Thursday, 31 July 2014

The July 2014 Book Review

Here's how my reading list for July went:

The Book of Romans
- This is rather slow going as our Bible commentary is long and complicated, but very worthwhile and illuminating, so I'll continue through Romans for about the next five months if my progress this month is anything to go by :) I'm learning lots though so I think I'd rather go deeply into this one book for now, than be a mile wide and an inch deep in my studies. Whilst reading some more historical background elements of the commentary, James and I had a foray into Proverbs as well and I think we'll continue to dip into these wise verses as we proceed through Romans.

I don't know where I read this recently but it really struck a chord - we overestimate what we can do in the short-term (e.g. saying I'm going to reorganise the whole house TODAY) and underestimate what we can do in the long-term (e.g. underestimating the effects of a little bit of organisation, like sorting a drawer, done daily). The best example I've seen of this in my own life is how it seemed a neverending task beginning to read to my son from longer competent reader/young adult books but I've read him more than sixteen books in the last seven months. My motto should be a little bit every day will get it done or plan big and execute in small chunks.

Mothering Your Nursing Toddler (PB, Norma Jane Bumgarner)
- I finally have to accept that as much as this book is "good," I'm just not in the mood/frame of mind to read it. It'll be returned next month, unread, since James and I skipped this month's meeting.

Christian Autobiography
Something Other Than God (HB, Jennifer Fulwiler)
- I planned to read up to at least the end of the first chapter but instead dived right in and am about to begin chapter seven. The chapters are short and easy to read and not so deeply contemplative as I thought, I mean they are for Jen but not so for the reader, just interesting, the book is like taking a walk through her brain.

Christian Non-fiction
Five Lessons from the Carmelite Saints That Will Change Your Life (free e-book, Connie Rossini)
- Lessons two and three - again a little too Catholic dogma focused for me but it gave an interesting perspective on prayer. Simply put it mentioned that prayer is a must because if all else was lost (think stranded on a desert island) we will always have prayer as a communion with God. It also spoke of how holiness starts with love - we love Him because He first loved us - certainly not disagreeable!
I continued on and lesson four covered (briefly) how we should be willing to give up all for God (obviously but truly difficult) and gave examples sports, late night TV, caffeine, chocolate - all very good and then it took a turn for the odd by saying rather than listening to the Holy Spirit's guidance about what "addictions" (or distractions) we should give up for God; we should just deny ourselves something we want each day and "offer it up" - what?! Odd ritual rather than Godly direction I feel. I loved this quote though about how we can be tied down (or kept further from God) by the small issues as well as the big: "It makes little difference whether a bird is tied by a thin thread or by a cord. Even if it is tied by a thread, the bird will be held bound... it will be impeded from flying as long as it does not break the thread." (St. John of the Cross, Ascent of Mount Carmel, Book One, 11.4.)
Lesson five focused on relying on God (good) and I liked the line: "Your sins don't surprise or shock God. He knows you better than you know yourself, and He loves you without measure." The synposis at the end almost captured it all but failed (bad) to mention the need for repentance of sin (direct to God) whilst developing your intimate relationship with Him (good) and ended on the "saints pray for us" line (not for me). I believe in Jesus interceding for us not those already resting with the Lord. Still interesting to read a foray into the differing beliefs of Roman Catholicism.

Finding Sage: The Rogue (e-book, Logan Judy)
- Insomnia and being sucked into this "other" world, led me to work through this novel much quicker than planned. The world of Rogues and a global government had a very high death rate but I appreciated the "realism" of that as a consequence of the "reality" in which the characters found themselves. Very enjoyable, though it ended a lot more suddenly than I expected, I await the sequel(s) eagerly.

Homeschooling Day By Day: A Thriving Guide for Mothers (e-book, Kirsty Howard - Editor)
- I was very glad I'd bought this in a sale as when I first began it I was extremely disappointed at the VERY short "chapters." Thus far I consider it more of a "Daily Bread" type devotional than a really encouraging "book."
The first chapter's lessons were to let God lead the way and the accompanying Scripture was to keep pressing on toward the goal but there wasn't much actual writing beyond these two universal truths.
Chapter two focused on letting go of pride and perfectionism and the belief in an ability to do it all in your own strength, reminding us/me to rely on God, accept His grace and let Him be our/my strength, allowing Him to shine through us/me. Easy to read, hard to live.
50 Veteran Homeschoolers Share... Things We Wished We'd Known (PB, Edited by Bill & Diana Waring)
- I added this to the list as my hubby has just begun to read this through, so I'm reading it (after about ten years) alongside him so we can discuss it with one another. I've re-read the first six of the sixty (short) chapters/articles under the sub-heading of Concepts, Basics, Priorities, God's Involvement, Christian Character and Blessings and it's very interesting reading it again with more years of research behind me. Hubs has read a good few more so I have a little catching up to do. This was the first book I ever read on homeschooling and it's fascinating to see how my opinions have been changed, adapted or refined over the years.

Modern Christian Novel
For Keeps: Aggie's Inheritance Series (Book 2/3, e-book, Chautona Havig)
- At times it was difficult to stop (and sometimes I didn't) after only one chapter but since I know the Aggie stories will reach an end, I wanted to savour each bit. Very high level of writing in this and I like the quirky inclusion of instant messenger style communications late at night. The faith and servant-hearts demonstrated by the characters in these books is wonderful and very encouraging. Christians supporting Christians is not as prevalent as it could/should be and I'm very guilty of living an insular life, not reaching out to those around (Christians and non-Christians alike). I really enjoyed reading about their journey into homeschooling (the author is a homeschooling mama so she writes what she knows) and it was interesting to see the educationally-trained characters look at the different homeschooling styles (albeit briefly). Despite my best intentions I finished this mid-July but I have held out to read the sequel in August.

What Katy Did Next (3/5, free e-book, Susan Coolidge) and
Clover (4/5 free e-book, Susan Coolidge)
- Katy's adventures thrugh Europe and her serenity and grace throughout are a great example. I enjoyed the romance element with its gentility and courtship and the emotions of the Amy storylines had my James saying "Mummy sad" as I swiped away manys-a-tear and choked back sobs-a-plenty. Such a well-written series with characters so rounded out that you feel you know them as intimately as the best of your friends. This quality of penmanship just doesn't compare to so many of the recently published books available. Though Hunger Games was excellent if a little bit different ;)
"Clover" continued the series through Katy's wedding and onto Clover and Phil's adventures in the "Wild West" of newly settled Colorado. Reading through Clover's romances was a different thing to Katy's as she kept her own counsel while surrounded by beaux and then through her subsequent engagement untik she could soeak to "Papa."
We just finished Clover yesterday, which was a marvel as a first read-through for me, as was its prequel, and are starting on the final installment today.
*sniff sniff*
We shall miss all the Carrs.

100 LB Loser (purchased e-book, Jessica Heights)
- Many tears as I re-read the first two chapters, I've been in such a rut and need to break free. I particularly liked the quotation attributed to C. S. Lewis - "You do not have a soul. You are a soul; you have a body."

The Valley of Heaven and Hell: Cycling in the Shadow of Marie Antoinette (free at the time e-book, Susie Kelly)
- Cheesy chapter five was read (it concerned cheese). Chapter six continued the journey and history lessons.

I also read a dire modern novel (a free e-book) too poor to mention and now happily deleted from my kindle app., a well-written and typically melodramatic romance, and samples of two autobiographies, the first of which I bought for my Dad for his birthday (lots of toilet humour).

I've been really enjoying getting back into using my kindle app. as that's how we've been reading through the "Katy" books but I couldn't even remember what genre most of the freely downloaded e-books could be assigned. So I set to work and spent the better part of the last week organising the hundreds/thousands of e-books into genres as well as reading the beginning of umpteen different works to help me classify them. Hopefully I'll finish the shunting the last of them into classifications today (only one letter to go but it's a doozey).

This dipping into so many different books has really invigorated me and I am so looking forward to finishing all these barely started tomes. And as we slide into August I'm equally looking forward to the third and final installment of the "Aggie" books and continuing through the rest of my planned reads.

What have you read this month to challenge, stimulate or relax?

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