Tuesday, March 22, 2016

February Book List

Picture Books

Up in the Garden, Down in the Dirt by Kate Messner, illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal
A couple of years ago, I found her winter book and was delighted. This is a seasonal sequel and contains the same attention to nature detail as her other books, although without the strong environmental themes found in her other titles like Marty McGuire. Digging in the dirt for any reason is not something most children resist, understanding how the dirt, the plants and the humans interact together is something everyone should experience.

Chapter Books

Orbiting Jupiter by Gary D. Schmidt
Bonnie over at Being Transformed, a wonderful place to find refreshment of all varieties, recommended this young adult novel, although when I requested it from the library, I didn't realize it was for youth. I read it in one evening and was moved by the profoundness of such a full story told in simple sentences, rich with ideas. It is deals with more mature subject matter so I would not hand this over to elementary age children, but certain preteen and older can appreciate the story's themes.

Classics and Other Such Books

Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote
I feel like I should have something insightful to say about this well known book-turned-movie, but like other post-modern novels, it leaves me thinking, so what does the author want to the take-away to be?
I think I did watch the Audrey Hepburn movie once, but since I can't remember anything about it, I assume the movie did not give me any help when I finally read the book. According to the reviews on Goodreads, I assume it is just as well, the movie didn't really capture the book. Also on the Goodreads reviews, men often rated the book and it's main character Holly Golightly very differently than the women reviewers. I don't have statistical numbers, I just was refreshingly surprised that so many guys did not care for her character. The narrator of the story is nameless and bland, forgettable as Capote likely intended, for Holly is the character on which the story turns. This one goes in the well, at least I read it pile.

The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan
So I have three other Buchan books, but I was waiting to find this title before I read any of them. I will be honest, I kind of thought it would be better than it was. I've heard George Grant talk about the contributions Buchan (and Arthur Quiller-Couch) made to literature (which I highly recommend) so I was expecting to be thrilled by the story and writing. Sad to say, I wasn't and I made myself finish it because it was a very short novel and because I thought I should give it all the way to the end. There really is no character growth or reason for character admiration in the story, it just reads like an episode of 24 if it was made into a book series. I hate to say this but by the time I was more than half-way through I was thinking of how it reminded me of Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code (no, I'm not linking to itwhich I read back when everyone else was reading it.  Lots of action, then lots more action, a bit of dialogue, both external and internal, then lots more action. Oh well, you can't win them all. Perhaps if I read the other two in the series, I will have a change of heart. I don't like to let other readers and recommenders down.


  1. I saw the movie Breakfast at Tiffany's years ago. I never realized that it was based on a novel, and by Truman Capote no less. I thought this movie was supposed to be a classic but I found it dull and uninteresting. The characters seemed shallow and the plot boring. The love story angle seemed bland as well.

    1. I agree with you, Ed. I read Truman Capote's 'A Christmas Memory' in December in a picture book format and very much enjoyed his writing style. If you want to try a Capote story, I would be glad to lend it to you. :)
      Thanks for reading here.

  2. My husband has been listening to Buchan via librivox and is enjoying the stories. I know that series is on Cindy Rollins' list of honorable books for boys, too. Interesting.


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