Saturday, December 20, 2014

Ah, Jane Austen + Daddy Long Legs

Back in September we went on vacation to Maine, which included a very long drive up and a long drive back.  Along the way, I read an ebook titled Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay.  One would assume that this book is going to be another modern retelling of Emma (in which Mr. Knightley is a character.  Not so.  This story is the retelling of Daddy Long Legs with a conspicuous name borrowed from Austen's novel from long ago.

Last year, I bought a copy of the classic, Daddy Long Legs.  I remembered enjoying it, so I wanted to see if I would share it with my girls.  After reading it, I shelved the book and actually donated it back to the library book sale.  I didn't like the moral tone of the book.  Sad to say, it's been a while so I can't remember what my specific concerns were, but I had enough concerns to realize that my girls wouldn't enjoy reading it and I wasn't going to force it upon them.

I do like the premise of Daddy Long Legs, though, and it is a fun tale of rescuing a lost girl and giving her hope and a future via the contributions of an anonymous donor.

Ms. Reay follows this formula in a modern setting of Chicago.  I liked the characters for the most part, and followed the story easily.  But, I was disappointed in the ending.  I find that often authors just suddenly wrap things up and they're done.  I wanted more.  I wanted more development to the ending.  That was my source of disappointment in this story.  Other than that, it was fine.  The heroine is not always likeable and had a lot of rough edges to her, but when you can get past these and sympathize, your heart can follow the story.

Please note that I received a complimentary ecopy of this book for review from Thomas Nelson.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Another Regency Period Novel...

This week I read a fun novel called The Secret of Pembrooke Park by Julie Klassen.  I've read a
few other novels by Ms. Klassen, so I was looking forward to this one.

The story follows Abigail Foster, who unfortunately, is to blame for the loss of her family's fortune.  Her family must find a new, much more affordable home.  An offer comes in the form of Pembrooke Park, where they will be able to live for a very reasonable rent.  Abigail and her foster accept on behalf of their family and so begins the adventure.  Pembrooke Park has several secrets it's hiding.

The characters of the story are fun to get to know.  There were a couple that annoyed me (as any good antagonist should).  But, I particularly enjoyed the main character of Abigail and her relationships to the other characters.

The plot moves along at a steady pace and you do get to know the characters as Ms. Klassen tells the story.  I do enjoy Ms. Klassen's writing more than others and I enjoyed the added mystery in this book.

There is one thing I do want to mention, though.  This is one area where I find many readers disagree with me, but it's something that I notice as I read, nonetheless.  It is how the physical attraction (and its development) between the characters who become romantically involved is described and detailed in the story.  At times, I didn't feel comfortable with how Ms. Klassen described these attractions.  I didn't feel she crossed the line in the sand, but she got close to it, in my opinion.  Thankfully, these scenes and descriptions were typically short and I could move on past them in the story pretty quickly.  Even so, I wasn't keen on their presence.  I can't remember feeling this way about previous books that I've read by Ms. Klassen, but it's been a while since I've read one.

All in all, I did enjoy the book.  I am glad I had the chance to read it and simply enjoy a good story!

Please note that I received a complimentary copy of this book for review from Bethany House Publishers.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Sometimes the internet is helpful...

My 6th grade daughter is tackling subtracting negative numbers, which can be a tricky thing to explain ;)  I found a great page with explanations though, so I thought I'd share it in case it might be helpful to anyone...

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Christmas books and movies

I look forward to November and December when it is fashionable to read Christmas stories and watch Christmas movies.  I have to be honest and admit, though, that I read and watch them throughout the year.  The characters in such stories are portrayed with more hope and there is a coming together, a reunion, of family and friends that isn't present at other times in the year as often (in books and movies).

Melody Carlson publishes a Christmas novel every year and almost every year for the past five years I've had a chance to review them.  This year's novel is The Christmas Cat.  The story is about
Garrison who inherits his grandmother's house--and her cats--after she passes away.  His grandmother was his only family and he feels lost without her.  He's struggling to recover from Malaria that he caught while working in Africa and is trying to get a job.  So, his trip home to take care of his grandmother's estate occupies his heart and mind.  The story follows his trials as he finds particular homes for each of the six cats left behind.  The end is like that of other Christmas stories.  It will make you smile and feel like you drank a cup of hot tea with a cinnamon stick in it.

The writing makes this story flow quickly and easy.  I didn't notice any major bumps in my reading.  I enjoyed it and quickly followed Garrison as he found his way in the story.

If you enjoy made for tv Christmas movies (which I have to admit that I do), you'll probably enjoy this story as well.

Please note that I received a complimentary copy of this book for review from Revell Books.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Next Installment

It's interesting to grow up with my kids.  When they were younger, we read many Bible storybooks to them.  But now, they are all old enough to read the Bible themselves!  I have realized the same thing is happening with the books they read.  We are moving into a new era or phase.

Magic Treehouse and Imagination Station have had their time in my girls' minds and on their shelves. But, it's time for these to be passed on to their little brother.  I think he'll probably be ready for them by the end of the year.

The Imagination Station is a fun and easy to read early chapter book series.  It's basically a Christian Magic Treehouse series.  I've written a few reviews about it before.  I remember loving the first few books of the series.  I was struck by how the young boy and girl treated each other and the people they came across on their adventures.  I was pleased by the series.  But, as the series has gone on, the writing hasn't seemed to flow as well as it did in the early books.  I'm not sure exactly why I feel this way.

The latest installment of this series, Surprise at Yorktown, is like the others.  As I read it, the story seemed to make bigger jumps than I remembered in previous stories.  The language is very readable for a second grader or first grader with a high reading level.  I appreciate the bits of history that are woven into each adventure the kids go on.  My kids were glad to read it, but their excitement waned as they began reading the first chapter or two.  Both girls finished it, but quickly moved on after they were done.  Usually, when my girls enjoy a book, they immediately start rereading it.  They didn't do that with this one.

For kids older than third grade, I wouldn't recommend this book.  For kids younger than that, they'll enjoy it.  The language is very simple and it won't challenge them or expand their vocabulary.  Kids in third grade and beyond need more meat.  Box Car Children, Encyclopedia Brown, A to Z mysteries...

Please note that I received a complimentary copy of this book for review from Tyndale Publishing.

Friday, October 10, 2014

What we say

This week I had the chance to see a gift that someone has.  That is the gift of not being bothered by others' opinions of them.  I've seen people before not care about others opinions.  I can't say that I've understood.  I'm sure different people have different reasons.

I think some people tell themselves they don't care, but really do.  Some people stop caring and become numb to others' feelings.  Some people retreat away from people so they can't hurt them anymore.  But, then other people naturally have a peace that helps them not to worry or care about others opinions of them.

I saw one of these people in action this week.  After the summer I've had and what I've walked through, I recognize the gift this person has.  Of course it has its consequences, but one of the positive consequences is that this person is more easily able to show grace to people in her life that say things that are off the mark.  One of the other consequences is that she isn't always aware of how what she does affects other people.

I think that is the way it is with any gift that the Lord gives us.  There are strengths and weaknesses of what He gives us.  He knows what we need.

I can see what He's given this person in my life.  I think I'm on the opposite end of the spectrum.  I care too much.  I love too much and hurt too much.  They're two sides of the same coin.  But, seeing how God has made this friend makes me smile.  And it makes me think.

Is it okay to not care what other people think of me?  Yes.  I can see that this friend cares about the Lord and about glorifying Him in her life.  But she's free to just love people and see past the things they say.

We are all called to different things.  I was reminded on Friday that I am called to care and connect.  I talked with a young mom and her two little ones. I encouraged her and she shared with me that it had meant a lot to her husband when I genuinely asked after her a few months ago and how they were doing.

I've seen a lot of older women become wounded birds.  I want to learn to care, but be able to look past the things people say that are off the mark.