Wednesday, July 20, 2011

An unexpected jewel...

Sorry it has been so long since I last posted.  Things have been a bit hectic, so this post is a little late in getting out there. 
I have to say I was surprised how much I enjoyed Charles Martin’s When Crickets Cry.  In all honesty, this was not a book I would have picked up if not for the fact that it was the assigned reading for my neighborhood book club, but once I got into the book, I had trouble putting it down…like I wanted to tell my kids to go play far, far away so I could read without any disruptions
I am going to keep the post for this book extremely short and simple, because no description of this book will truly do it justice.  A young girl in need of a new heart and a man with a secret make an unlikely pairing, but a series of events brings them together when they need each other most.  While their friendship blossoms, Martin introduces a wonderful cast of supporting characters that add additional depth to the storyline.  One of these supporting characters is actually the setting.  As I read, I found myself wanting to go visit Lake Burton, Georgia so I could behold the gorgeous setting with my own eyes.  My only complaint is that I was so drawn into the story and the lives of the characters that I was left wanting to know more.  Yes, Martin does a nice job tying up all the loose ends, but I want to know what happens to these peoples’ lives beyond that.  And yes, I checked, there is no sequel. 

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Some Serious Laughs

So, who doesn’t need a good laugh every once in awhile?  Thus far I have discussed a lot of “serious” books, so I think that it is now time to lighten the mood just a bit.  During one of my journeys around the Internet I happened upon a blog, a blog that was so laugh-out-loud funny that I keep going back time and time again.  I mean really, who is not going to laugh hysterically at a woman who admits to clogging the toilet on almost every vacation she has ever been on?  The blog is, and the author, Heather Armstrong, is so refreshingly honest that you have to enjoy her writing.  This is especially true when she starts writing about marriage, pregnancy and childbirth, which she does in her book It Sucked and Then I Cried: How I Had a Baby, A Breakdown and a Much Needed Margarita.  In her book, Armstrong discusses how life changed when her and her husband decided to start a family and subsequently welcomed their daughter, Leta, into the world.  I loved reading her hilarious descriptions about the joys that pregnancy bestows on the body and the miracle that is childbirth…really, for anyone who has been there, you really are going to get a good laugh out of this!  Now, Armstrong does turn towards the serious when she describes her battle with depression, which led to a brief stay in a mental hospital, but amazingly, even when dealing with mental illness, she can put a funny spin on life and the crap that it throws at us.  If you want to laugh until you cry, here is the story of how Armstrong clogged the toilet during her recent vacation to Mexico.
Speaking of laugh-out-loud reads, I just finished the latest installment of Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series.  Smokin’ Seventeen provides more of Evanovich’s trademark humor with a good dose of sex.  Stephanie’s love triangle between cop Joe Morelli, and bad boy Ranger continues, but the spice is kicked up a notch when Joe’s crazy Grandma Bella puts a curse on Stephanie.  Though, depending on how you look at it, it really isn’t much of a curse because all it leads to is her getting lots of action with both men!  Of course, it would not be a Stephanie Plum mystery if ex-ho Lula wasn’t pairing up with bounty hunter Stephanie to bring in a couple of skips (a self-proclaimed 70 year-old vampire and a naked guy), cars weren’t exploding and someone wasn’t out to get Stephanie. And that is just the tip of the iceberg!  Just as a little mental note, for those of you who have not read any of this series, it can be read out of order.  
If you are a fan of Janet Evanovich, you might also enjoy Stephanie Bond’s Body Mover Series.  While not quite as laugh-out-loud funny as Stephanie Plum, main character Carlotta Wren provides an enjoyable reading experience.  Once again, there is a love triangle, or actually square, of sorts.  This one is between Carlotta, an old boyfriend, a body mover for the morgue and a cop.  Add in parents who are wanted fugitives, a brother with a gambling problem and some interesting friends and it all adds up to an entertaining read that will leave you wanting more.  There are currently six books in this series, but hopefully more are on the way.  As an aside, Bond is also a romance writer.  I have read a couple of her books (Finding Your Mojo and In Deep Voodoo) and both were good reads.  I will say that while I am sure they are not as steamy as some romance novels out there, they are not for those looking for G-rated entertainment. 

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

A few novels for your summer days...

There are so many books that I want to share, it is almost difficult to figure out just where to start.  In my first blog I shared my guilty pleasure for murder mysteries, so in this installment I am going to take a look at some wonderful novels.  These are all books that kept me up well past my bedtime and had me ignoring household chores just so I could stay lost in their pages for a little bit longer.  Now, I have read both of these books over a span of several years, meaning I had to have really enjoyed each in order for them to stick in my memory for this long.  I hope that by the end of this post you have discovered something special to enjoy on these wonderful summer days.

The first book is one of my true favorites.  The Mercy of Thin Air by Ronlyn Domingue was suggested to me by another reader, and I can’t thank her enough.  I loved this book not only because of the main character, Razi, but also because of how the author seamlessly travels between 1920s New Orleans and 75 years later to the life shared by Amy and Scott.  Now, I am not giving anything away when I tell you that Razi’s great love affair with Andrew and promising career as a doctor are tragically cut short by her untimely death.  Not ready to leave Andrew behind, Razi’s spirit stays on Earth searching for a connection to him.  It is through this search that Razi finds herself inhabiting the home shared by Amy and Scott.  Domingue does a wonderful job pulling the reader into the story through vignettes into Razi’s past and the troubled life of Amy and Scott.  I cannot stress how much I loved the character of Razi.  To say that she was forward thinking for her time is a bit of an understatement.  In a time and place where a woman’s place was to be in the home raising babies, Razi instead was an aspiring doctor, took part in the women’s suffrage movement and flaunted the laws restricting the use of birth control.  I love that the characters and their stories become forever intertwined to the point where the ending will leave you yearning for more.  To put it simply I cannot say enough good about this book!

I have to admit, while I loved reading The Rapture of Canaan by Sheri Reynolds, I am having difficulty writing about it.  I just don’t think that I am doing it justice.  I read this book while I was still an undergrad, meaning a long time ago.  I was so totally enthralled with this book that I sat in the back of my World Geography class reading it instead of paying attention to the professor (in my defense, he was a REALLY bad Geography professor who only talked about Hong Kong, Boston and MIT).  Over the years, I have cleaned off my book shelves many times, and Rapture is a book that I just haven’t been able to part with.  The book tells the story of Ninah, a teenage girl who lives in the community formed by the members of the Church of Fire and Brimstone and God’s Almighty Baptizing Wind.  The church and community are the creation of her Grandpa Herman, who uses his version of the Bible to control every aspect of life for the members of his flock.  To put it simply, the modern world contains nothing but sin, and there is a deep price for any sin that finds its way inside the community.  It is ultimately religion that brings Ninah’s downfall, for her and her prayer partner, James, share an attraction for each other that leads to them engaging in activities well beyond praying.  For her ultimate sin, Ninah’s life will be forever changed and it will leave her questioning everything she has ever known.