Friday, September 29, 2006

Fall Reading Challenge: Part 2

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I and a multitude of people are taking the Fall into Reading Challenge by Katrina. It's not too late to join in on the reading extravaganza! And your list doesn't have to be long either. It just has to name a few of the books that you want to read.

Knowing that we are all reading so much, I only thought (okay, Susanne totally told me to do this) it would be helpful if we could write our opinions about the books we have read. I sure don't want to waste my time reading a book that isn't all that.

Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo is really a lovely children's tale of overcoming a sorrow-filled past. Opal not only has to deal with the rejection from her mother, but she is also dealing with moving to a new town, making new friends and trying to find solace in a retreating father, the new preacher in town. Opal would have to say that Winn-Dixie was a helper through it all. It's comical, sweet and uplifting, not to mention very well-written (something that often gets thrown by the wayside in children's books). It is one that every child should read.

Jan Karon's Mitford series so far has been a delight. A Light In The Window was a great follow up to At Home in Mitford. It's sweet and inviting, full of lively characters that you can come to adore. I admit there were times that I wanted to smack Father Tim and Cynthia for their stubbornness, but they eventually come to see truth and hope in the end. One of my favorite things about the series (so far) is that it is well written without the need to interject circumstances that go against a Christian nature. It's a Christian book without the title. Such a refreshing experience since many books feel the need to throw in foul language and sex just to keep a story going. The reading is light and easy and the story (and sub-stories) are effortless to follow. If you want to just dip your toes into the realm of fiction without any philisophical or heavy words pulling you down, then I highly recommend this series.

Have you ever found an author that you enjoyed so much that you automatically pick up the next book out by that author? That's the way I feel about Geraldine Brooks. She is an exquisite storyteller, spinning great yarns that has me feeling as if I actually know the characters in the book. She made me care for the characters, crying when they hurt, laughing in their mirth and basically making me emote on behalf of the protagonists. She did this to me with Year of Wonders, a tender, entwining story about the black plague, told from an perceptive and compassionate woman's point of view. I couldn't put it down when I read it.

So when
March: a novel came out, I grabbed that book up quicker than a shopper who has eyed the last 10 year anniversary Tickle Me Elmo. And often, I like to read books without knowing a thing about them, especially if they are written by an author I love. When I picked up March, I opened to the first page of Chapter One and delved into the fray. Imagine my surprise when in Chapter 4, the protagonist, who is writing letters to home during the Civil War and recalling some of the gifts that the family sent to him, thinks about the erratic sewing done by Jo. My brain said, "Jo + bad sewing= Little Women. Does the author realize this connection? Hey, his name is March. Is this a book being written from the viewpoint of the March's father?" The very next paragraph confirmed it as she had written about Meg, Beth and Amy, not to mention to Marmee. I opened to the cover and began to read the synopsis. If I had done that in the first place, I would have known that this is the exact idea of the story.

Now I want to state that the book is well-written and beautiful in its description of situations and details. It is full and will make you have a bevy of emotions. It will make you think about the characterization of Marmee and the mostly non-existent father in Little Women. If these thing appeal to you, then I recommend this book.

But if like me, you wish for those beloved characters to remain wholesome and unmarred by the nature of the world, then I suggest you leave this book on the shelf. Mr. March, although modeled after Louisa May Alcott's father (as the Little Women are modeled after her family), is most unlikable in that he is weak and selfish and untruthful to his family. He is very self-serving and self-centered, which seems to run contrary to his role as a Calvinist chaplin in the army. And he is a bit unlikable as a man, making cowardly decisions and stupid blunders due to being self-centered. Marmee turns into an angry tempest at a moment's notice and is such a martyr in her role of "wife." She is not as wholesome and as strong a woman as pictured in Little Women. Although I liked the presentation and molding of the book and can find no fault in the storytelling, I did not care for it. And sometimes, authors should just leave a beloved family alone.

These are the books in progress, so if you want to know about any of these books, check in later for a quick review.

Affinity by Waters, Sarah
Say Good Night To Insomnia by Jacobs, Gregg D
A Rift in Time by Phillips, Michael
Financial Peace University by Ramsey, Dave
Captivating by Eldredge, John and Stasi
the remainder of the Bible - from Galatians on

You can check here to see what books I'll be reviewing all the way through December. Maybe you'll find some that you can't wait to get your hands on too.


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