Book Reviews

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Wicked Girls

Many of us are familiar with the story of the Salem Witch Trials. In 1692, a group of young girls accused several men and women in Salem Village, Mass., of being witches. The girls appeared to be equipped with a special gift for identifying witches, but what were these teenagers really like? 

Were they really tortured by unseen witches and saving the town from the devil?  Or were they merely unhappy teenage girls thriving on attention? In Wicked Girls: A Novel of the Salem Witch Trials, Stephanie Hemphill presents a fictionalized account of the events in Salem from the perspective of the young girls who accused so many.

The girls in Salem Village are often treated with disregard, if paid any attention at all.  Ann, Mercy, Margaret, Abigail, Betty, Elizabeth, and Susannah, all have interesting relationships. Ann and Margaret are cousins, Mercy is a servant in Ann’s household, and Betty is the Reverend’s daughter. They range in age from 8 to 17 years old, yet they are all looking for new games to play, new things to learn, and interesting ways to pass the time. 

Eugene O'Neill by Alice Boughton, Library of Congress

Hooray for the Summer of 1912!  For that summer gave us two of the greatest tragedies written in English: The Iceman Cometh and Long Day’s Journey into Night, both by Eugene O’Neill. That said, O’Neill wrote neither play in 1912, nor was either produced in that year. 

Long Day’s Journey into Night wasn’t produced until 1956, three years after O’Neill’s death. O’Neill had requested that there be no staging of the play until he had been dead 25 years, but his wife had other ideas, and so the play opened on Broadway 22 years earlier than O’Neill had expected.

But what’s all this about 1912? The dramatic date of both plays is 1912 (Iceman is set sometime in that summer and Journey more specifically in August of that year). And that year is significant for O’Neill himself, for in the first half of ‘12, O’Neill hit bottom in a dive very much like the setting of The Iceman Cometh, and later that year, as he vacationed with his parents and elder brother in Connecticut, he was diagnosed with tuberculosis and entered a sanatorium, which is exactly what happens to Edmund Tyrone in Long Day’s Journey

It’s time to celebrate – Kansas City finally has its own Trader Joe’s. It was a long wait for many. Thousands of Kansas Citians signed petitions encouraging Trader Joe’s to locate here. Unwilling to wait, some local folks even paid others to make runs to Trader Joe’s in St. Louis.

For years devotees wondered why we were seemingly being ignored. All of that is in the past now, for we have not one but two Trader Joe’s to call our own.

Even though I have never stepped foot inside a Trader’s Joe or raised a glass of Two-Buck Chuck, I couldn’t help but to join in the countdown to July 15th.  As I listened again and again to the recitation of friends’ shopping lists, and as I overheard excited talk emanating from office cubicles about a store like no other store, I knew that something big, something really big, was about to happen to Kansas City.

Radical

Does the American dream contradict with authentic Christianity? David Platt believes so. In pursuing a comfortable life, Christians in America forget to follow the Great Commission in Matthew 28. Having a promising career, 401(k), and a nice suburban home is now more important than doing God’s work.

American churches focus on building a multi-million dollar facility and devising a fancy church program that “revolves around catering to ourselves.” The Church forsakes its first and foremost responsibilities of propagating the gospel and helping the poor near us and around the world. In his latest book, Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream, Platt raises the following questions:

How many of us are embracing the comforts of suburban America while we turn a deaf ear to inner cities in need of the gospel? How many of us are so settled in the United States that we have never once given serious thought to the possibility that God may call us to live in another country? How often are we willing to give a check to someone else as long as we don’t have to go to the tough places in the world ourselves?

Move over, Moms! With so many tasty recipes, beautiful photos, and easy-to-follow directions, Teen Cuisine by Matthew Locricchio will inspire young adults to head for the kitchen and start cooking like they were aspiring gourmet chefs.

With a focus on organic, made-from-scratch dishes, Teen Cuisine is perfect for the teenager who is serious about learning to cook. The recipes do not rely on prepackaged or canned items thrown together for a convenient, but less than nutritious, meal. Instead, the book concentrates on creating savory meals with fresh, easy-to-find, inexpensive ingredients. 

Even better, the more than 50 flavorful dishes are broken down into small, easy steps with comfort-food favorites like Max Mac and Cheese and Chicken Pot Pie along with pizza recipes from three different regions of the United States. Teen Cuisine’s menu also includes delicious breakfast, snack, soup, salad, sandwich, side dish and dessert offerings. And for the more inexperienced teen cooks, there are also sections about kitchen safety and essentials, culinary equipment and utensils, and “chef tips” on many pages.

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