Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Middle Sister's November 2013 Books

Because of the US Thanksgiving holiday this weekend, I'm going to review my November reads a bit early. Any subsequent books finished before Saturday will be reviewed next month. It was a slow month, book-wise, but that's because one of them was quite lengthy.

Silence by Diarmaid MacCulloch I was hoping for a detailed treatise on silence in religious practice, as the book cover blurb indicated. The main material appears to be adapted from a series of lecture given by the author. The beginning of the book focuses on silence in the Old Testament and Judaism, the latter of which I'm not familiar with, so it was a bit steep. The next part deals with the early Christian church, with which I'm a bit more familiar and which therefore was easier to follow. The Final portion is where the author lost me. He switched from a discussion of silence as a meditative pursuit to silence in terms of official church policy on homosexuality, and while that is a an interesting topic and deserving of an essay or newspaper column, the book was supposed to explore the use of silence as a religious exercise, or so I thought. It's a very erudite book, with lots of footnotes, and clearly the author knows his subject matter, but it's probably too weighty for any readers but church historians.

And please, publishers, will you make the footnotes in your Kindle version active? The one downside to a Kindle is that it is not easy to scroll back and forth between locations when one doesn't know where the footnote pages begin because there is no link to that page or to specific footnotes within the text of the book. This book in particular needed its footnotes for the reader's enlightenment. (Net Galley Kindle)

Ten Lords A'Leaping by C.C. Benson Father Tom Christmas (yes,that's really his name), vicar in a small English village, sprains his ankle while jumping out a plane with a group pf philanthropist titled nobles for a fund raiser, and is stuck recuperating for a few days at the English manor where the event occurred until he is mobile. Unfortunately, someone is killed, followed by a second murder, in Benson's take on the classic mystery setting. Pluses: engaging cozy mystery, enough characters for suspects aplenty, interesting modern update of the country house murder ploy, and a cast of characters and a genealogy chart  (I love a cast of characters). Minuses: a heavy dependence on British idioms of vernacular jargon almost makes some passages read like a parody, and why does it take three-quarters of the book for us to find out that Miranda is 10 years old? Madrun's letters to her mother were an interesting sidebar, but the crossed-out misspellings got tiresome by about the fourth chapter. I enjoyed how Father Tom's two mothers were so matter-of-factly included in the story without drama. However, I enjoyed the book enough that I will seek out the first two entries in the series. (Net Galley Kindle)

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