again.

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The Butterfly and the ViolinThe Butterfly and the Violin by Kristy Cambron

Christian Fiction/Historical Fiction

★★★★★ from me

Utterly life-affirming. I’m convinced that Cambron tapped into a place invisible and eternal to write this powerful piece of World War II fiction, as it tapped into something invisible and eternal in me, the place where the hope of glory lives, as I read it, and I doubt I’m the only reader who’s experienced it that way. What a debut for this author! I can’t wait to read the sequel in 2015, which I absolutely intend to.

 

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Harvest of RubiesHarvest of Rubies by Tessa Afshar

Christian Fiction/Biblical Fiction

★★★★★ from me

New-to-me historical fiction by a new-to-me author. This amazing novel brought the heroine’s life as a scribe (at the time, a man’s job) down to earth without at all removing the true feel of the period. (Well, no–I wasn’t around during the time of the ancient Persian empire, but Sarah is so relatable, I might as well have been in Persia right there with her and her heartwarming friends…and challenging husband.)

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The Almond TreeThe Almond Tree by Michelle Cohen Corasanti

Fiction/World Literature

★★★★★ from me

Written by a Jewish American author, here’s a book that’s garnered all kinds of attention and was the first such trip I’d ever taken to Palestine–a political novel, I’m sure, but I wasn’t caught up in the politics of it so much as I was gripped by its humanity. It’s a tragic but optimistic story simply told with the feel of a memoir, a novel I’ve deemed to be fuel for hope and compassion for humankind.

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Prelude for a LordPrelude for a Lord by Camille Elliot

Christian Fiction/Regency Romantic Suspense

★★★★★ from me

What? A lady in Regency England playing the violin, of all instruments during the period? Simply scandalous! I was pleasantly surprised at the mix of action and suspense in this novel of artistry, romance, and questions of faith, and there’s nothing thin or forced in the development of these intriguing characters. Even if my physical ears couldn’t exactly hear Lady Alethea Sutherton’s music, my soul did.

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Elderberry CroftElderberry Croft: The Complete Collection by Becky Doughty

Christian Fiction/Women’s Fiction

★★★★★ from me

An altogether refreshing find for me, a collection of twelve deftly intertwined stories in what I call an Anne-of-Green-Gables-Avonlea-type place. The months progress from a warm, feel-good tone to something appropriately darker as more of Willow’s story is revealed, but not too dark to still, ultimately, feel good. I was absorbed throughout this tough journey of faith, grief, and love.

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Just MercyJust Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson

Nonfiction/Autobiography

★★★★★ from me

I don’t read as many biographies and such as I do novels. Still, I was honored to get an early look at this timely narrative by Stevenson, the Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative, a legal practice that defends the poor, the wrongly condemned, and women and children in the criminal justice system of the United States. This is an important book for Americans of all races and classes.

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Thief of GloryThief of Glory by Sigmund Brouwer

Christian Fiction/Historical Fiction

★★★★★ from me

Heartrending. Raw. Superb. Another World War II novel and a masterfully written piece of fiction, exposing a side of the war that I’d never visited before through a novel, in the Dutch East Indies, or Indonesia. This book’s back cover copy hardly does it justice, and the age of the woman on the front is more reminiscent of where the novel doesn’t linger than where it does, but those outside factors aside, the novel itself hits its mark profoundly.

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Heidi Grows UpHeidi Grows Up by Charles Tritten

Classics/Children’s Books

★★★★ from me

Okay, so, Heidi doesn’t look like that. She has dark, curly hair according to her original author, Johanna Spyri, if my memory serves me correctly. And this rather YA fiction-looking book cover isn’t, admittedly, the cover of the old copy I procured this year. But this cover does tell us a little more than Tritten would’ve expressed outright to the kiddies, and if someone must write a sequel to another author’s work, I’d say Tritten’s way is the way to do it.

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Black BubblegumBlack Bubblegum by Lewis P. Bryon

Inspirational Poetry

★★★★★ from me

Bryon (not “Byron,” mind you–Bryon) is a multiracial author and spoken word artist whose poetry should be read aloud, if the reader’s reading situation allows. While this is evidently a Christian collection of work from a man of faith, I wouldn’t at all call it syrupy or super-sanitized. Bryon’s words are honest, real, poignant, and they hit you where they hit you. And I dare you not to want to pop in a few pieces of gum to chomp when you read this.

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Magnolia MarketMagnolia Market by Judy Christie

Christian Fiction/Romance

★★★★★ from me

I confess–reading Christie’s novel that precedes this one might have helped me to keep the beginning information on the characters straighter, as I wasn’t aware that this book is a sequel until after I got a copy. But, was my enjoyment of this novel with small-town drama and classism, romance, and humor diminished by that? Not in the least. My being a Seattleite also gives it extra points, but it’s a good novel no matter where you’re from.

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Somewhere Safe with Somebody GoodSomewhere Safe with Somebody Good by Jan Karon

Christian Fiction

★★★★★ from me

So. With this novel, I’m totally guilty of knowingly jumping into an ongoing series without having read any of the books before it. In this case, the nine books before it. But, alas, I found this novel’s title irresistible. And when I tell you that I immediately felt right at home in Mitford with Father Tim Kavanagh and his supporting cast of neighbors, and I could easily see why Karon is a New York Times bestselling author, I so mean it.

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Me and GeorgetteMe & Georgette by D.B. Schaefer

Regency Romance/Time-slip Fiction

★★★★ from me

I’ve simply never read another novel like it. I mean, Jewish and historical English culture mixed with humor, romance, and time travel? How could Schaefer pull that off? Yet, pull it off she does in an entertaining Regency novel that takes some unusual chances and is all the better for it. I hear tell that fans of Georgette Heyer novels will especially like it, and though I’m not personally familiar with Heyer’s work, I especially liked this novel anyway.

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Congratulations, authors, and thank you for writing your books! If I’ve selected yours as a 2014 Favorite Read, you’re welcome to a complimentary medal to display on your website, blog, social media–wherever you wish. Click the image below and contact me to receive a full size PNG medal. (The lined watermark will be removed, of course, and the medal will include the award year on it.) Thanks again!

A Favorite Read Banner

Black Bubblegum by Lewis P. Bryon

poetry

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.

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Five Gold Stars

Black BubblegumBlack Bubblegum by Lewis P. Bryon

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

(Click the title for the book description/blurb.)

a story is only as great as its conflict

When you read Black Bubblegum, a collection of poetry from my favorite contemporary poet, Lewis P. Bryon, I urge you to read it aloud, as I did. Get your senses involved.

I’ve said before that Bryon’s poetry reads me. Honestly, I wish I could type out all of the lines that hit me the hardest, but as that would take up entirely too much space, I’ll refrain.

As is a good practice whenever reading lyrical literature, let the words hit you where they hit you. Take this, chew on it, and again, by all means, read it aloud. Who knows? It might make a spoken word artist out of you.

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Click the image below to take a listen to some of Lewis P. Bryon’s spoken word/poetry found in Black Bubblegum.

Paradise Lost by John Milton

classic-books-2

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.
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Five Gold Stars

Paradise LostParadise Lost by John Milton

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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

Quite a read for a poet! My first journey with an epic poem in its entirety, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Too many lines of good verses to name–phrases that inspired me for their deft command of language–and a great amount of passages that left me feeling triumphant. One of the simplest lines I liked the most, spoken to the Son: “Two days are therefore pass’d, the third is thine”; and a favorite passage, sung to the Creator: “Who seeks To lessen thee, against his purpose serves To manifest the more thy might: his evil Thou usest, and from thence creat’st more good.”

I was impressed with what creativity the characters’ experiences and emotions were developed. Story-wise, my favorite character is the Son, the unmatched warrior amid all the hosts of heaven who compassionately serves as intercessor for fallen humankind. This classic presents a challenge to me, both as a poet and as a novelist.