Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Book Review

With all of the Flossy Finching I've been doing, I've done a lot more listening than reading books lately. So, first, the audio books that have brought some cerebral stimulation to an otherwise monotonous task.


Great Expectations by Charles Dickens: Well, if nothing else, this one sure brought about a steamy post :). Really, I loved this book. It's so Dickens with all of its unforgettable characters, gloomy English hardships, and unsuspected twists. It's a classic, need I say more?


The Enneagram by Richard Rohr: Do you want to be fascinated? Do you want to change the way you relate to people? Do you want to understand why you respond to stress like you do? Do you want to become a number :)? Taylor's (my sister) in-laws (Mrs. Lee you seem like so much more than that horrible title!) gave me these CDs. The Enneagram is an oral tradition that has been passed down...forever (seemingly) among different people groups. To make it as simplistic as possible: Everyone falls under a number, 1 through 9, and once you discover which number you are, you discover what you always knew but were afraid to admit--even to yourself--why you act like you do. No, really, why. It's FASCINATING, and for any of you out there who know what I'm talking about, I'm a one...surprise, surprise :) And, just think how much more patient you could be with your spouse if you found out why they acted so weird ;)


The Twilight Series by Stephanie Meyer: I am humiliated to list these books, but I COULD NOT stop listening to them. If you received your Flossy Finch order in double fast time, it was probably because I was stitching like a drug addict so that I would have an excuse to listen to these books. They are ridiculous. They are poorly written. They are, as my friend Melissa said, teenage porn. BUT they are good. Yes, they are about vampires, werewolves, and their love affair with a human girl (what in the world?!), but somehow you will not be able to get enough of Bella, Edward, Jacob and all their oddities. Honestly, I thought that the writing got better in the last two books...or maybe I'd just become accustomed to bad writing by that point :)


Tipperary by Frank Delaney: I got this book because I asked the librarian over here at the crest-hood library if they had any classics in the audio books section and she said, "What do you mean, like Nicholas Sparks?" I saw we weren't getting anywhere fast, and since Pace and Dapples were actively pulling books off the shelves behind me, I grabbed this, because...the cover at least looked like it was set in another time period. While it was set in Ireland at the turn of the century, and while I did totally identify with the narrator's deep love of the land, it was slow, SLOW. If you made a Flossy Finch order and it was weeks late, it was probably because I had a hard time making myself sit down and listen to this book.


Just After Sunset by Stephen King: This is a collection of short stories by Stephen King. I'd heard from several different people that, despite his normal subject matter, Stephen King really was a great writer. I'd been wanting to test the truth of that statement for years, but was too chicken to commit to reading one of his horrors as I lay in bed at night. So, when I was looking for something for Jeremiah and I to listen to on our road trip a few weeks ago, this sounded like the perfect thing. Mystery/horror AND short-stories, Jeremiah's favorites, and for me, a way to read King and still have strong arms to hold me if I got scared.


He is a good writer. I actually cried in the prologue, as he described the beginning of his life as a writer and why he HAS to write. I went into it open-minded, even giving him the benefit of the doubt, but you can't spend three-fourths of a story describing the step by step mutilation/attempted rape of the narrator and expect me to LIKE it. Everything seemed about the suspense...even if it wasn't scary...and after a while that will wear on your nerves even if you aren't a chicken and you like blood and gore...which I don't.



Now, the books I took the time to actually read.


Villette by Charlotte Bronte: This was a hard one. I love Jane Eyre, and I liked this book, but it was hard to get through--with all its French phrases that I didn't understand (was every educated English girl fluent in French, because I felt like an idiot?) and heroine that never did one heroic act. I just wanted to slap her around and say, "Stand up for yourself dadgummit, because nobody else is and you're growing more pathetic by the moment!"

It had its good moments, when I just knew things were about to start looking up for the puny little heroine...but it never really got better. And the ending, after all that committed reading, was HORRIBLE. Artistic, probably, but don't drag me through the mire and then leave me with so little resolution. I don't care how artistic you think you are.


China Court by Rumer Godden: Loved LOVED LOVED this book. Wrote a post about it here.


Mornings on Horseback by David McCullough: Biographies are not generally my thing. Even McCullough biographies. Jeremiah loves them, my Dad can't get enough of them...I just don't get it. I mean, I understand that it is nice to feel like you are actually learning something...historical while you do your pleasure reading. It's just so dry! normally.

However, while I did not zip through this book, unable to put it down, I did genuinely like it. The Roosevelt family, break it down one member at a time, is SO MUCH like Jeremiah's family that it was fascinating to me. Now, everybody's lives in the Maddox clan are not over, and I hope that they all come to better ends than most of the Roosevelts, but just talking personalities...it's scary. And the hardships Teddy has to overcome to become the man we now know him to be, is amazing. I cried like a baby (in the middle of the Denver airport to be exact) when Greatheart died. And then again (in the air this time), as Teddie said goodbye to two of the dearest women in his life. As far as biographies go, it is definitely a winner.


Mythology by Edith Hamilton: Do you feel stupid when you read classic books and over and over they make mythological references that mean NOTHING to you? I do. And I was ready to do something about it. This book is supposed to be the most reader friendly AND comprehensive collection of mythological tales. Now, I most certainly did not get through the whole book, but I did read enough that I feel much more educated, and I now have it as a nice little reference book waiting for me on my bookshelf the next time I start feeling insecure.


A Speckled Bird by Augusta Evans Wilson: High Victorian. I say that every time I review one of this author's books, but it's true. There is drama, and fainting, and love stories that work out despite ALL the odds. I love it, and I love this Southern, female writer. I have a pet theory that she was insecure about her lack of proper education, and therefore feels the need to use every big word and mythological reference she can come up with to try to prove to us all that she really is smart. Go ahead and keep Edith Hamilton beside you on the couch for this one :) (And if you didn't notice, it was this book I was celebrating in that last post).


The first half of this book is not as good as the second half, but persevere, because if you do then you get this in the ever-so-dramatic conclusion (this is the hero professing his love to our heroine):

"I will not accept compassion or friendly sympathy. All--or none. I want love--love that brings a pure woman gladly to her husband's breast. Once you took some solemn vows for me, invoking the presence of the Lord you worship. Now, trusting you implicitly, knowing you will not deceive me, I must ask you to give me one final pledge. If you cannot love me as I wish--if your heart, your whole heart, will never belong to me--then, calling God to witness the truth of your words, look me straight in the eyes and tell me so."

She trembled, shut her eyes, and, as a rich red rushed into her white cheeks, she covered her face with her hands.

A gust of wind shook the mimosa, and on her bowed head drifted the pink silk filaments, powdering her brown coil and puffs.

Very gently Mr. Herriott took the trembling little hands, kissed the palms, and, drawing her slowly, tenderly toward him, lifted her arms to his neck, holding them there.

With a low broken cry she surrendered.

"Mr. Noel, you have broken my heart."

He waited to steady his voice.

"My proud darling, there seemed no other way. When it heals, please God, I shall have my thrown inside."

8 comments:

Darby said...

Abby, Please tell me it's taken you 2 years to read all these books?!! I think the Mornings on Horseback is actually Justin's... he loves that book! I really can't comment on any of the books because I haven't read any of them... but I love the pictures. Sad I missed y'all on Sunday... sounds like it was an adventure and BEAUTIFUL! And it looks beautiful! Come back again soon... ok!?

melissa richie said...

just linked you!!! thanks for writing these, once again. i alway come away with a new list of "must reads"...at the top of it is that teenage porn :) i'm about to break down and listen to them...

.jennifer. said...

Wonderful reviews. I felt the same way about the Twilight series - horribly written and I was ashamed to admit how they consumed me. I do feel that the writing was much better in the third and fourth books. Couldn't get enough! (I thought the movie was horrible but I blame it on a bad director.)

Lindsey said...

i'm always looking for good books to read so thanks for the reviews. i have to confess i just finished the twilight series. i just couldn't stop until it was over. i do have a few theories as to why people are so drawn to them... i think nicholas sparks would be thrilled to know he's considered among the "classics":). those latest pictures of the girls at the farm were so beautiful!

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Blueprint Bliss said...

I love your book reviews. I always print them out and take them to the library with me.

I have resisted the Twilight series... so far.

Have your copy of China Court. It's been a busy few months. Starting it tonight!!

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andi said...

Truly amazing!!!! I am so curious how long it took you to read those books?