Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Runaway Princess

The Runaway Princess
Kate Coombs
Farrar, Straus, and Giroux

Megan and I are both fans of a good princess story. There are some I cherish so much that I've never reviewed them on this blog for fear of never stopping my blog post! After all, I've thesis length papers on some favorites.

So, it's with delight that I've discovered a fresh, new take on the classic princess tale. (Thank you, Brandy!) Kate Coombs gives us a fairy tale turned on its head. Thankfully, she doesn't try to usurp the traditional format by using crude language, making characters do completely out-of-character things, or setting her princess tale in some contemporary city. No, no, no.

What she does do is give us a hilarious tale of a princess determined not to be given away in marriage to the prince who wins the contest her king-father has set (involving the usual tasks of subduing a witch, slaying a dragon, and capturing the bandits). Coombs gives us a witch who's really not so bad after all, a baby dragon instead of its fearsome parent, and a rogue group of bandits led by a fearless leader not too unlike the princess herself. We meet wonderfully quirky characters like twin princes Dorn and Dagle (don't you love those names!?), the princess Meg herself, an underage boy wizard with a fondness for hot chocolate, an overly pompous prince named Vantor (sounds like "vain" doesn't it?!), and a host of other terrific characters. There are delightful tongue-in-cheek names like a pub called "Ye Broken Egg."

We see hilariously unexpected things happen, a mother and father who come to understand their daughter better, and a group of loyal friends who will stick up for each other even under potential danger to themselves.

And the princess lives happily ever after.

This is a fun read, and I think both boys and girls will enjoy it. This is especially fun if you've already read a few traditional princess tales because then you can appreciate the turned-on-its-head tale Coombs gives us.

Recommended for elementary and up (read aloud to early elementary; independent read middle elementary and up)

Book checked out from local library; cover image from goodreads

Tuesday, February 28, 2012


R. J. Palacio
Alfred A. Knopf

This book has heart: real, unadulterated "heart" without being preachy, cheesy, or dumb. And that, I like. I like very much. I love that a book this length (close to 300 pages) is so readable and will really appeal to the middle school audience it's geared for. And I love that this book emphasizes kindness. In fact, the "point" of the whole book reminds me of another book I cherish; I keep hearing Atticus Finch tell Scout in my mind, "You can't judge a person until you walk a mile in his skin." Only, in Wonder, we'd have to change that to, "in his face."

You see, the main character of this book is a kid named August, Auggie for short, who was born with severe facial abnormalities (including, but most certainly above and beyond, a cleft palate; his entire face and ears have been affected--grotesquely). And Auggie is 10 when the book opens, having survived more surgeries and treatments and therapies than most of us will ever experience, and is about to go to school for the first time. Think back with me, if you will, to your own middle school experience. Now imagine going to middle school, to a NEW school, for the first time with a completely disfigured face. Uh-huh. You get the picture.

What this book does well is partly the way everyone can relate to Auggie, disfigured face or not. Palacio captures that essence of middle school (everyone's looking at me, everyone's talking about me, if I don't talk with the right people/sit with the right people I won't be popular, some parents are as mean and cutthroat as their kids, teachers are still nice and I like them even if it's not "cool" to hang out with them, and... I still need my mom and dad even though they're not cool either). Remember those feelings? Auggie suffers more than I certainly ever did, and I found myself feeling convicted over and over again for the ways in which I've reacted to people who are obviously handicapped or different looking; there are also plenty of times, I'm ashamed to admit, when I wasn't as nice as I should have been to someone because I was afraid of what others might think. One of the strengths of this novel is the way those ordinary feelings and experiences are thrown into such sharp relief because they're dramatized through Auggie's experiences.

But Palacio doesn't stop there. She gives us the dynamics behind the scenes. We get to hear from Auggie's sister Via and see what being a sibling of a special needs kid might be like. We hear from his best friend after a stupid betrayal (haven't we all been guilty of saying things to impress people--even if they're mean and untrue?). We hear from another friend of Auggie's, Via's boyfriend, a longtime friend of the family. These other points of view are well done, I think.

The ending is a bit warm and fuzzy in some senses, but it's completely believable given what has transpired throughout the course of the book. Stuff happens to Auggie. Some of it's heart-breaking, and some is heart-warming. Chapters are short, the plot kicks off right at the beginning, and there are not too many pithy, "poignant" statements. Myriad references to contemporary culture as well as a nice sprinkling of middle school humor make this a book kids today will pick up and read easily. And, hopefully, they'll appreciate Auggie's story and the points at the end regarding that simplest of virtues: kindness. And, hopefully, they'll be reading this book around someone with whom they can discuss real kindness, the source of our ability to be kind and the reasons why should be kind in the first place.

Advance review copy from netgalley; cover image from goodreads

Things to Note/Discuss
  • You can hardly miss this point if you even read the summary of this novel, but it's worth pointing out just in case! How do we judge other people before (and even after) we know them?
  • How do the misunderstandings between friends happen in this book? Could they have been prevented? If so, how? 
  • What is the hardest thing you've ever done in order to be friends (or stay friends) with someone?
  • Why should we be kind to people? (Auggie's story gives new emphasis to what it really means to be made in the image of God, doesn't it?) Who gives us this ability? (You might consider such verses as, "Be ye kind, one to another, just as God, for Christ's sake, has forgiven us")
  • What are ways you can encourage people you know? people in your classes? Can you think of people who might need an extra does of encouragement or kindness?
  • A great parallel book to this is A View from Saturday by E. L. Konigsburg in which a teacher is handicapped and students are kind to her and to each other.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Lit!: A Christian Guide to Reading Books

Lit!: A Christian Guide to Reading Books
Tony Reinke

Lit! is a terrific introduction to what it means to read as a Christian, from a Christian worldview; Reinke covers why we, as Christians, should be readers, how we should read, and what we should read. He covers a lot of ground succinctly (less than 200 pages) and includes both theoretical and practical information. This book, in particular, is a good introduction to a Reformed worldview, to the idea that the gospel is both central to our existence and informs everything we do, that common grace insights can be found in many places, and to a basic understanding of Christianity and the arts. If you are already familiar with the ideas of thinkers such as Neil Postman, James Sire, C. S. Lewis, Puritan theologians such as John Owen, Reformation "greats" such as Calvin and Luther, and are widely read in the more well known creative authors in Christendom (Tolkien, Lewis, John Donne, Dostoevsky, Flannery O'Connor, etc.), then this book will be a refresher course. If most of what I've just discussed in this first paragraph sounds like Greek to you, I highly recommend this book.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Dead End in Norvelt

Dead End in Norvelt
Jack Gantos
Farrar Straus Giroux
Newbery Medal

Dead End in Norvelt is one of those Newbery winners that reminds me that a committee chooses these books: a committee of ordinary folks like us (perhaps with a bit more experience in children's literature and library-related tasks),but folks nonetheless who have their own opinions and tastes in books. I'm glad we have committees choosing these winners because I wouldn't want it to come down to one person.

That being said, Dead End is not really my fave. I appreciate it, but I don't know that I would have chosen it. I completely agree with Brandy's stylistic analysis of this book and appreciate Redeemed Reader's insights into the socialist bent of one of the characters. I found it a touch long for the target audience (upper elementary/middle school). Gantos is nothing if not funny, and this book certainly made me smile. The ending was a little abrupt for me, but I enjoyed the ride there for the most part. If you're a history buff, this book will be right up your alley. The short version of the plot is this: Set in the 1960s, young, fictional Jack Gantos (who has spastic nosebleeds), is grounded all summer, escaping only to write obituaries for a quirky old lady named Miss Volker (through which process he learns a lot of history and a lot about socialism and a lot about the lighter side of death).

cover image from goodreads, book checked out from library

Things to Note/Discuss:
  • what should our attitude toward death be? How should we react to news of someone's death?
  • what are the principles of socialism that come through in this book? Do you agree with Miss Volker's sentiments?
  • What do you know of Eleanor Roosevelt and her part in helping folks get back on their feet after the Depression?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Annual Lenten Fast

In the interest of full disclosure, my neighbor, Lisa, and I are continuing our annual Lenten fast from: digital media.

(I know, right?! GASP. HOW WILL WE SURVIVE???)

For the answer to that question, and a great sum-up of why we do this, please see our very first year's recap.

The nature of my fast changes year to year slightly, mostly because I'm in school right now pursuing an information science degree and it's all online. I HAVE to be on the computer/internet regularly.

Therefore, this year's focus/rules are as follows:

  • One focused email time in the morning and one in the afternoon; no more checking/responding throughout the day.
  • Social media ONLY as it relates to class (I'm taking a social media class, so there is some significant activity related to class....). No Google reader. No new blog posts on anything save Literaritea (it's been my test ground for several assignments, believe it or not). 
  • No... gulp... online shopping.
  • No internet searching. (and this ... big gulp... includes the local library's online catalog)
  • No internet activities that aren't completely necessary (for instance, I'm allowed to continue banking activities but will not be searching for new advance review copies of books to read through netgalley). I will continue reviews on goodreads partly because that is one way I measure what I've read. But no browsing goodreads for recommendations or reading others' reviews.
In general, I'm going to make a concerted effort to single-task: to pay attention to the moment, to not surf the web whilst I should be folding laundry, to not delay getting dinner ready because I want to catch up on my Google reader, to miss opportunities to enjoy spring because I'm hunting down the perfect birthday present online. Because one of my classes is revolving around digital media, this year's fast is going to take an extra measure of self control from yours truly to really evaluate my motives and my activities.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Glass Collector

The Glass Collector
Anna Perara
Albert Whitman and Co.

This book had some serious potential that it didn't quite live up to. I read it via an ARC from netgalley, so perhaps there will have been a touch more editing before the book is published? (ranging from simple fixes in typos--"mommies" instead of "mummies" to the more difficult job of both shortening/tightening the plot and helping the ending out some).

In short, the book centers around a teenager named Aaron who is part of the Zabbaleen people (who are Coptic Christians) outside the city of Cairo. Their job is to collect a large part of the city's trash, and they recycle about 80% of what they collect. Only they aren't like our Western garbage men. They pick the trash up with their bare hands, cart it back home, sort it into various piles, live with it in their homes for up to two weeks, and finally sell it a merchant on his biweekly trek to their area. The descriptions of the filth in their lives, of the hardships present all around them, and of their poverty are heart-breaking.

Aaron is a beauty-loving expert at collecting bits of sparkling, colorful glass without hurting himself, but gives into temptation and steals some. That is a serious offense in his community, and he is ousted from his stepfamily. Through the rest of the book, he manages to survive--even collecting medical waste at one point--until, suddenly, things resolve at the end of the book... rather too neatly, in my opinion.

Strong social consciousness elements, strong environmental issues, pointed remarks about the wastefulness of the wealthy, and Aaron's interesting realization that even he--a poor Zabbaleen--has an important role to play in society make this a book for discussion. But the point of view wavered, the ending was too neat, and the plot rambled a bit--making this a book most kids won't suffer through voluntarily unless they're interested in the concepts presented.

The Glass Collector will be on shelves March 1; it will be an interesting addition to groups that are looking to discuss books with elements like those mentioned.

Cover image from Albert Whitman.

Monday, February 20, 2012


Frank Cottrell Boyce
Macmillan UK, 2008
published in US in 2010

This book is totally cosmic...really. Hilarious. Well-written. Great characterization. Celebration of dads (I mean, c'mon--since when does THAT happen in a middle grades book??). Out-of-this-world adventure (for real). And I am *definitely* bumping Boyce's Millions to the top of the to read pile.

When the book opens, we hear Liam narrating to his cell phone: "Mom, Dad--if you're listening--you know I said I was going to the South Lakeland Outdoor Activity Center with the school? To be completely honest, I'm not exactly in the Lake District. To be completely honest, I'm more sort of in space...."

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The No. 1 Car Spotter

The No. 1 Car Spotter
Atinuke, author
Warwick Johnson Cadwell, illustrator
Walker Books (U.K.); Kane Miller (U. S.)

I have Betsy Bird over at Fuse #8 to thank for first mentioning Anna Hibiscus (and for that I'm eternally grateful--we are BIG Anna fans around here). So, when I hear Atinuke had a boy book coming out, I bought it. I don't buy too many books, but it will take some time for this to trickle down to our public library.

And I'm so glad I did! I think I *might* like No. 1 Car Spotter better than Anna! It's a toss up, really, but I think Atinuke's style in this book is even more approachable for American readers. Her storytelling cadence is still there, making this a terrific read aloud, but it also flows a bit more like a traditional chapter book as far as each chapter opening goes--so newly independent readers will sail right through it.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

How Do I Get That Book??

We review lots of books on this little blog, and we often encourage you to check them out from your local library. Here are some ways to access our book lists and find the books easily in the "real world."

First of all, we are updating Literaritea's online presence:
  • Listography lists--you can select text and print (or pull up the site on a mobile device inside your local library!). Access our listography site from the side bar.
  • Pinterest boards--ultimately, these will correspond with the listography lists; think of them as a "pictorial representation." Access our Pinterest site from the side bar.
  • Index--the old-fashioned way to find a book! (Ours are in the pages in the navigation bars)
OR, you can get a little tech-savvy. Nearly all of our Pinterest "pins" are linked to goodreads, a handy site where you can see folks' reviews of the very book we pinned.

AND, under each book synopsis, goodreads has a few little buttons: "Barnes and Noble," "online stores," and "Worldcat."

You may not realize what a gem this "Worldcat" button is. When you click that button, it will ask for your zip code. Please, by all means, put in your own... and watch the magic.

If your local library has an online catalog, chances are good that they are linked to Worldcat. Worldcat will tell you the format, the mileage from your house, etc. (Below are the first three results--condensed--from the Birmingham zip code I put in the box above.)

Worldcat is a world catalog and it will search all the libraries near you for the book in question (even university libraries). If you really want to check out a book, this is a nice option to know about. You can access it from home or, if you have a smart phone or other mobile device that can access the internet, you can access our lists and search your library's catalog from the library itself.

Finally, you can probably access your own library's website from home. You can probably also put books on "hold" for whatever branch you visit regularly--even if the book is located across town. I do this all the time! I hate having to browse/search for a particular book with three young kids in tow. If you don't know how to use your library's website, ask a friendly librarian next time you're in. 

Happy library hunting!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Indian Captive

Indian Captive
Lois Lenski
Originally published 1941
Newbery honor
Re-issued multiple times, most recently by Open Road Media in e-book format
e-book date 2011

Megan should really be writing this review since she did her thesis on Lois Lenski's "historicals," as they're often called. Lenski was a prolific author/illustrator, illustrating such works as the Betsy-Tacy series, creating multiple picture book series (we're big fans of the Papa Small books around here!), and writing quite a few novels.  Her novel Strawberry Girl earned her a Newbery; Indian Captive earned her a Newbery honor. In addition to her historical novels, she also did a series of novels about different regions of the country (Strawberry Girl is part of that series, I believe). If you're unfamiliar with her work, you need to remedy that!

If you're unfamiliar with her work, though, this e-book from Open Road may be just the place to start. In addition to reproducing Lenski's original text and illustrations, the Open Road folks have also included a nicely done short biography of Lenski complete with several photos of the author and her family.

I was delighted with how approachable this book still is for today's audiences. Published in 1941, this book is more than 70 years old--how would its treatment of Native Americans, for one, translate to today's sensibilities and politically correct emphasis? Quite well, actually. This is a wonderful novel based on the true story of a young girl taken captive in the 1750s by Indians the day before her family was killed by the same group of Indians; after two years in captivity with the Seneca Indians, Molly Jemison, aka Corn Tassel, chose to stay with them. She'd learned much from her Indian family, had grown to love them, and realized that she could indeed make a life as a white girl amongst an Indian tribe. They accepted her as their own, even though she'd been technically a captive. The Seneca Indians are shown to be a hard-working, beauty-loving, stern-yet-loving people; they are also caught between the French and English as they battle for control of the continent. By the end of the novel, the reader can't help but affirm Corn Tassel's decision to stay with her new family.

All of Lenski's original illustrations are also in the e-book format. She not only draws the characters but illustrates multiple examples of Indian crafts and tools. Lenski clearly did her research into the time period and its cultures.

I've labeled it historical fiction partly because I think it would be shelved with fiction in a traditional library; it's really closer to a biography covering 2 years of Mary/Molly Jemison's extraordinary life. This would be a great option for a book lists for students doing outside reading on different periods in history; upper elementary and middle school students could read it on their own, but it could be read aloud to younger students, too.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

Sir Gawain & the Green Knight
Michael Morpurgo, author
Michael Foreman, illustrator
Candlewick Press

I've reviewed Gerald Morris's hilarious version of Sir Gawain's story, and now it's time to draw your attention to a different retelling. Morpurgo tells his version in the traditional fashion and is thorough, yet approachable. Satisfactorily illustrated, this version can be read to younger elementary children, enjoyed by middle elementary children and middle school students, and is not too childish for high school students. The drama of the high king's court, the honor of Arthur's knights, the church's connection to daily life, and the traditions of the Middle Ages come through marvelously in this easy-to-read-yet-complete version. While not broken up into actual chapters, there are still nicely defined breaks where a read aloud can be paused. I wish this had been around when I taught British Literature to high school students!

For those who are unfamiliar with this famous story, here's a recap: one New Year's Eve, a terribly fierce green knight strides into Arthur's court as a feast is in progress. He offers a challenge: a knight can deal him any blow as long as he, the knight, agrees to seek the Green Knight out at the Green Chapel in 1 year and 1 day. Sir Gawain bravely agrees, strikes the monster's head off, and is shocked to see the monster get up and leave the court. True to his word, Sir Gawain seeks the monster out at the appointed time. Along the way, he makes a new friend and enters into several friendly contests. In the midst of these contests, the new friend's wife tries to tempt Sir Gawain into some unseemly conduct. Sir Gawain emerges with his honor (and the lady's) intact and makes it to the appointed meeting with the Green Knight. A surprise ending for those who don't know this tale!

It's worth mentioning that the scenes in which the lady tries to seduce Sir Gawain are clearly laid out in this telling, but only the traditional chaste kisses happen. Still, more conservative readers may wish to wait until their children are in elementary school before reading it aloud.

Monday, February 13, 2012

African American History Month

This is a little more long-winded than usual... 

In Genesis, when we read about God creating humans, we hear that he created "male and female" and that he created them "after his own image." That's it. No mention whatsoever of skin color, hair color, race/ethnicity, stature, weight.... nothing. What's significant is that men and women are different from each other, and both are created in the image of God. What that should mean to us is that each human we come into contact with has intrinsic worth because he or she is created in that same image. We have absolutely no right to feel superior to another human being based on anything earthly: position, skin color, nationality, race, gender, socioeconomic status, imprisoned, ....

And yet, while it's easy to nod in affirmation of that, how many times do we attempt to teach our children this? To really model this for them? To open their eyes to the hard parts of human history where one group of humans did NOT treat another group rightly based purely on some external characteristic? We do a pretty good job of pointing fingers at the Nazis and making sure everyone studies WWII history. But, how well do we introduce children to the dark spots in our own nation's history? Depending on what side of those historical moments we fell, do we present bitterness? rancor? harshness? continued misunderstanding?

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Hide and Seek Devotional

Hide (the Word) and Seek (the Lord) Devotional
Stephen Elkins, "creator"
Amanda Gulliver, illustrator
Thomas Nelson

Can you have too many kids' devotional guides? While I certainly like some story Bibles and devotionals better than others, I'm also inclined to think that just about anything that gets kids reading their Bibles and hiding God's Word in their hearts is on the right track. Enter: The Hide (the Word) and Seek (the Lord) Devotional!

What I like: This devotional gives a (very) short summary of a Bible story but suggests kids read it for themselves and gives the Scripture references. Each "chapter" is centered on a Bible verse that works thematically with the Bible story presented. Verses are organized in ABC format AND include full A-Z lists for BOTH Old and New Testaments!! The verses are not the "usual" contenders for their given letters, either. Rather, a key word that starts with that letter is used instead of merely the first letter of each verse. (The "Old Testament" and "New Testament" categories refer to the memory verse location, not necessarily that the coordinating story is from the same testament.) This means that some of my all-time favorite verses make an appearance (such as Zephaniah 3:17). Another bonus: there is a Scripture memory song for each verse. Lyrics are given at the bottom of the page. AND there are free downloads on Thomas Nelson for the songs as well as an audio version of the short story given on the page (narrator? Kirk Cameron). In my experience, nothing helps cement something in your memory like music. I also like the layout of each page. At least in my digital review copy, there aren't many illustrations to distract the reader/listener.

What I don't like: the short paragraph versions of the Bible stories are a little "chatty" and "cute" but I think kids will like them. I'm willing to overlook some of that in favor of the encouragement to the kid readers to get in the Word! The Scripture translation used is NIV; we tend to use ESV in our house, but again, I'd be willing to "give" on this one in favor of kids actually learning the Scripture. In addition, the entire verse isn't given (i.e. "A gentle answer turns away wrath" without also including "but a harsh word stirs up anger.") You can still encourage your children to memorize the entire verse and in whatever version you choose; the songs, however, will not correspond.

I should point out that I haven't read every page yet. I won't answer to the theological accuracy of each verse/story. What I have seen, though, makes me tempted to look into this for a gift for one of my kids.

Recommended age group: older preschool-mid elementary

Even in the advance review copy I have, the website given is up and running. So, check out the Hide and Seek Bible site to listen to the songs for yourself (you'll also get to hear the devotional parts, too). Cover image above from same website. ARC from .

Bink and Gollie: Two for One

Bink and Gollie: Two for One
Kate DiCamillo, author
Alison McGhee, author
Tony Fucillo, illustrator

We thoroughly enjoyed Bink and Gollie, and I am delighted to see these friends return in a new set of adventures! Early reader/chapter books really shine when both text and illustrations are at the top of their game; Bink and Gollie books provide a terrific example. Once again, DiCamillo and McGhee have given us funny stores about two devoted friends who have different interests and adventures, but who wind up supporting each other as only best friends can do. And once again, Fucillo's illustrations really steal the show. His use of color, the graphic novel feel of some pages, his use of perspective--perfect.

A website by yours truly...

Now, technically, this little blog of ours is a website.

But, for a homework assignment this semester in one of my classes, I had to create a website on my home computer and upload it to our school's server--this has involved much weeping and gnashing of my teeth, I must confess, and has also made me thankful for how ridiculously easy blogger makes it for us to do this little blog/website of ours.

With that in mind, please realize that I strove for simplicity and kept my content pretty basic. Check out my Geisel Awards Website!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Three by Kate Morton

The House at Riverton (2007; Pan Books)
The Forgotten Garden (2008; Pan Books)
The Distant Hours (2010; Atria)
Kate Morton

Kate Morton hails from Australia, but all of her books are set in England. I don't know if she has visited England, but her books have a remarkable sense of "place." And her three books bear other remarkable similarities to each other:
  • a mysterious estate or castle in England filled with dark family secrets 
  • aging family members who've held those secrets close 
  • modern (ca. 1990s) heroine who finds tangible evidence of said secrets (like, a letter) 
  • the awareness on the part of modern heroine that her own mother is somehow intimately connected with the mysterious castle and its strange inhabitants
  • the revelation of said secrets through sleuthing by the modern heroine
  • the gradual understanding of her own mother and family through the knowledge gained
  • said secrets encompassing multiple issues: emotional love affairs and/or murder and/or suicide and/or betrayal and/or madness in the family...
  • and an intricate plot slowly unraveled through jumping back and forth in time and between various narrators
Gothic in inspiration, full of references to book lovers and the profound impact even a single book can have on someone if it is read at the right impressionable age, and the overwhelming sense of place (and the effect that place has on its inhabitants and visitors) round out Morton's writing, making these novels some of my favorites for a long day of reading-on-the-couch-curled-up-under-a-blanket-and-sipping-tea. Once I get about halfway through one of these hefty tomes (think: 500 pages +/-), I cannot put the book down. I love me some good mystery. The reader gradually figures out what is going on before the big reveal(s), but, as I said in my goodreads review of The Forgotten Garden, "In my experience, a misty castle in the distance that gradually grows clearer and clearer as more details are ascertained never spoils a pleasant journey."
 I must confess that I don't enjoy the actual secrets that are revealed too much because they're often depressing, sordid, or just plain wrong--but the journey there is addictive. I like that Morton's books are pretty clean in the sense of anything being described explicitly, little foul language, and the like; but the dark family secrets involve some messy "stuff."

Is it possible to write a gripping mystery and dark Gothic novel without having the main historical characters be so disturbing? I know I haven't actually *read* Jane Eyre, but I know that's a good example of having dark secrets (and even a mad woman!). Hmm.... worth pondering.

For now, I space these kinds of books out in my reading...too much rich chocolate cake isn't good for me :-).

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Save Barnes and Noble!

I'll confess: I buy nearly ALL my books through amazon... all that is, except for the rare book I buy from Barnes and Noble for my Nook. But after reading this article about the importance of such brick-and-mortar bookstores as Barnes and Noble, I'm tempted to make a change. The problem? I like amazon's selection better--no single building could house that many books to browse through. But the fate of books/publishing/brick-and-mortar bookstores seems awfully closely tied to the fate of libraries! Something to ponder....

One Thousand Gifts

One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are
Ann Voskamp

Megan told me to read this as soon as it came out...she's an avid follower of Voskamp's blog A Holy Experience which we have linked in the margin under "In Good Company" (before you click over there, know that there's music playing on her blog!). At any rate, my Bible study teachers gave each one in my small group this book for Christmas this past year. I plunged right in--taking a sharp deviation from all the children's literature I had been reading (children's literature is like a drug... I confess...) and enjoying my first real school break since May.

So, I plunged right in and got swept along in the current of Voskamp's stream-of-consciousness, lyrical writing. She's very poetic and reminds me a little of Annie Dillard (a favorite of mine). I got bogged down in the middle when she began chasing the moon...the rest of the book felt a bit slower to me than that first, magical half, but I was also caught up in the maelstrom of Christmas activities at that point. It may simply have been that I didn't have enough time to continue reading at the same rate.