Sunday, May 29, 2011
By my count, we are 22 weeks into the 52 books in 52 weeks blogging adventure. I counted up on my reading list, and I have read 36 books so far this year. I am slightly ahead. But, there have been several weeks I haven't finished a book. These Outlander books are huge, and I just can't finish one in a week. Fortunately, I throw in some light, easy reads in between for a bit of a break. I haven't read so much nonfiction yet this year. I'm going to have to remedy that when I finish the Outlander series. I like to stay balanced with a little from different genres.
This week, I finished Spring for Susannah, a Christian fiction I reviewed for BookSneeze and enjoyed.
I also reviewed Do Hard Things and I Kissed Dating Goodbye by the various Harris brothers. I am going to have my son read the first and my oldest daughter read both this summer. I didn't write a full review of them because I didn't thoroughly read them, but I was very impressed by what I read, and I would definitely recommend for teens and preteens. I wish I had had them to read when I was that age!
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
When Susannah heads out West as a mail order bride, she is shy and quiet. She doesn't seem at all like a good wife for Jesse, outspoken and strong in his relationship with God. But, as Jesse and Susannah get to know each other, Susannah learns to open up and may learn to become a true Dakota bride.
I really enjoyed this debut novel by Catherine Richmond. It was a light, easy read. The characters were likable. The story was sweet. The message of God's love was clear.
I thought it was slightly predictable and a little forced in the beginning and as a result had a hard time getting into the story at first. But, when I really came to know Susannah and Jesse, I thoroughly enjoyed this one.
I received a free copy of this book for review purposes. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.
Sunday, May 22, 2011
Ah, we are on school vacation, so I finished several books this week:
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen- the very popular book that has been made into a movie
Nick of Time by Tim Downs- a CSIish mystery novel that I thoroughly enjoyed
TJ and the Time Stumblers: New Kid Catastrophes- a children's novel that enjoyed as much as the kids
The Canary List- a not so good read that I reviewed for Waterbrook Press
And, a light, easy reading twaddle book by Deborah Smith that I didn't even take the time to review.
Friday, May 20, 2011
I don't live under a rock (most of the time), so I had heard of the very popular current movie- Water for Elephants- starring none other than Edward (I mean Rob Pattinson). I didn't know that the movie came from a book- until I began seeing said book cropping up in all my favorite book stores and on my Kindle advertisement screen. And I really didn't know the book/movie was about a Depression era circus. When I learned this pertinent information, I had not much desire to read the book because, frankly, a circus? But, I succumbed to peer pressure and the 500th query of, "Have you seen Water for Elephants?", and I read the book.
I'm not sure exactly what I expected, so suppose I could give this novel a "meets expectations" rating. The amount of bad language was quite disturbing as was the fact that I found myself cheering for the main characters in their adulterous affair. (Sorry if that is a spoiler.) Morals aside, I didn't like the way the book jumped from Jacob, our main character, in his 90s in a nursing home, to Jacob in his 20s in the circus. And the book was quite depressing. I suppose I should have expected that, being set in the Depression era. In a circus. I was pleasantly surprised by the ending. (Sorry if that's another spoiler, but I won't detail what happens: just say that the ending was one of the best parts of the book- and not just because it was over.)
On a positive note, I did keep picturing Edward (I mean Rob) as Jacob. (A little confusing eh, Twifans?) And I also enjoy Reese Witherspoon as an actress. (She stars as Marlena, our heroine.) And, I've heard the movie has much less bad language. So, maybe I'll still decide to see it when it comes out on DVD.
Suspense, murder, romance, excitement, and a dash of intrigue: Nick of Time is a great read that has it all!
Nick is a forensic entemologist. His fiance is an unusual dog trainer. When Nick decides to leave town just a few days before their wedding to attend a research meeting, Alena is not too pleased. The resulting adventures, including a murder mystery that Alena is dragged into, may just end their intended wedding.
Nick of Time is a Bug Man novel. I haven't read any of the other Bug Man novels by Downs, but I will certainly be looking for them now. I loved the character of Nick: geeky and odd in a brilliant CSIish sort of way. I was drawn to Alena, living her quiet and secluded life among her dogs in the mountains. I was caught up by the fast-paced action and adventure.
As I've complained before, this was a "Christian" novel that seemed to only pay token homage to a "Christian" message of something out there that Nick was missing and was searching for. That bothered me a bit. I'd prefer to just read it as a secular novel. But, maybe this is just me, and I'm looking for the wrong things in a "Christian" publisher. Maybe it is enough to just have a good, clean, exciting read. And Nick of Time certainly was that!
I received a copy of this book from Thomas Nelson for review purposes. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
TJ and the Time Stumblers: New Kid Catastrophes by Bill Myers is a kid's read published by Tyndale. It is the first in the TJ and the Time Stumblers series. But, don't let that stop you, as an adult from sneaking a read before you pass this one on to your kids.
TJ is starting a new school in Malibu when she meets some stumbling, bumbling time travelers. While the guys try to teach TJ some important things about herself and help her make friends in her new school, they also succeed in making quite a mess of things. But, TJ appears to be stuck with them until they find fuel for their time machine. While TJ puts up with them, she learns some important things about real friends and about not judging people based on appearances.
I loved this! Cute, funny, clean, interesting, it was a super kid's read and lots of fun for me too. It wasn't too directly preachy, but the message about not judging based on outward appearance was loud and clear, complete with Scripture reference. Your kids will love the endearing characters of TJ and her time traveling friends Tuna and Herby. But don't forget to read it before you pass it off to them!
I received a free copy of this book from Tyndale for review purposes. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.
Monday, May 16, 2011
The story begins with Jamie Piper, a young girl haunted by evil. When she runs to her teacher's house for safety, she begins a whole chain of events that lead to false accusations against her teacher, Mr. G, attempts on his life and on that of his neighbor, Nanna, and on Jamie and Mr. G being taken to Rome to the heart of the Vatican to expose evil in high places. Evil, darkness, suspense, cover up in high places. Sounds exciting, right?
But, rather disappointing in the follow through.
First, as I've said before, I don't really like a book that claims to be Christian- published by a Christian publisher- but is vague and noncommittal in its Christian message. I'd much rather read a book by a non-Christian publisher than to read one that has a watered down "Christian" message. The Canary List has much mention of the evils of The Vatican and quite a few references to the supernatural world, but the "Christian" message consists mostly of a few references to a guardian angel and Mr. G's vague hope that he might be in heaven some day.
Even if this novel had been published by a non Christian publisher, I would have had a hard time liking it. It started out very dark in its description of evil. The characters were not very well-developed or likable, and the action was rather predictable. Add to that numerous typo errors (this was an advanced reader copy, and I hope those will be corrected in the final edition!), and there was not much enjoyable about this read.
I will say that I was interested enough in finding out what happened to finish the novel (although I had my doubts for a while), but I wouldn't really recommend it.
I received a free copy of this book from Waterbrook Press for review purposes. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.
Sunday, May 15, 2011
The Fiery Cross was the fifth installment in The Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. I'm sure my readers are getting a little tired of my gushings of praise for each one of these novels, but I must say again, I loved it.
In this book, Jamie and Claire, along with their daughter Brianna and her husband Roger, are facing the beginnings of the Revolutionary War in 18th century America. Jamie, as the head of a small group of settlers on Fraser's Ridge, heads up a militia unit in support of the English crown.
My only complaint about the series, at this point, is that the books seem to be longer and longer. The events seem to be a little drawn out. I still think Gabaldon is a fantastic author who can make characters come alive and make history come alive to her readers. And I deeply love Jamie Fraser, the rough and rugged Scottish Highlander, and his wife Claire, with her wry wit and humor and knowledge of another time. I'm even beginning to love Brianna and Roger more and more- especially with their son, baby Jemmy. I can't wait to read book 6, and I have a feeling I shall greatly miss them all when the series is over.
As always, my brief disclaimer: this series has some adult situations and some adult language. Read with discretion.
Sunday, May 8, 2011
Once again, I have no books to record as finished this week. Sadly I am bogged down in the midst of book 5 of The Outlander series, The Fiery Cross. I am still madly in love with the series, but I am a little concerned that Diana Gabaldon can make one morning of events take four or five chapters of print. We are about four years away from the Revolutionary War here in book 5, and four years could take forever at this rate. Sigh.
So, no books to record this week. I did finish reading Grammar Land(Nesbitt) with the children and am almost finished with The Silver Chair (C.S. Lewis) and Along Came a Dog(Meindert DeJong). If I could record all children's books, I'd be set.
You can check out books other readers did complete at the 52 Books in 52 Weeks blog.
Monday, May 2, 2011
I realized with dismay that I never posted last week. I actually did finish five books last week. Two were children/young adult, but they were long enough to count here, so I've included them. This week I didn't finish a book at all. I am deeply into book five of the Outlander series; and, as it is another long one, I still have a way to read.
So, last week, I finished reading book four in the Outlander series- Drums of Autumn. This was another great installment in my ongoing favorite series.
I also read and reviewed Strings Attached, a young adult fiction novel that I was reviewing for Amazon. It was quite dark and not very appropriate reading for young adults in my opinion.
I read and reviewed The DoppleGanger Chronicles: The First Escape, a children's novel/graphic novel from Tyndale Press. I wasn't impressed with this one either. I thought it rather dark for a children's book and failed to really see how it was a Christian book at all.
On a much more positive note, I read and reviewed Radical Together by David Platt, the author of Radical. Radical Together extended the convicting and thought-provoking ideas of Radical into the church setting. I'm sure I'll be chewing over this one for quite a while.
I also enjoyed The Lightkeeper's Ball, a Christian, historical, romantic suspense. It was a light, easy read by Colleen Coble.
Ahh, so now I am caught up. Perhaps this week I can remember to post at 52 Books in 52 Weeks when (if) I finish this fifth Outlander book!