Religious fiction is not my genre. In this case, however, a friend lent it to me and upon opening it up and seeing that it is based loosely on Hans Christian Anderson's "The Little Match Girl" (first book I ever cried in by the way), I decided to give it a go. Also, it was too close to Christmas for me to spend money on myself and I was sad and bookless.
The story is about a boy growing up in Salt Lake City in the 1960s. New in town and friendless except for the company of his younger brother, he is shocked to find a girl climb out of the dumpster behind the diner he works at. Grace tells him that she has run away from her abusive step-father, and sympathy and love for the girl spurs the boy to hide her in his backyard clubhouse. The story is well-written, if not a wee bit sappy. I finished it in about two days, and my sister, upon finding it in my car, finished it in about three hours (all while sitting in my parked car).
Final Say: Recommended if this is your style or genre, but that may be because part of every purchase of this book goes to a fund to help abused children.
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button by F. Scott Fitzgerald
In high anticipation of this movie, I picked up The Curious Case of Benjamin Button to help tide me over. Originally a short story published in a men's magazine, Benjamin Button is a quick but delightful read. My favorite part of the book was simply the language: so reminiscent of an earlier decade that it adds an element of charm to the story that I don't even remember from Gatsby (one of my favorites).
Final Say: A worthy, albeit short read.
As a side note, this movie is absolutely fantastic. I knew about two pages into the book that the film would be drastically different, and in fact the only similarities are his name and the fact that his father owns a button factory. I bawled through the entire movie, but it has such valuable lessons on life that I will be rushing back to experience it again (Marley and Me on the other hand....:/). Brad Pitt, not one of my favorites, does an excellent job as does Cate Blanchett, though that is only to be expected.
The Queen's Fool by Phillipa Gregory
Picking up a book by Phillipa Gregory is like going on a journey; her stories are so incredibly detailed, amazing, and enthralling, it's easy to forget that they are all based on real people, places, and events. My latest Gregory read, The Queen's Fool, tells the story of Hanna, a young Jewish girl who escapes the Inquisition in Spain and finds ephemeral peace in England. After a chance encounter with a certain Robert Dudley, Hanna finds herself at the Court of Queen Mary as the Holy Fool (Hanna is plagued by both visions of the future and false friends who wish to profit from her "gift"). Hanna continues to live in fear of the Inquisition and religious persecution as she lives on the daily front lines of England's religious revolution. I can always expect her books to be amazing, and The Queen's Fool is no exception.
Final Say: The Other Boleyn Girl receives all the hype, but check out The Queen's Fool and my other Gregory favorite, The Constant Princess (Katherine of Aragon's story).
Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver
On page three, I almost set it down. By page twenty I was thinking this was going to take me the rest of the month to finish. And by page sixty I was thinking that this is the best book I've read in a long time. Prodigal Summer tells three not-so-seperate stories of living in a farming valley in Appalachia. I found myself slowing down to really savor each and every sentence because oh so often I would find myself thinking how incredibly beautiful such an emotion or description was said. My diary, in which I write frequently record quotes from all kinds of sources, has become chock-full of Prodigal Summer quotes only because I can only hope to notice and appreciate nature's understated miracles in the way Kingsolver obviously does. I find myself still scratching my head in both wonderment and jealousy at how brilliantly perceptive one person can be.
Final Say: Definitely a book to pick up in one's lifetime, but read it when you have the time to fully enjoy and appreciate it. Would make a great vacation read if all you're doing is lazing around the beach.
Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris
Unusually unpopular mortal falls in love with decades-old vampire in a small town. Don't forget the seperate love-interest who happens to be a shape-shifter and you've got yourself a brow-raising (wow, hyphenate much?) trend. My first thought was "I don't do vampire books," but after enjoying Twilight so much, and ever intrigued by the hundreds of requests I've gotten for this book, I decided to give it a try. Basically, if you liked Twilight, you will like this series of seven books recently adapted into a new HBO show. As for the blatant similarities between Dead Until Dark (published in 2001) and Twilight (published in 2005), I will let you come to your own conclusions. I happened to fall in love with this addictive and charming book. I laughed out loud on multiple occasions and this book (while remaining appropriate) includes the sex that we all kept waiting for in Twilight (just admit it ;)).
Final Say: I hear a lot of people say that they don't like vampire books, and I always nod my head in concurrence. However, like Twilight, Dead Until Dark contains that something extra that goes way beyond the cheap thrill of so many vampire tales. Give it a try.