Tuesday, July 26, 2011

What's On My Nightstand (July)

The list is long this time! 

Mixed Signals by Liz Curtis Higgs. I am liking this one. I don't always love contemporary romance novels, I tend to prefer historical romance. But I'm glad I made an exception for Liz Curtis Higgs. This one is set in a small Southern town, and the heroine is a DJ at an oldies station. And the music references alone makes it a bit fun!

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. I am NOT liking this one. I don't even know if this should surprise me. While I have loved three or four of the Steinbeck I've read--I'd easily say that should be LOVED, LOVED, LOVED-- this isn't my first or second or even third attempt to read The Grapes of Wrath. There is a crudeness to this one that isn't exactly typical of the Steinbeck that I've loved. Maybe it's the additional vulgarity and crudeness, maybe it's the lack of humor? Who knows. All I know is that I don't really like the language of this one at all.

Dragonwyck by Anya Seton. I am not hating this one exactly. I am just not liking it as much as I had hoped. I can say this. It definitely reminds me of Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte and Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. The "hero" has not shown ANY heroic qualities at all. I think you'd have to be a silly type of fifteen or sixteen year old girl to have a crush on him, to find him irresistibly charismatic. (And he's the heroine's cousin). Taking the creep factor up, it's got an afterword by Philippa Gregory. Gregory gushes on and on and on about how Nicholas Van Ryn, the hero-villain, is so dreamy and swoon-worthy, and how readers see the attraction immediately. And how readers automatically want Miranda, the heroine, to win him away from his oh-so-fat wife, whom readers automatically hate because they find her fat disgusting. I was like, WHAT IS SHE TALKING ABOUT? I'm supposed to want this immature little baby-of-a-girl without any brains at all to tear this marriage apart? I am supposed to cheer while this marriage falls apart? Granted, I haven't gotten *that* far in the book yet. She's not even admitting to herself how much she wants her cousin. But the way Gregory talks about this one--well, it's just CREEPY! I'm supposed to hate the wife because she's fat?! I'm supposed to find this jerk of a guy swoon-worthy?! After reading this:
"I believe that death is inherent in our lives, that we get the kind of death which our natures attract. The mediocre die in bed where they began; the brave die adventurously."
"And those who are murdered deserved to be murdered?" asked the Count, amused.
Nicholas' eyes lingered a second on the other's face. "Perhaps," he said. "There's a vast amount of twaddle and sentimentality in the commonplace mind about death. It would be far better for the race if the ugly and useless ones were eliminated."
"But monsieur!" expostulated the Count, laughing. "This is barbaric. Who is to decide which one is ugly or useless enough for death? Who would dare?"
Nicholas lifted his glass and took a delicate sip. "I would dare--if the occasion arose." (62)
Does Nicholas sound swoon-worthy to you?! Shouldn't any reader have more judgment sense than that?

Fallen Founder: The Life of Aaron Burr by Nancy Isenberg. So. I read My Theodosia by Anya Seton. And this historical novel (that may or may not have any truth in it) has inspired me to pick up a couple of nonfiction books about the time period. Including this biography of Aaron Burr. I'm three chapters into it so far and I'm really enjoying it! Much more than some of the fiction I've been reading (The Grapes of Wrath, Dragonwyck).

By His Own Hand? The Mysterious Death of Meriwether Lewis edited by John D.W. Guice. This is another nonfiction book inspired by the oh-so-fictional My Theodosia. In the novel, Seton imagines Theodosia madly, deeply, in love with Meriwether Lewis--but she's already married, and so this love--though requited--can never, ever have a happy ending. Despite Seton claiming that the romance had three sources, I don't think that is exactly the case. Anyway, this book presents a couple of sides. One person arguing for a case of suicide, another person arguing for a case of murder, and another person assessing the strengths and weaknesses of both sides of the issue. I certainly didn't know about this mystery...at all. So I am finding the book fascinating!

Let God Change Your Life: How To Know and Follow Jesus by Greg Laurie. I hope to finish this one soon for review at Operation Actually Read Bible.

Safely Home by Randy C. Alcorn. Another one I hope to finish soon for Operation Actually Read Bible. It's an interesting book. I'm not absolutely loving it. I find myself wanting to yell at one of the narrators. The book is definitely issue-driven. And the dialogue, at times, seems a little too purposeful, if that makes sense. I wouldn't say that it always feels forced, like the reader is the audience of a debate. But it can feel that way in places. Still, it's an interesting book about Christians being persecuted in China.

What's On Your Nightstand is hosted by 5 Minutes for Books. 

© 2011 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

8 comments:

morninglight mama 9:23 AM  

Somehow I got all the way through schooling and college without having read any Steinbeck, and haven't picked any up as an adult, either. Perhaps this would not be the best one to potentially start with, huh? :)
-Dawn, 5M4B

Monica 9:44 AM  

I really like Randy Alcorn. I have another on my shelf just waiting...Greg Lauri is also another great. For August I have Lies we tell ourselves. IT is a short one but they don't have to be long to be good!

Jillian 10:03 AM  

Some great picks!

Trish 10:56 AM  

Quite a list here! I am a big fan of Liz Curtis Higgs. Bookends was good, too.

Cassandra 4:26 PM  

Sounds like a great list! I hope everything turns out to be an inspiring read. :)

Kailana 8:22 AM  

Enjoy your books!

Beth 2:14 AM  

I read Mixed Signals years ago (it had a different cover), but I remember that I really liked it.

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I am interested in reviewing books and audio books. This blog focuses on books written for middle grade on up (essentially 10 to a 110). I review middle grade fiction and young adult fiction (aka tween and teen).

I also review adult books.

I read in a variety of genres including realistic fiction, historical fiction, mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, and chick lit. (I've read one western to date.)

I read a few poetry books, a few short story collections, a few graphic novels, a few nonfiction books.

I am especially fond of:

  • Regency romances (including Austen prequels/sequels)
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I am more interested in strong characters, well-written, fleshed-out, human characters. Plot is secondary to me in a way. I have to care about the characters in order to care about the plot. That being said, compelling storytelling is something that I love. I love to become absorbed in what I'm reading.

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