Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Year in Review

So, here's how it played out. My plan was to read one book each month from a set list. While I read a great deal more than one title per month, I didn't manage to read everything I'd planned to. I read:

with varying degrees of enjoyment and edification.

I attempted to read:

And I did not read:

  • There is a God by Antony Flew

  • Prisoner of Birth by Jeffrey Archer

  • Heaven is Real by Don Piper, and

  • Who Switched Off My Brain? by Caroline Leaf (my husband did read this, though, and says it's fantastic)

Next post, the reading list for 2010! In the meantime, how did your reading go in 2009? Did you meet your goals? What stood out for you - the best, the worst, the mediocre...?

Sunday, December 20, 2009

On Strike for Christmas

by Sheila Roberts
St. Martin's Griffin, 2007

Joy's had it with husband, Bob Humbug. After all the personal sacrifices she's made over the years to accommodate his dislike of social gatherings, it's time he saw just how much he'd miss if she stopped taking charge of the holiday. It's time for a strike.

When Joy shares her idea with her knitting group, the Stitch 'n Bitchers, Sharon (called Yulezilla by her husband), Laura, and Kay jump at the chance to join her and teach their men a lesson. Only Carol, whose husband died two years earlier, and Jerri, who is battling cancer, opt to sit the strike out.

Many will relate to the feelings these women express, and Roberts provides a light, fun read. Of course, it's not only the men who have something to learn, and as the plot progresses, the women, too, are exposed to some eye-openers.

I love reading Christmas stories at this time of year, and this was a great choice. Need to relax and de-stress? This is the perfect book to read by the fire.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Why Did God Give Us Emotions? A Biblical Perspective on What Science Has Discovered About Emotions

by Reneau Peurifoy
Life Skills Publications, 2009

Emotions are such a mysterious gift. They take us to heights of ecstasy. They dash us on the rocks of despair. They can bind us together and tear us apart. They can move some to noble acts of courage and self-sacrifice, and in others, they are the force behind terrible acts of evil and destruction.

Why did God make us this way? How are we supposed to manage this wonderful and mystifying gift we call emotions? In his new book Why Did God Give Us Emotions?, author Reneau Peurifoy takes a detailed look at the many sources of our emotional responses and the roles our emotions play in our thoughts, actions, relationships with others and relationship with God. Why Did God Give Us Emotions? is a book twenty years in the making, based on Peurifoy’s focused study, counseling experiences, and growing maturity in the faith.

“From the very start I’ve had two goals: I wanted to look at what science has learned about emotions from a biblical perspective, and I wanted to do it in a way that would strengthen the reader’s walk with God,” Peurifoy states. “Over the last two decades, I’ve seen the strengths of science and psychology in helping people and making our lives more comfortable. I’ve also become acutely aware of the inability of science and psychology to address the true source of human misery: sin and our separation from God. I believe that God has helped me write a book that will be useful to many.”

Peurifoy, who holds a Master’s in counseling, stresses the importance of recognizing how the individual aspects of emotions interconnect. He focuses on four main aspects of emotions: their subjective nature, their physical side, their mental side, and their spiritual side. Why Did God Give Us Emotions? addresses topics like:

· Are some emotions “good” and others “bad”?
· The role of medications in treating emotional problems
· How our core beliefs affect our interpretation of events
· How emotions are the true window into our souls
· How to stop hiding from “taboo” emotions
· What keeps us from hearing God
· The role emotions play in becoming the person God wants us to become

There is certainly no shortage of counseling and self-help books lining the shelves of Christian bookstores today. Why Did God Give Us Emotions? is destined to distinguish itself from the rest. With simple, straightforward verbiage (no pop psychology terms here), practical steps to follow, and twenty years of wisdom and insight, Peurifoy’s book is essential reading for pastors, counselors, and those struggling with emotional issues as well as the general reader who wants to understand this wonderful, yet often mysterious gift and gain skills for managing emotions more effectively. Also included is a section of discussion questions, making Why Did God Give Us Emotions? an ideal vehicle for small group study.

[Note: this book was provided by the publisher and the above information was offered for posting. I did read the first eight chapters, and think some would find the book interesting and helpful. Although I had trouble getting into it, I do plan to finish the book at some point. If I end up having a more personal response, I will pen a new review.]

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Kneeknock Rise

by Natalie Babbitt
Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2007 reprint

When Egan goes to Instep to visit his aunt, uncle, and cousin for the town's annual fair, he is eager to hear evidence of the monster, Megrimum that lives on Kneeknock Rise. Megrimum sounds his eerie groans whenever there's a rainstorm, and tourists come from far and wide for the unique auditory experience. Everyone wants to hear Megrimum, but no one wants to climb Kneeknock Rise to see him, for the word is that none come back alive.

As the fair draws to a close and raindrops start to fall, Egan and his cousin, Ada, get into a dispute. Ada goads him into proving he is not a sissy by climbing the Rise, and Egan takes up the challenge, accompanied by his uncle's faithful dog, Annabelle.

What will Egan find if he gets to the mountain's top? Does the Megrimum really exist, and if so, will he slay it or be defeated?

This well-written, thoughtful book was the recipient of the Newbery Award in 1984. Recommended for young readers or as a read-aloud.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Incident Report

by Martha Baillie
Pedlar Press, 2009

I was a bit worried when I received this library hold earlier than anticipated. But as I flipped through the pages, I breathed a sigh of relief - there was a lot of white space on most of the pages!

Forget journal entries, correspondence, straightforward plot, or stories told from differing viewpoints. This story is told in spurts - each little incident forming its own report. Mariam, the book's protagonist, is a library clerk in Toronto. Her career seems to be dictated by her dead father's love affair with books, and the library is populated by customers on the fringe of society, as well as quirky coworkers. When she meets Janko at a local park, he fills a void in her life, bringing happiness and a feeling of security. But someone at the library seems to be stalking her and Mariam can't figure out who. Is there any such thing as safety?

I found this book interesting for its experimental style. The story's climax came as a bit of a surprise and the abrupt ending disappointed. At least it disappointed me. The book was a Giller Prize nominee after all, and is the sort of book that provokes discussion and controversy.

There Goes the Bride: An Agatha Raisin Mystery

by M.C. Beaton,
Minotaur Books, 2009

I confess - I'm in love with Agatha Raisin! There's just something undeniably attractive about this insecure, crusty, middle-aged amateur sleuth.

In episode 20, Agatha's ex-husband is on the verge of marrying Felicity Bross-Tilkington, a beautiful younger woman. In a mood of reminiscence and regret, Agatha holidays in Istanbul, where she is spotted by James, who is coincidentally visiting the same area and who concludes she is stalking him and his new fiancee. When Felicity is murdered just before the wedding, Agatha is a prime suspect, but is free to go when witnesses place her elsewhere.

Hired to investigate the death by the victim's mother, Agatha finds herself half-heartedly rebuffing the advances of a persuasive Frenchman who seems to be around whenever someone who might have information for Agatha turns up dead. Soon Agatha's own life is in danger. Will she escape or will the killer succeed in executing his ruthless plan?

Great fun. I read it in less than two hours and only wish the writer could pen her next installment as quickly!