Archive of ‘Mrs. McGriff’ category

Fool’s Girl by Celia Rees

Violetta appears to be the young and beautiful apprentice of a Fool, who entertains passersby on the streets of London, but appearances can be deceiving.. She is really of noble birth, forced to flee her homeland when it is attacked from without and betrayed from within. She and the Fool–Festus, who is not foolish at all–weaving a web to catch the playwright Shakespeare, who will provide the means for them to steal back the sacred relic at the heart of the country and one day return to rule their country.

Celia Rees has spun the story behind the story with The Fool’s Girl (Scholastic 2010). The young Shakespeare is still struggling to establish himself in the precarious theater world of England. He is captivated by Violetta’s story, which Rees lifts from Twelfth Night. (Or is it Shakespeare who steals the story from Violetta?) As Violetta and Festus reel him in, Shakespeare finds that he is no longer in charge of the story, but caught up in a web of intrigue whose strands are being pulled by the highest political powers. He must get every word and action just right, or it could be the end of the Globe Theater and more.

Even though its inspiration is from Twelfth Night, The Fool’s Girl is an original tale filled with romance and danger. The story roams from the beautiful shores of Illyria (where Violetta lives a charmed childhood before her country is ripped apart) to the slums of London (where Violetta is streetsmart), the village of Avon (where Mrs. Shakespeare rules the homestead) and deep into the forest of Arden (where Violetta discovers a mysterious haven).

Through all the twists and turns of the story, Violetta remains strong and determined. I love that she doesn’t just let fate unwind but takes control of her own destiny wherever possible. While she would love a happy ending with her childhood friend Stephano, she will not let romance interfere with what she knows is right. There is no taking the easy way out for this girl, but can she pull all the threads of her story together before the evil Malvolio succeeds in destroying her and all she loves once and for all?

Disclosure: I participate in the Amazon Associates Program. If you decide to make a purchase by clicking on the affiliate links, including in the linked picture above. Amazon will pay me a commission. This commission doesn’t cost you any extra. All opinions are my own.

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

It’s Monday! What are you reading? Is a meme started by Sheila at Book Journey. Kellee and Rikki at Unleashing Readers and Jen at Teach Mentor 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.

IMWAYR 2015

I finished…

Soul Tsunami by Leonard Sweet – For a book that was published 15 years ago, this look at postmodern trends for the future feels very contemporary. Sure, there are a few things that are dated, but the big ideas explored in the ten double rings seem intensified today. We live in a time with seismic shifts in how we view the world. (Does every age feel that way to those who live in it?) Sweet does not despair at the changes, but welcomes them and offers guidance to churches who want to be at the forefront of change rather than protesting change to the bitter end.

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, illustrated by Roberto Innocenti – This is another classic Christmas story that I love to revisit every year, or at least every few years. I have an oversized edition with gorgeous illustrations. As I read, I couldn’t help but think the spirit of Ebeneezer Scrooge is alive and well today. I am glad that the Spirits of Christmas are also alive and well and demonstrated by the outpouring of generosity in my community this holiday season. I would love to go back and watch some of my favorite movie adaptations, but maybe next week or next year.

If This Isn’t Nice, What Is? by Kurt Vonnegut, selected and edited by Dan Wakefield – My brother gave this to my daughter last year for Christmas. She’s rereading it (I think the reality of her high school graduation is sinking in), and I picked it up and devoured it in one car ride. This collection of Vonnegut’s primarily college graduation speeches is filled with wit, humor and wisdom. My favorite bit of wisdom comes from Vonnegut’s uncle (who shows up in multiple speeches) who exhorts us all to savor moments of happiness as we experience them. I think his question–If this isn’t nice, what is–will be my guide this coming year.

What Have You Lost by edited by Naomi Shihab Nye – I savored these poems through many months. I did sit down and read the last handful at once, but reading one a day was perfect. These poems capture so many different losses–some heartbreaking, some enraging, some bittersweet, some hopeful. I now want to write my own poems of loss. They also introduced me to many new poets and some familiar ones. The photographs–black and white portraits–taken by Michael Nye capture as much loss as do the poems.

The Eye of Zoltar by Jasper Fforde – First Jennifer Strange solved the dragon problem in the Ununited Kingdoms. Then she saved magic from the greedy plans of King Snodd. Now her troubles have just begun. The Mighty Shandahar has threatened to kill the last two dragons in the world unless she can bring back the legendary Eye of Zoltar. No problem. All she has to do is to travel to Cambria (an isolated kingdom filled with dangerous creatures), find Able Quizzler, who supposedly tracked the Eye of Zoltar to the lair of the legendary sky pilots in the graveyard of the Leviathans. (None of which are confirmed to exist. In fact, they might be entirely imaginary.) Oh yeah, she has to take the spoiled princess of Snodd (now in her maid’s body) along to teach her a lesson.While there, she uncovers more secrets that could mean the end of their lives. Just another day in the life of an orphan indentured servant.Once again Fforde’s brilliant humor shines. The best news–the saga of Kazaam and the mystical arts will continue!

I’m currently reading…

God Is in the Manger by Dietrich Bhonhoeffer – Bonhoeffer gives me plenty to think about with these reflections on Advent and Christmas. I’m glad each day’s reflection is only two pages because there is so much packed into each sentence. When I stop and think about the fact that God became human in the form of a baby born into a poor family in a poor country, it boggles my mind.

Finding the Game by Gwendolyn Oxenham – Oxenham and three friends travel the world in search of pickup soccer games. They hope–and find–that soccer opens doors and creates connections with people around the world. I have learned to enjoy watching soccer as my daughter played through the years. I knew soccer was popular around the world, but I had no idea of the allure this game has in other countries and for the people who love it. Everywhere they go (so far South America, Europe and the Middle East), they find new friends by jumping into pickup games found in city slums and country villages. I can’t wait to see where they go next.

The Jesus Prescription for a Healthy Life by Leonard Sweet – Does the life of Jesus show us how to live a healthy life? Sweet says it does. He combines stories about Jesus from the Gospels with the latest research from medicine and psychology. None of what I’ve read so far is startling or unexpected, but it’s good to be reminded of healthy choices as I start the new year.

Coming up…

I was lucky enough to receive many of my favorite presents for Christmas–books! I can’t wait to dive into the pages to see what they offer. I also have a new poetry book to start browsing through as well.

What are you reading for the New Year? What were your favorite books you received last year?

Disclosure: I participate in the Amazon Associates Program. If you decide to make a purchase by clicking on the affiliate links, including in the linked picture above. Amazon will pay me a commission. This commission doesn’t cost you any extra. All opinions are my own.

November & December books read

Where did November go? and December? As you can see, I spent lots of time rereading some Christmas favorites!

96) Soul Salsa by Leonard Sweet

97) Atonement by Ian McEwan

98) Before Amen by Max Lucado

99) Jump into the Sky by Shelley Pearsall

100) Shadow on the Mountain by Margi Preus

101) The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde

102) Olive, the Other Reindeer by J. Otto Seibold and Vivian Walsh

103) Song of the Quarkbeast by Jasper Fforde

104) The Drummer Boy by Ted Dekker

105)  The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski and illustrated by P.J. Lynch

106) Auntie Claus by Elise Primavera

107) How Santa Got His Job by Stephen Krensky and illustrated by S. D. Schindler

108) The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg

109)  Santa’s Book of Names by David McPhail

110) Tracks in the Straw: Tales Spun from the Manger by Ted Loder

111) The Christmas Troll by Eugene Peterson and illustrated by Will Terry

112) The Fool’s Girl by Celia Rees

113) A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

114) If This Isn’t Nice, What Is? Advice to the Young by Kurt Vonnegut, selected and introduced by Dan Wakefield

115) Soul Tsunami by Leonard Sweet

116) What Have You Lost by edited by Naomi Shihab Nye

117) The Eye of Zoltar by Jasper Fforde

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

It’s Monday! What are you reading? Is a meme started by Sheila at Book Journey. Kellee and Rikki at Unleashing Readers and Jen at Teach Mentor 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.

IMWAYR 2015

Throughout the years, I’ve had several dogs adopt me. That’s how I usually get a new dog. I wait until the right dog finds me. This week, we had a new twist on that with a rooster making itself at home on our front porch. I think it likes the cedar branches that I cut and stuck in the pots by the front door. I liked listening to it crow, even early in the morning. (Let me tell you, roosters don’t crow just at sunrise!) My daughter, though, is not a fan of the crowing, especially in the morning!

I finished…

Tracks in the Straw: Tales Spun from the Manger by Ted Loder – This is one of my all time favorite Christmas books. I try to reread it each Christmas. My goal is to read a little each day of Advent (it is conveniently divided up that way), but this year I read it in several big gulps, all in one day. Loder imaginatively enters into the Nativity story from a variety of points of view of people who were probably there, but not mentioned: a serving girl at the inn, the stable-hand at the inn, a servant boy in the retinue of the wise men (do you really think they would have traveled without servants?), another woman who helped with the birth, even the donkey, a goat, and sparrow. Scattered among them are stories from Christmas present as well. Each time I read it, I take away something different that enriches my understanding and experience of Christmas.

The Christmas Troll by Eugene Peterson and illustrated by Will Terry – I never would have dreamed of a Christmas story featuring trolls, but this is a fun read. Andrew is sure Christmas is ruined because his parents won’t let him open just one present on Christmas Eve. So he grabs the hand of his little sister and runs away to the woods. He is a little worried about trolls, but discovers that trolls are nothing at all like he imagined. Instead, trolls are a gift–unexpected and unwrapped–that brings laughter and joy.

What Happened at Christmas? by Alan and Linda Parry – This is a very simple retelling of the Nativity in the form of questions and answers. The answers are revealed by opening a flap or pulling a tab. Once upon a time, the last page opened to play “Silent Night,” but the batteries have long since worn out.

The Fool’s Girl by Celia Rees – Decidedly nonChristmas (except that it does pull inspiration from Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night). Violetta flees her small country when it is betrayed from within and attacked from without. She and her fool Festes travel through London, seeking to catch the attention of a young playwright with the Lord Champberlain’s Men. When Will Shakespeare hears the first of his story, he is hooked, and Violetta and Festes reel him in, needing his help to regain a sacred relic and return to her home country at last. All the players find themselves caught up in a web of intrigue and power, and it might take a fool to save them all. Fans of Shakespeare and intrigue will enjoy this tale.

I’m currently reading…

What Have You Lost edited by Naomi Shihab Nye – I read just a few poems this week, each one haunting. I do want to finish this volume by the end of the year. I may have to read more than one a day to get there, but I can make it.

Soul Tsunami by Leonard Sweet –  At times hopeful and at times frightening, Sweet has his finger on the pulse of our times.. It is a fascinating glimpse of shifts in the culture from modern to postmodern. Even though it was published in 1999, many of Sweet’s insights are even more true today. Not only does he look at the seismic shifts in culture, but he presents ways for the church to be involved in this transformation rather than just complaining that things aren’t the way they used to be. I find myself thinking about many of the concepts explored as I watch the news each day.

God Is in the Manger by Dietrich Bhonhoeffer – This week’s reflections are on mystery. I enjoyed our discussion last week on waiting (still hard). As I read this week, I am trying to experience the mystery of Christmas instead of trying to control or even understand it all. The more I think, the more I am in awe of the mystery.

Coming up…

It’s been several years since I’ve reread A Christmas Carol, so that is high on my list of books I want to read this week. What is your favorite version of this classic?

Disclosure: I participate in the Amazon Associates Program. If you decide to make a purchase by clicking on the affiliate links, including in the linked picture above. Amazon will pay me a commission. This commission doesn’t cost you any extra. All opinions are my own.

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

It’s Monday! What are you reading? Is a meme started by Sheila at Book Journey. Kellee and Rikki at Unleashing Readers and Jen at Teach Mentor 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.

IMWAYR 2015

I love preparing for Christmas. This week has been filled with wrapping presents, baking goodies and singing Christmas carols. We haven’t had much snow yet, but we are still enjoying veggies from our garden. It’s hard to believe that we have broccoli and cabbage still growing. And, of course, I’m enjoying my favorite Christmas stories! Sunday afternoon I sat down with a pile of my favorite Christmas books from our collection.

I finished…

Song of the Quarkbeast by Jasper Fforde – Even though Jennifer Strange solved the dragon problem (in quite unexpected ways) in the first book, more problems pop up for Kazam and its magicians. In order to keep King Snodd from taking over magic for purely commercial profit (his own, of course), Jennifer accepts a magical challenge. It’s not going to be a fair fight since King Snodd keeps arresting the wizards and throwing them in prison. Throw in a few surprises from the Vanishing Moose, a ring that does not want to be found and a new quarkbeast roaming the kingdom to keep things interesting. Did I forget to mention a visit beyond the troll wall on a disintegrating magic carpet? There are a quite a few more surprises, too. I am looking forward to reading the next adventures for Jennifer in the Eye of Zoltar.

The Drummer Boy by Ted Dekker – In a future world Christmas has been banned, but people still celebrate the Holiday with lots of giving and buying and selling. Daniel wants to play the drums like his father but his wrists are stiff from where they were broken. When he receives a drum as a present, he learns the song of the little drummer boy and the story of Christmas. Daniel is determined to change the Holiday and share what he as learned.

The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski and illustrated by P.J. Lynch- A gloomy, grieving woodcarver slowly rediscovers the joy of Christmas as he carves a new Nativity for a widow and her son. I cannot read this story without tears. The Widow McDowell and her son Thomas quietly offer kindness to Mr. Toomey despite his gruffness until his heart begins to thaw from its frozen grief. It is a quiet story (even though Thomas struggles to be quiet) with lush illustrations.

Auntie Claus by Elise Primavera – The Kringle family lives in New York and celebrates Christmas year round. The two children might be a tad bit spoiled, but this year Sophie is determined to learn the secrets of her mysterious Auntie Claus. She stows away in her aunt’s luggage and finds herself serving as the newest elf at the North Pole. Before she can return home, Sophie must learn the first and final elf rule: It is far better to give than to receive.” This is a fun story with lively illustrations to match.

How Santa Got His Job by Stephen Krensky and illustrated by S. D. Schindler – Santa didn’t always work delivering toys. No, he had quite a few jobs beforehand–zookeeper, chimney sweep, short order chef, postal worker, circus act. He encountered challenges at each one, but each job taught him something that would come in handy later. I love the creativity that imagines the circuitous route Santa took to find his place in the world.

The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg – No matter how many times I read this story, I am captivated by the journey to the North Pole and the bell from Santa’s reindeer. I know I’m not the only one as I see friends boarding local trains for their own version of the Polar Express, complete with pajamas and hot chocolate.

Santa’s Book of Names by David McPhail – I learned of this book when I was student teaching when one of the teachers shared it. Edward gets up late one Christmas Eve to see Santa. He just misses Santa, but spies the book Santa accidentally left behind. Even though Edward can’t quite read (patience, his mother advises, not more tests), he knows the book is important. When Santa circles back, he invites Santa along for the rest of the journey. When a seagull knocks off Santa’s glasses, David has to read the names and toys from the book for Santa.

I’m currently reading…

What Have You Lost edited by Naomi Shihab Nye – The poems I read this week seemed to speak directly to the news of the past few weeks. Poets write of what they have lost from war and violence. As every day seems to bring yet more violence somewhere in the world, these poems remind me that there are things more powerful than fear and hatred.

Soul Tsunami by Leonard Sweet – This is the first book in the trilogy that ends with Soul Salsa (above). It is much more theoretical than practical, but fascinating in its look at shifts in the culture from modern to postmodern. Even though it was published in 1999, many of Sweet’s insights are even more true today. Not only does he look at the seismic shifts in culture, but he presents ways for the church to be involved in this transformation rather than just complaining that things aren’t the way they used to be. I find myself thinking about many of the concepts explored as I watch the news each day.

God Is in the Manger by Dietrich Bhonhoeffer – This is the new book my Bible study is reading. Yes, we are a few weeks late since it is a series of reflections for Advent, but we won’t mind continuing after Christmas. This first week’s reflections are on waiting. I don’t know about you, but I find waiting hard, especially when times are difficult. I am amazed at how Bonhoeffer can find meaning and even joy as he waited in a prison cell.

Coming up…

More Christmas books! I have quite a few more downstairs in the basket that I want to revisit. What are your favorite Christmas stories?

Disclosure: I participate in the Amazon Associates Program. If you decide to make a purchase by clicking on the affiliate links, Amazon will pay me a commission. This commission doesn’t cost you any extra. All opinions are my own.

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

It’s Monday! What are you reading? Is a meme started by Sheila at Book Journey. Kellee and Rikki at Unleashing Readers and Jen at Teach Mentor 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.

IMWAYR 2015

November went by in a blur. I’m not sure what happened to the month, but I am back with an update on what I’ve been reading. As you’ll see, my reading is all over the place right now. Now that the days are short and colder (we even had our first snow last week), there is nothing I like better than to curl up with a good book and a mug of hot chocolate (or tea). I am savoring all the traditions of the holidays and hope you are able to celebrate with your favorite traditions. Despite the dark news that fills the internet and televisions, I am searching for–and finding–hope and peace and love in unexpected places.

I finished…

Soul Salsa by Leonard Sweet – Sweet gives so many ideas to connect faith and life and worship. After reading this one, I am looking for ways to bring my faith into my daily life. As I look, I find opportunities to practice kindness, to give of my time and self, to speak and write words that heal rather than words that inflame.

Before Amen by Max Lucado – My group finishes our discussion of this book this week. I find Lucado’s pocket prayer to be a way to enter into prayer simply without worrying too much if I’m doing it right. Now comes the practice. Reading about prayer may be interesting, but it is in actually praying that I learn and grow.

Atonement by Ian McEwan – Wow! I found so much to think about in this one. Even though it is set long ago (leading up to and the beginning of World War II), there is so much that applies to today. A careless accusation made on faulty understanding ruins the lives of many and tears a family apart.

Jump into the Sky by Shelley Pearsall – I’ve been a Pearsall fan for some time, and this book might be one of my favorites by her. Near the end of World War II, Levi Battle leaves the home of his aunt in Chicago to reunite with his father in North Carolina. He carries little with him, including little knowledge of the ways of the segregated south. (My one issue with this book is why would his aunt send him down South without warning him about the dangers he would face with segregation. He survived his first encounters, but I’m not sure his innocence provided much protection from bigotry.) He just misses his father, but joins the family of one of his father’s crew in the elite Triple Nickles–an all-black unit of paratroopers. He travels across the country to finally find his father, but his adventure is just beginning. Not only does Pearsall share the story of the Triple Nickels, but she creates some unforgettable characters along the way.

Shadow on the Mountain by Margi Preus – Here’s another World War II story, this time of the resistance in Norway. Germany may have thought that Norwegians representing their Aryan ideal, but most Norwegians didn’t want anything to do with it. I knew a little of the trouble that ordinary Norwegians created for the occupying German force, but I learned even more from Espen’s story (based on the real-life adventures of Erling Storrusten. Preus gives excellent information about what’s true and what’s not in the author’s note and other material at the back.) Espen starts by delivering underground newspapers and eventually becomes a courier and even spy for the Resistance. Even though he wonders at times if his small part makes any difference, he decides it does. When he sees his sister feeding prisoners in the German prison camp, he wonders if her acts of kindness might be the most radical resistance of all. I think that is something to remember for today.

The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde – I absolutely love this series. Fforde’s humor may not be for everyone, but his books make me laugh out loud all the way through. I’m hoping to get the third book in the series for Christmas, so I’m treating myself by rereading the first two. Foundling Jennifer Strange is the acting manager of Kazam Magical Arts and the unlikeliest of heroes. She has quite enough to worry about with the dwindling of magical power, the disappearance of the great Zambini and the constant bureaucracy of King Snood. Now she learns that she is the Last Dragonslayer and events are conspiring to force her hand into actually killing the dragon. She’s much prefer to get to know it. The magicians are wacky, the dragon is noble, if a bit tattered, and the imaginary world of the Ununited Kingdoms seems just a little too much like the present.

Olive the Other Reindeer by J. Otto Seibold and Vivian Walsh – I read this one to my daughter last night. We both enjoy the story of the confused dog (named Olive) who thought she was a reindeer (“All of the other reindeer…”) Olive shows up at the North Pole and Santa (with a little help from Comet) lets Olive tag along for the ride. It’s a good thing, since dogs are good at chewing through stuck harnesses, fetching stick-like flutes, and smelling cookies baked by Mrs. Claus. The story and illustrations combine to make a fun addition to our Christmas collection.

I’m currently reading…

What Have You Lost edited by Naomi Shihab Nye – Yep, I’m still reading a poem here and there. Some days slip by without a poem, but I am nearing the end. I am amazed at the variety of loss represented by the poems and the ways in which poetry can transform loss into beauty.

Soul Tsunami by Leonard Sweet – This is the first book in the trilogy that ends with Soul Salsa (above). It is much more theoretical than practical, but fascinating in its look at shifts in the culture from modern to postmodern. Even though it was published in 1999, many of Sweet’s insights are even more true today. Not only does he look at the seismic shifts in culture, but he presents ways for the church to be involved in this transformation rather than just complaining that things aren’t the way they used to be. I find myself thinking about many of the concepts explored as I watch the news each day.

Coming up…

Song of the Quarkbeast by Jasper Fforde is definitely calling to me to reread. Then I’m diving into the basket of Christmas books we’ve collected over the years. I never get tired of them!

What are you reading this week? What are some of your favorite Christmas stories?

Disclosure: I participate in the Amazon Associates Program. If you decide to make a purchase by clicking on the affiliate links, Amazon will pay me a commission. This commission doesn’t cost you any extra. All opinions are my own.

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

It’s Monday! What are you reading? Is a meme started by Sheila at Book Journey. Kellee and Rikki at Unleashing Readers and Jen at Teach Mentor 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.

IMWAYR 2015

I wasn’t sure I was going to finish any books this week, but I downloaded Towering to my Kindle while my husband was driving us home yesterday. I stayed up to finish it and swiped the last page just as the phone battery died!

I finished…

Amazon affiliate link

Towering by Alex Flinn – I went into this modern twist on Rapunzel expecting the humor I have come to love from Flinn. Instead, I find myself lost in the Adirondacks in the middle of a spooky tale. Wyatt moves to the isolated community of Slakkill, New York, to escape the memories of the tragic deaths of his best friends. He lives with a widow who still mourns the loss of her daugher 18 years ago. Wyatt is confronted by the ghost of the dead girl on his first night and hears a mournful song that no one else can hear. He also discovers that children have been disappearing from the area at an alarming rate. When he finally discovers the tower in the woods and meets Rachel (who saves him, by the way), he is determined to get to the bottom of the mystery. Rachel seems to be at the heart of it all. Rachel and Wyatt both tell part of their story, and I love the twists at the end.

I’m currently reading…

Amazon affiliate link

Soul Salsa by Leonard Sweet – So many more practical ideas to put faith into action throughout my life. Sweet makes the connections between faith and life seem obvious whether we are continually learning or getting or hands dirty. As I read this book, I am trying to go through each day with my eyes and heart open to God.

Amazon affiliate link

What Have You Lost edited by Naomi Shihab Nye – I finally got back in the habit of reading a poem for dessert after dinner each night (or at least most nights). My favorite poem this week is “Plum Trees” by Alison Seevak. I love the changing of the seasons in Indiana and can’t imagine living without it. Seevak marks the passing of time in California (with no seasons) with the changes in the plum tree imagined as a woman in different stages of life.

Amazon affiliate link

Before Amen by Max Lucado – Of course, the books didn’t come in until after I got home from our last Bible study, but we are still ready to begin discussing the first chapter this week. I’m excited to learn more about prayer as we read, study and pray together this week. I’m glad I’m not the only one who struggles with this “peculiar” practice and hope to learn to get better. I could relate to what Lucada describes as the “Prayer Wimps Assocation.” I’m aiming to move closer to the “Prayer Warriors Association.”

Amazon affiliate link

Atonement by Ian McEwan – This is a book to savor and to read slowly. The story is both beautiful and haunting. Even though the family (and close neighbors) live in the same household, each is lonely and isolated in their loneliness. Miscommunications and expectations have already built tension, but I’m reaching the point where I suspect relationships will break beyond repair.

Coming up…

It looks like I need to focus on the books I’m in the middle of and not get distracted by new (or old) books that come my way. I am, though, enjoying being able to take my time reading these days and not feeling rushed to get through more books.

 

October books read

90) The Gospel According to Starbucks by Leonard Sweet – love the analogy and points raised

91) The Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard – a smart-talking, fierce heroine finds herself straddling two worlds–neither of which knows what to make of her and both could kill her

92) Black Hole Sun by David Macinnis Gill – lots of action on a very dark planet Mars

93) Icefall by Matthew Kirby – historical fiction filled with treachery and struggle, but most of all a tribute to the power of story

94) Here Lies Linc by Delia Ray – the perfect level of spookiness for an October read

95) Towering by Alex Flinn – a spooky, modern twist on the old fairy tale, Rapunzel

It is really hard to pick a favorite this month. The books I read are so different. If I have to pick, it would probably be Icefall and Here Lies Linc. Even better is the fact that I am currently reading books for next month that are just as good! What are your favorite books from the past month?

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

It’s Monday! What are you reading? Is a meme started by Sheila at Book Journey. Kellee and Rikki at Unleashing Readers and Jen at Teach Mentor 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.

IMWAYR 2015

 

It’s been another glorious week of fall. A little rain over the weekend brought cooler weather and left brilliant blue skies. The leaves have put on one of the most vibrant color shows I can remember. Last night we went to admire the jack-o-lanterns at Boyd Pumpkin Display. Every year, the family carves hundreds of pumpkins to display. This year, one of the themed sections honored Charlotte’s Web. I am amazed at the talent of the carvers with some of the elaborate designs.

I finished…

Amazon affiliate link

Icefall by Matthew Kirby – Solveig is trapped between her beautiful older sister and her younger brother, the heir. All of them are trapped in a valley closed in with ice to avoid the danger of battle and war, but the biggest danger of all may be trapped with them. Threatened with starvation, Solveig and the rest soon suspect that one among them may be a traitor. Waiting through the frozen winter, Solveig learns the art of the skald–storytellers. While there is plenty of action and intrigue to keep the pages turning, this novel is at heart a tribute to the power of story and finding strength in one’s own voice.

Amazon affilaite link

Here Lies Linc by Delia Ray – All Linc wants to do is to fit in with the kids at his new junior high school. But that is hard to do when he lives by the cemetery and his mother is a college professor who studies graveyards and burial customs. Linc can’t keep his two world’s from colliding when his American Studies teacher assigns an “Adopt-a-Gravestone” project, kicked off with a field trip to the local cemetery led by none other than is mother. In researching the story behind the gravestone said to be cursed, Linc uncovers not only the truth behind the legends, but also secrets behind his own past. Along the way, Linc discovers friendships and confusion. When I taught middle school, we took our 8th graders on a field trip to the local cemetery to do gravestone rubbings. This book would have been perfect to go along with it–and expand the project to encompass more history and writing.

 I’m currently reading…

Amazon affiliate link

Soul Salsa by Leonard Sweet – Forget dry religious discussions. This book is crammed with practical ideas to bring the practice of our faith into the twenty-first century. Rather than leaving faith to be experienced only on Sunday mornings, Sweet calls for us to experience faith in everyday moments–and by experiencing faith in the every day, we can share that faith with those who are seeking God. Each of the short 17 chapters is filled with practical ideas for living out faith. This will be another book I read slowly because I want a chance to practice what I’m reading. The first two chapters have given me plenty to think about. “Mezuzah Your Universe” explores ways to structure the time and space of my days to point to God. “Make a Moment” encourages reflections and stories to remember times–both the best and the worst–when I see God. For both, I need to practice paying attention to the moment rather than rushing through my days.

Amazon affiliate link

Atonement by Ian McEwan – I enjoyed the McEawan book I read on vacation this summer, so when a friend dropped off a box of books for my Little Free Library with this in it, I moved it to the top of my stack. I’ve just barely started, but I’m already intrigued by Brionny, who has discovered her passion for writing. I suspect her first literary drama may end in disaster. It’s certainly not off to a promising start once she begins the struggle to take the written words from the page to the stage.

Coming up…

Our new books for our Bible study should be in–hopefully in time for our next meeting on Wednesday. And, of course, I’ll continue with the books I’m now reading. I do want to find a way to make a poem a day a habit. I’m enjoying the poems in What Have You Lost, but I often get too busy and forget to read one. Maybe I could get my family involved and read a poem at dinner each night? Or a poem could be my after-dinner dessert.

What good books have you read lately?

Disclosure: I participate in the Amazon Associates Program. If you decide to make a purchase by clicking on the affiliate links, Amazon will pay me a commission. This commission doesn’t cost you any extra. All opinions are my own.

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

It’s Monday! What are you reading? Is a meme started by Sheila at Book Journey. Kellee and Rikki at Unleashing Readers and Jen at Teach Mentor 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.

IMWAYR 2015

Fall has finally arrived here in southern Indiana. We woke up to the first frost, and I made one of our favorite fall/winter soups–butternut squash soup. We also took my daughter to visit several colleges over fall break–Indiana University and Kenyon College. Both have beautiful campuses, especially with the colorful foliage. Now we wait to hear from the colleges. And I enjoyed some good books, too!

I finished…

Amazon affiliate link

The Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard – This book is every bit as good as the creepy cover–a crown dripping with blood–hints. Mare is born into a world divided by blood. The reds–like her–struggle to survive while forced to serve the powerful silvers. The ruling silvers have unique powers to control different elements. Mare escapes her fate of being conscripted into the army by working at the summer palace. Once there, she finds herself thrust into a game where the stakes are her life–and she doesn’t even begin to understand the rules. If she can survive, she just might be the catalyst to bring change or destruction to her world. I enjoyed the character of Mare–she starts out as a thief, but learns she has powers and intelligence that she never knew.

Amazon affiliate link

Black Hole Sun by David Macinnis Gill – I wanted to like this one because of all the good reviews I had heard, but I struggled through it. Readers who like lots of action, will enjoy the fight scenes and ever-increasing danger from villains and monsters. I wanted to know much more about what was going on in Durango’s head–quite literally. He has an artificial intelligence implanted in his mind (with hints that the intelligence might not be so artificial). I wanted more exploration of his past and past relationships, but the revelations were suddenly revealed not explored. Mars does provide a dramatic backdrop for the story that increases the tension. I think I could like Durango, if I could get to know him better.

Amazon affiliate link

Leaving Church by Barbara Brown Taylor – I finished this one for the second time. My copy now has colorful sticky notes sticking out up and down the edges, and I underlined sentences on every page. The best part of reading it a second time has been the discussions we’ve had. There is so much to talk about with our own faith journeys and experience of church. I’m eager to meet again and see where the end of the book takes us.

I’m currently reading…

Amazon affiliate link

What Have You Lost edited by Naomi Shihab Nye – I’ve had a chance to read a few more poems over the last few weeks, each one more haunting than the last. Even in the midst of the loss, though, some of the poets find humor.

Coming up…

I just downloaded another book on economics–this one written by one of the presenters at a conference I went to last month. From my preview, I’m looking forward to reading something hopeful about the economic and political challenges we currently face. I’m still amazed at the suprising turns my reading has taken this year, but I’m excited to learn something new.

What surprising stories have you read recently?

Disclosure: I participate in the Amazon Associates Program. If you decide to make a purchase by clicking on the affiliate links, Amazon will pay me a commission. This commission doesn’t cost you any extra. All opinions are my own.

 

1 2 3 4 121