Posts Tagged ‘books read’

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

Last night we had my kind of Super Bowl party. Along with the good food, my daughter and her friends spent as much time talking about books as they did about the game. Actually, the conversation was quite wide-ranging, but not very much focused on the game (except for my husband and daughter who actually followed most of the action and the conversation). And, of course, we all enjoyed the halftime show!

This week I am also jumping into a poetry challenge offered by Laura Shovan: 2016 Found Object Poem Project. You can read the introduction to it here and and find the images for this week’s poems here. I missed the first week, but did write a poem for Poetry Friday:

I finished…

Nothing! You’ll see why (or at least partly) when you see the list of books I’m in the middle of. It’s been one of those weeks that I flit from book to book without settling on any for very long.

I’m currently reading…

Learning to Walk in the Dark by Barbara Brown Taylor – The chapters I read this week described Taylor’s practical experiences with darkness as well as what she learned from reading works by those who live in darkness. She describes restaurants that invite people to dine in total darkness. She was able to encounter darkness through Dialogue in the Dark, where blind guides lead participants through a simulation of daily life in total darkness. She also experienced the dark in a wild cave and shared the writings of Lusseyran, a blind fighter in the French Resistance. I am intrigued by the idea that our sight might blind us to things that are important and that light and darkness are as much within us as in the world without.

Keeping the Sabbath Wholly by Marva J. Dawn – I’m reading the last section this week–Feasting. I love that Dawn is stretching my understanding of Sabbath to much more than just prohibitions against “work,” but it is an invitation to experience rest and joy–and to be a force against the prevailing cultural values of greed and busy-ness and accomplishment.

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater – We weren’t able to read much this week since I was gone for three nights (and we had a Super Bowl party another night), but we are nearing the end. I’m looking forward to reading the last chapters with her. Then we’ll see if she will pursue the rest of the series for herself.

Raising Chickens for Dummies by Kimberly Willis and Rob Ludlow – I didn’t read as much in the book except to go back and check information on how much space chickens need in their shelter and run and refer back to other specific information. I did, however, get to tour a couple of chicken coops to see how they are set up. My husband and I have decided we may be overthinking things, and are eager to start building. We found some old fence panels we can use for a run, and are busy sketching out plans.

The Iron King by Julie Kagawa – A friend of my daughter’s lent this to her, and of course, I had to take a peek since I have heard nothing but rave reviews. Now I get it. I was hooked from the first page and can’t resist sneaking in a few more pages every chance I get.  I am captivated by the world of the faeries and Puck and most of all, Meghan Chase herself.

My America: A Poetry Atlas of the United States, selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins and illustrated by Stephen Alcorn – I finished my tour of the Midwest and have moved onto the Plains states. While some poems are clear about which state they describe, others are more general to the region. Even so, each poem offers a glimpse of life tied to a particular place.

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates – I finally received notification  that the audio book was ready from my public library through Overdrive. The audio book is very intimate as Coates is reading the letter he wrote to his son, but I’m afraid I am missing much as I listen. It is giving me much to think about, but I want to find a print copy to read as well so that I can better pause and ponder.

After Alice by Gregory Maguire  – I found this waiting for me at the library. I’m having a hard time getting into this one, but that may be more to my state of mind each time I’ve sat down to read–or it may also be due in part to the disjointed nature of Wonderland where inexplicable things happen to Ada as she searches for her friend Alice. I am growing to like Ada, but I don’t have as much patience when the story switches to Lydia, Alice’s older sister stuck above ground.

Coming up…

I think I need to focus on one (or at least narrow down to a few) of the books I’m in the middle of. Which book will I finish first? Which one will a savor the longest?

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 haven’t finished very much this week, but I’ve been reading lots of different texts–magazines, websites, newspapers. As you can see from my books below, I’m in the middle of quite a few books, too. I’m also trying to get back in the habit of writing regularly in a journal. I even managed to write a poem for Poetry Friday this week:

I finished…

The Anatomy of Curiosity by Maggie Stiefvater, Tessa Gratton, Brenna Yovanich – While I read the first two selections, I sometimes wished I could see the before and after drafts of the stories–or at least of particular sections. Brenna Yovanich provides multiple drafts of a story about drowning as she explores how she starts with an idea (in this case, events that happened in her real life) and develops it into a work of fiction. In between drafts, she shares her efforts to work through the process to get to the truth of the story. Each of the three writers have a completely different writing process, and I learned much from each of them.

I’m currently reading…

Learning to Walk in the Dark by Barbara Brown Taylor – I’m rereading this book since my Bible study group has chosen to read it. We had a good first discussion over our own experiences with both physical darkness and the portrayal of spiritual darkness. One of the things I enjoy most about this group is that we bring such different backgrounds with us and learn from each other. Even as I reread, I am still fascinated by facts about darkness that I didn’t know. Did you know that there are three different moments of twilight?

Keeping the Sabbath Wholly by Marva J. Dawn – The chapters I read this week focused on the act of resting–not only physical rest, but also emotional, spiritual, and social rest. All are interconnected (and connected with ceasing from last week). It hit me today just how much the choices I make for one day each week can impact the rest of the week. I am exploring practices that help me to cease and rest on the Sabbath (observed on Sundays in my faith tradition). The one that has helped me the most is physically putting away work-related things on Saturday evenings. I pack up the computer and papers and shut the door on them. I am amazed at how putting them out of sight helps me not to fret over them on Sunday.

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater – It has been so hard for me this week as I read with my daughter because I know what’s coming. I keep biting my tongue to keep myself from saying, “Pay attention. This part is important later.” I don’t want to give anything away. We finally read the chapter where the biggest revelation was made. (She almost guessed part of it, but was still shocked at the complete revelation.) I was impressed that she was able to catch it through the haze of medication she was under from getting her wisdom tooth cut out.

Raising Chickens for Dummies by Kimberly Willis and Rob Ludlow – Did you know that chickens don’t have teeth or taste buds? Even so, they can be picky eaters (like toddlers or teenagers), picking out their favorite foods and not eating a well-balanced diet. In addition too reading about what to feed chickens, my husband and I attended a workshop on raising backyard chickens and selling eggs. We aren’t interested into getting into the egg business beyond eating them ourselves and sharing with the neighbors, but we did meet several local people who own chickens and who offered to give us tours of their coops as we prepare for our own chicks.

Coming up…

While still waiting for my books to come available on Overdrive, I made it to our local library and found Gregory Maguire’s After Alice. I had planned to start it while waiting during my daughter’s wisdom tooth surgery, but I couldn’t focus. I flipped through magazines instead and found a new recipe I copied down to try later. I even found a book I’d like to get for Anna’s graduation, but didn’t have time to write it down, so I hope I can find a book by Patrice about auto maintenance for women. I’m going to be out of town in meetings four days this week, so I hope I can squeeze in some time with Alice.

What books are you reading this week?

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

 

Last week was filled with appointments and college visits. This week coming up is looking to be just as full. I am glad, though, that I managed to keep the sourdough starter warm enough to stay alive and make a couple of loaves this weekend. We enjoyed some snow last week, but the brunt of the big blizzard missed us. I hope those of you who got snowed under are finding a way to dig out!

I finished…

Birdwing by Rafe Martin – This retelling of the fairy tale of the swan brothers picks up where the fairy tale leaves off. From the fairy tale, six brothers were turned into swans. Their sister wove shirts of nettles to turn them back into humans, but she didn’t finish the last shirt. The youngest brother was left with one wing once he regained human form. Ardwin–that youngest brother–struggles to find his place in the world. When he fears his father might cut off his arm to make a political alliance, Ardwin escapes the palace and begins a journey of discovery. Along the way he meets people who accept him or fear him (including a witch, a magician and a goose girl) and he finally learns what strengths and gifts his wing brings him. I loved this exploration of a fairy tale that I’m not as familiar with.

I’m currently reading…

My America: A Poetry Atlas of the United States, selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins and illustrated by Stephen Alcorn – This week I visited the South (where I grew up) and the Midwest (where I currently live). I love how a few lines of words can capture the soul of a place–or at least a glimpse of it.

Learning to Walk in the Dark by Barbara Brown Taylor – I’m rereading this book since my Bible study group has chosen to read it. I’m looking forward to some interesting discussions. Taylor challenges conventional notions of darkness. (How often do you hear someone describe darkness as good rather than fearful or evil?) I am also fascinated by what she learned about darkness. Did you know there are three different twilights that measure the coming of evening? I didn’t.

Keeping the Sabbath Wholly by Marva J. Dawn – This year I am exploring the practice of keeping the Sabbath, and Dawn’s book is the first I’m reading this year. The book is organized into four weekly themes with daily readings for each. This past week focused on the theme of ceasing–from work, productivity, worry, control. It’s hard for me to let go even for one day, but I am learning the gifts of Sabbath as I try it out and reflect.

The Anatomy of Curiosity by Maggie Stiefvater, Tessa Gratton, Brenna Yovanich – This week I read Gratton’s story “Desert Canticle.” When Gratton writes, she begins with a world–in this case a desert world with magical IEDs. I was fascinated with how she uses elements of world building to develop and reveal character and plot and how the smallest of details can show so much about a world, both the created world and the real world.  Now I’m eager to create a world to learn what I can discover about both the story I am writing and the world I live in.

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater – My daughter still says she doesn’t like it, but she still asks me to read every night and often begs for “just one more” chapter. She may pretend to be asleep, but she still laughs at the right parts (even though the book is strange and mysterious, there are many funny lines) and asks questions. I love the chance to reread at a slower pace and appreciate just how brilliant this book is. I’m eagerly waiting the fourth book in the series which will be out this spring.

Raising Chickens for Dummies by Kimberly Willis and Rob Ludlow – This week I’m reading about housing my (future) chickens. Who knew there were so many choices for coops, shelters and runs. While the little coops at the local farm store are adorable, I don’t think they are very practical. While it is too cold and snowy to get outside to build much, we can start drawing up plans and supply lists.

Coming up…

I rediscovered the joys of Overdrive from our library last week, but the two books I wanted I had to put on hold. I hope they will become available soon. Meanwhile, I think it’s past time for a trip to the library to what books they have on the shelves!

What books are you reading this week?

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

The past week was quite slow. Cold and snow invited us to snuggle in with mugs of hot chocolate and books and movies. I even–finally–got to watch the movie version of Paper Towns with my daughter and one of her friends. It’s been a while since I’ve read it, so I enjoyed the movie much more than the girls, who kept pointing out all of the differences. Over all, though, the movie captured the spirit of the book pretty well.

Blog posts this week:

I finished…

Searching for Sunday by Rachel Held Evans – Even though my faith journey has not been as fraught with struggle as Evans was, I found myself nodding in agreement with much of what she writes. I read with a pen in hand so I could underline lines I want to come back to or that struck a cord. I read quickly because I wanted to find out what she would say next, but this is a book I will go back to and read again, this time slowly, so I can ponder.

Unlearning Church by Michael Slaughter (new edition) – Not just in church, but in many places I’ve been involved, I get frustrated when people do things because that’s the way it’s always been done. I used to drive my mom crazy with my demands for a better reason. In the context of church, Slaughter gives plenty of compelling reasons why every church should seek to grow into its ministry with its own unique character driven by the Spirit, NOT copy what has been done before. My  mind is reeling with ideas to think about–and to share with my church.

I’m currently reading…

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater – I finally talked my daughter into letting me read this one aloud to her. I know she’s going to like it (sometimes mom’s approval is the kiss of death for a book recommendation), but she resisted. At first she stifled her snickers in her pillow as I read. Now she is commenting on the characters and asking questions and even asking for one more chapter…

Raising Chickens for Dummies by Kimberly Willis and Rob Ludlow – This week I’m learning about different breeds of chickens. My primary interest is in having laying hens for eggs. My husband is more interested in raising chickens for meat. It looks like we’ll be looking for a duel purpose breed–hens that lay (but not quite as much as those breeds used for commercial eggs) and that grow enough meat to make butchering worthwhile (but grow more slowly than broilers). I’d one day like to try raising chicks (my husband not so much), so I’d like a breed that tends to be broody at least occasionally. Now we’re waiting for a break in the weather to start construction.

My America: A Poetry Atlas of the United States, selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins and illustrated by Stephen Alcorn – I finished my tour of the Northeast and have headed down the coast to the Southeast. I grew up in North Carolina, so many of these poems are like a visit home. Each section is preceded by a quick look at facts about each state, and I am enjoying reading the interesting fact about each state.

Anatomy of a Curiosity by Maggie Stiefvater, Tessa Gratton and Brenna Yovanich – Have you ever wondered what goes on in a writers head as they go from idea to story?  These three writers generously share their writing process with the specific example of a story they’ve written. Not only do they share how they developed the idea, but they add notes in the margin of the story that explains choices they made in the drafting or revising process. So far I’ve just read the first story by Maggie Stiefvater. I’m looking forward to the next two as well.

Coming up…

Well, it looks like I have plenty of books to finish, but I am most excited about rereading a book from last year–Learning to Walk in the Dark by Barbara Brown Taylor. I drove my family crazy with my constant talking about it, so I am glad to have a group to read and discuss it with this time around!

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

 

We finally had our first snow of the winter. I woke up yesterday to a world wrapped in white and dropping temperatures. I snuggled in with a few good books and read the morning, afternoon and evening away while sipping hot chocolate and tea. I could get used to this…and I probably should since more snow and cold is forecast for tonight. I even got back into more regular blogging with a couple of reviews this past week. You can check out my thoughts on the two books below:

I finished…

Finding the Game by Gwendolyn Oxenham – I am so glad I got to travel around the world (vicariously) with Gwendolyn, Luke, Rebecca and Ryan as they looked for and found soccer games. These are not the soccer games played on perfect pitches by professional or even elite amateur teams. This is soccer played by people who are passionate about the game and who will play wherever and however they can. Soccer opens doors and connects these four young Americans with people around the world from city slums in Africa to rooftop fields in Japan, from a prison yard in Bolivia to illegal games in Iran. Did I mention games deep in the Amazon rainforest or on desert plains? It almost makes me wish I played soccer. Maybe I’m not too old to learn. Now that I have finished reading the book, I do want to find and watch the documentary, Pelada, that they produced from their adventures. Stay tuned for a full review coming later this week.

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. I would love to incorporate many of theese ideas into my life this year. I don’t have to do them all at once, but I can explore them. Sweet 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.

The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown – This book was one of my Christmas presents this year, and it is even better than I had hoped. The three Andreas sisters–Rosalind/Rose, Bianca/Bean and Cordelia/Cordy–find themselves drawn back to the parents’ home in small town Branwell, Ohio, as their mother battles breast cancer. Each sister hides her own secrets that spill out as they reconnect and come to terms with each other and their past. There are so many things I loved about this book (come back for full review later this week), but how can I not enjoy spending time with a family obsessed with books and reading–and sprinkled with Shakespeare quotes.

I’m currently reading…

Searching for Sunday by Rachel Held Evans – Here’s another Christmas present. I’ve just started and am trying not to rush through it because there is much to think about. I first discovered Rachel’s writings through her blog and Facebook posts and was impressed with her ability to thoughtfully tackle difficult subjects without demonizing those who disagree. I’m surprised to learn in this faith memoir that she wasn’t always like that. I enjoy her thoughtfulness and wit as I read about her changing understanding of God and faith.

Raising Chickens for Dummies by Kimberly Willis and Rob Ludlow – After our delightful (at least I thought it was delightful) experience with Big Ben before Christmas, we are going to get chickens of our own. (We had to find Big Ben another home since we weren’t quite ready for chickens.) I grabbed this book back off my shelf (I’ve been trying to talk the family into chickens for a while) to began learning what I need to know. We’re currently planning a chicken coop and run and have signed up for a class through the county extension office. I hope to have some hens of my own by spring. Meanwhile, I can read and dream and plan and build…

My America: A Poetry Atlas of the United States, selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins and illustrated by Stephen Alcorn – I picked this book up from the prizes offered by our library’s summer reading program. Now I’m reading it for my daily does of poetry. Last week’s poems took me on a tour of the Northeast with stops in “Watercolor Maine”, “Islands in Boston Harbor,” “New England Lighthouse,” and “Gulls and Buoys.” Once I finish poems from the Northeast, I head down to the Southeast.

Coming up…

The next book I want to read is another Christmas present:  Anatomy of a Curiosity by Maggie Stiefvater, Tessa Gratton and Brenna Yovanich. I’m looking forward to more of their short stories and writerly insights. Did you know that Emma Watson has started a GoodReads book club of feminist reading? It’s called Our Shared Shelf (named by Twitter followers–the other suggestions were brilliant, too). the first book up for discussion at the end of January is My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem. It’s available as an ebook through our public library, so I’ll be downloading it to read. I love seeing my daughter’s excitement over it, too.

What have you been reading this week? Anything good?

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.

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