Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The World Needs More Love Letters: All-in-One Stationery and Envelopes

Just as a clean and beautiful kitchen inspires culinary creativity, a fresh and beautiful piece of stationery inspires written creativity. The most mundane retelling of life suddenly becomes a thing of beauty when penned on lovely paper. This book contains 40 self-mailers (in eight designs) and includes enough circle stickers to secure the open sides of each letter. Pages rip out with amazing ease. Not sure who to write to?  The author includes 40 suggestions on letters to write inside the front and back covers.

Like many others, I have let my letter writing fall by the wayside as e-mails and texts have replaced more time-consuming snail mail. I enjoy re-reading letters from dear friends and seeing their unique handwriting and I'd like to think when I take the time to send a real letter that it has the power to encourage, inspire or comfort where needed.

For those wanting to get back into the habit of writing letters, this would be a great help on that journey. Maybe encourage a friend to buy their own and together take the challenge to follow each and every suggestion given: whether writing an apology, a thank you or retelling of some special memory.

Honestly, the pages are so beautiful, you may not want to part with them. In that case, you could leave the letters intact and use the book as a journal that could be letters to God, letters of reflection to yourself, or a place to record dreams for the future. Maybe even a series of love letters for a spouse.

Some other uses: for a high school grad to encourage them to write home (along with stamps!), a series of letters to a college child, letters to write and put in a scrapbook (to your unborn child or to your child as they grow over the years), as a gift to newlyweds to inspire them to write to each other even after they marry, to someone in the hospital to make use of some unexpected down time, for a friend on New Year's to help them with their resolution to write more personal letters, a terminal patient so they can use their remaining time to tell those they love how they feel or make amends where necessary.

The author, Hannah Brencher, wants to start a revolution one letter at a time. Watch her inspiring TED talk and you will definitely want to enlist. At Brencher's amazing website, The World Needs More Love Letters, you can learn more about her mission to encourage others with a handwritten letter. You may want to use some of the stationery in this bundle to write a note of encouragement to one of the featured people on the website. A little background is given and you can write a letter that will be bundled with others to deliver to someone needing encouragement.  What a fabulous way to make a difference!

Published by Potter Style, this book can be purchased directly from Random House for $12.99. Check out the author's bio and sign up for author alerts as well.

Disclaimer: I received The World Needs More Love Letters from Blogging for Books for the purpose of review. No other compensation was received.

Monday, March 23, 2015

The Boy Who Loved Rain by Gerard Kelly

Rain and its various temperaments and properties were an interesting metaphor for this story.  Just like rain coming down and rippling out in puddles, this story centers on Colum and the ripples emanating from his increasingly disturbing behavior. Behavior that no pastor's kid should be exhibiting.  Colum's mom, Fiona, is desperate to find help for her son but her husband insists that it can be handled within the church (i.e. by consulting a friend who never married and has no children).
How much more trouble does Colum need to get into before Dad wakes up to the crisis?

I have to admit that I really did not care for Colum's father.  What kind of arrogant fool just keeps insisting on maintaining his public, polished, unruffled image while letting his son and wife fall deeper into despair?  The father is definitely a control freak: controlling image, emotions, and sadly, his family's future. I felt like his control held his family hostage because dad could not admit that their family needed help.

Colum is an adolescent plagued with problems at school and increasingly at home as he withdraws into himself. The ripples belie the otherwise calm sea of family life for his pastor father and dutiful mother. When a classmate kills himself, the police suspect that Colum may have either encouraged him or was toying with the same fate.

Even after a suicide contract is found signed by Colum, his dad will not seek help.  So Fiona takes matters into her own hands with the help of a friend from college, Miriam.  Given the husband's refusal to seek professional help, I did not find her actions all that extreme.  When it comes to life and death, the rules of engagement definitely have to change.  I admired her courage for seeing that.

They head to France and stay in Miriam's childhood home. I found it a bit sad (but predictable) that the father didn't call or try to follow them.  He was a rather weak and pathetic character throughout. The change of scenery, pace of life and an objective outsider willing to listen and befriend Colum all create just the environment that brings about healing. But not without a few scares along the way.

As Colum slowly begins to trust Miriam, he shares stories of his childhood that have given him nightmares.  Events he doesn't fully understand and about which his mother remains silent. And more alarming, Miriam discovers evidence of self-harming behaviors--something his mom knows nothing about.

Woven throughout the story are the thoughts of someone in a great deal of pain. The reader is left wondering if the thoughts belong to Colum?  Fiona?  Miriam?  The pain and confusion expressed could apply to just about anyone. Those internal glimpses are very poignant and keep the reader in suspense until the end of the book.

Other people Fiona and Colum meet in France have baggage of their own. One man who paints, struggled with alcohol and returned to France to make amends for his wasted youth. Miriam has had her own struggles and finally, when all seems lost, the truth so long buried finally comes to light.  But is there still time to save Colum from himself?  Read The Boy Who Loved Rain to find out!

The book can be purchased directly from Kregel Publications. You can also read an excerpt before you buy.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of The Boy Who Loved Rain from Kregel Publications for the purpose of review. No other compensation was received.