Sunday, January 31, 2010

I like books.

Here is my record of the books I've read this year.
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Ended up really liking this one. At first it was a little hard for me to get past the lunatic in the attic but the ending was really wonderful. Jeff's mom let me borrow a copy after recommending it to another friend previously and that friend referring to it as "life changing". I read a few chapters and then told Cindy, "I've embarked on the life changing experience that is Jane Eyre." I know, I'm so funny! You know it's a good book when there's something a time when you say to yourself "I'll never forget that". That is how I felt when her only friend died while she was in the school. And when she left after discovering he was already married. I really COULD NOT believe she left with nothing! She has a lot of inner strength.

Elantris by Brandon Sanderson
I give this one a thumbs up. I'd mistakenly referred to it as Science Fiction earlier but my hubby corrected me that it belongs in the Fantasy genre. To which I replied, "I'm not telling people I read Fantasy books, that sounds lame." But I did, and I enjoyed it. The thing I most took away from this book is that a good leader encourages people to feel useful. I think there's a good parenting parallel there.

Glimpses into the Life and Heart of Marjorie Pay Hinckley by Virginia Pearce
Every stay-at-home-mom should read this one! I plan on reading it again and writing down some of the great advice. In a world that is so cynical and depressing it's good to read words that are positive and full of faith.

The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale
This is going on my list of Favorite Books of All-Time! Loved every word of it. It's a retelling of a fairytale so it has a wonderfully happy ending. Through her journey Ani learns of her talents, how capable she is and how to be a good person despite hardships. And of course she falls in love with someone who sees her for who she really is and appreciates all of her. When I closed the book I immediately wanted to raise horses, have a swan pond and maybe get some geese :) And read it to Leah.

The Actor and the Housewife by Shannon Hale
Uh, this book left me so confused. Shannon Hale is a good writer but I wanted Becky to end up marrying Felix in the end! It was FILLED with so much snarky banter and it brings up the question of whether or not a person should feel comfortable remarrying after their spouse dies. I 100% feel if you do remarry it does NOT mean you never loved your spouse but pretty much that's how I felt it was portrayed. And that's all I have to say about that.

Princess Academy by Shannon Hale
My friend let me borrow all these Shannon Hale books so that's why there are three in a row. Anyways, it's another young adult fiction from her and I loved it. A young girl goes through hardship to realize she's loved and useful and smart. And of course she falls in love in the end. During their study at the academy they learn the
Rules of Diplomatic Negotiations
1. State the problem
2. Admit your own error
3. State the error of the other party
4. Propose specific compromises
5. Invite mutual acceptance
6. Illustrate the negative outcome of refuse and positive of acceptance
A good thing to know as my role as a hostage negotiator mother of four.

Austenland by Shannon Hale
Last of the Shannon Hale marathon I promise, haha. I liked it. For me the main character is cute and adorable saying things like "I wasn't aware until this precise and awkward moment that when startled in a strange place, my instincts would have me pretend to be a ninja." and "If you're listening, Big Brother, I refuse to be Fanny Price.". I would recommend it to someone if they like British literature and want a light read.

Open by Andre Agassi
Sometimes I would wonder why people put their whole lives in print for others to read, like it's any of their business...and then we all started blogging. Now it seems normal. Anyways, I loved this book. Apparently he want to be completely honest and record his whirlwind life for his kids, which I completely respect. I've read a book his dad put out called The Agassi Story so I know a little about their family dynamic but it truly is amazing how much parents can shape their children, for better or worse. After his tumultuous life he figures out love and helping people are the most important things in life. He has so many great things to say about his wife Stefanie Graf and his kids. I especially loved the story where she leaves him with their baby boy Jaden for a few minutes, he goes to "trim" the baby's shaggy hair and ends up giving him a buzz. When she gets back she's mad but after a few minutes they all start laughing
hysterically. Days later he beats ROGER FEDERER in the final and he says the most memorable thing out that tournament was that laugh with his family! Stefanie gets voted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame and he's asked to introduce her. Here's what he says of the experience: "I'm over prepared, and as I walk to the dais, I'm breathing hard. Then, the moment I start speaking, I relax, because the subject is my favorite and I consider myself an expert. Every man should have the chance to introduce his wife at her Hall of Fame induction ceremony." Well said Andre, well said.

The Hunger Games and Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
These are the first two books of a planned trilogy and I realized now I should never read books from a series until the series is finished. The open endings make me unhappy. These books cannot stand alone. Overall I don't think I liked them too much anyways. The whole kill or be killed vibe really got to me, and not in a good way. I definitely liked Hunger Games better, Catching Fire seemed to be just more of the same. And there's a horrible love triangle. This is obviously the BIGGEST issue to be resolved in the final installment and I'm not sure there's a way for it to end and me be satisfied. And I don't "trust" the author. Anyone at any time can be killed. Jeff read Hunger Games before me (
he isn't interested in reading any more of the series) and I told him I want Katniss to end up with Peeta. "Love he who loves you best" is what I learned from Jane Eyre :) Jeff asked how I know Gale doesn't love her best? Because he never told her, he let her go off to the the Games telling her nothing of his true feelings! What the heck!? Odds were she was going to DIE and he felt it wasn't something she needed to know!? Dumb boy. Team Peeta all the way... but I have a feeling he's going to die.
** I skimmed them again and figured out I didn't like the way you thought all the districts were going to band together (because the tributes held hands) but in the arena it's as if it had never happened. And then how Haymitch is totally rude to her saying, "That's why we don't let you make the plans." She's an important player in this uprising he could at least treat her with common decency. And I STILL love Peeta. Gale who?

Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen
It was on okay book. She wrote one of my favorite YA romances called The Truth About Forever (which I highly recommend if you haven't read it) and I keep expecting likable characters like those. Unfortunately, all her other books have fallen short for me. I especially don't like how the teenage kids drink beer and smoke weed like it's normal. The main character is from a crazy broken home and that explains it but I still don't like it. I think my biggest problem was I just couldn't relate at all.

Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
I almost don't know what to say about this book. After reading the first couple "chapters" I told Jeff, this author and I wouldn't be friends in real life. Eventually I grew to like her spiritual journey because it brought her peace but I do have a problem with spirituality that has no morals though. I know meditation to be a scientifically proven stress reducer so I'm all for that. I think this book even inspired me to re-read The Relaxation Response and take up meditating again. My last thought is that I've always FELT God's presence. From a very young age I felt the peace His Spirit brings through prayer. A close friend once told me that when she saw a baby born she SAW God and knew him for the first time in her WHOLE LIFE. Yes, I look at my children and see God. Of course this reminds me of some song lyrics from the song "Heaven" by Live. I don't listen to them but I've heard it a million times on the radio. Sometimes this song makes me cry...
"I don't need no one
to tell me 'bout Heaven,
I look at my daughter
and I believe.
I don't need no proof
when it come to God and truth,
I look at the sunset
and I perceive."

Enna Burning by Shannon Hale
I think I had high expectations for this book. It's the same characters from The Goose Girl but with Enna as the main character. Overall I didn't like it very much. Enna, and Isi for that matter, struggle the whole time. When the happy ending comes it's not uplifting, it's like "finally SOMETHING good happens!". I think I will continue to read her other books but The Goose Girl is definitely the fav.


Autumn Wilkins said...

You crack me up!! "Hostage negotiator"...I totally relate!

Katie said...

So I wanted to comment the other day about the Actor and the Housewife. Yes, I wanted her to end up with Felix too, and I feel like we were made to feel that way. So I felt cheated. And I am with you - remarrying after your spouse dies doesn't erase anything you had with them/felt for them. I also don't get the whole "I love you so much/understand you so much, but I am not in love with you" thing because aren't those the things that make you fall in love with someone? I was that her ending up with Felix would be the justification to their friendship throughout the rest of the book....which brings me to my next problem....

I was annoyed, because, honestly, I DON'T think it is okay to have a friend that close that isn't your husband. Sure, it worked out okay in the book, and it was good that she still had this close friend when her hubby died and all that, but this is FICTION and the author can skate the line all she wants without going over. Me personally, I don't think you can feel the way she felt about Felix without at least some kind of "emotionally cheating." The people who kept warning her in the book weren't being overreactive. Perfectly innocent friendships DO turn into relationships that aren't perfectly innocent. Sure, there exceptions, but why assume that you are going to be that magical exception? And yes, she was always making sure her hubby was okay with it, but yeah, I am telling you, no matter what, I would not be okay with my hubby having a girl friend that close.

Just PURE fantasy, IMO, a friendship like theirs.

Okay, that's my little, humble, opinion ;o)

Ruth said...

If you're into classics (and haven't read it already), I recommend Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy. Hardy's stories are typically tragic and this one is no different. Once the story got rolling and I finished the book, the ending stuck with me for a long time. My favorite kind!

Kari said...

I just reread Jane Eyre for about the fifth time and loved it, as always. I love the way Jane's empowered sense of self never robs her of her femininity and willingness to love completely. A beautiful romance!

I love Shannon Hale, too! Goose Girl is one of my favs. Actor and the Housewife, erm. I'd be the friend or family member advising against it an extra-marital best-friendship, just because such situations so often go wrong. That said, I think I'll reread the book in the next few years anyway, because any book that makes me laugh that hard deserves a place on my shelf.

Jana said...

Yay, thanks for the recommendations! I started Austenland and decided I didn't like Shannon Hale, but maybe I'll try Goose Girl! And anything that can help me in my housewifing would be appreciated, so I'll see what Sister Hinckly has to say!

Autumn said...

Katie and Kari,
OK, I think women are capable of having a close friendship like theirs but men aren't. So, when his wife left him and she went to comfort him I was like WHAT!? And he'd been drinking so really, she shouldn't have trusted him to behave. And I'm not a fan of snarky banter. I read Austenland over the weekend and thought it was pretty amusing.

I ALWAYS love book suggestions. And thanks for warning me that it's tragic, that's a good thing for me to know upfront :)

Stuart and Heather Humes said...

Okay, so I have to chime in! I'm in the middle of a reading frenzie myself, and I have also been devouring all things Shannon Hale, so our book lists are very similar right now! Loved Princess Academy, Loved Goose Girl, just finished Enna Burning (the book after Goose Girl) and loved it as well-not quite as much as Goose Girl, but still on the love list. I did not enjoy the actor and the housewife. It all just felt a little creepy to me, and I felt like she made the ending that way so that she could say "See, I told you it was just a friendship, and totally appropriate. I couldn't have feelings for him in the end, so that makes it okay!" Just weird-but I thought the message was that it was OKAY to love again after a loss as huge as that-just my take on the action. I just thought Austenland was okay. I think I'll stick to her childrens and young adult books, and really, I hope she does too!
I was fascinated by the hunger games-thought it was interesting, and made me think. I haven't read Catching Fire yet, and I'm trying to get my hands on Open. Just wanted to share my 2 cents!

Katie said...

Just read the Princess Academy and Goose Girl. Loved them both - way more than Austenland or Actor and the Housewife.

I really liked Hunger Games. Catching Fire for me seemed liked a bridge book...just biding time until a revolution happens or something. Chad read both of them and was very dissatisfied with Catching Fire. I kind of feel the same way about Peeta.

Oh, and I never mentioned that I love Jane Eyre too. I was totally not into it in the beginning but by the end, I just thought it was one of the best books ever. Which reminds me that I haven't read it in a few years and I should pick it back up.

Ruth said...

I agree about Lock and Key. I think some authors write so many books that either they just end up all the same or very few are really great. I generally appreciate her stuff more than some YA authors because at least the characters are a little more complex than a typical YA herione, but still . . .