Friday, November 29, 2013

completed reading

Being sick for almost a week + a holiday + a great library 10 min. away + Goodreads = TIME TO READ! 

1. The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle
This was required reading for the Suzuki Book 4 training I recently completed. This non-fiction book is written by a guy who wanted to know: where does "talent" come from? What's the secret of getting really good at something? He traveled all over the world observing students and coaches in all areas of the arts: music, sports, etc., and relates the patterns he found. 
What I liked: Daniel Coyle wrote a sciencey book without it feeling suffocating, dry, or incomprehensible. He compiled lots of awesome quotes by famous artists, and included stories of well-known performers today. His revelations helped give me ideas of how I could be a better student AND teacher. 
What I didn't like: Apparently Mr. Coyle believes entirely in evolution and fate, as these were two themes heavily mentioned. As a Christian, I know that it is God that gives ability and strength to persevere and become good at something, and He is the One that created this myelin within us that helps us remember what we need to know through practice. The book also contains some colorful language which makes me glad I don't have to read it again. :P

2. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
This beautiful work of fiction tells the story of a young girl (Liesel) who gets adopted by a German couple during the Holocaust. Shortly after their little family is formed, they are forced to hide a friend of the family, a Jew, in their basement. Through her new-found love of reading and her friendship with the Jewish boy, Max, Liesel learns about love, death, and continuing to live strong in the face of terror. 
What I liked: First of all, Mr. Zusak has an unbelievably raw and gorgeous style of writing. He personifies death, and does it so beautifully and understandably that it will stick with you long after you finish reading. He believes in leaving "a nugget on every page," and he has done just that. Very deep thoughts. Although the way he personifies death is my favorite part of the book, I also appreciate the many different ways love is portrayed. Not everyone shows or needs love in the same way, and Markus lets us look into lots of windows of people's hearts here. 
What I didn't like: Real and relevant as it may be, I never like to read about dysfunctional families. The German couple has marriage problems, the wife has a foul mouth, and their true son leaves home after arguing with his father. Obviously, from the title, Liesel begins stealing books to quench her thirst for reading in a time when Germans did not allow any literature apart from propaganda. While the person she's stealing from knows she's doing it and doesn't mind, it does not make it okay. 

3. The Magic of Ordinary Days by Ann Howard Creel
A minister's daughter, Livvy, is found pregnant out-of-wedlock and is sent away to Colorado to marry a bean farmer, Ray, who believes this situation may be God's will for everyone. Although Ray loves Livvy and her unborn baby from Day 1, it takes a little over a year, lots of deep self-evaluation, and learning to rebuild trust for Livvy to return his love and realize that, with forgiveness and love, she can have a fresh start. 
What I liked: Ray to me was a picture of Christ's amazing redemptive love for people who have known what was right and instead chose to sin. His faithful, calm, and quiet love for Livvy made me ever more grateful for God's great love for us. I also loved Creel's descriptive writing style. Not overly flowery but fresh and interesting. 
What I didn't like: Livvy never really talks of God except to mention she had turned her back on Him, and her regret over the entire situation is more of a sorry-for-herself thing, instead of viewing it from a Christian point of view and asking forgiveness of the Lord. Also, although it is brief, there is a section not recommended to unmarried people, especially. If you've read Christy, you know what I mean. 

4. Agenda 21 by Glenn Beck
America has been gone for about 20 years, and now the Republic is in its place. Emmeline's father has died and her mother has just been taken away, so she must learn to live in the completely controlled, oppressive, totalitarian world alone except for her partner, David. When the time comes for David, Emmeline, and her daughter Elsa to escape, will they make it past all the guards, Gatekeepers, and Authority leaders to the unknown world of freedom that lives just beyond the fence? 
What I liked: Suspenseful and Animal Farm scary, Glenn gets his point across clearly without preaching. The whole idea was to open people's minds to the idea of Agenda 21, the wording of which is softly trickling in to some big cities' plans here in the U.S. Awareness is the first step, and by writing a novel with Agenda 21 taken to the extreme, he gets people's attention and (hopefully) opens their eyes to what the world could someday become if no one speaks up. 
What I didn't like: Obviously, this book is a slightly disturbing one, as it's supposed to be. Innuendo and mild language add to the conclusion that this is 100% not a book for children or even young adults. Highly recommended, however, for more mature readers. 

So, as I always ask, what have you read or been reading? Any suggestions? Hey...and let's be friends on Goodreads, 'kay? :)

Friday, November 15, 2013


Winter is coming and I can't wait. Fall was weird this year. Less like a friend and more like a mysterious question. 

Family doesn't necessarily mean you're related by blood. Can you love, laugh, care for, accept, pray with, cry with them? They're family.

Death is a new beginning, both for the dead and the living. 

You're given thousands of second chances every day. Notice them.

Just because the skies are gray doesn't mean the day is. Splash it with your own color. Prisms of blessings are everywhere, but only you can take the time to shine light through to make them noticeable. 

These are the days for poetry. Break out the Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Sylvia Plath, and Ella Wheeler Wilcox. 

Anticipate the holidays. Make gift lists and plans early. Meditate on what you love and appreciate about your friends and family so spending time with them is an anticipated joy. 

Don't ever forget to give thanks. Not everyone woke up healthy, or with a husband or mother or father, or warmth, or all their limbs. You're blessed beyond measure. 

Friday, November 1, 2013

and so it begins.

My Grandpa Paul died tonight. 

This is Day 1 of eternity for him. 

Thank you for praying for him, if you did. While I expected this, it still was shocking to hear, and really it still doesn't feel real. 

Just wanted you to know.