Sunday, May 23, 2010

Have my buttons burst yet?

I am so proud of our Mimi girl! What can I say she is amazing! A couple months ago, she approached D ( a counselor in a YSA ward Bishopric) and asked when she could give a talk in church. So D lined her up to speak this month. When he asked her how long she wanted to speak for she replied, "I don't know, 5-10 minutes?"

She was given the opportunity to choose her own topic, and she chose love.

She gave her talk today. Yes I am the proud mama, but she did a fantastic job! She read with expression, and didn't sound or look nervous at all. She even got the congregation laughing. Several people came up to her at the end to complement her (one even said she gave the best talk of the whole month!) D got a note from one of the YSAs saying that her talk answered a question he had been struggling with for quite awhile.

I am so proud of Mimi for having the courage first of all to ask for the chance to give a talk in Sacrament meeting (who does that?), and then preparing and presenting a talk that touches peoples lives.

I pray she can continue to be such a wonderful example as she grows into tween- and teen-hood!

What I have been reading

For our book club this past year, we have been reading the unabridged version on Victor Hugo's Les Miserables. It has been fun and fascinating, and I'm sorry to say at times, very hard (boring). He writes wonderfully and there are some parts that I will gladly remember forever...and then there are parts that I dutifully slogged through to keep up with the group. I think I will read the abridged version when next I pick it up--a few years down the line!

As D recently finally understood, I can never read just one book at a time and sometimes have as many as five books that I am reading. So here are some of the other things I have been reading and what I thought of them. This is only some of the things I have read in the past few months...mostly the ones that I remember and really liked. And, yes I have an eclectic taste in books. If anyone has any good book recommendations, I would love some suggestions!

The Hunger Games and Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins. Ok I really enjoyed these page-turners, but I have to admit that they are a bit, um, violent. And the twist at the end of Catching Fire really caught me off guard. I can hardly wait for book number three comes out in August.

Ender in Exile, Ender's Game, Speaker for the Dead, Ender's Shadow, Shadow of the Giant, Shadow of the Hegemon, and Shadow Puppets by Orson Scott Card. What can I say, other than I love the way Card weaves in his political and military history as well as psychology with such a fascinating storyline! I read his newest (I think Ender in Exile or Shadow Puppets) and then had to go back and read all the related ones in his series. I have to admit I pooped out after awhile, so I didn't finish Xenocide or Children of the Mind. But I do plan to finish them (again) sometime.

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. This was recommended to me by Woodine, and at first I was a bit peeved at the author...she was trying really hard (too hard in my opinion) to convince her readers that growing your own food is healthy for you and the environment. Once she got past the preachy part of her journaling, I really enjoyed the down to earth, back-to basics info and anecdotes, not to mention the helpful hints, resources and recipes she included.

No Impact Man by Colin Beavan. I picked this up on a whim from the new non-fiction books section of the library...mostly curious about the unique cover/binding. Turns out the book chronicled a man and his family as they tried to make no impact on the environment for a year's time. I really enjoyed this book. I thought it was really sad though that it took this whole project for the author to realize that happiness does not come from the material aspects of our existance, but through our relationships and spirituality/connectedness to the "cosmos". Anyway , as I said I really enjoyed this book, and I have been more aware of my energy usage/trash production recently. It sure isn't a bad thing to be less reliant on fossil fuels and to reduce, reuse, and recycle what we can!

SuperFreakonomics by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner. This is the "sequel" to Freakonomics, by the same gentlemen, which I enjoyed a few years ago. It really isn't a sequel, just more of the interesting analyses of studies done by statisticians. People really do respond to incentives...and not necessarily in the way we expect. I loved the last chapter that detailed several simple, "low-cost" possible solutions for the global warming/cooling issue.

The Undaunted by Gerald Lund. If you have read anything by this author you know that he meticulously researches the areas and history of the subject before fictionalizing the characters. This story follows the pioneers who settled the southeast corner of Utah, and literally cut a wagon road in the mountains and cliffs of southern Utah to get there. It is wonderfully written, with engaging characters, along the lines of the Fire of the Covenant and Work and the Glory books he has written in the past.

Rapunzel's Revenge (second read) by Shannon and Dean Hale. This is a graphic novel (like a comic book) I stumbled upon a year or so ago. I loved it! It is sort of a fractured fairy tale that has Rapunzel rescuing herself and teaming up with Jack (of Beanstalk fame) to overthrow the wicked witch. Fun story illustrated by our neighbor, Nathan Hale! Mimi also loves this book, and has read it several times...getting Sweetsa hooked on it in the process!

The Actor and the Housewife by Shannon Hale. I gave this to Frogalee for her Birthday last summer and she kindly sent it back to school with Kaeru Hime after Christmas so that I could read it. I only got to it in March. It sure made an impact on me! I loved it, but it was an emotional roller coaster for me...I literally found myself sobbing through parts of it. But it was good, funny--hilarious even. And I could identify with that "typical Mormon housewife"--except for the writer part. !)

Redefining Joy in the Last Days by Chris Stewart. Loved , loved, loved this one. He used personal experiences, quotes from pophets and scripture and really brought home the fact that joy is not dependent upon having a "perfect," no-trial life. It is something we can have now, and should actively seek in our lives. A very quick an hour!

Elantris by Brandon Sanderson. Em gave this to me for Christmas, and I am sorry to say that I didn't pick it up until April. Silly silly B! It was so good! Seriously, one of the best fantasy books I have read in a long time. The premise was unique, and the characters well-drawn. I loved the surprises and the way the magic worked.

Mistborn and The Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson. Got these from Frogalee for my birthday. I do like how Sanderson writes! This is again an interesting storyline with a strong female lead character. I enjoy the changes that she goes through in her character and trust for mankind. I do have to say that this one (two) are rather violent (there is a war going on, so there is quite a bit of killing). So if you don't like that in your books, pass on this series. I haven't yet read the final book in the series (Hero of Ages), but plan to do so when my current crop of books slims down a bit!

Witch and Wizard by James Patterson. I should probably list others of Pattersons books in here, but this was the most recent and most memorable. Again a different premise than most of this author's books...but fascinating. A New Order takes over and starts imprisoning and/or executing thousands of youth, particularly those who are "rebellious" (not accepting of the N.O.'s rules.) This book starts what I assume will be a series following a brother and sister caught up in the mess (who find out that they are a wizard and a witch during all the chaos.)