Monthly Archives: April 2011

What Good Is God? by Philip Yancey

When tragedy strikes as we see all over our world it is a question that plagues all walks of faith.  How does belief matter in those who suffer?  Phillip Yancey takes us within these pages to the aftermath of the Virginia Tech school shooting to impoverish communities to a convention for former prostitutes – who prefer to be called former sex workers.

His travels open up opportunities to see God in ordinary people, sometimes bruised and battered, but time and again there is a spirit of faith and hope that is humbling.

This book was read as part of our Faith N Fiction group.  I come into this read a little bias as I have enjoyed Yancey’s writing in the past and even taught a class for two years based off his book What’s So Amazing About Grace? Yancey likes to take a topic, and break it down into bite size pieces for us, many times in story form of real people in real situations and that is what he did here.


Any one of us can recall something during our life time either personal, or globally astronomical that would make the strongest of faith question, “How can God be in the midst of this?”   I found it interesting the title of the book was part of our pre-review discussion as a group as the question came up, was this a good title for this book and does the question get answered.

Great question.

I for one think yes, while Yancey does not come right out and give the answer, I feel it is demonstrated throughout the stories in which he shares.  Time and again he travels to be with the hurt and the broken and their stories come through.  It reminds me of people I know such as Patty Wetterling (in 1989, while I was pregnant with our second son, hers was abducted while riding his bike not 70 miles from my own home and never found).  Wetterling went on to found the Jacob Wetterling Foundation, and continues to this day to be a well known advocate for child safety.  My friend Connie Stanz, the amazing lady who I am writing about, contacted AIDS in 1981 from a blood transfusion.  This year she has lived 30 years with AIDS and runs a camp locally for children and adults with AIDS.  Year round she speaks on stigma, taking care of yourself, etc….

Where is God when it hurts? Where God’s people are. Where misery is, there is the Messiah, and now on earth the Messiah takes form in the shape of the church. That’s what the body of Christ means.  Page 34

Ok – maybe I digress but what I seen in this book was people in all situations maybe not on the track that they thought they would be on due to life “opportunities”, I see God using us the ordinary and making us extraordinary.  This is faith in tragedy’s wake.  Early on in the book Philip Yancey talks about a near death experience when he rolls his SUV he is driving.  While waiting for help three questions came to mind:

1.Who will I miss?  2.How have I spent my life?  3.Am I ready for what happens next?

Those are questions that give me pause as well and as he wrote them I had to ask them to myself. 

The book has some interesting chapters and one that stuck with most of the Faith N Fiction group was the one about the former sex workers.  I enjoyed parts of this book and the stories that went with it.  I liked the thought of Philip going into these different parts of our world and seeing that God does work within the brokenness of our circumstances.  

So what Good is God?  I believe He builds us up through the ashes of broken lives and dreams.  Look in the book… look at the things that people have faced and how they came through.  I seen this read as showing that God does show up – not always in the ways we had hoped, but always as He had planned.  Advocates, strong people of faith are built in many cases through hardship.

Romans 8 reminds us that all these things can be used for good.  All of them are redeemable.

The book is not perfect, I liked it but as I said earlier, I have liked some of his other writing better.  My takeaway comes a lot from who I am and where my passions lie and how God works within these passions in me.

(I apologize if this review seems scattered, I booked myself pretty tight with commitments this weekend and had a class last night and today again from 8 – noon.  I had a small window to come home and write this before I have to go and pick up Chance…. the proactive side of me should have written this days ago and it is totally on me that I waited until the last minutes to organize my thoughts here.  :))

There are some wonderful thoughts around the blogesphere today on this book… please stop and check them out!

The Faith and Fiction Round Table :

Amy at My Friend Amy
Heather at Book Addiction
Julie at Book Hooked Blog
Carrie at Books and Movies
Jennifer at Crazy for Books
Ronnica at Ignorant Historian                                                                                                                                                                                                               Hannah at Word Lily
Nicole at Linus’s Blanket
Thomas at My Random Thoughts
Liz at Roving Reads
Sherry at Semicolon
Florinda at The 3 R’s Blog
Tina at Tina’s Book Reviews
Brooks at Victorious Cafe

Fairy Tale Fortnight: Review and Giveaway of Cloaked by Alex Finn

 When I seen this bookish adventure coming up hosted by Misty at The Book Rat and Ashley from Basically Amazing Books, lets just say my “spidey senses”…. were activated…

I had not read any of the “New” fairy tales but have many fond memories of fairy tales as a child…

… and I remember my Great Grandmother reading these stories to me, large hard cover books with gorgeously detailed pages read so often that I knew the words before I could read them…. and who knew then that those stories would stick with me a lifetime? 

So… the question was when I was asked to create a quest post about a fairy tale book of my choice… could I bring the magic of those books back?

Fairy tale is a type of short narrative that typically features such folkloric characters, such as fairies, goblins, elves, trolls, dwarves, giants or gnomes, and usually magic or enchantments.

I personally find this interesting as in todays stories of wolves, vampires, fairies and feys – they are considered paranormal and not fairy tales at all. 

And my quest began…. did I want to read and review a classic fairy tale… or did my literary mind long for  a new fairy tale and see what they were like… not knowing of course, old or new – if I would be able to capture that fairy dust again that makes a fairy tale come to life…

“flip flip flip” I went through the pages of fairy tales I found on-line and “click click click” as I went through the books on Amazon until…. finally

FINALLY….

I settled on Cloaked.

Why?

I liked that is seemed to be a mix and match of old fairy tales put in a blender to make a new one… it was both old and new…. both classic and new release….  that appealed to me.  I also liked that this was the author of Beastly which I have not read, but know of and know that it is also being made into a movie…. that too appealed to me. 

The review and giveaway are not posted here as I did this review for this event at Book Rat and Basically Amazing books.  Pop over to see the review here and the giveaway here

As for here….. what are your thoughts on Fairy Tales?  Yay back in the day but Nay now?  Or yay and yay?  Do you like the new and creative touches to the old classic tales or do you prefer them left untouched as they were?

Harry Potter – My History (and a new trailer too)

What a bitter-sweet year this is with the final movie release of the final book of the Harry Potter Series.  I have watched my kids grow up around the Harry Potter books.  I have watched documentaries on J K Rowling which only increased my respect for her as a single mom writing out that first book on napkins and scratch paper in a coffee shop.  She truly is a rags to riches story and has long been one of the authors I really respect.

Harry Potter has been a part of my life since 1997.  As I look back over my collection I have to think what a win for Scholastic, winning the bid for the books in the US.  I remember that first copy coming into our home.  I remember my boys had it – I did not read (and would not read it until after I heard a  movie was coming out and wanted to see what they hype was all about – this was in 2000)

My two sons love this... I did too after I read it in 2001

And really, after that first reading for me… I was a Potter head.  I had catching up to do as of this time the fourth book in the series was coming out and they were getting BIGGER and BETTER.  The first book started over 200 pages and by the fourth they are between 500 – 700 pages. 

Brilliant.  By this time, each book that came out we had to purchase it triplicate (YAY J K!) as two teenage boys and myself…. we could not share.  We would all be in our designated corners – sworn to not tip the others off if anyone was ahead.  Of course I did mention I had two boys…. so that rule didn’t exactly stick…. groans would be heard as they tried to ruin a scene for the other, sometimes it was true… sometimes it was a fake out “Oh no!  I can not believe he died on page 527!”

Many other Potterish things are happening now as well.  We go to the midnight showings of the movies.  We have waited in lines at 12:01 on book release day to be sure we have our copies and can start reading right away.  Release dates (books and movies) are actually put on the calendar so we are sure to keep that day free and not make other commitments. 

The 1st year

Harry,Ron, Hermoine - Now

Somewhere I have pictures of the boys running around the house with blankets tied around their necks and pointing sticks at each other as they cast spells for a couple of hours one evening. 

By the time book 7 came out my oldest boy was out of the house and it was just Justin and I reading the books at home.  I had pre ordered the seventh book as we had planned to be camping release day (I know what timing right?).  I had never pre ordered one of these books before and was nervous about delivery.  When our plans changed and we stayed home that weekend I was a wreck release day… wondering if I should have hit the stores at midnight and picked up a copy, wondering if release day did not necessarily mean delivery day and knowing the whole world was already deep into their books while I in Brainerd Minnesota was waiting on my back deck for the UPS man. 

Finally by late morning as I was wondering if anyone in town had any copies left I discovered that my copy of the book was tucked into the screen door off the front door to our home.  Never mind how long it had been there…. I will never know.  :razz: 


This time, Justin who was working on release day (again…. who’s kid is this who would work on book release day?  Really….) was behind me on reading.  Yup.  So by the time he got home I was 300+ pages in and while I prepped supper (I know I know… I should have ordered in!) he started reading with my ever watchful eye waiting for his reactions….. finally he banished me from watching him read – which is cruel. 

SO….. being the great mom that I am…. the next day while he was working…. I went through his copy of the book and put post it notes on the page AFTER anything big happened.  So – when someone died, or when Mrs. Wheasley swears for the first time in any of the books, on the next page would be a post it note from me saying something like “Whoa!!!  Can you believe that just happened?”  He laughed when he found the first one…. after the second one he asked if I had done that through his entire book.  I chose not to answer.

Every time I pick up one of these books I find something more that impresses me …. things in first books come up again in later books, hints I did not pick up on the first time catch me the second time around. 

There is so much to this season that is Harry Potter.  The merchandising, the websites, Harry Potter world now in Orlando, and Reagan and I are going to the Harry Potter Exhibit while we are in New York at the end of May. SSQQUUUEEEE!!!!

What an opportunity I have had to be along from the start of this ride…. I chalk these up as future classics…. and I for one feel privileged to be among the ones who were there from Hogwarts to Hallows.

I leave you with this – the new trailer for the last of the Harry Potter movies – Deathly Hallows part II – July 15th:

Morning Meanderings…. It Is Still Morning Right?

Ok… you may not believe me but I really have been up for hours.  AND I really did set out right away this morning to write something for this post and then get on with my day…. but here is the way it went down….

6:30 am – UP!

6:45 am – flip switch on kitchen audio and start coffee maker.  Had fallen asleep early last night so had not cleaned up dishes so decided to do that….audio is good anyway. 

7:00 am:  1st cup of coffee “ahhhhh” and decided to go and work on getting laundry moving…. washer to dryer, dryer to upstairs, fold fold fold – put away…. did I mention the audio is good?

7:15 am:  2nd cup of coffee “ahhhhhh” and “…. I think I want oatmeal.

7:30 am: sit down and open up email.  Sheesh…. I was not on at all yesterday and in box looks like a disaster! Pick through the ones that are delete without opening – you know the ones – advertisements…. forwarded jokes….

7:45 am:  3rd and 4th cups of coffee…..  “ahhhhhhh….fully awake now” and oooh my Shelf Awareness email *read read read* – Huh?  What’s this?  The new Harry Potter trailer for the July movie…… *click*

8:00 am:  After having watched trailer twice, I am a little teary eyed.  Why?  It is the end of an era…. it is a bit of history that those who lived it – waiting for the books – waiting for the movies – will never be able to recapture that first time feeling for the next generation…. it is…. it is….

a blog post.

8:15 am – 9:30 am:  Harry Potter – My Story.  A blog post coming up later today.  Had to write it while I felt it.  :D

There it is.  :D

I will be back later with that post and again later after that when my CLOAKED review and giveaway go live for the Fairytale Fortnight event.

As for current life happenings…. yesterday I rollerbladed 2nd time this week with Wendy = awesomeness.  I am meeting her at noon for my first group power class since the back pain an I am a little cautious but ready.  After that I hope to get in a bike ride as today appears to be a gorgeous day (weird weird Minnesota – snow to sun, all in the same week).  Later I am helping set up for a class and then attending that class so will not be home until later tonight.  GAH.

Oh – and for giggles… and for myself too…. I thought I would keep a running total for the summer of where I am working out….

SO…

Rollerblading (twice this week) total:  18 miles

  Biking (only had Al’s bike out so far but hope to change that later today):  3 miles

Where She Went by Gayle Forman

It has been three years since the tragic accident that took the lives of Mia’s entire family (If I Stay), the accident that left Mia herself barely clinging to life in a coma.  At that time, high school boyfriend Adam Wilde had been by her side, whispering in her ear, supporting her, calling her back to this world, and Mia did.

Now Mia and Adam live on opposite coasts.  Mia has made a full recovery from the accident and has gone back to playing her cello.  After finishing her schooling at Julliard, she is now playing on stages and touring the country. 

Yet Adam is not faring so well. When Mia recovered and left – she left him behind as well.  Adam never fully understood what happened to them and as he dealt with his anger and loss it came out in his music.  Angry songs that feed teenage angst are a different sound for Adam and his band but these songs that Adam wrote through his deep pain puts Collateral Damage on the top of the charts. 

One night, a very unhappy with his life Adam takes a walk in New York City before hopping on a plane the next day for the Europe leg of the bands tour.  The rest of the band left that day, but Adam did not want to fly on Friday the 13th so opted to join them the next day.  While walking he discovers that Mia is performing at Carnegie Hall.  Having not seen her in the three years since she left, Adam buys a ticket and slumps into the darkened theater to watch her play and planning to slip out as soon as it is over. However, for a highly recognizable guy as the lead singer of Collateral Damage is, the whispers go through the audience and Mia spots him and requests he join her back stage.

Face to face with Mia after all these years is both painful and the things dreams are made of.  Over the course of one evening Mia and Adam walk the streets of New York and relive the past from their days of dating, to the accident, and why she left. 

If I Stay and Where She Went by Gayle Forman

This is not one of those sequels that I can say, “Oh you do not need the first book, you can just pick up Where She Went,” and you will catch right up.  No, in this case not only do you need the first book, If I Stay – you will want it.  If I Stay holds the love between Adam and Mia and it is a necessary step to get to Where She Went.  If I Stay is the story of a young cellist (Mia) and her rocker boyfriend (Adam) and how they made their different lives work together, until a tragedy of epic proportion puts a whole new direction in both their young lives.

I just finished Where She Went, late last night.  I looked at the clock when I closed the last satisfying page at is was 12:30 in the morning.  Where She went, as described above picks up three years later after both teens have now gone their separate ways.  While Mia’s career is all gorgeous music and seems to be going in the direction she had always planned…. Adam’s is not.

Adam carries the loss of Mia on his shoulder.  While he does have a girlfriend, she can not replace this image of Mia that he has in his mind.  Through pain killers, late nights, and smoking, Adam is not the man he was three years ago.   He is bitter, the band is always fighting and while they tour he does not even stay in the same hotel as they do…. Mia’s absence has left such a big hole in Adam that he keeps trying to fill it with all the wrong things trying to move on but winding up right back at square one. 

This book was told from Adam’s perspective and at first I trudged through the background catch up story of Adam much like someone would trudge through a garbage dump.  Carefully and watch where you are going… Adam’s life was dark and angry and author Gayle Forman reflects that well as she lays out a life for Adam that some on the outside may say is glamorous, (he is famous, girls fall at his feet, he has money…) but as you read into Adam’s life you will clearly see it is not glamorous at all.

It amazes me how I filled my mind with Adam’s world feeling that missing connection probably as much as he did and then how the book changes and flows once you bring Mia into the story.  Mia is balance.  And that is where I started relaxing into the read, curious as to where she really did go… and what that meant.

A satisfying sequel that leaves me with that feeling I have when I know I will think about a book long after that final page is closed.  It touched me in the way that Lauren Oliver’s Before I Fall did.  How the paths we choose can lead us far and away and what it takes to find the right path again. 

Amazon Rating

The 2011 WHERE Are You Reading Map had been updated to include Where She Went

I was uber excited to be offered this book for review after

my book club read If I Stay in February of this year.

Morning Meanderings… RUN The Race

Good morning fellow book lovers and people who just enjoy reading about someone who makes their live feel…. well…

normal.  :razz:

This is a late post this morning as honestly…. I wrote this, left the house… and forgot to hit “publish”  :oops:

Little more coffee this morning Sheila?  Hmmmmm???

I  have an eye on the weather – it was snowing yesterday afternoon but I am relaly trying hard to NOT acknowledge that as today the sun is peeking out and I am hoping to Rollerblade this afternoon.

Here is what I want to leave you with today as I think this video can be an encouragement to all of us….  no matter where we are in life – we will fall… but know that we can get back up and finish our own race strong.  Attitude… perseverance….

Hmmm….. Makes me want to get outside.

Have an awesome day everyone – my review of Where She Went by Gayle Forman is up in a few hours here.  I think it is worth a stop back :D

The Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Connelly (book and movie)

Criminal defense attorney Michael Haller is cool, cocky, quick-witted, and takes his clients wallets to the cleaners while defending them, yet with  his over bearing confidence (and a few tricks up his sleeve) the repeat offenders come back to him time and again.  Michael’s father was a legend in law and left Michael with this advice:

“The scariest client a lawyer will ever have is an innocent client. Because if you screw up and he goes to prison, it’ll scar you for life.”

When rich kid Louis Roulet requests Michael as his lawyer, Michael is thrilled as this is going to add significantly to his bank roll.  All he has to do is get Louis off and Louis seems to be a case of being at the wrong place at the wrong time, an innocent guy. Yet as the holes get bigger and bigger in Louis’ story, Mickeys defense is ripped to shreds.  As Michael tries to find a way to bury the proof, to bring in enough of a gray area to cause reasonable doubt,  he starts to get a few reasonable doubts of his own.


I have not read Michael Connelly in quite a while.  He writes like John Grisham but with more of an edge to his books…

AND in this case…. I went to the movie with hubby (his pick) LOVED the movie… had to read the book. 

Good grief – that is the second time I have done this recently. 

I have to say – this audio blew me away just as much as the movie and I have to add that Matthew McConaughey is a perfect Michael Haller.  As I listened to the audio I thought, “this is so a McConaughley role”…. cocky self assured…. yup.

And author Michael Connelly (not to be confused with Michael Haller or Michael McConaughey – yes… a LOT OF Michael’s in this review) writes a compelling, clean and not gory mystery that left me high on the “WOW” factor.  Well written characters, I loved the twists and the turns and recommend both book and movie. 

Note about the movie:  Ryan Phillippe plays the rich Louis Roulet and he is cast perfectly too…. he gives off an arrogant vibe and does creepy well.


The 2011 WHERE Are You Reading Map has been updated to include Lincoln Lawyer

I grabbed this little jewel of an audio from my local library

Morning Meanderings… Weather I Like It Or Not…

snow

43° | 34°

partlycloudy

56° | 36°

partlycloudy

61° | 43°

tstorms

54° | 34°

chancerain

45° | 31°

Today:  Brainerd, Minnesota

Rain and snow showers likely. Snow accumulation of 1 to 2 inches. Highs 42 to 47. North winds 10 to 15 mph. Chance of precipitation 70 percent.

Tonight

Cloudy. A chance of rain and snow showers in the evening…then a slight chance of rain and snow showers after midnight. Lows 33 to 38. North winds 10 to 15 mph. Chance of precipitation 40 percent.

*sigh* The first bike ride of the season is this coming Sunday…. I am so hoping the weather is NICE.

Are you a fan of fairy tales?  I had my favs as a kid that’s for sure but really haven’t given them much thought as an adult…. that is until this little beauty was created by Book Rat and Basically Amazing Books

If you click on the above picture it will take you to the schedule of happenings…. book reviews of fairy tales both old and new…. giveaways, and fun posts….

My review of CLOAKED by Alex Finn (author of Beastly) will go live on both sites on Friday.  One site will feature my review… the other will feature a giveaway I am offering along with it.  I will talk more about this on Friday.  :D

I am off to work… I have a heavy schedule today and I think Dawn (awesome co-worker and Office Manager) and I are going out to lunch today to celebrate administration week.  Tonight… I am seriously contemplating kick boxing but that depends on a meeting I have later tonight and I may need to wait one more day to put on the gloves again. 

Hope you have an awesome Wednesday :D

The Lost Girls by Jennifer Baggett, Holly C Corbett, Amanda Pressner

The big 30 is right around the corner and friends Jennifer, Holly, and Amanda are starting to question if they are truly doing what they wanted to be doing with their lives.  In 2006, the girls make a pact, quit their media jobs in Manhattan and take a leap of adventure, committing to a year-long trip around the world in search of inspiration and direction.  In the dust of their departure they leave a trail of boyfriends and apartments.

Through thick and thin (and sometimes…. it does wear very thin!) the girls learn to rely on each other… sometimes funny, sometimes scary, and everything in between.

Amanda, Holly, and Jennifer (The NOT SO Lost Girls)

I recently read this joke that said, when a man takes off to find himself it is called a journey.  When a woman does it, she is lost.  Reading The Lost Girls made me laugh at the thought of this… these girls are not lost at all… they  are adventurers; they have a heart for more and they speak my language.  :D

Have you ever just wanted to get lost?  I used to have this fantasy of going off in the woods like Grizzly Adams (or…. err.. the female version of Adams) and just get away from it all…. the commitments, phones, the noise of life… and live off the land.  Ok, ok you scoff because those who know me know about four days of that and I would be packing it up for the “big city” of Brainerd Minnesota, constantly checking for cell phone reception….. my point however is – that I did have this dream of myself just getting up and going, and so did these three girls.

I adored this book of the adventures of these three amazing women who threw caution to the wind and explored our world as most of us have only dreamed of.  (Honestly – I wish they would have called me -I would have gladly been a fourth lost girl!)

There is so much to this book that I enjoyed I do not even know where to begin!  The part of their trip that took them to Kenya where they worked in an orphanage with girls touched me deeply.  Touring the killing fields in Cambodia would have taken my breath away.  They  traveled to the places that may not be the easiest,  and I appreciated that this was not a book of “cruise ship” port stops.

I also love love LOVE that these women did not walk away from boring slouchy jobs… oh no, their jobs sound to me like…. well…. BLISS. Jennifer was a marketing manager at VH1, Holly was an Editor at Self Magazine and Amanda was an editor at Shape Magazine.  The move to motivation was not the fact that they did not like these jobs, but more that they wondered if this was what they really wanted out of life…. the working too much… and living too little. 

In the end the women found that the problems that they once found to be all-consuming in their pre-lost girls moment, were nothing compared to the troubles those in other countries face.  Jennifer, Holly, and Amanda learned that things are never as bad as they seem and their lives no matter how cluttered and frustrating at times, are still pretty great lives. 

For anyone who has ever dreamed of exploring the world and just letting go and seeing what happens, this book can take you there. 

amazon Rating

Thank you to TLC Book Tours for my review copy

Morning Meanderings… Rockin’ and A Rollin’ into the week

Good Morning!  The day is looking a little dreary here in Minnesota but yesterday was not.  A GORGEOUS day and I threw caution (and the chiropractor) to the wind. 

I went rollerblading with my friend Wendy.  :razz:

I know I was just laid up in a chair for 4 days during my back pain and craziness but yesterday I felt GOOD.  I could move and I wanted to move…. and yes, I can still move today.  :D

We bladed 8 miles which was a nice start to our trail riding for 2011.  Wendy and I biked and bladed A LOT in 2010 on the Paul Bunyan trail, it really was a staple in building our friendship – and we really put the miles on both bikes and blades. 

Today as I look outside, I am a little disheartened to see that as the weather was predicted to, it does look like it will rain.  *sigh*  That’s ok… I work until 3 and then I will get a couple of things done in town and around the house. 

Bookish news…

See this little gem here to the right?  This showed up in the Shelf Awareness this morning.  How good does this book look?  (Mmmm hmm…. I said book look…. I am practically Dr. Suess :razz:) 

In her twenties, Emily Wilson was on top of the world: she had a bestselling novel, a husband plucked from the pages of GQ, and a one-way ticket to happily ever after.

Ten years later, the tide has turned on Emily’s good fortune. So when her great-aunt Bee invites her to spend the month of March on Bainbridge Island in Washington State, Emily accepts, longing to be healed by the sea. Researching her next book, Emily discovers a red velvet diary, dated 1943, whose contents reveal startling connections to her own life.

I like the cover, and I like what it says about the book itself.

I would say the majority is found be reading blogs or watching authors I enjoy.   I did not make it through all the Monday What Are You reading posts yesterday but hope to keep working on them through the week…. I do find a lot of bookish treasures that way.  :D

 I am curious, where do you find many of your books that you read?  Recommendations?  Book Blog?  Best sellers lists?

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