Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Resurrecting the Book Reviews: January 2011

Howdy Humble Readers...

It's been a year since the last time I did a book review post, and I'm thinking it's time to bring them back.  I haven't been reading as much or as fast as I used to, which is annoying, so I'm hoping that doing book reviews will help motivate me.

This month's books are a varied mix, and there's something for everyone here.

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins (5 out of 5 hairy hobbit toes) - In the final installment of the Hunger Games Trilogy, a series written for teens, Collins brings together all the threads that have been left dangling after book 2.  A fantastical story of life in a dystopic North America, revolution is in the air and Katniss Everdeen is the unwilling posterchild for the rebels.  Can she keep her family safe from the manipulations of the evil Capitol and the leaders of District 13?  Can Peeta ever recover from the torture and brainwashing he's been subjected to?  Will President Snow be deposed?  All the questions are answered in a fast-paced, action-packed, and incredibly well written manner, and given the glut of vampire fiction out there for teen readers, I loved this series for being something so different. 

The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding by La Leche League (3 out of 5 hairy hobbit toes) - What really struck me when I was reading this book was the idea that this information used to be passed from woman to woman as a part of our daily lives, but after the advent of formula it was all but lost.  I liked this book for the practical advice, the how-to parts of this book.  What I didn't enjoy was the quasi-political, preachy tone of the book.  The idea that breastfeeding is always this blissed-out, peaceful, zen bonding time between mother and child is misleading and misguided.  I found myself in tears of disappointment and frustration when I was reading the introduction because I felt like such a failure for not meeting up with the high standard depicted.  Ultimately, I give this book points as a reference tool, but it's not something that I am going to use often.

Luther's Small Catechism (with explanation) by Martin Luther (4 out of 5 hairy hobbit toes) - The last time I read this was waaaaaaaaay back in college, when I had to read it for a theology course, and before that waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay back when I was in confirmation classes.  I started reading it this month in preparation for Ginny's baptism, and I just ended up re-reading the whole thing.  The basics of Lutheran theology, laid out in Luther's typical format of questions and answers, are simple to understand and broken down into easily digestible sections, while still being thought provoking and eternal.  I liked reading this now, many years later being many years older.  It's fun to see how my understanding has grown as I've gotten older, and how the philosophies remain the same.

Distant Hours by Kate Morton (4 out of 5 hairy hobbit toes) - I really enjoyed this book, once I was finally able to get into it.  Like in her other titles, Morton has set this story in multiple time periods.  At times you are in 1992, then in the late 1930's-early 40's, and other times you're in the period just following WWI.  Once I got into the rhythm of the story, I was engrossed.  The story of the Sisters Blythe, three elderly women living in a decrepit castle that holds a multitude of secrets, and of the young woman who is trying to find out how her mother's life is intertwined with the castle, twists and turns and takes you to all sorts of unexpected places.  From present-day publishing houses to the evacuation of London during WWII, whispered secrets and hints of ghosts walking the halls of Milderhurst Castle, it takes until the final chapter to find out why Thomas Cavill never arrived that stormy night in 1941, and what Juniper Blythe and her sisters had to do with his disappearance. 

I hope all my friends to the east are stocked up and prepared for the storm they are predicting to hit you later today.  It's another sparkling clear winter day here on the frozen flatland, but it's still crazy cold.  We are under a wind chill warning today, with temps dropping as low as -45C.  Ugh!  Glad that I made that big pot of soup yesterday.  Stay warm, wherever you are, and stay safe!


  1. Great reviews! I've only read Mockingjay from this list and although I really liked the book, I don't like the fact that my niece and her friends all talk about the Hunger Games and how they want to be in them. I find that a bit disturbing.

  2. I read Hunger Games and Catching Fire before Aidan was born... and then was on page 130-ish of Mockingjay when we got the phone call. So I've been stuck there ever since. Just yesterday, oddly enough, I stopped at the library and picked up the audio book. If I can't find time to READ the rest, I'll listen to it! Ha! I hope the end is worth months of anticipation.

    I'm with you - fantastic series especially amid all the vampire crap these days.

  3. I really like the sound of the Kate Morton one. Thanks so much for posting this, I was just thinking today I hadn't read any book reviews for awhile :)
    BTW I read the post with Ginny's pics-she is sooo gorgeous!


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