31 July 2014

101 Dalmatians by Dodie Smith


Reading to Know - Book Club

     I was able to get my hands on a copy of 101 Dalmatians on the 27th only because Husband has access to all the libraries in our new hometown. Since then I've applied for my own library card. Yes, my first piece of ID that is attached to my married name, is a library card. Am I proud of this? Yes I am. Anyway, I'm glad to be blogging again, and even more glad to be reading my friends blogs, and the MOST glad to be reading again.

     So, I was actually really surprised by this book. I guess I had the Disney movie in mind the whole time (by which I mean the one with Glenn Close as Cruella. I either have never seen the cartoon one or I saw it so long ago that I don't remember it) and in my memory the movie is a LOT less intense. I'm not sure if it was the shock that Perdita was the puppies step mom (of sorts) and not their real mom (WHY?), or if it was being so much in the minds of the dogs and observing their emotions, but I was actually quite enthralled even though I basically knew the outcome.

     If you happen to know nothing about this book it's the story of Pongo the dalmatian and his wife Missis and their fifteen children. They are the “owners” of Mr. and Mrs. Dearly, a regular London couple who happen to know a rather strange woman by the name of Cruella DeVil. Cruella loves fire, and red, and pepper and in case you didn't catch on, her last name sounds like devil. Potentially she has a relative who controlled lightening. She's scary. I was actually kind of surprised at HOW scary she was. She also has a hankering for fur, particularly Dalmatian fur. When the puppies all go missing one day, Pongo has a feeling Cruella is involved. And the journey to finding the lost puppies begins.

     I'm actually really liking Dodie Smith these days. I read I Capture the Castle with my old book club and even now I can think of things I really enjoyed about it, and I think I'd like to read it again. I'm not sure how she does it, but she's a very engaging author. I don't even like dogs and I might have actually said “awww” aloud reading this book. She ascribes emotions to these animals without making it too corny, which is a real downfall in children's stories.

     Anyway, it's a great read, and one I've sort of felt I ought to try since I enjoyed her other work. So, I'm glad I got an opportunity through the book club.

31 March 2014

The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge

            I just finished The Little White Horse, as in, I put it down and began to type so honestly I haven’t really been able to gather all my thoughts on it, but I haven’t been able to join the group discussions in far too long, so here we go.

Reading to Know - Book Club
The Little White Horse is a bit of a fairytale and a bit of a mystery. It’s about an orphan named Maria who comes to the little town of Silverydew to live with her Uncle and current guardian. Her ancestors have lived here for a long time in a run down castle called Moonacre Manor. Slowly Maria begins to realize that there is a deep sadness and darkness in the town and she sets about to right the wrongs with the many friends she makes along the way.
The Pros: It’s a good story. I’d happily give this to a young girl and not have to worry about her reading something that would scare or corrupt her. It actually has quite a bit about God in it without being overly preachy, which is hard to do (I’m looking at you Girl of the Limberlost). Also, the descriptions are delightful! I was so enchanted by the author’s descriptions that I’ll probably read more of her work. You feel like you are really inside a fairyland, but it never seems outrageous. I always find it difficult to describe description other than, it was really great. I was very impressed. Also, I loved the vocabulary in this book. You just have to hand it to a children's author who respects her readers enough to use words like: "imperious," "peccadilloes," "mien," and "effigy."
The Cons: I felt like there was too much going on. There was an invisible friend who ends up being real because the whole time he was an invisible friend he was actually visiting Maria in his dreams. There was a long standing battle of the sexes ongoing for generations. There was an almost Ishmael and Isaac story somehow linked to the previous issue. There were at least five animals with special powers, two of which somehow represented the good traits of the men and women of the family. There’s a random teenage love story (Of course, though I have to say it was sort of just…in there, and not too distracting and dare I say a little humorous?). There is a hidden treasure. All of these components together made the book perhaps a little too busy in my opinion, but definitely compelling.
I enjoyed reading the book though, and I am glad I got to take part in this month's book club choice.

26 March 2014

Warning: Politics

So, I was made aware that this happened. If you don't want to read the article, I'll sum up: Basically a gay photographer refused service to the CEO of the Conservative Alliance Defending Freedom, because he defended the right...to deny service to people. Needless to say he supported her right to not shoot a family picture to put on their Christmas cards.

Let me restate that: He was denied service for defending the right to deny service.

He looked for another photographer. Perhaps other people should learn from this example.

27 February 2014

What's On My Nightstand

It's been so long since I've done one of these posts, so I'm really glad to only be a day behind with this one. I've been in a bit of a reading slump and this is just the thing to push me onto greater things.

What's On Your

  •  An Army at Dawn: The War in North Africa, 1942-1943, Volume 1 of the Liberation Trilogy by Rick Atkinson: I'm reading the Liberation Trilogy with a college friend. Her dad recommended them and we've been slogging through this one since Monday.
  • The Road to Wellville by T.C. Boyle: This one is for the library book club.
  • Freedom by Jonathan Franzen: I'm actually listening to this one. At work about half of what I do is data entry, and I've begun a new phase where I'm listening to books at work. I usually just listen to books I have read before, but I think I will expand my audiobooks to books that I'm not actually sure I'll like, but I've been curious about for a long time. This is one I've been curious about. So, I guess you could say it's not really on my nightstand, maybe my desk.
  • The Wings of the Dove by Henry James: This one has been really slow going, and not just because I think large portions of the book just don't make sense. It's also because whoever did the cover art for this book thought it would be cool to make it look like a torrid romance novel. I can't take it anywhere.
  • The Collected Poetry of Edna St. Vincent Millay
  • The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis: Recommended highly by a good friend. I've actually been trying to read one Christian Living or Theology book a month. Same with poetry. Sadly this book and the above mentioned poetry book are both of January's selections. I'm not doing very well wit that particular New Year's Resolution.

  So, that is what I've been up to. Hopefully I'll be able to tell you at the end of March that I have accomplished all of this. 

17 February 2014

The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford

     One of my book clubs chose The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford as our February selection. This book has long been in my mind as one I’d like to read and it came highly recommended by other readers whose opinions I trust. I’d been laboring under the impression that this book club had already picked that book for one of the meetings I missed so I was very happy to be mistaken.
The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is a teenaged love story. I know I know, but it’s not that bad. If you can get over the fact that these kids are thirteen when they “fall in love” you will love this book. And really folks, compared to a lot of what is out there, the relationship is so very innocuous, please don’t let it distract you.
     The story is set in Seattle and the chapters flip back and forth between present day and “the war years.” It’s the story of Henry Lee, the single child of a very traditional Chinese family who has been given the opportunity to go to an all white school where he meets Keiko Okabe, a Japanese girl who he befriends much to the chagrin of his parents. It’s probably very easy to see where this is going. Of course the book opens very close to the bombing of Pearl Harbor and quickly Henry and Keiko are separated just as they are becoming more than friends.
     Henry is an old man when the book opens and has recently been widowed. He’s long ago lost track of Keiko, but a surprising discovery of countless forgotten Japanese belongings in the basement of an abandoned hotel causes him to confront his old feelings. Along the way he navigates his relationship with his son and the two slowly become closer.
     This is a really sweet story. It has a bit of mystery, a bit of historical fiction, a bit of romance, and a bit of culture. Henry is a protagonist you can respect. His forgiving attitude after all his father put him through was commendable. His selfless love of his wife was inspirational, and by the way I think their love story was very sweet on its own terms.
     Also, Jamie Ford’s writing is phenomenal. He just tells a really good story and tells it well! I immediately added his other novel to my “to read” list on Goodreads. I hope it’s as good as this one. I’m just so happy that a contemporary author was able to write a compelling and beautiful story without anything bad in it. There isn’t one bad word or any sex in the whole book. Incredible! I’d shake Mr. Ford’s hand if I knew him.
     The only teeny criticism I have is that the end just seemed too unbelievable. Maybe just a little contrived. But I readily forgave it, because I wanted it to end that way anyway. I’m so happy to have had the chance to read this book. It was great!

     And of course because one star Goodreads reviews are so much funnier than five star ones, this reviewer said: “I am not the target audience. I am no fan of the sweet and sentimental; of pathos and wistfulness; of romance and thwarted love. And I despise Orson Scott Card, who helped get this book written, for his stalwart work on behalf of homophobia. Science fiction writers who are on the wrong side of history belong in the special hell.”  That’s right, why review a book when you could just take pot shots at a totally different author and judge them....for being judgmental.