Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Books Read in 2008

1. Getting Stoned with Savages - J. Maarten Troost
2. 90 Minutes in Heaven - Don Piper
3. Crazy Aunt Purl's Drunk, Divorced & Covered in Cat Hair - Laurie Perry
4. The Power of Adversity - Al Weatherhead
5. The Bleeding Dusk - Colleen Gleason
6. Monkey Star - Brenda Scott Royce
7. Who Creamed Peaches, Anyway? - Stevi Mittman

8. The World According to Mimi Smartypants - Mimi Smartypants
9. Anonymous Lawyer - Jeremy Blachman
10. Sailing Alone Around the World - Capt. Joshua Slocum
11. The Giver - Lois Lowry
12. Point Blank - Anthony Horowitz
13. The Night Lives On - Walter Lord
14. Cotillion - Georgette Heyer
15. A Hawaiian Reader, Vol. 1 - Stroven & Day
16. The Tiger Rising - Kate DiCamillo
17. A Night to Remember - Walter Lord
18. Waiting to Surface - Emily Listfield
19. Stardust - Neil Gaiman
20. Dreadful Sorry - Kathryn Reiss

21. Coma - Alex Garland
22. Persuasion - Jane Austen
23. The Last Single Woman in the World - Cindy Guidry
24. When Lightning Strikes - Kristin Hannah
25. Night Train - Martin Amis
26. On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness - Andrew Peterson
27. The Fabulous Saga of Alexander Botts and the Earthworm Tractor - William Hazlett Upson
28. Moving Forward: Taking the Lead in Your Life - Dave Pelzer
29. Life Class - Pat Barker
30. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian - Sherman Alexie

31. The Olive Season - Carol Drinkwater
32. A Fraction of the Whole - Steve Toltz
33. The Two Princesses of Bamarre - Gail Carson Levine
34. Fairest - Gail Carson Leviine
35. Loose Ends - Les Combs
36. It Happened in Oklahoma - Robert L. Dorman
37. The Disagreement - Nick Taylor

38. An Irish Country Doctor - Patrick Taylor
39. Defining Dulcie - Paul Acampora
40. Ella Enchanted - Gail Carson Levine
41. An Irish Country Village - Patrick Taylor
42. Vicksburg and Warren County: A History of People and Place - Pamela Lea Grillis
43. The Boy Who Loved Anne Frank - Ellen Feldman
44. Moonstruck - Susan Grant
45. Jeremy Visick - David Wiseman
46. Tarnished Beauty - Cecilia Samartin
47. The Sugar Queen - Sarah Addison Allen

48. Mrs. Lieutenant - Phyllis Zimbler Miller
49. Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior - Ori & Rom Brafman
50. The Well-Fed Self-Publisher - Peter Bowerman
--- Simple Genius - David Baldacci (audio)
51. Eat, Pray, Love - Elizabeth Gilbert
52. Overcoming Hurts & Anger - Dwight L. Carson, M.D.
53. Facts the Historians Leave Out: A Confederate Primer - John S. Tilley
54. In the Land of Dreamy Dreams - Ellen Gilchrist
55. Return from Tomorrow - George Ritchie w/Elizabeth Sherrill
56. Early Widow - Mary Jane Worden
57. The Queen of Sleepy Eye - Patti Hill
58. The Book of Dahlia - Elisa Albert
59. Human Voices - Penelope Fitzgerald
60. Sermons & Soda Water III: We're Friends Again - John O'Hara
61. Entropy - Anthony Lawrence Gordon
62. Letters of a Woman Homesteader - Elinore Pruitt Stewart

63. In the Clearing - Robert Frost
64. At Home in Mitford - Jan Karon
65. The Questory of Root Karbunkulus - Kamilla Reid
66. Anne of Green Gables - L. M. Montgomery
67. Life as We Knew It - Susan Beth Pfeffer
68. The Rabbit & the Snowman - Sally O. Lee
69. Legerdemain - James J. Heaphey
70. Will Storr vs. the Supernatural - Will Storr
71. Remember Me? - Sophie Kinsella
72. What If . . . ? - Steve N. Lee
73. Washington's Lady - Nancy Moser
74. Queen of Babble - Meg Cabot
75. Rowan of the Wood - Christine & Ethan Rose
76. Down to a Sunless Sea - Mathias Freese

77. Matrimony - Joshua Henkin
78. High Altitude Leadership - Chris Warner & Don Schminke
79. When Twilight Burns - Colleen Gleason
80. The Best of Robert Service - Robert Service
81. Why Women Shouldn't Marry - Cynthia & Hilary Smith
82. Don't You Forget About Me - Jancee Dunn
83. Get Smart: How email can make or break your career - M. Pulley & J. Hiberry
84. A Promise to Remember - Kathryn Cushman
85. Copper Fire - Suzanne Woods Fisher
86. The Importance of Being Married - Gemma Townley
87. Princess Academy - Shannon Hale
88. Did I Expect Angels? - Kathryn Maughan

89. Talk of the Town - Lisa Wingate
90. The Words of War - Donagh Bracken
91. Eleanor Rigby - Douglas Coupland
92. The Last Queen - C. W. Gortner
93. Blue Sky July - Nia Wyn
94. Chameleon, Butterfly, Dragonfly - Cindy Silbert
95. Walking Through Walls - Philip Smith
96. Farworld: Water Keep - J. Scott Savage
97. The Darcys & the Bingleys - Marsha Altman
98. Anatomy of a Boyfriend - D. Snadowsky
99. An Inconvenient Truth, adapted for a New Generation - Al Gore
100. Awakening the Genie Within - Bettye Johnson

101. Mozart's Sister - Nancy Moser
102. Bedlam South - Mark Grisham & David Donaldson
103. Sarah's Key - Tatiana de Rosnay
104. Occasional Therapy for Your Midlife Years - Dr. Ellyn Gamberg
105. Who Lied & Said We Left the Garden of Eden - Daniel Martin
106. Operation Blue Light - Philip Chabot
107. The Lost Diary of Don Juan - Douglas Carlton
108. The Swan House - Elizabeth Musser
109. The Shack - Wm. P. Young
110. Just Jane - Nancy Moser
111. Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat - Vicki Myron
112. Creepers - Joanne Dahme
113. Homeland Insecurity - Turchie & Puckett
114. The Invention of Hugo Cabret - Brian Selznick

115. To Catch the Lightning - Alan Cheuse
116. Dirty Little Secrets of Buzz - David Seaman
117. The Dharma King - B. J. Stroh
118. The Integrity Divident - Tony Simons
119. An Abundance of Katherines - John Green
120. Baby Shark's High Plains Redemption - Robert Fate
121. The Adventures of Songha - Linda R. Caterine
122. Chasing Diana - Jack & Robin Firestone
123. Album of the Damned - Paul Garson
124. Two Brothers: One North, One South - David H. Jones
125. Flight to St. Antony - Tony Blackman
126. Grit for the Oyster - Various authors
127. Waiting for Daybreak - Kathryn Cushman

128. The Dragonfly's Secret - Clea & John Adams
129. Stories from the Heart - Various authors
130. King George: What Was His Problem? - Steve Sheinkin
131. My Sister Dilly - Maureen Lang
132. The Pages In Between - Erin Einhorn
133. Enslaved by Ducks - Bob Tarte
134. Marketplace Memos - David & Jonathan Shibley
135. Queen of the Road - Doreen Orion
136. Perfect on Paper - Maria Murnane
137. Looking for Alaska - John Green
138. Relax, It's Only a Ghost - Echo Bodine
139. Tender Graces - Jackina Stark
140. Petted by the Light - P. Tobin & C. Doley
141. 15 Minutes of Shame - Lisa Daily
142. How Starbucks Saved My Life - Michael Gates

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

2008 Reading Year in Review

If you'd like to read about past reading/blogging years, you can check them out, here:


I tend to overlook a book or two, when flipping through lists, so don't be surprised if there are red-highlighted additions, in a few days.

Number of books read in 2008: 142 (this beats my previous high of 128)

Total pages read: 36,564

Average book length: 257 pages

Longest book read in 2008 (a three-way tie, all at 530 pages):
A Fraction of the Whole - Steve Tolz
An Irish Country Doctor - Patrick Taylor
The Invention of Hugo Cabret - Brian Selznick

Shortest book read in 2008 (not counting books for children):
Facts the Historians Leave Out: A Confederate Primer - John S. Stilley at 76 pages

Fiction reads: 93

Favorite fiction: Argh! So hard! I loved the following:
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian - Sherman Alexie
An Abundance of Katherines & Looking for Alaska - John Green
The Bleeding Dusk & When Twilight Burns - Colleen Gleason
The Fabulous Saga of Alexandar Botts and the Earthworm Tractor - William Hazlett Upson
Human Voices - Penelope Fitzgerald
Talk of the Town - Lisa Wingate
The Darcys and the Bingleys - Marsha Altman
Baby Shark's High Plains Redemption - Robert Fate
The Invention of Hugo Cabret - David Selznick

Non-fiction reads: 49

Favorite non-fiction:
The Olive Season - Carol Drinkwater
Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior - Ori & Rom Brafman
Letters of a Woman Homesteader - Elinore Pruitt Stewart
Legerdemain - James J. Heaphey
Will Storr vs. the Supernatural - Will Storr
Album of the Damned - Paul Garson
Sailing Around the World alone - Joshua Slocum
A Hawaiian Reader, Vol. 1 - Stroven & Day

Number of authors new to me: 116

Biggest smile-inducers:
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian - Sherman Alexie

Letters of a Woman Homesteader - Elinore Pruitt Stewart
Getting Stoned with Savages - J. Maarten Troost
The Fabulous Saga of Alexander Botts, etc. - Wm. H. Upson
Human Voices - Penelope Lively
Anne of Green Gables - L. M. Montgomery
Remember Me? - Sophie Kinsella
Talk of the Town - Lisa Wingate
The Darcys and the Bingleys - Marsha Altman
An Abundance of Katherines - John Green
Perfect on Paper - Maria Murnane

What can I say? I needed smiles . . . I found them.

Early Widow - Mary Jane Worden
Eleanor Rigby - Douglas Coupland (but it also made me smile)
Looking for Alaska - John Green
Blue Sky July - Nia Wyn
Mrs. Lieutenant - Phyllis Zimbler Miller

Nightmare-inducing (literally):
I don't remember any books that triggered nightmares, this year, although there usually are a few. Everything gives me nightmares.

Most awesome writing:
An Abundance of Katherines & Looking for Alaska - John Green
A Hawaiian Reader, Vol. 1 (a collection of writings about the Hawaiian Islands, mostly by well-known writers and beginning with Captain Cook - Mark Twain's stories, in particular, are hilarious)
A Fraction of the Whole - Steve Toltz

Most educational:

The Words of War - Donagh Bracken, when combined with The West Point Atlas of War: The Civil War

Authors I wish would hurry up and write more:
John Green
Hugh Laurie (still waiting, Hugh - come on, hurry up)
Patricia Wood
Simon Van Booy . . . I am eagerly awaiting his spring release

That's all, for now! I skipped a few categories from my 2006-7 format because I'm tired. I need rest. Nighty-night!

I know, I know. Bad Bookfool!

Happy New Year!!! For 2009, I wish you many happy visits from the People Who Give Joy to Book Addicts, including the big brown van drivers and the yellow van drivers and the red, white and blue drivers and the FedEx guys (whom I can advertise because my son works for them). I wish you zero visits from the beefy heroes in the red trucks, although it's okay if we all have many muscular sightings, right?

We went out of our way to have a fun holiday and staying off the computer as much as possible was one of my commitments. Well, darned if that doesn't backfire on a gal. You guys post too much! There are currently 838 posts in my Google Reader and I desperately want to read them all, but I think it would be best to do a mass-cleaning job and start out fresh. Is okay? Nobody hit little Bookfool?

I am working on various catch-up projects and should be back to regular posting, soon.
Coming up:

2008 Reads in Review
A review of Tender Graces by Jackina Stark
Reading Goals for 2009 (I really only have one -- finish nothing crappy) and possibly blogging goals
A post about joining Anna's WWII reading challenge (even though I'm challenge challenged)
And, finally . . . a post on my first set of 100,000-Hit Celebration giveaways

Gah, that all makes me want to take a big nap.

My little post-holiday poll will close, tomorrow, then final results should show up. But, I can't say for sure, since I've never done a poll. I feel all fresh and new in a poll-creating way. Most everyone seems to feel deflated after the holidays. Personally, I'm a combination of at least three of those but I lean heavily toward the slashed-pool feeling. If you didn't get a Christmas card from me and you were expecting one . . . well, shucks. Blew it, again. I'm planning to toss together a letter for Old Friends Who Have Ditched Us and The Few Relatives Who Still Remember We're Here, not necessarily including the one who keeps calling and writing because she wants something I took out of my mother's house. What's up with that? Till the funeral, it's like she'd evaporated. Otherwise, I think I may call it a bad card year and give up. .

I finished my first read of 2009, this morning: 84 Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff.

Here are the other books I finished whilst away from the blog:

Looking for Alaska by John Green - Oh, man. Someone make this guy write faster. Can anyone say "author crush"??

Relax, It's Only a Ghost by Echo Bodine - A very disappointing story of ghost-busting by a chick who sometimes just leaves the ghosts there and calls it a day.
Petted by the Light by P. Tobin & C. Doley - A parody of the 90's I-swear-I-died-and-went-to-heaven hit, Embraced by the Light . . . starring cats, particularly a cat named Lucky, who tests the 9-Lives Theory repeatedly.
Fifteen Minutes of Shame by Lisa Daily - A tremendously fun, light read about a dating expert who finds out she's been ditched by her husband whilst appearing on national television.
How Starbucks Saved My Life by Michael Gates Gill - The memoir of a formerly-wealthy ad executive whose life improved when he got a job at Starbucks.

I want one of these:

Happy, happy 2009!!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Perfect on Paper by Maria Murnane

Perfect . . . on Paper: The Misadventures of Waverly Bryson
by Maria Murnane
Copyright 2008
Wink's Ink - fiction
314 pages

It was my dream to have a client who would fly me business class, but for now the only way I was sitting in business class was if I enrolled in one at the local community college.

"You know Waverly, you've got to lower your standards," Davey said. "The way I see it, dating is like being in the jungle. Now a relationship is a vine, and when things don't work out, you're basically hanging a vine that ain't swinging anymore. Now you want to jump to another vine, a healthier vine, a more supportive vine, or maybe a more exciting vine, but if none of the other vines are good enough for you, or if you don't have enough energy to make the jump, you're going to spend the rest of your life clinging to a lifeless bottom of a dead vine just so you don't fall into the abyss below. " He accompanied the speech with swinging ape-like arm gestures and a variety of animal sounds.

What led you to pick up this book? I read a very positive review of this book and it was already on my wish list when I was offered a copy for a book tour -- which was supposed to be today. Apologies to the author and tour people. I cannot apparently read a calendar.

Describe the book without giving anything away. Oh, this is a hard one to synopsize. Waverly Bryson is dumped by her fiance just before her wedding. She has an okay job, a dysfunctional father who drives her nuts, great friends, and a knack for finding flaws in the men she dates. Will she ever find the perfect life she's hoping for?

What did you like most about the book? Maria Murnane is funny. I think that of all the books I've seen referred to as an "American Bridget Jones", this one is probably the closest because Waverly is just so darned fun. She's talented at work but screws up a great deal, personally and professionally. She's endearing and makes friends easily. Her dating life is a freak show. Waverly is a completely loveable, goofy character. And, she drinks too much.

What did you think of the characters? I truly loved them all. Even when she described her dating disasters, it was such fun reading that I liked the rejects.

Describe a favorite scene. There's a scene at a wedding, with a bunch of single people stuck at a table. They come up with a way to fill the time by listing "things that will exclude a possible date from consideration". What a great scene. But, honestly, they're all great except for the drunken heaving and that never thrills me.

Was there anything you didn't like about the book? I could say things fall into place a little too easily for Waverly, but that's not really true. More like . . . when they go right they really, really go right. She's sort of a classic chick-lit type of character, but the writing is better than most; Waverly is witty and fun. Wait? Was I supposed to find something wrong with the book? Nope, can't do it. I loved this book.

Recommended? Gosh, yes. Buy this book if you love chick lit or need a light read or an upper or just want to feel like, "Hahaha, my life is better than Waverly's because I got a guy without having to go through all that." It's just loads of fun and very original. Absolutely not a chick lit ditto book. In fact, even if you hate chick lit I'd still say give it a try but be forewarned that if you hate to smile you're in trouble. It's either self-published or small press (sorry, too lazy to look that up) but it's better edited than most big press books and . . . well, maybe one tiny thing I dislike is that people are always asking Waverly if she's all right because there's a bit of slapstick. But, I loved it. Highly recommended.

Anything else worth mentioning? The book arrived with a sweet note saying this is Maria's first book and she's very grateful for the reviews -- from Maria's husband father (oops, Maria corrected me). How cool is that? I just think that's ridiculously sweet.

Cover thoughts: Hmm, needs work. I think, actually, the title is pretty dull. "The Misadventures of Waverly Bryson" would have been great, if you ask me. My opinion. The cover could stand a picture, also. The little memo page is just not memorable.

I know I'm supposed to be taking a break from blogging, but there's one more thing I have to mention. Chris of Stuff as Dreams Are Made On sent me a Christmas gift and it was just the coolest gift that I have to mention it and say thank you for the hundred-thousandth time to Chris. He sent me a copy of Paper Towns by John Green!!!! Seriously, I squealed and bounced and squealed some more. The guys were ready to gag me (and the husband actually put his hand on my head to get me to stop bouncing), but it was at the top of my mental most-coveted books list and, honestly, how could I not? Thank you, Chris!!!

Since it's still Christmas week, here's another picture from the crazy nutso Bookfool who can't seem to shut up and stop posting. I'll call it "When Candy and Bookfool Mix, Weird Things Happen":

Also, thanks to Jessica for the reminder that it's not just Christmas season. Happy Hanukkah!!

Oops, I lied . . . again

I forgot that I have a book tour, tomorrow, so there will be one post coming up. Thanks to all for the Christmas greetings! We have something weird going on in our den, at the moment (puddles -- little cold puddles . . . no idea where they're coming from, although the roof is new, so it's not from above), so please pardon me if it takes some time to reply to comments! I have to clear out the den to make sure it's just in those few little spots.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Merry Christmas!

No Sunday Pie, today, because we had a very busy day of cleaning, shifting and tossing out. The cat's not in focus, but here's Miss Spooky relaxing with Snowman in the glow of our Christmas tree. See the little bird ornament? It has a tiny tag that says "bird bath" and he's sitting in a bird bath, brushing the feathers of his back with a toothbrush. We've really enjoyed our candy cane/bird compromise tree.

Here's a full view of our tree. The funky 70's-looking thing at the top is really just an ornament; but, I liked it and nobody else cared what ended up as a treetop. The bird ornaments don't show up well, as I expected, but Debi asked to see the whole tree and here 'tis.

I'm going to take a week off from blogging to finish cleaning up and enjoy having the family around. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all my wonderful bloggy friends!!!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The List Meme

Care threw me over the edge; I've had such fun reading this meme at other blogs and just loved her answers, so I decided to join in.

The things I have done are in BOLD.

1. Started my own blog (rather obvious, eh?)
2. Slept under the stars (camping -- a tent counts, I assume)
3. Played in a band (not the good kind, the elementary-jr.high-high school variety)
4. Visited Hawaii (Oahu twice, the Big Island and Maui)
5. Watched a meteor shower (numerous times; they're amazing)
6. Given more than I can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland/world (with a nursing baby in that heat -- miserable!)
8. Climbed a mountain (Flat-top mountain and some little bitty ones in Colo.)
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sung a solo
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched lightening at sea
14. Taught myself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning (very non-fun; bad guacamole at the Mexican restaurant)
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown my own vegetables (they were dinky and wrinkled)
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France (walked past the Louvre; didn't go in)
20. Slept on an overnight train (to Chicago, when young)
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitchhiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a Marathon (if a 10K counts)
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse (I can see why the ancients were freaked)
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset (Hawaii and Oklahoma win "best sunset locations", IMHO . . . so far)
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of my ancestors (Where's that? My ancestors were from everywhere! I'm a mutt!)
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught myself a new language
37. Have enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
41. Sung karaoke (at home, not in public)
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had my portrait painted (I have been sketched, though, by the daughter of one of my father's friends . . . in colored pencils . . . and she was quite talented)
48. Gone deep sea fishing (on the list of things I want to do, definitely)
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris (walked past it . . . sheesh)
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud (made little vases out of mud -- too fun)
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie (O, Brother, Where Art Thou?)
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching (Maine and Alaska -- Alaska was particularly awesome)
63. Got flowers for no reason (but I got a cactus, cough, hack, weird)
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy (plus, I have one of my dad's childhood toys, which is a mess but I love it)
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten Caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone (um, a toe -- it still looks weird, like it's pregnant or hunchback)
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person (very, very young -- the north view)
80. Published a book (okay, sort of -- a short story in a book)
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had my picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible (I'm going for it, again, next year)
86. Visited the White House (exterior only -- didn't go inside)
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life (hasn't every mother saved her kid from getting run over, shocked, or drowned, at some point?)
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous (director Alan Parker, now Sir Alan Parker, Willem Dafoe, Kevin Dunn -- all because Mississippi Burning was filmed here and the publicist mistook me for the set photographer, then introduced me to director and stars when I corrected him -- talked to Linda Howard on an elevator, took a workshop led by Nevada Barr . . . I saw the Queen of England from a distance and shared a table at Benihana's with Matt Dillon)
92. Joined a book club (online only)
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee
100. Rode an elephant

Wow, more than I expected! I need to spend more time bopping around Europe, apparently.

What the heck is that???? [below] A space on a bookshelf in Bookfool's house???

Don't worry. I fixed that problem really fast.

Happy Saturday!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Marketplace Memos by David & Jonathan Shibley

It is time to play a Wild Card! Every now and then, a book that I have chosen to read is going to pop up as a FIRST Wild Card Tour. Get dealt into the game! (Just click the button!) Wild Card Tours feature an author and his/her book's FIRST chapter!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card authors are:

and the book:

Marketplace Memos

New Leaf Publishing Group (October 20, 2008)


David Shibley is founder and president of Global Advance, a ministry that trains and resources thousands of church and business leaders every year in many of the world's most underserved nations. Having ministered in almost 60 nations, David has a passion to strengthen and encourage national leaders to advance God's kingdom worldwide. David and his wife, Naomi, have two married sons.

Jonathan Shibley serves as vice president of Global Advance. His primary focus is directing the Marketplace Missions program for equipping business leaders in developing nations. He also is engaged in international business. Before joining Global Advance, he earned a business degree from Baylor University and served with Promise Keepers and Teen Mania. Jonathan and his wife, Sarah, have three children.

Product Details:

List Price: $ 13.99
Hardcover: 173 pages
Publisher: New Leaf Publishing Group (October 20, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0892216786
ISBN-13: 978-0892216789


Giving Living

Years ago, a disgruntled man stormed up to Bob Pierce, founder of World Vision and Samaritan’s Purse, after he heard Dr. Pierce preach. The angry man snarled, “I guess all there is to this Christianity is give, give, give.” Reflecting later on that encounter, Dr. Pierce chuckled, “It just goes to show that even with the wrong spirit a man can get some revelation and truth!”

The often-quoted maxim – “You make a living by what you get, but you make a life by what you give” – is true. Here are seven practical benefits of giving for God’s Kingdom purposes and the fulfilling of the Great Commission.

Your gift goes where you may never go. Your gift is an extension of yourself. You receive money in exchange for your investment of time and life. So when you give for Kingdom purposes, in a real sense you’re giving a part of yourself. Your gift says you want your life to count for what is eternal. Americans are generous, and Christians in America are especially so. There are many legitimate causes, but I don’t know anywhere givers can get more done for the dollar than in giving to world missions.

Giving living loosens the grip of materialism. I noticed a bumper sticker on the back of a sports car that read, “The man who dies with the most toys…wins.” But Jesus taught that the man who dies with the most “toys” is a short-sighted fool. It’s time for us to stop loving cars and clothes and start loving countries! If God so loved the world that He gave His Son, we need to so love the world that we invest in being sure everyone everywhere hears about His Son. I’ve driven through the poverty-drenched streets of Kolkata and the wealth-lined avenues of Beverly Hills. In both environments I saw desperate people. Jesus wasn’t kidding when He warned, “Beware of covetousness because one’s life does not consist in the abundance of things he possesses.” God calls us to embrace biblical prosperity while rejecting materialism. We can do both; we must do both.

You experience the eternal principle of sowing and reaping. Some churches in Africa practice a unique form of church discipline. If a professing Christian is living in sin, he is allowed to come to church, but he is not allowed to give! When the offering place comes to him, the usher places his hand over the plate and prevents him from giving. It is a powerful statement that the blessing of God is literally being prevented from coming to the unrepentant man’s life. It’s an eternal law woven into the very fabric of the universe. Farmers call it the law of sowing and reaping. Scientists refer to it as cause and effect. It’s reinforced throughout the Scriptures. The pattern is clear: you must sow in order to reap.

You lay up treasures in heaven. Jesus taught, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth…but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven…for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” A businessman once approached me and said, “I need more of a heart for missions. What should I do?” I replied, “Write out a $2,500 check for missions and sow it to the harvest, and I promise you, you’ll have more of a heart for missions.”

It just works that way. Where your treasure is (present tense), there your heart will be (future tense). Although “you can’t take it with you,” you can send it on ahead! This very day you can lay up treasures in heaven.

God will supply your every need. Are you ready for a jolt? Philippians 4:19 is not a promise for every Christian. It’s a great verse: “My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” But it is not a carte blanche to be claimed at will by anybody. No, this promise is given exclusively to those who invest in advancing the gospel.

Read the context. Paul told the Philippians they were the only church that had invested to send him on his first missionary journey. As a result of their gift to launch Paul to the nations, he promised that God would supply their every need. Yes, you can claim Philippians 4:19 if you give for the advance of the gospel.

You experience the joy of making a difference in the world. I make no apologies for challenging American Christians to tear loose from some of their money and give it to advance Kingdom causes worldwide. Jesus taught, “To whom much is given, from him much will be required.” With blessing comes accountability. There is a longing inside every true Christ-follower to make a difference for Him. We do not bear sole responsibility for world evangelization, but because of our affluence and influence, we do bear heightened responsibility.

You experience the significance of participating in God’s global purposes. A businessman thanked me for the opportunity to give to Global Advance. He tearfully said, “You give me purpose.” For this man, building his company is not the bottom line. He goes beyond the bottom line to build Christ’s Kingdom through building his company.

You move past mere success to true significance by aligning your life with God’s primary purpose. God’s primary purpose is to see His Son known, loved, and worshiped by redeemed people from every tribe and nation. And you are part of that plan. Live to give.

Remember: “Give and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.” (Luke 6:38)

Reflect: “What do your offerings say about your heart levels of gratitude and love for God? What does your spending say about what’s truly important on this earth?” – Robert Morris

Pray: That God will make you a joyful giver to His Kingdom causes.

Act: Where is the Holy Spirit directing you to invest for Christ’s Kingdom today?

Bookfool's review: I would like to go into more detail, but I'm not sure whether or not a separate post fits the rules of this tour group, since I'm new and neglected to query in plenty of time for this post.

I really enjoyed this little 39-chapter Christian business-person's devotional, although I occasionally found the author stated opinions with which I found myself disagreeing. The 5th chapter was my personal favorite, about having the right attitude toward money, not being arrogant or placing your trust in always having money, if you've got plenty. Very relevant to the times. The 37th day bugged me because it was directly solely at married men; it could have been altered to include a wider audience but was primarily about treating your wife right. Nice, but not applicable to the female crowd, whether married or not, or to unmarried men.

I considered Marketplace Memos average to slightly above average reading. There is an extensive list of referenced scriptures in the back of the book. Although I considered the book a so-so read, I believe I'll reread this one and possibly do some highlighting and note-taking. It would make a nice little personal study to expand on the chapters by writing out those scriptures and looking up a few historical characters that were unfamiliar.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Enslaved by Ducks by Bob Tarte

Enslaved by Ducks by Bob Tarte
Copyright 2003
Algonquin Paperbacks - Nonfiction/Memoir
308 fun-filled pages

Self-interview time because I'm bored with myself. I just am. This time, I take the lead. Or I takes the lead. Or . . . well, whatever.

I: What possessed you to acquire a book with a duck on the cover?

Myself: A moment of insanity?

I: Bad start. Be serious, now.

Myself: Okay, then. I have no earthly idea how I found this book. I placed it on my wish list due to a recommendation by some stranger or blogger or alien, somewhere, and eventually acquired a copy. It's possible that it was one of those, "If you like this book, you'll love --" suggestions. Those things can get you into terrible trouble, but I've discovered some interesting reads because of chain suggestion ("If you like this then you'll like that; and if you like that then let me show you these . . . ").

I: So, tell us about the book without getting all weird and going off on tangents. And, no quacking.

Myself: (???) Enslaved by Ducks tells about the author's metamorphosis from pet-free life in the city to life in the country with a growing menagerie of tropical birds, water fowl, cats, rabbits, and other beasties (heavy on the avian life). It's a lovely tale of how one man learned about the joy one receives from animals, especially once you become truly devoted to them. Payback, in other words. He seems to have glimpsed intelligence in all of them -- even the turkeys, although turkeys are apparently really stupid.

I: What did you like most about this book?

Myself: It's witty, sweet, touching, sometimes sad . . . a great blend. It's just lovely the way the author not only put up with his wife's yearning to acquire animals, but eventually became an enthusiastic, devoted, hard-working pet owner. The effort they put into caring for their pets is astounding. And, I think I can safely say I'll never look at a duck, goose or starling quite the same way.

I: How did you look at them, before?

Myself: Photo opportunities, from a safe distance. Now, I'll probably be a little more observant of their personalities, as I am with the neighborhood cats. We'll see.

I: There's a personal story tickling your fingers. Go ahead, let it out.

Myself: My brother-in-law's family used to keep geese and ducks when they lived in a rural neighborhood in the Denver area. We went to visit and I was kind of stunned to see that they left their sliding door to the kitchen wide open, so that the animals just trotted inside (and pooped all over the floor, which was fortunately not carpeted). I'd never realized waterfowl can have such distinctive personalities. And, then, of course I promptly forgot about that experience . . . the other bit stuck with me. It's possible Me, Myself and I were responsible for the death of one of those animals to a marauding neighborhood fox, although I was absolutely certain I closed the barn door.

I: Oh, the shame.

Myself: Yeah. How do you atone for a dead goose? I've never figured that out.

I: Was there anything you disliked about the book?

Myself: Incessant wit occasionally annoys me, so there were times I had to put the book aside for a while and read something else. But, let's face it -- I do that all the time. There's really nothing to dislike about the book. Les thought the author should give up and get a dog. I didn't feel that way at all. It's really about how he not only adjusted to pet ownership but came to truly love his pets; and, I think you just have to read the entire book to understand how deeply the animals touched his life and changed him.

I: To whom would you recommend this book?

Myself: Animal lovers, in general. Please bear in mind that he does seem a bit cynical about the whole pet-ownership concept, at first, but it's a very sweet tale about how Bob grew to love his pets. I highly recommend Enslaved by Ducks.

I: Anything else?

Myself: Bob Tarte has recently released a second book, Fowl Weather. I will definitely read it, although it might take me some time to get around to it. If you're looking for a last-minute gift for the animal obsessive in your family, you might as well support the author and buy both. Heck, why not? He's a good guy. You could help save a turkey (or a starling or who knows what) by purchasing his books.

Have a quote or two or three or four:

And over time, I have found myself thinking of them less as "animals" and more as beings, as little packets of alien intelligence. People who hunt for sport probably never consider the deer or turkey they're about to blast to smithereens as a unique individual. But pat the hunter's hound on the head, idly suggest that one of these days you'd like to bag a dog with a .22, and expect a heated discussion. Viewed from an emotional distance, animals do tend to blend together into an undifferentiated mass, like a crowd of spectators at a football game. Yet even a common-as-mud pet like a parakeet will reveal a vivid personality if you pay close attention.

African gray parrots are prone to vitamin deficiencies that can lead to health problems if the bird is restricted to a seed diet, so we were only too happy to provide the pasta, tofu, and Jell-O that a wild bird would have scavenged from the forest.

Linda had always lived out in the country, and that was a big difference between us. Her past included subsistence living with a pig and several chickens in the Michigan north woods, while I had merely lived with Catholics in suburbia.

This one's for Laura, who thinks a book isn't worth its salt unless it contains the word "deft":

Using a long-handled net from a catfish farm, Rupert Murdoch dipped into the Cayuga pen, cornered the female, and with a twist of an arm, scooped her up. "You don't want her flying nowhere," he stated. When we nodded our agreement, he deftly plucked five primary flight feathers from her right wing. The duck never even flinched.

. . . speak with a soft voice, and you might be rewarded with the close approach of a goose. She might even let you touch her. And you had better treasure the gift. Too suddenly and too often, they leave us. It's then that we realize most sharply the subtle comfort of our animals' companionship. It's then that we know that we can't live without them, even though we sometimes must.

Me, Myself, and I: To end our review, we would like to share a fuzzy gosling moment:
All together, now. Awwwwww.

Wahoo! Wednesday: Christmas edition

Wahoo! for snowflakes, even if the best we can do is plastic. I love even fake snowflakes -- paper, crystal, plastic . . . you name it.

Wahoo! for funky camera effects! Here's a swipe past our Christmas tree:

Wahoo! for compromise! We now have a tree with a combination of little birds and candy canes (the red blurs).

Everyone's happy. I bought enough candy canes for the kiddo to set aside a little pile to eat, so he won't be stripping our tree, at least for a few days.

Wishing everyone a wahooey day and a charming Christmas season!

Pine-scented, peppermint-tolerant Bookfool

Monday, December 15, 2008

Oh, Christmas tree . . .

Last year, we didn't really have a Christmas tree at all, unless you count that little two-foot fake thing in a gold-painted styrofoam pot that I stuck on the dining table. Thanks to my mother's illness, we had no time to shop, no time to even drag out the little laser tree, certainly not a spare minute or the energy to decorate. Christmas was a total dud. This year, I said I wanted to do it right. Kiddo had admitted to feeling let-down by the lack of tree, decorations and gifts in 2007. And, none of us wanted to sit around feeling our losses; instead, we wanted to focus on the magic and beauty of the season. So, we decorated the porch. Hubby kindly bought a tree that fit my specifications. There are things under the tree.

The one thing that's not quite going my way . . . decorating the tree. I had this visual image of the colors, the style, the glistening light bouncing off crystal and blah, blah (primarily because I'm accustomed to nobody else having any interest). Before we even finished putting the second strand of lights on the tree, kiddo had thwarted my plan by hanging up a dozen candy canes -- nowhere close to that little decorating dream of mine. Just as I'd adjusted to the idea, he showed up in the office with a candy cane in his mouth.

"Wait!" I said. "You can't eat the decorations!"

The long-suffering teenager gave me that look . . . you know, the look, and said, "But, you didn't even like them. You called them . . . what was the word?"

"Umm, chintzy?"

"Something like that. You asked for it."

I suppose I did. So, now, the question is whether to just wait for him to consume the decorations and then start over with the pretties I really wanted to put on the tree or give up and watch as the tree is slowly stripped. I'm still thinking.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Sunday Pie

No real pie, this weekend (darn -- the strawberry rhubarb is all gone), just a jumble of life . . . and I haven't sat down to make a button, so you're looking at one of Bookfool's outdoor decorations instead of anything pie-oriented. Yes, it's true; we have a light-up deer with a moving head standing smack in the middle of our monkey grass. He's kind of cute, really, even though I never would have thought to buy a light-up deer, myself. It's the husband's doing.

Speaking of the husband . . . I had him string some new snowflake lights across the porch and he opted to add the deer, plus colored lights on each of our two porch columns (which sounds uppity, but it's not a big porch). He asked me to look at the lights before he was completely finished and asked, "What do you think? Are we veering toward white trash, here?" Snort. Actually, it looks really pretty. We've only decorated the porch, not the entire length of the house, and I think it's kind of nice -- probably good that we're not being entirely Scroogey, for once, when you get right down to it.

We are immersed in cleaning, decorating, tossing out possessions, folding laundry, wrapping gifts, yardwork, moving furniture and trying to clear out our floorless den in preparation for painting and reflooring. The reading has suffered a bit, although I did manage to finish three books and review them all, this week, so I'm happy about that.

Currently reading:

Fear in North Carolina: The Civil War Journals and Letters of the Henry Family - I set this one aside for a week, thinking I'd seriously better focus or I was never going to finish any of the books in that 7-book pile I was juggling. It worked; I managed to complete and review three books. Now I can read about Cornelia Henry's life, again.

So far, I'm finding it interesting the way Cornelia wrote about everyday life as a wife and mother, life and death around her, news about the war, weather, problems with the servants, etc., in a clipped manner and yet managed to record just enough info that the reader feels acquainted with her. Of greatest surprise has been the amount of sewing she accomplished -- typically an average of at least one or two items of clothing per day. So far, they've had a terrible time getting the loom to work right.

Queen of the Road by Doreen Orion - About a road trip in a luxuriously converted bus. I've only read a few pages, but will focus more on this one during the coming week. We just left the UFO Festival in Roswell, New Mexico -- I'm still on their practice run in the new bus-slash-home-away-from-home. I was particularly fascinated by the way Orion's husband insisted that she shouldn't make eye contact with anyone at the UFO Festival.

Enslaved by Ducks by Bob Tarte - Nearly finished with this raucous tale of pet ownership, but I have a headache and can't guarantee I'll be done with it by the end of the evening. Still fun, although occasionally the author's sense of humor gets a tiny bit tiresome. I should note that it's typical for me to become weary of consistent wit; even Dave Barry gets to me, after a while. And, I love Dave Barry.

Perfect on Paper by Maria Murnane - Just started this one, a few days ago, although I haven't gotten far, simply because my reading has been so sporadic. I've been pleasantly surprised. It's not trite or redundant for a chick-lit type of book, in my humble opinion. The writing is excellent and so far it hasn't been overly predictable.

Marketplace Memos by David and Jonathan Shibley - I think this is made to be read as a devotional, but I never read anything in the morning and every single day, the way I'm supposed to. I read a chunk when I feel like it. The jury is still out on this one.

Hurricane of Independence by Tony Williams - It may simply be the timing, but this book is not grabbing and holding my attention. I'm going to give it a few more days and if I can't get into the book, I'll pass it on.

I just realized Queen of the Road is not in my sidebar, so I'll have to amend that. Maybe tomorrow. The migraine fuzz is starting to really get to me. I think I'm going to clear off a space on the futon (I've been using it as a folding table) and read. Hope everyone's had a great weekend!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Pages In Between by Erin Einhorn

The Pages In Between by Erin Einhorn
Copyright 2008
Touchstone - Nonfiction/Memoir/History
276 pages

Subtitled "A Holocaust Legacy of Two Families, One Home," The Pages In Between is less a story of the Holocaust than it is a daughter's search to uncover the remarkable story of her Jewish mother, who was hidden in Poland during WWII, and her family's far-branching roots in the area.

What led you to pick up this book? WWII is one of my fascinations and this book was showing up all over the place. I just couldn't stand it; I had to read it.

Describe the book without giving anything away. Well, hmm, I'm not sure what could be referred to as giving anything away, but I'll separate anything that could possibly be considered a spoiler. The author's mother was a baby when her parents were shipped to Auschwitz -- she was not with them when they were herded onto a transport train. Erin Einhorn's grandfather, however, managed to escape from the train and stayed free just long enough to spirit his daughter into the hands of a Polish woman who agreed to hide her. He survived the war, retrieved his daughter and eventually moved to the U.S. with daughter Irene and a new wife. Irene never really said much about her escape, instead brushing off her daughter's inquiries.

The majority of Jews of Polish ancestry probably spend a week or two seeking out answers in the country. The author, a journalist, took a year's leave of absence from her newspaper job and moved to Poland, instead. As she uncovered her family's history, she ran into some interesting complications and I truly don't believe I can describe this book without mentioning the tragedy that hit her family, so . . .

Potential spoiler warning . . . skip if you're afraid I'll tell you too much

. . . During her year off, Einhorn's mother died. I think it's important to mention because the author found and met the son of the man who saved her mother from the Nazis, but -- here's where it gets weird -- the woman who sheltered baby Irene took compensation for hiding the child and the compensation was major: a complex of buildings owned by the child's father's family. There are some other twists and turns, but the reason I think it's important has to do with the fact that eventually the story focused as much on her effort to regain ownership of the building as it did on the family history.

Okay, you can uncover your eyes, now.

What did you like most about the book? In a way, it reads a bit like a mystery as the author began to dig for the truth about her mother's past and discovered not only some very fascinating bits of family history, but also that some of the family legends and a few of her mother's memories were not accurate.

How did you feel about the real-life characters involved in this author's tale? I got so darned involved. That was good; I really wanted to learn about her family's history. And yet, there were some things that bothered me about the people. It was really very difficult to tell whether or not the Polish family who took in Einhorn's mother did so without the simple ulterior motive of acquiring property. And, yet, you have to admit that matters little when the result was the sparing of a life.

And, then there's the author. She is probably a very nice person, but she came off as whiny and obsessive. I say she's probably nice because it appeared that she made friends easily and you have to admire her diligent efforts to uncover the truth. But, it was kind of hard to tell just what on earth she was really after. I guess in order to understand my own feelings about her search, you have to understand that my mother was similarly secretive about her past. And, because I've never felt compelled to dig further, I found it a little bizarre that the auther was obsessed enough to actually move overseas. Overkill? Hard to say. I don't think we all necessarily feel the same need to uncover family secrets, so I respect her burning need to find answers.

Was there anything you didn't like about the book? The whole mess about that set of buildings just seemed ridiculous to me. On the one hand, I understand the author's curiosity and why people who are related to a Holocaust survivor would want answers about what happened to their family members and to discover information about their ancestry and where they came from. I know scattered bits about my own history and it's fascinating; my French ancestors were among the Protestants driven out of France hundreds of years ago -- same story, different place and religion. But, I don't understand why anyone would expect to have property that has been in someone else's hands restored to them a generation or two hence. So, I really kept hoping the author would just walk away from the property issues, do her research and tell the good stories. I didn't care about the buildings; it's the people that are important, in my humble opinion.

Recommended? Yes, but with a warning that you have to be a little patient to get to the good stuff. I would call this an average read because I personally wanted to slap the author upside the head and say, "Give up on trying to get the building problem cleared up and just focus on the real story, the history of your family." But, that's me. I wouldn't tell anyone to avoid this book, but I will say it was not a personal favorite. It will, however, probably stick with me for a while. There are some haunting details that keep rolling around in my head.

Anything else worth mentioning? The author was adamant that she had learned an important lesson: she went to Poland with a prejudice against Polish people and left with the understanding that humans are the same everywhere. She met and befriended some truly amazing, generous people. I was particularly impressed with the kindness of those who traveled with her, translating conversations and documents.

Cover thoughts: The cover grabbed me because of the top photo. I wanted to know who those people were, whether they lived through the war, what stories they could tell. The building at the bottom is a clue that the story is not just about the people, but I didn't catch that. It's all relevant to the content and it works for me. I like it.

Moving right along: For some reason I don't fully understand, I just signed up for Twitter. Why? I must be feeling lonely, which probably means I need to get a couple of kittens. Anyway, I haven't figured out exactly how one twits, but I already knew there was something wrong with me. Feel free to let me know what on earth I'm supposed to do.

No great photos, this week. That weather was really something. I need to go on a field trip. Have a great weekend!

All kinds of wahooey goodness from book pals

Just a warning . . . if you get envious easily, have a nice little coffee or tea and one of those anti-anxiety pills because you are going to be so green with envy that someone's going to have to pry you off the ceiling. I'm just saying . . .

Now, on to all the wonderful wahooey goodness that I've recently received. This is so uber cool, I'm making myself giddy.

First, I must share what the lovely Bellezza bought me for my Secret Santa Blog Swap gift. I don't think the enlarging feature works, anymore, so I'll tell you what's in the photo and crop a second photo to give you a closer view so you can drool all over your keyboard. Bellezza gave me a gift card for one Persephone book (!!!!!!!!), two Persephone catalogs (one is not shown because I hauled it off to read it), a Starbucks gift card, a journal in my favorite color (apple green, 'cause she knows me well) and some unbelievably amazing chocolate mints. Her new kitty, Samantha, gave me the little magnetic paper clips with kitties on them! Wow, what a box full of awesome bookish yummy joy!!! Thank you, Bellezza and Samantha!!!!

Bellezza also sent me a copy of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society for my birthday (which was very, very much appreciated because I was especially feeling my mom's absence on my birthday). I actually carry that book from room to room, now and then, which I know is weird but I'm kind of just saving it for when I desperately need something I know is going to be wonderful to read. And, in the meantime, I admire it daily.

Anyway, here's the closer view of the Secret Santa loot:

The mints are seriously to die for.

Carrie K. bought me all this wonderful stuff below just because. She said it's not a Christmas gift; she's just bought me some little things, here and there, this year. Well, if that doesn't make a chick feel all warm and loved, I don't know what does. She sent me a box of peanut brittle, a little woolen bag (hard to see, so I've got a separate photo of the bag, lightened up a bit, along with the socks she sent), a bookmark with a terrific quote and the face of John Steinbeck looking all weathered and gruff in a friendly way (my opinion), Famous Battles of the Civil War card game, a little wooden "dream box" with my name on it, and the cutest darned pelican socks you ever did see.

That beach card at the back even has a perforated fold with a removable bookmark!! In case you can't read it, here's the quote on that black and white bookmark:

It is the duty of the writer to lift up, to extend, to encourage -- John Steinbeck

You said it, Johnny! And, here's a better photo of the bag and the socks:

Thank you, Carrie!!!!!

And, now a thought. I've been setting aside books I've finished and don't plan to keep (which seems to be most of them, lately). I was thinking I might have a 100,000-hit celebration and give a few of them away, soon. What do you think? Hankering for a free book or two? Or should I donate? I do a lot of donating and swapping, but I've won so many books from blogs that I feel like it's time to share the love.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

No, wait, I'm not done!

I thought I was finished frying my eyeballs and turning my brain to intersoup, but then I had to go check John Green's blog because he always makes me laugh. You have to see this, especially if you've read a book by John Green and/or have a certain level of pride in your nerdiness or have a fear or heights or, frankly, for any other reason you can think up very quickly. Actually, you should just watch it because it's hilarious and sort of really sweet.

Go here, right now.

My Sister Dilly by Maureen Lang

My Sister Dilly by Maureen Lang
Copyright 2008
Tyndale House - Fiction/Christian
340 pages

What led you to pick up this book? Brittanie sent me her ARC because she thought I'd like it and , oh, wow . . . she knows me well. I read the cover blurb and plopped right down immediately.

Describe the book without giving anything away. When Catherine "Dilly" Carlson committed a crime that landed her behind bars for six years, her sister Hannah felt guilty. If only she'd have stayed Illinois instead of moving to California, the crime never would have occurred. Or, so Hannah believes.

To atone for her absence, Hannah has spent years saving up the money to move home. Her objective is to be there for Dilly, but in order to do so she has had no choice but to leave behind a terrific job and the only man she has ever loved. Hannah expects her sister to be thrilled with the plan, but things have changed in a way that Hannah never could have anticipated.

What did you like most about the book? My Sister Dilly is a wonderful story about faith, love, redemption, family, respecting people with disabilities, dealing with the past . . . lots of issues but they all fit together and the story is very nicely focused. I had a terrible time putting it down.

What did you think of the characters? I cared about them and wanted to know what would happen. I did become a little weary of Hannah's justification for not returning to California when it became obvious that she had a very good reason to change course, but eventually Hannah makes sense of everything.

Was there anything you didn't like about the book? I think it could have lost about 50 pages. Sometimes, there was just a bit too much everyday detail -- not a big enough problem to put me off, though. Also, I had a little trouble with the POV switches. The book is primarily Hannah's story, but it occasionally switches to Dilly's perspective. However, toward the end I thought it became clear why the author made the choice to occasionally switch to Dilly's point of view.

Recommended? Highly recommended. I think it's a beautiful story in too many ways to list.

Anything else worth mentioning? It's a Christian book and you can expect talk about God, but the main character has spent years rebelling against her Christian upbringing because of her Bible-thumping, rule-enforcing, and somewhat cold parents. Hannah spends most of the book feeling confused and ambivalent about God. On the flip side, Dilly believes she would never have survived prison if she hadn't rediscovered Jesus.

Cover thoughts: I like the cover for its looks; I think it's lovely. But, it doesn't entirely fit. Hannah and Dilly were raised on a farm -- a hog farm, though. To my knowledge wheat fields aren't all that relevant to the story, even though it takes place in the Midwest. On a side note, I love wheat because it reminds me of home. Wheat and a big, wide open sky . . . probably one of my favorite sights. Also, I have to mention that when the author described the hog farm, her description was so vivid I still imagined I was smelling manure for an hour after I put down the book.

What do you think? I always talk about the religious element of books (including, recently, a book that was very pro-Buddhist) and whether I consider a book preachy or heavily religious because I think that's something people tend to want to know about. How about you? Does Christianity in a novel effect whether or not you'll consider reading it? If so, do you feel that way about other religions and how they're portrayed? Just curious. My library has an interesting identification system. The Christian novels have a little picture of Jesus on the spine. Sci-fi novels have a little space-age symbol, Westerns sport a pair of boots with spurs, mysteries and romance . . . can't remember, but they have their own little spine emblems, too. I love that! It's nice to have that extra little bit of information when you're browsing.

Just walked in:

Cattery Row by Clea Simon - won in a drawing at Thoughts of Joy. Thank you, Joy!

Cruel Intent by J. A. Vance - Sent by Simon & Schuster - I'm not sure about this one, as I've never read the author. Are her books nightmare-inducing? Warn me, if they are, somebody.

A parcel from Carrie K., who is one of my bestest best blog friends because she she's witty and fun and has a great cat whose portrait I'm going to take, someday. I'll take picsof the bounty and show you, tomorrow, if we're not out playing in the snow that is allegedly due to arrive any moment now (none of us are holding our breath). Actually, we're getting tons of Mississippi Snow . . . the melted kind.

Also, I have to show you what my wonderful, amazing Secret Santa Blog Christmas Exchange Pal gave me! Bellezza, another blogger I adore and count as one of my bosom blogging buddies was my Secret Santa. It's all so very, very perfect. Oh, and I was going to save everything for Christmas, but I couldn't wait and ripped into it. Thank you, Bellezza! More on that, later.

I've been out doing my part helping the economy, today, so I haven't read a word. I'd better hush up and do that. Sorry about the lack of wahoos. Busy, busy, but I'll make my gifties my belated wahoo. Have a wahooey day!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

King George: What Was His Problem? by Steve Sheinkin

King George: What Was His Problem? Everything Your Schoolbooks Didn't Tell You about the American Revolution
by Steve Sheinkin
Illustrated by Tim Robinson
Copyright 2005/Illustrations 2008
Flash Point/Roaring Book Press - YA Nonfiction
195 pages incl. notes, quotes and index

If the title and cover of this book aren't enough to grab you, you must really hate history. I love history but I'm deficient in the subject matter and have spend a good portion of my adulthood trying to figure out how to overcome that annoying little educational black hole. Covers like that of King George: What Was His Problem? really knock my socks off. History presented in an offbeat, entertaining fashion? Irresistible.

The text and illustrations of King George: What Was His Problem? are every bit as enjoyable as the cover indicates. Clear, light-hearted and funny, told mostly in chronological order (sometimes the author sets a story aside and lets the reader know the relevance of characters and situations will become plain later on), Steve Sheinkin truly saved the best anecdotes from his years writing textbooks -- the human interest stories that make those characters of the Revolution three-dimensional rather than just a bunch of painted, stiff old guys in wigs. I don't believe it could possibly be more amusing and engaging. This passage made me laugh:

"Huzzah for the Americans" shouted the French soldiers. Then about a hundred American and French cannons opened fire. The French cannonballs smashed right into buildings in Yorktown. Many of the American cannonballs plopped into the river or landed in empty fields (the French had a lot more practice at this stuff).

I've got to go return this one to the library, quick like a bunny, before the raging storms that are allegedly bearing down upon us arrive. If we don't blow away, I'll be back to posting and visiting blogs, tomorrow. But, for now . . . off goes the computer. Have a lovely Tuesday!

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Sunday Pie

I was thinking Sunday Pie would be kind of a good title to use for Sunday posts, in general, on a regular basis -- because my weekends are a bit of a jumble and the word "salon" just feels somehow wrong to describe my Sundays. But, actually, the reason I came up with it was because of a pie that landed on my doorstep on Friday, and I'm being literal, here. On Friday, this gorgeous strawberry rhubarb pie from Mom's Apple Pie Company arrived in the mail, thanks to Kookie. Remember Kookie, formerly of A Fraternity of Dreamers (now retired from blogging?) Well, we were discussing rhubarbs and how they're a northern thing that I never got around to tasting, even when we lived way the heck up there in the frozen north. So, she got online and ordered the pie, shown below:

How cool is that? I have meant to take a photo of an individual slice, but whenever I cut myself a piece I just can't be bothered to grab the camera because I end up rolling my eyes in ecstasy and then suddenly my slice is gone. This pie is really absolutely perfect -- just the right amount of sweetness, not enough so that it'll make you queasy, with a light, perfectly-flavored, flaky crust. Shoot, I could just sit and munch on the crust, alone, all day. I highly recommend ordering from Mom's Apple Pie Company if you're looking for a nice dessert to send someone for Christmas. Or, for any other reason.

Bookwise: I am all over the place. Yes, I'm a bit of an ADD reader, anyway, but usually I can focus enough to complete the reading of a book every 2 or 3 days. This month has just been Attention Deficit Goes Insane. I'm currently reading 7 books. I'm enjoying every single one of them, but I'm doing sort of a musical books thing . . . read a little of one book, put it down, read a little of another book, set it aside, read a little of another. On and on, round and round we go.

There's one book I managed to finish (apart from the dragonfly children's book), but it's one I found in a bin full of books in the garage -- no help whatsoever toward hacking down the recent TBRs, but I liked it and that's that. Here 'tis:

Stories from the Heart by various authors -- Much like a Chicken Soup for the Soul book, this book (published in 1996 by Multnomah Books) has short entries about faith, family, love, etc. Some are deeply touching and brought tears to my eyes. A few made me smile or laugh. A couple were familiar, but I haven't the foggiest idea where I may have read them. The book is no longer in print, as far as I can tell, so I was unable to locate an image. I kept it in the bedroom and just read 2 or 3 entries per day, pinches and bits till it was done.

Books I'm currently reading:

King George: What Was His Problem? by Steve Sheinkin, Illustrated by Tim Robinson - This is a Young Adult nonfiction book that I snatched up at the library and it's due quite soon. The author says he used to write textbooks; for years he set aside all the interesting stories that his bosses would have probably fired him for adding to those dry old school books. Whilst laboring away at organizing boring facts, dates, charts, and other things he knew would likely put students to sleep, he set aside the stories he liked --the stuff that makes history rock -- and now he's writing a series of fun books. All history should be this enjoyable to read.

Queen of the Road by Doreen Orion - The true tale of one couple's travels around the U.S. in a converted bus. And, by converted, I mean "ridiculously luxurious". The fact that the author is all about fancy brand names and that she and her spouse settled on kitchen counter material that cost $320 per square foot (it was, in fact, harvested underwater) combined with the author's breezy -- if a bit uppity -- style gives this book a bit of a chick lit tone. I'm enjoying it, but . . . let's just say I can imagine the head-to-toe scan the author would give me if I entered her territory, and that puts me off a bit.

My Sister Dilly by Maureen Lang - This one's a novel. Hannah loved her life in Los Angeles, but since her sister Dilly's conviction for a crime she probably wouldn't have committed if she'd just had a bit of help from friends and relatives, Hannah has planned to return to small-town Iowa to atone for her absence when Dilly desperately needed her. Things aren't turning out quite the way she planned, though. This book is so good. Brittanie sent it to me because she thought I would like it and so far it's wonderful. Thank you, Brittanie!

Hurricane of Independence, Fear in North Carolina, The Pages in Between and Enslaved by Ducks -- Wow, I had no idea I read so much nonfiction, truly I didn't. Each of these are interesting for completely different reasons, but Enslaved by Ducks is decidedly the most fun and the one I'm picking up most often because I like to laugh and I love animals. It's a light-hearted book about pet ownership.

This is weird: I love bath fizzies and keep a pretty decent supply. Walmart has some 6-packs of fizzies in their Christmas package section and my friend Judy likes smelly bath stuff, as well, so I bought several -- two for gift-giving and one for myself. I tried one out and its fizz fizzled. Meaning, it worked for a while and then just lay there, a cratered lump on the bottom of the tub. It left this odd-looking streak of purple bleeding across the enamel and there wasn't much scent. Bizarre. I'm taking the other two 6-packs back. I've never encountered fizzies that didn't work, before. Judy has read one book the entire time I've known her, whilst her husband reads approximately one book per day (sometimes more) or I'd buy her a book, of course. Poor Judy. I hate to think what she's missing.

Speaking of which . . . gotta go. And, I'm going to use something I know smells good and fizzes till it's gone, this time. Happy reading!

Friday, December 05, 2008

The Dragonfly Secret: A Story of Boundless Love by Clea and John Adams

The Dragonfly Secret by Clea and John Adams
Illustrated by Barbara L. Gibson
Copyright 2008
Feather Rock Books - Children's Fiction
29 pages

I no longer have small children in my house, but picture books for youngsters still are a great joy to read. I'm especially fond of beautiful illustrations. The Dragonfly Secret is stunningly colorful, definitely a beautifully illustrated book. You can peek inside the book to see a bit more of the gorgeous color illustrations at Amazon, here.

Warning: The next paragraph contains spoilers because I don't think it serves any purpose to tippy-toe around the subject matter. Please skip the following paragraph if you don't want to know what the book is about.

The Dragonfly Secret: A Story of Boundless Love tells the story of a dragonfly who sends a message of hope to the parents of a child who has passed away. Lea the dragonfly flits from the boy's hat to the bear in his father's pocket; and, by these simple gestures the young boy's parents understand Lea's actions as a message from beyond. It's really quite a sweet, simple story designed to comfort youngsters who have experienced loss.

It's safe, now. You can read, again.

The information at Amazon says this book is for children aged 9-12. I would say it's actually for significantly younger children, but my own children were rather advanced so I may be a tad off. The book is short and simple enough to read to younger children (possibly as young as the age of 4) or easily read by early readers who are on the verge of reading chapter books. It sends a simple message of hope. I believe The Dragonfly's Secret could be a very effective tool for helping children to cope with loss, whether one is related to the child who has experienced loss or works as a counselor.