Friday, 26 February 2010

Catcher in the Rye ~ J. D. Salinger

Maybe you are like me in that you have heard of this novel, but you've never read it. It's fame has also piqued your interest. Well, that is how I decided I was going to read this book. And that is also how I found out that this book is not worth reading. :)
Here's the gist: the novel chronicles a weekend in the life of prep school attendee Holden Caulfield. He has been kicked out of another school, but he doesn't want to go home to his soon-to-be disappointed parents. Instead he spends the weekend in New York City. There isn't a real strong plot to the story. It is told in the first person point of view, and the entire book is basically just Holden giving you his thoughts on life. He has been committed to a mental institution because he has had a nervous breakdown, and it seems that he has been instructed to write down the events that led to his breakdown.
This novel is filled with very frank observations regarding people, and Salinger uses a lot of coarse language. A lot. I understand that he was trying to convey a strong character, and when you read the book it does come across that Holden would speak that way. But it was beyond excessive. Also, because Holden is only sixteen, and the novel is written in a manner that Holden himself is telling the story, there is a lot of repetition of words and phrases.
I will give Salinger credit in that he certainly makes the reader believe that a 16 year-old is telling a story rather than a 25 year-old writer. But the bad language makes this book one to be avoided.

Pauline's Passion and Punishment ~ Louisa May Alcott

Synopsis: The title character, Pauline, has been wronged in love, and she uses her womanly wiles to seek revenge against the offending man. With a hunger that is almost demonic, Pauline stops at nothing to make the man atone for what he has done to her.
After reading A Long Fatal Love Chase I vowed that I had to find more of Alcott’s lesser known thrillers. I was intrigued by that book because it was such a stark contrast to Little Women and its subsequent novels, and the ending was very surprising.
I hunted around and found the massive book Louisa May Alcott Unmasked: Collected Thrillers at my local library. I was specifically looking for the short story Pauline’s Passion and Punishment. And it IS a short story: only 30 pages long. But don’t let its lack of length make you think it was brief in plot development. I found this tale to be unusual, and I don‘t mean that as a bad thing. It was an expected story of love and revenge. I thought I had the ending figured out, but Alcott surprised me once again.
I will definitely be reading more of these suspenseful stories. Alcott is truly a versatile writer.

Atonement ~ Ian McEwan

Robbie and Cecilia grew up together in a manner house in England. He being the son of one of the servants and she the privileged daughter of his mother’s employer. And as usually happens in stories the two fall in love, despite their circumstances in life. But fate decreed that the two lovers should not be together, and Robbie is falsely accused of a crime the very night he professes his love. Robbie is sent to prison for several years, and after his release he joins the military to help fight the second World War. Cecilia joins the war effort as well, as a nurse. They meet up with one another before Robbie leaves for France, and they vow that they will be together when he comes back. But both will become victims to the war, and their love will be unrequited.

I watched this movie a year ago, and I was so moved by the story that after it ended I sat staring at the television while the tears flowed down my face. I watched the DVD extras and discovered that the movie was based upon a book of the same title. Naturally I put the novel on my “must read” list.
Well…it’s NOT a must read. I couldn’t even finish this book. It was excessively wordy and descriptive. McEwan gives the reader so much back-story, and it was just unnecessary information. I tend to like to skip ahead to the dialogue, but there was very little conversation during the first seven chapters. I put the book down to take a break from it, and even two weeks later I dreaded the thought of picking it back up again so much that I decided not to. I already knew the entire plot so what was the point?
This was one of those rare instances where the movie was better than the book. Skip it.

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Monday Morning Faith ~ Lori Copeland

40-year-old Johanna is comfortable with the life she's built for herself. A librarian who lives at home to take care of her aging parents. The only thing that bothers her, an aunt who thinks Johanna should be married and makes her opinion known.
But when "Tom Selleck" appears and steals her heart, she's beginning to think maybe her life has turned around and she's not sure if she likes it.
The only thing "wrong" with "Tom Selleck" is that he's headed to Papua New Guinea to be a missionary Dr.
Johanna tries to convince herself she's not in love with him. But when he asks her to go with him, she knows she does actually love him.
Rather shocked and unsure, she finds herself on her way to Papua New Guinea, even though she's 100% sure God's will for her life is not to be a missionary.
Life there, for three weeks, is so totally different from everything she's ever known, reassuring her (or so she thinks) that God's will for her isn't for missions and she starts to question why she's there. She is so far from her comfort zone.
Struggle after struggle tests her faith and when an unexpected tragedy strikes, she knows what she must do ... even if it means "Tom Selleck" is not for her?
Can she really trust and follow the God these missionaries love so dear?
This is another one I enjoyed. Maybe not as much as "A Mile in My Flip-Flops" but it was a good read. There were a couple parts in this one that had me giggling, as well.
I recommend this one, too.

Stranded in Paradise ~ Lori Copeland

Is it possible for almost everything that could go wrong to actually go wrong? It is if you're Tess Nelson.
Tess is a successful, in control of her life business woman.
But when things start to crumble and things she can't control happen, she panics.
She decides she needs a break and flies to Hawaii.
But problem after problem is piled onto her stressful life.
Then to top it off, a handsome, kind of annoying man, also on vacation in Hawaii, keeps crossing her path.
Event after event pushes them together and she keeps seeing that this man has something she does not, a true reliance on God.
When a hurricane that is headed straight for the island throws them together again, she realizes just how strong his faith is and the peace and joy God brings.
Can she truly give up control of her life and trust this God to take control?
I enjoyed this book. Copeland did a good job of keeping the story interesting and exciting. I would recommend this book.

A Mile in My Flip-Flops ~ Melody Carlson

Gretchen, abandoned a few weeks before her wedding by her fiancée, is depressed, gaining wight, eating ice cream to her heart's delight and learning everything about house remodeling and construction ... or that is, everything that one can learn from watching reality T.V. 24/7 in her cramped little apartment with her over sized dog who loves to eat expensive shoes.
Deciding something has got to change, she decides she's going to buy a house, fix it up and sell it. A house flip! Just like on T.V.!
Everything goes great ... at least, that is, until the loan goes through on the house and she starts to work.
Maybe things aren't as easy as they look on the T.V.. Her father, a retired contractor, helps in anyway he can, but things happen and he calls a buddy of his to help out.
Gretchen isn't sure about her father's friend but the deadline on the house is inching closer and she seems to have no other option.
Can she finish the house in time and overcome the ache and pain in her heart at her failed "happily ever after"?
There was one scene that could have been left, but over all I just loved this book! I liked the way Carlson wrote in this one. I thought it was sweet, but also funny. Several times it had me laughing right out loud.
I recommend this book.

The Atonement Child ~ Francine Rivers

One dark evening, as Dinah is walking back to college from work, her mind and heart are thanking God for His goodness to her. A child of God, she praises Him for saving her. For giving her wonderful parents and a godly, amazing fiancée.
Her life seems perfect, until that night she's raped and to her greater horror, she becomes pregnant.
Will she have the abortion her family and friends are pressing her to have? Does God care about her any more?
This well written book is full of surprises in the form of secret after secret that are revealed in the characters.
This book is overly descriptive in some parts, but nothing tragic.
I was getting frustrated with the character's "faith" in the beginning and middle of the book, but was relieved and happy with how they all end up responding to God in the end.
I enjoyed this book the first time I read it and also this time through as well. Definitely a book for adults, however.

My Utmost for His Highest ~ Oswald Chambers

A devotional for one year, this book is a quick read each day. Although Oswald is sometimes hard to understand with how He writes, most of the time he's fairly easy to understand.
I will say, although I learned quite a bit from him, there are many things that I disagree with him on.
But over all it was a good book.
I would recommend reading this book, as long as you are careful to not swallow everything he says without knowing what the Bible says.

Elizabeth Prentiss 'More Love to Thee' ~ Sharon James

Reading "Stepping Heavenward" made me a fan of Elizabeth Prentiss. So when this biography of Elizabeth Prentiss, by Sharon James, was given to me, I was excited to get started.
It was well written and very educational. The one thing that kind of was interesting to me was that James was not afraid of showing a few points where Elizabeth missed the mark. She showed that Elizabeth was, in fact, human.
Reading about Elizabeth was hard, as sorrow upon sorrow seemed to be heaped upon her, but also very encouraging because James made sure to point out Elizabeth's unending, strong trust in Jesus.
Quoiting many things from Elizabeth, James gently shows us the heart of Mrs. Prentiss. I highly recommend this book.

Eight Cousins ~ Louisa May Alcott

Orphaned as a young girl, Rose goes to live on the "Aunt Hill," the hill endearingly called so by those in the area. Her six aunts live on this hill, each with their own family. Each, also, have their own ideas of how to raise her and as she has no parents, and her guardian uncle is on his way back from across the seas, she is subject to obey them.
But soon, Dr. Alec, her guardian uncle, comes and blows her aunts ideas out of the water.
Adjusting to the new care instructions underway she also is trying to figure out how she, an only child, feels about her 7 rambunctious boy cousins.
I really enjoyed this book. I was quite taken with all the characters. I wholly recommend it to any one. I think a young child could even understand it, if it was read to them. It's just a sweet story.