Monday, August 21, 2006

 

#42: The First 48

Well school starts up again in 2 days and I didn't get quite as far as I hoped I would in my reading over the summer. I hoped I would at least make it to 50 books. And unless I read 8 books tomorrow I'm not going to make it.

I just finished the book The First 48 by Tim Green and it was pretty good. The story was filled with suspense so I wanted to keep reading. Basically a couple of guys have 48 hours to find one of the men's kidnapped daughter. A few complaints are sometimes the story jumped around too much so I didn't really know what was going on. I also felt like there were a few loose ends that never were tied up or resolved. People just died and that was resolution enough for the author. So, it was fun to read but not my favorite suspense novel.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

 

#41: The Devil in the White City


I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson. Larson told the story of two men, Daniel Burnham and H.H. Holmes, who were linked together by the Chicago World's Fair of 1893. Burnham was the directing architect behind the beauty and wonder of the fair and Holmes was a serial killer who built a hotel near the fair.

The book was intriguing because Larson did an excellent job jumping between the stories of the two men. Although they never met, their stories compliment each other well. I found myself captivated by the descriptions of the World's Fair and often rereading parts of the book to pick up on small details. It is rare that I want to see a place so badly after reading a book, but I really wanted to see the Chicago World's Fair. If only someone would invent time travel. Larson did such a great job telling the story that I was fascinated with learning more about the World's Fair so I often found myself reading articles or looking at pictures on the Internet. The book was a little long but it was worth reading every page. I would highly reccomend it.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

 

Book 46: Azur Like It


This book is one of several author Wendy Holden has written about the forlorn in England. I read a couple of them several years ago, as they are good and silly fluff reads. Basically these are less funny Bridget Jones knock offs. This one is about Kate, a frustrated reporter working for some local newspaper in the north of England, living with her parents and dreaming about getting away. She of course meets a gorgeous yet totally unsuitable young man, a complete cad, and they set off for the south of France. He's using her, she finds out and is left heartbroken. Making the best of things, Kate finds several jobs, a French love interest, some crime and drama and some good friends. They turn around an ailing restaurant-cafe, catch some bad guys and all fall in love. So very silly, somewhat witty though not as much as I would like. It is exactly what I would like to do with my own life: leave the barren wasteland in which I currently reside and set up a cafe or bar in the sunny south of France. We'll see how that goes. Azur Like It was alright...an easy summer read.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

 

Book 45: Death Of A Prankster


I have got to read more of these books...i finished this one in just under three hours. We travel once again to the highlands of Scotland to some inpronounceable village where Hamish Macbeth is the local constable. This time a nasty old man who of course has millions dies. He's a horrible prankster and falls victim to one of his own jokes: he falls out of someone's closet with a knife in his chest. Who done it? One of the daughters, the adopted and ne'er do well son, the clutching actress, the estranged brother and his greedy wife? Well I won't tell you. You'll just have to read it for yourself.

MC Beaton does seem to always bring a little bit of calss warfare into her books. In this the third I've read, there's always at least one character with humble, working-class background who is trying not to give that away. And there's always some upper class twit who is unkind to that pathetic character. I suppose she just wants to make it interesting and help us to like some of the characters and dislike others, but it just seems to make everyone a little desparate.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

 

Book 44: Of Mice And Men


My second John Steinbeck book this year. I find his books tragic, depressing and strangely wonderful. He has a pleasant style of writing, and sitting on my porch today, the summer breeze blowing, I rather felt that I was in the Salinas Valley. So perhaps most of you read this book in high school; the tale of Lennie and George, their friendship and misfortune. Every single character seems to be trapped; George by his responsibility of caring for Lennie, Crooks by racial prejudice, Candy by poverty and old age, Curley's wife by gender roles and a bad husband. You can tell that this is written from desparate circumstances, at a time in American history when most people were experiencing the hopelessness of the Great Depression. And yet it seems somewhat American in that we choose to go on, the characters rationalize their actions, press on in the face of the consequences, and continue to dream the American dream. Lennie and George had a dream of a farm. Lennie actually believes it can come true; George is the more cynical and yet he continues to make the plans he knows he'll never see come to fruition. A sad story, and I don't have anything particulary deep to say about it, but i enjoyed this one. AGAIN am experiencing technical difficulties and can't post a picture. will try later. how vexing.

 

#40: Candy and Me


Yum candy! As I was at the library looking at cookbooks, although I'm not entirely sure why I was doing that since I have no clue what 75% of the ingredients in cookbooks are, I found the book Candy and Me: A Love Story by Hilary Liftin. I was intrigued because every chapter is titled a different candy name and seemed to be a detailed account of Hilary's love of candy. If you have ever been to my house I'm sure you have noticed or taken advantage of the candy bowl. Many people ask how I can have a candy bowl that is always full and not eat all the candy. The answer to that question is I do eat it, I just have lots of candy in my cupboard so I can always refill. I don't even want to think about the amount of money I've spent on my candy bowl. But it is worth it if only for the joy on people's faces (including my own) as they are devouring my candy. When I was a young child I daydreamed about having a house made of candy that always replenished itself. Most little girls want a pony. There are only 2 things in this world I will eat on a full stomach and they are McDonald's and candy.

So about the book. It is a story of Hilary's life from childhood through present time. She tells the story of her life revolving around candy humorously incorporating the type she liked at the time, where she bought her candy, and what kinds of candy her friends liked. It reminded me of the book Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby because in that book he told his life story based on what was happening with the soccer team that he was a huge fan. My favorite chapter in Candy and Me is titled Trix. It goes like this..."'In 1954, Trix breakfast cereal was introduced by General Mills. The new cereal a huge hit with kids was 46.6 percent sugar.' ~UselessKnowledge.com. I loved Trix." That was the chapter and it resonated with my heart because I love sugar cereal. Cute book but maybe not worth everyone's time and energy to read.

Monday, August 07, 2006

 

Book 43: The Crusades Through Arab Eyes


This is something I've been meaning to read for a couple of years now. During college I took an entire course on the crusades which was very interesting (filled with those sorts of history majors who like to dress up like people from the middle ages). I saw the Orlando Bloom movie about the crusades with my heartthrob struck sisters last summer (it was okay) and what with the current state of affairs this seemed a timely choice.

I liked it, I enjoyed learning about the history from a different perspective. The author, whose name I forget, wrote about the time period between 1096-1244. There were other crusades after this time period, but mostly took place outside the middle east (the reconquest of Spain from the Moors, for example). I thought he gave a surprisingly balanced and shall we say, kind picture, of this military venture. He didn't mince words about the atrocities of the Frankish armies, but he wasn't overly kind to the Muslim forces either. But he did present the facts: this was an invasion of peoples' homelands for little more than economic and political gain. The Europeans were especially cruel and bloodthirsty, and it's hard to admit but there is really no excuse for such barbaric actions.

As a Christian, it's difficult to come to terms with the Crusades. In Germany today, for example, the word "crusade" is never used figuratively, as it might be here in America. They are simply not something thought of in any kind of positive light. They did, however, introduce the western world to spices, oranges and other delicious and useful things. The downfall of the Arab world, the most civilized society in the early medieval period, began to be eclipsed by the rise of the West. How could such awful things be done in the name of God? Why would any kind of God allow that to happen? How do we even reconcile the deeds of Richard the Lionheart, who mercilessly slaughtered thousands of men, women and children on his quest to regain Jerusalem, with the hero of merry olde england we all believe in? I'm not sure. I don't think the trite answers work. It's not okay to just say that those people weren't really Christians and it was just a political thing and the Muslim people should just get over it because it's been almost a thousand years already. But I don't know what the solution is. I'll tell you this much though: while I don't think that terrorism is in any way right, and the conflict that is happening currently is not good, I do think I can empathize more with an Arab people who have bitter memories of a West that seeks only to kill and destroy.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

 

Book 42: Agatha Raisin and The Murderous Marriage

am feeling a little inadequate in my reading in that i don't read much that's all that great. i haven't, like anne, been reading missionary biographies or anything much except for fluff mysteries. and here's another one. but oh well. i like them and can read them in an afternoon. so anyhoo, this is also by mc beaton, and i read it quickly. this sleuth is, wait for it, agatha raisin. she's pathetic, so much so that i couldn't stand her. she always "says things gloomily" and is trying to get some stupid guy to marry her. he's a total bastard and she has no self-respect for sticking with him. but they do manage to solve the mystery of her estranged husband together. it wasn't great and i probably won't read any more agatha raisin books. i'm not sure i'll read more mc beaton. must find something slightly more intriguing and intellectual. well, maybe next week. Drat! can't upload the stupid picture.

 

#39: Bruchko


I spent this afternoon reading a great book called Bruchko by Bruce Olson. Olson told the story of his calling from God to go to the jungles of Venezuela and Columbia to share the good news of Christ with the Motilone Indians. The faith that he had in God as he embarked on his calling is unbelievable. Even better were the stories of God's transforming power in the lives of the Motilone people. As I was reading this book I was most impressed by the greatness and depth of God's love. It was clear to me that God loves these people. I felt an even greater understanding of how much God loves all people because of the Motilone's story.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

 

#38: Courageous Leadership

I have a confession to make. I have done little to no reading that will benefit my blog in the last 2 weeks. For some reason everytime I pick up a book I have been distracted by other time wasting opportunities such as Dr. Phil, eating, taking a nap, looking at pictures, playing with my new phone, using the internet, watching Seinfeld, cleaning, doing laundry, watching a movie, and the list goes on. Take today for example. I fully intended on reading the last 70 pages of this book and getting well into another one. But, after 5 hours I had only finished this book. Tomorrow I'm getting back on track. I promise.

I don't really have too much to say about Courageous Leadership by Bill Hybels. I was pretty bored with the first part of the book. I thought it offered a great deal of practical advice and good stories about Hybels experience with ministry but most of it did not seem that applicable to my life right now. However, the last few chapters about self-leadership, our own personal walk with the Lord and encouragement to develop and enduring spirit were pretty enjoyable and I got something out of them. In no way would I not recommend this book. It was well-written and had good perspective. It just wasn't one of my favorites.

 

Book 41: Death Of A Gossip


i started this book last night, read for about thirty minutes and then finished it by the pool this afternoon. i was only at the pool for an hour due to the sweltering heat, and i'm one who likes hot humid weather. i would go for swim and instantly, upon getting out of the water, i would sweat profusely. it was ridiculous. i wonder what the heat index and such was. it felt like a million. so this is one in a series my mom enjoys...hamish macbeth is the village constable in the scottish highlands and while loafing about and not taxing my brain he solved the murder of a nasty gossip columnist on holiday. it was okay. i'll probably read more by this author, m.c. beaton, because they are so easy and i need to get my numbers up. i have one about another sleuth of his that i'll start tonight.

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