Monday, October 31, 2016

Happy Hallowe'en

The CEB Women's Bible

The CEB Women's Bible

5/5 stars

This edition is truly excellent. The CEB translation is both accessible and well-researched. The study guides are well-written, designed for a layperson yet with scholarly insights. It is referred to as a "women's" study Bible, and does gear some of the features towards women, and has a panel of women writers.

 It includes introductions to each book, giving background information and noting themes; "reflections" before chapters, briefly explaining what the section will be about; more than 200 sidebar articles which expound on Biblical themes, social issues or personal relationships, with an index in the back for these articles; character sketches of over 100 Biblical women, with an index in the back listing each portrait; "discussion and reflection questions" for each Sunday of the church year, broken into year A, B, and C; three reading plans; and a section of maps with an index of place names. 

Overall, this is a comprehensive study Bible that encourages and enables the reader to delve deeper into the history, themes, and meanings of the various books. I am extremely pleased with it, and can honestly say that I like it best of the many versions and translations I have owned.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Penguin Drop Caps Complete Set

Penguin Drop Caps Complete Set
Various Authors
5/5 stars

Yes, I did!  I bought the complete set!

This set of books is simply amazing to see. Each cover and spine is intricately designed and unique. The graduated spectrum of colors is perfect. The selection of classics and modern classics is excellent. These are books that are more for decoration than reading, and are worth every penny. I'm delighted with my set.

The set contains:
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë, My Ántonia by Willa Cather, Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, Middlemarch by George Eliot, Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert, Lord of the Flies by William Golding, Siddhartha by Herman Hesse, An Artist of the Floating World by Kazuo Ishiguro, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce, The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd, Native Speaker by Chang-rae Lee, Moby-Dick by Herman Melville, Five Children and It by E. Nesbit, Butterfield 8 by John O'Hara, Swann's Way by Marcel Proust, The Greek Coffin Mystery by Ellery Queen, Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie, Cannery Row by John Steinbeck, The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan, Kristin Lavransdatter: The Wreath by Sigrid Undset, Candide by Voltaire, Leaves of Grass and Selected Poems and Prose by Walt Whitman, Sky Burial by Xinran, When You Are Old: Early Poems and Fairy Tales by W. B. Yeats, and The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

A Tangled Web by L.M. Montgomery

A Tangled Web
L.M. Montgomery
3/5 stars

Aunt Becky is the holder of the family heirloom.  On her deathbed, she holds a levee, saying she is going to tell who is next in line for the coveted jug.   Instead, she informs her relatives that she has written the name of the inheritor and passed it to her executor, to be opened in one year.   This sets in motion many events that only come to pass as a result of Aunt Becky's levee and announcement.

The amount of characters that Montgomery introduces right at the beginning is overwhelming, and somewhat off-putting.  It's nearly impossible to remember who is who and how they relate to the others.  In addition, with so many characters, she wasn't able to give them as much personality as she has in other novels.

Instead of one large plot, Montgomery tells several stories encompassing many of the characters.  The stories are generally good, but so little fleshed out that they seem like sketches instead of complete tales.

On the whole, A Tangled Web is just that: a tangled web of characters and stories that are sometimes hard to unravel into any sense.  It was a good premise, promising an engaging story, but Montgomery simply put too many elements into it for it to be a quality novel.  I'd only recommend it to long-time Montgomery fans that haven't yet read it.  If you are new to Montgomery, I recommend reading the 5 star Anne of Green Gables series or my favorite, the Blue Castle, instead.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Three Mysteries

Well-Schooled in Murder
Elizabeth George
4/5 stars
This is one of the Inspector Lynley novels.  It started with finding the tortured body of a schoolboy, and I wasn't sure I'd be able to read it.  It turned out to be a well-crafted, well-written mystery.  The more I read by George, the better I like her.

Diamond Solitaire
Peter Lovesey
4/5 stars
A child is found in Harrods, and no one comes forward to claim her.  Ex-CID Diamond falls under the spell of the unwanted child and makes it his personal mission to uncover her identity. I nearly gave up on this one, as it is SO different from the first Peter Diamond mystery.  I stuck with it, though, and am so glad I did.  The plot occasionally strained credulity, but it was funny and interesting, and I enjoyed it tremendously.  I'm looking forward to more Diamond mysteries.

Swing, Brother, Swing
Ngaio Marsh
4/5 stars
Marsh always acquaints the reader with the principal players in advance of the crime, and does so expertly in this mystery. The solution to the murder was a little bit far-fetched, but the journey to the denouement was a great deal of fun.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Catching Up

I've finished six books so far this month, and only just posted my first review.  I don't want to start feeling under pressure to review, so I'm just going to sum up October to this point.

1. Idaho by Emily Ruskovich
I just posted the review for this ARC.  Excellent, haunting book.

2. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby
This is a memoir written by a man with locked-in syndrome.  He dictated it, letter by letter, by blinking his one eye when his helper reached the correct letter.  This is just not a book that can be reviewed or rated.

3.  Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J. R. Rowling
Bryan and I are rereading the Harry Potter series by listening to the audio books.  It's Steven Fry's narration, and is excellent.  There is no need to be one of the million to review these novels.  Besides, the simple fact that we're rereading them is enough.

4. Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
This is the sequel to Six of Crows (review) and oh my goodness was it great!  A 5 star adventure.  I loved it, and I might give it a real review later.

5. Landline by Rainbow Rowell
Contemporary fiction/romance is not my usual genre, but Rowell added a phone that could dial the past, and I was hooked.  Her writing is excellent; her characters are so believable.  I decided to read this after reading Eleanor and Park (review), one of her YA books.

6. Wild Strawberries by Angela Thirkell
I have become a massive Thirkell fan this year.  Her books are gentle stories, with a bit of light romance, that are funny and thoroughly enjoyable.  This one had me laughing out loud several times.

Idaho by Emily Ruskovich

Emily Ruskovich
publication date: 1/2017
5/5 stars

Idaho is a difficult book to summarize.  It begins with Ann.  She is Wade's second wife, and wants desperately to understand more of the tragedy that occurred in his recent past.  The focus then moves to various characters that are involved in some aspect of the tragedy, sharing small slices of their lives.  The state of Idaho, itself, as well as Nature, feature as important characters throughout the book.  The main theme is memory, both fallible and infallible, with atonement, love, human needs, and, finally, hope, as other themes.  To tell any more than this would, I think, spoil the experience of reading this book.

The story is told in a nonlinear fashion, so that the past is told side by side with the present, and then even with the future.   Ruskovich's prose is haunting, unsettling, poetic.   There is no real climax, and no real conclusion, and yet it is a compelling read.  I was left swimming in emotions that took days to sort through before I could review it.

 Idaho raises so many questions and invokes so many feelings, that it would be a great book for discussion; I would especially recommend it for pairs of readers or for a book club.