Some books I read over the holidays


Please stop laughing at me, by Jodee Blanco

This was a good one. I'm always up for a book about bullying in schools, as much for my own sake (I had a pretty bad year in grade 6) as for my children. I want to know as much as possible about it so that I can help them the best possible way if it happens to them. It's also for research. My novel has a bully in it, and I'm pretty sure that bullies will pop up here and there in future stories too.

Jodee Blanco writes well, and boy, did she have a time of it - right up until she was 18. Her escape came when she finally found her niche at NYU and then later began a successful publishing and book promotion career. Now she runs anti-bullying seminars in schools across the US and consults on the topic. This is a worthwhile read for every parent, every teacher and every child in high school - boys and girls.


Between a Rock and a Grace Place, by Carol Kent

This was lent to me by someone who has read my book, Love Tears & Autism. "I think you might get a lot out of this," she said.  So I ignored it for a suitable period of time until finally I thought, "Well, I'll have to give it back, so I might as well read it. And I was glad I did.

When Carol Kent's only son was in his mid-twenties, he shot and killed the biological father of his step-daughters. He had become obsessed with protecting the two little girls from what he considered was a real risk of abuse and decided that this was the only way to keep them safe from him. Of course, he was arrested and convicted and sentenced to life in prison. 

Carol has written other books with details of the story and how life changed for them all. Imprisonment doesn't just affect the person in jail - it has a ripple effect on the whole family. This book was about the small moments of grace in hard times. It is for anyone whose life takes a turn to the hard places, for anyone who has wondered where God is, and whether he still loves them.

I got a lot out of it. It's a good book for strugglers like me, and worth the read.


Heaven Is For Real

Heaven is for Real, by Todd Burpo

Someone sent us this one at the end of 2011. I looked at it briefly and dismissed it, thinking, "Well, that's going to be cheesy," and didn't pick it up until later. But I'm so glad I did because I loved it. It's a well-told story - not too over the top - about Colton, a little boy who was near death with undiagnosed appendicitis at the age of 4.  While undergoing emergency life-saving surgery, he had an experience of heaven which appears to be undeniable. Too many little things line up to make it a child's imaginary tale and as all the information came out, his father was very careful to let him tell the story in his own way without feeding him lines.

I got three main things out of it. First, a renewed realisation that heaven is for real, and that's where I'm going when I die, thanks to Jesus. Second, that Jesus really loves children. This has given me more energy to do sunday school and kids church this year. And third, on a very personal note, I'm really looking forward to giving my fifth child a cuddle in heaven when I get there.