Finish#40 – Black

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There’s been a bit of excitement around the house this past week. Eldest daughter took the ACT a few weeks ago and the results are in! She received a 33 overall, but most impressive was the perfect 36 that she earned on the reading portion. I’m nearly dislocating my shoulder  patting myself on the back as I was the one who spent hours teaching her how to read when she was about 4 years old and even more hours homeschooling her (and a bunch of hours nagging her to crack open the ACT prep book). We are quite proud. Her sister immediately stated that she would get a 34 or better and took off with the study book!

In the midst of all of our celebrating (which involved ice cream at Dairy Queen and a trip to the theater to see Central Intelligence), I finished Black by Ted Dekker. (This is the first book by Ted Dekker that I’ve read.) This is finish #40. I’m ten books behind where I’d like to be right now if I want to stay on some sort of schedule and not have to cram a boatload of books into December. It’s all the fault of that darn Charles Dickens and David Copperfield that I’m behind schedule! (I’m still plugging away at it.) I had to put Dickens aside, though, as Black was reserved by someone else at the library and I wasn’t allowed to renew it. (I’m pretty sure it’s overdue now…GASP!)

I’ll need to read the other two books in the trilogy to see how the two storylines involving the main character are related before I can fully form an opinion about this book. I hate to say less than positive things about books, but this one won’t rank up there with my favorites for the year. While the plot is interesting, there is the occasional time when it drags just a bit, and you wonder if what is occurring in the story is actually something that is furthering the plot or if it is just a bit of filler thrown in to make the story take up three books. I can’t say when I will get to Red and White, the other two books in the trilogy, as I’ve got a basket full of other books (and David Copperfield) that seem a bit more interesting at this time, but I will read the rest of the trilogy as I can’t stand to get involved with characters and not find out what happens to them.

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Finish #39 – God’s Smuggler

P5301769.JPGThe school year is winding to a close…sort of. The younger two kids and I still have one book that we are reading together that we need to finish up. We have to squeeze reading time in on days when middle daughter doesn’t have to work. There’s always work that they do on their own that seems to ooze into “summer vacation.” I’m fine with that. Sometimes things come up during the “school year” that are unforeseen or that just have to take precedence. Sometimes someone gets sick, needs to spend extra time to really understand a subject, etc. That’s the beauty of homeschooling. We can work at our own pace. And if it isn’t done when school is “over,” then it gets done during the summer. And yes, real life has deadlines, and people don’t like it when you don’t meet those deadlines. So far eldest has done just fine transitioning from my more laid back approach to the dual enrollment college classes she took this year (5 of them). She completed them all with As and A+s.

So this week we had one of those days when we just didn’t have any time to read together or get any school work done. We were doing something a little more important. My kids were giving back to our church. We spent a couple hours along with a few other people cleaning church pews and seat covers. (And yuck, yuck, yuck, the grime that came out of or off of all of that. EWWW. I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that none of it had been so thoroughly cleaned in a long time…probably longer than my deck had gone without being cleaned.) The most entertaining part of the afternoon was as we were winding down with the cleaning and my son and his friend took over the pulpit and lectern to “preach.” Let’s just say that those two could have a future in ministry. (Though not with our staid and restrained congregation.) Some might sniff and say they were being sacrilegious or something, but it was all in good fun and we all had a hearty laugh after an afternoon of work.

Finish #39, God’s Smuggler by Brother Andrew, was one of the books that I read to the younger two. I’m always in awe of people that can just put everything in God’s hands…finances, safety, etc. I’m such a control freak, that even though I try to just put it all in God’s hands, I still like to plan, plan, plan. Putting things into God’s hands was a reoccurring theme of this true story. Even though the story was engaging, what really struck me was something in the epilogue. Apparently God’s Smuggler was required reading in the KGB. They knew what Brother Andrew and his helpers were doing and didn’t stop them. That’s pretty amazing.

Finish #38 – Call Me Irresitible

P5301768.JPGThere’s something that disturbs me about the cover of finish #38, Call Me Irresistible by Susan Elizabeth Phillips. I think it’s the fact that it looks like the young gal’s head has been cut off by an awful photographer. That being said, this book was an enjoyable read…and enjoy it I did for many minutes as I sat on the porch swing on our newly pressure washed deck.

My project last week, after we finally broke down and bought a pressure washer (because scrub brushes and buckets of bleach water would take FOREVER for this job), was to clean years and years worth of gunk off the deck. And when it was all finished and the thing looked like new, the kids had the nerve to say that they preferred it the way it had been. Apparently they are fans of the weathered and moldy look. Hmm. I was fine with weathered. Moldy, not so much. I’d estimate that I spent nearly five hours battling gunk. When you can draw smiley faces with a pressure washer in the gunk on your deck…that’s a lot of gunk! This weekend I started tackling the siding on the house. So you can guess what I’ll be up to for several weekends.

But back to the book…

This was the first book I’ve ever read by Susan Elizabeth Phillips. I just grabbed it off the shelf at the library, read the inside flap, thought it sounded interesting, and shoved it into my library bag. I actually didn’t even know what the title was until I was about halfway through the book. I can’t recall that ever happening before. The book moved right along. The characters were, well, characters…as in they had a lot of personality. Small town “charm” flooded the story. You’ll have to read it to understand why I put the word “charm” inside quote marks. I’ll definitely be looking for more books by this author in the future.

And by the way…I’m still making my way through David Copperfield. I just took a break with this book. I swear I’m going to finish it. Perhaps not before I use up all the renewals available at the library. If that happens, I’ll return it, check it out again, and get right back to it. It’s a good book, I swear. I just need a break now and then for something a little lighter.

Finish #37 – Anyone but You

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Three times. THREE TIMES! That’s how many times I’ve read this book, Finish #37, Anyone But You. I’m a big Jennifer Crusie fan. I only wish that she would write more books. Anges and the Hitman was the first book I read by her (co-written with Bob Mayer). Loved it! This book, Anyone But You, is such a fun book to read. Yes, it’s a sloppy romance novel. Sometimes you just need a sloppy romance novel…especially when you’ve just ploughed your way through a history book for six months with your kids and you’ve just begun reading David Copperfield. (Which is, surprisingly, quite good.)

If you are looking for something quick to read, something that will make you laugh, something with an adorable dog named Fred in it, then Anyone But You is a great choice.

Now on to a more weighty matter. I believe I mentioned several posts ago that I was looking forward to watching Into the Wild (the movie) after reading the book by the same name. We finally got around to watching it (before it became overdue). The book and the movie follow Christopher McCandless as he leaves behind real life and society’s expectations and makes his way to Alaska. He eventually dies in Alaska when he is unable to make it out of the wilderness first due to a swollen river and then due to the effects of a plant he had eaten. One thing that struck me while both reading the book and watching the movie was the impact he had on those he encountered. Perhaps he was never destined to do anything that “society” would consider great. Perhaps his destiny was to change the lives of just a handful of people.

Finish #36 – The Modern Age

P5191765.JPGWe have a term in our family that means “a lot.” I don’t know if the kids made it up or if they heard it somewhere. I’m guessing they made it up. They do, after all, have a reputation for making up new words. When they were little they liked to use the word “teent,” as in, “I’ll have a teent of broccoli.” Or, “I’ll have a teent of Brussels Sprouts.” You can probably figure out that “teent” meant “a very small portion.” Let me be the first to introduce you to their new term: Crap ton. As in, “There’s a crap ton of mosquitos outside.” Or, “That’s a crap ton of flannel squares.” When I ask them how many things are in a crap ton I get vague answers, but I’m starting to figure, out based on their usage of the term, exactly what a crap ton is. See that photo of flannel squares? That’s not exactly a crap ton. That’s more like an eighth of a crap ton. If you wanted to see the whole crap ton of flannel squares that I’ve been sewing together, you’d need to see a picture of the whole sewing room…which you won’t. It’s super messy. It’s also my husband’s home office where he spends large portions of every workday. There are house plans taped to the windows. There are piles of papers. Nope, you’ll never see a picture of the one room (other than the garage) that is never orderly and tidy.

As you can see, I’m still working my way through the whole crap ton of flannel squares. It might take awhile…just like Finish #36. (See how I segued so neatly this time?!) The Story of the World Volume 4: The Modern Age by Susan Wise Bauer is finish #36. This book had a crap ton of chapters. I spent about half a school year reading through these chapters with middle kid and the youngest. We read about all sorts of invasions, many wars, lots of kings and rulers…the list goes on and on. P5191763.JPG

Despite the great relief felt by all involved in the reading when we were finally finished with the book, I think we are all a little more knowledgeable of history from having read this book.

 

Finish #35 – One Sunday Morning

P5191760.JPGI’ve had two glorious days where I haven’t had to leave the house! TWO whole days! It’s such a rarity to have even one day go by where I don’t have to take someone somewhere or run some errand. Silly me, I thought we were busy when the kids were little. That was nothing compared to how busy we are now that they are older. I spent yesterday morning burning butter and making vitamin D with the middle kid (aka going for a run in the sun), mowing the lawn (not my favorite chore), trimming shrubs (slightly less horrible), and weeding the flowerbeds out front (mind numbingly boring). It was wonderful. WONDERFUL. I got dirty and sweaty and a little bit sunburnt, and I didn’t come in until middle kid wanted to know when we would be eating lunch. (It was after 1:30. She was, understandably, hungry.) The afternoon was spent helping with remaining schoolwork and sewing boatloads of flannel squares together for some baby blankets we’re working on to donate to a baby pantry.

This morning I “enjoyed” a five-mile run on the treadmill and a bit of weightlifting. This afternoon I’ll be returning to the sewing room to work some more on those flannel squares. I’m hoping to get at least three blankets out of the squares I’ve cut. The kids will do the tying so the front and back of the blankets will stay together. They needed some community service hours and I needed to get rid of all the flannel squares. The blankets seemed like a good idea.

Tomorrow is a big day for the eldest. She’ll be taking a standardized test for the first time in her life. Yes, IN HER LIFE. I am not a fan of standardized testing. I consider it a big waste of time. But no one asked my opinion. So tomorrow is SAT day. Poor kid will have to drag herself out of bed at some hour that is more like the middle of the night for her and hop in the car for the hour plus trip to the testing facility. Why they couldn’t do the testing somewhere closer is a mystery to me. Next weekend is the ACT. Thankfully that one is offered closer to home.

There is no easy way to segue from what we’ve been doing to Finish #35, One Sunday Morning by Amy Ephron, so I won’t even attempt to do so. After reading A Cup of Tea by the same author, I was excited to read another by her. Set in the 1920s, the book begins with a group of ladies witnessing something that they assume might be scandalous. (I won’t tell whether it was or was not scandalous, as that would be a spoiler.)

I will say that as I came to the conclusion of the story I was a bit disappointed and somewhat confused. There were a few characters who didn’t seem to add to the plot, and  despite the blurb in the front cover alluding to the book having a surprising and satisfying ending, I put the book down feeling not all that satisfied or surprised. While interesting, One Sunday Morning will not make it on my list of favorites for the year.