words borrowed from Wendell Berry

Wild Geese

Horseback on Sunday morning,
harvest over, we taste persimmon
and wild grape, sharp sweet
of summer’s end. In time’s maze
over fall fields, we name names
that went west from here, names
that rest on graves. We open
a persimmon seed to find the tree
that stands in promise,
pale, in the seed’s marrow.
Geese appear high over us,
pass, and the sky closes. Abandon,
as in love or sleep, holds
them to their way, clear,
in the ancient faith: what we need
is here. And we pray, not
for new earth or heaven, but to be
quiet in heart, and in eye
clear. What we need is here.
-Wendell Berry


Sarah (Women of Genesis #1)

by Orson Scott Card

from the back cover
Sarai was a child of ten years, wise for her age but not yet a woman, when she first met Abram. He appeared before her in her father's house, filthy from the desert, tired and thirsty. But as the dirt of travel was washed from his body, the sight of him filled her heart. And when Abram promises Sarai to return in ten years to take her for his wife, her fate was sealed.

Abram kept his promise, and Sarai kept hers they were wed, and so joined the royal house of Ur with the high priesthood of the Hebrews. So began a lifetime of great joy together, and greater peril: and with the blessing of their God, a great nation would be built around the core of their love.

my rating

my review
On the surface, this is a well-written work of fiction. Some creative liberties may have been taken where details were lost to history, but that is to be expected in this genre. It fleshes out otherwise two-dimensional characters. Another attribute: Sarah sucked me in immediately, and I fairly devoured this chunky little book.

And yet it left a bad taste in my mouth. Red flag number one appeared on the first page with mention of Sarai's red-gold hair--I'm willing to overlook the European cover art, but really? We're actually going to make Sarai caucasian? Whatever. I'll picture her how I want to. Moving on.

After Sarai marries Abram, we spend a long time in Egypt, which mostly consists of witty conversation (I love the dialogue in this book) and descriptions of the lack of dress in this region. Honestly, Orson Scott Card mentioned women's chests frequently enough throughout the book to make me squirm a little. Following this train of thought, apparently all women except for Sarai/Sarah are entirely and hopelessly vain.

Lot's wife, for example, is painted as so impossibly self-centered that I felt no pity when she turned back to Sodom. It was kind of a relief, really, to not have to read about her obnoxious character anymore. And Hagar, too, seemed to deserve being cast out into the desert. If this book is any indication, Orson Scott Card paints in two colors: black and white.

Sarah (Women of Genesis, #1)


Raven's Ladder (The Auralia Thread #3)

by Jeffrey Overstreet

from the back cover
Following the beacon of Auralia’s colors and the footsteps of a mysterious dream-creature, King Cal-raven has discovered a destination for his weary crowd of refugees. It’s a city only imagined in legendary tales. And it gives him hope to establish New Abascar.

But when Cal-raven is waylaid by fortune hunters, his people become vulnerable to a danger more powerful than the prowling beastmen––House Bel Amica. In this oceanside kingdom of wealth, enchantment, and beauty, deceitful Seers are all too eager to ensnare House Abascar’s wandering throng...

If there is any hope for the people of Abascar, it lies in the courage of Cyndere, daughter of Bel Amica's queen; the strength of Jordom the beastman; and the fiery gifts of the ale boy, who is devising a rescue for prisoners of the savage Cent Regus beastmen.

my rating

my review
I almost rated this book a little lower, as it jumped from character to character, making it difficult to really get into. But the ending revealed, once again, the brilliance of Jeffrey Overstreet and the true intricacy of the web he had stealthily been weaving throughout the story, and which clearly threads into yet another volume. I enjoyed Raven's Ladder with the curiosity of Aurailia's Colors, but without the emotional investment of Cyndere's Midnight (books 1 and 2).

King Cal-raven is a deep, introverted character whom the book fails to penetrate as well as I would like, though I suppose not all mysteries should be fully revealed, or else they lose their allure. While he faithfully follows the elusive Keeper, directions from his equally elusive mentor, and the word of a... well, unlikely messenger from the previous book, he wonders at times if his people are right in questioning the wisdom of their leader, if in fact the majestic Keeper he dreams of is, indeed, a childish fantasy.

And then there's Bauris, a former guard who appears to have left his mind at the bottom of the well, and eccentric little Obrey, who might be more than she appears. These two are actually my favorite characters in this book, though I'm afraid that's all I can say without giving too much away.

Raven's Ladder (The Auralia Thread, #3)


book haul!

Again? Yes, again! Two book sales in two weeks--my bookshelf looks much happier now. This time it was the library, and they had a massive sale. I was excitedly and very thoroughly perusing the tables of fantasy and paperback fiction set up on the patio just outside the door when (an hour and a half after I arrived) the volunteers began covering everything up with tarps, so I skimmed spines much faster and barely got through everything. And when I went inside to pay, there were tables and tables of books flooding the hallway, and even two rooms off to the side! Naturally, I had to go back the next day to see what I had missed.

Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book This binder of general cooking knowledge has been in my mother's collection for as long as I can remember, so I finally picked up my own copy.

Beauty by Robin McKinley I don't think I've ever read a fairy tale retelling before, and I like the story of Beauty and the Beast for many reasons.

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss I've heard nothing but good things about this fantasy novel, so I figured I'd finally see for myself.

True Grit by Charles Portis Have you seen this movie? The newer one? It's pretty awesome (please don't watch the original. It's, well, terrible). I'll let you know what I think of the book.

The Hills is Lonely by Lillian Beckwith It looked intriguing, so I bought it. Goodreads reviewers tell me it's the fictional tale of a British woman's experience on one of the islands in the Hebrides off the coast of Scotland.

Winter's Tale by Mark Helprin Again, I liked the movie, and as the credits began to roll, there appeared that lovely phrase, "Based on the novel by..." And when I happened upon the novel at this book sale, I discovered just how ginormous it is. The movie must cover only 2% of it. Seriously.

The Warrior by Francine Rivers I enjoy biblical fiction, and though I don't think I've read anything by her yet, I know Rivers is supposed to be one of the best in this genre. This particular novella is about Caleb from the book of... er... the Old Testament. Clearly, I need to brush up on this particular story.

The White Mare by Jules Watson 1. There's a horse on the cover. 2. Celtic historical fantasy (that might count as three points). 3. It's the first book in a trilogy.


"Toilet paper rolls are infuriating things, aren't they, bun?"

Why yes, yes they are.

A glimpse into my Saturday morning--just because. And yes, much to my husband's amusement, I said the above quote while we were all eating (or attempting to eat) breakfast. As a side note, I believe it might be time to vacuum a certain corner of my kitchen.

P.S. For the life of me, I could not convince that opening quotation mark that it is not, in fact, a closing quotation mark.


Traveling Light

by Andrea Thalasinos

from the inside flap
A homeless Greek man is dying in a Queens hospital and Paula is asked to come translate. The old man tells her of his beloved dog, Fotis, who bit a police officer when they were separated. Paula has never considered adopting a dog, but she promises the man that she will rescue Fotis and find him a good home. But when Fotis enters her life she finds a companion she can’t live without. Suddenly Paula has a dog, a brand-new Ford Escape, an eight-week leave of absence, and a plan.

So Fotis and Paula begin the longest drive of their lives. In northern Minnesota, something compels her to answer a help-wanted ad for a wildlife rehabilitation center. Soon Paula is holding an eagle in her hands, and the experience leaves her changed forever.

my rating

my review
This is a fun, light, late-summer read. I really enjoyed journeying alongside Paula as she discovered the joy of living with a dog and the awe in holding an eagle. And the story line was engaging, if not a tad cliche on its most basic level.

It could use a good edit, namely for believability. For example, that "something" that compels Paula to call the wildlife rehabilitation center is never explained to any extent. Maybe she doesn't know why she called, but I'm sure she at least felt something. I'll never know, because the author didn't tell.

Also, it has one of the worst endings I've ever read, almost like a "slice of life" novel, except the rest of the book doesn't read that way. I was reading happily along, eager for what might come next, and it suddenly ended. Poof. No more text, and nothing was resolved. And no, there isn't a sequel.

Finally, there was a bit of unnecessary language scattered throughout in the same manner that a movie director sprinkles the f-bomb throughout his script in order to achieve an R rating.

I realize I've made Traveling Light sound like a terrible book, but I'd categorize it alongside cheesy chick-flicks: it may not be well done, but you enjoy it anyway.

Traveling Light


The Paradise War (The Song of Albion #1)

by Stephen R. Lawhead

from the back cover
From the dreaming spires of Oxford, Lewis Gillies drives north to seek a mythical creature in a misty glen in Scotland. Expecting little more than a weekend diversion, Lewis finds himself in a mystical place where two worlds meet, in the time-between-times - and in the heart of a battle between good and evil.

The ancient Celts admitted no separation between this world and the Otherworld: the two were delicately interwoven, each dependent on the other. The Paradise War crosses the thin places between this world and that, as Lewis Gillies comes face-to-face with an ancient mystery - and a cosmic catastrophe in the making.

my rating

my review
My friend Candice from over at O, Ye Scribes highly recommended that I read The Song of Albion series a while back, and my husband has been pestering--erm, encouraging--me to pick up anything written by Stephen R. Lawhead ever since he discovered Hood in the local library. So when I found a copy of The Paradise War at an adorable little church-shaped book shop at a renaissance faire a few weeks ago, I snatched it up.

This book is remarkably well written and almost begs to be read aloud, though for all its virtues I didn't feel entirely drawn into the story. I did enjoy the palatable, informal Celtic mythology lesson woven within, and especially liked the eccentric character Dr. Nettleton. Simon, however, is quite insufferable and a tad flat, and caused the first part of the book to seem to drag on a bit; I didn't feel like I had truly started the book until about halfway through.

Although in general the story was not altogether predictable (yay!), a startling twist blinked by in a moment of shock and caught me completely off-guard somewhere in the second half of the book. Just a few lines carried such mind-scrambling significance that I had to pause a moment in my reading to appreciate the cleverness and try vainly to figure out exactly what it meant. Lawhead has a brilliant mind; I will definitely be reading more of his novels.

The Paradise War (The Song of Albion, #1)