My Own Little Book Corner

Monday, November 5, 2007

November Reviews

The Pawn by Steven James
5 stars

I was interested in this book because I have been in workshops taught by Steven James on how to tell Bible story's to youth. He actually has a Masters in Storytelling - who knew there was such a thing?! This is his first novel in a series. It follows a geographical profiler trying to help solve a serial murder case. Intertwined is a "secondary story about a survivor of the Jonestown cult suicide/murders. Very well written - suspenseful and believable. I'm looking forward to the next one in this series.

Playing for Pizza by John Grisham
4 stars

Another one of John Grisham's "non-legal" novels. This one is about a washed up quarterback who goes to Italy to play football. Truth be told he was pretty much ran out of the USA by the way he played in his last game there. Once there he finds things aren't quire as his agent had told him they would be, but he makes the best of it and adapts to the culture and the league in his own American way. A fun read.

The Dressmaker by Elizabeth Birkelund Oberbeck
4 stars

I enjoyed this story, but it was a little on the depressing side. Ms Birkelund takes a simple premise of love at first sight and takes us on a journey. The story centers around a dressmaker, Charles and one of his clients, Valentine. She comes to him to get a wedding dress made and she becomes not only the woman he loves, but also his muse. The story includes some unexpected twists and isn't a fairy tale. Worth reading.

A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson
3 stars

This is the true story of a man who found a part of the Appalachian Trail in his backyard and decided to walk it. He is joined by his friend, Stephen Katz, and the adventure begins. I really enjoyed the first half of this book. It details their prep and adventure over the first part of their trip. There are funny moments and people and reflection on nature and friendships. After a while out he trail, the two men have to take a break from the trail and return later. The second part covers this break and the return. I had to force myself to finish reading the second part of the book. As Mr. Bryson's enthusiasm for the trail faded, so did mine for reading about it. I found that his little forays into "causes" wore thin after a while and the humor and fun were gone. All and all, an average read.

The Boleyn Inheritance by Philippa Gregory
5 stars

Another one of Ms Gregory's historical novels. This one covers the time after Ann Boleyn was killed by Henry VIII and when Anne of Cleves and then Katherine Howard are married to the old, delusional king. Jane Boleyn offers a third perspective of the story. As with the other books I've read by Ms Gregory related to this subject - if you like historic fiction set in the time of Henry VIII, this books for you.

The Buffalo Soldier by Chris Bohjalian
5 stars

I really like Chris Bohjalian's books. This is another one of his moral stories. This one revolves around a family whose twin daughters are killed in a flood and the choices they make afterwards. One choice is to take in a foster child. The not so good choice is that the husband, Terry, has an affair. Seems pretty straight forward - he's a bad guy, right? That's where Mr. Bohjalian always surprises me. He shows all sides of his characters - good and bad. And while Terry is the type character I usually strongly dislike, I couldn't. He's not a sympathetic character - more of a "he is who he is" and you just accept it. Another story with a lot of layers that I highly recommend.

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
5 stars

This book is hard to describe. It is about sorrow, love, growing older, fulfilled dreams, unfulfilled dreams and much more. A traveling circus and a nursing home are the main backdrops for the story. It is mainly a story about relationships. Even now I can think of the book and feel transported back in time and almost hear the train wheels and feel the bumping of the cars. Ms Gruen does a wonderful job of painting a picture. Another great book.

A Long Way Gone by Ismael Beah
3 stars

I feel bad rating this book 3 stars because of the topic that it covers. This is the story of a young man that gets thrown into the civil war of Sierra Leone. It is Ishmael Beah's life story and has some horrible things that he went through. It saddens me and is unbelievable that things like that happen in this world. I'm glad I read this book for that reason, but to me there seemed to be an emotional disconnect. I would read some of the things that happen, feel sorry, but at the same time I was thinking that I should feel more. It was written more as facts. I'm sure it helped Mr. Beah deal with some of the things that happened and it's definitely a story that needs to be heard.