Category Archives: books

Running Around (and such)

Linda Byler writes with authenticity about the Amish in “Running Around (and such)”, because she herself is Amish! This coming of age story takes place in Pennsylvania and is the first in a series. If Amish culture interests you, this is one to pick up! (Bonus authentic recipes and glossary at the back!)

Book Description:

“It isn’t that Lizzie doesn’t want to stay Amish. It’s just that there is so much to figure out.

Like why can’t she let her hair a little looser on top?

And why can’t she wear shoes with a little bit more of a heel?

And will she ever really just know for a fact who she is going to marry like her next-older sister, Emma, does?

And how does it happen that her just-younger sister, Mandy, is going on a date before Lizzie ever has a real one?

So does it matter at all if she eats one more whoopie pie? Amos seems to like her a lot when she pounds out the ping-pong games. He even asks her to be his partner in doubles. But then he asks Ruthie if he can take her home!

It has been this way Lizzie’s whole life.

She has too hot a temper. She hates housework and dislikes babies. She loves driving fast horses but is petrified of going away from home for a week to work as a maud (maid).

Now that Lizzie is running around, will she scare off the Amish boys with her hi-jinks manners?

She has certainly attracted the attention of the egg-truck driver. A scary thrill runs through her every time the worldly man comes to pick up an order, each time extending his stay a little longer. How long will she keep this a secret from Emma-and from Mamm and Datt?

What will become of Lizzie? Is she too spirited, too innocent, and almost too uninhibited for a young Amish woman?”

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The Classics (Reader’s Digest Collection)

I love these Reader’s Digest books! The latest one, “The Classics: All You Need to Know, from Zeus’s Throne to the Fall of Rome”, is by Caroline Taggert, the same author of “I Used To Know That”, also in the Reader’s Digest series.

This one does not disappoint. The quality is in keeping with the rest of the collection, from the book’s design to its content.

Like “Cliff Notes”, this book tells you everything you need to know in an easy to read format. Sections of the book include: Classical Languages, Religion and Mythology, Ancient Greek History, Roman History, Classical Literature, Architecture and Art, Math, Science and Inventions, and more.

Some of my favorite sections included: Translations of common Latin phrases, short profiles of Greek gods, and the history of the Olympics.

Conclusion: Another great book from Reader’s Digest and worth adding to your bookshelf!

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Of Mice and Men

Last year I read John Steinbeck’s Tortilla Flat, and I’ll admit that I picked it up purely because the title caught my attention. I ended up not only loving the story, but Steinbeck’s writing.

How did I make it through all of my Honors English classes without being forced to read at least one of his works? … Well, I guess better late than never.

So this year I decided to read Of Mice and Men. (I like to mix a few classics into the new fiction that I read.)

Reading this book as a writer is fascinating because Steinbeck breaks “the rules” but he does it beautifully. While reading Of Mice and Men, (and also Tortilla Flat), I wondered how Steinbeck researched before writing. How did he manage to replicate so perfectly the language and lifestyle of migrant laborers?

My answer came at the back of the book in the “About the Author” section.

“John Steinbeck was born in Salinas, California, in 1902. His first three books were financial failures, and he worked at various kinds of jobs to survive, including fruit picking…”

A good reminder for writers to “write what you know”.

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World Cup Reads for Teens

I love football (“soccer”), and the World Cup always brings us some new fans. If your tween or teen has expressed an interest, take advantage of that new passion and get them reading! Here are some cool books about soccer in Juvenile Fiction and Young Adult genres.

Tangerine by Edward Bloor

The Million Dollar Kick by Dan Gutman

Breakaway by Kimberley Griffiths Little

Keeper by Mal Peet

The Penalty by Mal Peet

Trouble in Soccertown by Rita and Spencer Olin

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Broken Glass Park

Alina Bronsky, like her character 17 year old Sascha Naimann, is a Russian immigrant who moved to Germany. Broken Glass Park is Bronsky’s first novel, (English version translated by Tim Mohr), and was nominated for one of Europe’s most prestigious literary awards, the Ingeborg Bachmann Prize.

The main character, Sascha, starts out by telling us she has two goals in life. The first is to write a book about her mother, and the second is to kill Vadim, her incarcerated step-father who brutally murdered her mother in front of her and her younger siblings. Despite this intriguing piece of information, the book started off slow for me but really picked up the pace as the story unraveled. Even when the plot wasn’t moving as fast as I’d have liked, the writing was strong throughout with many unique metaphors and well developed characters. Sascha in particular is an especially memorable character; intelligent, witty, deep thinking, rebellious and angry as teenage years demand, yet responsible as a result of her circumstances. Broken Glass Park is a unique coming-of-age story which touches on the immigrant experience, domestic violence, poverty, and how the choices we make in life determine our destiny.

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Top Baby Names for 2009 courtesy of Twilight craze

The top girl’s baby name for 2009 is “Isabella”, because of the character “Bella” from the Twilight book series.

The top boy’s name for 2009 was “Jacob”, (another Twilight character), and “Cullen” (the surname of Twilight vampire, Edward Cullen), also saw a major surge.

Source: NationalPost.com

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Liselle and the Birch Prince


Book title/author: Liselle and the Birch Prince by Bryan P. Hunt/Illustrated by Tanya Lam

About the book:

It’s been called nature-deficit disorder: the disturbing reality that today’s over-protected, technology-addicted children are almost completely disconnected from nature. The phenomenon has been linked not only to childhood obesity and psychological imbalances, but also to the steady destruction of the environment—and some say it points to the eventual breakdown of society itself. For author Bryan P. Hunt, recognizing this dilemma was one of the main motivators behind the writing of his second children’s book, Liselle and the Birch Prince, a magical modern fairytale that weaves together subtle lessons on bravery, selflessness, and the eternal power of love against the enchanting backdrop of nature’s untarnished beauty.

My Review:

I sat down this evening and read this book to my youngest son, who is 8 years old. We don’t often read fairy tales anymore. We’ve read many of the classics, (most recently Alice and Wonderland), but this book is unique – not what we usually find at the library. The language was accessible to his age group while not being condescendingly simple in the least. The writing itself was good quality and he enjoyed the illustrations, (which looked to be watercolors.) His only complaint was when I finished the book he asked, “What happens next?” – This was partly a desire for the narrative to continue because it was good, and partly a comment on how abruptly the author ended the story. The ending is somewhat unsatisfactory and not exactly the “happily ever after” one expects, but my son wants to know when the rest of it will be written, so he did enjoy it. Perhaps the author will consider making it a series.

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