Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Horse Whisperer by Nicholas Evans

After a riding tragedy nearly kills them both, a teenage girl and her horse are both broken and angry. Horse trainer Tom Booker has a way with damaged souls, and under his tutelage both Gracie and Pilgrim rebound. But it's Booker's relationship with Grace's mother, Annie, that's the core of this story: the driven Manhattan magazine editor and the gentle Montana cowboy. A match that was never meant to happen.

I'm not usually much for romance, but this is one of my favorite books. The land is so integral that Montana is practically a character in the book. The writing's beautiful. The characters are flawed and real.

But honestly, it's Peter Coyote's voice that makes this my favorite. I have an abridged audiobook on CD that's my fall-back listen in the sewing room (and I would pay big $$ for an unabridged version of his narration!).

The very best kind of "comfort food" for the mind.

Nothing but trouble

by Rachel Gibson

Gibson returns to her hockey theme with another star athlete in the Chinooks organization. This time it is former captain Mark Bressler. Now out of the hospital and facing a life off the ice Bressler's on ice persona has found its way into his daily life. No longer the cheerful man he once was, Mark must learn to accept that his independence is temporarily gone.
Along comes personal assistant Chelsea Ross. Chelsea has put up with some very challenging celebrities, so Mark should be no problem. Unfortunately, she needs the money. The two butt heads frequently until they discover a mutual attraction. Suddenly, the magnetic pull becomes very difficult to resist.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Last Child by John Hart

In the year since his twin sister was abducted, Johnny Merrimon's life has fallen apart: his mother's a mess, his father took off, the police haven't found Alyssa, and his mother's rich, predatory boyfriend is abusive in every sense of the word.

Johnny's taken matters into his own hands. He draws the boyfriend away from his mother by throwing rocks though the window back at his mansion. He stalks local pedophiles and records their habits in search of his sister. Since God has let him down, Johnny's turned to Native American and Celtic rituals for strength and protection.

This book was completely engrossing. I haven't even begun to touch on the storyline with this description; there are about five related stories going on. It wasn't gory and horrifying, more a psychological thriller with multiple twists and turns.

I will be a bit critical of the narrator, though: Scott Sowers over-enunceates to the point of distraction sometimes. I'm not sure if he just needs practice as a narrator, or if he's just not cut out for this kind of work. Sometimes he's flat, sorta like a kid reading aloud without comprehending what's in front of him.

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Book of Awesome: Snow Days, Bakery Air, Finding Money in Your Pocket, and Other Simple, Brilliant Things

by Neil Pasricha

Think of a little thing in life that is awesome. It is probably listed in this book. OK, so he mentions snow days as being awesome; they can be if you are a kid or you rent your home. If that's the case, someone else will do the shoveling to get you on your way to sled or ski.

I'm sure this book was probably written by listening to all the things people say are awesome in daily conversation. In fact, many "awesome" things inspire very little awe in us. However, we simply enjoy them for what they are. This book reminds us that in every day we have the chance to find at least one thing enjoyable. Maybe it's a campfire, or absolute silence (yeah, good luck with that one - even the refrigerator makes noise.) If you need a little pick-me-up, this book might be awesome enough to get you back on the road to optimism.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Backseat Saints by Joshilyn Jackson

Ro Grandee is the perfect Texas housewife: she has to be, to avoid the worst of the beatings from her husband. The beatings she still endures without a word? ...well, she figures she deserves them.

Dropping off a neighbor at the airport, she has a chance encounter with a gypsy who tells her that it's either Ro or her husband - somebody's going to die.

At bedtime I picked up this book, and then forced myself to put it down 100 pages later. The rest, I read in a single sitting as soon as I could.

Joshilyn Jackson is my favorite "unknown" writer - she's written 4 books (each equally awesome) but she's not a household name. She should be - few authors write realistic, damaged, funny, heart-breaking, eccentric, but still-likeable characters as well. And her blog, Faster than Kudzu, is always good for a laugh. Jackson should be much, much more famous than she is.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Sizzling Sixteen

by Janet Evanovich

Stephanie Plum is back and as funny as ever. As usual, I am desperately craving more Ranger. He was there, but I always want just a little bit more. My advice for Stephanie...I've had tastykakes, they are not as addictive as Ranger would be.

Normally I would say that a night spent at home reading is quiet. However, my laughter is not. Plum fans, get ready for more of Lula's antics, a bit (on Stephanie's level) more destruction, and Grandma Mazur with an injury.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Where Trouble Sleeps by Clyde Edgerton

Sleepy Listre NC (circa 1950) is a town ripe for the pickin' - at least as far as the gypsy in the yellow shirt is concerned. All he sees is a couple stores, a Baptist church, a blinker light and a bunch of maroons. Sure, easy pickin's.

But several of the small town residents are quietly suspicious of the man as he wanders about town, asking questions and absorbing info. Not Cheryl at the diner - she's too busy making eyes at the handsome movie-star guy and dreaming about their wedding. And not church secretary Mrs. Dorothea Clark, who's holed herself up in the church office until her twisted ankle heals and has been blessed with nightly visits from Jesus himself. But certainly a few others suspect something's not right.

Someplace I recently read that author Clyde Edgerton's an American treasure, so I thought I should look him up; funny, subtle character examinations and some unexpected plot turns made this quick read an enjoyable diversion.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

No Wonder My Parents Drank by Jay Mohr

One crazy Friday at the library, we happened across a hilarious excerpt from this book about potty training in a popular magazine; immediately, we put the book on the purchase list.

It's a very funny look at parenthood by a professional comedian. Overall, not great for a straight read-through, but ideal for pick-it-up and put-it-down kind of reading.

My only beef with the book: Mohr never directly explains the situation with Jackson's mother, and some of the illusions to their situation made me say, "Huh?" (I even resorted to wikipedia for bio info mid-way through the book.) I understand his trying to avoid discussing his past relationships - but didn't he bring it on himself by writing a book about it?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde

I can't convey how it pains me that I didn't love this book. It took me six months to read this book (a relative LIFETIME), and I refused to give up - I even re-started it once, trying soooo hard to understand and love this book. To no avail.

Future humans aren't really our kind of human - they're created, live, get sick, are healed and even destroyed based on the colors they can see. Marriage among complimentary colors are forbidden, and most people have arranged marriages based on bettering themselves and their offspring on the color scale. Society is based on a set of rules, merits, and feedbacks (like ebay escaped into real life), the past is being systematically erased, and trees can eat you.

It seems like Fforde has great aspirations of current social criticism with this story, but either I'm too obtuse or too American to get it (Fforde is British).

I have loved, loved, loved his other books - laughed out loud while reading them and hand-sold them to tons of our library patrons. But this one passed me by. Unfortunately, Fforde says this is the first in a series; he's got titles for the next two books at the end of this one.

I wish he'd put his efforts elsewhere.