#901 The Perilous Road by William O. Steele

The Perilous Road by William O. SteeleThe Perilous Road by William O. Steele

Chris is living with his family in the Eastern Tennessee mountains during The Civil War. Chris says he hates the union soldiers. He hates that they come and take what they want from farms. He hates this his neighbors didn’t do anything about it when the soldiers came and took their food. They say the soldiers were just hungry. Chris doesn’t think the Union soldiers need his sympathy, or anybody’s sympathy for that matter.

His brother joins the military to be a wagon driver. Chris finds out that a wagon train is coming through so he wants to warn the other side so there will be an encounter, so he tells a neighbor who says he is a spy. When Chris finds out there is an actual battle going on in the area, he takes off trying to find his brother, not thinking that his brother would still be in training.

When he gets to the battle, he  encounters soldiers from the north, who treat him well and are suffering from the war just the same as anybody else and Chris feels he needs to rethink his position on the other side.

What I liked

I’m not a typical war person, but I’ve read a few novels set during The Civil War. This one wasn’t bad. Chris is being hard-hearted, just as many people tend to be when they think they’re on the right side of something. He finds out that things aren’t so black and white. Just because someone is fighting on the other side, doesn’t mean that they’re not human. They need the same things all humans need. They have the same feelings all humans have. People dying because of a war are people dying because of a war, it doesn’t matter what side they’re on.

I really liked that Chris’ eyes were opened. Just because someone is your enemy politically, doesn’t mean that they’re your personal enemy.

What I didn’t like

Chris’ attitude is all to common. Sometimes we tend to think that our opinion is the correct one and whoever thinks differently is our enemy, and therefore, evil. We don’t stop to consider that maybe both sides are correct in one way or the other, or, that our side is actually the evil side. If we believe something very intolerant and expound upon that belief as the correct one and consider anyone who is more tolerant to be evil, isn’t the more intolerant view the more evil view?

Chris was young and sometimes as younger people we tend to hold onto our “beliefs” as we consider them as if they’re immutable, when, in fact, our beliefs change and grow as we gain experiences in life. Chris did just that in this book.

Overall

It doesn’t matter what side you’re on; we’re all people.

Weigh In

Did you find that your younger self was too idealistic and strict in your views?

Is everybody the enemy on the other side?

#901 The Perilous Road by William O. Steele was originally published on One-elevenbooks

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#878 The Red Pencil by Andrea Davis Pickney

The Red Pencil by Andrea Davis Pickney The Red Pencil by Andrea Davis Pickney

Amira lives with her family in Darfur. She has two parents and a younger sister. There is also the family sheep, named by the little sister at birth with her cries. Amira enjoys her life. She plays with her sister and the animals; she dislikes the chores she got when she got older.

One day, something awful happens. There seems to be fire all around. The sheep is gone; her father is gone. Everyone must leave. They take only what they can carry on their backs. They walk and walk. They get somewhere. Their house is made of rice bags. Amira’s family changes. She sees a child bride. A white lady gives her a red. Pencil.

Amira learns to draw. Someone secretly teaches her to write. Her mother is not happy about it, but Amira has many dreams, among those dreams is going to school and learning.

What I liked

The prose of this book was wonderful. It moves along and flowed. It made sense and kept a musical tone to the whole story.

Amira is very likable. She is determined to be something more and to learn.

I liked learning a bit more about what happened in Darfur back in 2003. I had heard the term on the news, but didn’t know what it meant. It’s a sad thing, but I’m better enriched as a person because I know more about it.

The author was inspired to write this book because of the events in Darfur. She spent a lot of time researching and doing interviews. I think it’s pretty great to come up with such a beautiful story while dealing with so many terrible things.

What I didn’t like

These events are so sad. I feel bad for Amira. She lost her animals. She lost her home. She lost her father. It was awful. She experiences PTSD, when she’s way too young to experience such a terrible thing, not that anyone is ever at an age to experience such terrible things.

Amira isn’t real, so I’m a little relieved, but there are plenty of real girls who did go through things like this. I feel bad for them. It’s terrible that anybody thinks they have the right to do something like this.

Overall

Beautiful story about awful things.

Weigh in

Do you think you could have made it through what Amira made it through?

Do you feel that you didn’t give education an important in your life when you were young?

#878 The Red Pencil by Andrea Davis Pickney was originally published on One-elevenbooks

#868 World of the Innocent by Nadine C. Keels

World of the Innocent by Nadine C. KeelsWorld of the Innocent by Nadine C. Keels

One of Joy’s friends tells her that Marcas wants to get to know her better and Joy has to pause for a bit. What does that even mean? Joy is part of a community where she participates in a program for college students. There are performances and the arts are encouraged. She is friends with an older man, Mr. El, Elmer. They play chess together and Joy gets advice about life during the games. She has a mother and a father, but things haven’t really been the same with them.

Joy does take Marcas up on his offer. She doesn’t really know what to do or how to act around a man. The two enjoy each other’s company. They talk about life and admire each other’s talents and work in the community. There isn’t this burning passion between either of them, but something does grow between the two and Joy feels it’s right.

What I liked

This is a romance story, but it’s not sappy. It’s not obsessed or frantic, like so many so-called “romance” stories. There is a difference in being obsessed with somebody and loving somebody for who they are. When you’re that kind of “love obsessed” with someone, you’re afraid to show them who you really are. You’re afraid they’re going to run away screaming if they find out about some perceived flaw on your part. When you love someone for who they are and they return the favor, you’re not scared to show them who you are and you might find yourself opening up to them about things you never thought you’d open up to anyone about. There’s a difference between these two. I think Nadine gets it and she was able to put it in words with this story.

Joy is a little hesitant, but she knows she doesn’t have to hide her fears or her flaws from Marcas. Neither of them mind the other’s past or family situation. It’s purely because Joy is Joy and Marcas is Marcas, not because Joy is pretending to be who she perceives Marcas wants.

I also like that Joy has some hangups about stuff, but Marcas doesn’t push her into anything. Look, if you date a guy and he’s trying to push you into something you’re not ready for, he’s a jerk. What’s the saying, “Love is patient; love is kind…”

What I didn’t like

I can’t really say there’s anything I didn’t like, although, there’s some sad.

Overall

Find that person who appreciates you for who you are.

Weigh In

Have you experienced both loving someone for who they are and love obsessed kind of loves?

If so, which one turned out better?

#868 World of the Innocent by Nadine C. Keels was originally published on One-elevenbooks

#861 The Man in My Basement by Walter Mosley

The Man in My Basement by Walter MosleyThe Man in My Basement by Walter Mosley

Charles can’t get a job and he’s late on the mortgage payments. The house has been in the family for years, but he risks losing it. He asks about a job, but is turned down. Come to find out when Charles was a teller at the bank he stole some money and everyone knows about it. No one will hire him.

A white man offers Charles lots of money to rent his basement. Charles forgets about this for a while so he can drink, womanize, and masturbate; this is pretty much all he does. When he realizes that he’s not going to get a job, he takes the white man up on his offer. The man turns the basement into a prison cell. He wants to be treated as a prisoner. He’s committed some awful crimes in his past, which Charles is just dying to know about.

While the man is in the basement, Charles continues to drink, womanize, and masturbate. He does have some philosophical conversations with his prisoner, who gets some sort of self-torturing kick out of having a black man as a jailer. Charles also finds that some of his family heirlooms are worth a heck of a lot of money, but he doesn’t know how to handle the situation.

What I liked

I liked that Ernie Hudson read this book for the audio book.

What I didn’t like

Look, I know people have a lot of great things to say about this book philosophically. There’s a man who made himself a prisoner to atone for some awful wrong-doings he committed because society didn’t punish him and God hadn’t gotten around to it yet, at least this guy developed a sense of morality. That’s more than I can say for the basically alcoholic, serial womanizer, and chronic masturbator that Charles is. I’m not impressed with Charles. I bet he went right on back to drinking and womanizing the minute all of this was over, despite his supposed great philosophical awakening.

How in the heck do you write a book that talks about masturbating so much? This isn’t The Joy of Sex or She Comes First. This is a novel, but, I mean, I guess it’s ultimately up to the author whether or not they want to write a book punctuated with the word masturbate instead of semicolons.

I don’t particularly like Charles; he’s a loser and he’s always going to be a loser. He’s one of those people who are content to sit on the couch all day watching TV rather than being a productive member of society. Those kind of people irritate me.

Why the ever-loving #!$* would a woman, any woman, be interested in Charles? Sure, maybe he has a big penis, but that’s not enough of a reason to sleep with someone, but maybe my standards are much higher than everyone else’s.

Overall

This was a strange book, but at least Winston from Ghostbusters read it to me.

Weigh In

Do people who have no motivation irritate you?

What do you think about Charles?

#861 The Man in My Basement by Walter Mosley was originally published on One-elevenbooks

#846 The Ultimate Gift by Jim Stovall

The Ultimate Gift by Jim StovallThe Ultimate Gift by Jim Stovall

Jason Steven’s uncle has died, which wouldn’t be remarkable except for the fact that his uncle owned huge companies and was worth lots of money. Jason goes to the reading of the will. To this person is bequeathed this obscene amount of money. To this person, the company. To this person, this thing and to that person, that thing, but Jason doesn’t get anything.

There is a catch though. Jason was the only one that his uncle considered worth anything. Jason has a chance to inherit something, but he must do what his dead uncle says for an entire year. Jason will be given various gifts throughout the year. If Jason completes everything, he gets something big.

Each month brings Jason a different challenge. He learns to put up a fence with his own two hands. He learns to be a house parent to a group of foster boys. He learns to give back to his community. At the end of the year, Jason is much more enriched as a person, but when he finds out what his uncle is actually giving him, he is astounded and highly grateful.

What I liked

This book was sweet. Not all gifts are tangible. I really liked that Jason spent a year learning how to be a better person. If we could all do that, we’d be living in a better place.

I am not the best person, but I spent three years working as a nurse aide in a nursing home while going to college. It was tough, but I learned a lot about how to treat other people, a whole lot. I think I learned it the hard way. Being a nurse aide is not easy in the least. I think once you do learn how to treat others, it’s not something you forget easily, or at least, I hope not.

A large part of our lives is how we affect other people. What can we do that will bring whatever to other people? Sometimes we lose track of that and are very much for ourselves.

I also liked that this book wasn’t really religious. There might have been something in there, but it wasn’t enough for me to notice it. It’s about being a decent human being, which you don’t necessarily need religion for, but if it helps you, by all means, go to church.

What I didn’t like

It smacked of that saccharine self-help talk you get with some books, but not enough to detract it from being a great book.

Overall

Don’t be a jerk to other people and you’ll be happier.

Weigh In

Do you think we lose sight of helping others?

Would you put yourself at the mercy of someone else for a year?

#846 The Ultimate Gift by Jim Stovall was originally published on One-elevenbooks