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
Friday, July 9, 2010
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
A brief summary: "The United States is obsessed with virginity — from the media to schools to government agencies. In The Purity Myth Jessica Valenti argues that the country’s intense focus on chastity is damaging to young women. Through in-depth cultural and social analysis, Valenti reveals that powerful messaging on both extremes — ranging from abstinence curriculum to “Girls Gone Wild” infomercials — place a young woman’s worth entirely on her sexuality. Morals are therefore linked purely to sexual behavior, rather than values like honesty, kindness, and altruism. Valenti sheds light on the value — and hypocrisy — around the notion that girls remain virgin until they’re married by putting into context the historical question of purity, modern abstinence-only education, pornography, and public punishments for those who dare to have sex." (from Goodreads)
"The desirable virgin is sexy but not sexual. She's young, white, and skinny. She's a cheerleader, a baby sitter; she's accessible and eager to please (remember those ethics of passivity!). She's never a woman of color. She's never a low-income girl or a fat girl. She's never disabled. 'Virgin' is a designation for those who meet a certain standard of what women, especially younger women, are supposed to look like. As for how these young women are supposed to act? A blank slate is best." (p. 30)Valenti has a strong voice, citing statistics and facts with ease—but without getting overly technical. She reminds us that this obsession with virginity is connected to submission and youth, with a renewed interest in keeping women under thumb. But virginity in our contemporary society has become a commodity, with the commercialization of abstinence balls and virginity vouchers. How can we make virginity into a commodity, though, when there's no actual definition for it? Valenti's discussion of the definition of virginity—or lack thereof—is especially interesting.
Monday, July 5, 2010
Sunday, July 4, 2010
Thursday, July 1, 2010
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
- What are you currently reading? I'm about to start reading Brian Jacques' Mossflower for the Goodreads College Students Spring/Summer Challenge! I loved the Redwall series when I was younger, and I can't wait to reread this classic.
- What did you recently finish reading? I just finished Suzanne Collins' Catching Fire, which was unbelievable. This trilogy is absolutely amazing, and I can't wait until Mockingjay comes out in August! I also just recently finished rereading both Linda Howard's Duncan's Bride and John Steinbeck's East of Eden, both of which are phenomenal books in their own way.
- What do you think you'll read next? After I finish Mossflower, I'll probably start reading Dana Haynes' Crashers, an ARC I received on Goodreads that I will be reviewing here at Spine Creases!
- Yoga three times per week. I was pretty consistent with this through April, often times doing yoga 5-6 times per week. That has dropped off considerably since I've started running (at the end of April). I do want to roll out my yoga mat more often, so this will be good motivation to do so. However, I also think it's good that I've picked up a new favorite sport—running! I've never been more fit in my life.
- Live simply. This is kind of a silly resolution because it's more of a life motto pertaining to simple living, minimalism, and happiness. However, I have to say that I live this every day.
- Go somewhere new (by plane, preferably). The only new place I've traveled to this year (so far) has been Columbus, Ohio. More about that...
- Get a job or get into grad school. I did both! I have a summer job at my alma mater, working as a project assistant for a department I worked for as a student. I also got into grad school at Ohio State and I have a paid internship lined up there as well.
- Read 50 books. I blew this resolution out of the water. I'm at something like 90 some-odd books right now!
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Here's my list...
2. The Qur'an: I'm a (former) Religion major, and my concentration was on Islam. However, I've never read the Qur'an straight through, and I really want to! I keep putting it off, reading only chapters at a time. A desert island would give me the opportunity to work through the entire volume. As an added bonus, almost all Qur'an have the Arabic calligraphy, so if I get really bored I can continue my efforts to speak Arabic aloud!
3. East of Eden (John Steinbeck): This is one of my favorite books of all time, with rich characters, a beautiful setting, and fantastic themes and symbols. This book is chillingly good.
4. The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas): I read this last summer—the unabridged version—and I loved it. I really savored it, and enjoyed Edmond Dantes as the hero of the book. I also like the theme of prevailing despite the circumstances! Plus, long books like The Count of Monte Cristo and East of Eden would keep me sane.
5. The Fountainhead (Ayn Rand): When else but on a desert island would it be a fantastic idea to read a book about the individuality of self and Objectivism? Well, actually, maybe that's not the best idea. But it's a long book, and a thought-provoking one—so I'm told—so it sounds like a good idea.
6. The Art of Racing in the Rain (Garth Stein): I would bring this book because it's a contemporary novel—unlike many of the others on my list so far—and it covers almost every human emotion. This book made me simultaneously sad and happy, and I absolutely loved it.
7. Why I Wake Early (Mary Oliver): A volume of poetry is never a bad thing. Oliver's poetry would remind me of the beauty around me.
8. Any of the Little House on the Prairie books: I cannot define my youth without thinking of Laura Ingalls Wilder's books. Perfect for keeping me sane.
9. Redwall (Brian Jacques): I almost forgot about this series. I used to read this series religiously. Who doesn't love warrior mice, royal badgers, and evil villains?
10. Season of Migration to the North (Tayeb Salih): I would bring this book to remind me of history and imperialism. I read this book for a class two years ago (and actually plan to read it later this summer—watch for my review!), but I would definitely want a stimulating, brutal novel to read like this one.