Monthly Archives: June 2008

Surrender Bay by Denise Hunter

A new author for me.  Occasionally I will pick up a few light ready through ChristianBooks.com.  The book prices through them are fantastic.

This book was labeled as a Christian Fiction book and I was surprised as I read through the book that God was not mentioned once.  I found this to be a bit different and was curious to find out why and how this book received the genre of Christian…

At the very back of the book the author explains that she loved the way Jesus told stories.  The parables Jesus used made the listeners think for themselves and draw their own conclusions.  In His story of the prodigal son, Jesus never said, “Listen up folks – the father in the story is God and the prodigal son is you…”.  The son never had a “come to Jesus” moment; he simply returned to his Father and was welcomed home.  The author felt this book allowed us to see the familiar in a fresh and powerful way.

I have to disagree.  While I enjoyed the book (it actually reminded me a lot of the fiction book I just finished), – daughter comes back to a home town to an inheritance and a fixer upper home, family secrets, and meets someone…  Same story line.   And while I do love a good fiction read…. when I read a Christian book I like it to be a Christian book.  In this case I did not find that.

While our characters are likable, I actually liked the role of Landon ( the back up character) over the main character of Samantha.  I found Samantha to be an annoying pain that wore her past on her shoulder like a badge and played that card so often it was worn out.  Samantha’s repeated act of running to a bar or to another mans arms whenever things got to close was enough to make me scream.   She was the queen of excuses and hurt many people with her actions.

If there is a Christian message in the book it must have been about forgiveness.  I struggle when the act that is forgiven is repeated and repeated…

Anyway, in the end, it seams that alls well that ends well but it left me wondering if a person can really change that fast.  I’d love to hear other opinions on this book.

A 2 rating out of 5.

The Darkest Evening of the Year by Dean Koontz

The Darkest Evening of the YearAny one that has followed my readings through the years knows that I was once apon a time a huge Koontz fan.  When the kids were growing up – Dean was the author I would read.  I owned every book he had ever written and couldn’t wait for the next book to come out.

Now – after 7 years of book club I read so much more – different authors, all styles of books…that Dean has gone to the way side…. yet, once in awhile, I like to check in to see if what he is up too….

So this book has sat on my shelf for many months.  I can not even remember how it got here, but over the last week I picked it up and dove in.

I loved the story line on the golden retrievers.  Dean owned one himself and apparently by the dedication in the front of the book, their dog Trixie, had passed on.  I believe this is where his story stemmed from.

The dog part of the book – extremely well written, I like the main character Amy, her faith, and her heart.  I like all the facts about the dogs, their manners, and even learning about the dog mills – which is horrifying, yet I know it is true.

I didn’t like Moongirl and Harlow and found this part of the book as these two characters slowly intertwine with Amy – creapy.  Dean pushed the envelope a bit far this time and the whole story line about what they did to the little girl was a bit much for me.

I finished the book because I knew all would end well – and I had to know how it all became that way.  The ending that we lead up to for so long – is complete in a matter of a couple paragraphs.  That surprised me.  Not pleasantly.

Overall – not a good read.  Sorry Dean – but next time, don’t try so hard.  Your writing was fine just the way it was.  Not all of us like crude and creepy.

The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

Continuing on my journey through the book series of The Chronicles of Narnia, I sat down to enjoy the book with the title that most of the population has heard of – The Lion , The Witch, and The Wardrobe.

By this book, I am now used to C.S. Lewis’s talk as he writes this book in his manner of ‘grandfatherlyism’ (“Why yes, Edmond was surprised- just like we left him in the last chapter!” and “Oh, boys and girls, what would you do if this happened to you?”)  I actually am starting to enjoy this style of writing and imagine him as a loving grandfather excited to share his stories with children eager to listen.

This book so closely follows the movie that I applaud Disneys producers for respecting the family of C.S. Lewis and holding on to the truth that made this book the remarkable legend it is today.  There were times in the book where things that were said by the children or by the talking animals that I was sure that was the exact wording that they used in the movie.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and look forward to moving on to book 3, The Horse and His Boy.

Brilliant.

Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult

Jodi Picoult is an incredible author who takes the stories we see in todays papers and gives you a different perspective – a twist to our point of view where at times you find yourself rooting for the one you never thought you would side with. I for one, find her books to be fascinating and look forward to whatever she is going to think of next.

Our book club reviewed this book last night and we had a great discussion over this book. While the book spurred mixed feelings – we all agree that Jodi Picoult is an amazing writer and can really put a twist on current issues that make the reader view things differently as well.

Our discussion led to memories of what it was like to not fit in at school – moments when we were were insecure in our social standing no matter where we landed on the popularity scale. We were also able to discuss the current school issues and hear stories from members from one whose son was actually on a school hit list by an angry child, to another whose son hates school and how to help him through it.

The overall review went well and the book received an average rating with mixed votes turned in from 2 – 4 points out of 5.

Songs For The Missing by Stewart O’nan

An enthralling portrait of one family in the aftermath of a daughter’s disappearance

“It was the summer of her Chevette, of J.P. and letting her hair grow.” It was also the summer when, without warning, popular high school student Kim Larsen disappeared from her small Midwestern town. Her loving parents, her introverted sister, her friends and boyfriend, must now do everything they can to find her. As desperate search parties give way to pleading television appearances, and private investigations yield to personal revelations, we see one town’s intimate struggle to maintain hope, and finally, to live with the unknown.

This book has kind of a cool story to go with it…. while searching on Barnes and Noble (yes, the Mother Ship) I stumbled across a book group they call First Look. First Look lets people from all around the world request to receive an advanced copy of a book that an author wants reviewed and discussed before the release date. Fun? I know!!!

I read about the book that was coming up and it sounded interesting so in January of this year I requested a copy. I heard nothing on it but in May, I received a package from Barnes and Noble with the advanced copy and a letter from the author. S W E E T !!!

The job of the selected readers is to read the book in sections and then discuss it on line through a private discuss only open to those who were given the book. I was so excited to be holding this beautiful book that on the back says a publication date of November 2008. I feel like I am in a secret club and like I own a secret decoder ring!

The book is about Kim, an 18 year old who is out one afternoon with her friends and while on her way to work that day, disappears. The author is well written and his focus is mainly on the ones that were left behind – a mother who becomes an advocate for her missing daughter as everything else falls to the way side, a father – who searches the country side with volunteers at first and then alone – a sister who has always played second fiddle anyway and now secludes herself even deeper – the boyfriend who carries his own guilt – the girlfriends who go between trying to move on and being overrun by memories…

I like the layout of the book as each chapter is told froma different persons perspective. However at the end the book feels rushed to close like the author has become bored with the story. The “hints” early on in the book that give you the impression that the friends know something about Kim’s dissapearance is a false lead, and **Spoiler Alert when Kim finally is found it never explains where or the circumstances and it all turns out to be random.

I belive the best part of reading this book – was being chosen to read it and review it with others from all over. I will watch the site for future books but as for this one – I have to rate it 2.9 (was holding a strong 4 in the begining but the ending really dissapointed me).

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