October 2013 Bookshelf

Black: The Birth of Evil by Ted Dekker

I got to chapter 14 and decided to abandon the book, and the series, because I was bored to tears.  I was so unmoved and uninspired.  14 chapters was enough for me to say I gave it a good try. Ted Dekker isn't a bad writer, of course, but he is not my style.  I just don't like his storylines, his characters, his genre.  This will be the last title of his I try but I feel like I gave him a really good try, he just isn't for me.
It only serves to confirm that I really don't dig fantasy, sci-fi, horror, the supernatural stuff.  And you know what?  That's okay.  It's okay for me to not dig it and it's okay for those who do.

Plain Jayne by Brea Brown

I got almost halfway through this book before I decided to abandon it.  It wasn't good.  I'm perplexed by the favorable reviews because in my opinion it was slow, clunky, and lacking in development.  It's about a new novelist trying to get her first book published.  And it caused me to wonder how the actual book got published. The novelist in the book writes her first "fiction" book about the deaths of her family members (therefore making it non-fiction) but doesn't want her editor to know it's actually a true story.  She is an awkward character and Brown didn't convince me that her character's book would have ever been considered by a publishing house much less a movie option as the agent claims.  I finally gave up because I was so bored and I've got better titles to spend my time reading.

What's it Like to be Married to Me?: And Other Dangerous Questions by Linda Dillow

Two good friends of mine are leading a book discussion/bible study right now with this book and the title was so intriguing that I thought I'd give it a shot as well (plus one of those friends told me I should read it).  I think it takes a brave heart and a *smidge* of humility to ask the question, "What's it like to be married to me?"  I think we are all just enough self-deceived to think that being married to us is fantastic and we aren't the problem, it's our spouse.  :)  Fortunately I got over that particular self-deception a long time ago.  If you've known me for a decent amount of time then you've probably heard me say "once or twice", "Poor Lanny...having to live with me" and I mean it, I'm not being self-deprecating.  I wish I could ask my hub what his honest answer to this question would be but I already know he's not going to give an honest answer.  So I've decided to ask God the question and I trust he will show me.
Linda Dillow has written several books for women and actually lives right "up the road" from me here in Colorado.  She has a beautiful heart for the Lord and for women.  This book, she makes very clear, isn't about anyone but *you*.  Meaning it isn't a book on how to get your husband to change but rather it's a book to get you thinking and for you to change. I like the premise and promise of the book a lot, the execution I personally found a little disappointing/lacking.  It ended being a lot of the "same old, same old" when it comes to books for women of faith written by women of faith.  It felt, in some ways, disingenuous to me and by that I mean there wasn't an acknowledgment of the realities of faith, past baggage, and two sinners being married to one another. While Dillow did include examples of women who were walking through really hard things with their husbands it all felt too "clean" and life isn't clean, it's messy - even life with God.  There were some brief moments of reality within the christian bubble presented.  Perhaps I feel this way after recently reading some nitty gritty books (also written by believers but definitely outside of the bubble) about marriage and self that presented a much more realistic take on things of this nature.
There were some moments in the book that did give me pause, in a good way, and have me thinking hard about certain areas of my marriage and my contribution through my choices and behaviors.  Again, this takes bravery and humility.  But when all is said and done, I find myself preferring and thinking more about the other books I have read recently about marriage/relationships/self.

The Obituary Writer by Ann Hood

Wow what a surprisingly great read. My mom read it and told me to give it a shot. I'm really glad she did.
My first read of Hood is a story of two women, Vivian and Claire.  Claire lives in the 1960's and Vivian's story finds us in 1920.  Hood takes the reader back and forth between the two women and their stories, only slightly making the reader wonder how they are connected.  I only slightly wondered because Hood developed Vivian and Claire so beautifully that I was caught up in each of their stories and knew that somehow Hood would bring it all together, which she does in a seamless way.  The characters of the two women were developed deeply and quickly by Hood, they drew the reader in.  I found myself thoroughly enjoying both women and their stories, drawn in by their characters. Vivian is a famed obituary writer, an odd profession but one that she masters because she has a deep understanding of how to honor a person's life.  She is sought after for her ability to weave the story of a person's life.  She's able to do so because of the grief she has felt and known, it gives her a place of sympathy.  As the book continues the reader learns of the depths of Vivian's loss and how it impacts her.  Claire is a 1960's housewife who is satisfied with the status quo until a neighbor boy goes missing and shakes her world.  What happens as a result of this event surprises Claire and rocks the status quo life she thought she was okay with.  The reader, and Claire, learn about who she really is at the core of herself and it doesn't necessarily follow the status quo.
I really liked this book. I thought it was beautifully and simply written.  I was very drawn into it and couldn't put it down.  The allure of how these two women intersect kept me reading.  I thought Hood did a beautiful job with this story.

Moose: A Memoir of Fat Camp by Stephanie Klein

Eh. I gave it up. (Apparently that's what the month of October is for me - abandoning books.) At page 195 so I gave it a good shot but it was not holding my interest, which disappointed me. Because I really, really wanted to like this book and I thought it would be good. I thought it would be a memoir that held my interest and was funny even. Because that is what was promised. It's not that Klein is a bad writer, she isn't. She writes well, she engages the reader...sort of, she's self-deprecating enough to not make the reader feel too bad for her but just bad enough. But she took forever to get to her point. And since I gave up at page 195 I'm still not sure what her point was. 
Klein took her combined years at summer fat camps and made them into a memoir. It got to be too much detail about everything but her reasons for being at fat camp. Her apparent addiction to porn at an early age, her boy crazy years, etc. Every so often a tidbit of the reasons why she was fat would pop up but for the most part this is actually a memoir about her boy-crazy, porn addicted teen years. No thanks. I took it for as long as I could. I found myself just wanting to be done and looking longingly at the stack of books from the library just waiting to be read. Finally, I called it and decided to move on.

Ugh.  What a horrible reading month.  I abandoned more books than I actually read!  And even then the month kicked my butt, no time for reading. Here's to hoping November is better! 


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