Sunday, September 16, 2012

I’ve been very naughty about updating this blog. Perhaps I can beg the excuse of having recently had twin daughters, but the truth is that really had nothing to do with it since they are only five weeks old and I’ve been a slacker for far longer.  I’ve read so many books in the time since I last posted that I’ve decided to just give you the best of the books and not waste time on the ones I didn’t like.

Divergent- Veronica Roth

While I'm becoming more and more annoyed with the level of gratuitous violence in young adult literature, mostly because of the vast and ambiguous nature of the label young adult which puts inappropriate content in the hands of younger and younger readers, this book was a good read. Violent, but good. Not violent on the level of Hunger Games which is the very definition of gratuitous violence, but still violent.

The story is well written and engaging but the overall message is a bit disturbing. Intelligence and education make you evil. The world is divided into five factions, Dauntless who honor bravery above all, Candor which honors honesty above all, Amity which honors friendship above all, Abnegation which honors selflessness above all and Erudite which honors learning above all. Guess who the bad guys end up being? Guess who the end up being mindless dupes of the evil intelligencia?

Very indicative of a communist theory where each to his own talents and ability but that those who focus on intellect and learning are not really contributing and are embracing elitism. Remember the Chinese Cultural Revolution? The persecution of academia in Cambodia and Vietnam?

The idea that the military is the brainless arm of the elitist intelligencia is a very sad and dangerous message to be sending. Not to mention the idea that being intelligent makes you power hunger and evil.

Mary Boleyn, The Mistress of Kings - Alison Weir

This is Alison Weir's typical quality work. The story is well researched and Weir admits that the historical record that exists for Mary Boleyn is very thin and a great deal of the "facts" about her life are really conjecture based on biased comments by individuals who would have a serious axe to grind against any Boleyn and who are known to be inaccurate or were not contemporaries of the Boleyns.

This was a bit drier than Weir's usual work, but the subject is so controversial as to require a higher element of academic writing, especially given the fictional accounts of this woman's life that have been popularly accepted as fact.

No Ordinary Day-Deborah Ellis
This is an excellent little story. It's a character driven piece about a young girl in India who is one of the throwaway children of the world. Running away from an abusive home, Valli survives on the streets. But a dangerous disease is eating away at her body, one that terrifies her and will kill her if she doesn't accept the help of a young doctor. In India, even today leprosy is still a problem and its victims stigmatized as evil and unclean.

The story is well written and Valli is a well developed character that people of all ages should be able to identify with.

Bringing Up Bébé –Pamela Druckerman

Some people are bound to dislike this book because parenting styles can be a very touchy subject. Many people take it as a personal affront when someone advocates or uses a different method or disagrees with them. As mothers we tend to over react. This book doesn't criticize any method of parenting used by American parents, but tells us her experiences raising her children in France and her integration and embracing of many components of French parenting

The book is fascinating reading and I found that though I am an American, I could see the reason and the logic behind the French philosophy, a philosophy that the whole culture seems to embrace almost to a person. The idea that children need to experience controlled frustration so they learn to manage it, that they need time to be alone to know themselves and to learn to be alone comfortably, the idea of the "cadre" the structured framework of expectations and rules of the family that allow children freedom and leeway inside the boundaries set makes excellent sense.

Echoes of the Titanic-Mindy Sterns Clark and John Campbell Clark

Very well written and nicely paced. An enjoyable read with good characters. I know that sounds like a simplistic review, but what more do you need to say?

The one hundredth anniversary of the Titanic disaster looms and with it the disaster of another kind. Kelsey Tate is the great granddaughter of a Titanic survivor. Her great grandmother Adele was a power house of women in business before women were supposed to even know what business was. She built her father’s company into a strong and powerful financial institute by investing in the lives and dreams of women and immigrants. Now her legacy and legend are threatened. Kelsey’s father, the natural head of the company has suffered a stroke. The company is facing a hostile takeover and now Adele’s very identity is being questioned. Could Adele, Kelsey’s idol, be a fraud? Did she really steal the identity of her cousin who perished on the Titanic?

To find answers when all doors close around her, Kelsey turns to the one man she has ever loved, a man whose trust she betrayed many years ago in her quest to follow in her great grandmother’s foot steps.

The Lady Most Likely-Julia Quinn, Eloisa James, and Connie Brockway

A nice, light little triple romance. This was a lovely way to tie together three shorts. When the Earl of Briarly tells his sister he's ready to marry and take a wife, she's thrilled. Then he tells her to make a list of eligible young women. Going one further his sister invites several young men and women to a house party. The Earl's sister's matchmaking brings together more than just one couple destined to be together.

There are several more- some really great, but most were series and I think I’ll group them in a later post looking at some of the series I’ve really liked this summer.