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Monthly Archives: February 2012

North and South

North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell

When her father leaves the Church in a crisis of conscience, Margaret Hale is uprooted from her comfortable home in Hampshire to move with her family to the north of England. Initially repulsed by the ugliness of her new surroundings in the industrial town of Milton, Margaret becomes aware of the poverty and suffering of the local mill workers and develops a passionate sense of social justice. This is intensified by her tempestuous relationship with the mill-owner and self-made man, John Thornton, as their fierce opposition over his treatment of his employees masks a deeper attraction. In North and South, Elizabeth Gaskell skillfully fuses individual feeling with social concern, and in Margaret Hale creates one of the most original heroines of Victorian literature.

4 Stars

The plot comes across as a kind of Pride and Prejudice, except the plot is more intricate, characters are more fully drawn, and matters of society are addressed. As you can see from the 4 stars I gave it, I really enjoyed this novel. Margaret is a feisty protagonist who goes through a lot with and for her family. Some of the passages addressing unions and the worker-manager relationship can be difficult to get through, though they are interesting if you are interested in that kind of history. If you’ve known me for any length of time, you know I’m not always a fan of romances, but I really enjoyed this one, perhaps even better than I liked Pride and Prejudice.

 
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Posted by on February 29, 2012 in 4 Stars, Reviews

 

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A blog is born

Welcome to The Henn House! I’ve been diligently working on this blog and adding some reviews to get it started. If you ever have any book you would like reviewed or just have as a recommendation, I would love to hear about it! I’m hoping to get up a review a week as school allows. If you aren’t already, you can also follow my reviews on goodreads. My reviews will be from a variety of genres since I devour so many kinds of books.

 
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Posted by on February 27, 2012 in Etc.

 

Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy

Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas

From the “New York Times” bestselling author of “Amazing Grace” comes a groundbreaking biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, one of the greatest heroes of the 20th century, a man who stood up to Hitler and the monstrous evil that was Nazism. As a double-agent, he joined the plot to assassinate the Fuhrer, and was hanged in Flossenberg concentration camp.

4.5 Stars

I was surprised to find out that not many people had heard of Bonhoeffer before. I had known his name from a radio drama series put out by Focus on the Family, but had not realized just how involved he was in the resistance against the Nazis.

The Good:

As with Amazing Grace, Metaxas details the life of a radical Christian. His writing is engaging and really pulls you into Bonhoeffer’s life. I don’t read a lot of biographies, so the fact that this long book held my attention says a lot. Metaxas doesn’t shy away from addressing theological issues that arise and giving Bonhoeffer’s reasoning behind his actions as a double agent and during the assassination attempt. God’s hand can be seen throughout Bonhoeffer’s life, directing it where He wanted it to go. Bonhoeffer is a hero of the Christian faith and this book is definitely worth reading.

The Not so Good:

As I said before, I don’t read a lot of biographies, so I found some of the more technical chapters hard to get through. However, it was worth the effort.

 
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Posted by on February 26, 2012 in 4 Stars, Reviews

 

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But God . . .

But God . . . by Casey Lute

Whether from the pen of Moses, Paul, or other biblical authors, “But God” appears in various forms hundreds of times in the Bible. To understand these two words as they are used in Scripture is to understand the gospel. This book focuses on nine of the most important appearances of this key phrase, drawing in numerous other passages of Scripture and in the process unfolding the magnificent drama of God’s sovereign grace—from his mercy on Noah to our security in a resurrected Savior.

Taken together, this collection of brief Bible expositions provides a big-picture overview of the consistent way in which God has chosen to save sinners. It has always been by his might, his power, his grace, and his initiative.

5 Stars

But God . . . is one of my favorite books now. As seen from the description, Lute traces this phrase throughout scripture. Reading through each of the examples that Lute has chosen highlights my own inability to save myself or even do anything good apart from God as well as God’s own grace and mercy toward me. It propels me to take a closer look at all of my circumstances, find the “but God” moments in my own life, and then worship God again for His amazing grace.

 
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Posted by on February 26, 2012 in 5 Stars, Reviews

 

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Everneath

Everneath by Brodi Ashton

Last spring, Nikki Beckett vanished, sucked into an underworld known as the Everneath, where immortals Feed on the emotions of despairing humans. Now she’s returned- to her old life, her family, her friends- before being banished back to the underworld… this time forever.

She has six months before the Everneath comes to claim her, six months for good-byes she can’t find the words for, six months to find redemption, if it exists.

Nikki longs to spend these months reconnecting with her boyfriend, Jack, the one person she loves more than anything. But there’s a problem: Cole, the smoldering immortal who first enticed her to the Everneath, has followed Nikki to the mortal world. And he’ll do whatever it takes to bring her back- this time as his queen.

As Nikki’s time grows short and her relationships begin slipping from her grasp, she’s forced to make the hardest decision of her life: find a way to cheat fate and remain on the Surface with Jack or return to the Everneath and become Cole’s…

2.5 Stars (I’ll round up, though)

It’s been a little while since I read this, so I may have forgotten some things.

The Good:

First thing, the picture is gorgeous. I want that dress! Just the fact that it’s a retelling of the Hades/Persephone and the Orpheus myths gives it points. I thought the plot was interesting, although it bordered on melodramatic at times. (Although if you’re about to be sucked back into the underworld, I suppose you have an excuse to be a little melodramatic.) Nikki was, for the most part, a sympathetic character. Just the fact that she was struggling against going off with the “bad boy” gave her points in my book. And her draw towards Cole was given in terms of an addiction she was struggling against but sometimes succumbed to since his feeding off of her emotions took some of her pain and sorrow away temporarily.

The Bad:

All the drama between Nikki and Jack and Cole was a little painful to read sometimes… and the writing went into the sappy quite a bit. The ending was pretty obvious (I thought) which made it a little anti-climactic for me. Also, I thought the knitting thing was a little strange.

In all, my impression was “Interesting idea, could have been better.”

 
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Posted by on February 26, 2012 in 3 Stars, Reviews

 

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Inside Out

Inside Out by Maria V. Snyder

Keep Your Head Down.
Don’t Get Noticed.
Or Else.
I’m Trella. I’m a scrub. A nobody. One of thousands who work the lower levels, keeping Inside clean for the Uppers. I’ve got one friend, do my job and try to avoid the Pop Cops. So what if I occasionally use the pipes to sneak around the Upper levels? The only neck at risk is my own…until I accidentally start a rebellion and become the go-to girl to lead a revolution.

4 Stars

First of all… wow! This is definitely going on my list as one of my top favorite dystopian novels. Not quite up to Hunger Games but really close. Note: this may contain slight spoilers.

The Good:

Trella was a complex and interesting character. Enough flaws to make her frustrating at times, but she eventually realizes her selfishness. (Maybe that’s just satisfying after my class on Shakespeare and having the mantra “know thyself” repeated endlessly…) I could sympathize with her excessive need for solitude. She has spunk and a backbone, which is nice in a female protagonist. Her reaction to the woman who is possibly her mother was true to her character.
The supporting characters were all interesting in their own ways, even through the lens of suspicious Trella. The relationship between Trella and Riley doesn’t seem too forced. I despise the insta-love that seems to be so popular, so the fact that they didn’t vow their undying love for each other by the end was a relief.
The plot line is launched pretty much from the get go and keeps up a brisk pace. Time is handled well throughout. She also weaves in her background information “dumps” in an unobtrusive way without it sounding forced.

The Not So Good:

It’s not that the ending wasn’t good, but it seemed like there were too many surprise near-endings. Maybe that was just me wanting to know how it ends, though. There were also some really obvious clues, which meant no real surprise at times, though there were enough surprises to keep me turning the pages. Also not so good: I’m still waiting for the library to get the next book in.

Caution to younger readers: There is a lot of violence and some torture involved. However, it isn’t explicitly described.

 
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Posted by on February 24, 2012 in 4 Stars, Reviews

 

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Dracula

Dracula by Bram Stoker.

A dreary castle, blood-thirsty vampires, open graves at midnight, and other gothic touches fill this chilling tale about a young Englishman’s confrontation with the evil Count Dracula. A horror romance as deathless as any vampire, the blood-curdling tale still continues to hold readers spellbound a century later.

4 Stars

Bram Stoker does a superb job mixing myth, reality, science, horror, and even religion together. The novel is written through diaries and epistles of the main characters which gives an immediacy to all of the acts and mysteries that are eventually unfolded. Of course, as the reader you have inside knowledge which adds to your anxiety as the truth is slowly laid out to the main characters. Not all of the story, however, is “edge of your seat.” The gang has to put all the pieces together and then track Dracula down. However, Stoker keeps the novel interesting even through some of his more technical passages.

Stoker’s characters are compelling, though not always fully drawn out. However, through their own “voices” in the letters and diary entries, you know enough about them all to be sufficiently nervous, sad, horrified, and sundry other states of being while reading it. Mina, my favorite character, is a worthy heroine in the novel. She tempers the men as they are caught up in their anger and blood-lust, humanizing the novel. Dracula and his wives are satisfyingly evil and repulsive. None of this sparkling nonsense or angst-ridden brooding vamps. (There may be a Twilight rant post coming in the future.) In all, I thought Stoker’s psychology of his characters to be well done.

 
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Posted by on February 23, 2012 in 4 Stars, Reviews

 

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