Thursday, August 5, 2010
Title: Heart and Soul
Author: Maeve Binchy
Publisher: Anchor, 2010
Notes: I received this book for free from a Fodor's Travel Twitter giveaway.
A brief summary: With the insight, humor, and compassion we have come to expect from her, Maeve Binchy tells a story of family, friends, patients, and staff who are part of a heart clinic in a community caught between the old and the new Ireland. (from Goodreads)
My thoughts: For some reason, I've been wanting to write my reviews in relation to other popular media. If you liked Love Actually and enjoy watching the American TV show Private Practice, you'll undoubtedly like this book. However, if you don't like either, don't let that be a deterrent.
This book is written from different characters' perspectives, though I would say that Dr. Clara Casey is the primary character. She's the string that ties all the characters together, weaving their complicated lives into something of a community. I think you'll find the changing points-of-view interesting, though sometimes frustrating too. There were times when I wanted the book to continue from one character's perspective!
That being said, I think that the story is showed more than told. I feel a bit torn on how to approach this book; while I, at base, liked the plot and the characters, I felt at times that they lacked emotion or realistic responses; some, with the exception of Clara and Declan, felt a bit flat. This book started strong but seemed to wane a bit as it progressed.
Rating: 3 stars
Monday, July 26, 2010
MizB at Should Be Reading asks, Do you review books? If so, for who?
As many of you know, I do review books! I'm a huge fan of the Goodreads First Reads opportunities. I've won a handful of books from that, and I review each one. I've also been lucky enough to review ARCs and recently published books thanks to publishers and contacts within the publishing industry.
My reviews are never biased in favor of the books I get for free versus the books I seek out at the library or the bookstore.
What about you? Do you review books?
Saturday, July 24, 2010
Title: A Wretched Man
Author: RW Holmen
Publisher: Bascom Hill, 2010
Notes: I received this book from the publisher to review. Despite this, my review is not biased in favor of the book. Any opinion offered here is completely my own.
A brief summary: "Jesus authored no writings. Nor did any of those who followed him in the Galilee or during his fateful pilgrimage to Jerusalem. It fell to an outside to become the movement's reporter, memorialist, essayist, interpreter, and promoter—despite the opposition of James, the brother of Jesus. Paul the apostle. Paul the one untimely born. This is the story of Paul, a wretched man." (back cover blurb)
My thoughts: I approach books like these very carefully. I did a bit of background about Holmen before I started reading the book, and began in earnest after I satisfied my curiosity.
This book is a number of things. It is well-researched; Holmen clearly has a solid background in early Christianity and religious history. It is also well-written. When reading about Paul—or Paulos, as he is referred to in the novel—I felt that I had a more personalized understanding of who Paul was. Often accused as being anti-Semitic or a problematic Jewish Christian, Holmen addresses these issues. But more importantly, he presents Paul as human. Paul is as subject to human desires, human complexities, and human experiences as the rest of us. The best kind of book, in my opinion, is one that prompts you to think more, to pursue more knowledge. This book definitely incited that curiosity in me.
Some readers may worry that this book revolves around Paul's purported conflicted sexual orientation, but even devoutly religious individuals will find Holmen's handling of the matter to be deft. Some may even find Paul's reluctance to engage in supposedly unclean acts to be a testament to his faith. I would say that if this matter is the issue holding you back from reading this book, it shouldn't be. You may be pleasantly surprised.
While it might help to have some understanding of this time period or the religious and political issues at hand during and immediately after Jesus' death, it's not necessary. I found this book to actually be quite a good accompaniment to my studies of Jesus as a social revolutionary, upsetting the status quo. I felt like I gleaned a new understanding of the early Judeo-Christian world, which is pretty astounding after having taken four years of academic religion classes.
Moreover, I'm curious to speak to the author. What's next after this? How did his background inform his writing of A Wretched Man? I'd be curious to see how Holmen would approach Saint Augustine, but alas, I doubt he is that interested in Augustine, as Holmen is Lutheran.
Rating: 5 stars
Friday, July 23, 2010
Thursday, July 22, 2010
Sunday, July 11, 2010
I hope everyone is enjoying the weekend!
I'm currently reading Ellis Peters' A Morbid Taste of Bones. I just finished Dana Haynes' Crashers for the 2010 Thriller & Suspense Reading Challenge, and that review—along with some other great ones!—will be up this coming week.
What are you reading this weekend? Send me the links of some of your favorite reviews!
Posted by Jess // Curating Style at 12:18 PM