My Own Little Book Corner

Saturday, September 1, 2007

August Book Reviews

A Live Coal in the Sea by Madeleine L'Engle
3 1/2 stars

This is a story of family asking what makes a family? Is it important to know your bloodline or is your family based more on relationships? This is a story of love, forgiveness, mercy and grace. All wonderful spiritual type concepts. I personally have a hard time reading L'Engle's books though. While her stories are interesting, her style gets in the way for me.

4 stars

This was Picout's first novel. The story is about a family that has fallen apart. Oliver is the dad, a marine biologist, Jane, a speech pathologist is the wife and then there is the 14 about to turn 15 year old Rebecca. Jane and Rebecca embark on a cross country trip to see Jane's brother, Joley, who is working at an apple orchard in Massachusetts. The story is full of interesting twists on their journey there and during their stay. It is full of emotions - good and bad - and a story of how our past affects our present. Picoult often writes her stories from different view points. This one has a twist in that four of the voices are telling the story from the beginning to the end, while Rebecca starts at the end and goes back to the beginning. All in all a good read.

5 stars

True story of survival of the genocide that occurred in the 1990’s in Rwanda. Ms Ilibagiza has an amazing faith in God. Through her story you can feel the terror and sense of loss, but she always stands firm. It is a great story of faith that contrasts the hatred man has with the love and power of God.

Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns
5 stars

This is a well written, easy to read story of life in a small town at the turn of the century. The story revolves around one of the town's prominent families and what happens when grandad marries shortly after the death of his wife. It is told through the eyes of his grandson, Will Tweedy. It is a fun story of life in a small town.

Early Leaving by Judy Goldman

5 stars

What happens when you are so concerned with protecting your image as the perfect family and protecting your son that you don’t really see what’s going on? Early is the son and as you probably have figured out, there is a double meaning in the title. This is told from the mom's perspective. The mom is an involved mom with what appears to be a good relationship with her son. However, through her skewed vision she didn't always see the big picture - even when it was too late. This is a good book that made me think about what I would have done different. Sometimes I wasn't too sure.

Big Fish by Daniel Wallace
4 stars

This is one tale that I will say I enjoyed the movie more than the book. Usually the movie can't go into enough of the nuances, but in this case the movie was able to expand on the theme. It is an interesting book of a fathers mythical tales and how they made up for the relationship the son and father did not have.

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
5 stars

I was not expecting a lot from this book. I had picked it up in the store on more than one occasion and put it back down thinking it would be dry and boring. Boy! Was I wrong! This is the “life” story of a man who grows up in Afghanistan. His is a charmed life of sorts as a young boy with a rich dad and a good friend in the servants son. The highlight of each year for the young boy is the kite fights. Part of the ceremony involves kids running to get the kites that have been cut down. The servant's son is the best at running after the kites - thus the book name. This is a well written story of family, friends, guilt and redemption. One of the few books that made me shed tears.

5 stars

Edgar Mint had his head ran over by a postman - and lived. This is the tale of the miracle life that followed. Edgar is a Native American who bounces from here to there, but always affects people in a positive way. Well, maybe not his peers who perceive him to be a little odd. But no matter where he is, there always seems to be a miracle of some sorts. I enjoyed this story. Mr. Udall does a good job of tapping into the imagination.

Kitchen Privileges:A Memoir by Mary Higgins Clark
3 stars

Not one of my favorites. I expected more from this book, though I don't know what. It was interesting reading about life among the stars and how Mrs. Clark managed to succeed in getting her first book published. But overall, not a book that stood out to me.

Empire Falls by Richard Russo
4 stars

Another book that has been made into a movie that I had never heard of. Life in Empire Falls is interesting. Empire Falls is a small town that is shriveling up as the plants close and the most prominent family dies away. The Empire Falls Grill is still operating though and starting to thrive. This story takes you through the life of the manager of the grill - past and present - and his relationship with the town. The story has a few twists in it. Being from a small town, I could relate to some of the people and the hometown feeling. A good read.

The Last Days of Summer by Steve Kluger
4 stars

A fictional account of a young boy and his relationship to baseball player Charlie Banks. This is told mostly through letters and notes. It takes place in the 40's and covers baseball, Broadway stars, the war, politics, and religion. It is laugh out funny at times. A good read for this time of year.

All the Numbers by Judy Larsen
4 stars

The story of loss and how a mother deals with it. James, the younger of Ellen's sons is killed in a jet ski accident. Daniel, her older son, and Ellen are left to deal with the loss of James and the decision of the DA to not file charges against the kid that was riding the jet ski. This was a good enough book. I was a little disappointed in how it developed. At the end I almost felt like in writing Ms Larsen thought - "OK, time to wrap this up." I wanted more details and more depth to decisions made. I will read more of her books though.



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