Wednesday, September 16, 2015

On the Bookshelf: A Smattering of Assorted Reading Material

Hello, everybody! Happy feast of Sts. Cornlius and Cyprian! Today, I'm going to be talking literature. But first, I want to ask you all to stop and pray for Richard Glossip. He's a man that has been on Death Row for many, many years, and his execution by lethal injection is scheduled for 3 p.m. today here in Oklahoma. So please pray for him, as well as for our governor here in Oklahoma. Our governor seems determined that this man will die today, but there are many, many people petitioning her for a 60-day stay of execution, so that more evidence can be examined. So prayers and sacrifices would be awesome! 

For those of you new to the blog, today's post is another edition of "On the Bookshelf," a place to discuss wonderful (or not-so-wonderful) literature. I don't know about the rest of you, but I am always up for expanding my reading list! So if you have any books you recommend, feel free to comment below or shoot me an e-mail! I haven't done this series in a few weeks, so I have a very random assortment of reading material to share with y'all today, but hopefully you find something that you like! 

Queen of Katwe: One Girl's Triumphant Path to Becoming a Chess Champion, by Tim Crothers. I first heard about this book when I read an article stating that a movie is in the works. I don't know if y'all remember this, but my husband and I love to play chess together. A book about chess? About female empowerment? About the rising above harsh circumstances to succeed? Yes, all of these things. I loved reading this book! It tells the true-life story of Phiona Mutesi, who comes from the slums of Katwe, and how she became a chess champion. I love how the game of chess is being used to enrich the lives of countless people throughout impoverished parts of Africa, and how Phiona dedicates herself to this game, and to helping others. Phiona seems super down-to-Earth, and I would honestly love to hang out with her! So you all should just read this book and learn about her life and awesomeness. 

The Three Most Wanted, by Corinna Turner. This book is a sequel to I Am Margaret.  While I Am Margaret did an amazing job building up the dystopian society with suspense, drama, romance, action, and characterization, The Three Most Wanted shows us the characters as they continue their courageous work to escape the Government's grasp. While reading this book, I often had to stop and take a breath, because I literally felt like I was running, hiking, hiding, and deliberating with these characters. Becoming more acquainted with Margo, Bane, and Jon grew to be very interesting as they encountered the challenges of escaping and a cross-country trek. Each time you sit down for a breath and relax in the characters' safety, you are suddenly jolted into action as new events wreak havoc on their lives. I highly recommend this book! I thought it surpassed I Am Margaret in its amazingness, but both books are awesome. I am super excited for the third book to soon be released in the U.S.A.!!!!! 

A Hope Undaunted, by Julie Lessman. There are some "inspirational fiction" books out there which I really enjoy, and there are others that I could easily do without. I'm still trying to figure out where this books fits. I really, really liked the 1920s setting, and I also appreciated the positive portrayal of women's suffrage. I felt like some of the problems the characters dealt with were believable, and that some of their faith struggles were very real. I guess a lot of this book felt "predictable soap opera"ish, because it plays into emotional highs and lows a lot. I don't necessarily feel that this is a bad thing to read every once in a while, but it isn't the most intellectually stimulating thing out there. Also, when I read books like this, I find myself wishing that the heartbreaking/horrible twist just stayed that way, so I could see the characters finding a joyful resolution in less-than-stellar circumstances. Yes, it's fun when the two characters you're rooting for get together, but can't just start killing off or sending away all these other characters so that the couple of your choice gets together! Life doesn't work that way! How about we have a novel where the couple of choice doesn't get to be together, but they still find joy and fulfillment in life? Just a thought. On a scale of 1-5, I guess I'd give this book a 2/5 or 3. It was entertaining to read, it was some good fluffy reading for when I couldn't sleep, and I may pick up the next book in the series, just for fun. 

Kristinlavrandatter, by Sigrid Undset. I think "epic" is a good word to describe this saga. At 1000+ pages, this trilogy was my other "big read" on my Summer To-Do list (after Les Miserables). This trilogy spans the life of, you guessed it, Kristin, who is Lavrans' daughter, living in fourteen century Norway. Right off the bat, Sigrid Undset's writing is impeccable. Her descriptions of Norway are gorgeous. Also, who ever reads books set in fourteenth century Norway? Well, I did, and I am so glad of it!  Undset gives many intimate historical details to support the rich saga of Kristin's life. This story got very intense at times, and I must have been making funny faces while I reacted to the scenes, and weirded people out (I read a lot of this book while in the waiting room of the DMV place). The main things that bugged me were not about the writing, but about the story. There are all these reviews where people are like, "Kristin shows us a great example of motherhood." And I'm over here like, "If a woman is putting her children far above her husband, there is a definite problem." I feel like Kristin's husband often gets a bad rap by reviewers. Yes, the guy had problems, and he doesn't behave properly at times-but neither does Kristin. Yet everyone is fast to extol Kristin and condemn her husband? Grr...people. I mean, there is some good resolution at the end of the book, but there are many sections previous to that where I'm just like, "Kristin, girl, you are driving me bonkers!" All in all, despite how crazy Kristin makes me at times, this is a fantastic book, and one that I will definitely be re-reading. It shows the consequences of our actions, the drama of medieval Norway, and redemption. 

Apostolicam Actuositatem, promulgated by Pope Paul VI. I know this isn't a book, but I feel like including it on this list, because I just finished reading it! This document is awesome. I never knew it existed, until the end of my senior year in college, when I was in the library computer lab, using up my "print money." See, each student is allotted a certain amount of money to use in printing things, and I just couldn't let a  bunch of printing money go to a lot of students print off coloring pages, papal encyclicals, name it. And one of my friends who was in the Priestly Discernment Program was in their printing stuff, and I was printing stuff, and we showing off to each other all of the pages of things we were printing. And he had this document, which I hav never seen. I figured, He's in the PDP, he seems like a smart guy, so I should read that. I am so glad I did! I know sometimes, lay people can fall into the trap of thinking that holiness & active ministry to others is for the priests and religious sisters. this document. When I was reading it, I was all like, Shoot, I feel like I'm doing nothing currently! I was really encouraged by this document, and am trying to bring these principles into my own life. It's short, too, so you should totally read it! Oh, and it's free-just find it here! 

True Spirit, by Jessica Watson. When she was 16 years old, Jessica Watson sailed solo, unassisted, and nonstop around the world. What was I doing when I was 16 years old? Ummm...watching movies? Eating carrots? Reading books? Yeah...and this chick was over in Australia, setting sail in a tiny little boat. This book was awesome. First off, it's a true story, which is pretty cool. Secondly, this tale is crazy intense at times, as you see the conditions Jessica is met with out in the middle of the ocean. Thirdly, the writing style is engaging, the book is entertaining, and Jessica seems like a normal teenage girl-so this book is a lot of fun to read. I recommend it! 

The Brendan Voyage, by Tim Severin. So I was at the non-fiction section in the library where they kept sailing books, which is how I found True Spirit. And then I saw The Brendan Voyage, and knew I had to read that, too! This book is incredibly awesome. It starts out with a deeply intellectual married couple, who start discussing: "Hey, remember that Latin poem we read about St. Brendan? The legend that he sailed to North America way before Columbus did? Do you think that could have actually happened?" And...this book is a result. Severin did huge amounts of research to construct an authentic, sixth century leather boat, to journey on the course that St. Brendan supposedly took to North America. Their adventures are pretty wild, and...does he prove that St. Brendant travelled to North America in the sixth century? You'll have to read this to find out! This book is mega intense at times, funny, very entertaining, and I highly recommend it. I honestly can't think of a reason why you wouldn't want to read this's really, really good. 

The Suspicion at Sandition, by Carrie Bebris. Apparently there is a whole "Mr. & Mrs. Darcy Mystery" series, and this book is part of it. So now, I want to read all the other books in the series! Oh, and this novel is set at Sanditon, which means I now want to re-read Sanditon, because I haven't read it in years. Anyway, in this novel, Mr. & Mrs. Darcy (who are super adorbs!!! I couldn't handle the scenes where they were talking cute!!) and a bunch of other people wind up at Sanditon House for a dinner party, hosted by Lady Denham. And then Lady Denham disappears. Then, other people begin disappearing. So you literally have random people who barely know each other, rushing around a huge house on a dark and stormy night, trying to figure out who is kidnapping everyone, and trying to avoid being kidnapped! It's great. I really liked this book a lot, and I definitely stayed up way to late last night finishing it, because I couldn't put it down while things were halfway resolved! If you like Jane Austen, you should read this book. And if for no other reason...because you get quality time with Mr. & Mrs. Darcy :) 

Thanks for hanging out with me today for this book discussion! I hope that you enjoyed discovering my latest finds, and that you found some material to help boost your own reading list! 

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