Non-Fiction Review: Jane Austen

Jane Austen by Claire Tomalin
Jane Austen: A Life 
by Claire Tomalin

4 out of 5 stars on GoodReads


This biography of Jane Austen does a very thorough job of seizing on every letter, every mention, every tiny detail that can be gleaned about the famous author; unfortunately, that isn’t much. Jane’s sister, Cassandra, destroyed many of her letters after Jane’s death. Jane’s brothers and nephews and nieces didn’t preserve her letters as faithfully as they should have. The result is that there are few original writings left from one of the best-loved authors of all time, and little is known of her day to day life.

However, the author does a wonderful job of piecing together letters from cousins, diary entries of nieces and neighbors, along with the few portraits and tin-type photographs of her family and friends.
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Non-Fiction Review: The Fellowship

The Fellowship by Philip Zaleski
The Fellowship: The Literary Lives of the Inklings: J.R.R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, Owen Barfield, Charles Williams 
by Philip Zaleski , Carol Zaleski 

4 out of 5 stars on GoodReads


I read this book by listening to the audiobook, and really enjoyed the voice of the narrator and the structure of the book. Following a chronological and sometimes topical format, this book covers the lives of four of the most famous members of the Inklings. Starting from their childhoods and following them through both World Wars, their academic careers, and their writing, this book also includes details of their family lives and personal friendships right up until their deaths.

I already know a lot about these men, because Tolkien and Lewis are my two favorite authors, and I’ve already read other biographies about the Inklings. But I was really impressed with the depth of information and careful research in this book. There are some really wonderful details and anecdotes that bring these historical figures close to the reader. Continue reading

Book Review: Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls

Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls by Elena Favilli
Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls: 100 Tales of Extraordinary Women 
by Elena FavilliFrancesca Cavallo

 

1 out of 5 stars on GoodReads
This is difficult to review because, while I loved the artwork and the lovely cover, some of the historic people that were featured in this book are very controversial. Many of them are not fit to be held up as role models for young girls!

Pirates, shady politicians, drug addicts, tyrants from Ancient History, and downright gross people; I counted 19 bios out of 100 that I had serious problems with, and which I would never allow a child to read about.

I liked the bios of the decent people, like Helen Keller, the Bronte sisters, Amelia Earhart, Ada Lovelace, Rosa Parks, and others. However, I felt that some of those bios left out points that ought to have been emphasized, or emphasized points that I thought were inconsequential, or portrayed a mixed message of the person’s life.

Most of the writing was skewed to a certain political viewpoint that doesn’t give a complete picture of the person’s achievements or what their life meant in influencing history. I could barely enjoy the good parts of this book because of so many misdirections and illusions about what these good people stood for and what made them famous. And I really didn’t enjoy the bios of the people I don’t admire, because the writing covered up the true nature of their corrupt lives.  Continue reading

Book Review: Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy

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


5 out of 5 stars on Goodreads
It’s impossible to read anything about the incredible life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and not be inspired by his faith, saddened by his suffering, and full of questions about your own beliefs and faith. Does my life reflect the kind of fearless faith that Bonhoeffer showed? Is my heart filled with joy in the midst of dark circumstances the way Bonhoeffer’s was?
The answer is no. My faith looks rather puny next to his. My life looks pathetic next to his courage and generosity. One will always feel small when compared to giants, but at least we are looking up, striving for greatness, seeking to know God more intimately as they did. Continue reading

Book Review: The Real Wizard of Oz: The Life and Times of L. Frank Baum

The Real Wizard of Oz: The Life and Times of L. Frank Baum
The Real Wizard of Oz: The Life and Times of L. Frank Baum by Rebecca Loncraine

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This book was too long-winded for me, and every little thing seemed to be drawn out unnecessarily. Some bits about Baum’s history and his writing career were interesting, but mostly I skimmed a lot of a descriptive passages. There was a lot about the history of the times that had nothing to do with Baum, but I guess it was nice to see the historic events and trends that shaped his world. It just made the book longer though. Continue reading

Review: Frances Hodgson Burnett: Beyond the Secret Garden

Frances Hodgson Burnett: Beyond the Secret Garden
Frances Hodgson Burnett: Beyond the Secret Garden by Angelica Shirley Carpenter
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I loved finding out more about this author’s life! What an interesting character she had! I love that she had such an independent spirit in a time when women didn’t enjoy much freedom. “I do what I want” seems to have been her motto.
She wrote about 60 novels and over a hundred short stories, but most of them are out of print these days. I love her books, and I’m always searching for those obscure out-of-print editions. Continue reading