Fun Summer Reads!

Every book blog needs a list of summery books, the kind that perfectly compliment those busy warm days.  These are some of my favorites.  I love books that call my name from across the room, "Becky, come read me!!!" and these definitely fit the bill.  Whether you are relaxing on a beach somewhere or racing from one summer activity to another, I think you'll find these books to be perfect companions.

1.  East by Edith Pattou.  Appropriate for 10+.  A retelling of the fairy tale "East of the Sun, West of the Moon; this book is gorgeously written, full of delicious romantic tension, and the setting became so real to me I felt the cold through the pages.  Perfect for summer, right!

2.  Last of the Breed by Louis L'Amour.  Another cold weather tale, this is one of the few non-western L'Amours.  It is a gripping, has a fascinating hero, and is perfect for any adventure lover.  Don't let any fear of westerns scare you off, this is a well written book, full of great action scenes and wonderful suspense.  (I'd also recommend "The Walking Drum," another non-western L'Amour I wish I was reading right now!)

3.  The Geography of Bliss:  One Grump's Search for the Happiest Places in the World by Eric Weiner.  Non-fiction.  Adult language & situations.  Looking for a vacation? This book will send you on a thought-provoking trip around the world, and if I am any indication, have you laughing out-loud.  I loved it!  Similar in style to one of the first books I read this year.

4.  The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery.  Written for adults, appropriate for teens+.  This tale by the author of Anne of Green Gables won my heart and I think it will add a lovely charm to your summer.  Thought-provoking and sweet, but not stickily so, this is one of those tales you will return to.

5.  The Host by Stephenie Meyer.  Older Teens & Adults.  I'm am one of the hold-outs who has never read the Twilight series, but I thoroughly enjoyed Stephanie Meyer's stand-alone sci-fi novel.  The themes are worth pondering about, the characters are real, the romance is heartfelt, it's hard to put down and incredibly fascinating.

What are your favorite books for summer?


The Universe Next Door

32.  The Universe Next Door: A Basic Worldview Catalog
by James W. Sire
Non-fiction for adults or very motivated teens
Read for my colloquia group
My Library

I will confess I did not read every single word in this extensive treatise on the topic.  But I am a very good skimmer, and my Colloquia group had a great discussion.  I've been part of a year-long class on Worldviews which used this text (which I won't be reviewing here, because I can't even claim I skimmed it all) so it was nice to take the subject from a different point of view.  Though I would recommend this book to the serious student, I'm still looking for the book I can use to introduce my children, when they are someday teens, to the foundationally important subject of worldview.

Sire poses eight basic questions (like "what is real" "what is a human being" "how do we know what is right and wrong"), and then proceeds to answer them from the perspective of nine worldviews (Christian Theism, Existentialism, The New Age, Postmodernism, etc.).  I like his approach.  I still don't totally understand existentialism, does anyone?, but I liked the way he showed how these worldviews were often responding to each other.  That reminded me of Sophie's World, which is a great history of philosophy if you are so inclined.

There has been a movement from (1) a "premodern" concern for a just society based on revelation from a just God to (2) a "modern" attempt to use universal reason as the guide to justice to (3) a "postmodern" despair of any universal standard for justice.

(from the perspective of Existentialism)
each person, in the loneliness of his or her own subjectivity, surrounded by a great deal more darkness than light, must choose.  And that choice must be a radical act of faith.

Miss Julia Takes Over

31.  Miss Julia Takes Over
by Ann B. Ross
Why can't I learn my lesson?  Every time I enjoy a fun silly read, I spoil it by reading another by the same author and then end up feeling very similar to the feeling you get after eating an entire bag of Twizzlers.  Oh, well, it certainly was a fast read.
Adult Mystery
City Library

Miss Julia Speaks Her Mind

30.  Miss Julia Speaks Her Mind
by Ann B. Ross
I borrowed this book from my library because I saw it recommended here.  It was a fun little mystery, which I enjoyed but was very glad I didn't buy.
Adult Mystery
City Library

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon

29.  Where the Mountain Meets the Moon
by Grace Lin
A darling tale of a young Chinese girl on a quest to find The Old Man of the Moon and improve her family's fortune.  Interwoven with Lin's semi-traditional Chinese tales, it speaks to the timeless need for friendship, contentment, and imagination.
I read this at the recommendation of my thirteen year old daughter, who found it in Sonlight's Core F.
Middle Grade
My Library


28.  Hood
by Stephen R. Lawhead
Robin Hood set in medieval Britain, this almost 500 page book, is well-researched with a richly-developed hero.  Though it made me work a bit to follow the intricacies of the setting, the result was that I felt fully transported.  I'm looking forward to reading the rest of Lawhead's triology.
Adult Fiction
My Library


27.  Beauty
by Robin McKinley
A captivating retelling of "Beauty & the Beast," this book was loved by both my 13 year-old daughter and I.  Charming without being too sweet, it is both a wonderfully well-crafted and irresistibly fun to read.
City Library

**Please click 'Older Posts' & read about "The Passion of Mary-Margaret" - it shouldn't be overlooked simply because it never had any time on the front page.
Thank you,
The Management

Pedro's Journal

26.  Pedro's Journal
by Pam Conrad
A gloomy account of Columbus's voyage to the new world from the perspective of a young ship's boy. Read aloud to my 10 year old - part of Sonlight Core D.
Middle Grade
My Library

The Passion of Mary-Margaret

25.  The Passion of Mary-Margaret
by Lisa Samson
A beautiful novel about the unexpected path of following God.  One of my favorite books of the year.  It is intense and beautiful, but also difficult and mystical.
Adult Fiction - see disclaimer
My Library

I know I can't do this book justice in a review.  It spoke deeply to me about the inexhaustible love of Christ for us, and the reality of our ability to help in his work, and the richness of redemption.

The format is interesting, jumping back and forth in time; that sorta drove me crazy but I skipped ahead, figured out the main points, and then returned to where I was and read without the tension of wondering what would happen.

Disclaimer:  Hmmm...I'm not sure how to put this, but the Savior is a character in this novel, I thought it was well done, but I can see that it would be off-putting to some.  Subjects of rape, sexual abuse, and various sins are addressed.  There is no confusion between right and wrong, but the ugliness of sin and the pain of other's wickedness is apparent.

A quote to whet your appetite:

"Although, indeed, I've never felt particularly wise, just willing.  And even then, my brain sometimes protested like an argumentative Sophomore even though my body jumped in the car and took off.  Jesus was always at the wheel, but he's not particularly cautious."


The Penderwicks at Point Mouette

24.  The Penderwicks at Point Mouette
by Jeanne Birdsall
The third in the Penderwicks Series; we are impatiently waiting for the fourth (of five).  Another delight, though I wish these girls wouldn't grow up!
Appropriate for all ages - though there is a bit more boy-drama as the girls age - I thought it was handled well
Middle Grade Fiction
Read aloud to my 10 year old daughter
My Library

Favorite Quote:
"Though Jane would have liked him to say more, she was pleased with the mysteriousness of him saying less.  This was what she'd meant by hidden depths.  Jane had occasionally tried to develop her own hidden depths, but she never could decide what to hide and how far down."

The Third Choice

23.  The Third Choice
by Mark Durie
An exhaustive study on the Islamic concept of Dhimmitidue.  Disconcerting, it brings the reader face to face with the seemingly insurmountable problem of communication across vastly different worldviews.  It is difficult to know if this author's perspective is accurate.
Adult or motivated older teens
Read for my Book Colloquia
My Library


What is the human problem?
Islam:  ignorance --> guidance --> success
Christianity:  sin --> forgiveness --> salvation

"I have been concerned to inquire how non-Muslims, and Muslims with compassionate hearts, can resist the dhimma's demands upon their thought patterns, and how a soul weighed down by the legacy of dimmitude can find healing and freedom.

For many who already live under manifestations of Sharia law, this is a question about how humanity can live with dignity under conditions of humiliation and inferiority.  For others, citizens of free nations, there is a pressing need to gain understanding, and in so doing to strengthen the will to be free."

The King of Attolia

22.  The King of Attolia
by Megan Whalen Turner
The final installment of the Queen's Thief Triology doesn't disappoint.  Though it took some adjustment to warm up to our new perspective on the action (I missed Gen!) it was a good move by the author.  This finale was satisfying without being a foregone conclusion.
I would suggest this for older teens & adults
My Library

The Queen of Attolia

21.  The Queen of Attolia
by Megan Whalen Turner
Second in the Queen's Thief Trilogy, This intricate plots and multidimensional characters wrap the reader in the faraway world of Attolia.  Eugenides is as charming as ever, but the darkness that faces him requires courage of a deeper kind.
Middle Grade Fiction  (according to amazon, but I disagree)
I really enjoyed this, and though there is nothing objectionable, I don't think this would be that interesting to someone younger than 15.
My Library

Favorite quote:

"I don't feel like a hero.  I feel like an idiot."
"I think heroes generally do, but those men believe in you."
"I did wait until I was outside before I threw up."

How An Economy Grows and Why It Crashes

20.  How An Economy Grows and Why It Crashes
by Peter D. Schiff & Andrew J. Schiff
An easy-to-read explanation of macro-economics and why the financial principles we all understand are a better solution than the Keynesian economics today's politicians pretend to understand.  The fun illustrations and entertaining storyline make this book accessible as well as valuable.  I'd like to have my kids read this so we can discuss it before they leave home.
Appropriate for teens & adults
Read for my Book Colloquia
My Library