Saturday, 19 February 2011

Seaside Letters ~ Denise Hunter

Sebrina is a kind, sweet waitress at a small town cafe. Everybody knows her at the cafe and loves her. Sabrina has fallen in love with Tucker, who comes to the cafe every morning. Tucker seems oblivious to Sabrina but Sabrina has a secret.  She has been e-mailing Tucker (without revealing who she really is) and she has made him fall in love with her. Tucker is so in love with this girl that he's been e-mailing that he "hires" Sabrina to help him find this "mystery" girl. Little does Sabrina know, however, that Tucker is keeping secrets of his own. And from out of nowhere we learn of Sabrina's past and why she's afraid to tell Tucker that the girl he's e-mailing is actually her.

I just loved this book.  I loved Denise Hunter's style of writing.  It had me from the first paragraph. It is a love story, so if you're not interested in reading loves stories, I'd steer clear of this one.  But, as I've said, I just thoroughly enjoyed it!

Extreme Devotion ~ Voice of the Marytrs

A daily devotional book for one year, this book has one story or quote a day to remind us that people are suffering for Christ.  Not just suffering as we think of suffering (not enough money, people don't like us, we live so far from family and friends) but hard extreme suffering: death, beatings, starvation, watching loved ones and family members being tortured. This book is a real eye-opener and also a reminder for us to pray for our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ who do truly suffer for Christ's name.

Wind in The Willows ~ Kenneth Grahame

We are first introduced to Mole. A sweet, kind, caring animal who has started his spring cleaning.  Feeling an itch to know what's above and outside of his home he digs up, up and up until he reaches the surface. We then are introduced to Rat, another kindred spirit who befriends Mole. After a while we learn of Mr. Badger and Toad.  Many adventures are recorded about Mole and Ratty. Such wonderful friends.  But as the story continues we learn of Toad. What a careless, reckless and thoughtless animal he is. He gets himself into a heap of trouble far away from his dear Toad Hall. Will he find his way home again? Is there any hope for such a wayward Toad? And the big climax at the end has you wondering if four such friends can save a house from hundreds of pesky weasels.

This book took me a little while to get through.  It doesn't, necessarily, grab your attention and carry it all the way through. It's a delightful read and an enjoyable relaxing book.  It was a bit rough in spots.  Grahame can get a little carried away with descriptions and such and it is written in an older English style.  But enjoyable and fun, just the same.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Sense and Sensibility ~ Jane Austen

Elinor and Marianne Dashwood are two penniless sisters who encounter trials in life and love. They weather the storm of those trials though, and they emerge as mature and fulfilled women.
I recently reread this novel, and I enjoyed it every bit as much as the first time I read it 15 years ago. One thing that really struck me this time through was how cruel and selfish so many of the characters acted. John and Fanny Dashwood are extremely conceited and careless of others’ feelings; it makes the reader cringe. But it makes the Dashwood sisters’ triumphs that much more celebratory. You want them to have a happy ending so badly, and when it materializes for both sisters you can’t help but rejoice. Another thing I like about this novel is that amidst the bad characters are truly selfless people--people who conduct their lives with dignity and integrity--and those characters have happy endings too.

The story ends joyfully. What else can you ask for? :)

Pride and Prejudice ~ Jane Austen

We’re all familiar with this famous love story between Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennett. But since I have never written a review on it, and I just reread the story over Christmas, I decided now was a great time to post my thoughts. :)

I like this book immensely. Ms. Austen does a great job of developing the characters personalities; you feel that you are embodying Elizabeth as you read her thoughts. Austen does not describe the characters’ physical characteristics though. I suppose she wanted us readers to determine for ourselves whether Elizabeth was a brunette or a redhead; whether Mr. Bingley had a beard, etc.

The book is long, as is most classic literature, but it is worth persevering to the end when the two main characters finally come together. Personally after having read it so much I pay most attention to the dialogue, which is really the highlight of this book. There are several areas though where it would have been beneficial if Austen had told us who was speaking. I had to reread parts of the conversation so I could decipher who said what.

Another aspect of this story that I truly love is all the letters. Darcy’s letter of defense written to Lizzie is a pivotal point in the novel. Giving the reader important information via a letter makes the book feel more intimate.

I would encourage everyone to read this novel just once. It really is worth all the hype surrounding it.

And Then There Were None ~ Agatha Christie

In this short mystery story ten strangers are brought to an island and left there for the weekend without any contact with the adjoining town. One by one the strangers die, and the culprit seems to be enjoying themselves. The island is searched by the remaining people, but they discover there is no one else on the island but themselves. Who is the master in charge of this dangerous game?
This book was a fast-read. And it is also entertaining; you want to keep reading so you can find out who the killer is. And there was a surprise ending. Overall a decent book.

The Alchemist ~ Paulo Coelho

This book follows the adventure of a young Spanish shepherd. He is on a quest to fulfill his “personal journey” to the Egyptian pyramids. Once there he hopes to find a treasure, thus his purpose in life will be realized.
If the above summary left you confused you aren’t alone. I read this whole book without really understanding the plot or the point in general that the author was trying to make. Basically, it’s a book filled with new age mysticism blended with Jewish and Muslim ideas. The author makes the statement that everyone has a “personal journey” that they’re on, and if they recognize what that journey is then all of creation will work together to help them achieve it. But along with that the author writes, “Where your treasure is there your heart will be.“ Sound familiar? As a Christian I found myself thinking often, “No. That’s wrong”, or “Well, that tiny tidbit is accurate”, etc. I could see many people being lead astray by the ideas in this book. Avoid it.

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea ~Jules Verne

It is the year 1866. Captain Nemo has shunned life on land and opted for a continual life at sea aboard his amazing submarine the Nautilus. Unfortunately he takes on board 3 prisoners, and they join him for almost a year under the ocean; observing the strange and fanciful flora and fauna that exist under the waves.
Jules Verne must not have employed an editor. This book was basically a glorified science book. Two-thirds of the story consisted of Verne describing the various fish and plants he thought existed in the oceans of the world. The other one-third was actual story-line. The story itself was alright. It’s written from the point-of-view of one of the captured prisoners, and obviously adventures do take place aboard the Nautilus. But those adventures are written in a manner that makes them less thrilling than they could have been in more capable hands.

I had two versions of this story: and abridged edition and the original full-length text. If you are at all interested in this book I would highly recommend reading the abridged version as it sticks with the story itself and doesn’t include the majority of the sea-life descriptions.