Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Five People You Meet In Heaven by Mitch Albom

This book has been sitting on my shelf to read for probably five years!  I've always meant to read it, but the pathway to hell is paved with good intentions.  When a friend of mine mentioned he had just started it and then suggested we read it together, I decided to go for it.  I'm glad I did!

This book is an easy, but ever so pleasant read.  The author's writing style is not verbose nor complex, yet it is still engaging and quite enjoyable.  I did not, as I do with so many books, think to myself that perhaps the author should invest in a thesaurus or take a grammar or creative writing course.

I found the character of Eddie (the main character) to be likable.  I was easily able to identify with him.  Perhaps other readers may not, but so much of his story matches mine.  This made him immediately likable.  Even if other readers to not share such similarities with Eddie, I still think his character will be engaging though perhaps not on such a visceral level.

I found as Eddie worked through the five people waiting for him in heaven that his character developed quite nicely.  I suppose one could say that the changes and growth in Eddie's character were hardly surprising, but that in no way detracted from the story.  I found Eddie's responses to his five people to be completely appropriate and even thought provoking.  Of course, I would say the whole point of this book is to make the reader pause and consider.

In addition to truly enjoying Eddie's character, I must admit, I enjoyed the book as a whole.  I enjoyed how the author showed the meeting with the person waiting for Eddie in heaven and then explained the meeting with a flashback from Eddie's life.  I enjoyed the leisurely pace in which Eddie worked through his five people and I loved the lessons he learned from each of his people.

After reading this book, I've thought often about who my five people might be, if this were to be how heaven actually worked.  I truly appreciate that this book did more than just tell me a story.  I love how this book has made me think about things.  Not just "things".  This book has made me think about how I interact with people and made me think about the events my actions may, or may not, set in motion.  It has made me more mindful but it has also opened my mind to a whole new set of possibilities.

Now, I will say that for some, this book may present a problem.  While I would say this book is appropriate for teens and older readers alike, I know that some readers may have an issue with how heaven is portrayed.  Yes, this heaven in no way resembles the Biblical representation of heaven.  I understand that.  I have no problem with that.  I know what my Bible says about heaven.  I know the truth.  However, I know some readers will not read anything that is contrary to what the Bible teaches.  That's fine.  If you are one of those readers, do not read this book.  However, if you are comfortable with reading someone else's non-Biblical interpretation of heaven, I am certain you will enjoy this book.

All things considered, I highly recommend this book.  It is by no means a difficult book to read, but that very simplicity is what allows the reader's mind to really absorb the story and to truly appreciate what this book does.  I promise, the book will make you think.  Please take the time to read this book.  I am the world's slowest reader and I read it in two nights before bed.  Without a doubt, it was time well spent.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

An Unexpected Wife by Cheryl Reavis

As usual a too busy life with far more distractions than any one person should have has pushed me into the clutches of another romance novel. I complain about this genre despite the fact that I’m actually grateful for it. The one good thing about a romance novel is that I don’t have to think about what I’m reading, it is quick reading, and if I happen to put it down for an extended time, it is easy to pick up again.

This book is from the Love Inspired division of Harlequin. I quite literally just figured out who publishes the Love Inspired line of books when I typed the preceding line, and that really explains so much! I chose this book from the Love Inspired books because I don’t need or want to read something that amounts to nothing more than poorly written porn.

Unfortunately, I was not very impressed with this book. As I have spent the last 20 years actively participating Civil War era living history I determined before even reading the first page that I would not judge this book on it’s historical accuracy or proper portrayal of the period in question. As a Daughter of the Confederacy I further determined that I would not judge the book based on its portrayal of Reconstruction. Had I judged the book on any of the foregoing, the book would have received negative stars. Of course one look at the cover art told me historical accuracy wasn’t this book’s strong suit anyway.

I will say that the author’s ability to write in a coherent manner was appreciated. With romance books it is so hit and miss when it comes to author ability. Cheryl Reavis thankfully writes in an engaging style that doesn’t leave me feeling as though I’ve just read a grade school book. Certainly the writing is not scholarly, but that is hardly to be expected in any of today’s mainstream books.

The characters in this book were about what I would expect in the romance genre. Unfortunately, I found the main characters to be less than engaging. Don’t get me wrong, they were OK. I simply found the character of Sergeant Major Perkins to be far more appealing. In all honesty, I am hoping to see a book written for Sergeant Major Perkins! I do believe that would be a very good book.

While the main characters didn’t catch my attention as much as they should have, I will say that at least the author did allow them to develop. In fact, Kate (the female lead), truly seemed to grow up and come into her own through the course of the book. With Robert (the male lead) we had to take the author’s word for the changes in his character through other character’s thoughts and conversations, but even at that, the way it was written just worked.

The plot was OK. I don’t like to write much about plot because I don’t want to spoil the books I review for other readers. Please forgive my vagueness. All I can really say about the plot is that the climax of the story seemed rather farfetched and quite engineered. Yes, it served it’s purpose, but I truly believe there were better options available to the author.

All things considered, I’m not sure I would recommend this book. Certainly it wasn’t horrible, but neither can I say it was even average. This book simply didn’t work for me. However, should you find you want to read the book, I can assure you there is nothing in this book that a reader might find objectionable. In fact, this book is safe even for a teen to read.