Tuesday, December 23, 2008

What is on my Nightstand - December

What's On Your Nightstand

It is time once again for What's On Your Nightstand hosted by 5 Minutes for Books. I only read 3 books this month.

The following books are on my nightstand for January:

  • Hamlet by William Shakespeare
  • House of Dark Shadows by Robert Liparulo
  • Warriors: Into the Wild by Erin Hunter
  • Eighth Shephard by Bodie Thoene
  • Kiss by Ted Dekker
  • High Calling by Evelyn Husband with Donna Vanliere
  • Can't Wait to Get to Heaven by Fannie Flagg
  • A Redbird Christmas by Fannie Flagg

The weather forecast is for a very cold and snowy January. That means lots more time for reading!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Book Review: The Longing by Beverly Lewis

The Longing The Courtship of Nellie Fisher - Book 3

Bethany House Publishers 2008

The Longing continues the story of Nellie Mae Fisher. Her story begins in Book 1, The Parting, and continues in Book 2, The Forbidden.

Nellie is an Amish teen whose life has been turned upside down. Her people are split over assurance of salvation. Nellie and her family have embraced saving grace and joined the new order church that has sprung up. Her beau, Caleb, stays with the old order and his father has ordered Caleb to break up with Nellie.

In this book, she tries to move on with her life after breaking up with Caleb. She finds herself drawn to an Englischer, Christian. Her new boyfriend is a Mennonite cousin of Caleb's but Nellie does not know this. Meanwhile, Caleb's stubborn father is in a life-threatening farm accident. In his last days, he comes to know Christ and reconciles with Caleb. I am not going to spoil the story by telling you who Nellie ends up with.

Other story lines in the book include Nellie's sister, Rhoda. She moves out on her own and goes "Fancy". She has many struggles until she comes to terms with who she really is.

Nellie's friend, Rosanna, is also featured. Her longing for a baby consumes her. Her inability to carry a baby to term and the reversal of the adoption of her cousin's twins has crushed her. Another expectant mother offers to let Rosanna adopt her baby. Then Rosanna finds out she is pregnant again. Should she risk heartache again with a new adoption? Will she finally carry a baby to term? These are the questions that plague her.

I love Beverly Lewis's stories. I live in an area where there are lots of Amish and am somewhat familiar with their lifestyle and beliefs. Mrs. Lewis really brings you into the Amish community.

This series moved a lot slower than her other series. I do think that this last book does a better job of pacing the story. After finishing Book 2, I really did not care if Nellie and Caleb got back together. I am still not sure if I am satisfied with the ending, although I do not see how it could have ended any other way.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Children's Christmas Books

Children's Classics

Over at 5 Minutes for Books, the Children's Classics carnival is about Christmas books for children.

On Wednesday mornings, I read to my daughter's second grade class. Last week, I read 2 Christmas books to them.

The first one was 'Twas the Night: The Nativity Story by Melody Carlson. This book is great to read aloud. It is written in the cadence of "The Night Before Christmas". It is the story of Jesus' birth from the point of view of the animals in the stable. The illustrations by Susan Reagan are very well done. I think that this book will become a yearly tradition to read out loud with our family. It is recommended for 5 and up.

The second book was Spunky's First Christmas. This book was adapted from a video that was based on a character created by Janette Oke. This story is about a puppy named Spunky. Spunky gets adopted by a boy named Mark. Mark and Spunky have a lot of fun together until Spunky gets lost. As he is looking for his master, he sees a window with a picture of a man with a dog and several sheep. He goes into the church and there is a Christmas pageant going on. Spunky ends up on the stage barking with excitement. Mark rushes in because he heard Spunky barking. Spunky was so happy to have found his master again.

The second graders liked both books. I think that they enjoyed the second book the most. They were very engaged with the story and very concerned when Spunky was lost. They cheered when Mark found Spunky.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Book Review: My Little Girl

I have joined Thomas Nelson Publishers Book Review Blogger’s Program. My first book to review is My Little Girl by Tim McGraw & Tom Douglas. Illustrated by Julia Denos. Forward by Faith Hill. 2008.

My Little Girl is about Katie and the day she spent with her dad. Her dad told her that they would have a spectacular day. She is so excited that she can’t decide what to wear. So she wears a tiara, boa, several necklaces and jungle boots. Her dog, Palio, is ready for the adventures of the day too. The first place they go is the co-op where Katie sees new bunnies and chicks. Then she dances with her dad after watching some baby ducks that looked like they were doing the samba. Next they lay in the grass and look for shapes in the clouds. At lunch, they spell out L-O-V-E with their alphabet soup. After lunch, daddy pushes Katie in the tire swing. When they get back home, dad asks Katie what her favorite part was. She replies “Being with you!”

This is the kind of book that makes your heart melt. The story is good reminder for both moms and dads that spending one-on-one time with your children is time well-spent. At the back of the book is a page where you can write your own story about your own dad and daughter day. The book is beautifully illustrated with lots of color and whimsy. I loved the cloud pictures.

My husband read this book to our 7 year old daughter. I was sitting where I could watch her face. She smiled and laughed quite a few times. When they were dancing, she started swaying with them. She thought it was a wonderful book. My husband frequently takes her out to breakfast on Saturday mornings. That is a highlight of her week.

I only had one problem with the book. There is little transition between scenes. When you turn the page it is a different scene. Twice, I thought I missed something and had to look back to see. My daughter didn't have any problem with it though. I would recommend this book for any little girl between the ages of 4 and 8.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Classics Bookclub: A Christmas Carol

Classics Bookclub

This is my first time to participate in 5 Minutes for Books Classics Bookclub. This months selection was A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.

This was my first time to read this classic story. I have seen many movie and tv versions of it from the very serious to the very whimsical (Scooby-Doo). None of them do the story justice. I found that even though I knew the basics of the story, there was much that I didn't know.

I enjoyed the humor that was sprinkled throughout. I enjoyed Scrooge's nephew Fred. What a jovial fellow! I wish that I would always have that welcoming attitude when dealing with difficult people. I also enjoyed the character of Fezziwig. Fezziwig's party was a good example of how to keep your employees happy. Scrooge should have learned more from Fezziwig about how to treat employees.

I felt that the Cratchit family seemed more like caricatures than real people in the present scenes. I felt like their joy in the small goose was too forced. Like they were pretending to be happy but inside were miserable. And that is how we would expect someone in their situation to be. In the future scene, they seemed more real. The sadness and grieving at Tiny Tim's death seemed more real to me.

Finally Scrooge himself. I thought his transformation from selfish miser to generous, happy gentleman was well written. He changes a little bit with each scene and by the end embraces the changes he needs to make. I love the scene on the morning after Christmas when Cratchit is late. I can just picture him waiting in his office trying not to giggle with anticipation of what he is going to do for his employee.

Overall, I am glad that I read this book. I will certainly read it again and again.