Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Wear This, Toss That! - Amy E. Goodman

Synopsis from From the shopping expert of NBC's "Today" comes an accessible fashion guide for every woman that offers advice on fashion and beauty swaps that can save her looks, her budget, and her time.

I enjoyed reading this book. It was easy to read and to even find the particular area or clothing category you wanted more information about. The pictures were great, and I was entertained by the fact that in a lot of the “toss” pictures for pants, skirts, dresses, etc., the models were wearing the exact same “don’t wear” shoes. Guess it took them a lot to get the message. :)

My only hesitation about the book is that there were some things that seemed contradictory to each other. So then I was confused. Also, I definitely think it should be used more as a reference book rather than reading straight through like I did. I was pretty done with it all by the time I got to makeup and hair products.

Still, worth checking out and heeding the advice off. Especially if you like What Not to Wear but can’t get anyone to nominate you for it.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Cause Within You - Matthew Barnett

Synopsis from You were created for something amazing—and it’s time to discover what it is! Matthew Barnett, son of a well-known megachurch pastor, discovered his own cause in life when he relinquished his dream of building a big, successful church like his father’s and began listening for God’s dream for his life instead. Sensing that God was calling him to serve the poor and powerless of Los Angeles, Matthew founded the Dream Center, a beacon of hope for homeless families, drug addicts, abused women and children, victims of human trafficking, teen runaways, gang members, and many others whose lives were filled with brokenness. If you are hungry for a life full of passion instead of apathy; if you are ready to use your specific gifts and abilities to make a mark on the world; if you need to be reminded that God loves you and has a plan for your life—The Cause within You is the book that can change everything.

I have taken teens on a mission trip to serve at the L.A. Dream Center, and I have heard Pastor Matthew speak. So I was very interested in reading his first book.

I enjoyed and found very informative the stories about how the Dream Center began and the lives it has touched. However, I don’t feel that I’m necessarily any closer to finding and living my cause out (I thought for years I knew what it was but now am not so sure). So from that perspective, it didn’t really deliver for me. Other than to say serve where and when you can. Which, you know, don’t all of our causes boil down to that.

And I appreciated this take on prayer from Pastor Matthew. He is talking about how he takes snatches of times and moments to pray instead of a set half hour or so a day.

          “For years, I thought such an approach was wrong – maybe even blasphemous. After all, you have  
           to be in a secluded, quiet place to pray, don’t you? Sadly, my relationship with God suffered because
           of all the rules and limitations that colored my view of prayer and my understanding of what a
           relationship with God is all about. Once I realized that God is portable, flexible, and that He is in the
           ordinary circumstances and everyday occurrences of my life, having a dynamic relationship with Him
           became much easier – and a whole lot more fun and practical.”

The Book Thief - Markus Zusak

Synopsis from Set during World War II in Germany, Zusaks groundbreaking novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel, who scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing, encounters something she can’t resist: books.

This book was recommended to me via an eighth grader’s parents at parent/teacher conferences the end of last month. And it was a good recommendation indeed.

I can’t really say that I “enjoyed” reading the book, because it’s not the kind of book one enjoys even though it is exceptionally good. The topic just doesn’t lend itself to enjoyment. It did take me a bit to get into it as the narrator of the tale is “Death.” However, in the end I don’t believe it could have been written from any other perspective.

I enjoyed the characters and the fleshing out of Liesel’s relationships with the people she encounters: her foster parents, the boy next door, a Jew, the mayor’s wife. They are all multifaceted characters who you grow attached to as you walk through the pages with them.

I definitely recommend.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - Stieg Larsson

Book club book for April

The paths of journalist Mikael Blomkvist and hacker Lisbeth Sanders cross…and unite. They couldn’t be more different, but they must work together to solve the disappearance of Harriet Vanger – a case that is now forty years old.

I really enjoyed the story line. A lot. I enjoyed the character detail and the plot itself.

The fact that it was set in Sweden was a bit confusing at times, just because references were occasionally made that I couldn’t quite understand. However, that in no way hindered my enjoyment of the book.

I could have done without the language and graphicness of parts. I would like to read the following two books as I’m certain the stories will be well told. However, I’m not sure I want to subject my mind to more of the same. So we’ll see.