Archive for the ‘Bookworm Moments’ Category

Book Review: The Gratitude Diaries

Monday, February 15th, 2016

The Gratitude Diaries: How a Year Looking on the Bright Side Can Transform Your LifeThe Gratitude Diaries: How a Year Looking on the Bright Side Can Transform Your Life by Janice Kaplan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Simply put, I enjoyed this book.

I am not much of a self-help reader, but this year, I decided to set aside my pride and try a few that appeal to me. Many of them I don’t even finish, because they all seem to be written by spoiled brats who don’t know how good they really have it. Their life is full of multiple homes, travel, money, fame, and more, but their lives are somehow so miserable, that they despair at missing out on some enlightenment.

I can’t relate to that.

This book is also written by a spoiled woman, except that she realizes that she’s spoiled, and decides to spend a year learning to be grateful. Rather than trying to change the circumstances of her life, she seeks to learn how to express and feel gratitude for what’s right in front of her.

This is an approach I can get behind!

She didn’t need a fully funded trip around the world eating, praying and loving. She didn’t need other people to stroke her ego, guide her onto new spiritual plains, or tell her comforting lies over really great food. She realized that it is her responsibility to find her own joy and happiness within the life she has been given.

She also realizes that gratitude allows you the wisdom to see circumstances that might need to change, and the courage to make those changes herself.

Breath of fresh air.

The best part? She doesn’t claim to hold the keys to happiness. She just shares her research and personal journey. And I believe her year of gratitude was genuine, and it’s going to stick, and she’s really going to be better for it.

I appreciated her approach, her conversational writing style, and her humility.

She comes across kind of big-sistery at times, even though she’s the little sister in her family. But even that made me appreciate her more, because I related so strongly.

I’m glad I read it, and I think I can apply what I learned from it.

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30 Days of Thanksgiving, Day 4: Midwifery Books

Wednesday, November 4th, 2015

I am so thankful for the abundance of excellent midwifery texts that I can use for a self-paced academic study as I walk out my apprenticeship. Without such material, my education as a midwife would be sadly lacking. I value a balance between the experiential nature of my apprenticeship and academic knowledge, because this balance lays a solid foundation for me to establish a safe, healthy practice as a CPM someday.

That said, here is my short review of the very first midwifery text I have finished reading, cover to cover. Next up? Anne Frye’s Holistic Midwifery Vol. 1. All 73-bajillion pages of it.

Heart and Hands: A Midwife's Guide to Pregnancy and BirthHeart and Hands: A Midwife’s Guide to Pregnancy and Birth by Elizabeth Davis
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Being my first ever midwifery text, I am glad for Elizabeth Davis’ writing style. It flowed so well, affirmed so much I have already learned during my apprenticeship, and expanded my knowledge on even the most basic of topics. I think it’s the perfect first book for anyone contemplating whether midwifery could be their calling.

I think it had a good, logical flow, with excellent supplementary charts throughout, as well as a few basic “case study” style stories to illustrate concepts outlined more academically.

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What are you thankful for today?

Grace & Peace,

Book Review: “Falls the Shadow,” by Sharon Kay Penman

Tuesday, September 29th, 2015

Falls the Shadow  (Welsh Princes, #2)Falls the Shadow by Sharon Kay Penman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is historical fiction at its best, in my opinion. I have always loved the story of history, but have never felt much like I experienced history unless I were reading historical fiction. This is as good as it gets. Obviously research-heavy, and accurate in particulars as well the feel of the time.

No one acts outside the medieval paradigm. There are no apologies for the rampant anti-Semitism, but it is not excused either. It is portrayed without frills. It made me cringe to think of a people who really believed the way they did then.

Gone are the fanciful tapestries woven about this period in history, and what is left are plain tales of real people, living real lives, in real situations, in a culture beyond our ability to truly understand. It is so far removed from where we are now, all that is left is the very gritty humanity we all share. For I did see familiarity there. Personality, relationship, love, parenthood, responsibility, government, and religion all have a reachable clarity.

Anyway. It’s primarily the story of Simon de Montfort and his attempts to push King Henry III into reform. It made me laugh in places. Cringe in others. I even cried at one point.

I’m glad I found this hidden gem at a garage sale. It’s earned its right to occupy space on my bookshelf.

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Book Review: Chocolat by Joanne Harris

Thursday, August 20th, 2015

Chocolat (Chocolat, #1)Chocolat by Joanne Harris
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

From the very first word of the very first line, I was captivated. This book is art. It is poetry disguised as prose. It is beautiful.

And I loved it.

Its cadence was rhythmic and flowing–whatever that means. I have a hard time writing about it, because I can only think of it in adjectives. Lilting. Moody. Exotic. Flavorful. Rich. Decadent. Red. Alive. Romantic. Complex. Melancholy. Joyful. Gritty. Sweet.

That said, I can’t say I agree that the only thing worth living for is one’s happiness, but the disparity between stiff, legalistic, possessive religion and living, connected, messy and worthwhile relationship is clear and correct. No, not correct. Right.

It’s all about love. Without love, we are nothing. We are despairing, jealous, selfish, and we are single-minded in our quest to demand that all others be as we are.

When we know and understand Love, to its core, we come alive. We are patient, kind, rejoicing in the truth and in the delighting in the pleasure of others. We see, we hear, we feel, and we connect.

Chocolat illustrates it vividly.

I could read this over and over again.

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Book Review: “In His Steps” by Charles M. Sheldon

Monday, August 10th, 2015

In His StepsIn His Steps by Charles M. Sheldon
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

What can I say? It’s a Christian classic, a well-written piece of literature, and I enjoyed it. Though it is idealistic in many ways, it asks a legitimate question: What would Jesus do, if he were me, in my circumstances, in my time?

I found myself gently challenged and exhorted to be a little more Christ-like.

I liked it.

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Book Review: Genghis: Lords of the Bow by Conn Iggulden

Friday, July 3rd, 2015

Genghis: Lords of the Bow (Conqueror, #2)Genghis: Lords of the Bow by Conn Iggulden

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I read the first book in this series almost a year ago and loved it. You can see my review of it HERE.

Once again, I found Iggulden’s stark prose a refreshing approach to the intensity of the Mongolian Empire. This book has more battles in it, but not at the expense of developing individual characters. Once again, I appreciated the historical notes at the end of the book explaining Iggulden’s process in fictionalizing history. It was really interesting to me to see Genghis’ brothers developing and coming into their own, and knowing them better. To see these men as real people who existed in a real place, at a real time, and experienced real events.

This series is a stellar example of what historical fiction ought to be, in my opinion. This series brings history to life and makes it so much more than anonymous dates set in a foreign location.

The landscape, battles, family dynamics, and Chin cities are painted with a vivid brush. Once again, Iggulden doesn’t back away from the ugly reality of war, but he manages to maintain the mentality of the Mongols: that battle is a glory. The ferocious joy that comes from their precise archery ability, the vicious intelligence of their strategy, and Genghis’ mental agility that enabled him to adapt to any situation are portrayed in a matter-of-fact way. Pulling no punches, but not knocking you upside the head with a 2×4 either.

The 2nd book has cemented my decision to just buy the series, so I can have it ready when my children reach the age at which I think it would be appropriate for them to delve into it. What a marvelous addition to any history curriculum or textbook!

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Book Review: Fablehaven (Book 1 in the Series)

Friday, June 26th, 2015

Fablehaven (Fablehaven, #1)Fablehaven by Brandon Mull
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What a fun children’s book! The main characters are engaging, and pretty adorable. Kendra and Seth are both believable, real, and unique. I enjoyed the simple story line because it stayed interesting. I found myself relating to Kendra as the “big sister,” and her frustration at Seth’s constant breaking of rules and causing some pretty disastrous, fairy tale level consequences. Seth evoked an emotional reaction in me, in that I wanted to smack that kid around a little. Whenever a book can make me feel something–anything–I know it’s a good story.


I have a weakness for them, and the abundance of fairies, a Fairy Queen, a battle against evil, child heroes, magic, a forest, a giant magical cow, and a myriad of magical creatures all make for an exciting story.

This is a book my children are enjoying together, and I see this series establishing itself as a favorite they will look back on with fondness when they’re grown, and probably share with their own children someday.

The reading level of the book is probably around 5th grade or so, but that doesn’t take away from its appeal. Good pacing, fun dialogue, and impossible situations all make for a great fairy tale that I really think whole families can enjoy.

And that’s all there is to it. Looking forward to #2!

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Book Review: “You’ll Get Through This: Hope & Help for Your Turbulent Times,” by Max Lucado

Monday, June 1st, 2015

You'll Get Through This: Hope and Help for Your Turbulent TimesYou’ll Get Through This: Hope and Help for Your Turbulent Times by Max Lucado
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book, like all Max Lucado books, is like a glass of warm milk before bed. Comforting, filling, and calming. His strength is in encouragement and edification, not necessarily exhortation or challenge. Sometimes, when we are weak, we don’t need steak and potatoes. Sometimes, we just need the comfort of sleepytime tea or warm milk to get us through the night, after which we can dive into a big breakfast with gusto and big hunger.

So, yes. I liked it. But I want more now. My appetite grows. Lucado only whets it, without packing on the pounds.

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Day 22: My Favorite Book

Thursday, March 10th, 2011

If I take this Book of Books out of the equation as the obvious answer, I could no more choose a favorite book than I could choose a favorite among my children. It’s not possible for me. One day, Anne of Green Gables is my favorite, the next, it’s The Lord of the Rings.

Above and behind it all, though, is my First Love. The Word of God. Nothing has the transformative power the Bible does.

“For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” ~Hebrews 4:12 (NIV)

It holds the power of rebirth.

“For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.” ~1 Peter 1:23 (NIV)

It’s applicable now, in my daily walk.

“But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” ~2 Timothy 3:14-17 (NIV)

It brings comfort.

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” ~Psalm 23:4 (NIV)

It holds precious promises I can look to when I need encouragement to keep going.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” ~Philippians 4:6,7 (NIV)

It helps me find my way.

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” ~Psalm 119:105 (NIV)

It tells me that I matter. That on this dirt speck of a planet in the midst of a nearly infinite cosmos, God’s eye is on me. His heart loves me, and He made me for Something.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” ~Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

It tells me of God’s deep love.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him will not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” ~John 3:16,17 (NIV)

Most importantly, it leads to salvation.

“That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” ~Romans 10:9-11 (NIV-emphasis mine)

And there is so much more. There is always something new to glean. Some new conviction, encouragement, knowledge, comfort, or blessing to be found. It gets deeper and richer every time I open it, and I don’t open it enough!

How could it not be my favorite?

Do you have a favorite book? How about a favorite passage of Scripture in the Bible? Have you read the Bible at all? Why or why not? Any questions about where to start? Feel free to ask!

May God speak to your heart today.


Topic 16: What is your favorite magazine, book and poem?

Wednesday, January 5th, 2011

I’ve put this topic off for a bit, because I have no idea how to answer the first part. I could use the Christian default, and say “the Bible,” but that would be cheating. Even though it really is my favorite book, seeing as how it’s the only book that actually seems to know me, I kind of feel like it would be the easy way out to list it.

Favorite book? Just one?

I don’t have just one favorite book. I have favorites in a few genres. Well, this is my blog, after all, and since I don’t have a favorite magazine (I rarely read one), you’ll get a list of favorites.

Historical Fiction:
Anne of Green Gables series by L.M. Montgomery. (Anne and I are one and the same, you know.)
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
Persuasion by Jane Austen

Science Fiction:
Contact by Carl Sagan
1984 by George Orwell
War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells

Children’s Books:
The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien, along with all of his “Middle Earth” literature. I have yet to come across any fantasy stories I think are worth reading at all.

The Oath by Frank Peretti

Christian Fiction:
This Present Darkness and Piercing the Darkness by Frank Peretti
And the Shofar Blew by Francine Rivers
The Atonement Child by Francine Rivers
The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis
The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis

Non-Fiction: (a genre I am admittedly lacking in)
Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand
Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
The Weight of Glory by C.S. Lewis

Birth Junkie:
The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth by Henci Goer
The Official Lamaze Guide: Giving Birth with Confidence by Judith Lothian and Charlotte De Vries
I have a very long list of books I want to read in this category…sigh…these are the favorites of the ones I’ve read thus far.

I told you. Lots of favorites.

On a side note, I know there are a lot of good books out there, outside the classic authors. I just have a hard time going to the library, and picking a book at random off of the shelf to try. Online reviews are useless, as they always conflict. I prefer recommendations from people I know, and who know my taste.

If I’m going to read a book, I want to know that it has a decent chance of being worth my time.

So, if you have any recommendations, especially in the science fiction, non-fiction, or fantasy genres, that would be great! Also, I’m not very familiar with newer authors, so any newer books out there you think worth reading would be welcome recommendations as well.

If I were to read magazines, they would probably be something like National Geographic, because I am a nerd. Maybe even decorating magazines.

On to the last part of the question:

My favorite poem? By far, I love Robert Louis Stevenson’s “The Swing.”

How do you like to go up in a swing,
Up in the air so blue?
Oh, I do think it the pleasantest thing
Ever a child can do!

Up in the air and over the wall,
Till I can see so wide,
River and trees and cattle and all
Over the countryside–

Till I look down on the garden green,
Down on the roof so brown–
Up in the air I go flying again,
Up in the air and down!

What are your favorites? Any reading recommendations for me? Thanks for leaving your two cents (or more)!


This topic is from the 30 More post by my friend, Erica. This is also my post for the day for the WordPress Post a Day Challenge. Would you like to join? Sign up for the Post a Day/Week HERE.