August was a good book month here -certainly a lot of diversity!
First up is "The Organized Heart: A Woman's Guide to Conquering Chaos" by Staci Eastin. This one is a 5, and one that will be re-read.
I read most of this on the train coming back from Kansas City. It is published by Cruciform Press. Cruciform is a small publisher with a nifty idea - thin, to-the-point books dealing with deep theological topics, but put into very concise language. These are the sort of books I'd be happy to share with friends/ Sometimes I would love to share books on topics like, say....idolatry. Or sanctification. But the sheer mass of the book keeps me from doing so. No one likes to be handed a really thick book with, "Here, read this." But these books, generally around 100 pages or so, do the trick. And - to top it off, they publish books every other month or so - and you can subscribe to them, just like a magazine.
The Organized Heart is different from every other "how to be more organized" book that I've read (and I have read A LOT) because it is not a new system - no index cards, no Excel spreadsheets, no giant calendars with post-it notes. It gets to the heart of the issue - my heart, by addressing the idols that keep me unorganized - perfectionism, busyness, possessions and leisure. The author, Staci Eastin, is a Missouri homeschooling mom of three, and her blog (how I discovered this gem) is over on my blog roll. I highly recommend this book.
Next up, just a 2. Stand By Me: Souled Out Sisters by Neta Jackson
I loved the Yada Yada Prayer Group books, some more than others of course. I enjoyed the House of Hope series. This one....I will probably read the series, just to keep up with my friends in the Yadas, but the new characters are ANNOYING. I have noticed that the main characters tend to get on my nerves - Jodi Baxter was the least interesting of all the Yadas. Gabby Fairbanks was someone whose impulsiveness and poor judgment would get on my nerves badly. But Kat, the environmentalist-college student-busybody was beyond irritating. Will Kat and Nick live happily ever after? Most likely (it is Christian chick lit, after all) but really, who cares?
Next up, more dealing with diabetes in The Complete Guide to Carb Counting, which I will give a 4.
Carbs (flour, sugar, starches....you know, the good stuff!) turns to sugar when you eat it. Glucose levels go up in the blood. One of the ways I maintain my blood sugar levels is by planning how many servings of carbs I have each day, space them out, eat them with protein, etc. This, along with exercise, is really helping to keep my blood sugar controlled.
Another diabetes read is Sugar Nation by Jeff O'Connell
Jeff discovered he had pre-diabetes and went on a personal journey to discover research and treatment for Type 2 Diabetes. He is pretty radical - comes down hard on the medical profession (some of which I definitely agree with), the American Diabetes Association, and anyone else he can find. He also goes on a fairly radical lifestyle of next-to-no carbs, supplements and working out. There was a lot I took with a grain of salt, but this book did cause me to think more about what I am being told and who is telling me, and to educate myself about this disease. It is a 4.
The Hidden Flower is one of Pearl S. Buck's lesser-known novels. Immediately after WWII, American troops occupied Japan. There an American soldier fell in love with a Japanese girl. This book went to a lot of places I was not expecting. The Japanese girl was actually Japanese-American - she and her father were both born in the USA, but moved to Japan to avoid the camps Japanese citizens were shamefully placed in. Her brother died fighting for America against Japan. Then, for her to marry an American and go back to the USA, and face the discrimination there....let's just say this started out all love-love-kissy-kissy and I did not think I would like it, but once again, Pearl S. Buck's characters don't do what is expected and the story explores elements I never imagined. I don't know if this is still in print or not, I found it used on either Paperbackswap or Bookmooch. I give this one a 4.
Modest: Men and Women Clothed in the Gospel is another offering from Cruciform Press.
This book does not even touch things like how long your skirt should be or whether or not a woman should wear jeans (praise God!). It goes straight to the heart - what is modesty, as an issue of the heart? What does scripture say about being modest, for both men and women, and what does this mean? Much deeper than a legalistic list of do's and don'ts. I give it a 3, because I think it was almost a little over-edited and could have gone deeper. But hey, it is one of those to-the-point books from Cruciform!
Prince Caspian, Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. I hate to say it, but only a 3. Caspian was not one of my favorites, nor the little guys'. Too much backstory, not enough action. But, hey, it is part of the Chronicles, and so we love it as part of the bigger whole.
The Beautiful Mystery (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #8) by Louise Penny
Hard to believe, but only giving this one a 3. I have loved most of the books in this series, but not this one. The mystery was interesting, though a little drawn out. Then, in the middle of the book the Inspector's nemesis on the force shows up, and it just goes from ugly to uglier. One of my favorite characters disappoints and I am just going to leave it at that. I left the last book (a year ago) all hopeful about an exciting turn of events. Now I feel like I have a year to wait and see how badly some lives are screwed up. Thanks, Louise. Maybe at least next year she will take us back to Three Pines, the setting of most of the stories, and we can at least have some fun with the crazies there.
And that is it - my nightstand is piled high with the goodies I am anticipating for September!