Sunday, February 28, 2010

Reading Challenge of 2010: February

3:45 AM
Well through the month of February I was able to read books 6 - 10 of my great 50 books in 2010 challenge. It's been a lot of fun so far. My friend Becca has been joining me as well! I am finding that I have to force myself to read something other than fiction though. Towards the end of the month I was feeling under the weather and decided to delve into some easy fiction. But I have some good reads planned for March! Stay tuned and feel free to suggest some books!

Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane

I knew I wanted to read this book as soon as I saw the movie trailer. I know most people get more excited about a movie than a book, but I just love immersing myself in a story, so rich and so engaging, that no movie will ever do it justice. And I'm so glad I immersed myself in the tale of Shutter Island. What began as a hunt for a missing patient in a hospital for a criminally insane on a lone island in the Boston Harbor, ended as something much bigger. I feel that I can't even talk about the story without giving away the plot. But I will definitely say it's a must read and probably a must see, with the caliber of Martin Scorsese, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Mark Ruffalo bringing this mind-bending visual story to life. Dennis Lehane is a fantastic, witty writer who I will be sure to revisit in the coming months. So if you want a page-turning, can't put it down, kind of read...pick up Shutter Island. I did end up seeing this movie and was quite pleased with the interpretation. Scorsese truly captured the eerie feel of the island and it's inhabitants. Great casting, although I don't know if DiCaprio really pulled off Daniel's dark side very well. I still enjoyed the book better, with all it's details and character development. The Chuck character was so witty in the book, and I felt that it was left out of Ruffalo's character. Also, the ending of the movie was a bit more ambiguous than the ending of the book. Not sure if I liked or disliked that, but I did have to reread the last chapter of the book to make sure I didn't miss something! Overall, great flick and a better book!

She's Come Undone by Wally Lamb

This book was chosen for this month's book club and I really didn't know much about it when I picked it up. It's the story of Dolores Price, and her evolution from child, to teen, to woman. Dolores experiences hurt and pain, love and pleasure and isn't sure which is which sometimes. The first part of the book is her struggle with weight gain, lack of social acceptance, loss of innocence, and medication by TV. The second part of the book felt like a different story. She desperately tries to create a new life, which both works and backfires. Yet the end is satisfying. The story has hard to read at times, as you so did not want Dolores to feel the way she did. Or at times I wanted to shake her and point out a different life she could have. I loved/hated this character. Because Lamb wrote this in a first person narrative, it's easy to get immersed in the character. But Dolores is NOTHING like me, so it was hard to read someone whom I was so invested in and then disagree with every decision she makes. While I loved the book for how it was written, the detail, the character development, and whatnot, I did struggle with the story itself. I don't think I liked the actual story. It's very depressing, but thankfully has a “redeeming” ending which allows me to not hate the book entirely. It's the same mixed emotions you have when watching a movie that you cry the entire time but love in the end. After pondering this book for a day or so, I finally discovered why it didn't sit well with me. I really struggled reading a story so intimately of someone who faced such hardships without God. It made her story even harder to bear, knowing there was no anchor of peace or control in her life. Dolores had nothing to put her hope in, but herself, and it was no wonder she went off the deep end...literally. I would recommend this book to psychology or counseling majors, as it really delves in the world of mental health. The book's title comes from the 1960's band The Guess Who's song “Undun”, which lyrically fits the book well and sits well with the 1950's – 1980's setting of story.

The Year of Living Biblically by A.J. Jacobs

I was very excited to read this book. It's the account of the author, A.J. Jacobs, who decided for a year he would follow all the laws in the Bible. As a Christian, I know this is no easy task. But Jacobs was agnostic. Born Jewish, he considers himself as Jewish as the Olive Garden is Italian, so not really. He set out to discover how religion changes people's lives. He wanted to see what he missed out on growing up without religion. He spent 9 months following the ancient Jewish rules...wear garments of white, stone adulterers, don't touch women, don't shave the beard, don't wear clothes of mixed fibers, and the Ten Commandments and more. He only spent 3 months following the New Testament laws. It seemed a little lopsided to me. I know the Old Testament is longer than the New Testament, and much of the Old Testament is laws, but I felt he should have given more time to the New Testament. He found freedom in the customs and rituals of God, but fear in the relationship with God. To his credit, he definitely did his research, and truly sought out experts on many different facets of faith. Jacobs spent time with the Amish, with the Orthodox Jews, with Jerry Falwell's church, with the Red Letter Christians, and with snake handlers in Tennessee. I appreciated his outsider looking in point of view on the Scripture. But as a believer, I can't help but feel he only paid lip service to my faith. By not having a conversion experience, he missed out on the glory of the Bible. Maybe he lives his life with more thanksgiving and lying less, but is that the point of God's Word? I'm glad I read the book, Jacobs is a very witty writer and I loved trying to visual him in his white shepherd's robe walking through Times Square and carrying his portable seat as not to accidentally sit where an “unclean” woman has sat. It made me think about the Bible's impact on my own life, and how much does it effect my day to day living. But I couldn't help feeling sad for Jacob's in the end. To be so close to truth and to grasp it, but not hold onto it and let it truly transform him...more than a beard ever could.

Rules of Prey by John Sandford

I have a book weakness, a genre that I will return to over and over again because it just entertains me. It's the procedural murder mystery. I'm a junkie for a good Michael Connelly or Douglas Preston/Lincoln Child book. Especially ones with reoccurring Connelly's Detective Bosch or Preston/Child's Agent Pendergast. So when I was itching for a new murder mystery to dig into, I used the Literature Map and discovered author John Sandford and his Lucas Davenport series, a Minneapolis cop who's bit of a wild card on the force, as well as an internet role-play games creator. Rules of Prey was the first in the series, and it proved to be an interesting and engaging enough read. It's the story of a serial killer who happens to be a lawyer, and with each kill he leaves the rules by which he kills by. I was drawn to it because of my love for Dexter [Showtime series star Miami cop/serial killer] I definitely liked it, but didn't love it. These types of stories are a dime a dozen, so when I choose a series/author to commit too, good writing plays a big part in my decision. And to me, Sandford didn't cut it. His writing is littered with excessive profanity and overly detailed sexual crimes. I understand that the grotesqueness is part of the storytelling of this genre, but there is a point of overdone. At least to me. Others may not have the same complaint as I do with Sandford, but I know I might just wait to pick up number 2 in the Lucas Davenport series, because I know that there is better reading out there.

Killing Floor by Lee Child

For the second time this month I delved back into the murder mystery genre. These easy quick reads are just the right remedy when I'm feeling under the weather. I didn't want to read another new author after having failed with Sandford previously. But several Borders customers had recommended Child while I was still working there. So I took a chance. And I'm glad I did. What Lee Child did with Killing Floor reminded me why I love the procedural murder mysteries so much! It was intriguing and complex. It was non-stop, page turning action. The hero, Jack Reacher, is ex-military who finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time....smack dab in the middle of the biggest conspiracy this sleepy Georgia town had ever seen. It's a story of corruption through and through, with greed at its very core. The story is filled with twists and turns, and you're never really sure who to trust. It's Child's first Reacher novel, a character with 12 more compelling tales that follow. I will definitely be following Child & Reacher through more adventures and can't wait for the ride.

About the author

Joy Muldoon is a full-time missionary and part-time blogger. Read about her travels, adventures, and missions here!