If you are still following over here, please hop on over to Homespun Light. That's where all the new content is...
Friday, March 13, 2009
Thursday, March 5, 2009
Okay, here's the link to the new blog, Homespun Light. Enjoy!
And PLEASE continue to send in your reviews of Deliciously Clean Reads. I'm excited to tell you about the latest book I read! The review is cooking.
Posted by Emily at 8:35 AM
Friday, February 27, 2009
Deliciously Clean Reads is going to be moving to a new blogspot. Here's the deal.
I was talking to a very dear friend a couple weeks ago, and she said I wouldn't read my own blog, and I was like, Yeah. I wouldn't read mine either. And I gave her some advice that the best blogs post every day. Light bulb. I don't post every day. And another thing, it needs a voice...a personality. This blog doesn't have that either.
So, this is the plan. I know there are a few of you out there who appreciate this blog for its reviews of clean books. I have received many, many emails from people who are grateful for this resource. Those emails have kept me going.
BUT, I have 3 blogs. All three are suffering. So, I am starting a fourth blog. That'll help, right? :) I hope so. Blog 4 is going to be all the other blogs combined. I will post reviews of clean books as often as I receive them and, of course, when I read books I want to share (and I am transferring all past reviews there, too).
Blog 4, however, will not be ONLY reviews. It will be ME. Anything I feel like talking about, which will include motherhood, wifery, Christianity, crafting, learning, enjoying, living.
PS...the other reason for my absence the last couple weeks? I JUST had a baby, and DANG he is DELICIOUS.
Posted by Emily at 2:19 PM
Friday, February 13, 2009
Thursday, February 5, 2009
On March 25, 1911, a devastating fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist factory in New York City left 146 people dead, the majority of them young immigrant girls who were employed at the factory. In the years immediately preceding the fire, Triangle had been embroiled in a labor dispute that sent many of its workers out on strike in an attempt to unionize the shop. Among the strikers’ concerns were low wages, long hours, poor working conditions, and safety issues. Although Triangle and other companies eventually settled, violations continued. The fire encompassed three floors of the building and left many people trapped when stairwell doors were locked (the company’s way to ensure workers did not leave early) and the one fire escape proved to be defective. The tragedy of the Triangle fire lead to new safety regulations and enforcement of those regulations.
Uprising tells the story of two immigrant girls, Bella and Yetta, who worked at the factory and their friend Jane. Yetta, who came to New York from Russia with the plan to make enough money to send for her parents, is determined to improve working conditions at all costs, even her own happiness. She steadfastly pickets during the strike and is unhappy when the union settles for less than she wants. Able to see the whole picture, Yetta is also concerned about women’s rights and suffrage. She worries about safety conditions at Triangle. Bella, a poor girl from Italy who comes to the United States determined to send money home to support her widowed mother and younger siblings, is at a disadvantage not knowing English and being ignorant of the issues at hand. But she learns quickly and picks herself up following a family tragedy, determined to make a brighter future for herself. Jane is the daughter of a wealthy businessman, a socialite who yearns to go to college and do something important with her life. She leaves home to work as a governess and live in a tenement rather than be supported by her father’s money, money that she considers to be tainted and evil when she learns that in the past he had hired strikebreakers.
Uprising does a good job of telling the story of the famous Triangle fire as well as showing the working and social conditions prevalent at the time. Readers, particularly young readers, will find it hard to imagine living in the way that the girls did and not only surviving but thriving. Readers will assume they know which of the girls is the mysterious “Mrs. Livingston” first introduced in the beginning of the book but will be surprised when they learn her true identity. Recommended for age 12 and up.
Monday, February 2, 2009
Suggested audience: 16- adult
Winter Wheat is the story of a girl living on a dry wheat ranch in Montana in the early 1940’s. At the beginning of the story Ellen Webb is 18 and looking to her future—a future determined by each season, each crop of wheat, each hailstorm and snowfall.
This is a true coming-of-age story, covering a year and a half of Ellen’s life as she grows from a child to an adult. Raised by her stolid, quiet Russian mother and her frail New Englander father, Ellen knows little about the world and even less about love. She must come to understand her own parents’ relationship in order to understand herself and the world around her. In the process of understanding them, she learns that love, like dark winter wheat, can grow and survive amid the harshest of conditions.
Nature is an integral character in this story, and Walker writes as one who knows the land intimately. The natural world that she paints is full of symbolism and meaning. Walker’s characters are fully drawn—complex but knowable, and her language is almost poetic. Winter Wheat is a beautiful story of growth, understanding, forgiveness, and love.
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Monday, January 26, 2009
While looking for scrapbook books in my county library system I found the novel Sisters, Ink by Rebeca Seitz and, since it was also labeled as Christian, decided to check it out. I enjoyed it a lot. It was a quick read for me and very engaging. I knew I was enjoying it when I did not skip ahead to read due to boredom!
The story is about opening one’s heart to God and letting Him into our lives. It is about family ties. It is about love—of God, oneself, and others.
As the sisters scrapbook and spend time together they encourage, tease, and straightforwardly ask Tandy about her reasons for being in a big city instead of back home with them, and about her first love Clay. Clay has returned to Stars Hill after being in the military, a decision that caused he and Tandy to go their separate ways after high school. Of course, Tandy and Clay run into each other a few times. They rehash their past together and discuss why they are where they are today and their future plans.
Rebeca Seitz has written a very nice story about life unfolding, about being aware of the decisions we make and why we make them, and of the importance of God and family in one’s life.
I thought of this site when I was reading the book; I would call it a clean read. There is kissing, but no graphic details. The characters are mindful of modesty, of how their actions could affect others. One character does decide to wear a dress that is revealing in the back, yet the author treats the situation well. I enjoyed it and recommend it.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Benevolence (Ben), daughter of a prince, is herself second in the line of succession to the throne of the small fictional country of Montagne, her uncle the king having no children. Ben, however, is not your typical princess. She has been raised away from the glamour and elegance of the castle, dresses plainly, and freely socializes with the common people, having often accompanied her mother, a healer, on her visits to the sick. When her parents and uncle fail to return from a day’s outing and are later found dead, Ben, not yet old enough to ascend to the throne in her own right, finds herself being “tutored” by her aunt, Sophia, the Queen Regent who rules in her stead until Ben comes of age. Ben, having never before considered that she would one day rule Montagne, balks at her aunt’s demands that she begin conducting herself more in the manner in which a princess is expected to behave.
Eventually, Ben’s unruly behavior leads to her being banished to a small tower room except for the hours of her schooling. In the tower Ben discovers a hidden and magical passageway leading to the invisible “Wizard Tower” where she finds a spell book and other magical instruments that she uses to secretly teach herself rudimentary magic skills. Through use of her magical abilities, Ben discovers a network of hidden passages throughout the castle and uses these to learn of the queen’s plans for Montagne to secure an alliance with another country by arranging a marriage between Ben and a suitable prince, a plan that does not meet with Ben’s approval, particularly if that marriage is to Prince Florian of Drachensbett, Montagne’s sworn enemy and the most likely suspect in the deaths of her parents and the king. The king of Drachensbett has made it clear that he will invade Montagne if such an alliance is not made. Although Ben believes herself to be as capable as any man, and is not content to wait idly for rescue by a knight in shining armor, she has come to realize that it is through marriage that many political alliances are made and must now decide whether or not to use her skills in magic to save Montagne from impending attack by Drachensbett, a decision that may mean her secret could be exposed, or else give in to Drachensbett’s demands.
Princess Ben is a fine fantasy that works in elements from various fairy tales and that features a strong female protagonist who is not afraid to speak her mind. Recommended for age 12 and up, particularly for those who enjoy light fantasy and/or romance.
Monday, January 19, 2009
Do you like a mystery? Strange stories have been circulating about the old Ludlow house in the small farming community of Banesville, NY. People say the ghost of the last owner, mean-spirited in life and even more so in death, is haunting the place, causing harm and even death to people who dare to visit the house. It doesn’t help matters any that the local newspaper, The Bee, is helping to spread the rumors. Hildy Biddle, top reporter for the high school newspaper, The Core, and daughter of a journalist, is skeptical of the stories about the “haunted” house.
Together with the staff of The Core, Hildy determines to get to the bottom of the stories and find out what is really going on. When Hildy and her friends come a little too close to the truth, the owner of The Bee threatens to sue the school unless The Core is shut down. Undaunted, the staff of The Core goes underground, supported by several townspeople and meeting in the back room of a local café, to publish a new community newsletter, The Peel, distributing it at local businesses to get out the truth.
Peeled is the story of what can happen when people come together to stand up for what’s right. Teenage Hildy is a strong female protagonist supported by a cast of interesting, well-written characters. Recommended for age 12 and up.
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Monday, January 12, 2009
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
"The elegant travelling carriage which bore Miss Wychwood from her birthplace, on the border of Somerset and Wiltshire, to her home in Bath, proceeded on its way at a decorous pace." (1)
Lady of Quality's first line may not sparkle as much as Austen's famous one, "IT is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife." But just give it time. Trust me. This one has everything and more that you'd expect in an Austen novel: wit, humor, romance, quirky characters, as well as a few genuinely likable ones.
Such is the case with Lady of Quality. Miss Annis Wychwood is almost thirty years old. And in that time, the Regency period, thirty might as well have been sixty. Spinster is spinster no matter if you're thirty, blond, and witty or wrinkly, gray, and stubborn. But Annis is comfortable in her singleness. Or at least she prefers to see herself as comfortable. It helps that in Annis' situation, she's wealthy enough to have her own house and household. (By household I mean servants and such). If Annis had to live under her brother's roof, well, it would be a different story altogether. She does NOT get along with her brother, Geoffrey, though she does get along in a way with her sister-in-law. Yes, folks might think it a bit strange that she'd rather be independent and living on her own--and a good day's travel away from her brother and his wife--but they've become accustomed to it. But when our novel opens, Annis is about to do something a bit more unexpected, a bit more shocking.
Lucilla Carleton is just a young thing--not even eighteen--when she decides to run away from her aunt. (Her aunt is her primary guardian.) Her aunt wants her to marry the son of her father's best friend. A man, Ninian, that she's practically grown up with. It's not that she doesn't like him. But she doesn't like him like him. At least she says as much. As does he when given the opportunity. (The two like to bicker about how they don't want to be together.) Annis comes across this bickering pair on her way to Bath. Their carriage (or vehicle) has broken down--a problem with one of the wheels. Annis is too much of a lady to leave the poor girl in distress. She invites the young woman to come with her, to stay with her. Through their trip and the first day back at home, Annis hears all about Lucilla, her aunt, Ninian, and his over-bearing parents the Lord and Lady Iverley. Lucilla has runaway it's true but it's because her aunt is passive aggressive. She manipulates through tears and pleas and looks.
What is Annis to do? Welcome her home to this girl she barely knows yet instantly likes? Or send her packing with much tears of distress? She decides that the girl must write a letter to an aunt. She'll be allowed to stay with Miss Wychwood in Bath, it's true, but it's a temporary solution to the girl's problem. But this nice letter home has unattended results. Her aunt being of the nervous sort on the best of days writes a letter--a tear-soaked and illegible letter to the girl's legal guardian--Lucilla's Uncle Oliver. Oliver Carleton.
The last thing Annis expected was to be visited by Oliver Carleton. A man (from London) with the reputation of the worst sort. A truly grumpy, stubborn sort of man who speaks without thinking of the consequences, who enjoys speaking the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth come what may. Obey society's nicety-nice rules? Not a chance! A man with a sharp but witty tongue comes to Bath to get to the bottom of this mess. He doesn't want Lucilla. He's not there to take her away, he's there to investigate this woman, this stranger who has interfered and butted into his business, his family.
Let the fun begin.
Oliver and Annis. Oh the sparks will fly. Despite her claims of being ancient and spinsterly, Oliver can't help thinking that she's entirely unsuitable for chaperoning his niece. She should be the one being courted and pursued and wooed by men. She's beautiful. She's witty. She's intelligent. There's just a certain something about her that he can't ignore. Annis never in a million years thought she'd feel this way, this maddeningly confusingly wonderful feeling. She can't stand him; and yet, she keeps hoping she'll see him again.
For anyone who loves Much Ado About Nothing and/or Pride and Prejudice, Lady of Quality is for you. It is a wonderfully giddy-making novel.
Heyer's novels are rich in detail combining history and romance with wit and charm and some unforgettable characters. If you're looking for a place to start, I'd highly recommend beginning with Lady of Quality.
Monday, January 5, 2009
Friday, January 2, 2009
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
This historical fiction set in Elizabethan England begins with the main character headed toward the city of York to find help from Lady Jenny. Alice Tuckfield has just witnessed two men kill her father in the woods, and is trying to find someplace safe. Near the point of exhaustion, she runs into a boy on the streets of York, who he offers her something to eat. He offers to let her stay the night in their boarding house without the mistress knowing. They hide her in an upstairs closet. The boarding house is full of boys that sing in the church choir.
The boys plan a scheme to see how long they can hide her in the boys choir without Master Frost, the director noticing that she is a girl. They turn Alice into a boy and continue to let her hide in the upstairs closet. Alice realizes that she is in danger when she hears voices talking in the cathedral late at night. They are talking about her, and how they can't find her. They are the murderers of her father and a priest, Father Cooper, is working with them. Alice doesn't know what to do, but she is safe pretending to be a choirboy, but that might change if Father Cooper keeps snooping.
This is a really charming book and a very engaging read. The setting in York is extremely fun. The description of the choirboy's life is fascinating and the historical setting is flawlessly seamed into the story. The author is excellent at characterization. I loved Masters Frost and Kenton just as much as I loved Alice. The boys were fun-loving and playful characters that made Alice's life so interesting and much more exciting. This really is a delightful clean read.
Monday, November 10, 2008
HEALING WATER (Spring 2008)
BEST FRIENDS FOREVER (1995)
There are times when I should just buy the book!
This was one of them. I renewed it at least twice and still paid overdues yesterday when I returned it. (That was after my library gave me a recorded phone notification and a snail mail one too. I think they wanted it back and I don't blame them.
Hugging the Rock is a good book to buy!
I've been wanting to review it for weeks (just as I've wanted to pull weeds in my flowerbeds, clean my house, and do research for my work-in-progress). But sometimes there aren't enough hours to do the things I want.
So, anyway I returned the book and now I will have to write this from memory. Well, actually I did sit in the library parking lot and scribble a few favorite quotes on the back of a deposit slip before I forced myself to take the book inside.
This novel is heartbreakingly sweet and amazingly spare. If I had written this story it would be at least a hundred pages longer. It would take me a whole paragraph to say what Susan Taylor Brown puts in one sentence. It is a verse novel. So eloquent. So reader friendly. So universal in its message.
Rachel's mom abandons her. And who is she left with? Her dad. "The Rock". Just when she needs someone to hold her! Grandmother tries to help but mostly manages to annoy both Rachel and her dad who actually just need to find their new life together.
Hugging the Rock is a long emotional journey told in a short space. I love emotional journeys. And while I tend toward melodrama I also loved the spareness of this story.
Especially the chapter titled Mother's Day. Would it cross my mind to leave the page blank? Never! And if it did, would I be able to follow through? Probably not...I think my favorite quote comes from page 138 -"She did the best she could with what she had in her at the time. " That bit of wisdom about Rachel's missing mom comes from "The Rock". And, while I'm not a psychologist, I declare, it goes a long way toward explaining inexplicable human behavior! (IMHO)
And then there's this - "He hugs me tight and I realize that some rocks have soft spots and that I am melting into him."Ah, I do love rocks. And I loved this book! Gonna' have to buy it for myself.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
I loved the first installment (reviewed here) of Trenton Stewart's Mysterious Benedict Society books and this second installment was pretty fantastic as well. Lots of adventure, thrills, and more of those brilliant children we've all come to love!
Monday, October 27, 2008
I'm giving away two hardcover picture books over at Whimsy Books. Head over and leave a comment by Friday night for a chance to win. If you don't care to have them for yourself, I'm sure you know some lucky little person or picture book-lover who you could give them to for Christmas.
So, go. (I'm hoping to have lots and lots of comments over there.) Good luck!
Monday, October 20, 2008
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
(historical fiction for young adults and older ones too!)
Author Historical Fiction
HEALING WATER (Spring 2008)
BEST FRIENDS FOREVER (1995)
It is 1681 and Meg Moore is often at work in her father’s London bookshop. Her position there puts her in touch with the literary world and agitates her desire to be a writer. However, because she is a woman, her father strictly forbids her to write anything for others to read.
Edward, a family friend, stops in at the bookshop before leaving on a trip to Italy . He asks Meg what gift he can bring her from his travels. Startled, Meg realizes he is suggesting a romantic relationship. She responds by joking that perhaps he will be captured at sea and thus return with an adventure for her to write.
In fact, Edward does get captured and is sold into slavery. Meg’s careless jest haunts her and she begins to raise funds to buy his freedom. Will, who also works in her father’s bookshop, helps her. An infatuation with Will ensues and the two of them envision a future together.
But then Edward returns and he wants Meg to write his story for him. Of course she must do this in secret or she will incur the wrath of her father. Meg and Edward begin meeting in a tavern where he relates his adventure and she writes it down.
But Edward’s experiences do not convey the tale that Meg has imagined. She is disappointed that his story lacks certain dramatic points. When he tells her his Muslim owner was actually a kindly person, Meg must let go of preconceived ideas about the Islamic world.
She discovers then, the writer’s dilemma. She can sensationalize Edward’s story so that it suits her fancy and captures her reader. Or she can render it truthfully, thus opening a window into the broader world. By the same token, Edward learns to trust the author of his story—to let go of particular details in order to shine a light on the more significant aspects of his experience.
I loved this book for the way in which the author slips so much information about time and place so naturally into the story. However, word choice and sentence arrangement convey as much about restoration England as the many historical details provided.
I also treasure the way in which the story, itself, explores what it means to be an author. For Meg, it is about much more than finding and conveying the truth of a narrative. Being a female writer in restoration England has limitations. There are areas in which she has no choice about her life. And yet, Meg is not powerless. In some ways this story is about accepting limitations and in other ways it is about choosing wider horizons.
A True and Faithful Narrative is at once a romance and a story of hard realities. Meg’s life is not all about the bookshop and the essence of writing. She has responsibilities to home and family. Her best friend, Anne (Edward’s sister) is caught in an unhappy marriage which gives Meg reason to examine her own romantic choices.
There are many layers here which will be best appreciated by mature young readers. A True and Faithful Narrative is a book that writers, like myself, will want to own so we can revisit it when in need of inspiration and grounding.
Monday, September 15, 2008
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
Monday, August 25, 2008
Monday, August 18, 2008
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
DISCLAIMER: I decided to review this book here since all the other books in the series are reviewed on Deliciously Clean Reads. However, I do not consider Breaking Dawn a Clean Read. It's full of vampire sex and talk about sex. Every family, of course, must make their own decisions about what books to read, but since a find myself a bit of an advisor when it comes to what is clean...I don't think this book is appropriate for anyone younger than 18. That is my personal opinion.
For the purpose of this site, I have set strict guidelines on what is clean and what is not. Breaking Dawn would not make this cut, but I wanted to discuss it here since I was such a huge fan of the saga until this book and I know many others who were as well.
Friday, August 8, 2008
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
England, A.D. 1377 "In the midst of life comes death." How often did our village priest preach those words. Yet I have also heard that "in the midst of death comes life." If this be a riddle, so was my life. The day after my mother died, the priest and I wrapped her body in a gray shroud and carried her to the village church. Our burden was not great. In life she had been a small woman with little strength. Death made her even less. Her name had been Asta.
Thursday, July 10, 2008
McBratney, Sam. 2008. One Voice, Please: Favorite Read-Aloud Stories.
Review by Becky Laney, frequent contributor.
Becky's Book Reviews
Reading with Becky
One Voice, Please is a delightful gathering of stories--some familiar, some not-so-much--perfect for reading aloud to children of all ages. Family-friendly reading, if you will, that while kid-friendly is not unappealing to adults. Most stories are two to three pages, and could easily be read in a few minutes. This is a good thing. Perfect reading to fill in those gaps during the day when you don't quite have enough time to get settled into a longer book--like a novel or even a traditional picture book.
Originally published in Great Britain in 2005, the collection has recently been published in the U.S. With over fifty stories, there is sure to be something that is just right for your mood. The book would be a great edition to the classroom as well. My personal favorite was "Many Littles Make A Lot."