Welcome! I'm Melissa Gross, a dynamic and interactive teacher and speaker called to lead and encourage Christian women in their walk with the Lord through classes, workshops and retreats incorporating Bible study, devotionals, illustrated Bible journaling, paper crafting and mixed media projects that merge faith and art bringing God’s Word to life so you can find renewed excitement to dive into the Word, use your creative gifts, and apply the Truth as you draw closer to the Lord and serve Him in your everyday life. This site is where I share my everyday adventures, Bible Journaling pages, scrapbook layouts, handmade cards, and other crafty projects, as well as information on my upcoming workshops and events. I also post photos, ramble about books I'm reading, stuff I'm organizing, and other FUN bits & pieces of my wonderful life.
Friday, August 15, 2014
Book Reviews - Fiction
In addition to the Christian fiction and books-made-into-movies, I've read a variety of other fiction books this year. These first three books were all selections of the book club I attend at our local library.
Big Fish: A Novel of Mythic Proportions by Daniel Wallace was the book selected by our Friends of the Library organization for the community to read and discuss. This is a wonderful program that encourages everyone in our community to read a particular book each year. I typically enjoy these books, however I think this year the committee missed the mark. This book is about a dying man who spent his life telling tall tales and his son who wants to know the truth about him. The son re-tells the father's stories as a way to get to know him. Unless you truly love tall tales or have nothing better to do, I don't recommend this one.
I have read and enjoyed Khaled Hosseini's first two books, so I was a little disappointed in his newest book, And the Mountains Echoed. This book starts out with the story of a man telling a story to his young son and daughter. The next day, he travels to Kabul and gives/sells his daughter to a wealthy family, in the apparent hope of offering her a better life. Then the book becomes somewhat disjointed as each chapter follows the story of someone else in the narrative; at times it's the young boy growing into a man, other times it's two brothers who are neighbors to the wealthy family for a time, and at one point it's the story of the man who years later owns the home of the wealthy family. The story covers 50+ years, and while each chapter is interesting in itself, they don't necessarily tie together neatly. This is actually a very interesting book to read, but I felt dissatisfied with the ending and the dangling stories.
The All-Girl Filling Station's Last Reunion by Fannie Flagg was an enjoyable read (except for a little disappointment in the final chapters). The story is set in two time periods. In modern times, we meet Mrs. Sookie Poole, a woman living in Alabama, married to a good man with whom she's raised four children. Her rather eccentric and domineering mother lives a couple of houses down. There are some FUNny scenes involving Sookie's desire to feed the little birds and her attempts to see a psychiatrist without anyone in their small town finding out (& telling her mother!). The other story is set during World War II and tells the story of a family that had several daughters who became WASPs (Women Airforce Service Pilots). I thoroughly enjoyed Sookie's hilarious exploits, how these two stories came together, and the growth of the characters throughout the course of the book.
I added The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson to my to-read list after Sian mentioned it on her blog quite a while back. The story of how Allan Karlsson climbs out the window of the old folks home and "disappears" is a FUN story, filled with his reminiscences of his rather bizarre and unbelievable stories about his past as he connects with several other interesting characters who become his traveling companions. About two-thirds of the way through I was getting a little tired of the story, however the author does wrap it all up neatly in the end.
Of course, my reading would not be complete if I didn't have a few children's/young adult books in the mix. Robbie picked up three new Dear America books for me on our trip to Pennsylvania earlier this year. These historical fiction books are written in the form of journals, and I thoroughly enjoyed Standing in the Light: The Captive Diary of Catharine Carey Logan, Delaware Valley, Pennsylvania, 1763, the story of the young Quaker Girl, Caty Logan, and her capture and years with the Lenape Indians.
My sister sent me two of the books that my twin nine-year-old nieces will be reading this year as she knows I like to keep up with what they are reading. I really enjoyed both of these short chapter books and am looking forward to talking with the girls about them soon. Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle is a FUN story about how Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle helps parents solve problems with her own very special cures for things like Never-Want-To-Go-To-Bedders and Answer-Backers. Her biggest secret is that she makes everything FUN! Everything on a Waffle has a more serious theme as Primrose Squarp's parents are supposedly lost at sea and she is shuffled between several prospective adopters. However, the story is told with lots of humor and Primrose finds solace in a restaurant that serves everything on a waffle.
Scrapbooking Mystery in the new books section at our library. I discovered that this series by Laura Childs has 11 books! Of course, I can't read them out of order, so I immediately checked out the first few. So far, I've completed the first five books in the series. These are easy-to-read murder mysteries set in New Orleans and center around Carmela Bertrand, who owns a scrapbook store near the French Quarter. I enjoyed the stories and how the mysteries intertwine with scenes and details of scrapbook projects being created, along with the unique flavor of New Orleans and the mention of places that I've visited and/or heard about. [At some point during each book, I really wanted a beignet from Cafe Du Monde!] If you enjoy mysteries and scrapbooking, you'll definitely want to check these out.
What fiction books have you enjoyed lately? Are you adding any of these to your to-read list?
Tomorrow I'll be finishing out my book review mini-series by reviewing the latest fiction Pulizer prize winner I've completed. (Click here to see all my book reviews.)