Sunday, May 29, 2011

The 100 Thing Challenge: How I Got Rid of Almost Everything, Remade My Life, and Regained My Soul by Dave Bruno

The 100 Thing Challenge: How I Got Rid of Almost Everything, Remade My Life, and Regained My Soul
The title of this book is very interesting. 
I think, it may be more interesting than the book. 
In this book, Dave tells about his challenge to himself to narrow his own personal posessions down to 100 things.  He put his challenge on his blog, spent a year selling and purging stuff and then lived for a year with only 100 personal posessions.  He did not count his house and all the things that he shared with his family as part of those 100 personal possessions, and he counted all of his books as one thing - his library (which I agree with).  He has a blog that he shared this challenge on and it gained worldwide interest.  But, the challenge sounds more interesting than it was. The Oprah show was interested and contacted him, but his challenge was not lifestyle changing enough for her show.  I think the book sounds more interesting than it is as well,  unless perhaps you are really interested in reading Dave's philosophical ramblings or you care a lot about outdoor sports equipment and power tools like Dave apparantly did. Maybe men would like this book better than I did.
I did like that Dave took an entire year to get himself down to 100 things and I agree with his bloggers who said that the 100 things may be ok for a man, but would not work for a woman.
The book did motivate me to declutter some more, and just a week after having held a garage sale - which I only had a week to prepare for - I now have two large bags of junk to donate to charity, a nice bag of children's items that my children have outgrown to give to a friend with a younger child, and 19 orphan keys that I found in a junk drawer that seem to fit nothing that we currently own.
Here is Dave's blog if you are interested:

I started this blog as part of the 52 books in 52 weeks challenge - which began at the beginning of 2011. 
This is my 52nd book.  It is only May 29.   So far, out of  the 52 books that I read and listed, 22 were non-fiction and 30 were fiction.
I wonder how many books I will have read by the end of the year.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Ella Minnow Pea: A Novel in Letters by Mark Dunn

Ella Minnow Pea: A Novel in Letters

Ha!  this novel is a delightful play on words and also an excellent story.  It is centered on the Island of Nollop, which is named after Nelvin Nollop, who penned the phrase "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog."  Nollop has been raised to a god-like status complete with a centotaph in his honor with the infamous phrase displayed in tiles.  As the tiles fall off, it is seen as a sign from the deceased Nollop that they are no longer to use those letters in written or spoken language.  A totalitarian state insues until there are finally only 5 letters left and most of the island population has been banished or has fled.  As the letters fall, the book is written without use of those letters as well.  Ella Minnow Pea saves the day and the island and the alphabet in an intriguing and delightful book. 
I learned quite a few new words from this book and enjoyed the many new words and inventive spellings as the alphabet decreased.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts On Being A Woman by Nora Ephron

I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman

Written by the author of When Harry Met Sally, this book is remnicient of the many dialogues throughout that movie.  Nora tells about aging, life, purses and hair stylists and apparantly that as women, our necks age into some sort of horribleness which is why old women so often wear scarves and turtlenecks.

Before I read this book, I never worried about my neck.  I had other parts of my body that I worried about - my upper arms, the hairs on my chin, but never my neck.  So now, I have something new to worry about.  I looked in the mirror and examined my neck.  It looks ok now, but in 20 years, who knows? 

This really is a good book and I enjoyed reading it.  Nora is humerous and real and this book was a fun read.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Princess Academy by Shannon Hale

Princess Academy
Another wonderful book by Shannon Hale, this book won a Newberry Award.  It follows Miri, a girl who lives on Mount Eskel where the families all mine linder, a valuable stone found in the mountain. 
Soldiers come to the mountain and tell them that their village has been named as the home of the next princess of the kingdom and all of the girls of age will have to go to a school set up by the state - a princess academy where they will all learn what they need to know to be princess since the prince will chose one of them.  I like that the girls learn economics and diplomacy and find out that their stone is much more valuable than they are being paid for it and they are able to use their new education to help their village earn more money. Miri also figures out that the villagers can use linder to communicate mentally with one another and she uses this skill to help them when they are in grave danger.  It is a good story about feeling left out and different and shows how when we are friendly towards others, we may learn that they really do need friends too.

Friday, May 20, 2011

365 Thank yous: The Year a Simple Act of Daily Gratitude Changed My Life

365 Thank Yous: The Year a Simple Act of Daily Gratitude Changed My Life
This book, by John Kralik, tells of how writing 365 thank you notes helped him to see how many things he had in his life to be grateful for.  He had been depressed and living in self-pity, like many people are, but when he wrote thank you notes, he found out how many good things and people there really were in his life. John sees writing the thank you notes as giving him an attitude of gratitude that turned his life around.
I found the book inspiring and have written several thank you notes already. 

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Forest Born by Shannon Hale

Forest Born (Books of Bayern)
This is the 4th of the Books of Bayern and chronicles the adventures of Rinna, little sister to Razzo. 
Rinna stuggles with her inner demons and leaves her beloved forest and winds up going with Isi, Enna and Dasha, who she calls the "fire sisters" on a mission to save the kingdom.  Rinna discovers that she has her own types of "speakings" and she plays the key role in saving the kingdom.
Another wonderful book in this series.  I hope that there will be more.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

River Secrets by Shannon Hale

River Secrets (Books of Bayern)
This is book 3 of the Books of Bayern.  I really love these books!  The main character of this book is Razo, who sees himself as a short nobody but he is friends with Enna and Finn and is part of Bayern's Own - the King's special forces type army.  He feels insignifigant because he cannot fight well with swords like the rest of the soldiers and he wonders why he is sent on a mission with the Own  and an ambassador from Bayern to Tira, a neighboring country that they suspect wants to have a war with Bayern.  Razzo wonders why he has been asked to join the group and he later finds out that he is needed because of his powers of observation - and his seeming harmlessness - he makes a good spy among other things.  Together with Enna and Finn and a lovely Tiran girl named Dasha who he meets who is special in her own way, Razzo helps to solve the problems with the Tirans. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Enna Burning by Shannon Hale

Enna Burning (Books of Bayern)
This is book two of the Books of Bayern and follows Enna whose brother finds a scroll explaining how to control fire.  Unforutnately, the fire controls him and he does not survive it.  Enna gets the scroll and learns the fire art and helps the Bayern to win the war they are fighting, but she nearly is consumed by the fire herself.  Luckily, her friend Isi helps her to find a way to control the fire without being burned. 
This is a darker story than The Goose Girl - because they burn up people in the war.
It is still an excellent book and the series is also excellent!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Learning To Swim In The Quantum Soup by Ted Farrell and Lorrie Mackenzie

Learning to Swim in the Quantum Soup
Learning To Swim In The Quantum Soup: A Story of Metaphysics and Quantum Physics is a very interesting book.  It is a "no math" version of quantum physics which is good for me because math is not my thing.
This book goes back and forth between Lorrie - who explains metaphysics; and Ted, her father, who explains quantum physics.  I had heard of quantum physics before, but did not really understand what it was and now I have a bit more of an idea of what it is.  I don't think I had ever heard of metaphysics before, and I find it very interesting.  Together, the two show that everything is part of everything else.  It is a combination of physics and philosophy explained in a simple to understand format.  I still don't understand all of the quantum physics introduced in the book, but now I at least understand what it is and what it refers to - at least more than I did before.
I enjoyed this book a lot and highly recommend it!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Organized Simplicity: The Clutter-Free Approach to Intentional Living

Organized Simplicity: The Clutter-Free Approach to Intentional Living
The book Organized Simplicity by Tsh Oxenreider is a good book.  Strange first name for the author though.  Did she simplify the vowels out of it?  She has vowels in her last name though.  Hmmm....
Anyway, she explains reasons why one should simplify and then gives tips and guidelines on how to simplify our lives.  I like that she said "we should calculate every item's value by asking:... 1.  Is this thing useful to me (us)?  and 2.  Is this thing beautiful to me (us)?. 
I have been inspired and am going to participate in our neighborhood garage sale next weekend.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Goose Girl by Shannon Hale

The Goose Girl (The Books of Bayern, #1)

This book is a delightful fantasy about Princess Ani, who can communicate with birds and horses, but not very well with people.  When her brother is given her place as heir to the crown, and she is sent off to marry a prince in a neighboring kingdom, she learns along the way, that her jealous lady in waiting, along with some conspiratory guards, plan to get rid of her and replace her with the lady in waiting.  She manages to escape, learns that she can also communicate with the wind, and learns how the non-noble people live. 
She becomes strong and courageous and it is a very good story.  Now I am going to read the rest of the books in this series. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Left To Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust

Left To Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust

The book Left To Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust by Immaculee Ilibagiza is a very touching story.  This book does not go into the politics of what happened in Rwanda and why, rather it tells Imaculee's story.  She tells about her childhood in Rwanda and how idyllic it seemed.  She tells how as a child, she began learning of the discord between the Hutus and the Tutsis. 
She tells how she prayed and relied on God and how He helped her to survive the horrific genocide in Rwanda where her Hutu friends and neighbors killed her Tutsi family and friends and tried to find and kill her as well.  She tells of the Hutu pastor who hid her and several other Tutsi women in a small bathroom in his house which put him and his family at risk of also being killed.  She tells of her love for her family and how horrified she was to learn that her Hutu neighbors had shot them and chopped them to pieces with machetes. 
And she tells how she prayed and was able to forgive her Hutu friends and neighbors who had turned against her and her Tutsi family and friends and called them snakes and cockroaches and killed them like they were those vermin. 
She shares her faith and how the Lord helped her to forgive and love her enemies. 
Her faith is touching, but the whole story of the holocaust there is horrifying and disturbing. 
What on earth is wrong with people?  Why do they treat one another that way?  Why did the rest of the world allow it to happen? 

Monday, May 9, 2011

Ender In Exile by Orson Scott Card

Ender in Exile
This book is written as a sequel to Ender's Game and follows Ender's life after he wins the war and destroys the formics.  This book finds Ender still wondering why the formic queens allowed themselves and their entire race to be destroyed.  Coincidentally, on the planet that he is sent to be governor of, he finds the landscape from the mind game that he played in battle school and he finds some of the answers to his many questions.  On earth, time has gone on and his brother has become a nice guy and ruled the world.  Ender goes on to be a very diplomatic governor and then goes on to fight yet another personal battle.
This book has less action and is much more political and analytical than Ender's Game and Ender's Shadow, a parallel book to Ender's Game.   I think that this book will not appeal as much to the younger readers as the other two.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption
The full title of this book is Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption.
The book is incredibly well researched, well documented and well written.  It really helps you to see and understand what went on.  It is the story of Louis Zamperini, an olympic runner, who was in the Air Force in WWII.  He survived the wreck of the plane he was in, and then survived being in Japanese POW camps. 
The author describes his childhood and how he became a runner and his experience in the Air Force. 
She describes what it was like to be lost at sea in a small raft in the ocean with no food or water surrounded by sharks for almost 2 months.  She describes the atrocities that went on in the Japanese POW camps.
It was really horrible.  It is awful how human beings can treat one another.  She describes the PTSD that the soldiers went through after surviving such horrors and then coming home.  At the very end of the book, we get the redemption part - Louis becomes a Christian after going to some Billy Graham campaign meetings, he forgives the Japanese soldiers who abused him, and became an inspiration to others.
Honestly - I did not like this book.  I struggled through it.  The book is wonderfully researched and written, but the topic is just so horrible that I had a difficult time reading it.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Ender's Shadow by Orson Scott Card

Ender's Shadow (Ender, Book 5)
Written about 10 years after the book Ender's Game, this book is a parallel novel to Ender's Game.  It occurs in the same time frame, but tells the story of another character named Bean. 
Like the original novel, this book is thoughtful and well written and it brings in another side of the same story.  If you liked the first book, you will like this one as well!
If you have not yet read Ender's Game, I highly recommend that one too. 
In both books, earth had been attacked by a group of aliens called Buggers and the most intelligent children in the world are sent to battle school to train to fight them.  Ender and Bean are two of the children who are sent to battle school.  These books are often read in 9th grade high school English classes. 

Monday, May 2, 2011

Enchanted Glass by Diana Wynne Jones

Enchanted Glass
I just read this book - written for the age11-15 range and I really enjoyed it!  I looked up the author online and was very sad to learn that she recently passed away.  Here is her website:
This book is about two people - Andrew Hope, who inherited Melstone house when his uncle died and a young, recently orphaned boy named Aiden Cain who showed up at his door one day looking for Andrew's grandfather. Andrew's grandfather - and Aiden's grandmother had both been magicians of a sort with field's of care and Andrew, with help from Aiden,  must remember the magic that he learned from his grandfather when he was a boy to reclaim his field of care from the devious Mr. Brown.
I enjoyed this book and now want to read some of Ms. Jones's other books.