Monday, April 1, 2013

March 2013 Bookshelf

Resurrection in May by Lisa Samson

I really like Lisa Samson.  So far every book of hers that I have read, which I believe might be all of them now that I have finished this one, has been impactful to me.
This book is a journey with May from her college graduation to her early 30's.  It is a glimpse into the death of her flesh life and her resurrection of her spiritual life. Through several people May is loved and shown the love of God and as she heals from a horrible tragedy and grows she begins to unfold from her tight cocoon. I'm finding it hard to come up with words to describe this book.  It was good but I feel at a loss!
Samson is a great writer, in my opinion. She develops her characters right on pace and in relate-able ways. Her story lines are engaging.  Her messages, weaved within the books, are compelling.  I'm a fan for sure.  :)




Softly and Tenderly by Sara Evans with Rachel Hauck

This is book 2 in the Songbird series by recording artist Sara Evans.  I ran across book 1 a year or more ago and have been waiting for book 2, and 3, to be released.
Jade and Max from book 1 are now married and looking to create their own family.  But before they can create their own family they have some family problems to work through between their parents and each other.  Secrets are revealed in painful and shocking ways (since when are secrets ever revealed in gentle and kind ways?) and the fall out from those must be worked through in order for Jade and Max to move forward.
I'm enjoying this series by Evans, with Rachel Hauck co-authoring.  The character development is decent, the story line engaging and realistic, and the messages of faith sincere.




Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson

What a dull book.  No character development, no real story line or plot, no use of any other kind of writing outside of descriptives. What an extremely dull book.  As the reader I didn't care one bit about any of the characters.  By the end of the book the narrator of it, Ruth, and her Aunt Sylvie reminded me of the Edith Beale's (mother and daughter) and their story.  Fascinating and creepy but Ruth and Sylvie weren't fascinating, just creepy.
The short of the long is that Ruth and her sister Lucille have been left in the care of a string of female relatives after their mother goes missing.  All the women in this family are odd.  Maybe it's depression?  Maybe it's something else.  The reader never really knows because there is not much character development, none to really speak of, so we never have any idea why these female characters are so strange.  The back of the book describes Ruth and Lucille's journey as one toward adulthood.  It also takes liberty with a summary of the book.  The summary is pretty much a lie as is this journey toward adulthood that the girls are supposedly on.  The book was simply a book full of descriptives.  I felt like Robinson got out a Thesaurus and just started writing using all descriptions.  And the things she described weren't even interesting nor did a lot of them have anything to do with the story.
What a dull book.  I ended up skimming the last half.




The Will of Wisteria by Denise Hildreth

So I seem to be a sucker for Hildreth's books.  Maybe it's because they are set in the South.  Maybe it's because they are filled with small town charm. Maybe it's just because Hildreth writes a good book. Her character development and story lines are well paced and engaging.
Four siblings are given an unusual assignment for the next year of their lives.  If they fulfill it they will receive the inheritance their father set aside for them.  If they don't fulfill it they get nothing. Their father, from beyond this life, is hoping to impart to them wisdom one final time.  The book follows all four of them through the course of the year.  At the end of it they gather once again for the will reading.  Who succeeded and who, if any of them, failed?
I really enjoy, as I said above, Hildreth's books.  They are filled with realistic accounts of faith and realistic story lines.  Could this have happened?  Sure, why not?  What would we each do if we were "forced" to take a year and live it differently than the way we live now?




Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader by Anne Fadiman

What does a lover of books do?  Read, and write, books about books!  Of course!  It makes sense to me but if you aren't reliant upon reading for your sanity then you just might not get it.
Fadiman calls herself a "common reader".  I am here, after reading her book about books, to say that she is NOT a "common" reader.  She takes reading to a whole different level than I ever have considered. People consider me to be a reader and I am here to say that I most definitely am a common reader but Fadiman is not.  She is a super reader. She is the kind of reader I wished I could be but never will be.  She has a library that rivals a bookstore.  Between she and her husband they have upwards of 5,000 books!  In their NYC apartment!  Plus they manage to live there with their two children.  I'm not sure how they do it.  But no matter.
Fadiman's common confessions aren't common at all.  But it's nice of her to try and make us lowly readers think so. I relate to all of her essays on the lowest level possible.  Her chapter on proofreading had me laughing...yes, out loud...because I do the same thing. I naturally proofread any kind of text that comes in my sights.  Her chapter on plagiarism was witty and clever and had me laughing...yes, again out loud.
She's an easy author to read, which in this case means she writes well, she's engaging and humorous.  It was a fun book to read, if you're into that sort of thing.




Love Lifted Me by Sara Evans with Rachel Hauck

The final book of the Songbird series by recording artist Sara Evans, Love Lifted Me, completes the story of Max and Jade.  It is a typical ending, one that you would expect.  Truthfully it reminded me in several ways of Friday Night Lights but then again I wonder if any book or movie or show that features Texas High School Football is going to do that.  This one seemed harder for me to get through but then again life has been a little nutty for me and reading hasn't been a priority in light of other responsibilities.  :)  I'm glad to have read the series but I'm glad to also be done.  I can't imagine that a fourth book would have been a good idea.  However, the series was good and the characters were especially well developed. Nice effort Sara Evans, nice effort.



The Air We Breathe by Christa Parrish

This is my first read of Parrish and I really liked it.  It's also her newest book so I'll have to pick up her previous two at some point.
Molly and Louise are a mother and daughter who live on remote Dorsett Island in Maine.  Only heavily populated in the summer with tourists, it serves as the perfect place to live for Molly, who hasn't been outdoors in about 5 years.  Molly has holed up in her home and allows fear of the past to keep her in hiding.  The story of Molly and Louise comes out slowly through a series of chapters that serve as flashbacks told from two different POVs.  Louise's voice is not one of those.  Parrish enters another character, Claire, who serves as the second POV.  How she and Molly's stories are weaved together is part of the plot development.
At first the way Parrish decided to construct the back story through the flashbacks was kind of annoying to me but it eventually grew on me once I figured out who was who and how it all fit together.  In the first flashback it might have been a good idea to set it up with a little more clarity as the previous chapter ended but perhaps it was intentional to leave the reader guessing a bit.  Parrish's writing is easy and enjoyable to read.  Her theme of God's love is weaved in well - not too syrupy sweet, which I despise, but very realistic.  She does a good job of inserting God's presence, I really appreciated it.
All in all, a good read - I think worth 4 stars for sure, at least in my opinion!


Coming up in April...
FINALLY! A book I started reading February 7 I will finish and review! Whew!  What book could have possible taken me so long to read and why?  (It's only 227 pages)






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