"Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read." Groucho Marx

Monday, May 28, 2012

Deadlocked (Sookie Stackhouse, #12) by Charlaine Harris

I always love checking in on Sookie :0). I especially liked the ending in this one. The story itself wasn't as good as some of the preceding installments but the ending left me looking forward to the next one more than usual.

You will find an official description of the plot line at:

Outlander (Outlander, #1) by Diana Gabaldon

It is difficult for me to imagine a passionate love affair with a historian called Frank but imagining one with a Scottish warrior- well, now that wasn't difficult at all... I thought I would be the one swooning each time the dashing James Fraser made an appearance....

From the first couple of lines I was taken in by the wit and banter between Claire and Frank, despite the fact that I found it hard to imagine the passion between the two of them. Once Claire finds herself with the daydream-inducing Jamie, it was nearly impossible to put this book aside, even for sleep or work.

I have fallen completely in love with this story, the characters, and most especially, the humor I found throughout. There weren't a lot of raucous, belly-laugh moments but it was a rare part in the story when I wasn't at least smiling and/or chuckling. The cast of characters Gabaldon introduces are so endearing I started to miss their presence in my day as soon as I finished the book. I listened to this one and I'm so glad I did. Admittedly, there are books that lose some of their effect when they are heard and not read; however, there are others that actually benefit from a spell woven more completely through the voice of a talented storyteller. Outlander falls into the latter category. I was thoroughly enchanted by the story but the narrator brought it to life and made it impossible for me to stop listening. For the first time in a very long time, I found myself casting about for additional household chores to attend to just so I could keep listening. It has been a good long while since I've cheerily gone to scoop dog poop... Thank you, Diana Gabaldon for the clean yard :0).

I am anxiously looking forward to getting back to fiery, witty Claire and her equally clever warrior in the next book in this series, Dragonfly in Amber.

You will find an official plot line description at:

The Scent of Rain and Lightning by Nancy Pickard

The hop-scotch story telling in this novel prevented me from emotionally investing in any of the characters. Skipping through time and points of view made it difficult to attach to any of the Linders. Even without that element, the Linders are hard characters to love. They don't have any faults. How can you love people that are perfect in nearly every conceivable way? Beautiful, forgiving, charitable, positive, good parents, good patrons, good cooks... The list goes on.

That is not to say that this novel is completely without heart wrenching moments. Around the middle of the tale, a line born of the Linders' grieving brought tears to my eyes: "Once, his father found Chase still driving in fence posts at ten at night, after dark, and when he told him to stop, his big, tough, handsome son bent over the top of a post and sobbed." That line, acutely real, clearly illustrates how we often use work to postpone inevitable and necessary emotional breakdowns that pre-empt the healing of grieving hearts.

The ending is certainly suspenseful and shocking enough but the elements of the mystery don't begin culminating until the final scenes. By that time I was more than ready to call it quits with this one.

You will find an official plot line description at:

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Mudbound by Hillary Jordan

The recurring word that comes to me as I think about this novel is "gritty". This is a raw, well-told tale of love, sacrifice, faith, hatred, ignorance, and triumph. I was consistently reminded of Steinbeck as I read Mudbound. The time and setting of Jordan's novel is reminiscent of Steinbeck but more than that, she has a way of getting down to the grittiest bits of human nature, much like what Steinbeck's characters show us in East of Eden and Grapes of Wrath. Jordan lays each character bare until it's difficult to know who to love and who to despise. The characters are infuriating and endearing at once. They inflict horrendous pain on one another and then acts of great love. Again, like Steinbeck, at the end of it I was not left with a happy ending or a sad one, but a hopeful one. I closed the cover hoping they all turn out okay after all.

You will find an official plot line description at: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3759973-mudbound

Monday, May 14, 2012

Bitter is the New Black by Jen Lancaster

When I initially started Bitter is the New Black, I was appalled by the main character. At the time I didn't realize that Jen Lancaster was, very bravely and honestly, painting a picture of what she was like before she evolved into a woman I could easily look up to. The evolution of Jen is touching and inspiring. Her story prompted me to take a harder look at some of my own less flattering traits, and trust me, there are plenty to bear the scrutiny. She's funny, sarcastic, witty, and very, very clever. I loved her writing style and enjoyed her growth and success even more. I will definitely check out her other books and look forward to the insight and belly laughs that a trip to Jensylvania are sure to bring. 

You will find an official description at: 

Saturday, May 12, 2012

The Shack by William P. Young

This book is one of the most thought provoking novels I have ever encountered. I am short on formal theological education so many parts of the book were difficult for me to understand. Despite that, I was completely compelled by the messages. Many of the ideas portrayed match my own but there were certainly new theories to mull over and try on. Some may only eventually fit into my belief system while others clicked in place immediately. I always enjoy a book that challenges the way I think and forces me to examine and question existing beliefs and behavior patterns. I rarely read or listen to a book more than once. Young's story will be an exception to that rule many times over.

You will find an official plot line description at: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1812457.The_Shack.