Friday, October 21, 2016

"Shadow of the Storm" by Connilyn Cossette

As the second book in the Out of Egypt trilogy, this story both builds upon the first book but also stands on its own.  Readers who have not read the first book will not be confused as to what is going on.  This tale focuses on Shira, a young woman who desires to become a midwife.  She battles with her past where men abused her, and she is confused when a man truly begins to love her.  Can she trust him?  Is he just like all the others?  To make matters worse, there is a desperate woman named Dvorah who does everything to make Shira's life a living hell.  And did I mention the Golden Calf incident is going on at this time?  Beyond the drama of a good story, this book really makes one think about the biblical narrative.  What really happened to all those converts to Judaism?  How did Moses handle the racial divide?  How did families react when loved ones were murdered for bowing to an idol?  All these questions and more are played out with characters. While nothing in this book is graphic, I would not recommend it for young readers.

"This is Real and you are Completely Unprepared" by Alan Lew

While this book centers around the Jewish fall high holidays, the messages it sends to readers are important for all year round.  The rabbi writes about self-introspection, family, guilt, forgiveness, purpose, and so much more.  From setting goals to realizing failure to finding joy, readers will go on the incredibly uncomfortable but incredibly essential journey of Rosh Hashana to Sukkot.  There are Hebrew terms in this book, but it is written in such a way that an lay reader can understand.  Even non-Jewish readers can gain insight into themselves as they read this book and delve into a culture that stresses the importance of both the community and the individual.  From broken marriages to ignored homeless people, no sour spot is ignored.  Life is tough.  This is real and you are completely unprepared.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

"Saffire" by Sigmund Brouwer

Set during the early twentieth century, this story takes place in Panama during the building of the Panama canal.  There is a mysterious cowboy who is send to inspect the building project.  There is also a young girl whose mother disappeared and who is looking for answers.  There is an entire host of characters whose paths cross as intrigue and mystery enfold.  The book takes some literary liberties but does have historic credibility, including a note at the end of the story.  While Brouwer is one of my favorite authors and I do like cowboy stories, this book was just a little too slow paced for me.  It's not that I didn't like the book--I just found it hard to keep turning the pages compared to some of his other books.