Sunday, June 28, 2009

Review: The Angel's Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon


In The Angel's Game, Carlos Ruiz Zafon creates a fascinating character in David Martin, a young boy who is beaten by his father for reading books, abandoned by his mother, and finally witnesses the murder of his father. From that point on, few people intersect his life, but those that do become integral to his life. I don't want to give too much away as far as what happens in this book, because each event is best told by the author and I could not do it justice.

The Angel's Game was more than anything else a book that moved me. At times it moved me slowly into a deep sleep. At other times it moved my spirit because of the lovely prose that recreated the ambience of 1920's Barcelona so well. In the end, I walked away with little more than lovely, dark images of Barcelona.

The first half of the book was much more enjoyable as the mysteries built up suspense. The last hundred pages in a circular fashion attempted to connect the dots but failed in my mind to bring closure. If you like neatly wrapped happy endings, this book might frustrate you.

Regardless, along the way readers will savor his words, imagine the world he has created, and perhaps develop a sense of appreciation for their otherwise mundane lives. If you enjoy dark mysteries that teeter on exploring dark magic and mysticism, this might be an enjoyable read for you.

Review: East of the Sun by Julia Gregson


East of the Sun was unlike anything I was expecting. Falling in the category of what I would ordinarily call "chick lit" I didn't expect to enjoy much less finish this book so quickly. However, once I had read a few chapters, I found this book hard to put down.

Set in India in the 1920's, two young women, a teenage boy, their young chaperone set out on the Indian Princess for a three week voyage to India. Viva, the young chaperone takes three charges in order to earn her fare plus a little bit of travelling money. Rose is headed to India to marry her fiancee that she hardly knows. Tor, her best friend is accompanying her as bridesmaid and also has hopes of her own to meet a man in India where eligible bachelors are in abundant supply. Guy, bipolar and Viva's final charge is expelled from boarding school and is being sent back to India to be with his parents. Finally, there is Frank, a selfless, young doctor earning his passage to India as the ships doctor with hopes of studying the blackwater plague.

The sea journey introduces us to the characters but once in India their lives intersect in surprising ways as each person deals with personal issues, relationship problems, lack of finances, and even a dangerous abduction.

Romance is light but present, with most of the focus of this book being about Viva trying to find closure in her life since the death of her sister, her father, and her mother in India. For years she has ignored a letter and key inviting her to come and pick up a trunk her parents left, but she finally finds the courage to make the long journey.

The lives of these intriguing characters set against the backdrop of a historical time in India made for a fast paced read that never bored me with any detail or interaction.

I recommend this book to anyone who loves adventure, historical fiction, or romance, as well as book clubs. This book has won several awards in the U.K. and the BBC has commissioned a six-part television series of this book. I'm glad this that this book is being released into the US in paperback format, not only making it a worthwhile read, but it won't break the bank either.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Review: The Tehran Conviction


I really wanted to like The Tehran Conviction. The words flow easily and the subject matter was intriguing. However, I felt a bit cheated as a reader when it came to the development of main character Jack Teller. Not having read the previous novels by Tom Gabbay, I'm not sure if there was more to know about Jack Teller. The novel oscillates between 1979 and 1953 Iran. The plot revolves around CIA intervention in Iranian politics during the earlier time period, with suggestions of the impact of such intervention in 1979.

I felt that the author could have done a better job of developing the look and feel of Iran and the characters. Those looking for more in depth plots and a connection with the characters would probably not enjoy this book. The book is highly readable and Tom Gabbay does and excellent job of keeping the story moving forward and not letting the reader get lost. Those with short attention spans, an interest in light spy novels, or previous readers of Tom Gabbay novels will probably want to read this one.

3 Stars

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Review: God’s Little Princess Devotional Bible (Sheila Walsh, contributor)


The wonderful thing about God’s Little Princess Devotional Bible is that it is interactive! I can't stress that enough. This book is far more than Bible stories. It contains questions and activities that engage young girls in a way that I haven't seen with other Bibles for young children.

My daughters best friend had this Bible and for the past couple of years they've been talking about it. Author Sheila Walsh is a fantastic writer and really understands kids. I've read her other books and didn't realize that this was by the same author until it arrived and my daughter ran to her room to get the other Sheila Walsh books (which are some of her favorites!).

This is a must-have book for girls ages 5-7, but younger and older will appreciate it as well. Take a peek inside the book with the preview found here, and see for yourself if this would be a delightful book for your daughter, granddaughter, or niece.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Waiting for Coyote's Call by Jerry Wilson


Waiting for Coyote's Call was an interesting eco-memoir (new genre for me!) written by Jerry Wilson detailing his homesteading experience on a bluff in southeastern South Dakota.

Mr. Wilson makes heavy reference to Henry David Thoreau and Aldo Leopold, so if you are a fan of their works, efforts, and beliefs, then this book will be an interesting read.

The author takes us slowly on an ecological journey, exploring and enlightening the reader on the most minute detail of his land and the nature he encounters there. Going a step further, he also tells the stories of his neighbors and their interactions with him and the land, and steps back in time detailing the land during before and during the settlers. The history of southeastern South Dakota is interwoven from the days of the Native Americans, through early settlers, to the modern day world, showing the changes the environment has withstood, and the good and not-so-good changes he has observed.

The author comes across as very well versed in nature, from trees to solar heating. He presents in depth knowledge by relaying his experiences and wisdom. Those interested in nature, homesteading, living off the grid, or reducing their footprint on this Earth may enjoy this slow, interesting, detailed read. At times the book lost my interest, and in that case I just jumped to the next chapter.