Monthly Archives: September 2017

Book Reviews – Alma Flor Ada

I finished another couple of books from the library by new, to me, authors…  Alma Flor Ada and Gabriel M. Zubizarreta.  A mother-son writing team.  It was the first book they wrote together, but definitely not the last.  We have two of their books at our library, and I checked them both out at the same time because I knew it wouldn’t take me long to finish them.  The first book I read is called Dancing Home.  It’s about a girl named Margarita and her cousin Lupe who comes to live with Margarita from her home in Mexico.  Margarita has done everything she can to make herself completely American without any of her Mexican heritage, including refusing to speak Spanish to the point that she’s nearly forgotten the language.  Lupe only speaks Spanish, but she quickly starts learning English after moving to America.  Margarita eventually comes to terms with her heritage and finds that she loves all aspects of who she is.  My favorite quote from Dancing Home was near the end when Margarita had decided to embrace all the aspects of who she is instead of focusing on only what will make her fit in in her mind.  She says, “I am American, and I am Mexican.  Both are important to me and neither one has to be better than the other.”  This sums up how I think she’s come to now see herself through her journey in this book.  This book felt so much like I was reading a nonfiction biography.  I loved it.  

The second book from our library is Love, Amalia.  I liked this one better than Dancing Home.  Probably because of the fact that Amalia is dealing with her friend moving away as soon as the book starts and then she’s dealing with her grandmother’s death right after that.  This summer, we moved from Spain to South Dakota, and my father-in-law passed away while we were in the midst of our move.  I find myself thinking of Amalia like one of my kids and I hate how sad she is by all of the changes in her life.  She’s going through the same things my children just went through.  Her abuelita (grandmother) used to tell her stories about her children and read her letters from them and she would take her time and write them letters back with handmade cards.  Amalia starts to feel better and starts to see how she can move on now that her grandmother is gone when her mother gives her the box her grandmother kept all of the letters in.  Amalia starts making cards and mailing them to her family as she reads the letters from them to her abuelita.  She also write to her friend who moved away and shares with her what’s been going on in her life.  I really liked this book and think it would be a nice change of pace from most of the writing for this age group.  This book says it’s for grades 3-5, and I think that’s good.  It could be read by younger children, but they need a bit of maturity to be ready for some of the topics that are dealt with in this one.  I definitely think that sometimes kids need to be exposed to more than just fluff.  I’m going to recommend all of my kids read it.

 

What books are y’all reading??

The Copernicus Legacy: The Serpent’s Curse… and Droon

Book Number 2 of the Copernicus series!  I’ll continue my review of The Serpent’s Curse in a minute, but first I learned more about the author.

I didn’t realize that Tony Abbott (the author of this series), is also the author of another series with over 40 books in it.  It’s called The Secrets of Droon and follow two boys and a girl who find a magical entrance to the land of Droon in the basement of one of their houses and thus begins many adventures for the three of them.  Our library only has one of these books, and it happens to be #20.   I know we’ve bought the first book in this series, or I’ve at least seen it in other libraries before, but our library doesn’t have it.  So I read book #20, In the Ice Caves of Krog.  It was really good, but was definitely for a younger audience.  It is for about 3rd grade reading level, and I think that is a good age for this series.  The book would be really exciting and fast paced for this age group.  I’m sure it’s a great series for young readers who are looking to move up to chapter books.

NOW… back to Copernicus!

These books are written for a 4th-5th grade reading level, but they are really long, so I would say a mature 4th grader.  They are also great for adults who want to read good stories that don’t seem to be as predictable as I first thought.  They are constantly moving and there is constant action.  These children (and various adults around them) are flying all over Europe and some of Asia in this latest book.  We begin in New York, where they were headed to when the last book ended.  Although, I discovered that there was a smaller book in between books 1 and 2, but I don’t think I missed much by not reading it.

Here come the spoilers…

The entire story line of the series is that Copernicus invented and used  a time machine and then decided it didn’t ever need to be used again so he took the machine apart and sent the 12 relics from the machine to people he knew who would guard them and pass them down from guardian to guardian.  So far, it seems that each book will be about one of the relics.  In the first book, it was pretty straightforward for this type of book and it went about like I expected.  The kids, and Wade’s dad, got the first relic and started the search for the second one.  This second book, however, doesn’t follow what I thought would be the standard form of each book.  They do spend the whole book looking for the second relic and during the search for the relic, and Darrell’s mom (who’s been kidnapped by the Order), they fly all over Russia and even to Venice and London once or twice.  However, I fully expected them to get the second relic at the end of the book and follow it to the third one and so on… BUT… the Order ends up with the relic at the end and they end the book being kind of unsure where to go next because without the second relic, they aren’t sure how to find the third.  They do come up with a plan before the book ends, so I’m sure that’s where the third one will begin, but something else happened at the end that I’m not sure about and I guess that’s why you’d need to keep reading.  To find out how Becca ended up going back in time, but not really.  I think there are 4 books in this series so far, and I think in between each book there is a smaller book about one of the kids.  The book I missed in between 1 and 2 was about Wade, and I think the one between 2 and 3 is about Becca.  I do want to keep reading these books, but they aren’t in our library and the reason I read them to begin with was because I’m trying to read all of the Children’s Fictions books in our library.  So, I’ll request that the library purchase the rest of the series and see if that becomes a possibility.  We will see… in the mean time, feel free to see what I’m reading next from the library over at my goodreads account!

Library Challenge Book Count: 3 total

The Orville

This new show was created by Seth MacFarlane and set 400 years in the future.  We actually saw a commercial for this when we were in Spain, and we decided we wanted to watch it.  We missed the first episode, so we caught it on Hulu, and then watched the second one the next day.  We were definitely not disappointed in it.  We all laughed, even the teenage girl who doesn’t like anything “geeky”!

We even talked about our favorite characters around dinner the night after we watched it.  All of us like the helmsman (I’m not sure that’s an actual term, but we love him).  His name is Gordon Malloy played by Scott Grimes, and we love him.  From the very beginning, before we ever meet him, we know he is a rule breaker, so we expect spontaneous things from him.  He is just great!  The writing in the show is magnificent, and the one-liners are some of the funniest I’ve heard in a long time.

We all were looking forward to watching the second episode the next night.  It was more of the same goodness, with a little bit of poking at some of our cultural norms that some might disagree with.  The next episode is this Sunday night, so set your DVR’s, or just turn the TV to Fox to watch some football and leave it there when the game ends… I promise you won’t be disappointed!

Well, you might… if you don’t think funny things are funny! 🙂

Also, this show is rated TV-14, so be warned that they do say all the words they are allowed to say and to get that rating.

Boxes… Boxes… Everywhere…

We have been surrounded by boxes since our stuff arrived on Sept 12th.  None of us like seeing boxes sitting around, so we are pretty diligent about getting the boxes open and the things taken out.  This time is different for two reasons.

  1. I actually want to decorate this house.  I care, this time, about what colors go in each room and where things hang on the walls.  I’ve never cared about that before, so until now it’s never mattered, and I’ve left all of those decisions up to Ron.  He’s done a good job, but I just want something different this time.  So, we have a lot of pictures sitting around which is not okay with his need to have everything done.  So we’ve compromised (welcome to 18 years of marriage) 🙂  And I’ve picked where I want the frames to go even if I’m not happy with the pictures in the frame yet, and he’s going to go ahead and hang them and then I can come later and change out for the picture I want.  It’s a process we are both happy with… again, welcome to 18 years!
  2. We don’t have as much space in some areas, so we have things sitting around this time waiting to be donated to the thrift shop.  It’ll feel more settled when we get those things taken away and free up some more space.

So, now we are surrounded by boxes of things to donate and boxes of paper that was used to wrap our stuff for its arrival.  The good news is that nothing was broken… the bad news is, we have a lot of stuff!  We’ve been putting a lot of things into the donate boxes… we are embracing the purge as we start to free our lives of clutter.  This is step one and I am so excited to see it working!!

Book Review – The Best Yes!

I finished another book.  It’s called The Best Yes by Lysa Terkeurst.  I have heard of her and her books for a while, but I’ve never read anything by her.  I really liked this book.  The thing I liked the best was her way of explaining our thought processes for decisions.  She has an interesting way of thinking through decisions that I probably should follow with all of my decisions.  Especially those involving my time.  She calls is “chasing down” a decision.  She follows it out to its logical conclusion.  Whatever decision you are trying to make, think it through to the end and see what the outcome will be a month or longer out.  Will you have less time to spend with your family?  Is the time away going to be a productive trade out that will not lead to resentment or less present time with your family?  Maybe it isn’t the right time to say yes to that decision then.  She even has a kind of chart in the back with a “path” to take with your decisions.  I love it!  If you are struggling with time constraints and you feel stretched thin and unable to give your best self to the people and tasks around you, this is a great book for helping you re-prioritize and think through your decisions to find your best yes.  Great book!  5 Stars!

Check out what else I’m currently reading at my GoodReads page!

Our New Command Center

I’ve always wanted a centralized location in our house for our schedule, mail, and anything I want to be organized together.  I’ve never had this before, and we’ve just stuck things up on the refrigerator.  But no longer…  As soon as we moved in this house, I picked the spot I thought would be perfect for the “Command Center”.   We just picked a size that we liked because I knew I wanted to pocket folders to hold our mail and then some clipboards to hold schedules and stuff, so we taped it off so I could paint.

After a shopping trip, we decided to buy two plain clipboards and spray paint since I couldn’t find anything in the color I wanted.  I also found a picture frame in almost the exact size that we had taped off, so I grabbed that and the pocket folders I wanted for the wall.

Chyna and I wrapped the clipboards with random pieces of tape and spray painted them.  I LOVE them, and really hated to cover them with paper when they were done.

I painted the wall black.  I was so scared about the first bit of paint to be put on the walls in our new house being black, but I knew the look I wanted, so I just went for it!  It took two coats, but it turned out great!

I took the glass and everything out of the wood frame and after much leveling and measuring, Ron hung it on the wall for me.

Then it was just a matter of placing the things I wanted in the command center.  We used those 3M Velcro-like sticky backs to put everything on the wall.  I could not love it more!  My first decorating project in my house turned out to be successful!!  Now, what’s next?

Oh… I got a fall centerpiece and runner for my dining room table.  I LOVE how it turned out also!

The Forbidden Stone – The Copernicus Legacy Book 1

I finished the book this morning, and I literally have a timer set to go to the library as soon as it opens and get the next one.  This book was nonstop action from the very beginning. There are some spoilers coming up, so feel free to stop reading and go get your own copy to read before continuing.  The kids in this book were so unique and each one had their own voice and distinct personality.  I think a sign of great fiction is once you get to know the characters you can identify who is speaking just by what they say.  You don’t have to be told who is speaking.  It was completely true with this book.  Wade started out as the main character, but you quickly find out that nearly everyone in this book gets their own section told from their point of view.  Even the “bad guys”.  Becca is my favorite, I think.  But then I love Lily and Darrell too, so I’m really not sure.  I find myself wanting to parent these kids because I can see my own children in them. Another sign of a great book…

SPOILERS COMING!! (It won’t really ruin the book for you, so go ahead and read on!) 

There are still a lot of questions surrounding the Order, but we did get some sections from the leader’s point of view and even her second in command.  There are some parts of the story that seemed unbelievable that 14-15 yr old children would be doing, but that’s why it’s fiction.  And I’m sure if you were in the age group this book was written for that you would love to think you can do the things these kids are able to do.  It is great for providing a bit of actual history dispersed inside this fictionalized story of a time machine that was invented by Copernicus.  I can’t wait to see how the rest of the series plays out, and I’m almost afraid to google and find out how many books are in this series.  I’m not good at all at waiting if all of the books aren’t out yet, but I’ll be forced to check it out because I’m pretty sure our library only has the first two.  There better be more out than just two of them.  Oh well, I’m off to check out the second book and see how many more I have to go… I’m excited to keep going.  I loved this book!  5 Stars!!

This review is also available on my goodreads page.  And the other books I’m reading are there as well.

On my Mind – College Thoughts

When you go away to college, lose your scholarship your Freshman year, and move  back to my tiny town, you don’t have a Sunday School class (they might now, but not in 1996) so my parents decided it would be a good idea to be my Sunday school teachers.  That means that most Sundays it was just the 3 of us sitting in this tiny room at church and I would tell them, as earnestly as a 19 year old could, about how the only reason they believed in Jesus and the whole bible story was because their parents believed it and passed it down to them.  This was my best argument for everything religious because I knew there was no actual proof, so they’d have no real answer to this.

I distinctly remember one Sunday sitting in that room and asking them “How do you know that what you believe is real?  How can you tell?”  

My mother looked at me and said, “I know it because I feel it, and because when I was going in for brain surgery and not knowing if I’d be able to walk or talk again, I could feel a comfort and peace like I’ve never known before and it isn’t something that I can explain.  I know it because I choose to believe it.”  I’m sure that’s not an exact quote because it’s been a while, but it’s close to what she said and I had nothing to say back to that.  

I just sat quietly in that room and thought about it.  I think that was the moment that I realized I had to just choose to believe it.  I wasn’t going to get proof, but I would eventually over and over again get that feeling that my mother described, but that isn’t proof.  It’s just a choice.  Now that I’ve been married for 18 years, I realize that marriage is also that same choice.  You don’t just decide to get married and everything is great, just look at all the unhappy marriages to prove my point.  You have to choose to be married all the time and in little ways every day.  

Faith in Jesus isn’t the same, of course, but I think it’s similar in that way.  We choose Jesus over and over throughout our lives by our actions.  Sometimes we forget or get caught up in ourselves and move away from him and don’t choose him for long periods of time, and unlike a real marriage, he just stays there and waits for us to turn around and see him.  Really see Him and choose Him again.

It’s Been A While… We have Moved!

I know it’s been a while, and we don’t even live on the same continent as the last time I wrote a post, but I’ll catch everyone up later… this is what’s happening right now as I sit in our empty house still waiting for our stuff to arrive! 🙂

 

I love to read.  I love just about everything about books.  I also love lists (as you may know from some of my other posts).  So, this year, I’ve been keeping a list of every book I read.  I’ve read 96 books so far this year.  Most of them have been in the paranormal genre since that’s my favorite, but not all of them.  My goal was 100 books, since this is the first time I’ve kept up with how many books I’ve read in a year, I didn’t know how many I usually read, so I picked 100.  It’s the beginning of September and I’m nearly there, so maybe my goal should’ve been higher.  Anyway, I wanted a place to discuss the books I want to review and talk about them with anyone who is interested, and this seemed like a good place.  I’m reading a few different books right now, but the one I’m going to be reviewing this time is The Forbidden Stone: The Copernicus Legacy, Book 1 by Tony Abbott.  

Why did I pick this book to be my first review?  Well, because his name came first in the alphabet!!  We just moved to South Dakota and I’ve been trying to find things to do.  We always check out libraries first thing because we all love books.  The library on base has a small section for their children’s fiction, so I gave myself the goal of reading every one of those books.  So, what better place to start than with the A’s.  Just my luck that this first book is really thick for a children’s book!  One look at it and my boys would probably say no!  But it’s a really good book so far, and I know they’d love it if they ever got over the thickness of it.  It seems a lot like the 39 Clues books so far, so we will see how things work out.  There are three books in the series right now, and I know we have two of them at our library.  We will see what happens!  Stay tuned!

If you want to follow along with what I’m reading and where I am, check out my new GoodReads account.