The Book Blag

Book reviews over anything and everything

Review: A Beggars Purse February 17, 2011

A Beggar's PurseWow. For such a short book, I have a lot to say about A Beggars Purse by Toni Nelson. I won the book through a giveaway hosted by the author on Goodreads. It has been at least two months since I received the book, and I’m sure she has given up on me by now. Never fear–the book just got pushed back on the to-read list, with book club books taking priority. ๐Ÿ™‚ A Beggars Purse is a short memoir about a woman and her attitude for the homeless, or what she calls “hobos” when she is a child. The book probably only took me a total of two to three hours to read once I got started.

Let me be honest with you. I am probably the farthest thing from religious you will ever find. I dislike Christian-themed works because I usually feel like they are preaching to me. While I don’t like to argue with people about religion, I would rather not discuss it at all. You can imagine my surprise when I turned my newly received book over and read the synopsis, which made it clear how religious Nelson is. The first page of the book (before the Acknowledgements) displays a Bible verse. Ever the cataloger, I flipped to see the Library of Congress subject headings on the back of the title page, and those were “Religion / Christian Life / Social Issues” and “Religion / Christian Life / Stewardship and Giving.” I let forth the largest internal groan you could imagine. What did I get myself into? I requested to be entered to win this book, so clearly I did not read the description very well.

Let me tell you something else. The religious aspect of this book was not that bad! Nelson portrays religion in a “this is how I see it and how it fits into my life” manner, not a “this is how it should be done, and you should do it too” manner. I did not feel like Nelson was preaching at me, though there was one part that started talking about God that I just had to skim through to get back to the storyline. While the religious nature didn’t bother me as much as I thought it would, it still wasn’t really my thing.

A Beggars Purse has an interesting “plot.” Toni Nelson seems to have led an interesting life, and she presents it in a manner-of-fact way. Do you remember sitting with your grandparents or older relatives on a hot summer day and listen to them relay stories about what it was like when they were younger? This book has that feeling to it. I would not call it particularly eloquent, but the stories had a decent flow to them. The book was definitely more about Nelson’s life than the homeless population, but the sections tied together nicely. Nelson held ambivalent views toward the homeless population throughout her life, but she eventually came to the point as an adult where she felt passionately about giving food to the homeless. She acknowledged her own faults, as there was a time when she did think of the homeless as responsible for their own situation.

Toni Nelson herself is a really nice person. When I was one of the people to win her giveaway, she added me as a “friend” on Goodreads and sent me a personal message. The copy of the book she sent to me was personally signed to me by name. One of the neatest things about the giveaway is that she included a brown paper sack with a piece of paper attached to it. The sheet of paper encourages us to do a variety of things with it, like pack a lunch and give it to a homeless person, pack it with food to drop off at a local food bank, or just us it as a “visual reference . . . that you have a roof over your head and a satisfied stomach.” I am somewhat of a bleeding heart myself, and I like the idea of giving food to people who need it. Overall, Nelson’s book is worth the read, particularly because it is such a fast read. I would actually have liked it to be a little longer than it was. I plan to loan this to a coworker I think will most likely appreciate it more than I could. ๐Ÿ™‚

My rating:

Where did I get this book? Won in a giveaway on Goodreads.

2010. Mustang, OK (whoa, my home state): Tate Publishing & Enterprises. 105 pages.


Review: Kasey to the Rescue January 22, 2011

Kasey to the RescueIt took me awhile to get through Kasey to the Rescue by Ellen Rogers. Why? I started it over the holidays, then things got hectic. However, the book’s poignant story was strong enough for me to immediately pick it back up and remember what was going on. This sort of tragedy never leaves you. The book’s author, Ellen Rogers, starts the book off in the moment of tragedy as she discovers her son has had a terrible accident. Having always called herself a “tragedy snob” due to many unfortunate events she has weathered in her life, she is thrown into a situation she does not know how to deal with. The book follows her son’s recovery process and the process of integrating a helper monkey–the title character, Kasey–into their home.

Kasey to the Rescue is a book you read for the story. You read it and count your blessings, at the same time acknowledging the good things that have come out of their situation (Kasey, new relationships, emotional strength, etc.). Rogers is great at delivering chaotic moments in a humorous manner, and you feel like you’re actually there. The book made me laugh out loud even as I couldn’t begin to imagine how hopeless they must have felt. Rogers stands out as a great mother who stands strong when many of us would have let our lives crumble around us.

That said, this book is not the sort of book you read for literary value or eloquent writing. The writing style is good in terms of being light and grammatically correct… but it won’t make anyone’s “favorite quotes” section on their Facebook profile, if you know what I mean. The title and prominent picture of the capuchin monkey on the cover of the book leads one to believe the book is all about Kasey, the monkey. This really bothered me at the beginning of the book, when there were chapters where the monkey was not yet present. I think Rogers was aware of this because she added in notes about where Kasey would be at the time (living and working with a trainer), but the transitions were poor and awkward. As I read on, though, it bothered me less. It would have been impossible to separate Kasey’s story from the story of Ned (the son)’s accident and recovery. The story is clearly written from the mother’s point of view, and I like that she didn’t try to speak for her family by representing their opinions in the book. On the other hand, I was curious about what Ned might be feeling/thinking throughout a lot of it. The book does include a short afterword by Ned (and another prominent member of the story), which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Rogers mentions religion a few times in the work, including the assertion that this was a time when faith could be the strongest because they needed the hope. Religion was not a prominent theme by any means, which I sincerely appreciated. I feel this makes the book much more marketable for a mainstream audience.

Kasey to the Rescue is a fast read and tells a truly inspirational story. I am glad to have read it.

My rating: 4 stars

Where did I get this book? ARC won through LibraryThing Early Reviewers.

2010. New York: Hyperion. 270 pages.


Review: Perfect Weight by Deepak Chopra December 21, 2010

Filed under: Book Reviews — Carrie @ 12:01 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Are you unhappy with your weight, lacking energy, or experiencing digestive issues? How about sipping on some boiling water throughout your day or doing a liquid fast a couple times per week? These are just a couple of the suggestions made by Deepak Chopra in his book, Perfect Weight:The Complete Mind/Body Program for Achieving and Maintaining Your Ideal Weight, about the Ayurvedic approach to health, wellness, and weight loss.

Ayurveda is a traditional Indian approach to healing. In Ayurveda, a person belongs to one of (or a combination of) three doshas, or categories: vata, pitta, and kapha. Chopra takes you through the characteristics of each of these doshas and tells you what foods to eat and avoid, exercises to do or not do, and so forth, based on your personal body composition.

I really liked this book — and listened the audio version because I am an auditory learner and Chopra’s got a great voice. If you’re not familiar with Chopra, he is a big name in New Age medicine, healing, and spirituality and writes lots of self-help books. I like learning about healing traditions of other cultures (next on my list is a Traditional Chinese Medicine book), so I picked this one up.

Have I implemented some of the tips from Chopra? Actually, I have! Eating slowly and mindfully, drinking warm liquids and eating warm foods (good for my personal dosha), and practicing daily, low-impact exercise (rather than high-intensity exercise less frequently) are some of the beneficial lessons I took away from reading this book.

Is it woo-woo?ย Sure. Do I agree with everything Chopra says? No. But the overall message of listening to your body and treating it well is a good enough reason for me to have read this book. Four stars.

My rating: 4 stars