Monday, May 16, 2011


OK, so maybe I was JUST complaining about how busy I am, and then I go and post a blog about all the books I have read over the last couple months. I still maintain that I was busy. However, having books on my iPod has really made all that time waiting in the car much more productive. Plus? most nights I read with the boys (as in, we each read out own books, as part of homework/bedtime routine.) Anyway, here are the latest...

The White Queen was a fascinating book. The book peeks into the power-hungry British monarchy during the War of the Roses, as told from the perspective of the queen. The problem I have is that the main character really bugged me. I didn't like her - at all. Plus her husband was a jerk. I enjoyed the book, but I'm not quite sure how to like a book while hating the main character. These books are a series, so I might pick up the next one, The Red Queen.

Elephant Run is one of my favorites of this batch. It's an historical fiction that tells of a young British boy who leaves the German bombings in London for his father's Burmese elephant-run timber plantation. The plantation is soon taken over by the Japanese and Nick is left dealing with the complexities of war while immersed in a foreign world. It's youth fiction and so some of the awfulness of war (particularly the maliciousness of Japanese POW camps) is muted, but the flavor is there. I really liked it.

The Mennonite in the Little Black Dress is an autobiography of a woman who goes home to her Mennonite roots after a rough divorce. It made me laugh out loud and I really liked her. She was a bit crass, but I appreciated how she managed to both love her Mennonite background and distance herself from it. There was something about her story that I resonated with me, but I am still not totally sure what. Maybe it's the way I embrace my faith, but get irritated by Mormon culture? I don't know.

Wednesday Letters was a book club book. It was a sweet little story about an older couple that died and how their adult children discover a lifetime's worth of letters their dad wrote to their mom. It's fluff, but I'll all for fluff now and again.

It's a bit embarrassing to admit, but I had never read Pride and Prejudice before. After all the hype I was expecting to be disappointed. I was not. Although I did keep waiting for Mr. Darcy to go swimming in a pond (I guess that is a scene only in the movie version?) I found the book funny, charming, frustrating and interesting. No surprise, I would recommend it.

I have a hard time figuring out how to review The Girl Who Played with Fire. It's not a book I would ever feel comfortable recommending; it's too yucky. That said, it was also a really compelling, thinking, mystery kind of book. The first third was all foundation, and the second third was fine enough, but by the last third I couldn't put it down. The problem is that there is rape and violence and torture and all kinds of nastiness. That's why I could never fully endorse it. But it was so good that I was driven to read the second in the series.

Now this book I would NOT recommend. As much as Dragon Tattoo was yucky, at least the nastiness forwarded the plot. The Girl Who Played with Fire had all kinds of purposeless raunchiness. The author was Swedish, and his, um, liberal sensibilities were obvious. I did read the whole thing, however I blame that on my strange compulsion to finish books once I begin them. (How else can you explain reading all 945 pages of Lonesome Dove the summer of '89?) But really? Played with Fire wasn't worth it. Sorry.

Now, in contrast, I DIDN'T finish Three Cups of Tea. See, there is one caveat in my whole "have to read a book to completion" obsession: the library. If a book that I'm not enjoying has to be returned before I can finish it I won't check it out again. I have heard so many people rave about how fabulous Three Cups of Tea is, and I thought I would be a total fan; building a school to educate young girls in Pakistan? That has my name all over it! But I just couldn't get myself to really care. It was too slow, too wandering, too lame. I tried, I really did, but I simply didn't like it. And lately, there has been all kinds of controversy over exactly how legitimate his story even is.

Dear John was a book I picked for my trip to Florida. My standards for vacation reads are very different than regular reading. Dear John met my holiday standards: a fluffy, easy, light read. I don't know that I would read normally, but it was nice enough for my purposes.

Well, that's it for this batch. I'm trying to mix in more classics with my reading. Next? The Adventures of Sherlock's Holmes. So far so good. Enjoy!


Julie Ramsay said...

I hated 3 cups of tea SLOW! I did finish it but it wasn't worth it. He built 1 school in 5/6 of the book and then like 100 more in 12 pages...aggravating!

Danae said...

Three Cups of Tea was a book club book a few years ago, and I was tortured by it. Everyone else loved it, though. Glad to hear I am not totally alone!

tz said...

I so know what you mean about Mennonite in a Little Black dress...I think it's not just about religion and staying with the one you grew up with or leaving, it's also about becoming who you are separate from your upbringing, although still loving where you come from and respecting the foundation it gave you..and a glimpse that you are still loved, no matter if the choices you made are different then the ones your parents wanted of you...well that's what I got from it at least.

the dragon series is on my list....martha gave them similar reviews to yours. disturbing...can't make up my mind...

thought about three cups of tea, may skip it too

as always -- love reading your reviews!

ganelle said...

It's good to hear I'm not crazy in my assessment if Three Cups of Tea!
Tz: I love how you articulated the message of Mennonite. You explained better than I ever could what was great about her story.

Jenni said...

The Mennonite one sounded super interesting! You'll have to give your review of Sherlock Holmes when you are done. I need to read that. I'm reading Persuasion right now and loving it. It is surprising how relevant and funny Jane Austen is still.

Mom of Three said...

I totally agree about White Queen. This really wasn't Phillipa Gregory's best book. I have read all her other ones about Henry VIII wives and really liked them. Let me know if you read the Red Queen. I haven't decided whether or not I want to.