Friday, September 30, 2011

Review: Lit! A Christian Guide to Reading by Tony Reinke

Have you ever read a book that wasn't quite what you expected, but which was quite good nonetheless? This is such a book. I expected that the author would employ a reader's advisory tone in his writing; however, he approached the subject from the perspective of learning to love books and literature. He demonstrated the value of reading both Christian and non-Christian books to one's spiritual growth. He also offered tips on how parents could inspire children to love books and to pastors on how to get church members appreciate and read books. There are many quotes from the Bible and from other writers throughout the book on the value of reading. He encourages readers to create marginalia, but only in books which are their own. Even though this book was not what I expected, I found it to be extremely valuable. I received an advanced electronic galley from the publisher through NetGalley for review, but I intend to purchase my own print copy of the book. I found myself highlighting many passages as I read through the galley on my Kindle which will be valuable to me as a librarian who enjoys promoting reading and literature. 4 stars.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Book Review: Shaking the Family Tree

Jackson, Buzzy. Shaking the Family Tree: Blue Bloods, Black Sheep, and Other Obsessions of an Accidental Genealogist. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2010.

Buzzy Jackson, who earned a Ph.D. in history, shares her ventures into the world of family history. She begins with her first local genealogical society meetings, has her own mtDNA and her father's Y-DNA tested, goes on a genealogical cruise, encounters her Alabama relatives, and visits the Family History Library in the course of the book. While I enjoyed the book, I didn't love it. It was written in a slightly more contemporary conversational tone than many books of this nature. It was interesting to see her impressions of some of the most prominent genealogists in the field. Some of these descriptions had me laughing. Although she emphasized the importance of documents, I sometimes had the same feeling that I have watching episodes of "Who Do You Think You Are?" on television, namely that too much was jumped. I realize that her intention was not to provide a detailed account of tracing her line, but I would have preferred an approach that resembles the methodology taught by the leading genealogists. I purchased this book after hearing the author speak at the National Genealogical Society's conference in May 2011. Because I enjoyed her keynote address so much, I expected to like the book more than I did. There are portions that should be read by those new to genealogical research. They will identify with someone who was going through what they are encountering as they begin their family history research. Experienced researchers have little to gain by reading this, except for an occasional laugh or two as they recognize their genealogical colleagues and picture them as the author did. (3 stars)

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Need Chainsaw

Anyone have a chainsaw? Free wood available. My loss due to the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee.

The Sandburg Connection by Mark De Castrique

Sam Blackburn and his partner Nakayla Robertson are investigating an insurance claim case. When the person being investigated dies while exerting herself more than she should have with her injury, it doesn't take long for Sam, who had been tailing her, to realize that there is something not quite right with the circumstances surrounding her death. Much of the book is set in the Asheville, North Carolina area. Part of it is set at the Carl Sandburg home south of the city which is part of the National Park Service. UNC-Asheville, Warren Wilson College, and downtown Asheville play parts in the setting as well. I enjoyed the mystery which was not as predictable as some. I enjoyed the setting tremendously. This is the first of the mysteries featuring Sam and Nakayla that I have read, but I now want to go back and read earlier installments. Persons who enjoy literature, Civil War history, or just the Asheville, North Carolina setting will likely enjoy this mystery. This review is based on an advanced e-galley provided by the publisher through NetGalley for review.