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Monthly Archives: February 2014

Still Alice~ not in wonderland

Still Alice

a novel

by: Lisa Genova


This is not an Alice in Wonderland story.

This is a story of a woman who becomes lost….in her mind….

This is a story of a Harvard professor

This is a story of a highly intelligent woman

This is a story of a Harvard Professor, a  highly intelligent woman who due to a gene, due to dumb luck, has developed Alzheimer’s.

It is a powerful, compassionate, heartbreaking, realistic look at what Alzheimers does to a person.

Just two quotes to hopefully get you to want  read this book:

“Disorientation, mental confusion, memory lapses. Check, check, and check.  She leaned back in her chair and raked her fingers through her curly black hair.  She looked over the picture displayed on the shelves……her Harvard Graduation day….This was natural, next phase in her life as a woman….Nothing life-threatening. Nothing abnormal…”(page 25)

“I can barely breathe when I think about it.  But we have to think about it.  I don’t know how much longer I have to know you.  We need to talk about what’s going to happen”(page 100)


I would recommend this book for anyone say perhaps middle school and up.


Especially for anyone that has a relative with Alzheimer’s or Dementia, it takes you into their world…what they are thinking,  what their caregivers are going through.

and really

This book is for anyone who wants to have a better understanding of true humanity. I

Alzheimer’s took away many of Alice’s memories but she is still Alice, a human being, with a heart that longs to love and be loved and who doesn’t long for that.






Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus~ can you imagine?

Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus

How the Jewishness of Jesus can Transform Your Faith

By Ann Spangler and Lois Tverberg

This book is just the right amount of information, without being overwhelming.

Anyone from a learned scholar, to a lay person, to someone just discovering their faith would benefit from reading this book.


IN talking about the Jewishness of Jesus she brings us closer to the man who became our savior and learning his ways  brings us to closer understanding of our faith.

Many of the  pages have insets of definition which if you don’t know the words she simply explains their meaning.

What’s great about the way this book is put forward is it could easily be used for independent bible study as each chapter is closed with questions, or things to think about.

~those questions also make it perfect for a Christian book club.

Lois has a blog If you like Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus I’d recommend checking it out here!

Let me highlight just a few of the things I loved about the book

OH  my gosh the imagery she uses in describing chapter 4 on following the Rabbi:

Gene Wilder and Marty Feldman not a glamorous scene by any means (though absolutely hilarious to watch)

but  I digress…

following Jesus was not glamorous

the authors weave this story into a demonstration of what it meant to be a Rabbi in the Jewish world and to follow a Rabbi in the Jewish world….and leaves us to think about our role in being a disciple today.

The Authors reference Tevye from Fiddler on the roof, in

Chapter 7 titled For Everything a Blessing.

(I love this movie and Zero Mostel’s performance in it!)

Every thing a blessing???  That truly is a hard concept in a world full of complainers, doubters, in a world that has become under-worked and underpaid, and under-appreciated

But, what if we thanked God for every thing in our lives….and not just for the table;

but for the person who made the table, for the tree that became the table, for the people who taught the man to be a carpenter…etc…..

What would our world look like if we prayed and thanked God for our Blessings more?

IN addition to the over 200 pages and 14 chapters of insight the book is complete with several Appendices

  • Prayers Jesus Prayed
  • The Feasts
  • a chart of biblical feasts
  • recommended sources for further reading
  • Glossary of terms used in the book
  • Notes on her sources easily listed for each chapter
  • a scriptural index, for the scripture quoted in the book and page to find it on
  • an alphabetical index for topics covered in the book

Read this book

and you’ll find yourself

Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus

sweet spirit sweep over my soul.

The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog~ as a courtesy to my kids

OK so my kids voted this morning …

and told me


my next book review should be

The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog

by: Mo Willems

I struggled with this one as the majority of the books so far have been adult books and …this might set a precedent that they start suggesting books more often they want me to review…and if that’s the case I will have to have them write future reviews on a new blog page 🙂

but since this is the first time

and since they asked

and since I actually like this book

why not?

after discovering Mo Willems and the pigeon series I wish they had come out when my kids were younger

they are hilarious!


the pigeon learns something…well sort of…almost every time

in the hotdog version he learns to share

in the dog version he learns he doesn’t really want a dog he wants something better

in the don’t let the pigeon drive the bus version…its funny pigeon tantrums as well.

and there are a boat load of other books by MO Willems you can find them here


click the above link already!

Man’s Search For Meaning~ everyone should have to read this book.

Mans Search for Meaning

by Viktor E. Frankl

Mr. Frankl  was a psychiatrist who spend much time in the Nazi death camps.

(that should be a good enough statement to make you want to read this book)

How does a Man who has been trained to deal with humans, and help humans deal with their “issues”  deal with life when life becomes more than unfair but downright horrific?

This book details Frankl’s experience in the death camps, and in the beginning he makes it clear that it is not intended to represent “…facts and events..”  rather “Personal Experiences”

I first came to this book in a class I took on the Holocaust while in college, and again I think it was also required reading for the seminar on Violence in Religion at the same college.

So in going back over this book…some 2o years later I am seeing the phrases  I highlighted and find them still the ones that stick out to me.

So here goes :

“Apathy, the blunting of the emotions, and the feeling that one could not care any more, were the symptoms arising during the second stage of the prisoner’s psychological reactions, and which eventually made him insensitive to daily and hourly beatings.  By means of this insensibility the prisoner soon surrounded himself with a very necessary protective shell”(page 42)

don’t we do that also, when necessary, when we’ve been hurt physically or emotionally?(ella speaking here)

“No man should judge unless he asks himself in absolute honesty whether in a similar situation he might not have done the same.”(page 68)

We make decisions all the time, based on our background, our upbringing, our current situations, our emotions, but do we take into consideration what the background, upbringing, current situation and emotions are of the other individual? (ella speaking here)

“…Everything  that was not connected with the immediate task of keeping oneself and one’s closes friends alive lost its value…”(page 70)

“…this was not my way; …I had learned to let fate take its course.”(page 75)

and finally… for this review anyway

“Man can preserve a vestige of spiritual freedom, of independence of mind, even in such terrible conditions of psychic and physical stress.” (page 86)

I believe this applies to humanity…not just the gender specific man. (ella speaking here)

I could quote more and discuss more and I may do that another day…another post….but for now…I recommend you read the book and then pass it on.

Age wise I would reserve it for high school and older as some of the material may be too much for the younger ages to understand.

Listening to the Language of the Bible. (training my ears….)

Listening to the Language of the Bible

(Hearing it through Jesus’ Ears)

By: Lois Tverberg with Bruce Okkema

So often those of us who are “Christian”

forget that Jesus was “Jewish”

and that the Bible we read is a mere translation of Hebrew, a complex language not perhaps in amount of words but in definition and real meaning of the word.

Lois gives the example in her introduction how the”… hebrew word for house, bayit can be used ….as house, temple, family or lineage”(page xvi)

and that Hebrew can use the “…same word to decribe both a mental activity and its intended physical result”(page xvi)

Her book details certain key words, key phrases that help the christian better understand the deeper meaning in the biblical language.


this is me

I want you to think for a moment

that the earliest christian’s, the disciples of Jesus, were …Jewish….Jesus did not come to destroy Judaism, he came to complete it.

It is modern man(person) that has put the word “Old” on the Jewish bible the (Tanakh) and the word “New” on the christian half of the bible.

Although we don’t think about it much this holds the idea that perhaps “New” is in someway better and for Christians it contains the good news of Jesus….but we mustn’t forget that the Tanakh(or what we call the old testatment) is also the word of God and no less important when learning about Jesus and Christianity than the new testament is.

In the book Lois highlights

the differences in cultures, specifically the culture of Jesus day versus modern day western attitudes.

some of the words she discusses are(and this is a very short list compared to what is in the book)

Shema-Listen and Obey

Shalom-How is your peace?

Hokhmah- Giving of his Wisdom

Nephesh-Loving God With All Your Life

Levav-Hear and Mind

Berakh-Blessing the Lord

Avinu-Our Father

Ve’Ahavta-Loving God and Neighbor

eye opening and insightful ….every bible reading christian should take a look at Lois’s book


another great book by Ann Spangler and Lois Tverberg (and I’ll detail it in another post) is:

yet another insightful book to help bring us to a better understanding of Jesus.

The Dogma of Rufus….wait…what….???

Just found this book yesterday at of all places the local




My local public library has several shelves when you first walk in with new books displayed

This one happened to be facing out and really I don’t know how anyone could resist at least picking up the book and giving it a once over.

The bulldog face and the sweet puppy eye was enough for me and my kids to gravitate straight to it.

You’ll want to peruse this book first and decide if your children are mature enough to handle the occasional blocked out swear word  but other than that I give it a 4 barks our of 5 for family friendliness.

unless you hate dogs ….you will love this book!

The Dogma of Rufus

(A canine guide to Eating, Sleeping, Digging, Slobbering, Scratching and Surviving with Humans)

written by Rufus(an old dog) {with the help of Larry, Zack and Joey Arnstein)

what is dogma you ask? it has to do with a set of beliefs, that are accepted without question by a certain group of people….or in this case….canines.

Rufus is an old Dog who has advice for new pups being adopted into human families.

tongue in cheek…(do dogs have cheeks?)

Humans be prepared you are about to learn what your dog really thinks!

Humans be prepared you are about to learn why your dog does what she does!

Humans…..ahhh forget it ….nothing I say will fully prepare you for the hilarity of this book!

Starting with before Chapter 1, Rufus provides you with a dictionary….a DOG dictionary of terms

the first word Rufus defines for us is “alphabetize and he tells us it is a verb and is1. an unnecessary form of human organization 2.  something we’re not going to do here, Instead check out your house to see if anyone has dropped any food, or if you can guilt-trip anyone into giving you a treat.(page Xiii)

with chapter titles like

Leashes a Giant Leap backward

Dog Whisperers: dumbest idea since the concept of throwing away “spoiled food”

How to Train your Human, Rewards and Punishments

The Poop Problem: Out of Control Human Wierdness (sorry I had to mention this chapter as it was the first I saw at the library when perusing the book and it made me giggle…trust me….the dogs perspective is hilarious!)

and those are only a few of the chapters….the book is over 250 pages long!

the book is full of pictures of various breeds of dogs

quizzes about dogs


Did I mention that this book is written in part by Larry Arnstein(who wrote for SNL)

and his two sons.

I just wish there was a website dedicated to RUFUS wouldn’t that be awesome

a RUFUS fan club!

Thank you Rufus for making me smile, laugh, and enlightening me on dog life.

I would love to write more…but I haven’t finished reading RUFUS yet…….bye

Books, Paper or Digital?


On my parenting blog I recently wrote about my travels into the world of Digital Books and Magazines


and like I stated there

I like paper,

I like the smell of the book

I like

sticky notes and highlighters.

I like that the sticky notes and highlighters quickly enable me to find quotes, recipes, statements of opinion and statements of fact.

that’s why…in this blog you will 99% of the time see me review books and articles that I own. ON PAPER

some you will like

some you will disagree with

some you will run out to buy

some you will gush with friends

but hopefully all

will open your heart and mind

to both familiar and new ideas.