Category Archives: Book Club

T – Middle School Books ~ Blogging Through the Alphabet & Book Club

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Today’s post is a combo of the ABC blogging I have been participating in and the Book Club that Wendy and I have been posting monthly. The reason? This past month has flown past me and so has this week.  So, I’m combining today.

For the Book Club, we are just going to share all of these but my favorite was The Twinkle Tales. Wendy has been a bit busy with a busy turn of events in her life so I haven’t even talked Book Club with her. The book I thought I would be sharing about – Tom Hanks’ Uncommon Type – turned out to be a HUGE disappointment. It was not a good book at all. For me, it was not just not good to read; it was unpleasant and contained themes that I would never intentionally share. So, if you picked that book up on my suggestion? I apologize.

Now. On to the books I did like.

Twinkle Tales

Twinkle Tales by L. Frank Baum

Yes, the author of the Oz series, specifically The Wizard of Oz, wrote some other things. These are really quite fun, but strange, tales. It is a series of stories that are connected to each other through the characters of Twinkle and Chubbins. Twinkle is a little girl and Chubbins is her friend. These are strange, wonderful stories that are full of imagination, adventure, and fun. We used this as a read aloud and it was just delightful. It would do just as well as a personal read because it is just so fun and different. I think my favorite was the story titled “Policeman Bluejay.” In this story the children become little birds (larks) and enjoy many adventures before they are able to return to little children. In one story Twinkle and Chubbins end up as prairie dogs in a prairie dog town and in another they become a couple of “sugar people”, a group that lives at Sugar Loaf Mountain. These are just fun, but surprising tales.

Thick as Thieves

Thick as Thieves by Susan K. Marlow

As you know, we really enjoy the books Susan K Marlow writes. The Andi series is a lot of fun and brings Christian values to the story. While Andi gets into tons of situations that a regular person would not, they are interesting to read and the lessons learned are valuable. This is the first book in the Circle C Milestones series, which features Andrea Carter (Andi) as a teenager. You can read more about the story in our previous review of the book.

Here is a summary of the books from my review:

Set in the 1880s, Thick As Thieves opens with 14 year old Andrea Carter tenderly caring for Taffy, her beloved horse who is about to foal on the family’s ranch, Circle C. Andi trusts her gut instincts, something that is hard to do as the youngest in a family, and pesters her older siblings until someone listens to her about Taffy having difficulty with the foal. It turns out that Andi was right to think something was wrong but with the help of her older brother, Taffy gives birth. This birth brings new challenges and many changes to her life.

As the book moves along, Andi is struggling with many things as she grows up. She wants to continue with her life as it is but her mother and older sister think it is time for her to begin acting like a young lady. Andi doesn’t enjoy school much because the work isn’t challenging for her and she loves to be outside with her horses. As Andi continue to work on being a good student and a good horsewoman, she is given a much more difficult challenge at school. Her new seatmate is a difficult girl who seems bent on causing Andi problems. To make matters even more of a struggle, there are cattle rustlers in the valley causing problems for everyone.

That’s it for today. Thanks for joining me for the letter T. I am going to see what I can dig up for the letter U next week. As of right now, that line in my ABC blogging plan is blank!! Eek!

I hope to have a better update for Book Club next month and perhaps I can find a good one to read that I can share early enough that those of you interested could read it ahead of time. 🙂

Blessings,
At Home.

Book club:Ladybug Daydrams and At Home where life happens

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The ABC linkup is hosted by Hopkins HomeschoolDoodleMom’s Homeschooling Life and Biblical Womanhood.

My previous posts in the series:

A – All-of-a-Kind Family and Adventures of the Little Wooden Horse
B – Ballet Shoes and A Bear Called Paddington
C – Counting by 7s and Cheaper By The Dozen
D – Door In The Wall & D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths
E – The Endless Steppe & Ella Enchanted
F – Family Tree & Fog Magic
G – Great Turkey Walk & The Great Brain
H – Half Magic & Horse Diaries
I – Indian in the Cupboard & Island of the Blue Dolphins
J – Journey to America & Julie: An American Girl – 1974
K – Kite Fighters & Key to the Extraordinary
L – Little Women & Long Way From Chicago
M – Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle & Mistakes That Worked
N – North Child & Number the Stars
O – One and Only Ivan & Our Only May Amelia
P – Pollyanna & Prism of Wings
Q – Quanah Parker & Quake!
R – Robin Hood & Rilla of Ingleside
S – Sisters Grimm & Singer of All Songs

Also linking up with the Homeschool Review Crew weekly linkup.

 

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Dawn’s Early Light ~ Book Club

Book club:Ladybug Daydrams and At Home where life happens

We decided a bit late for the Book Club selection for this posting but I did remember to share about it. Hope you were able to join us in reading this story.

Dawn's Early Light

Set in Williamsburg at the start of the Revolutionary War, this is a story of dreams, courage, bravery, and finding home where you least expect it. As we join the story, young Julian Day has just lost his father while crossing the ocean to America. He is met and cared for by those who were supposed to meet his father. These aristocratic but independent folks take Julian under their wing and help he find his way. Having never stood on his own two feet before, he is encouraged and strengthened by some good people who want to help him.

He learns what it means to be a teacher, which it turns out he really enjoys. In the process, he learns as much as his students but about a very different subject. They are learning spelling and geography and writing; he is learning how to handle himself, what he truly believes, what friendship really means, and how to stand for what is right.

The story takes us through several of the battles of the war that were important and we meet many of the important participants of the Revolutionary War – Washington, Lafayette, Jefferson, Greene, Patrick Henry, Francis Marion, and many more men and women who work hard to win independence from the tyranny of the King.

This historical fiction is the first in a series of seven novels by Elswyth Thane. She wrote this in 1943 after she spent several summers back and forth between America and England. Well researched and full of interesting characters, this is a story that is really quite easy to read but that will challenge you to think about your own beliefs on freedom and war.

The book I read did not have any discussion questions in it and I did not find any online already set up. Wendy has been busy handling life lately so I am forgoing writing any questions for this one. I just recommend reading this book. I would love to read the rest of the series but our library system does not have them. Perhaps I can get them elsewhere.

Join us in March for the next Book Club post. I am thinking it may be either Uncommon Type: some stories by Tom Hanks or The River Between Us by Richard Peck. Really, though, anything is up for grabs as we haven’t decided on anything yet. Both of these are on my “to read” list.

Blessings,
At Home.

 

Book Club update

Book club:Ladybug Daydrams and At Home where life happens

We did finally decide on the book to read for the February posting date – Dawn’s Early Light by Elswyth Thane. This is the first in a series about Colonial Williamsburg in the time leading up to and including the Revolutionary War. Written in 1943, this is a good book that we hope you will enjoy.

Dawn's Early Light

Read more about my thoughts and those of Wendy over at Ladybug Daydreams on February 1st. Thanks to Annette at A Net in Time for the suggestion of the book.

Blessings,
At Home.

Waiting for Rachel ~ Book Club

Book club:Ladybug Daydrams and At Home where life happens

In case you are new, this is the monthly Book Club series post. On the first Thursday of the month, I post about a book, writing my thoughts on it or answering some discussion questions about it. It was started by Wendy over at Ladybug Daydreams and I am pleased to join in with her each month.

This month’s selection was a fast, easy, pleasant read and I am glad Wendy suggested it (check out her post about it). Waiting for Rachel is book 1 in the Those Karlsson Boys series by Kimberly Rae Jordan. It wasn’t a difficult book and that is okay. Sometimes, it is a pleasurable time to just sit back and read something that is clean and has some morals and values promoted in it.

Waiting for Rachel

That is what I found in Waiting for Rachel. Rachel is a young lady who is single and owns a book store. She is well-known in the community, is thought highly of, but keeps to herself. She is afraid of being hurt and so doesn’t open herself up to very much. But Damian sees something in her that she doesn’t see in herself and is willing to take the time to help her see her own strength.

In stepping outside of her comfort zone and becoming involved in her church congregation a bit more, Rachel finds friends and comfort she never expected. She also find a support system that she ends up need much more than she ever expected.

The story is a good one that reminds me not to close myself off from those who might be reaching out – for me to come into their circle or for someone who is looking for a circle to be a part of. It is a good push for me, especially right now, as I find myself struggling with some recent events where it is all too easy to nurse hurt feelings and feel sorry for myself. God places people and things in our paths sometimes to remind us of His ways, of His path and purpose. This books shows a good example of how God can bring each of us closer to Him and He can forgive anything.

At the time of this writing, the book was free from Amazon for the Kindle.

A story that shows us God – that’s what Waiting for Rachel turned out to be for me. Showing me God and where to look in my own life to see Him more clearly.

Next month’s selection is not yet chosen but we are currently working on that decision. It’s amazing how the holiday put a few things off schedule, isn’t it? I’ll share a quick post about the choice when we get it decided.

We would really like it if you would join us in reading and writing or sharing a bit about it.

Blessings,
At Home.

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Joining in the linkup at the Homeschool Review Crew blog.

Homeschool Review Crew Weekly Link Up 

Unbroken ~ Book Club

Book club:Ladybug Daydrams and At Home where life happens

This month, Wendy and I tackled the book Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption. Unbroken is the story of Louis Zamporini written by Laura Hillenbrand. I have actually had this book in my to-read pile for a couple of year and now that I have finished it, I cannot believe that I didn’t read it earlier.

Unbroken book club

Unbroken is a fascinating book. The story of Louis Zamporini is undoubtedly one of the fullest, most difficult, yet most inspiring I have read. Louis is known to most people as the man who was going to break the 4-minute mile mark in running until WWII got in the way. His childhood was intensely difficult, for him and his parents. He just could not find what fit him and so he was troubled and caused a lot of trouble. But his older brother finally got him into running and he found his stride in life.

After running in the Olympics in Germany in 1936, he was poised to really make his mark in the 1940 Olympics. WWII began just months before them and they were cancelled. Louis joined the military and became a bombardier. After training, he was sent to the Pacific and it was there that the remainder of his military career was spent. One fateful day, the crew he was with were sent to look for a downed plane. Their own plane went down and they crashed in the Pacific Ocean.

Louis and two others were the only survivors. After drifting on a raft for weeks, they were picked up by the Japanese. This is the point where the unbelievable part of the story begins. Sent to camp after camp, Louis and Phil, the final two survivors spent the remainder of the war in POW camps. Louis was never registered with the Red Cross and so was presumed dead. What they survived in the camps is just about unspeakable. It is truly a testament to Louis’ fortitude, strength of character, attitude, and stone-cold will that he came out of the camp alive. That any of them did but Louis was a target – a target of rage.

When he came out of the POW camp at the end of the war, he was a very different man. After marrying, he fell into the power of the nightmares, flashbacks, and other trauma that afflicted him. He didn’t know how to fight it and it consumed him. His wife did much to stick by him, help him, and eventually, drug him to tent revival held by Billy Graham. He was touched by the message. He heard God’s love and was changed. His life was given back to him and he grabbed it with two hands, as he had done everything else in his life.

From then on, he worked to help and bless others. He created camps to help struggling boys find their way. He gave speeches about what he had endured during the war. He traveled far and wide to talk to those who wanted to hear him. He was never able to regain enough strength and overcome his injuries from the POW camp and become a strong runner again but his life touched so many more. He was used by God for a force of good and encouragement.

What a story!

These questions are from the back of the book:

Is Louie a hero? How do you define heroism?

I think he is a hero because he fought for what was right. I think that is the simplest definition of a hero – someone who fights for what is right, even at risk of personal comfort or safety. Louie was a hero because he fought not only in the military but in his own way, day-by-day, each day of the war. He did all he could to be strong, to show strength to others, to stand tall and not let others down. He wasn’t going to be broken.

Louie was especially close to his brother, Pete, who devoted himself to him. If Pete hadn’t been there, what do you think would have become of Louie? Does Pete deserve credit for shaping Louie into a man who could endure and survive his Odyssean ordeal?

Absolutely, there is credit due to Pete. He saw the potential in Louie when others were ready to dismiss him and give up on him. Pete pushed Louie to be the best he could and helped him in all the ways he could find to do so. Pete definitely helped Louie become the man who survived the war. There were other forces at work, as well, but Pete was a defining force for Louie.

What are your feelings about Mac? Do you feel sympathy for him? Anger? If you endured the trauma of a plane crash and were placed in a situation that you knew very few men survived, might you have reacted as he did? In the end, do you think he redeemed himself?

I do feel a lot of sympathy for Mac. Mac reacted with fear to a fearful situation and, in eating all of the food supplies they had, made things worse. But he didn’t do it in his right mind. Extreme fear and trauma can make people do strange, unreasonable things. I found Louie’s response so amazing and generous – a glimpse of the person deep inside that hadn’t had tons of opportunity to shine yet – a person of strength and leadership and responsibility. Mac found out that day just how forgiving one can be. In the end, I do believe he redeemed himself as best he could. There was little that he could do but he did it, fighting off the sharks and helping to keep the raft safe and afloat. It wasn’t enough to save himself but his actions helped keep Louie and Phil alive. That is also an act of heroism.

The POWs took enormous risks to carry out thefts, sabotage, and other acts of defiance. Men would risk their lives to steal items as trivial as pencil boxes. What benefit did they derive from defiance that was worth risking death or severe beatings?

I can only imagine. In that, I imagine that it was an act that gave them a feeling of control, something they had little of. Also, in these acts, they were doing little things to hamper the enemy and “help” the war. These acts strengthen character and give encouragement to continue on. Every little bit of encouragement is helpful when you are in the dark days.

Unbroken reveals that, under the “kill-all order,” the Japanese planned to murder all POWs, a plan that was never carried out because of the dropping of the atomic bombs. The book also explores the lengths to which the Japanese were prepared to go to avoid surrender. How did the book make you feel about America’s use of the atomic bomb on Japan?

This is a really hard one because all I have is the book and information. I wasn’t there but I do struggle with the amount of lives lost and permanently damaged from it. I don’t know how much America knew of the damage that would really come from it but in some ways, it is easy to justify and say “it was worth it. It ended the war and thus, in the long run, saved many, many lives.” At the same time, the long term effects of the bombs is crazy and the fear reported in the book are significant. So, I can accept it without issue but am thankful we are not currently in a position where there is need to consider something like this. And I pray we are never in that kind of a position again.

Why do you think most WWII literature has focused on the European war, with so little attention paid to the Pacific war?

No clue. My guess is that we in America are predominantly linked through ancestry to Europe. That is kind of our “history.” As I read more and more, there are truly stories though from around the entire globe about the battles and effects of WWII. There is much, much more to WWII than the European theater and we need to help our children see this because the effects of it are still visible today. Broader world-views give us all a more compassionate view of others.

I’m going to close it here. I could go on. There are actually 23 questions in the book and some of them are very deep-thinking ones. I encourage you to read what Wendy wrote about Unbroken on Ladybug Daydreams.

Waiting

Next month:
The selection for next month is Waiting for Rachel by Kimberly Rae Jordan. It is currently available for free on Kindle over on Amazon.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Blessings,
At Home.

An Invisible Thread – Book Club

Wendy suggested this month’s book and I enjoyed it tremendously. Such an inspiring tale to be told. Don’t forget to check out what Wendy says about An Invisible Thread.

An Invisible Thread: The True Story of an 11 year-old panhandler, a busy sales executive, and an unlikely meeting with destiny

by Laura Schroff and Alex Tresniowski

An Invisible Thread

A busy, noisy street corner in New York is not exactly the place where you imagine life changing for ever. But it did for Laura and Maurice one Monday afternoon. Maurice was begging for a small amount of change, enough to get something, anything, to eat. Laura walked past but then, for a reason unknown to herself, she turned around and talked to the youngster. She ended up taking him to McDonalds and spending some time with him. She thought that was the end of it until she could not stop thinking of him. She was able to find him again, as unlikely as it was in New York, and that is how her interactions with Maurice came to change both of their lives.

Laura knew nothing about just how different their lives were. After all, she had never experienced anything like that. But danger, drugs, prostitution, and a slew of other illegal activity were just part of life and survival for Maurice. As Laura and Maurice got to know each other, he opened up to her about his life. Laura struggled to know just how to maneuver the relationship – she wanted to help but she didn’t want to take over; she wanted to influence but she did not want to discredit those who were in his life already (as bad as it was, he loved his family); she wanted  him to dream of something different than he knew but not feel that she was looking down on him for where his life was right then; she wanted him to experience a fuller, richer life but she didn’t want it to be hard for him to cross back over into the life he actually had to live every day. And then, how were others going to see her?

She continued to be a committed influence in Maurice’s life and to do her best to help him change his own circumstances, knowing she could not change them for him. She helped him experience life beyond the walls he knew and to see the possibilities. With family, she exposed him to holidays that he had never celebrated, baseball games with afternoons of joy, and time to concentrate on school instead of survival. And it mattered.

Laura didn’t have an easy life either, though hers did not involve poverty. It did, however, involve alcoholism and abuse. This was something that allowed her to relate to Maurice and for Maurice to see that you can overcome what life hands you to start with. When Laura shared parts of her life with him, he was able to see that Laura really did understand difficulty to some degree. And it bonded them.

The finest part of the book comes at the end, where Maurice writes his own tribute to Laura, who made a difference to him. He tells of the moments that stuck out during their years of friendship and how her belief in him helped him to believe in himself. His letter is extremely touching.

One of my favorite parts is where Maurice sees Laura’s niece and brother-in-law interact. The little girl is very upset and crying hard. Her dad, Laura’s brother-in-law crosses over to her, and Maurice fears what he just knew to be coming – a beating and abuse. But he is shocked to see Laura’s brother-in-law crouch down, talk calmly and reassuringly to her, and to hug her. It was a changing point in Maurice’s life – he saw something possible for the future that he didn’t even know existed.

The book’s title is based upon an Asian proverb that talks about an invisible thread that binds people together, bringing them into each other’s lives. Laura believe’s this invisible thread brought Maurice and her together and allowed them both to live richer, fuller lives because of it.

The book was not hard to read as far as words go. But to read about the life Maurice had to endure, and to escape? That was hard. I know that life exists but I am blessed to never have lived anything even remotely close to that. But to read about the influence that started with a simple meal? That is huge and touching and inspiring. Now to take that and move ever more boldly forward. . .

Next Month – Unbroken by Laura Hildenbrand

 

Don’t forget to visit Wendy over at Ladybug Daydreams to find out all that she offers on her blog and to read about her thoughts on the book.

At Home

Keep Moving – Book Club

Book club:Ladybug Daydrams and At Home where life happens

Keep Moving and Other Tips and Truths About Aging

by Dick Van Dyke (published 2015)

Keep Moving

In this memoir, we get to see the spirit of Dick Van Dyke and what has kept him young-at-heart through the years. He talks in length about his attitude toward life and others, his activity, and the way he has kept on keeping on. Mr. Van Dyke has shown us through his funny and insightful writings that life gets better as you age and experience things. When he wrote this book, he was in his ninth DECADE of show-business. Now that is longevity!

Old age is something that Mr. Van Dyke should be very familiar with yet he tells us several times in his book that he finds himself looking around and thinking “Am I old?” He has decided that age is just as number and you only feel as old as you let yourself. He encourages the read to be active (dance is best, of course), take changes with a smile, and live the life you want to life; don’t let fear or society talk you into something less than your dreams.

Now, with that being said, he also does not allow for excuses. If something doesn’t work out, pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and give it another go or change your dream. He does not allow excuses to dictate any of his life.

I found that one of the things that stuck with me most about Mr. Van Dyke is the measuring stick he uses for choosing which projects he would be a part of. He said that if he would not let his children see that work, he should not be doing it. In this way, he never participated in anything that he regrets. That says a lot to me about the type of person Mr. Van Dyke is.

I also really enjoyed the chapter he titled “Ninety Year – A Report Card.” In this chapter, he talks about memorable things from various years of his life. From important books to movies, from his own work to the work of others who influenced him (think Laurel and Hardy or The Benny Goodman Orchestra), this chapter was in interesting overview of the years and things that happened. And each one received a grade – A to F.

This book was a fun, enjoyable read that brought many laughs and smiles, just like all of his work. A witty way with words makes the book a pleasant way to spend your time. This is a read that I highly recommend to everyone. It is clean and fun.

Visit Wendy at Ladybug Daydreams to read what she thought about Keep Moving.

An Invisible Thread

Next month’s selection is

An Invisible Thread: The True Story of an 11 year-old panhandler, a busy sales executive, and an unlikely meeting with destiny

by Laura Schroff and Alex Tresniowski

At Home.

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