Tuesday, September 15, 2009

For the Record: August 2009

I'm so busy that not only has it taken me 2 weeks to get around to doing something I'm on top of, but I'm not even going to do a thorough individual job at it...I'm going to copy and paste my book reviews from LibraryThing! The good news (or bad news, depending on your viewpoint) is that I'm so busy this month that I'll have very few reviews that even need writing next month. As it is, most of the books I read in August were pre-reading for school.

Mara, Daughter of the Nile (Puffin Story Books)Mara, Daughter of the Nile, Eloise Jarvis McGraw Action, romance, intrigue...not to mention history and culture...this book is fast paced without being shallow. The story is balanced enough to be enjoyable for both boys and girls, I think. The romance isn't mushy, the action isn't contrived, and the suspense holds steady throughout the book. I liked seeing the difference between slave life and noble life, between Egyptian life and Syrian life...it's a great way to have fun learning some history.

The Pharaohs of Ancient Egypt, Elizabeth Payne This book gives a good overview of the Pharaohs and historical highlights of Ancient Egypt. It includes some good b&w photos of architectural finds. There were occasions when the text was a little too opinionated, relying on conjecture, ("They seemed scarcely more human than the wild animals they so feared.") but for the most part seems to do a good job of teaching about Egypt.

Landscaping With Fruit: Strawberry ground covers, blueberry hedges, grape arbors, and 39 other luscious fruits to make your yard an edible paradise. (A Homeowners Guide)Landscaping With Fruit, Lee Reich Rarely have I seen a gardening book that combines a great layout, many great photos, as well as easy to read, entertaining, and informative writing. I enjoyed reading this book and still pick it up for reference.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, L. Frank Baum Maybe it was because I never read the book when I was young, or maybe I simply don't have an innate appreciation for fantasy literature, but this book--like the movie--is just weird to me. My girls (whom I read the book aloud to) thought that it was pretty good; they have yet to see the movie. All that said, I'm glad to have read it--simply because it makes me feel more culturally literate. : )

Hittite Warrior, Joanne Williamson This book provides an interesting look at ancient history from a viewpoint other than the Egyptians. It was written fairly simply, but full of adventure and action. I liked how you get a sense of how the varying cultures interacted, as well as how much people's religions played a part in their lives.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (Random House Reader's Circle)The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society, Mary Ann Shaffer This was a sweet lighthearted look at a heartbreaking point in history. The characters weren't very deeply drawn, but were touching and enjoyable to read about nonetheless. It was a look at the world through rose-colored glasses, a way to sympathize with those that lost without feeling swamped in the mire. I wish that I knew people like those in the book. It was a bit of a fantasy, but a nice little foray.

God King, Joanne Williamson My initial impression wasn't entirely favorable, because the story took a little while for me to get into. The action quickly picked up however, and I sped through the rest of the book. Written simply enough for younger readers, I liked the balance of ancient and biblical history. There was enough interest and adventure to hold interest, while still being fully historical. A fun way to learn about history, and to get a more personal interpretation of biblical cultures and stories.

Mr. Popper's Penguins, Richard and Florence Atwater This is the story of a housepainter in a small American town. He's always wanted to travel, but has never been able to...he loves books and movies of the Arctic and Antarctic. He is married to a lovely lady whose main concern is how tidy the house is; therefore she dreads winter--Mr. Popper's off-season--when he'll be lying around the house reading books. Too hard to keep a house tidy! Of course, the addition of a penguin to the family changes everything. This story is quick to read and funny. The fact that it was written in 1938 lends to much of it's charm. It's quite funny that nobody knows what a penguin is, and that the penguins ride on buses, in taxis, and stay in hotels mostly because no one has had any experience with them to say otherwise. My 5 year-old and 8 year-old daughters both enjoyed listening to this book.

The Song of the LarkThe Song of the Lark, Willa Cather This is the second work of Willa Cather's that I've read (previously read O Pioneers!) but it convinced me to read all of Cather's works (My Antonia is next). The theme wasn't quite as strong as in O Pioneers, but there were moments that were so insightful, beautiful, and touching that it was very much worth the reading. I love how all of the feelings and emotions are described and explained. The sentiment mixed with duty (whether to others or oneself) is tangible. How Thea's journey to unleash her artistic side is so intrinsically tied to her memories of home makes for a deeply touching story.

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