Saturday, February 27, 2016

My Name Used to Be Muhammad: The True Story of a Muslim Who Became a Christian

Author: Tito Momen with Jeff Benedict
Pages: 278
Rating: PG (Tito is beaten several times, and there are some references to sexual activity...this book is high school level and up)

Summary:Tito Momen was raised Muhammad Momen. He was born in Nigeria and taught to observe the strict teachings of Islam. Beginning at age five he woke at 4:45 every morning to attend the mosque and perform dawn prayer with the other men in his village. He began training to memorize the Qur'an at age six by copying the entire Qur'an word for word. He was being raised to become a leader among clerics, capable of leading a jihad, or holy struggle, to convert nonbelievers to Islam. But Tito's path took an unexpected turn when he was introduced to Christianity. His decision to believe in Jesus Christ cost him his family and his freedom. Tito thought he would spend his remaining days enduring a life sentence in an uncivilized Egyptian prison. For fifteen years he suffered and waited and prayed. Tito says, "I never gave up hope. I never stopped believing." Although he was falsely imprisoned, beaten, and ridiculed, Tito's remarkable true story is one of faith, forgiveness, and testimony that God does hear and answer prayers.

My Thoughts: I thought this book was extremely interesting. I read the entire thing in just a few days. It's a quick read, and moves along really well. I like that in the beginning, he adds a disclaimer saying that his experiences with Islam are on the extreme side, and that he knows there are MANY peaceful, loving, and tolerant Muslims in the world. I felt like that was so important in a world that general lumps all worshipers of Islam into one, terroristic group.

This book was really inspiring to me because Tito's story is an example of the fact that the Lord is truly in control of our lives, even when it seems that nothing is going right. Tito's life is a testimony to the fact that all our trials will be for our good. It seemed like nothing good was coming of Tito's decision to convert to Christianity, but in the end, he looks back and shows the reader how all of his hardships had been a blessing in disguise. For instance, while in prison he developed some serious health issues. While these issues were quite the trial, they are also the reason he was ultimately released from prison. I thought it was a great book, and super interesting, particularly since Muslims are basically forbidden to convert to Christianity. Tito was risking his life when he chose to convert. Most of us don't have to deal with that. And it begs the strong is my faith? Would I be willing to give up everything in order to keep it?

Thursday, February 25, 2016

The Storied Life of A.J Fikry

Author: Gabrielle Zevin
Pages: 258
Rating: PG-13 (several instances of the f-word, references to sex, although no graphic descriptions)

A. J. Fikry’s life is not at all what he expected it to be. He lives alone, his bookstore is experiencing the worst sales in its history, and now his prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, has been stolen. But when a mysterious package appears at the bookstore, its unexpected arrival gives Fikry the chance to make his life over--and see everything anew.

My Thoughts: I felt like this book was just ok. While it was a nice quick read and entertaining enough to keep me reading it, I didn't fall in love with it completely.It also had a few too many swear words in it for my taste.  AJ is quite depressed at the beginning of the story. His wife has died in a car accident and he is quite alone. The "mysterious package" is an abandoned 2-year old girl, who AJ ends up adopting, and she helps him really turn his life around. I just felt like this story has been told before, in a million different ways. But I did like the underlying theme about how books and stories can bring people together, solidify relationships, and change the way we think about things. 

Trickster's Choice and Trickster's Queen

Author: Tamora Pierce
Pages: Book 1: (I lost the paper where I wrote this down but both books are between 300-400 pages)
Book 2:

Rating: PG (in book two there is a vague reference to sex and of course, there is fighting and killing, but nothing super gory or descriptive)

Summary:Trickster's Choice:
Alianne is the teenage daughter of the famed Alanna, the first lady knight in Tortall. Young Aly follows in the quieter footsteps of her father, however, delighting in the art of spying. When she is captured and sold as a slave to an exiled royal family in the faraway Copper Islands, it is this skill that makes a difference in a world filled with political intrigue, murderous conspiracy, and warring gods.
Trickster's Queen: Aly’s adventure continues. . . . No longer a slave, Alanna’s daughter is now spying as part of an underground rebellion against the colonial rulers of the Copper Isles. The people in the rebellion believe that a prophecy in which a new queen will rise up to take the throne is about to be realized. Aly is busy keeping the potential teenage queen and her younger siblings safe, while also keeping her in the dark about her future. But Aly, who is usually adept at anticipating danger and changes, is in for a few nasty surprises.

My Thoughts: I enjoy these two books, even though they aren't my favorite of the Tortall novels. Aly is a spunky, independent, smart character and I love her quick thinking and sly mind. She's very good at what she does. The trickster god Kyprioth decides to use Aly to help him gain back his lands from the people who took them hundreds of years ago. There is a prophesy stating that this will happen but he needs help. Aly is that help. There are definitely some fun twists and turns, including crows who can become human, magic used unwisely, and lots of spying and intrigue. Again, not my favorite of the Tamora Pierce books, but still good for a read.