Something to read today: The Declaration of Indepedence
Some good Fourth of July books?
The Killer Angels, by Michael Shaara, about the Battle of Gettysburg, which took place July 1-3, 1863, and is also the basis for the film Gettysburg.
Something to read today: The Declaration of Indepedence
Some good Fourth of July books?
The Killer Angels, by Michael Shaara, about the Battle of Gettysburg, which took place July 1-3, 1863, and is also the basis for the film Gettysburg.
I am really excited to share this book in book club, for a few reasons. One, it’s a great novel about something most people probably don’t know a lot about: how the Hawaiian government handled leprosy/Hansen’s disease by shipping those with the disease to the island of Moloka’i, forcibly separating them from their families, usually for the rest of their lives. Two, it has two new Saints from the Catholic Church in it: St. Damian of Molokai, and St. Marianne Cope, who was a Franciscan sister who ran a house for girls with leprosy on the island. Sr. Marianne was recently canonized.
Moloka’i is told from the perspective of a young girl who is diagnosed with leprosy and sent to live on the island. That choice of narrator provides such a rich variety of experiences, as she grows up in a very different place than most little girls do. The compelling narration is one of the best elements of the story.
If you’d like to read along with us, feel free! Even if you’ve already read it, I always approve of re-reading. 🙂
Looking back over my Goodreads counter, I see I read a ton of books in May. So buckle up. 🙂
Waiting to Be Heard, by Amanda Knox: Knox was convicted of murdering her British roommate in Italy several years ago. The ruling was then reversed, and Amanda was released and sent back to the states. Now the Italian government wants her extradited to stand trial for the murder again. This is Knox’s memoir about her time in Italy, what happened the night of the murder, and her experiences with the Italian justice system. Let’s just say it’s not a fond look. She definitely makes some questionable choices in the beginning, but her treatment at the hands of the Italian government is shabby at the best. It was a quick read.
Last of the Donkey Pilgrims, by Kevin O’Hara: O’Hara, a Vietnam vet and Irish citizen by birth, comes back to Ireland from his home in the states and endeavors to be a “donkey pilgrim”–to traverse all of Ireland with a donkey and cart. It’s a fun and fascinating read, and if you’re at all Irish, like I am, or just love a good travelogue, you’ll very much enjoy this book.
May I Be Happy, by Cyndi Lee: A memoir by the world renowed yoga instructor about body acceptance and the meaning of happiness. (And yes, yoga in involved)
A Step of Faith, Richard Paul Evans: I am a total devotee of RPE, and have been since I read his first book, The Christmas Box, in seventh grade. This is the fourth installment of his very popular Walk series, in which the protagonist decides to walk from his home in Seattle to Key West, Florida, after the death of his wife and the loss of his home and business. This series is tremendously well written.
Fides et Ratio: John Paul The Great’s encyclical on the relationship between faith and reason.
My Sisters The Saints, by Colleen Carroll Campbell: I really wanted to like this, but it left me sort of cold. There was a sense of overdramatic writing and trying a bit too hard to make her journey relate to that of familiar saints.
Blessed, Beautiful and Bodacious, by Pat Gohn: Now I really liked this one. The book deals with how to be an authentically Catholic woman, without resorting to the all-too-common “married women only need apply” patina that glosses so many of similar books. Her writing style is conversational and fluid, and I really enjoyed it.
The Return of the Native, by Thomas Hardy: In the mode of almost all Hardy: man and woman marry. Man and woman unhappy. Man and woman end unhappily. Sigh. However, it’s good writing and vivid characters.
Italian Food, by Elizabeth David: I bought this in NYC during a recent trip, and loved this book. David, a famous British food writer, makes Italian food accessible with simple recipes that still work today.
Beautiful Ruins, by Jess Walter: Yes, I finally broke down and read this. Stick with it. It starts slow, but oh how it all comes together!
Extra Virginity, by Tom Mueller: Extra Virgin Olive Oil has become a staple in American kitchens. But is it really extra virgin? A fascinating look at the olive oil industry around the world.
Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child, by Bob Spitz: Continuing in the cooking vein, this is a brilliant, all encompassing biography of the woman who really brought French cooking to America. Spitz doesn’t gloss over the more controversial or idiosyncratic parts of her character and allows her to exist in her entirety. A great read.
A Clash of Kings and A Storm of Swords, by George R R Martin: Books two and three in the Game of Thrones: A Song of Ice and Fire series. Battles are won and lost, people are dismembered, people die, and marriages are made. And ended. Oh, and dragons.
The Joy Diet, by Martha Beck: Ten ways to bring more joy into your life.
Possession, by AS Byatt: If you read only one book on this VERY LONG list, make it this one. Two British researches uncover a hidden relationship between two Victorian era poets. That’s the basic outline. But it’s so much more than that. Read it.
Hello Readers, this is one of the co-founders of “Three Bookish Girls” we have been hiatus for a while. Reasons or excuses it does not matter. I was hoping to bring this back up especially now since I am not even living near the other two co-founders. This is a way to not only give you the readers a chance to get some great read material for your life, but for Em, Camille, and I to see what each other is reading maybe find a way to make this book club in the ideas and core of the initial making of the club.
One thing I am hoping I can do almost every month is write a blog posting of all the books I have read and give a little brief summary of my thoughts of each book. So, without further excuses…..
This month I made a point to make a more realistic goal for 2013 and that decision was to read twenty-five books this year. I know that is such as small number, yet I think I work better with low numbers and over-exceed the number. Have you ever made a too high goal and then you over-stress about it? That would be me.
The fruits of this idea have been in my favor so far. I have read nine books in between all the moving, unpacking, cleaning, date nights, and cooking. I am quite proud of myself too. A few took me longer than the others, but all the same I averaged a book a day.
Most readers would say, “You read Romance novel?” I sadly can say I do, but I am quite picky (about as picky as I am about food). I would like to thank my aunt who got me involve in reading romance novels, but it also my aunt who helped me find the right kind romance novels.
What do I mean by that? Simply put, there are those romance novels which is nothing but porn in written word to which I cannot stand and then there are actually stories that have a plot, character development, and yes, sex. But those stories do not go heavily on sex. There are few authors who do this, where you can skip sex scenes and you still have a story.
One of those authors is none other than Julia Quinn. Mrs. Quinn was my first romance author that I read; instantly I fell in love with her way of writing dialogue. Not only dialogue but also her ability to write that amazing time period to a modern audience without it becoming more of a modern tale and not a historical story. Her characters are not those copy and paste stereotypical, but each have similarities to the other, but unique in their own way of handling different situations.
Alright, I need to stop raving about this wonderful author and actually talk about the book. The Lady Most Willing is Julia Quinn’s second installment of “a novel in three parts”. What is that? Well in brief instead of three authors writing individual stories based on a common theme these three novelist wrote one plot, but put their own twists with the characters they chose to write about. I find it fun because one I have never seen a book done that way so well (unless it is a biography or non-fiction book), but two you can never truly tell who wrote what.
The Lady Most Willing is about a Scottish Lord who has no male heirs and his two nephews are being pain in the butts about getting married and having children so he takes it into his own hands. How? By going to a neighboring castle to which he knew that there will be a ball with good quality ladies there (for his nephews to pick) and kidnap them. Of course the Lord kidnaps a few ladies, but the twist comes when he grabs three ladies (the three he wanted) then one Scottish lass by accident who has no connection; then to top it off: a very angry duke who was kidnapped just because he fell asleep in his coach and the Scottish Lord stole it. Oh did I mention they are snowed in, the Scottish Lord is either lucky or very smart!
This book is funny and witty, especially in the dialogue. It took me just eight hours altogether to read the book, probably less if I had not stopped. I think many people would turn away from this book because it is a Historical Romance, but I tell you it is a good book that if you take the sex (the actually sex scenes, think there is two MAYBE) you still got a story.
Rating: 5 out of 5
My husband bought me this book; he knows how much I love history. But, the other reason he bought it was he knew I have been looking for information about four forgotten graves that are in the Alexandria National Cemetery in Alexandria, Virginia.
Who is buried in those four graves? Who would care? Let me answer the first question by saying these four graves are the four men who lose their lives chasing John Wilkes Booth and his companion, David Harold. They are forgotten in history books and story-tellers of the chase. It was by chance reading the plaque that I had learned about the four men. I have since December 2008 researching to figure out: how they died, why are they not know, who they were. Loads of questions and no answers. This book was my hope to shred light on them.
Alas, after the small book no details of their death were made or even mentioned. Though I found no evidence of their deaths the book was in fact very interesting. It brings to life the plot (both the failed attempt JWB did before he thought of assassinate Lincoln), the shot, the chase, but also brings to life the other almost assassinations that night and the heroic actions that took place.
Finally thought on the book was it takes away much of the lore of Lincoln’s assassination and JWB. I would like to read the actual non-fiction book this book was just a summary for. Maybe I will find what I was looking for.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
I try not to dislike reading a book, but this one book was not my best choice in reading. The Pub Across The Pond by Mary Carter was bought while I was at the Dublin Irish Festival (Dublin, Ohio). I met the author and my copy is an autographed copy.
The plot was interesting, a woman buys a raffle to win a pub in Ireland while she was attending the Dublin Irish Festival in Ohio. She has bad luck and knew she would not win, but her luck has changed for now she is the owner of the Pub. The Pub was made into a raffle because the owner (former owner’s eldest son) decided to gamble his pub in a hand of cards with his uncle. Her story of how she learns to deal with the community not wanting her to own the pub and her feelings about the former owner’s son.
Like I mentioned while the plot was interesting it (the book) did not in my opinion hold up to the plot. One of the big factors was the lack of character development I felt some of the characters and their parts in the story were either too rushed, too much, or not enough. It was like a cut of the character when the character was finally developing.
Finally, while the description was okay I never felt I was sucked into Ireland or even in the scenes.
Rating: 3 out 5
This book was part of my ongoing studies with St. Catherine of Siena Dominican Laity Chapter. I was never able to read it all, for reasons that are stupid now. So this month I made a promise to finish this book.
One thing most who I know and who read Scott Hahn’s books he really focuses much of his work on explaining God’s Covenant. One thing that does cause is sometimes he repeats himself from one book to the next. Which is fine when you are making a point. But, sometimes I feel I have read it before from another book Hahn wrote.
While this book was really great in helping me understand how the New Testament is the fulfillment of the Old Testament. I do think he kept going into circles (that is what my husband calls it).
I would still recommend this book, especially to understand God’s Covenant with His people and how God has never broke his Covenant.
Rating: 4 out 5
Back in High School I read To Kill a Mocking by Harper Lee and fell in love with the book. For those who have not read this book, please read this one!
The story revolves around a little girl growing up in a small town in the South during the Great Depression. Harper Lee has the ability to write a story and you can jump into that small town. The story of the innocence of Scout and the outlook of her journeys are amazing.
Of course I must say who cannot love her dad, Atticus. There are days when I was a teenager and going through the trials of pulling away from my own daddy that I wanted Atticus as my dad. But, I can say I can see Atticus in my dad.
One of the most important thing about this book is Harper Lee exposes the prejudice and racism of the south. The mindset of that time period and how injustice could be made so easily. And it all is shown through the eyes of a little girl.
If you, the readers do not mind I would like quote my favorite quote from the whole book:
People in their right minds never take pride in their talents.
Rating: 5 out of 5
In 2006 I was able to watch Hayao Miyazaki’s version of “Howl’s Moving Castle”. After watching the film I commented many times to those who wanted to watch a great animated film to watch that one for the story-line was so amazing, but the characters were GREAT! It was a few years later that I saw the novel and instantly I had to have it. I read it the day I got it and could never put it down. I could see that world that Miyazaki put in drawings.
This month I decided to re-read the book since it has been so long. Howl’s Moving Castle is a story about a young woman, Sophie who described as plain and boring, but wants to do something in her life, but because she is the eldest and like a pushover she is always placed into a corner.
As the story goes on Sophie meets with the Witch of the Waste and turns Sophie into a ninety-year old woman. Sophie leaves her home to find how to break the curse placed on her. While on her journey she come to the Moving Castle which is the famous wizard Howl’s.
I really do not want to ruin any of the plots, but I highly recommend this imaginative novel for any age and when you finish go watch Miyazaki’s “Howl’s Moving Castle”. You won’t regret it!
Rating: 5 out 5
When I told my little sister that I loved the book Running Out of Time when I was in elementary School she would hand me a book titled, Turnabout by the same author. And autographed too!
This book was one of those books that reminds me of why I was so much against cloning. Story is about a woman who is part of an experiment that would make you young. Sounds fine right? No, instead of stopping at a certain age she will keep getting younger until what, not even she knows. What is worst is every year she turns a year younger, she loses memories of her “old” life.
Now she and one other woman who turn the same serum must find a way to keep themselves out of the lab, but who will take care of them when they are wearing diapers.
One of my favorite things about this book is the woman’s memory books, which she wrote when she learned that she would be losing memories of her “old” life every year she turned back.
I cried most through it, because so many people if they could would become a part of something like this, but never think about what the cost is for them.
Rating: 4 out of 5
In 2011 Brian Jacques passed away. When I had learned about this, I remember the book he wrote back in the nineties titled, Martin the Warrior. I decided to hunt down that book and re-read it.
Martin the Warrior is about a young warrior mouse who is captured and placed into Slavery. Rose, mousemaid is looking for her brother when she and her companion, Grumm meet Martin who had been punished for defy authority. Their journey to save all those enslaved by the Tryant and how Martin becomes who is Martin, the Warrior.
The book took me much longer than I had expected. I do believe the reason it took so long was the dialogue. Jacques has a brilliant way of capturing the dialects, but it can take time to read. I had to read over most of the dialogue, especially Grumm, the Mole and the Searats. Jacques was capturing the way they spoke not what they were saying in a way.
Just to mention this book is part of Jacques’ series Redwall. This is actually the last book of the series. Some would think I would have went in order. But, I think this book in all honestly will help me when I read the other Redwall books to understand more of why Martin does what he does.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Finally, the last book has to be one of the favorite new books I have read. Style, Sex, & Substance in as the cover says, “10 Catholic Women Consider the Things that Really Matter”. My husband bought me this book while we went for the first time to the Catholic Bookstore in Charleston. Women like: Hallie Lord, Jennifer Fulwiler, Anna Mitchell, Simcha Fisher, Elizabeth Duffy are some of my favorite Catholic writers/bloggers. To read such work done by them in a book I could not pass it up.
Each chapter deals with something that most women go through, but the trick is how do we as, Catholic women handle it. I found a lot of their advice really helpful especially now that I am married. In these next few lines I would like to quotes these lovely ladies. I think I have favorite quotes in every chapter even well almost:
This is what I learned: To uncover your unique brand of holiness, you have to sift your God-given quirks and talents from your sins
But this much I know: We women have to got to find a way to be merciful toward ourselves without completely throwing in the towel; to surrender to the hard times while still fighting for our ideals; and to remain open to God’s grace while accepting that sometimes that grace isn’t going to look and feel how we might hope.
We’re proudly pope-loving, sterilization-eschewing, Eucharist-adoring, confession-going, twenty-first-century Catholic specimens of femininity who buck societal norms and balk at contemporary expectations. Yeah, we’re the face of the new rebellion.
Rebecca Ryskind Teti
In stressing the spiritual maternity of all women, the Church is neither imposing physical motherhood on anyone nor forbidding women to have careers. It’s simply standing up for women against those who would force them to be just like men (by devaluing motherhood) and those who would reduce them to baby machines (by valuing only physical maternity).
Good friends build each other; they don’t bring each other down.
I’d like to say I have always handled the tough times as a model of maturity, leaning hard on the graces God gives us in the sacrament of marriage. But, I’d also like to not be a liar.
Barbara R. Nicolosi
Our challenge is to baptize the goods of technology the way Christians through the ages have always entered into culture; finding what is good or neutral there and utilizing it for evangelization.
Well that is all that I have for this month, I am reading a book right now but I know that I will not have finished until the month of February.
Note: I won an advance copy of this book through the website Good Reads. It’s an “advance uncorrected proof” according to the publisher’s sticker on the front. I’m not paid to write a review, I’m writing it for the heck of it–although that is part of the understanding with Good Reads (that if you win a book, you’ll review it). I don’t know the author personally, so all thoughts are my own.
Most of us think we know all about Helen Keller: the blind/deaf girl who, at the age of seven, learned that everything has a name from the tireless work of her teacher, Annie Sullivan, who finger spelled words into her hand. She graduated from Radcliffe College, gave speeches throughout the country, travelled the world, and wrote The Story of My Life, as well as other works. She was a close friend of Mark Twain and Alexander Graham Bell, and met every U.S. President from Grover Cleveland until she died in the 1960s.
But history glosses over some things: she was a Socialist, against World War I, not traditionally Christian (she was a Swedenborgian), and supported Margaret Sanger’s birth control crusade.
She also fell in love.
In the novel Helen Keller In Love, it is this last part that receives attention, although the less palatable facts of Helen’s life, such as her political views, are also mentioned. Sultan seeks to create a full portrait of the woman that everyone thinks they know from her writings, history, and The Miracle Worker. But Helen was a woman of passions and desires just like any other, and, at the age of 37, fell in love with her secretary, Peter Fagin. The two applied for, and received, a marriage application from Boston City Hall, and it seemed that the two would elope. But they never married.
The letters written between the two were lost in a house fire during Helen’s lifetime. But the historical record does tell us that Fagin did exist, as did the marriage license. How their relationship blossomed and, eventually, ended, is Fagin’s plot line.
Her Helen is fully realized, a sharply intelligent, fiery and passionate woman who, at thirty seven, has never had a man touch in her admiration, has never been in love, and has never been allowed to pursue any life outside of what her mother and Annie deemed appropriate for her. When Annie becomes seriously ill, Fagin is brought in as an aide to Helen. Freed from Annie’s constant scrutiny and companionship for the first tim win her life, she falls in love with Peter…and he seems to be in love with her. Is he really? Or is he attracted to her fame and the notoriety that being close to her brings him?
The novel also creates a compelling portrait of Helen’s relationship with “Teacher”, as well as with her mother, Kate, and younger sister, Mildred. Everyone in her life wants what’s “best for Helen”–but Helen rarely gets to decide what is best for her.
Sultan’s novel is compelling and a richly rewarding read, as she brings to life the Helen Keller that few people are aware of–one who lived a full life outside the perfect public appearances.
I must say it has been awhile since I last wrote on this blog, and I am regretting that. These past few months have been hectic for me, but I will say it has not stopped the reading. This Lenten season I decided again to give up secular books/novels and focus more on religious books instead. As I am coming close to the end I thought I give a listing of the books I have read.
The two Patrick Madrid books I find are great starter books for those wishing to either defend the Catholic Church, but even he mentions that readers should really use this as a way of going further in studies with their CCC (Catechism of the Catholic Church) and Sacred Scripture.
While Mr. Madrid’s books were starters, Scott Hahn’s Swear to God is a intensive read especially for me. While I am devout in my Catholic faith and one who loves to explore more Swear to God brings you more in-depth with the Sacraments. Though as many have said to me before Mr. Hahn tends to keep a central theme in all his books (covenants) I find I like that quality in his books. To add I learned more about the sacraments in this book than I had known, really helped with wanting to further my studies on my faith.
Lastly, Fr. Robert Barron’s Catholicism is concise book that gives I feel an outline of his project Catholicism (which is a series of episodes). I have never seen the series, but I can say that when you read the book you can see the outline. I think my only problem with the book was that I felt there could have been more done with it, I do not know what, but maybe like the Madrid books it is just a starter book to make you ask further questions or study more.
I just finished Catholicism right before I wrote this entry, and now going to start a new book: Women, Sex, and the Church: A Case for Catholic Teaching. This book is a combined effort of women defending the teachings of the Church on Women and the Issues that deal with Women. I hope to have a good chunk of this book finished by the end of this week.
Well that is all for now.
Well, most of them I’ve listed in my list under the “recommendations” tab at the top of the page. But to recap: (prose only, here)
Dear N and C,
I am a Jane purist, so I tend to dislike “retellings” of P&P. The one exception to this rule isn’t really a re-telling, per se: it’s telling the story from Darcy’s point of view. It’s called Darcy’s Story, and for awhile it was only available in the UK (Where my very good friend A picked it up for me), but is now available stateside. The UK edition, however, has the origianl P&P artwork in it, which I adore.
I have read Elizabeth Ashton’s “Continuations” of P&P, and I find these “diverting”, as Elizabeth would say. Mr. Darcy’s Daughters is the first one, and imagines Mr and Mrs. D with “five marriageable daughters of [their] own!” Elizabeth and Darcy are in Turkey for the novel–Darcy having secured a plum diplomatic post–so the girls are staying with Cousin Fitzwilliam. It’s an enjoyable romp. But, in general, I tend to read the originals as opposed to “retellings”.
As for modern romances…I don’t do a whole lot of them, if by that we mean the “romance” section at B&N.
I’m intrigued by PJ James’ Death at Pemberly, which is another sort of “continuation” of P&P. But really, who is better than Jane? Almost no one.
Just recently, I decided to re-read a book that was returned to me. It is a re-telling of the famous story by Jane Austen Pride and Prejudice.
I can admit that to many and including myself, there are many novels that are re-tellings of this famous story. Certainly they can go from one extreme to the next. I must also admit that because of this factor I am picky and almost hesiate about reading many of these novels.
Darcy’s Voyage by Kara Louise was a book I had picked up one day at Barnes & Noble because it looked different. I read the first few pages and was instantly grabbed by how she wrote, in my opinion was not how Jane would write, but is has feel of Jane in the style. (If that makes any sense)
What caught my eye also with the novel itself was the re-told story was on the sea, which was absolutely interesting to me, because I did wonder how would that work out. Best part is Kara keeps a good amount of the story in there and everything, well almost everything happens the way Jane plotted.
My first time reading the book, it took me literally a day to finish the book. Kara Louise brings a new “what-if this happened instead” to readers. I like how she kept to the characters personalities, but maybe made a new dimension to them to fit her story.
One thing I love to say about this book, is I wanted to use the term “delightful diversion” as much as Elizabeth did after meeting Mr. Wright (aka Mr. Darcy). It is a lovely read for those who love and adore the characters that were created by the wonderful Miss Jane Austen.
Before I end this entry, I must ask not only Em and Camille, but everyone, is there a good novel based on Jane Austen or really any classic that you loved to read and would recommend?
I delved into poetry in high school. One author we read often was John Donne. At the time, I
found his poetry extremely hard to understand and harsh in tone. So, I wrote him off as a poet I would
never comprehend and left it at that. I also wrote off poetry. I could comprehend prose better and stuck
About four years later, I came across a HBO movie
describes what it is like to die from cancer. The loneliness, the desire to interact with others, the ultimate fear
of death. Well, the person dying from this horrible disease was a Doctor of Philosophy specializing in
the metaphysical poetry of John Donne. Throughout the movie she recites the Holy Sonnets focusing
on Holy Sonnet VI.
Listening to the poem, rather than reading it myself brought it to life for me. I could hear the tone John
Donne was setting. I could sense the dread of facing death. I could feel the relief that “Death is just a
breath, a pause between life and life everlasting” (Wit)
This new-found understanding of John Donne made me want to find more of his poetry, in particular
his Holy Sonnets. They became prayers to me. I was able to find more of his Holy Sonnets in my
While John Donne is still very difficult to understand properly, I have come to appreciate his work even
more. By understanding how to read poetry, I hope to gain a deeper appreciation for the art that is
poetry and fall in love with it even more.