RSS

Non-fiction Books I’m Liking (Fall 2018)

I’m seeing a Japanese theme here, aren’t you?  Enjoy these Asian-rooted books with me this autumn!

The Four Holy Gospels, illustrated by Makoto Fujimura ~ The first time I heard of Makoto Fujimura was on a late Moody radio program.  ‘A Christian abstract artist?  That just can’t be!’ I thought.  I’m not sure how, but somewhere along the way I picked up the thinking that modern art was completely anti-God, anti-Christian and anything that didn’t at least try to look realistic had its basis in evil worldviews.  Thank goodness God’s mellowed me out since then, and I guess the process is ongoing!  For those who may be struggling with this idea that abstract can be glorifying to God, I recommend Francis Schaeffer’s short work, “Art and the Bible.” In any case, I became curious enough to look up this deeply spiritual Asian-American online to see what his art looked like.  I was astounded.  I don’t pretend to understand high art.  I need those trained in it to help me understand it.  But I appreciated the beauty and emotion he infused with traditional Japanese painting techniques to create beautiful washes of color with veins of metallic running through them.  I heard that he was commissioned to illustrate the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible, rather like the medieval illumination of old.  I’ve always wanted to see it, and I finally got the chance.  I wish there was more explanation accompanying his paintings and why he chose what he did (as a lot of it goes over my head), but I loved looking at it nonetheless.  My favorite piece was the full-page illustration, Prodigal God.  I would like to own my own copy someday. 

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo ~ Spring cleaning… in the fall?  I know, that doesn’t seem to make much sense, does it?  But I’ve always felt more like the fall was a second New Year’s for me, a time to hit restart and a chance to attempt more order.  And as alluded to in a recent post, I’ve been feel overwhelmed and stressed out for a long time and my systems aren’t working.  So I need a change.  I found this book at a garage sale and knew that it was a popular, best-selling book.  I’d first heard of the KonMari method of organizing on a youtube video where a woman went through her wardrobe cleaning and sorting according to what she had read in the book.  And then I just started of hearing it everywhere.  Last year I redded [yes, that is a word even though spellcheck says it’s not] my book collection to purge what I didn’t have room for anymore.  I was pleased with the results, but I really needed to read through this cover to cover.  So, I am currently about halfway through and am enjoying this little book.  So much of what the author recommends seems backward to what I was thinking, but once she explains herself it begins to make sense and I am willing to try.  I have already gone through my own clothes closet and am now to attack books again (I acquire new all the time) and papers.  I want to begin to put her principles into my daily living, not just a once a year mad purge.  I know she comes to the table with a very Eastern spiritualistic worldview.  Some readers may feel weird about Kondo’s assigning personalities to things and talking to them, thanking them for their service.  But at the same time, I identify with that because of my struggles with OCD.  So even though I personally don’t believe my Mom’s 34-year old blender that she got as a wedding present and that is now out of commission has a spirit, it is easier to place it in the dumpster after I’ve given it a dignified “thank you for your service” speech.   

 

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on September 23, 2018 in Non-Fiction Books I'm Liking

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Movie Review: “The Aviator”

Based on the book by Ernest K. Gann.

Version: 1985; starring Christopher Reeve; Tyne Daly

Genre: adventure; classic

Plot Summary: A physically and emotionally scarred US mail pilot is commissioned to escort a young teenager over the lonely Rocky Mountain wilderness during the 1920’s.

My Review: Disclaimer*: I have not read the original book, so this review will not be comparing it to that work.  Only as a story in and of itself, totally unrelated to the book. 

When I first came across this streaming for free online, I thought it was an early version of The Aviator that starred Leonardo DiCaprio and Cate Blanchett.  I thought it might be about Howard Hughes.  The story turned out to be quite different than I expected and was a pleasant surprise.

Though this movie may be lacking a lot of the frills and fancies of today’s world, the story was still interesting because of the well-developed characters.  Reeve plays a good pilot that is still suffering from a war incident and lives in isolation from those around him.  Tillie is a young teenage girl that on the surface seems spoiled and immature, but when put to the test proves she has courage to survive hardships.

Some beautiful cinematography from the air and accompanying filmscore is lovely.  Acting may not be A1, but there aren’t any scenes you wouldn’t want your parents to watch.  I believe there were a few ‘d’ words sprinkled throughout.  Tillie does confess that she was ‘banged up’ by a boy prior to her plane trip and declares that it ‘certainly wasn’t love.’  She begins to develop a bit of a crush on Edgar, but nothing inappropriate comes of it.  Rather, it was sweet and humorous and Edgar comes to realize that there may be something in him the right woman could love about him.

I believe that the character Tillie was made older in the movie than she was in the book, but I think this was actually in the story’s favor.  If you’re looking for something a little different, I believe you would enjoy this for entertainment.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on September 23, 2018 in Movie Reviews

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Change is in the Air…

In this case, I happen to think that change is good.  Good for the blog!  It’s also time for me to get honest and quit being so stubborn.  I’ve been battling being able to get my posts out like I would like for some time now and have finally reached the place where I am a full year behind my own schedule.  (In case you haven’t noticed, book review posts have been lacking a lot lately.)  😦  It’s been hard to write reviews doing justice to my thoughts on a book when it’s months after I’ve finished it and have a hard time remembering the characters’ names.  That’s terrible!  I’m also feeling weighed down by all of the different things I have on my backed-up list and I feel the need to purge.

So I promised myself that when I hit that ‘one year behind mark’, I’d double down and do some serious reassessing and catching up.  I’m not entirely sure how that will look yet.  I know that I don’t want to overwhelm followers’ inboxes with spam posts.  I think it will involve a lot of narrowing down of what I will write about for the time being in order to focus on book reviews and books-I’m-loving-type updates.  I’ve also decided to write less movie reviews since I don’t think I’m very good at them, and only write them in such cases as I’ve read the book first.  Except for reviews that I already have typed up and ready to go.

I want to provide my reviews on goodreads as well.  That shouldn’t create extra work, but will broaden the availability.  Unfortunately, the few reviews I have on there right now are negative ones and I don’t want to be the type of person who only speaks out when they have something to grouse about.

I have a few more ideas in the works, so stay TUNED (hint hint)!

Now, I’ve just pitched that long list titled “Backed Up Book Blog” and I’m feeling better already!

 

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on September 21, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: ,

Movie Review: “Charlotte’s Web”

Based on the book by E. B. White.

Version: 2006; starring Julia Roberts; Oprah Winfrey; Robert Redford

Genre: children’s classic

Plot Summary: Everyone thinks the phase won’t last when a runt piglet is adopted by a young girl.  Obviously, pigs are raised for one purpose only… consumption.  Wilbur won’t last a chance unless his friends can do something.  One brave and intelligent spider sets out to save him.

My Review: It’s hard to believe this movie has been around for 12+ years now.  I remember when it came to theaters and I was so excited to see it!  But our family couldn’t go to the movies very often, and so I never got the chance.  My friend saw it with her family though, and I heard her tell all about it while I harbored feelings of envy.  It was so good, she claimed that even her dad cried over it!

Finally I found this movie at my local library bookstore for $1.  I’ve been saving it for sometime special and watched with family over New Year’s.  But actually, this movie is quite an ordinary type of story.  No, not ordinary in that it lacked creative entertainment value.  Rather, I mean the story is about noticing and enjoying the ordinary miracles we encounter daily.

Perhaps it might sound like a worn out theme– this one of mindfulness.  But one we need to be reminded of over and over again until we get it and even then refuse to ‘get it’ because then we will close ourselves off from discovery.  I’m very familiar with the story of “Charlotte’s Web.”  I read the book in 3rd grade (the first one I ever cried over), and watched the old ’70’s animated version countless times.  But I’m not sure I ever picked up on this message in the storyline.  I appreciated this newer version for the quiet simplicity with which they mined the story, and staying true to the spirit of E. B. White’s tale.  One reason this story seemed to jump out at me so is because I spent a lot of last year struggling with contentment with my time in life.  I finally came to the conclusion that there are things I enjoy and also things I do not enjoy about now, but my business is to seek out the joy of the present things that God has for me in today.

For Wilbur, this is his natural born gift.  Being a young spring pig, he marvels in sunrises and sunsets, he treasures the gift of a carrot and every silvery wisp of web.  The other barnyard animals have been around for a time or two and have become complacent in their everyday living.  But by the end of the story, they too have fallen under the magic of everyday-ness.  It was a beautiful transformation to watch.

I also noticed how it was of great significance to Wilbur what things were named.  And Charlotte searched for just the right word to describe something.  It was important that it be correct and true.  Somehow, naming something affirms that that person or event in time (no matter how small) has value.

Charlotte lived and used her life to save her friend, and then died. As the narrator (the late Sam Shepard) said at the end of the film, “…but she lived on in the hearts of those who knew her.”  It was ironic because my pastor had just said that morning that our Savior Jesus is alive– “not just in the hearts of those who remembered Him, but as a real scars and eating-grilled-fish alive.”  Because of that, we can truly live too.  And we can enjoy abundant life and all of the beautiful gifts He blesses us with.

I always wondered how life-like animals would work for Charlotte’s Web.  When it came out in 2006, it was one of the first successful of it’s kind.  Of course, animation and cgi has made great leaps and bounds since then.  I was relieved to discover they didn’t churn out a hokey production.  Voice actors were chosen with care.  I’m not always a big fan of choosing big name celebrities for projects just because of their name.  They have to earn the voice acting role in my book.  But I have to say they were all pretty good, even the young actor who played Wilbur (cute as all get out).  The only exception where I’m not sure I was 100% convinced was Julia Roberts as Charlotte.  She has a splendid, proper voice, both stern and soothing when need be and suitable enough.  Yet she didn’t seem to “fill out” all the colors of her character.  My personal favorite was the voice of Templeton.  I encourage anyone to watch the special features (if available) to see the behind-the-scenes casting decisions and recording studio.  That stuff always fascinates me!

I know this was a successful adaptation of the book, because it made me tear up just like the story did when I was 8 years old.  Definitely a family movie I wouldn’t mind seeing again!

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on August 31, 2018 in Movie Reviews

 

Tags: , , ,

My 1ST BOOK CLUB! & Book Review: “Sensible Shoes,” by Sharon Garlough Brown

16204594Genre: Christian fiction

Plot Summary: [from goodreads.com:] “Sharon Garlough Brown tells the moving story of four strangers as they embark together on a journey of spiritual formation: Hannah, a pastor who doesn’t realize how exhausted she is. Meg, a widow and recent empty-nester who is haunted by her past. Mara, a woman who has experienced a lifetime of rejection and is now trying to navigate a difficult marriage. Charissa, a hard-working graduate student who wants to get things right. You’re invited to join these four women as they reluctantly arrive at a retreat center and find themselves drawn out of their separate stories of isolation and struggle and into a collective journey of spiritual practice, mutual support and personal revelation. Along the way, readers will be taken into a new understanding of key spiritual practices and find tangible support for the deeper life with God.”

My Book Review: I first heard of this book on Midday Connection, where it was once recommended for one of their on-air book clubs.  It never really seemed to appeal to me as far as reading genres go.  No excitement, no adventure, intrigue, etc.  But a lady from my church whom I highly respect and who is also in charge of our women’s ministry had an inspired idea to start a women’s book club throughout the summer with this book for discussion.  It turns out, she personally knew the author Sharon Garlough Brown, and contacted her about visiting our church in October around the time the third in the Sensible Shoe trilogy was released.  Well, how could I pass on something this neat?  I signed up for the book club discussions, and got a copy of the book.

The book’s publisher, IVP, is not in the habit of printing fiction books. Their attention is directed toward non fiction (usually in the contemplative genre) that help people grow in their spiritual walk.  But when Brown approached them with her manuscript, they decided to change their rules for once and publish it.  They felt strongly that even though it was fiction, it taught great spiritual disciplines.  Through the emotional medium of fictional characters, biblical truth can be effectively taught in a way non fiction can’t.  This is what has meant so much to fans of the Sensible Shoes club.  Truth climbs in the back door of our heart and helps us see that we truly are God’s beloved and we long to walk more closely with Him, overcoming the walls and barriers that have closed off life for so long.

At first, I had a hard time getting into the story.  It still wasn’t my thing.  It was well written, but just not exciting.  One of the main reasons I had joined was because I knew that the topic of contemplative Christianity would be brought up, and I wanted to learn more about it.  I had come to the right place.  The four female characters in the book—Mara, Charissa, Meg, and Hannah—meet one another at a spiritual retreat center, where a wise spiritual director introduces them to disciplines that help them grow in their walk with the Lord.

a71db3c4fc05f755450487872d6e06fdThere are probably some of you reading this review and already the hackles have gone on the back of your neck. You’ve heard about this strange “pagan form of New Age religion” called contemplative Christianity and you’re scared to death.  I’m glad the author addresses those concerns in her book.  It takes a mind fully bent on discerning truth under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and not someone who gets creeped out because of something new or outside of the comfortable box to embrace this book.

90 women showed up at our church to begin the book club discussions. Even our pastor picked it up to read and got into it.  We split the book up into 3 chapters at a time and got together in smaller groups at a local log cabin retreat center (WONDERFUL EXPERIENCE!).  We talked about the characters and how we identified or didn’t identify with them, and also about the spiritual disciplines taught along the way, and what God was teaching us through them.  It was my first time being a part of a book club, and I really enjoyed the conversations.

As far as the story itself went, I finally started to get more into it around 2/3 of the way through. The plot gained some suspense and I wanted to know what happened next.  I would probably say I identified the most with the character Hannah, though not in the way some in my group supposed I did.  I knew God was wanting me to dig through some stuff I kept on wanting to shove under the rug.  I would like to go back through the book again and incorporate the spiritual disciplines into my routine.  It’s definitely something I want to explore more deeply.

004October came and we had our big shebang at the end of the bookclub. when Sharon Garlough Brown came to visit our church. Unfortunately, the even started at 9:00 in the morning.  Um, no.  I don’t do mornings well.  I got myself around the earliest as best I could and arrived an hour and a half late, but was able to sit in on the last half hour of her lecture.  Amazingly, it was exactly at that spot in her speech that I needed to hear.  She was talking on Romans 8:31-39 and it was like it was just for me!  I took lots of notes.

We broke for lunch and reconvened later for music worship and then Sharon came on stage again to talk, mainly about her inspiration and background for writing the book. Then it was Q & A time and giveaway time.  At the end of the afternoon, Sharon sat at a little card table with a flower in a vase and we lined up to get our copies autographed by her.  That was so much fun!  I even got my picture taken with her, but I don’t post my pic on the net.  I’ll just post the one I took of her signing books.

Sharon Brown was a lovely person to meet, and such a regular-body, too. I found a video of her promoting her series, and more can be found on Youtube:

It seems these books are the type of thing you read and pass on to someone else, and they spread and grow among friends. I even recommended it to my uncle!  I lent mine to another friend who appreciated it, but also said she felt like the problems the characters dealt with were gotten over ‘too quickly.’ She has a point– there are usually no quick fixes in life.  But at the same time, a story arch has to fit within a certain page structure.  Then too, there are two more in the series, so who knows what will occur in the next segment of their journey?

This is a highly recommended novel, because of how it causes one to examine their heart with God at the helm. If this scares you, I encourage you to give it a try in small parts anyway.  A book won’t bite, and it gives the brain something to chew on.

Did you love this book? Why or why not?

I would also recommend:

 

 

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on August 19, 2018 in Book Reviews

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Random Books: lots of Christian fiction

I’ve come across quite a few Christian fiction reads in my thrift travels lately.  Here’s my newest stack of random books before I catalog them into my own home library:

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on August 15, 2018 in Book Shopping

 

Tags: , , , , ,

Image

~Quote for 08/05/2018~

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on August 5, 2018 in Quotes

 

Tags: