A. Reader

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller

Subtitled "Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality," this book is a collection of stories and thoughts exploring different aspects of Chrisitianity and the church. It is kind of a record of the author's search for authenticity in his Christian faith. Written with much honesty and humor, it is a non-preachy, easy-to-read but thought-provoking book about theological issues.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

It's Superman! by Tom De Haven

In a small Depression-era Kansas town, 17-year-old Clark Kent is discovering his unusual powers and questioning his true identity. This novel explores the early years of the Man of Steel, taking us from Smallville, Kansas, to Hollywood and finally to New York City. Along the way we learn how he acquired his trademark blue and red costume, how he came to be called Superman, etc. And, of course, we encounter familiar characters as Lois Lane and Lex Luthor. De Haven's Superman is a very human, deeply conflicted individual who often despises his special powers and longs just to be normal. The story provides some interesting insights and twists to a very familiar icon.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Girls in Pants: The Third Summer of the Sisterhood by Ann Brashares

If you've read any of the other Traveling Pants books, you will want to read this one too. This is the story of the four friends in the summer between graduating high school and starting college. It's a time when the girls are starting to feel the pull of the big wide world around them and yet the pants still bring them together. The thing I find completely refreshing about this book series is that the girls love each other unconditionally and are so totally supportive of each other. They aren't "mean" girls and there is no cat-fighting or competition between them. They accept each other and love the differences. I wish all girls (and people for that matter) would be more like that. It's a very postitive book for teen girls (and grown women).

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Old Soldiers by David Weber

The doctors and Bolo techs have combined to unite the human CaptainTrevor and the Bolo Lazarus following a battle in which they are the only surviving members of their unit. Now their job is to protect a civilian colony group fleeing to the far side of space. If you like lots of battles, both in space and planet-side, you might enjoy this.

Dragon and Thief by Timothy Zahn

While Jack has been a thief and a con artist, he is being framed for a crime he didn't commit. He's hiding out on a obscure planet when he observes a a firefight overhead between two groups of strange ships. He goes to investigate a downed ship and discovers the only survivor--a symbiotic dragon who attaches himself to Jack as a tattoo. The two, Jack and Draycos, leave the planet to escape pursuit by the attackers of the downed ship, but still must avoid the police while trying to clear Jack's name. This reminded me a little of the Pip & Flinx books by Alan Dean Foster (only not so humorous).

Monday, January 16, 2006

The Umbrella-Maker's Daughter by Janet Caird

In 1832 Mary Tullis and her father move from Glasgow to the small Scottish village of Dyplin where he will make umbrellas and she will keep house for him. She falls in love with the darkly handsome schoolteacher Daniel Rutherford, who is also loved by the local floozy Meg Annan. Mary is in turn loved by The Reverend Matthew Glendining. In the claustrophobic small town everybody knows their neighbor's business--or they think they do. The top blows off when a book is published exposing the townspeople's hypocrisy. A literary soap opera.

The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood

This book promises to tell the story of Penelope, Odysseus's wife from her viewpoint, clearing up such matters as what she was doing with all those suitors hanging around, how was she really coping with an adolencent son, and what was the real story of the twelve hanged maids. (Somehow, when I was required to read the story in 9th grade, the maids made no impression on me--what maids?--who hanged them?) Atwood's book includes a lot of back story--she was a cousin to Helen of Troy--and a sort of tradition chorus--mostly using the twelve maids, but the book left me with the feeling that Atwood wasn't really working at her top. Still, I'm glad I read it.

Talk to the Hand by Lynne Truss

This seems to be an over-extended newspaper column about the explosion of rudeness in the world today. It must be selling because her book Eats, Shoots & Leaves was a best seller because there is not much here to justify the death of trees. Save your time and money--do not buy or read this book.

Leven Thumps and the Gateway to Foo by Obert Skye

There is a secret gateway between Earth and Foo and Leven Thumps, an unattractive and unloved 14 year old kid from Oklahoma, is destined to destroy it. He will have the help of three exiles from Foo--Clover, one foot tall with the ability to become invisible; Winter, a 13 year old changeling who is mastering the art of the icy stare; and Gert, the exiled ruler of Foo, who has spent the last 14 years as a tree. They are up against Sabine, the evil usurper, who sends dreams and uncertainty to Leven in an attempt to thwart him. This seems to be a Harry Potter wannabe with even more darkness than Lemony Snickett. There is a sequel coming if you can bear it.

The Lost Painting by Jonathan Harr

For over 200 years the whereabouts of the picture The Taking of Christ by the Italian Renaissance artist Caravaggio was unknown. Then, through a combination of people and timing, the idea that it might be possible to find it percolated through the art history world. Harr tells about the people who worked on the project, sometimes unknowingly. This book tells the story of the modern detective work, the art restoration process, the history of Caravaggio and his times, and the tight and jealous world of the art historian. An entertaining read.

Thanks

Thank you to everyone who added their stuff while I was busy not reading. (I can't believe I've gone so long without finishing a book.) My dad is getting better after his stroke just before Christmas. He is living with me while he's doing outpatient therapy here in Olathe, so I've not had too much time. I'm no longer used to sharing a house for such an extended period of time!
Anyway, I've finally managed to get some reading time in.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby

On New Year's Eve four suicidal strangers bump into each other on the roof of a tall building in London, each planning to end it all by jumping to their deaths. After this serendipitous meeting, they all decide to postpone their plans temporarily and form a sort of dysfunctional support group. Although they have little in common but the desire to end their lives, these characters begin to connect in unexpected ways. Despite the dark subject, there is a lot of humor in this book.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Bones Would Rain from the Sky: Deepening Our Relationships with Dogs by Suzanne Clothier

Clothier, a dog trainer, believes that dogs are thinking, feeling, creatures who have much to teach us, just as we teach them. Although there are a few anecdotes about dogs she has known, in this book she tries to understand life from the dog's point of view. It gets a bit repetitive towards the end. A real animal lover will like this book.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

A Dog Year: Twelve Months, Four Dogs and Me by Jon Katz

If you like dogs, you'll like this memoire about the author's relationships with his dogs, especially the challenging border collie, Devon.

Locked Rooms by Laurie R. King

Mary Russel and her husband/partner Sherlock Holmes return to San Francisco to tie up loose ends in Mary's financial affairs. Mary's recent dreams lead her and Holmes to forgotten memories and mysteries of her family and youth. This is more of a psychological thriller. I found the stories about the 1906 earthquake interesting.

Alice's Tulips by Sandra Dallas

Set during the Civil War, when her husband enlists as a Union soldier, newlywed Alice Keeler Bullock must live on his family's Bramble Farm on the outskirts of Slatyfork, Iowa, with only her stern and somewhat crotchety mother-in-law, Mother Bullock, for company. The book uses Alice's long, gossip-filled letters to her sister, Lizzie, in Galena, Ill. The letters take readers through wartime difficulties of isolation, food shortages, cruel gossip, loss of reputation, union/confederate supporters and the complexities of a small, closed community. And, of course, quilting. The women of the community use quilting as a way to help the Union. I enjoyed this book as much as the Persian Pickle Club and more than The Chili Queen. A good cozy read for a weekend inside or as part of a summer reading list.