Book Review: Out Came the Sun by Heather Collins

I read a lot of children's books, most of them are fun and cute. Every once in a while I stubble upon one that really captures my attention. This one did because it was different. It is a nursery rhyme anthology, but it also tells a bigger story.

Out Came the Sun has many of the familiar nursery rhymes that we all know and love, like Baa Baa Black Sheep, The Eensy Weensy Spider, and Little Miss Muffet. These are all illustrated beautifully and in such a way that you can follow the pictures from page to page and see what happens in a day in the life of the cute, cuddly characters. I really is a unique way to read and learn nursery rhymes.

My Rating

Overall: 5 stars

Objectionable Content: none

A forgotten author: Gwen Bristow

If you only read new releases or never haunt old libraries, then you have most likely overlooked Gwen Bristow. I would classify her as "an oldie, but a goodie." She wrote most of her novels during the 1930's-1970's. Her best known work of fiction is probably Jubilee Trail, which became a best-seller in 1950. It was made into a movie in 1954.
I first became familiar with her books a couple of years ago when I had read These is My Words and was looking for something similar to read. I think it was an Amazon suggestion. Anyway, I enjoyed Jubilee Trail. It is historical fiction, with some romance. I liked it because it was one of those epic tales with adventure and romance and characters that I really got to know. If I remember, it was a little bit cheesy, but just in an old-fashioned way. I plan to read more of her books (the only other one that I have read is Celia Garth). They are nice, clean stories that are easy to pick up and read. Some of them are a bit hard to find, but many have been reprint recently. If you are an historical fiction fan you might try to find some of these:

Book Review: The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch

Randy Pausch, the author of The Last Lecture, decided that he wanted to leave something of himself for his kids after his death. As he gave "the last lecture," (he was a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon) he knew that he only had a few months left to live. He had been diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer. So, you would think that this is a book about dying, but it's not, it's a guide on how to live.

It is all about living out your childhood dreams. Randy Pausch believed that living out your childhood dreams is important and he coaches the reader on how to overcome obstacles to acheive them. His book is full of good, solid common sense advice mixed with a grab bag of memories and eccentricities. He was a truely optimistic person and it shows from beginning to end. There is no sadness in this book, only the attitude that we should all live our lives to the fullest.

My rating

Overall: 3 stars. I really felt like I knew the author after reading this book. He had a lot of good insights into how to live the life you have dreamed of. I guess I'm only giving it 3 stars since there didn't seem to be anything earth shattering in what he said. I enjoyed it, but probably won't keep it on my bookshelf to reread.

Objectionable Content: none

Book Review: The Undaunted by Gerald N. Lund

At 800 pages, it may seem a little daunting to read this book, but it is well worth the effort. It is an amazing story of real people and real events that have been woven into a fun to read narrative. The author's fictional characters blend well with those who lived to tell the tale of the Hole in the Rock trek.

David is the main character. He and his father are miners who come to Utah from England as converts of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. After some years, he finds himself in Cedar City, Utah as a mail rider. At this time, many Church members in the area are called to leave their homes and journey to the Four Corners area to found a new settlement that is supposed to help instigate peace in the area. The people that he joins in this little known venture are who we now refer to as the Hole in the Rock pioneers. This is their story.

Even though Gerald Lund takes a long time to get to the "story," I found myself drawn into the book immediately. David and his family are very likable characters and I just couldn't believe what I was reading when he writes about the plight of children who worked from such a young age down in the coal mines. He could have written a whole book on this alone. Once he gets his characters to Utah, I thought the "story" would begin, but then more characters are introduced, and along with them a little romance is thrown in. I enjoyed the romance, it made the story more interesting, and I didn't think that it was too over done.

One thing that I appreciated while reading this book was how the author sited all of his sources. I was able to read little snippets of journal entries and could see that for the most part he followed the actual history of these pioneers pretty closely. These people had great courage and faith. They experienced things that I can only imagine. I feel like I have become a better person just by reading this book.

My Rating

Overall: 4.5 stars. I would recommend this book to anyone. It is very inspirational. Maybe just a bit predictable, but this doesn't detract from the story.

Objectionable Content: None

Falling Asleep

There are so many books and so little time to read them all. What little time I do find to read I often find myself falling asleep. It is frustrating!

This is not a new problem. I remember falling asleep while reading clear back in grade school. I struggled through high school and college. It really is something that I can't control. One second I'll be reading along and the next I'll be opening my eyes, not remembering having closed them. It is a wonder that I am able to finish any book. I also have this problem of not being able to remember the endings of books that I've read, maybe these problems are related?

I only bring this up because I would love to post more book reviews of books that I have recently read, but alas, I can't seem to stay awake.


I'm currently reading Gerald Lund's The Undaunted. I'm about half way through (it's 800 pages long, so it's taking a little while), and so far I'm really enjoying it. I like how throughout the book, Gerald Lund has taken the time to document all of the real (true) historical facts that he has woven into his story. I don't want to be too judgmental yet, so I'll save my opinions for the review. For now it has made for a nice book to come home to and read at the end of the day.

Book Review: The Midwife's Apprentice by Karen Cushman

I have mixed feelings about this book. It received the Newberry Award in 1996 for reasons that become obvious while reading it. The writing style was fun. It was descriptive, yet simple. The story was very entertaining and brought to life by the medieval characters that populated the pages of this book. Alyce is smart and compassionate without knowing it. Most of the people that she runs into are rude and unfeeling, they tease her. She is an orphan who has wandered, but finds her place as a midwife's apprentice kind of by chance.

I guess my misgivings about this book stem from the appropriateness of the subject matter for a young audience. It does say "12 and up" on the back, but I know I was not mature enough at 12 to have read this book. It's not graphic or anything, just suggestive. So, while I wouldn't want my ten year old to read this book, I enjoyed it. It was so short that it seemed more like a short story than a novel.

My Rating

Overall: 3.5 stars.

Objectionable Content: It talks about women in labor and giving birth. It may not be appropriate for children to read.

Reading Goals for 2010

I read for pleasure most of the time, so when I speak of reading "goals," I am talking in very loose terms. There are a number of books that I'd like to read in the next while. Some of them have been around for a while, but others of them are fairly new. If you've read any of them, I would love to know what you think.

Here's my list:

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton
Tall Grass by Sandra Dallas
Half Broke Horses: A True Life Novel by Jeanette Walls
The Girl Who Chased the Moon by Sarah Addison Allen
The Help by Kathryn Stockett
The Zookeeper's Wife: A War Story by Diane Ackerman
Fire of the Covenant: The Story of the Willie and Martin Handcart Companies by Gerald Lund

I'm also going to try to read more children's literature, especially Newberry award winning books.

My Favorite Books of 2009

I have decided to list a few of the books that I have read this last year that have left me pondering and thinking , even months after I have read them. I think that they all have left an impression on me. I've read several good books in 2009, but these are probably my favorites.

The Robe by Lloyd C. Douglas

I loved learning about the life and times of Jesus. This is a work of fiction, but it felt like it could have been true.

The History of Love by Nicole Krauss

This isn't your everyday, same plot, nice little story. It is a little more literary and full of style. It might not be for everyone, but I had fun reading it.

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford

I think this book was wonderful. It had charming characters and was a sweet little romance.

Still Alice by Lisa Genova

I still think about this book. It is one of those that is hard to read, but compelling at the same time.