Wednesday, June 30, 2010

First You Run by Roxanne St. Claire

This title has an interesting history.  I know Roxanne St. Claire.  She's a member of the SpacecoasT Authors of Romance or STARS for short, as am I.  Rocki is fun, intelligent, welcoming and has a way of making all new group members feel at home.  I admire her.  My copy of her book is autographed.  I have a special shelf just for my signed copies, I think they're so special.  First You Run has also been designated as a Ginger pick.

Being a Ginger pick means that one corner of the book is completely gone.  The photo of Rocki on the back cover is torn in half.  Little doggie teethmarks adorn each page.  But that doesn't stop my ability to read a good book.

Romantic suspense novels are not really my thing.  And the story had one too many erections to suit my taste.  But that doesn't mean that the story itself wasn't well crafted.  It was.  And well researched.  Adrien and Miranda are highly believable characters.  St. Claire builds the tension to a fever pitch.  If you like a sexually charged novel with lots of intrigue, you'll love First You Run.

I'm giving it a 4 out of 5 only because it's not my usual cup of tea.  I'm torn however what to do with this.  I keep the all my signed books but Ginger's really done a number on this one.  Not many people are willing to wrap their fingers and their mind around a chewed up book with its pages stuck together.  I just might have to relegate it to the trash.  Sorry Rocki!!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

A Widow For One Year by John Irving

I loved it.  Irving tells a complex, quirky, fascinating story in a complex, quirky, fascinating way.  You have to wrap your head around it.  Thinking is required when reading John Irving.  He's a master at his craft.

This story is about all the things in life we'd rather not talk about.  A mother deserting her 4 year old daughter when she was unable to deal with her grief concerning the loss of two teenage sons gripped me.  Eddie, a teenage boy developing a life long desire for this grieving mother never lets Marion be far from his thoughts.  Ted, a womanizer with a penchant for younger women is left to raise Ruth.  Ruth grows up to become a best selling author never able to let go of her anger toward her absent mother. Throw in a cop and a prostitute in the red light district in Amsterdam and the pages of this novel never stop turning.

I rated this novel 5 out of 5.  It is a masterful display of the power of the written word.  For me as an author, Irving is to be studied and disected.  This one's a keeper.

Monday, June 14, 2010

In The Here and Now

I'm freaking out!!  I went to the computer to log in my most recent book review.  It brings me alot of pleasure to see one more title crossed of that list.  Usually.  This time I clicked on the file and got a message.

"Excel cannot open this file.  It may have been damaged."

What?  I tried to open it again.  Same message.  I tried to open it from the back up.  At first I couldn't find it and when I did, same message.  My hands started to shake and I thought I would be sick.

I'd put my heart and soul in that list.  I put all 76 unread books along with the authors on that list.  As I read a book, I'd log the date, the number of stars I gave it and who I sent the book to.  When I found more books around the house, I add them.  When I lost my willpower buying new books I'd add them.  The list kept me honest.  It was my sanctuary where I could see how far I'd come and how far I had yet to go.  And now it was gone.

I searched and scoured the computer trying to revive the file.  I'm pretty savvy when it comes to computers and the loss of my precious file is a mystery.  I clicked and scrolled until my fingers turned blue.  Nothing I did made it come back to life.  I slapped the keyboard.  Now I was mad as a hornet.

A thought came to my mind.  A thought I had a lot lately.  I need a glass of wine.  That will calm my nerves and I'll find the lost file easily.  It took all my energy to push that thought aside.  You see, I've been sober, alcohol free for the past six weeks.

Wine had taken over my life.  I didn't do anything without thinking about when I could pour myself a glass and then another and another.  Learning to exercise restraint over my piles of unread books helped me to see another addiction in my life.  For this I'm grateful.

So I took a deep breath, did a few deep knee bends and created a new list.  I didn't say to myself, 'I'll worry about that tomorrow'.  I didn't put it off so I could get drunk instead.  I dealt with it in the here and now.

I've recreated the list as best I could.  It got much longer I fear so I haven't been as steadfast as I thought I'd been.  Right now I'm at 83 and I just remembered another shelf I didn't log yet.  Yikes!!  And I'm still looking for those 2 books that have been missing for over a year.  I really want to read those.  I always look at them while in the bookstore but I'm able to resist buying them because I really believe they'll show up sometime soon.  I think I'll put them on the list this time.  Now that I'm finally in the here and now, I bet they are too.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Swan House by Elizabeth Musser

The Swan House has a title and a cover that drew me in.  I imagined this story to be about an old, possibly deserted mansion with secrets to hide.  This book has plenty of secrets but none were about the house.  In fact the house really didn't have much to do with the story.  I felt the title was out of place.

The Swan House is a Christian fiction novel.  If I had known that I might never have bought it.  Not that I'm not a Christian, I am but it's not the kind of fiction I typically care to read.  And I'm not adverse to the message of the love of Jesus.  I love Jesus and have a deep and rewarding relationship with God.  The message doesn't appeal to me when delivered as fiction.  I have plenty of religious and spiritual books on my list that I want to read to learn and grow on my own personal path.

Mary Swan is a charming and talented 16 year old in the 1960's.  She loses her mother in a plane crash and finds herself as she searches to uncover her mother's secrets.  This novel is steeped in the racial discord of the era.  The author paints a picture of poverty, hate and the power of love.

The Swan House is well written.  It was too long however.  At least 100 pages could have been edited out.  I did finish it.  I'm not a quitter.  I might have skimmed a little bit toward the end.  I listened to the message and felt a little bit closer to God.  I rate this book a 3 out of 5.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

A Library without a Library Card

Richard smiled as he left the bookstore carrying a big bag of books.  He's planning a road trip so he wanted some guide books to study.

"I like going to the bookstore with you, Linda." He wrapped his arm around my waist.  "It's like having my own personal library."

"But when you check out the books you have to give them money instead of a library card."  I patted his bag as it swung by his side.  I made it out without a single new title that day.  My pride in my new found willpower overflowed.

"I think I'm turning into an addict like you." Richard announced.
Richard is not a book reader.  He has a very short attention span so magazines are more his style.  He loves having all my books around but he doesn't read any of them.  And he has a very compulsive personality.  Once he finds something he likes, it's all he can think about.  If he's turning into a book addict we might really be in trouble.

When we got home, he spent the rest of the afternoon pouring through his new books.

The next morning he announced, "I need you to go to the bookstore today and return my books."

"I'm not returning your books.  You bent the covers."  I was appalled at the thought of taking a book back to the store.

"But I'm done with them," he whined.

"But you used them.  You can't return them."  I've never returned a book in my life.  Once it's paid for it's for keeps.  I could probably have taken my dream trip around the world, first class if I'd returned all seventy six titles I have laying around.  It's one of those unwritten rules about books.  Once they're home, they stay home.

He backed down.  "I'll return them.  You drive me there."

"If I have to..." I responded.

At the store, Richard headed toward the cashier and I made a beeline to as far away from him as possible.  I didn't want anyone to associate me with a man who would return books.  I was certain the clerk would be able to see that the books had been used. I felt like I was in that Seinfeld episode when George took the book into the bathroom and the store wouldn't take it back.  They could tell where it had been.  I kept one ear listening in his direction just in case there was a scuffle.
I looked up to see Richard standing by my side.

"She didn't even question me.  Here's the receipt for the credit."  He handed me a crumpled up piece of paper.
I stuffed it in my purse.  "She just took them back?"

"See Linda, it is just like at the library. But without the library card."

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...