#888 A Boy of Heart Mountain by Barbara Bazaldua

A Boy of Heart Mountain by Barbara BazalduaA Boy of Heart Mountain by Barbara Bazaldua

Shigeru and his family lived in California, but then the war came. Some people treated Shigeru differently, even though he was an American. His parents had to put signs up in their laundry shop window saying they were loyal Americans. Soon people told Shigeru’s family that they had to leave their home and go to the middle of the United States. People even came into their house and took their radio. They had to sell their things, which people offered them very little money for. Shigeru even had to give away his dog, Skippy.

The family got on a train and left. Where they arrived was nowhere. There was nothing around. They had to live in a small room, which was nothing more than a shack. The room was shared with strangers. The food was awful.

After a time, the family was moved to Heart Mountain which was marginally better. There was a school and Shigeru made some friends. He even got a pet bird that learned to talk. The camp became a new life to Shigeru. One day, it came time to leave and return to a normal life; the war was over.

What I liked

I’ve read books about the Japanese concentration camps before. It’s a sad thing, but ultimately very important. We have to remember what we did so it doesn’t happen again.

Shigeru was a real person, which makes this book much more real. These things happened to a real person.

It seems Shigeru did not let the experience of living in a concentration camp taint his life or his experience of America. That’s a very optimistic view of the whole thing.

What I didn’t like

Why did this happen? Why were innocent Americans imprisoned for no reason? It all seems like an overreaction. We don’t have any right to treat an entire people with suspicion because one person did something bad. Granted, we are talking about more than one somebody doing something bad, but it was still a very small percentage of an entire people.

The good thing about American concentration camps, if you can ever say there are good things about concentration camps, was that they weren’t like the German camps. People can say they were imprisoned by the American government, but they mostly can’t say that they were murdered or exterminated. It’s a wonder Japanese-Americans who were in these camps found it in their hearts not to hate the United States for what happened.

I hate that anybody had to go through something like this just because of their ancestry.


Let’s be glad this is over.

Weigh in

Do you think these concentration camps prevented any war?

If you were imprisoned by a government because of your ancestry, do you think you could look favorably on that government afterwards?

#888 A Boy of Heart Mountain by Barbara Bazaldua was originally published on One-elevenbooks


#864 Cole I love you to the Moon and Back by Aaron Dean Ruotsala

Cole I love you to the Moon and Back by Aaron Dean RuotsalaCole I love you to the Moon and Back by Aaron Dean Ruotsala

Aaron and his wife had been on a fishing trip with their two children. That night, Cole, the oldest, complained of a stomach ache. The parents deliberated on whether or not to take him to the doctor, but when Cole asked, they took him to the hospital. What they found out would change their lives forever. Cole had a tumor in his abdomen and it was very large. There were tests and more tests before the diagnosis came back. Cole had cancer, a fast-growing cancer. Every measure was taken to save his life.

During this, Aaron started a webpage about Cole and his progress. People began to read it and offer prayers and hope to the family. Cole’s story inspired many others to be prayerful and think about what their mortality meant. Ultimately, Cole lost his battle with cancer, changing the family forever, but he did inspire many people.

What I liked

I liked that Cole’s situation gave people the desire to be more spiritual, whatever that means to them. I think sometimes, if we are spiritual people, we need to be reminded about why we are spiritual.

What I didn’t like

It’s awful that Cole got cancer. From the sound of it, there was nothing that could have been done to prevent this. It just happened and the family had to deal with it.

I don’t think Cole was particularly special. Sure, his parents think he’s great, but is he more special than any other kid? No, he’s not. It’s unfortunate that he had cancer and died from that cancer, but I don’t believe it was determined by God that Cole should get cancer and die just so other people could be a little more spiritual. I think this was an unfortunate circumstance, but if people were able to find comfort in Cole’s attitude, that’s great.


I hope Cole’s family is doing well.

Weigh In

Do you believe God makes bad things happen to innocent people so other people can learn lessons?

If you found yourself in this situation, do you think you would have enough mental clarity to write a book about it?

#864 Cole I love you to the Moon and Back by Aaron Dean Ruotsala was originally published on One-elevenbooks

#858 Little Black Sheep by Ashley Cleveland

 Little Black Sheep by Ashley Cleveland Little Black Sheep by Ashley Cleveland

Ashley spend the majority of her growing up years thinking that she was too fat. Her parents told her so. They were concerned about her appearance rather than her happiness. At a young age, Ashley turned to drugs and alcohol. She also discovered that she was a talented musician and songwriter. She made money here and there playing at various events, but most of it went towards drugs and alcohol. She went into rehab and came back out again, only to go back to drugs and alcohol.

She had a baby, but that didn’t stop her from chasing things that would dull her feelings about life. She started writing more songs. She went back to rehab. She met a wonderful man and eventually had a family, but drugs and alcohol were never far behind. These days Ashley is an award-winning country musician and songwriter with a personal relationship with God.

What I liked

I’ve never heard of Ashley Cleveland. She seems like an interesting person. It’s unfortunate that so much of her life has been dictated by substance abuse and mental abuse from her family. There are worse things than being overweight, like being a stuck-up, holier-than-thou jerk, who thinks that everyone should be so thin that they can fit between deck slats and use their body in spread-eagle position as the frame-work for a kite on windy days, with only the help of a sheet.

I like that Ashley found herself. I like that she found a religion, which does help her in life. She has a lot of talent and shouldn’t be wasting it, by dulling it with drugs and tons of alcohol.

What I didn’t like

When parents condone the mental abuse of a child and even participate in it, that’s not cool. It’s one thing to worry that your kid might need to lose some weight; it’s another to make it the soul focus of your opinion about that child. Seriously, there are worse things your kid could be than fat. They could be one of those kids that goes and shoots up their classmates at school. I feel for Ashley, I really do. Her parents weren’t a ton of help to her when she needed them most.


I’ll keep an ear out for Ashley Cleveland.

Weigh In

Do you know someone whose parents put an extreme emphasis on their appearance?

If you did know someone like that, did it affect them negatively?

#858 Little Black Sheep by Ashley Cleveland was originally published on One-elevenbooks

#853 Tiger Heart by Katrell Christie

Tiger Heart by Katrell ChristieTiger Heart by Katrell Christie

Katrell grew up in Atlanta and she opened a tea shop. It had a strange name, Dr. Bombay’s Underwater Tea Party. She soon got a few loyal customers. One day, she decided to go to India. While in India, she discovered an orphanage run by monks. When the girls there turned seventeen, they were put out on the street. Katrell thought this was awful and decided to do something about it.

She rented an apartment and set three girls up there. They were enrolled in school and given money for clothes and food. Katrell said she would come back in six months, which she did. Soon Katrell’s program expanded. She found more girls to take care of. She started selling tea in her tea shop to help fund her project.

People became interested in Katrell’s project and she started taking people to India. There was an unfortunate incident with a toilet in a hotel, but other than that, Katrell has had many positive experiences and has helped many young women go to college when they wouldn’t have been able to before.

What I liked

Katrell is a very admirable person. I kind of want to meet her. She sounds awesome. She named a tea shop Dr. Bombay’s Underwater Tea Party. How neat is that? She just kicks butt. Not only does she have her own business, but she has also done a ton of charity work. She has given lives to young women who wouldn’t have been able to have those lives before. She cares about them and their well-being. Hurrah for Katrell.

Katrell is the kind of person that people want to be. She’s got guts and she has determination. She has the know-how, or at the very least, the persistence, to get things done and make the world a better place.

She’s also hilarious. The bathroom incident was unfortunate, but also kind of fated.

Maybe the next time I’m in Atlanta I’ll see if I can check out Katrell’s tea shop.

What I didn’t like

I liked this book. I didn’t expect it to be that impressive, but it really is.


Dr. Bombay’s Underwater Tea Shop just sounds like an awesome party.

The Learning Tea webpage

Weigh In

Would you go to India and start a charity?

What do you think of people like Katrell?

#853 Tiger Heart by Katrell Christie was originally published on One-elevenbooks

#850 The Life and Works of Liszt by Jeremy Siepmann

The Life and Works of Liszt by Jeremy SiepmannThe Life and Works of Liszt by Jeremy Siepmann

Oh Franz, when are you going to come back to life as a young man and come play the piano for me…and other stuff?

Franz Liszt was the musical player, in more than one meaning of the word, back in the day. He composed music that nobody else could really dream up. He started out his life studying from other music masters and soon developed his own music. It was magical and whimsical.

Soon, Liszt started attracting the women, lots of them, including married women. Franz had three children with a married woman and then started dating a princess. One of his daughters went on to marry Wagner, the composer.

What I liked

This was an audio book, but it was really well done. There was music, Franz’s music. It was like listening to a documentary. It was pretty great. Some of the music is very beautiful and I enjoyed it.

I liked learning some more about Franz’s life. He was a player, but he was also a very talented man. I have dreams of having a grand piano one day and hanging his picture above it.

What I didn’t like

I have some moral objections to Franz, which really has nothing to do with this book, although, this book does showcase his extra-relationship behavior. Franz had babies all over Europe. If it was a woman and it was good-looking, Franz probably slept with it. He was almost the equivalent of the Beatles, which Girls screamed at. If girls screamed at musicians back in the day, they would have screamed at Franz.

I don’t like the fact that Franz was a player. I don’t like that he slept with just about every woman who walked by, even if she was married. He even slept with other women when he was in a relationship with a woman.

Look, unless you have a special arrangement, and it goes two ways, you don’t have permission to sleep with anyone else besides the person you’re in a relationship with. Also, if someone else is married to someone else, you shouldn’t sleep with them. End of story. Franz did actually have a special arrangement with at least one of his women, so the extra women there is a little less deplorable.

I find cheating in a relationship deplorable. I doubt I could forgive that if it happened to me. Franz was a musical genius, but that doesn’t give him the right to be a cheating ho. Yes, I am probably the only person in history to call Franz Liszt a cheating ho, but, he kind of deserves it.


Franz you were a beautiful genius, but you should have kept it in your pants.

Weigh In

Is a historical genius to be admired less because he or she had no morality?

Are you a fan of Franz?

#850 The Life and Works of Liszt by Jeremy Siepmann was originally published on One-elevenbooks