And the winner is...

The winner of the free copy of Jesus, My Father, the CIA, and Me is comment #4, also known as Drumszee! I hope you enjoy the book. Thanks to all who commented. I hope to be having more giveaways in the future.

I don't know about you, but on crazy, hot days like this, there is no place I would rather be than curled up on my Roots chair at home with a good book.

What are you reading these days?

Review: Jesus, My Father, the CIA, and Me by Ian Morgan Cron

When you have been waiting for something for as long as I have been waiting to read this book, there is always the chance that the pages will not live up to the expectation.

From the very first chapter, this book far exceeded all expectations.

In Ian Morgan Cron's second book, Jesus, My Father, the CIA, and Me: A Memoir of Sorts, the author takes us on an unforgettable journey through his life, his quest from childhood to become a man without the true north of having a present, sober father in his life.

The discovery of a black and white photograph of himself as a child begins the author's story, and serves as an anchor of sorts through the book. Mr. Cron takes us from that blonde-haired little boy, through a childhood with a larger-than-life, alcoholic father, who skewed not only the author's self-esteem, but also his relationship with God.

The main characters, those who have had the most impact throughout his life, are people that I will not soon forget. Most notably, his Nanny, whom in such few pages, I grew to love, and want to hug when I get to heaven, simply for her kindness to this little boy needing love.

One of my very favorite parts of the book are the brilliant ways that Ian ends each chapter. So many last sentences or paragraphs left me speechless, or in simple amazement at the beauty of it. My favorite is the last paragraph of chapter five, which Nanny features predominantly...
Minutes after Nanny died, my mother removed her cat-eye glasses and gave them to me. I've kept them in the top drawer of my bedside table for twenty-five years. I suspect they will remain there for the rest of my life. (pg. 58)
I could go on gushing about this book, as well as Mr. Cron's first novel, Chasing Francis, a work of wisdom literature, a balance of fiction and historical fact. But let me simply say, even if you do not usually read biographies and memoirs, get this book, and read it. Let yourself feel the purity and heartbreak of a child, and the unrelenting love of a God who, while at times is seemingly silent, but never stops loving and pursuing His children.

* * * * *

Win a copy of Jesus, My Father, the CIA, and Me: Thomas Nelson and Graf-Martin Communications have awesomely provided me with a copy of this book to give away to one reader. All you need to do to win the book is leave a comment on this post, answering the question below, then shoot me an email at misunderstood {at} sympatico {dot} ca so I will know how to contact you if you are the winner. Here is the question:

If you were to write a memoir, who is one significant person
your story would not be complete without?

Of the comments received, I will randomly pick a winner at 6:00 pm on Saturday, July 16, 2011.

Book has been provided courtesy of Thomas Nelson and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favourite bookseller from Thomas Nelson.

The 25 Books of Summer

Yesterday on my Shards of Light blog, I shared with the interwebs my plans to survive this summer. One of the six is to catch up on my reading for the year. As you can see to the left, as of today, with the two books I have just finished, I am still behind on my goal of reading 60 books this year.

With what I am calling The 25 Books of Summer, I am a bit closer to my goal. Two down, 23 to go. Here are the first two I have finished...
  1. Harvesting Fog, by Luci Shaw
  2. Jesus, My Father, the CIA, and Me, by Ian Morgan Cron
The first, Harvesting Fog is a beautiful book of poetry. Lucy Shaw has a magnificent gift of seeing and expressing life in a way that is healing to the soul. Even though I have turned the last page, I cannot bring myself to put it on the bookshelf yet. There are poems there that I need to go back and read again. Perhaps this is one that will never make it to the bookshelf...

The second I finished only minutes ago. I will be posting a review of Jesus, My Father, the CIA, and Me, but it is still too fresh, still too close for me to do justice to it at this point. This is one of those rare books that actually make you feel like you are reading on holy ground. Brilliant is not a good enough word as far as I am concerned right now. {As an added bonus, I have a second copy of the book that I will be giving away when I post the review. Stay tuned.}

So here we begin. As far as I am concerned, we couldn't have had a better start to the summer.

What I'm Reading {On}

It has been a year since I got my first Kobo eReader. To be honest, I never dreamed that I would love it quite so much.

That is not to say that I never buy actual books anymore. Of the 14 books I have read so far, only six of them were read on my Kobo. But, of the 12 in the list to the left that I am currently reading, seven of them are on my Kobo.

I will always love paper, the smell of paper, the weight of it. I will always be interested in the fonts used, the bindings, the texture of the paper used in books. These things are constants and will never change.

But I do love the convenience of the Kobo. Of having 202 books at my fingertips whenever I have a few moments to read. Of being able to travel without backbreakingly carrying 12 books in my carry-on, as I did for last year's NYC vacation.

And then there is the fact that every few weeks, a whole new slew of free eBooks become available on Kobo. I have gotten some beautiful ones, including the one I wrote about last week, The Magician's Elephant by Kate DiCamillo, for absolutely nothing. These free books have introduced me to new authors and saved me money on ones I thought I would have liked, but ended up not. You've got to love anything that gets you free books. Seriously.

If you haven't tried eBook reading, I highly recommend that you do. And the beauty of it is that you don't actually even need to have an eReader to do so. Any smartphone, iPad, or computer will run the Kobo App, and you can have access to the free books any time. Give it a whirl, and let me know what you think.

It's been a good reading year. Happy anniversary, little friend!

"The Magician's Elephant" by Kate DiCamillo

Every once in a while, I come across a book that, even before I have turned the first page to the second, I know it will be pure magic. I know that I will hate for it to end. I know that it will be one of my favorites ever.

The Magician's Elephant by Kate DiCamillo is just such a book.

I have fallen in love with orphan Peter Augustus Duchene, the boy hero of the story, his missing sister Adele, an elephant whose name I wouldn't understand, and Leo and Gloria Matienne, the police officer and his wife who, while childless, have all the love in the world in their hearts to give .

Now, I could go on gushing, but that would do a disservice to this magical, beautiful, hope and wonder-filled book. But instead, I will let Ms. DiCamillo's words do the job for me. Here are some of my very favorite quotes...
"Leo Matienne had the soul of a poet, and because of this, he liked very much to consider questions that had no answers. He liked to ask, 'What if?' and 'Why not?' and 'Could it possibly be?'"
* * * * *
"Magic is always impossible," said the magician. "It begins with the impossible and ends with the impossible and is impossible in-between. That is why it is magic."
* * * * *
"Beyond the alley, past the public parks and the police station, up a steep and tree-lined hill, stood the home of the count and countess Quintet, and in that mansion, in the darkened ballroom, stood the elephant.

She should have been sleeping, but she was awake.

The elephant was saying her name to herself.

It was not a name that would make sense to humans. It was an elephant name—a name that her brothers and sisters knew her by, a name that they spoke to her in laughter and in play. It was the name that her mother had given to her and that she spoke to her often and with love.

Deep within herself, the elegant said this name, her name, over and over again.

She was working to remind herself of who she was. She was working to remember that, somewhere, in another place entirely, she was known and loved."
There are so many brilliant lines, so much magic in this book, that one really must experience it for oneself. Do yourself a favor: drop what you are doing right now, and go get yourself this book. If you have a Kobo, get it here, like I did. But whatever you need to do to get your hands on it, you won't be sorry.

What I'm Reading


Believe it or not, I am still on my way to having 60 books read this year.

That being said, I am a bit behind. Even for someone as numerically challenged as it am, i know that sixty books a year means five books a month. Given that we are more than halfway through May, the GoodReads widget to your left should say that I have 23 books read already.

Clearly that is not the case.

But given that summer—that most dreaded of all seasons for someone like myself—is just around the corner, I have a feeling that there will be no shortage of page turning coming my way as I attempt to hide from the heat, humidity and horrible glare from the sun.

One of my biggest struggles in attempting to read as much as humanly possible in a year is that many of the books I choose to read—most of which recommended to me or taken from the reading lists of people I admire—are books that cannot be read quickly. Some cannot be read quickly because they are designed so, such as the Rilke and Nouwen day books, meant to be read a bit every day. Others cannot be read quickly, because I so love the book, the last thing I want to do is read it quickly and have it end before I am ready. That would be tragic.

So here is what I'm reading right now...

The Thank You Economy {Gary Vaynerchuk} Someone in my Church Communications Group Tweeted that he was reading this book and that every Church Communications person out in the Twitterverse should read it. So I exercised my ever-growing Kobo Wi-Fi skills, and in moments, had it in my hot little eReader. I'm almost halfway through, and can tell you it is making me totally rethink how I do my job, and how it can be done so much better.

Walking On Water
{Madeleine L'Engle} This one has been on the list for a while. It's one of those that I refuse to read quickly, simply because I don't want this time with Madeleine to end.

Harvesting Fog {Luci Shaw} A poetry book, again, designed to not rush through. I feel the need to go back again and again to each poem to get every drop of life in them.

Everything Belongs {Richard Rohr} Derek and Jennifer, my youngest brother and sister-in-law sent me this book off my Amazon wishlist for my birthday. Another one not meant to be rushed through, there is so much wisdom in the book on contemplative prayer, I can already tell that I will need to read it again!

Emma {Jane Austen} I've begun Emma many, many times in the past, but for some reason, this time I am still going. This may be my favorite of Jane's...

That is all I have for now. I'll have some favorite words to share with you later this week, some from the above books.

Review: The Watcher by Sara Davison

Too much of Kathryn Ellison's life has been defined by the words, "wrong place, wrong time". It all started with the brutal attack twenty years ago, that set everything in motion. Then, through the events of the aftermath, Nick Lawson walked into her life. While she could not deny the fact that there was something undeniable between them in their meeting, she was in absolutely no position to act on the impulse of her heart.

Now, all these years later, Nick knocks on her door once more, to see if perhaps there might be another chance for the two of them. But before Kathryn can move ahead, the memories and ghosts of the past must first be laid to rest. Unbeknownst to Kathryn, however, one of the 'ghosts' has just escaped from prison, and has only one thing on his mind, finishing what he didn't on that night twenty years ago.

Full of suspense with overarching themes of forgiveness and grace, and an unusual spiritual element, The Watcher is a good first novel for Sara Davison. While it took me a bit to get into the book, by the time I was halfway through, I was more than hooked, and ended up losing sleep in my need to know the outcome.

If you are a fan of suspense and mystery mixed with a bit of romance, you will enjoy The Watcher.

Book has been provided courtesy of Word Alive Press and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available now from your favourite bookseller.