Month: February 2011

My Thoughts On Peace Like A River

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There is so much in this book to love. The father is amazing, though being a wife myself I may never forgive him for dropping out of medical school. His faith, his “intuneness” (if that is a word) is inspiring, and the miracles that it brings about are so interesting to read.

That said, that is just a small portion of the book, the rest of it being occupied by Rueben telling about his family and what happened when his older brother Davy shot two boys. You can debate forever whether they deserved it and whether Davy’s actions were justified, and that is what makes this a great selection for book club. The discussions that come from this book are a lot more than “It was good; I liked it.”

I love Rueben’s journey as he decides in his own head how he feels about what Davy did and how he battles doing the right thing and trying to help his brother at the same time.

My only complaint is that the book is a little heavy, a little slow, and as a fan of witty dialogue, I was sometimes tempted to start skipping through. But, I was rewarded for staying on the path.

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Neighborhood Blook Club Selection for February: Peace Like a River

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From Amazon.com:

Dead for 10 minutes before his father orders him to breathe in the name of the living God, Reuben Land is living proof that the world is full of miracles. But it’s the impassioned honesty of his quiet, measured narrative voice that gives weight and truth to the fantastic elements of this engrossing tale.

From the vantage point of adulthood, Reuben tells how his father rescued his brother Davy’s girlfriend from two attackers, how that led to Davy being jailed for murder and how, once Davy escapes and heads south for the Badlands of North Dakota, 12-year-old Reuben, his younger sister Swede and their janitor father light out after him.

But the FBI is following Davy as well, and Reuben has a part to play in the finale of that chase, just as he had a part to play in his brother’s trial.

It’s the kind of story that used to be material for ballads, and Enger twines in numerous references to the Old West, chiefly through the rhymed poetry Swede writes about a hero called Sunny Sundown.

That the story is set in the early ’60s in Minnesota gives it an archetypal feel, evoking a time when the possibility of getting lost in the country still existed.

Enger has created a world of signs, where dead crows fall in a snowstorm and vagrants lie curled up in fields, in which everything is significant, everything has weight and comprehension is always fleeting.

This is a stunning debut novel, one that sneaks up on you like a whisper and warms you like a quilt in a North Dakota winter, a novel about faith, miracles and family that is, ultimately, miraculous.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

My Thoughts on The Scent of Rain and Lightning by Pickard

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In our library there is a section for “Frequent Readers” where librarians can place their personal picks every six months. I was looking at this section when a woman recommended this book to me saying that it was ‘very good’.

It was fine. I did like the mystery and am glad that it got solved at the end. It was a big surprise, and I love surprises. That part was well written and really well thought out.

But I did not like the love story. I thought that it was unlikely. Really, really unlikely. But other readers might think it was fine.

What I’m Reading Now: The Scent of Rain and Lightning by Pickard

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From Amazon.com:

A decades-old mystery is solved and a woman’s haunting questions put to rest in Pickard’s latest thriller. When she was just three years old, Jody Linder lost both parents in one night, when her father, Hugh Jay—eldest son of the wealthiest rancher in the small town of Rose, Kansas—was killed and her mother, Laurie, vanished. Raised by grandparents, Hugh Senior and Annabelle Linder, and with loving support from three uncles, Jody spends years collecting human detritus around the area’s towering Testament Rocks, where authorities once searched for clues to Laurie’s disappearance. Jody’s world is rocked 23 years later when Billy Crosby, the vicious drunk convicted of her father’s murder on circumstantial evidence, is released for a new trial; his return to town brings events to a head. In her second stand-alone (after The Virgin of Small Plains, 2006), Pickard shows her storytelling skills, weaving elements of deception, revenge, and romance into a novel with full-bodied characters who deal with tragedy as best they can; Annabelle Linder’s encounter with Crosby’s wife is particularly moving. From an award-winning author, this is engrossing fiction with an eminently satisfying denouement. –Michele Leber —

What I’m Reading Now: The Cookbook Collector by Goodman

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From Amazon.com:

If any contemporary author deserves to wear the mantel of Jane Austen, it’s Goodman, whose subtle, astute social comedies perfectly capture the quirks of human nature. This dazzling novel is Austen updated for the dot-com era, played out between 1999 and 2001 among a group of brilliant risk takers and truth seekers. Still in her 20s, Emily Bach is the CEO of Veritech, a Web-based data-storage startup in trendy Berkeley. Her boyfriend, charismatic Jonathan Tilghman, is in a race to catch up at his data-security company, ISIS, in Cambridge, Mass. Emily is low-key, pragmatic, kind, serene—the polar opposite of her beloved younger sister, Jess, a crazed postgrad who works at an antiquarian bookstore owned by a retired Microsoft millionaire. When Emily confides her company’s new secret project to Jonathan as a proof of her love, the stage is set for issues of loyalty and trust, greed, and the allure of power. What is actually valuable, Goodman’s characters ponder: a company’s stock, a person’s promise, a forest of redwoods, a collection of rare cookbooks? Goodman creates a bubble of suspense as both Veritech and ISIS issue IPOs, career paths collide, social values clash, ironies multiply, and misjudgments threaten to destroy romantic desire. Enjoyable and satisfying, this is Goodman’s most robust, fully realized and trenchantly meaningful work yet. (July)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

My Thoughts on Firefly Lane by Hannah

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I hated the review provided by Amazon.com because it implied that Johnny and Tully had an affair. You almost wait for that during the entire book. But, while he does start off by liking Tully, A LOT, like most adults he redefines “love” and finds it with his wife.

Whew. Glad I got that off of my chest.

I liked this book, though books about the friendship between two women is always full of drama and extreme generalizations. Tully chooses the career track and is incredibly famous. Kate chooses to stay at home and is incredibly overworked.

This book is absolutely saved by its ending. I cried and cried. I appreciate books that are good enough to make you feel something.

Being a stay-at-home Mom, I felt for Kate. Sometimes I want to go back to work and get a predictable paycheck and wear nice clothes and fancy shoes.

I love what Kate says at the end. She tells Tully:

“Here’s what I want you to know. I loved my life. For so long I was waiting for it to start, waiting for more. It seemed like all I did was drive and shop and wait. But you know what? I didn’t miss a thing with my family. Not a moment. I was there for all of it. That’s what I’ll remember.”

I thought that was beautiful.