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Along with reviews of many well-known titles, this site also searches out unique books
from small, independent presses.
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Oh Susannah: It's in the Bag (An Oh Susannah Story)
By: Carole P. Roman
Illustrated by: Mateya Arkova
Publication Date: April 2017
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: November 22, 2017
Susannah is having one heck of a day - will it ever end? Young readers will love following along to see what happens to Susannah when her day goes from bad to very, very bad in this first book in a delightful new series.
It's just another average morning for Susannah as she gets up and gets ready for school. But "average" quickly takes a turn for the worse as the third-grader eyes her math homework that she was supposed to have finished the night before. Oh, well, better just slip that paper into her school bag and ignore it. Susannah's mother calls to her, telling her to hurry, hurry, hurry. Why is her mother always in a hurry?
Oatmeal and a banana for breakfast. Bleck! Susannah hates bananas! She decides the best thing to do is hide that nasty fruit in her school bag. That takes care of the banana problem (or does it?). Both her parents are in such a rush that they hardly notice their daughter. Why are they always rushing?
On the school bus, Susannah's best friend Lola reminds her about the sleepover. Lola wants to know why Susannah didn't take the invitation yesterday. Susannah doesn't want to tell her friend that Lola's house is old and creepy, with spiders and maybe even ghosts! Surely Susannah can't be expected to sleep in such a scary house. Better just put that invitation into the school bag and deal with it later.
As Susannah's day continues, things continue to go downhill. Homework, gym class, a school project...every problem gets tossed into that school bag. And that school bag is getting quite heavy. At the same time, the banana, at the bottom of the school bag, is getting very, very smelly. Susannah is overwhelmed and she doesn't know what to do.
Oh Susannah: It's in the Bag is a quick moving story that will keep readers glued to the pages. The story is lighthearted, funny, and it teaches an important lesson. It quickly becomes apparent that all of Susannah's problems are being hidden away in her school bag, and at some point, that bag is not going to be able to take any more "problems." Susannah gets overwhelmed, and she doesn't know what to do to solve all those "things" hiding in her bag. Young readers will likely identify with Susannah's problems and want to see how she solves them. And that sleepover at Lola's? Stay tuned for book 2 in the series, Things That Go Bump to see what happens.
Quill says: A great start to a new series for young readers. I look forward to meeting Susannah again in her next book!
For more information on Oh Susannah: It's in the Bag (An Oh Susannah Story), please visit the author's website at: www.caroleproman.com
Truth and The Serpent
By: J. Rutledge
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing
Publication Date: January 2017
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: November 20, 2017
Stumbling through a thunder and lightning storm that almost feels like God’s power is being directed specifically at him, a man finds cover in the safety of a cave. But this is not a normal, everyday cave. There is a more dangerous creature waiting inside than just your regular grizzly setting up shop for winter.
We are talking about a cavern filled with treasures. Walls that are tiled with precious gems lead the man deeper into the cave for further exploration. After all, greed is alive and well, and this man is drawn down these glimmering paths by his own curiosity and his own deadly sin. Walking for what seems like miles, following the sound of running water, he enjoys his surroundings. Enjoyment soon fades and greed is soon forgotten, however, when a creature rises up and a forked tongue begins to spit words that no Modern Day Man has ever heard before. This is the Serpent. That snake from the famous Garden that played home to the birth of Mankind. Oddly enough, the creature states that all he wants is company; he wants the man to take a seat and listen to the real truth behind the stories that the Bible made famous.
Readers find out early on, through the first tale told by the Serpent of Man, Woman, and the Garden, that he was not actually at fault. He states that the blame lies solely on Woman for what was done there; the curse for her blasphemy being childbirth. We also find out that before the apple fell from the tree, so to speak, the Serpent was not the scaly creature that became synonymous with evil. He quite literally had limbs; limbs that were used at one time to cover Man and keep him safe. The Serpent tells of the Creator who withdrew his limbs and replaced them with scales – the punishment for his part played in the trauma of the Garden. He was bestowed with the body that would remind Mankind for all time that he was the evildoer...from the very beginning.
The Serpent will answer this man’s questions, usually with sarcasm and a quick flick of the tongue, throughout this tale. He will lead this man through various times on Earth, where he watched humans battle, make rules, create laws, alter the land, and transform their beliefs to either accept change, or banish it by dangling the transgressors of these “sins” at the end of ropes.
The people in the Serpent’s tales have nicknames, from “The Variable” to the “Drawn Forth Son” to the “Beloved.” But along with these odd introductions, he also places them in well-known settings that allow readers to solve the mystery of who these people are. Such as, the Moon City that fell in battle when an army simply circled its high walls...Jericho, perhaps?
The Serpent goes every which way as he describes his love, anger, allegiance, or hatred he had during all of these times and with all of these people. And when it comes to the Creator and the master of evil known to the world as Satan, readers will find the snake’s beliefs even more interesting. So...is the Serpent telling the ultimate truth, or is he simply a wolf in reptilian clothing? It is for you to read and decide.
When it comes to two subjects, religion and politics, books can be highly difficult to review. They are the two subjects that all out there wish to be judges and juries about, no matter if they are created in the world of fiction or non. When it comes to this first novel by author J. Rutledge, this can be said: A book speaking of religion from this slithery point of view has not been written. It is at times great fun, imaginative and thrilling; other times, such as when the Serpent uses language that makes him sound like a high school bully rather than the educated creature he is 99% of the time, can cause the reader to doubt the intelligent character.
Quill says: This is a good book taking on the highly debated and highly believed stories of the “Good Book,” with passion, intelligence, and humor.
For more information on Truth and the Serpent, please visit the author's Facebook page.
Finding the Narrow Path: Patterns, Faith and Searching
By: Lin Wilder
Publisher: Wilder Books
Publication Date: August 2016
Reviewed by: Anita Lock
Date: November 13, 2017
Author Lin Wilder shares an engaging spiritual conversion story in her newest read.
“This is a story about how and why I lost faith in God.”
Obviously, the abovementioned quote only tells half of Lin Wilder’s story since she eventually returns to her faith. Answering the “why” to Lin’s reasoning for writing her spiritual journey did not reflect a matter of intention, but the fulfillment of a promise to a dear friend who believed Lin to have a powerful testimony. Lin’s friend states it succinctly: “Others need to read what happened and how this happened. I know that many will be touched, inspired by your journey.”
It all begins at the spunky age of twenty-one when Lin comes to the conclusion that she is void of all religious connections—no longer believing in Jesus, religion, and one “who could no longer call herself a Christian.” It is at this point when she encounters a life-altering experience as she pours out her heart to a complete stranger, a Freshman English teacher, who not only takes pity on her but seems to understand her pain. What amazes her is his intuitiveness. Amid a dark moment in her life, she senses a ray of hope with his near-prophetic utterance that “one day, you will have a faith that is yours...”
Little does Lin know that she will go through various trials before the abovementioned prophecy is fulfilled. Relationship break ups, including a marriage that goes sour, an abortion, and trying job situations, to name a few. In the midst of painful situations while searching for inner direction, Lin witnesses a brilliant light—a sign of the Holy Spirit’s presence—three different yet significant times in her life.
Lin reveals the side of her life that, in all intents and purposes, is not flattering and downright embarrassing, especially since she’s had such high-ranking positions in the medical industry. It is during these very vulnerable moments that she slowly delves into introspection. Her journey eventually leads her not only to the man who she eventually marries, but also in the direction of Catholicism and to the realization that she can have a friendship with Jesus.
While Wilder loves to intellectualize concepts and abstractions, and her account is peppered with philosophical authors and book titles, she writes for the common person. Her journey may be unique, but not the revelation knowledge that it garners. The profound spiritual revelations speak to all, regardless of spiritual background. While not all will agree with her stance on various issues, Wilder humbly admits that aside of her educational and professional background, there is nothing extraordinary about her life. "I am an ordinary woman who has lived an ordinary life. Although I have worked hard, many people work harder, although I am educated, there are millions far better educated than I will ever be."
Wilder succinctly describes the real reason for relaying her account: “In hopes of easing another’s decision to return or turn for the first time to God and to Church. To find comfort and consolation in faith, religion and church whether it be Roman Catholic, Anglican, Judaism or any of the other traditions that point us toward God the Father.”
Quill says: A thought-provoking read, Finding the Narrow Path provides readers with plenty to ruminate on.