It's been a while since I finished reading this, but thought I would at least write a review of my favorite story of the trio: Cuckoo Funeral.
I reallyIt's been a while since I finished reading this, but thought I would at least write a review of my favorite story of the trio: Cuckoo Funeral.
I really liked Cuckoo Funeral! I especially loved the part where the main character goes to N. Korea for the first time, and experiences the difference between being a minority and being a majority. And I don't know if the author (Christina Hyun) intended it, but I liked the symbolism of the cuckoo bird...how hidden truths/secrets will be revealed at the proper time, like the cuckoo bird is revealed at the proper time in a cuckoo clock. Very creative story....more
The Little White Horse is a beautiful, idealistic and idyllic story, resembling a fairy tale. It is well-written, a work of art meant to be savored. IThe Little White Horse is a beautiful, idealistic and idyllic story, resembling a fairy tale. It is well-written, a work of art meant to be savored. It is a book about a young girl's journey to discovering her identity as she discovers the enchanted place called Moonacre.
However, I think the biggest downfall of The Little White Horse would be lack of conflict, and the struggle and transformation that follows. This leads to a flat, though lovely, main character. It also is very slow-paced, taking several chapters to get to any major action. Despite these things, though, I would still highly recommend it, particularly for young teenage girls, if they are willing to set down their Hunger Games or Divergent books to try something new and different.......more
Unconditional Parenting by Alfie Kohn is a book that will challenge one's thinking on the current methods of parenting--it certainly did mine. And thoUnconditional Parenting by Alfie Kohn is a book that will challenge one's thinking on the current methods of parenting--it certainly did mine. And though there are many comments that Kohn seems to make simply to shock his readers, there is truth in what he writes, and I am so glad a friend of mine recommended this book to me now, as I am just beginning the journey of parenthood.
UP made me realize that I am a product of conditional parenting (as well as conditional teaching), not by anyone with malintent, but more because that's simply how our culture and our schools work. Kohn spent the majority of his book discussing the negative impact of conditional parenting (many of which caused me to stop and say to myself, "He's talking about me!"), and though it set the stage for his thoughts on unconditional parenting, it became a little cumbersome. But it did pique my interest in a better alternative.
Though I am a new parent (I have a 10-month old daughter), I love how it has already made me think more about how I interact with my daughter. Instead of going on autoparent or parenting as I was parented, UP has challenged me to parent with intentionality. I could discuss several concepts that really hit home with me (such as focusing on how a child's actions affect others instead of themselves, or the idea of cooperation vs. competition, for example), but I guess that's what the book is for, and I certainly recommend reading it with an open and discerning mind....more
I love Brandon Sanderson's writing--he creates such unique cultures and worlds, as well as interesting and believable characters. I love getting lostI love Brandon Sanderson's writing--he creates such unique cultures and worlds, as well as interesting and believable characters. I love getting lost in his stories. Though I enjoyed his Mistborn trilogy, and even Elantris, more than Warbreaker, it is certainly well worth reading....more
This book helps new parents understand that the marriage relationship is more important than ever when couples have their first child. With the many mThis book helps new parents understand that the marriage relationship is more important than ever when couples have their first child. With the many more demands on time and energy that a baby brings, couples must be more intentional about protecting their marriage and not letting their relationship with the baby crowd it out. Rather, the baby can help to grow it even stronger, though not without hard work. Several times, this book reminds us that the greatest gift we can give our child is a loving relationship with our spouse. What's more, it also gives practical advice about how to do that.
My husband and I are about to have our first child, and without actually having been new parents yet, it seems that this is some of the best pre-baby advice I've received (though I will have to revisit that after a year of raising a child!) I'm certainly glad I read this book, even though some of it would be more useful after the baby is born so that we can identify with it more. And even though there are a few parts I may not agree with completely (such as the section on masterbation), overall I would certainly recommend it to any new parent or new parent-to-be....more
There are many Christian books about the marriage relationship that are filled with fluff. This is not one of them. Loving Your Husband is a straightfThere are many Christian books about the marriage relationship that are filled with fluff. This is not one of them. Loving Your Husband is a straightforward, scripturally sound book that helps you really learn how to love your husband better. It is good to read on your own or as part of a small group Bible study....more
The Well of Ascension is the second book in the Mistborn trilogy by science fiction and fantasy author Brandon Sanderson. Where the first book left ofThe Well of Ascension is the second book in the Mistborn trilogy by science fiction and fantasy author Brandon Sanderson. Where the first book left off--the fall of the Final Empire--this book picks up the pieces as the people attempt to rebuild the city of Luthadel, which is not an easy task after being forced into submission for so long by the Lord Ruler. The transition from oppression to freedom is a difficult one when there are opposing views on how to govern the new kingdom. Corruption and political intrigue ensue, leading to conflict and war.
Meanwhile, as the people battle for control of Luthadel, a spiritual war wages on, one that involves the Deepness, the mists, and the Well of Ascension. And Vin--the main character--is at the heart of this spiritual war. The reader discovers that things are not always as they appear. There is good and evil, but it is sometimes difficult to tell which one is which. Just like some of the characters in the story, we can all be deceived, especially when there are people or forces manipulating and distorting the truth.
The characters in The Well of Ascension are intriguing, all with unique personalities and motivations. It's interesting to see how they interact with one another. The setting of the story is surreal and imaginitive, and the plot is always moving forward at just the right pace; I sometimes found myself wandering or questioning something, only for Sanderson to address that very issue in the next section or chapter.
For me, The Well of Ascension was one of those books that I couldn't wait to get back to. I connected very well with Vin, and was always anxious to see what she would do next. I'm also anxious to see what happens next in the final book of the trilogy, Hero of Ages....more
From the first ashfall that fell from the sky in Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn: The Final Empire, I was captured, much like the first snowfall of the yFrom the first ashfall that fell from the sky in Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn: The Final Empire, I was captured, much like the first snowfall of the year captures me, but unconventional in the sense that it was dark. And Mistborn is just that, an unconventional tale of the search for the light of truth in the darkness of deception. The theme of light and darkness runs throughout the entire book, and Sanderson does an excellent job weaving it into the story. There are many intriguing twists and turns, swirling about like the mists that appear each night in the world of Mistborn, mists that people are afraid to encounter. But a brave few who venture out into the ominous mists will uncover the light of truth, which leads to freedom.
Sanderson's story begins with failure: The failure of a hero to save the world from the Deepness. And so darkness settles over the Final Empire, as does the Lord Ruler who rules over it and all who live in it. The Lord Ruler claims to be God, and people fear him, a fear that causes them to submit to his authority and power. They have become complacent by the Lord Ruler's manipulations, and continue to live blindly without any desire to seek out their freedom. But a hero--a rebel--appears among them to bring them out of the Lord Ruler's shroud of deception and, with the help of an unlikely heroine, lead them to freedom.
This hero and heroine are Kelsier and Vin, both who are vital in the rebellion against the Lord Ruler. They are Mistborn, people who have special powers called Allomancy, powers that use various metals to create certain abilities such as enhanced senses and pushing or pulling on metal objects. Kelsier is a casual, impulsive character who continually keeps his crew--and the reader--wondering what will happen next. His crew trusts him yet often wonders about his unconventional ways. When Kelsier discovers Vin, another Mistborn like himself, he immediately asks her to become a part of his crew. Vin's character is more subtle, yet equally as powerful. She has been abandoned and hurt in her past, causing her to distrust everyone, including Kelsier. But through her experiences and interactions with Kelsier and his crew, she grows from a suspicious and timid girl to a powerful and brave Mistborn. And though she often doubts her part in the plan, her doubt is always overcome by the fellowship and trust of Kelsier and his crew. "She was getting past the point where she questioned herself. She knew the reason she stayed in the crew. It wasn't the plan; it was the people...This was a crew unlike any other she'd worked with" (p333).
One of the reasons I enjoyed this book so much is because I very much connected with Vin's character. She started out as a skaa worker--basically the scum of the Final Empire. But when Kelsier found her, he taught and trained her to become the strong Mistborn that she could be. Then, as she plays her part in Kelsier's plan as a noblewoman, she struggles when she realizes that she actually enjoys the life of the nobility, yet despises what they stand for. She desires to remember her former life as a skaa worker, not forgetting the hatred that the nobility has for the skaa, and so that she will always appreciate what she does have. This is what what makes her different from the nobility. "She hoped she would never lose that--the sense within herself of how life had been before. It made her appreciate what she had so much more than the real nobility seemed to" (p458). In a similar way, I once was living in darkness, but then Christ Jesus found me and is training me to be the brave woman he intends for me to be, leading me out of Satan's deception and into the light of life. Yet I sometimes struggle as a Christian, enjoying the life I have but not wanting to forget where it is I came from so that I don't become hypocritical and self-righteous like so many people do.
Besides Kelsier and Vin, there are many other interesting characters in Mistborn, including Sazed the wise and learned Terrisman; Elend, a nobleman who is a rebel in his own way, and who captures Vin's attentions; and many more. Sanderson created each of his characters with unique abilities and quirks, and it's amusing to see how they interact with each other.
Despite so much failure and death in Mistborn, hope survives. It is this hope that carries people through when all seems lost and the ashfalls continue to cover the world in darkness. It is also this hope that overcomes their fear of the mists, bringing about the freedom that the darkness had concealed from them for so long. Furthermore, though this is the first book in a trilogy, it is a very satisfying read all on its own....more
I picked up A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis soon after finding out my mother's husband had passed away. I wanted to get an idea of what my mother was gI picked up A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis soon after finding out my mother's husband had passed away. I wanted to get an idea of what my mother was going through--what it was like to lose the most cherished of loved ones, one's own spouse.
A Grief Observed is about a real man's (Lewis') struggle not only with the death of his wife, but also with the God whom he claimed to believe in. It is intellectual--for Lewis is a very intelligent and logical academic and Christian apologist--but also raw, candid, uncensored. Though no one person's grief is identical to another's, there is a fundamental truth found in all people's grief, and Lewis captures the nature of that truth when he recounts his own grief after losing his wife.
His was a brief marriage, begun in the hospital when his wife was ill with cancer. He knew her death was imminent--that she would most likely die before he did--yet he loved her still and wanted to marry her. It was a love that could not last, which begs the question, "Is it better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all?" The hard truth is that all people who marry will lose the other--we all live in death's dark shadow. It certainly puts marriage in a whole new and ephemeral light.
On page 5-6, Lewis writes of his grief, "Meanwhile, where is God?...But go to Him when your need is desperate, when all other help is vain, and what do you find? A door slammed in your face, and a sound of bolting and double bolting on the inside. After that, silence." Though a man of strong Christian faith, Lewis' foundation was shaken when his wife died. A Grief Observed is the journey through his doubt, anger, frustration, weakness and humility.
I like this story most of all because it shows that it's okay to be angry with God, to struggle with Him and to question the things He allows to happen. If it weren't okay, it wouldn't be a genuine relationship. We are human after all, filled with human emotions and desires. But if we keep trusting and seeking after God—even when He seems to have disappeared—He will prove Himself faithful, thereby increasing our own faith. "In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith--of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire--may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed" (1 Peter 1:6-7). Lewis went through the fires of hell when he grieved for his wife, but instead of perishing, his faith was refined and proved genuine....more
The Princess and the Hound is the first book in a trilogy by Mette Ivie Harrison. It is a romantic fantasy involving a prince--George--in pursuit of lThe Princess and the Hound is the first book in a trilogy by Mette Ivie Harrison. It is a romantic fantasy involving a prince--George--in pursuit of love and justice--love from a princess whom he has never met, and justice in regard to people who have the "animal magic," including himself. He wants someone to love him as he is, but is afraid to reveal his true character, animal magic and all, due to an intense hatred of people with such a trait in the world that Harrison has created.
Like the Wit in Robin Hobb's Farseer Trilogy, the animal magic is an ability to communicate and bond with animals. Harrison's term, "animal magic," is quite a mouthful, however, when reading the story. I think it would have improved the story a little if she had come up with a better name for it. Regardless of the term, though, it is a magic that can be used for good or for evil. Past stories of people using it maliciously have caused the current state of hatred toward those who have the animal magic.
Soon after learning about George's animal magic, the reader discovers that George is to marry the princess of a neighboring kingdom, Princess Beatrice of Sarrey, who has a different kind of bond with an animal, a hound called Marit. The reason for their marriage is purely political--it will help to bring the two kingdoms together. But it is an intriguing union, and after meeting her, George is drawn to the princess and the hound that she won't part with. Without giving too much away, they are both affected by the animal magic in different ways, and must reveal the truth about themselves in order to be able to genuinely love one another.
Over the course of the story, George grows from a naive and timid prince to a competent and bold king-in-waiting. He learns to do what is right even when faced with trial and persecution, gaining courage from the princess, who accepts him as he is. I fully appreciate this concept, though I didn't find the story altogether captivating....more
**spoiler alert** After discovering the author Mette Ivie Harrison and reading about her life--and realizing it is a life not unlike the one I strive**spoiler alert** After discovering the author Mette Ivie Harrison and reading about her life--and realizing it is a life not unlike the one I strive toward--I was naturally curious about her writing. So I chose to read her debut novel, a young adult book called The Monster in Me.
The Monster in Me is a story about a young girl, Natalie, whose mother is a drug addict and who can't take care of her daughter. Natalie lives as a foster child, always going somewhere but never at home. She also loves to run because it helps her momentarily escape from her problems, and she's good at it. Plus, it's something she can do without the help of other people. When Natalie is sent to a new family, the Parkers, they welcome her into their home with open arms. But through Natalie's dreams, the reader discovers she has a "monster" inside of her that constantly reminds her that she doesn't belong anywhere, that no one can love her. She has a hard time accepting help from other people, including the Parker family. But eventually, through running, she learns that "it's not so much about getting away from someplace. It's not even about getting to someplace. It's about enjoying the way" (p130). She applies this concept to her life, realizing that sometimes "the way" is more fun when with other people. I think this is a great concept to learn, especially for young adult readers, as we are all on a journey to somewhere and need other people in our lives to help us get there.
Furthermore, being a foster child is a very real issue for some people, and Harrison does a good job helping the reader to empathize with the character going through that struggle. She also helps the reader understand the variable nature of people and homes in the life of a foster child. However, though I enjoyed the theme of The Monster in Me (especially since I come from a running background myself), the writing seemed somewhat overly simplistic and repetitive, even for a young adult book. Even so, I would recommend it to any young adult, particularly in the pre-teen age range. And, because I am curious about the life and writings of Mette Ivie Harrison, I will be looking forward to reading her other books....more
Without setting foot on the continent of Africa, The Poisonwood Bible will make you feel like you have journeyed to the Congo and back, and been changWithout setting foot on the continent of Africa, The Poisonwood Bible will make you feel like you have journeyed to the Congo and back, and been changed because of it....more
**spoiler alert** I find it awesome that God gave us a book. Though it's really more than that.
The Bible is a compass, leading us over mountaintops, i**spoiler alert** I find it awesome that God gave us a book. Though it's really more than that.
The Bible is a compass, leading us over mountaintops, into deserts, through rivers and valleys, all along a dangerous and narrow pathway that leads north, to the kingdom of Christ. It is a complex tale of cowardly, messed up, imperfect people filled with confusion, doubt, calamity and apprehension, but also faith. It brings hope and inspiration to a hopeless and desolate land. It is fairy tale and non-fiction, history and biography, romance and suspense.
There is a King, and his Beloved who strays from him. He painfully lets her go because he does not want to force her to love him; he wants her love to be genuine, her own choice. So she goes with barely a glance back, and finds other kings to love. Only she is never satisfied. Though she has betrayed him, the King still loves her and wants what is best for her. When she is in trouble and cries out to him, he helps her. He leads her through the desert and into a fertile land. She rejoices, but then forgets the King's kindness. This happens over and over again. Until one day, the King decides to show the full extent of his love for her once and for all time--by conquering Sin, the vilest of all foes, so that she could finally find the satisfying love that Sin had robbed her of all this time. And he asks her to marry him.
Only, the Beloved does not quite know what to make of this. She is torn: half of her wants to leave all of her prodigal ways behind to love this King who has become her Savior, but the other half cannot, or does not want to, accept his kindness. The story continues as the King waits patiently for his Beloved to make her choice. What's more, we each have a part in the story, whether as a wedding guest preparing for the wedding feast, or someone trying to convince the Beloved that the King is actually a charlatan, and does not really love her afterall. And here come's the suspense: Will she choose to love her King and live with him forever, or will she choose to leave him again, perhaps never to return?