[identity profile] mattiescottage.livejournal.com

A Tenderfoot Bride:  Tales from the Old Ranch, by Clarice E. Richards, 1920
eBook free from Project Gutenberg
Image of the Old Ranch View of Pike's Peak
An engaging, pleasant biographical (or perhaps quasi-biographical) account of the adventures of a young couple from the east as they take on cattle-ranching in Colorado.  They run into obstacles with the former ranch owner--whom they find difficult to boot out--and in keeping neighboring cattle off their land due to restrictions from the Federal Government concerning neighboring free-range land.  A mystery of perceived evil of the former owner--no one could quite pin him on it--and friendships with the neighbors and ranch hands are woven into the fabric of the story.  A major theme is the changing nature of the times and economy and the need to be resilient, to adapt and evolve, and sometimes to let go of one thing when it is time to take hold of the next.  

Read more... )
[identity profile] mattiescottage.livejournal.com

[livejournal.com profile] moredetails asks for us to post some things! (Good idea!)

I had a little vacation back in May and started an account of some books I read then--some quite worthy of description. . . .and then (as usual) I got too busy to finish the post.  So, before I move on to some books read since then, I might as well post these:

Four books, this way . . . )
[identity profile] dantheman23.livejournal.com
Mistress of the Empire
by Raymond Feist

This is the last book in the Empire Trilogy of books. Like the previous one, it’s long (680 pages), and this one dragged a little bit for me. The beginning was really good and interesting, and the end was well done, but the pacing in the middle was pretty slow. It took me a couple weeks to read this one just because I couldn’t get myself all that interested in it. Not that it was a bad book, I still enjoyed it overall, but it just dragged. Towards the end it got that “page turner” feeling going again though. The finale was good, even if it was totally predictable. Glad I read the Empire Trilogy, but I’m excited to go back to the main world and see what’s going on there after the war. 3/5

Prince of the Blood
by Raymond Feist

And this book does take us back to the main world, but it's 17 years later! At the very end of the last main world book one character had twins and now the twins are 17 or 18. This book follows them on an adventure into a part of the land we had heard about but never really explored or visited in the series yet. Like the Empire books, it was a little light on the traditional fantasy stuff and heavy on the political intrigue. This is actually the 15 year anniversary edition, and in the afterword the author mentions that this is the only book he's ever rewritten; he hated the original ending and went back and "fixed" it for this edition, which I thought was interesting. Overall I really liked it, and it's really fun seeing the characters grow older, have children, and change in a lot of ways. Characters will mention something that happened at the beginning of the series and I'm like, "Umm...oh yeah that's right!". Liking the series a lot. 4/5

The King's Buccaneer
by Raymond Feist

This book is about the twins' younger brother, and it takes place another 7 or 8 years after the end of the last book! I totally feel like Feist went "OK, enough of this political intrigue stuff, let's get back to basic fantasy". This is a classic tale of exploration, fighting evil, and high adventure. Lots of gritty action, some definite surprises, and just overall very enjoyable. 4/5

Books for December: 3
Books for 2011: 55
[identity profile] bellawilfer.livejournal.com
Thirteen Reason Why - Jay Asher
A package arrives addressed to the main character and inside are six cassette tapes. And a letter from a dead girl. These are her last words and thoughts to the world…and she’s going to tell thirteen people the reasons why she has ended her life. All thirteen reasons why. Wow. This book twisted and turned in the most heart-breaking ways. An incredible look at how the littlest things can change so much.

The London Eye Mystery - Siobhan Dowd
Ted and Kat's cousin disappears while on the London Eye and in the end, with the help of Ted's brain that runs on a different operating system (he has autism), the two of them figure out the mystery in the end. Cute story and it seemed more alive since I've actually been where the story takes place.

Dragonhaven - Robin McKinley
The story of a nature preserve for…dragons…as told by teenager Jake, who discovers and takes care of a baby dragon whose mother has been killed by a poacher. Set possibly in the future (??), it is illegal to protect and raise dragonlets…and yet he does. I actually really enjoyed this one. Despite the fumbling beginning (which actually sounded natural to me, seeing how its supposed to be a teenage boy’s voice), it caught my interest quickly. Unfortunately, the last portion of the book – from where it felt like the end until it really *was* the end, just felt...meh. It didn't seem to mesh as well with the rest of the story. It just felt like a really, really, really long afterword.

Feathers - Jacqueline Woodson
Interesting, but not the most memorable. Just a kind of meh book.

Princess Academy - Shannon Hale
I enjoyed this one – the heroine in this story is feisty, determined and human. I couldn’t help but picture the heroine looking very much like [Bad username or site: ”elvenjaneite” @ livejournal.com] - they seemed very similar in personality to me. The only quibble I had was a plot twist that came at the end; the author really didn’t seem to set it up from the beginning, dropping clues or anything like that. So…the surprise was disappointing in the fact that the reader was prepared for it – as a result it could be a bit of a let down.

Goose Girl - Shannon Hale
I’m still undecided as to whether or not I liked Goose Girl or Princess Academy better. I liked the storyline in Goose Girl; I especially like the fact that while the heroine begins this adventure as weak and struggles to stand up for herself, she does end stronger – but not the mighty heroine you generally find in other fairy tales. She changes, but she still needs others to help her. It isn’t a grand story with a mighty transformation – and I liked that. Still, I preferred the magical elements of Princess Academy over the ones in Goose Girl. Communicating through linder is just much cooler than being able to talk to and understand animals and rule the wind.

The Summer of My German Soldier - Bette Green
I kept passing this book on the shelf at our local library because it had a horrid cover dating back to the nineties that made it look more like a torrid romance novel than historical fiction. It wasn’t until a recent trip that I picked it up and actually read the description; much to my surprise the story was about a preteen girl who hides a German POW who escapes from a camp nearby her home in the US. Slightly dubiously, I decided to give it a try and surprisingly enough, I really, really liked it. It was a sweet story and I was glad to read it.

Morning is a Long Time Coming - Bette Green
The sequel to “The Summer of My German Soldier.” I was disappointed by this book. It was a definite let-down and I couldn’t bring myself to feel entirely too sorry for the main character. Sure, her parents are jerks and all that, but that doesn’t mean that she has to turn around and do everything they wouldn’t approve of, just to get back at them, including living with a man while living in France and do everything she would if she were married. :-/

Impossible - Nancy Werlin
A modern-day fairy tale that follows the song “Scarborough Fair.” Lucy, as her mother and grandmother and ancestors before her, has nine months to break the curse. Nine months until her baby is born and nine months until she goes insane. Will she be able to figure out the riddle in the song and break the curse? I was actually surprised by this book. While it has some disturbing scenes (including the scene where Lucy is raped), the romance is sweet...and surprisingly pure and full of self-less love.
[identity profile] nyghtewynd.livejournal.com
Yeah, I know I'm supposed to post from month to month. I'm a teacher. Sue me. :)

This should cover the entire semester from September to the end of December:

The Reluctant Communist: My Desertion, Court-Martial, and Forty-Year Imprisionment in North Korea by Charles Robert Jenkins

Jenkins produces a fascinating glimpse into the day-to-day workings of the North Korean government, especially in terms of the lives of "average" citizens. He writes in an engaging, down-to-earth style that makes for fast reading while still answering all of the questions that the average reader would want to know about why an American soldier would cross the DMZ one day and what his life would be like as a result. It's an engrossing story that's very much worth your time.

Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale

Now, don't get me wrong...this is not a bad book at all. I was actually referred Hale's book by a friend, and only found out that it was "teen fiction" once it showed up at the hold desk at the library. And I, make no mistake, am not a teen. I still gave it a chance, though, and found it a very enjoyable but still predictable story about a teen girl locked in a tower with her royal lady. Hale writes with an informal, breezy style that make it easy to relate to the title character and to root for her success. But the ending was very predictable and at no time did I really wonder what was going to happen in the end. Still, it's an enjoyable read for what it is. I don't regret my time with it, and I don't think you will, either. My struggles with this book are pretty typical for me: I kept looking for some sort of "big picture" meaning or moral or theology or something, and never found one. This frustrated me a lot, but I think that's a "me" problem rather than a book problem. :)

The Return of History and the End of Dreams by Robert Kagan

Kagan has produced a short but very informative summary of the changes in the world's political structures in the past twenty years. Rather than "the end of history" where struggles between countries would melt into a multinational cooperative of combined economies and social structures, the rise of autocracies in China, Russia, and other smaller countries is proving that today is much like yesterday. However, Kagan also provides excellent on the United States' role in such a world. His conclusions are both well-founded and apt, and thus this short but deep read is worth your time as a primer of what may be to come.

Bob Plager's Tales From the Blues Bench by Bob Plager

Plager produces here a short but entertaining read on the life and times of a modern NHL club from its inception in the late 1960s to today's front-office dealings. He's not only a good story-teller, but a great human being who's still involved in the Blues organization, and his stories do a great job of illustrating the changes the sports went through in the past fifty years when they began as part-time recreation to become Big Business (TM). Highly recommended.

Reading the OED: One Man, One Year, 21,730 Pages by Ammon Shea

Shea produces here a very entertaining and enlightening glance at both a dictionary that is so large that many homes don't have a shelf that can hold it all as well as a glimpse into the madness of someone crazy enough to want to read such a book. Sure, you'll learn a few new words and laugh at a lot of words that you didn't know existed, but at the same time you see the workings of a human being who's excited by an activity which many would consider the definition of "boring". The author injects the dictionary with personality and intrigue, and it makes for a very good, quick read. Absolutely worth your time. Probably the best book I read this season.

Bloody Confused! A Clueless American Sportswriter Seeks Solace in English Soccer by Chuck Culpepper

Culpepper's aim in this text is to convince people who don't know anything about the world of international soccer that it's a great product, and worthy of an American's time. The problem is, unfortunately, that he skips from "soccer know-nothing" to the worst kind of American soccer fan--the pretentious, condescending know-all who is fully convinced that other countries play soccer because it is everything true and right while the Yanks represent everything stupid and wrong. And that's the text that Culpepper writes here--he misses no opportunity to tell you how enlightened he is and how stupid you and everyone else is who doesn't agree with him, and this attitude completely overshadows the good stuff that's hidden here. He takes "the beautiful game" and makes it as attractive as two political pundits throwing mud at each other on Sunday morning television. The author comes across as completely unlikeable, and he makes sure that you know how smart he thinks he is at every opportunity. Unfortunately, this approach doesn't make for much of a book. This is, by far, the worst soccer book I've ever read (and Jamie Trecker, the author of the last worst-ever book, probably thanks him for it), and by no means should you spend a red cent on it. There are so many good options out there in soccer books that this one isn't worth it. Worst book of the year for me, hands down.

America Alone: The End of the World As We Know It by Mark Steyn

Whether you like the author or not (I do), and whether you dislike his dry wit or not (I'm all about it), you're going to have a hard time disagreeing with his main point: much of what will be decided in the world in terms of Islam has already been decided by birth rate. Many countries aren't producing enough babies to replace themselves, and they need immigrants in order to pay for their lavish social programs. Those immigrants, especially in Europe, are (a) most often Muslim, and (b) often very uninterested in doing anything other than recreating their respective countries in their god's image. That being said, Steyn is able to tell this story with ample statistical and parenthetical examples of his claims along with the ability to predict the future by simply observing the present. It's a thought-provoking read, and it's certainly one worth considering.

The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future (Or, Don't Trust Anyone Under 30) by Mark Bauerlein

As a teacher, I can tell you that Bauerlain's thesis is exactly true. I have always known that my students could learn material in order to regurgitate it on exams, but they had little hope of determining anything past whatever they had made a point of memorizing right before the test. Math students can calculate, but they have no ability to "think mathematically". History students can't attach ideas from one era to another. And heaven forbid if your subject isn't "relevant" enough. The author here gets it right: technology, money, and self-esteem-overload has made many of today's youth spoiled, self-centered, and stupid. There's no nice way to put it, but results are going to be easier to obtain if we're blunt about it. The author makes the argument that intellectualism should be encouraged and not lampooned, and the sooner the better.

Scratch Beginnings: Me, $25, and the Search For the American Dream by Adam Shepard

Shepard produces a very interesting read (for the most part) out of what is a typical do-it-yourself story: could an average guy make it when starting as broke and homeless? The answer, it turns out, is yes. Shepard never denies his inherent advantages of education and common sense, but the story of his progression is still interesting. It's true that the book slows near the end; however, this shouldn't be a surprise. As Shepard gets a job and house, his life begins to resemble our own lives, and that's just not that exciting. Still, the first two-thirds provides a lot of material for reflection, and therefore it's worth a lot. Worth your time.

The Last Colony by John Scalzi

Fantastic. If you haven't read any of Scalzi's books, go get them. Start with Old Man's War and go from there. Git. :)
[identity profile] bellawilfer.livejournal.com
I've been working on a list of books I want to read in 2009. The following is my current list, but in no order of importance.

- Artscroll Siddur
I'm interested in Jewish liturgy, mostly from a Messianic perspective, but since we're still waiting on a Messianic version (although I hear First Fruits of Zion has one in the works), I've turned to this version. I've heard it is the best version out there at the moment.

- Pickwick Papers, by Charles Dickens
A friend recommended it to me, hence its addition to the list. I'm told that bits of take place in Bath, England and since I visited that very same place in November of 2008, it should make it all the more interesting! And it's been a long time since I actually finished a Dickens, so all the more reason to add it to the list.

- Boy Meets Girl, Josh Harris
Curiosity. :-)

- Don't Waste Your Life, by John Piper
This one has been sitting on my shelf and it's about time I read it. If I add it to the list, I figure it will give me a bit more of a reason to start it sooner rather than later.

- Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life, by John Townsend, Henry Cloud
Because I don't know how to say no to anyone.

- Sunshine, by Robin McKinley.
I've gradually been reading most of McKinley's novels throughout the last couple years and this is the next one that I hope to try. I haven't read much as far as vampire fiction goes, so we'll see how I like this one!

- For Women Only: What You Need to Know about the Inner Lives of Men - Shaunti Feldhahn
My mom stole this one off my bookshelf about a year ago and mailed it to a friend of hers. Since then, I've meant to repurchase another copy and read it...now that I've added it to the list, I intend to read it!

Any other suggestions?
[identity profile] bellawilfer.livejournal.com
I nearly forgot to post my July booklist here! A couple days late, but here it is. :-)

Davita’s Harp – Chaim Potek
A coming-of-age story about a young Jewish girl growing up in a Communist household before and during WWII. While I found it extremely interesting – particularly how she is drawn to the Orthodox lifestyle – I was irritated by a couple of things. Call me a prude, but the sexual elements (both her mother and step-brother) just didn’t seem to go with the rest of the story. It’s like WHY? I did really like how Ilena constantly questions why women can’t do so many things in their religion: recite the Kaddish, have to sit away from men, can’t have bar mitzvahs (changes in the world today – bat mitzvahs!), etc… It has brought up many other questions in mind, including, why do women have a separate siddur (prayer book) from the men? Why? I keep coming back to that one thing, women don’t have to participate in shul or recite the kaddish, etc… But WHY? So. I give this one three stars for making me think.

Shakespeare’s Scribe – Gary Blackwood
Sequel to The Shakespeare Stealer. Novel set in Shakespearian times, continuing the story about Widge, the former thief of an orphan turned official member of Shakespeare’s acting troupe. Threatened by the black plague, Shakespeare and his troupe set out to give performances from town to town. While in his home-town, Widge is reunited with his long-lost-never-known father, who joins them on their travels. In spite of this, life isn’t perfect for Widge. He’s stuck transcribing a new play for Shakespeare and keeps losing roles to the new kid in the troupe. And life with his new-found father isn’t as blissful as he imagined. I’d give this one three stars; not as good as its predecessor.

My Name is Asher Lev – by Chaim Potek
I found this one tedious and hard to follow. While I sympathized with the main character and his parents in turn, I found myself wanting to shake each and every one of them. I spent more time put out by characters than interested in their lives. A two star.

Dancing Shoes – Noel Streatfeild
This book is veddy cute and now one of my favorite Shoe books, along with Theatre Shoes and Ballet Shoes. Although I still haven’t read Traveling Shoes, so… Anyhoo, this story is about Rachel and Hilary, sisters by adoption (Hilary was adopted), who are orphaned and sent to live with Rachel’s aunt who runs a dancing school that specializes in troupes of dancing girls for theatre and television performances. Rachel’s cousin, Dulcie, is the spoiled darling star of the school, and it is no surprise when Rachel and Hilary find themselves at odds with her.

A Ring of Endless Light - Madeleine L'Engle
This book made me ache inside and yet...filled with joy. It had such a picture of beauty and joy in the face of death... I don't agree with everything Madeleine L'Engle writes, but oh, it was beautiful.

The Scarlet Pimpernel - Baroness Orczy
A re-read. I spent the entire summer after my sixteen birthday reading just about the entire Scarlet Pimpernel series. I had such a huge crush on Sir Percy. And Sir Andrew. :-P It was such a delicious re-read. SO MUCH FUN!

The Invention of Hugo Cabret - Brian Selznick
Eh, it was okay. It was an unusual book, merely because half of it was told in pictures, the other half in words. The story itself was merely eh, okay, nothing spectacular, but the drawings are really well done.

The Little Prince - Antoine de Saint Exupéry
A tiny book, but sweet. Fairy-tale-ish. Sweet.

Castaway Kid - R.B. Mitchell
True story about a boy abandoned at an orphanage and his struggle to find God, forgiveness and love. I don't like to say I enjoyed it because he really did have a rough childhood, but it was wonderful to come to a happy ending.

Imagined London: A Tour of the World's Greatest Fictional City - Anna Quindlen
A fascinating look at the author's experience of literary London. She traveled to London several times and went looking for all the haunts of books, from Dickens to Shakespeare. Fun, fun, fun, really whetted my appetite for my upcoming trip in the fall.

Small Wonder: The Story of a Child Born Too Soon - Susan LaScala
The true story about a mother and her preemie baby, born in the eighties when the likelihood of such a premature baby surviving was slim. Beautifully written. I picked it up at the library when I realized it was published by the same publisher that did a book by a family friend. While it doesn't have the same faith-based outlook as that book, it was still well-written and heart-wrenching.

Betsy and Joe - Maud Heart Lovelace
Sweet story, about Betsy and, well, Joe. I will admit that I wanted to shake Betsy for not seeing what she was doing to Tony. Very cute.

My Enemy's Cradle - Sara Young
I enjoyed it, yet didn't. It's about a Jewish girl who is forced to poise as her pregnant Aryan cousin and go to live in Lebensborn, the facility for girls bearing babies for the fatherland. What did I not like? A few scenes I skipped over, along with the fact that the main character was not pregnant when she started planning to take her cousin's place.

Adam Canfield of the Slash - Michael Winerip
Kids who run the middle school paper unearth crimes. Cute story, fun! It could have been slightly better developed, but a really fun romp. A lot better than 99% of the books in the YA section at our library!

London 2008
I've gone through this book so many times, I think I've probably read it in entirety several times. A guide book on where to go, what to see, what to eat, what to wear and so on and so forth while you're in London. I think I just might have to pick this one up - was quite good! I was surprised that our library had the latest version of it, pretty spiffy of them.

The Patron Saint of Butterflies - Cecilia Gallante
Last book of the month, I finished it just hours before midnight. It's the story about two young girls, in their early teens, who live in a cult. I'm not certain if I liked it or not, and whether or not the author has something against all forms of Christianity. She certainly doesn't appear to have a favorable view of Catholics, since a lot of the practices of the cult appear to originate from Catholicism. Yet, she did make the services at a Baptist church sound good, almost positive, so... *shrugs*


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