Thursday, March 25, 2010

Andrew's return home and off to school

Andrew returns home to lots of happenings and welcome from all his family. He attends a tent meeting not exactly meaning to and later finds a thirst for God's word. He begins to read the bible, go to church and allow it to.. in a way consume him. Some friends and family who don't understand worry about him and don't want him to burn him self out or they believe it's just because of the war that he acts the way he does. Andrew finally comes to a time where he prays, "Lord, if you will show me the way, I will follow you. Amen."

After Andrew prays this prayer he share with his friend Kees and others in the village. Kees and him end up attending a Revival where they were called by the pastor to become missionaries. Andrew wasn't sure what got into him or caused him to do it but they started reaching out to those nearest in Witte. He gets a job at a local factory and happens to run into Corrie van Dam, the girl that invited him to the tent revival back when he was in the hospital. They began to work as a team of missionaries at the factory. Helping the women that worked there. The first conversion that Andrew ever saw was a woman named Greetje all because he followed God's will in his conversation with her. Soon after he was promoted and his boss even agreed with his missionary work in the factory. But this work was not all Andrew wanted and decided to finish his schooling. But there seemed to be several roadblocks in Andrew attending school. One day while deep in prayer Andrew finally realized what his problem had been. He admitted that he was always saying Yes to God but saying, "Yes, but I'm not educated. Yes, but I'm lame." Andrew realized he was going to tell God Yes no matter what. The moment Andrew stood up from this prayer and affirmation, he received a miraculous healing in his ankle. And since then it has never bothered him since.

Andrew hit a few more would be roadblocks in his attempt to go to school but he decided to trust God and follow anyway. Andrew got on a train and went off to London to a school he hadn't even been accepted to at the time. Just as he had been told there was nothing available such was the case when he arrived. But God opened other doors to prepare him for when it was his time to attend. Andrew tells us several stories of his time at the Hopkins home and how he was learning to trust God in all things. He went on to school and had to face this even more. He had to completely depend on God to provide for his tuition, his daily needs and even a cake once. God did a work on Andrew that molded him into the person God needed him to be, completely dependable on God.

The stories that Andrew tells us during these chapters in the book are remarkable one after another and not uncommon either. I have heard similar stories before from the person who gets the check in the mail right when the power was due. Or the free bag of groceries right when the last can in the pantry had been eaten. God does provide. He may not provide as fast as we would like him or in the way we would think is best but if we place our complete trust in him he will come through. He is God our Provider. Will you trust in him in all things?

Born Standing Up by Steve Martin

I just finished listening to this book on CD. This is one that had been on my reading list for some time now and when I was looking for another book to listen to on CD the library happened to have this one. This book is about 204 pages and tells the story of Steve Martin's life of stand up. And instead of repeating information here is what Amazon tells you the book is about:

At age 10, Steve Martin got a job selling guidebooks at the newly opened Disneyland. In the decade that followed, he worked in Disney's magic shop, print shop, and theater, and developed his own magic/comedy act. By age 20, studying poetry and philosophy on the side, he was performing a dozen times a week, most often at the Disney rival, Knott's Berry Farm. Obsession is a substitute for talent, he has said, and Steve Martin's focus and daring--his sheer tenacity--are truly stunning. He writes about making the very tough decision to sacrifice everything not original in his act, and about lucking into a job writing for The Smothers Brothers Show. He writes about mentors, girlfriends, his complex relationship with his parents and sister, and about some of his great peers in comedy--Dan Ackroyd, Lorne Michaels, Carl Reiner, Johnny Carson. He writes about fear, anxiety and loneliness. And he writes about how he figured out what worked on stage. This book is a memoir, but it is also an illuminating guidebook to stand-up from one of our two or three greatest comedians. Though Martin is reticent about his personal life, he is also stunningly deft, and manages to give readers a feeling of intimacy and candor. Illustrated throughout with black and white photographs collected by Martin, this book is instantly compelling visually and a spectacularly good read. (end quote)

I enjoyed listening to it but I had also checked the actual book out from the library so that I could see the pictures he included. It was interesting to hear about his life and I learned alot about him. Like I had no idea it was he who coined the phrase, "Well excuuuuuussseee ME!" How funny!? It was an entertaining quick read/listen and I did enjoy it. If you are a fan of Steve Martin's I would recommend it. He reads the book on CD so I think that listening to it is probably better than reading but I would do like I did.. and get the book for pictures too. It's nice to have the visuals. Def not a book club contender.. but nevertheless wanted to share the review. Happy Reading!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Mysterious Benedict Society By Trenton Lee Stewart

In the past couple of weeks I have been listening to a children's book series called, The Mysterious Benedict Society. I first saw this book in the newspaper because the author came to a local bookstore for a signing that the children in the area had won in a contest. I was intrigued by the name and the way the cover looked and thought it might be interesting. Because of my lack of time to read and too many books to read I chose to listen to them on CD from the Library. There are three books in the series and I am unsure if the author will write anymore. The books are fiction and have quite a bit of pages, but like other large children books, Harry Potter or Percy Jackson, I think if the child is interested enough they won't mind the long book. Here is a little summary of each book and it's picture from the books main site:

Book 1: The Mysterious Benedict Society

"Are you a gifted child looking for special opportunities?" When this peculiar ad appears in the newspaper, dozens of children enroll to take a series of mysterious, mind-bending tests. But in the end just four very special children will succeed. Their challenge: to go on a secret mission that only the most intelligent and resourceful children could complete. With their new found friendship at stake, will they be able to pass the most important test of all? (end quote)

Book 2: The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey

They are back with a new mission: a mind-bending international scavenger hunt designed to test their individual talents. As they search for all the clues and riddles Mr. Benedict had hidden for them, Reynie, Sticky, Kate, and Constance face an unexpected challenge that will reinforce the reasons they were brought together in the first place and require them to fight for the very namesake that united them. (end quote)

Book 3: The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Prisoner's Dilemma

"Is this the end of the Mysterious Benedict Society?" Join the Mysterious Benedict Society as Reynie, Kate, Sticky, and Constance embark on a daring new adventure that threatens to force them apart from their families, friends, and even each other. When an unexplained blackout engulfs Stonetown, the foursome must unravel clues relating to a nefarious new plot, while their search for answers brings them closer to danger than ever before. (end quote)

I like how the author wrote the book to make it easy to relate with different children. I also liked that these children were not interested in television to have fun. In the book these children were clever and smart and liked solving riddles, puzzles and mysteries. I would recommend these for your kiddos and hope to have mine read them when they get old enough. Happy Reading!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

April Book Club Selection

A Lineage of Grace by Francine Rivers is going to be our book club selection for April. This book is fiction based on the real stories of the bible and is a hefty 542 pages. But please take note it is basically 5 smaller books combined into 1. Here is a description of what the book is about:

"In this compilation of the five books in the best-selling Lineage of Grace series by Francine Rivers, we meet the five women whom God chose-Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba, and Mary. Each was faced with extraordinary-even scandalous-challenges. Each took great personal risk to fulfill her calling. Each was destined to play a key role in the lineage of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the World." (end quote)

There has been much talk throughout the book club about this book series and it's compilation into one. If you will recall we read another book by Francine Rivers back in February 2009, Redeeming Love. And I believe you will be just as excited about this one as you had with her previous. I know that the page amount seems like alot but do not let it intimidate you. I know so many of you who read way more than one book a month so I am confident you will be able to do it!!
Kathy will be in touch with you all soon about a pre-order. Our April meeting will be in Swift's new annex at 8:30 AM on April 24th. Please let me know if you have any questions.

We do hope to see some of you who haven't been in a long time attend a meeting soon. We miss your company and input. Please talk to me if there is a problem about the meeting time/location or anything that we may be able to help you with.

**Don't forget the March meeting is coming up soon on March 27th at 8:30 am - 10 am in Swift's new building, classroom 2. Feel free to bring your friends and family!***

And don't forget, any book suggestions are always appreciated and remember to participate on the Blog!

Happy Reading!

Brother Andrews Beginnings

In the beginning of God's Smuggler the authors who worked with Andrew on the story share how he has become a part of their family. Brother Andrew opens his story telling us about his childhood in Holland and how WWII affected his family. The childhood escapades he describes like skipping church and lieing about it and playing tricks on neighbors would cause many never to believe "a boy like that" would grow up to become a famous pastor but amazing indeed how God can change the heart of a person. Brother Andrew goes on to describe his time as a solider in war for Holland and the horrors he saw. He eventually made it out of the war after becoming shot in the ankle. He shares the many raw emotions he felt from his experience and he definitely makes it easy to relate to many people in several different aspects of life. One story I want to highlight in this part of the book is when he was in recovery.

While he is in the hospital recovering from his wound, his mother's bible (whom also had died while Andrew was away at war) is brought back into his sight after spending alot of time in the bottom of his rucksack. He wonders why the nurses (sisters) who work in the hospital are always so happy and they answer him, "with the love of Christ" and urge him to look in his Bible. In the meantime he receives a letter that happens to give him an outline for reading the Bible! He reads through it and begins to wonder if all of this is really true? Before he sets out to leave a sister tells him the story of how a monkey will let go of freedom just to get something they really desire. They are so stubborn they become chained. The sister questions whether or not that is Andy, letting something hold him back from being free.

The same is true for us. What do we allow to hold us back from freedom in Christ? Pride, Self-centered beliefs, money, sin, loss of self-worth, etc.? Do you have something? Brother Andrew didn't fully believe as we leave him here to return to his homeland for the next season of his life but the Holy Spirit did indeed begin to plant seeds.

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Swan House by Elizabeth Musser

I just finished up reading the 443 page book, The Swan House by Elizabeth Musser. This is a Christian Fiction based on some historical facts and settings. Here is the description from the back of the book:

Getting Past Her Grief Would Lead Her Across Town - To a Whole New World Mary Swan Middleton has always taken for granted the advantages of her family's wealth. But a tragedy that touches all of Atlanta sends her reeling in grief. When the family maid challenges her to reach out to the less fortunate as a way to ease her own pain, Mary Swan meets Carl - and everything changes. For although Carl is her opposite in nearly every way, he has something her privileged life could not give her. And when she seeks his help to uncover a mystery, she learns far more than she ever could have imagined. (End quote)

Months ago a friend of mine referred me to this book back when I first started the book club. Well I am always reading for new options and decided to pick this one up finally. I was originally hesitant because I knew it had a sequel (The Dwelling Place) and wasn't sure if this book could stand on it's own without the next book(s). This is a good sized book and I have to admit has taken some time for me to get through. I felt like the beginning opened strong, lagged throughout spots in the middle then finished up with a bang. Throughout the middle I had to make myself pick the book up and read and thinking that it's not going to be one I would care to read on to the sequel. Then at the end it had me in tears and loving it. I guess in a way now I understand how some felt about Redeeming Love who felt the same feelings. And now I know (when I have time) I will read the sequel. I feel like the author left lots of questions un-answered at the end about all the different people who played such an important role in the life of the main character, Mary Swan. Anyways this will not be a book club selection for us but that's not to say I wouldn't recommend it. When I do get around to reading The Dwelling Place I will def share that with you too. Happy Reading!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Guernsey Sweet Cake

Recently we finished reading, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Annie Barrows and Mary Ann Shaffer. And we had our meeting at the end of February where I wanted to make a traditional Guernsey dish for that morning. I chose to make a Guernsey Sweet Cake out of some recipes a friend had given me. Her family is originally from Guernsey and she still goes back to visit with those still living there so she had some good ones in her arsenal but me not being as skilled as her, just took the easy way out. And of course I had to share with you.


6 oz butter (not margarine)
6 oz caster sugar aka superfine sugar (I just used regular sugar)
3 eggs
5 oz self rising four
3 oz plain flour
1 to 2 tblsps milk (I used 2)

Cream together butter and sugar, add eggs one at a time and beat well. Add milk and finally fold in mixed flour. Bake in a 2 Ib. loaf tin or equivalent size for approximately 1 and 1/2 hours at 325. I baked mine in a 8 inch cake pan because I didn't have a loaf tin for 1 hr and 15 min.

I was kinda freaked out making it since I had no clue what it was supposed to turn out like. And after it was done... my thoughts were.. is it like a cornbread? a pound cake?.... hmmm I would have to say it's like a cross between the two. Slightly grainy like cornbread but not really possibly because of me using regular sugar than using superfine... ?? Although a pound cake would be the best comparison because it would probably be real good with some fruit and cool whip. But we just had it plain with coffee and that was good too. So there you have it folks, An easy from scratch traditional Guernsey Dish that you can make on your own if you missed our meeting.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Part 2 of the letters and conclusion

We have had our meeting for this book this past Saturday and there were 5 of us to chat. A good friend of mine came who's family is from Guernsey and shared pictures, stories and food! (more on the food later) We had a good conversation and were sorry that so many couldn't make it this month but I do know many had trouble getting in to the book's story. But then I know several who really enjoyed it. I think it might be the letter format that bothers some. But oh well, can't win them all! I almost feel ashamed at how little I have written about this book that I claim to enjoy so much but I just can't get into the writing for it. And my apologies for glossing over so many of the smaller story lines within the book but it's no matter now. Let's finish up!

In part 2 of the letters in the book The Guernsey Literary and Potato Pie Peel Society the letters have changed some now that Juliet is on the actual island. We really get to know the people even better and learn their hardships. The author does a great job of really making these people come alive. When I finished reading the book, I didn't want it to stop, I wanted to keep reading about these people because I felt like I really knew them. I have to remind myself that this book is fictional! We have a love triangle that goes on with Juliet and Dawsey and isn't resolved till the end of the book as we read the "Detection notes of Miss Isola Pribby." And I have to say I felt like it was a happy ending. I was happy to see Juliet and Dawsey end up together. I enjoyed the last letter in the book from Juliet to Sidney. I love how when Juliet writes she compares her life to a book and how she describes everything to Sidney in the last letter. The author did a fantastic job of portraying so happy, in love and content Juliet has become.

If you make a visit to the website for the book there are lots of resources there to be used depending on your interest. I got our discussion questions off of the site even though they have them in the back of the books on the chance that someone forgot their book for the meeting or something. Also check out this neat map on Google that shows the island and different pictures of places mentioned throughout the book. After reading this book, Guernsey is added to places I would like to visit one day.

And on the chance you are reading and were not at our meeting but would like to share your opinions on the book feel free to answer some questions from the reader's guide or just tell us what you thought! I have answered in Italics a few with my opinions on the chance you are interested. :)

1. What was it like to read a novel composed entirely of letters? What do letters offer that no other form of writing (not even emails) can convey? I loved reading the book of letters and it really didn't throw me off at all like it has some readers. After a while I stopped paying attention to the dates and other info and would just look at who it was from and to. I still believe in written hand notes and letters as they convey the thoughtfulness and time someone sat down and took to think of you. It conveys someones personality with handwriting and misspellings.. something they actually touched and held in their hands.

2. What makes Sidney and Sophie ideal friends for Juliet? What common ground do they share? Who has been a similar advocate in your life?

3. Dawsey first wrote to Juliet because books, on Charles Lamb or otherwise, were so difficult to obtain on Guernsey in the aftermath of the war. What differences did you note between book selling in the novel and book selling in your world? What makes book lovers unique, across all generations? In the novel during that time period it was definitely alot more personal and people were grateful for the books. In today's time you can be hard pressed to find a book store owner who cares that much about their customers. It is easy to take for granted the mass of books we have at our fingertips.

4. What were your first impressions of Dawsey? How was he different from the other men Juliet had known?

5. Discuss the poets, novelists, biographers, and other writers who capture the hearts of the members of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. What does a reader’s taste in books say about his or her personality? Whose lives were changed the most by membership in the society?

6. Juliet occasionally receives mean-spirited correspondence from strangers, accusing both Elizabeth and Juliet of being immoral. What accounts for their judgmental ways? I'm not making excuses but I do think it needs to be remembered that the war was hard on everyone and it was a difficult time and place. Things are much different in today's time. And people may have said and done things they may not have under different circumstances.

7. In what ways were Juliet and Elizabeth kindred spirits? What did Elizabeth’s spontaneous invention of the society, as well as her brave final act, say about her approach to life?

8. Numerous Guernsey residents give Juliet access to their private memories of the occupation. Which voices were most memorable for you? What was the effect of reading a variety of responses to a shared tragedy?

9. Kit and Juliet complete each other in many ways. What did they need from each other? What qualities make Juliet an unconventional, excellent mother?

10. How did Remy’s presence enhance the lives of those on Guernsey? Through her survival, what recollections, hopes, and lessons also survived?

11. Juliet rejects marriage proposals from a man who is a stereotypical “great catch.” How would you have handled Juliet’s romantic entanglement? What truly makes someone a “great catch”? I didn't think Reynolds was a great catch... he didn't care about what Juliet cared about or was interested in.

12. What was the effect of reading a novel about an author’s experiences with writing, editing, and getting published? Did this enhance the book’s realism, though Juliet’s experience is a bit different from that of debut novelist Mary Ann Shaffer and her niece, children’s book author Annie Barrows? I did feel like the book was real and since I am so into books I really enjoyed this aspect.

13. What historical facts about life in England during World War II were you especially surprised to discover? What traits, such as remarkable stamina, are captured in a detail such as potato peel pie? In what ways does fiction provide a means for more fully understanding a non-fiction truth? I think fiction helps a non-fiction event feel more personal and real than a just the facts rendition, which can sometimes be lacking depending on who is telling the story.

14. Which of the members of the Society is your favorite? Whose literary opinions are most like your own? I would have to say that Isola was my favorite. I enjoyed her quirkiness and she just was a likable.. different type of person who didn't care what others thought of her.

15. Do you agree with Isola that “reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones”? I suppose that could be true.. but nevertheless you could say that about all things correct? Watching good movies ruins you for the bad..etc.

I really do hope you enjoyed it. Stay tuned as I will make one more post for this book and share a Guernsey Sweet Cake recipe before starting on March's book. Happy Reading!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Local Author at Gulf Shores Library

It was brought to my attention recently that a local Christian Author will be speaking soon at the local Gulf Shores Library. I have never read any of his books but nevertheless thought you might be interested. I think it's pretty cool he lives in Gulf Shores! Here is the information copied and pasted from the Library Blog:

"On Monday, March 8th, 2010, best-selling author Gilbert Morris will be speaking at the Thomas B. Norton Public Library in Gulf Shores. One of today's best-known Christian novelists, Mr. Morris was a pastor before becoming an English professor and earning a Ph.D at the University of Arkansas. His best-selling works include the Christy Award-Winning Edge of Honor, Jacob's Way, the House of Winslow Series, and the Appomattox Series. He lives in Gulf Shores, Alabama, with his wife, Johnnie.

During the meeting, Mr. Morris will be discussing his novels and taking questions from the audience about their favorite Gilbert Morris books. Books may be purchased at the meeting and signed by the author. The meeting begins at 6:00 pm and will be in the library meeting room. Light refreshments will be served. We invite every one to attend and bring a friend to what promises to be a very entertaining evening. For more information, please contact Amy Maliska at the 968-1176."

I will not be attending this function but if you do I sure do hope you enjoy it! Have a great week!