Tuesday, June 9, 2009

What I've Been Reading, Part II

Part I was here. :)

I’ve been reading a lot recently, but my to-be-read list is still sadly long (and growing). Right now I still have some homeschooling books on it, and a few fiction books (I want to try out Stephen Lawhead’s new Robin Hood series), and a lot of research books for my novel, and I still have a stack of Christmas gift books to work through. But here’s what I’ve read since last time:

-The Partner – Grisham, John – This was used as an example of – I think – tension in the Donald Maas book I read. Great read, really interesting how the whole plot sort of works backwards: you know what he did, but not why, until very close to the end.
-The Riddle of the Reluctant Rake – Veryan, Patricia – This one I read because someone recommended the author to me as a good Regency author. Truthfully though, I didn’t like it that much. It seemed incredibly well-researched, but too full of too many not-well-fleshed-out characters. I think it might be a good read for some, but it just didn’t float my boat.
-Local Custom, Lee, Sharon and Miller, Steve – Another Liaden book, one of the weaker ones. Too much passion and quivering, not enough adventure.
-Quiver – Spinner, Stephanie – Speaking of quivering . . . this is a quick read, but interesting. It’s a YA retelling of the myth of Atatlanta. The dialogue between Apollo and Artemis, though a bit contrived, was very fun.
-The Moon’s Shadow – Asaro, Catherine – Tried this out because I’m always interested in finding a new sci-fi author, and one of the back-cover blurbs compared her to the amazing Bujold. So not Bujold. Again, well-written, but the villainous culture was just so very villainous and repulsive, and the heroes were not super-noble enough to make up for the very despicable villains, if that makes sense.
-The Last Queen – Gortner, C. W. – the story of Juana la Loca, one of the daughters of Isabel and Ferdinand of Spain (and sister to Katherine of Aragon). This was fascinating, but so very, very sad. Reminded me somewhat of Philippa Gregory, but possibly more realistic and therefore more depressing. Also, even though the author was trying very hard to make Joanna the Mad sympathetic, her obsession with her queenhood was hard to identify with, and (being a mom of four young ones), I kept wondering why she didn’t fight harder to get to be physically near her many children.

-The McGraw-Hill Homeschooling Companion – Saba, Laura and Gattis, Julie – skimmed this one, heavily. Very useful over-all guide. Nice and simple, not pushing any one theory particularly, just a practical introduction. Honestly, just what I needed at the time I read it.
-Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement – Joyce, Kathryn – Wow, this was an interesting one. Definitely with the read, though it was easy to identify places where her bias made it impossible to fully understand certain theological ideas. Still, I think she largely came to some good conclusions – the extremes of the patriarchy movement are not good. I think it is, in the end, a problem of elevating the roles of the sexes above the gospel. Sure, men and women are different. But if you make those differences the focus of your life, as opposed to making Jesus the focus of your life, you’re going to end up really screwed up. Which this book amply illustrates. (This is not to say I think understanding gender and gender roles is unimportant. It’s very important, and I think husbands are not interchangeable with wives, nor fathers with mothers, etc. But there is a difference between the celebration of glories of God creating us male and female that you tend to see in, say, the pages of Touchstone, and the dour and scary legalism you see in the extreme cases Joyce’s book. Though a few of the people she portrays aren’t as nutty as she thinks they are. I think.)
Family Matters: Why Homeschooling Makes Sense – Guterson, David – I lost momentum with this one, and skimmed the end. But it was interesting in that it was the point of view of a dad who both teaches at a public school and homeschools his own kids.
Inside Napoleonic France: State and Society in Rouen, 1800-1815 – Daly, Gavin – I skimmed the parts of this that didn’t contain the information I was interested in. And I wouldn’t recommend this dissertation to everyone. But for me, this in-depth study of Rouen was exactly what I need as background info for my novel. Subsistance crises, conscription troubles, maritime matters, Catholic royalists, Napoleonic bureaucracy . . . fascinating.

The Lady of the Lake – Scott, Sir Walter – I read this in bits and pieces over several months, so I lost the narrative thread a few times. But it was great. First Scott I’ve really read, I think, and oh! You can SEE the scenery when he describes it. And some of the characterization is awesome. And the reveal of the true person of James FitzJames at the end – beautiful!


H said...

ooohh... I'm glad you read Quiverfull... I read it too. It is very interesting. And, knowing families who buy into that theology/philosophy, I don't think she exaggerates their weirdness much at all. This new patriarchy movement is a dangerous path, especially for daughters, whose only ambitions in life can be to be a mother and wife. Nothing wrong with those roles, but so sad when women are barred from higher education because they need to stay in the kitchen. Ick!

At A Hen's Pace said...

I've only read one on your list, but I agree with you about Family Matters--good, but it loses momentum about halfway through.

The Quiverfull book sounds good, and I'm afraid that your last commenter is probably right. I only know families like that online, but I am appalled at some of their honest and genuine beliefs!


Jessica said...

In saying that some of them weren't so crazy, I was thinking of her criticism of organizations like Focus on the Family. Not that I agree with everything FOF says, but I wouldn't put them in the same category as Vision Forum.

(Though now it's been a while since I wrote the review and even longer since I read the book, so I think that's what I was thinking about when I wrote that!)