Archive for January, 2010

Review of Legacy, by Lois McMaster Bujold

Sunday, January 31st, 2010

Legacy

The Sharing Knife, Volume Two

by Lois McMaster Bujold

eos (HarperCollins), 2007. 377 pages.
Starred Review.

The second book I had to read when I got back from Christmas vacation was also the second volume in a story I’d begun.

The Sharing Knife is the story of a cross-cultural romance in another world. Since both cultures are strange to readers, we can read about the troubles of Fawn and Dag with a fresh perspective. She’s one of the farmer people, and he’s a Lakewalker. The two peoples have very different customs, but one they share is that they should never intermarry.

The Lakewalkers use magic to protect the world from Malices, horrible sources of evil that feed on life and possess it for their own ends. The farmers don’t trust them, and horrible rumors have sprung up about the dark rituals they must practice.

Fawn and Dag would like to be a bridge of understanding, but first they need a little understanding and acceptance from Dag’s own family. While they are working on that, a Malice attacks, springing up in a farmer city and killing many. Dag is among those who go to deal with it, and he ends up needing his farmer wife’s help.

This is primarily a love story, but the fascinating setting gives it an extra hold on the reader’s imagination. There are some more volumes in the saga, and I will definitely be reading on.

Buy from Amazon.com

Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Fiction/legacy.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Review of Twice a Prince, by Sherwood Smith

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

Twice a Prince

Sasharia en Garde! Book 2

by Sherwood Smith

Samhain Publishing, 2009. 265 pages.
Starred Review.

Twice a Prince was the first book I read when I got back from Christmas vacation, because really it’s a continuation of Once a Princess, and I desperately wanted to know what happens next. I think of these books as two halves of the same story — Don’t read one without the other.

I won’t say too much about the plot, since I don’t want to give away what happens in the first book. Sasharia is in the magical world where she was born a princess, and she’s the only one who knows how to bring back her father. There’s a bad king ruling, with an even worse general trying to line up his own son for the throne. There’s a prince and a pirate, and Sasharia has good reasons not to trust the man she’s falling in love with.

There’s romance, intrigue, magic, sword-fighting, plotting, and treachery. I thoroughly enjoyed the story in these two books.

Buy from Amazon.com

Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Teens/twice_a_prince.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

And the Rest…

Monday, January 25th, 2010

At the start of 2010, I had 43 books I’d read in 2009 that I wanted to review. I’ve been madly writing reviews, without posting them to my main site, waiting until I’ve caught up. I have eight books left from 2009. They were all very good, and worth mentioning, but in the interests of time, I’m only going to mention them with a short blurb in this post, and not give them a full page on my main site.

Once I finish them, I have another stack of seven books that I finished reading already in 2010. After I have caught up on writing those reviews, I hope to post all of the new reviews to www.sonderbooks.com. So here goes!

Children’s Fiction

These first three books I read as part of my class on the Newbery Medal. They are all historical novels, set in medieval times, and all well-written though just a tad old-fashioned. As Newbery Medal winners, you will be able to find more information about them than these reviews.

The Trumpeter of Krakow
by Eric P. Kelly

Scholastic, 1990. First published in 1928. 242 pages.
1929 Newbery Medal Winner.

Here’s a tale of intrigue and danger set in old Krakow. There are some strange sections about alchemy, and you can tell if someone is bad or good based on how they look, but despite its old-fashioned feel, this book still is very interesting. It’s almost more for teens, because the language is at a high reading level, and the main character is almost grown up, but he is still treated like a child, so the book has the feel of a children’s book.

Fifteen-year-old Joseph Charnetski and his family are fleeing to Krakow. As they almost reach the city gates, someone shows interest in an especially large pumpkin, which his father is not willing to sell.

They use an assumed name and find a hiding place in the city, near an old scholar and his daughter. Joseph’s father takes a job as the city trumpeter. The trumpeter is also the watchman, tasked to raise the alarm if there is a fire in the city. They never play the last three notes of the trumpet call in honor of an old trumpeter who gave his life keeping the call going during an invasion.

Joseph learns the call as well as his father, and as danger approaches, he finds a clever way to raise the alarm.

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Adam of the Road
by Elizabeth Janet Gray

Scholastic. First published in 1942. 320 pages.
1943 Newbery Medal Winner.

Adam of the Road is the story of a minstrel’s son in medieval England. The book starts out at school, with Adam waiting for his father to pick him up after some time apart, to go to London and back on the road. Adam has gained a beloved dog, Nick, who can do tricks and help with their act.

Along the way, a sinister rival minstrel steals Nick. As Adam’s chasing after him, he loses track of his father. He ends up wandering across England on his own, trying to find his father and his dog, and having various adventures along the way.

This is a good story that has stood the test of time. Adam is awfully young to be on his own, but people are kind to him, and he cleverly makes his way, never in real danger. A light-hearted and enjoyable adventure tale for kids interested in medieval times.

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The Door in the Wall
by Marguerite de Angeli

Yearling Newbery (Bantam Doubleday Dell), 1990. First published in 1949. 121 pages.
1950 Newbery Medal Winner.

The Door in the Wall is another story of a boy on his own in medieval times. Robin’s father went off to the wars, expecting his son to go train to be a knight. His mother went to be the Queen’s lady-in-waiting, expecting John-the-Fletcher to come soon to take him to Sir Peter de Lindsay, to train as a knight.

But Robin gets sick, and when John-the-Fletcher comes, he is not able to go along. For a month he is bedridden, unable to move his legs. He is lame and will never be a knight now.

Some monks take Robin under their wing. They help him learn to swim, to strengthen his arms, and eventually to walk with a crutch. They take him on a journey to meet his father, and they have adventures along the way. By the end of the book, only Robin is able to get a message out and save an entire castle.

This book is shorter than the others. It’s a fairly simple story, but interesting with the medieval setting and inspiring as Robin overcomes his handicap, and learns that his life still has significance.

Buy from Amazon.com

Teens

Growing Wings
by Laurel Winter

Firebird (Penguin Putnam), 2000. 195 pages.

All her life, Linnet’s mother has touched Linnet’s shoulder blades before she tucks Linnet into bed. One day, when she’s eleven, Linnet learns why. She’s itching horribly, and she has strange bumps on her shoulders.

Linnet’s mother assures her she doesn’t have cancer. She is growing wings. Linnet’s mother also grew wings when she was Linnet’s age, but her mother cut them off. Linnet’s mother is determined not to do that to Linnet, but she doesn’t know what to do to hide them.

Linnet finds a community of others with wings, living in a house in the wilderness. Some adults who are “cutwings” are in charge. So far, none of the teens with wings have been able to fly. They are trying to learn, but also to stay hidden.

This is an intriguing story, with plenty of conflict in the community of winged children. Linnet explores her heritage and wonders what she can make of her life. Will she have to spend her whole life in hiding?

Buy from Amazon.com

Fiction

Miss Zukas and the Island Murders
by Jo Dereske

Avon Books (HarperCollins), 1995. 258 pages.

This is the second mystery about Miss Zukas, librarian extraordinaire. In this book, Miss Zukas and her exotic friend Ruth arrange a twenty-year reunion on an island in Puget Sound for their high school class from Michigan.

While they’re preparing, she gets threatening letters that refer to the long-ago death of one of their classmates. Once they’re on the island, naturally a storm strikes, isolating them, and a murder occurs. Can they solve the murder and keep from getting killed themselves?

This is a fun mystery. Miss Zukas’s librarian nature didn’t come up as much in this book as in the first one, and I felt that she leapt to conclusions without a lot of reasons. But she’s an entertaining character to read about. Gotta love a librarian detective!

Buy from Amazon.com

Nonfiction

Gratitude
A Way of Life

by Louise L. Hay and Friends
compiled and edited by Jill Kramer

Hay House, 1996. 312 pages.

This book is full of essays about gratitude, written by many notable people. How can you possibly go wrong? I went for quite awhile, reading one essay per day. It’s a nice way to put your day on track.

Buy from Amazon.com

The Bait of Satan
Living Free from the Deadly Trap of Offense

by John Bevere

Charisma House, 2004. First published in 1994. 255 pages.

In this book, John Bevere teaches that Satan’s biggest trap is taking offense. What’s more, you feel justified and in the right!

“Pride causes you to view yourself as a victim. Your attitude becomes, ‘I was mistreated and misjudged; therefore, I am justified in my behavior.’ Because you believe you are innocent and falsely accused, you hold back forgiveness. Though your true heart condition is hidden from you, it is not hidden from God. Just because you were mistreated, you do not have permission to hold on to an offense. Two wrongs do not make a right!”

This book looks at many different ways the devil deceives us into taking offense, and encourages you in many different ways to overcome and find forgiveness. A valuable, helpful book.

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Write Is a Verb
Sit Down. Start Writing. No Excuses.

by Bill O’Hanlon

Writer’s Digest Books, 2007. 212 pages. DVD included.

This is a book about getting it together and actually writing. I read it after I had already made and was keeping a resolution to write at least fifteen minutes per day, every day, so this book only reinforced what I had already determined to do.

If you want to write, and are having trouble motivating yourself, this book has some great ways to think through your motivation and ideas for marketing yourself. Think of this as a great pep talk, complete with a DVD so you can see and hear an additional pep talk.

Buy from Amazon.com

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Review of Captivating, by John & Stasi Eldredge

Thursday, January 21st, 2010

Captivating

Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman’s Soul

by John and Stasi Eldredge

Nelson Books, 2005. 234 pages.
Starred Review.

Here’s another book I’ve been meaning to review for a very long time. I’m so thankful to my sister Marcy for giving it to me. I reread it again in 2009 in order to enjoy it again and to review it fresh in my mind. I think it blessed me even more the second time around.

Take it from me, this is a wonderful book to speak healing to a rejected and abandoned wife. And I suspect that any woman would be deeply blessed by these words. The basic message is that God has created you captivating and beautiful.

I’m usually leery of books that fit men and women into stereotypes. I think this book escapes that. Here’s what the authors say in the introduction:

“So — is a true woman Cinderella or Joan of Arc? Mary Magdalene or Oprah? How do we recover essential femininity without falling into stereotypes, or worse, ushering in more pressure and shame upon our readers? That is the last thing a woman needs. And yet, there is an essence that God has given to every woman. We share something deep and true, down in our hearts. So we venture into this exploration of femininity by way of the heart. What is at the core of a woman’s heart? What are her desires? What did we long for as little girls? What do we still long for as women? And, how does a woman begin to be healed from the wounds and tragedies of her life?

“Sometime between the dreams of your youth and yesterday, something precious has been lost. And that treasure is your heart, your priceless feminine heart. God has set within you a femininity that is powerful and tender, fierce and alluring. No doubt it has been misunderstood. Surely it has been assaulted. But it is there, your true heart, and it is worth recovering. You are captivating.”

The book talks about how God made us beautiful, but we get wounded and believe lies about ourselves. But God romances us Himself. Here’s a section I like:

“We have all heard it said that a woman is most beautiful when she is in love. It’s true. You’ve seen it yourself. When a woman knows that she is loved and loved deeply, she glows from the inside. This radiance stems from a heart that has had its deepest questions answered. “Am I lovely? Am I worth fighting for? Have I been and will I continue to be romanced?” When these questions are answered, Yes, a restful, quiet spirit settles in a woman’s heart.

“And every woman can have these questions answered, Yes. You have been and you will continue to be romanced all your life. Yes. Our God finds you lovely. Jesus has moved heaven and earth to win you for himself. He will not rest until you are completely his. The King is enthralled by your beauty. He finds you captivating.”

There is also a theme in this book of how God made you the particular woman You are, and that is beautiful. Here’s a lovely paragraph in the final chapter:

“Whatever your particular calling, you are meant to grace the world with your dance, to follow the lead of Jesus wherever he leads you. He will lead you first into himself; and then, with him, he will lead you into the world that he loves and needs you to love.”

Buy from Amazon.com

Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Nonfiction/captivating.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Review of Grandpa for Sale, by Vicki Sansum and Dotti Enderle

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010

Grandpa for Sale

by Dotti Enderle and Vicki Sansum

illustrated by T. Kyle Gentry

Flashlight Press, New York, 2007. 32 pages.
Starred Review.
2008 Sonderbooks Standout, #5 Picture Books

Here’s another book I’ve been meaning to review for a very long time. Vicki Sansum, one of the authors, is my good friend and writing critique group buddy. We met at a Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators conference in Paris. I saw this book when she first wrote it, and rejoiced with her when it was published. The result is a charming story about how Grandpas are more fun than anything.

Lizzie is watching her mother’s antique shop for a few minutes, while Grandpa is sleeping on a Louis XVI settee. A rich, snooty lady with a poodle breezes in and starts purchasing antiques. Then she sees Grandpa:

“Oh, my stars! Look at this! I don’t think I’ve ever seen one for sale. How much?”

Once Lizzie figures out the lady wants to buy Grandpa, she tells her he is not for sale. The lady says everyone has a price. She offers more and more money.

With each offer, Lizzie imagines the wonderful things she can buy, kid-friendly ideas like an ice cream shop or amusement park. But with each one, she realizes that they wouldn’t be much fun if Grandpa weren’t there to share them with her.

Finally, there’s a lovely showdown with the two glaring at each other.

“Lizzie took a deep breath and leaned in too. ‘Mrs. Larchmont,’ she announced, ‘not everyone has a price, and not everything is for sale.'”

The artist does a fine job using color contrasted with black and white to illustrate what Lizzie is imagining and all that Grandpa would do if he were there, too.

The nice silly idea of buying a Grandpa makes a fun and sweet story to share with a child. Truly, not everyone has a price.

Buy from Amazon.com

Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Picture_Books/grandpa_for_sale.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Review of Until They Are Found, by Peter Gray

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

Until They Are Found

The Story of a Relentless Shepherd and His Rogue Sheep

by Peter Gray, B. Th.

UWCM Press, Adelaide, Australia, 2005. 72 pages.
Starred Review.

Here’s another book which I’ve been meaning to review for a very long time. The author sent me the book himself after he read some of my reviews of George MacDonald’s books and others where I admit that I have come to believe that God will eventually save everyone. I agreed to review the book, but that was in the middle of my life upheaval, when I simply wasn’t getting very many books reviewed. I did reread the book in 2009, and thoroughly enjoyed it both times.

Until They Are Found is a short book, almost just a pamphlet, but it concisely and persuasively looks at the three “lost” parables in Luke 15 to make the case that God will keep on searching for sinners until they are found.

The parables are the Lost Sheep, the Lost Coin, and the Lost Son (more commonly referred to as the Prodigal Son). The context suggests that these parables should be considered together, that they are demonstrating the same thing.

In both the first two parables, the searcher searches until they find what was lost. Peter Gray puts it this way:

“What may we say was the reason for the lost sheep becoming found? Was the sheep saved by the doing of good works? Was the sheep saved by the following of law or commandment? was the sheep saved because it recognised its own state of ‘lost-ness,’ and went searching for its shepherd? Heaven forbid! The lost sheep was found for one reason and one reason alone. The lost sheep was found because the Good Shepherd came looking. The shepherd commenced a search and rescue operation that would never finish, until his sheep was found.

“His is a personal search, a persevering search, a successful search. He will search until they are found. The lost sheep contributed nothing to its being found.”

Peter Gray goes on to show how, taken together, Luke 15 definitely suggests that God will save everyone. I like his conclusion. He’s not dogmatic, but suggests that you take a good look for yourself:

“Universalism, the belief that all people will eventually be saved, is a theme inherent in this book. I, like many famous and well respected theologians of the past, hold to at least the possibility of universalism. In this book, I have attempted to let the text of Luke 15 speak for itself. The real possibility of universalism is what it said when I let it speak. Many Christians hold as one of their fundamental beliefs that not all will be saved. Because of that belief, the text of Luke 15 is read and not seen for what it is. I wrote in the preface that this book might leave you with unanswered questions. Universalism is the question I had in mind when I wrote that. It is a question that we should embrace instead of running away from.

“Is the New Testament more universal than the Christianity we have inherited would have us believe? Does the New Testament, even though it teaches the possibility of experiencing hell, also teach the possibility that God’s desire for all to be saved will actually happen? I believe so, but you must make your own decision.

“Happy wrestling!”

I wasn’t able to find this book on Amazon, but the author has a blog with contact information, including a new book available. Here is his blog, called The Saviour of the World. Here is a link for ordering a copy of Until They Are Found, with the first chapter available to read.

Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Nonfiction/until_they_are_found.html

Review of The Interruption of Everything, by Terry McMillan

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

The Interruption of Everything

by Terry McMillan

Read by Desiree Taylor

Penguin Audio, 2005. Unabridged. 10 CDs, approximately 12 hours.
Starred Review.

A big thank you to my sister Wendy for giving me this audiobook. It’s another one I’ve been meaning to review for a very long time, but didn’t get around to because it wasn’t a library book, and so didn’t have a due date. I know I listened to it more than a year ago, because I remember I was the same age as the protagonist, forty-four years old. But what happened in the book is still vivid in my mind, even after all this time. Perhaps since I listened to it, and thus “read” it over a long period of time, it stuck in my mind all the longer.

Marilyn Grimes is 44 years old and begins going through almost every issue a woman can face in midlife. She and her husband are growing apart, and she thinks he might be straying. She’d like to go back to school and pursue some old dreams, now that her kids are grown. But she still seems to be looking after everyone else.

Her mother’s mind seems to be drifting; her foster sister is in trouble with the law; her own hormones are doing strange things; her ex-husband comes back into her life; her husband goes to South America to “find himself.” Her daughter is expecting; her son gets into a ski accident; her mother-in-law, who lives with them, is finding romance. And that’s just part of it.

Honestly, before the end of the book, in my mind I was begging the author to have pity on poor Marilyn. But I needn’t have done so. Marilyn handles it all with humor and grace, and enough breakdowns and discouragement to still seem human. Her relationship with her two friends Paulette and Bunny adds laughter and perspective to her life as she navigates all the pitfalls of midlife and figures out what course she wants to set for the rest of her life.

Buy from Amazon.com

Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Fiction/interruption_of_everything.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Review of The Mother’s Book of Well-Being, by Lisa Groen Braner

Monday, January 18th, 2010

The Mother’s Book of Well-Being

Caring for Yourself So You Can Care for Your Baby

by Lisa Groen Braner

Conari Press, 2003. 181 pages.
Starred Review.
2008 Sonderbooks Stand-out, #7 Nonfiction Personal Growth

Here’s another book I’ve been meaning to review for a very long time. The author was one of our nicest customers at the library on Sembach Air Base in Germany. Again, the time when I moved was a time of upheaval for me, and I got way behind on book reviews. On top of that, this is a book to be read slowly and savored, which I did.

I did give the book to a book-lover friend who was a new mother. She said it brought tears to her eyes and was the best present she got!

The Mother’s Book of Well-Being consists of 52 meditations for each week of your new baby’s life. Each one is only a few pages long, so you ought to be able to get that much reading time in a week! These meditations are not about the baby’s growth, but about your own growth as a woman and as a mother.

In the Prologue, the author says, “That’s where this book picks up — at the point when you can’t possibly go one more moment without sleep, without a shower, without a smidgen of the life you once lived. This is a time of celebration, and also one of healing and learning. When you gave birth to your baby, you also gave birth to yourself as a mother. You’re responsible for another soul and, unexpectedly, newly responsible for yourself.

“The passage from woman to mother is complex. It causes us to reexamine who we are and who we want to be for our children. The ‘guard’ of generations has changed. Becoming a mother suddenly places you in the seat of true adulthood. My feet dangle from that chair often. I hasten to touch the ground and sit up straight in my newfound responsibility. Motherhood is a role in which it takes time to become comfortable and confident. The changes are great and the expectations high. We live in a culture that reveres and elevates motherhood to a superhuman stature. So often we come to the role with perceptions of how it will be, and realize how unprepared we really are. All of the plans you made for yourself and your baby before you gave birth may be hard to take during this time of recovery. This may be the first time you’ve ever been ‘called’ to devote yourself to a job so unconditionally. Some moments will find you strong and tireless, and others will find you exhausted and unsure.

“Be gentle with yourself. You are not alone.”

The weekly chapters have gentle meditations that remind you to look after yourself. Sometimes, they refer to your baby’s growth, as in this passage from Week 30:

“Too often, we miss the sanctity of the present. The present usually arrives peacefully, offering itself as a refuge over and over again while we sit muddled in our minds. We might believe that our thoughts are productive or even interesting, but we’re really ignoring the gift of the day before us.

“This is where our children can teach us. Babies absorb the world around them, touching, tasting, and seeing. They delight in their senses, enjoying the unexpected swoop of a robin or the warmth of the sun emerging from a cloud. Let’s suspend our thinking for a change, return to the simple and original mind with which we were born. Let’s immerse ourselves in the river of the senses — to drift, swim, and float in the day.”

In Week 3, she encourages mothers to find some time to ourselves, somehow.

“Babies tune our hearing outward. We distinguish between cries of hunger and cries of fatigue. We listen for them while we’re awake and asleep. Having a baby pulls us outside of ourselves by necessity. But let’s not forget to keep an ear open to the cry of our inner voice too. Finding thime for solitude encourages us to listen to ourselves. In those quiet moments alone, ask yourself what you need to feel nourished. Honor the answers that come. As mothers, we meet our children’s needs a hundred times a day. Let us remember to ask ourselves what we need to feel nurtured at least once a day.”

My favorite chapter is Week 21, “Literary Escape.”

“Do you ever feel housebound? The weather might be whipping outside, or your baby might be sick with a cold. Whatever the condition, the walls of one’s home can become confining at times. Rather than slink through the day, engage your fingertips and mind by opening a book. There must be at least one book on your shelf that has not yet been read. Perhaps there is even an old favorite that begs to be reread.

“I escape often to Italy, France, and Spain, walking the landscapes of each and taking mental notes along the way. I must remember to return to Tuscany when the olives are harvested for oil. I love Provence when the lavender is lush upon the hills. I’d like to drive winding roads again in Andalucia, amidst lemon trees bending ripe with fruit. Mental travelers need not pack diapers, snacks, or car seats. You’re free to travel alone, which is even lighter….

“It’s refreshing to roam the world — plunging into different countries, meeting new people and tasting their cuisine. If walking another step in your home leaves you less than inspired, sashay into a well-told story. The charms of being at home return after sampling new horizons. Books are an open invitation to another place and time. A baby will usually allow you to sneak a few pages throughout the day. Good books lead us to discover that it is not our house that binds us, but rather the dullness of our thoughts. Reading refreshes the mind and the imagination.”

Buy from Amazon.com

Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Nonfiction/mothers_book_of_well_being.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Review of Sacred Choices, by Christel Nani

Monday, January 18th, 2010

Sacred Choices

Thinking Outside the Tribe to Heal Your Spirit

by Christel Nani

Harmony Books, New York, 2006. 313 pages.
Starred Review.
Sonderbooks Stand-out 2008, #1 Nonfiction Personal Growth

I’ve been meaning to review this book for a very long time. I first read it in 2007, some time when my life was in upheaval, with the move to Virginia from Germany and taking online classes to get my MLIS degree. I wasn’t getting many books reviewed at that time.

But this is a life-changing and life-affirming book. I reread it in 2009 in order to get that good advice again and also to review it. Since it is my own copy, not a library book with a due date, I still didn’t get around to reviewing it. So here goes! This may not be as long a review as this book deserves, but I do want to bring it to people’s attention.

You can get a taste of the wisdom in this book by reading the many passages from it that I posted on my Sonderquotes blog.

The core concept behind Christel Nani’s teachings in Sacred Choices is that we all have tribal beliefs we aren’t even aware of. They are beliefs, but we think they are the facts of life, the way the world works. They have been handed down to us from our tribe.

Christel says, “Your ancestors taught you how to work, how to grieve, and why bad things happen. You have taken for granted that in their desire to protect you, they prepared you adequately for life by teaching you the way of the tribe — what they valued and what they believed to be true. These tribal beliefs are the inherited ideas about the way life works, passed down to you from anyone who had power or authority over you as a child — pretty much anyone who was taller than you were. Some of these beliefs cause you to make choices that make your life harder than it needs to be, creating conflicts and inner turmoil often marked by repetitive themes and patterns.”

Sometimes these beliefs are good for us, but often they are not.

“At first, you aren’t even aware that you are making choices at all. You are simply following the tribal way, even when you believe you are thinking for yourself and doing what is best for you. Consider the student who pursues a college degree in an area that offers a safe career path but does not excite her, or the man who gets married despite his doubts because everyone tells him how lucky he is to have found someone so nice. Or perhaps you are justifying staying in a career you no longer enjoy because the pay is good, or a draining relationship because you’ve been together for a long time. These are all examples of lives driven by limiting beliefs, not the heart’s desire. Unfortunately and paradoxically, some tribal rules are contrary to your authentic nature and needs. Even a life that looks successful on the outside can leave you wondering if this is as good as it gets, because you recognize on a deep level that something is missing. And it is.

“What’s missing is a deep satisfaction with your life, alignment with your soul, happiness that wells up and overflows, peace of mind, and a general sense of well-being. One reason you are left wanting is that tribal beliefs can make you think you want things that you really don’t, and when you get them you wonder why you aren’t wowed by them. This is but one symptom of a person at odds with his spirit and not living an authentic life. And a life without authenticity quickly becomes a life without passion.”

In this book, Christel Nani shows you how to uncover your tribal beliefs so you can examine whether they are good for you or not. She doesn’t ask you to throw them out willy-nilly. But isn’t it worth looking at the beliefs you live by? She also helps you rewrite limiting beliefs into beliefs that will serve you better.

Christel says, “I wrote this book to help you learn to listen to your spirit. The purpose of Sacred Choices is to explore your tribal beliefs and determine if they are good for you — to decide whether they raise or lower your vibration. Some tribal beliefs cause you distress and can lower your overall energy and even cause illness. The idea is to be aware of your unconscious choices — to become more conscious and thereby have a greater role in living your life the way you want it to be — not how you were taught, or how you believe it’s supposed to be.”

When I have been able to apply these concepts to my life, I am very happy with the results. Christel’s promises are lavish, but not unwarranted:

“I want you to be wildly happy, incredibly successful, and filled with passion and spontaneity. Listening to your spirit will accomplish all of it. And when your vibrations are good, you are sending out the best possible energy to the rest of the world. The fact is, your good vibrations are healing to others.”

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2010 ALA Award Winners

Monday, January 18th, 2010

I got up early on my day off to watch the webcast of the ALA Award winners in Boston. You can find out all the winners at www.ala.org/yma. I’ll mention books I’ve reviewed that were honored:

Stitches, by David Small, won an Alex Award for an adult book that appeals to Teens.

Marcelo in the Real World, by Francisco X. Stork, won the Schneider Family Book Award for the Best Teen Book dealing with disabilities. (My biggest disappointment of the morning was that this book didn’t get any Printz attention.)

Walter Dean Myers won the first Coretta Scott King-Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement.

Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice, by Philip Hoose, won an Honor for the new YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction Award. (The Award winner was Charles and Emma, by Deborah Heiligman.), as well as Sibert Honor. (The Sibert Medal winner was Almost Astronauts, by Tanya Lee Stone.)

The Michael L. Printz Award winner was Going Bovine, by Libba Bray. I’m afraid I haven’t read the winner or any of the Honor books.

For maybe the first time since its inception, Mo Willems was not included in the Geisel winners (Too bad!). The Award winner was Benny and Penny in the Big No-No! by Geoffrey Hayes.

However, I’m in complete agreement about the winners of the Caldecott and Newbery Medals.

The Caldecott Honor Books were All the World, illustrated by Marla Frazee, written by Liz Garton Scanlon, and Red Sings from Treetops, illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski, written by Joyce Sidman.

The Caldecott Medal, no surprise and well-deserved, went to Jerry Pinkney for The Lion and the Mouse.

The Newbery Honor Books were Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice, by Philip Hoose; The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate, by Jacqueline Kelly; Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, by Grace Lin; and The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg, by Rodman Philbrick.

The Newbery Medal, also no surprise and well-deserved, went to When You Reach Me, by Rebecca Stead.

Congratulations to all the winners!