Friday, February 27, 2015

Pace Yourself: Quitting the Business of Busyness

Pace Yourself: Quitting the Business of Busyness


*I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley to review.
It has been a while since I truly have enjoyed a book so much as this one, in fact right to the end! I can be quite hard on Christian non-fiction books because I don't want to hear the same old adages from all the other books that I have read. I don't necessarily pick apart a book when it comes to the theology because I am not a theologian, I'll leave that to the people in the know. I approach the Word with a somewhat simplistic attitude and I will double check the scripture references. Though I ultimately lean on the Holy Spirit for guidance and clarification. I have been raised all my life in church and have heard and read a lot and I tire quickly of people wanting to pull apart the Word of God.

So when I started this book by Brady Boyd, I was prepared for the "same old" themes and generalized ideology. The author managed to bring to my attention ideas, thoughts, feelings and spiritual musings that I have wondered about or have experienced but never heard or read anywhere. I am a person who thinks deeply about my spiritual life, a part of the natural curiosity in me. This is the first time that I read a book that consistently brought up new ways of looking at the theme of being busy, learning to be still and waiting on God. I love where he says "I may have escaped the stressors of daily life, but had I even rested at all? This is what God is hinting at here, that restfulness is tethered to the state of our souls".

I constantly highlighted throughout the book right to the end. I am always somewhat disappointed with a book towards the end because basically all the material has been explored and discussed through the first third and then it is basically a "filler" and conclusion towards the end. I noticed with this book there were a constant looping and rhythm of ideas and stories and excitement of the subject matter to the last chapter. The book kept my attention and I felt inspired and I will recommend this to my friends and family. 

Friday, February 13, 2015

Orchard House: How a Neglected Garden Taught One Family to Grow

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When I think of my mother I first remember our trips to the library and our shared love for reading and then, it is my memories of our gardening together. Reading this book brought back such sweet memories of gardening and cooking and preserving the bounty from our garden. For the past two years I have been delving back into the rich world of gardening and canning the rich rewards. My own daughter and her husband were the ones who helped my renewed interest; perhaps because they do the majority of the work! I happily reminisce while canning or dehydrating. The author really tapped into my memories and I suppose I am biased in saying that I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book because of my own past experiences.

I enjoyed her delving into the difficulties of her relationship with her mother and brother. Psychology and introspection are subjects that go right along with an activity such as gardening and I think it was a brilliant combination for a book. At times it appeared as though she was a bit too much on the introspection but good old fashioned catharsis is good for the soul, after all we are all human and have a complaint or two in this life. I found the writing was very well done and I would definitely recommend it.  

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Bell of the Desert

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Published November 18th 2014 by Yucca Publishing

*I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley to review.

Gertrude Bell was a woman before her time and reading this historical fiction based upon this remarkable woman came across very well as a fictionalized biography. I truly love books that inspire me and encourages me to discover more about who or what I am reading about. What I liked about the book was the way that the author handled bringing Gertrude Bell front and center in our story. Her curiosity and drive not to be held back because of her sex was thoroughly outlined. This book was chocked full of adventure and bits of information about Arabia and its' people.

Politics was par for the course in such an undertaking writing about such an important figure in history. My patience waned at times with the political maneuvering but I don't hold it against the book, it is a personal disinterest on my part. The story was wrapped up quite nicely and you had a good sense of what Gertrude had done for that part of the world. She rubbed elbows and locked minds with many historical figures such as Harry Lawrence also known as Lawrence of Arabia and Winston Churchill.

I did find that the many references to her sexual escapades did tax my patience but I think that the majority of the public are interested in such details but personally I found it taxing and quite unnecessary. Overall it is a good read, I recommend it to anyone who is interested in history, adventure, women who have overstepped their rigid roles of the time and in the Middle East.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Dollbaby by Laura Lane McNeal


Reading about the South always makes me feel right at home and this book pulled me right in. For being a debut, not bad at all. I did consider it leaning towards chick-lit by the time I finished it. I really appreciated the fact that the author wrote about a setting that she understands. I started craving Cajun food and I am set and determined to make some as soon as possible! The storyline overall was entertaining and kept my interest though the later part with the family mystery seemed a bit far-fetched and too many stories that unraveled. I think for all the events that happened the emotional impact over such events should have been even more over the top, considering people are wired to react in such ways, it seemed too unrealistic at the end. Perhaps a bit rushed and tired at the end. My way of telling when I am totally enthralled with a book, I always hate it to end. With this book, I was a little relieved.

Art and Reading or is it Reading and Art!

I am including a picture of one of my plein air paintings from about 2012. Now if you are wondering what is a plein air painting? Well, this is simple, imagine taking your art studio outside along a beautiful river, in God's country and painting to your heart's content. I am an avid reader, my favorite activity is reading and art and painting is my second favorite. I have been stuck lately on reading a lot and I have been enjoying every moment of it, though I have been feeling the need and desire to get out there along the river to paint.

I paint in pastels and watercolor and this particular painting is a pastel. The river is the North Yuba River and approximately within 30 minutes of my house. This painting though was painted about 5 miles north of Downieville (I am in No. California) in fact this spot is on someone's mining claim. Yes, we still have mining claims and in fact my husband works for the Forest Service and is a Mineral's Officer. So, while I paint, I keep my eyes open and report back to am just kidding. I try to keep my mind on the painting and let him do the investigating!

I think reading keeps our minds open for new adventure or our interests engaged, well, at least it does for me. When I read, my mind often drifts to painting and art; reason is I think the scenes that authors "paint" with words often will inspire that need to paint. For me, reading and art seems to go hand in hand and I often am motivated to get out there and look for new areas or subjects to paint. After-all aren't authors looking for the same thing but in a different way? Both activities keeps the creative juices flowing and the mind's eye activated.

Now all I need is some good weather and hopefully a sunny day to venture out to the North Yuba and do my own creating. Happy reading people and keep your viewpoint open to the possibilities that reading can bring to your world.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Gently Awakened by Sara Joseph


I was gifted this book by my niece with an unusual facebook post where she offered the first 6 people who liked her post and were given the opportunity to choose anything they wanted for under $10 from Amazon. I just happen to see her post and thought how unusual and how wonderful to randomly gift any one of her friends with a simple gift. I happen to run across this book as being on my wish list and on a lark, gave her the link and I was gifted this book within minutes on my Kindle. I think it was a divine appointment because the author seemed to be speaking directly to me.

At times it seem as though this book was written specifically for me and I related so much to the struggles of the Christian artist. The need for meaning and focus and the constant fight against futility is my day in and day out struggle as an artist. Being a perfectionist and often doubting myself, this book inspired every part of my spirit. I recommend it to anyone who is a Christian who often wonders where their art fits in their spiritual walk and life. I especially appreciated the mention of the importance of keeping a journal of that struggle. This book is a fresh breath of inspiration!

The Beginning

I was introduced to the wonderful world of the library and reading by my mother who was an avid reader. In fact, she was a speed reader even before it became vogue. Truthfully I think she needed to be a fast reader because her time was so limited by the daily grind of being a mother, wife and all around workaholic. I never have known anyone other than myself and my youngest daughter, Amanda to be so voracious in her appetite for books and reading. Every evening she would grab those precious hours on her reading chair and she literally zoom through her books. Her favorite authors were Zane Grey and Louis L'Amour. I tried to find an old picture of the Lennox library but could only find a picture of the newer re-modeled library. At least the design is the same and it gives you an idea of what it looked like.

Going to the library was one of my favorite pursuits with my mother. My first library was the Lennox library in Lennox, California. While looking for a picture of the library to include in this post, I discovered that it is one of the oldest continually running libraries in Los Angeles County and it was built in 1918. I was in first grade and barely out of the first reader when my mother included me in her favorite pursuit of books.  I still remember having my first library card being filled out and then being unleashed on that small sanctuary of books, my first books that I remember having borrowed were the "Curious George" series. My mother literally ran out all reading options in that library and she decided we have to move onto better pastures. I don't remember how old I was but I do think I was in Jr. High and High School. We moved onto the Hawthorne Library, although I missed Lennox Library, the expanse of those books on those shelves, well, the memories of my old library waned far into the background. Our trips to the library was at least every two to three days, far more than we previously visited the Lennox Library.

At some point we decided that Hawthorne was just a bit too small, so the Inglewood library with it's multiple floors was the ticket! I remember how amazing it was to catch the elevator, in a library! I didn't particularly like this library as much because for one, the absolute size of the place was a bit daunting for a small time library girl, the mere size limited the sense of  library intimacy. Though I think what really perturbed me was the library's habit of covering all their books with generic "wallpaper" covers. I love books and I am a cover lover! There is something about the lure of the cover of a book, it either entices you or holds you aloof. We went a few times but I think it was a mutual decision to stay with our old library.

I am a voracious reader to this day. I have many interests but my reading time and the love of books is part of who I am. I have four library cards and I frequent my Overdrive library and I also own (soon to own another!) a Kindle. I have two grandsons and soon-to-arrive granddaughter and I hope that I can help instill the love of books and reading in them. My youngest daughter and I carry on the grand tradition of books, reading and libraries. Our trips to town always involve a trip to the library, talking about books and reading! While I drive if we aren't talking about books and life, I am listening to an audiobook while she is reading. I am so privilege to have had a mother who nurtured this part of my life in me and those memories are the best part of my childhood.

So, this post is dedicated to the woman who started it all, Yvonne Atha Parker. Who by the way lost her eyesight due to diabetes during the last 15 years of her life. She then had to rely on books sent to her by the Library of Congress on a special player. I remember her complaining about her lack of control over what was sent to her to read. If only she had what is available now in the way of audiobooks or being read to by a Kindle! I try not to think about her eyesight being robbed from her and her reading life being altered. I rather remember those wonderful trips to the library.

Monday, February 2, 2015

All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

18143977   Rich with imagery and allegory instilled within the stories of our two main characters, one a French blind girl and Werner, an intelligent young German boy. I couldn't decide which of the two stories I liked the best though I felt that the horrors of the war was equally felt through both. Their stories were told in a somewhat factual way and yet I think I rather liked this approach because the reader is slowly reeled in. I detest being a victim to pretentious emotional hype that books of this genre strive to achieve. The ending was absolutely beautiful and this part was one of my most favorites: That great shuttles of souls might fly about, faded but audible if you listen closely enough? They flow above the chimneys, ride the sidewalks, slip through your jacket and shirt and breastbone and lungs, and pass out through the other side, the air a library and record of every life lived, every sentence spoken, every word transmitted still reverberating within it. Every hour, she thinks, someone for whom the war was memory falls out of the world. We rise again in the grass. In the flowers. In songs.