Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A true story teller

Not long ago, some friends who read my blog emailed me to ask if I only read serious stuff based on what I have been posting about. The answer is no and this book is proof of that! I pretty much read anything that doesn't get out of my way and the only thing I don't read on a regular basis are sci-fi and westerns. Lately I've been reading a lot of fantasy/paranormal type romantic suspense/mystery paperbacks that I get through Books Free. I love this service because it saves me a ton of money and lets me try lots of different authors and genres and I can send the book back if I don't like it - without feeling guilty about how much money I spent and that I didn't read it!

I love reading series and one I've been reading is by Marjorie M. Liu. I just finished the third book in the series, Red Heart of Jade, and it was excellent. Ms. Liu is an amazing storyteller and she seems to be getting better with every book in this series. I know there are some out there who consider mass market paperbacks and romance type authors as inferior but they should get outside their boxes more! This was a very well crafted tale with great characterization, an exciting storyline and a very well crafted plot that did not fall down in the middle or end too quickly. I am finding so many of today's romance lacking a good plot/story line and authoers are filling in with lots of sex in the hopes that we readers won't notice. Now I don't mind a good sex scene but never at the expense of a good plot, fully formed characters and a quality product. Ms. Liu definitely delivers for me! Maybe you should get out of your box and try one of her books too!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

SRC - Book Two

gods in Alabama was my second book for the Summer Reading Challenge.

Oh did I love this book. This is a first book as well but I found it much better written than my previous choice. It too is a story about going home and reconnecting with family. It is the story of a woman who fled her home town in Alabama as soon as she graduated high school, believing she had killed someone. She promised never to have sex and never to tell a lie again if God would just make everything okay.

She has created a new life in Chicago and only had contact with her family by phone over the last 10 years. She is content with her life, having fallen in love with a good man . Into her life drops an old high school peer and everything changes. In order to head off what she believes will be a catastrophe in the discovery of her secret, she heads home to Alabama with her boyfriend in tow. She is justifiably anxious about her return, fearful her secret is going to be exposed and what will happen when her relatives find out her boyfriend is black.

By alternating chapters, the author provides the backstory to Arlene's life as well as what happens when she returns home. I loved the use of this technique and was just amazed at this author's talent and voice. I truly felt the "southerness" through the quirkly family characters, sayings and descriptions. An amazing book with a great ending, showing that no matter what, family is the most important thing in life. I can't wait to read this author's additional books.

I've got one more to go with this challenge so stay tuned!

Souther Reading Challenge Progess

Well, I've finally managed to finish two of my three selections for Maggie's Southern Reading Challenge. I enjoyed both but the second one (see post above!) is my favorite so far!

The first book I read was Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen and it was chosen by me as my book group's July discussion book before I even signed up for the challenge. Very convenient!
When I think about describing this book to someone, the words "light and fluffy" come to mine. It is the story of the Waverly women who live in Bascom, North Carolina. They are all gifted with a special talent and have a magical apple tree that grows in the garden of their ancestral home. If you eat an apple from the tree, it shows you your future - good or bad - so the Waverly's have done their best to prevent anyone from eating the apples.
Sydney Waverly comes home to Bascom after being away for a number of years, bringing her daughter Bay. She and her sister Claire have been estranged and the story focus on the gradual rebuilding of their relationship as well as the blossoming of both of their lives into something more. It explores the sense of place you have within both a family and a place.

While I enjoyed the book, I felt there were too many character lines to follow to give the book meatyness. I think it would have been much better if the author and narrowed her focus a bit and more fully developed just a few of the characters. And I just didn't find this book very Southern feeling to me. All in all, it was an enjoyable read by a first time author. I plan to get the author's latest book out of the library as I've been told her writing is much better developed with this.