Archive of ‘Mrs. McGriff’ category

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

It’s Monday! What are you reading? Is a meme sponsored by Sheila at Book Journey.  Kellee at Unleashing Readers and Jen at Teach Menor Texts gave the meme a kidlit twist.  It’s a great way to reflect on what you’ve read and reviewed the last week and plan what you want to read next.  Join up with us and discover what good books other people  are reading.

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This was a week with unexpected journeys. It seems I will be a seasoned traveller and frequent flyer–at least for the month of January. This past week I flew home to be with family for my aunt’s funeral. I enjoyed seeing cousins that I have not seen in way too long, but will miss seeing my aunt. Flying gave me the opportunity to read as well. I also enjoyed peeking to see what my fellow travellers were reading–thought that is much harder with ereaders. I should get some more good reading done next week as I fly to Fresno to facilitate at a conference.

I finished…

lord of the nileLord of the Nile – I knew once I opened the next book in this series, it would’t take me long ot read it. I am finding them quite addictive. Each book explodes with more conflict (everything is falling apart in both ends of Egypt) and ever more complicated characters. Joseph is struggling to hang on to his power and his life while the Pharaoh Salitis falls deeper into madness and powerful forces plot to bring him down. Oh yeah, he aslo struggles to forgive his brothers (who sold him into slavery) when they show up to buy grain. Meanwhile, Ben-Hadad lets bitterness eat him from the inside, pushing away his wife and Shobai’s twins, who are growing to be better than he ever was. Ketan and Teti are on the verge of adulthood and learn of love and heartbreak. Many familiar characters are back, and we meet new ones. My favorite? Riki, a child of the streets who is destined for something. I’ll have to wait until the next book to discover what.

small victoriesSmall Victories by Anne Lamott – I knew I wanted to read this one as soon as I heard about it even if I didn’t know exactly what it was about. It ended up being the perfect companion for my journey home. Throughout these essays, Lamott explores grief, life and death, forgiveness, and our shared humanness with her signature wit and wisdom. I left it at home with my mom. I think she will enjoy it once her friend (another Lamott fan) finishes it. This is a book I want to put in the hands of people and hope it comes back to me. It is also a book I had to read with a pen in hand, with many passages to underline and comments to write in the margin. I hope others will do the same as they read it, too. It is a book that invites conversation.

how to make meetings workHow to Make Meetings Work by Michael Doyle and David Strauss – I finished this one on the plane ride home. Published in 1976, some of the information is dated (though some of their predictions about future technology sound eerily familiar to today). Much of the information seems obvious to me after years in the classroom, but I learned from seeing the principles in different contexts.

I’m currently reading…

by the bookBy the Book edited by Pamela Paul – I enjoyed several more essays this week–David Eggers, Colin Powell, Richard Ford, Elizabeth Gilbert. I was not familiar with David Eggers, but I will be looking for his books after reading about his work with young writers. I wanted to shout “Amen!” when I read how he encourages young writers with the freedom to write about any topic (“even flatulent hamsters”–I had middle schoolers who would have loved that topic) and to keep the writing fun. The conventions can come after you’ve hooked them on writing. He gave a similar answer to reading recommendations. No one book is right for every reader. Start with the reader’s interest, not what you think is good for them.

elements of styleThe Elements of Style by Wiliam Strunk and EB White – I meant to finish this in time for a discussion on Thursday, but when my travel plans ensured that I would miss the live discussion, I moved this one to the back burner. I plan on taking this book with me on my next journey if I don’t finish it before then.

Coming up…

I am looking forward to starting the next book in the Children of the Lion series (The Prophecy). I can’t quite decide what else to take with me on my trip. I have several good books I received for Christmas I want to read, as well as some books I discovered when I cleaned out a bookshelf last week. I had forgotten that I even had some titles. Oops!

What have you read this week?

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

It’s Monday! What are you reading? Is a meme sponsored by Sheila at Book Journey.  Kellee at Unleashing Readers and Jen at Teach Menor Texts gave the meme a kidlit twist.  It’s a great way to reflect on what you’ve read and reviewed the last week and plan what you want to read next.  Join up with us and discover what good books other people  are reading.

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The bitter cold this past week gave me the perfect excuse to curl up with a good book. We are easing back into the routine of school and work, but several two-hour delays have made it easier. At least school has not been cancelled yet this year. By this time last year, school had been closed due to snow and cold several times.

I finished…

Nothing this week. It’s been a long time since I’ve had a week where I didn’t finish any books. It could be because I keep getting distracted and starting a new book before I finish with the other ones I’ve started. The good news is I am enjoying all of them, and still keep eyeing the other new books I want to start.

I’m currently reading…

by the bookBy the Book: Writers on Literature and the Literary edited by Pamela Paul – This collection of interviews from The New York Times Book Review was a gift from my brother. They are collected from the Sunday feature in the NYT Book Review and capture the thoughts about reading by current writers and artists from a variety of backgrounds. I find it fascinating to see what writers I admire are reading and which books and authors they respect. I will enjoy this one for a while because I don’t like to read more than one interview at a time. That way I can savor each one. Warning:  the danger of reading this book is that my TBR list is growing every longer.

how to make meetings workHow to Make Meetings Work by Michael Doyle and David Strauss – My husband brought this book home from work for me. He had gone through training on how to facilitate meetings. Since I am going to facilitate a meeting next week, he thought it might be helpful. It is dated (copywriting 1976), and much of the information is similar to what I did in front of the classroom. It is helpful, though, to have the information presented in a different context than the classroom.

elements of styleElements of Style by William Strunk and EB White – I have had a volume of this on my shelves both at home and in my classroom for as long as I can remember, but I don’t think I had actually read it. I saw it was the choice for the AWAI Great Books Club discussion for January, and I decided it was time to read this classic from cover to cover. I’m still in the first section of usage rules. I am blown away by the clarity and conciseness of the explanations. I can’t wait to absorb the wisdom from the other sections, too.

lord of the nileThe Lord of the Nile by Peter Danielson – War and conflict still threaten Egypt, and a new generation of the Children of the Lion are ready to take their places in providing the weapons for the armies while trying to sort out their place in the wider world. I have a new favorite–Teti, the first girl to be trained as an armorer, and currently the best their is, even surpassing her cousing Ben-Hadad. I hurt for Ben-Hadad, who has let bitterness take over his life and poison all his relationships. That bitterness seems to be a theme developing in this book, as Joseph is finding it hard to forgive his brothers now that they have come to Egypt seeking grain.

Coming up…

I have an unexpected trip coming later this week as I fly home for my aunt’s funeral. I hope to have most of these current books finished. Even if not, I will choose a new book to travel with me. I am thinking that Anne Lamott’s newest book, Small Victories, will be good company for this trip.

What are you reading this week?

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

It’s Monday! What are you reading? Is a meme sponsored by Sheila at Book Journey.  Kellee at Unleashing Readers and Jen at Teach Menor Texts gave the meme a kidlit twist.  It’s a great way to reflect on what you’ve read and reviewed the last week and plan what you want to read next.  Join up with us and discover what good books other people  are reading.

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Some of my favorite Christmas presents–to give and to receive–are books. I have enjoyed reading the new titles I received for Christmas. I enjoyed even more watching my nephews dive into their new books even before the celebrating had finsihed. I’m already thinking about which books they might enjoy next.

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We traveled to Phoenix and the Grand Canyon between Christmas and New Year’s. Now that we’re back home I’m trying to dig out from under the laundry and Christmas decorations that are still up.

I read…

lion in egyptThe Lion in Egypt by Peter Danielson – In this episode of the sweeping saga of the Children of the Lion, anything that could go wrong does. Ben Hadad and his mother Danataya are abused by her new husband. Jospeh is sold into slavery by his jealous brothers. Shobai is haunted by the return of Baka, who vows to kill Shobai for stealing his wife Mereet. Tuya struggles to survive on the streets of Mempis and longs for Ben Hadan, who barely knows she exists. Anab cowers at every shadow and is embittered by the prejudice others show him for his disfigured face. But somehow, each one manages to keep their dignity and show courage and faithfulness to their friends. I’m not too sure about the cover of this one, though it did give my daughter lots of opportunity to tease me: What kind of book are you reading, Mom?

christmas carolA Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens – One of my all time favorite Christmas stories whether it is portrayed by Mickey Mouse or Patrick Stewart in film, or in its many text editions. This edition of filled with gorgeous illustrations of Victorian England by Roberto Innocenti. As I reread this year, I couldn’t help but see paralles with today and people’s varying attitudes toward poverty and generousity. I hope that I remember to keep Christmas in my heart the whole year through.

golden pharaohThe Golden Pharaoh by Peter Danielson – Book V becomes even more complex, with the distinctions between good guys and bad guys often falling within a single character.

mother tongueThe Mother Tongue: English and How It Got That Way by Bill Bryson – I knew the history of the English language was fascinating (at least to me), and Bryson brings out many interesting tidbits.

time keeperThe Time Keeper by Mitch Albom – Now that we measure time, what will we do with it? Albom’s story gives me pause to consider how I measure–or simply enjoy–the moments of each day.

kolb brothersThe Kolb Brothers at the Grand Canyon - After seeing their studio and looking over the vistas of the South Rim of the Canyon, I enjoyed the stories of their adventures even more

i am malalaI Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai – My mom brought this book and gave it to me when she finished. I am amazed and inspired by the courage Malala shows throughout her story. I also learned much that I didn’t know about Pakistan. I am thankful for the education that is possible here in the US and thankful for the power of books that allow me to see a glimpse into a different world.

olive kitteridgeOiive Kitteridge by Ellzabeth Strout - I loved how this collection of stories give us a picture of the complicated and fascinating woman known as Olive Kitteridge. These stories give much to think about life and death and relationships and the secrets that most of us carry.

I’m currently reading…

Nothing! I just finished my first two books of 2015 and haven’t picked up the next one yet. No worries, I have a whole stack of new books to choose from. Check out the stack from Christmas presents!

Coming up…

I will be choosing one of these books that I got for Christmas to read next. There are so many good choices, it’s hard to know where to start. I also have the next book in the Danielson series calling to me as well!

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December books read

One of my favorite things about Christmas is all the stories. From reading the original Christmas story in Matthew and Luke to reading tales of St. Nicholas and everything in between, I love reading old favorites and discovering new delights. My December reading starts with an old favorite from my childhood–this time read by my own daughter to mark the beginning of Advent. (Okay, technically she read it the last day of November, but it didn’t make the November list, so it starts off December perfectly.

174) Quintillius: The Start that Shone by William JB. Thielking – I have loved this one ever since I was a small child.

175) Children of the Lion by Peter Danielson – a sweeping saga of Bilbical proportions

176) The Miracle of Christmas by Stormie Omartian – a collection of reflections on the Christmas story

177) How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss – Still one of my all time favorite Christmas stories

178) Santa’s Book of Names by David McPhail – Cozy illustrations and a love of reading make another great Christmas story

179) The Summer of Letting Go by Gae Polisner – I enjoyed reading this one a second time–this time aloud with my daughter

180) The Shepherd Kings by Peter Danileson – another gripping saga, this time focused on the generation of Jacob

181) The False Princess by Eilis O’Neal – I love, love Sinda–she has courage and spunk and smarts

182) Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer by Barbara Shook Hazen, illustrated by Richard Scarry

183) Olive, the Other Reindeer by J. Otto Siefold and Vivian Walsh – Olive may be confused whether she is a dog or a reindeer, but she comes through with what dogs do best

184) Vengeance of the Lion by Peter Daneilson – another episode in the sweeping saga. I’m hooked now.

185) Bill the Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator of Batman by Marc Tyler Nobleman and Ty Templeton – I hope my nephew (Batman’s #1 fan) enjoys this book as much as I did!

186) The Christmas Troll by Eugene Peterson, illustrated by Will Terry – Trolls are so ridiculous–and make the best kind of present of all.

187) The Littlest Angel by Charles Tazewell, illustrated by Serfio Leone – I’ve loved this story since I was a child

188) Mystery in the Stable by Lisa Flinn and Barbara Younger, illustrated by Judi Niernberger – Two children try to solve the mystery going on next door.

189) The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski, illustrated by PJ Lynch – a quiet, heartwarming Christmas story

190) Auntie Claus by Elise Primavera – Sophie learns her aunt’s secret and that it is better to give than to receive.

191) The Lion in Egypt by Peter Danielson – another gripping episode in this sweeping saga

192) A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens – This is still one of my favorite Christmas stories

193) The Golden Pharaoh by Peter Danielson – Book V becomes even more complex, with the distinctions between good guys and bad guys often falling within a single character

194) The Mother Tongue: English and How It Got That Way by Bill Bryson – I knew the history of the English language was fascinating (at least to me), and Bryson brings out many interesting tidbits.

195) The Time Keeper by Mitch Albom – Now that we measure time, what will we do with it? Albom’s story gives me pause to consider how I measure–or simply enjoy–the moments of each day.

196) The Kolb Brothers at the Grand Canyon – After seeing their studio and looking over the vistas of the South Rim of the Canyon, I enjoyed the stories of their adventures even more

 

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

It’s Monday! What are you reading? Is a meme sponsored by Sheila at Book Journey.  Kellee at Unleashing Readers and Jen at Teach Menor Texts gave the meme a kidlit twist.  It’s a great way to reflect on what you’ve read and reviewed the last week and plan what you want to read next.  Join up with us and discover what good books other people  are reading.

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Let the Christmas celebrations begin! We’ve actually already begun celebrating. We’ve gotten together twice already with my husband’s family and opened the first round of Christmas presents. Of course, I’m the aunt who gives books–to almost everyone on my Christmas list! We are looking forward to hosting more family on Christmas Day. We are all excited about being able to welcome people to our home since we are usually on the road Christmas Day. With a little luck, we’ll have a white Christmas, but not so much of the slick stuff that people can’t travel.

I enjoyed lots of Christmas favorites this week. Next week will have even more Christmas stories. Look for my upcoming post on the 12 Books of Christmas. Then this past week I finally got around to reviewing The False Princess. My daughter’s choice for our Advent devotion was Santa’s Book of Names. Once again, she surprised me with the connection between the story and our faith. This time, even when we think we can’t tell God’s story, God will help us to do so.

I read…

Bill the boy wonderBill, the Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator of Batman by Marc Tyler Nobleman and Ty Templeton – Shh….Am I the only one who reads Christmas gifts before giving them? I couldn’t stop myself from reading this graphic novel biography before wrapping it up for my nephew. Besides, how else could I talk with him about it once he reads it? I hope this #1 Batman fan enjoys it as much as I did. The story of the secret co-creator of Batman is every bit as fascinating as the story he crafted. (This was a hit. Nephews 3 & 4 had both read it before they left the Christmas celebration!)

vengeance of the lionVengeance of the Lion by Peter Danielson – Vengeance sums up this third book in this sweeping Biblical history saga.Shobai and Reshef both want vengeance on the other. Who will come out victorious in the end? Joseph’s brothers want vengeance for the favoritism that their father Jacob shows for his two youngest sons. The people of Shechem want vengeance for the wrongs done to them by Jacob’s sons. Ben-Hadad struggles to overcome the cruelty showed by his stepfather and stepbrother toward himself and his mother Danataya. Then the Egyptian girl Mereet must overcome great tragedy to find love at last. All of this while the Shepherd Kings continue their brutal and inevitable march toward Egypt.

christmas trollThe Christmas Troll by Eugene Peterson, illustrated by Will Terry – Trolls are so ridiculous–and make the best kind of present of all. This delightful book makes me laugh with the unexpected surprise. Andrew is determined to be angry that his Christmas is ruined because his parents won’t let him open just one present early. But it’s hard to stay angry when you’re bouncing on a troll’s soft belly.

littlest angelThe Littlest Angel by Charles Tazewell, illustrated by Serfio Leone – I’ve loved this story since I was a child. Even though it is a happy story, it never fails to make me cry when the Littlest Angel offers his most valuable possession as a gift to the new baby Jesus.

mystery in the stableMystery in the Stable by Lisa Flinn and Barbara Younger, illustrated by Judi Niernberger –  Anna and Jacob watch and wonder at the unusual comings and goings at the stable next door. Finally, their curiosity gets the best of them and they venture to peek inside.

christmas miracle of jonathan toomey189) The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski, illustrated by PJ Lynch – a quiet, heartwarming Christmas story. This is another one that makes me cry even though it has a happy ending. Three lonely people come together through the carving of a Nativity.

auntie claus190) Auntie Claus by Elise Primavera – Sophie learns her aunt’s secret and that it is better to give than to receive. No tears–but much laughter–in this story. Sophie may be a spoiled brat, but she does have a good heart. In the end that good heart opens the door to learning some secrets and making it back home in time for Christmas.

I’m currently reading…

lion in egyptThe Lion in Egypt by Peter Danielson – I am almost done with this one. Ben-Hadad is as generous and as brave as his father, and Danielson introduced another character that I love–the small, brave, stubborn Tuya. This is a girl who knows what she wants and goes after it. She will stand by her friends, no matter the cost. Joseph has made the best of his bad situation, even after he lands he jail from false accusations. I’m just waiting to see how the different stories come together.

christmas carolA Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. – This is one of my all time favorite Christmas stories, wheither the original classic or one of the many reincarnations it has experience from cartoons to movies. Christmas is not complete withouth a visit from the ghosts of Christmases Past, Present, and Future. What is your favorite telling or retelling of this story?

Coming up…

Of course I will be starting the next book in the Children of the Lion Saga. I also have some Christmas favorites to catch up on. But much of my reading in the next few weeks will depend on Christmas gifts I receive. I suspect a few people just might give me some books to read over the holidays!

What books are you looking forward to reading over the Christmas holidays?

The False Princes by Eilis O’Neal

false princessSinda is not a princess in need of rescuing. In fact, she is not a princess at all–a fact she learns just after her sixteenth birthday. Instead, Sinda is one smart and brave girl, even if she is a bit clumsy. She’d rather spend her days reading books in the library, but she faces up to her new circumstances and determines to make a new life for herself (once she can figure out who she now is). Along the way, she just might rescue the true princess and save the kingdom from betrayal.

Eilis O’Neal has crafted an unforgettable–if unlikely–heroine with Sinda’s story in The False Princess (Egmont USA 2011). Sinda was raised to be a princess and one day a queen. Nothing in her training prepared her for her new status in life as the unwanted niece of a dye woman in a poor village far from the character. Even though she is seemingly hopeless, she doesn’t give up. When she discovers that she has magic–powerful magic–within her, she sets out on a journey to learn to master her magic before she destroys someone or something. Rejected by the college of magic (they don’t mess with anyone who isn’t of the nobility or doesn’t come with wealth), she turns to the eccentric Phlantha for work and study.

Sinda is not sure of herself. How could she be when everything she thought she was turns out to have been a lie? Even as she searches for the truth about the princess and the plot to steal the throne, her bigger journey is one of self-discovery. In meeting Orianne and Mika, the other two princesses, she learns more about herself through what they share–and what they don’t.

Did I mention that there is also a love story? Sinda is blind to that as well. Kiernan has long been her best friend, but she doesn’t know what to make of the growing awkwardness between them. She alternates between pushing him away and asking for his help. When it comes down to the crucial decision, though, Sinda is willing to stand up for what she believes is the right choice even if she loses Kiernan in the process. I liked the fact the the romance didn’t overshadow the adventure and quest to set the kingdom to rights again.

If you are looking for a princess story in which the princess saves the kingdom, look no further than this magical fantasy.

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

It’s Monday! What are you reading? Is a meme sponsored by Sheila at Book Journey.  Kellee at Unleashing Readers and Jen at Teach Menor Texts gave the meme a kidlit twist.  It’s a great way to reflect on what you’ve read and reviewed the last week and plan what you want to read next.  Join up with us and discover what good books other people  are reading.

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I fell behind on blogging this week. (The books are stacking up faster than I can review them.) But I made up for it with baking! I may have discovered a new favorite Christmas cookie. The Triple Chocolate Candy Cane Cookies were simple to bake, look amazing, and tasted delicious. I also tried making hamburger buns for the first time. With a little help from the bread machine, they were easy, too, and look so cute! We also had Christmas orchestra concerts and Christmas piano recitals and Christmas parties. With all the Christmas fun, I did get some good reading in, too.

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I read…

shepherd kingsThe Shepherd Kings by Peter Danielson – Book II is just as gripping as the first one. These characters are struggling to find themselves and to find their way home. Jacob finally comes into his own strength after bowing to Laban for so many years. Haddad, the crippled artist, discovers a strength and love that he didn’t know he had. Shobai, the careless pleasure seeker, discovers that he has missed much in life. Kirta, the knowledge seeker, hopes to make it home to right the wrongs he left behind before it is too late.

false princessThe False Princess by Eilis O’Neal – I love, love Sinda, whether she is the princess or not. She is stubborn, smart, brave, and somewhat clumsy. Her favorite place to hang out is the palace library, but when her fortunes change, she tries her hardest to fit into her new life. Unfortunately, learning to be a princess did little to prepare her to live in near poverty as a dyer of cloth. As she struggles to find her new place in the world, she uncovers a sinister plot and discovers magic within herself. Oh yeah, there’s even a little bit of romance.

rudolphRudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer by Barbara Shook Hazen, illustrated by Ricard Scarry – This Little Golden Book follows the story from the song lyrics rather than the animated Christmas special. My daughter chose it to read for our Advent devotion. I wasn’t sure how she was going to connect Rudolph with the theme of joy for this week, but she did: We can each find joy in discovering our own unique gifts, and we should celebrate each person’s gifts instead of making fun of them.

olive the other reindeerOlive, the other Reindeer by Vivian Walsh and J. Otto Seibold – Olive is a little confused whether she is a dog or a reindeer, but she is wiling to do her part to help Santa either way. Even though her presence among the reindeer team causes a few mishaps, she uses the things that dogs are good at (chewing, fetching sticks, smelling) to save the day. I enjoy this whimsical story and vivid illustrations every Christmas. I don’t listen to the lyrics to Rudolph quite the same any more either.

I’m reading…

vengeance of the lionVengeance of the Lion by Peter Danielson – Yes, I am hooked on this series. Book III picks up just a few years after Book II ends. Jacob is settled in Canaan, but his unruly sons are causing trouble (the murder of the men at Sechem to revenge the rape of their sister Dinah). The Shepherd Kings have been temporarily stalled, but with the Hittites facing internal strive, they are poised to strike the city of Ebla. Once Ebla falls, there is nothing to stop them from sweeping into Canaan. Kirta and Shobai are working to arm the city with iron, but can they do so in time?

saatisfied customersSatisfied Customers Tell Three Friends–Angry Customers Tell 3,000 by Pete Blackshaw – I’m almost done (just a few pages left), and need to finish it today so I can return it to the library. I do think much of this book is still valid even though some of the technology tools have changed (Google Reader no longer exists, for example). Customers do have more power now. Will they use it wisely? Will companies listen?

Coming up…

I still have lots of Christmas books beckoning to me! I may not get through all of them, but I will have fun trying!

What are you reading this week?

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

It’s Monday! What are you reading? Is a meme sponsored by Sheila at Book Journey.  Kellee at Unleashing Readers and Jen at Teach Menor Texts gave the meme a kidlit twist.  It’s a great way to reflect on what you’ve read and reviewed the last week and plan what you want to read next.  Join up with us and discover what good books other people  are reading.

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This has been a week filled with Christmas baking and Christmas music and even a few Christmas books. My reviews, though, are entirely in another world. Check out my thoughts about The False Prince and The Blood of Olympus.

I read…

Quintillius: The Star that Shone by William B. Thielking – I have loved this book ever since I was a little girl. Quintillius is the littlest star, but he lives in the exact spot of sky above where the new baby king is born. He practices and practices to shine brightly to announce the birth until he shines so brightly that he bursts. Now his light lives on in all who believe and reflect the light of Jesus. I am so glad my daughter loves this one, too. She read it to us to mark the beginning of Advent.

children of the lionChildren of the Lion by Peter Danielson – This saga is one of Biblical proportions. It tells the story of Abram and Sarai as they leave Egypt to settle in the land of Canaan. My favorite characers, though, are not the Biblical ones, but the imagined stories of those who traveled with or encountered Abram–the slaves, the soldiers, the metalsmiths. This begins a long saga indeed, but I’m looking forward to reading the rest. Packed with detailed characters and fast action, they are hard to put down.

miracle of christmasThe Miracle of Christmas by Stormie Omartian – A new Christmas book for me. My husband’s Sunday School class is reading this one for Advent, and I borrowed it from my husband. The 15 stories reflect on the Christmas story recorded in Matthew and Luke, imagining what the people involved may have felt and thought through these events. Each one ends with a prayer that relates the past events to today.

santas book of namesSanta’s Book of Names by David McPhail – I love this story of Edward, who is good at math and can name most of the dinosaurs, but can’t quite read yet. His parents say “wait,” and then one Christmas night Santa drops his book of names. Edward finds it, and Santa invites him along for the journey in the sleigh. A magical book the wraps up Christmas and the magic of reading.

summer of letting goThe Summer of Letting Go by Gae Polisner – After I finished reading the last page, my daughter informed me that she had already read ahead and finished the book on her own. At least she let me finish it with her anyway! I do love how characters and phrases from the book have found their way into our conversations about other things throughout our days.

how the grinch stole christmasHow the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss – My daughter chose to read this story to us for the second Sunday in Advent. She read it to us at breakfast, and it matched perfectly the Advent devotion that we read together at church as we lit the second candle during worship. Including scripture from Isaiah about the voice crying in the wilderness to prepare for the coming of the Lord, the devotion reminded us not to be distracted by the materialism that fills the season, but to use even those distractions to remind us of what is truly important. I love that Dr. Seuss makes the same plea but leaves it open to each reader to define the undefinable spirit of Christmas.

 

I’m currently reading…

shepherd kingsThe Shepherd Kings by Peter Danielson – This one picks up with the children–and mostly grandchildren–of the first book. Jacob is in Haran where he befriends Hadad, a Child of the Lion and Ahuni’s grandson. This is a saga of people who have lost their way and are trying to find their way back home.

saatisfied customersSatisfied Customers Tell Three Friends–Angry Customers Tell 3,000 by Pete Blackshaw – Even though it is from a different approach, this book shares many ideas with the last marketing book I read. Due to the rise of the Internet and social media, marketing no longer goes one way from company to customer. Now customers control some of the conversation, and companies must respond.

Coming up…

I’m definitely into the Children of the Lion series. As soon as I finish The Shepherd Kind, I will be ready to pick up book 3. And, of course, I still have my stack of Christmas books waiting for me!

What have you been reading this week?

The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan

blood of olympusThe final days are counting down for the prophecy of seven. The young demigods have split up to save the world one (hopefully) last time. Reyna, Nico, and Coach Hedge are shadow jumping with the Athena Parthenos, hoping to deliver it to Camp Halfblood before the Roman legion attacks. Will they get there before it’s too late? Only if Nico can find the strength to master the shadows before they overcome him, and only if the mighty hunter Orion doesn’t track them down first.

The rest of the crew–Percy, Annabeth, Jason, Piper, Hazel, Frank, and Leo–are on board the Argo II. They are traveling through the ancient lands of Rome and Greece to stop Gaia from rising. The prophecy says one will go down in storm and fire, but which one will it be? Is there anything they can do to keep them all alive and prevent Gaia from destroying the world?

My daughter has been hounding me to read this last installment by Rick Riordan ever since she bought it for our Kindles. I was determined to finish Les Miserables before I started any other book on Kindle, so it’s taken me a while to get to it. Once I started, thought, I raced through the digital pages of The Blood of Olympus (Disney-Hyperion 2014). I found it a satisfying conclusion to the series.

Like the previous installments, our heroes have no rest in their quest to save the world. Every page brings a new monster to face or a new problem to solve. The fast action makes this hefty book a quick read as does the shifting viewpoints. I know some readers miss the focus on Percy and the original cast of demigods, but I have enjoyed getting to know the new heroes. Some of my favorite storyines are the ones in which the less confident heroes–Hazel, Frank, Piper, Leo–grow into their own strengths. Throughout the series, the Greeks and Romans have had to overcome their distrust of each other, and it this last book, they truly come together.

I don’t want to spoil the ending for those of you who haven’t read it yet. (You mean I’m not the last one!) But this ending is the most satisfying–no cliffhanger to leave me desperate for the next book. I especially like the future outlook for Leo and Nico. I’ve been pulling for these underdogs/outcasts since I first met them, and I loved seeing them rise to the occasion throughout this book. The ending ties up the loose ends nicely, but it also leaves enough room to wonder and dream about what might come next.

Now that Riordan has explored Greek, Roman, and Egyptian mythologies, I’m excited to see what he will do with his upcoming series based on Norse mythology in the modern world.

The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen

false princeWhat do you get when you combine one street smart (and very smart alecky) orphan, a devious plan to save/overthrow the kingdom (depending on your point of view), and a competition in which the winner takes all (and the losers will most likely die)? You get a rollicking good adventure in The False Prince (Scholastic 2012) by Jennifer Nielsen.

Sage may not have chosen his life, but he is surviving as an orphan on the streets of a small village in Carthya. He knows little of the royal family and cares even less until he is taken by Connor, a minor nobleman with ambitious plans to save the kingdom from coming war. Sage, along with three other orphans, are now competing for the chance to become the missing prince and inherit the throne. As the competition heats up, layer upon layer of treachery and secrets are revealed. Sage must win–or lose his life–but he holds an even more dangerous secret of his own.

Every page is packed with adventure and heart-pounding action. I had some suspicions early on (but they have have come from reviews and discussions I read earlier), but most of the twists and turns in the plot surprised me. But when I went back to reread the beginning, I could see the clues already there. They don’t give too much away, but do they stand out on reading again.

Now I wonder what the next adventure brings in The Runaway King (out now) and The Shadow Throne (coming soon).

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