Thursday, February 26, 2015

February Reads 2015

Here are the books I finished this month and a few of my thoughts on them. I suppose, first though, I should preface this by mentioning that my definition of "finished" does not mean that I necessarily read it all the way through. In this instance it means, "I'm finished with it." :)

There are just too many books in my never-ending queue to slog through books I just don't like. If I read between, say, 50 and 100 pages and I'm still not interested, I call that book "finished," because I know enough about it to know that I will not want to read it again and that is enough for me.

Some books can get slow in the middle for me, but if I have really enjoyed the beginning, I have often developed a trust in the author and press on to see it through to the end. Other books that are just so-so to me, but that I continue to try, sometimes just run out of time. I get at least 90% of my books from the library and my initial time allowance is 3 weeks. I can renew twice if there are no holds from other readers waiting, so I have potentially 9 weeks to read a book and if it's not read by then, it's just going back. I will mention in my notes if I did not completely finish the book and why.

So, in no particular order, here is what I read this month:


I saw this book over and over again while pulling holds when I volunteer weekly at my local library. I was curious, because this promised to be an unusual romance. I lose interest pretty quickly in run-of-the-mill, chick-lit romances. Synopses on the backs of those books sometimes pull me in, but I rarely enjoy things that are just too predictable. Courting Greta, though, is a love story about a new, computer teacher at a high school and his romance with the not-so-feminine, high school gym teacher, our heroine. It's rare that the heroine of a romance is not "pretty," but even more rare is a hero with a disability. Samuel Cooke has a form of spina bifida that causes him to live a life with crutches and braces or use a wheelchair to get around.

I don't want to give anything away with this book. I liked it, but I didn't love it. Samuel Cooke annoyed me and I never grew to like him. Part of me wonders if this was on purpose; perhaps this is what made him more real than a hero of a conventional romance and perhaps that is a mark of a good author? What felt real was that sometimes you just never know what someone will see in someone else that will be attractive to them - and I'm not talking about physical attributes even though that would seem to be the most obvious conundrum of the novel. No, I am talking about personalities and character. How much do you put up with in a person? How patient are you with a person's past issues that creep into their present? These were things that the book had me thinking about even after I finished the book - and I did complete this one! :)

There are some interesting plot twists here and the pace is pretty good. I would recommend this book. In the end, it will have you thinking.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars




This is one that I think I read a little more than halfway through. There are some things about Osteen's theology that I don't agree with. In my opinion, he makes too many sweeping statements and though he does provide Scriptural references when he quotes the Bible, I find that sometimes he takes Scripture out of context and applies it in a new way to what he is talking about. I don't always think, "That's wrong!" but I do sometimes think, "Hmm... I don't know if that is quite what was meant here." Not all of his statements are like this. If they were, I wouldn't bother with reading the book at all. Many of his assertions ring true and his application of God's Word seems right. But if you aren't very familiar with Scripture, I think you might miss some of those instances where it seems to me that he is using Scripture to make it mean what he wants it to mean and perhaps not what it was originally intended to mean.

 Additionally, Osteen provides no citations for the anecdotal studies he refers to. So he'll say things like, "Science has shown that...." or "Recent studies on happiness reveal..." and there is nothing to back that up. I have written here a number of times about my interest in the science that is developing around the brain and happiness. There are plenty of sources out there and the statements Osteen makes do line up with things I have heard and read. But I feel like his claims would be more credible if he would cite the studies he is referring to. 

 I appreciate Osteen's zest for life and his positive outlook that he so willingly shares. I read books like this when I need a fresh perspective. Some of his stories are fun and funny and he is encouraging, if nothing else. That says a lot of a person, because everyone could use encouragement from time to time.

Rating: Goodreads calls 2 stars, "It was okay," and that is what I would rate this book.



Oh, I LOVED this book! First of all, it was a perfect combination for me: set during WWII and it is an epistolary novel, that is, it is written in a correspondence of letters. Adding to the charm of this book is that at the writing of the book, the two authors who wrote it had never met one another and began the book by e-mail correspondence. In fact, they began by writing in character to each other via e-mail over the course of a few weeks and then decided to develop their story more fully, which bloomed so delightfully into this book.

I love the writing in this, the tone of the characters' voices, the prose, the historic details. Loved every bit of it. And I cried at the end. I don't do that too often with books (probably because I often avoid books that I think will make me cry!), but when I do, it is because it felt real. This felt real and beautiful. Read it!

Rating: 5 of 5 stars



Bob Goff does things that not very many people do. He is quirky and - his word - whimsical. This book is a collection of stories about some of his odd and interesting adventures. Then he ties in a little lesson about what he learns about Jesus through it. I think Goff would be more fun to see and hear his stories in person. The word that kept coming to mind as I read this was, "mild." Not that some of his stories aren't extraordinary, but I guess the way he applied his experiences to his thoughts about God had a bit of a greeting-card feel to them. I don't know how to better describe it. I got about two-thirds of the way through this book before it was due back at the library because there was a waiting-list. Many people love this book. I liked it.

Rating: 3 stars



This little book is a quick read. It's fun and contained some new perspectives on creativity that I hadn't thought of before. I think that's why I liked it so much. I've read a lot of books on creativity and this one reignited a spark. This is marketed as a "gift" book in book stores and it really would make a great gift for anyone. As with so many books, I got this one at the library, but I may end up buying it. It is something I can see picking up again and again for some good reminders. And because it made me happy. :)

Rating: 4 stars


And finally, speaking of happy, I finished this book too. Harris is an engaging writer, having written for many years for television news. He's kind of crass but, as he already knows, that is part of what makes his book on meditation so different than what is already out there. This is a book on meditation for Everyman. If meditation seems frou-frou to you or "airy-fairy" or just plain weird, have a look at what Harris has discovered. There's a reason it's a New York Times bestseller.

This is not just a how-to book, but it's got a great narrative attached to it that pulls you along for the ride. It helps that Harris works for ABC and his colleagues are familiar, household names: Peter Jennings, Diane Sawyer, Barbara Walters, etc.

If you haven't read it yet, you should. Even if you aren't interested in meditation, it's a great read. But don't be surprised if you find yourself sitting on a pillow on the floor with your eyes closed, giving meditation a try!

Rating: 4 stars

Well friends, what was your favorite read this month? Let me know or connect with me on Goodreads so I can look at what you're reading!
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