Tuesday, January 31, 2006


I'm not reading any more of this book. I got 4 bleak chapters into it and felt miserable and angry. I flipped to the end and skimmed the last two chapters, looking for a glimmer of hope and found none.

If there is no promise in a book, I will not read it.

If there is no hope, I will not read it.

If there is not a glimmer of victory for anything right and or just, I will not read it.

The more I read and realize that I'm affected by the stories, the more careful I am about what I pick up. Am I saying that my decisions should be the norm and the what-for for everyone? No, hardly. We're all in different places. This is where I'm at.

My point is, (and my reading preferences stem from the fact that) life in Christ is victorious. We are victorious warriors. I want to read books and soak up stories that promote this mindset. I want to read things that are funny, deep, lighthearted, thought provoking, vacation reading FUN. What makes me laugh and sigh? I want to be entertained, but I want to be entertained in a good way. When I snap the book shut after reading the last few sentences, I want to smile or sit and think. Not be RELIEVED that the horror is finally over.

Therefore I'm not going to read East of Eden. I'm curious to hear what others thinkg of it, but I'm going to spend my time on something else.

Again, this is my own preference (and husband encouragement) and not something I think is a black or white issue. This is just where I'm at and what I'm trying to be careful of for myself.

I'll play with everyone else next month, I guess! ;)

The Things They Carried

Yes, this is a war book. Yes, it's graphic in parts.
(perhaps it's ugly reality will balance out the fake {and yet still ugly} "reality" of "What a Girl Wants"...)

I think it is good to read this book for several reasons:
1. It'll make my life easier. Selfish, I know, but I have to read it for my other book club anyway. ;) Ok, sorry, I'll be serious.

2. I personally know very little (read, nothing) about the war in Vietnam. To be honest, I know little about modern American history, and not much more about American history as a whole. I believe it is good to know our past to help guide the steps of our future. I believe mothers play a big role in shaping the thinking of their children, and it's important to teach them what is worth dying for, and killing for. We must think these things through before we can pass them on.

3. There are men in all our lives: fathers, brothers, husbands, sons. Men are called to different roles than women are called to, like that of soldier. It is helpful for us to accept those roles; and in order to be able to accept, we must (on some level) understand.

Gritty. Honest, particularly in its confusion. Interesting. Sad.
At moments moving, at moments disturbing. Much truth, but no conclusion drawn.
I believe we are able to go a step further than our author, Tim O'Brien, and ask, not so much "was it worth it, was it right, was it wrong?", but "What IS worth dying for, what IS worth killing for, where do we draw the line, by what standard...?"
Many have tried to answer these questions. Maybe it is time we joined the conversation...


March reads are as follows:

1. Mythology, by Edith Hamilton
2. End of the Spear, by Stephen Saint
3. At the Back of the North Wind, by George MacDonald
4. The Bookeepers Apprentice, by Laurie R. King

I have to say - this list looks WORLDS more entertaining than a few of February's books. YAY! I eagerly await getting through February -- before I'll let myself onto March. =)

And a question was asked, "Does whoever finishes a book from February first get to post about it, and everyone else just comments?" The answer to your question is "YES"! That's the reward for finishing first . . .

What A Girl Wants, by Kristin Billerbeck

The best thing about this book is that it's an easy read. So if you liked it, it was fun and light-hearted; and if you didn't, then at least you didn't waste too much time on it. Alas, I fall into the latter category.

I think I've heard this genre described as chick-lit. Chick-lite would be just as appropriate. It's very fluffy and insubstantial, with very little plot (the characters basically wander around Silicon Valley stressing out about jobs, apartments, and relationships), very little or very unbelievable character development, and very unremarkable writing.

It's supposed to be Christian, but the Christianity is very injected and afterthought-ish. Basically, it could have been written as a secular chick flick romance novel, with a few references to Jesus, church, testimony, and prayer penned in. The main character is very self-absorbed and shallow and does not have a Christian worldview: she's basically Bridget Jones, with an occasional obligatory prayer for help.

One of the most annoying features of the writing is the present tense. (For instance: This is so not good news, so I pick up my cell phone and dial my best friend, Brea. "I need a vacation," I announce.) This is trying to be edgy and clever, but just feels sloppy, the more so as the editor/author occasionally lapse and use a past tense verb, which comes out all the more jarring.

Another annoying thing is the oh-so-cutting-edge currency, or relevance, as if the author is sending you not-so-subtle smoke signals proclaiming, "I am cool! I am hip! I am very with-it, culturally speaking, and I know exactly what is going on in your world!" The incessant references to cool stuff (ti-vo, Manolos, Wild at Heart, palm pilots, American Idol) may prove the author's immersion in current pop culture, but will only succeed in making the book hopelessly outdated and so 2004 all that sooner.

Ugh. Okay. This is turning into an essay, and we want nothing so formal. Let me just add that the characters do not act like normal people and far too many things go unexplained. Why does pretty, intelligent, talented Mei Ling want to marry loser Dave? How is loser Dave going to support a wife if he's living with his parents, drives a bus, and smokes dope? Why does Ashley's namesake only come up at the very end of the book, and just like that, she and her mom suddenly bond after being tense all book? What's going to happen to Larry and doesn't Ashley even care about her appliances? Is Dianna really that one-dimensional? Why is John so annoying and why did Brea ever marry such a milksop?

Oh, and because the book's back cover promised us three men pursuing our dauntless heroine, the book must throw us an obligatory third man, but he just turns up for one lunch date during which it turns out he's been married twice and has kids from previous marriages, so there's no soul-wrenching angst over that angle. So it's not even well-written bad writing.

Why does this book annoy me so much? Even when I was single, I never acted like this. (I was never a patent attorney in Silicon Valley, either, though; nor was I one of five daughters in middle-class Regency England but I happily identify with Elizabeth Bennet.) I guess I don't want single girls reading this kind of stuff for inspiration. Ashley is just like you; single, confused, lonely, wanting to be content and wanting to please God; just dream on, kiss a few guys, keep praying and whining to your best friend and eventually everything will fall into place. The book doesn't give us any real moral, nor is the protagonist a heroine to emulate. It's just kind of...blah.

But, as I said, it's an easy read. And, to its credit, it kept me reading, if only to find out how the whole thing ended...although the ending felt so contrived.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006


Hey all,

You'll notice the sidebar has been changed to reflect the next month's read (so you can reserve them at your library or do whatever it is you want to do....

1. What a Girl Wants, by Kristin Billerbeck
2. East of Eden, by John Steinbeck**
3. The Things They Carried, by Tim O'Brien
4. Deadline, by Randy Alcorn

Aaaand because I like looking ahead in one month increments (I DO have to put books on hold at the library sometimes in order to accomplish my reading goals.) I would propose the following for March:

1. Mythology, by Edith Hamilton (per Erika's earlier suggestion)
2. End of the Spear, by Stephen Saint (because I HAVE to read this now!)
3. Back of the North Wind, by George MacDonald (because its short and I've been wanting to); and
4. Something at Sky's Suggestion ;)

Happy Reading!

** BTW, when I was trying to find a picture on Amazon of East of Eden I noticed it was on Oprah's book club. I will ignore this fact and read it anyway...though normally that is indication to me that the book will be depressing and dull. Will, you'll pay if I end up depressed after a week of it! ;D

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Murder Must Advertise

I have always loved Sir Peter. I haven’t read all of the books yet and this one was new to me, the setting of the advertising world was perfect for his scary middle name and his ability to get wrapped up in the darkest alleyways of crime. As usual Dorothy Sayers brings in so many main, side and trivial characters that you have no idea who is going to pop onto the convicted list. I love how in depth she goes. Coo! What a wordy woman she must have been! I can always tell I have been reading Sayers, my vocabulary takes on such words as ‘anticipatory’ and ‘intolerable’ when speaking of my morning coffee and oatmeal. How droll the humor, how in depth the crime!
I would list my favorite Wimsey stories but I love them all!

Laurie R King has Sir Peter in one of her Mary Russel and Sherlock Holmes mysteries. I think in ‘Kingdom Hall’.

A very suitable read for acuppa and scones!

Monday, January 09, 2006

The Iliad

"Even so, harken ye also, for better it is to harken."
Though I have read this before I always get a kick out of it. I understand it's inspiration to writers, artists and archeologists but I just love rolling the words off my tongue as they form quite grotesque sentences and a very in depth story. Slewing and blood are on every page as are heartfelt you-have offended-me-I-shall-slay-you-and-all-yours speeches. And there seems to be alot of lust among those Greeks, Trojans and gods. And I love horses so there is that element to feed my imagination on.
All in all entertaining but I have to make myself sit down and read it. It's not one of those books that I can easily ingulf myself in as I do laundry, watch the boys, feed everyone and keep the house clean. Dorothy Sayers on the other hand...

Saturday, January 07, 2006


Per Rose's suggestion, I read Asterix the Gaul. I can see why Rose liked it, although I can't say that I thoroughly enjoyed it. I was very surprised when it arrived via interlibrary loan to find that it's basically a comic book! (I can't wait to hear Rose's comments.)I opened it up at the library counter and stared at Jonathan. "ROSE recommended this?!?! This isn't what I was expecting!"

I have very little to say about it except for that it reads like a pun and if you know anything about Roman history you will probably get a huge kick out of it. I know very little about Roman history so my guess is that I haven't appreciated it for what it is. I'll let Rose write more about this one. Actually -- I'm entirely under the assumption that I am not appreciating this book as I ought. So Rose, please comment and fill us all in on why you like it and what is particularly enjoyable to you about it.

I CAN say that I few parts had me laughing outloud. For a quick, easy read (30 minutse tops?) that will most definitely produce a snicker or two -- read it. It will not hurt you.

Monday, January 02, 2006


This book was suggested by my friend Stephen for my January reading list. It came early via interlibrary loan so I read it today. Very quick read. Jonathan thought it was dry. I thought it was interesting. I think I personally know a mnemonist, which made reading this book fascinating.

The book is a study of a guy "S" who has a rather remarkable memory. It explains how he thinks (i.e., how he can memorize)and discusses his memory short comings and his personality.

In short, this book is really hard to comment on. S thought in terms of colors and sounds. He gave numbers personalities to remember number sequences. I am sure that all of us bear some of these traits. I've given numbers personalities for as long as I can remember. Example: 12-5= 7. In my head that reads: A snobby brat - the average person = the perfect gentlemen. Address numbers can be soap operas in my head! That's how I remember numbers....if I bother trying to remember anything at all!

When reading this book I decided that personality wise, S and I would never get along. He seemed to "righteously absentminded" to me and therefore I had a hard time liking him. In other words, he seemed rather boorishly proud of his talent and didn't seem to pay much attention to anyone else. I thought it was interesting to read about how he thinks, but I would never want to get to know him personally. The last chapter is all out S's personality and it pretty much confirmed my impression of him.

Anyway! For a quick and interesting read (like, 1 hour of your time!) I can highly recommend this book.