06 March 2016

My favorites from 2015... at least as far as books are concerned!

The flag of our new home flying (all pics in this post are just glimpses of our family during the last several months).

I didn't read nearly as many books (only 22) as normal in 2015... 

Transition is crazy hard and busy!

However I did read some.

Most of these top-pick-a-number lists show up back in January... Oh well! Here are my top 5 reads from 2015!

Elsie Mae and her new backpack... a perfect fit for her personality!

#5 Island of the Lost
"Auckland Island is a godforsaken place in the middle of the Southern Ocean, 285 miles south of New Zealand. With year-round freezing rain and howling winds, it is one of the most forbidding places in the world. To be shipwrecked there means almost certain death. In 1864 Captain Thomas Musgrave and his crew of four aboard the schooner Grafton wreck on the southern end of the island. Utterly alone in a dense coastal forest, plagued by stinging blowflies and relentless rain, Captain Musgrave—rather than succumb to this dismal fate—inspires his men to take action. With barely more than their bare hands, they build a cabin and, remarkably, a forge, where they manufacture their tools. Under Musgrave's leadership, they band together and remain civilized through even the darkest and most terrifying days. Incredibly, at the same time on the opposite end of the island—twenty miles of impassable cliffs and chasms away—the Invercauld wrecks during a horrible storm. Nineteen men stagger ashore. Unlike Captain Musgrave, the captain of the Invercauld falls apart given the same dismal circumstances. His men fight and split up; some die of starvation, others turn to cannibalism. Only three survive. Musgrave and all of his men not only endure for nearly two years, they also plan their own astonishing escape, setting off on one of the most courageous sea voyages in history. Using the survivors' journals and historical records, award-winning maritime historian Joan Druett brings this extraordinary untold story to life, a story about leadership and the fine line between order and chaos.
Why I liked this book:
Musgrave's example of less than perfect leadership, but leadership that rings of integrity, courage and sacrifice - and motivated by a his faith and a deep commitment to survive and return to care for his family. His leadership is vividly contrasted with the leadership of the other captain. Additionally, the descriptions of what Musgrave and his men accomplished, their commitment to each other and the story of their survival is inspiring and unbelievable-but-true. After I finished reading the book, I handed it over to my 10 year old son (who loves history). He finished it within a weekend!

Homemade raspberry danish... for breakfast one morning.

#4 Ava's Man
"With the same emotional generosity and effortlessly compelling storytelling that made All Over But the Shoutin’ a national bestseller, Rick Bragg continues his personal history of the Deep South. This time he’s writing about his grandfather Charlie Bundrum, a man who died before Bragg was born but left an indelible imprint on the people who loved him. Drawing on their memories, Bragg reconstructs the life of an unlettered roofer who kept food on his family’s table through the worst of the Great Depression; a moonshiner who drank exactly one pint for every gallon he sold; an unregenerate brawler, who could sit for hours with a baby in the crook of his arm. In telling Charlie’s story, Bragg conjures up the backwoods hamlets of Georgia and Alabama in the years when the roads were still dirt and real men never cussed in front of ladies. A masterly family chronicle and a human portrait so vivid you can smell the cornbread and whiskey, Ava’s Man is unforgettable."
Why I liked this book:
My family comes from the south, originally... Another "survival" story, but of a different sort. I find the oxymoron's that people can be absolutely fascinating. But perhaps, that is just a reflection of their humanity. Touching and tear-jerking, hilarious yet heart-breaking... I wish I could have met Charlie Bundrum and his wife. After reading the book, I feel like I know them.

A friend over to spend the night... Elsie Mae reading "princess" stories.

#3 Between Worlds
"'In the hall of an old Inn by the ocean is a sign that reads 'Home is Where Our Story Begins.' But if home is where our story begins, what happens when we can't go back?' Marilyn Gardner was raised in Pakistan and went on to raise her own five children in Pakistan and Egypt before moving to small town New England. Between Worlds will resonate with those who have lived outside of their passport country, as well as those who have not. These essays explore the rootlessness and grief as well as the unexpected moments of humor and joy that are a part of living between two worlds. Between Worlds charts a journey between the cultures of East and West, the comfort of being surrounded by loved ones and familiar places, and the loneliness of not belonging. 'Every one of us has been at some point between two worlds, be they faith and loss of faith, joy and sorrow, birth and death. Between Worlds is a luminous guide for connecting---and healing---worlds.'"
Why I liked this book:
My kids are TCKs... growing up between worlds. I've spent several years teaching TCKs... and teaching English to kids who are TCKs. Marilyn, the author, has become a friend. I appreciate her perspective and particularly her gift to use words to help me better understand my own children.

Funnel cake fun!

#2 Abraham
"When we rewind history back to Abraham’s era, we encounter people who concocted false superstitions to explain the unexplainable. Powerful kings claimed to be gods, building massive pyramids to achieve immortality. Out of this mass of misunderstandings, one man emerged. The man we know today as Abraham not only claimed that one true Creator existed but also staked his entire life on this belief. Why, thousands of years later, are we still discussing the faith of this desert nomad? One of America’s most popular Bible teachers, Pastor Chuck Swindoll, answers that question and many more in this compelling and insightful biography that will inspire your own faith."
Why I liked this book:
Abraham is one of my favorite persons in the Bible. His faith story challenges, encourages and convicts me. I think that if we had lived at the same time, his wife Sarah and I would have been great friends. Chuck Swindoll is one of my favorite preachers... ever since I was driving 500 miles back and forth from home and the university I attended... and I'd spend time listening to him. His ability to explain Scripture and then draw real-life, practical applications that I can begin to implement, immediately. This book is an awesome Bible/character study, and I'm planning to reread it again this year.

The Catholic church in Charlesbourg all dressed up for Christmas

#1 The Graveyard Book
"An entire family... [is] murdered while they sleep, all except the baby.  The murderer, Jack, searches for the baby as the baby wonders away to the nearby graveyard. The murdered mother, [as a ghost], comes to the graveyard and gives the okay to one of the ghosts living there to take care of her baby. The ghosts name the baby Nobody and he then grows up in the graveyard."
Why I liked this book:
This book surprised me. The synopsis intrigued me. And then? The story was not only out-of-the-box and fun, but the lessons taught are exactly the kind of lessons I want my kids to learn: valuing others regardless of their histories or appearances, teachability, depending on community, the importance of education and that while growing up is hard and means leaving some things behind - it is a good and brings new things, amazing things and people, into our lives.

Family - college-aged siblings and uncle + cousins who came to visit at Christmas

Which of these books most intrigues you? Why? 
Be sure and let me know what you think if you read one! 

Snow, even several inches at a time, hardly even causes a hiccup in daily life routines most days.

Friends from Niger came to visit... nothing beats a snowball fight in Vieux Quebec or silliness by the mural!

Note: All synopses were taken from Shellfari.

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