Thursday, June 16, 2011

MacArthur by Mitchell Yockelson

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MacArthur by Mitchell Yockelson is a biography of America's general, Douglas MacArthur, who is famous for the word's "I shall return," a promise to the Filipinos. MacArthur was a man who kept his promises, and strove to live the life of a gentleman, to live honorably, like his forefathers. This novel was his story from childhood to training at West Point to the Philippines to marriage and fatherhood. His life is a tale of dutiful loyalty to the people he loved in the two countries he served, the United States of America and the Philippines. The whole world was honored to have such a man as America's general.

MacArthur was my first biography this year, and I didn't know what to expect. In my history class, we had learned some of the basics about MacArthur, but I'm glad I got to go more in depth into his life. I really, truly, enjoyed this book. It allowed me to appreciate the struggles of the men who fought and died in war.

This was my first book by Yockelson. The beginning was rocky, but he held my attention and presented the MacArthur's life as a true biography, as it should be presented. I am glad it was presented as it was, not as fiction, which I feel would diminish the point of the book. I am not a great fan of biographies, but Yockelson put out a good one.

The novel portrays the protagonist and his family as following God. It describes MacArthur as a faithful man. He was loyal to his country, and to God. His faith was not uncommon during his time, because many men find God in the midst of war.

I would recommend MacArthur to people interested in history, or those who just want to get a look at this man's life story.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Texas Rain

Texas Rain (Whispering Mountain, #1)

I took the ACT this Saturday; I'll be getting the results in a few weeks. So I can blog today, but I'll be busy this week, and for a while, so I don't know when my next post will be. Other than studying, I've just been reading (obviously) a lot, and watching some TV.

Anyways, I read Texas Rain, a western romance, by Jodi Thomas. It's the story of Rainey Adams, runaway schoolteacher from the east coast, who chose freedom over marriage, and ran away from her controlling, overbearing father. Travis McMurray, is half-Irish, half-Apache, and is a Texas Ranger, for whom the law is his heart. Until he meets Rainey at a country dance, where she steals a kiss from him...and then, his horse. The second time they meet, she steals another horse, and his heart, because Travis has been injured.

In the shadows and at the peak of Whispering Mountain, Travis dreams of Rainey, his fairy, and his future, which is uncertain in his hands. Rainey rides to Austin where she makes some friends, and starts a pie business. But Travis' heart lingers in her hands. Travis finds his calling in studying law, since it's the closest thing to a Ranger (a Ranger on the plains: a lawyer in the courthouse).

The novel shifts from Whispering Mountain ranch to Austin, where Rainey has escaped to. Travis finds her, taking along his sister, Sage (cool character), and Duck, a silent 3-year old who clings to Travis like a son. Will Rainey hold onto her freedom? Will Travis take her heart? Will they find safety? Will Travis choose being a lawyer over a Ranger?

 I, of course, know the answers, but you, my dear readers, do not (unless you've read the book), and I don't want to ruin it. I must say that I liked the allusion of Rainey as a fairy and I liked the characters, but it was exhausting reading about them kissing and being romantic, pulling away, chasing each other, so on and so on.

There was one part I loved: She smiled as she pressed her palm over the beating. "I feel the center of you. I feel your heart."
"No," he whispered as he kissed her ear. "You are my heart." And I loved the part after it, where he is writing I love you, in dust, until Rainey believes it, he says.

The Queen of Water and Linger

Linger (The Wolves of Mercy Falls, #2)  The Queen of Water

My latest read is Linger by Maggie Stiefvater, a novel in the Wolves of Mercy Falls series. I loved Shiver, and Linger was good too, but not as good. I loved the wolves, especially the part where they are laying in a circle around Grace, waiting for her to shift. I liked how Grace was waiting to become a wolf, and Sam had waited and struggled to become human. I thought it was sad that a couple wolves died, and I thought Cole was a jerk, and had good reason for wanting to be a wolf; it was cruel he couldn't shift easily. I wished there was more of Sam's music, like there was in Shiver, and I hungered for more imagery. I LOVED the cover/jacket. The title comes from the quote: "We are not allowed to linger, even with what is most intimate." I liked this phrase: I was a paper boat drifting in a massive night ocean. I missed Olivia and Shelby in this novel. I think Cole and Isabel would have gotten along with Shelby. Shelby intrigued me in the last novel (so did Olivia). I liked how Sam made a thousand paper cranes to get his wish, to wish for Grace. I hope it comes true.

I also read The Queen of Water by Laura Resau. It's set in Ecuador, and is the story of Virginia, who becomes a servant at age of eight to Nino Carlos and Doctorita. They promise her school, a certificate, and a house. None of them ever come. Neither does pay. Or visits home once a month, like she wants. Because they tell her that if she goes home then her parents will sell her to another family. Honestly, this novel is beautiful and pure. Virginia is trapped in her role as a servant for years. She is kept from her love, Antonio, and from her fragile dreams, that threaten to break at any moment. They stole her childhood. But she triumphs, goes to school, works at a hotel. Her native language, dress, and family is foreign to her; she can speak only Spanish, dresses in regular clothes, not in an anaco, and doesn't belong in her village. She has been gone for too long, but still attempts to make a new life for herself. An inspiring read. Definitely recommended.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Jane Austen, Eyes, Quotes from Bees

I've been doing a lot of reading since school is out for me. And so it's SUMMER!!!

Since I love Jane Austen, I do one "sequel" a month here on my blog. This month's "sequel" was called I was Jane Austen's Best Friend by Cora Harrison (Cora is an interesting name). It's a journal written by Jenny Cooper, Jane's cousin. I found it really amusing and I was glad it had a happy ending. I found the characters to be really fun and Jenny seemed like a normal 16-year-old-girl in England at the time--obsessed with the balls and gowns and needing to get married, like so many of Austen's own characters. A satisfying and quirky read.

The last book I read in English class was Their Eyes were watching God (see below for notes). I've decided to write some more on the novel. First off, it is by Zora Neale Hurston, a Harlem Renaissance writer. The novel is a buildingsroman and modernist work of the life of Janie, set in Florida. She marries as she matures. Her first marriage to Logan, an old farmer who does not treat her very well, is when she is 16 years old. She marries him due to her grandmother's wishes for her to have a secure marriage. But Janie is unsatisfied with it and wants to be in love, which is what this novel is ultimately about--her search for love. Janie runs off and marries Jody and they go to a town of all African Americans (There is little interaction of races). Jody keeps Janie from her true self, by making her cover her hair and working in the store doing events. Their relationship is best symbolized by the mule; the mule represents Janie--to Jody she is a symbol of his wealth and power. The store is ultimately Janie's prison.

When Jody dies, ten-something years later, Janie is set free. Her third marriage is her true one, where she has achieved love. The pear tree represents Janie's sexual awakening, where as the honey bee and honeysuckle represent her marriage to Tea Cake. Tea Cake is a younger commoner whom Janie falls in love with, even though he has no money. They go to the Muck--the Everglades--where Janie and Tea Cake work picking beans. The Muck represents the ideal life Janie has with Tea Cake. Then there's the hurricane. They are warned to get out by those going east, but they remain, with others who don't want to leave. Ultimately, all of Janie's marriages end (by death) and at the end Janie returns to the town and to the house she lived with Jody. Janie is telling this tale to her best friend Phoebe, the bearer of the tale. This is a modernist novel, if you look closely. At the end of it, Janie has found peace despite the storm and difficulties, love for herself despite society's judgments, and her voice to tell her story. Fabulously recommended.

I also read the Secret Life of Bees (see below) and I've also decided to post some quotes: 
Putting black cloths on the hives is for us. I do it to remind us that life gives way into death, and then death turns around and gives way into life.” -August, p.206
Most people don’t have any idea about all the complicated life going on inside a hive. Bees have a secret life we don’t know anything about” -August, p.148
"Some things don't matter much. Like the color of a house. How big is that in the overall scheme of life? But lifting a person's heart--now, that matters. The whole problem with people is...they know what matters, but they don't choose it...The hardest thing on earth is choosing what matters."   (This one stuck with me)
And you can read more of her quotes here:
There are a lot of great ones, this is just a sample.  I'm so glad I read this book...I wish I owned it now!