Tuesday, October 22, 2013

How The Settlers Lived by George Laycock

book cover
How The Settlers Lived
by George & Ellen Laycock

ISBN-13: 978-0679206842
Hardcover: 113 pages
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Released: May 12, 1980

Source: Bought in a library used book sale.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
Describes the living conditions, homes, clothes, and recreation of early Western settlers. This fascinating account of frontier days is accompanied by many detailed drawings and depicts settler's daily lives--how they reached the West, how they cleared and cultivated the land, how they built and cultivated the land, how they built and furnished their log cabins, how they made their clothes, weapons, and utensils, and more.

My Review:
How The Settlers Lived is a children's book about how the American frontier families in the early 1800s lived. The book appears to be aimed at juvenile readers. The text gave an overview of a number of topics but, while interesting, the details within a topic were brief. I remember my mother reading the Little House on the Prairie series to me when I was young, and I learned much of this information and more from those books.

Young readers interested in the topic will probably find this book interesting and informative. About half of the pages are drawings illustrating some aspect of daily live that is talked about in the text.

The book covered how they traveled West, how they made their homes (and described several types of homes, like a log cabin and a soddy house), how they furnished their homes, how they cleared and farmed the land, hunting, what they wore, doctors and illness, and what they did for fun.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Grapes of Canaan: Hawaii 1820 by Albertine Loomis

book cover
Grapes of Canaan:
Hawaii 1820
by Albertine Loomis

ISBN-13: 9781881987123
Mass Market Paperback:
338 pages
Publisher: Ox Bow Press
Released: June 1998

Source: Borrowed from my mother.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
This book is an important chronicle of the early years of the first Protestant mission in the Hawaiian islands. It is based upon the journals of Elisha and Maria Loomis, other missionary journals, and other historical sources. Their great-granddaughter, Albertine Loomis, remarked that the book was meant to be "an authentic and accurate story, using some of the techniques of fiction to give it pace and vividness for the general reader. Even the conversational passages are based on documentary accounts of what was said, and oftener than not...they are almost word for word as Elisha or one of the others recorded them."

My Review:
Grapes of Canaan: Hawaii 1820 is a biography about the first Protestant missionaries to the Hawaiian islands based on letters, journals, and other documents from the time written by the people described in the book. It covered a period from 1819 to 1827.

The book described the difficulties the missionaries faced and the changes that occurred in the islands as the missionaries developed a Hawaiian written language, taught it, started translating the Bible, and spread the Good News about Christ. The account ends with the author's grandparents, Elisha and Maria Loomis, returning to America, and so some questions about what happened next are left unanswered. Still, a lot happened in that time.

The book was a fairly easy read--the Hawaiian names were tricky, but there's a glossary in the back for the other Hawaiian words. The book felt like an accurate portrayal of what happened. I don't agree with a few of the missionary's theological stances, like they controled who was baptized and apparently felt this meant that they largely decided who was granted salvation. However, I was impressed by how genuine they were in their faith and how they cared for the Hawaiian people. Overall, I'd recommend this book.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Princess by Jean P. Sasson

book cover
A True Story of Life Behind the Veil in Saudi Arabia
by Jean P. Sasson

ISBN-13: 9780688116750
Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: William Morrow & Company
Released: September 1, 1992

Source: Bought at a library used book sale.

Book Description from Goodreads:
Sultana is a Saudi Arabian princess, a woman born to fabulous, uncountable wealth. But she lives in a gilded cage. She has no freedom, no control over her own life, no value but as a bearer of sons.

Sultana tells of her own life, from her turbulent childhood to her arranged marriage--a happy one until her husband decided to displace her by taking a second wife--and of the lives of her sisters, her friends and her servants. They share a history of appalling everyday oppressions, like thirteen-year-old girls forced to marry men five times their age and young women killed by their own families by drowning, stoning, or isolation in a padded, windowless cell until death claims them.

By telling her story to Jean Sasson, Sultana has allowed us to see beyond the veils of this secret society, to the heart of a nation where sex, money, and power reign supreme.

My Review:
Princess is a memoir about a woman who was born a princess in Saudi Arabia and what it was like to grow up, marry, and have children as a woman in that culture. She also relates stories about non-royal or poor Saudi women as well as women who come to work as maids in the Saudi homes.

It's a very sad story in many ways, and it's hard to read how cruelly people can treat one another. The author wrote the story of the princess' life for her based on diaries and conversations. The story has a very readable style that allows the personality of the princess to come strongly through, both the good and the bad. Overall, I'd recommend this book to those interested in women's lives in Saudi Arabia. Keep in mind, though, that things have changed some since this book was written.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt: A link to Amazon so you can read an excerpt using Look Inside.