Bart Ehrman is an American New Testament scholar and is currently a Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He completed his Masters of Divinity and PhD at Princeton Seminary. He has since then written numerous books looking at the New Testament in a historical and critical manner. On a more personal note, he began his studies as an evangelical Christian, but now considers himself agnostic. As he explains in God’s Problem, it was the problem of suffering that started him down the road he has taken. He was actually researching in an effort to explain and excuse suffering. Instead, what he found finally drove him to renounce his faith.

Ehrman covers several usual reasons that people use to explain why a loving God would allow people to suffer. There is the justification that people have sinned and God uses suffering as a punishment or learning device to lead them back to following his rules. This reasoning traces back to the beginning of the Jewish faith. The Old Testament prophets used this explanation. Later prophets (think Job) believed that suffering is a test that must be passed in order to receive God’s rewards. Another, more pessimistic, view is that suffering is a part of this world because sin is in the world and there is nothing to be done other than accept that. Ehrman explores each answer in miniscule detail with plenty of cited supports for reference.

It is an interesting book, written to be accessible to the layman. I felt Ehrman did a good job validating his stance. In fact, it was almost too much supporting evidence to read without becoming wearied of it. Ehrman did not sway  any beliefs or decisions that I already had in place, but I did enjoy reading it. I would not recommend this book to someone looking for an actual answer to why God allows suffering. Ehrman never finds the answer he was searching for.

simply sugar free This book has lots of healthy recipes with normal ingredients and common cooking techniques and supplies. However, I was hoping to find a book that would give me information on carbohydrates and sugar as well. My husband was recently diagnosed with diabetes and my niece was diagnosed last fall with Celiac’s disease. I was hoping for an “all-in-one book. So, this book is not exactly what I was hoping for but did have some yummy sounding recipes that I may use for the nieces and nephews visits. If you are looking for general healthier eating this book could be for you. If you need specific nutritional information for the recipes you will need to look elsewhere.

worth it This book gives you quick and direct financial advice from should you use a credit or debit card to how to invest. If you’ve ever wondered if it’s better to rent or buy a house or buy or lease a car this book is for you. It helps you see short-term and long-term benefits in a variety of situations and addresses how some advice has changed in recent years. It is organized by six basic topics: Getting Started, Shelter, Automotive, Investing, Family Matters and Retirement.

16. April 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Autobiographies, History, Mariah, Memoirs, NonFiction

The Family by Pa Chin, 329 pages, read by Mariah, on 04/04/2015

Pa Chin’s The Family explores the relationships and workings of a family living through the turbulent early 20th century in China. After centuries of rebellions, revolts, and hardships, China was beginning to embrace modernization. For a culture that built everything around an ideal that looked backwards, idolizing the past, this would be anything but easy.

The family the book focuses on is ruled in an authoritarian manner by the head of the household, the grandfather, the Venerable Master Kao. He is of the old regime that has held sway for centuries and believes in the Confucian principles based around filial piety. He expects no less than perfect and immediate obedience.

This causes many heartaches in the family. The reader mostly follows the journeys of the three main grandsons. The eldest wants to modernize, but feels that he cannot, that he must submit to Grandfather Kao. This passive attitude kept him from marrying the woman he loved. Instead, he married the women chosen for him, leading to sorrow from every party in the unhappy triangle. The lover he left behind ends up wasting away and dying.

The middle brother, who falls in love with a girl who is not his intended, decides not to allow this to happen to him. He runs away from home and refuses to return until he is allowed to marry who he wishes. This unheard of action turns the family on its head. The reader can see the family falling apart as, suddenly, nobody is certain what role they play anymore.

The youngest brother is the most fiery reformer of all. He falls in love with a girl completely out of his class, a servant to their family. He knows their union will never be approved and he spends most of the book ranting about the injustice of society. He, in fact, seems to be more in love with the idea of rebellion than with the girl. However, when the servant is sold to an aged, decrepit uncle as a concubine, he becomes frenzied. The servant-girl, who has no high aspirations, kills herself rather than go quietly to that fate.

To say the book is sad is an understatement. However, it is autobiographical and an excellent look at what the Chinese culture during this time period was like. The struggles between those clinging to the old ways and those pushing for modernization tore apart families, villages, and, eventually, the nation. It is not an easy read because it is difficult not to assign American values and reactions to what you are reading. It was very much worth reading, though.

15. April 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Children's Books, Children's Books, Drama, Fiction, Mariah, Mystery

The Danger Box by Blue Balliett, 306 pages, read by Mariah, on 04/13/2015

Blue Balliett’s Danger Box explores the topic of evolution while investigating crime in a small town. Zoomy and his new friend, Lorrel, have a lot of”firsts” this summer. Zoomy makes his first friend. Lorrel starts her first gig as investigative reporting. Together they research an old notebook that has dropped into Zoomy’s life. It soon becomes clear the notebook has something to do with explorer and scientist, Charles Darwin. Excited, the children both start researching Darwin and decide they want to share their newly learned information with the rest of the town. They secretly write and print copies of a newsletter describing Darwin, but not revealing who he is. The town enjoys finding the papers stuffed into books at the library or sitting on benches around town. Hardship hits Zoomy’s life when his grandparents, who are also his guardians, lose their family business in an unexplained fire. Zoomy and Lorrel turn to their mysterious notebook as a source of comfort. It becomes clear that the notebook actually belonged to Charles Darwin and was one of many he kept notes in. There are a few other small mysteries taking place at the same time to add a little more to the plot.

Mostly, this book seems to be an introductory biography of Charles Darwin. Having read Balliett’s work before, I was expecting more. This book seemed fare more simplistic than Chasing Vermeer, but perhaps it was intended for a younger audience. I read it with my nine-year-old son and he was kept focused and interested throughout the book.

15. April 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Brian, Informational Book, NonFiction

Information Doesn't Want to Be Free: Laws for the Internet Age by Corey Doctorow, 192 pages, read by Brian, on 04/10/2015

coryI listen to this book and it is read by Wil Wheaton, who does a fantastic job reading it.  This is a book about the highs and lows the creative industry faces in the internet era.


15. April 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Brian, How To's, NonFiction · Tags:

Little Crystal Meditation by Philip Permutt, 100 pages, read by Brian, on 04/09/2015

crystalIdeal for both beginners and advanced meditators, The Little Crystal Meditation brings crystal healing and meditation together in a unique way. In short ten-minute tracks for busy people on the go, top UK crystal expert and author Philip Permutt combines the energies of crystals with traditional practice to enhance the various stages of meditation, from getting started and clearing the body, mind, and spirit through to a deeper level of discovery. Included are detailed sleeve notes by Philip.



15. April 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Brian, How To's, NonFiction · Tags:

Meditation Workshop by Philip Permutt, 100 pages, read by brian, on 04/02/2015

meditationIn this innovative workshop, popular meditationteacher and internationally acclaimed author Philip Permutt introducesbeginning meditators to techniques and exercises that will enable them to relaxthe body and empty the mind. Included are a specially recorded guidedmeditation and detailed sleeve notes by Philip.    



13. April 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Autobiographies, Katy, Memoirs, NonFiction

The glass castle : a memoir by Jeannette Walls, 288 pages, read by Katy, on 04/12/2015

The-Glass-Castle-by-Jeannette-WallsThe Glass Castle is a remarkable memoir of resilience and redemption, and a revelatory look into a family at once deeply dysfunctional and uniquely vibrant. When sober, Jeannette’s brilliant and charismatic father captured his children’s imagination, teaching them physics, geology, and how to embrace life fearlessly. But when he drank, he was dishonest and destructive. Her mother was a free spirit who abhorred the idea of domesticity and didn’t want the responsibility of raising a family.

The Walls children learned to take care of themselves. They fed, clothed, and protected one another, and eventually found their way to New York. Their parents followed them, choosing to be homeless even as their children prospered.

The Glass Castle is truly astonishing–a memoir permeated by the intense love of a peculiar but loyal family.


Loved this book!

10. April 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Contemporary Fiction, Drama, Fiction, Humor, Mariah, Romance

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion, 295 pages, read by Mariah , on 04/04/2015

Don Tillman is a scientist who is socially inept. He does not pick up on social queues and does not hear irony. He is extremely intelligent, though, and moves fairly comfortably through life because he can judge reactions, if not facial expressions, and plan his behavior accordingly. He works at a university and keeps a very specific schedule down to what he eats each night of the week and at what time. He has exactly two friends. His life moves on day by day. Several dating disasters had convinced him that marriage would never be in his future. However, when helping with some research, it suddenly occured to him that a questionnaire, utilized appropriately, might help him find a wife. After an exciting start to the Wife Project, he meets Rosie. She does not fit any of his criteria, but his friend Gene convinces Don to ask her on a date as a “wild card.” After a wonderful evening, Don says goodbye to Rosie feeling that he has enjoyed himself, but not planning on seeing her again because she is unsuitable as a prospective wife. A conversation they had, sticks with Don, though, and he offers to help Rosie search for her father. This becomes the Father Project. Spending time with Rosie becomes one of Don’s favorite activities as the research throws them together and throws off his schedule. Neither Rosie, nor Don, find what they thought they were looking for, but they do find a happy ending.

This is, by far, my favorite book read this year. Don narrates the book, so the reader sees what he is thinking and feeling along the way. When he fails to grasp the implied meanings of important questions, you groan for him. When he bounces back with well thought out plans and decisions, you cheer for him. Written with humor and charm, this will definitely stay at the top of my “feel good’ book list.

08. April 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Autobiographies, Madeline, Memoirs, NonFiction

Bettyville by George Hodgman, 279 pages, read by Madeline, on 03/25/2015

When George Hodgman leaves Manhattan for his hometown of Paris, Missouri, he finds himself—an unlikely caretaker and near-lethal cook—in a head-on collision with his aging mother, Betty, a woman of wit and will. Will George lure her into assisted living? When hell freezes over. He can’t bring himself to force her from the home both treasure—the place where his father’s voice lingers, the scene of shared jokes, skirmishes, and, behind the dusty antiques, a rarely acknowledged conflict: Betty, who speaks her mind but cannot quite reveal her heart, has never really accepted the fact that her son is gay.

As these two unforgettable characters try to bring their different worlds together, Hodgman reveals the challenges of Betty’s life and his own struggle for self-respect, moving readers from their small town—crumbling but still colorful—to the star-studded corridors of Vanity Fair. Evocative of The End of Your Life Book Club and The Tender Bar, Hodgman’s New York Times bestselling debut is both an indelible portrait of a family and an exquisitely told tale of a prodigal son’s return.


08. April 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Informational Book, Madeline, NonFiction

Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay, 336 pages, read by Madeline, on 03/20/2015

A collection of essays spanning politics, criticism, and feminism from one of the most-watched young cultural observers of her generation, Roxane Gay.

Pink is my favorite color. I used to say my favorite color was black to becool, but it is pink—all shades of pink. If I have an accessory, it is probably pink. I read Vogue, and I’m not doing it ironically, though it might seem that way. I once live-tweeted the September issue.”

In these funny and insightful essays, Roxane Gay takes us through the journey of her evolution as a woman (Sweet Valley High) of color (The Help) while also taking readers on a ride through culture of the last few years (Girls, Django in Chains) and commenting on the state of feminism today (abortion, Chris Brown). The portrait that emerges is not only one of an incredibly insightful woman continually growing to understand herself and our society, but also one of our culture.

Bad Feminist is a sharp, funny, and spot-on look at the ways in which the culture we consume becomes who we are, and an inspiring call-to-arms of all the ways we still need to do better.


04. April 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Katy, NonFiction, Teen Books · Tags:

Beyond magenta : transgender teens speak out by Susan Kuklin, 161 pages, read by Katy, on 04/03/2015

18166920Author and photographer Susan Kuklin met and interviewed six transgender or gender-neutral young adults and used her considerable skills to represent them thoughtfully and respectfully before, during, and after their personal acknowledgment of gender preference. Portraits, family photographs, and candid images grace the pages, augmenting the emotional and physical journey each youth has taken. Each honest discussion and disclosure, whether joyful or heartbreaking, is completely different from the other because of family dynamics, living situations, gender, and the transition these teens make in recognition of their true selves.


03. April 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: How To's, Informational Book, Kristy, NonFiction, Self Help · Tags: ,

Zero Belly Diet: Lose Up to 16 lbs. in 14 Days! by David Zinczenko, 336 pages, read by Kristy, on 03/13/2015


Zero Belly Diet
is the revolutionary new plan to turn off your fat genes and help keep you lean for life! Nutrition expert David Zinczenko—the New York Times bestselling author of the Abs Diet series, Eat This, Not That! series, and Eat It to Beat It!—has spent his entire career learning about belly fat—where it comes from and what it does to us. And what he knows is this: There is no greater threat to you and your family—to your health, your happiness, even your financial future.


03. April 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Informational Book, Inspirational, Kristy, NonFiction, Self Help · Tags:

The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness by Dave Ramsey, 223 pages, read by Kristy, on 03/17/2015

78427The success stories speak for themselves in this book from money maestro Dave Ramsey. Instead of promising the normal dose of quick fixes, Ramsey offers a bold, no-nonsense approach to money matters, providing not only the how-to but also a grounded and uplifting hope for getting out of debt and achieving total financial health.

Ramsey debunks the many myths of money (exposing the dangers of cash advance, rent-to-own, debt consolidation) and attacks the illusions and downright deceptions of the American dream, which encourages nothing but overspending and massive amounts of debt. “Don’t even consider keeping up with the Joneses,” Ramsey declares in his typically candid style. “They’re broke!”

The Total Money Makeover isn’t theory. It works every single time. It works because it is simple. It works because it gets to the heart of the money problems: you.


03. April 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: History, Kim B, NonFiction · Tags:

A Train in Winter: An Extraordinary Story of Women, Friendship, and Resistance in Occupied France by Caroline Moorehead, 374 pages, read by Kim Bolton, on 04/01/2015

They were teachers, students, chemists, writers, and housewives; a singer at the Paris Opera, a midwife, a dental surgeon. They distributed anti-Nazi leaflets, printed subversive newspapers, hid resisters, secreted Jews to safety, transported weapons, and conveyed clandestine messages. The youngest was a schoolgirl of fifteen who scrawled “V” for victory on the walls of her lycée; the eldest, a farmer’s wife in her sixties who harbored escaped Allied airmen. Strangers to each other, hailing from villages and cities from across France, these brave women were united in hatred and defiance of their Nazi occupiers.

Eventually, the Gestapo hunted down 230 of these women and imprisoned them in a fort outside Paris. Separated from home and loved ones, these disparate individuals turned to one another, their common experience conquering divisions of age, education, profession, and class, as they found solace and strength in their deep affection and camaraderie.

In January 1943, they were sent to their final destination: Auschwitz. Only forty-nine would return to France.

A Train in Winter draws on interviews with these women and their families; German, French, and Polish archives; and documents held by World War II resistance organizations to uncover a dark chapter of history that offers an inspiring portrait of ordinary people, of bravery and survival—and of the remarkable, enduring power of female friendship.


A beautiful well written story about a group of courageous women!

03. April 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: History, Kim B, NonFiction · Tags:

The Nazis Next Door: How America Became a Safe Haven for Hitler's Men by Eric Lichtbau, 266 pages, read by Kim Bolton, on 04/02/2015

Thousands of Nazis — from concentration camp guards to high-level officers in the Third Reich — came to the United States after World War II and quietly settled into new lives. They had little trouble getting in. With scant scrutiny, many gained entry on their own as self-styled war “refugees,” their pasts easily disguised and their war crimes soon forgotten. But some had help and protection from the U.S. government. The CIA, the FBI, and the military all put Hitler’s minions to work as spies, intelligence assets, and leading scientists and engineers, whitewashing their histories.

For the first time, once-secret government records and interviews tell the full story not only of the Nazi scientists brought to America, but of the German spies and con men who followed them and lived for decades as ordinary citizens. Only years after their arrival did private sleuths and government prosecutors begin trying to identify the hidden Nazis. But even then, American intelligence agencies secretly worked to protect a number of their prized spies from exposure. Today, a few Nazis still remain on our soil.

Investigative reporter Eric Lichtblau, relying on a trove of newly discovered documents and scores of interviews with participants in this little-known chapter of postwar history, tells the shocking and shameful story of how America became a safe haven for Hitler’s men.


I was truly shocked about how many Nazi criminals made into America after WWII and our own government’s participation and cooperation in bringing them to and keeping them in our country. This is a very well-written and researched book. I enjoyed it for its historical truth and content and its shocking revelations.

01. April 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Informational Book, Kira, NonFiction · Tags:

The Brilliant History of Color in Art by Victoria Finlay, 120 pages, read by Kira, on 03/01/2015

index (1)Have you ever wondered how colors that artists and craftspeople use, how they’re made? what goes into them.  After reading Christopher Moore’s book Sacre Bleu about a magical ultramarine shade of blue I became curious, combined with the very attractive cover of this title, made me want to read this book Though nowadays you can just purchase many bright colorful art supplies, this didn’t use to be the case.
Producing these colors could be an elaborate process and a closely guarded secret.

For example, to make ultramarine blue, you start with lapis lazuli, grind it into a powder, then for 3 days work it with pine resin, wax, and linseed oil.  Then add lye, repeat. Lead white produced an otherworldly shade of white, but as we know, it is toxic.  Iron makes  “red ocher” red comes and comes from dying stars or supernovas!  Some of the colors required excrement to produce the desired shade.  I found this book fascinating!some_noname_oil_pastels_by_pesim65-d6egpkoSymbolic-Colors-Tika-Powders1download

01. April 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Katy, NonFiction · Tags: , , ,

Garbology : our dirty love affair with trash by Edward Humes, 262 pages, read by Katy, on 03/31/2015

13504054The average American produces 102 tons of garbage across a lifetime and $50 billion in squandered riches are rolled to the curb each year. But our bins are just the starting point for a strange, impressive, mysterious, and costly journey that may also represent the greatest untapped opportunity of the century.

In Garbology, Edward Humes investigates trash—what’s in it; how much we pay for it; how we manage to create so much of it; and how some families, communities, and even nations are finding a way back from waste to discover a new kind of prosperity. Along the way , he introduces a collection of garbage denizens unlike anyone you’ve ever met: the trash-tracking detectives of MIT, the bulldozer-driving sanitation workers building Los Angeles’ Garbage Mountain landfill, the artists residing in San Francisco’s dump, and the family whose annual trash output fills not a dumpster or a trash can, but a single mason jar.

Garbology reveals not just what we throw away, but who we are and where our society is headed. Waste is the one environmental and economic harm that ordinary working Americans have the power to change—and prosper in the process.



30. March 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Sarah, Teen Books

Rapunzel Untangled by Cindy C. Bennett, 294 pages, read by Sarah, on 03/28/2015

  Rapunzel is kept away from the rest of the world because of a disease that makes her vulnerable to germs.  Her mother, Gothel, checks on her and makes sure she has something to eat, but doesn’t seem to bond with Rapunzel.  Gothel insists on education, though, and a computer with internet access becomes Rapunzel’s window to the world outside her tower.  A legitimate search leads to the discovery of Facebook, and Rapunzel is tempted to try to make just one friend….Fane is fascinated by this street-dumb girl he’s met on Facebook.  Will they ever be able to meet?  Will Gothel change her mind and let a cautious Rapunzel venture out into the world?

This was a modern-day version of Rapunzel that was very fun to read.  If you had been locked in a tower alone with only your mother for an occasional companion, would you know how to interact with a boy?  This is a really enjoyable read with lots of unexpected twists and turns.