Sunday, January 12, 2014

Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth by Reza Aslan

I really wish the people that criticize this book would read it.  It is not a theological piece, but rather tracks the historical Jesus of Nazareth through the political, religious, and social times that he lived in.  If you are not well versed in biblical history and the evolution of the synoptic gospels, much of the first part of this book will be really useful to you--as Aslan traces the gospels through "Q", a source that several of the writers probably used as their original source for information about what Jesus said.  Then Aslan proceeds into helping the reader get a deep understanding of the times and troubles that Jews faced and how Jesus was looked upon through the lens of his time.  Lastly, Aslan basically summarizes the conflict between James (brother of Jesus) and Paul and how that led to the Christology that permeates the New Testament.  A terribly wonderful and useful read!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

The Man in the Window by Jon Cohen

This unusual love story centers around Louis and Iris.  Louis, a complete recluse who was burned as a teenager in a tragic accident at his father's hardware store, has not left his house in 16 years.  Iris is a hospital nurse that sees nothing physically beautiful about herself.  Through a course of fortuitous and unusual events, they meet and quickly realize that they should be together.  This story was simply beautiful and left me championing the two untouchables throughout the book.  All of the "normal" characters in the story pale in comparison to the central characters.  I highly recommend this quick and quirky read.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Silenced by Kristina Ohlsson

Frederika Bergman is the protagonist in this Swedish mystery.  She and her team attempt to solve the double murder of a professor who rallies around immigrant issues and refugees.  The first chapter of this book had the most impact-an eerie, imagery filled narrative of the murder victims' daughter's rape, committed by a refugee whom the victim was helping.  The rest of the book pales in comparison to the beginning.  I was more and more disappointed as I read on, hoping that there would be an unanticipated turn of events, but in the end the author chose a conclusion that really did not tie in with the motives or characterization in the book.  The critics compared Ohlsson to Jo Nesbo.  I can see after starting a Nesbo book that Ohlsson really tries to emulate his style, but is unsuccessful. 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

Pure Gaiman.  This tale is reminiscent of Coraline, but with more description and less moral dilemma.  An unnamed seven year old comes face to face with ancient battles of good versus evil.  Led by the Hempstock women, a family at the end of his lane who appear to be have been around since the moon was made, the boy faces fears with the best of bravery and forthrightness.  I read this book in a few hours--beautifully written and a page turner!  I was sad when I came to the last page.

Adios Muchachos by Daniel Chevarria

I don't usually pick up a book without a recommendation from either NPR or a friend, but as I was browsing the NPL e-book options, I found the summary of this to be intriguing.  Set in Cuba, the story addresses the life of Alicia, an upscale prostitute who is also a con artist.  She gets involved with a man who, from a course of unintended events, has to cover up the death of his lover.  Part romance, part mystery, but mostly a great read on character and motivation.  Some scenes are explicit, so not for the timid.

In the Kingdom of Men by Kim Barnes

Idaho author Kim Barnes gives us the story of Ginny, an American who travels with her husband to the Arab oil fields.  Set in the late sixties, the book gives a very detailed and personal account of Ginny's struggles with loneliness, faith, sexism, and racial inequality.  Greed is also a huge theme in this book.  I really like Barnes' style and description of inner conflict that Ginny experiences.  Worth a look if you like stories about the inner life of a woman.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

I loved this book!  Danner and I read it together, and I really enjoyed the narrative and few little plot twists that happen.  I am surprised this is marketed to younger audience, as I found the premise quite disturbing.  I am glad I read it with Danner because we were able to discuss the moral implications, etc...of a game where people basically execute one another.  It was interesting to discuss those "grey" areas with a pre-teen.