Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Printing Off Web Resources

I am in the process of putting together my children's curriculum lists for the fall.  I went to the post I wrote about reading comprehension units.  When I clicked on a few links for the leaping into 5th grade website, I discovered that the author has taken them down.  If I were a betting person (which I'm not), the author has probably taken down her units and placed them on a site like Teachers Pay Teachers and is likely selling them for a fee now.  I realize that many teachers have done this.

But, this is the reason that when I put together my reading comprehension plan, I printed off the units I wanted for the future.  When you find something on the web, there's no guarantee it is still going to be there tomorrow!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Christian Romance Series

A while ago, I read the first book in Jen Turano's Christian fiction series that began with A Change of Fortune.  I enjoyed it.  It just fun to be lost in a book for a little while.  I don't usually follow a series, but I did end up reading each of the books in this series.  It was just light Christian romance fiction.  Last week, I finished reading the last one, A Match of Wits.  

This story centers on Agatha Watson and Zayne Beckett.  Many books within a series are written as stand alone novels.  Others need to be read within the series in order for the reader to understand and know the characters.  That is the case with this book.  Read the books before it first.  Each one adds details that you'll need to know in order to understand the interactions and dynamics of the relationships between the characters.  Agatha is a spitfire and Zayne is the recovering scorned former beau of another.  Agatha gets herself in messes that come as a result of good intentions.  From the outset, you know that people are after her and are threatening her life, so she is on the run in the west.  Zayne runs into her and she foils his plans to run away from home any longer.  

Family and friends enter the picture who are all described well in the course of the other books.  This book is light on the description.  If you only read this book, you'd likely see Zayne as a wimp and the relationship between Agatha and Zayne as completely unfathomable.  But, if you read the other books, you'll get a very different picture of Zayne.  That was my one frustration with this book.  Zayne was almost a different person than he was in the other books.  Of course, his heart had been broken between this book and the last one so that has wrought some change in him.  But, it seemed weird to me how he is in this book.

Would I recommend this book?  Maybe.  But, it wasn't one of my favorites.  I'd recommend the others in the series first.  

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


You might have heard this... I know it's going around.  My husband said this to me as we walked outside to throw a ball around with our kids...

Sitting is the new smoking.

Yes, I think it is.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Lightly Heavy Romantic Fiction

This morning I finished another romantic Christian fiction novel.  One might wonder why I read so many of these given that my reviews are often what might be considered 3 star reviews.  Well, my mom loves them and so I search for good ones to pass on to her.  

Ann Gabhart is one of the authors I have enjoyed more than others.  Her latest, Love Comes Home is very
clearly a romance.  It's funny to me that it's labeled "Historical Fiction".  It should really just be labeled "Christian Romance" in my opinion.

This latest novel by Ms. Gabhart is about a family of sisters after World War II finding their way to love.  There's pain and suffering in the novel.  The recovery of the men from the war is only touched upon and not delved into.  The story focuses more on the role of love in each of the sisters' lives and their trials, travails, healing, and blessings.  

Picture four sisters ranging in age from 14 to 25 years old (I think).  One wonders about the family who left her amidst the Great Depression.  One adjusts to pregnancy and her husband, a rescued POW, returning from the war.  Another grieves the loss of her husband to the war and processes how to heal and continue living with her toddler daughter.  The last, who saw herself as the strong one, copes with her husband returning from the war who she loves but doesn't know that well.  The story follows these four sisters and their stories.

I'm just going to consider this in terms of being a romance.  If you enjoy Christian romance and want a book that isn't going to put things into your mind that you don't want there, this book will fit the bill.  It does idealize love a little bit and make it seem as the be and end all of life, but don't most romance books do that?  I appreciated the way the sisters bore with each other amidst different personalities, gave each other space when they needed it, but put each other first, too.  It is a good, solid book about family and what it means to love one's family.  The story is set in a time when families lived in closer proximity than they do today.  Our culture has changed.  But, the ideas of loving one's siblings and bearing with irritations are the same things that happen in families even from a distance when siblings communicate regularly and have relationships with one another.

If you enjoy Christian fiction set around the time of WWII and romances, you'll probably enjoy this one.

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

Friday, July 4, 2014

Out of the way Read...

I hate writing reviews before I've finished the book.  But, this time, well...I'm running out of time.  So, I'm writing this book review with the caveat that I haven't finished it yet.

I've shared before that sometimes I pick up books and think they'll be interesting, but then just can't seem to get motivated to read them.  That's the case with this book.  It sat on my desk for several weeks without me opening it.  My daughter happened to pick it up, though, which started an interesting conversation...

Mommy, what's Anorexia?
Hmm... Hmmm!  Well, sweetie, that's when people choose not to eat.
Why?  Do they not have food to eat?
No.  They have food.
You mean--they diet?
Yes, they diet.  But, they choose not to eat.
They starve themselves?
Yes, they do, sweetie.
The conversation went a little longer as I tried to explain in 10 year old terms why.

My daughter, my sweet daughter who talks to me about everything, was connecting the dots in her head between the Dr.Oz tv show we saw that was discussing ways to diet when she got stitches on her toe at Urgent Care 6 weeks ago and the idea of anorexia.

Ironically, the woman who's memoir I was reading began starving herself when she was 9 years old.  She was younger than my oldest daughter when she began choosing not to eat.

The book I'm reading is titled Atlas Girl: Finding Home in the Last Place I Thought to Look by Emily T. Wiernega.  This book is Ms. Wiernega's memoir about her struggle to find love and accept that love.  It
tells the story of her relationship with her parents, husband, and family.  I'm about 3/4 through the book.  Interspersed throughout the book, I've found thought provoking nuggets that have made me think.  I am curious about how the author will draw the book together.  The story is supposed to be about the author finding her home and love, but it is a very complicated memoir with many themes.

I have to admit that this book has been quite difficult for me to read at times.  My mom is sick and the author of this story goes back and for between different times in her life and her time caring for her mom as the brain cancer overtook her body.  At other times, the story has simply touched my heart.  There's one story she shares of the conversation she has with her mother in which her mom shares that she's been praying for her.  She felt and understood the depth of God's love for her through her mother's love.  This encouraged me.  I love my kids so deeply and I want them to always know that through the good and the bad times--through the things I say right and the things I say wrong.

What is this book?  A Christian memoir?  No, not really.  A secular memoir?  Again, not really, but closer.  Because of some of the scenes the author shares, I wouldn't call this a "Christian" memoir in the way many people think.  Instead, I'd call it a secular memoir written by a Christian.  Does the author talk about God?  Yes.  But, the tone and subject matter often crosses lines that I think many conservative Christians would be uncomfortable with.  One example is that she describes her wedding night with her husband.  In terms of her journey through anorexia, this is significant.  But, it's almost too much information.

This book isn't one of those that you'll agree with all of the author's opinions, but I suspect that it may cause you to reflect.  Reading about someone else's life can often help us grapple with our own (according to Leland Ryken).  I agree with that.  I think this is the book I've been supposed to read right now and I keep pressing on.

If you enjoyed Resurrection in May by Lisa Samson, or Notes from a Tilt a Whirl by ND Wilson, or Secrets of an Unlikely Convert... then you would like this one, I think.  This book doesn't fit a mold.  I'm glad it doesn't.

If you're looking for some unusual summer reading, I'd read the preview of this one on Amazon (HERE) and see if you think you'd enjoy reading it.

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