Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Books of 2010 - December

I managed to pack quite a bit of reading into December - it turns out, all that travel is good for something.

The Blind Contessa's New Machine: A Novel1. The Blind Contessa's New Machine. Fiction by Carey Wallace. I'd seen some other bloggers talking about this one. I'm still not sure what I thought of it - the prose was sometimes beautiful, sometimes so-so. It's almost too short for a novel and too long for a short story and the story left me somehow unsettled.

Sacred Influence: How God Uses Wives to Shape the Souls of Their Husbands2. Sacred Influence:How God Uses Wives to Shape the Souls of Their Husbands. Non-fiction by Gary Thomas. Gary Thomas is always thought provoking. (I highly recommend his book Sacred Marriage) Definitely not a "do these three things and everything will be better" type writer, which is a good thing when the subject is marriage. As I was reading this book I asked Prince Charming why so many books are about what the wife can do to improve the marriage. His reply was less than encouraging. (Side note: I am so very thankful to be married to a good man, who shares his life with me and is willing to work on our relationship, even though it is, of course, already amazing)

Darcy's Voyage: A tale of uncharted love on the open seas (Pride & Prejudice Continues)3. Darcy's Voyage. Fiction by Kara Louise. OK, as you well know, I'm a sucker for all things Jane Austen. Unfortunately, slapping the names "Darcy" and "Elizabeth" on your characters does not a "re-telling" of Pride and Prejudice make. POV was all over the place in this effort and there was the ever annoying cutsey trope of "they have to be married for convenience" that is so popular in Christian fiction (presumably so that if anything "happens" their reputations remain spotless. However, no one seems to question the morality of getting married for "convenience"). I'm not sure how these self published titles keep getting picked up by actual publishers but I must assume there are no editors harmed in the making of these books. [Note to self: write story with no plot and no originality of thought and slap names "Mr. Darcy" and "Elizabeth Bennet" on main characters. Will sell. Will also cause Miss Austen to roll in her grave but you can live with that, right?]

The Mystery of Edwin Drood (Thrift Edition)4. The Mystery of Edwin Drood (free public domain version also available here). Fiction by Charles Dickens. I've already mentioned this, but I finished my Dickens challenge! I was actually disappointed that this novel was unfinished. Dickens seemed to be on his "A game" here and I would dearly like to know what he intended to happen. Fortunately (or unfortunately, as the case may be) people love to speculate about this one, and some have even published their answers. (See #6 below)

Music in the Hills5. Music in the Hills. Fiction by D.E. Stevenson. Second in a series. I enjoy these vintage British fiction books. If you like Miss Read (ahem, Mom) you'd probably like these too. Sweet but not too sweet, funny but not slapstick and enough detail to make one feel a longing for days of yore.

The Drood Murder Case: Five Studies in Dicken's Edwin Drood6. The Drood Murder Case: Five Studies in Dicken's Edwin Drood. Non-fiction by Richard Baker. Mr. Baker's answers, opinions, and various thoughts on and about Dickens' unfinished work Edwin Drood. Not sure I agree with his conclusions, but he almost certainly put a lot more time and effort into the matter than I have so far or ever will.

A Darcy Christmas7. A Darcy Christmas. Fiction by Amanda Grange, Sharon Lathan & Carolyn Eberhart. I know, I know. These three stories were of varying quality (the best, no surprise, being the one by Ms. Grange, second in this compilation). The first effort, a story combining Pride and Prejudice with A Christmas Carol - and thereby managing to steal from two masters at once, which takes a certain talent - was rather clever at times, too.

Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy8. Bonhoeffer:  Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy. Non-fiction by Eric Metaxas. Loaned to me by my dad, whose review can be seen here. If you read one biography this year, let it be this - you won't regret it. Powerful! Metaxas has a light touch (I particularly enjoy the sudden twists of wry humor) but also a thorough coverage and understanding of his subject. I found myself wishing it could go on longer, realizing once again both the brevity of life and the brutality of sin (not to mention the Nazis!). I've already ordered Metaxas' biography of William Wilberforce from our library, based on the strength of this book. Please read it!

Shoulder the Sky; A Story of Winter in the Hills: A Story of Winter in the Hills9. Shoulder the Sky. Fiction by D.E. Stevenson. Third in a series (see #5 above). Same gentle charm but not, perhaps, as good as the first two in the series.

Jesus: A Biography from a Believer.10. Jesus: A Biography from a Believer. Non-fiction by Paul Johnson. I respect Mr. Johnson's work as an historian. I suspect we would disagree on many theological points. I'm not sure of the intended audience for this book. Those with a secular bent will most likely not read it or agree with any of it if they did read through it. Those with a spiritual outlook most likely have their own beliefs, theology, and commentaries to consult and therefore will not agree with much of this book either. (I'm in the latter category, in case you couldn't tell) I applaud upholding the life of Jesus as historical fact but I cannot say more than that about this book.

The Songs of Hollywood11. The Songs of Hollywood. Non-fiction by Philip Furia & Laurie Patterson. An entertaining but surprisingly scholarly work. Good for those researching the subject or those who simply love musicals (me!).

Totals for December:
Fiction: 6, including 1 Dickens novel, thereby finishing them all! Maybe I should read the shorter works now?
Non-fiction: 5

This post contains Amazon Associate links. Any action taken with these links could result in compensation for me. Opinions are my own and I encourage you to check your library or Paperback Swap first - these books are worth it!  


MacKenzie said...

I think I'll have to check out The Songs of Hollywood. I'm always low of non-fiction books to read and I love musicals.

Karabeth Baptist Homeschool said...

So noted! Thanks for the hint. :)

Anonymous said...

What a great resource!

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