Friday, April 8, 2016

The Charm Bracelet by Viola Shipman

The Charm Bracelet

The Charm Bracelet, although fiction, reads like a memoir of Lolly, her daughter Arden, and her granddaughter Lauren. Arden's busy job (for a celebrity mag), and Lauren's college studies have kept them from visits to Lolly in Michigan. But as Lauren struggles with feelings that she has chosen the wrong major, and Arden's mounting frustrations at her job (as well as ongoing tensions with her ex-husband), they make a spontaneous decision to surprise Lolly with a visit.

The resort town welcomes Lauren like an old friend. Her childhood was filled with wonderful memories of summers at the lake with her flamboyant grandmother.  Arden's memories, however, are not quite as glowing and the struggle to leave her work behind is an ever-present challenge.

As their visit progresses, it becomes clear that Lolly's health is not as vibrant as it was and with that realization comes the need to plan for the future. Even if Lolly's memory for today is clouded, her memories of the past stay crisp and clear, thanks in part to her beloved charm bracelet. Each charm represents a story and a lesson learned about life. Some were gifts from Lolly's mother who died while Lolly was young; others from friends, and some from her husband.

The stories of the charms have a magical affect on Arden and her daughter. They glimpse a window into Lolly's heart and witness her strength and wisdom through so many things in her life. Always an optimist, she tries to encourage her daughter and granddaughter to live life fully with lots of fun, faith, and adventure sprinkled throughout each day.

The book is a beautiful picture of all the buried treasure there is to be mined in the lives of our parents and grandparents, if we only take the time to look for them and listen to their stories.  This book would make a wonderful gift along with a charm bracelet to start celebrating the milestones in anyone's life.

Can't wait for Shipman's next heirloom book about a hope chest that will come out in 2017!

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Safe House by Joshua Straub

Even though I've been a parent for 20 years, I'm always open to fresh insight into the hardest job on the planet.  But honestly, in the marketplace of parenting self-help books, it's pretty hard to make an impression.

The first thing that struck me about the book was the authoritative way the author spoke about parenting young children up through teens.  But as the book progressed, it became evident that the author wrote the book when he had children under 5 years old.  I question an author's credibility to instruct on parenting with so few years of personal experience.  I really wish the author had targeted parents of young children only and left the assertions about the middle school and high school years for a later book--after he had journeyed through those years. The words of someone who has not walked that path come across as hollow and superficial.

I honestly could not get past the first half of the book because it was so much cobbling together of discussion on other people's works (that unfortunately requires the reader to skip to the back of the book to find original source). I felt like the book lacked a clear purpose and structure.  There was a common refrain of raising kids who "live, love and lead well" but I felt that those concepts were not clearly developed.

I am sure the author means well and is wholeheartedly wanting to help families.  I just could not get past the feeling that he and his wife are on the very young end to be instructing others. The book relied too much on other people's clinical or psychological works. And I felt there was just not enough Biblical substance for parents to glean.

Sample the first chapter and decide for yourself. There may be families who will benefit from
Straub's ideas.  But if a mom or dad had time to read only one book on parenting this year, I think their time would be better spent on something else.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of Safe House from Blogging for Books for the purpose of review.