Non-Fiction

Book & Cover Review of "Thin Places: A Memoir" by Mary E DeMuth

Cover Review

What I love most about this cover is that I learned that this is a real photo of the author, taken by her biological father – whose love she has ached for since his death when she was in fifth grade – and not just a photo of another child posed to be representative (not that there is anything wrong with that!)

I additionally found out that there had been another little girl standing next to her in the original photo which has been removed impressively by the cover artist – no traces left behind that I can see.

Adding the blue tints to the sepia-toned photo reminded me strikingly of the filmography of “Schindlar’s List”. I haven’t seen that movie in years, but I am still haunted by what the director chose to highlight with color in an otherwise black and white film. The image of the colorful coat on the body of the little Jewish girl at the death camp is one I will never forget …

I think this similarity in photo treatment alone was a visual clue of the direction Mary’s memoir would take when I opened it to read. The smiling little girl appearing on both covers is surrounded by muted blues, hinting of the sadness to be survived in the pages ahead. The only design element I question is the use of the thin blue rectangle on both the front and back cover as a sort of frame. I think the overall cover design is strong without it on either the back or front cover and it could have been left off and the design still would have felt complete. A minor detail though in the grand scheme of things.

I also like the chosen font for the title, and the fact that it is used throughout the book in the chapter headings. The font is readable, yet irregular enough to carry the feeling that the author hand-wrote it onto the cover. A nice touch for such a personal memoir.

Book Review

I have read two of Mary’s fiction novels prior to reading this memoir – “Daisy Chain” and “A Slow Burn,” from the Defiance Texas Trilogy. While reading those novels I had surmised that Mary had either lived through some harsh experiences herself, or closely interviewed people who had … because she wrote with such strikingly real first-person emotional detail about tough topics such as: physical and emotional abuse, drug addiction, parental neglect, and spiritual longing. After reading this memoir I know that a good portion of that realism comes from the fact that Mary lived it herself.

In many ways I found it a relief to know that children who grow up with many of those things in their lives can still find their way to God, and make their way out of the typically repeat cycle of abuse and or drugs. However, it is painfully obvious that Mary is aware that the scars of her past still haunt her, the abuse at age 5 still affects her family life, and her self-image today.

There is such refreshing honesty in this memoir. This is a book that I hope will find its way into the hands of anyone who is hurting – who needs to know that God is with them during the worst of times – when they feel unloved, unwanted or even abused. Even if we haven’t lived through the exact circumstances that Mary has, this book encourages every reader to look back on their life and see where God has revealed his presence during their own ‘thin places’ – where heaven and the physical world collide.

* This book was provided to me by the author to review. If you have a title that has been released in the last 12 months and would like a book & cover review – please e-mail me.

Non-Fiction

Book & Cover Review of "The Karma of Jesus" by Mark Herringshaw

Book Cover Review

207341_1_ftc 207341_99_bkc

Normally, I start with the book review first, however, this book was one of those cases where the cover seems to reach out to a different audience than that of the writing found on the inside.  First, let me say that I think this cover is VERY eye-catching.  Not only is it vividly bright green – to the point that it might glow-in-the dark – but the contrasting black varnished text and art can’t be missed.  This cover will definitely not be looked past on the shelf due to its lack of color.

By the cover alone, I assumed that the rather cartoonish/simplistic design was reflecting that the author was going to break down the concepts of Karma and Jesus’s ministry in a “Karma/Salvation for Dummies” fashion.  The back cover even features a cartoon likeness of the author – leading potential readers to believe that it will be a simple read and probably humorous.

Although I like, and was attracted to, this book’s cover … I think they have reached out to the wrong audience.

Book Review

It became obvious within a few pages that this was definitely not a humorous tome, and although I found the content of this book to be interesting, it is done in a very rambling and scholarly fashion – not at all in-line with the book’s cover design.  Normally a fast reader, I found that I had to put this very short book down multiple times in order to try and absorb the complexity of the various ideas presented.

The information is packaged within a remembered conversation with a young man who came to see one of the author’s speaking engagements.  Unfortunately, the book became a little confusing – at times the author is remembering actual things said between he and the young man, but it is interspersed with rather lengthy and in-depth research the author quite obviously did after the conversation had sparked his interest in the topic.  The author is seemingly padding a previous conversation he has already had with research and examples he wishes he had known or referred to at the time of the original conversation.  And as readers we are being armed with that information too.

A worthwhile read, that definitely makes you ponder what you believe regarding whether we truly reap what we sow – or if Christ has instead exchanged our unavoidable bad Karma for His perfectly good Karma.