Wednesday, March 26, 2014

A Stillness of Chimes- Book Review

A Stillness of Chimes is the first novel by Meg Moseley I have read.  If this novel is an indication of her work, I will definitely add her other books to my reading list.  Meg is originally from California but moved to the south and worked as a journalist for the Atlanta Journal Constitution for four years.  As a fellow Georgian, I appreciate that she sets this novel in our state and describes it full of southern charm (and doesn't make characters into a caricature of  uneducated hillbillies and buffoons) - even the kudzu sounds charming!

The plot revolves around Laura Gantt's return to Prospect, Georgia after her mother's death.  As Laura stays in town to clear her mother's house, she is reunited with former sweetheart Sean and best friend Cassie. Laura's father, Elliott, was presumed drowned in a fishing accident twelve years before, but his body was never recovered.  Rumors of Elliott sightings begin swirling around town, and Laura sets out to find out if her father could possibly have survived all those years ago.  Sean tries to support and protect Laura at the same time, but he has his own reasons for keeping Elliott a ghost in the past.

I really enjoyed Meg's storytelling in this book.  There are threads of several stories woven throughout the book, and the last few chapters really tied all those ends together well.  I liked that there were some resolutions spread throughout the book.  I'm not a big fan of having a bunch of questions that carry on until the last page, and I enjoyed having some bits of information fed to me throughout the book.  For example, you do not have to wait until the end of the book to learn Sean's secret.  There are vivid descriptions of both Laura's mother and father, and even though they are dead (or are they?), you learn a lot about them as people from flashback scenes and descriptions from the other characters.  The only tiny issue I had was a subplot involving Cassie and her husband.  There seemed to be a build up to some relatively large plot point involving them, then it kind of petered out.  I don't know if that was a casualty of editing, or if I placed too large an expectation on what troubles Cassie may be having.  Overall, I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys fiction surrounding relationships and mysteries.

This is Christian fiction, so characters attend church, reference God and voice prayers.  As you might expect, there is no cursing, little violence (not graphic), and no sexual scenes.  You can read the first chapter here, and visit Meg Moseley's website here.

I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review, but all opinions are my own.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Way In Which I Ruined My Kid's Life (this quarter)

So, we are only in the third month of the year and I've already ruined G's life forever.  Well, at least for the next two years.  G was placed in an intro Spanish class last semester for one of her nine week "connections" classes.  (They change out connection classes every nine weeks unless you are placed in one of the few semester long classes.) It was more of a study of Spanish culture and some basic language than a hard core learn to speak Spanish class.  G said it was okay but kind of boring, and she was glad when it ended.

A month or so ago, G brought home a letter explaining the school's two-year Spanish program.  By completing this Spanish program in seventh and eighth grade, students earn high school credit.  Students have to apply and (get this) fill out an essay on why they want to be in the program.  When G showed us the letter, she said, "I didn't even want to show this to you but knew I'd be in trouble if I didn't." That should give you a clue of how thrilled she was at the prospect of applying.

Hubs and I sometimes have differing opinions of how to handle what the kids want to do.  I am much more soft and gushy in this regard and sympathetic to when kids don't want to do something.  (Something voluntary or interest-based like this, not things like brushing teeth or going to school.  I'm not a complete pushover.) I kind of sympathized that G adamantly didn't want to take the class.  Plus, she was in Spanish before and didn't like it, the class is a two year commitment, and she is already in an all year connection class (orchestra), so she will not be able to take any other classes for the rest of middle school.  Sad face.  Hubs, on the other hand, is the Honey Badger in these matters. (Google "Honey Badger Don't Care" if you don't get the reference.)  After much discussion, we agreed that this was a great opportunity, it is important for our kids to learn another language, and that she needed to apply.  G was as excited as you might imagine.  The first couple of essay drafts were, while hilarious, inappropriate.  Getting a kid to explain why they want in a program they don't want in, with the stipulation that they try not to lie, is not easy.  Ultimately, she wrote something we could all live with and turned it in, I'm sure hoping she wouldn't be accepted.

So, of course she was accepted.  It probably didn't help that G came out of Spanish last semester with an A. Or that her teacher probably liked her because she is generally quiet and does her work.  I asked G how she felt about it a couple of days after she was accepted.  She said, "I can't get out of it, so I've decided to accept it with as much emotional detachment as possible."  Well, okay.  She's twelve, so we're getting into that tough (for me) arena of what decisions do we still make for her and what kind of independence do we start giving in greater doses.  I hope she ends up really enjoying the class and decides it was a good experience.  If not, I'll just blame Hubs.  ; )

Friday, March 7, 2014

Sisterchicks Do the Hula- Book Review

Sisterchicks Do the Hula by Robin Jones Gunn is a Christian fiction book about long lost friends Hope and Laurie.  Hope and Laurie were best friends in college but lost touch with each other over the years.  They reconnect as Hope's fortieth birthday approaches and agree to take the Hawaiian vacation they originally planned in college.  The book chronicles their (mis)adventures in Hawaii and highlights the value of female friendships.

This book is a pretty quick read, partially because I didn't want to put it down!  Overall, this is not a terribly deep book.  It's more of what I can a "beach read", meaning the kind of fun, lighthearted book I would typically take on vacation with me.  Some of the plot points a little silly, and some may find it unlikely that two friends would take off to Hawaii after not speaking for twenty-something years.  However, the friendship between Hope and Laurie was really relatable to me.  I could totally picture my sister (and BFF) and I taking off to the islands, enjoying a luau and discussing the appeal of traditional Hawaii cuisine.  There are some tidbits of Hawaiian history thrown in, which I found interesting.  It also doesn't hurt that I would LOVE to walk the beaches of Hawaii.  This is a Christian book, so there are Christian elements thrown in, such as references to prayer and God but it doesn't hit you over the head.

I enjoyed this book, and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys stories of friendship and a fun, light read about two women helping each other embrace the new phases of their lives.  There are nine or so books in the "Sisterchicks" series featuring different female characters.  Visit Robin Jones Gunn's website for more information on her books or read an excerpt here.

I received this book for free from Blogging for Books.  All opinions expressed are my own.