Thursday, September 22, 2011

books 2011 #26-31

A Red Herring Without Mustard (Flavia de Luce, #3)A Red Herring Without Mustard by Alan Bradley

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

For some reason, I didn't love this one quite as much as the other Flavia books. It wasn't a page-turner for me in the same way.

But I still love Flavia, and I will still read any and all books Bradley writes about her.

I particularly loved the ending. Of course Father is proud of her!

A favorite passage:

I had long ago discovered that when a word or formula refused to come to mind, the best thing for it was to think of something else: tigers, for instance, or oatmeal. Then, when the fugitive word was least expecting it, I would suddenly turn the full blaze of my attention back onto it, catching the culprit in the beam of my mental torch before it could sneak off again into the darkness.

"Thought-stalking," I called the technique, and I was proud of myself for having invented it.

3.5 stars.

A Heart Like His: Making Space for God's Love in Your LifeA Heart Like His: Making Space for God's Love in Your Life by Virginia H. Pearce

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another thought-provoking book by Virginia Pearce.

My favorite thing is the idea that we don't have to find more time in our busy lives to reach out to others – we don't have to bake more (not that I would mind that) or make time for more visits. All we have to do is pay attention to the condition of our hearts and desire to have softer, more open hearts so that we can feel God's love in our own lives and then have more of that love to give away. Awareness is the key.

I've only been trying it for a short while, but I can already tell a difference.

Some favorite quotes:

"Opening one's heart creates energy. Closing one's heart depletes energy."

"When filled with God's love, we can do and see and understand things that we could not otherwise do or see or understand. Filled with His love, we can endure pain, quell fear, forgive freely, avoid contention, renew strength, and bless and help others in ways surprising even to us." – John H. Groberg

"We cannot help others feel God's love when we are: irritated, critical, discouraged, annoyed, self-absorbed, angry, indignant, or filled with self-pity, hostility, or bitterness."

"When we experience God's love, we feel: acknowledged, accepted, validated, noticed, cared for, supported, encouraged, uplifted, motivated, inspired, comforted, healed, nourished, nurtured, changed, more confident, more able – precisely the ways we want others to feel when they are with us!"

"It is very often in the act of reporting that the Holy Ghost chooses to witness and confirm the actions. And ultimately, it is the confirmation of the Spirit that provides the best motivation to keep doing good things."

The Whistling SeasonThe Whistling Season by Ivan Doig

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I might even give it 4.5 stars, if I could.

I loved the writing. I read on the cover that Doig won a Wallace Stegner aware, and his writing does remind me of Stegner's (which I also love). It is very character-driven, so if you are a plot reader, you may not enjoy it as much. This is definitely a slice of life, beautifully rendered.

That said, I loved the characters. I especially loved Paul and Morrie, but I also adored Oliver and Rose and all the rest.

After reading this book, I feel like I understand so much more about the old one-room schools. It's so interesting the way that the material taught to one grade impacted the other grades as well. (And I had never imagined those young children riding to school on horseback!) Paul's love of and defense of the one-room schools was so endearing - his education and success came as a result of that training, not in spite of it.

I didn't come away from this book wanting to learn Latin, but rather just feeling thrilled that Paul found something that ignited his passion for learning and excited his curiosity so much. You just never know what provide that kind of spark.

A Girl Named ZippyA Girl Named Zippy by Haven Kimmel

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

4.5 stars.

This book is a rarity – a memoir of a happy childhood! Zippy is hilarious, a curious, scrappy girl trying to make sense of her idiosyncratic family, her friends, and the small town in which they reside. Great small-town characters, as you would expect.

I breezed through this in one day, laughing all the while. It's been a long time since I read a book that was this purely enjoyable. I loved Zippy, her family, and her town. Her parents are a little gruff on the outside and tender on the inside. I found the ending particularly sweet.

A favorite passage:

"We played Ping-Pong for a little while, but it didn't go well. I was completely unskilled and Dana played so hard her shots often went right off the table, and so I spent a fair amount of time searching the corners of the barn. (I later discovered that in order to be a good athlete one must care intensely what is happening with a ball, even if one doesn't have possession of it. This was ultimately my failure: my inability to work up a passion for the location of balls.)"

Ah, a kindred spirit (at least athletically speaking).

The Miraculous Journey of Edward TulaneThe Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Eva and I both thoroughly enjoyed this endearing story of a vain, china rabbit who becomes lost and then found several times and learns the meaning of love along the way. Wonderful illustrations, as well.

When we finished it, Eva sighed and said, "The stories I read with you are the best stories." I can't think of a better endorsement than that.

Garden SpellsGarden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Maybe 3.5 stars.

This is a light, fun, quick read about a family in a small town in North Carolina where the women have magical gifts. They also have a fabulous garden with an apple tree that throws its apples at people, trying to entice them to eat. If they do, they will dream about the biggest event in their lives (which, for some, is their death).

The characters are on the one-dimensional side, yet still likable and fairly believable. Claire is a caterer who uses herbs and flowers from her garden to help people feel what they want to (or she wants them to) feel. Sydney returns home to escape an abusive marriage and provide her daughter with the safety and security of the family home. Evanelle is their aunt who is compelled to give people gifts, which eventually come in handy in their lives. Bay is a little girl who instinctively knows where things (and people) belong. A quirky family finding love and happiness together.

View all my reviews


patsy said...

WOW- I really want to go on a canyon drive!!

Your book reading is again very impressive.
That Zippy book sounds perfect for me! Who knows maybe I will read a book again? :)

Jill said...

Oh no I have tainted books in my head now!

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