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Avidmom's Reading Quilt 2016 Part 2

Club Read 2016

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1avidmom
May 27, 2016, 2:35pm Top

2avidmom
Edited: May 27, 2016, 2:48pm Top



3avidmom
Edited: Jan 3, 2017, 1:50pm Top

Here's the spot for this year's reading quilt. I have no plans for my reading as of yet. So, who knows what'll end up here!



1. The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George
2. The Grace Revolution by Joseph Prince
3. The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim
4. The Hundred Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson
5. Have Personality Disorder, Will Rule Russia by Jennifer Eremeeva
6. Mad Women by Jane Maas
7. Double Indemnity by James Cain
8. The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
9. The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
10. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
11. Lincoln's Battle With God by Stephen Mansfield
12. Cannery Row by John Steinbeck
13. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
14. The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells
15. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
16. Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
17. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
18. Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy
19. Enchantment: The Life of Audrey Hepburn by Donald Spoto
20. Audrey Hepburn: An Elegant Spirit: A Son Remembers by Sean Hepburn Ferrer
21. A Night In With Audrey Hepburn by Lucy Holliday
22. The Princess Bride by William Goldman
23. Disappointment With God by Philip Yancey
24. As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of the Princess Bride by Cary Elwes
25. Other Voices, Other Rooms by Truman Capote
26. The Magician's Nephew by C.S. Lewis
27. The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
28. Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Prophet, Martyr, Spy by Eric Metaxas
29. Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis
30. The Woman Who Walked In Sunshine by Alexander McCall Smith
31. Healing Ruby by Jennifer Westall
32. Breaking Matthew by Jennifer Westall

4avidmom
May 27, 2016, 3:04pm Top

Today is my 7th Thingaversary and while I didn't consciously go out and buy 7 new books (+1) I have treated myself to a few over this last month or so (my birthday was earlier this month so.... why not?)

Sweet Thursday by John Steinbeck to go along with my copy of Cannery Row. (I can never figure out why those two books are never packaged and sold together.)

The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams (all 5 books in the series plus a few commentaries for Kindle for less than $15. Couldn't pass that up!)

Lincoln's Battle With God by Stephen Mansfield (recommended to me by my aunt and then found it for $1.99)

5avidmom
May 27, 2016, 3:08pm Top

I missed Towel Day, but my local library didn't.... They posted this on their website:

http://bookriot.com/2012/05/25/the-42-best-lines-from-douglas-adams-the-hitchhik...

6OscarWilde87
May 28, 2016, 3:47am Top

>1 avidmom: I like this collection of first sentences. Nice idea!

7avidmom
May 29, 2016, 2:23pm Top

>6 OscarWilde87: Isn't that cool? I wish I had it in physical form to hang it on a wall!

8OscarWilde87
Edited: May 30, 2016, 6:00am Top

>7 avidmom: That would indeed be great!

9avidmom
Edited: Jun 3, 2016, 6:26pm Top

"The silencing of Lincoln’s faith by the secular and the exaggerating of Lincoln’s faith by the religious have given us a less accurate and a less engaging Lincoln. We are poorer for the distortions."


Lincoln's Battle With God by Stephen Mansfield

In one of the rare telephone conversations between me and my very well-read ex-English teacher aunt, she happened to mention this book. And then, wouldn't you know it? It was on sale in the Kindle store for $1.99 .... so how could I not?

There seems to be a blanket assumption on the part of most of us Americans that Abraham Lincoln was just born a Christian, remained a Christian and died a Christian. Nothing could be further from the truth. While it is true that he was born into a very Christian family, Thomas and Nancy Lincoln being referred to as "Hard Shell Baptists", he went on quite a spiritual path of his own when he was a young man first arriving in New Salem, Illinois. Lincoln's boyhood had been marked with the early death of his beloved mother Nancy when he was 9 and a very stern and (possibly) abusive father. While all this was going on at home, Lincoln was exposed to the beginnings of what would be referred to later on through the years as "Big Tent Revivals" nearly next door to his home in Kentucky on the Cumberland Trail. At first, these were pure revivals with only the savings of souls as the goal, but quickly devolved into part religious fervor; part entertainment for the masses and part glorious opportunities for snake oil salesmen who came to take advantage of the faithful and/or gullible country folk. There was quite a bit of hell fire and brimstone coming from the pulpit and Lincoln wasn't having any of it. He wasn't a fan of legalism; he didn't like the idea of hell for anybody, and he certainly didn't like the attitude of the self-righteous (allegedly) predestined for heaven souls who gloated over their predestined for hell brethren. Then there was the fighting between the Christian denominations - fighting that had become so feverish that it wasn't uncommon for the Methodist to interrupt a Baptist service and vice versa. Add to this Lincoln's proneness to melancholy (a trait inherited from his mother); the death of his mother and a much beloved older sister with his father's coldness towards him, it's no wonder then that by the time he is on his own in Illinois, Lincoln who "... had known only the religion of the haughty, self-assured hyper-Calvinist or the exuberant camp meeting extremes. He had found both wanting. Paine and Volney—along with Burns and Gibbon before them—pointed a way out of the confusion of perpetual skepticism into a clear and always rational faith: the existence of God, love of mankind, the cathedral of the mind. This was what they gave Lincoln, and he loved them for it." As a matter of fact, Lincoln's departure from the traditional Christian faith was such that he was nicknamed the "Infidel" by some of the locals. He even (allegedly, according to one source close to him) "decided to write a booklet arguing his newfound ideas. This became known in memory as his “little book on Infidelity,” the one in which he attacked the divinity of Christ and the inspiration of the Bible." (The friend burned the book knowing that it would have been the death blow to Lincoln's political career if it got out.)

So how do we get from that Lincoln to the one who moments before his death is confiding to his wife Mary Todd Lincoln (according to Mary herself), that "We will visit the Holy Land and see those places hallowed by the footsteps of the Savior ..... There is no place I so much desire to see as Jerusalem." According to Mansfield, Lincoln's journey was a long, torturous process. Lincoln's life was marked by tragedy and melancholy but he was also well read and self-educated and it was, according to the author, one particular book and one very intellectual clergyman who turns out to be the turning point in Lincoln's spiritual journey. It seems that Lincoln didn't come to his faith by faith alone but by a very studious and measured study of it. There doesn't seem to be any eleventh hour prayer or lightning bolt from the sky. And even then, like the author points out, we can never really know for sure but the evidence certainly does point to the fact that the young Lincoln of New Salem in the early 1830s is a much different Lincoln that we see leading the nation through the Civil War who refers to the "... better angels of our nature" in his first inaugural speech and quotes the New Testament in his second inaugural speech.

It is a fascinating look into one aspect of Lincoln's character - but I think possibly one of his most important - that not only shaped him personally as the years went on but the decisions he made later that affected so many. I like this clay-footed struggling with God Lincoln so much better than the alternative.

"... He always surprises, always resists confinement to the forms and definitions imposed upon him. He lived in an age still foreign to us. He was a complicated soul, an innovative mind, and an oppressed spirit. He was raw and earthy and poetic. He could be ambitious and enraged and cold. He rose from a spare cabin to the White House, and did so in an age of titanic conflict, of near incomprehensible change. We can strive to know what we may of Lincoln. We can hope to understand. Yet never can we confine him; never can we seek to make him conform."



(I also listened to a small sample of this on audio, read by the author, and was not disappointed.)

10avidmom
Jun 3, 2016, 6:38pm Top

All this talk of New Salem, Illinois got me feeling a bit nostalgic. We took so many grade school field trips to this place!


"Samuel Hill's residence ("Lincoln's friend and employer") at New Salem, Illinois at Lincoln's New Salem Historic Site

I always liked the log cabins:


11dchaikin
Jun 3, 2016, 7:53pm Top

I'll wishlist this on audible.com. I really enjoyed your review. I have always wondered about Lincoln, and his expressions that verge on a personal atheism - very dangerous ground - along his poetic use of biblical references. I wish his "little book of infidelity" had somehow found a way to be preserved, but then I'm not sure even today the country would be accepting of what might be in it.

I suspect we'll never know where he ended up, as he knew enough by the time of his presidency to be careful, and to be respectful of and make use of religion regardless of his personal beliefs - perhaps even in his dealings with Mary Todd. Surely he wasn't the infidel when he was shot (as much as I like to think he quietly was), but what was he? It must have been a fascinating question to explore.

12avidmom
Jun 4, 2016, 12:41pm Top

>11 dchaikin: Thanks Dan! I hope you like it.

Mary Todd is also an interesting case. She dabbled in seances and mediums or what they called "spiritualism" back then (not unusual for the time period but certainly goes against Christian teaching.)

13avidmom
Jun 11, 2016, 7:53pm Top



I guess it was time for my annual re-read of this one. It turned out to be a very pleasant re-read for me since I managed to finally buy my own small stand alone copy and the sequel Sweet Thursday.

14.Monkey.
Jun 12, 2016, 2:40am Top

I adore Cannery Row, Sweet Thursday I wasn't as keen on though it's still enjoyable. :)

15RidgewayGirl
Jun 12, 2016, 5:11am Top

Excellent review of Lincoln's Battle with God. Will you post it to the book's page?

16avidmom
Jun 12, 2016, 2:00pm Top

>14 .Monkey.: Love them both but Cannery Row will always outrank Sweet Thursday in my heart because it is such a different kind of book. I don't think I've read any other book quite like it.

>15 RidgewayGirl: Thank you! I will.

17avidmom
Edited: Jun 12, 2016, 2:58pm Top

"Traveling between Reardan and Wellpinit, between the little white town and the reservation, I always felt like a stranger. I was half Indian in one place and half white in the other. It was like being Indian was my job, but it was only a part-time job. And it didn't pay well at all."


The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

Lately I've been suffering from book ADHD. Nothing has been able to hold my attention until this YA novel by Sherman Alexie.

Native American Arnold Spirit lives on the reservation ("the rez") in Spokane, Washington. Born with a birth defect, Arnold still suffers through speech impediments, seizures, big feet, and zits. Top that off with a life on the rez where poverty and alcoholism seem to rule, it seems hopeless for Arnold with all his obstacles to get anything better. Then one day a confrontation with a teacher takes an unexpected turn and sends Arnold off on a journey into the white world where Arnold assumes things are always infinitely better. Arnold finds out that neither world is perfect, and that people can surprise you. And not always in a bad way either.

Sure there's death and poverty and alcoholism in this story but there's also an incredible amount of humor and love and strength. Cartoons drawn by the character (who draws cartoons because they are more easily understood than words) appear throughout the story. Ellen Forney's illustrations are brilliant.



18avidmom
Edited: Jun 19, 2016, 10:23pm Top

"Shut the doors, shut the windows, shut everything! the Invisible Man is coming!"



This was a fun book to read. It was scary in that wonderful B movie kind of way, and funny too. I'd never really thought about the downside of invisibility but there is definitely a down side to it. Of course there is an upside as well but one that probably is better suited to darker more sinister personalities and that's where the trouble starts in the story - especially for the people who encounter Griffin (the Invisible Man).

The character of the Invisible Man (Griffin) reminded me very much of Cumberbatch's Sherlock and the old classic movie "Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man" (which had nothing much in common with the book apparently)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oVy5u8TKfOk. So in my head, I had an interesting Benedict Cumberbatch as the Invisible Man and Lou Costello as Mr. Marvel. LOL.

19avidmom
Edited: Jul 1, 2016, 7:50pm Top


Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
(I have the free from Amazon version on my Kindle with that boring cover; this cover is the 2011 movie-tie in.)

I finally got around to reading this classic novel. I loved the character of Jane who goes from neglected and abused castoff orphan girl to slandered school girl to a very self-possessed woman. When faced with decisions that would make her life easy but violate her convictions, Jane chooses to stick to her morals and principles knowing full well her decision(s) will make her life unimaginably difficult. With everything against her, she strikes out (really more than once) and makes a life of her own. How could you not like her?

I loved the characters of Jane, the indecipherable Mr. Rochester, and their quirky love story. The eerie mystery of the near-fatal goings on at Thornfield Hall really elevated the story in my opinion. Surprisingly, though, the book itself was a bit of a slog for me. It was not that the story was boring, there really never was a dull moment there, but the language and the long - very long - descriptions of everything were so far over the top! The writing, for certain, was eloquent and beautiful, but the descriptions of every parlour, room, landscape, weather and person began to become (for this reader) overly long and a bit tiresome! I understood this as part and parcel to Romantic Period Literature, but I think I was so badly wanting to get to the story that it just seemed to bog things down. My eyes were beginning to protest strongly so I started listening to the audio version beautifully narrated by Emma Messenger and that saved my eyes and my patience! The ending was beautifully romantic and tragic and a bit unexpected (I love it when a story surprises me) and even I, cynic that I am, found myself a little misty eyed over it.

It was definitely worth the effort to read/listen to!



2011 movie trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e10PLpXvhtlc
(The movie trailer is much better than the movie!)

20avidmom
Jul 1, 2016, 4:23pm Top


Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

I thought that maybe, since I had no concrete reading plans for the year, that I would read the books listed on the poster at >1 avidmom: that I haven't read yet - which is a little less than 1/2 of the 34 books listed. There are books listed above that I would not normally read, but ..... a plan is a plan, I guess, and the first line of this book is rather compelling. So, I borrowed this last weekend and finished it this morning.

It is an odd book, to say the least. It's a dig at everything in our life (especially the American Way of Life). It was very satirical and some bits of it were funny (some more than others) and I did appreciate Vonnegut's pointing out the absurdness of life and I did enjoy reading it for the humor (and the silly drawings) and the social satire. The ending botched it up for me, though, it just left me with that bizarre "WTF did I just read?" feeling.

Maybe I would have a better grasp on things if I sat somewhere and pondered what the Creator of the Universe (which is God, or maybe Vonnegut, or ???) was trying to Say through this book; but I would rather not.

21dchaikin
Jul 1, 2016, 9:38pm Top

I loved The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, it was wonderful on audio, read by Sherman Alexie whose voice really adds to it...but...i had no idea there were illustrations.

Fun review of Jane Eyre. and good call to switch to audio. I think that counts as one, maybe difficult, book to check off a list somewhere.

Bummer the Vonnegut didn't quite work. I've wondered about this book.

22avidmom
Jul 2, 2016, 2:36pm Top

>21 dchaikin: I really loved Alexie's book too. I'd been meaning to get around to it for a while, but I was nudged a little after his interview on "The Dailyl Show". The illustrations are great; you can see some of them here: https://www.google.com/search?q=The+Absolutely+True+Diary+of+a+part-time+indian+...

Jane Eyre is not really a difficult book to read; there's just so much flowery prose to get through.

I think Vonnegut's book is a good one; it's just not my cup of tea. John Malkovich narrates the audio version which must be something.

23dchaikin
Jul 2, 2016, 3:26pm Top

Those drawing clearly add something. Thanks for the search link.

24avidmom
Edited: Jul 4, 2016, 5:48pm Top

"... It seemed funny to me that the sunset she saw from her patio and the one I saw from the back steps was the same one. Maybe the two different worlds we lived in weren't so different. We saw the same sunset."


The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

But the two different worlds Ponyboy and Cherry Valance live in are different. Ponyboy Curtis and his brothers and their gang of "greasers" come from the wrong and poorer side of the tracks; Cherry and her group, the "Socs" (i.e. "socials") have all the breaks, and the money, etc. And, as usual, the "Socs" hate the greasers for what they are and vice versa. There is a West Side Story flavor here but instead of a romance, the focus is on the boys in the "gangs", especially Ponyboy, as he tells the story of how his older brothers Darry and Sodapop are trying their hardest to make a home for him after their parents' deaths and how the "gang" sticks together and takes care of each other. When a tragic turn of events occurs that leads Ponyboy and his best friend down a road neither of them saw coming, the gang of friends and brothers rely on each other more than ever.

The Outsiders is a very short book (180 pages) and very easy to read but the story is pretty unforgettable. At the time it was written (first published in 1967) it was critiqued at being too violent and gritty. Judging by today's standards, though, it is very tame. The realism is what makes the book great; Hinton said she based the characters on people she knew. There is a small interview with her at the back of the book where I learned she started writing this book when she was 15; got the publishing contract on the day she graduated high school and was a freshman in college when the book was actually published!

There is the 1983 movie out there too (where S.E. Hinton herself actually plays a small part), starring Patrick Swayze and a few other notable young actors of the time (Tom Cruise, Rob Lowe) but I haven't seen it yet.

Highly recommended.



25dchaikin
Jul 4, 2016, 6:18pm Top

Nice that this book still works.

For whatever reason, as I kid, when I wasn't reading books at all, I read her book Rumble Fish. Surely it was one of the first books I read. And, a some point, care of HBO or whatnot, I saw the movie The Outsiders. Mentally I tied them together as the same kind of thing, but I have little memory of either.

26avidmom
Edited: Jul 12, 2016, 12:48am Top

"Women are never tired of bewailing man's fickleness in love, but they only seem to snub his constancy."


Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy
(Another movie tie-in cover to replace the boring freebie Kindle one. It was this movie that led me to the book.)

After watching the movie referred to in the cover above, I had to go and read the book for myself. It hooked me from the very first sentence: "When Farmer Oak smiled, the corners of his mouth spread till they were within an unimportant distance of his ears, his eyes were reduced to chinks, and diverging wrinkles appeared round them, extending upon his countenance like the rays in a rudimentary sketch of the rising sun." His character is described as "...when his friends and critics were in tantrums, he was considered rather a bad man; when they were pleased, he was rather a good man; when they were neither, he was a man whose moral colour was a kind of pepper-and-salt mixture."

Enter into Farmer Gabriel Oak's life the young and beautiful Bathsheba Everdene who has come to work for the winter on her aunt's farm next door. Independent and headstrong, Bathsheba rejects his offer of marriage even though he tells her "... I love you far more than common!" And even after she says no, he declares that "I shall do one thing in this life - one thing certain - that is, love you, and long for you and keep wanting you till I die."

Poor Gabriel. Not only does Batsheba reject him, but his fortunes change and he ends up losing the farm he was working so hard to own one day. And just as (wouldn't you know it?) his fortunes change, Bathsheba's change too and she inherits her uncle's rather large farm. One thing leads to another and Gabriel ends up working for Bathsheba. Independent Bathsheba runs the farm and isn't afraid of working hard alongside her employees there. Her youth and beauty don't go unnoticed, however, and when she plays an innocent trick (which is probably the most ridiculous part of the story, IMHO) on the confirmed middle-aged bachelor next door, he also asks her to marry him. Bathsheba manages a cool distance from her suitors, but when a bad boy soldier shows up, Bathsheba finds herself learning things about life and romance that are the sort of painful kind. Through all of this: the wealthy and obsessed suitor next door; the bad boy soldier who seemingly shows up out of nowhere and steals Bathsheba's heart; and the crises on the farm that he invariably solves; humble, salt-of-the-earth Gabriel stays forever loyal to Bathsheba. No matter what.

I really loved this story of seemingly regular down-to-earth people working side by side with each other; making friendships, helping each other, and loves found and lost. No one is painted an absolute villain or saint (they're all of the "salt and pepper mixture"). With the exception of men asking Bathsheba to marry them after seemingly five minutes of meeting her, the events in the story seem very plausible and real. There's also something lighthearted and fun about this book also that made it a very enjoyable read.

And listen:

I absolutely loved listening to Jamie Parker's narration of this story. His portrayal of Joseph Poorgrass cracked me up! Each character had his/her own distinct voice. Not only did Parker narrate, but he actually sang when singing was called for! Very impressive. Jamie Parker is a brilliant narrator and his narration probably had more than a little influence on my high opinion of Hardy's book.

And watch:

I caught the movie version of this a while back on HBO and then had to go off and read the book to see how the two compared. And, I have to say, after reading the book, I think the movie does a pretty excellent job of bringing the story to life. The scenery is gorgeous and the musical score is also beautiful.



27dchaikin
Jul 12, 2016, 8:16am Top

Very nice review of Hardy.

28avidmom
Jul 12, 2016, 11:57pm Top

Thanks Dan!

29baswood
Jul 14, 2016, 5:27pm Top

Lighthearted and fun doesn't sound like Hardy, but then I have not read Far from the Madding crowd Enjoyed your review.

30avidmom
Jul 14, 2016, 10:42pm Top

>29 baswood: Thanks! Maybe Hardy's book struck me that way especially after coming from reading Jane Eyre, which didn't have too many lighthearted moments at all (if any).

31avidmom
Edited: Jul 21, 2016, 2:23pm Top

"... "I was so lucky in my career, from the very start," she said. "I didn't know much of anything when I began, but I got parts in which I could pretty much just be myself. Then all this stardom and celebrity took off. But what is the purpose of all that if you don't do something constructive with it?" (Audrey Hepburn on her work with UNICEF)


Enchantment: The Life of Audrey Hepburn by Donald Spoto

"Enchantment" seems like a strange title for a biography, but in the case of Audrey Hepburn, there really doesn't seem to be a better word. Looking back, she did seem to have with her a most potent magical charm... or fairy, or very powerful Guardian Angel. There's the six week old Audrey, born to a Christian Scientist mother, who stops breathing during a severe case of whooping cough. And, as her son says in his book An Elegant Spririt, was brought back to life by "...a little spanking and a lot of faith..." She was born into wealth and some prestige, but all that was stripped away from her and her family by the time she was 10 in war-torn Nazi occupied Holland. There are two times a young Audrey Hepburn (who was using another name during her time in Holland, "Audrey" sounded too English) comes into contact with the Nazis: at one point they simply pass her by, and one time she manages to bravely escape. She knew that doing anything for the Dutch Resistance was putting her life in danger, but she seemed to dismiss anyone's praise of her bravery simply by saying, more or less, that all the kids were doing it. Top all this blessed fortune with an adult Audrey years later in France rehearsing for a motion picture when an elderly author, Colette, who just happens to be strolling by in her wheelchair, exclaims "I've found my Gigi!" - the Broadway role that brought Hepburn a Tony award. That same year she would go on to win the Oscar for Roman Holiday.

Her dream was not to be an actress, though, but a prima ballerina. When told, gently and firmly by her ballet instructor, that she would make a good ballet teacher, but never a principle dancer, her life long dream died. It seemed unfair but the truth of it was, according to her beloved and very prestigious instructor, she hadn't had the proper training; she was too big to pair properly with male dancers (Audrey was 5'7" and 110 pounds) and that the years of malnourishment during the war had taken their toll on her muscle tone. It was a blow, for sure, but life goes on and Audrey needed to provide for her and her mother, so she took background jobs in musical theatre, bit parts in movies, and did some print ads. And then she was "discovered", so they say, and the rest is history.

She was very humble, and insecure, and prone to bouts of severe depression, yet, she was also very funny. Gregory Peck (her costar in "Roman Holiday") said he wished she would have done more comedy. "She's a very funny lady,"..... I wish that she had been allowed to do a few broad comedies along the way."There's a funny example of her humour in the book: The cast remembered her account of the tomcat adopted when Audrey was in the chorus of High Button Shoes. When he became too amorous with some female cats belonging to the players and orchestra members, the tomcat was sterilized. The chorus then discussed a name for him. "That's easy - we shall have to name him Tomorrow," said Audrey innocently. Asked why, she replied with perfect poise, "Because Tomorrow never comes."

For all her success and good fortune, her personal life was not always happy, to say the least. There were her fits of depression, most likely as a result of the horrors of the war she had seen and the abandonment of her father at an early age. Moreover, there were the affairs that went nowhere and only lead to heartbreak, two divorces and multiple miscarriages. She certainly endured a lot. Once she did have her first child, she put Hollywood on hold (seemingly forever) and concentrated on raising her family, which is where her heart really was. Once her children were both grown, she found her real calling and passion in working with UNICEF as a goodwill ambassador. Audrey's connection with the organization (then under a different name) started when she was a teenager in Holland and the Allies liberated the country from the Nazis. The precursor organization to UNICEF provided the people with food, clothes and medicine and Audrey was one of the first beneficiaries of their aid. She accepted her $1.00 a year from UNICEF gladly and during the last decade or so of her life, spent it working on the front lines with UNICEF, traveling to war ravaged and terribly impoverished countries like Ehtiopia and Somalia while using her celebrity to draw attention to the cause. "When she saw a need somewhere in the world, she telephoned Christa Roth in Geneva, or their colleagues in New York: "Why not send me?" .... For Audrey, the matter was simple: "Giving is living. If you stop wanting to give, there's nothing more to live for."

Truly a remarkable lady.

As for the book itself, well, Spoto's writing would often veer off in a tangent, dishing out some irrelevant details now and again about the Hollywood machine, or this or that or the other, but overall a good book if you're looking to satisfy a curiosity.

32avidmom
Edited: Jul 21, 2016, 1:42pm Top


Audrey Hepburn, An Elegant Spirit: A Son Remembers by Sean Hepburn Ferrer

This was next to Spoto's book on the library shelf, so I brought it home (why not?) So glad I did. It's more of a coffee table picture book, a mix of professional photos of Audrey Hepburn, the actress, mixed with personal and family photos. The writing in between by her son, Sean, is very tender and moving without being cloying - his sincerity overcoming the sentimentality. The pictures are gorgeous, especially of the flower gardens at "La Plaisible" in Switzerland. As a special bonus, there are pictures of Audrey Hepburn's artwork. She was very talented. Beautiful book. Also included is her speech to the U.N. on behalf of UNICEF in June of 1989.

At the end of the book is a photo of an oil painting she did:

http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=flower+painting+by+audrey+hepburn&view=d...

33baswood
Jul 21, 2016, 2:21pm Top

34avidmom
Jul 21, 2016, 2:28pm Top

>33 baswood: Thank you. So glad I was able to find it at our local library!

35avidmom
Jul 23, 2016, 5:51pm Top


A Night In With Audrey Hepburn by Lucy Holliday

Libby Lomax has loved Audrey Hepburn nearly her entire life. So, when she has the worst day imaginable - a day that involves embarrassing herself in front of the famous and handsome young actor Dillon O'Hara, setting herself on fire, getting fired and moving into a new flat, she turns to her tried and true source of comfort: another viewing of "Breakfast at Tiffany's" on her iPad. Scrambling around in her tiny flat, she's startled to see and hear that she has a guest - a very chic Audrey Hepburn. Libby doubts her sanity, at this point, but she has other things to tend to besides the ghost (?), hallucination (?) of Audrey Hepburn in her tiny, tiny flat.

This book was an incredibly easy read (took maybe a day or two), very entertaining and fun with a few pleasant LOL moments. I loved Audrey's fascination with Libby's iPad and Nespresso machine (and her mastery of both). It's not any more or less than absolute fun chic lit: fluffy, romantic and comical. It would make a great vacation/beach read. A Night In With Audrey Hepburn is Holliday's first in a trio of "Night In" stories, the next night is with Marilyn Monroe, followed by Grace Kelly.

I can see the movie coming from a mile away!


36Nickelini
Jul 24, 2016, 9:41pm Top

I'm a long time Audrey Hepburn fan. The world needs more of her and everything she did.

For my honeymoon in 1994, we went on a Caribbean cruise and the voice in the elevator was Hepburn's. ("Arriving, Lido Deck"). I just wanted to ride the elevator the whole cruise.

Did you ever see her Gardens of the World series? Just lovely. Everything about her was lovely.

37dchaikin
Jul 25, 2016, 7:46am Top

Enjoyed your reviews on Hepburn.

38avidmom
Jul 26, 2016, 12:10am Top

>36 Nickelini: I agree with you; we need more people like Audrey Hepburn. I learned about the "Gardens of the World" series through her biography but have never seen it. I'll try to get a hold of a copy!

>37 dchaikin: Thanks Dan!

39AlisonY
Aug 14, 2016, 2:55pm Top

Catching up on many reviews here - have really enjoyed reading through them. I knew next to nothing about Audrey Hepburn (apart from the obvious film roles), and am now a lot more informed!

40avidmom
Aug 14, 2016, 7:21pm Top

Thanks so much. Love it when you read about somemone famous and end up liking them more than before which was definitely the case with Audrey.

41avidmom
Aug 15, 2016, 7:46pm Top



Finally spotted this at our local library! Unfortunately, I had to send it back (libraries are like that) so I can't quote anything from it. The book and the movie (what do you mean you haven't seen the movie?! Inconceivable!) are basically the same (this is what you get when the novelist writes the screenplay too). The one big difference is the book is able to give us more of a backstory on all the characters.

So glad I got to read it. This one goes on the "books I need to buy" list.

42dchaikin
Aug 15, 2016, 9:49pm Top

43ELiz_M
Edited: Aug 16, 2016, 10:44pm Top

>41 avidmom: Ha! I love the spoiler :)

44avidmom
Aug 18, 2016, 2:31pm Top

>42 dchaikin: Just gotta figure out which version to add to the collection ....

>43 ELiz_M: How could I not? ;)

45VivienneR
Aug 18, 2016, 10:25pm Top

>35 avidmom: I have a biography of Audrey Hepburn by Donald Spoto, but Lucy Holliday's book looks like a lot more fun!

46avidmom
Aug 31, 2016, 10:27pm Top

>45 VivienneR: Holliday's book is for when you don't want to think; Spoto's is if you do. (My apologies for not replying sooner. Where have I been?)

47avidmom
Aug 31, 2016, 10:27pm Top



I had been working on a review of this one, quotes and all, etc., etc., when the power went off and zapped it.

So, here's my review: if a title like this appeals to you, you should read it. Yancey is not talking about what happens when something Tragic & Terrible happens (although that's in here too) but rather what is our reaction when the little things add up and we find ourselves wondering if Anybody's up there. And if there is, why doesn't He do something! Here, Yancey takes us through the Old Testament (a "behavior modification" experiment) and the book of Job and gives us a different perspective on disappointment, the perspective of God. It's very interesting. He then goes on to paint a picture of the perspective of disappointment of the disciples in the New Testament. Interesting stuff and I took copious notes because there were so many "oh, I never thought about it like that" moments.

This is the second Yancey book I've read; the first being Soul Survivor. I've really enjoyed both. Yancey doesn't write like your typical "Christian-ese" writers (like Joyce Meyers or Osteen); he writes a bit more intellectually and less preachy. I didn't get the feeling that he was trying to write a book that would "lead" readers to salvation (like most Christian self-help) or write a bunch of feel good platitudes (I think he refers to them as "syrupy") but rather he was giving an intellectual/philosophical argument that gives the reader something to think about and come to their own conclusion.

48Nickelini
Aug 31, 2016, 11:02pm Top

>47 avidmom: I had been working on a review of this one, quotes and all, etc., etc., when the power went off and zapped it.

I feel your pain.

49avidmom
Aug 31, 2016, 11:29pm Top

>48 Nickelini: So sorry.... it's so-ooooooo annoying!!!!

50Nickelini
Aug 31, 2016, 11:34pm Top

>49 avidmom: Why would you be sorry? I agree it is very annoying indeed. Whatever the cause, it happens now and again, and ALWAYS after I've been in the zone and written something really good. So frustrating!

51avidmom
Aug 31, 2016, 11:54pm Top


As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales From the Making of The Princess Bride by Cary Elwes

At first, I thought that Cary Elwes was a bit fawning here but somewhere around the first few chapters I shelved my apprehension about his sincerity. It does really seem like the making of the movie was just as magical as the movie itself. For fans of the movie, this book is a little gift. There are scenes in "The Princess Bride" movie I will never look at the same way again. The amount of work behind the scenes that went in to making the movie makes me appreciate it on a whole new level.

The book itself is an easy, fun read with pictures and small written cameos from all the actors throughout. It was a lot of fun learning about the making of one of my favorite flicks.

52avidmom
Sep 14, 2016, 9:09pm Top


Other Voices, Other Rooms by Truman Capote

I like Truman Capote's writing. He writes, if I could describe it one word, "densely." He packs a lot of description and mood in a sentence. "It was the first time he'd been in Randolph's room; after two hours, he still could not quite take it in, for it was so unlike anything he'd ever known before: faded gold and tarnished silk reflecting in ornate mirrors, it all made him feel as though he'd eaten too much candy." Last summer I checked out Breakfast at Tiffany's and Three Other Stories from our local library and liked it so well I bought a copy of my own. (I was especially enamored with "A Christmas Memory").

Knowing already I liked his writing style, I picked up this Capote from the library as well expecting to really like this novel (a short one, to be sure, that clocks in at 235 pages). And while I did like the main character, 12-year-old Joel, and the cast of eccentric characters (I kept imagining Joel's uncle Randolph as Capote himself, and Isabel as Harper Lee) surrounding him, the story itself seemed to unravel and come apart for me in the second half of the book. I keep thinking I've missed something somewhere that would explain the characters and Joel's "coming-of-age" at the end.

So, while the reading was enjoyable, and I really appreciated Capote's "Southern Gothic", the story left me scratching my head. I just felt that things weren't explained (at least not clearly, one could add 2 and 2 together and get 4 and still wonder if that was the right answer). I wanted some clear cut answers but that just wasn't to be had here. Maybe that was the whole point?

In all fairness, these last few weeks have been stressful so maybe my focus was a little "off." Maybe I should return to this one when life is a little more stable.

53dchaikin
Sep 14, 2016, 9:58pm Top

>51 avidmom: glad you enjoyed. I listened and so missed the pictures. I didn't know there were pictures. I was watching the other day, and couldn't help laughing at the scene where Elwes was limping.

>52 avidmom: interesting review. I really like the sentence you quoted.

54avidmom
Sep 17, 2016, 4:27pm Top

Thanks Dan! I need to rewatch that movie again now.

Capote certainly had a way with words!

55avidmom
Edited: Sep 17, 2016, 5:00pm Top


The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
The Magician's Nephew (Book 1)

The Magician's Nephew is the first book in the Chronicles of Narnia series. Polly and Digory are neighbors in London. Digory and his mother have come to live with Digory's uncle and aunt due to his mother's illness. Digory's uncle is a bit "odd" and Polly and Digory (like most kids) are looking for something to do and end up stumbling on Uncle Andrew's "magic rings" that have the ability to transport them to different worlds.

This is a classic for a reason. The writing is beautiful, and even snarky at times (I do love a well-placed bit of snark) and the Christian allegory mixed with classic Greek/Roman mythology is just briliant! Great for kids (I think Grade 3 and up) but this grown up certainly loved it.

I don't know how I missed reading this as a kid, but I did....
Maybe it's better now. :)

56Simone2
Sep 18, 2016, 5:07am Top

>55 avidmom: Nice review. I also missed it as a child but had not considered reading it until now!

57.Monkey.
Sep 18, 2016, 5:32am Top

>55 avidmom: It's actually only number 1 chronologically; I would strongly suggest reading the books in publishing order, they make far more sense that way. I also read the series relatively recently and thought it was pretty good, though the religious stuff irritatingly got rather heavy-handed at the end, imo.

58Nickelini
Sep 18, 2016, 2:09pm Top

>57 .Monkey.: I would strongly suggest reading the books in publishing order, .

Well it's too late for that now ;-)

59.Monkey.
Sep 18, 2016, 2:46pm Top

Lol well yes, but the rest could be, skipping or rereading that particular title, whichever is preferred.

60avidmom
Edited: Sep 18, 2016, 5:16pm Top

>56 Simone2: It's never too late, IMO, to read these childhood classics. There's something really wonderful about it. As C.S. Lewis says: “When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty, I read them openly. When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.”

>57 .Monkey.: Well, I'd have to look up what that is! Having already seen the Disney movie (both of them actually), I already know what I'm getting myself into as far as the "religious stuff" goes so I don't think I'll have an issue with that when I get there. I also have some other C.S. Lewis books on Christianity, etc., so I know where he's coming from.

>58 Nickelini: & >59 .Monkey.: LOL! Yep. If I only knew then! Oh well.....

I'll have to go look up what's next .....

http://www.narniaweb.com/resources-links/in-what-order-should-the-narnia-books-b...

61avidmom
Edited: Sep 28, 2016, 8:54pm Top


The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe

Really loved this one! So glad I decided to read these now as they are such wonderful escapes into another world but with such a great message. I see the Christian allegory and appreciate it, but on the other hand, I can totally put the whole allegory-thing on the back burner and just appreciate the story for the magic that it is.

I've decided to read the books in publishing order from now on so next up is Prince Caspian.

The picture above is a picture from the 2005 Disney movie. I hadn't seen the film in many years, so we dusted off our old DVD copy and gave it a spin. Lovely film. Since I watched the movie first (in the theatre and now at home), images of the movie were running through my head as I read. So, of course, Tilda Swinton will always be the White Witch and Liam Neeson will be Aslan.

But I think I've spending too much time here in Narnia; last night I dreamed I had 2 or 3 lions at my house I didn't know what to do with! LOL (It was kind of scary really.)

62.Monkey.
Sep 28, 2016, 2:32pm Top

Yep, the allegory thing is able to be brushed aside for the most part, until the end. There's a couple other points it comes on pretty strong but they're fairly short, not a huge deal.

Glad you decided to go published order! They make a lot more sense that way! :)

63Nickelini
Sep 28, 2016, 3:08pm Top

>61 avidmom: I've decided to read the books in publishing order from now on so next up is Prince Caspian.

Which one does your book suggest you read if not Prince Caspian? Perhaps A Horse and His Boy? I guess it's that one, since it happens while the Pevensies are ruling Narnia. But it happens in a different location, with separate characters, so whether you read Caspian-Horse or Horse-Caspian, I don't think it makes an iota of difference.

64.Monkey.
Sep 28, 2016, 3:16pm Top

>63 Nickelini: Pub order is: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Prince Caspian, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, The Silver Chair, The Horse and His Boy, The Magician's Nephew, The Last Battle.
Chrono order is: The Magician's Nephew, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, The Horse and His Boy, Prince Caspian, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, The Silver Chair, The Last Battle.

65avidmom
Sep 28, 2016, 9:08pm Top

>62 .Monkey.: As a Christian, I appreciate the allegory but as just a reader I like kind of brushing it aside.

>63 Nickelini: My giant Disney movie tie-in book has A Horse and His Boy next.

I read the first few paragraphs of each and see how the first paragraph of Prince Caspian ties directly into TLTWaTW book, but The Horse and His Boy ties into the events of the story itself better. 6 of one; 1/2 a dozen of the other. :) Any good series of books will be able to stand alone no matter what order and these are very good books (as we all know). Sometimes you just gotta adjust the timeline in your brain a bit.

While I'm reading these, I'm also reading The Hobbit, A Wardrobe and A Great War which I think is making other aspects of the story stand out a bit more - especially the military "stuff."

66.Monkey.
Sep 29, 2016, 5:08am Top

I don't mind when things are subtle, but if I'm reading a novel I do not want to be preached to - about anything. Imo, a good story doesn't go around hitting people on the head with a hammer. ;)

67avidmom
Sep 29, 2016, 7:47pm Top

>66 .Monkey.: I agree about the hammer-ing! :)

68avidmom
Edited: Nov 19, 2016, 12:23pm Top

Oops! Duplicate post. Sorry.... Talk amongst yourselves :)

69avidmom
Edited: Nov 19, 2016, 12:20pm Top

"Only he who cries out for the Jews may sing Gregorian chants."


Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was born into a family of wealth, prestige, intellect and heart. Dietrich became a brilliant theologian earning his masters degree in the subject in his early 20s. He went on to become a pastor and a teacher, but more importantly he became one of the people implicated in the plot to assassinate Hitler. Metaxas's book is about how Bonhoeffer came to reconcile his deep Chrstian beliefs with his involvement in the conspiracy to asassinate Hitler.

This book was quite a history and psychology lesson, not only about Bonhoeffer, but about the German psyche. Metaxas points out some things here about Germany that I never knew before. For instance, because of their deep ties to Martin Luther, being Lutheran was almost part and parcel to a majority of the population's national identity. Being obedient to one's government was also part of being a good German/Christian/and/or Lutheran. So, it's easy to see, with that perspective, how it came to be that when Hitler became chancellor in the early 30s and began to insinuate himself in the Lutheran church to the point where he co-opted it for his own purposes, that many Lutherans simply accepted- and some even applauded - it. (By the end of his reign, Hitler had replaced the cross on top of Wartenberg Castle - where Luther translated the Bible into German - with a swastika.) Not everyone inside the church was as taken by “the Fuhrer” as others. Bonhoeffer was one of those voices - inside the Lutheran church and outside of it - speaking out – in his quiet but influential way - against Hitler.

Bonhoeffer, from nearly the beginning of Hitler's rise to power, seemed to have a keen sense of what was to come if Hitler remained in authority. A few things contributed to Bonhoeffer’s prophetic vision: an incredibly astute intellect, a sincere passion for his theology and Christian beliefs, and contact with his brother-in-law. Bonhoeffer’s brother-in-law, as a judge in the court, was privy to information about the conduct of Hitler’s machine that most did not have. This connection was the catalyst – and ultimately the downfall of – Bonhoeffer’s decision to become part of the plot to assassinate Hitler. Bonhoeffer actually saw this act of rebellion against the state and murder as a calling from God (a clear violation of Romans 13 & obviously, one of the most basic of the 10 Commandments), not only to him, but to all true Christians. The church’s job was to “ … not just to bandage the victims under the wheel, but to put a spoke in the wheel itself.” In other words, the church had an obligation to stop the vehicle that was rolling over people. Most controversial of all, Bonhoeffer stated that the church was to help “…the victims of any ordering of society, even if they do not belong to the Christian community.” German Lutherans at the time knew exactly who he meant: all men, of course, but more specifically the Jewish community.

What I found most interesting about this book was witnessing Bonhoeffer’s subtle but powerful transformation from having an intellectual assent to his faith (i.e. “theology”) to a real heart-felt and personal relationship to his God. By the early 1930s, a young Bonhoeffer, having proved himself a brilliant theologian and philosopher, was sent to study at Union Theological Seminary in New York City. He went to a few church services nearby. None of the sermons met his standards. And then one day he decided to go to church with his fellow Union student, Albert Franklin “Frank” Fisher, an African American. Fisher and Bonhoeffer went to a church service at the Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem. There he was introduced to the preaching of Dr. Adam Clayton Powell Sr. ”Starving from the skim milk at Union, Bonhoeffer found a theological feast that spared nothing. Powell combined the fire of a revivalist preacher with great intellect and social vision. He was active in combating racism and minced no words about the saving power of Jesus Christ.” Bonhoeffer became a part of the Abyssinian Baptist Church, teaching a Sunday school class and becoming actively involved in a number of groups there. When he went back to Germany he took along with him a number of musical recordings of the “negro spirituals” he had come to love. ”The joyous and transformative power of this music solidified his thinking on the importance of music to worship. He would take these recordings back to Germany and play them for his students in Berlin, and later in the sandy Baltic outposts of Zingst and Finkenwalde {the – eventually – illegal seminaries Bonhoeffer ran as part of the “Confessing Church” }. They were some of his most treasured possessions, and for many of his students, they seemed as exotic as moon rocks.”

After his stint at Union, Bonhoeffer returned to Germany where he eventually became one of the founders of the “Confessing Church,” a section of the Lutheran church that refused to be co-opted by the Third Reich. For years, Bonhoeffer had vocally opposed Hitler’s Third Reich, in brash and subtle tones. When the Hitler machine began gathering steam on the eve of WWII, he was sent to the United States for his own safety. Almost as soon as he landed on American soil, he became miserable. He felt that his call was to go back to Germany and help his brethren:
”I have had the time to think and to pray about my situation and that of my nation and to have God’s will for me clarified. I have come to the conclusion that I have made a mistake in coming to America. I must live through this difficult period of our national history with the Christian people of Germany. I shall have no right to participate in the reconstruction of Christian life in Germany after the war if I do not share the trials of this time with my people.....”


Bonhoeffer, as part of the ecumenical movement, had contacts with clergy in many countries. His contacts with the outside world made him a great double agent. His unshakable belief that he was doing the right thing - that he was doing the will of God – enabled Bonhoeffer to not only sacrifice his reputation, his personal comfort, and ultimately his life, for this cause. Bonhoeffer was pretending to be a pastor - but was only pretending to be pretending, since he really was being a pastor. And he was pretending to be a member of Military Intelligence working for Hitler, but - … - he was in reality working against Hitler. Bonhoeffer was not telling little white lies. In Luther’s famous phrase, he was “sinning boldly.” He was involved in a high-stakes game of deception upon deception, and yet Bonhoeffer himself knew that in all of it, he was being utterly obedient to God. For him, that was the cantus firmus that made the dizzying complexities of it all perfectly coherent.”

Quite an amazing story of an amazing man. Of course, there is so much more to the story than what I can write here.

Very Highly recommended!
*********************************************
The book itself: the book itself is rather dense and some of Bonhoeffer’s theological/philosophical musings were sometimes difficult for me to get through. It is a bit of a tome but absolutely worth the time spent to learn about this incredible person and a mind-boggling period of history. I also had the audio version of this book; it was quite good.
**************************************
While Bonhoeffer’s life was cut short, we are fortunate that many of his books survive, The Cost of Discipleship, a mainstay for students of Christian theology; Ethics, and a book that got Bonhoeffer into great trouble with the Third Reich: Psalms: The Prayer Book of the Bible.

70brodiew2
Edited: Nov 18, 2016, 2:43pm Top

Hello avidMom! Excellent review of Bonhoeffer. I have Metaxas' 7 Men, which includes a section on section on Bonhoeffer. My dad is a retired Pastor and recently gave me an old paperback of The Cost of Discipleship. I look forward to reading it.

71avidmom
Nov 18, 2016, 8:53pm Top

>70 brodiew2: Thank you! I've been interested in reading more of Metaxas's and Bonhoeffer's books. There is a movie about him called Bonhoeffer: Agent of Grace that I would like to see.

He really has become one of my heroes.

72mabith
Nov 19, 2016, 9:52pm Top

I spaced on your new thread! Far From the Madding Crowd is such a favorite of mine. I'd forgotten about the movie, I'll have to look for it.

I've had Lincoln's Battle With God and the Bonhoeffer book on my list for a while, I'll have to move them up the queue.

73avidmom
Nov 22, 2016, 1:12pm Top

>72 mabith: LOL! Understood. I've been doing a lot of that lately. The movie is beautiful! I"m so glad Metaxas introduced me to Bonhoeffer.

74avidmom
Nov 22, 2016, 1:17pm Top


The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian

What a charming little story! The allusions to Christianity and/or WWII (something I wouldn't have noticed before were it not for the NF book I plan to read) were not lost on me, but with all of that seriousness seamlessly thrown in, I enjoyed this book at its most joyful level: a fairytale complete with a talking Lion and the rightful Prince restored to his throne.

It is such a wonderful thing to have literature like Narnia to escape into when life feels a bit overwhelming.

75Nickelini
Nov 22, 2016, 6:25pm Top

>74 avidmom: I adore the Chris Van Alsburg covers of the Narnia books. I had to buy those when they were published, even though I already owned a Narnia set. Then I had to buy the 50th anniversary edition when it came out a few years later.

76avidmom
Nov 22, 2016, 6:50pm Top

>75 Nickelini: Oh my goodness! I didn't know that cover was by him. I just picked the cover that matched the paperback copy I grabbed from my library. :)

I do love that cover though.
And I absolutely love The Polar Express.

77mabith
Nov 23, 2016, 1:25pm Top

>73 avidmom: I'd been thinking that my homepage was extremely quiet but managed to take ages to do anything about it. Sigh! I had to watch the movie right away, and while I'm not that much of a noticer/carer-about of beautiful actors, that man playing Gabriel!! Good lord.

Chris van Allsburg is one of the greatest modern children's illustrators, such a phenomenal talent. Also my first time looking at his The Mysteries of Harris Burdick in class remains SUCH a strong memory and still one of my favorite works by him.

78avidmom
Nov 23, 2016, 10:38pm Top

>77 mabith: LOL. I said it was a beautiful movie, did I not? ;)

I'm going to see if I can get my hands on some of those Chris van Allsburg books!

79mabith
Nov 24, 2016, 9:27am Top

I just kept finding myself smiling at him like a goof!

The Mysteries of Harris Burdick is a great one for somewhat older kids. It's 14 strange images with suggestive captions, and a fun way to encourage kids to make up a full story based on a little snippet. Perhaps it's a bit magical realism-light too. I feel like a lot of his books are good for older kids. Too often once kids can read pretty fluently it's straight on to chapter books, just when they're the right age to see all the best details (and appreciate the illustrations in general).

80avidmom
Dec 10, 2016, 6:56pm Top

>77 mabith: I found The Mysteries of Harris Burdick on the library shelf in the kid's section and read the whole thing. I can see why you found that book unforgettable!

81avidmom
Dec 11, 2016, 1:10pm Top


The Woman Who Walked In Sunshine by Alexander McCall Smith

Another sweet offering from Alexander McCall Smith about the goings on at the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency. A pleasant enough read, but nothing earth shattering. The focus is more on Mma Ramotswe who is taking - or trying to take - a holiday at the insistence of her small crew at the office. In her absence, a few mysteries pop up and Mma Ramotswe can't seem to stay away from trying to help.

Not my favorite in the series, but certainly filled a need for a "gentle read." I did appreciate, though, more than ever, Mma Ramotswe's positive outlook on life and people and her wonderful ability to show mercy and kindness to everyone.

82avidmom
Dec 21, 2016, 4:04pm Top



This was free for my Kindle. I'm not usually too keen on "Christian fiction" but this one seemed enticing, so I went for it.

Ruby is a simple girl living in rural Alabama at the beginning of the Great Depression. As her family struggles to deal with her father's death and other losses, Ruby has things of her own to deal with. Struggling with her own pain and feelings of uselessness at home, Ruby volunteers to help her friend Mary's family. Mary's older brother is dying from T.B. and no one wants to be around Matthew and his contagious disease, but Ruby feels God calling her to help Matthew. Ruby learns that she has what her long-absent uncle calls the gift of healing. Ruby wonders if she has this gift? Will God let her use it to help Matthew? Soon enough, Ruby begins to feel more than just compassion for her patient. That's just part of the story. Ruby also struggles with her own faith/doubt; a mysterious family secret, and the prejudice and hatred that surrounds her in her little community.

I thought this book was well written. Ruby may be a little bit more mature than most 14/15 years-old out in the world in some respects; and a little too juvenile in others, but overall I really liked Ruby's character and found her, for the most part, believable and real. I especially appreciated the way the story covered so many different aspects of Ruby's life. This book is not in any way a bit of Christian fiction "fluff": this story is pretty gritty and deals with some pretty gritty stuff (prejudice/hatred, family secrets, violence, poverty, etc.)

This is a three part series: the next two up are Breaking Matthew and Saving Grace.

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