Friday, November 11, 2011

The Shepherd's Song, A Christmas Story by Larry Barkdull

I found this little jewel among my own collection; though, where it came from, I do not remember.  (Probably my mother-in-law.)  Whatever the case, I'm glad it was there for me to find, it was needed at this time in my life.

Mostly, I'd say this is for the religious person, as someone who isn't Christian might not appreciate it as I did.  It's just a short, sweet story about a shepherd, Joshua ben Levi, going through the hardest trial of his life.  His wife is eight months pregnant, has been bleeding, her water has broken and she's in heavy labor.  The baby hasn't moved for two days.  The midwives don't look hopeful for either life at stake.  Amid serious and painful contractions, Joshua's wife tells him he has to pray.  God will bless them this day. 
He gathers his sacrificial lamb and reluctantly leaves his wife to walk to Jerusalem to the temple there to pray.  Before he leaves, his father offers him words of comfort as he, too, lost his wife during childbirth.  He tells him God did not abandon him that day, but the question remained - would he abandon God? Even now, as I type this, I cannot think of this without tearing up.  This was read in a moment in my own life when I was facing a trial that I felt I was alone in facing.  I refused to pray as I didn't feel I was getting any help.  After reading this, it was as if my Heavenly Father was reminding me that He really was there, but I needed to ask myself that same question.
Anyway, he travels to Jerusalem and ends up facing a journey he had not anticipated.  I'm not going to give it all away because, really, this book is worth seeking out and reading.  Truly. 

Friday, November 4, 2011

Deep and Dark and Dangerous, by Mary Downing Hahn

This one was better than the last one I read.  Although, it was strikingly similar to the one I read when I was in 5th grade.

Both stories had two girls, somehow related, who were being torn apart by a ghost girl, who drowned.  This one might have scared me a little when I was younger; it was well-written in the mystery and horror (if you will) area.  I got it for my kids, along with several other Halloween books appropriate for the season, but this one was neglected.  I had nothing else to read, so I thought I'd give it a shot.  It was decent, considering.  ;)  If you have kids in, I don't know, grades 4-6, maybe, and they like a good thrill, this would be a good book for them. 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

A Three Dog Life, by Abigail Thomas

Have I mentioned how much I love memoirs? ;)

First, a little tidbit of information I learned from my husband and this book (he told me this before I read it on one of the first few pages):  Australian Aborigines slept with their dogs for warmth on cold nights, the coldest being a "three dog night". 
- Wikipedia

I've read about women losing their husbands to death, but this woman lost her husband to brain damage.  He was hit by a car, one night, and lost the front part of his brain, therefore losing any short term memory storage.  He lives in a nursing home that cares for TBI patients and she visits him once or so a week.  In this book, she comes to terms with life, who she is, what she wants, if it's selfish to not bring him home and care for him, herself (I'm with the decision she made, by the way), who her husband has become, and how to cope with the present, not paying any mind to the past or the future.  She talks about guilt, healing, living, and being happy in spite of her circumstances.  She finds simple pleasures in art, her friends, her husband, and yes, her dogs. 

I love the way this woman writes - so honest and raw.  I say raw, because she doesn't mince words, she doesn't go back over what came out on the paper and sugar-coat it.  It's real.  I feel like I was given a glimpse inside her soul, how she sees herself and probably would hope others see her.  Her writing reminded me of how I want to be able to write, or how I maybe even do write, but only in places no one else can read.  And maybe even how I sometimes write on my blogs.  Either way, I felt connected to her because of how open and real she is in this book.  I can't say enough how much I loved reading her life.  I can't imagine having to go through something like she is going through.  I'm glad I found this random book that I otherwise might never have noticed.  A real story from a real person.  Love it.  :)

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, by Ransom Riggs

I had this one on hold for quite a while, and finally got it and finished it a week ago.

It was definitely a peculiar book, that's for sure.  I have to wonder where some authors get their ideas - did they have a bizarre dream that, when written down with detail added, turned into some sort of novel?

This book had a mix of past, present, real, not real, and unreal, with a touch of weird.  A boy loses his grandfather, ends up in therapy about it because of the circumstances of his death, which bring out the stories he was told by him as a little boy... which leads him to the island his grandfather did most of his growing up on.  There, he finds the stories are real, that he's actually part of them, and has to choose to stay in the real world or the world he's discovered.  It pretty much leaves one hanging, almost as if there were going to be a sequel.  I doubt there will be, because it also had a sort of finality to the ending... and even if there were a sequel, I wouldn't read it.  The book was interesting enough at the beginning, but once the mystery was unravelled, the story seemed to drag on and lose its pull on me.  I finished it simply because I wanted to see how it ended, which, in my opinion, wasn't great.  The most interesting part, I'd have to say, is how the author weaved authentic, vintage photographs into the story.  I wouldn't say don't waste your time, because it might appeal to some, but I find my taste is for more realistic circumstances, and this book was full of fantasy.  Oh, well.  Not a complete waste of time.  ;)