Saturday, December 25, 2010

101: Some updates

There are a lot of items on my list of 101 things to do in 1001 days that I can't do because of my temporary move. But there a few items that I worked on before leaving California and a few I can do here.

Here are some things I've done (some are partially finished):

- visit my family again (visited them in late spring)
- get a job that I like (I have an interesting job working at a German store in the area, I'm learning a lot of new things there and obviously enjoying the products as well).
- get all the junk out of the second bedroom (got all the fish tanks and supplies out before we left, there are only some items left in the closet)
- Read at least one of my books that are written in German (Goliaths Falle: Israelis und Palaestinenser im Wuergegriff)
- sell large fishtank (I was actually able to sell it, I'm so glad since it was basically new, just dusty from storage)
- sell and donate other things that I/we don't need (We sold and mostly donated many (many items went to the new thrift store of Lake Avenue Church), but there are still items left to sort through)
- sort LAC notes (throw those out I don't need anymore etc.) (threw out a lot of them, but not finished with the process)
- light a candle and enjoy (we just did that yesterday and today for Christmas)
- find out about old pen pals if they are still interested in corresponding (figured out that most of them wouldn't continue)
- organize my art and craft supplies (partially done)
- blog there regularly (even without doing a plan, I figured that I wanted to blog about the books I read this year, so I'm using this blog mostly for that purpose at the moment.)

Monday, December 20, 2010

Asking for Trouble

Indeed Sophy is asking for trouble with the way she lies so easily. She tells a lie to her mother to sooth her only for her to become upset later anyway. It's not the type of book I would usually read, but as one among many other books it was fun. The outcome with Josh was fun to read even though it was somewhat predictable. In order not to reveal the final plot of the book, I'll only say this, Sophy is asking for trouble again right at the end of the book by the way she behaves...

(book 48 for 50 books in 2010 challenge)

American Born Chinese

This graphic novel by Gene Luen Yang was another good recommendation. It's interesting to see how the stories of the Monkey King and Jin Wang come together. Some characters like Tze-Yo-Tzuh (who was and is and shall forever be) and Chin-Kee are described in a stereotypical way, but it fits into the story.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

I'm glad I entered the drawing - A Beacon of Hope

A Beacon of Hope (The Sixth World of Men, #1)A Beacon of Hope by Walter E. Mark

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received this book as a First Reads lucky winner!

I'm glad that I entered the drawing and got to read the book. The people in the story live on a different planet, but their society is similar enough to ours that I could relate to it well, but different enough to make it really interesting. There are many technological advances that enhance their quality of life (I love the one where you can create the interior design of your room buy just pointing and selecting using a computer interface, I would like to have something like that.). And others threaten to destroy the world to leave it in chaos and misery. The Sixth World is different enough from our world to make the book really interesting. But on the other hand one can relate to the issues they are going through and draw one's own thoughts for our world.

I would like to find out how the story continues in the second volume.

View all my reviews on

(46th book of 2010)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


I listened to "Pure Dead Magic" by Debi Gliori, an audio book on tape that I got at a used book sale at the library in the summer. I thought it was kind of fun how the author weaved elements of computers the Internet into the world of magic that usually deals with wands and such.

(45th book of 2010)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

My First Inspirational Manga

So instead of continuing with a book I didn't enjoy, I tried out my first inspirational manga.

Serenity--New Bad Girl in Town (Serenity)Serenity--New Bad Girl in Town by Realbuzz Studios

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My first inspirational Manga. Good believable story. The Christian students were not preachy or anything like that, but real and welcoming. I enjoyed the style of the graphics aw well.

View all my reviews

No Thirteenth Tale for me

I started reading "The Thirteenth Tale" by Diane Setterfield for one of my book clubs.

Actually, I made it to page 78 and I have decided that I don't want to continue reading the book. In the beginning, the premise seemed kind of interesting, but later the abuse, rape, self-mutilation and other evil things described was just too much for me.
I liked the scenes in the book shop and even the mysterious letter and the start of the visit were interesting.

There were a couple of last straws that made me stop reading, as I don't often do that, I finish almost all the books I read. This paragraph may contain spoilers. One was the accumulation of evil things described in the story as mentioned previously. The next one was that Isabelle returned to her abusive brother (and since she didn't know her father had died, to the father who had injured her so viciously just before she left). And she seemed to be very happy about it. I mean, I do know that abuse happens unfortunately, but she chose to go back instead of being happy to escape. That was just too much for me. Third, I have several books that I want to read that I don't want to waste my time with this one. I want to have fun reading a book (even if there are sad or upsetting parts in between) or know that I learned something really important, but this one just went downhill.

I tried...

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Another graphic novel

This afternoon I read "Pitch Black" by Youme Landowne and Anthony Horton. A white young woman and a black young man meet in an underground station and he tells her about his life. I don't want to give away any details of the story, but it's quite unusual. Some of the drawings are detailed whereas others are more like sketches. The different amounts of detail and use of only black and white and some gray tones fits really well with the subject. This story is a lot shorter than the the one I read recently about New Orleans. It kept me wondering at the end if such a life would really happen in New York or just parts of it. Interesting for sure and worth the read.

(I'm counting graphic novels as books read, so this is number 43.)

Friday, November 05, 2010

Looking for Alaska

Just a couple of days ago, I finished reading "Looking for Alaska" by John Green (the Wikipedia article has a good synopsis). I got the book from the library and finished it just in time, one day before it was due, so that I could take some notes before returning it.

My first impression when reading the first few chapters was surprise at how much smoking and drinking was going on at the school. It didn't make sense to me why Pudge would start with it, it seemed to me his friends wouldn't have minded if he had said no thanks. There was no strong peer pressure and he seemed to know that it's not good for you. I was shocked at the prank in the beginning, I mean, he could have drowned. That was a severe case of bullying. Lots of things like that seemed to be going on at the school, drinking, smoking, dangerous pranks, etc., but the teachers didn't care much, they rarely "found out", even though there was so much evidence. And the parents didn't seem to care, either. I was really baffeled by that. Anyway, the main story was still interesting, the before part where Pudge gets to know Alaska and his other new friends at this school, and the after part where they're trying to figure out what was really going on that night with Alaska. The religion class was a nice way to weave in some philosophical questions into the story.

I read in the Wikipedia article about the book that the book has been challenged at a high school for content dealing with sexually explicit situations. That's pretty ridiculous considering all the other things that are going on in that story. Although I wasn't interested in such things at that age, the sexual thoughts and actions seemed the most comprehensible to me compared to the prevalence of drinking, the severeness of some of the "pranks" etc.

So I kind of enjoyed the book even though I might not have ordinarily chosen to read it. I read it for the BC in DC book club. I hope I'll make it to the meeting next week.

(50 books in 2010 cout: 42).

Friday, October 22, 2010

A.D. New Orleans after the Deluge

A.D. New Orleans after the Deluge by Josh Neufeld is a graphic novel based on real people and events. expresses it well: "A.D. is a sterling example of comics with a social consciousness, and is exactly the kind of thing we need to keep the human dimension of this unimaginable disaster and its ongoing aftermath in the public eye."

I haven't really read any graphic novels before and not many comics in a while and didn't know where to begin, so I asked for some recommendations and this was first on the list. I was so impressed, I didn't even know literature like this existed. It really shows the truth of "a picture is worth a thousand words" with the way it shows the storm, the flooded areas, etc. The graphics are expressive, but not too crowded, they have just enough detail. I love that we see the experience hurricane Katrina from different perspectives through different people. The only thing I would have liked more is if the stories would have come together somehow. It was great that the author found someone with a comic collection to base one of the sub-stories on, especially fitting for the medium. The two page spreads that are spread throughout the book are great as well. So I had a great experience with my first graphic novel.

(50 books in 2010 count: 41)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Sometimes, re-reading a book is a good thing

I don't usually re-read books a second time, especially if I didn't like them that much the first time around. But Grace Community Church that I attend while here in the D.C. area was offering discussion groups based on the book, so I gave it a shot. I liked the book much more the second time around. Maybe I was used to the author's style a little and could focus more on the parts I liked? Maybe I had a bit of a different perspective from attending this church? Maybe it was just the prospect of being able to discuss the book with others? I don't know what it was, but I'm glad I re-read the book.

This time around I could relate more to the person who didn't like Christianity, but wanted to believe Jesus was the Son of God (p. 115). We need to love each other, so we can learn we are lovable (p. 146). This is probably especially important for people who didn't grow up in a loving family. The soul needs to interact with other people to be healthy (p. 154). Self-addiction (p. 182) is a big problem. The author gives Zaccheus as an example. The affection of Christ, not the brutality of a town, healed Zaccheus (p. 183). Which goes back to the importance of loving each other. Jesus was loving and kind to Zaccheus and helped him change that way, where all the rejection of the people in town couldn't change him.

We all believe things we cannot explain, You cannot be a Christian without being a mystic (p. 202). I've felt a similar way, sometimes, Christianity seems like a fairy tale, the story is so amazing, but the really amazing thing is that it's really true, not make believe like all the other stories.
If you see Christianity as religion or ritual, it's a false gospel (p. 203). The problem with the Christian culture around us is that we tend to use love as a commodity, like money. (p. 218). But instead it's a free gift. We need to give love not withholding it (p. 220). Many of us need to develop their ability to receive love as well (p. 226).

These are just a few of the nuggets of wisdom that I found in the book this time around. It turns out in discussing the book that many of us "got it" the first time reading it. For one of us it even gave her a break-through in understanding Jesus' love for her with her heart instead of just in her head for the first time.

(50 books in 2010 count: 40)

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

What if? 2 too boring

What If? 2 by Robert Cowley on 4 audio tapes, abridged for audio.

From the Publisher

There is no surer way to feel the danger or the good fortune of our collective past than to contemplate those moments when the world's future hung in the balance. Our brightest historians speculate on some of these intriguing crossroads and the ways in which our lives might have been changed for the better -- or the worse.

These unabridged essays range across the full span of history. Geoffrey Parker describes ramifications that might have included a divided Reformation movement, a strengthened Catholic leadership, and no European settlements in the Americas. And Caleb Carr argues that we could have been spared the horrific last six months of World War II in Europe if Eisenhower had seized his chance to destroy the Nazis in the fall of 1944.

This could have been so much more interesting. Most of the descriptions of what if stopped just when it started to become interesting. Or they were too abstract.
I can't comment about the details of most of them, because I didn't know enough about the original events to say how the what if scenarios could have been described in a more interesting way.

The first one, though, was about what if Jesus hadn't died when he said he would, but had lived until he had died at an old age. The author of that essay seemed to think that it would be considered blasphemous to imagine this, but in fact, it's even kind of addressed in the Bible. See 1 Corinthians 15:14 "And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith." There are so many things that could have been addressed, e.g. it is generally believed that without Jesus' death and resurrection, Christianity wouldn't have all developed like it did, but may have slowly died out. The author of the essay in the book, though, seems to believe that Constantine would still have made it the state religion and church fathers would still have met in the 4th century to discuss things the way they did in reality.

In general, I would have expected a descriptions of some exciting differences but in the abstract high level way the essays were written, even for the "what if the potato hadn't been introduced into Europe" you couldn't imagine the consequences too well.

Books finished today

I kind of finished three books today.

Moominpappa's Memoirs by Tove Jansson. I had received this one in a book ray. It was so much fun to read Moominpappa's Memoirs, about his childhood and his adventures, and the friends he made. At the end we even find out how he met Moominmamma! I enjoyed the drawings so much as well. I had known the Moomins from the comic strips, but this was the first non-comic about the Moomins that I've read.

Refuge on Crescent Hill by Melanie Dobson. I decided to join a book club like swap about this book on swap-bot. This is a Christian suspense novel, I'd say it is more like a mystery novel, though. I really liked it. Maybe I'll post some questions I answered about it later.

What If? 2 By Robert Cowley (abridged for audio). This wasn't as interesting as I would have hoped. More about this in the next entry.

In September, I also read A Mercy by Toni Morrison for the Bookrossing in DC book club.

(50 books in 2010: 38)

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Good Husband of Zebra Drive

I just love the series of No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency novels by Alexander McCall Smith. I just finished The Good Husband of Zebra Drive, the eighth in the series. I love how down to earth they are. And it was also fun to read about all the things that went wrong this time and how all those things resolved.

(50 books in 2010: 34)

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Reading about faithful and not so faithful people

For our online book club, we've been reading "Little Women" by Louisa May Alcott. When we voted for what to read, I believe I didn't vote for this one, but I'm glad I read it, I really liked it. The story basically follows the life of four sisters from their teens to later when they are adults - there are two parts to the book. The title of my post alludes to "The Pilgrim's Progress" by John Bunyan, each of the daughters got a copy of that book from their parents. They read it pretty regularly and refer to it sometimes. I've had that book on my to-read list for a while and would read it right now for reference, but it's back in California on one of my bookshelves. So I guess I'll get it from there on my next visit.

And just in the last couple of days, I've read "A Rare Benedictine: The Advent of Brother Cadfael" by Ellis Peters. It contains three classic stories featuring Brother Cadfael. The first one seems to be set shortly before he decides to become a monk, so we find out a little bit about his life before he became a monk and the events that lead up to it. The other two are tales featuring the monastic sleuth solving mysteries around the monastery at Shrewsbury. Each of the stories is only about 50 pages long, but each is as captivating as a whole novel. They were a joy to read and now I'm giving the book away to someone else who likes books by Ellis Peters. Obviously monks are usually faithful people, too, but sometimes they're not as faithful as it may seem...

(50 books in 2010 book count: 33)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Eat pasta and try to meditate or walk on water?

Wow, it's already been a while since I last told what books I've read. After reading The Color Purple, I've already two more books by women authors.

Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art by Madeleine L'Engle is a good read for any creative person. She has some thoughts on whether there is such a thing as Christian art. The artist must trust himself, his work, and be open to revelation. Creativity is not limited to artists, though. It can even extend to the freedom of choosing an academic career or having the priority of nurturing your family and helping your husband with his work behind the scenes. And the intuitive and intellectual parts of ourselves are not incompatible.

For the BC in DC bookclub, I read Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. Even though I had seen this book in the stores a lot, I didn't pick one up until I found out that the BC in DC Book Club would read it.

When I started reading, I wasn't sure what to make of it, but I kept reading. The first thing that stood out to me was that the author had a love affair right after (or even during?) a difficult divorce. Later, she doesn't even manage to spend that entire year in celibacy like she sets out to do. Hm.
Even though she says she won't tell about the failure of her marriage, she keeps giving us bits and pieces. Either tell us the whole thing or leave it all out!
What I did like was that even though she has a totally screwed image of who God is, at least she lays out what she thinks and defines what she means.
It's unfortunate how she falls for the new-agey spiritually stuff. I hope she'll continue her journey to find the truth eventually.
What made it a bit more interesting for me to read was that I can relate to living for a few months in a different environment/different country, not exactly like a tourist, but more like a short term resident.
Unfortunately, the book didn't have as much substance as I would have hoped, covering her journey through three countries and the time frame of about a year. Another book I read recently, "13 Little Blue Envelopes" was far more interesting that way.

What a contrast between those two books. The first one is really nurturing in a healthy way whereas the second one is self-absorbed and over-indulgent in a way. Once you have a real relationship with God, all this spirituality stuff falls really flat. But even some of us who are now Christians have been in a phase were we were searching in all the wrong places before finding the one true path that can save us. Unfortunately, Eat, Pray, Love wasn't very good as a travel narrative either, the only exception being the culinary adventures with pizza and pasta in Italy.

I listened to an abridged version of this book on cassette: Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson The story was kind of interesting, but not as exciting to me as I had hoped, reading that "Kidnapped is considered by many to be the best book Stevenson ever wrote."
Maybe it was because I had to concentrate so much to understand Robbie Coltrane's accent (he's reading the audio book). Or maybe it was because those settings and names etc. were not really my cup of tea. Or maybe, the abridgment left out vital parts. Somehow, the ending of the story came quite abruptly. While checking out the story online after reading it, I discovered that the book has numbered chapters, it would have helped if they had been announced on the audio version. I discovered in the Wikipedia article about the novel that it's set around real events and some of the people portrayed are real people. That in hindsight makes the novel more interesting to me.

I listened to an audio adaption on cassette of Star Trek The Next Generation: Imzadi by Peter David. At first I was a bit skeptical when the romance started, but it developed really well. It's a great novel that combines science fiction with a romance.

(50 books in 2010 count: 31, not counting those children's books in the previous post)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The local library

Just last Thursday, I had walked over to the local library to get a library card. I noticed that there would be a library book sale on Friday and Saturday, so of course I had to go. I got a couple of books on Friday, they were the same price as in the little book store the library has. On Saturday, you could get a whole bag of books for only $5. Since I saw some that I was interested in and some for my sister-in-law, I got a bag filled to bursting! After the purchase, I had to divide the books between two bags and still the bags were heavy!

So I got a whole bunch of books for my sister-in-law. She's teaching English to elementary school kids in Germany and would like to start a little library so they can read English books on their own if they'd like. I think I found a nice variety on different reading levels. I've read the following in the last couple of days:

  • The Nancy Drew Notebook #4 - Bad Day for Ballet by Carolyn Keene
  • Boy Can He Dance by Eileen Spinelli
  • 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, a graphic classic based on the novel by Jules Verne
  • Night-Time by Eileen Pettigrew
  • Bonny's Big Day by James Herriot
  • The Fox Went Out on a Chilly Night (this is an illustration of an old song and has especially detailed drawings)
  • When the Wind Blew by Margaret Wise Brown
  • Bear Mouse by Berniece Freschet
  • Disney's Brother Bear
It wouldn't be fair to count these for the 50 books challenge (unless I get desperate towards the end of the year ;) ), but they were fun to read, I think the students will enjoy those and the others I included (even a couple of the Narnia novels by C.S. Lewis - I read those a few years ago).

Of course I like books on tape, and there were a few of those as well, so I added those to my bag as well.

Saturday, July 10, 2010


By now, I've moved across the country to the Washington DC area. I'll come back to California, though. We haven't done any sightseeing yet, we have been busy enough with moving in and getting settled. We only took a couple of suitcases each, so we didn't even have any furniture. Just clothes and some of our favorite gadgets. For me it's books of course, notebooks and pens, and some spare postcards.

Since we haven't had TV, I've had a lot of time to read and have already read several books: The Color Purple by Alice Walker (for the online bookclub), The Yada Yada Prayer Group Gets Down and The Yada Yada Prayer Group Gets Real by Neta Jackson (they are books 2 and 3 in the series), and Blue Shoes and Happiness by Alexander McCall Smith (book 7 in the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency Series). Just before leaving California, I finished listen to the audio book The Professor and the Madman by Simon Winchester.

I liked them all in their own way. The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of The Oxford English Dictionary by Simon Winchester is a fascinating true story that involves W.C. Minor, who sends thousands of contributions for the dictionary from Broadmoor Criminal Lunatic Asylum, and Professor James Murray, who spent more than 40 years of his life on the dictionary project, and at some point becomes Minor's friend. My audio book edition on tape (6 tapes, unabridged) was a delight to listen to. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes non-fiction. I didn't know anything about the development of the Oxford English Dictionary before and it was fascinating to find out how it was written and at the same time hear about two special people who were involved.

I read The Color Purple for my online book club. I have wanted to read the book for quite some time, because I remembered liking the movie, although I didn't remember any details of the contents. At first, it was hard for me to get into the strange English that Celie is using, but as the story develops through her letters, it makes sense that she never had the chance to learn real English and I got used to the style.

The Yada Yada Prayer Group is a series of books that is really fun to read for a Christian woman. These women originally came together at a Women's conference, so they are all from different churches and are all very different types of women. But that way they complement each other and can support each other in their troubles. They also learn to be more open that way. I'd start reading with book one (which we did a while ago for a Christian book club that doesn't exist anymore) and then continue to follow the story. The books make you think about a lot of issues but without being preachy or trying to teach a lesson, the issues are embedded in the story naturally.

Blue Shoes and Happiness by Alexander McCall Smith is book 7 in the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency Series. I got hooked on this series also through that book club that doesn't exist anymore. Although beliefs are mentioned in the books every once in a while, these books are not specifically Christian and anyone who likes a cozy mystery would enjoy them.

(50 books in 2010 count: 27)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Goliath's Trap

Last year in Germany, I bought this book on sale, just because I like to learn more about Israel. Goliaths Falle: Israelis und Palaestinenser im Wuergegriff (Goliath's Trap: Israelis and Palestinians in a Stranglehold) by Moshe Zimmermann. I started reading some of the articles right away and then continued this year on my next trip. It was very timely after the attack on the ship that happened recently.

The book gave me another glimpse at the kind of thinking that is common among Israelis and among Palestinians and a little more understanding of why the conflict is so difficult to solve and is still going on. The vicious circle of escalating violence and counter-violence. The borders of the country that are still ill-defined have contributed to conflict all along since the existence of the state of Israel. Zimmermann knows that "the occupation in the long run hurts those the most who carry it out.

On a lighter note, I realized that some time maybe a month ago, I read the 6th book in the Number One Ladies' Detective Agency series "In the Company of Cheerful Ladies" and enjoyed it a lot. I'm looking forward to reading the next book.

(50 books in 2010 count: 22)

Monday, June 14, 2010

Recently read

I was taking a trip to Germany. While there, I was fortunate enough to receive the following book via bookcrossing.
Mögen deine Hände niemals schmerzen: Iran. Eine verbotene Liebe

by Bruni Prasske.
It was like living in two interesting worlds those two weeks. 1. I was visiting my family in Germany. 2. I read about Bruni's visits in Iran. She's a German woman who visited Iran and stayed with families there a couple of times.

Mostly on the plane, and the rest back at home, I read:

Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality
by Donald Miller.
I had heard some good things about the book, so I had planned to read it. It was not as interesting as I had expected. Some of the stories seemed more like ramblings to me. But I like the author's unconventional approach to Christianity.

And just the last few days, I read:
Curtain: Poirot's Last Case by Agatha Christie.

At the beginning of May, I had read The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle for my online reading group.

I noticed a parallel between the last two books. In both cases, the story is told not by the famous detective himself, but by their friend and partner. In both cases, it would be awkward if the detective told the story, but left out some details, but for the friend it's very natural to do so, because they don't know those details. The story flows better and is much more interesting that way. In both cases, at the end, the detective offers a summary of the solution of the case that clears up any loose ends.

Now, if I've counted correctly, I've read 20 books for the 50 books in 2010 challenge. Whether or not I'll read 50 over the whole year, it's fun to keep track of the books I'm reading.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Quick read

I heard of an online friend who needs some encouragement, so I'm sending her one of the books I had on my shelf: Heaven: Glimpses of Glory by Ellyn Sanna.
I decided to quickly read the book before sending it. It's one of those small gift books, I had received it through bookcrossing. I found it quite encouraging to be reminded of what heaven is like. The books would be great for any Christian who faces serious issues such as a potentially terminal illness.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Another audio book: Lily White

I read another audio book on cassettes: Lily White by Susan Isaacs. It was a recording on two audio cassettes, running time approximately 3 hours. The abridgement has been approved by the author.

I usually like reading mystery novels, but this wasn't my favorite, although it wasn't bad.

Lee White, a Long Island ciminal defense lawyer, defends Norman Torkelson, a career con man charged with strangling his latest mark. It's interesting to read how the case develops.
At the same time, we also get some of the back story of Lee's life, but really not enough to connect to her. Therefore, it seemed kind of irrelevant in the end, even though it takes up a lot of space in the book.

(This is book number 15 for the challenge)

Friday, April 16, 2010

Walking with God calmed me down

I just finished reading Walking with God by Ginni Otto. I got this book through a book ring on Bookcrossing.

I really enjoyed reading the book. It came just at the right time for me. I was stressed preparing the income tax return and whenever I needed a break, I picked up the book. It really calmed me down to read this story, even the obviously sad parts.

I found the premise of the book very interesting. I'm a Christian and I like Sci-Fi - Rachel's trip was kind of like time travel to me, so it fit right in. At first I also (similar to another reader) thought Why did the author leave out all these other details, especially during Good Friday, but then rethought that, it would have been too artificially crammed to fit all the Biblical details in. The story probably had a better flow this way. I think I would have enjoyed more details on the Jewish customs and how they interact (and sometimes seem to interfere) with the new Christian life of the people in the book.

For the next edition, someone should get the remaining typos out of the book. There were some funny ones in there, mostly misspellings like "know" instead of "now" that the spell checker wouldn't catch.

Overall, a great book, I'm glad I had a chance to read it. If there's a sequel, I'd love to read that as well.

I just found that it's in Google books, if it intrigues you, have a look at the Google books entry for Walking with God.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Passion of Jesus Christ

I finished reading The Passion of Jesus Christ: Fifty Reasons Why He Came to Die by John Piper yesterday. I received this book from a bookcrosser one and a half years ago and finally got around to reading it.
I started during Lent but only finished yesterday. It's good to get all those reminders and also some new aspects that I may not have thought of why Jesus suffered and died.

I think because the author probably wanted a round number like 50 reasons and each chapter on just two pages, sometimes the text seemed a little contrived and didn't flow well. But overall the content was good to read.

I already have someone in mind who I'll probably send this book to very soon. But if you read this and would like the book and are willing to make a journal entry at bookcrossing, please let me know.

For the 50 book challenge,this is book number 13.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Chocolate War disappointing

I was pretty doubtful about the book throughout. Why didn't any of the students tell their parents about the weird things that were going on at school? No parents at all seemed to be involved in anything at the school? That's pretty unbelievable. If there are really schools like that, especially "exclusive prep schools" like this one was supposed to be, that's really sad.

The end was very unsatisfying as well. I'm used by now to novels not having a happy or definite ending, but this was beyond that. More unfinished than any book even with planned sequels that I've ever read.

The cover of the audio book says "The Chocolate War is a brilliant, unflinching portrait of vicious mob cruelty and conformity in an exclusive prep school. A gripping story from one of the most provocative writers in modern young adult literature, it will hold you spellbound until the final, anguished fight on the football fields of Trinity School."

Well, the first sentence is true. But the story is not really gripping. I'm not easily giving up on books so I kept listening to it in the hopes it would improve, but this is so negative, it's definitely not suited for young adults. Every little glimps of courage and positive action is extinguished either immediately or after a while. That's worse than in the most grueling book or movie I've read and seen about eras like Nazi Germany even.

It's a disappointing and depressing book where the only lesson to be learned seemed to be that it's best to give up and conform because in the end everything will be useless anyway and the bad side wins. I guess some people like that kind of thing.

You might wonder why I even chose tho read this book. Well, it was one of the audio books on the sale shelf at my local library. And the description in the back sounded kind of interesting. That's about it. I made this into a bookcrossing book, maybe someone else will like it better.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Two more books

I listened to "A Visit to Mark Twain's House". It's really a radio show that was put on audio cassette, but I'll count it as a book, because it fits in well with all the audio books. I got it as a bookcrossing book, so I made a journal entry there.
This wasn't as exciting as I had expected. Yes, we did get to hear some snippets of Mark Twain's humorous writings, but they didn't package it as interestingly as they could have. Maybe it was Garrison Kaillor's voice, he sounded kind of boring even when telling something funny and he sounded disinterested when he described something that was interesting to him. The fact that music doesn't sound very good on my cheap cassette player may have contributed to it as well.

They do point out some of the interesting things that happened while Mark Twain lived in the house, though, and describe some of the interesting items and furniture he had.

Yesterday, my husband gave me a couple of German books that he didn't want anymore. I quickly read satirical drama The Physicists (Die Physiker) by Friedrich Duerrenmatt, it's less than 80 pages. It deals with issues concerning science and its responsibility for dramatic and even dangerous changes to our world. It also has elements of a murder mystery.

So now I'm up to 11 books for the challenge.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

50 books in 2010 challenge - 9 out of 50 so far

Books I've read so far this year:
  • A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry (some audio, some print)
  • The Darwin Awards (mini-book)
  • Castaways of the Flying Dutchman by Brian Jacques (audio)
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation: Contamination by John Vornholt (audio)
  • The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton (audio)
  • The Full Cupboard of Life (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency #5) by Alexander McCall Smith (audio CD in the car)
  • Gardens of Water by Alan Drew
  • 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson
  • Murder to Go (audio)
These are the ones I remember. I hope I have not missed anything.

13 Little Blue Envelopes

13 Little Blue Envelopes 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Nice story. A girl inherits 13 envelopes from her aunt. Each of the envelopes contains directions for her of what to do. So she travels around the world with just a backpack for luggage. I liked the fact that the story was actually believable even though this thing with the envelopes is so unusual. It even got me thinking what I would do if something happened to me like to her aunt. Could I do something special for my nephew like her aunt did for her?

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Monday, March 22, 2010

101 Go to a Classical Concert

I've been to several classical concert since setting that goal. The most memorable one was the 9th Symphony by Beethoven. It was really awesome to hear it in person, not only on CD or something.

I've also been to a few Gold Line Concerts. They're concerts taking place every first Thursday of the month at noon at Lake Avenue Church right by the Lake Ave Gold Line station. They're short so that people who work nearby can come during their lunch brake just for the concert.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

101: Get Rid of the Unused Mac

We did that yesterday. I had kept it in the hopes of getting some data off it, but I wasn't able to connect it to the Internet or the local network with the other computers. And it didn't have any drives compatible with the other, newer computers we have. The data were only some old images, so I gave up on saving them.

We're doing a big spring cleaning. So yesterday, we brought all our old computers, including my old Mac, to electronic waste recycling. At first we thought we'd have to drive all the way to Pomona, but I found a electronic waste recycling fundraiser event right here in Pasadena at the First Baptist Church.

Friday, February 19, 2010

50 books in 2010 challenge

A friend on my online reading group suggested the challenge of reading 50 books in 2010. That's almost one book a week. I've decided to try this challenge as well. Counting all the books,
from the huge "Fine Balance" to a mini-book about the Darwin Awards and also the audio books I've listened to, I've read six books so far this year, so I'm pretty much on track. I'll write a little bit about it here on the blog when I finish books.

Here's the one I just finished, I'll tell you about the previous ones later. Whenever I remember, I list books I read on Goodreads as well...

Gardens of Water: A Novel Gardens of Water: A Novel by Alan Drew

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I learned more about the relationship of Turkish to Kurdish people. I learned how important it is to be really sensitive to culture, when we go to help people of a culture that is very different to ours. We don't want to destroy, but help.

View all my reviews >>

I've read this book for the One City, One Story, so you'll probably hear more about it later when I go to some of the events

Friday, January 08, 2010

Organizations that support fair trade and work against injustice

I was just looking up the sites of these organizations so I thought I'd put them here as well, very useful:


STOP THE TRAFFIK is a growing global movement of individuals, communities and organisations fighting to PREVENT the sale of people, PROTECT the trafficked and PROSECUTE the traffickers. For example, they do campaigns for fair trade chocolate.

Oasis Global (The global Website for Oasis)

Oasis USA

Oasis is a Christian organization working against injustice by encouraging Fair Trade etc.

Oxfam International

Oganization that works to end poverty and injustice. They also have stores in some places (I visited one in Australia) where you can buy fairly traded items and get information about Oxfam.

Ten Thousand Villages

Fair Trade stores - including an online store. (There's one of their stores in my neighborhood.)

The Hunger Site - Fair Trade items

One of the categories in the Hunger Site online store is Fair Trade. With each purchase you also contribute food for people who can't afford it. The other affiliated sites have a Fair Trade section as well, in case you prefer to contribute to something else, such as Animal Rescue.