Thursday, May 20, 2010

Updating the reading log!

I realize my blog is mainly just a book log - I never feel like I have anything of great interest to share! However - these authors have things of great interest. This is my list from January 1 - April 30. My goal is always 100 books in a year, though if I were to start reading "hard" books I'd be willing to sacrifice that number! The rating after the title is the 1-5 score, with 1 almost never showing up (if it is that bad, I don't finish it) and 5 being almost life-changing!

And here it is:

READING LIST 2010

JANUARY

1. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society – 5 – Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows – one of the best books I’ve read in a long time – I expected it to be fluffy from the title, but it was not – the story, told through letters, of the Nazi occupation of Guernsey, and how the local people survived. Excellent, excellent.

2. Elephant Run – 4.5 – Roland Smith – story of a young man in Burma during WWII. When the Japanese occupies his home he and his father are taken prisoner. Learned so much about the “other war” in WWII that we don’t hear as much about – the war in the Pacific with Japan.

3. Soft Rain – 2.5 – - story of a young Cherokee girl and her family during the forced relocation of their people (Trail of Tears). Pre-read for the boys US History, but I don’t think I’ll bother having them read this one – I’m sure we can find something better, even in juvenile historical fiction.

4. White Picket Fences – 3 – Susan Meissner – way too many coincidences in this one. This is the second Meissner book in a row that I have not really cared for. Like the last, too easy and simple a conclusion, too many obvious and clich├ęd events.

5. Time and Again – 3 – Jack Finney – supposed to be a great sci-fi time travel classic. The time travel story was great, but the book could have been ½ as long – pages and pages of descriptions of minutiae – I skimmed past a whole lot of it. Definitely not getting the sequel!

6. A Poisoned Season – 4.75- Tasha Alexander – 2nd in the Lady Emily Ashton mystery series. Not a false step in this one. Romantic without being mushy, illectual intrigue, and none of the “amazing coincidences” in so many mysteries.

7. Fatal Waltz – 4.75 – Tasha Alexander – 3rd in the Lady Emily Ashton series. Love, love, love them.

8. Intervention – 3.5- Terri Blackstock – read for book club. Fast-paced story that kept you turning pages, but overall pretty “light”.



FEBRUARY
9. The Kings of New York: A Year Among the Geeks, Oddball, and Geniuses Who Make Up America’s Top High School Chess Team – 3.5 - Weinreb – interesting but not great. It was written by a sports writer, and I never really got a feel for who the kids were. Also, the writer has a serious hate for GW Bush. Okay, we get it already! Any chance he got, he managed to insert Pres. Bush into the narrative.

10. Tears of Pearl – 4.5 – Tasha Alexander – not quite as good as the first three – Emily is married now, and has been welcomed into the diplomatic circles as an “investigator” – takes a little of the edge off of her.

11. Homeland – 4 – Barbara Hambly – letters between a Southern woman and a Northern woman immediately before, during and after the Civil War.

12. Anne of the Island – 4 – LM Montgomery – 3rd in the Anne of Green Gables series. Very good, once you get used to how they talk! Anne is away at college in this one.

13. Artemis Fowl – 3.5 – Eric Colefer – adventures of Artemis Fowl, 12 year old criminal mastermind. Read aloud with the older boys. They liked it – I enjoyed it. It had some “crude” jokes and minor cursing.

14. The Remedy for Regret – 3.5 – Susan Meissner – it was okay. No where near as good as some of her others, but better than the last one. Her books are Christian fiction, but most of them are not evangelical – more about getting right with God than salvation. They seem to end with the main characters at the start of their walk with God. They are better written than say, the Yada Yada prayer group books, but I don’t enjoy them anywhere near as much.

MARCH

15. Thicker Than Blood – 4.5 – C.J. Darlington – very good Christian fiction – it was thisclose to being a 5 – story a Christy, a woman with a drinking problem and a past, who reunites with the sister she hasn’t seen in 15 years. First novel, written by a homeschool graduate. I am going to recommend it for my church book discussion group.

16. Still Life – 5 – Louise Penny- excellent murder mystery – very funny, but not a “cozy” mystery – just incredibly well-written with very real characters. First in a series with Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Quebec homicide division.

17. The Great Turkey Walk – 4 – Kathleen Karr – historical fiction read aloud with the boys. Very enjoyable and funny, the story of Simon Green who purchases 1,000 turkeys and walks them from Union, MO to Denver in 1860. Reminded me quite a bit of By The Great Horn Spoon! by Sid Fleishman, that same kind of humor.

18. revolution – 4.5 – George Barna – quick read about a movement among Christians who are leaving established churches and the Sunday morning routine and its’ clutter and bureaucracy to live a life based on 24/7 discipleship. Very interesting and inspiring – points out the differences between the church (building/structure) and being the Church.

19. Aunt Dimity Down Under – 4 – Nancy Atherton – very light Aunt Dimity mystery – no dead bodies, just a hunt for a missing person, all across New Zealand. Fun little books.

20. A Fatal Grace – 5 – Louise Penny – the second adventure of Inspector Armand Gamache’ in the village of Three Pines. Even better than the first. The only caveat I would add is that there is some profanity and the majority of the characters are not Christian. I know that this would eliminate the books for some readers. But I absolutely love these books. The characters are so real, and you really get to know and have empathy for them. And while they are murder mysteries, they are like Agatha Christie – good story and plot, but none of the “over the top” gore and sex that is so prevalent in recent popular authors. I don’t read anything like that (ie, Alex Cross mysteries, etc.)

21. The Cruellest Month – 5 – Louise Penny – third in the series – maybe even better, though this time I was pretty sure who the murderer was.

22. What About Church?Guidelines for Fellowship in the Home Schooling Family and the Home Church Alternative – 4 – Jeff Barth – someone “gifted” me with this book when they sent me a selection on paperbackswap. It has been on my shelf for a few years. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about church, how our family (who seems to be more peculiar all the time) fits in, corporate worship, etc. While I don’t see us (at this time) as being home churchers, it was an interesting book and certainly gave me food for thought, and helped solidify some of the things that I have been thinking about.

23. The Rule Against Murder – 4.75 – Louise Penny - #4 in the series. Just a tiniest bit not as good as the first three. But only tiny.

APRIL

24. A Brutal Telling – 4.75 – Louise Penny - #5 in the series. Very good, though kind of weird. Didn’t like the ending. Looking forward to her next book in the series.

25. Death of a Gossip – 4 - M.C. Beaton – first in the Hamish Macbeth series. Pretty good mystery. Better than Rhys Bowen’s Constable Evans series (which it reminds me of), but not as good as Louise Penny or Laurie R. King. I am going to keep moving on with the series, though.

26. Will The Real Heretics Please Stand Up: A New Look at Today’s Evangelical Church in the Light of Early Christianity – 3.5 – David W. Bercot – interesting and very readable, but I don’t think I agree with him. His premise is that the early church (prior to Constantine) is the only true and accurate church – the church changed with Constantine, then markedly with the Councils and Augustine. Felt Augustine was in error, the Roman Catholic Church was in error, the Reformers (especially Luther) were in error for going back to Augustine, instead of earlier Church fathers (Clement, Justin Martyr, Polycarp). Annabaptists were true to early church teachings, until they became accepted and compromised with the world. Basically, the closest he can find to the early church in doctrine are Amish/Mennonite, but they are too caught up in externals.
I have a hard time with these sorts of books because I always want to know who was RIGHT – and unless you are willing to spend years studying ECF writings, history, etc. (all of which is presented from different perspectives) you never really get to draw a conclusion beyond “Well, that is what THAT guy believes, anyway!”

27. Eve’s Daughters – 5 – Lynn Austin – excellent book – story of four generations of women in one family, and the way their choices affected the lives of the generations after. Not at all sweet/soppy, just a good story.

28. Live A Little: Breaking the Rules Won’t Break Your Health – 4 – Love, Domar – “Eat a brownie, blow off your run, stay up late, stop worrying about your health” – I usually don’t read health/diet books because they all seem to disagree on so many things, and tend to be so dogmatic. This was a fun read, though. It was about living life in moderation, and being “pretty healthy” for whatever age you are. Discussed how much of the “proven research” really isn’t proven (no one can say definitively how much sleep an individual needs – it is very individual!) or who pays for research (who paid for the research that has had us eating blueberries by the bowlful for their antioxidants? Blueberry growers, go figure). Light and reassuring, with quizzes and sections on healthy attitudes towards eating, sleep, stress, relationships, exercise and health screenings.

29. The Weed That Strings The Hangman’s Bag – 4.5 – Alan Bradley – second book in the Flavia de Luce mystery series. I love Flavia. She is 11 years old, in England in the early 1950s. She is brilliant – fascinated by chemistry, especially poisons. And she solves mysteries, with nothing more than her brain, observational abilities and trusty bike name Gladys. I love this kid. Looking forward to #3!

30. Eli – 4.75 – Bill Myers – what if Jesus was born in 1970? What would the Messiah look like, what would his ministry be, who would be his followers? Who would he anger? Who would kill him? Excellent, fast-paced, thought-provoking book!