Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Book Review - The Rangers Apprentice: The Ruins of Gorlan

The Ruins of Gorlan is the first book in the nine book Ranger's Apprentice series by, John Flanagan. A Fantasy novel for middle grade readers.

Fifteen year old Will became a Ward of Baron Arald from infancy, when he was placed on the steps of Castle Redmont with a note. It explained- Will's mother died in childbirth, his father died a hero.

Will grew up in the castle with five other Ward's of the Baron, all the same age. When these reached the age of fifteen they attended, "Choosing Day", a pivotal point in their lives in which they 'choose' or 'where chosen' for their life's vocation.

Will becomes apprentice to the local Ranger. This elite group are not the strongest, nor the biggest warriors. Their skills are speed, silence, and agility, which make them invisible to the enemy.

This is the first book by John Flanagan. All in all, a good read. My sons are enjoying this series. They are on book five. I hear it gets better and better.

Disclaimer- I have no financial gain by reviewing this book. I'm just a gal who loves to read and talk about what I read.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Book Review - The Hunger Games

I have read many books, but never one quite like, The Hunger Games by, Suzanne Collins!

This young adult novel will take you to a place you have never been, with edge of your seat, hard to put it down consequences. Complete with controversy and gruesome "I can't believe that just happened in a young adult novel" realities.

Our story takes place sometime in the future in what we presently call North America. It's new title, Panem. Our heroin is 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen from District 12.

Panem is divided into 12 Districts. It is controlled by the evil domineering leadership of, the Capitol. For entertainment this fun-loving Capitol host's, The Hunger Games. An annual event in which a boy and girl from each district is selected through a lottery. With 24 young people chosen in all, these kids are forced to contend in "the games" where they fight each other to the death. The last one living is the victor and receives the prize of a life of financial independence and provisions for their district. A place where most of the residence are very familiar with hunger and starvation due to the constricting and supreme control of the Capitol.

This novel is very well written, and it was hard to stop listening to the audiobook. The narrator, Carolyn McCormick was excellent.

Would I recommend this book? Not to young adults. However, if you enjoy suspense, unique and intriguing story-lines, don't mind blood, and can stomach teens being murdered, then this is the book for you. I confess I thought this a great read. Great because of the brilliant writing of the author, great because of it's originality and draw to find out what happens next, but I DID find much of the content very disturbing. Still, I have yet to read a novel as unique as, The Hunger Games.

Disclaimer- I have no financial gain by reviewing this book. I'm just a gal who loves to read and talk about what I read.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Book Review - A New Song

A New Song is the fifth book in the popular Mitford series written by Jan Karon. Each book follows the main character, Father Tim through the many changes of his life.

Father Tim retires with wife Cynthia from his beloved church, Lord's Chapel in Mitford, to a remote island hours away where he commits to take on a new church family at St. John's for a years time.

As Father Tim and Cynthia settle themselves into their new paradise-like situation, new characters are introduced and mysteries are intertwined into the story-line. Who is the mysterious Mr. Love beyond the hedge, and why does he never show himself to anyone? Why does the renter of Father Tim's old parish home have such a fascination with the large Mitford estate of Fernbank?

I started reading the Mitford series due to the recommendations of friends. If you prefer reading books with suspense, and/or a high intrigue level this is probably not the series for you. While you cannot help but love many of the characters there is little character depth. However, there are some that you cannot help but laugh out loud at as they rant and rave about nothing.

A New Song is a fairly entertaining, wholesome, christian fiction novel. If you want an easy read with those factors you can't go wrong in Mitford.

Disclaimer- I have no financial gain by reviewing this book. I'm just a gal who loves to read and talk about what I read.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Book Review - Gone with the Wind

I recently conquered all 1,024 pages of Margaret Mitchell's, Gone with the Wind. A book that sold more then 176,000 copies within the first three weeks of it's publication.

As a teen and a young adult, if you asked me what my favorite movie was I would have said, Gone with the Wind. This picture held the record for biggest Hollywood budget, and greatest box-office-money-maker until the year 1997. After 56 years of her reign it took a Titanic to advocate her from her throne. However, movies are not what I am writing about, but the love for the movie did inspire me to take on the book.

Let me begin by saying I do not appreciate any book that depicts any race of human beings as inferior or simple-minded. This is hard for me (being raised in a home free from prejudice) to comprehend. But when a generation is raised to believe such absurdities one must not throw stones. There is not a perfect one among us. We all have ways of thinking that are unhealthy or just plain wrong!

With the above statement made, I want to say that I enjoyed this novel. The Civil War has always held great fascination for me. Not because it was/is the deadliest of all wars to date, (with 646,392 union and confederate dead) but how this bloodshed shaped the country we occupy today.

Scarlett O'Hara is the heroine we all love to hate and hate to love, but somehow we do. Attractive, selfish, confident Scarlett. A woman who thinks she knows what she wants and is willing to do anything to get it.

We follow Scarlett O'Hara-Hamilton-Kennedy-Butler on this voyage. In the face of insurmountable odds this; belle, wife, mother, widow, survives even when all she holds dear is stripped away. Determined not only to survive, but to rise.

This novel takes you on a journey of the South:

Before the war- with it's beautiful ladies-fair in hoop skirts, raised up with one purpose; to catch a husband and run a plantation. The gentlemen who put these ladies on pedestals and believe them incapable of evil or imperfection. Gentleman who did everything for honor's sake and who's character was upright and steadfast. A kingdom of grand plantations, red earth, and sky high cotton fields.

During the war- with it's victorious beginnings and a belief of being invincible. Mid-war still clinging to that hope, but facing the horrors of war and painting on a face that all is well. End-war of lack, death, starvation, and complete annihilation of everything they'd worked for generations to achieve.

After the war- picking up the pieces, maintaining honor in the face of evil, unjust treatment of belles they cherished, and a civilization, gone with the wind...

In face of war, famine, death, and destruction. Scarlett O'Hara always held her head up high. She wouldn't think on unpleasant things. She'd square her shoulders and say, "I won't think about that now. I'll think about that tomorrow." After all, tomorrow is another day.

Disclaimer: I have no financial gain whatsoever in writing of this epic novel or our time.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Organizing a Book Club

I love books! One of my sidebar posts says it best-"These are not books, lumps of lifeless paper, but minds alive on the shelves. From each of them goes out its own voice... and just as the touch of a button on our set will fill the room with music, so by taking down one of these volumes and opening it, one can call into range the voice of a man far distant in time and space, and hear him speaking to us, mind to mind, heart to heart. -Gilbert Highet"

Often I read a great book and long to discuss it with another.

My husband and I years ago read some of the Left Behind series together. The most compelling thing was; if a thought came to mind beneath the cover, the thought need not stay there. It could be expressed on a welcoming ear by someone who knew and could appreciate the knowing. This experience YEARS ago, always left me wanting to be part of something like a book club, although I was not aware of it.

So a few months ago I first broached the subject with a few friends to determine interest. Then set out to start a summer book club of my own. Ten ladies, (including myself) a book chosen, and we're off!

But first came the research. How does one start a book club anyway? So I googled. Here is the knowledge I gleamed from that wonderful search engine.
  • The group commits to reading one book in one months time.

  • A meeting date should be established for the end of that month.

  • How big do you want it?

  • Invite people. (email is your best friend here)

  • Determine what kind of books to consider. (I asked the question of my group, "What genre do you prefer? Are there any that you loath?")

  • Choose a moderator. (this doesn't have to be the organizer, I asked for volunteers)

  • Choose a location- Someone's home? A library? A private room in a restaurant?

  • Do you vote on a book or does the orchestrator choose one?

  • Do you want food? A meal? Appetizers?

  • The orchestrator brings to the meeting 10-12 questions for specific discussion about said book. With more popular books you can find these "discussion questions" online. If it's a less known book you may have to write them yourself.

  • Lastly- the moderator must control the discussion. Make sure the conversation is not dominated by one person, or just an outgoing few leaving the more withdrawn people quiet and feeling left out. Make sure everyone has equal opportunity to voice their thoughts, and keep the dialog mainly on the book.
All this was accomplished without one knocking of a door or one ringing of a telephone. All through email!

Well we have begun for the month of June. The book- Dreamers of the Day by Mary Doria Russell. This endeavor also expands you to read a book you may never have chosen on your own. The fun part is whether this book is good, bad, or ugly you have the knowledge that you are not alone. You will soon be free to express the thoughts and feelings accumulating within the pages of this new world.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Book Review - The Mark of the Lion Series

Francine Rivers. This woman can write! Not only can she write, but she make's you feel things as you read like no author I have read before. She stirs something inside of you. This is the author of the trilogy that I recently completed in audiobook form.

Our first story, A Voice in the Wind takes place thirty years after the death of Jesus. I purchased this series due to a friends recommendation but when I first started listening I almost stopped. How could anyone accurately depict this time? I thought. But Rivers does so with veritable brilliance! When this first novel was complete I read the New Testament with better clarity and appreciation for what the Apostles went through to bring the gospel to a world that was so diabolical and infiltrated with prejudice. We American's living in our comfortable homes with a life of freedom can never fully understand. Most of us do not realize when we hold the book in our hands the blood that was shed (other then our Savior's) to place it there. The forces against the gospel being spread where insurmountable, and yet it is the best known, most published and in the most languages then any other book in history!

But this entry is not about the Bible. The human struggle to do what is right in the face of death and evil is enveloped in the pages of this series. Hadassah in book one conveys the peace and love of Jesus Christ to a Roman family that worships the god's. Marcus in book two goes on a journey in search of this love and peace that eludes his logical mind. And Atretes in book three is filled with bitterness and rage but sees a light burning brightly in the widow Rispa. It draws him in and brings this strong undefeated former Gladiator to his knees.

There are elements in these books that are unsuitable for younger readers but necessary for the stories. Some readers may find these real-life issues uncomfortable to process but the heart of God's love is throughout.

I highly recommend The Mark of the Lion and I will continue to read other books by this author.

Disclaimer- I have no financial gain from reviewing these books. I love to read and I love to read the reviews of others who have a passion for novels. So I do the same.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Temporary Home

A few days ago I was driving and a song was playing on my iphone. Carrie Underwood's voice came through the speakers and 'Temporary Home' filled the van. It's a beautiful song about how we are just passing through this life on our way to our final destination. The last verses of the song sent a memory that flooded my thoughts and brought many tears to my eyes. The lyrics painted a picture of an elderly gentleman's last days on this earth, "old man, hospital bed; the room is filled with people he loves..." That same day I decided to write this mini tribute for my grandmother. This Godly, hard working, strong woman walked on this earth for almost eighty-eight years, and one of her last days here is forever in my remembrance...

Helen Ruth Olson lay on a hospital bed of Libertyville Manor. Her eyes were closed and her bed was reclined in a slightly upright position. Six people that loved her were gathered with heavy hearts and thoughts that this may be the end of a beautiful life. We held her hand, told her how much she meant to us with tear filled eyes. Did she know we were there? We did not know. Could she hear us? We spoke as if she could. We decided to sing classic hymns that she knew and loved. Was she listening? When we sang, 'How Great Thou Art' an amazing thing occurred. When the chorus came she sat up in her bed, her eyes looked toward the heavens. She weakly sang out the words, 'How Great Thou Art.' I truly believe she was beholding His glory and witnessing firsthand how great He truly was. That was the last time I heard my grandmothers voice. She left this place for a better one the next day.

Grandmother I love you and miss you! You are walking on streets of gold and singing, 'How Great Thou Art' in a choir, and beholding His face with your own eyes!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Give Me the Simple Life

Lyrics by: Harry Ruby & Rube Bloom

I don't believe in frettin' and grievin';
Why mess around with strife?
I never was cut out to step and strut out;
Give me the simple life.

Some find it pleasant dining on pheasant;
Those things roll off my knife.
Just serve me tomatoes and mashed potatoes;
Give me the simple life.

A cottage small is all I'm after,
Not one that's spacious and wide.
A house that rings with joy and laughter
And the ones you love inside.

Some like the high road, I like the low road,
Free from the care and strife.
Sounds corny and seedy, but yes, indeed-y;
Give me the simple life.

This song says it all. My home, my husband, my children... how could I ask for more?

Occasionally, when I go to check on my children before retiring for bed, I just stare at them. My heart fills with emotion and love unexplainable. What gifts from God!

Life and children can be challenging. But it is also beautiful and rewarding. I try and make this my focus.

A Mother's Love
By: Christine Jackson

The moment life begins love is born;

It soothes the hopes of the forlorn.

Her words a balm for hurt and pain;

Her own needs forgo to beloved's gain.

Whispered words calm, and sooth, balm, and move.

Created to love, to heal, to stand, to feel.

Mirroring the Father's love discovered;

Imparting anew to be uncovered;

By the small ones entrusted in her care.

She envelopes their lives in fervent prayer.