July 1, 2011

june reading review

A once-a-month review of the books I read. I'll share quotes when I remember to copy them down.

The rating is the same as Goodreads--5 stars means "it was amazing," 4 is "really liked it," 3 is "liked it," 2 is "it was okay," and 1 is "didn't like it."

The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver (4 stars)

The story of a young girl who packs up and moves from rural Kentucky to find her future. On the way to Arizona she inherits a toddler and a new outlook on life. Told with Kingsolver's frank but haunting touch, this story reminds us that life is what we make it. I first read it back in college, and this was my first time coming back to it since that time. It was still wonderful.

The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen (4 stars)

Allen is quickly becoming a favorite of mine. This novel tells the story of two young women who are caught up in a the life of a small town. The central social outlet of the town is the Women's Society, which the grandmothers of the two founded. But the reasons behind friendship go much deeper, and the next generation has much to learn. Allen has this ability to blend a bit of magic into her stories in a seamless way that makes it natural. Her writing is elegant and beautiful and fun.

Favorite Quote: Happiness is a risk. If you're not a little scared, then you're not doing it right.

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle (5 stars)

A favorite re-read from my youth, I read this one every other year or more! I read this before I ever entered Narnia, and at least a decade before Middle Earth. The story of Meg, Charles Wallace and Calvin, three youngsters who are whisked off to fight the evil in the universe. This classic "good vs. evil" story is a classic, and one that still engages me years later.

The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell (5 stars)

Another re-read--this one is in my top five favorite books of EVER. This was my third time to read this, and there was so much more that I discovered this time. The story of the first contact with alien beings by the Jesuit priests challenges readers spiritually, emotionally, and morally. Every time I read this, I fall deeper in love with God. Which is pretty darn amazing considering this isn't a "Christian" book--and Russell is a converted Jew. It's amazing, and proves to me again and again that God is so much more than the boxes we say he is.

Favorite Quotes: The mission, he thought, probably failed because of a series of logical, reasonable, carefully considered decisions, each of which seemed like a good idea at the time. Like most colossal disasters.

If God is anything like a middle-class white chick from the suburbs, which I admit is a long shot, it’s what you do about what you feel that matters.

Take This Bread: A Radical Conversion by Sara Miles (3 stars)

I don't read a lot of non-fiction because I usually find it boring, but when this one popped up on Goodreads as a suggestion it sounded interesting. (This description is from Goodreads) Raised as an atheist, Sara Miles lived an enthusiastically secular life as a restaurant cook and a writer. Then early one winter morning, for no earthly reason, she wandered into a church. "I was certainly not interested in becoming a Christian," she writes, "or, as I thought of it rather less politely, a religious nut." But she ate a piece of bread, took a sip of wine, and found herself radically transformed.

While there is a lot about Miles' journey that I found inspiring and challenging, at the end of the book I still felt that she had missed out on a personal relationship with God. For her, it was still religion, not relationship. I hope in the last five years she's learned more, found God more real. Because while yes, Jesus is the bread of life, and we are to feed his sheep, there's so much more than that in store.

I didn't expect this one to leave me feeling so sad--but that's where it left me.

So June was a bit lighter, but that's okay. I didn't set a goal this year, and I'm just enjoying the journey.

may reading review, part two...

So, I just realized that I missed three great books in May (I read them, just forgot to post them!) and that I missed one somewhere else along the line...here they are!

Poison Study by Maria V Snyder (5 stars)

I discovered Snyder in 2009 with her other series (the Glass series), and fell in love. She's a great story-teller. All of Snyder's books have the capacity to keep me awake, turning pages without regard for time or other needs (I forget to eat!). This is the first of the series (the Glass series follows it). It follows prisoner, Yelena, who is given the chance to become the food taster for the commander instead of facing execution. She takes the gamble and finds adventure and more. I don't want to tell you more, but I love this book!

Magic Study by Maria V Snyder (5 stars)

Second in the Study series, this time Yelena gets to go home--only she doesn't remember home. She finds a whole family, including a brother who is upset at her return, plus some of the highest ranking magician's aren't so sure about her, either. But Yelena will win them all over in time, or fight them, whichever is necessary. Love this one too.

Fire Study by Maria V Snyder (5 stars)

Third in the series, this one finds Yelena trying to learn how to best harness her power, and coming up against a foe that has singled her out. This time, Yelena might have to give her all in order to win. Love this one as well. I just can't get enough of Snyder.

Anne of Avonlea by Lucy Maud Montgomery (3 stars)

The second in the Anne series--I know I read it when I was younger, but wow, I hardly remembered it. It was charming, not quite as much as the first book, but enough that I'm glad I read it again.
So there we have it--the full list of May. Time to go work on my June post.