Thursday, November 14, 2013

This Book Room

After leaving Uncle Chester's homestead claim, orphan Hattie Brooks throws a lasso around a new dream, even bigger than the Montana sky. She wants to be a reporter, knowing full well that a few pieces published in the Arlington News will not suffice. Real reporters must go to Grand Places, and do Grand Things, like Hattie's hero Nellie Bly. Another girl might be stymied by this, but Hattie has faced down a hungry wolf and stood up to a mob of angry men. Nothing can squash her desire to write for a big city newspaper. A letter and love token from Uncle Chester's old flame in San Francisco fuels that desire and Hattie jumps at the opportunity to get there by working as a seamstress for a traveling acting troupe. This could be her chance to solve the mystery of her "scoundrel" uncle and, in the process, help her learn more about herself. But Hattie must first tell Charlie that she will not join him in Seattle. Even though her heart approves of Charlie's plan for their marriage, her mind fears that saying yes to him would be saying no to herself. Hattie holds her own in the big city, literally pitching her way to a byline, and a career that could be even bigger than Nellie Bly's. But can making headlines compensate for the pain of betrayal and lost love? Hattie must dig deep to find her own true place in the world. Kirby Larson once again creates a lovingly written novel about the remarkable and resilient young orphan, Hattie Inez Brooks.

Additional notes: This is the second and final book in the Hattie series. You can read my review of the first book here.

My thoughts: Sadly, this book did not live up to my expectations. It was very unlike the first book, and the plot just didn't grip me. It was an okay book and one I would recommend to younger readers, but it's not one that's very appealing to all ages. I would skip this one.

With Lizzie’s father fighting in World War II, her mother takes on the job of a zoo keeper to provide
for her family. Lizzie, her mother, and her eight-year-old brother Karli have become especially attached to an orphaned elephant named Marlene. The bombing of Dresden is imminent and soon, so the zoo director explains that as a precautionary measure all the animals must be destroyed so that they’re not running wild through the city. Lizzie’s mother persuades the director to allow Marlene, the elephant, to come stay in the family’s garden.

As predicted, Dresden is bombed, and the family, including Marlene, is forced from the city. Lizzie and her family aren’t alone. Thousands of Dresden residents are fleeing to find somewhere safe to stay. Lizzie’s mother has to find a different route out of the city to keep the elephant and the children safe from harm. Once they reach the abandoned home of their relatives, they come across Peter, a Canadian navigator who, by putting himself at risk of capture to save the family, gains their trust.

This unlikely grouping of family, elephant, and enemy turned ally come together beautifully to illustrate the importance of love, resolve, and hope.

My thoughts: This author, who also wrote War Horse which was turned into a movie, has an amazing storytelling ability. My goodness, I was just sucked into this story. First, the cover is absolutely gorgeous. Second, the characters are determined and fierce. There is just nothing about this story I didn't enjoy. This is a must read story.

Normal people are stressed, overwhelmed, and exhausted. Many of their relationships are, at best, strained and, in most cases, just surviving. Even though we live in one of the most prosperous places on earth, normal is still living paycheck to paycheck and never getting ahead. In our oversexed world, lust, premarital sex, guilt, and shame are far more common than purity, virginity, and a healthy married sex life. And when it comes to God, the majority believe in him, but the teachings of scripture rarely make it into their everyday lives. Simply put, normal isn't working. Groeschel's WEIRD views will help you break free from the norm to lead a radically abnormal (and endlessly more fulfilling) life.

My thoughts: If you're looking for great, comprehensive Christian lifestyle book, you don't need to look any further than this book. I particularly enjoyed the author's chapter on Time. If you've read books on any view presented in this book (money, for example), you may not necessarily learn anything new from that section. I've read many Christian money books and didn't learn anything new from the money section. Overall, however, I think the author did a fantastic job of putting together this book. I would highly recommend this to anyone - particularly people who not only are not Christians but talk negatively about them. This book may help you understand why we do what we do and why we think what we think.

For the first time ever—a comprehensive biography of one of the twentieth century’s most innovative creative artists: the incomparable, irreplaceable Jim Henson

He was a gentle dreamer whose genial bearded visage was recognized around the world, but most people got to know him only through the iconic characters born of his fertile imagination: Kermit the Frog, Bert and Ernie, Miss Piggy, Big Bird. The Muppets made Jim Henson a household name, but they were just part of his remarkable story.

This extraordinary biography—written with the generous cooperation of the Henson family—covers the full arc of Henson’s all-too-brief life: from his childhood in Leland, Mississippi; through the years of burgeoning fame in Washington D.C., New York, and London; to the decade of international celebrity that preceded his untimely death at age fifty-three. Drawing on hundreds of hours of new interviews with Henson's family, friends, and closest collaborators, as well as unprecedented access to private family and company archives (including never-before-seen interviews, business documents, and Henson’s private letters), Brian Jay Jones explores the creation of the Muppets, Henson’s contributions to Sesame Street and Saturday Night Live, and his nearly ten-year campaign to bring The Muppet Show to television. Jones provides the imaginative context for Henson’s non-Muppet projects, including the richly imagined worlds of The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth—as well as fascinating misfires like Henson’s dream of opening an inflatable psychedelic nightclub or staging an elaborate all-puppet Broadway show.

An uncommonly intimate portrait, Jim Henson captures all the facets of this American original: the master craftsman who revolutionized the presentation of puppets on television, the savvy businessman whose dealmaking prowess won him a reputation as “the new Walt Disney,” and the creative team leader whose collaborative ethos earned him the undying loyalty of everyone who worked for him. Here also is insight into Henson’s intensely private personal life: his Christian Science upbringing; his love of fast cars, high-stakes gambling, and expensive art; and his weakness for women. Though an optimist by nature, Henson was haunted by the notion that he would not have time to do all the things he wanted to do in life—a fear that his heartbreaking final hours would prove all too well founded.

An up-close look at the charmed life of a legend, Jim Henson gives the full measure to a man whose joyful genius transcended age, language, geography, and culture—and continues to beguile audiences worldwide.


My thoughts: If you want to know everything about Jim Henson, this is definitely the book for you. If, like me, you wanted to know more about those crazy Muppet characters you grew up watching, this book is probably for you, but be ready for a lot of extra stuff you didn't want to know about. Jim is definitely a genius. This book delves into all areas of his life, and I can tell you that Jim and I could have been friends, but we definitely didn't agree on a lot. I still love the Muppets though and really wish his company could release the original A Muppet Family Christmas on DVD. If you've ever been privileged enough to see this television special, count yourself blessed. It is the best hour of television I have ever seen. Anyway, this book is a bit difficult to get through, but I found it to be worthwhile, overall.

Garfield believes that a full belly is a happy belly—and he intends to keep his stomach ecstatic. Fans of the fat cat will gleefully fill up on this latest smorgasbord of fun!

Additional notes: This is the fifty-sixth Garfield book. You can read my reviews of the first 55 books, including reviews on special books by searching Garfield in the search tab on the blog.

My thoughts: Jason and I laughed out loud while reading this book. Our favorite part of reading the book is to share with each other our favorite comics - sometimes they're the same, and more often than not, Jason will show me one that he thinks is hilarious that I just don't see as that funny. I think reading the comics together is part of what makes reading them so much fun.

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