Thursday, February 28, 2013

February Book Reviews

I only completed four of the six books I planned to read in February, however I also completed a book I downloaded to my Kindle. So, that brings my total books read in February to five. Here are my reviews of those books, plus a peek at what I'll be reading in March.

The Journal of Wong Ming-Chung by Laurence Yep is another book in the Dear America series. I've read several of these juvenile fiction books and always learning something new about the history of America. These books are written in the form of a diary. This book is written from the perspective of a young Chinese boy who comes to America to join his uncle who is prospecting for gold in California in the mid 1800s. I had not realized how many Chinese immigrated to the US during the gold rush, nor that they were not given equal treatment under the law during that time (for example, a Chinese immigrant could not testify in court so they were often mistreated and run off their claims by Americans, yet they had no recourse but to find another claim and start over). Many of these Chinese immigrants were later instrumental in completing the transcontinental railroad.

The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis is a classic, so I'm really not sure why I haven't read this book before. Each chapter is a letter from the Demon Screwtape to his nephew Wormwood, who is assigned to a human and is working to keep him from becoming a Christian. I really enjoyed it and think it must have taken quite a talent to write it all from this "backward" viewpoint - with the Devil as the Father and God as the Enemy. It was convicting in places because I see myself doing the things the demons are trying to get the "patients" to do - like thinking of myself during prayer instead of focusing on God. Here's a quote that illustrates one suggestion for keeping the patient's focus off God - You should always try to make the patient abandon the people or food or books he really likes in favour of the 'best' people, the 'right' food, the 'important' books. About halfway through the book, I began to tire of the opposite viewpoint and having to focus on the fact that it was "backwards thinking." Even C. S. Lewis said that he "never wrote with less enjoyment" because "the strain produced a sort of spiritual cramp." 

I've enjoyed several of Beth Moore's Bible studies over the past few years and had picked up a copy of her book Get Out of That Pit some time last year. It was a good book with encouragement to help individuals find deliverence from the pit (of addiction, of abuse, of sin, etc) through the Lord's deliverance. The book contains lots of good information. I especially like Beth's no nonsense approach & southern style of writing as evidenced in this quote: Only God can hang with us through the length and depth of our need. And the length and depth of our baloney. Maybe I'm just talking to myself, but whether or not I realized it, I usually found a way to frame my pits to make me look like a victim. How many writers do you know who can relate such a serious topic to baloney?

Welcome to the World, Baby Girl! by Fannie Flagg was a good fiction read with an unexpected twist at the end. The story switches back and forth in time (from the early 1900s to the late 1970s) and from place to place (Elmwood Springs, Missouri to New York City to various other locations around the country & world), however it is easy to follow and has well developed characters. The story follows the life of Dena Nordstrom, a successful newscaster in New York in the 1970s as she pushes herself to be successful and project an image of having it all together. [WARNING - spoiler coming, stop here if you don't want to know about the unexpected twist!!] Dena becomes ill with a bleeding ulcer and must take some time off, and as she spend times with family in the small town of Elmwod Springs, she finally searches for the truth about her mother. It turns out her mother was part Negro but had been passing as a white woman when she met Dena's father. I have to admit that I'd never heard the term passing as it was used in this story, depicting a black person identifying him or herself as a white person, and I honestly did not see that twist coming in the story (all the foreshadowing led to other conclusions!). I enjoyed the book, a fun, interesting, informative fiction read.

I downloaded 52 Small Changes: One Year to a Happier, Healthier You to my Kindle because my sister had a copy and we were planning to work through the 52 changes together this year. I, of course, went ahead and read through the entire book so I could see the overall plan. The premise of the book is to take one week to make small changes to improve your health and happiness. Some of the items on the list I've already incorporated into my life (drinking water, getting enough sleep), while others are things that I need to work on (eating more vegetables, strength training).

And finally, here's a look at my stack of books to read in March. I'll be starting with the two on the bottom, which were left over from my February pile.

Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
The Lucky Oneby Nicholas Sparks
Mary Magdalene: A Novelby Diana Wallis Taylor
Remember Tuesday Morning by Karen Kingsbury
 
What are you planning to read in March?

5 comments:

Maria Ontiveros said...

My daughter really liked Stargirl.
Rinda

Fiona said...

Books sound good, I really must get myself motivated

Sian said...

I'm not sure what I'll be reading yet

Here's a random fact for you..I posted your cards in a Post Office very close to where CS Lewis grew up!

S said...

I have heard such good things about Beth Moore. Do you have an absolute favorite? I have managed to finish only one book in the two months of 2013 - which is terrible. I need to tackle a couple quick reads in March to get my average up! Melissa, I always enjoy reading these book posts, although I did skip the spoiler!

Lorraine said...

I downloaded 52 small changes to my Kindle. I started well but fizzled out. Must get back to it!