Top 5 Books – November 2017

Well hi there! Sorry this post is later in the day than normal… I just got back from my church’s live Nativity play (which went incredibly well!) and so have only now sat down to write out my book reviews… Now if I had been organised, I would’ve written the reviews earlier in the week. But I’ve been down with a heavy cold all week, and besides, I’m rarely organised… 😀 Soooo, I’m writing the reviews now, and if they’re shorter than normal, I apologise and blame it on the fact that I’m exhausted after tramping around a farm in about 20 layers of clothing all afternoon. 😀

~

the princess bride

The Princess Bride ~ William Goldman

Good gracious me, I can’t believe I haven’t read this book before!! I was aware of the story for a while, and watched the movie for the first time this year. But I hadn’t really been aware it was a book until recently. And boy, I’m glad I read this book! It’s hilarious. Seriously. The notes that Goldman puts in and how he explains the back story and how he came to abridge it all are fascinating and so witty!

It’s the typical fairytale story of true love and a beautiful maiden in distress and the daring prince that rescues her from the dastardly rogue and it all ends in true love. Or is it? Maybe the daring prince is really a rogue in disguise, and the dastardly rogue is really not what he seems? Let me tell you, this story is SO clever! It turns fairytales on their heads and liberally adds humour and eccentricities to the mix. I stayed up to the wee hours of the morning finishing it – it’s definitely a page turner! I’m giving it a solid 9* out of 10, and recommending it for 12+.

 

out of mormonism

Out of Mormonism ~ Judy Robertson

This was a really interesting read. I have a general knowledge of Mormonism and what their beliefs are, but I’ve never really properly delved into that religion. This book helped change that. I found it randomly on my parents’ bookshelves, I started reading it, and finished it in one sitting!

It’s the true story of how the author was convinced to become a Mormon, and then how 10 years later she became disillusioned with it and left the religion (Spoiler alert, she comes back to Christianity!) Mrs Robertson writes with clarity and insight, and I was gripped by her story. I found it so interesting reading the reasons why she was so attracted to Mormonism in the first place, and then how she gradually had more and more doubts as she got deeper and deeper into the religion. I learnt a lot about the in’s and out’s of the religion, and I feel that I now have a better understanding of Mormonism as a result. (And just for the record, reading this convinced me that I should not become a Mormon!)

If you’re interested in learning more about how Mormonism works or what they believe, this book is definitely for you! (Or if you want to be thoroughly convinced not to become a Mormon, it’s for you too, lol :D) I’m giving Out of Mormonism 8* out of 10 and recommending it for 15+ (due to some mature content in some parts. And it’s just generally written for an adult audience, not a teen one)

 

the giver

The Giver ~ Lois Lowry

Well this is one of those books that you finish and then have to sit silently for ages while you just try to work through the emotions it brings up in you. I’m not even sure how to write about it now.

It’s an incredibly beautiful book – beautiful in a haunting, poignant, aching type of way. It’s a very cleverly written story, with some very beautiful characters in it. It’s that type of book that makes you want to scream with anger and throw it at a wall. And it’s that type of book that makes you want to cry, but you don’t know why. Just the way it’s written and the storyline and the characters and the ending all weave together to form a lump in your throat and a deep ache in your chest.

I made the mistake of starting it late at night. Bad idea. 😀 I then proceeded to read into the early hours of the morning, and then lay awake with the previously described emotions swirling through my head.

No description of mine can do any good, so if you want a good description, just google it. And then go buy it on kindle or Amazon or get it at the library and read it (not late at night though!) I promise you will not be the same afterwards.

I’m giving this book 9* out of 10 and recommending it for ages 14+ (You can probably see why, based on my above review. It’s got a couple pretty disturbing parts in it.)

 

the unquenchable flame

The Unquenchable Flame ~ Michael Reeves

So, in case you didn’t know, I’m a history nerd. I love history of all types – something about the stories of days gone by thrills my imagination and sparks my joy! So this book is great for me. It’s very well-researched, and written by an expert in the topic. The Reformation was a pivotal time in the history of Christianity, and it’s chock full of capturing characters and incidents! I loved getting to delve down deep into that time period, and really get a grip on all the facets of the Reformation. Mr Reeves writes with a humour that is rather surprising for such a “dense” history book. I realise that history is not for everyone, but I’d really recommend giving this book a go. It’s a lot easier than it looks, and you will learn a lot through reading it! I’m rating this book 10* out of 10 and recommending it for ages 13+

 

Girlsavage

The Girl Savage – Katherine Rundell

Katherine Rundell is an incredible writer. She has a way with words that is so beautiful and imagination-inspiring! This is the 3rd book I’ve read by her – and I loved it!!

It’s the story of a girl called Will. She lives in Africa, and loves it. She runs run free in her beloved grassland with her companions – the natives and the animals. Her life is wild, and she loves it. But then tragedy strikes, and she is shipped off to England to boarding school. And Will finds that living in the wilds of London is a lot different than living in the wilds of Africa.

Ahhh, this book is seriously gorgeous. The writing, the story, the characters – everything is woven together into a absolutely delightful story! It might be aimed towards younger readers than I, but I couldn’t put it down! Buy it for yourself, your younger siblings, your friend, your grandchildren, whoever, and it will be a hit! I’m giving it 9* out of 10 and recommending it for ages 12+

~

There we are – my top 5 books of November! What about you? What books have you really enjoyed reading in the past month?

Also, I have a special Christmas story that I will be posting in segments from the 20th-25th! Keep your eyes peeled for the first part coming this Wednesday!

 

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Short Story – A Smoky Lesson

Hello everyone! Today I’m back with another short story, this time an older one that I wrote last summer. Now, I need to give some background to this story before I post it…

The Circle C Adventures series by Susan K. Marlow have been one of those series that is just an integral part of my childhood. Though actually, I didn’t get into them until I was about 10, so perhaps they’re more part of my adolescence. 😀 I read the ‘Adventures‘ series first, then read the ‘Beginnings‘ (even though I was much above the target age range for them :D) In the recent years I’ve really enjoyed the ‘Milestones‘ series, buying them as soon as they’ve been published. The series chronicle the adventures of a girl named Andi Carter, who grows up on a Californian ranch in the late 1800s. They tell her story from the age of six up until she get’s married. I’d totally recommend checking them out, they’re wonderful books!

My love for historical fiction was deepened through reading these books, and my love for writing was partly sparked by them. Yes, I wrote some before I encountered them, but the fan-fiction contests that Mrs M held for her readers pushed me to start writing more. I actually won honourable mention in 2015/16 yearly writing contest. (I might post that story on here one day! ;))

So anyways, now that I’ve got all that explained, you’ll better understand where this story is coming from. It was written for a small writing contest Mrs Marlow held last summer. Though it didn’t place, I thoroughly enjoyed writing it! Perhaps because it’s based on a true life story. 😀 So without further ado, here’s the story! I hope you enjoy! 🙂

~

A Smoky Lesson

Six year old Andi breathed a deep shuddering sob that turned into a cough as she breathed in the acrid smoke. Mitch and Peter were frantically rushing around the kitchen, opening windows and trying to fan the choking smoke out. But Andi just stood there, staring at the charred and smouldering pot on the stove, sobbing.

My surprise for Mother is ruined! How could this have all gone so wrong? She took another shuddering breath, and let her mind go back over the events of the afternoon….

*

As Mother had left the house just before noon that day, she’d lined up Mitch, his best friend Peter, and Andi on the front porch.

“Mitch, I expect you to take good care of Andi. And Andi, listen to your brother. He’s in charge.”

“Yes Mother, don’t worry we’ll be fine.” Mitch had airily assured Mother.

“We’ll take care of Andi, don’t worry.” Peter had added.

“Good. Now have fun and be safe! I’ll be back in time for dinner.” Mother had smiled and then climbed into the buggy. As it headed away, she’d called back. “And don’t burn the house down!” Mitch looked at Peter and laughed.

“Come on, let’s go down to the corral where all the mustangs are!”

“Can I come?” Andi asked.

“No, they’re too wild now. Too dangerous for a little girl like you.”

“Please?” Andi begged.

“No, go in the house and play, we’ll be back in a few minutes.” The two boys had headed off, leaving Andi standing disconsolately on the porch. If Mother hadn’t cautioned her to obey Mitch, she would have ignored him and followed along.

But I’d better listen to him this time, I guess. She wandered aimlessly into the house, searching for something to do. It was the servants’ day off, and there was no one around in the house or yard. None of her toys looked inviting, compared to the lure of forbidden mustangs.

Maybe I’ll get a snack. Andi eventually thought, heading for the kitchen. A few minutes later, mouth full of cookie, she slumped on a chair. Mitch is no fair! He should have stayed with me instead of going off with Peter and leaving me all alone. As she slowly munched her cookie, Andi’s eyes lighted upon a large crate of rosy apples in the corner of the kitchen. Those must be the apples Mother asked Luisa to make into applesauce. Andi mused. Hmmmmm… A light bulb clicked on in her brain. I know! I’ll make applesauce to surprise Mother!

*

A little while later, the apples were peeled, cut, put into a large pot, and already sending up warm, sweet smells above the hot kitchen stove. Since she knew Mother’s warnings about using knives, Andi had enlisted the boys’ help for the surprise she had concocted, and amazingly they had gone along with it with nary a murmur. Andi’s mouth and hands were sticky with all the apple peelings she had eaten while picking up after the boys, who had raced to see how many apples they each could peel and cut.

“Well, what do we do now?” Peter questioned to nobody in particular. “This applesauce won’t be done for a while, and there’s no use just sitting here watching it.”

“Let’s go for a ride.” Mitch suggested.

“Oh yes! Can I come?” Andi exclaimed.

“Sure.” Said Peter generously. “Let’s go!” As the three headed out for the barn, all thoughts of applesauce were swept from their minds.

*

An hour and a bit later, the three ambled slowly back towards the ranch on their horses. The two boys were farther back, letting their mounts cool off after a heated race. Andi on Cocoa was in front, considering a particularly interesting dispute Peter and Mitch had had over who’d won the race. As they neared the house, she looked up, and to her immediate horror, saw black smoke billowing out of a window in the house!

“Mitch, Peter!” She screamed. “The house is on fire!!!”

*

Now as Andi stood surveying the charred pot that was still belching out putrid smoke, and the blackened stove underneath it, she wasn’t sure what to do or think. The boys had immediately jumped into action, opening all the windows in the kitchen, and throwing a bucket of water on the stove, where it had hissed fiercely. Andi had taken one look at her ruined surprise, and started to sob.

My wonderful surprise has turned into a horrible mess! As the smoke slowly disappeared, leaving the stench of charred apples, Mitch left the kitchen to open all the windows around the house, hoping to dispel just some of the smell that had permeated the whole house. Peter seeing Andi’s distress, kneeled down and gave her a gentle hug.

“Hey, it’s ok now.” He comforted, awkwardly trying to wipe away her tears. “There’s no fire, and everything will be jim-dandy once we clean up.” Peter assured her.

Mitch came back into the kitchen, and said “We’d better try and scrub out that pot. Mother will have a fit if she sees that mess in it.” He hauled the pot to the table and began to scrub it. Peter began to wipe off the blackened stove, and Andi slowly began to pick up stray apple peels off the floor.

“I guess… I guess we shouldn’t have left it.” She tentatively said.

“Yeah, it was my fault for suggesting to go for a ride.” Mitch answered.

“And it was my fault for agreeing!” Peter added.

“And it was my fault for…”

Andi was cut off by Mitch. “It wasn’t your fault at all! Don’t you worry over it, I’ll explain everything to Mother.” He flashed her a cheery grin.

*

As it turned out, Mother was so grateful that nothing worse had happened, that she really didn’t mind about the awful smoky smell or the scorched pot.

“Thank God that you came back when you did! It could have been so much worse!”

“Yeah, I’m sorry Mother, I should have thought.” Mitch apologized.

“I’m sorry my surprise for you was ruined Mother.” Andi said, hugging her Mother tightly.

“Oh darling, it was the thought that counted.” Andi grinned up at her Mother, and then straightened up.

“You know what?” Andi looked around at everyone. “I’ve learned a very important lesson: Don’t ever leave the house when you are cooking!” Everyone erupted into laughter.

“You got that right, Andi!” Peter chortled. “You sure got that right!”

*Dedicated to my dear, long-suffering Mother, who recently did come home to find her best pot ruined by my surprise that had literally gone up in smoke. Thanks for forgiving me again, Mum! 😀

~

As you can see from the dedication, this story was really based on a true life story. Like Andi, I decided to make applesauce for a surprise for my Mum, and also like Andi, I totally forgot about it and ruined it and the pot it was in. I wasn’t able to laugh about it as quickly as Andi did, but looking back now I can! 😀

That’s all for today! But before you go, I want to let you know about a new blog that has just been launched. I am part of a course called the Young Writer’s Workshop that was launched by Brett Harris and Jaquelle Crowe early this year. It has been an invaluable tool to help me grow in my writing, and is part of the reason why I started this blog! As a part of this course, there is a community where we can interact with all the other young writers on the course. I’ve met so many wonderful writers, it’s been amazing! And one of my fellow writers, Bethany, is launching her blog today! You can find her at Behind the Pen, where she’ll be posting behind the scenes of her writing, story snippets, writing tips, book reviews and the occasional fun/off-topic post. I know she’d love it if you could check her out! 🙂

I hope you all have a wonderful week (celebrating Thanksgiving if you’re in America, enjoying the lovely, rainy weather if you’re in England, and just plain enjoying life if you’re somewhere else :D) and I’ll see you back here next Saturday!

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! 🙂

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!

~

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+.

~

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.