Book Review: The Lost Art of Mixing

Product DetailsThis is the third book I’ve read by Erica Bauermeister. It is my third favorite of her books. My favorite is Joy for Beginners, next The School of Essential Ingredients. The Lost Art of Mixing has some of the same characters as School and I liked that. I enjoy reading how characters have continued on after the end of a book I’ve enjoyed.

Erica Bauermeister seems to like to have each chapter feature a certain character and continue her plot thread through those characters. It worked in the previous two books, but for this book, I found it to be a disjointed approach. I felt as if I was reading a compilation of short stories with a similar, though minor, thread. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t a bad story, just not as good as the ones of hers I’ve read before. You, also, don’t have to have read The School of Essential Ingredients to understand what is happening in The Lost Art of Mixing.

If you only have time to read one of Ms. Bauermeister’s books, then I’d recommend Joy for Beginners. It is a wonderful book. You can read my little write-up about it here.

The book’s description from Amazon (since I couldn’t quite figure out how to explain it):

Lillian and her restaurant have a way of drawing people together. There’s Al, the accountant who finds meaning in numbers and ritual; Chloe, a budding chef who hasn’t learned to trust after heartbreak; Finnegan, quiet and steady as a tree, who can disappear into the background despite his massive height; Louise, Al’s wife, whose anger simmers just below the boiling point; and Isabelle, whose memories are slowly slipping from her grasp. And there’s Lillian herself, whose life has taken a turn she didn’t expect. . . .
Their lives collide and mix with those around them, sometimes joining in effortless connections, at other times sifting together and separating again, creating a family that is chosen, not given.

For my 2013 reading goal, I am keeping up with one fiction book per month. I am also linking up with the Deliberate Reader for her 2013 Reading Challenge.

January’s read–The Quarryman’s Wife

February’s read–Better Than Chocolate

Those are my thoughts for today.

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2013 Reading Challenge–my non-fiction check-in

Initially for my non-fiction books, I was going to read some classics. There was a list put out in 2000 of the top 100 Christian books of the previous century. I’ve long wanted to wade through that list and that was my intent for 2013.

But, as with most resolutions, I changed my mind. As I was looking at my e-reader and my bookshelves, I realized I had quite a few great non-fiction selections right at my finger tips. No need to go to the public library or our library at church or try to find the book on-line. So, instead of the classics, I am going to read what I already have purchased.

First up is Everything by Mary DeMuth. As I previously stated in my earlier post, I didn’t intend to read both my fiction and non-fiction books in January by the same author. It just happened.

I enjoyed and got a lot more out of Everything than I did The Quarryman’s Wife (my fiction selection).

1400203988rgbDeMuth states her reason for this book: “As I’ve pondered my journey and mined the pathways of Everything Christians—those who learned the secret of giving Him every part of their lives—I’ve realized something–Some folks grow while others stagnate. Why? What causes growthlessness? What, on the other hand, makes people more Jesusy—more like Him? My exploration of the whys behind that kind of radical change forms the framework of this book.” And explores it she does. She looks at three areas of our liveswhere we need to give God Everything in order to live the life He has for us: (1) Head–What we think; (2) Heart–Who we are; (3) Hands–How we live

DeMuth’s basic question throughout the book is “What accounts for maturity, the hallmark of growth? Why do some languish and while others thrive?” And a good question it is. Not only when looking at other believers, but at ourselves, too. Why do we thrive and grow like a weed in our faith sometimes and why during other times are we stagnant like a scummy pond?

DeMuth tells us that what we think about God matters; how we allow Him to reign in our hearts matters; and how we obey Him in the moment matters.

She covers each of the three areas very well. My copy has a lot of highlighting in it–my test of a book that is worth reading and can offer lessons to be learned. It did take me awhile to get through it. Don’t know why, probably life getting in the way, but you might want to allow some time for reading Everything so that you can get the most out of it and take time to digest what DeMuth is teaching.

One of my favorite lines in the book:

We may live ordinary lives, but we are indwelt by an extraordinary God.

I’m participating in the Deliberate Reader’s 2013 reading challenge. I’ve linked up there. If you’d like to join in on the challenge, go here.

Those are my thoughts for today.

2013 Reading Challenge–February check-in

2013 Reading Challenge Progress

For 2013, my goal was to read one fiction and one non-fiction book each month. For January, I met my goal for one fiction book; however, I am still reading my non-fiction book so will have to write a review of that one later in the month.

I did not intentionally plan to read both my fiction and non-fiction books by the same author, but it just happened. Both of them are by Mary DeMuth, a blogger that I follow. For my fiction read of the month, I read her first novel, The Quarryman’s Wife. For my non-fiction choice, I read her newest submission Everything.

 

I started The Quarryman’s Wife sometime in the fall. At that time, it didn’t keep my attention. After Christmas, when I was trying to find something to read, I ran across this book on my e-reader and decided to give it another try. This is a memoir based on DeMuth’s great-grandmother. Just like the main character, Augusta, DeMuth’s great-grandmother lost her husband and had to raise her children as a widow.

The time-frame for the novel is the depression. The setting is Ohio. However, I found myself losing track of where the family lived and what time period we were in. Now, that might be a good thing, making the novel universal. But, I found it to be distracting as I was constantly trying to remember when and where the characters were placed.

I, also, had a hard time being sympathetic to Augusta. I don’t think DeMuth expressed her grief well enough for me to empathize. I also had a hard time remembering the six children and their birth order. I did like the youngest son John-John. His character seemed to be the most fleshed out. I was also taken with the secondary character of Olya who was from the Ukraine and wanted to get her family here to the United States. I found myself wanting to know more about Olya and her husband (who was hurt in the same quarry accident which killed Augusta’s husband) and hoping her family could come to the U.S.

The novel was a little long for me. I felt like things could have been wrapped up sooner and that all of the side stories with each of the children caused some disconnect with the main story, which was how Augusta was dealing with her grief and trying to raise six children on her own. As I said before, I didn’t find much empathy with her maybe because her story just didn’t seem to be emphasized enough for being the main character.

DeMuth, herself, says on her web site, that she probably won’t write an historical fiction novel again. She has several other novels she has written since The Quarryman’s Wife. I don’t know if I’ll try them or not.

I am enjoying Everything, my non-fiction read and also by DeMuth, so maybe that is her strength.

For February’s fiction book, I am reading Better Than Chocolate by Sheila Roberts. Check back at the beginning of March to see how I like that one (so far, better than The Quarryman’s Wife).

Those are my thoughts for today.

My resolutions for 2013

I don’t really like making “resolutions.” I think resolutions are made to be broken. There seems to be an inherent move toward failure when one makes a “resolution.” However, I couldn’t come up with a better word, so I’m making resolutions this year.

I think it’s good to take stock in our life every once in awhile. We need to look at the areas of our life that need improvement, but also give ourselves pats on the back for the things we have accomplished and milestones we have met.

For me, 2012 was a year of milestones:

  1. I turned 50.
  2. I became a grandmother.
  3. I played in a tennis tournament in Indianapolis during my first year of USTA sanctioned league play.
  4. I “retired” as a homeschool mom.
  5. I started making new friends in this new phase of life.
  6. I found that I have a lot more grace, patience, and flexibility in me than I thought.
  7. I started an on-line ministry with a new friend for empty nesting women.

Having looked back over 2012, I am looking ahead to 2013 with anticipation and excitement about what God has in store for me. I know I can make all the plans and resolutions I want, but if they are not in God’s plan and will for my life, they will be for naught. I’ve prayed over the past week seeking God’s guidance in this and these are the things I believe He is telling me to work on for the coming year. I also feel strongly that these things can change at any time in the year. Life happens and I’ve learned that holding too tightly to a “list” doesn’t allow me the freedom to be open to the Holy Spirit and direction He wants me to go in.

Here are my resolutions for 2013:

Spiritual

I need to continue in my effort to be more intentional to be in God’s Word daily. The last three months of 2012, I started making some changes to this area of my life. I went back to Bible Study Fellowship, because of any Bible study for women that I know of, BSF provides the best method of daily Bible study. Plus, I missed the interaction with women who love the word of God as much as I do. But, I still need to work on doing my lesson each and every day.

Jerry Minor's Stack

In 2012, I started reading the Bible through in a year. I had never done this before. I used the Chronological Bible on-line readings. I made it most of the way through the Old Testament, but then faltered. Since I am studying Genesis in BSF, I’ve decided I’ve been Old Testament “heavy” and need to do a reading plan for the New Testament. I’ve signed up for an on-line read through the New Testament in a year plan. I’ve also decided to read it in the NASB instead of the NIV to make the words not as familiar. This way, maybe, I’ll pay closer attention instead of reading some of the passages by rote. This I do in the evening when I crawl into bed, before reading my fiction books.

For the mornings, I’ve started using Charles Stanley’s Early Light devotionals provided in his monthly In Touch magazine. I’ve come to really like Dr. Stanley’s thoughts and he often nudges me in areas where I am weak and need to take action.

I also want to be much more intentional in my prayer life. I used to have a daily prayer time and loved to intercede for others. But, over the years, I have weakened in this area and now pray “when the spirit (not Spirit) moves me.” I need to change this area of my life.

Physical

Tennis Rackets Vector Image

In the summer of 2011, I started going to an athletic club to work out. With my 50th birthday looming, I wanted to get in better shape to live the rest of my life healthy and strong. I continued going to group exercise classes in 2012, but in the early part of the year, I started playing tennis. The club I go to has a special skills practice on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. I am a regular at those. Plus, I started playing in a women’s league. The competition helped me to improve my game and gave me the chance to make new friends. I greatly miss seeing my friends if I miss a Tuesday or Thursday morning. Tennis has become a passion for me. I’m not a real great player. My USTA ranking is low, but boy do I have fun and I’ve seen myself improve greatly over the year.

For 2013, I want to continue playing as much tennis as possible and to go up one step in my ranking.

However, for all the tennis playing I do. I don’t think I’m getting as good of a workout as I used to by going to the group exercise classes. So, for 2013, I want to add two classes per week (at least) to my physical workouts and not just rely on tennis for my physical fitness.

I also want to use the weight machines at the club to strengthen my arms and legs to help me in my tennis game. I might have to limit my social time after tennisize each Tuesday and Thursday, but it’ll be worth it.

Mental

I love to read. Right now, my reading is mostly fiction books. I’d like to add non-fiction books to that list.

The Deliberate Reader, a blogger that I follow, has put forth a challenge for 2013. She has asked those of us who read her to join along in her challenge. We do not have to do the same thing she is, just to challenge ourselves in 2013.

So, here is my challenge to myself. To read one fiction book each month. I have a backlog of these on my e-reader. Plus, I like to read the books from the She Reads on-line group, so finding fiction books to read won’t be a problem.

The challenge will be non-fiction books. I have quite a few writing, blogging, etc. type of books waiting for me to read. But for this challenge, I’m not going to include those. Instead, I want to read the books listed  in Christianity Today‘s list of Top 100 Christian faith books of the century. This list was published in 2000. I’ve kept it since then wanting to make my way through them. Well, 2013 is my year. I want to check off as many as I can. The only one from the list that I have read completely, is C. S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity, so I have a lot to choose from. My goal is one of these books each month. Hopefully, I can do more, but 12 is my goal.

DeliberateReader The Deliberate Reader is having link-ups each month to report on how we are doing with our challenge. So, each month you’ll find out how I am doing. You can join along with the challenge, by clicking on the button and joining in.

What resolutions do you have for 2013?

What accomplishments from 2012 are you proud of?

Share with us in the comments section and we can hold each other accountable plus share in your joys of 2012.

Those are my thoughts for today.

Linking up at Christian Mommy Blogger.
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