Sunday, January 29, 2012

When Pleasing Others Is Hurting You - Dr. David Hawkins

Synopsis from B&N:  Christians are called to be servants. But people who forfeit their God-given calling and identity in order to please others move from servanthood to codependency. How can they get back on track? Clinical psychologist David Hawkins offers a Christian perspective on healthy relationships and the pitfalls of being a people pleaser

Readers will resonate with the real-life illustrations of people who no longer know what they think, want, or feel. Suggestions for redirecting unhealthy relationships empower readers to rediscover their own value and personal contribution.

This book was so simple yet so profound.  People pleasing is something I have regularly struggled with.  And more recently I find myself swinging between pleasing and doing everything possible not to please.

There are definitely areas in life where I struggle more than others.  This book helped me to pinpoint that and reminded me that boundaries are a good thing – even when others don’t respond in a positive way to them.  However, I can’t enforce my personal boundaries unless I first determine what they are.  And that the boundaries can change during different seasons of life.

Definitely one to read.

A Little Princess - Frances Hodgson Burnett

Synopsis from B&N:  Sara Crewe, a pupil at Miss Minchin's London school, is left in poverty when her father dies, but is later rescued by a mysterious benefactor.

I love Sarah.  Frances Hodgson Burnett paints her as such a likable, precocious child.  You can’t help but fall in love with her and feel for her. 

The book is full of wonderful descriptions of London and its fog; the opulence and the poverty.

This story is definitely staying on the “keep” shelf.  Now if I could just get either of my girls to be interested in reading it.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Longing - Karen Kingsbury

Synopsis from B&N:  While Bailey Flanigan wrestles with feelings for Brandon Paul, Cody Coleman's work coaching a small-town football team has brought him and his players national attention. In the midst of the celebration and success, Cody finds himself much closer to a woman who seems to better understand him and his new life. Even so, never does much time go by without Bailey and Cody experiencing deep feelings of longing for each other, longing both for the past and for answers before they can move forward.

Bailey and Cody…the saga continues.  This story took some twists I did not anticipate. 

I was sad for Bailey that her run on Broadway ended…and a little disappointed that she gave up on Broadway so soon.  Brandon still seems a bit too good to be true to me.  But perhaps that’s just my cynical side talking.  And, of course, I’m always rooting for Cody. 

Although this story was really good at revealing some of Cody’s flaws and showing more of his self-actualization.

As always, I enjoyed the glimpses into Baxter family life.  And the dynamic between the characters. 

Waiting for the next one, Loving, to come out in March.  I think I know who Bailey decides on in the end…but I could be wrong.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Burn - Ted Dekker

Synopsis from B&N:  The past Janeal thought had burned away is rising from the ashes.
Years ago, the Gypsy Kumpania where Janeal Mikkado lived was attacked by outsiders. With her best friend about to be consumed by a fire, Janeal had two options: try to save her friend--at serious risk to her own life--or disappear with the million dollars that she had just discovered .

But the past is quickly coming back to haunt her. Both the best friend and the boyfriend that she was sure were dead have reappeared in her life, as has someone who knows about the money. There's a debt to be paid for the money she found, but there's an even greater debt she must face--and if the chaff isn't burned from her own heart, it will consume her.

I am a pretty decent Ted Dekker fan.  Not as much as my husband (who I had read one of Dekker’s books while were dating), but I’ve read – and been fascinated by – most of his allegory works. 
The story in Burn was engaging.  I read it quickly and enjoyed the story and the characters.  I could feel Janeal’s struggle throughout the text.
I was a little disappointed by the end.  If you are a fan of Dekker, you know there is always a big “reveal” that ties everything together and explains the allegory.
I had set myself up for the disappointment, though, by not remember it was a co-authored book with Erin Healy.  As she describes her stories, they are more “fables”.  That is, stories that explore a character’s choices.  And had I kept that in mind, I would have avoided the slight disappointment.
I appreciated the story and the true life lesson that undergirded it all.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Bystander - James Preller

Synopsis from B&N:  Eric is the new kid in seventh grade. Griffin wants to be his friend. When you’re new in town, it’s hard to know who to hang out with—and who to avoid. Griffin seems cool, confident, and popular.  But something isn’t right about Griffin. He always seems to be in the middle of bad things. And if Griffin doesn't like you, you’d better watch your back. There might be a target on it.

As Eric gets drawn deeper into Griffin’s dark world, he begins to see the truth about Griffin: He’s a liar, a bully, a thief. Eric wants to break away, do the right thing. But in one shocking moment, he goes from being a bystander . . . to the bully’s next victim.

Starting third quarter, we will be reading through this book with our Advisory classes.  So I figured I should probably read it first.  And I was pretty impressed with this.

Preller doesn’t take a one-dimensional approach to his bully characters.  They are complicated, just like real people and real life are.  You feel sorry for Eric.  And mad at Eric.  And mad a Griffin.  And a little bit sorry for him too. 

I also like that he tackles the bystander issue as well.  Some people are outright bullies.  But it is just as wrong (and contributes to bullying) when others stand around and do nothing.

And there is no true and final conclusion.  Because, again, bullying in real life just isn’t like that. 

I think that it is a great approach that looks at all angles of the “bullying problem”.  I see a lot of potential for good dialogue with the students in class. 

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte

Synopsis from Barnes & Noble:  Wuthering Heights is a novel by Emily Brontë published in 1847. The title of the novel comes from the Yorkshire manor on the moors of the story. The narrative centres on the all-encompassing, passionate but doomed love between Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff, and how this unresolved passion eventually destroys them and many around them.

If you’ll recall from my reading of Jane Eyre, I had the plot confused with Wuthering Heights.  Well, there should be no danger of that happening in the future as I just spent the last two weeks slogging through Wuthering Heights.

I understand it’s a classic.  But I really don’t get the “timeless love story” of a lot of the reviews.  I think that Bronte does everything in her power to make you dislike all of her characters.  Yes, all of them.  There was not a single character that I felt empathy or kindness towards.  They all seemed to either be spoiled or evil…sometimes both.  Also probably part of my prejudice is I’m not big on ghosts and such. 

Cathy loved Heathcliff.  I’m pretty certain she would have married him if he would have approached her regarding it.  Clearly their love for each other was deep and abiding.  Heathcliff was wrong to run off; Cathy was even more wrong to marry someone she didn’t love.

Their love was all-consuming as was the desire and carrying out of revenge. 

The story was dark and depressing.  But at least now I won’t get the two novels confused.