Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Books of 2008 - August

1. The Winter of Her Discontent. Fiction by Kathryn Miller Haines. Series mystery. I read the first of this series back in May. I think this one may have been stronger than the first but the dependence on period slang is still annoying and the plots are growing more and more far fetched.

2. Happiness is a Choice (For Teens). Non-fiction by Paul Meier. I was reading this to see if I would recommend it to my teenage friends. Short answer: yes, I would.

3. The Joy of Family Traditions. Non-fiction by Jennifer Trainer Thompson. Disappointing. I prefer Sarah Ban Breathnach's Mrs. Sharp's traditions to this book. Update: thanks to the author for responding. This may not have been my favorite book but others may enjoy the fact that it is explaining the history of some traditions more than suggesting ways to observe holidays.

4. Why the Allies Won. Non-fiction by Richard Overy. Mr. Overy is always a good, enlightening read and this book is no exception.

5. Remember Me? Fiction by Sophie Kinsella. Frothy but not as frothy as her shopaholic series. Flighty heroine but not as flighty as Becky Bloomwood. Interesting premise. Predictable dialog and plot points. A fun, quick read and a welcome departure from the shopaholic series. (Please, spare us any more of Becky Bloomwood's "adventures"!)

6. Looking for Anne of Green Gables. Non-fiction by Irene Gammel. Interesting look at L.M. Montgomery and Anne. The author belabors the Evelyn Nesbit connection and seems most interested in any Sapphic overtones (undertones?). My reading and albeit limited research suggests to me that Montgomery's genius is under-rated and yet, I would not have liked to have known her. She doesn't strike me as a good friend or acquaintance, which is a shame, considering the sweet friendships she wrote about.

7. Mary Barton. Fiction by Elizabeth Gaskell. Gaskell's first success, predating my beloved North and South. Mrs. Gaskell's books are wordy and moralistic compared to Jane Austen. They seem "heavier" somehow. And yet, they are good reads. As ever, when reading Gaskell, don't get attached. That character you love is probably a goner.

8. The Body in the Gallery. Fiction by Katherine Hall Page. Series mystery. I've read nearly all - if not all - the books in this series. I'm not sure why. Habit? Faith Fairchild is one of the most unlikeable main characters / sleuths in mystery-dom. She is always right. She is smug beyond belief. She snaps at her husband, her children, her annoying Yankee neighbors, and nearly anyone else populating her book. This book is filled with the author's thinly veiled liberal politics. The mystery is not compelling and is closed up unsatisfyingly quickly. I'm not even sure I could tell you the conclusion.

9. The Moon in the Mango Tree. Fiction by Pamela Binnings Ewen. I wanted to like this book. It's historical fiction, one of my favorite genres. It has interesting locations (Siam and 1920's Europe). The heroine's difficult choices would have been more compelling if the hero's character had been at all developed. Barbara remains self-centered and whiny. Harvey is never "fleshed out". I never saw why Barbara loved him, why she was conflicted about whether or not to leave him, why he cared about her. Although marketed as Christian fiction, I could not understand such a designation for this book. The heroine is entranced first by Buddhist ideas and then by modern relativism and hedonism. And, as far as I could see, she never practices a life of faith. Overall: disappointing and not recommended.

10. Ham Biscuits, Hostess Gowns, & Other Southern Specialties. Non-fiction by Julia Reed. A collection of essays and recipes. I didn't copy down any of the recipes so I judge this book a failure by that standard.

11. Twilight. Fiction by Stephenie Meyer. Also:

12. New Moon. Fiction by Stephenie Meyer. Okay, these two books were loaned to me by my sister, who thinks they are "so romantic". Maybe I was just in a grouchy mood but I didn't see any evidence of romance in these two books. I saw a selfish, self-serving connection (called love). These books are very popular with teens right now. My advice to you, if you have teenagers, is to read them so you can see what's going on. I will not be reading the last two (although I admit I read about them online, just to see where the author went. I was not pleased.)

13. Sacred Marriage. Non-fiction by Gary Thomas. This could have something to do with my reaction to the 2 above books. This book is very helpful for re-aligning selfish ideas of marriage with the godly and biblical design. In my opinion, this book is not as good as Emerson Eggerich's book, Love and Respect but it is still worth reading and challenging.

14. Watching the English. Non-fiction by Kate Fox. An anthropologist's look at her own country. Sometimes sad, sometimes hysterically funny ("What do we want? Gradual change! When do we want it? In due course!"). This is not a vacation guide or a quick and easy read. But it is engaging and packed with topics of interest.

15. I Never Metaphor I Didn't Like. Non-fiction by Mardy Grothe. Amusing and occasionally thought provoking collection of quotes.

16. By His Own Might: The Battles of Beowulf. Fiction adapted by Dorothy Hosford. Polly and I read this to each other last week as part of our history studies. Not difficult to read, once you determine how to pronounce all those names, but it is written in King James English style. As someone who managed to avoid Beowulf 'til now, I really enjoyed this. Polly also read a picture book version of Beowulf. And, may I just say, even the picture book was far superior to the recent movie. Prince Charming and I watched the movie a few months ago and I'm still trying to purge it from my memory. Beowulf is a hero! Not whatever it was that movie turned him into. Just example #5,731 of "Read the book. Skip the movie."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sorry you found my book disappointing! I too enjoyed Mrs. Sharp's traditions, but they were 100 years old, and in The Joy of Family Traditions I wanted to incorporate new as well as old traditions for today's families. I had such fun The Joy of Family Traditions-- of course I had to live those traditions for 10 years before I could really write the book, and so first gave birth to our son and adopted our daughter from Guatemala. As we approach fall, there are so many simple traditions to do -- picking apples in an orchard, writing a "Congratulations to our big 4th grader!" on your daughter's door when she comes home from her first day at school, harvesting pumpkins -- as we enter into this great season of harvest and thanksgiving. Jennifer Trainer Thompson

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