Wednesday, 26 August 2020

The Bad Luck Lighthouse

Author: Nicki Thornton
ISBN: 9781912626304


Hi Everyone

I love the library more now than ever at the moment.  As my love for different genres has widened, I find a new gem (or today, 11) just begging me to take it home.  I have taken a real liking to the shelf with the 'new books'.  Some of these I have noticed, are actually older titles but the library obviously has a new copy.  When I get them home and finally decided which one I am going to start with, I feel like I have been shopping at the bookstore.  I especially like the new books when I have requested they purchase a title, when they come in I know am reading that particular book first.  There is nothing quite like a new book and I can admit that I enjoy the newbies, even if they have to be sent back in three weeks. 

The Bad Luck Lighthouse came from the 'new books' stand at our library.  I found so much to think about in this book.  It is quite interesting what you can learn from a simple book.  Don't stop at the classics, I find there is something between the pages of every book if we are willing to sink beneath the surface and actually ponder what  is happening. This includes children's books and children reading them should be encouraged to think about what they are reading, between the lines, looking at anything that grabs their interest

Actually, I say throw away the multi-choice tests and fill in the gap sheets for books at schools and talk about the books.  When I say talk about them I don't mean ask questions that have an answer. Ask questions that need a conversation, an opinion, and a little thinking about characters and life.  If I had been shown how to think in these ways, about the events in a book as a child, I would have liked reading so much more - I may have pick a book up and read it.  There you go confessions of a student past.  I didn't read at school!  In fact I spent years saying I hated it!  With a passion!  Come on all you adults out there, if we stop testing the kids with random right/wrong questions and just have a conversation maybe more kids might like what they encounter. Maybe or maybe not, after all it is just my opinion.  An opinion from a childhood non-reader.

Today I read everything.  I have lots of catching up to do.  Lots of pondering the happenings between the pages of books from every age and every genre.  Fun!  

Fact: Never give up on a child.  They may not enjoy reading now but there is always time.  Enjoy reading for them and to them, they deserve to hear the story.  By hearing the story, one day they may just be an avid reading.... Never give up.

Back to the book at hand 😁  What was just a story became a brilliant piece of literature.  

It was in the suspense category and there was plenty of that.  I could have put it in the mystery section too but the librarians labelled it 'suspense'.  This was also a book with plenty of magic.  It was a book that showed people can often be more than you see. I feel that everyone had either a personal secret, a secret identity, a secret life, or simply didn't know what they had to offer and that had to be brought to the surface too.  It was like judging a book by its cover only to find the inside was nothing that you predicted.  Every character evolved in some way as the book progress.  No-one seemed to be who I thought they were.  Secrets unraveled everywhere.  

This may be a children/juvenile fiction book but from this book there are so many talking points and avenues that one can take a conversation down.  As you or you children read it, think about it.  Think about what we can hide from the world.  Think about what how your kids or yourself judge others without really knowing the real person below the surface. I am sure if you open your mind as you read this you will see so much more in the mystery and suspense.  And, it's actually a really good read. Enjoy the friendships and the magic.  Enjoy the journey.

Description:

Welcome to the bad luck lighthouse

In solving the mystery at the Last Chance Hotel, Seth has discovered a world of magic. Swept up in a new case at Snakesmouth Lighthouse - the murder of eccentric owner Mina Mintencress - he is determined to prove himself.

With the help of his cat, Nightshade, Seth must put his new-found magic to the test. Can they unmask a sinister sorcerer... before it's too late?


Happy reading



Friday, 14 August 2020

We Were Liars

Author: E Lockhart


Hi Everyone

The weekend has arrived!  I guess it depends on when you are reading this, but as for me right here, right now, it is the weekend!  And what a week it has been as our country was placed back into social restrictions.  Along with social restrictions there comes more reading time 😀 and the sun has decided to show up (we are in winter) so I will be heading to the garden to start preparing for the onset of spring.  Sound like a good weekend?  

This week I finished We Were Liars. Once again it is a book that has been waiting to be read.  There is one bonus to staying at home more and that is picking up the books that have been waiting for me here.  Who else can admit to the ever increasing TBR lists and books that are already waiting but you just can't help adding one more; maybe just another couple too...

Okay, to the book at hand.

I quite enjoyed this one.  It was an easy read, which was quiet refreshing.  I put the book down a couple of times and had a little smile at the language as I recalled my adolescent years and some of the conversations my friends and I had, and the places we congregated.  Rubbish, useless conversations that at the time had so much meaning but now I just smile and have a little giggle at the thought.  I recalled summer holidays when we took our friends with us or I joined another family and tagged long with them.  I guess you could say I became a part of the book from time to time, hence it has to be put into the 'good read' pile.

It was the ending that really got me thinking.  When the truth was finally remembered.  The twisted outcome shocked me.  I didn't see it coming, at all.  The thing that got me the most was that Cadence hadn't set out to hold back truth.  She had an accident - or had she?  Trauma?  Even as I sit here writing my thoughts on this book, I go into deep thought about how many lies we all hold, hidden.  Hidden not just from the those around us but even from ourselves.  Cadence had no recall of the images she dug out in the final pages.  In our final pages what are we going to recall?  I know as things come up in my adult life, I recall one more little thing that I unknowingly hid away, even from myself.... memories forgotten to protect this child at the time.  Fortunately I had a good childhood, so my little hidden dramas are easily dealt with.  But as I pondered Cadence's memories, I thought of all the things many people trap in their hidden child, so deep inside that it is literally lost; for how long though?

I know this is deep thinking when it was such a simple read 💭  But that is what reading some of the classics has done to me.... I'm ruined!

Anyway, if you want a simple read that might just make you smile along the way and then give you a twist that will make you go 'What?!' in the final pages then this book is for you.  

And, if you read some book along the way that you find gets you thinking like some do me, then leave me a message recommending I too put it on my TBR list - the list is NEVER too long.


Description:

A beautiful and distinguished family. A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends - the Liars - whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.

Book depository


Happy reading


Monday, 10 August 2020

The Sailing Ship Tree

The Sailing Ship Tree

Author: Berlie Doherty

ISBN: 9781846470448



Hi Everyone

Here we have another book finally read that has been waiting to be picked up for months.  I purchased this book from Young Reflections off one of their sale tables.  Hence, I am not sure that they will still have it but it is well worth taking an afternoon out to browse their shop, it is one of my favorite education stores.  

The book description grabbed my interest first.  So I thought it only respectful to include the description part way through my written thoughts this time around - 

Description:

This is the story of the Big House by the Mersy and the people who lived there.  In particular the twins Walter and Dorothy, whose father is the butler; Master George, the desperately lonely son of the wealthy owner; and Tweeny, the little maid treated hardly better than a slave.

In a way the house belongs to all of them, though the lives of the servants and masters couldn't be more different.

When disaster strikes and Master George needs help, the four children find refuge in the branches of a beautiful chestnut tree in the grounds of the house and three create a daring plot to help him escape to a new world.


Did it live up to my first impressions?

I have to admit that it didn't grab me within the first few pages, so I put it down.  For quite a few months I struggled to pick it back up.  But, I am extremely pleased that I did pick it back up and start reading again.  Maybe I wasn't in the right mood the first time; or maybe it was a slow starter; either concept is possible but once I manage to find myself landed inside the pages there was no way I was closing the book.

I have no idea how big there sailing ship tree was but my imagination made it into something big and wonderful.  Not in fantasy way, rather in a vision of a really old tree that wanted as much company as the children.  It seemed like a place I would have gone to hide and feel safe and powerful.  For different reasons each child loved the tree right to the end.

The story was inter-twined with history and full of unexpected situations.  There was a part that I admit to being shocked by the twist in plot, but it did all work out in the end.  An ending that made the whole book seem real.  I envisioned the final pages with precision in my own little mind.  How the author wanted me to see it is beyond my knowledge but I give her credit for how she finalized it.

When I had finished this little gem, I went searching for information about the author only to discover her web page Berlie Doherty . On her page you will find out about how she came to write the book, an interesting read in itself.

Well, I have students due any minute so I will have to leave you all with a little homework for yourself:

  1.  Find out where you can get yourself a copy and read it
  2. Take a look in on https://www.berliedoherty.com/ and find out about the making of this story and the author.  It will be well worth the time

Happy reading

Wednesday, 15 July 2020

The Glimme

The Glimme
Emily Rodda & Marc McBride
ISBN: 978-1-86291-957-0




Hi Everyone,

I purchased this book over the Christmas holidays because of the cover and the pictures inside.  It is one of the most wonderfully presented novels I have ever come across.  There is 376 pages of well written text and amazing pictures to accompany it.  I just had to have it purely because of the presentation.

Six months later and I thought I would pick it up and see what the story told. I could be a little bias here because I enjoy both fantasy and children's genre, so if you are like me... you might need a copy for your bookcase too.  I enjoyed the journey that Emily Rodda took me on.  There were times that I had to stop and think about what character was taking the limelight, and I found that at times I was wanting the story to go a little faster.  I expected the housekeeper to turn up in the Glimme world but to my surprise she didn't, rather there was quite a twist at the end in which she was drawn back into the plot.  The end was in fact, very well written as it connected each character back into their rightful places while leaving a little speckle of unexpected which didn't leave the story in a state of 'normal/regular' old story line.

My favorite characters were the giants.  I would have stayed with them right there on the pages.  They were a breath of fresh air placed into the story and I applause Emily Rodda for including them in their rightful place.  They made me smile and keep turning the pages to see if they were still with me in the pages.

Now, for you to get a good idea of this wonderful gem of a book I have included the following youtube clip which was put on youtube by Children's Book Council of Australia.  It is a reading of The Glimme by Emily Rodda.  You will get a glimpse of the pictures that adorn the pages and an idea of the story.


While I was watching this clip I thought I would check out the Children's Book Council of Australia (click link to check it out too).  It is worth checking out, there are a few good reviews and readings on their page.

There we go, you now have two assignments...
  1.  Pick up a copy of The Glimme and read it for yourself
  2. Take a look at The Children's Book Council of Australia's youtube page

Description:

Finn's life in the village of Wichant is hard.  Only his drawings of the wild coastline, with its dragon-shaped clouds and headlands that look like giants, make him happy.

Then the strange housekeeper from a mysterious clifftop mansion sees his talent, buys him for a handful of gold and then reveals to him seven extraordinary paintings.  Finn thinks the paintings must be pure fantasy - such amazing scenes and creatures can't be real!

He's wrong.  Soon he is going to slip through the veil between worlds and plunge intothe wonders and perils of the Glimme.


Happy reading


Tuesday, 30 June 2020

Across the Face of the World

Across the Face of the World
Author: Russell Kirkpatrick
ISBN: 9780316003414


Hi Everyone

Today I bring to you another one of the books I had picked for me from our library.  I have to warn you that this book is a big one, with 671 pages, so it might take a while to read.  I have to admit, that out of the 10 books the library picked for me, I opted to read this one first because of the cover.  I know! Don't judge a book by the cover! But, I am just one of those people who are attracted by a book cover.  So to all you budding authors out there, make sure you make the cover interesting.  One type of book cover that just doesn't draw my interest, but seems popular at the present, is those with the title printed one word per line right down the cover - stop it!  I want to see some imagination on the cover before I open it.  If you can't put something interesting on the cover then how can I expect something interesting inside the pages? 💁

Right....

Back to the topic at hand....

This book is the first in a trilogy which I should have taken note of before I got half way through and was totally hooked to the plot.  I will be reading the next book in this series because I can't stop at the end of this one, it was just too good.

I would say that to a degree this book reminded me a little of the 'Lord of the Rings' series.  And no, I am not going to even try to compare the two mainly because I have yet to be convinced I that I even like the Lord of the Rings - I tried reading it once and just couldn't see the hype, but may try again one day because the set does sit on my bookcase.

The best thing about this book was the descriptive writing of the scenes.  I took a look at some other reviews (about half way through reading the book) and found some people didn't like the map making descriptive aspect of Russell Kirkpatrick's writing.  I did.  I envisioned the journey with clarity and precision which in turn made me feel a part of the book.  I turned page after page to see where the characters would be taken, where they would meet again, and where/when they would meet their triumph or doom. 

I could put this book into a "just another generic plot" category and in some ways I would be correct.  But, there is still that little thing grabbing me to continue reading the second in the series, so it must be a good read.  Why?  For me it was the descriptive writing rather than the average 'he said, she said, they said' gabble that adorns many books on the market today.  Give me vision in the pages so I can enter the world that has been created by the author!  This is what 'Across the Face of the World' gave me. 

Stay tune in and I will get the next book from the library and tell you whether I continue to find this trilogy worth  of reading.


Happy reading







This was available from: Fishpond

Wednesday, 24 June 2020

Odd Boy out - Young Albert Einstein

Odd Boy Out - Young Albert Einstein
Author: Don Brown
ISBN: 9780547014357




Hi Everyone

I'm sitting in the sun writing this post.  It is the middle of winter and the sun is streaming through my window.  Amazing! 

Anyway....

'Odd Boy Out - Young Albert Einstein was in the 'book bag' that I got from our library during our lockdown.  This book bag initiative is a brilliant resource to be taking advantage of while it is still on offer.  

So, here is how it works:
  • You head online to the Invercargill library - try your library and see if it is available there too.
  • Click on my 'book bag' and fill in your library card details etc
  • State the kind of books you like
  • Answer when would you like to pick them up
  • The library will fill a bag of 10 books picked just for you
  • Turn up to the library entrance and your bag will be there with your name on it awaiting you
  • Read
  • Read
  • Read
  • Return six weeks later
    • Brilliant!
I asked for a couple of picture flats to be included in mine for with my students.  This was one of them.  A couple of my students have read it with me and we have had great discussions throughout reading it;  great for comprehension.  We even had to stop and seek more information from Google because the questions that have arisen have had us seek more about the lad that grew to adorn the history books.  

Any book that gets my students asking questions and has them researching beyond its pages is a fantastic book in my opinion.  For such a little book, I am impressed by the questions that arose and the discussions that evolved.  

I cannot say that I loved the illustrations this time around, but they did suit the book.  They suited the era of the information and they didn't distract the young readers from the information.  I question if my students would have asked so many questions if the illustrations were bright and in their faces, hence I feel the pictures suited the purposes a living book.

I notice that Don Brown has written a number of books that outline historical events and characters.  I will look into whether our library has any of them and take a journey through history via picture flats if they do.  Keep looking in to see what I find.  In the meantime, I will be returning this copy to our library soon if you want to reserve it.  I have included a link by which you can purchase a copy for all of you that can't find a copy at your library.

Yes, I think our libraries should be used and used often.  Let's get our little ones back to the library.  My kids loved their weekly trip to the library when they were little.  My daughter would bring home a huge bag of books every week and then weeks later get out the same books because they were yet to be read 😂 To this day she loves the library (she finishes reading them now).


Happy reading






Available from:

Friday, 29 May 2020

The Secret Garden

The Secret Garden
Frances Hodgson Burnett
978-0064401883



Hi Everyone,

It has been a long time since I last submitted a review for you all.  It has been quite a year as I am sure you will all agree!  Through all this - whatever you want to call it - there is always an opportunity to learn something about life.  My country has been in lockdown just like many of you out there.  I found myself at home (a place I love to be) and being made to remain in this quiet place.  It was so quiet without traffic, even though I live out in the country.  I heard birds singing like never before, I saw horses running that I had walked past daily but never noticed playing, I felt a calm all around that is hard to explain.  In all that calm there was no library open!  But.... I have a Kindle.

I opened my Kindle and went searching for a classic.  Why a classic? I have no answer except that for some reason this past year I have discovered a new world of literacy in the pages of a good classic.  My search led me to The Secret Garden.  I remembered how much I loved the movie and clicked 'buy'.  A choice I have not regretted since.

When I started reading I thought about all the links to the world we are in today.  Mary lives in India where she is looked after by everyone but her mother.  This is not to say that we don't look after our children today as of course we do, but I have noticed that many people have opted not to send their little ones back to school or day-care here yet where prior to our lockdown it was almost a given that I'd send my kids to day-care, kindergarten and school.  Then, they had an outbreak of Cholera and Mary was sent to live with her uncle.  Hence, I thought 'interesting' and kept reading.

Oh my goodness was I in for a treat.

Mary was a little ratbag, to say the least. Talk about being an entitled little brat.  Then she finds Colin.  What can I say about Colin, he is worse.  Now don't be too quick to judge these little ones! They are only 10 years old and know nothing else of the world other than that which the adults have shown them, or rather in this case - not shown them.  

As Mary explores the outside world of the garden and finds the secret garden that dwells within, she is transformed.  As the garden is weeded and loved, so too Mary is weeded and transformed.  She finds a friendship in Dicken, who is such an adorable wee lad, and learns a simple thing called kindness.  Mary and Dicken introduce Colin to the world beyond his bedroom walls and he too transforms.  

How many of you have been transformed through all the changes around you.  In my country there is by far more little acts of kindness happening and I hope that it grows just as it did in Mary, Colin and the garden.  

One of the things that really sparked my interest was the way in which they found words played a pivotal part of what happened.  Every word and thought created an action and reaction.  I hear this flicked around the place loads and found it of great interest that a kids book from 1911 (109 years ago!) acknowledged it.  They also put emphasis on the importance of fresh air, play and good hearty natural food in their improvement of health.  I sat reading thinking "Come on! They are still studying this but knew about it all naturally back in 1911?)  

So, I was left thinking "How far has the world come".  We have another pandemic.  We are acknowledging more and more that our thoughts and words have an effect (do a search and see all the new books entering the market on this topic).  We are constantly saying that we lack vitamin D and need to get outside more.  They knew all this, as a natural fact, over 100 years ago and it was naturally written into a children's book!

Maybe we should all go back and read the old children's books.  Or, at least try reading a classic there is a wealth of knowledge to be taken from these pieces of literature.

Is that enough to get your interest sparked?  Try reading a classic, I for one am going to read more of them, now that I have discovered a world from the past that actually wrote some good stories.


Happy reading



Monday, 6 May 2019

Crime and Punishment

Crime and Punishment
Author: Fyodor Dostoevsky
ISBN: 978-0486454115



Hi Everyone,

I started to hear snippets here and there about this book and I had to look and see if it was worth reading.  It is not very often that one hears of a classic title being tossed about, hence I looked deeper.  I am always particularly fond of reading books that are on curriculum lists and as this one was on the AmblesideOnline year 11 list I decided it was about time I opened a copy.

For me, this book was extremely unique.  I am used to reading mystery books where I am turning the pages to find out who did the crime.  Not so in Crime and Punishment.  You know who did the crime.  He is at the forefront of every scene and conversation.  You are left wondering if they will ever understand him or figure him out.  I sat reading and reading, turning page after page awaiting his capture. In the mean time I started to see more than a criminal.

This is where I found the book interesting.  I watch the News at night and I am ready to believe anything the media says.  I am ready to cast judgement by what the media claims.  But, I know nothing of the criminal or the full stories.  Hear me when I say I do not condone any crime!  The thing is that this author got me thinking of what is behind a crime and the punishment they place upon themselves both before and after such an event.

Before Raskolnikov commited his crime I had started to feel sorry for him.  He seemed like a normal sort of fellow that had hang ups from the past, cared for family and had loved and lost.  He was educated but unfortunate events had left him unable to finish.  Unfortunate circumstances had him living in a room the size of a cupboard and starving.  I could feel his hunger and thought of the anxiety I was reading and continual flashing of events that ran through his mind, I blamed on hunger and circumstance. I became so interested in how a person could become so twisted when I felt he had once been a young man looking to make something of his life.  Can life really twist a person so much that they would commit such a crime and believe they are justified in doing so?  And how could he continue to think he was justified right through the book?  There were times when I thought he was analysing on grounds of moral principle but he managed to make a moral stand for the crime, not against in his messed up little mind.  This made me look to the 'Spark Notes' and further to seek what I might have been missing.  I found myself looking to the events in Russia around the time of the writing of the novel.  I had to look at what nihilism entailed as it was apparently at large in Russia during the era of the books publication.  I searched nutrition and anxiety and depression and grief and... so much.  How can an author bring up so many questions?  I don't think any book has made me look into so many other things like 'Crime and Punishment' has.

What about the other characters because there were quite a few and they all had their own stories too.  Well, as for Porfiry, he drove me nuts!  He was just as mad as Raskolnikov only in other ways.  Sonja was kind but I was left wondering what life held for her beyond the pages and why she followed Raskolnikov when in reality she hardly knew him.  Raskolnikov's mother I thought was just as mad as her son but there may have been more to that also but I was so busy questioning Raskolnikov and Porfiry. And I need to admit I found the characters names so hard that I refuse to ever attempt to pronounce in public any of them (okay I can maybe do a couple).  The author Dostoevsky managed to show me so many different character traits and personalities that I was left questioning many things.  I may have re-read this in the future and see what I notice next time around because in another place in time I think I would look at different events and different characters that may be quietly nesting in the background.

Description:
Raskolnikov, a destitute and desperate former student, wanders through the slums of St Petersburg and commits a random murder without remorse or regret. He imagines himself to be a great man, a Napoleon: acting for a higher purpose beyond conventional moral law. But as he embarks on a dangerous game of cat and mouse with Porfiry, a suspicious detective, Raskolnikov is pursued by the growing voice of his conscience and finds the noose of his own guilt tightening around his neck. Only Sonya, a downtrodden prostitute, can offer the chance of redemption. As the ensuing investigation and trial reveal the true identity of the murderer, Dostoyevsky's dark masterpiece evokes a world where the lines between innocence and corruption, good and evil, blur and everyone's faith in humanity is tested.


Available from: Book Depository 


Happy reading




Thursday, 11 April 2019

A Separate Peace

A Separate Peace
Author: John Knowles
ISBN: 978-1-47113-910-9



Hi Everyone

It's been a few months since I posted a review.  It's not that I wasn't reading, it was just that I wasn't writing about them.  I took a break from writing so I could read some of the books that I really wanted to analyse with a different depth.  While doing so I got a whole new appreciation for the written word.  It is quite bizarre really because I spent so many years studying books and text for my studies/qualifications, but to do so for personal reasons is a whole different story.  I highly recommend you put your book down every now and then and think.  Really think about your taking in. 

Anyway, to 'A Separate Peace' and what I thought of this piece of literature.

This is another one of those books that I picked up a couple of years ago, read a few pages, and went on to another book that needed reading there and then. I could say maybe I was too busy to read it back then, but in reality I don't think I was ready for it. Not quite in the right zone to appreciate it.  I'm kind of pleased I waited until now to read it, and really read it, getting myself into the plot with the characters as though I there watching from the background.

I got to know both boys and understood each one and their unique prospectives.  There were times in my life where I had such friends and maybe I still do if I choose to analyse each of my friends.  I think we all have such friends and could relate to these two boys.  What made Gene shake the tree?  Was it as cynical as one could envision? Or was he acting on a rapid thought without realising the action was taking place or the consequence?  How would he know such extreme consequence would evolve?  These questions ran through my mind as I read.  I have children and some of the stupid non-thought out reactions they have had throughout their short life time is laughable. Hence, I don't believe Gene saw what was about to evolve.  I really don't. 

Then there is the young man that went to war.  He didn't see what was coming either.

What about the boys at the end, that set Gene up so the truth would come out.  Did they think of any consequences?  Did they see what could evolve?

How often do we adults think deeply before reacting.  And how often do the consequences bite back.

Maybe this isn't a story only for young people to read.

Then there were the lies.

Every boy was keeping a lie.  Living a lie of some sort.  Yes, most of these came out in the end as life progressed around them.  But who knew who was talking and living truth and who wasn't.  We all have faith that we can trust our friends.  We have to trust them or what is the point of the friendship.  When that trust is gone the friendship dismantles.  Some are repairable but sometimes going back is too hard.  But sometimes maybe it's harder to live the truth when you really believe the lie?  How do you judge the reasons behind others truth/lies?  How do we even know sometimes?

This book opened up so many questions like these.  

Have you read this book and come out with questions?  

Do you think Gene expected the outcome of his actions?

Leave me a comment of your thoughts, or answers.... I'd like to know what you found in the pages of this novel.


Description:

Set in a boys' boarding school in New England during the early years of World War II.  A Separate Peace is a harrowing and luminous parable of the dark side of adolescence.

Gene is a lonely, introverted intellectual.  Phineas is a handsome, taunting, daredevil athlete.  What happens between the two friends one summer, like the war itself banishes the innocence of these boys and their world.


Happy reading


Tuesday, 8 January 2019

This present darkness

This Present Darkness
Author: Frank E. Peretti
ISBN: 9781581345285 


Hi Everyone,

I have had this book for absolutely years! 

And, I have finally read it 😀

I know you all have books that sit, and sit, and sit a little more waiting to be read.  Yep, that's me too.

To be honest with you all I first got this book when I was around 18 years old.  I then moved house a several times, got married and had children.  Along the way I lost the book but never get off my mind all the excitement of my friends when they read it.  Well about eighteen months ago (okay maybe even 2 years ago) I came across it in our local book store and grabbed a copy.  I took it home and started reading it but once again life took over and I also had authors approach me to read their books, so I put this one down again.

While looking at my TBR books and deciding which one to take on holiday, it jumped out at me and screamed "Read me!".  So, I took it with me.

I found the first chapter a little hard to grab, but it didn't take long for me to relax into my holiday mode and dive head first into the rest of the story.  

My goodness!  What a gripping read. 

I quickly flicked through every page and was disappointed when there were no pages left to turn.  I want read the next book in the series but have my concerns that I may be much like this one.  Has anyone out there read the rest of this series?  If so flick me a comment and recommend or not I'd love know what you recommend.

Anyway, I'm off now to pick up the next book in my TBR pile.  For the next while I will be only reading the books I have so wanted to read rather than the saying 'yes' to new authors.  I have found that over the last six months I have had so many requests that I haven't been reading the books I have purchased.... and they are looking at me with a certain expectancy 😂

So happy reading to you all.  I hope you have a good TBR list for 2019.


Description:

Ashton is just a typical small town. But when a skeptical reporter and a prayerful, hardworking pastor begin to investigate mysterious events, they suddenly find themselves caught up in a hideous New Age plot to enslave the townspeople, and eventually the entire human race. The physical world meets the spiritual realm as the battle rages between forces of good and evil.

This Present Darkness is a gripping story that brings keen insight into spiritual warfare and the necessity of prayer. Since its original publication more than 2.7 million copies have been sold. The companion volume, Piercing the Darkness, continues the story of the battle between spiritual forces.
 


For more details and reviews head to Goodreads


Happy reading

Thursday, 20 December 2018

The Moon Sister

The Moon Sister
Author: Lucinda Riley
ISBN: 9781509840090


Hi Everyone

It has been a while since my last review as I got my students through the end of year exams and tests. It's been great teaching them all this year, I have seen some real growth in some brilliant young people.

Anyway...

It means we all get a Christmas and summer break now.  And I will  be reading my way through some of my TBR list.  

To start with I have plowed through The Moon Sister.  Book number five in the series and I am not disappointed.  Quite often I get to book three or four of a series and find they start to drag but not this one.  Lucinda Riley is great at adding in a few questions that leave her readers dangling.

I have plenty of questions that I need to read the next few books for.

As for this sister she was really interesting!  I have to give credit for the back ground work that weaves these stories together.  I like the link between today and yesterday as I'm taken through two lives that in many was connect through the decades.  

Very well put together plot.  I could have kept reading way beyond the final page!

So, if you want a good read for over the holidays try this book.  I'm enjoying the series 😀


Description:

After the death of her father - Pa Salt, an elusive billionaire who adopted his six daughters from around the globe - Tiggy D'Apliese , trusting her instincts, moves to the remote wilds of Scotland. There she takes a job doing what she loves; caring for animals on the vast and isolated Kinnaird estate, employed by the enigmatic and troubled Laird, Charlie Kinnaird.

Her decision alters her future irrevocably when Chilly, an ancient gipsy who has lived for years on the estate, tells her that not only does she possess a sixth sense, passed down from her ancestors, but it was foretold long ago that he would be the one to send her back home to Granada in Spain ...
In the shadow of the magnificent Alhambra, Tiggy discovers her connection to the fabled gypsy community of Sacromonte, who were forced to flee their homes during the civil war, and to `La Candela' the greatest flamenco dancer of her generation.

From the Scottish Highlands and Spain, to South America and New York, Tiggy follows the trail back to her own exotic but complex past. And under the watchful eye of a gifted gypsy bruja she begins to embrace her own talent for healing.

But when fate takes a hand, Tiggy must decide whether to stay with her new-found family or return to Kinnaird, and Charlie . . . 


This was available from: Book depository


Happy reading

Saturday, 29 September 2018

Breaking Stalin's Nose

Breaking Stalin's Nose
Author: Eugene Yelchin
ISBN: 978-1-250-03410-6



Hi Everyone

It is school holidays! 

Spring is here and it is time for a good couple of weeks just refresh and renew our little minds.  It is always beautiful at this time of the year as I drive around the countryside and see all the little lambs and spring flowers.  I have even had to watch the ducklings a couple of times as their mum's caution them along the road side.  Adorable!

But, that has nothing to do with our latest read aloud.  No matter how old my children get we still enjoy coming together for a read aloud.  This one was an interesting one.  Young Sasha is reading to become a Young Pioneer but things start to change.  His father is taken away, his class seems different, and then to top it all off he goes and knocks the nose of the school Stalin statue.  Not good!  This story shows the dynamics of the Stalin ruling and Communism in a way that is relateable for young people.  It is from the perspective of a school child who then starts to question what is going on around him.  It is done all in a quiet thoughtful way.  I liked the approach and it got us all talking as we came across different things in the pages.  

And as for the quality of the actual book... This isn't something that I normally talk about but I like the print of this book.  My copy has thick, fresh white pages.  It has brilliant black and white pictures scattered throughout and it's a different size to a normal novel.  It's a well printed copy that I have in my hand 😀

So, yes I recommend this book for all you young readers.  If you have a chance to sit with read aloud the book then take that chance and enjoy the book and your kids, I can't stress more the importance of reading aloud with your family.... no matter the ages.

Well, I'm off to enjoy the first day of Daylight Savings here.  Spring awaits me. 


Description:

Sasha Zaichik has known the laws of the Soviet Young Pioneers since the age of six:
The Young Pioneer is devoted to Comrade Stalin, the Communist Party, and Communism.
A Young Pioneer is a reliable comrade and always acts according to conscience.
A Young Pioneer has a right to criticize shortcomings.


But now that it is finally time to join the Young Pioneers, the day Sasha has awaited for so long, everything seems to go awry. He breaks a classmate's glasses with a snowball. He accidentally damages a bust of Stalin in the school hallway. And worst of all, his father, the best Communist he knows, was arrested just last night. 


Available from Book Depository


Happy reading

Thursday, 20 September 2018

William Carey - Obliged to go

William Carey - Obliged to go
Authors: Janet and Geoff Benge
ISBN: 978-1-57658-147-6

William Carey: Obliged to Go


Hi Everyone

This book has been sitting on my bookcase for a while now and it should have been read long before now as it didn't deserve to sit this long 😀

I purchased it as part of the Sonlight curriculum we were following before exam years got in the way.  But, we have begun once again to read through what is left on my shelf.  This one is well worth the read.  I haven't read any of the Christian Heroes: Then & Now series but I will, just to see if they are written this well.

There were many wow moments in these pages.  It is a true history novel that far exceeds any text book.  This is an example of a real living book, one of which the kids can relate to.

I actually read it aloud to my kids.  Yes we still read aloud.... they never out grow it.  Keep reading to your teens you may just be amazed at how they enjoy it still.  There were many moments where we stopped to discuss the contents this book addressed.  There were things that we found ourselves digging deeper to find out just a little more.  Some of the events that took place back in the days of William Carey were just a little opening for not just my kids but for me.  We live in a different world with new issues, some of the old remain - yes, but some to read a book which opened up some of the past which is often forgotten and never mentioned today, was really interesting.

I have recommended this book to quite a few people since I opened its pages.  I think I can say this little piece of literature left me thinking and hungry to read more.


Happy reading

Saturday, 8 September 2018

My latest find

Hi Everyone,

I have been taking a little break at the moment as my students start to make their way through the third term and into the exam period.  I have a few books to bring to you soon, but my students always come first, so I will touch base again over the holidays.

But....

Look what I have found!

It may have been around for a long time.

But...

I have just found it 👀

Blinkist


https://www.blinkist.com/



I'm not sponsered by Blinkist.  I just think what they offer is absolutely brilliant and want to share it with you all.

Little Blinks....

What's  a Blink?

Take thousands of non-fiction titles and condense them into the key notes from the book.  Then you have 1-10 minute Blinks.  You can listen to them, read them, save them, download them for on the run.  Then if you want to purchase the book just click the link and buy the whole book.  Brilliant resource for people on the run who don't have time to read all they want to.  Or, those who want to just read the key points.  

Anyway that's my latest find.  I will bring you more reviews soon, very soon

All the best and...


Happy reading


Sunday, 15 July 2018

Into the woods




Hi Everyone,

Here is a little treat for you all, a great little selection of short stories all in one package.  It has be qutie a few years since I have picked up a short stories book.  I forgot how much I enjoy them.  You are alble to pick where you read in the book, how long a story or how short a story the choice is yours.  I liked being able to read a poem when I felt so, or a quick story.  Now poems... everyone should know by now that I love poems and as I read these ones I was smiling knowing that someone had written it while on a writing retreat.  This book is more than just a short story book, it brings you a vast variety of writers and genres, I am sure there is something in here for every reader.  Enjoy!







Into the Woods is the title and theme for this assortment of short stories, poems, essays, music, and one walking meditation. Each piece is unique in tone and genre and the result is that the collection captures the fascinating, frightening, fun, healing, and fantastical wonder of time spent in the woods. The twenty-six contributors who attend Mindful Writers Retreats in the mountains of Ligonier, Pennsylvania, are donating one hundred percent of the proceeds to support the research and work of The Children’s Heart Foundation.

Available at....










Book Excerpts
Short Story
TRAIN WRECK
by Kathleen Shoop

Ellie Trumbull squinted out the window of the Uber, gripping the door handle. The car swerved and bounced up the long driveway leading to the retreat center where the courts had sent Ellie for punishment. She grabbed her stomach to stave off nausea, but when it began to launch itself she smacked the driver’s arm. He slowed and stopped. Ellie pulled the handle, and tumbled out of the door onto all fours, heaving.
She gasped for breath, dizzied. Voices sounded as she struggled to stand. She focused on the group heading toward her: two women, a man, and several children who simply bolted past her, their squealing laughter filling the air.
A graceful woman with gray, bunned hair and dark skin approached. She took Ellie’s arm and pulled her close, leading her into a building. “Welcome. I’m Vera.”
“I’m Alice.” A stout woman with platinum spiked hair followed along.
A lanky man with hair so perfect it looked plastic picked up Ellie’s duffel bag. “I’m Brandon. Your husband’ll send the rest of your luggage shortly.”
Ellie grunted. They led her upstairs. Brandon rushed ahead to open a door. Ellie shuffled inside.
“Your room,” he said. “I’ll set your bag here.”
Ellie looked over her shoulder to see him smiling, as he’d been doing since she arrived. “Thanks, Guy Smiley.”
“What?”
She ignored his question, held onto one of the top bunks and surveyed the space. Three large windows at the end of the room and three sets of bunks with plastic mattresses belted the perimeter.
Ellie collapsed onto a bed.
“Plastic makes it easy to clean,” Vera said.
“Shut those.” Ellie shook her hand at the windows.
The woman sighed, closed the curtains and lowered the blind that covered the center pane. She lifted Ellie’s feet off the floor and swung them onto the bed. “Housekeeping’ll make up the bed in a little bit.”
“Fine,” Ellie groaned.
Vera loosened Ellie’s shoelaces.
Ellie snatched her feet away. “I’m fine.”
Vera backed away, her large hands flailing for a moment before she tucked them against her belly. “Our healing circle begins in an hour.”
Ellie turned away and balled up. Leave me alone.
And a few seconds later the door clicked shut.
***
Giggling children and the sound of feet running down the hallway outside Room 2 woke Ellie. Her mouth was desert dry, so she headed downstairs to the great room where she saw a kitchen area. With the kids gone, the silence felt good.
Ellie startled at the sight of Alice, Vera, and Guy Smiley sitting around an island. Guy Smiley poured coffee. Healing circle.
“Ellie,” he said. “Welcome.”
Vera sliced banana bread. The scent threatened Ellie’s stoic facade. A smile tugged her lips, but she tucked away the fleeting happy sensation, hid it where it wouldn’t remind her how Maggie’s face would light up when she bit into her favorite treat.
Alice clomped her feet onto the coffee table. Vera batted them away and pushed the banana bread toward Ellie.
She looked away.
“I’ll take hers,” said Alice.
“I’d like to begin,” Vera said, her voice gentle and melodic. “The healing circle guides us into continued acceptance and strengthens our endurance as we grow through the pain that comes with losing a child. Each of us understands the daily shock of waking and realizing our lives will never be the same. So how do we go on?”
Guy Smiley sipped coffee. “Feels good to be with everyone.”
“Each time we meet I do better back home,” Vera said.
“Same,” Alice said.
“We hope you’ll find our group helpful, Ellie,” Vera said.
When Ellie didn’t respond the others went around describing how they lost their child. Ellie blocked out every word, rubbing her temples. Her own pain was enough. She wasn’t about to invite theirs inside. Her gaze strayed to the kids outside, the game of tag that left them breathless, rolling down the hill and out of sight. How lucky they were.
“Ellie?” Alice asked. Ellie turned her gaze back to see Alice glaring.
“It’ll help,” sweet Vera said. “To share.”
Guy Smiley slid forward in his seat, fingers steepled. “Change brings…blah, blah … comfort, healing…” He droned on and on and finally Ellie’s mind snapped back to what he first said.
Change?” Ellie said.
He nodded. They all did.
Ellie’s anger surged. She wiped spittle from her lip. “I don’twantchange. I feel Maggie more now than I ever did… before she died I couldn’t wait to get to work, or girls’ night out or go away with my husband. My daughter… difficult from the day she was born… is dead. I’ll never sit with you people thinking about change and eating stinking banana bread.”
She stood and stomped away.
“She don’t want help,” Alice said.
“But her husband…” Brandon said.
Ellie got farther away, unable to hear what they said. Her husband? He was finished with her. She jogged to her room and crashed onto the mattress that housekeeping hadn’t yet returned to make. She covered her face and held back tears. With balled fists she tried to resist.
But she couldn’t.
Up off the bed, Ellie dug through her duffel and found it. Vodka. Cap unscrewed, she gulped, washing away the scent of banana bread, the thought that she’d never again see Maggie’s smile when she took a bite of it.

***
Short Story
EIRA
by Wende Dikec

The lights went out, and Eira held her breath, waiting for the emergency generator to work. It started with a shudder and a horrific crunching noise, but at least it continued to function.
She closed her eyes, feeling the fear in her chest ease when she heard the comforting sound of the humming engine. She couldn’t bear the thought of being left cold and alone in the dark.
Tugging her pale, blond hair into a ponytail, she pulled her ragged wool cardigan tightly across her body and walked over to the window of Alexander House, a grand name for such a Spartan hunting cabin, to peek outside. She waited for the sun to come up, looking out the dirty glass pane, and continued to stare out the window long after the sun rose in the sky. She didn’t know why she bothered. She saw nothing outside except the same white expanse she’d seen every day for the last five lonely months.
Eira opened the door to grab some wood from the pile for her fire, her body flinching from the chill of the icy wind. She had enough wood to last a few more weeks, and then she’d have to make the dangerous trip into the forest to chop more. She dreaded it, but not as much as she dreaded living without the generator. If she rationed carefully, she’d have enough fuel for another month, but she wasn’t sure what she’d do after that. She hadn’t planned on being stranded for such a long time. Spring should have arrived almost two months ago.
She blinked in surprise when she saw a figure moving toward her house, struggling in the waist deep snow. Eira squinted against the harsh sunlight reflecting off the white landscape, trying to make out if the approaching form was human or animal, friend or foe, but she could see very little at this distance. She stumbled back into her warm little house, and reached for her heavy coat. She quickly slipped on her snowshoes before grabbing her gun, a nervous sense of excitement building inside her. If it was a person, it would be the first human being she’d seen in months. If it was an animal, she’d shoot it and have food for a week. And if it was one of the strange ones, the creatures that were no longer human yet not completely animal, she’d kill it without remorse and leave its carcass for the hungry bears to find.
She waited on her front porch, her gun ready as it came closer. It looked human, bundled under layers of heavy clothing, but she wasn’t taking any chances.
“Who are you?” she asked, her voice echoing in the quiet wilderness.
The figure stopped moving and looked directly at her. She could see a dark beard covering the skin exposed beneath protective ski goggles. It was a man.
“My name is Ben,” he said, his voice sounding scratchy and strange, as if it hadn’t been used in a long time. “I saw the smoke from your fire. Can I come in and warm up?”
Eira paused, considering his request. He seemed human enough, but it was a risk. He could steal her food, hurt her, or take her precious fuel. She weighed her options quickly. Loneliness won out over caution, but she wasn’t stupid. She clenched her gun as she waved him in.


***
Poem
FOREST BATHING
by Martha Swiss

I am alone in this place that is alive, anticipating the gift before me.
I open it slowly, with grateful breath, footsteps and heartbeats,
then thankfully sink into the purifying molecules of chlorophyll and humus.
I bask, now able to sense the purpose of ferns, snakeroot, noble trees and the creek that tumbles past my feet.

Crayfish pay me no mind in their muddy caverns.
Trees skyrocket overhead, on a mission.
Chipmunks skitter through leaf litter
and a kingfisher pounds its teal wings heading upstream.
I am dwarfed by the hillside vaulting from the floodplain. Boulders and saplings cling to its spine.

I am free to bathe here in clarified cells of cambium, xylem and phloem.
I wring my sponge in the generosity of flora.
The stream’s effervescence cleanses the tangled energy seeping from my pores.

I celebrate my fresh spirit with a confetti of scarlet, orange and yellow leaves that bob on the breast of the creek
as silently,
the trees disrobe.

***
Short Story
LIGHT OF THE MOON
by Ramona DeFelice Long

After three weeks in jail, Mama asked me to talk to Judge Rousseau about getting her some decent food to eat.
Mon Dieu,I am wasting away,” Mama said from her cell. Behind her, the narrow cot was covered with a quilt from home, and on top of the wooden crate she used as a table was a kerosene lamp on a doily. She’d left a half played game of solitaire spread over the doily. Where she got playing cards, I didn’t know. The Bible that had been on the pillow was nowhere to be seen.
She showed me her bowl of half-eaten stew. I think it was stew. “That old cow Lorraine Badeaux is poisoning me.”
“Hush, Mama,” I said. “Mrs. Badeaux is doing no such thing.”
Mama pressed her face between the bars. Her eyebrows and cheeks lifted up. That, plus the pounds she’d lost eating jail food and all the naps she took out of boredom, made her look as young as me. Trust Mama to turn getting arrested into getting prettier.
“Geneva,cher, just go ask him,” Mama wheedled. “That sheriff can hardly look at this slop. He passes me my plate and runs away. Or maybe he believes I’ll bewitch him, too.”
I begged her not to joke about that.
She narrowed her eyes at me. “And pour l’amour de Dieu, when you go see the judge, don’t wear what you got on. You look like a blind nun dressed you.”
“Mama—”
“Your hair’s all right, but get you some lipstick and rouge and use it. Judge Rousseau is old, but he ain’t dead.”
No, he wasn’t, but his brother-in-law was, and that’s why Mama’s bail was set high as the moon. But explaining that to her was like talking to a tree stump.
I said I had to leave. I was Mama’s only visitor, and she was bitter. Where was our family? Where were her friends? She was lonely and felt forsaken. I never told her that, at home, nobody came to visit me either, and I had not even murdered anybody.
Most days she begged me to stay, but tonight she told me to get on home. I suppose she thought I had a busy evening ahead tarting myself up before going to see the judge.
***
When the young deputy was on duty, he sat in a chair five feet away from Mama’s cell, as if he thought I’d help my mother escape by slipping a bolt cutter under my dress—a dress fit for a convent, indeed, because my teacher contract said I had to “act and keep my person modestly.” I worried every day I’d be fired over Mama’s scandal.
Sheriff Reyes usually sat in his office up front and read the newspaper. When my visiting time was over, he always asked, “Things all right, Miss Geneva?”
I answered, “Yes, Sheriff, thank you,” except for the time or two when Mama asked for a warmer shawl or the quilt off her bed.
Once, horrifyingly, I had to say I needed to come right back; when he frowned, I whispered that Mama needed some womanly things. He let me into her cell with a paper sack that he did not inspect. Had I been wily, I could have slipped her anything—a pistol, liquor, tonic from Madame Velda—but wily was Mama’s way, not mine. The sheriff trusted me. If you can’t trust a twenty-year-old spinster schoolteacher who dresses as modestly as a nun, you have faith in no one.
Tonight, Sheriff Reyes stood at the window. The kerosene lamp on his desk lit him up from behind: tall, broad-shouldered, brown hair cut short but still wavy. On one of those shoulders was the scar from a shell that blew him out of the sniper’s nest he’d sat in for three days, picking off Germans but never giving away his position. I’d read that in the Bossier City newspaper, when he’d come home a hero after the war ended.
He turned around and said, “Your mother’s right. Mrs. Badeaux can’t cook.”
I didn’t speak; he was also very handsome.


***

into the woods SQ teaser


Mindful Writers Retreat Authors 
Many of the writers who contributed to the anthology. 
The retreats happen at Ligonier camp and conference center in Ligonier, PA. Tenth retreat is coming up this fall!


Twenty-six Mindful Writers Retreat Authors contributed to Into the Woods. The group consists of bestsellers, award-winners, first-time authors, seasoned veterans, poets, memoirists, essayists, musicians, journalists, novelists, and short story writers who are traditionally, self and hybrid published. At Mindful Writers Retreats the labels don’t create a hierarchy, but instead reveal the richness of those who attend. Every single writer contributes to the magic and the fun that results from meditation, walking in the woods, and hour upon hour of mindful writing.

Authors in alphabetical order:
Lorraine Bonzelet
Wende Dikec
Teresa Futrick
Selah Gray
Hilary Hauck
Michele Zirkle
Eileen Enwright Hodgetts
Larry Ivkovich
Lori M. Jones
Kimberly Kurth-Gray
Laura Lovic-Lindsay
Ramona DeFelice Long
MaryAlice Meli
Gail Oare Sher Pensiero
Kim Pierson
Cara Reinard
James Robinson, Jr.
Larry Schardt
Linda K. Schmitmeyer
Carol Schoenig
Kathleen Shoop
Martha Swiss
Amy Walter
Madhu Bazaz Wangu
Denise Weaver

Many of the writers who contributed to the anthology. 
The retreats happen at Ligonier camp and conference center in Ligonier, PA. Tenth retreat is coming up this fall!

Find the Mindful Writers Retreat Series on Facebook HERE

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