The Prairie Thief

57.  The Prairie Thief
by Melissa Wiley
Middle Grade Fiction
My Library

I enjoy Melissa Wiley's blog, Here in the Bonny Glen, and particularly enjoyed an interview she did with Julie Bogart of Brave Writer.  So, when I was looking for a book to give to my daughter for her eleventh birthday, I chose Melissa's latest offering.  Both my girls read and enjoyed it, as did I.  A perfect middle grade selection, smart, fun, whimsical, and thoughtful.  Recommended for anyone who wants a fun escape from the everyday.


56.  Tuck:  The Legend Triumphs
by Stephen R. Lawhead
My Library

I've reviewed the first two books in this series earlier this year:  Hood & Scarlet.  This is the final installment, and it's an enjoyable and satisfying finish.  I wasn't really looking forward to a new narrator, especially Tuck, who just didn't spark my interest in the previous books.  But it isn't written as much from his perspective as in third-person, with alternating perspectives.  Anyway, the format, though different than the previous, worked for me.

The action is griping.  We've become invested in the characters and know and appreciate their strengths and weaknesses.  We're also familiar with Lawheads rift on the Robin Hood legend, and love rooting for our Rhi Bran y Hud.  Lawhead makes great use of the trilogy, creating an arch that is full and varied, and a world we can believe in.

"Hear me, friend priest," she said, holding him with her deep-set eyes.  This war began long ago:we merely join it now.  The trouble is not of our making, but it is our portion and ours to endure.:
"That does not cheer me much,"sighed Tuck.
"Regrets, have you?"
"No, never," he answered.  "That is the duty of any Christian."
"Then trust God with it and that which is given you, do."
"You are right, of course," he said at last.

From the fascinating Author's Note:
...a now little-remembered law of medieval combat -- namely, that when two opposing forces met, those with the most archers would invariably win.  A sort of corollary stated that when both sides boasted roughly the same number of archers, the side with the most Welsh archers would win.

Quaint as it might seem today, buying and selling prayers for cash was a business conducted in dead earnest at the time.  For it would be difficult to overestimate the fear of hell and its attendant horrors for the medieval mind.

The Happiness Project

55.  The Happiness Project: Or Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun
by Gretchen Rubin
My Library

One of my favorite books of the year!  Gretchen takes a very practical approach to the idea of happiness, making personal rules, along with monthly resolutions.  She weaves a great amount of research into the account of her experiment, which really enriches the narrative.  I like accounts of people tackling a big project; see my review of "The Year of Living Biblically."

Happiness is such a multi-faceted idea, and this book focuses very much on the real world in front of us.  I found her ideas interesting and valuable, though certainly not comprehensive.

Favorite Quotes:
Another study suggested that getting one extra hour of sleep each night would do more for a person's daily happiness than getting a $60,000 raise.

Love is a funny thing.  I'd donate a kidney to Jamie without a moment's hesitation, but was intensely annoyed if he asked me to make a special stop at the drugstore to pick up shaving cream.

A line by G.K. Chesterton..."It is easy to be heavy: hard to be light" (or as the saying goes, "Dying is easy; comedy is hard."

In fact, researchers reported that out of fifteen daily activities, they found only one during which people were happier alone rather than with other people -- and that was praying.  To my mind, that isn't an exception at all.  The point of praying is that you're not talking to yourself.

Gretchen's Second Splendid Truth"
One of the best ways to make myself happy is to make other people happy.
One of the best ways to make other people happy is to be happy myself.

Robert Lewis Stevenson said, "There is no duty we so much underrate as the duty of being happy."


(I've finally caught up!  I've blogged about all the books I've read!  Yea!)



54.  Scarlet: The Legend Lives
by Stephen R. Lawhead
Part of the King Raven Triology - I review the first book, Hood, earlier this year.
My Library

We are interested to a new narrator, Will Scarlet, who is a thoroughly likeable hero.  I really enjoyed this book, and love spending time in the world that Lawhead so magnificently creates.   The characters are so rich and real, and there is enough action to keep things moving, without it feeling like an exhausting chase.  Loved it!

Favorite Quote:
As for the rest, I need not say more.  If you have ever loved anyone, then you will know full well.  If not, then nothing I can say will enlighten you.

A Landscape with Dragons

53.  A Landscape with Dragons: The Battle for Your Child's Mind
by Michael D. O'Brien
Read for my Colloquia
Borrowed from a wonderful friend!

Initially this book struck me as crazily-overdone, the rantings of a hyper-vigilant parent with too much time to think and not enough people to argue with him.  But, in the end, I did end up agreeing with many of the themes.
-Childhood should be protected.
-Children are not adults & need clear boundaries between good and evil.
-Symbols are important.
-Literature is a great way to lay foundations for the way we see the world and it's meaning.
-Parents should take time to discuss rich literature with their children.

This book inspired me to begin reading aloud Lewis's Narnia series again, an effort which has been incredibly rewarding.


Breaking Stalin's Nose

52.  Breaking Stalin's Nose
by Eugene Yelchin
YA Fiction
My Library

I read this entire book on a four-hour road trip, which was mostly in the dark.  Crazy!  Anyway, the suspense pulls you in and the whole idea is wonderfully executed.  We spend about 24 hours with Sasha, a young boy growing up under Stalin, whose world changes entirely within that time.  Fascinating, and wonderfully illustrated.  A great way to introduce children to life under communism, but the themes and realities of this story are pointed and painful, so be thoughtful.

The Golden Goblet

51.  The Golden Goblet
by Eloise Jarvis McGraw
YA Fiction
Read aloud to my 13yo daughter as part of Sonlight's Core G
My Library

An intense and descriptive mystery told from the perspective of a boy, orphaned in ancient Egypt.  Confession - I didn't read aloud the entire thing, my daughter did some of it on her own.  But we both enjoyed it!  I might get it on audio when it's time to read it with another of my kids.

Funny Quotes from Heqet:
"Though of course we both have our natural beauty, as the hippopotamus said to the rat."

"Fine if it had worked, as the fish said when it tried to talk a walk."