Friday, May 5, 2017

On the Bookshelf: Where yet again, I discuss far too many books

Hey, everyone! As I sit here, munching on my chocolate bunny (the real party begins after the baby goes to bed, after all!), I decided that I'd chat with y'all about some of the books I've been reading lately. I just did a review on an awesome book on Fatima, and I have another review coming soon (depending on when I get around to writing it), but we need to do a literature round-up! As always, I found myself reading loads of random books, so this post is gigantic. Maybe someday down the road I'll have a smaller literature round-up for you? Anyways, I've read lots of interesting fiction and non-fiction, so here we go! (I don't know about you, but as soon as I typed that, I got an image in my head of the Joker saying those very words. I just thought I'd let you know) 

Bane's Eyes, by Corinna Turner. This is the conclusion to Turner's I Am Margaret series, and I enjoyed it a lot! It really tied things up nicely, and I was very happy to see how different elements of the story played out. There was some good character development that I really liked, and I loved how it discussed the trials and joys of a young married couple. I really enjoyed this series, and this book was a delight to read! 

The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: The Mysterious Howling, by Maryrose Wood. In the very near future, I will be proudly walking into the Children's Section at the library because I need to read the next books in this series. This book was simply delightful and so very fun. The writing was reminiscent of the Chronicles of Narnia, I think. It is the charming story of Miss Penelope Lumley (a teenage girl) as she travels to become the governess to three children. Little does she know that these children have actually been raised by wolves (that's the story she hears, at least!) and it is her job to prepare them for society-or at least, the estate's Christmas party. This was so much fun to read, and I recommend it for any other person who is young at heart. Or I guess for kids, since it's technically a kid's book. It'd probably be a great one for read-aloud time! 

The Man in the High Castle, by Philip K. Dick. I love the Amazon show that is inspired on this book, and I knew that the book was different from the show, so I tried to keep an open mind as I read the story. But...let's be honest, I couldn't keep myself from comparing the book to the show, and I thought the show's plotline was way more fluid and made sense than the book. I wasn't a big fan of the ending of the book, and I didn't like the way that Juliana's character acted in the book-it seemed like a lot of what she did was sleep around with guys, but in the show she has a mission and a stronger sense of backbone. Basically, I love that Philip K. Dick came up with the premise of "Let's see what happens in the U.S. if the Nazis actually won WWII," but I like how the Amazon show develops these ideas better than the book. 

Where'd You Go, Bernadette, by Maria Semple. This book was pretty hilarious. Through various forms of correspondence (e-mails, letters, notes. etc.) it tells the story of Bernadette, a woman who never wants to leave her house, and her family. Even though I haven't been to Seattle in forever, I thought it was so funny to read all of Bernadette's complaints about Seattle. The characters were so vivid, and the plot twisted and turned so that when Bernadette finally went missing, I was so clueless as to what happened to her! Anyways, I wanted to love this book, but as funny as it was, I don't know-there were a couple heavy things brought into the story (marital infidelity, abortion was mentioned in passing once), and I wasn't sure how to take it, because they weren't "funny" in the sense that the rest of the book was funny. So I liked this book, but I didn't love it. 

The Home Barista: How to bring out the best in every coffee bean, by Simone Egger and Ruby Ashby Orr. This little book is such an awesome little introduction into the world of specialty coffee. I love that it presents good, substantive information without being too bogged down in the details. It gives brief introductions in the different ways to make coffee. I recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn a little more about coffee, and mainly wants a good overview of the world of specialty coffee to flip through in a couple hours. 

Anything you want: 40 lessons for a new kind of entrepreneur, by Derek Sivers. This was a fantastic gem about Sivers' lessons that he learned as he grew his business years ago. I found his stories very interesting and insightful, and I love that he compiled so much of his experience into a tiny little book. I think one of the biggest lessons I took away was (paraphrasing here): Just do it, don't overthink things. Make a simple plan and go. 

We are as Gods: Back to the land in the 1970s on the Quest for a New America, by Kate Daloz. This book was so good. It covered the cultural climate of the late 1960s, and the widespread exodus of people from the cities to the country. This book detailed the communes begun by hippies across the U.S.A. and it talked about the challenges and trials these people experienced. The author also briefly discussed the history of communes in the U.S. prior to the 1960s (think: Louisa May Alcott's family). The author is a child of some of the hippies in the book, but she does a fairly good job at being neutral for most of the book. I think it's really fascinating to see the enthusiastic movement of so many hippies to create these communes, and I think it shows just how much we need and desire community with other people. At the same time, there were several parts of their lifestyle that I disagree with (drugs, Free Love, deliberately breaking apart the nuclear family, etc.), and I think it is very interesting to see just how much pain and destruction eventually came to these communities. I do wish that more was said in the book about lasting psychological and emotional scars from all this, but I can understand that perhaps it would have been a bit heavy of a topic to dive into for this book. Anyways, I highly recommend this book, I thought it was extremely fascinating, and no, I'm not planning on joining a commune (since I'm guessing some of you may wonder that haha). 

Sketching people : an urban sketcher's manual to drawing figures and faces, by Lynne Chapman. I don't really draw much, but I find it really interesting to learn about, and this book was pretty cool! The author talks about urban sketching, that is, sketching other people and their surroundings while you're out and about in the city/town/wherever. One of my friends in college would actually do this in the cafeteria; we'd be having a conversation and she'd just randomly start sketching us on paper napkins! I thought this was a pretty cool book, though I think I'd prefer something geared more towards the beginning sketcher. This book did provide some good tips about quickly sketching and getting details in, but I would need a very beginner level book to start with.  

Star Wars mania : crafts, activities, facts, and fun! by Amanda Formaro. I saw this book at the library and picked it up solely with the purpose of mentally preparing myself for Star Wars Day ;) I did not wind up making any of the crafts in this book, but if we throw a Star Wars party someday, I might put some of these together! This was a cute little craft book that had different Star Wars related projects using every day household items. I think my favorite project was Storm Trooper place cards made from egg cartons! This was a pretty cute little craft book, and while it was geared towards young kids, I thought there were some nifty ideas in here. 

Teeny's tour of pie : a cookbook : mastering the art of pie in 67 recipes, by Teeny Lamothe. This book was AWESOME. Teeny, the author, basically decided that she wanted to become a "lady pie baker" and have an old-fashioned apprenticeship experience at pie shops to reach this goal. So, she e-mailed pie places around the U.S., and this turned into a year-long tour where she worked at pie places and learned about the process of baking pie and running a business. This cookbook is full of lessons that she learned and, of course, awesome pie recipes. I loved this book, and I appreciate the simplicity of the recipes. There are several I want to try in the future! 

Quo vadis, by Henryk Sienkiewicz. WOW. This novel tells the story of a Roman, Vinicius, during the reign of Nero. Vinicius fully embraces the pagan culture that he is immerse in, engaging in drunken orgies and other forms of immorality. But one day, he falls in love with a young woman named Ligia...who happens to be a Christian. This story isn't just a "Romeo and Juliet" love story, though; indeed, Quo Vadis is far, far from stories like R&J. This is a book about how men and women are transformed in Christ-if they choose to be. It is a story about how love can be transformed in Christ-if people strive for God. It is a story about the insanity that comes with evil, and how those who choose evil are unfulfilled. And, it is a story of redemption, of martyrdom, and of the lives of those in the early Church. I've grown up reading the stories of martyrs, but this novel really brought the gruesome, horrific, bloody martyrdoms to life for me. I highly, highly, highly recommend this book!!!! I will caution that there is gore and some sexual references, so this is probably not suited to teens and is best for adults. 

I enjoyed going through these books, and I'm extremely excited to dive further into the nuggets of wisdom from Quo Vadis in the future! I'm also excited to make some pies. I didn't own any pie tins, but after reading Teeny's book, knew that I needed to make pies...and lo and behold, the next day I found two 99-cent pie plates at a thrift store! So pies may be making an appearance on this blog (and in my tummy) in the future ;) I'll be headed to the library soon, so if any of you have book recommendations, send them my way! 

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