Saturday, September 1, 2012

Sifting Through Our Stacks

If there is one thing I have learned about having four children it is that you can't do everything-- there is simply not enough time in the day.  However, I've been told you can accomplish at least some of your to-do list if you prioritize.  It's time I put that theory to the test.

In the past, Reading For Sanity has tried to accommodate as many review requests as possible because we wanted to give every author an audience.  However, since Cora turned two and Lola entered our family, my life has jumped to a whole new level of crazy; when I do manage to carve out a slice of alone time, I am desperate to read a book of my own choosing instead of one that I feel kind-of-sort-of obligated to read.

After much deliberation and discussion with other RFS reviewers, we have decided to become much more selective about accepting books for review.  We will no longer accept books that are self-published works or available exclusively as e-books for review.  Instead, we prefer to focus on reviewing books that are at the top of our reading stack because we put them there.  Our hope is that by focusing on the books that we most want to read we will find some that you will love, as well!

Here are a few of the books we've been sent over the years that, despite their best efforts, have never made it off our nightstands.  Some of them are mainstream, others self-published, but we simply haven't had the heart to read them.  We all have different reading preferences, so even though these books didn't make it to the top of our stacks, they might shoot to the top of yours!

Teaser: On behalf of the Interantional Rescue Committee, Ann Jones travled for two years through war-torn countries in AFrica, East Asia, and the Middle East, giving digital cameras to women who had no other means of telling the world what conflict had done to their lives.  The investigation came to encompass the full consequences of modern warfare for the most vulnerable -- the suffering that comes from the destruction of communities and social institutions, and the increasing sexual and domestic violence that often follows official declarations of peace.  Animated by the voice of brave and resourceful women, War Is Not Over When It's Over shines a powerful light on a phenomenon that has long been cast in shadow.

Teaser:  Ben Wilder never really dreamt about becoming a rockstar.  It was more of a given -- his throne to inherit. But the more he walks in his famous father's footsteps, the more Ben sinks into the murky past that left his dad dead.  

Katrina Hayes never dreamt about becoming a rockstar either.  However, she does spend plenty of time dreaming about one particular rockstar.  But when she finally has the chance to meet Ben Wilder, it comes at a cost.  The price?  Sacrificing a friendship that's been in place since birth.  And that's just the finder's fee.

Teaser:  When sixteen year old Bijou Fitzroy and her nomadic grandmother leave New York city to live in a home in the sleepy town of Sykesville, Maryland, Bijou thinks she will finally be able to live a normal life and be like everyone else....  Moving around and being homeschooled definitely made it difficult to make friends, but there are other reasons for Bijou's solitude.  With eyes that constantly change from grey to green to a honey-coated shade of brown and an ability to feel exactly what other people are feeling, the conept of obtaining closeness is more of a fable than a reality. ... Bijou's premonitions, blackouts, and semi-prophetic dreams of a faceless boy don't help her social musing either.  Regardless, she decides to attend the local high school. Bijou is immediately introduced to Sebastian Sinjin, a quirky and unusually eautiful boy who doesn't seem to belong in a high school in nowhere Maryland....when he shakes Bijou's ahnd something dark and familiar to awaken within her as an electric shock surges through her body. ... Despite the pains of having her first real crush, Bijou makes friends quickly and excels in all her classes...well, all except for Mythology and Mr. Jennings.  Mr. Jenning's class starts off great with endless discussion of djinn and how they conceal themselves from the human eye, but things soon take a turn for the worse when the stories of the mythical creatures begin to take shape in Bijou's life.


Teaser:  Commander Gray Pierce and Sigma Force have only days to solve an apocalyptic puzzle dating back centuries.  Aided by two women form his past -- one his ex-lover, the other his new partner -- Gray must uncover a horrifying secret that threatens America and the world, even if it means sacrificing the life of one of the women at his side.  The race is on -- from the Roman Coliseum to the icy peaks of Norway to the lost tombs of Celtic kings -- and the future hangs in the balance.  For humankind's ultimate nightmare is locked within a talisman buried by a dead saint -- an ancient artifact known as the Doomsday Key.  Read more...

Teaser:  Jenny Fox goes to South America to build a school for her grandfather's country -- but her summer adventure turns into much more than community service when she meets Nelson, the charismatic leader o the project.  enny isn't the only one with her eyes on Nelson.  As she and her flirtatious rival get closer to Nelson, though, she discovers his dark side: and ugly prejudice against his country's enemies across the border.  She doesn't want to lose him, but how can she accept his bigotry?  While love and conscience clash inside her, a real war threatens to break out around her.  This is a summer she'll remember for the rest of her life.   Read more...

Teaser: Nineteen hundred years after the Essene Jews hid their most precious scrolls in the caves at Qumran, a Catholic priest working on the Dead Sea Scrolls Project discovers a text that describes the final edicts of the Dead Sea Scrolls, but hides it in fear of the heresy it contains.  When prominent archaeologist Frank Tones unearths a reference to the hidden scroll, he wonders if this scroll could be the long-lost Gospel of James, or even of Jesus himself.  But before he can act, those who know fo the scroll's existence become mysteriously silent or dead, leaving only a father and son team to find the scroll and tell its secrets to the world.  In an epic, multi-generational story that spans the globe, they must outwith the Mossad, the CIA, and the Vatican's secret weapon -- the Italian Mafia -- to bring the truth to light.  No matter the cost.

Teaser: Willow and her friends have a special bond.  They had no idea it was anything exceptional until James joined their group.  Entering a world of daimons and demons, Willow and her friends are forced to flee for their lives in a class of black versus white, with battle lines blurred by grey area.  Read more...
Teaser:  Blood and Silk: The Hidden Love Story of Mary Magdala and Jesus of Nazareth is author Carol McKay's gift to everyone fascinated by the life of Mary Magdala - Mary Magdalene - and her often misunderstood relationship to Jesus of Nazareth.  In this beautifully crafted historical novel, the reader is guided through a time rich with art and architecture, and fraught with change and controversy.  Mary's narration introduces us to first-century Judea, when the atmosphere crackled with fear, and determination of friend or foe was often difficult, if not impossible.  As much as theologians paint the story about Mary and Jesus as straightforward and even simple in nature, the author reminds us that theirs was love weighted down and complicated by the politics of the day.  The story of Mary, and then Mary and Jesus, is intricate and often as perilous as the times in which they lived.  Founded on historical accuracy and an eye for a well-told story, this is a novel that will fascinate and delight.

Teaser:  Imagine a tennis court with no net, or a soccer field without sidelines.  Imagine a card game where you can peek at your opponent's hand, or  around of golf where you can pick up the ball and throw it.  Contests without rules don't work.  Yet when married couples fight, we routinely hit below the belt -- with no one there to blow the whistle.  

In Fight Fair! authors Tim and Joy Downs will show you how to:  Develop your own personal plan for handling conflict, identify your "personal fouls" to avoid in the future, discover the difference between attacks that hurt, and tactics that heal, and use conflict to built intimacy and bring you closer together.

Filled with tips, insights, and suggestions that have worked for thousands of others, Fight Fair! will help you agree on an approact to conflict that will work best for you.  And by going beyond mere rules to address attitudes and objectives, Time and Joy will help you design your own personal plan that can revolutionize your marriage, one conflict at a time.  Your marriage can become richer and stronger than ever -- once you learn to Fight Fair!

Teaser:  Bachner, a Polish Jew, was trapped in Warsaw when the Germans overran the country in September, 1939.  He, his wife, and his parents moved into the Warsaw ghetto.  Speaking fluent German and possessing an engineering degree from a German university.  Bachner posed as an Aryan and was eventually able to get a job heading a crew of construction workers.  He hired dozens of Polish Jews and supplied them with false identity papers, thus saving them from death.

The authors interviewed Bachner in 1983, along with the Jews Bachner saved and their families.  Thier book adds to a growing body of evidence that refutes the idea that Jews went to their deaths without resistance.


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