The year 2010 was the year of unfinished books for me. I cannot pinpoint the reason for it, but I started many good books without finishing them. So this year I wanted to be more thorough and finish something each month. January was a pretty good start -- I read three books and several chapters of another. Here's what I read:
1. Feminine Appeal by Carolyn Mahaney -- just the first few chapters. I am reading this long distance with Josh's sisters and brother's wife, and we are reading a chapter a week, and then posting "quotes and questions" to each other via Facebook. It's really been great. I loved this book the first time I read it, and I feel like it's even better this time around. If you aren't familiar with the Mahaneys -- I'd recommend checking out their GREAT blog Girl Talk. One of the best and most uplifting blogs out there!
2. The Summer Before by Ann M. Martin -- this is the prequel to the Baby-sitter's Club series that came out when I was nine. I devoured those books as a kid, and when I spotted this recently-written prequel at the library, I had to indulge myself. It tells the story of Kristy, Mary Ann, Claudia and Stacy just before they began the Baby-Sitter's Club together. While it will never top the list of all-time favorites for me, it was really fun to remember the characters like that. Back in the day, Claudia was my favorite because she was so cool, but as a grown-up I see that I was much more like Kristy.
3. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen -- Josh's parents gave us all Kindles for Christmas, and since many great classic works are free, I quickly added those to my e-reader and jumped into this Austen work I've been wanting to read. I really enjoyed the hero of the story -- he was so funny at points it seemed more like a Dickensian hero. I don't think I prefer it over other Austen, but it was a terrific read just the same. I think this was an excellent way to start out my e-reading experience, because it made a thick book light and not tiresome to hold in one hand for even long periods of time (found that out once when Susie fell asleep on me, and I could only hold up one arm to hold my Kindle. I normally enjoy flipping to endnotes to gain perspective on the historical setting, but it wasn't as handy to do so with the Kindle, so it kept me right in the story more, which is rather enjoyable as well.
4. Lady Jane Grey, Nine-Day Queen of England by Faith Cook -- this was the best book I read last month. I finished the last chapter with the utmost respect for this young Tudor girl who was plotted against and mistreated her whole life long, only to die honorably without forsaking her sincere beliefs. At nine, she was sent to court (Henry the VIII was on the throne) and was educated alongside her cousin, Prince Edward by godly tutors who embraced Reformation teachings. Jane was brilliant, and at 13 and 14 she held regular correspondence with leading Reformers living throughout Europe such as Martin Bucer. She was able to dialogue about Theology and Scripture with these men. I was amazed by the both her brilliance in writing to them, and that they were willing to write to a woman, and such a young woman at that! Poor Jane was forced to marry, and then take the throne at age 15, and then after just a few days, abandoned by everyone who forced the crown upon her, including her parents, all of whom rallied for Queen Mary. While Jane lived, Mary's throne seemed threatened, so she was condemned to death by beheading. The last 2 chapters of this book were simply amazing, telling of how a good priest, Feckenham, was determined to "save" Jane, both her life and soul by converting her Catholicism. Mary offered Jane her life if she would renounce the "new religion". This young girl at 16 faced many priests in public debate, just days before her execution, knowing that if she were to recant, her life would be spared. I was in awe to read her debate (which is recorded in Foxe's Book of Martyrs), and how at its conclusion, Feckenham says they should have changed places, with Jane as the teacher and he as the disciple, and offered to be her spiritual support at the executioner's block. While this book began a bit slowly (many biographies do, you know), it ended just breathtakingly! What an admirable heroine is Lady Jane Grey!
February is here -- time to begin some new books!