My Own Little Book Corner

Sunday, September 2, 2007

September Reviews

Pegasus Descending by James Lee Burke
5 stars


I enjoyed this Dave Robicheaux novel more than the last one. Burke still had a lot of his signature plot lines - the corrupt rich family, Clete getting in major trouble, Helen cutting Dave some slack and of course the rain. But things seemed a little "toned" down and more believable.



The Law of Similars by Christ Bohjalian
4 1/2 stars


I like Bohjalian's books. He presents a moral dilemma that always makes me think about what I would do. This story was the weakest one of the 3 of his I've read though. It is the story of a widowed lawyer who goes to a homeopathy and falls in love with her. When one of her patients ends up in a coma, he faces hard choices and decisions about how to help her. I think why I found this weak is because I felt more like he was in lust instead of love, even though we are told it's love. I just had a hard time reconciling some of his decisions and actions based on feeling there had not been the time or background for love that would justify those to develop.



Plain Truth by Jodi Picoult
4 1/2 stars


The seventh book I've read written by Ms Picoult. This is the story of an 18 year old Amish girl accused of neonaticide and the lawyer that fate seems to have brought into her life at the right time. The story is more about the Amish life, beliefs and faith than anything. There were a few events in the story that I saw coming - almost expected it to happen. Jodi Picoult is known for her twists at the end and while this one has it, it wasn't one that surprised me. If you haven't read any of her books, you may feel different. It is another well-written interesting story from Ms Picoult.



Jesus Land by Julia Scheeres
5 stars


A haunting memoir of growing up in Indiana in the 1970's and 1980's. On the surface I'm sure this looked like a great family - the dad was a doctor, the mom involved in Christian activities, 2 adopted children ..taking in 2 young black boys into their white family. Beneath the surface though, things are not what they seem. The dad is abusive and the mother more concerned about her church missionaries than her children. In reading this book I wondered about why there appears to have been no family study done before placing the 2 boys into the home, especially with it being a cross race adoption in the 70's. This is a tale of the love of a brother and a sister that endures the abuse in and out of the family. It is heartwarming and sad at the same time - a real eye opener.



gods in Alabama by Joshilyn Jackson
4 stars


There are gods in Alabama and one of them Arlene Fleet left behind with a promise to God that, among other things, if He kept her secret, she would never return to Alabama. Things start happening to convince Arlene that God isn't keeping His end of the bargain and so a trip to see her family in Alabama with her black boyfriend by her side is needed to protect the secret. This is a very enjoyable book. Ms Jackson takes us on the trip with Arlene and Burr - and what a strange trip it can be. Arlene has a past that would make you blush, but overall she's the type girl that I would want for a friend.



The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
2 stars


I started this book with high hopes and was disappointed. It is a good story that I would have enjoyed if it had not been based on Bible characters. Fiction about a character that not much is known I enjoy, fiction that contradicts what we read in the Bible, bothers me. I finished this book only because so many people loved it. There were parts that I loved when it was about Dinah later in life - away from her family. But the passages that included her family for the most part disappointed me. If you are interested in reading fiction based on Bible women, I would recommend "Sarah:Women of Genesis" by Orson Scott Card instead of this one.



I, Elizabeth by Rosalind Miles
3 stars


If you are not extremely interested in English history, this book is not for you. I had a hard time keeping up with who was who and how they fit in the story. There are a lot of peripheral characters. The story really bogged down at times, but there were some interesting passages. I think I'll stick with Philippa Gregory for my English Historical Fiction.


The Slow Way Back by Judy Goldman
3 1/2 stars


This is the story of sisters, family and How what you think is truth isn't always true. I would have liked a little more character development. I liked the premise of the story but never fully connected to the characters. I didn't get a good grasp of the relationships between the sisters and that's the main theme of the book. I thought the ending was a little anti-climatic too. This was Ms Goldman's first novel and I think it read as a first novel. I enjoyed her novel "Early Leaving" much more.


3 1/2 stars


There were parts of this book that I could relate to, but much of it, I couldn't. The book begins with the premise that all women grew up wanting to be the princess that is rescued by the prince. To be honest, I don't remember that as a dream of mine. Don't get me wrong - I wanted a prince in my life, and have one, but I don't remember the rescuing part. Mrs. Eldredge uses a lot of her personal life experiences as examples to unveil the mystery. The problem I have with that is we had totally opposite experiences. Overall I was disappointed in this book, but can also see how someone else may love it. I think a lot of it depends on your age and where you are in your life.


But Enough About Me by Jancee Dunn
5 stars


I loved this book. It is the story of how Miss Dunn went from small town Jersey to the rock and roll life of "The Rolling Stone" in NYC. Through it all Miss Dunn is still the small town girl. It was refreshing to see success come to a girl who at the heart of things is a family oriented nerdy person. I could totally relate to her. I also enjoyed her writing style. In between chapters she gives "how-to's" regarding dealing with stars. I laughed out loud more reading this book than any book I've read in a long time. Very refreshing!


Wrapped in Rain by Charles Martin
5 stars


Another good book. Tucker and Mutt grow up with an abusive father who barely knew they were alive. The one person who loves them is Ella Rain - their nanny. She is the one who raises them and instills value in them. The story picks up when Tucker and Mutt are grown and dealing with the aftermath of their childhood. Mr. Martin writes Christian based fiction. I love his stories because he doesn't interject God into them, instead God is just a part of the story like "real" life. This story has God woven all through it, but it is not preachy. Mr. Martin does a good job of character development. He made me want to go to Alabama and meet these people. Wonderful story of love, hope, forgiveness and redemption.

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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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