Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Hope Rising by Kim Meeder

iconI bought Kim Meeder's Hope Rising months ago, but it just joined the stacks of books I have yet to read, and I forgot about it until just the other night. I picked it up Saturday night after finishing Being Mrs. Alcott, and finished it Monday evening — another quick read (yay!).

I have to admit I didn't enjoy this book as much as I thought I would, it being an inspirational book about horses and horse rescue. My problem with it was a very heavy religious theme that seemed to get more prominent and preachy as the book wore on. In fact, the last two chapters were dedicated solely to convincing the reader of God's hand in engineering... well, everything.

There's only so many times I can read, "It happened because the Lord willed it to," before I get really tired of hearing it. And since this book proclaimed that once, on average, per 2-4 page chapter, I was tired of it long before the last two chapters. So, needless to say, they didn't sit well with me at that point.

Since there was nothing on the back cover (or anywhere else) to indicate the heavy religious theme, I think the book was marketing itself in a misleading way, which was probably what irked me the most. I probably wouldn't have bought it had it been marketed honestly.

The final straw was that the book dedicated a full page in the back to soliciting donations. Now, don't get me wrong, I don't disagree with what the author is doing with her ranch — I think saving horses and helping children work through issues are noble purposes, no matter what the religious implications. But by including this page at the back, the author made it seem like her biggest goal in publishing this book (besides converting her readers) was to beg donations. Not a very flattering picture to paint.

All my griping aside, though, the stories in the book were very moving; several of the rescue stories actually brought tears to my eyes. I am therefore giving the book away on my horse blog this Valentine's Day, in the hopes that it will find a home more appreciative of it than I am.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Being Mrs. Alcott by Nancy Geary

iconiconI actually finished this book Saturday night, less than 24 hours after starting it — but I'd gotten behind on blogging about what I was reading, so this post is a little late. It felt good to read a book in one day, though. Although I did that regularly as a teenager, I don't get to do it very often as an adult.

Being Mrs. Alcott was definitely the kind of book that you can't put down. It's a wonderful story about a upper-class woman who marries young and spends her life as a homemaker. She suffers a lot and sometimes seems quite marginalized, but at other times you see her as a very strong woman who is still always there for her family.

What is so addicting about this book is the human-ness of it. All of the characters have their faults as well as their good points, and the book seems to make the point that not everything that happens to us in our lives is necessarily someone's fault.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Against Medical Advice by James Patterson and Hal Friedman

iconiconI wasn't sure what I would think about Against Medical Advice, which is James Patterson's first nonfiction book. He wrote it with his friend Hal Friedman, about Hal's son Cory. Cory grew up with Tourrette's and OCD, and this book is the story of what he and his family went through.

Although Against Medical Advice was not written by Cory, it is told from his perspective. I find that a bit odd, since Cory is still alive. Supposedly, he has approved the book as an accurate representation of what it was all like for him — but since the book isn't ghostwritten with Cory's name slapped on the front of it, I'm honestly not sure what to think of it.

I haven't read anything else by James Patterson, though I've seen Along Came a Spider and Kiss the Girls. I wasn't sure what to expect, but Against Medical Advice is a pretty easy, fast-paced read — perhaps too much so at times. It does have a nice climax and ending, though. And I like what the authors are implying (and what Hal Friedman actually says in the afterword): that it seems like the constantly changing (and often experimental) medications actually worsened Cory's symptoms, rather than making them better. I'm a firm believer that in our society we are way too quick to medicate, so this book really rang true for me.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

The Company by K.J. Parker

iconiconK.J. Parker's The Company is a military fantasy — not my usual choice of reading. However, my husband saw it and had me check it out for him at the library, and ended up liking it so much that he recommended it to me.

I guess it says a lot that even though I don't normally read this sort of thing, I did enjoy it immensely. The world Parker creates could essentially be any world where guns don't yet exist and most common people live in rural areas, and he doesn't waste time with histories of the world or far-reaching descriptions. Only the times and places relevant to the story are described, leaving you with the sense that to the characters, that really is all that exists.

The story itself is very well thought out, with details in all the right places. The tension is well-developed, and keeps you guessing until the very end. It's one of those complex stories where you are not entirely rooting for anyone — every character is portrayed as very human, with signficant flaws as well as significant strengths.

Even if this is not normally your kind of book, I think you might like this one. I certainly did, and I never would have even given it a second glance had my husband not recommended I read it!