Saturday, December 31, 2011

Books Read in 2011

1. Room, Emma Donoghue
2. Stuck in the Middle, Virginia Smith
3. Early-Start Potty Training, Linda Sonna
4. Nanny Returns, Emma McLaughlin
5. Age Before Beauty, Virginia Smith
6. Amanda, Debra White Smith
7. Choosing to SEE, Mary Beth Chapman
8. Third Time's a Charm, Virginia Smith
9. Lucky Man, Michael J. Fox
10. Lucky Girl, Mei-Ling Hopgood
11. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Mark Haddon
12. The Help, Kathryn Stockett
13. No Impact Man, Colin Beavan
14. Dune Road, Jane Green
15. Departures, Robin Jones Gunn
16. Where Do I Go, Neta Jackson
17. Who Do I Talk To, Neta Jackson
18. In a Heartbeat, Leigh Anne Touhy
19. Cinderella Ate My Daughter, Peggy Orenstein
20. Harry Bentley's Second Chance, Dave Jackson
21. Who Do I Lean On, Neta Jackson
22. Harry Bentley's Second Sight, Dave Jackson
23. The Yada Yada Prayer Group, Neta Jackson
24. The Yada Yada Prayer Group Gets Down, Neta Jackson
25. Steady Days, Jamie C. Martin
26. The Yada Yada Prayer Group Gets Real, Neta Jackson
27. The Yada Yada Prayer Group Gets Tough, Neta Jackson
28. The Yada Yada Prayer Group Gets Caught, Neta Jackson
29. The Yada Yada Prayer Group Gets Rolling, Neta Jackson
30. The Yada Yada Prayer Group Gets Decked Out, Neta Jackson
31. Who Is My Shelter, Neta Jackson
32. The Complete Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi
33. The Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin
34. Radical, David Platt
35. Eat Pray Love, Elizabeth Gilbert
36. Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, Mo Willems
37. Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, Amy Chua
38. Committed, Elizabeth Gilbert
39. Misconception, Paul Morrell
40. Down Came the Rain, Brooke Shields
41. Inconceivable, Carolyn Savage
42. God is the Gospel, John Piper
43. American Gods, Neil Gaiman
44. Multiple Blessings, Kate Gosselin
45. Here If You Need Me, Kate Braestrup
46. Bent Road, Lori Roy
47. Going Rogue, Sarah Palin
48. Julie and Julia, Julie Powell
49. The Price of Privilege, Madeline Levine
50. It's Not News It's Fark, Drew Curtis
51. Surrogacy Was the Way, Zara Griswold
52. Delivering Hope, Pamela MacPhee
53. Inconceivable, Julia Indichova
54. Stories I Only Tell My Friends, Rob Lowe
55. The Facts of Life and other Lessons My Father Taught Me, Lisa Whelchel
56. Permission Slips, Sherri Shepherd
57. The Pilgrim's Progress, John Bunyan
58. A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, Donald Miller
59. Through Gates of Splendor, Elisabeth Elliot
60. Bossypants, Tina Fey
61. Morning Glory, Diana Peterfreund
62. Origins, Annie Murphy Paul
63. State of Wonder, Ann Patchett
64. The Reading Promise, Alice Ozma
65. Skipping Christmas, John Grisham
66. A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens
67. Taking Care of the Me in Mommy, Lisa Whelchel
68. Life of Pi, Yann Martel
69. Sisterhood Everlasting, Ann Brashares
70. Happily Ever After, Susan May Warren
71. Too Small To Ignore, Wess Stafford
72. Craving God, Lisa TerKeurst
73. Happy Accidents, Jane Lynch

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Life of Pi

Life of PiLife of Pi by Yann Martel

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Life of Pi has been on my list of "to read" books for years now. I began reading and wasn't feeling it for almost the entire first part. I honestly think that first part could have been skipped entirely (the writing or the reading of it). But I knew, even as I read it, that it was setting us up for something. The background itself isn't very important, but the declarations of faith, and the other philosophical parts of it, are needed before introducing the main conflict of the story.
Part two, the story of life on the Pacific, the story of survival, was so intriguing I didn't want to put the book down. Pi's taming of the tiger is what kept me into it, I think. I knew he eventually made it to land, but I still just kept reading, not knowing how or when. The end of part one assured me that "the story has a happy ending." I just wasn't sure. I am still not.
The book does indeed keep you pondering. It has been entertaining me all morning, and I finished reading the book last night.

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Monday, September 12, 2011

Surrogacy Was The Way

Surrogacy Was the Way: Twenty Intended Mothers Tell Their StoriesSurrogacy Was the Way: Twenty Intended Mothers Tell Their Stories by Zara Griswold

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Absolutely essential reading for anyone embarking on the journey of surrogacy!
As a potential Gestional Surrogate (GS) I found each story (from the Intended Mother's point of view) to be informational and educational. This journey is emotional beyond imagining, and the best we can each do is try to understand where we are both coming from.
I think this book also highlights one major aspect of surrogacy--matching. The right match, much like a marriage, must not be entered into hastily or lightly. Just because logistics work out, doesn't mean the match is right. There must be a "good vibe" between the surrogate and the intended parents, before making the match official.

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Thursday, July 21, 2011

American Gods

American GodsAmerican Gods by Neil Gaiman

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book is so weird! I enjoyed it but there were parts of it that I just couldn't get on board with... it was fun learning about all the different legends/myths and gods. Also freaky at times. And depressing.
Overall I just tried to get through it as quickly as possible.
But I really cared for the main character. The periphery characters were just that, too much on the sidelines, and I really didn't care about any of them. Even the disappearing teenager... I had totally forgotten about that story arc for a while, so I had to be reminded that I should care about her.
The way that gods are explained was lacking. Can they die? Are they real? Most of them have physical bodies but some don't. Why? What is the difference exactly between a god and a culture hero? There were just too many loose ends in this vein for me to fully enjoy the book.

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Monday, July 18, 2011

God is the Gospel

God Is the Gospel: Meditations on God's Love as the Gift of HimselfGod Is the Gospel: Meditations on God's Love as the Gift of Himself by John Piper

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Finally, I have finished reading God is the Gospel! I really like John Piper's writing, but it seems I can usually only stand it for a few pages at a time. He's just so deep theologically, and it takes me days sometimes to mull over what he is saying. However, two days ago I felt a new determination to FINISH my original 100 Books List before December of this year. So I got through the second half of God is the Gospel in just two days. I'm so happy! It is a huge accomplishment--it feels even bigger than finishing Anna Karenina, although it is about 600 pages shorter! It was good timing for me to finish this book, as I had recently read Radical (and liked it as well). This book carries some similar themes, mainly the concept that knowing and loving God should be the central aspect of our "religion," yet so often we are distracted... by the American Dream of happiness (as Radical's author David Platt pointed out) or even just by the good gifts God gives us (as Piper points out here). If we love the gift more than the Giver, we're screwed up! That's my take-away.

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Monday, July 11, 2011


Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with MarriageCommitted: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage by Elizabeth Gilbert

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I thought this was MUCH better than the more-well-known Eat Pray Love.

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Saturday, July 9, 2011

Down Came the Rain

Down Came the Rain: My Journey Through Postpartum DepressionDown Came the Rain: My Journey Through Postpartum Depression by Brooke Shields

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Great book; it made me sad, remembering my (much less traumatic) bout of PPD. Good inspiration to get help when you need it!

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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Rediscovering "Departures"

Ten years ago I read the Christy Miller series of books by Robin Jones Gunn, after a good friend recommended them for their spiritual application. Spiritual? A set of teen books? Usually these things are all fluff--which girl likes which boy, blah blah blah. Yes, there is some of that here. HOWEVER, I had clearly underestimated Ms. Gunn. Not only are the spiritual applications there, the characters also seem so real--as in, they go through challenges, have ups and downs, pray and try to let God work, mess up sometimes, and start all over again. What I have loved about the character of Christy Miller is that she falters, but she is growing. From Book One of the series, we see a dramatic shift in her character that is nevertheless subtle enough to be valid.
In Departures, we see Christy after having just graduated from high school. Now, I have read the books that are further in the series, so I know how it all ends up. This novella is more of an intermission-type of story. It was interesting, though, and I did like what the author did with the characters in less than 100 pages.
The second novella was about Sierra Jensen, who Gunn also wrote a series of books about, and who eventually does hover in the periphery of the Christy books as well. I hadn't read much about Sierra but I liked her immediately. In this book, she is only fifteen, yet she seems really grounded (but, again, not unrealistically so). This contrasts the Christy character at age fifteen, who was much more flighty and goofy. I like that the character knows who she is and seeks out a relationship with God on her own. Inspiring stuff!
Thank you, Ms. Gunn, for these stories, which upon rediscovery, are just as wonderful as ever!

(By the way, I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group in exchange for writing my honest review. You can read an excerpt of the book: here)

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Reading Pledge!

I will read every day.
I will pass on the great books I enjoy. (I just wish Room was lending-enabled on my Kindle...)
I will give books as gifts to children in my life.
I will create my personal "Bookprint" by sharing the five books that influenced who I am today at and will encourage my friends and colleagues to do the same. (Consider yourself "encouraged" to do so.)
I will be a reading role model for my child by reading every day.
I will have books at home for my child to enjoy.
I will help my child carve out time in the day just for reading.
From birth through the teen years, I will read to and with my child.
I will encourage my child to choose the books he or she wants to read.
I will take my child to sign up for a library card.
I will volunteer to read to children at school or in my community.

Sunday, January 2, 2011


I loved this book! I know it isn't on my book list, but I wanted to mention it here because it is one of the best novels I have read in a long time. I downloaded a sample of the book to my Kindle, and I was so intrigued, I needed to get the rest of the book as soon as possible! It did not disappoint.
The plot centers around a five-year-old boy (the narrator, incidentally) and his Ma. They are alone in a room, and apparently they don't leave the room. Ever. Want to know why? I know! Read the book! It was interesting, engaging, at times chilling, and even though I didn't think it could, left me feeling good about life.
No one told me to say this, either. I just loved the book that much, and I hope you do, too.