I'm participating today in Semicolon's Saturday Review of Books--click on the icon for more info!
Saturday, April 30, 2011
I'm participating today in Semicolon's Saturday Review of Books--click on the icon for more info!
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…
• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?
Here are my answers:
Definitely not for the first time, I just finished reading Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte. I honestly don't know how many times I've read this wonderful book--it is, actually, my favorite novel of all time. You can scroll down to read my review of it. If you somehow have never read this book, I can't encourage you enough to do so!
I'm currently reading Wolves Among Us, by Ginger Garrett. I'm only three chapters in, but I'm definitely hooked. The story is set in 16th-century Germany and centers around women who become the targets of witch-hunting zealots.
Next up on my to-read stack is In the Shadow of Evil, by Robin Carroll. It's a romantic suspense tale of a building rebound scam that's exposed, with deadly results. Looks really good!
Here's how it works:
This is actually kind of a teaser for me as well, because I literally JUST started reading this book. As you can see, it's Wolves Among Us, by Ginger Garrett.
"Mia turned her attention back to Rose, her eyes clear and fierce as the woman screamed at Mia.'He'll do this to you, too. Flee. Flee tonight.'"
Sunday, April 17, 2011
Michael Fassbender and Mia Waskikowska in the current movie version of Jane Eyre
"This year, thousands of high school English classes will assign Jane Eyre (and tens of thousands of high school students will complain about it). But then, something magical will happen. Young women accustomed to the sarcastic chatty prose of the Gossip Girl series will get swept up in Brontë’s luxurious language. They will be enthralled by Jane’s story, her strength and determination. She is the thinking girl’s heroine, and they will see themselves in her. Because of Jane, generations of young women have been — and will continue to be — reassured that even if they are 'poor, obscure, plain, and little,' they can still make a happy ending if they are true to themselves.-Alexandra McAaron (hat tip: The Bronte Blog)
This is the cover of the copy of Jane Eyre I've had since high school. The portrait is that of author Charlotte Bronte, and I must admit, when I read the book, this is who I picture as Jane
An indomitable heroine
"Women are supposed to be very calm generally; but women feel just as men feel; they need exercise for their faculties and a field for their efforts as much as their brothers do; they suffer from too rigid a restraint, too absolute a stagnation, precisely as men would suffer; and it is narrow-minded in their more privileged fellow-creatures to say that they ought to confine themselves to making puddings and knitting stockings, to playing on the piano and embroidering bags. It is thoughtless to condemn them, or laugh at them, if they seek to do more or learn more than custom has pronounced necessary for their sex."
Jane's love for Mr. Rochester is strong and profound, again without giving into the excesses common in Victorian fiction.
And later, when she is offered a marriage that would be devoid of that kind of love, Jane steadfastly refuses. She knows what real love is, and she won't accept anything less.
One thing that Jane Eyre does have in common with other books of the Victorian era is a tendency toward wordiness, many of those being words we don't toss around frequently nowadays, like "auditress and interlocutrice," and "cicatrixed visage." You may want to keep a dictionary nearby!
Why do I love this book so much? Even now, after having just finished it again, I have a hard time putting it into words.
But I will tell you that it's not the mother of all gothic novels for nothing. It has everything: romance, mystery, suspense, a dangerously attractive love interest and a heroine we admire and care about.
It's no wonder, 164 years after it was first published, this book is still captivating readers and prompting movie adaptations.
If you've never read Jane Eyre, I strongly encourage you to do so...I can't recommend it highly enough!
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
...what happens when a pastor's zeal for the ministry becomes a quest for personal glory and validation...
This review was originally posted January 2004
What happens when a pastor builds a church in his own power and for his own glory, instead of keeping the focus on the leading of God? The results can be disastrous, both for the shepherd and for his flock...and Francine Rivers' And the Shofar Blew (Tyndale House) illustrates this vividly.
Francine Rivers is one of my favorite authors, and this book reminded me just why that's so. It's been a while since I read one of Francine's books. Once I obtained a copy of this one, I plunged in headfirst and came up for air only when absolutely necessary.
As a pastor's daughter married to a pastor's son, I can tell you firsthand that a pastor's life is a difficult one, and the same goes for his wife and children. If the pastor's focus on the Lord wavers--if his desire to build a ministry shifts to personal ambition and a need to create a monument to his own glory and legacy--everyone suffers.
As the story begins, we see Centreville Christian Church literally dying...peopled with a handful of senior citizens who are weary or ill or both.
The hero of the book, to my mind, is Samuel...the aging elder whose godly wisdom and steadfast devotion to the Lord and His Word form the anchor for all of the characters and action in the book.
When the elderly pastor suffers a serious health crisis and has to retire, Samuel persuades his crusty fellow elders that the church should go on, but with a new pastor.
Enter Paul Hudson. Young, bright, enthusiastic, and full of energy and ideas, Paul hits the ground running.
But he carries his own heavy baggage in that he is the son of a famous pastor of a megachurch...a father who never had time for him and whose approval he can never quite earn. Early on, he begins to run roughshod over anyone who stands in the way of his ambition, ignoring and even resenting Samuel's wise and godly counsel.
We sympathize with Paul's wife Eunice, who suffers mostly in silence as she watches her husband slowly turn into a copy of his dad. Some reviewers have critized Eunice's inaction and ultra-submissiveness, but I've seen many such pastors wives--lovely and godly women who are simply trying to please God despite their husband's increasing neglect and even cruelty. I don't believe this makes Eunice a less appealing character; as a reader, I found myself drawn to her and hurting for her.
Eventually, though, even Eunice has to take a stand as matters come to a tragic head. The story is truly a cautionary tale about what happens when a pastor's zeal for the ministry becomes a quest for personal glory and validation.
A subplot about Stephen Decker, a contractor who becomes caught up in Paul Hudson's ambition, is interesting, but was sometimes a bit distracting as I found myself more concerned with what was happening with Paul, Eunice, their son Timothy, and Paul's parents.
Also, I would have to agree with the reviewers who were a bit skeptical of Paul's sudden change of heart. Damascus Road experiences do happen, but the turnaround can include massive struggles. I would have liked to have perhaps seen Rivers write a sequel in which she dealt with the aftermath of Paul's repentance.
But those a minor criticisms. Overall, an excellent and absorbing read that packs a powerful message.
Monday, April 11, 2011
(Apparently this blog hop normally runs on the weekend, but this time it's running through Thursday of this week.)
This week's question:
Cadbury Creme Eggs? YES, YES, YES!! I realize that it’s just chocolate and fondant, but it’s just SO HEAVENLY. I love to freeze these so the fondant isn’t goopy. Then I eat the chocolate all around the fondant, saving the “yolk” for last. Most people I know who hate Cadbury Eggs think they are too runny and goopy, so try freezing them and let me know what you think. I will rate these 10 out of 10 forever and ever, Amen.
Saturday, April 9, 2011
That's exactly what happens to Gabi Bettarini in Lisa T Bergren's Waterfall. Oh, but there's more. There are medieval feuds, violent battles and deadly intrigue. And the hottest young Italian guy, who has his eye on Gabi, has a fiancee who pretty much hates her.
Plus, she can't find her sister, who apparently transported to medieval Italy with Gabi but is nowhere to be found.
I was thrilled when I received this book, because I've loved anything I've ever read by Lisa T. Bergren, and I've always been fascinated with time travel.
Then I saw that it was aimed at young adults. But you know what? That didn't dampen my enjoyment of the book one bit.
If anyone is equipped to be transported to medieval Italy, it's Gabi and her sister Lia. Because their mother and their late father were archaelogists, they've spent a lot of time in Italy and have a solid knowledge and sense of its history.
Their dad made sure Gabi had fencing lessons, and Lia happens to be an expert at archery. Both very handy skills to have in the setting in which they find themselves.
And Gabi is what the British call a "plucky" girl--brave, even daring, never one to back down from a challenge or stay too discouraged about some of the more daunting realities of medieval life.
Oh, and conveniently, she finds herself speaking in the Italian vernacular of the day without even trying--a smart device on the author's part.
The story is written from Gabi's perspective, and she sounds like a teen-ager (albeit an intelligent and well-educated one.)
Bergren says her eldest daughter Olivia and her friends were the first to read the book: "They set me straight on things that would make other kids roll their eyes." With those kind of consultants, Gabi's voice is authentic and genuine.
There's plenty of danger and suspense (along with the gentle romance) to keep the pages turning. And just the novelty of a 21st century girl finding herself in this era has a very engaging fish-out-of-water appeal.
I've never met a Lisa T. Bergren book I didn't like, and this one is no exception. Although I'm closer to Gabi's mother's age than Gabi's age, I'll definitely be reading the next book in this series!
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
**Scroll down for my Ultimate Blog Party post!**
Note to self: Read more books by Kimberly Stuart.
The back cover of Operation Bonnet declares: "NOT your grandmother's Amish fiction"...and boy, is that right!
To be honest, I'm a little tired of Amish fiction. (Don't kill me, those of you who love it and those of you who write it.)
But with the exception of the fact that, yes, there ARE Amish characters in this book...well, that's pretty much where the resemblance ends to any other Amish-related book you've ever read.
21-year-old Nellie Monroe is a "luminary." One of her elementary schoolteachers dubbed her that because of her precocious intelligence, and Nellie still accepts the designation.
Still with some college to go, working at a golf course, Nellie longs to be a private detective. So she jumps at the chance for a real bonafide case--helping her ex-Amish co-worker Amos determine if he still has a chance with his still-Amish love, Katie.
To do this, she has to get up-close and personal with the nearby Amish community--which she does, by somewhat underhanded means.
So involved is she in her case...as well as the fact that her beloved grandmother, Nona, is fading mentally...that she fails to notice that her long-time best friend, Matt, has been in love with her for years.
Kimberly Stuart's witty, pop-culture friendly writing fairly sparkles off the page, and made me laugh out loud more times than I can count.
Nellie is an immensely likable heroine, and I couldn't wait to find out what she would do next.
As for the Amish characters? Honestly, this book probably made them come to life more than any other Amish fiction I've read. In particular, I loved the ex-Amish boy, Amos...his attempts to fit in with "English" society are nothing short of hilarious.
Through it all, Nellie finds herself more and more drawn to her Nona's steadfast faith.
Operation Bonnet is an engaging, fun, intelligent, and genuine novel...a sheer joy to read. That's why anything else by Kimberly Stuart is going to be high on my to-read list!
Sunday, April 3, 2011
This is a great way to introduce your blog and to get to know other bloggers! Just click on the badge for more information.
If you're visiting Cindy's Book Club for the first time, here's some info:
Hi, I'm Cindy Swanson, and I'm PASSIONATE about books and reading!
This blog, Cindy's Book Club, used to be attached to an actual book club. For a few months, a few years ago, I hosted a book club as part of my radio job with 101QFL. The book club was eventually discontinued, but this blog site remained. Since I was spending so much time on my main blog, Notes in the Key of Life, blogging about books and reading, I decided to designate this space for that purpose.
Here's where I put my book reviews, book discussions, and pretty much anything to do with books and reading. Sometimes I bring some of my older author interviews (which are transcribed--not in audio form) to this blog. Those books are no longer new--in some cases they go back as far as 2003, when my other blog began--but they are certainly worthy of some new exposure!
I also review new books, of course--and I also use this blog to link to reviews on other blogs and sites, so let me know if you have a book/reading blog and you'd like some free publicity. Thank you soooo much for stopping by! I do hope you'll be back.
Friday, April 1, 2011
Having lived in Louisiana for four years, and having some family roots there, I know what a great Cajun meal is all about--and I enjoyed this book with all the gusto of a big bowl of spicy gumbo or a heaping dish of tasty jambalaya.
Set in the fictional southern Louisiana town of Les Barbes, this well-written mystery is about Zoe Broussard, a happily-married woman with a thriving Cajun eatery.
But Zoe has a secret. And when she starts getting anonymous notes from someone who claims they know what she's done, Zoe is terrified that her secret will be revealed and that life as she knows it will be destroyed.
Suspenseful complications ensue, and Zoe faces them with the help of her new friends Ethan and Vanessa Langley, who are strong in their Christian faith. The book is also peopled with colorful and endearing characters that reinforce the authentic feel of a small Cajun town.
(Ethan and Vanessa seem to have a strong backstory that makes me wonder if they weren't the featured characters in a previous Herman series. Anybody know?)
The main thing I ask of a suspense novel is that it keeps me turning the pages (usually way past my bedtime!) and makes me care about the characters. This book more than filled the bill.
Besides being entertaining and engrossing, the story highlights important truths about grace and faith.
I thoroughly enjoyed False Pretenses, and I look forward to the next book in Kathy Herman's Secrets of Roux River Bayou series. So pass the Louisiana hot sauce...I'm hooked!
Do check this out!
I was so excited to find that Carol at MagistraMater read and reviewed one of my favorite books of all time--the wonderful, but somewhat obscure "Auntie Robbo"--that I blogged about it on my main blog, Notes in the Key of Life. Read about it here!
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Wynn-Wynn Media. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”