Thursday, April 29, 2010

Belong To Me by Marisa de los Santos

I picked this book from the shelf since it had been sitting there for quite some time.  I'd bought it more that a year ago during a buying spree at the book store.  Those cute rubber boots on the cover drew me in.  Early on I began to enjoy Cornelia and Teo and their move from the city to suburbia.  Once I reached about page 200, I began to wonder what all the characters had to do with one another.  I thought that halfway through the book I should have a few more missing links.  The characters were all so different from the perky Cornelia and her gorgeous doctor husband, Teo.  The precise and proper Piper is not likeable at all even as she cares for her dying friend, Elizabeth.  And Dev.  Dev is a charming and intelligent fourteen year old who melted the hearts of all who met him because of his wit and wisdom far beyond his years.  His mother, Lake holds the biggest secret of all.

The author dropped the bomb so to speak at precisely the right moment to hook me for good.  I gasped when I read it.  I cried when Cornelia and Teo at the same exact moment came to the same conclusion.  I decided that Piper wasn't a bad person after all when she became true to herself and her family for the first time in her life.  And Dev.  Dev found a family who loved him and he loved back.  They all discovered they did belong to each other.

As a writer I believe that Belong To Me is a shining example of 'show don't tell' every writer's manta.  The pacing and timing was perfect.  It's a wonderfully crafted story that will make you laugh, cry and beg for more.  I rate this book 5 out of 5 and I'm going to keep this book on the shelf for a little while as a reference.  I loved Belong To Me.  You will too.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Confessions Abound

I have to say the 12 step program just isn't working for me.  It has prompted me to do some soul searching however.  What am I really searching for in my life?  Do I want to rid myself of books?  No.  I love books. Do I want to be able to resist them?  Yes.  Am I searching for an answer to other addictions in my life?  Probably.

I ended up in the bookstore last week.  I added four new books to my list.  My shelves never seem to get any lighter even though I'm reading and reviewing at a fast pace.  I bought a book on addiction cures for atheists.  I want to see if that can shed any additional light on my dilemma.    

My sister wants me to take all my unread books to the library without reading them and be done with them.  I could start fresh.  Tempting.  I'm afraid at this point in time I may not be able to check them out of the library.  I'll go back to the bookstore and hand over the credit card for a whole new set of unread books.

A good friend wants me to stop suffering through all these bad books for the sake of reading something good and worthwhile.  How will I know it's good by looking at the cover?  So far I haven't been very successful at that.  Something that I like, the next guy may detest and vice versa.  What are the qualities of a good book?  What skills do I need to learn to pick the 'good' book out of the crowd every time?

Maybe that's what I'm looking for, a good book so that I can write my own good book and people will be dying to buy it.  Maybe all this is being driven by my dream to be a successful writer.  It's a dream so vivid that I can't shake it off.  I'm going to find the answer.  I know I am.  It's in my dreams.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen

The Waverleys are a curious family in a small town.  They all have special gifts and a special garden with a magical apple tree.  Claire and Sydney are different yet so alike as sisters, but only after Sydney returns home to escape a violent relationship do they finally get to understand one another.

Garden Spells is full of the smells, tastes and emotions of their lives.  The author's ability to make the senses come alive to the reader is superb.  Her prose is special.  But I did find myself wanting the story to end.  It was inevitable that Claire and Sydney would find true love, and that Sydney's violent past would return to try and ruin it.  I kept waiting for it to happen.  When it did it lasted for about 3 pages and the highly descriptive prose fell by the wayside.  I had to reread it to understand what really happened.  Claire and Sydney's love lives where firmly in place so the violent boyfriend scene had no impact to the story.

I am a huge fan of Ms. Allen's second novel, The Sugar Queen.  It sits on my shelf since I dream of writing a magical, mystical story someday.  Garden Spells started out as a keeper but ended in disappointment.  I rate it 4 out of 5.  I'm going to post it on Paperback Swap for someone else to enjoy.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

To this book, I want to say, "Enough already!"  I've been intrigued by this book for a long time.  It's been at the front of every book story, has an interesting title and a hip and inticing cover.  I resisted buying it.  A few months ago the paperback version turned up in the clubhouse library and I snapped it up before anyone else could have it.  Selfishly it sat on my shelf until now. 

The story of Mikael Blomkvist, a journalist and his unlikely assistant Lisbeth Salander made for an interesting tale.  Coupled with a wealthy and reclusive family headed by Henrik Vanger.  Henrik hires Mikael to solve a forty year old murder of his niece, Harriet.  In doing so Mikael and Lisbeth reveal vile and repulsive family secrets. 

I finished this book at about page 450.  The remaining 150 pages were unnecessary and didn't add, in my mind, to the story.  The entire part about Blomkvist getting revenge on his rival had no meaning in the context of the rest of the story.  Lisbeth had so many unfinished parts to her life story, I was left unfulfilled.

Now I know the author has written sequels to The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, but these characters didn't thrill me enough to drool over the titles the next time I visit the bookstore.  I rate this book 3 out of 4.  I'll return it to the clubhouse library where it belongs.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Am I Desperate Yet?

I finally did read a few pages from my book on women's recovery.  I flipped it open and landed in a chapter discussing desperation.   A woman, in her third stint in prison, found herself along with the other inmates waiting for the bus to arrive carrying a new group of prisoners.  The inmates waved and cheered to welcome their friends back to the lockup.  The woman suddenly realized that she had no desire to hang out with her 'friends' in prison.  She was desperate to make a change in her life. 

Now, I'm not so desperate that I'll end up in prison.  At least I don't think I am.  But I did have a dream that I ended up on Clean House and Neicy Nash stood in my frontyard, neck high in piles of used books.  Or maybe I just don't want to admit how desperate to change I really am.  Did you notice I just flipped open the book and started reading somewhere in the middle?  Do you remember that I wanted to skip steps until I was reprimanded by those well versed in twelve step recovery?  God is working in my life but I'm just not desperate enough yet.  I'm still looking for the magic pill.

I want to read what's current, what everyone else is reading.  As a writer, I also want to be exposed to the talents of a variety of successful authors hoping one will hold the key to my own writing career.   I want to go back to the days when I never gave a second thought to how much money I spent in the bookstore.  I want things to be the same.  I want things to be different.  I want to be desperate.  Or do I? 

Where, oh, where is that magic pill?  I'm desperate to find it.

City of Thieves by David Benioff

City of Thieves by David Benioff It's World War II in Leningrad, Russia.  17 year old Lev elected to stay behind in the city when h...