It started out slow, but as I got to the know the characters, I liked it more & more. There were so many that I loved hearing about: Dooley, Puny,...moreIt started out slow, but as I got to the know the characters, I liked it more & more. There were so many that I loved hearing about: Dooley, Puny, Miss Rose & Uncle Billy, Cynthia, & of course, Father Tim. This book didn't grab me like many others have, but it was well written & full of inspiring tidbits. I'll have to hold off before reading the rest in this series. I need something a little more "I-just-can't-put-it-down" before I can settle into another slow read.(less)
I remember studying Ancient China back in elementary school & always being fascinated by its history. However, I don't remember much from all thos...moreI remember studying Ancient China back in elementary school & always being fascinated by its history. However, I don't remember much from all those years ago. So now when I think of Chinese history/culture, I picture the Great Wall of China, Chinese New Year, the terracotta army, & Disney's Mulan.
Reading Snow Flower and the Secret Fan showed me a completely new side of China through the lives of two women - laotong, or old sames. Lisa See described in detail the atrocities of war & poverty, but most importantly, the hardships that come with being born a daughter in China. She painted a very realistic & eye-opening picture (at least I was convinced) of women in 19th century China where they were considered wortheless except for their ability to bear sons. It showed an oftentimes startling view of how women were treated & what was expected of them. They were forbidden an education, which led them to using a secret written language, nu shu, to pass stories, poems & messages along to other women. See's vivid description of foot binding (a whole chapter is dedicated to it) left me with my head between my hands, concentrating on my breathing, so I literally wouldn't throw up. (I've never had a book get that sort of reaction out of me!)
See, through her deep & detailed writing was able to beautifully & heartbreakingly portray the relationships of women with those around them: their mothers who showed mother-love (tough love is how I interpreted it), fathers, siblings, husbands, sworn-sisters, matchmakers & laotong. The language used throughout the novel conveyed the poetic & symbolic Chinese tongue, which I greatly appreciated. It made me feel as though I were witnessing the true lives of those from another time & culture instead of getting a fictionalized account of China written by a tourist. It felt genuine.
I also felt a great connection to the main women in the story, Lily & Snow Flower, two friends whose friendship & laotong bond was brought about through unlikely circumstances. They were strong & devoted women in their own way, & through them, the reader was able to feel the significance of such a relationship in a male-dominated world.
"For my entire life I longed for love. I knew it was not right for me — as a girl and later as a woman — to want or expect it, but I did, and this unjustified desire has been at the root of every problem I have experienced in my life." ~ Lisa See, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan
The Pillars of the Earth follows the lives of Tom Builder & his family, Lady Aliena, Prior Philip, Jack Jackson, William Hamleigh & many other...moreThe Pillars of the Earth follows the lives of Tom Builder & his family, Lady Aliena, Prior Philip, Jack Jackson, William Hamleigh & many others in Medeival England. You witness Civil War, heartless Earls, corrupt bishops, famine, the building of a cathedral, endurance, renewed hope, & love.
Even though I'd heard how amazing this book was, I always pushed it aside for something else, partly because I wasn't sure I cared to read about the building of a cathedral, but even more so because of its near 1,000 pages (32 discs on audio!). This book was going to be a commitment! But man, am I glad I took the time for this big boy. This book pulled me in dramatically from the very start. Follett's ability to bring the characters to life was incredible! I came to a point in the book (a couple points, really) when I felt like I'd been punched in the gut & actually mourned for the characters. At other times, I laughed out loud & rejoiced with them. It shocked me to feel so involved in their fictional lives!
This book alternated between different narrators. In some books this is frustrating b/c certain characters' stories are never as interesting as others'. I didn't find that to be the case in Pillars. I would get so involved with one narration, & then it would switch to another's perspective. I would hate seeing some narrations end, but would quickly get caught up in the new one. There was hardly an uninteresting moment throughout the book. The story completely captivated me!
I also appreciated the research Follett did in writing this, not only about that time in history, the culture, land, laws, . . . but also the actual construction of the cathedral. I found it fascinating!
This is one of the best written books I've read, & I consider it a new favorite. I highly recommend it!
"Having faith in God did not mean sitting back and doing nothing. It meant believing you would find success if you did your best honestly and energetically." ~ Ken Follett, The Pillars of the Earth
I have to admit that this book was hard for me to get into. I tend to shy away from non-fiction, so reading this was a big change for me. The book was...moreI have to admit that this book was hard for me to get into. I tend to shy away from non-fiction, so reading this was a big change for me. The book was slow at times, & I wanted to give up more than once. I'm so glad that I didn't. It amazes me what Greg Mortenson has done to promote education in Pakistan & Afghanistan, especially for the girls who have not been allowed this luxury. A big change came for me after reading A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini & feeling that emotional connection with the women in Afghanistan & learning about the horribly demeaning way they were treated by many of the men & the Taliban. After finishing that book, my interest in Three Cups of Tea & the message it shared sky-rocketed, & I finished the book with a feeling of amazement & a longing to do something to help.(less)
It was difficult for me to rate this book. Because it is such a well loved classic, I felt that perhaps it should automatically be awarded 5 stars. I...moreIt was difficult for me to rate this book. Because it is such a well loved classic, I felt that perhaps it should automatically be awarded 5 stars. I have always loved this story & am glad that I can finally claim having read it instead of just seeing it played out on film. If I had not watched the movie so many times, I possibly would have called this book outstanding, but I noticed while reading that it was almost like the story was just humming in the background, much as a movie you've seen so many times can be watched without you needing to pay much attention to it, yet you are still able to comprehend everything that is happening. I love Austen's wit & her light-hearted characters & stories and am anxious to read another of her books that I am less familiar with to see how it affects me. I really enjoyed this!(less)
I started this book back in May & could only get a few chapters into it before giving up. What is the deal with Jane Austen?! I mean, I love t...more4.5*
I started this book back in May & could only get a few chapters into it before giving up. What is the deal with Jane Austen?! I mean, I love the stories from watching the film adaptations, but trying to read the stories is something far from pleasurable . . . or so I thought.
A couple weeks ago, I decided to watch Sense & Sensibility starring Emma Thompson & Kate Winslet. Within the first 20 minutes, I decided to stop the movie & give the book another try. This second time around was a completely different experience for me than the first. I don't know why the change, but I went to bed reading it & woke up thinking about it. This story was good! Austen's wit had me laughing out loud many times, & I loved reading about Elinor & Marianne & their different takes on love & life. I'm so glad that I finally read this book & can honestly say that I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.(less)
I never thought I'd read two Jane Austen books in a single year, let alone one right after the other! I've heard so many great things about this book,...moreI never thought I'd read two Jane Austen books in a single year, let alone one right after the other! I've heard so many great things about this book, & I really enjoyed the movie, so I thought I might as well give it a go.
Again, I was delighted by Austen's humorous sketches of this time. Her wit is laugh-out-loud funny throughout the story, especially when it comes to the Elliot family's vanity & Mary's self-centered & hypochondriacal tendencies. This was a wonderful story of love, devotion & second chances, as well as a wonderful lesson in living your life & making choices based on what you know to be right rather than being easily persuaded by the judgements of others. I really enjoyed this book & am glad I finally took the time to read it. (less)