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Original Essays | September 18, 2014

Lin Enger: IMG Knowing vs. Knowing

On a hot July evening years ago, my Toyota Tercel overheated on a flat stretch of highway north of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. A steam geyser shot up from... Continue »


Customer Comments

Sheila Deeth has commented on (244) products.

The Dog Stays in the Picture: Life Lessons from a Rescued Greyhound by Susan Morse
The Dog Stays in the Picture: Life Lessons from a Rescued Greyhound

Sheila Deeth, October 15, 2014

A chatty writing style, filled with digressions, filled with fun, and somehow always getting back to the point because Susan Morse is a mother and mothers by definition cope really well with distractions, and dogs, it seems... but where was I? A chatty fun-filled writing style characterizes this tale of an emptying next, a worrying mother, and a dog.

Actually, it’s also the story of a good wholesome family with photos where Dad looks like an ex-con, terror tales are told in school, college applications devour the household, and a well-packed earthquake kit lurks with the cat in the basement. But Lilly the greyhound’s the star, and I’m bound to be hooked since my brother and sister-in-law have greyhounds. Did you know...? No, let the author tell the tale. Greyhounds are cool, they’re not like other dogs, but you’ll have to find out for yourselves.

There are detours through alternative medicine, genealogy and more, fascinating visits to the world of movies and TV (via husband David Morse) and to Japan, strange flushing toilets and a wealth of good friends and good dialog, all making this a thoroughly enjoyable short read, especially for anyone who’s ever been a mother, wife, daughter or dog-lover. Guys might like it too. In fact, guys might learn a thing or two about their wives... but I’m digressing. I love this book.

Disclosure: I was asked if I’d like to review it and I said yes please.
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The Monster Realm (Hardcover) by Nara Duffie

Sheila Deeth, October 15, 2014

Written for middle-grade readers with a taste for fantasy and a desire to see girls take center stage, Nara Duffie’s Monster Realm takes Lillian, Maisy and Katy off into a land of curious adventure. The story begins, as such things surely must, with a walk in the dark by the sea. But there’s more than just the mystery of moonlight shining on these waves. Soon the three friends are wandering through a wonderfully imagined and vividly described Monster Realm.

The action is fast and furious. The movie and book references are pleasingly up-to-date. And the three main characters form a nicely diverse bunch, with studious Lillian determined to rescue her sister, nervous Katy solemnly recording in her note-book all the reasons she wishes she weren’t here, and excitable Maisy, striding straight into danger.

Lillian’s interest in Greek mythology gives an interesting depth to the tale. Backstory and sibling relationships strengthen the emotional power. And if dangers are quickly resolved, that’s just as it should be in middle-grade fiction. My only complaints are 1) that I want to read book two, and 2) that I wish the author hadn’t twisted the viewpoints around quite so often. That said, I really enjoyed this novel and couldn’t put it down.

And that said... the author was eleven when she wrote it! Great fiction for middle-grade readers, written by a great middle-grade writer.

Disclosure: I was given a free copy of this book and I offer my honest review. One thing I honestly forgot while reading was the author’s age. Great job Nara!
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The Dreidel That Wouldn't Spin: A Toyshop Tale of Hanukkah by Martha Seif Simpson
The Dreidel That Wouldn't Spin: A Toyshop Tale of Hanukkah

Sheila Deeth, October 15, 2014

I’ve seen dreidels in stores. I know they’re kind of like little spinning tops. And I know little kids can play with them, but I’ve never known how until I read this book. Whether Hanukkah is part of your tradition or just something you’ve heard about, Martha Seif Simpson’s beautiful children's story, gorgeously illustrated by Durga Yael Bernhard, is sure to draw you and your children in.

The text is simple and clear. The author even manages to include Hebrew letters, introduced with a deft and natural hand, so the parent will know the translation as soon as the child. Softly pastel illustrations feel humorously alive, filled with surprises for the reader, like small toys frowning disapproval while they wait to smile. And the story has its own sweet surprise in the lesson it teaches at the end.

Great miracles and small joys (the older miracle is told in an author’s note at the end that includes instructions on playing the game), great generosity and small meanness of spirit, great hope and a wonderful message, you’ll find them all here, smoothly illustrated, sweetly told, and packaged in a gorgeous picture book for the perfect Hanukkah gift, or gift for all seasons.

Disclosure: I received a free copy from the publisher and I offer my honest review---it’s beautiful!
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Drawn Into the Mystery of Jesus Through the Gospel of John by Jean Vanier
Drawn Into the Mystery of Jesus Through the Gospel of John

Sheila Deeth, October 7, 2014

With lyrical language, smoothly intriguing interpretations, fine research, and an almost poetic structure that demands and rewards thoughtful reading, Jean Vanier's Drawn Into the Mystery of Jesus follows the gospel of John and invites readers to follow and meet John's heavenly Lord.

"God does not say 'If you change I will love you,'" says the author, relating Jesus’ calling of his disciples. God loves us first, and then we change, relieved of guilt and freed to become more like we were made to be.

As chapters follow Christ's passion and death we are reminded of our calling to "become one," united by love. "A man who was condemned to death by the Romans... would finally humble... all the empires of the earth," and give us peace.

This book is a beautiful contemplative, lyrical and informative look at what that means today, and a wonderful read.

Disclosure: My mother was given this book and loaned it to me.

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The God of Sno Cone Blue by Marcia Coffey Turnquist

Sheila Deeth, October 7, 2014

It’s tough enough being the preacher’s kid, without having to cope with your mother’s death as well. But Grace starts receiving strange letters from the grave, her mother guiding her into adulthood, and simultaneously telling the tale of her own childhood.

“I wasn’t always a Preacher’s Wife... I made mistakes...” says Grace’s mom in an early letter. Thus the reader is smoothly invited to follow Grace’s search for her mother’s past, and for the holder of these secretly delivered missives. Is it her father? Her mother’s best friend? Someone who works at the church?

Twin mysteries and a great narrator empower this tale of natural rebellion, coming of age, loneliness, anger and hope. There are surprises in store, for Grace and for the reader. And God proves both less and more than a wondrous face in the pale blue clouds of childhood.

Storms of family secrets, terrors of disaster, trials of rebellion and more... This novel soon morphs into an unputdownable read as Grace seeks answers to her final questions, and finds out so much more. I love the characters, I love the smoothly convincing voice of the writing, and I really enjoyed the story. Highly recommended.

Disclosure: I met the author at a Farmers’ Market!
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