Just finished Sharon Shinn's latest book, Gateway and what does it make me want to do?? FIND MORE!! I had never heard of her before and now I am off to order more of her titles for our library! This book was such a treat! Not only did I love the whole idea of the main character being a girl adopted from China - but it was a thrilling ride through time travel that kept me excited to turn pages. I was totally wrapped up in Daiyu's story and the romantic storyline with Kalen - in a world where she can't stay. Yep, you will enjoy it - pick it up and enjoy the ride! (It is a Young Adult book but that doesn't stop me!!!)
Sunday, November 29, 2009
Monday, November 23, 2009
Saturday, November 14, 2009
And if that doesn't make you want this cookbook, The Pioneer Woman Cooks - then I'll give you MORE!! I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this cookbook - I know, I can hear you moaning, "Becky, you don't even cook!" And that is kind of true - BUT IF I were to take up cooking, this would be my BIBLE!!! The step by step instructions (and pictures, THANK YOU Pioneer Woman!!) make the recipes do-able. This is what Joe made this morning - French Breakfast Puffs - oh my word YUMMY! And not only do I want to try every recipe in the book, it's also a coffee table book - LOVE the photography!!! SO there, I think I mainly want it for the pictures but hey, it also works to show Joe the pictures - then he cooks what he sees!!! (snicker, snicker!) I have to be honest, I do LOVE this woman - not only is she the world's GREATEST blogger, she's also a homeschool mom! She's got the Marlboro Man - I've got the Modem Man - what's not to love!?!?!?
Friday, November 13, 2009
All I really need to say on this one is "Heather Gudenkauf is genius". I thoroughly enjoyed The Weight of Silence - it was intriguing from page one! I couldn't believe that at this time in my life (having a daughter that is not speaking) I would have a novel on my desk that is about a little girl that would not talk - but I did! I was drawn in immediately - it starts with a bang - two little girls disappear and thus the novel pummels head-long into the mystery of where the two have disappeared to and how they got there. I LOVE the discussion questions at the back - I think it would make a great book talk book as it brings up some great issues. Another great read, I tell you, I am on a good-book-streak lately!!!
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Friday, November 06, 2009
I was sent a copy of Sandra Glahn's Frappe with Philippians Coffee Cup Bible Studies and asked to do a book review on it. I enjoy Bible Studies and thought this might be right up my alley - and IT WAS! I am a BIG fan of Glahn's new series. (And it's not just because I adore coffee either!!) These studies are just plain do-able - they are not so theological that they go over your head. The daily sections are not so long that you can't accomplish them. They are packed with cultural history to help you understand the text more fully. They are filled with scripture - even printed right out for you in the book - I like that since I often do my studies "on the go". I am impressed - it 's a great new series that makes me want to grab my girl friends and my coffee and sit and enjoy!
So, just in case I haven't convinced you, here is more from the publisher. (And don't forget to read all the way to the bottom of the post - there is a BIG DRAWING you won't want to miss!
About the Books:
(Dallas, Texas)- There's nothing better than curling up with a good book and a cup of coffee--and there's no better book than the Bible. Sandra Glahn continues her series of Coffee Cup Bible Studies, presenting Kona with Jonah and Frappe with Philippians. Using creative teaching resources, including the Internet, art, online study groups and more, Glahn provides a special blend of bold and flavorful experiences that will bring participants back for a second cup of God's Word.
Kona with Jonah begins with a brief history of Jonah and Ninevah. Merging historical event with current modern day practicality, Glahn invites readers to take a walk in Jonah's sandals. Coffee sippers will find it hard to escape the similarities as these two worlds collide. Prayer, mercy, city revival and other strong themes will perk the interest and heart of diligent students.
Frappé with Philippians brews for five weeks of strong, powerful conversation about Paul and the heroes of the Philippian church. With detailed study time spent examining the letters of Paul to the Church, readers will come away feeling like they have met with the man himself. With sections entitled "That God Will Get me Out of Here, and Other Prayer Requests Paul Doesn't Make," Glahn keeps the tone of the study light, without disrespecting the seriousness of the study of God's Word.
A Chat Over Coffee w/ Sandra
Women who typically feel they don't have the time to do Bible Study find your studies relevant and easy to use. What's the secret to making the study inviting?
I don't know if there's one secret. Different things appeal to different people. But I do know that with my own personal Bible study time, I've been able to stay fairly consistent Monday through Friday when my daughter is at school. But on the weekends everything changes in our household. Sometimes we travel. Or we sleep later on Saturday. And we rise and go to church on Sunday. Result: my routine gets disrupted. For this reason I often have a more difficult time doing Bible study on the weekends. So I designed the series for Monday-through-Friday study with only short devotional readings on the weekends. The weekday time can require twenty minutes or more; the weekend readings take less than five minutes.
I think the studies also appeal to the right-brained person. As an artsy type, I sometimes engage more with the Bible if I can write out a prayer, draw, view a related video, compose a story, sing a song... And I wrote this series with that person in mind. The devotionals are also full of stories, which most of us love to hear.
In addition (and this is probably the main reason), when I was working full-time, I wanted a study I could stash in my purse without having to lug a Bible and a commentary. I wanted to use my lunch break for a quiet time without parading my resources in front of people. And I think it helps that the Coffee Cup series books don't look like typical Bible studies; they're all-inclusive (text, commentary, questions included); they're small enough to throw in a briefcase or diaper bag; and they're both spiral and bound--making it easier to use on a treadmill or fold in the lap and write on while sitting. In short they're designed for the multi-tasker. I heard from an ob-gyn who uses them as she's sitting in the doctors' lounge waiting for babies to arrive.
And one more thing--I also include a prayer at the end. I heard from an eighty-something man who told me how much those prayers meant. All his life he had struggled with prayer, and that guidance helped him respond to God. I'm glad that a series directed to women didn't scare him off!
In Jonah with Kona, what do you hope participants will take away and apply to their own lives?
We tend to like our own causes best; we like our own country best; we like our denomination best; we like our own families best; we prefer the schools we attended, the neighborhoods where we grew up, our own political party or cause, our gender--even our brand of peanut butter. And somewhere along the way we cross the line from preference to prejudice. We pray for our loved ones but rarely, if ever, our enemies. Mention atheists, opposing politicians, humanists, materialists, homosexuals, and radical feminists in most churches today, and the response you'll evoke will sound nothing like, "Let's pray right now for God to pour out his love."
Genesis tells us that humans are fellow creations of one maker. The qualities of God that so angered Jonah are the very qualities we most need: grace, compassion, patience, mercy, abundant love, and truth. And not just for those we love--but for those we hate. For those who have wronged us. For those who want us dead. For those with whom we strongly disagree. The only possible way we can demonstrate such remarkable goodness is through the power of the Holy Spirit.
The focus of Frappé with Philippians is the life of Paul and the early church. What kind of historical research did you do and did you learn any surprising facts as you compiled your information?
I think it's enormously important to understand the world in which Paul was writing. Let's take the view of women, for example. The Jews were the most conservative. The Greeks were better, though greatly influenced by Aristotle's low view of women. And the Roman women had the most freedom--even owning property and supervising gymnasiums. Knowing a city's predominant citizenship helps us understand Paul's letters on such issues.
My PhD work relates a lot to the Greek pantheon and Greek and Roman history. The historical backgrounds for the Bible books are essential, and fortunately they interest me.
I also love getting a sense of the geography, if I can. I had the advantage this summer of taking a clipper to follow the journeys of Paul. Some of our stops included Corinth, Troas, Neapolis, Philippi, and Athens.
One sentence out of the mouth of a guide in Corinth really stuck with me, as she provided a key to understanding the cities we visited. She mentioned that while American visitors seem generally uninterested in talk of gods and goddesses, knowing which member of the Greek pantheon a city worshiped is essential to understanding that city's mentality. The more I thought about this, the more sense it made:
ATHENS. Athena was the goddess of wisdom, so citizens of Athens wanted their city to reflect culture, religion, and philosophy. And sure enough, in Acts 17 we find Stoic and Epicurean philosophers hanging out at the Areopagus (Mars Hill). Paul affirms them for being religious, and rather than dissing their many false gods, he zeroes in on their altar to the unknown God and tells them about this Almighty one who was not made with hands--One who is never far from any of us.
CORINTH. Corinth was the home of Aphrodite, goddess of love (and not the agape version). Behind the city ruins stands a towering hill at the top of which sat Aphrodite's temple. One could not walk down the street without being conscious of its prominence. Might that explain why the Corinthians had so many issues with sexual immorality, and why Paul tells them that it's good for a man not to touch a woman (1 Cor. 7:1)? For the sake of the kingdom, he encourages them to consider embracing sexual abstinence rather than marrying. How fitting that in a city that prides itself on being a center of love, Paul pens the beautiful definition of true love--known to us as the love chapter (1 Cor. 13).
EPHESUS. Ephesus was home to the virgin Artemis who loved her virgin status and was immune to Aphrodite's love arrows. Among other things, Artemis was the goddess of the hunt. If you take a close look at the Artemis statues from the first and second centuries, you find her legs covered with numerous animals and flanked by a couple of deer. Now, usually we think of women as gatherers and men as hunters. And the fact that Artemis was a hunter suggests she had a less-than-feminine persona. In Ephesus we find stone work with the Amazon story (these women were way independent!), and guides tell visitors that the city was founded by an Amazon queen. The Book of Ephesians was probably intended for more than one city (like Laodicea), so we don't find much that points to a specific city's mentality in that book. But we do find 1 Timothy directed to Paul's protégé in Ephesus, and in it we find an emphasis on widows, women teaching false doctrines, and the need to marry and have children.
When reading the New Testament, I think it's important to find out something of its geography and certainly what member of the Greek pantheon each book's readers were up against. How its authors approached the cities' demons can provide insight for us into engaging a culture that's in love with worldly wisdom, immorality, and a low view of family.
THE BIG NEWS!!!
One fortunate blogger from each participating blog will be entered into a grand prize drawing for a coffee themed tote bag, twelve oz of Starbucks Sumatra and signed copies of Kona with Jonah and Frappe' with Philippians. Leave a comment here by Nov. 9 and you will be entered!
I LOVED these ideas and didn't want to leave them out:
Creative Ways to Have Girlfriend Bible Studies
• Get ripped with Ruth. Meet at the health club and walk side-by-side on the treadmill with your BFF. The study’s spiral binding and modest size lends itself to being stashed in a gym bag. You won’t even have to pack your Bible. The text is included.
• Inhale the aroma of java as you enter your favorite coffee shop. Order yourself a cappuccino, and then hang out around the table with friends discussing Colossians.
• For your friend’s birthday, give her chocolate-covered coffee beans and a Coffee Cup Bible study. Promise her an hour every week of your time for building your friendship on what lasts.
• Invite the person who does your nails to consider the words of Jesus. Provide a copy of Mocha on the Mount, and every time you’re together discuss what you’re both learning as you go through it.
• Schedule an extended “Spiritual Spa Day” together by watching and discussing a movie about Esther as you kick off bi-weekly meetings around your kitchen table. Contemplate what the Hadassah spa—Esther’s year of beauty treatments—must have been like. Then consider the part of her beauty that was deeper than skin.
• You don’t have to sip your cuppa joe in a shop that starts with an “S.” Grab some colleagues and organize a small group study. You can nurse your favorite beverage in the company cafeteria, the hospital coffee shop—even your local McDonald’s.
• Brew a pot of coffee in your church kitchen and meet one evening per week with members of your congregation. Engage in a lively discussion about Deborah, Jael, and Samson’s mother as you go through Java with the Judges.
Thursday, November 05, 2009
Wednesday, November 04, 2009
When I was asked if I could be a stop on a blog tour for Leslie Patricelli - I just smiled! I can not even tell you how much we LOVE Leslie at our house! Her book, Higher! Higher!, is a constant favorite - on that Chloe asks me to read again and again!
So I was honored that I could interview Leslie as well. Here is what Leslie had to say!
When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I wanted to be an artist before a writer. When someone asked me, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" my answer was always, "An artist!" In Junior High I refined that, and for my career day interview, I told my teacher I wanted to be a commercial artist and a ski instructor. The teacher kind of laughed at me, like "good luck, kid!" (And he didn't even know I would grow up and marry a musician!)
In college, I started to think about kids' books, since I'd loved them as a kid, and it's seemed like a perfect thing to do if you love to write and draw. I wasn't aiming for that as my career, though, mainly because I had no idea how to get there. At the University of Washington (then, at least) you got pretty pigeonholed into a major and I didn't want to do only art or only writing. I decided to major in communications and thought I might be a graphic designer, until I went to an advertising agency and a copywriter convinced me that he had the fun job. So I aimed for that, and my first job out of college was to write copy for direct mail (that's "junk mail" to everyone who's not in the industry). I learned a lot; like how to write incomplete sentences and use lots of ellipses and exclamation points!!!!!!!! (Basically to write like I was talking.) I also learned that I didn't really like going to an office every day.
Thus I began my path as a "freelance artist" – or "I don't know what I want to do, but I know I don't want to do that!" So I quit the working world and went to Italy, where I traveled, skied and worked as a nanny. I did lots of journal keeping, drawing and reading on my adventure. Before I came home, I had resolved to be a cartoonist . I started my career by self-publishing a cartoon book about the espresso craze of the early 90's in Seattle, called, 'Espresso Served Here!' My cartoon book helped me get a freelance job with Microsoft doing clip art illustrations in their children's division. This led to seven years of freelancing for Microsoft, mainly animating characters (anyone still have Rover the dog on Windows XP? He's mine!).
At Microsoft, I met career writers, animators, and illustrators. I shared an office with Kevan Atteberry, a fantastic illustrator. He told me about a Children's Book class that he had taken at the School of Visual Concepts in Seattle. I took the class, which was taught by two author/illustrators, Keith Baker and Laura Kvasnosky. In the class, I met my awesome critique group (Margaret Chodos-Irvine and Lorie Ann Grover), who helped me stay on the path of getting a book published. Six years after that, my first books came out! (Note: Be sure to look up all those author's names I just dropped, if you don't already know them, you'll find some great children's books!)
What is the story behind the first book you got published – how many tries to find a publisher, etc.?
I mentioned my cartoon book, 'Espresso Served Here!' – it was the first book that I submitted to a publisher. I submitted it to Sasquatch Books, in Seattle, twice. The first time, it was a very rough draft. When I got a rejection, I called the publisher directly and asked why they didn't want to do it. I could tell it was too rough for them to even consider it. So I finished the whole thing with final art and resubmitted it. This time they considered it, but ultimately didn't take it. I was pretty broken-hearted, but I'd learned a lot and finished the book, so I decided to self-publish it. My uncle, who owned a printing company, helped me print it. My parents helped me fund it. I had a basement full of books and I sold them all going door to door to bookstores and espresso stands. I did a second printing, but by the time I'd gotten rid of the majority of that one, I was tired of acting as a publisher. So, several years later, when I started down the road of submitting children's books, I knew I wouldn't self publish again. Some people have great success with self-publishing, but you need to be prepared wear every hat in the entire venture – sales, marketing, accounting, etc. This time, I just wanted the artist hat.
The first children's book that I put together to submit was a poetry book starring these characters I'd worked on that I called Dandelion People. I got my poems and art into a dummy (mock-up) in my book class, but I never did get the idea working well enough to submit it to a publisher. I ended up moving onto another story that I wrote and illustrated, called 'The Nut'. I sent 'The Nut' to twelve publishers and got twelve rejections. I was encouraged to receive several rejections directly from editors (Not Enough Story!). That meant my book was getting onto their desks. I also got a personal rejection by phone and the editor was interested in seeing more. Unfortunately, I didn't really have more that I thought they'd be interested in. Also, I was started on a new project, which was my son. Little did I know that a year later, he would be the one inspiring my first published books.
I started drawing my board book baby in an infant CPR class right after my son, Beck, was born. The nurse was listing all the terrible things that could happen to my new baby . She went on and on, and I started drawing pictures of this baby doing everything she was talking about – sticking forks in outlets, falling down stairs, swimming in the toilet, choking on venetian blind cords, etc. I kept drawing the baby character during different parenting situations. Then, when my son was one, and sticking everything in his mouth, and I was following him around saying, "Yucky! Yucky!" I came up with Yummy Yucky to help teach kids what they can or can't stick into their mouths. I sketched it out and decided to do two other opposite books to go with it: Quiet Loud and Big Little. I put all of my sketches into book dummies and sent them to two publishers. Both of them wanted to publish them. Good fortune!
By the way, my original Yummy Yucky submission had the baby eating all sorts of really dangerous and poisonous things on the yucky pages. It had to be toned down quite a bit for publication!
How do you choose your topics for your books?
I don't choose them, they choose me! It sounds cliche, but it's true. Ideas pop into my head and the ones I like, I eventually sketch out into my sketch book. There are plenty of unfinished ideas in my sketchbooks that will probably rest there forever. But, if one seems like it's working, and I'm enjoying doing it, I'll keep at it. Once I pursue an idea enough to send to the publisher, it is ultimately up to them which books will move forward from there.
What is your favorite food??
Hard to say, because I love almost all food (except uni sushi – I'll pass on that), but being a good (half) Italian girl, I'll pick spaghetti with Italian sausage and fresh tomato-basil sauce.
Who are some of your favorite authors?
Also hard to say, because I love so many of them. I'll stick with picture books to narrow it down. I still love my favorite authors from my childhood, Dr. Seuss, Maurice Sendak and Shel Silverstein. My favorite book as a kid, and my kids now love it, was Mog the Forgetful Cat by Judith Kerr. I think it's funny that Mog, who forgets everything, was my favorite book as a kid, because I am always spacing out and forgetting things. On the other hand, my sister's favorite book was called 'The Dead Tree', by Alvin R Tresselt, about a dead tree that spawns new life. She grew up to be an evolutionary biologist! With my own kids, I find myself re-reading Peggy Rathman, Ian Falconer, Lauren Child, Amy Krouse Rosenthal, Jon Sciezka and J Otto Siebold, to name a few recent favorites, but by no means all.
Who has inspired you as a writer?
I was initially inspired for my own board books by Lucy Cousins, Todd Parr and Nina Laden. They taught me to keep it simple. Also, all the other authors and illustrators I've mentioned in this interview!
Plans you can share for upcoming books?
My next release, 'The Patterson Puppies and the Rainy Day' comes out on November 11. It's the first book that I've done that stems from an incident in my own childhood (it has to do with lots of water and a blue carpet!). It also has far more text than anything I've done to date. They are a cute family of four little puppies - two boys and two girls. I stole the personalities of the puppies directly from my own children. I am also done with the second Patterson Puppies book, called 'The Patterson Puppies and the Midnight Monster Party', also inspired by an incident from when I was a kid. I hope to do lots more Patterson Puppies books. Right now, I am in the middle of painting two new board books, 'Tubby' and 'Potty', starring my baby character. Look for those next fall! I'm also working on a rhyming picture book about a monkey drummer, and a middle grade novel (a brand new thing for me). Lots of fun stuff!
What has been one of your favorite books to write?
The process is so different for each book that I don't really have a favorite. Sometimes, they are complete in my head before I ever sketch them out, like Higher! Higher! Sometimes I have an idea and sit down and type all the words before I draw any pictures, like 'The Birthday Box' and the Patterson Puppies books. Sometimes I start with a picture and then find a story in it, like 'Binky'. I have absolutely loved writing my middle grade novel, I am amazed to see what stories emerge from my fingertips (but I have a feeling that editing that one could be my biggest challenge yet!)
Where is your favorite spot to write?
I really don't have one, I'll write anywhere that I can when I can find the time. I can tell you where I least like to write – my desk.
Can you tell us a bit about your family….
I come from a big, giant Italian family in Seattle with lots of cousins, aunts and uncles. I have a scientist sister, Gail, who creates bird robots (really – Google her!), and a dentist dad and hygienist mom who are retired now, but still clean our teeth. They also make excellent grandparents (when they are not off traveling or having fun). I have a drummer husband, Jason, who teaches music to kids, drums with local bands, and also teaches skiing here in Sun Valley. I met Jason in college and we have three hilarious children who are growing up too fast. They are Beck (10), Tia (7) and Tatum (5). For Halloween they are going to be Pennywise the Clown from Stephen King's 'It', a giant orange Ugly Doll (which my Mom sewed – it is incredible!), and a mummy. Beck is a fantastic musician like his Dad. Tia and Tatum love to draw and create. The messes they make are unbelievable! Our house is creative, fun, loud and messy!
And her books are just as good as her interview!! I received a copy of her latest book, The Patterson Puppies and the Rainy Day - just this week to review for this blog tour. I just LOVED it! I tell you, you can't go wrong with Patricelli!! Her stories are heart warming - and ones kids WILL relate to - and her illustrations are SO fun!
Thanks again to Leslie Patricelli for appearing, courtesy of Provato Marketing, for other stops on the tour please check www.provatoevents.com.