My Own Little Book Corner

Thursday, May 3, 2007

April Book Reviews

Hard to believe that another month has flown by and it's time for my much anticipated book reviews. (Read sarcasm there.) But whether you like them or not, I'm going to keep them up. I will try to keep them short though. So here goes -

The first book of the month was "The Time Travelers Wife" by Audrey Niffenegger. This book will mess with your head. This is the story of a man who has a genetic disorder that causes him to travel through time. It was a little confusing to me at times because of the past, present, future thing – even at times there being 2 Henry's at different ages. But it is an interesting concept and story. I would have liked to read more about why Clare was so attracted to him, but overall a good read - 5 stars.

"Light on Snow" by Anita Shreve was my next read. It is a touching story of a father and daughter coping with the loss of their wife/mother and daughter/sister. The father couldn't stand the memories, loaded up the girl, Nicky, and drove until they reached a small New Hampshire town. There they found an isolated house to buy and settled down. Their life changes when one evening, after he finishes his woodwork, they take one of their walks in the snow and find a newborn girl left in the woods. A good story of family, love, hurt, grace and redemption. 5 stars.

After that story I went for a journey of faith book - "Blue Like Jazz" by Donald Miller. This is the second book by him that I have read and while I enjoy his writings, I don't think they are as great as some people do. I agree with a lot of what he said, but also had problems in some areas. A sightly above average read - 3 1/2 stars.

From there I went to a different kind of personal story and read "Catch Me if You Can" by Frank Abagnale. I had seen the movie based on this book a few years back and had been curious about the book ever since. He presented himself as so many different people, traveled the world and even though on the surface it appeared that he was living the good life – he knew that he was just conning everyone – including himself. For the type book it is - I give it 5 stars.

My surprise book of the month was "An Unfinished Life" by Mark Spragg. This is one of my favorite books so far this year. The title is tied to the tombstone of Griffith Gilkyson who was killed in a car accident when his wife was driving. She survived and was pregnant at the time. Griffith’s father, Einar, could not forgive her and she left resulting in a series of bad relationships. She hits bottom so to speak and ends up back at Einar’s house. Einar lives alone in the house, but has a friend, Mitch that lives in a shack out back. Mitch and Einar became friends during the Korean war. Mitch came back with Einar to help on the ranch which he did until Mitch was attacked by a bear. So you have a bitter old man, an abused woman, a badly deformed and ill man, a bear and a wonderful young lady – Griff. Griff is the redeemer of them all it seems. By the end of the book you realize that it isn’t “an” unfinished life, but that they all have an unfinished life and that through love they can get through it together. A book whose characters and lives stay with you long after the book is closed. Of course 5 stars!

My Jodi Picoult book of the month was "Vanishing Acts". Nobody can draw me into a story better than Jodi Picoult. This story is about Delia – a grown woman with a child who still lives with her dad. She’s planning her wedding to her child’s father and her life long friend, Eric, when a knock on the door changes everything. The news sends Andrew (her dad), Eric, Delia, Sophie (the child) and Fitz (the other life long friend) into a tail spin. A well written book that makes you think. 5 stars

From there I went for lighter fare and read "The Dog Walker" by Leslie Schnur. A love story of sorts about a divorcee who walks dogs, falls in love with the image of one of the dog owners, meets him - or so she thinks - and the results. The man she meets is actually the dog owners twin, so that's the twist. An enjoyable read, but being the prude I am, the language made me bump it down to just average - 3 stars.

"The Chairman" by Stephen Frey was next on the stack. This is a mystery/suspense novel that involves the business world. I like Frey’s novels that I’ve read because of this aspect of them. This time it is about a battle between equity firms, and the people who work for them. Even though I don’t understand all of the business aspect of it, an interesting novel. The main character – Chris Gillette – is one that I wasn’t sure if I liked at first. By the end of the novel, while I’m not sure I’d want to be his friend, I had developed a certain level of respect for him. A 4 star read.

A book that I've picked up several times in the book store, and then returned to the shelf, I finally brought home and read - "Snow Flower and the Secret Fan" by Lisa See. The setting is in the 18th century and takes place in China. The story is about 2 girls and their life. One is Lily – a girl of modest means and the other is Snow Flower – a girl who is from a more noble family. It tells of their life together as Laotong – a type of pledged sisterhood. The novel goes through foot binding, marriage, child bearing, and revolution. The book was ok, but not what I expected. I found the conflict between the girls a little contrived, but maybe in the time and culture it would be a bigger deal than I realize. I expected much more, so for me, it's 3 stars.

The last book of the month was "When Crickets Cry" by Charles Martin. This novel has the byline - "A novel of the heart" and it is - both physical and emotional. It is the story of a man who grew up with one goal - to become a heart surgeon so he could fix Emma. Emma becomes his wife, and he becomes a great surgeon - called the "miracle worker" but he can't save Emma. After her death he goes into hiding, but a “chance” encounter with Annie, who needs a heart transplant, rocks his world. Truth is Annie has been praying to meet this doctor – the “miracle worker” for years, so not chance but God. I enjoyed the story, but could have done without so much detailed explanations of things like boats and even hearts. Those often caused me to feel bogged down and while a little explanation would add to the wonder of it all, Mr. Martin often went overboard. I do think it's worth reading though. Bottom line - 4 stars.

Happy reading to you all!

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