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Cascarones

Cascarones by Sylvia Sánchez Garza is a book that feels more like a conversation between friends. Garza follows the life of a Mexican American girl living in Texas and straddling the world of her culturally rich family and a whitewashed school she winds up going to in Houston. This isn’t the only aspect of her life that Garza delves into. She also explores the girl’s relationship with family members, her church, family traditions, and general everyday life. The book is a nice collection of individual stories about the same family with the same cast of characters.

This was a nice, easy read. It is simple without being boring. The individual stories make nice bite-size sections. This made it a fun, leisurely read. The book feels light. It doesn’t have that heavy, daunting feeling that some books do.

As previously stated, the book feels like a conversation. It feels like sitting and listening to someone reminisce about their childhood. I prefer first-person writing as a rule, and this book delivers. It makes it feel so much more personal and relatable. Readers will identify with pieces of Suzy’s stories and may see themselves in her experiences. Reading this book felt like getting to know a new friend.

I feel like I got to know the characters better through each story. Each story gave a better feel for the family. Even with short stories that could stand alone, the characters were well developed. It also gave a lot of insight into the culture of Mexican American families. It showed their strength and pride in their clinging to their traditions. There were quite a bit of Spanish words and dialogue in the book. I know very little Spanish and looked up a few words, but the vast majority of the meaning comes out in the context.

My only complaint is that I might have liked the stories better in a different order. I think I would have liked them to be in chronological order rather than jumping back and forth in time. It threw me the first time I realized Suzy was speaking as an adult. It took me a second to understand what was happening since it jumped from her being a kid to having kids, and back to a kid again. I lost my bearings a little but recovered quickly.

Cascarones by Sylvia Sánchez Garza is very well-written. There are very few errors, if any. It had a nice pace and flow. I liked following Suzy navigate between two worlds as she is pulled between her large Mexican family and living in America. It taught me a lot about the Mexican American culture that I didn’t know. I’d like to read more by Garza.

Pages: 162 | ISBN: 1724622889

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Charlas Con Dios En Calzoncillos

Charlas Con Dios En Calzoncillos by [Chapunoff, Eduardo]

Through a fun, interesting, educational and thought-provoking story this work describes the role of religion in the world and many of the ancient approaches that exist about the role of God in the lives of people. This is Roger’s coming into the world and his affair with Juan, who never thinks about all the things that were going to happen with his unexpected visit. The book also has some fictional episodes, seeking to reflect on what is important in life and the most important lessons God has for each of us.

This book is primarily a teaching tool aimed at readers interested to know more about the established foundations of major religions in the world, its origins, more powerful beliefs and conceptual differences between them. Similarly, this book talks about specific situations in life that people go through and how God can act to make positive changes in each. On the other hand, it has many stories that invite you to think of the most complex questions that can be had in religion.

This book gives the reader a tour of an adventure between John, Roger, Laura, Luis and Horacio, who live their own conflicts and how God can positively impact each of them. Dr. Chapunoff has captured a mix of emotions, truths and feelings between God and the most important representatives of the religions of the world, who talk about the strengths and weaknesses. Each gives the reader a deeper understanding. Each of these sketch the conceptual differences and tolerance zones that have allowed them to coexist since ancient times to the present.

This book delves into the nature of miracles, which can exist at the same time, and may be the result of religious practices. The beautiful, controversial and incredible power of God above all things is a pointed underlying theme throughout this book. It highlights the magic that exists between the unbelieving human and goodness of the almighty God, who is always present and accompanying all people, without distinction. This is an otherworldly book with earthly ramifications.

Pages: 209 | ASIN: B07DTKM57S

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No Reflection: Are You Who You Thought You Were?

No Reflection: Are You Who You Thought You Were? by [Johnson, Christopher]

No Reflection: Are You Who You Thought You Were? By Christopher Johnson is an introspective religious and spiritual book. It contains many quotes from the Bible as well as quotes from famous people and some other religious figures with thoughts connecting it. Each chapter in the book covers a topic, such as love and forgiveness and then they all follow the same formula of having different quotes and speculation on these quotes. Johnson mentions in the book that his work is the result of conversations with different people in his life and his thoughts on these quotes.

Johnson’s work is interesting. He has quotes followed up with statements that are thoughts on these subject matters. The thoughts connecting these quotes are not always religious, some of them are statements referring to life, but the bulk of them are religious. In addition to quotes, there are topics for each chapter, and some contain metaphors. The metaphors, connecting quotes and thoughts are well done and seamlessly flow into one another. I quite enjoyed the vampire metaphor a lot. It fits into what the author was doing with that chapter perfectly, and I never thought of why vampires cannot go into the sunlight before, but his explanation of it made sense and fit so well with the text. Another analogy I greatly enjoyed was the tortoise and the hare. Johnson relates this to life and states that some are fast to separate but slow to come together, and I found that I agreed with that to a point.

I think for some, this book could be controversial, more specifically the parts addressing homosexuality. I personally do not agree with the sentiments made. I think when making claims similar to these, it would have been nice to have other sources other than Bible quotes and quotes from people that back up thoughts to make it more balanced. Without the balance, it comes off more as a strictly religious text. I do not think Johnson is intending to be biased, but I would have enjoyed other sources with similar statements.

Some of it seems contradictory at times too. For instance saying that God does not have a part in everything because He gave us free will and does not pull all the strings in everything, but then stated God supplies our money. But from the text, it would seem if we choose to work to make money, then we are supplying money through choice. Definitely a mind bender! The book is definitely thought-provoking at times, such as the chapter on forgiveness. That was an interesting read.

Overall, I liked the book. I would recommend this book to those who are open to religious talks, as the book felt like a church sermon in each chapter, or those who are of Christian faith. I am open to seeing others’ perceptions and thoughts who are different from my own, so it was an engaging read and food for thought.

Pages: 144 | ASIN: B07964NR4B

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Heavenly Whispers: 222 Day Devotional

Heavenly Whispers: 222 Day Devotional by [Benade, Dr. Ronel]

Have you been in a situation where all hope seems lost? Have you felt like God is abandoning you? Have you ever felt like you faith is wavering? Like you are losing grasp of your relationship with God?

Heavenly Whispers taps into all of these feelings and serves as a guide to devotion to help keep that bond with God. This is a guide to keeping a hold on faith and remaining strong under God despite the storm that’s raging. This book will help you devote yourself to God unencumbered by your own mind and self-imposed hurdles by providing you with a strong and insightful scripture every day for 222 days. It comes in a tiny package. You can have it in your pocket for whenever and wherever the need to commune with God arises.

There are so many great qualities here. First is the carefully picked words from the Bible. The prayer after each scripture. Then there is how the message just seems to tap into that deep yearning for God. Another great thing, it is not bogged down by stories. There are no endless paragraphs of one person telling you how they do things and how this will succeed. The author delivers the scripture and prayer and then leaves it up to you to execute. Another thing that I really liked is that the devotion sessions are short. You could have a moment with God as you wait for the train or between meetings. It really is the best travel companion.

I feel like the book could have benefited from a sort of appendix at the back. A guide on which pages to go to when faced with specific situations.

Dr. Ronel Benade has provided people with a way to gain divine knowledge in a daily piecemeal way that makes all the wisdom of God attainable.

The prayers are simple and impactful and the author urges the reader to go on and impact the world positively. I find that the mere act of sharing this book with others is impactful. There is greater joy in receiving these little bits of Heavenly whispers.

Pages: 232 | ASIN: B07KMXN44F

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From Religion To Science

The Transition, Initiated by Copernicus and Galileo, from Religion to Science: The Beckoning Bridge Many Find Difficult or Impossible to Cross’ By Lawrence H Wood is a nonfiction book that seeks to shed light on the dichotomy between religion and science, and how the two can continue to co-exist side by side. The author details the transition from a religious based understanding to a scientific based understanding that began to occur in the mid sixteenth century, and discusses the two different explanations of ourselves and our surroundings–how they developed and why they co-exist when such coexistence is a constant source of confusion and conflict. In this book, Dr. Wood, a science historian, focuses on examining the historical aspects of science to further the reader’s understanding of the subject.

This books is divided into sections that look at various aspects of the historical development of science. It’s a fascinating topic that is given very little attention in an academic setting, since most science classes focus exclusively on the actual science with no mention made of the history of science. I found it interesting to read about the historical development of scientific understanding, as people came to understand various scientific principles, starting in the 1500’s when Copernicus observed that the Earth revolved around the Sun, not the Sun around the Earth, as was the previous accepted belief. This marked the beginning of modern scientific investigation, along with the invention of the telescope and the microscope. I liked that the book described many scientific principles and theories and how they came to be discovered, and covered many different science disciplines, including geology, physics, biology, archaeology, and chemistry. I enjoyed reading about the discoveries and contributions of a wide range of scientists, from the sixteenth century to the present.

The book focuses on a variety of subjects from discovering that the Earth is billions of years old to modern advances in DNA and gene-splicing, but the author describes it in terms that make the information accessible to average people who may not view themselves as particularly scientific-minded. The author’s use of graphs and charts to illustrate points was a welcome inclusion that helped to further my understanding of the explanations presented in this book. Another helpful tool was the author’s summation of information at the end of each chapter.

Pages: 444 | ISBN: 1532024576

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You Gotta Let God Finish! – Trailer

God, who loves so deeply and delights to give, has made a multitude of promises throughout the Bible to His children. Yet, there are many of them who never posses their promises. They become weary with the wait and burdened down by questions like, “What do I need to do in order to inherit the promise God made me?” God has come through this author to provide His children with the answer that is sure to cause them to posses all their promises: You gotta let God finish! The Holy Spirit delves deep into God’s word by looking at the lives of various men and women throughout the Bible to shed light on the loving heart of God, His unfailing ways, and sure faithfulness toward His children, proving that all you have to do is allow God to finish what He began in order to receive all that He has. Readers’ lives will be completely transformed as they receive these revelations that have come forth from God, and as a result they will inherit all that God has for them and enter into their Promised Land!

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Healing the Breach – Trailer

The day is fast approaching when the compilation of the many testimonies manifest in the various branches of His church will be woven together into a beautiful tapestry revealing the effort to which the Holy Spirit has gone, that God might have a happy, and united people. Yet today, the Restored Church is fractured. In this book, author Patrick McKay uses figurative language, common testimony, and prophetic expressions to illustrate the personal conviction, great spiritual truths, and lofty ideals of our epic latter-day theme. Each branch of the Restored Church has a rich legacy of testimony that has been created, preserved, and transmitted to them from the initial days of the Restoration, reminding us all of our spiritual birthright as inheritors of the angel message. McKay has seen the destiny of the Saints of the Restoration, and has written to set them free, offering fresh insights and optimism to enliven the reader to press forward toward Zion’s borderline.

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I Am and the Spirit Walks with Me

I Am and the Spirit Walks with Me by [Lowery, Angelo]

The book starts with the author taking us back to her childhood. She writes about an awful incident at home. In an attempt to perhaps discipline her, her mother physically abused her because she had an argument with the brother. She was so hurt and afraid, even thinking that she could die from the punches she received that day. The author also talks about how she tried to be her best but no one ever appreciated her efforts. Not even the excellent grades could get her a simple nod from the people around her.

Angelo Lowery tells of her story growing up. The good, the ugly, and the unfortunate. In all her narrations, she never forgets to mention how gracious the will of God is. The writer has gone through a lot. Experiencing just a fraction of what she has gone through can be quite overwhelming. Life can be disappointing, but we need to keep holding on. I love that the writer used examples from her family, friends and other associates in her life. Some of the things she talked about hit home, and I couldn’t help but think about some of the decisions I have made in my life.

I Am And The Spirit Walks With Me is a book written for everyone who is on the verge of giving up. Don’t lose hope. Keep moving, keep pushing, keep seeking. It is only a matter of time before everything falls into place. The author reminds us not to focus on the bad things that have happened to us. Yes, you may feel like this life is not worth living, you may have had the worst experiences among your peers; don’t feel sorry for yourself, the good Lord is out there looking for you. Sometimes all we need are challenges that make ourselves aware of the situations around us. Don’t blame yourself. It gets better with time. Don’t be quick to anger. The author excellently explains what holding grudges does to you. She knows first-hand, what carrying other peoples’ burdens does to your body. Strive to stay positive and always pray to God for strength.

I love how the author emphasized healing after hurting. Angelo Lowery’s life is proof enough that overcoming pain and suffering is possible. When writing this book, the writer had people who are heartbroken and those going through mental distress in mind. Her kind words are warm to the soul, and will help anyone who feels like this universe is not doing them justice. Open up to those who care, turn to God and always keep a positive attitude. There are so many lessons that one can learn from the author’s life. I Am And The Spirit Walks With Me speaks directly to you as a person.

Pages: 150 | ASIN: B0777KSDVF

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The Witch Trials: The Becoming

The Witch Trials: The Becoming by [Generis, Intrigue]

The Witch Trials: The Becoming, by Intrigue Sui Generis, is a short work of historical dramatic fiction. The book is centered around the life and times of Sylvie, a middle-class woman living in southern France during the late 17th century. The story is predominantly about her life, her personal difficulties, and the broader milieu of the time period. Much of the story also concerns her husband Leon and his relationship to the broader Catholic Church, though the nature of this relationship is not well described, or at the least it is unclear how he is so involved with the church despite his main profession. The book also includes content about the broader scope of the time period.

The historical content of this book reads as semi-fictions with the author’s experiences, beliefs, worldview, and sense of morality bleeding into the pages of this book. The 1600’s in France were themselves bloody times, but the author largely washes away that bloody history, due in part to a lack of detail in the story. The story also includes much more active female roles, especially for those of a middle-class status during that time period. While it is heart-warming to think of a female character, seeking to rise above her station in a steeply patriarchal society infused with, what we would consider, harsh and vile religious fundamentalism, much of it is romanticized so that you can follow Sylvie’s story through this dark time without feeling too down about it.

Sylvie’s entire history prior to her marriage to Leon is contained within a single page, which seemed too short for me as I found her to be an intriguing character and I wanted to learn more about her. I enjoyed that this book was a short and concise novella, but at the expense of detail. Sylvie comes from a Protestant upbringing, but I felt it was unclear what kind of Protestant. The brevity of the story helps focus this book into a character driven novella, but leaves you wanting more. Overall, the historical additions of the book are strong and seemingly well-researched (as evidenced by the bibliography at the end of the text), but I would have loved to have this further fleshed out to lengthen the book, and these details would have clarified the setting and character motivations for me.

The Witch Trials: The Becoming is intended for a young adult audience with a decent attempt at historical accuracy. There is sexual content, but it is only slightly more bawdy than a television show from the 1950’s. There are also depictions of human suffering, the outcome of torture, and threats of imminent pain and death, but these are also very sterile. Overall, this book is short and easily provides a few short hours of entertainment.

Pages: 56 | ASIN: B07D68YSQZ

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I am Maria

Genie Milgrom Author Interview

Genie Milgrom Author Interview

Pyre to Fire follows two stories, the fate of a Spanish village during the Inquisition and the contemporary story of a Cuban girl trying to find her roots. Why was this an important book for you to write?

This was the story of my own family with information that I gleaned from all the archival material that I found while researching my own genealogy. While the trajectory of the family, their occupations, names, etc are the not fiction, I had to embellish on the scenes and fill in the blanks. The little girl in Miami is me and it was important to show the relationship between me and my ancestors in as real a way as possible.

I enjoyed the detail in your vision of the village of Fermoselle during Spain’s sudden and devastating conversion to Catholicism. What kind of research did you undertake to ensure your book was accurate?

All my material is primary sourced. I have every single birth, death and marriage certificate as well as land purchases, notarial deeds and last wills of testaments going back to 1545. I then have just wills, notarial deeds and Inquisition records in the archives going back to 1405 Spain and Portugal.

Maria’s character was one that I thought was well developed and captured her soul. What was the inspiration for her character?

I am Maria. The whole description of incidents is exactly as they happened to me.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

My next book is The Recipes of the 15 Grandmothers. I was able to locate recipes that were passed to my Mother from Crypto Jewish times through today. The are special in that any keep the kosher laws even when the family was Catholic and are clearly showing a sign of their times. This book is finished and in the editing process.

Author Links: Facebook | GoodReads | Website | Sephardic Ancestry

A compelling work of historical fiction that engages the reader to follow the story of a family from the burning Pyres of the Spanish Inquisition to a young Cuban Catholic girl in Miami, Florida whose soul was ablaze with a desire to return to its’ rightful place among the Jewish people.

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