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Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien

I fell in love with The Hobbit all over again, in reading it to my children. It is such a delightful read-aloud.  I love the love of home and simple pleasures that pervades the book. I'm sure that those few who read my blog don't need me to gush about The Hobbit, so I thought I would share a lovely quote from it instead:

"'Then the prophecies of the old songs have turned out to be true, after a fashion!' said Bilbo.

'Of course!', said Gandalf. 'And why should not they prove true? Surely you don't disbelieve the prophecies, because you had a hand in bringing them about yourself? You don't really suppose, do you, that all your adventures and escapes were managed by mere luck, just for your sole benefit? You are a very fine person, Mr. Baggins, and I am very fond of you; but you are only quite a little fellow in a wide world after all!'

'Thank goodness!' said Bilbo laughing, and handed him the tobacco-jar."

Money Saving Mom's Budget, by Crystal Paine

I won a copy of this book on a blog giveaway. This book and Crystal's blog ( have revolutionized my thinking about the money in my control. I've always tried, with more or less success, to spend within my means, but now I'm trying to spend below my means. Now I'm trying not only to spend less money by buying less expensive items, but actually to keep money in reserve.

Several of the specific, practical suggestions aren't viable for us at this point in our lives, but the impact on my thinking has been invaluable already.

I would recommend this book to anyone who needs some advice or encouragement for managing their personal finances in a better way.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Shades of Grey, Jasper Fforde

This book is neither a Thursday Next book, nor a Nursery Crimes book. It is set in a dystopia, where one's color perception determines one's place in society. I found it a more difficult secondary world to enter than either the Thursday Next books or the Nursery Crimes books, yet I found it quite thought-provoking, and in some ways a more serious work.

I was a bit disturbed by the fact that an immoral act by the main character at the end of the book was not more authorially condemned than it was.

I don't exactly recommend Fforde's books, because they're kind of bizarre, but I love them and am looking forward to reading the ones I haven't yet read (two others in the Shades of Grey series, and any in the Dragonslayers series, which I just learned about today).

The Poe Shadow, by Matthew Pearl

In The Poe Shadow, Matthew Pearl takes an historical mystery (the death of Edgar Allan Poe) and creates a fictional character who sets out to unravel the mystery. The book impressed me. I thought it was well-written, intriguing, well-researched. I thought the authorial voice and the dialog sounded like one would expect 19th century Baltimoreans to sound (not that I'm an expert). Pearl even gives his book a bit of a flavor of Poe, with the narrator occasionally seeming unhinged, possibly mad.

I was disappointed in one particular only. This book being a hybrid of fiction and non-fiction, one does not finish it with the same moral certainty that the mystery has been solved as one normally finishes a purely fictional mystery.

I would recommend this book to any fan of detective fiction or of Poe. Unlike Pearl's Dante Club, The Poe Shadow is not gruesome.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

On Going Two Weeks without Blogging about a Book

I wanted to check in, because it has now been two weeks since I blogged. Perhaps you were wondering where I've been (I'm snickering to myself as I write that). Or perhaps you've been relieved that I haven't been burdening you with even more senseless lists.

We had an extraordinarily busy week (for us), beginning with human company, a visit from the stomach bug, more human company, an unexpected date WITH my husband but WITHOUT my children (first time in many months), an infant trying (unsuccessfully so far) to break his first two teeth and who suddenly discovered that rolling over could in fact move him places, and ending with a Saturday Church event for which I had to prepare.

So maybe sometime this next week I'll actually get around to reading something, and to writing about it.