1. Across Five Aprils; Hunt, Irene; 224; 1/4 (school)
SASR (Short Attention Span Review): This was my third time through the book, and each time it just bored me more. Just rambles. But! A great intro to what it would have been like to live through the Civil War as a kid. Rating: 5)
2. The Informant; Eichenwald, Kurt; 567; 1/3
SASR: Wow. What a crazy, crazy story! I really enjoyed this book – definitely the best book I’ve read this year. (Little joke there for ya.) Although the names can be hard to keep straight at times, this is a book about the price fixing schemes of a large corporation located close to us (ADM in Decatur). A man is used as cooperating witness with the FBI – but is he really helping? Or just confusing the matter with his lies? Made into a movie starring Matt Damon (which we haven’t seen yet – but I’m definitely looking forward to seeing it.). Additionally, here’s a Link to an article in World Magazine. Rating: 8
3. Storm Surge; Gutteridge, Rene; 348; 1/5
SASR: Third book in a trilogy of mysteries written by a Christian author. Good, light entertainment. Creepy and suspenseful. A little too much focus on the romance stuff. No man I know would notice whether a girl was wearing mascara or not – and this guy kept noticing it… which, instead of being “sweet”, I found rather creepy.
4. Juliet, Naked; Hornby, Nick; 390; 1/12
SASR: Book by author of High Fidelity and About a Boy – if you liked either of those books or movies, you’d like this. The title is in reference to an acoustic CD released by a musician who hasn’t done anything in about twenty years. A man and woman who are living together review the CD with two totally different views on it and….then the story happens!
5. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo; Larsson, Steig; 590; 1/14
SASR: I read this because I kept seeing it everywhere. Heavy on the R rated torture scenes, it was also a good mystery and definitely a page-turner. It centers on a journalist who is hired to write a history of a large family and to attempt to solve the mystery of a girl’s disappearance many years before.
6. Chateau of Echoes; Mitchell, Siri; 384; 1/15
SASR: I always enjoy Siri Mitchell’s books. They’re light, escape reading, but better written than most Christian lit. This one focuses on a recently widowed lady who lives in a chateau in France. Journals were found on the property written by a girl in the 1500’s. How do the two women’s lives intertwine?
7. The Other Queen; Gregory, Philippa; 438; 1/24
SASR: I have read most of Gregory’s books and have previously enjoyed them, but this one was scattered and not that interesting and – if you know even a little English history – you know what’s going to happen, so there’s no suspense. However, I don’t want to disparage Gregory’s writing! She usually is much more interesting, so if you want a good English monarchy book to read, try her “The Other Boleyn Girl” (or rent the movie).
(following books read in February – unfortunately, I lost track of dates due to the Olympic Fever which overtook me)
8. Parenting with Love and Logic: Cline, Foster and Fay, Jim; 272
SASR: Basically the point of the book is to let kid’s experience the consequence of their choices and stop making every decision for them. Starting with toddlers, all the way up until they’re ready to leave the house. I.E. Kid complains about the dinner being disgusting? Take the plate, dump it and they can see if they’re hungry at breakfast. Unfortunately for my daughter, I read this right before she wanted to buy a membership on an online club for kids. She’s currently raising money to buy that membership, since her mom won’t buy it for her. Donations may be sent ATTN: 10yo MIP Daughter. Rating: 7
9. Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?; Godin, Seth; 256
SASR: Godin’s a marketing genius and his point here is that the only way to make yourself indispensable is by being emotionally invested in your work. Frankly, as a mother, I don’t really worry about whether I’m indispensable or not. Until people learn how to replace the toilet paper roll, I’m good. Rating: 7
10. Dancing on My Ashes; Gillion, Heather and Snell, Holly; 2/23
SASR: Written by two sisters who were widowed when their husbands drowned in a canoeing accident, the book describes their grieving process and how their faith in the Lord grew through this difficult experience. Since I know Holly and Scott from school, I appreciated knowing how Holly’s faith held her through her grief.
11. Going Rogue: Palin, Sarah; 432
SASR: I hadn’t formed much of an opinion of Palin in the presidential race. I wasn’t ready to jump on the bandwagon and worship her. However, after reading her autobiography, I did come away with a respect for her and learned a lot about the campaign process. Well-written and informative. Rating: 8
11. Caddie Woodlawn; Brink, Carol Ryrie; 288
SASR: I read this out loud to the girls for school, and we thoroughly enjoyed it. It gives Laura Ingalls a run for her money! Caddie is a tomboy whose father wants to let her run free and whose mother wants her to learn to quilt. She experiences life on the prairie in Wisconsin and her successes and failures are enjoyable to read. Highly recommended.
12. CandyLand: Spelling, Candy; 248
SASR: A life unlike mine, that’s for sure. I don’t even think I’m envious. Even if I don’t have three gift wrapping rooms.
13. Burnt Toast; Hatcher, Teri; 207; 2/24
SASR: Let’s just say these last two books came from the biography aisle at the library. That’s my only excuse for having read them.
14. Too Small To Ignore: Why The Least of These Matters Most; Stafford, Wess and Merrill, Dean;
SASR: Story of the life of Wess Stafford – from missionary kid to president of Compassion International. He helps explain poverty to those who may never have the chance to travel and visit to see firsthand the needs of children everywhere. Definitely a book that spoke to my heart. And, trust me, I’m not one to use the phrase “spoke to my heart” lightly!
15. Common Sense; Beck, Glenn; 160; 3/1
SASR: Loaned to me by my father-in-law, I found this book interesting and short. Both good things. People like Beck tend to just upset me and cause me to feel anxious.Rating:7
16. Into Thin Air; Krakuer, Jon; 332; 3/6
SASR: Great reading. About the storm over Everest on May 10, 1996 that killed eight people, including two guides. Well-written and fascinating and also pretty much the seal on the “I’m Never Climbing Everest” pact I’ve taken with myself. Rating: 9
17. And the Sea Will Tell; Bugliosi, Vincent and Henderson, Bruce; 576; 3/12
SASR: Four people land on Palmyra Island – two people survive; two are murdered. Bugliosi details the stay on the island, and the following court trial. Bugliosi was the defendant’s lawyer in the case and his details and information on how the legal system work were very interesting. I highly recommend the book. Rating: 9
18. Troubled Waters; Gutteridge, Rene; 400; 3/17
SASR: Good, easy reading. Returning home for her father’s funeral, a lady confronts lingering issues with her past. And she deals with the fact that she and her father never reconciled. She ends up staying home to help her mother – and… read the book!Rating: 8
19. Crazy Love; Chan, Francis; 205; 3/20
SASR: Good book. Talks about not being lukewarm in your Christianity.Inspiring. Rating: 8
20. Guilt and Grace; Tournier, Paul; 213; 3/25
SASR: Tournier was a Swiss psychologist from the 1950’s. The first to combine the understanding that you can’t treat the psyche without treating the spiritual aspect of the individual. The topic of this book was guilt – false guilt, true guilt, and then guilt covered by the grace of God. Amazing book. Highly recommended. At times, he lost me in a few of his references, because – this may shock you – I am not “up” on my psychologists of the 50’s…but overall, great explanations and an encouraging book.(A favorite author of my father’s and grandfather’s as well! That’s where I got this book – I “stole” it from my dad’s library. Don’t tell.) Rating: 9
21. Look Again; Scottoline, Lisa; 373; 3/27
SASR: Great mystery. An adoptive mother sees a “Have you seen this child” card in the mail and the little boy looks strikingly similar to her son. What should she do? Good suspense.Rating:7
22. Jane Austen; Leithart, Peter; 155; 3/29
SASR: A good short biography of Jane Austen. Pros: Concise, author had a good way of story-telling and had a good sense of humor. Cons: Kept trying to “prove” Jane was a “Christian” and at times, this deviated from just telling the story of her life. He also kept referring to her as Jenny, in order to show her humility and “every day girl” aspect of her life, but did anyone really call her Jenny?? That was confusing to me. Otherwise, it was a good book – full of info for someone like me who has never studied her life… Rating: 7.5
23. Growing Grateful Kids; Larson, Susie; 176
SASR: Explains ways of teaching your kids to see God in their ordinary lives. Had some good points, but I will never teach my kids that if they pray for specific things to show up – i.e. a dinosaur comforter. Why base God’s goodness and kindness on a material thing?? What if the comforter doesn’t show up? Then what happens to your faith when you apply that to deeper issues like, why does my dad die of cancer even though I prayed? Rating: 5
24. Escape; Jessop, Carolyn; 413; 4/6
SASR: Jessop escaped from the FLDS cult, along with her eight children. She tells of her childhood in the cult – with an abusive mother. And then her arranged marriage to a man twice her age. Recounting tales of emotional and physical abuse and her life in a family where her husband had five (and more as the story goes on) wives, Jessop gives an interesting (and sickening) look into the FLDS cult.
25. First Things First: Warner, Kurt and Brenda; 282; 4/8
SASR: Kurt Warner (QB of the Arizona Cardinals) and his wife, Brenda discuss the rules of their household as they raise their seven children. Interesting, straightforward look at their lives – their ups and downs and the way they solve differences within their family. Both are Christians and seem to have an understanding that THAT’S what’s important in this life. Nothing else is! I appreciated their honesty and came away admiring them for their thoughtful rules on life!
26. The Great Turkey Walk; Karr, Kathleen; 208; 4/15
SASR: One of those rare books both kids and adults would like! Hilarious tale of a boy who decides to have a turkey drive to Denver, Colorado. The characters he meets along the way are what give the story its great flavor. (I read this out loud to the girls for school. I only count “school” books if I read them out loud to the kids.) Rating: 8
Mom Rating: 3 Kids
27. Travels With Charley; Steinbeck, John; 125; 4/20
SASR: I have an author crush on Steinbeck right now, and this book did not disappoint. A great overview of his trip across America in his camper he constructed on the back of his truck. And the passages about his poodle, Charley, who came along for the ride are hilarious. Rating: 9
Mom Rating: 2 kids
28. Wizard of Oz; Baum, L Frank; 228; 4/22
SASR: Read out loud to the kindergartner for school – third time I’ve read it out loud. While I enjoy some parts…I’m kinda tired of it, frankly. (Or should I say “L. Frank-ly”?) Rating: 7
Mom Rating: 3 kids
29. Dr Dolittle; Lofting, Hugh; 176; 4/23
SASR: Another out loud read to the Kindergartner; he enjoyed the parts about the animals and the Barbary Pirates, but other parts are a bit outdated and plodding. We also watched the 1960’s movie version starring Rex Harrison. Let’s just say it was one of the dumbest movies I’ve ever seen – including the part where the girl and the animals return to England riding inside the shell of a ginormous pink snail (i’m not joking). It also, according to IMDB, destroyed Rex Harrison’s career as a leading man.
Mom Rating: 3 kids
30. Nigella Express; Lawson, Nigella; 380; 4/24
SASR: I rarely put cookbooks on the list, but when I realized I literally read the entire book – including recipes – I had to include it! There is something about her presentation that catches my attention and the five or so recipes I’ve tried have been absolutely perfect. I even emailed a recipe from this to a friend because I want to force everyone of my facebook friends to cook from this!
Mom Rating: 3 kids and a Cubs game
31. Why We Love the Church – In Praise of Institutions and Organized Religion; DeYoung, Kevin and Kluck, Ted; 229; 4/25
SASR: Excellent book discussing the importance of church and being involved in a church. Especially in today’s culture, where it is cool to bash church and find “community” outside of church. Also focuses on what’s important – preaching the gospel. Much of the book is defending the church against authors and books that are seeking to “find a new way to do church”. If you spend all your time trying to reach the “seekers” and water church down, and if you remove the gospel, you have nothing.
Mom Rating: 0 kids (concentrate and listen!)
32. Handle With Care; Picoult, Jodi; 477; 4/29
SASR: One of the most depressing stories I’ve ever read. Discusses a little girl who has OI (otherwise known as brittle bone disease). The mom sues her OB Doctor – who happens to be her best friend – because she says the Doc should have told her about the disease earlier in the pregnancy. Obviously, this means she has to declare in court she would have had an abortion. How this affects the little girl, the older sister, the parent’s marriage and everyone else on this depressing earth, is the rest of the story.
Mom Rating: 3 kids – but you’ll constantly be grabbing them and giving them hugs, so they might get tired of being in the same room with you.
33. The Endurance – Shackleton’s Legendary Antarctic Expedition; Alexander, Caroline; 210; 5/1
SASR: Loved this record of Shackleton’s expedition – it included beautiful black and white photos taken by the crew’s photographer, which made the story all that much more interesting. Although a little harsher – because after you see the cutie patootie sledge dogs, you then have to read how they shot them all. But the true amazing story is in how Shackleton kept the crew together and led to their rescue after over a year on an ice floe. Amazing. (Also amazing to realize they couldn’t reach the South Pole, but a couple of the crew were alive when man walked on the moon!)
Mom Rating: 2 kids – you don’t want lots of kids being around when you’re crying about the dogs.
34. The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith; Keller, Timothy; 135; 5/3
SASR: Great exegesis on the story of the prodigal son. Are you an elder son or a younger son? Interesting insight.
Mom Rating: 0 kids. Focus.
36. Though Waters Roar; Austin, Lynn; 428; 5/4
SASR: Story of a grandma who was involved in Temperance Laws and the granddaughter who was just jailed for carrying bootleg alcohol.
Mom Rating: 3 kids.
37. The Great Wheel; Lawson, Robert;192: 5/10 (kids)
SASR: Novel about a boy who immigrates from Ireland and ends up helping build the great ferris wheel for the Chicago World’s Fair. While not my favorite read-aloud book, it was interesting to learn more about the construction of the giant ferris wheel – and we’ll be taking the kid’s downtown to ride the Navy Pier one this summer, for sure!
Mom Rating: Read aloud to 3 kids
38. The Hole in Our Gospel; Stearns, Rich; 320 5/12
SASR: Reviewed here. Couldn’t go along with his theology, but agree we need to be nice and helpful to people.
Mom Rating: 2 kids
39. The Hunger Game; Collins, Suzanne; 384 5/28
SASR: A girl volunteers to enter the hunger game in place of her sister. 24 candidates are brought to a giant “arena” in which they need to fight to the death. The winner brings much honor and respect to her/his district. The story centers on Katniss, a girl from District 12, who makes friends and… You’ll have to read it to find out!
Mom Rating: 3 kids (and appropriate for maybe age 12 and above)
40. Just Do Something:How to Make a Decision Without Dreams, Visions, Fleeces, Open Doors, Random Bible Verses, Casting Lots, Liver Shivers, Writing in the Sky, etc: DeYoung, Kevin; 127
SASR: Using the wisdom of God to make decisions. That’s all there is to it. (One reason I reviewed an above book so low was because she insisted on showing kids to look for God in the little things, like getting the dinosaur comforter you wanted. However….in my opinion, this only leads to issues like looking for dreams and visions and disappointment in God the first time someone looks at you in a way you weren’t expecting – both books were published by the same publisher, which makes me so weirdly angry, I can’t explain it.)
41. This Time Together; Burnett, Carol; 266; 6/6
SASR: The older I get, the more I enjoy biographies and autobiographies. Maybe because I want to know how people go where they are and how they dealt with lifes ups and downs. Isn’t it fascinating how things affect us? Carol follows up on her original memoir with further stories of her career, including hilarious stories of her fellow cast members like Vicki Lawrence and Tim Conway (second only to Bob Newhart in my Comic Crushes Book).
Mom Rating: 3 kids and some idiot cutting down his tree across the street while you’re outside trying to get a tan while reading.
42. So Long, Insecurity; Moore, Beth; 350; 6/10
SASR: Good and encouraging book on how to find your security in your standing in the Lord. A little feel-good, woman’s-Bible-study-let’s-all-hold-hands emotional for my personality – but that doesn’t mean it’s not good!
Mom Rating: 3 kids
43. Gregor the Overlander; Collins, Suzanne; 308; 6/14
SASR: Gregor and his 2 year old sister fall down a vent in a laundry room and find them in the Underworld, where he finds himself part of a prophecy foretold long ago. He meets members of the Underworld, including rats, humans, spiders and cockroaches and battles to free them from the rats. Good fantasy/sci fi read for teens. There are hints of evolution being the smart, scientific answer.
Rating: 7 (I liked Hunger Games by the same author much better)
Mom Rating: 3 kids
44. The Game From Where I Stand; Glanville, Doug;
SASR: I read good reviews of this book and decided to go off my no-book-buying-diet and order it. I’m glad I did. Glanville does not focus a great deal on the game itself, but rather gives insight into the life of a pro baseball player with topics such as the family room, hiring/firing/being traded, and travel. He was critiqued as a player for being perceived as too “laid-back,” and actually, the book kind of took on that personality as well…laid back and easygoing. And somehow that makes him seem more real and approachable. (And it brings up my question of what and how exactly do you tell someone you admire their work without seeming like a ditzy fan?? I need to know in case I ever get to talk to Mark DeRosa.)
Mom Rating: 3 kids
45. Uncharted TerriTORI; Spelling, Tori;
SASR: More stories from her life. (This is her third book.) I do like her and can’t imagine being critiqued as a celebrity in today’s day and age. Very hard.
Rating: 6 (her others were more interesting)
Mom Rating: 3 kids
46. Finding It; Bertinelli, Valerie; 272; 8/18/10
SASR: More stories of her life – especially dealing with her weight loss and (as I saw it) her search for meaning in life.
Mom rating: 3 kids
47. Me Talk Pretty One Day; Sedaris, David; 272; 8/18/10
SASR: Hilariously sardonic.
Mom Rating: 2 kids
48. Mennonite in a Little Black Dress; Janzen, Rhoda; 241; 8/21/10
SASR: Torn on this review. Janzen is a hilarious and great writer. I like a book that makes me laugh out loud. But on the other hand, it’s another book by a pastor’s daughter who has given up the faith. Which just ends up making my heart ache. Rating: 7
Mom Rating: 2 kids and a workout
49. Into the Wild; Krakauer, Jon; 207; 8/10/10
SASR: Krakauer is a wonderful author – remember he’s also the author of Into Thin Air about the tragedy on Everest – and this book was an interesting story of a young man who gave up his money and all communication with his family and wandered about America. He ended up in Alaska – and starved to death. Both my husband and I decided the book left us with a spooky feeling – don’t know why – but we both enjoyed the writing. Rating: 9
Mom Rating: 0 kids.
50. Spoken From the Heart; Bush, Laura; 464; 7/25/10
SASR: I always saw First Lady Laura Bush as an elegant, classy lady who guarded her family carefully and tightly. Turns out, I came away with the same opinion after I read her book. She gives a good review of her early life/growing up years and I found these interesting…Interesting to read about 9/11 from her perspective. She gets a bit defensive in the end chapters regarding her husband and his decisions – but, frankly, I would defend my husband too! Rating: 8
51. The Sweetness At the Bottom of the Pie: A Flavia DeLuce Mystery; Bradley, Alan; 416
SASR: 11 year old science prodigy, Flavia, finds a dead body in the garden and goes about her small English village finding the murderer. A well-written protagonist is what sparkles throughout the book – Flavia’s escapades and retorts are hilariously written. Kudos to Bradley for writing such a fun, lighthearted mystery – a perfect summer read. Rating: 8
52. The Weed That Ties the Hangman’s Bag: A Flavia DeLuce Mystery; Bradley, Alan; 384
SASR: Flavia finds herself involved in solving yet another mystery. Again centered in a small English town, the book centers on the precocious 11 year old and her talks with other members of the village. Rating: 8
53. A Beautiful Blue Death; Finch, Charles; 324
SASR: A maid is found dead – the quiet free-lance detective, Charles Lenox, attempts to solve the mystery of who solved her. The writing of the detective’s character is the great part of the book – sort of along the lines of how well-written Nero Wolfe is in Rex Stout’s mysteries. Rating: 8
54. Made From Scratch; Lee, Sandra; 270
SASR: Hard life overcome by hard work.
Mom Rating: 3 kids
55. Hollow; Morrow, Jena; 240
SASR: Author battles with anorexia.
Mom Rating: 2 kids
56. A Girl’s Best Friend; Billerbeck, Kristin; 319
SASR: Girl gets conned by a pretend musician who dumps her at the altar. Her dad also uses her to sell the diamonds for his company. This is supposed to be entertaining chick lit. Um…I’ve liked some of Billerbeck’s books, but this one just felt forced.
Mom Rating: 3 kids
57. The September Society; Finch, Charles;
SASR: Follow up to A Beautiful Blue Death. This was another great Victorian mystery from Charles Finch. We follow Lenox, who dreams of travelling – but never takes the trips – and asking his neighbor, Jane, to marry him. The mystery involves the mysterious deaths of a couple young men and the calling card of “the September Society”. The mystery is good and I didn’t really know what the ending would be, but more than that, I like his atmosphere, and most especially, cheered for his description of Lenox’s love for buying books from the bookstore. (A Soul Mate!)
Mom Rating: 2 kids and a cuppa tea!
58. Beyond Belief; Hamilton, Josh; 256
SASR: Amazing story of number one draft pick, Josh Hamilton. After an injury while in the minors, he became addicted to cocaine and crack and lost out on three years of baseball. But, with the help of his grandmother, and – more importantly – the Lord, he beat his addiction and made a comeback – and is now in the majors. It makes cheering for the Rangers this postseason all the more interesting with his story in mind.
Rating: While I’d love to give this a higher number, the writing in the book itself (Not written by Hamilton) was poor and often repeated entire phrases. So…6 for writing, but 9 for story.
Mom Rating: 3 kids and a postseason game
59. The end of overeating.; Kessler, Dr David; 321
SASR: Interesting book about our responses to food. Some good, maddening, gross insight into restaurants in America and their ways of developing food.
60. The Accidental Adventurer; Washburn, Barbara; 190
SASR: Barbara married Brad Washburn, who was a mountain climber and museum director. He just expected her to go along with him on his trips, and she did! In doing so, she became the first woman to climb Mt McKinley. This is her life story, told well and interestingly. In their later years, they helped develop a topographical map of the Grand Canyon and various mountains. We even found a map of Mt Everest my husband owns (which was published by National Geographic) and realized this was the map Brad was the director of.
Mom rating: Easy to read.
67. Licensed for Trouble; Warren, Susan May; 373
SASR: Warren is one of the few Christian fiction authors I read. This book is the third in a trilogy of mysteries starring PJ, a wannabe PI. The mystery surrounds a man who turns up as a handyman – but he has amnesia and wants PJ to search for…him. The mystery deepens as it’s discovered he was a soldier and possibly involved in a diamond smuggling gang. Note that this is the third in the trilogy, obviously, don’t be like me…start with the first one titled Double Trouble.
Mom Rating: Perfect escape reading
68. The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid; Bryson, Bill; 268; 11/10
SASR: Bryson takes on telling the story of his growing up years in Des Moines, Iowa. Yes, he’s funny and wry, but he also can be off-color.
(following are books I read, but didn’t keep track of dates and reviews…which comes with the territory of being a spaz and a short attention span girl)
69. Catching Fire; Collins, Suzanne; 391 (2nd in trilogy of Hunger Games) SASR: Good…
70. Mockingjay; Colins, Suzanne; 400 (3rd in trilogy of Hunger Games) SASR: Kept up good pace of plot and character
71. Mini-Shopaholic; Kinsella, Sophie; 432 SASR: Continuation of Shopaholic series. First one is best.
72. Pearl in the Sand; Afshar, Tessa; 320 SASR: Story of Rahab. Helped make the story “real” and explained the rules/regulations the Israelites were living under. Drifted a bit at the end with “does he love me/does she love me” stuff…but I would recommend it.
73. Reshaping It All; Bure, Candace Cameron; 272 SASR: Motivational book on eating well and living to honor God.