Friday, 30 May 2008

57. Nicki Defago - Child Free and Loving It

Child Free and Loving It
Defago, Nicki
Fusion Press
No. of pages:
First sentence:
A while ago I met an old friend who I hadn't seen for 20 years.

Thanks to PussInBooks for sending this book out on a Ring. I saw it advertised and, as I'm child free, was immediately interested.

I'm no really sure what I was expecting. What I found was an easy, comfortable read with lots of quotations from the author's conversations and correspondence with parents and the child free alike. She is child free herself and, as the title suggests, there is a strong bias in favour of this choice but it is offered in the spirit of 'I don't want kids but it's cool if you do.'

My only criticism is that the quotations were sometimes inadequately signposted. Reading through I sometimes felt rather lost and would have welcomed some direction.

I would recommend this book to anyone who is considering having (or not having) children.

Incoming Books!

Cristina Garcia - Dreaming in Cuban
John Berendt - The City of Falling Angels

Thursday, 29 May 2008

56. Eric & Leslie Ludy - When God Writes Your Love Story

When God Writes Your Love Story
Ludy, Eric & Leslie
No. of pages:
First sentence:
"I think we should break up," he softly said

I Mooched a copy of this book after reading Authentic Beauty by Leslie Ludy.

I enjoyed this volume for its honesty. The ideas are not all easy to carry out and the Ludys don't flinch from telling of their own stumbles as they learned to let God write their love story. I really enjoyed hearing more of the details of their romance. The book is written for men and women with Eric and Leslie each identified as the author of specific chapters. It was interesting to hear Eric's insights - I'm more used to the female perspective - although his humour didn't sit particularly well with me. Perhaps it would have if I were a young man?

The main theme of this book is that our relationship culture is a long way from what God intended and people are being hurt by it. But there is another way which the Ludys have lived and now share with their readers.

I would recommend this book to anyone who is single (of any age). I'm sure there are also nuggets of goodness for people in relationships if you are creative enough to take the ideas and make them your own. The book cover is attractive showing a tender moment between a man and woman. The title is very apt and the book does exactly what it 'says on the tin.'

I have all the Ludy book on my wishlist and am looking forward to reading them. Authentic Beauty is my current study book.

Overall: 8/10

Incoming Books!

Debbi Macomber - A Good Yarn
Nicki Defago - Child Free and Loving It!
M C Beaton - Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death
Henry James - The Aspern Papers and The Turn of the Screw
Sue Monk Kidd - The Secret Life of Bees
Tatiana de Rosnay - Sarah's Key
Muriel Spark - The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

Monday, 26 May 2008

The Classics Challenge 2008

Hmmm. When are enough challenges too many challenges? I can't resist The Classics Challenge 2008. Here are my picks:

Willa Cather - My Antonia
Harper Lee - To Kill a Mockingbird
George Eliot - Silas Marner
Jane Austen - Pride and Prejudice
Henry James - The Turn of the Screw (book not yet received)
Khaled Hosseini - A Thousand Splendid Suns

Sunday, 25 May 2008

Reading is a Blessing

This article contains the following quote:

Be careful of the books you choose, consider them as company you keep. For they will influence your family's habits and character.

Do you ever read something that really resonates within you? I don't have family to worry about when I choose what to read (the cats aren't big readers) but I do need to look to myself. I've noticed that I'm very susceptible to the atmosphere of my reading. If I'm reading secular chicklit about a girl's racy life I want that life too. Little House on the Prairie has me reaching for the broom to sweep the kitchen. I guess I have too much imagination but that's the way I am and I'm deeply affected by what I read. Impressionable. That's the word, I think. I am very impressionable.

I already avoid chicklit and also most fantasy and magical realism as these all send me in directions I don't want to go. But I don't read exclusively Christian titles although I try and avoid anything glorifying attitudes and actions that are contrary to Christian belief. Is this enough? Because you can't always tell where a story is going to take you from the blurb on the back.

I need to think more and listen. If God wants me to change my reading habits then he won't be silent.

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Incoming Books!

Debbie Macomber - Morning Comes Softly
Kate Collins - Mum's the Word
Azar Nafisi - Reading Lolita in Tehran
Anchee Min - Katherine

Monday, 19 May 2008

55. Judith Levine - Not Buying It

Not Buying It
LEVINE, Judith
Pocket Books
No. of pages:
First sentence:
The idea occurs to me, as so many desperate resolutions do, during the holiday season.

Thanks to Dododumpling for running this Ring which I joined in curiosity while hoping for a moment of inspiration in my own attempts to get out of debt.

Levine chronicles her year of only buying necessities (such as food) with warmth and humour. A political writer, she delves into the politics of American consumption and, I must confess, some of the arguments flew over my head. But I am inspired by her vision of moving away from the growth economy which, she says, will lead to our ultimate destruction.

I'd recommend this book to anyone hoping to save money because it proves what can be done by 'normal' people living in today's society as well as the more exceptional lifestyles some people choose to adopt. It might also be of interest to students of politics or economics.

I'm not rushing out to buy Levine's other books - they sound very learned and do not specially appeal. But, if she writes on another topic which interests me, I would like to read her again.


Saturday, 17 May 2008

54. J F Federspeil - The Ballad of Typhoid Mary

The Ballad of Typhoid Mary
No. of pages:
First sentence:
In the early morning hours of January 11, 1868, a ship emerged from the whirling snow outside New York Harbour and remained unnoticed by the harbour authorities until after she had violated the three-mile limit.

Many thanks to bodesoda for running a BookRing with this one which appealed to me in a strange, romantic way. I know (or should that be 'knew'?) nothing about Typhoid Mary and think I will now spend many hours trying to work out which parts of this book are fiction and which grounded in fact. Federspeil has woven magic with this book although I found the sub-plot of the narrator's asides interruptions rather than valued additions - and that's why I'm scoring it 9/10 and not 10/10.

This is the story of a woman known as Mary Mallon or, popularly, Typhoid Mary. We first meet her as a young girl aboard an immigrant ship entering New York Harbour. She is smuggled past immigration control by, of all people, a Doctor who becomes her first victim. And so Mary travels around New York City working as a cook and moving on when Typhoid strikes. There are happy times, romance and adventure in her life but the whole is tinged with a haunting sadness. This really was a time when life was 'brutish and short.'

I would read more by this author and recommend this book to others.

I'm a Winner!

Woman Alive magazine held a prize draw recently for a copy of Don't Panic!: The Ultimate Exam Survival Kit from The Good Book Co and, this morning, the Postie brought me a copy of the book and a little note from the magazine Editor to say I'm a winner!

It's the first time I've won a book. Well, it's more of a booklet but, hey, let's no split hairs. I'm studying at the moment so I have a good excuse to slot it into a high spot of Mt TBR - watch this space for a review!

Friday, 16 May 2008

53. Marta Perry - Hunter's Bride

Hunter's Bride
PERRY, Marta
Steeple Hill
No. of pages:
First sentence:
Chloe Caldwell was in trouble - deep, deep trouble.

I got a copy of this book from BookMooch after seeing an ad for it in another Love Inspired romance.

I enjoyed meeting the Caldwell family and will certainly look out for the sequel - A Mother's Wish. Hunter's Bride focuses on Chloe and her relationship with her boss - Luke. I really didn't like Luke through a lot of the book and almost put it down on several occasions. But this is Love Inspired to it all works out in the end. That's not to say there's a simple resolution - the final few chapters had me gripping the edge of my seat!

Perry's style is simple and engaging. She flips between Chloe's and Luke's point of view but avoided the narrative becoming choppy in consequence. Her central characters are well drawn and she has avoided cliché in the others. I would read more of her work.

Because this is Christian romance, there's a moral message running through the text Perry's message seems to be that it is only by walking in God's will that a person can know true peace.

I would recommend this book to any Christian woman looking for an engaging, romantic distraction. The cover is attractive although that and the title do give quite a lot away with regard to the ending.


Incoming Book!

Judith Levine - Not Buying It

Thursday, 15 May 2008

52. Christopher Marlowe - Doctor Faustus

This is a set book for the OU’s AA100. I’m considering doing the course in 2009 and am getting a head start through OpenLearn.

I’m not a fan of Ye Olde English but I was pleasantly surprised to be able to understand this play. Of course, I was helped by having read it before (as an Undergraduate at Dundee University) but that was a long time ago. This edition has a lot of additional information and utilises large quotations from academic works. I found that a lot of this went right over my head and am hoping that the OU’s notes are more helpful.

It’s hard to say who I might recommend this book to. It’s not something I would usually read. I suppose anyone interested in 17th Century literature since it is a classic of its time.


Monday, 12 May 2008

Incoming Books!

Patricia Davids - Love Thine Enemy
Merrillee Whren - An Unexpected Blessing
Ruth Scofield - Her Cinderella Heart

Saturday, 10 May 2008

51. Jim Edgar - Bad Cat

Bad Cat
Edgar, Jim
No. of pages:
First sentence:
It is no secret that Cat owns you, and not the other way around.

This book was listed as ‘Further reading’ for Think Cat! It is a collection of humorous photographs of felines in a variety of undignified postures all amusingly captioned. I’m not a fan of cats being dressed up or allowed to become obese but there are some fantastic shots of cats’ facial expressions which I enjoyed. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this book to cat lovers but it would appeal to anyone with a slightly warped sense of humour. 6/10

Incoming Books!

Diann Walker - Blissfully Yours
J F Federspiel - The Ballad of Typhoid Mary

Friday, 9 May 2008

Incoming Books!

Andrew Collins - Where Did It All Go Right?
Chip Ingram - I Am With You Always
Gustave Flaubert - Madame Bovary
Janette Oke - When Comes the Spring
Frida Gashumba - Frida
Harper Lee - To Kill A Mockingbird
Anchee Min - Becoming Madame mao

Thursday, 8 May 2008

50. Claire Bessant - How to Talk to Your Cat

How to Talk to Your Cat
Smith Gryphon Limited
No. of pages:
First sentence:
Cats have become a passion for many people who regard them not just as interesting pets but as companions, confidantes and intelligent friends to unwind with, as well as creatures who give them an insight into a wilder side of life.

I actually bought this book as a gift for my boss who had just adopted two cats a number of years ago. I did mean to give it to him, honest, but it was so appealing to me that it found a home in my bookcase instead. I’ve flicked through it over the years but have now read it in its entirety for the Think Cat!

I enjoyed Bessant’s friendly style of writing and found the book to be an accessible look at feline behaviour. She looks mainly at communication between felines and then between felines and humans before moving on to training and common problems. I particularly liked her formula for converting ‘cat years’ to ‘human years’ and shall be adopting it rather than the usual ‘take the cat’s age and multiply by seven’ formula.

The book is illustrated with line drawings some of which are charming. However, I did find it a bit hard to differentiate some of the body language the captions said they depicted. I think photographs might have been easier to decipher of, of course, this would have added to the cover price.

I would recommend this book to anyone trying to get inside their cat’s head – either to deepen their relationship or to solve a problem. It may not literally tell ‘how to talk to your cat’ but it does travel in that direction and has tips at the end of each chapter on how to enhance your relationship with your cat. I’d definitely read more on this subject by the author.

Monday, 5 May 2008

Spring Reading Thing 2008 - Halfway

We're halfway through the Spring Reading Thing 2008 and Katrina's asking "How's it going?"

I have seven books out of 20 still to read so I'm confident that I'll complete the challenge within the deadline. And this is exciting because this is the first challenge I've ever participated in. I'm very good at starting things and not finishing so I'm feeling a little glow of achievement here. Most of the books have been read and reviewed but I have had a couple that I didn't finish for a variety of reasons. Here's the original list with a note of the status of each book:

Christian Fiction

Veronica Heley - Master of the Hall - TBR
Marta Perry - Hunter's Bride - Current Read
Deeanne Gist - The Measure of a Lady - TBR
Beverly Lewis - The Crossroad - TBR
Janette Oke - When Calls the Heart - Read and Reviewed
Carolyne Aarsen - All in One Place - Read and Reviewed
Judy Baer - Be My Neat-Heart - Read and Reviewed
Melody Carlson - Back Home Again - Did Not Finish
Liz Curtis Higgs - Bookends - TBR
Judith Miller - Whisper Along the Rails - TBR

Christian Non-Fiction

J Matthew Sleeth - Serve God Save the Planet - Did Not Finish
Max Lucado - Cure for the Common Life - TBR
Joyce Meyer - How to Hear from God - TBR
Ruth Haley Barton - Longing for More - Did Not Finish
Rob Bell - Sex God - Read and Reviewed
Chip Ingram - Love, Sex & Lasting Relationships - Read and Reviewed
Elizabeth George - Life Management for Busy Women - Read and Reviewed
Christine Caine - Stop Acting Like a Christian Just Be One - Read and Reviewed
Lisa Bevere - Kissed the Girls and Made Them Cry - Read and Reviewed
R T Kendall - Totally Forgiving Ourselves - Held pending my getting a copy of 'Total Forgiveness' to read first.

Saturday, 3 May 2008

49. Stephen Baker - How to Live with a Neurotic Cat

Title: How to Live with a Neurotic Cat
Author: BAKER Stephen
Publisher: Grafton
Format: Paperback
No. of pages: 128
First sentence: A recent census taken among cats shows that approximately 100 percent are neurotic.

I’d read this book before but was glad to take another look at it for the Think Cat! course – many thanks to AngelChild for giving me the opportunity.

This is an amusing look at the life of the average, neurotic feline. The author’s premise is that all cats do is eat and sleep and this is certainly true of some of them. The illustrations are well worth a look while the text, although sparing, makes some good points. I did find it rather odd that Bast was referred to as male though!

I would recommend this book to any cat owner with a sense of humour. The cover shows a cartoon of an alarmed-looking cat. The title doesn’t hint at the humour within the pages – when I first heard of it, I thought it was a serious book about cat psychology! I would read other books by this author if their subject matter appealed to me – I know he’s written ‘How to Live with a Neurotic Dog’ but, as I’ve never lived with a dog, it doesn’t hold the same interest for this cat-lover.


Friday, 2 May 2008

48. Roger A Caras - A Celebration of Cats

Title: A Celebration of Cats
Author: CARAS Roger A
Publisher: Robson Books Ltd
Format: Paperback
No. of pages: 238
First sentence: Tradition has it that Adolf Hitler hated cats.

I read as part of my studies of Think Cat! and would particularly like to thank AngelChild for sending it to me. It certainly fulfilled its intended role of cheering me up this afternoon 

I really enjoyed Caras’ rather dry wit and never more so than when he was describing his own history of cat ownership. The story of Mister Amanda, who faints at regular intervals, had me almost hysterical. I was very touched at the genuine love and affection Caras obviously feels for his eclectic collection of animals. He writes knowledgeably about all aspects of cats and our relationships with them – from deification to folklore to persecution to showing. I now know how (according to Scottish folklore) to give birth to kittens, a feat I have wanted to accomplish since my teens.

Given my strong liking for Caras and his writing, I was rather alarmed to find that he approves of declawing for some cats and I’m glad that this didn’t come up until the last chapter as, had the subject been broached before I was hooked, I would have closed the pages and read no further. Caras advocates declawing where the alternative is that the cat be put to sleep because he is inflicting such damage to his domestic surroundings. I’ve not seen the argument in quite that way before. Death or declawing? I find it hard to believe Caras does not love his collection of waifs (some of whom are declawed) and, as most of the cats came from shelters, their alternative was life in a cage or death. Is being declawed in order to live the full life Caras describes really so bad? The jury is out.

I’d recommend this book to anyone who’s trying to understand human-feline relationships. The cover is attractive showing a trio of cats in relaxed positions. The book is illustrated throughout, mostly by Oriental artists.

The book has left me with an impression of light and love in the face of hardship.


Incoming Books!

Toni Morrison - Jazz
Susan Wittig Albert - The Tale of Holly How
Lori Wick - Every Little Thing About You

Thursday, 1 May 2008

47. Rob Bell - Sex God

Title: Sex God
Author: BELL Rob
Publisher: Zondervan
Format: Paperback
No. of pages: 201
First sentence: Once there were two brothers.

When I first saw this book, I thought the author was trying to be sensationalist. I mean, sex sells, doesn’t it? And I bought it. And then it sat on the shelf while I put off reading it and put it off some more. I finally read it over the last couple of days for the Spring Reading Thing and I was very pleasantly surprised. Bell’s language is beautiful in and of itself and he didn’t try for sensationalism once. The book is called ‘Sex God’ because it’s about sex and it’s about God. Bell looks at human relationships, sex and our spiritual relationship. He refers to the Bible often and sees marriage imagery in many verses. This book has stoked my enthusiasm for reading the Bible and I think I’ll be reading with a new understanding of what my relationship with God could (or should) be like.

I would recommend this book to anyone (Christian or just ‘open to Christian ideas’) who’s interested in relationships. I think it could be particularly useful for married/engaged couples who want to take their relationship to the next level.

The book’s cover is attractive although pink isn’t my favourite colour. Within the text, headings are in pale pink and I did find this difficult to read.


Incoming Books

Barbara Kingsolver - The Bean Tree
Kent Haruf - Plainsong
Barbara Kingsolver - Prodigal Summer

Mayday! - Booking Through Thursday

This week's Booking Through Thursday asks:

Quick! It’s an emergency! You just got an urgent call about a family emergency and had to rush to the airport with barely time to grab your wallet and your passport. But now, you’re stuck at the airport with nothing to read. What do you do??

And, no, you did NOT have time to grab your bookbag, or the book next to your bed. You were . . . grocery shopping when you got the call and have nothing with you but your wallet and your passport (which you fortuitously brought with you in case they asked for ID in the ethnic food aisle). This is hypothetical, remember….

OK. So I'm in Tesco doing the weekly shop and I get the 'Go to the airport' call. I buy a ticket for the shuttle to London and wait for the flight to be called. And I'm bookless. Now, since this is a family emergency, I'm probably too stressed-out to read and will spend the time catastrophising myself into a frenzy. If sanity does rear its head, however, I'll realise that the best thing I can do is go to the bookstore at the airport and buy Dickens or Austen. They're stories I know but am happy to read again and are very wordy so needing me to pay attention when reading. Reading is my preferred stress-reliever so reading is the best thing I can do in this situation.

Of course, when I get to London it turns out all to be a mistake and everyone's fine. 'Cause my imagination's like that ...

Non-Fiction Five Challenge 2008

The Non-Fiction Five Challenge 2008 is being hosted by Joy over at Thoughts of Joy.

Here are the rules:

1. Read 5 non-fiction books during the months of May - September, 2008 (please link your reviews on Mister Linky)

2. Read at least one non-fiction book that is different from your other choices (i.e.: 4 memoirs and 1 self-help)

3. If interested, please sign up below with the link to your NFF Challenge post (all choices need not be posted and may change at any time)

I really like reading non-fiction (hence joining in with this one) but I think it'll be a challenge to read something different for Step 2. I really like the safety and security of reading in a known subject - it's like putting on your favourite slippers at the end of a hard day.

Here's what I think I'll read:

1. James Montgomery Boice - The Parables of Jesus - (Religion)

2. Niki Anderson - What my Cat has Taught me About Life - (Felines)

3. James D Berkley - Essential Christianity - (Religion)

4. Jenna Bailey - Can Any Mother Help Me? - (Memoir)

5. Martin Pugh - State and Society - (History)

That was easier than I thought it'd be - I have various subjects covered and the only one I'm concerned about getting through is State and Society which is a fairly dense textbook. However, if I have thoughts of studying history in the future then I'll be encountering plenty of this kind of book so reading this one before the end of September will show if I'm 'able' or not.

Let the games begin!