Reading Roundup: April 2017

Born To Treason by E.B. Wheeler 

The history of Wales is not something I'm very familiar with, but I felt like the world building in this novel was pretty solid and I had a good sense of the time and place. The main character was sometimes a little too petulant and difficult for my taste, but she is meant to be young and naive, so I can forgive this a bit. I also liked the romantic elements of the book and felt like the pacing of the story worked well.

Deliverance by H.B. Moore

I have liked most of Moore's scripture-based books in the past, and I thought this one was just as good. The story of Moses has always intrigued me and I thought this book did a good job depicting what his life in the desert might have been like; I particularly liked the character of Miriam and her relationship with Moses.

Exodus by H.B. Moore 

I didn't read the first book in the series (that depicts Moses' life in Egypt), and maybe if I had I would have liked this one more since I would have been more familiar with the characters. I didn't enjoy this one as much as Deliverance, partly because Miriam becomes more of a background character and partly because the need to more strictly adhere to events from the Bible makes the story feel a little more restricted. The story from the Bible is also fairly complex, especially with the awful things that happen to the Egyptians, and I wish this book had delved more into that complexity. 

The Orphan Keeper by Camron Wright

Whenever I read books that are fictionalized accounts of true stories, I always wonder why the author chose to write fiction instead of nonfiction. Sometimes this choice can backfire, especially when the author is too afraid to move too far from the source material. This book is a good example of this problem--the story is uneven in pacing and tone and the motives and feelings of the main characters are not always clear. I was left with questions about events and people that weren't ever resolved by the book and it wasn't a very satisfying or enjoyable read.

The (Re) Model Marriage by Maria Hoagland

This book was also difficult to read, because the conflict in it wasn't ever clear. Without a satisfying story arc, I had little reason to keep reading and didn't feel invested in the ending. I liked the idea of intertwining the renovation of the house with the improvement of a marriage, but the book never really clarified what was wrong with the marriage in the first place. 

The Dragons of Alsace Farm by Laurie Lewis

This book had an interesting premise, but veered way too hard into melodrama for me. I also hate it when characters are just too good to be realistic, rather than being more dimensional and complex.

The Soldier's Bride by Rachelle Christensen

This book surprised me with its depth and sincerity; I will totally admit to pre-judging it based on the cover and the conceit of the magic music box (I'm also not sure why it was in the general category instead of the historical category). The music box element was handled lightly enough to not detract from the story, and I felt like the author was especially skilled at creating complex characters and realistically difficult situations. The book had an ending that was satisfying without being cheesy. 

One Hundred Birds Taught Me to Fly by Ashley Mae Hoiland

This was our book club pick for the month, and everyone who came loved the book. I did too--my copy has a number of dogeared pages marking my favorite insights that I want to revisit again and again. I only wish I could write this well, and could have such keen perception into my life and that of my family.

Movies

To Walk Invisible

There were some things I liked about this--the acting, the costumes, the setting, and the cinematography. I did think it was a little weird that most of the movie focused on Branwell and all the difficulties he caused his sisters; it felt uneven because the film couldn't seem to decide if the conflict was the fact that the sisters had to deal with unreliable men in their lives, or with their difficulties in getting published. The two are intertwined in complex ways, but this film didn't do enough justice to that complexity.

Brother Bear 

I had never seen this movie and neither had the kids, but it seemed like a good one to watch when we were learning about Alaska. I really liked the story and the inclusion of Inuit spirituality, and the kids all enjoyed it too. It's not my favorite Disney movie, but I would watch it again sometime. 

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