Tuesday, December 26, 2006


I AM NOT A QUITTER, but lately I sure feel like one. I started The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde - I LOVE Jane Eyre so thought I would love this one as well. Disappointingly - no, I did not love it, could barely get into it and so I gave up. I am wondering if I should try it again however, since on Amazon it got high reviews. SO - on to my next read - I really need a good one!!!

Monday, December 11, 2006

The Thirteenth Tale

I just finished this one and I am coming to the computer while it's still fresh in my brain to share about it. The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield is all that AND MORE!! I just loved it! It is an incredible book that with every page turn made me wonder - what is going on here?!?! I hesitiate to call it a mystery since it involves so much more, but yes, it will satisfy mystery-lovers as well. Here is a brief description from Amazon.com:

There are two heroines here: Vida Winter, a famous author, whose life story is coming to an end, and Margaret Lea, a young, unworldly, bookish girl who is a bookseller in her father's shop. Vida has been confounding her biographers and fans for years by giving everybody a different version of her life, each time swearing it's the truth. Because of a biography that Margaret has written about
brothers, Vida chooses Margaret to tell her story, all of it, for the first time. At their initial meeting, the conversation begins:
"You have given nineteen different versions of your life story to journalists in the last two
years alone." She [Vida] shrugged. "It's my profession. I'm a storyteller." "I am a biographer, I work with facts." The game is afoot and Margaret must spend some time sorting out whether or not Vida is actually
ready to tell the whole truth. There is more here of Margaret discovering than of Vida cooperating wholeheartedly, but that is part of Vida's plan.

I was hooked from the start and it really kept me guessing right up until the very end when - I WAS WRONG!!! The descriptions and story line are strong, characters are well-built. It is certainly not a "McNovel" - this one is full of literary quality!

Saturday, December 02, 2006

The Other Side of the Bridge

Remember Crow Lake?? Well this is Mary Lawson's most recent novel, The Other Side of the Bridge.

It was a book that kept me going all the way through - now you may ask, "Was it as good as Crow Lake?" I would say I didn't think so. But it was another great story about a family - which I loved about Crow Lake. Her characters are so strong - you really "get to know" them throughout her books. This one was a little more "raw" as the main characters are boys at that puberty stage and there are some "more explicit" scenes than in Crow Lake. In the story you are switching back and forth from past to present - I love it when authors do that - and you are piecing it all together because - it does all fit together - I love that when authors do that too!! It takes some unexpected turns and even in some spots I was so upset with the storyline I couldn't put it down - I had to keep reading to see that it all worked out ok. You won't be disappointed with this Mary Lawson novel!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Book Thief

Here it is....one of my favorites this year!!! I finished this some time ago but never posted about it - now I'm finally getting to it. The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak ~ I can not even hardly tell you how much I enjoyed this book. Was it that the narrator of the story is "death"? Was it the author's choice of wording and powerful description? Was it that the main character LOVES, LOVES, LOVES books and loves them so much she even resorts to stealing them? Was it that it was set during WWII in Germany and it deals with the Jewish Holocaust?? I do not know all of my reasons - just that I think it is one of the best books I've read this year and I'm telling everyone to read it!! (And as a side note - to those that I have had read it - they've loved it!!!) In our library - this book is in Young Adult - but I do think it crosses over into adult as well. A side note my husband said I should add - (By the way - HE LOVED IT TOO) there is quite a bit of swearing in the book - it's in German, but it is translated the first time it is used. Just wanted to give a heads-up on that. I would say it would not stop me from giving it to my boys to read though. An even better description of the book can be found here. One other note - I loved this one so much that I ran and read his next book I Am the Messenger. HATED IT!!! It is filled with "trash", in my opinion, very slow starting, and when I forced myself to keep reading - I never felt it redeemed itself. He should have stuck with history!! If you want discussion questions, the only place I have found them is here.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

When Crickets Cry

I just finished When Crickets Cry by Charles Martin. This was a very good book - it does claim to be a Christian novel - but it is not too "pushy" on the Christian aspect - you can take that as a good or bad thing. The story is quite good and very well-told. You meet a man who is mourning the loss of his wife to heart issues. Of course, since he was a doctor, her death was extremely difficult on him - especially so since he was working in the cardiac/heart specialty to cure her. As he is trying to "hide" from his past, he relocates and meets a little girl, Annie, who is also suffering from a heart issue. The only way Annie will survive is if a renowned surgeon - known for his specialty with smaller, intricate spaces - will operate on her - now, if only that surgeon will step forward......I'm not giving anything away - you know very early on who that surgeon is - it just takes the novel unfolding to tell us what happens to Annie and the doctor recovering from his wife's death. I did enjoy this story - in fact, I was near tears in a few parts - for the most part, I thought it was very easy to figure out what would happen, but the end does take a very dramatic and unexpected turn which lends for an interesting ending. I did enjoy this book and would recommend it - touching, well-told story.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The House of the Scorpion

Well - I finished House of the Scorpion today - after weeks of pushing through - which is very unlike me! First of all - I am NOT a science fiction fan - that was a big hold back for me - secondly, I had another book I really WANTED to read at the same time- that's not fair, is it??? But it did not reach out and grab me - the only reasons I kept plugging along were that 1) my husband LOVED it and I wanted to give it a good "go" and 2) I have to discuss it with teens in a program coming up here shortly. So - I did finish - I'm glad I did but I must say it just never held me. It does explore the issue of cloning and yes, as my husband said, I did empathize with the main character, Matt, who is "built" just for "parts" for a very wealthy landowner. Beyond that - I would have a hard time telling others to run right out and read it - but since my husband really enjoyed it - I will put a disclaimer on - If you love science fiction, I bet you'll really enjoy this one - if not, hang on - it's a long read!!

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

A friend that has also adopted a daughter from China suggested I read Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See. She told me that it has so much information on how women feel that are born in China - and, after finishing it, all I can say is "Wow!!" This book is so powerful. I have heard of foot binding and other aspects of "older" China culture - but this is so real when you read it - almost as if you are living with these ladies in China. In this story you follow Lily as she grows up in a typical poor Chinese home - from her foot binding to her arranged marriage to her arrangement with her laotung (her match with another woman friend - they are typically even closer than husband and wife in China just because of the roles that men and women are allowed to play). It was powerful and touching and ends full of regret and longing - it makes you look at all of your relationships in a whole new light. I am so glad I read it - not only to share a part of her culture with my daughter someday, but also because it is just another glimpse into friendships.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Crow Lake

I have finished this for the second time now and still am amazed at what a good book it is! (Even for the second time through.) Mary Lawson is a powerful author that crafts a world in which you are sure you'd like to stay - at least for another novel or two!! At the end of Crow Lake, I feel as though I know Luke, Matt, Bo and Kate and wish we could stay and chat for awhile. It is a heartwarming family story - what if both of your parents had died and left two teenage boys to care for two younger sister - how would that alter your family, who would care for the kids, who would provide financially, how would the futures be different than planned, and what kind of adults would that make of those children?? I think People said it best, "A touching meditation on the power of loyalty and loss, on the ways in which we pay our debts and settle old scores and on what it means to love, to accept, to succeed - and to negotiate fate's obstacle courses." Has to be one of my favorite reads!

Monday, October 16, 2006

Left To Tell

Left to Tell is the story of Immaculee Ilibagiza. How she grew up in a country she loved, surrounded by a family she cherished. She thought her world was almost perfect until the scary day in 1994 when her idyllic world was ripped apart - the day Rwanda descended into a bloody genocide. Immaculee’s family was brutally murdered during a killing spree that lasted three months and claimed the lives of nearly a million Rwandans. Incredibly, Immaculee survived the slaughter. For over three months, she and seven other women huddled silently together in the cramped bathroom of a local pastor while hundreds of machete-wielding killers hunted for them.
It is during those endless hours that Immaculee discovers the power of prayer. She lets go of her fear of death and finds a profound and lasting relationship with God. She emerges from her bathroom hideout having discovered the meaning of truly unconditional love—a love so strong she is able seek out and forgive her family’s killers and same men trying to hunt her down as well.
The triumphant story of this remarkable young woman’s journey through the darkness of genocide spoke to me and kept me riveted from the first page - I am not normally a non-fiction lover, but this one kept me wanting more. A truly tragic time for Rwanda, but a growing time in the life of Immaculee.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

The Gospel According to Larry

Do you want an interesting teen novel? Then The Gospel According to Larry, by Janet Tashjian may be just right for you. This is the story of Josh Swenson - age 17 - and his plan to contribute and make the world a better place. He does this through a website he creates - undercover, of course - and posts daily "sermons" on materialism and anticonsumerism. He takes the world by storm and becomes a huge media sensation. No one knows its him - not even his best friend, Beth. When he becomes exposed though, he needs a whole new plan to escape the sensationalism of his life. Teens will enjoy this one - and it does challenge them to think of how they can make an impact on the world. Even has a reader's group discussion guide.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Water Street

Patricia Reilly Giff has done it again and this time - even better, I think!! In Water Street, we learn the story of Bird and her life in New York in1875 during the building of the Brooklyn Bridge. (This area of the U.S. is unfamilar to me but I am sure if you live anywhere near there it is even more appealing.) Bird and her neighbor, Thomas Neary, spend their eigth grade year making big decisions about what to do with their lives. To complicate matters, Bird's family are immigrants from Ireland after the potato famine - we see how they were treated and how difficult it must have been to be an immigrant. One of those teens-coming-of-age books, but so sweet and this is truly one of those I DID NOT want to end.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Marley and Me

What a wonderful book!! I just finished it and still have tears in my eyes. (And that doesn't happen too often!) I love animals but we have tried dogs, cats, etc. and all seem to be too much work for us with four kids as well - SO - when I started the book I was sure it wouldn't touch me like it has touched others. I was so wrong!! Even not having a dog that I've lived with for years that I could use to relate to - Marley and Me captured my heart! AND, if you've had a dog buddy - then I know it will find a spot in your heart too. Great read - non-fiction but don't hold that against it!! The author, John Grogan, has some spots where he is "earthy" and tells it like it is - trying to get pregnant, some swearing, etc. But all-in-all a good read.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Loving Soren

Ok - I'll admit right up front that what caught me on this book was because when I was dating my husand (a Philosophy Major) he talked alot about Soren Kierkegaard, and I couldn't believe there was a book written about the woman that was in love with him. Caroline Coleman O'Neill has done it though with her book, Loving Soren. What a great story - it kept me going the whole way through (hey, and I may have even gleaned some philosophy along the way!!). This is the true story of the woman who fell in love with Soren and their tragic love story. It was so intriguing to me to watch his obsession and what it eventually did to him ~ one whom we consider a philosopher and great thinker.


Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin ~ Book with a great idea. What would happen if we died and then (whatever age we were at death) we started going the opposite direction back towards birth?? Got ya thinkin'?!?!? It caught me right away - what a new idea! I like the teen's perspective as well. This is a good one!

Chu Ju's House

Another wonderful book for Junior High or even Young Adult. Chu Ju's House by Gloria Whelan is a superb read - and a great learning experience at the same time. I read this because of having adopted from China - and I devour anything "china". This ranks right up there though as one of my favorites because of the storyline. It is about a chinese girl that chooses to leave her home so that her parents won't sell her baby sister. Her story is amazing and has some interesting China culture as Chu Ju is traveling on her own through the country to leave her family.

Penny from Heaven

You know it's a good book when, having finished, you are sad there is no more! This was one of those stories for me. It's the story of 11 year old, Penny, growing up in 1953 with her grandparents and mother after her father passes away. The book is a series of wonderful vignettes of her life with her mother's family and her dead father's Italian family. The stories of her life make you laugh and ultimately cry. Great look into how Amercia treated the Irish Immigrants in the times around World War II. Also wonderful coming-of-age story. Jr. High level.

Abide With Me

Another excellent read is Elizabeth Strout's Abide with Me. This was a rare look at a father-daughter relationship when the death of the mother has occurred. The father is a minister which adds another wonderful dimension to the story. Tender story of this relationship and other relationships within the church as well. All-in-all - a rare glimpse at a touching relationship.

Chronicles of the Kings

One of my favorite Christian Fiction series on Old Testament History. Lynn Austin has five titles in this series and each takes place around King Hezekiah's reign - or subsequent heirs' reigns. I thoroughly enjoyed this series as it brought the Old Testament alive to me - well worth the time to invest to read through the whole series. Concludes with the life of Joshua and King Manasseh.

As far as I am aware - here is the order to the series:
#1 - Gods and Kings
#2 - Song of Redemption
#3 - Strength of His Hand
#4 - My Father's God
#5 - Among the Gods

Love You This Much

Our family favorite right now - Chloe heard this wonderful story at Kindermusik and we (being the highly literate parents we are) went right out and bought it for her. The whole book is put to song on a CD that is included - we sing along with the CD before nap and before bed - per Chloe's request. It is endearing and the best part is to hear Chloe sing along: "I love you best, I love you most, I love you high, I love you low, I love you deep, I love you wide - I love you THIS MUCH!!!"
I Love You This Much
by Lynn Hodges

It Had to Happen

Well - if you've read my family blog - you knew it had to happen at some point - I am addicted to books (there are worse things to be addicted to!!) and I am asked often what is good to read. SO - I thought I'd start one place to post what I am reading/have read/etc. I am a children's librarian so I do a lot of book buying for our library - that means I read a wide range of books - I will try to post clearly which category, age range, etc. each book falls into. I will just list everything I am reading - it may not necessarily mean I would recommend each title but I will try to note that too. I find it is so hard to recommend books to people - I may say it's wonderful - you may feel otherwise - that's the beauty of books - feel free to post that on the comments - I love book discussions and this can turn into that as well!

Enjoy and Keep Reading!!

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