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

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Trail of the Spellmans (Spellmans, #5) by Lisa Lutz

I love the Spellmans... They make me laugh out loud. Frequently. The humorous tone of these books makes the tender moments even more so, a result of their surprise appearance when I'm least expecting it. Is there any emotional response more satisfying than laughing through watery eyes? I don't think so :0). The only regret I have about this series is that there isn't a sixth one yet.

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Saturday, January 12, 2013

Cross Roads by Wm. Paul Young

When I saw that the author of The Shack had produced another book I stopped what I was doing and downloaded it immediately. William Paul Young doesn't create characters with a level of humanness that makes them completely relatable. For the most part, his characters are pretty two-dimensional. He doesn't string together story lines and weave plots that have you gripping the edge of your seat and ringing up the book club girls to send them running to the internet to buy their own copy. What he does do is present incredible tales of faith. Tales of healing, and love, and spirituality. Tales of healing faith and loving spirituality. Cross Roads, like The Shack, prompted me to dig up all the spiritual beliefs I have or have had and reexamine them. Young makes me think about aspects of my character that I have pushed aside or not considered. 

The first 25% of the book was very difficult for me to get into but after the rough start I was hooked. There is a chapter in Cross Roads in which Young personifies ego, and all the other wonderful characteristics ego brings with it, that stopped me in my tracks. The characters he creates to represent those elements of human behavior are spot on and he had me dwelling on those things about myself for hours. 

Young's books are like toolboxes for me. I don't buy into everything he says. Some of it fits now, some of it might fit later, and still other elements may never fit my system of spiritual beliefs, but so many pieces of his perspective give me tools to riddle through my own life mysteries and I love that. The fact that his writing makes me think about the parts of me that I would like to improve, and that he even occasionally gives me a new way to tackle the work-in-progress that I am, will keep me rereading his work and waiting for anything new he may bless his readership with. 

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Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Black Box (Harry Bosch, #18) by Michael Connelly

Good ol' Harry... I always love to revisit a character I've followed from their debut. Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to read a Harry Bosch story that didn't include him fighting some inter-departmental battle to keep his job. Maybe there has been several like that and I'm just overlooking them right now. I really enjoy this series and I won't stop reading them but it does get a little repetitive-his constant fight to keep his job. I mean how many people can really hate a person that much to try and get him fired all the time? My mind kept wandering during the crime solving bits; I couldn't seem to get into the mystery deep enough to stay there. I did snap right to when the story circled back to Harry's daughter. I like her character and I'm curious to see where Connelly is going with her. Harry's getting up there; will Maddie be taking his place as Connelly's leading detective? 

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A Window Across the River by Brian Morton

I am having a difficult time finding anything redeeming about this book. The characters were all pitiable with nothing to endear them, all  sad examples of unfulfilled adults. It was really a depressing read! I was particularly unimpressed by the main female character. She's immature and selfish, despite the few samples of caring thrown in. Ultimately there isn't anyone to care about in the novel. The cats I guess. I hope the cats make out all right in the end. 

There was one quote that stuck with me despite all else, delivered by Isaac: "When it's your party, you have no rights." Ha! In the throes of wedding planning myself, I had to ruefully agree with that sentiment. As backwards as it seems, in many ways that's actually true! 

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Sunday, January 6, 2013

The Fiery Cross by Diana Gabaldon

I have become so attached to Gabaldon's characters that I had a physical reaction when I realized I only have two left in the series and then it's all over. Nooo!!! I am relieved the world didn't end before I had a chance to enjoy the Outlander series but I will be so sorry when I'm through them all. I have tried to stretch it out so I can fully enjoy every part of the process-anticipation of the next one, enchantment while reading, fond remembrance when through, but despite my foot-dragging process, I find myself nearing the end of this incredible tale. 

At the beginning of this installment I wasn't sure how I felt about Roger. He seemed to pale in comparison to the larger-than-life James Fraser but by the end I could safely be counted as one his fans as well. Contrary to my predictions, he's turning out to be a manly enough man to survive the adventure after all.

At the end of each book Gabaldon leaves the tiniest cliff hanger. It's not so dramatic that you can't stand it but it's just enough that the niggling thought of "what happens next" burrows down into your brain and keeps tapping you gently until you finally give in and dive into the next part of the story. That is one of the things I admire most about Gabaldon. Her possession of you is not so blatant that you are white-knuckling the book, wide eyed and breathless but it is possession all the same-slow, easy, and astoundingly thorough. Once you fall into her story you want to stay there forever and she owns you for however long she chooses to continue the series. 

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Friday, January 4, 2013

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

Book reviews, whether I am writing one of my own or reading one from someone else, have never been about the summation of the plot line or a character lineup. I can get that from the book jacket or New York Times. In a review I want to know how the reader was affected by the story. Was it hilarious, causing you to laugh out loud in the subway? Did it transport you, completely immersing you in another person's life? Did it cause a shift in you, making a change for even the briefest of moments in how you feel or your viewpoint?
This gift of a book pierced my heart so thoroughly I required a recovery time before I could write about it. It took a day and a half for me to fly through the pages and then another day and a half for me to absorb what I read. My high opinion of this book isn't a result of an immersion into the characters or a particularly riveting plot. I loved the characters. I laughed out loud, I certainly cried (copiously), and I was definitely glued to every page of this entire novel but what I found so entrancing was the way it caused me to reflect on my own life and love. I think we have all been told at some point in our lives to make sure the spouse you choose is someone you enjoy talking to and can laugh with because ultimately, that is what you will have of each other. Despite being told that exact thing by some of the wisest people in my life, I haven't ever really considered it beyond head-nodding in amicable agreement. Reading this book instigated serious reflection on that point and then post reflection, I was overwhelmed with gratitude. My house is filled with laughter and lively debate. We talk to each other ceaselessly and enjoy one another's company immensely. But would that be enough? If we lost the ability to wander the streets of San Francisco together, to explore the treasures of D.C. hand in hand, even to work out in the yard side by side, would our witty banter and conversational explorations be enough? Yes (enter overwhelming gratitude). And that is what I LOVE about this book. I love that it prompted in me the realization that of all the things I love about him, I love his brain and spirit the most. That if all else was lost I would still have everything. The books I love the most are those that inspire a shift in me. Jojo Moyes shifted me with Me Before You.

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