Thursday, August 25, 2011

"mugabe and the white african" by ben freeth

Normally when I write a book review, I also write the summary myself. In this case, I'm going to copy what was sent to me, as it describes the book better than I could.

About Mugabe and the White African:
Ben Freeth has an extraordinary story to tell. Like that of many white farmers, his family's land was "reclaimed" for redistribution by Mugabe's government.

But Ben's family fought back. Appealing to international law, they instigated a suit against Mugabe's government in the SADC, the Southern African equivalent of NATO. The case was deferred time and again while Mugabe's men pulled strings. But after Freeth and his parents-in-law were abducted and beaten within inches of death in 2008, the SADC deemed any further delay to be an obstruction of justice. The case was heard, and was successful on all counts.

But the story doesn't end there. In 2009 the family farm was burned to the ground. The fight for justice in Zimbabwe is far from over--this book is for anyone who wants to see into the heart of one of today's hardest places and how human dignity flourishes even in the most adverse circumstances.

My Thoughts:
Prior to reading this book, I knew that Zimbabwe was in Africa. Period. And while I'd heard the name "Mugabe," I couldn't have told you a thing about him. And if you'd asked me about human rights violations, I would have mentioned things like human trafficking and the oppression of women in Arab nations. I never would have said anything about white farmers being run off their land by a racist dictator, and that is why Ben Freeth's book is so important.

Mugabe and the White African is not easy to read, especially as the violence and terror escalate near the end of the book. But I think it's important for those of us on the outside to glimpse what is happening--yes, it's still happening today, and Robert Mugabe is still in power. (FYI, in 2009 Parade magazine named him the worst dictator in the world.)

What impacted me most, though, was Freeth's enduring faith throughout the trials he faced. Yes, he experienced moments of terror, and there were times when he did not do what he knew he should. But overall, he kept his eyes on the Lord for his strength and courage. When the invaders came to throw Freeth and his family out of their house (this was after literally years of fighting the Mugabe regime and facing harassment, poaching, and even physical abuse), he began sharing the gospel with them. "I kept asking them questions and getting them to think about judgment day and the love of God who sent his only Son to die for us all so that we might have forgiveness and life," he said (p. 227). As I read, I had to ask myself if I would respond like Freeth. I'm afraid the answer is no.

Overall, I'm glad I read this book. Parts at the beginning were slow, and I had difficulty keeping track of all the political parties and acronyms (I'm so glad Freeth included a glossary!), but as the atrocities kept building, I found myself more and more fascinated with the unfolding story. It seems like the rest of the world has been fairly "hands off" when it comes to Zimbabwe, and I hope that this book--and the documentary of the same name--will serve to educate and motivate people to act in the defense of the oppressed.

About the Author: 
Ben Freeth, MBE, is a British-born Zimbabwean farmer. He has lived in Zimbabwe most of his life and is raising his three young children there, together with his wife Laura. Ben's story has already been the subject of an award-winning documentary which won Best Documentary 2009 (British Independent Film Awards), was nominated for the BAFTA Outstanding Debut Film 2010, and shortlisted for an Oscar in 2010.

The PBS debut of the documentary Mugabe and the White African was on July 26. Watch now at PBS:

See what other bloggers are saying about the book! If you'd like to purchase it, you can get it here.


Kregel Publications is sponsoring a $50 giveaway!

To enter all you have to do is send a tweet (using @litfuse) about Mugabe and the White African or share about it on Facebook.

If you tweet, your entry will be captured when you use @litfuse. If you share it on Facebook or your blog, just email and let Litfuse know (

TWEET THIS: Mugabe and the White African – one family’s stand for justice in the face of evil! @litfuse RT 4 a chance at $50

FACEBOOK THIS: Ben Freeth has an extraordinary story to tell about one family’s stand for justice in the face of evil. The fight for justice in Zimbabwe is far from over—Mugabe and the White African is for anyone who wants to see into the heart of one of today's hardest places and how human dignity flourishes even in the most adverse circumstances.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Litfuse Publicity Group. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Sunday, August 21, 2011

after these messages, we'll be right back!

Original content on this blog has been lacking lately. My goal is to post three times each week, and I'm not doing a very good job of meeting that goal. My book reviews are important, and I know that the majority of the traffic coming to my blog is due to the reviews, but I'm not ready to make this a "book review only" kinda place, so I'm working on several other posts right now – about my 30th birthday, country music, and 35 things I want to do before I turn 35. Nothing is close to being ready, though. (Why? One word: School.) So, while I continue working on those other posts (and while I keep reading and reviewing – I should have at least three reviews go up in the next two weeks), here are a few "internet" things I want you to know about:
  • Remember when I told you about Perfect Romance? No? It's the movie where Desmond from LOST falls in love with a woman he meets online, and it's so cute! For the next 10 days, you can catch it on Hulu. Watch it. You'll thank me later! (Unless you're a guy who hates chick flicks. Dearest brother, I'm pretty sure this is too sappy for you. However, someone from Stargate does make an appearance, so at least something in the movie might interest you.)
  • One of my most popular posts (it's #3 this month and #2 since Blogger started keeping track) is the one about My Girlfriend's Boyfriend. I still love introducing people to this movie – I even watched it last night with two of the dorm girls at NC. Seriously, I feel like the film's biggest cheerleader! Now it's free on Hulu, so you have no excuse for not watching it. Just do it!
  • If you want other movie recommendations, check out my "Movies to Watch" tab – especially if you like chick flicks.
  • If you saw the movie Something Borrowed – which is not on my recommended list – you might be interested in this post by author Jenny B. Jones. (She wrote Save the Date, which I loved.) She makes a valid point, one that Blendy and I discussed at length (SPOILER ALERT!): why on earth would you cast John Krasinski in the role of the guy who doesn't get the girl? 
  • Have you heard of Spotify? Not only is is super cool – you can listen to just about any music you want, and you don't have to listen to a bunch of things you don't want in order to get to that one song you do want (à la Pandora) – but it also can save you money! How, you ask? Well, say Amazon is running a sale on an album you're interested in. You listen to the samples, but how much can you really tell from 30 seconds of a song? So instead of taking your chances on an album you may or may not really want, you can listen to the whole thing on Spotify before deciding! I've saved at least $3.99 – I'm looking at you, Matthew Morrison! – and I'll be checking out all future purchases here, first. If only I'd had Spotify when looking for "Forever," I would have known the version Amazon was offering wasn't the John Stamos version and saved 99¢ ...
  • Since I brought it up:
Thanks for sticking with me, and I'll try to do a better job of posting regularly!

    Tuesday, August 16, 2011

    women of faith: initial thoughts

    I had the privilege of attending the Women of Faith: Over the Top conference in Omaha last weekend. As I said prior to going, the 1998 conference I attended was one of the greatest experiences of my first 16 years of life. So I had fairly high expectations going in—and I was not disappointed! Following are some of the points that hit home to me.

    Andy Andrews spoke about the butterfly effect on Friday night. He has a book of the same name, which I reviewed last year. I really enjoyed his message, which basically served as a reminder that everything I do matters. He used history to drive home his point, and he is a masterful storyteller. I (along with the rest of the audience) was captivated while he spoke.

    Mandisa's concert was amazing! My mom especially noticed how she just praised the Lord with abandon. Mom wants to learn to dance like Mandisa!
    Amy Grant just about broke my heart in her response to Katharine Everett's drama about laying down all your bags at the foot of the cross. The girl in the drama was struggling with her parents' divorce, and Amy said that her daughters were young when she left their father, and she prays every day that God finds her children like He found her. I have done my share of judging Amy in the past, and her humility and brokenness reminded me that I shouldn't, in the words of my sister, be a "Judger McJudger-pants."

    Amy Grant
    For me, the biggest take-away of the weekend came from Lisa Whelchel. I need to get my hands on her book, Friendship for Grown-Ups. Lisa was very candid about the fact that she has struggled to make good, close friends, and she shared some of the things she's learned as she's sought out great friendships. While I had two very close friends in high school, a best friend and a few other close friends in college, and a great friend and roommate right after college, I've struggled to make "heart friends" in recent years. (I don't know who I'm stealing that term from, but I love it!) I'm sure it has something to do with opening up and being vulnerable, which has always been hard for me. Anyway, Lisa encouraged us to let that desire for friendship bubble up inside and then act on it—I'm more used to burying those kinds of desires, so we'll see how this goes! But God knows I've been longing for a close friend, and I believe He sent me to Women of Faith just to hear Lisa speak.
    My mom (right) and me before the Saturday session.
    So glad I could experience Women of Faith with her!
    I also connected with some people on Twitter after the event (first time I've communicated with strangers over Twitter—so yes, I know that I'm not really using it right!)—I met two women who were in my section…one was even sitting next to my mom! Maybe in the future there will be some sort of blogger meet-up at events like this. It would have been nice to have a way to connect with other bloggers while I was there. (Some of the BookSneeze bloggers did find each other—but I, with no smartphone to check Twitter, had to be content with tweeting by text, and I didn't see the tweet about the blogger picture until I got home.)

    I even had one of my tweets referenced on stage: Looking forward to @womenoffaith tomorrow and Saturday. Great way to spend my 30th birthday! #wofott Then Sandi Patty and Mandisa sang to all of the birthday girls in the audience!

    A big thanks to BookSneeze for giving me two tickets in exchange for blogging about the event.  It was much appreciated!

    Monday, August 15, 2011

    "across the wide river" by stephanie reed

    As the son of an abolitionist minister, Lowry Rankin has always understood that slavery is wrong. He often struggles with the importance his father places on freeing the slaves, though--until he himself becomes involved with the Underground Railroad. Although Lowry finds himself the target of bullies and hates speaking in public, as he grows older, he realizes just how important his father's work is ... but is it important enough for Lowry to risk his life?

    In Across the Wide River, author Stephanie Reed weaves historical fact and fictionalized details together into an engaging story surrounding one family's involvement with the Underground Railroad. While the story got off to a quick start, it slowed down for several chapters, and I got a little bored. But once the action picked up again--when Lowry became involved in the Underground Railroad--I could barely put it down! I especially enjoyed the Rankin family's connection to Harriet Beecher Stowe and Henry Ward Beecher. As someone who enjoys American history, I can't believe I didn't know about the Rankin family, and I'm glad Reed wrote this book, which is perfectly geared toward upper elementary and middle school students! (In fact, I've been looking for novels to read in my intermediate-level reading class this year, and this book may just be a perfect choice!) When the book ended, I wanted to know what happened next, so I was pleased to learn that Reed's sequel, The Light Across the River, is also available. I highly recommend this book!

    About the author: During her childhood, Stephanie Reed’s family would often pass through Ripley on their way to her grandparents’ home. The signs she read there about the Rankin house were what prompted her to write Across the Wide River and The Light Across the River. After working for nearly a decade with the Dayton Metro Library, Stephanie is now a volunteer spotter for the National Weather Service. She lives with her husband and two children in Dublin, Ohio.

    Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free for review from Kregel Publications.  I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

    Thursday, August 11, 2011

    almost thirty

    A few things I'm thinking about the night before my big birthday (perhaps my thoughts should be more introspective, but this is me we're talking about, after all!):

    • I'm several months late on this, but you should definitely check out Donald Miller's review of Love Wins. It's awesome! (The Stuff Christians Like post that led me to the review is pretty good, too.)
    • Thomas Nelson (the company behind BookSneeze) is conducting a fiction survey, and if you complete it, you'll get a free ebook. You'll also be entered in a $10,000 sweepstakes. Go here to fill out the survey.
    • While I often thought about it, I never got around to making a "30 Things Before I'm 30" list--so maybe I should do "35 Things Before I'm 35"?
    • I wish my kitties would come home. They've only been missing for about two hours, so my fears are a bit premature ... but as far as I can tell, they'd never ventured out of the yard before tonight. (I know, it's been proven that cats wander all over the place, but I'm still nervous--they're little cats!) 
    • Looking forward to Women of Faith in Omaha with my mom tomorrow night and Saturday. We splurged on a nicer hotel really close to the Qwest Center, and I can't wait to relax there after the evening session.
    • Blue Skies Tomorrow is a fantastic book (seriously fantastic), and I can't stop thinking about it--I was even thinking about it during the sermon on Sunday. And at work. And I'm still thinking about it even though I've finished it. I'll review it later this month, so keep an eye out. If you like WWII era fiction, you'll love this one!

    Sunday, August 7, 2011

    introducing rocky and cortez

    You know how there are dog people and there are cat people? Well, I'm definitely the latter. I've loved cats for as long as I can remember ... and I've disliked dogs with just about the same amount of passion! I grew up with cats--outdoor ones, of course--but for the last six years, I've been living in apartments or houses that weren't pet friendly. My new landlords are quite happy to let me have pets, though, provided I don't let them in the house. So today, Blendy and our friend Jamie went cat shopping for me! Through our local newspaper, they found a woman who had three 9-week-old kittens to give away. Blendy arrived at my house with two of them--a small black one for her (though it will live here) and a larger black and white one for me. They are so cute! Though a bit traumatized from the car ride (and from all the new noises--the train whistle was especially scary), they soon settled in and began exploring. I just hope they don't explore too much tonight--I'd like for them to stay around!

    Cortez--Blendy decided to name him after an explorer because he was initially the more adventuresome of the two. She settled on Cortez pretty quickly, while I struggled to come up with a name for the other cat. Cortez greatly enjoyed the cat house my brother made in high school, and he soon settled in to sleep.

    Rocky--I am terrible at naming things. My first cat was named "Fluff." My car? "The Green Car." So I knew naming this cat would be difficult. At first, I tried to go with something relating to his timid, skittish nature. I was pretty proud of "Leif"--because he dove into the plants every time he got scared, and he enjoyed batting the leaves when he wasn't scared ... but the look my mom gave me when I pronounced him "Leif" told me everything I needed to know! It took me another 30 minutes to finally come up with "Rocky." Why Rocky? Well, those rocks in the picture above quickly became his favorite place to play, and he also may have a career as a boxer--he certainly enjoyed batting my necklace around!

    I also took a video of the cats playing with my necklace. (See, Val, I do appreciate the necklace!) I promise that I won't be one of those crazy cat ladies who constantly posts videos and talks about her cats ad nauseam, but I wanted Val to be able to see the cats, and uploading the video to YouTube seemed the simplest way. So, enjoy it if you're so inclined!

    Friday, August 5, 2011

    "indelible" by kristen heitzmann

    Sculptor Natalie Reeve meets Trevor MacDaniel when he rescues her nephew Cody from a mountain lion. Because of her eidetic memory, which causes her to "capture" intense or disturbing images until she can work them out through her art, she usually keeps people at arm's length. Trevor, however, is different. At first Natalie sees him simply as a hero; then she sees him for who he is, as he pushes through her self-preserving walls and gets inside her heart. Someone else is impressed by Trevor's heroics, however: someone who sees Trevor as both angel and nemesis. When this person arrives in Redford, Natalie and Trevor must work together to uncover his identity and protect those they love.

    Indelible is a sequel to Indivisible (which I reviewed here), but both books function well as stand-alone novels. Readers who enjoyed Indivisible will enjoy the return to Redford, Colorado, and its inhabitants, but those who have not read Indivisible will be able to fully appreciate Indelible without any background knowledge. When I reviewed Indivisible, I said it was a character-driven mystery. The same can be said of Indelible, though I think author Kristen Heitzmann actually kicks it up a notch here in regard to character development. When I finished the book, I felt like I was leaving friends behind, and I hope that Heitzmann continues writing about the residents of Redford. Indelible is one of those novels that will completely suck you in--to the point where you're reading until 1 a.m. without realizing it!

    Indelible is fast-paced, exciting, and extremely enjoyable. I highly recommend it!

    Visit Heitzmann's website to learn more about her and her books. You can read an excerpt of Indelible here.

    Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from WaterBrook Multnomah. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

    Monday, August 1, 2011

    kindle freebies!

    As you may know, publishers often offer ebooks for free through Amazon and other sites. (Since I have a Kindle, I just use Amazon--check out if you have a Nook.) I check out the top 100 free Kindle books here a few times a week. I also signed up through to be alerted whenever new free ebooks are added (Thanks, Karen!). You have to wade through a lot of junk, but sometimes you'll find a real treasure. (Did you hear me? A.LOT.OF.JUNK. Don't say I didn't warn you!) When I'm going through ereaderiq emails, I usually just scan through the publishers; if I'm on Amazon, I click on the books that look like they come from Christian publishers. (I can almost always spot a Christian book by its cover. Strange, maybe, but when you've read as many books as I have ...) I've noticed that many of the Christian publishers will add new free ebooks around the first of the month ... and today was no exception! Here are a few that especially interested me:

    Miss Match by Erynn Mangum is the first ebook I ever read ... and I read it in one sitting! I'd just downloaded Kindle for PC, and Miss Match was one of the freebies available. It has a bit of an Emma vibe to it, and it's witty and fun with lots of pop culture references. As soon as I finished Miss Match, I ordered books two and three in the series. Also, Mangum surprised me with where things ended up, something that's difficult to do when you've read as many Christian romances as I have! If you like chick lit, you should give this one a chance.

    As soon as I learned Ransome's Honor by Kaye Dacus was free, I hit "buy." Dacus is an author I've just discovered, and so far, I love what I've read! (According to Dacus, this one's only free through the 15th, so get it now!)

    Full disclosure: I've never read anything by Stephanie Grace Whitson. However, I have heard her speak--she put on a writing workshop at the school I work at a few years ago. Plus, she's from Nebraska (you know I'm all about the Husker connection!), so I'm very excited to read Sixteen Brides!

    In addition to these three, there are many other quality books for free right now. You just have to know where to look. And remember, you can read ebooks without a Kindle, Nook, or other ereader ... you can download Kindle for PC here (for free, of course).