Tuesday, May 29, 2007

A Bride Most Begrudging

by Deeanne Gist
I don't usually read Christian literature or romances. (I may have to quit saying that about romances, because it seems like I've read quite a few over the past year. What's happening to me?) Anyway A Bride Most Begrudging is a Christian romance which means it doesn't go into details. I appreciate that. Even without the details there was a lot of sexual tension and misunderstanding between the two lead characters.

From the back cover: "Any ship arriving from England means good news for Virginia colony farmers. The 'tobacco brides' would be on board. Drew O'Connor isn't stirred by news of a ship full of brides. Still broken-hearted from the loss of his beloved, he only wants a maid to tend his house and care for his young sister.

What he ends up with is a wife - a feisty redhead who claims she is Lady Constance Morrow, daughter of an Earl, brought to America against her will. And she wants to go straight back to England as soon as she can. She hasn't the foggiest notion how to cook, dares to argue with her poor husband, and spends more time working on mathematical equations than housework. What kind of wife is that? Drew's Christian forbearance is in for some testing."

It's a well-written and captivating story with equal amounts of heartache and joy. I enjoyed this book.

Monday, May 28, 2007

The Horse and His Boy

by C.S. Lewis
I am so glad I decided to read all the books in the Narnia series. I'm enjoying each one so much.

"The tale begins with a poor slave boy named Shasta escaping from his adopted fisherman father who plans to sell him to a brutish stranger. A dignified talking war horse named Bree helps Shasta flee. The horse and his boy hope to travel north to Narnia, and encounter numerous adventures and strange characters. The most memorable supporting characters are another escaped child, a tough girl named Aravis, and her talking mare called Hwin." -The School Library Journal

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Eight Things About Me Meme

I posted this meme on my other blog - In Season. Please do come by for a visit.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

My Grandfather's Blessings

by Rachel Naomi Remen
I started this book many months ago, but didn't get far. My husband lent the book to his sister, who read it and then her husband read it. I finally got it back and finished reading it. It's a great book to pass around and share with friends and family.

This is the perfect 'bathroom' book. Short sections of 2 or more pages provide meaty kernels of wisdom. It's the type of book you'll want to own because you'll want to highlight many passages. My husband read this book first and highlighted in yellow. I loved pausing and considering the parts he marked. I used a soft lavender crayon-type marking tool to differentiate mine from his. Of course, there was lots of overlapping. I could fill pages with the quotes, but I will choose just a few for this review.
A blessing is not something that one person gives another. A blessing is a moment of meeting, a certain kind of relationship in which both people involved remember and acknowledge their true nature and worth, and stengthen what is whole in one another.

Many times when we help we do not really serve. When we help we become aware of our strenght because we are using it. Others become aware of our strength as well and may feel diminished by it. Service is a relationship between equals. A helping relationship may incur a sense of debt, but service is mutual. Serving is also different from fixing. When we fix others, we may not see their hidden wholeness or trust the integrity of the life in them. Fixers trust their own expertise. When we serve we see the unborn wholenss in others; we collaborate with it and strengthen it. (italics are my own)

Whenever someone has found the courage to live more deeply, more courageously than before, no matterhow short a time it may be, theyhold open that door for anyone who tries to follow.

Life wastes nothing. Over and over again every molecule that has ever been is gathered up by the hand of life to be reshaped into yet another form. The molecules in you and me and indeed in everyone are secondhand, borrowed for the occasion and returned when outgrown. How strange to think that great pain may be impermanent. Something in us all seems to want to carve it in granite, as if only this would do full honor to its terrible significance. But even pain is blessed with impermanence; slowly, drop by drop, it may be worn away until even the most devoted searchers cannot find it unless they look for compassion or some other form of wisdom.

Meaning is dynamic. Over time, new meanings may evolve that are far less universal and more our own. It is important to revisit our woulds to see what new meanings may have grown there. If we become frozen in anger and pain, it may be many years before we recognize what these are.

Spiritual awakening does not change life; it changes suffering.

The Buddhists say that one of the signs of true enlightenment is the experience of a vast, immutable joy that underlies the personal joys and sorrows of this life. The Cosmic Giggle suggest that for those in the know, the essential nature of life is such goodness that the only possible response is joy.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Books About . . .

I'm asking for more help. Before my trip in July I would like to read some books about or set in the places I'm visiting. If you know of or have read any books set in Toronto, Montreal , Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia , Newfoundland, or Prince Edward Islands - I would appreciate any recommendations - fiction or nonfiction. (Of course, I know about the Anne of Green Gables books. Dh and I are going to listen to them on our drive.) I also have Shipping News checked out already. There's a real good chance that I won't be finishing all the challenges I've listed on my sidebar, but I think I'll still finish up some of them.


Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Seeking Travel Suggestions

My dh will retirie the end of June and would like to celebrate with a trip. You don't hear me squaking. I'm thrilled to death, but need some help. And who better to ask than my blogging friends. I'm going to list some of the places we are considering and if you know of any 'must see' sights or 'must do' activities in those areas, please let me know. We will be vacationing during the month of July, if that helps, but we don't need any suggestions as to where to watch the fireworks on the 4th.

Suggestions do NOT need to be the normal touristy places, but they can be. If there's a terrific library, beautiful park, peaceful cemetery bench, interesting architecture, etc. that you know of, let me know.

St. John's Newfoundland and the Island of Newfoundland
Prince Edward Island
Nova Scotia
New Brunswick
Bar Harbor and Maine
Northern New York

As you can see, I need lots of help in deciding where we will be visiting and what we'll be seeing. Sell me on some ideas, please.

Friday, May 11, 2007

The Looking Glass Wars

by Frank Beddor

This synopsis is from The Looking Glass Wars website. You really need to visit and watch the trailers, look at the imagination gallery, etc.

"The Looking Glass Wars unabashedly challenges the world’s Carrollian Wonderland assumptions of tea parties, dormice and a curious little blonde girl to reveal an epic, cross dimensional saga of love, murder, betrayal, revenge and the endless war for Imagination. Meet the heroic, passionate, monstrous, vengeful denizens of this parallel world as they battle each other with AD-52’s and orb generators, navigate the Crystal Continuum, bet on jabberwock fights and slip each other the poisonous pink mushroom. Finally, someone got it right. This ain’t no fairytale.

Alyss Heart, heir to the Wonderland throne, was forced to flee through the Pool of Tears after a bloody palace coup staged by the murderous Redd shattered her world. Lost and alone in Victorian London, Alyss is befriended by an aspiring author to whom she tells the surreal, violent, heartbreaking story of her young life only to see it published as the nonsensical children’s sojourn Alice in Wonderland. Alyss had trusted Lewis Carroll to tell the truth so that someone, somewhere would find her and bring her home.

But Carroll had got it all wrong. He even misspelled her name! If not for the intrepid Hatter Madigan, a member of the Millinery (Wonderland’s security force) who after a 13 year search eventually tracked Alyss to London, she may have become just another society woman sipping tea in a too-tight bodice instead of returning to Wonderland to battle Redd for her rightful place as the Queen of Hearts."

I bought this book for my daughter. Can't wait until she reads it so we can discuss it. I'm looking forward to reading the next two in the series.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Modern Day Book Banning or Something Else?

Many in the blogging community have joined Farenheit 451's Banned Book Challenge. We are reading books that have been challenged or banned by schools, libraries, and/or countries. There are books on that list that we, as parents, would prefer that our children didn't read and there are books we, ourselves, don't choose to read; but we believe that education not banning is the answer to negative and degrading literature.

Today I ran across a several blogs that are asking people to boycott for selling books written by Michael & Debi Pearl, a minister and his wife, that supposedly promote abusive child disciplining methods. According to these blogs the books are responsible for the killing of a young child last year. Read the article. I maintain the books are not responsible, but the mother who allowed herself to be misdirected by the books. I have not read the books, but the possibility exists that the mother may have been 'over zealous' or 'out of control' when implementing the discipline. I don't know.

This is from one blog:

Please consider boycotting Amazon yourself.

Some things you can do:

1. Stop buying from Amazon.
2. Privatize or remove your wishlist from Amazon.
3. Go to the pages for this book and this book and leave a negative review tagging the books “abuse” or “child abuse,” or at least click YES that the one-star reviews are helpful.
4. Sign the petition
5. Stop using Amazon links in your blog.
6. Write in your blog about why you’re boycotting Amazon.
7. I just found out that Powells no longer keeps books by Pearl in stock. They’ll come up on a search, but Powells responded to customer requests and stopped carrying the books. So shop there instead of Amazon if you want to join the boycott.
8. Write to Amazon: At the top of the Amazon main page, click Your Account. Scroll way down, and then at the bottom right, under Need Help? click Visit Our Help Department. On the right, you’ll see a Contact Us section, and a By Email button you can click. Do NOT put a subject heading where they ask for a number. Leaving it blank works, but putting in words does not.

I was almost on board, ready to sign the petition, but then I stopped. Why boycott just amazon? The blog said that Powell's no longer carries the books. That's not entirely true. You can get them on back order.

Another blog says this:

Sign The Petition asking Amazon to stop selling the Pearl's materials.

Other large booksellers have already stopped stocking the Pearl's materials.
I checked Barnes and Noble and Borders - both still carry Pearl's books. As does Books a Million. Those are the only big chain bookstores that come to mind.

So the question I have is this - If we are going to support a boycott, why not boycott ALL major bookstores, not just one? And, are there other books that purport some of the same techniques? What's to be done about them? What about the author's website and their magazine, shouldn't something be done about those? Lots of questions. Answers are harder to find.

The above mentioned article in the South Carolina newspaper includes a quote from Pearl that sounds sane enough. But it's just one quote - not enough for me to form a complete and intellegent decision about him or his books. Also from this same newspaper article is this passage, "The Pearls' teachings helped mobilize another group of Christian parents to speak out against such corporal punishment. The Web site rails against the Pearls' first book; the Web site's founders, Susan and Steve Lawrence of Virginia, say the book "reads like a child abuse manual." The Web site encourages parents to post critical reviews of the book on" I think posting negative reviews about this book is a much better idea than boycotting a bookstore.

I also thought speaking out against the books on their website was a good idea, until I visited the website. One good thing on this site is the petition asking congress to ban the advertising and sale of devises for the express purpose of whipping and beating babies and children. Believe it or not, there are devises sold for that purpose. The negative thing about this site is the amount of propaganda. There is a picture of a spanking stick with the caption, "Read how this type of "rod" killed a little girl." Give me a break, people! That stick could not have killed a girl unless it was used repeatedly and with great force. The person holding that stick killed the little girl! is targeting the Pearl's dogma concerning discipline, devises for implementing discipline, as well as James Dodson's books dealing with disciplining. All that is fine with me, but why not present the arguments against such techniques in a rational, educational and critical manner. Instead Stop the rod is using emotionally charged propaganda techniques that are riddled with invaliditness. One such example - this emotionally charged animation of a father whipping his son with a belt. The site labels it thusly, "See and hear a brutal "Dodson-style" child-beating! Click here. The password is nospank". I've only read one book by James Dodson and it was years ago, but I suspect what that video is talking about is NOT "Dodson-style". Surely Dodson is not suggesting beating a child intermittently for an hour, reading scripture in between the beatings and telling the child God hates him. Obviously the parent in this video has a big problem. Sponsoring and advertising this video in this way is a lie.

How many things can you find WRONG with this picture? I mean the whole picture - banned books, books that may promote child abuse, boycotting one bookstore and not others doing the same thing, and websites that use propaganda to blacken other people's reputations.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Four Agreements

by Don Miguel Riuz
My first Non-fiction read chalked off. I read this book years ago and enjoyed it less this time, but it was still worth refreshing my memory. The four agreements are:
Be impeccable with your word
Don't take anything personally
Don't make assumptions
Always do your best
Riuz spends the first part of the book explaining the Toltec wisdom and practices that rest on these four agreements. Then he explains each agreement in further detail, helping the reader understand what each means. The last part of the book he explains how to be a warrior when it comes to fighting against the misconceptions that fuel the fears we've let ourselves believe all our lives. Finally he ends with some simple prayers.

I think I should reread the four agreements on a regular basis. They make sense to me and I can see how they would bring increased happiness.

Friday, May 04, 2007

The House of Spirits

by Isabel Allende
I have read Zorro and Daughter of Fortune by Allende and enjoyed them. When I saw The House of Spirits on the Banned/Challenged Book list I decided to read it for the Banned Book Challenge. I expected it to be good. It was not! I would have quit reading it around page 100 but I was reading it for two other challenges - the Chunkster Challenge and the TBR Challenge. Besides another blogger highly recommended it. And it was one of 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die.

Over 400 pages of drama, love, lies, relationships, dictators and mystics and yet, the book never engaged my emotions. I never really cared about the characters or the story. I have tried to figure out how this story could be told and not engage the reader. What was it specifically that Allende did or didn't do that made this story so unpassionate? I can't come up with the answer.

There were times when she would be describing someone and I would have a picture in my mind and then she would write something that jarred with the picture. A contradiction of what she had just described. For instance, on page 179 Estaban Trueba was describing himself - "I was as strong and as healthy as I'd been as a young man. I could spend the whole day horseback riding, sleep anywhere . . . " He mentions he didn't have an ounce of fat on him. Only 1 1/2 pages later he says, "I no longer had the strength to grab a sturdy peasant girl by the waist and swing her up onto my saddle, much less rip her clothes off and enter her against her will." I didn't make a note of the other times this happened, but I did think several times, "Where was the editor?"

One passage I liked: "Clara believed that by giving problems a name they tended to manifest themselves, and then it was impossible to ignore them; whereas if they remained in the limbo of unspoken words, they could disappear by themselves, with the passage of time." My mother tried to teach me this concept - that sometimes it's better to leave some things unsaid, because once they are spoken you can't take them back. I think there are definitely times people need to communicate to solve problems, but I also thing there are times, probably many times, when something should be left unspoken so we don't wound with our words. If left unspoken, that harmful thought can just dissipate.

At another point in the book Clara was talking to Alba about some of the mentally handicap children Blanca helped. "In almost every family there's a fool or a crazy person." "But there's no one like that in our family," replied Clara. "No. Here the madness was divided up equally, and there was nothing left over for us to have our own lunatic." That last comment made me smile.

Well, that book is over with. Done. Sigh of relief!

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Southern Reading

Several days ago, Maggie grabbed me by the wrist and wrenched my right arm around behind my back, pulling hard in an upward direction. She wouldn't quit until I promised to join the Southern Reading Challenge. And if you believe that I have some land for sale in the Sahara...

The truth is when I first heard about the challenge I didn't know of any books that would qualify. Since then Maggie has offered lots of suggestions, both authors and titles. All it took was for me to see her post on the Southern Sisters mystery series written by Anne George. With all the challenges going around I saw this as my perfect opportunity to get some mysteries read. I also discovered that I have a southern book on my shelves that I can count and get it OFF my shelves.

Here's the 3 books I've chosen to read between June 1 and August 31:
1. Murder on a Girl's Night Out by Anne George

2. Murder on a Bad Hair Day by Anne George

3. Ballad of Frankie Silver by Sharyn McCrumb (this one is on my shelf. Years ago I read a couple of McCrumb's books and enjoyed them. The first one was If I'd Killed Him When I Met Him. How could I pass on a book with a title like that?! I read another of McCrumb's but can't remember it's name. I remember liking both books I read by McCrumb so I'm looking forward to this one. Also, her books have a bit of mystery to them.)

Possible alternative: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee