My Favorite Books I Read in 2013

Looking back into 2013, as I mentioned in a previous post I read a lot. But, did I have favorites ? Of course I did! While I found that majority of the books I read during the 2013 were amazing and good, I decided to list out my favorite five from 2013. Just to note, they are not in order of most favorite of favorites.

By Alan Brennert

By Alan Brennert

Moloka’i: this book was part of our book club list. This became one of the five favorites for the simple reasons, it was a beautiful story written very well. It was a part of the history of Hawaii I knew so little of. This fictional story not only informed me of what happened, but I felt I was experiencing the girl’s life.

Editor: Hallie Lord

Editor: Hallie Lord

Style, Sex, & Substance: what happens when you get a group of Catholic women writers/bloggers, and ask them to write something….a great compilation of reflections that truly reflect, I think Catholic women on issues that inflict us in this modern time. I never knew this book existed until I saw it in a Catholic Bookstore in Charleston, SC (where I was stationed at this past year). I knew of all of the writers because I follow their blogs or have met them once in my life.

By: Lynn Sheene

By: Lynn Sheene

The Last Time I Saw Paris: I cannot help but promote this book, I love this book! I was never one to read about the French Resistance during WWII for I felt it was over-played and I do not know it never struck me as interesting to read. That changed with this book! (Or it just could be that this book was really good!) The twists, the spying, and writing, I actually re-read it after I finished it.

By: Bob Thomas

By: Bob Thomas

An American Original: Walt Disney : I have always loved Walt Disney, but I did not know much about his life or some of the myths that were a part of Walt. After reading this book, I found myself respecting Walt Disney even more than I did before. This biography makes Walt, well human not an idol or god, which from what I know of Disney then and now he never was something he wasn’t. Sometimes, what made him an idol of how he wished things to be done or how things seem to just come out of no where. If you want to know Walt, I suggest reading this book.

By: Pope (Emeritus) Benedict XVI

By: Pope (Emeritus) Benedict XVI

Jesus of Nazareth, Book II: With this being in my list it proves something for me, I am a woman for Holy Week and the Sorrowful Mysteries. (I have mentioned this to Em and even my own husband.) Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s trilogy was one of my favorite series of last year or really all time, but my favorite was book two. The way he approached parts of the Holy Week helped me reflect more on the Crucifixion and the Resurrection more.

What were your favorite books of 2013? Comment below with either the list or even your blog entry link. We would love to know!

Happy Reading,

Nikita

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What Nikita Read: March 2013

source: bemz.typepad.com/google image search

source: bemz.typepad.com/google image search

March has come and gone, Easter has begun! Happy Easter to all readers! The month of March I think I slowed down a bit, do not ask me why, but I did. Reading only ten books last month. Let us hope I can read a bit more for April.

I was trying, and I think succeeded in keeping with my Lenten goal of reading non-secular books, unless it was Sunday. Of course during Holy Week I went on a huge surge of reading secular books, do not ask me why, actually I can tell you the reason was I had library books due on the 29th and I needed to have them read and turned it. (Then to find out later that because they [library] are finally moving back to their permanent building, they renewed the books until May 5th….I worried over nothing!)

Also another little notice before I leave to my reviews I would like to mention that I have decided to make a new bookshelf on my Goodreads account, which is called “I do not own them” and then hopefully through Amazon or Barnes and Noble I will create a wish list for them. Christmas ideas? Absolutely!

Alright time for reviews! (And this is not going to be placed in order of how I read them, sorry!)

Genre: Religion/CatholicismSource: Goodreads.com

Genre: Religion/Catholicism
Source: Goodreads.com

Saved in Hope or Spe Salve is Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s second encyclical. I have only two of his encyclicals. I think one of the main things I have learned after reading again this encyclical and really the works I own of his was this: this GERMAN who people assumed and criticized saying he would be a tyrant and what not (I think I am mainly speaking about secular media on this) was in all honestly firm in the teachings, but was more like that grandfather who wanted what was best for his family.

I have particular found much of his works especially his encyclicals deeply moving and quite honestly something I cannot help but want to try to emulate in my life. Two of my very favorite quotes from the encyclical are actually at the end of the book:

As Christians we should never limit ourselves to asking: how can I save myself? We should also ask: what can I do in order that others may be saved and that for them too the star of hope may rise? Then I will have done my utmost for my own personal salvation as well.

He has a firmness that is brought by soft words, deep devotion, and an understanding of faith and the teachings of the Church, and people were saying he would be a tyrant?!

Human life is a journey…Life is like a voyage on the sea of history, often dark and stormy, a voyage in which we watch for the stars that indicate the route. The true stars of our life are the people who have lived good lives. They are lights of hope. Certainly, Jesus Christ is the true light, the sun that has risen above all shadows of history.

Rating: 5 out of 5

Genre: Religion/CatholicismSource: Goodreads.com

Genre: Religion/Catholicism
Source: Goodreads.com

I have never truly been that fond of Saint Paul. No, I am not saying he is a terrible Saint! I think I have to explain by reasoning of this…I have not been fond of how his letters has been twisted and butchered by some of my Protestant brothers and sisters and even by those who which to disregard Christianity all together.

Plus, I had also felt even before I became Catholic that many would rather think of St. Paul as the Son of God than Jesus. Just saying that is how they presented it! Papa Emeritus’ book which was a collection of his sermons on St. Paul during the Year of St. Peter and Paul.

It is really though Benedict that I have been able to look at the works of St. Paul in a new way and find more of an appreciation of the Saint who before I was little weary of. I would recommend the book to all including my Protestant brothers and sisters.

Rating: 5 out of 5

 

Genre: Religion/CatholicismSource: Goodreads.com

Genre: Religion/Catholicism
Source: Goodreads.com

There are many times when even I, who understand almost everything you tell me (unless it is high up there is math or something I need a Ph.D for), yet many will laugh that works of Popes, yes even Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI where I am having a difficult time understanding. Part of that is because I have never had any real faith background in my life up until 2008. I had no understanding of Christianity let alone Catholicism. So, there are times where I will be reading of something of Benedict’s and literally say, ‘ummmm I am unsure what I read, let me read that again’. Not so much anymore because I have been digging deeper into the teachings,Traditions, and Scripture to understand more of Jesus and his Church.

With that being said I bring you, the readers to my next review, Come meet Jesus: An Invitation from Pope Benedict XVI written by Amy Welborn. In her book she really brings a better understanding of Benedict XVI’s works, but also his views and understanding of the Catholic faith.

A pope does not leave his own interests and expertise at the door of the Sistine Chapel when he is elected.

She does an amazing job with the flow of the book and doesn’t make you sit there and go, ‘your point?’ she has a clear writing style that I would truly recommend more use! (Maybe I should take notes of this myself, I know how I can confuse many of you with my writing.)

This is my first Amy Welborn book, it shall not be my last I tell you! I would suggest this book though to teenager and those coming into the faith, many of them will hear the Clergy, Religious, and Lay-people quote Benedict and when they decide they wish to read his works, it could be difficult for them. (I am not saying anyone isn’t smart!)

Rating: 5 out of 5

Genre: Religion/CatholicismSource: Goodreads.com

Genre: Religion/Catholicism
Source: Goodreads.com

When I got this book from my godmother for Christmas (I believe in 2011) a few things came to me (I did not read the back-cover either): oh this is about St. Catherine of Siena, maybe this can help me understand and know my Dominican Sister more (yes, if you did not know she was a Dominican!), and it looks short. Finally last month I got down to reading the book. Published by the Daughters of St. Paul (a wonderful order!) it was not what I was thinking though.

This book is a collection of quotes and excerpts from her (Catherine of Siena) with an introduction from the editor of the book. In all honestly when I rated 5 out of 5 on Goodreads it was because for what it was it did its job. But, personally I was hoping for something more. St. Catherine like many other Medieval Saints can confuse the heck out of this poor ignorant Dominican laywoman. So, reading the quotes and excerpts were of course nice they gave me things to contemplate, but in all honestly it did not give me the insight I was hoping for on this beautiful Saint.

Rating: 3 out of 5

 

 

Genre: Historical FictionSource: Goodreads.com

Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: Goodreads.com

I was hoping more from this short novel! As many of you know or maybe do not I am a lover for history, and historical fiction whether it deals with romance or not I am a sucker for. Also, from the back cover it seem so interesting, a middle of the road leaning more towards Tory side deals with a son who becomes a Patriot and the other son tries to decide what is best choice. It sounded interesting, but actually….

I could not stand reading the book, I finished it, but I will never pick it up again. I will keep it in my collection for others in the household (like my husband or our future kids) to read, but not me. Why you might ask? First, it felt unrealistic to me, or maybe not realistic enough. I use the best example of last month’s other short novel Dear America book. It had hope, but could not make it for me. This book as well as the other book I mentioned lacked realism for me, but also it seem never bring the history of that time to me either.

The boy, Tim who seem very intelligent felt dumb in regards of everything, the author mentions newspaper he would read, but his decision-making was almost stupid. Plus, I felt there was really no true interaction with the family at all. Tim, who wanted to understand things should have done what most children do, listen in on his parents’ conversations or others who he had come to know because his parents pub.

Another thing it felt at times it would rush and then die in the plot. Though others might disagree with me, I know this story plot could have been.

Rating: 2 out of 5

Genre: Historical FictionSource: Goodsread.com

Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: Goodsread.com

This historical fiction novel was realistic to me! I remember reading this book oh-so-long-ago maybe back in high school or middle school. (I cannot remember!) Anyways, when I was going through the library I found this book in the teen section. I had to read it again!

Based on the author’s father’s account during WWII this story by far out of the two historical fictions for teens I read last month. The author was not watering anything down and you felt the emotions that the main character was going through. I am a crybaby and so there were many times I had to stop reading so I could cry it out and then move on.

I would say that this story is a story many who as in current military action can relate to in a way. They may not have or will go through the same experience, but understand the character’s decisions and actions. I would highly recommend anyone from the ages of 16+ to read this book, especially if you wish to find a good book to understand WWII and Occupation France.

Rating: 5 out of 5

 

Genre: Historical FictionSource: Goodreads.com

Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: Goodreads.com

Back in 2011 or 2012, maybe Em can confirm this I went with Em and my future husband to see an outdoor play in German Village (Columbus, Ohio). I had never attended one of these and so, it was going to be an interesting experience. The play was based on a book (I later found out) titled: The Scarlet Pimpernel.

After the play I would not come across another version of the book, but this time on Turner Classic Movies (TCM) which was a great adaptation of The Scarlet Pimpernel. Yet, I had not read the book. Finally last month while going through Books-A-Million (I love that store) I found the novel. I had to get it and so, I purchased the book and read it.

What did I think of it?

I loved it! I had seen the play and the movie adaptation so I had a picture of what it was about, but I still found it interesting. It was a fast read for me, but it is one of those novels that if you wish to just go and sit waiting for the doctor this is the book to take. I found myself really wanting to read more of the adventures the Scarlet Pimpernel, how he saved more of those from near death, just because they were from the aristocratic line.

Some will not like that much, such people as Em (who I highly regard when it comes to books to read, she is great at find those great books!). Yet, I would recommend it great for those 12+ up to read. It gives this a dash of what was going on in France and then afterwards try to find the movie adaptations I think made in 1930s or go see the play, especially outdoors that was fun!

Rating: 5 out of 5

Genre: Historical FictionSource: Goodreads.com

Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: Goodreads.com

Em, one of the co-founders of TBG I remember recommending me to reading The Shoemaker’s Wife. I had seen reviews about it and in fact wanted to, but at the time I did not have money to buy the book and certainly since I was moving soon, I was not wanting to borrow from the local library. Finally, while I was searching through the temporary housing of the Base Library there it was. I grabbed it and well…

Have I mentioned I am crybaby? If I haven’t you, the readers should know about this. I am very emotional person, it comes with all the holding of my emotions to life experiences that when reading a book it just help me to let it all out! The Shoemaker’s Wife was highly detailed and I felt I was actually walking with the characters through their lives as it was told.

What made me the crybaby was a lot of time the main character, Ciro would remind me of my great-uncle who passed away last year. I took care of him and sometimes when he would tell stories of his life I soaked them in. Ciro in attitude and sometimes his decisions reminded me of Darrell. And the female character reminded me sometimes of myself with certain situations, but most especially at the end of the book.

I do not want to spoil it for everyone, because it just that good of a book. Recommended age for this book though I would sit at age 17+.

Rating: 5 out of 5

Genre: Historical Fiction/Re-make AustenSource: Goodreads.com

Genre: Historical Fiction/Re-make Austen
Source: Goodreads.com

I know for many and for certain good friends (Em you know I am talking about you) we are absolutely picky about “What Ifs” and “the story continues” of Jane Austen novels. There are reasons because of this. One of those main reasons is the characters themselves can sometimes be changed drastically by an author, which would then kill what made us love the character in the beginning. In a way, The Truth About Mr. Darcy has that problem.

I cannot say I disliked the novel itself, more of the problem was I cannot see it as a Lizzy and Mr. Darcy novel. If it was not to be based upon the beloved novel it would get a higher rating, but being that it is I cannot but lower the rating. Mr. Darcy’s character is probably the main issue, the other is Lizzy’s character. While this is to appeal to more modern audience (yes, there is sex involved) Lizzy acts more like Lydia. (I cannot help but shake my head) And, Mr. Darcy, that loveable nature we see that he shows in the second half of the famous novel is too out there and too quick.

I liked the way the beginning began, it worked and was looking to be a good read and then BAM their character changed drastically. I think many would laugh, but I had to finish the book by making it out they were not Lizzy and Darcy, but came up with other names for them. That is just sad, it could have been a good adaptation of P&P.

Rating: 3 out of 5

Genre: History/AmericanSource: Goodreads.com

Genre: History/American
Source: Goodreads.com

I am a lover of history, recently thanks to books like “John Adams”, “Dearest Friend”, and then “The Dreamer” the American Revolution has become a central love again. Really when taught in school revolution they spoke of the same battles, mainly the ones with General Washington and that was most it.

This particular book, though most of the information I have read before I still found an interesting read for the history lover. I learned a little more about some of the other generals, but also learned about other battles and skirmishes throughout the Revolutionary War.

I would have liked to learn more about Knowlton’s Rangers (which thanks to Lora Innes I constantly look for things about Nathan Hale and Thomas Knowlton) and also I would have liked to learn more about the only Catholic signer of the Declaration (which they just mention by name and nothing else). Of course John Adams was mentioned, but alas never given as much credit as he is in his biography by David McCullough.

I would still recommend reading this book especially if you love learning about the American Revolutionary War, it gives some great insights, and it is not really bias, more to the point very factual in nature.

For the average reader, it might bore you, because it is not in detail description of battles and the likes (which you cannot expect in every books you come across)

Rating: 4 out of 5

A Delightful Diversion

Kara Louise

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?