Saturday, February 27, 2010

The View From The Cherry Tree by Willo Davis Roberts

oohhh, a mystery! I haven't read one of these in a while. This one was scary and better then a Nancey Drew! (I loved her books when I was little.)
My sister recommended this book. I think she has good taste in murder mystery books. My son liked this one too, he is 12.
So how would it feel to be the only witness of a murder and NO one will listen to you or take you seriously when you try to tell. The boy in this story is smart and always overlooked, except by the old lady neighbor. His sister is getting married and he has had enough of wedding planning and stressing. He hides in the cherry tree out of the way and his cat is his only friend. I like that he keeps his head in the end and the jar of spiders came in really handy.

This was a short read and a page turner!

Healing Book

Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Face on the Milk Carton by Caroline B. Cooney

This was a fast read and very suspenseful. A girl is just minding her own business eating lunch at school and looks down at the little milk carton. The girl pictured there was kidnapped and it is herself! She is about age three wearing a little spotted dress. She remembers the dress and all kinds of memories in tiny pieces start coming back to her. Yikes! What would you do? She doesn't know who to believe. Are her parents really her parents or just lying to her? Should she call the hot line and ask about the little girl?
She has a neighbor boy that she falls in love with and sadly this is where the story goes downhill. She is only 15 and he is 17 but they can't get sex out of their heads. Really the story could have been so much better if they weren't so fixated on this during the whole mess she is going through. Luckily he was a true friend and helped her to the end.
oh and talk about the ending! I hated it! Still the story was hard to put down and it was an enjoyable book to read despite being a bit juvenile and girlish. My son hated it.

broken, healing book

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

This was an amazing book! I loved the way the author told the story in the voice of a colored women in the 1960's. She brought the whole mess in Mississippi to new light. This was such an inspired story about Blacks and Whites living in the same town yet living in two different worlds. Their is an an imaginary line drawn between most of the people in Jackson Mississippi and a few courageous women attempt to erase that line.
The best character in the book is Minny. A 50 year old colored lady that has been taking care of white peoples babies for years. When they get older she finds a new family because she loves the babies. She is a Maid and like the other Maids in the story she usually has to walk on pins and needles and do everything right or she will simply get fired. In the story she helps a little girl that has a mama that doesn't love her very much feel important and loved.
I also liked the one White lady, Miss Skeeter that puts her whole life on hold to stand up for what she believes is an injustice. She writes a book that crosses the line but makes a powerful statement about how we are all just people and need to get along.
The book really made me think about the past that wasn't so long ago and prejudices that I never have had to deal with in my life. It is hard to imagine a time when colored people had to use separate bathrooms and weren't allowed to eat at the same places as whites. It is hard to imagine people thinking it is just normal to talk down to someone or think of themselves as superior to another human being just because of color. It is ridiculous to me. But it really did happen and really does happen and I think it is evil.
I couldn't put this book down for three days it was so intertwined with the story of about a dozen women all living in the same place yet all having a different perspective as their lives intertwined.

Whole Book, Healing Book

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Letters From Rifka by Karen Hesse

This book won the National Jewish Book Award. It was well written and had great details from a little girls perspective of her family fleeing Russia. It is written in small letters to her cousin literally in a poetry book on all the empty pages and on the edges. So it comes through like a journal.
The girl Rifka doesn't get to board the ship to America so her family has to leave her while she recovers from her sickness. She is very compassionate and makes friends easily. She is also gifted with language and learns to speak a few different ones including English. She has so much courage and perseverance despite all the hardship a little immigrant girl has to go through.

Whole Book, Healing Book

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Speaker For The Dead by Orson Scott Card

This was a complex Science Fiction book written as a sequel to Ender's Game. This one isn't for children because it has a few more adult themes. (Really adults don't want to read about these things either!) Anyway despite it being a bit graphic when it comes to "murder" in the alien part of the book it was interesting to imagine the world Card creates for our reading enjoyment. Where does he come up with this stuff?

So in this book, without giving much away, Ender is thousands of years old but because of space travel is only 35. He travels to different worlds populated by humans to Speak the truth for the dead. He finds out everything he can about a person that died and then spells it all out, the good, the bad and what the person could have been but didn't. This is in place of a eulogy.

He wrote a book about the Hive Queen (the alien leader whose world he blew up without knowing he was really doing it or destroying a whole alien race). This story is the truth and people all over the Hundred Worlds in the universe read it and kind of start a following or religion. They don't know Ender wrote it because he just signed it Speaker For The Dead. Anyway, he gets invited to a planet that has another alien race and saves the day! (can't give away the story here). He also finds another alien and becomes friends with her.

Overall the book was complex and mysterious. I think it should have been called Ender Holmes Science Fiction Mystery. But it is just classified SF. I think it would be really weird to live on a planet other then Earth.


Sunday, February 07, 2010

Cry, The Beloved Country by Alan Paton

A Story of Comfort in Desolation - Copyright-1948. This was a very good, old book, but a true feel for the place and time it was written. The author is African. It is hard at first to read because of the Zulu words and the broken English yet it still flowed enough to keep reading. I am glad I did. It is full of religion, culture and tradition. The feeling you get right from the beginning is of mourning and sadness. It doesn't get better for a long time. A man, a humble priest, takes a journey to gather his family and finds heartache around every corner, not only for his family but for his nation.

He discovers his sister is without her husband and has a child. She is involved in prostitution and making illegal alcohol. Her friends are not good for her or her child. He talks her into leaving that life and letting him take her and her son back to his tiny village. (She doesn't end up going but the child does.) Then he tracks down his son but in the process finds sad realities of poverty and crime all around. They are in Johannesburg, South Africa and to this man, who is getting old it is a very big city and full of confusing new things. Really nice people along the way go out of their way to help him on his quest. The city has so many people living there that houses are not made fast enough so people live in shacks and near the sides of railroads. He finds his son finally and an unmarried girl with child. The son gets arrested for murder and the child that he got pregnant (she was only like 13 or something) goes with him back his village and his sweet wife so he can help her and the unborn grandson. Before they leave he arranges with friends in the church to have his son marry her. But the story now gets more complex because the man's son murdered coincidentally the son of a rich white man that lives near their village. They know each other. This is when the story really gets good because we see how lives can change and the power of forgiveness in each person, when given the opportunity to make something right, can make a difference. Despite prejudices and broken hearts healing can take place. The rich man is touched by some of the writing his dead son had been working on and had a dream that the rich man tries to make a reality. He helps the people in the humble village and tries to help his grandson see what South Africa is really like not what other white children learn. He wants to show compassion and love through serving all men not just white men but black men too.

I really liked this story. I think the author did a great job making us understand individuals and choices that connect us together despite being strangers in the same world. We are all connected and children of God, white, black, rich or poor, uneducated or learned. We also see how the consequences of an action have effects on generations to come. They can't be fixed overnight but take time and love. Also it takes people to speak out and take a stand when they know something is wrong or right.

The book was written at a time of great political problems...There was no equality between white and blacks in South Africa, boycotts on buses and strikes in the mines were attempted. Shanty Town was erected and gold was found in Odendaalsrust, which made the economy turn upside down for a while. Also people were out of work and schools were not big enough to hold all the children that needed an education. Gangs were started. There was no common belief or bind to hold the people and families together after they left their small villages ruled by a chief and drifted to the cities that were too full to notice another hungry person. A complete break down in society right under everyone's nose. The jails were full and times were hard. BUT their were churches and Christians trying to make a difference. Followers of these faiths and missionaries continued to try to make a dent in the lives of God's children. They put aside color. They reached out to the poor and lifted the hearts of the people they touched. Even though I am not catholic I was impressed with the change in others when they found Christ.

This is a WHOLE and HEALING book. I recommend it for reference if you are studying Africa or apartheid or interested in gaining a testimony of the atonement of Christ.

Friday, February 05, 2010


We studied a little bit about Degas. He sure liked ballerinas! It was fun using the oil paints and cotton balls to blend and smear.

I know it is nothing like the master painter but the kids had fun. That is what I call a successful lesson on art. Where else will they get to do this?

Of course the little beggar boy always has fun! He is so smiley lately. Sometimes he just starts cracking up at the littlest things. His laugh is of course contagious and then everyone is having fun and is happy!

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

This is the third time I read the book, only I didn't read it this time. I listened. We got it from the library on CD. It was very very well read...had the voices and stuff. I loved it again! I think I understood a few more parts this time because when reading it in my head I get everyone all mixed up sometimes. The different people reading made them different people so it was much more entertaining and understandable to me.

My daughter listened too and we made Hemp Bead Bracelets and ignored the little kids. She didn't get everything and said there was way too many bad words. I think there was bit too much potty humor but they were little boys so what do you expect.

I think I will read, Speaker of the Dead. It is the sequel or at least the second book. There are so many I am not sure which ones I already read. And since we are talking about it...I think I might read Empire again. That was a really good one that recently came out by Card.

Ender's Game: Almost Whole and Healing book