1st Day of Christmas Book Review

Little Porcupine's Christmas
by Joseph Slate and
illustrated by Felicia Bond

I decided to start this series of book reviews with one of my very favorite children's Christmas books. This is the story of little porcupine and his loving mother who always tells him that he is "the light of her life."

Little porcupine wants to be in the school Christmas play so bad, but his class mates don't think that it is such a good idea. Even though they tease him and he only gets to work backstage, his mother always reminds him that he is "the light of her life." The story ends with a touching turn of events and leaves you wanting to give your child a hug. It really is a great book.

My Rating

Overall: 5 stars

Objectionable Content: None. This is a great family book.

If you read many children's books you may recognize the illustrations. Felicia Bond has also done the art for these books as well:

If You Give a Pig a Pancake
If You Give a Mouse a Cookie
If You Give a Moose a Muffin
If You Take a Mouse to the Movies (a Christmas book)
If You Give a Pig a Party
and many more!

The author, Joseph Slate, has also written other books that I've read. Some of them are:

What Star is This? (a Christmas book)
Who is Coming to Our House? (a Christmas book for young children)
The Miss Bindergarten series

Books that my book group has read (part 1)

I've been a member of a book group for about three years now. Each member gets a turn choosing a book and hosting the club about every six to eight months. You would think that it would be easy to pick a book, but it becomes a daunting task when you want to find one that everyone will enjoy. The other consideration that needs to be made is if the book is clean and in good taste, we are a church group after all. I usually chose a book that I have already read so that I know it will not be disappointing.

If you are looking for a book to read for your book club, I've made a partial list of some of our picks.

The Persian Pickle Club by Sandra Dallas
The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon
The Giver by Lois Lowry
Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks
The Robe by Lloyd C Douglas
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
The Physick Book of Deliverace Dane by Kathrine Howe

I will be posting reviews on most if not all of these books at some point. I liked them all, but a few of them had some objectionable content. So, if you need to know more about any of these, please leave a comment and I can answer your questions.

Book Review: Recipes for a Perfect Marriage by Morag Punty

After her recent wedding, Tressa is not sure that she has married "the one." Dan is a great guy, but she knows that she doesn't love him. She wonders if at thirty-eight she has "settled," just so that she won't be lonely. She wants the perfect marriage that her Irish grandmother had. As the story unfolds, we learn that grandma Bernadine was not as happy as she appeared to be.

In this book, the reader gets to read about both marriages, as the narration alternates back and forth from Tressa to Bernadine. The other fun thing is all of the recipes (I have to admit that I read through all of these first before I started the story). These are the old Irish recipes that Bernadine taught Tressa how to make when she was a child. Each of these recipes are kind of used as object lessons or as a comparison of different difficulties in marriage and how to cope with each. There are plenty of nuggets of wisdom throughout this book. I thought it was a good mixture of fiction and good old common sense.

My Rating

Overall: 3 stars

Objectionable Content: Watch out! This book is not one to read if you are offended by foul language. It was hard for me at times. Also, there are a few mild sexual "scenes."

Do you have a year's supply of books?

Do I horde books? The answer to that question would have to be YES! Don't you? Does this make me strange? Well, I guess that would depend on who you ask. It's not like you would know this about me if you came to visit me, I have them all neatly (mostly) put away. The thing of it is this: having books makes me feel safe and comfortable.

I have a stash of books (I haven't counted, but if I had to guess probably 100) that I haven't read. It is my personal library that I can access whenever. They are all books that I have handpicked, so I know that there's a good chance that I'll like many of them. This is comforting to me. It's not always easy to get out to get a book when you need one. Having a ready supply of books eliminates this problem. So when my husband jokes around about my little library, I tell him that at least I'm prepared.

This picture represents a small portion of my personal library (they are double stacked, so you only see the front row).

So now that my little secret is out, you would probably think that I'd feel embarrassed or something. Really I don't. I'm just glad I have plenty of books to keep me happy.

For those of you that are straining to read the titles of some of these books, here are a few of them to get you started:

gods in Alabama by Joshilyn Jackson
The Last Cato by Matilde Asensi
Enemy women by Paulette Jiles
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelo
State of Fear by Michael Crichton
The Handsome Road by Gwen Bristow
Through A Glass Darkly by Karleen Koen

Book Review: Yarn Harlot: the secret life of a knitter by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee

Whoa! I love to knit and all, but in the world of knitters (I guess that would be Knitter with a capital K), I just don't compare to this woman. She is obsessed. She is totally addicted to fiber and not afraid to admit it. Throwing caution to the wind she will take on any project on a whim. Where does this lead her you might ask? Well, this book is full of her humorous knitting escapades.

I was mildly entertained by this lighthearted read. I wanted to laugh out loud, and maybe some do, but alas, I guess I lack the ability to fully relate to her all consuming knitting disease. So, for those "die hard" knitters out there, don't take my word for it. Go ahead and give it a try. I seem to be in the minority in my opinion of this book. It has a 4.07 average rating by 825 readers on www.goodreads.com. Maybe these people all have the disease?

The other little tidbit of information that I'd like to pass on to potential readers of this book is that there are two sad stories. One in particular almost made me cry. So, if you are merrily reading along, you may consider just skipping over these to save yourself from the wave of emotion that I was caught up in.

My Rating

Overall: 2.5 stars

Objectionable Content: A few unwelcome words sprinkled throughout the book.

Book Review: The Fiction Class by Susan Breen

November 14th, 2009

Arabella teaches a once a week fiction class. It is the kind of class that has attracted all sorts of wannabe writers. There’s a middle aged woman that seems to be afraid of her own shadow, a wealthy bachelor, a young, beautiful blond, and a myriad of others who are trying to find their “voice.”

After each Wednesday class, Arabella visits her ailing mother in a nearby nursing home. She seems to have a few unresolved issues with her mother. She does however, try to “teach” her mother how to write, and her mother unbeknownst to Arabella, writes a very poignant story.

This story is fun to read because it alternates chapters, going from the fiction class to visiting her mother and back. There are also Arabella’s class writing assignments at the end of the chapters. I liked this because I would pause to think of what I might write. I was able to pick up quite a few tips on how to improve my own writing.

I think the overall theme for this book might be that people are not always what they seem. We need to not always let first impressions ruin our ability to look a little deeper. People have the chance to enrich our lives, and we may help others without even knowing it.

My Rating

Overall: 4 stars

Objectionable content: Some offensive language scattered throughout the book. Mention of porno and transsexuals. The main character does “sleep” with someone outside the bonds of marriage.

Book Review: Skipping Christmas by John Grisham

November 13th, 2009

Have you ever had the thought that all of the time, energy, and money spent on “doing” up the holidays right just isn’t worth it? Maybe you’re a staunch traditionalist. That’s fine, but you’ve got to admit that just forgetting it all and going on a cruise may sound tempting. Right? I had to read to find out if the Kranks were really able to pull off this crazy idea.

This was a short, sweet story that made me chuckle quite a few times. John Grisham does a great job of describing his characters and their thoughts. You really feel for these characters. I have to admit that as with most “Christmas tales” it was a bit cheesy, but cheesy in a good way.

My rating

Overall: 4 stars

Objectionable content: none