Book Review – After the Dancing Days

It’s time for another book review! I have a seemingly endless list of books I’d love to share with you, so I’m slowly hacking away at it, one book review at a time. 😀

after the dancing days

Statistics:

Author: Margaret I. Rostkowski

Published in: 1986

Genre: Children’s/Historical Fiction

PoV: First Person

Number of Pages: 217

 

War is a senseless, horrible thing. And though the Great War was not fought in Annie Metcalf’s home country of America, its influence is visible months after the end. Scarred and broken young men trickle back into normal life, a constant reminder that life will never be normal again. And the absence of her favourite uncle is keenly felt. Her Mother says the best thing to do is to forget. Her Father spends his time working with injured soldiers in an army hospital in town. And Annie? Well, Annie is torn. Torn between the longing to forget the pain and blot out the ugliness of war, but the desire to remember her uncle and his fellow soldiers. The soldiers that are irrevocably scarred by the War and are trying to learn how to live their lives again in the hospital down the road. Strangely drawn to them, Annie is faced with a decision – to either dull the pain with forced forgetfulness, or to remember the pain and confront it in order to eventually overcome it?

I really enjoyed ‘After the Dancing Days’. I believe I read it in one sitting, if my memory serves me correctly. I was fascinated by Annie’s story – of how she learned to live with the scarring, painful aftermath of the Great War. The clear picture that Rostkowski painted of the veteran’s hospital, and the wounded inhabitants who were struggling to remake their lives with life-changing injuries (both physical and mental) was powerful and sobering. I found this story encouraging because it showed, through Annie’s story that pain can and does heal, through the memories that sweeten over time. Because often, the best way to heal the pain, is to remember, to honour, and then to move on, never forgetting what went on before and looking forward to the hope of the future.. This really was a wonderful book, and I’m giving it a solid 7* out of 10 and recommending it for ages 13+.

Thanks for reading! Have a great week! 🙂

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Top 3 Books – July 2017

Hello there! Welcome back to ‘The Way of Delight’! I just want to say that I’m so glad to have each and every one of you lovely followers following along with me on this blogging journey. And for every person that randomly happens upon this blog, I’m very glad you’ve found me! 🙂 I love getting comments, so please do drop me a comment and ask questions or give your thoughts on the post or anything really!

This week, it is again time for my ‘favourite books of the month mini-reviews’. (Goodness, what a title :D) July was quite a sparse month again, reading-wise, but I did have some good books. So let’s dive in!

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farewell to m

Farewell to Manzanar – Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston & James D. Houston

A child growing up behind barbed wire in America.

Shocking? Yes.

True? Unfortunately also, yes.

Everyone has heard about all the internment camps under the Nazi regimes during WWII. But did you know that thousands of Americans were put into internment camps, in America, during WWII? Jeanne Wakatsuki, a Japanese-American girl, was one of those people. Her childhood was abruptly changed forever when she, along with her whole family, was placed in Manzanar camp, an internment camp for Japanese living in America. Her whole life would be shaped by her years living in captivity behind the barbed wire fences in southern California. She tells her eye-opening and gripping story in Farewell to Manzanar.

I read this book avidly, soaking in all the details about this shocking part of WWII history. I would really recommend that you read it. It is a little-known part of history, but one that I think is so important that people know about. I’m giving this book 7* out of 10, and recommending it for ages 13+

 

my heart lies south

My Heart Lies South – Elizabeth Borton De Trevino 

An American girl + a Mexican man + His family = a whole lot of entertainment

When Elizabeth Borton accepted a writing engagement down in Mexico, she didn’t expect that she would return a week or so later, engaged to a native of that land. She didn’t dream that the strange land full of fast speaking, emotionally charged, and lavishly loving people would become her own. But a year later, she returned to Mexico, Mrs Luis Trevino Arreola y Gomez Sanchez de la Barquera. And thus began the adventure of a life time, told charmingly and entertainingly by Elizabeth herself in ‘My Heart Lies South: The Story of my Mexican Marriage’.

This was was a second time read for me, but I still found it incredibly entertaining and educational. It is informative, giving a very in depth look into the Mexican life in the 1930’s. It’s also nice and easy to read, Mrs Trevino’s writing is witty, clear and educational. I felt like I was reliving what life was like in a native Mexican family for myself. There was so much information packed into this one book, from facts on the detailed courting rituals between couples, to how dinner parties were handled, to how babies and children were treated. I find that kind of thing so fascinating – real life stories mixed up with real life lessons and facts.  I’m giving it 8******** out of 10 and recommending it for ages 13+.

 

jane of lhill

Jane of Lantern Hill – L.M. Montgomery

 Full of magic and delight and beautiful LMM characters – it’s a darling!

I believe this is the first LMM book I have officially featured here on my blog! And what a good one to start with. 😀 Ahhhh, this book. ❤ It’s perfectly LMM-ish in every way. The story is fascinating (A girl goes to live with her estranged father for a summer and tries to reunite her parents. Sounds interesting, right?). The characters are delightfully humorous and memorable (The Snowbeam family, Aunt Matilda Jollie, Uncle Tombstone, and the cats, First and Second Peter are some of my favourites.) (As well as of course Jane and her Dad!). The descriptions of P.E.I. are on point and magically wonderful. (‘far off hills made of opal dust’, ‘long branches of spicy fir hung over the laced water’, ‘the wind that sang in the spruces, and the gulls that soared whitely over the harbour’.)

The whole book is just packed full of whimsy and fun and delight. And let me tell you, for a LMM book, this is nothing new. She has this wonderful way of writing that is so unique and incredibly enjoyable. I love her! So if you haven’t yet, please go read some of her books. I promise you will not be disappointed. I’m giving this book 9* out of 10 and recommending it for ages 13+.

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So there you have it, my top 3 books of the month!

Let’s chat! Have you read any LMM books? If so, which ones are your favourites? And what were your favourite reads of July?

Poem – The Books are Being Burned

Well hello there! I have returned from the rainy but beautiful country of Ireland. I had an absolutely amazing two weeks there, and I’m so grateful to God for all the work he did in my heart and in the other people serving with me. He truly is a great God full of compassion and love for the lost and broken people that do not know him!

This week I’m doing another poem. I wrote this after reading Fahrenheit 451. I was really impacted by the beauty of the writing, as well as the seriousness of the message it contained. I don’t need to go in depth about it here, because I have here. I will just say that the theme of the books being regarded as evil and irrelavant things that need to be eliminated impacted me pretty heavily. Especially since I see that trend towards dismissing books becoming bigger in our culture today. So I wrote this poem based off of the theme of book-burning in Fahrenheit 451.

 

book burning

 

Words go up in smoke.

Pages wither like dying butterflies.

The wisdom of the ages consumed in flames.

And no one cares.

Why?

Because books have become objects of ridicule.

Having knowledge is considered better

than having wisdom.

The vessels of wisdom are considered worthless drivel.

Rubbish.

To be burned.

What changed?

Why are books now disdained, feared, and hated?

Why is their wisdom and beauty considered trash?

Because people decided that movement was better

than stillness.

Blaring noise was better

than silence.

Head knowledge was better than

heart wisdom.

The hunger for learning

was replaced by the hunger for instant pleasure.

Books were no longer in the picture.

Thus, books have been slowly pushed down

to become nothing more than

dangerous containers

of ideas and words and silly fancies and feelings.

Stuff to be ignored,

shut down

and destroyed.

Books are to be burned.

Because that’s all they’re worth.

No one cares

Because their minds have become numb

With constant movement,

and noise,

and knowledge being pounded into their brains.

And above all,

the striving for instant pleasure.

No one recognizes the infinitely precious treasure

that books are.

The beauty and wonder and wisdom

that can be found in their pages.

The numbed-brain people can’t appreciate it.

No one needs books any more.

No one wants books any more.

No one cares about books any more.

So the books burn.

 Pages crumple into black smoke.

Books melt into ashes.

Words dissolve into nothing.

The wisdom of the ages goes up in smoke.

The books are being burned,

and nobody cares.

 

 

Top 3 Books – June 2017

Well hey there! Happy July to everybody! I hope that you’re all enjoying the beginning of summer, and all the joyousness that that brings!

This month was a lot lower in ‘books-read’ than last month (only 13 as compared to May’s 27). Thus, my top books of the month has been culled down from 5 to 3 this time. But I still read some good ones, so let’s get onto some mini-reviews!

 

the crown and the crucible

The Crown and the Crucible – by Michael Phillips + Judith Pella 

A servant and a princess. An unlikely friendship, but one that is destined to be much more than they ever imagined.

My Mum actually read this book when she was about my age, and so I was quite excited to read it! It’s quite a hunk of a book (410 pages) and it is chock full of history. Literally, sooooo much history. Which I find, as a history nerd, absolutely amazing!

It’s set before the Russian Revolution and details the lives of two very different girls, whose lives are entwined together in a fascinating story. This book takes you on a journey from humble peasant cottages to dazzling St. Petersburg ballrooms. It gives you a detailed look into the complex web that was Russian politics in 1876-78. It shows the personal lives of the fabulously rich royalty, as well as the peasants struggling to eke out a living from the land.

I devoured the book in about two days, unable to put it down due to the intriguing plot and captivating characters. I think that the immense amount of historical information in this book would probably be daunting to people who are not into history. But if you are, this is a book for you! This is definitely a solid 7* book, and I am recommending it for about ages 14+. And now I need to see if I can get my hands on the sequel! 😀

 

maniac magee

Maniac Magee – by Jerry Spinelli 

One boy. Two sides of town.  One story.

Ayeeeee, this book. It hit me out of nowhere. I picked it up intending to read a chapter or two, and then an hour later I’d finished it. I was captivated from the first page.

It’s about Maniac Magee. A boy with no home, and who has a myriad of neighbourhood legends told about him. It’s about how one boy lived for a time on both sides of of a town split by prejudice. And it’s about how he mended the divide with some simple things: a ball of string, some baseball stories, a suitcase of books, a couple of friends, some strange sleeping places, butterscotch krimpets, and most importantly, love. It’s a powerful story about so many different things – finding family, breaking down prejudice, and showing that one person really can make a difference.

It may have been aimed at a lower audience than myself, but this book has a message that really is relevant to people of all ages. I’m giving ‘Maniac Magee’ a solid 8* out of 10, and recommending it for about 10+.

 

the song of the lark

The Song of the Lark – by Willa Cather

Beauty can  blossom in hardship, and determination is born out of adversity. 

This book was unexpectedly beautiful. I read it because it was the first in the trilogy, and I wanted to read the third one, but I decided I should read the first two first. (I know, not the most amazing reason to read a book :D) This was my first time reading anything by Willa Cather, and the experience was very positive!

The story chronicles the story of a girl named Thea Kronborg, and her journey to become an esteemed singer. Born into a large family in a small country town, she seems destined for a life of normalcy and drudgery, stuck in the cage of poverty and ignominy. But just like a wild lark cannot stay imprisoned in a cage for long, so Thea cannot stay imprisoned forever in her small town. The beautiful and untamed melody of her spirited determination will break free, her voice will rise, and the song of the lark will be heard. But freedom comes with a price. The gain of fame comes with the loss of innocence.

This book was written so beautifully, and captured the heart of the characters so well. It had its very depressing moments, but it had its very beautiful moments as well. The ending was the only thing that didn’t quite satisfy me. There were some questions I had that I didn’t feel get quite resolved properly. But the goodness of the rest of the book made up for it. I’m giving it a solid 8* out of 10 and recommending it for ages 14+.

That it for this week!

Let’s chat! What have been your favourite reads of June? Have you read any of these books?

*Note: Just to let you know, I will be gone for the next two weeks on a missions trip. I will have scheduled posts going up, but I will not be able to moderate comments until I come back.

 

Book Review – Sounder

Welcome back! This week I’m going to be featuring another book review. I read this short, but impactful book a couple months ago for school, and absolutely loved it. So I’m here today to share it with you!

sounder

Statistics:

Author: William H. Armstrong

Published in: 1969

Genre: Children’s Fiction

PoV: Third Person

Number of Pages: 116

A boy, his father, and a dog. Their lives are entwined together in the Deep South, their ties of family and home and the longing for something better are the common threads that weaves their story together. Their story is one showing the strength of love, the strength of hate, and the strength of hope. Their story is one of injustice, one showing the cruelty of prejudice. Their story is one of hope for a better life and the strength to go on. Their story is beautiful. Their story is heart-breaking. And it is told in ‘Sounder’.

‘Sounder’ was a terribly beautiful book that made me want to cry with sorrow, to shout with anger, and to hug the beautiful pathos of the words close to my heart. It gave a clear insight into the lives of a poor black family struggling to survive in a world that was so prejudiced against them. It showed the depths that prejudice ran in the South, and how it so cruelly affected every black person. It showed how unfair the judicial system was, and how discriminating and horrible people were towards blacks. But it also showed the beauty of love that was so bright against the dark background of hate. It showed the strength of the bond that a family has, and particularly the strength of a bond between a boy and his father. It showed that even though hate and darkness seems to be prevailing, there is always goodness and light struggling to break through. The light of love, the light of family, the light of learning. And ultimately light overcomes the darkness.

I came away from reading ‘Sounder’ feeling sobered and very grateful that I don’t have to live in a society that is so prejudiced against me. I came away feeling affected by the beauty of the story that William H. Armstrong wove together with strands of stunning words. I came away feeling encouraged by the message that was shown – that love and hope will ultimately win over darkness and despair. I am giving ‘Sounder’ a solid 9 ********* out of 10 and recommending it for ages 13+.

That’s that for this week. See you back here next Saturday!