Sunday, June 29, 2008

My Summer Reading List

I've been so preoccupied with posting on my main blog that I almost forgot to type up my summer reading list.

Without further ado, here's what Just Mom intends to finish between now and the end of August:


1) "Shepherds Abiding," Jan Karon. Book 8 of 9 in the Mitford Series. I'm actually almost done with this one. It's on this list just to make me feel good.

2) "Light From Heaven," Jan Karon. Book 9 of 9 in the Mitford Series.

3) "Home to Holly Springs," Jan Karon.


1) "On The Road With Francis of Assisi: A Timeless Journey Through Umbria and Tuscany, and Beyond," Linda Bird Francke.

If I'm able to zip through everything on this list, I plan to start reading "The Shack," by William P. Young.

What do you hope to read this summer?

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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Reading Challenge: The Mitford Series

I'm having the most splendid time reading the books in Jan Karon's Mitford Series. I've now finished the first four of nine books in the series: "At Home In Mitford," "A Light In The Window," "These High, Green Hills," and "Out to Canaan," thus accomplishing my Spring Reading Challenge goal (WOO-HOO!); but I'm not stopping here. Karon manages to make each new book even better than the previous one.

In my review of "At Home In Mitford," I mentioned that I thought her characters needed to be developed further. I also hoped then that author Jan Karon would take time to flesh out her characters in subsequent books. You know what? She did.

Karon was able to make some initially unlikeable characters into characters I really care about. She's able to weave tension in to every book and leave her readers with a satisfying resolution. But what I'm especially enjoying about her books is the way she so vividly describes the scenery.

Here is an excerpt from "These High, Green Hills," to give you an example:

"Little by little, the sharp intakes of breath and the murmurs and whooping subsided, and they stood there, lined up along the wall, gazing at the wonder of a sunset that blazed across the heavens. Where the sun was sinking, the skies ran with molten crimson that spread above the mountains like watercolor, changing to orange and pink, lavender and gold. A cool fire of platinum rimmed the profile of Gabriel Mountain and the dark, swelling ridges on either side."

I have to admit that I wasn't immediately addicted to the series. At the start of the second book I actually wondered whether I had the stamina to continue reading the series, simply because it started off way too slow for me. In fact, I actually found myself putting the book down several times to read some nonfiction works. But then I decided to give the book another chance, found some quiet time and just read. I've been finding it hard to put her books down ever since.

I'm now off to read the rest of the books in the series, and will post a final review at the end of my journey to Mitford. Check out my progress on my sidebar.

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Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Spring Reading Challenge

Things have finally settled down enough for me to start checking off all those books I've been wanting to read. To spur me on, I've decided to once again take part in Katrina's reading challenge.

My main focus during this challenge will be reading all the books in Jan Karon's Mitford series. I read the first book, "At Home In Mitford," earlier this year but have been too busy to complete the rest. I found the first book to be an easy -- and enjoyable -- read, so I'm curious about the rest in the series. (You can read my review of "At Home In Mitford" here.) Besides, reading the series is one of my New Year resolutions, so I better follow through.

I doubt I'll be able to finish the entire series of nine Mitford books by June 19 (the day the challenge officially ends), but I do hope to at least finish "A Light in the Window," "These High, Green Hills" and "Out to Canaan." If I have time to read more in her series, I will.

I'm also reading several nonfiction books, which I will keep listing on my sidebar throughout this challenge.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have some reading to do. :-D

Sunday, January 20, 2008

At Home in Mitford

Jan Karon's "At Home In Mitford" was exactly what I thought it would be -- a charming book about an idyllic community and the lives of those who live there.

The book centers around bachelor rector Father Tim, who after years of living in the small town wonders whether it's time for him to move on. Enter a hostile and unloved boy who he's asked to care for, an attractive neighbor who moves in next door, a dog that only responds to Scripture verses and the discovery of stolen jewelry hidden in his church and his life gets more colorful.

Some reviews I've read complain that the book is too light and the characters aren't realistic. I agree that the novel is easy to read, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing. I enjoyed the way the chapters were written almost like separate short stories that I could breeze through. Her descriptions were also so vivid that at times I could almost see the scene play out in front of me.

I disagree with reviewers who say the characters were too unrealistic. I live in a small community and I've come across some pretty eccentric people here. The characters could have been developed a little more, but I'm assuming Karon's subsequent books in the series will develop them further.

Overall, I thought this book was a delight to read. And yes, I do plan to read the rest of the series.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

The Thirteenth Tale

If it hadn't been for a blogging friend I never would have read this book, and boy would that have been a shame.

You see, I'm one of those "classics" snobs (or at least, I used to be). For the longest time I believed that in order for a novel to be good it has to be written either by A*gatha Chri*stie or an author who lived before the twentieth century. Enter Momma Roar.

After I posted a glowing review of Ch*arlotte Bro*nte's "J*ane Ey*re," Leigh Ann (a.k.a. Momma Roar) e-mailed me and told me about Di*ane S*etterfield's book called "The Thir*teenth T*ale." She said that the book "J*ane Ey*re" is mentioned in S*etterfield's novel. I expressed an interest in reading it, and the next thing I knew Leigh Ann had mailed me her copy.

I thought the story would have possibilities as soon as I learned that the main character, Ma*rgaret L*ea, is a biographer who works in a rare-book shop owned by her family. L*ea is summoned by reclusive author V*ida W*inter to her estate to write her biography. W*inter, who is now ailing and who for years had made up various life histories for herself, tells L*ea that she finally wants to tell the truth. In the process of discovering the truth about W*inter's life, L*ea also discovers the truth about hers.

What about "J*ane Ey*re" and its mention in the book? Well, not only is it mentioned in the book many times, but S*etterfield also really captured the mood and style of the classic novel. "The Thir*teenth T*ale" is complete with ghosts, both real and imagined; dark secrets; tragedies; love; and a bittersweet ending. If you loved "J*ane Ey*re," you'll love this book.

So is this book a copycat of Br*onte's classic? I don't think so. While the similarities are there, S*etterfield's book stands on its own. I have to admit that the book moved too slowly for me in the beginning, despite the beautiful way in which S*etterfield described the scenery and movements of her characters. But once the book took off, it really took off.

I can't wait to read another book by this author.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

I Resolve...: The Book Edition

Oh my, did that year go quickly. At the start of 2007 one of my resolutions was to read at least one book a month, as I used to before becoming a mom. Did I meet that goal? Only if you count The New Testament as more than one book, and half-finished books as being "read."

So, without further ado, here's the list:

Books Just Mom Finished Reading in 2007:

1) "They Poured Fire On Us From The Sky: The True Story of three Lost Boys From Sudan," Deng, Deng and Ajak

2) The New Testament. (Surely this counts as more than one book.)

3) "Jane Eyre," Charlotte Bronte

4) "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," J.K. Rowling

5) "Mere Christianity," C.S. Lewis

6) "John Paul the Great: Remembering a Spiritual Father," Peggy Noonan

7) "Charlotte's Web," E.B. White. (This is one of my favorite books from my youth. I read it this time to my son.)

Books Just Mom Started in 2007 and Hopes to Finish in 2008:

1) "The Thirteenth Tale," Diane Setterfield. (The book is fantastic, but I keep getting drowsy. I should probably start reading this during the day rather than right before bed.)

2) "September," Rosamunde Pilcher. (I had to return this one to the library before I really got a chance to savor it.)

Other Books on Just Mom's List for 2008:
I've got a bunch of theology books in my "to read" pile, as well as various books on homeschooling. As for specifics, I do plan on reading the books in the Mitford series by Jan Karon. I've been meaning to get to those for years, but other more pressing books (i.e. those on parenting, etc.) came up.

What's on your list for 2008?