Be omnivorous, don't just read one kind of book, read everything. - Richard Wagamese

Friday, November 26, 2010

Review: The New Yorkers by Cathleen Schine

Publisher: Picador
Pages: 290
Source: Publisher
Category: Fiction/Chick-lit
Rating: 3/5


Cathleen Schine's 'The New Yorkers' is about Upper West Side New Yorkers, life's obstacles and the occasional interaction between dog owners. Dog owners tend to converse with other dog owners. It's strange but very true, walking a dog down the street attracts many unlikely visitors. Having to walk a dog is great, when you want to walk by a certain someone's door. A dog is a great excuse to stand around and talk to others. Walking a dog creates many opportune moments, also the occasional embarrassing moment. In a rent controlled, New York apartment building there are many variety of residents. Judy, a self-proclaimed 'spinster' adopts a dog, hoping to find a great companion. She gains her companion, and gains the attention of a unfriendly neighbor when Beatrice decides to skip the fire hydrant and use the shiny, expensive SUV. One innocent walk with Beatrice leads her she meet Everett. A man of 50, divorced, with a daughter in College. Polly, a newly single, desperate twenty-year old seeks an apartment and ends up living in a apartment recently vacated. The previous tenant committed suicide, and left his puppy behind. While Polly feels guilty about taking the apartment, she can't bear to leave the puppy behind. She end up taking the apartment and the dog. Polly's brother George is barely making a life for himself, the cockroaches in his apartment are vile and Polly forces George to move in, a bitter-sweet decision. 'The New Yorkers' is filled with many every-day characters, and situations. If you're interested in moving into an apartment building in New York, uncovering the strange residents, and the lovely dogs I suggest giving this one a try.

Overall Impression:

I enjoyed 'The New Yorkers' but I had an issue with the writing style. Cathleen creates memorable, loving characters but I felt like there was too many. I had a hard time connecting with the characters, the narration was difficult. Cathleen jumped from character to character, and I had a hard time figuring out who the narrator was talking about. This unnamed character knew everyone about everyone, and unfortunately there was a lack of flow. I found the pace very slow, and at time I wanted to just put the book down. I started to find the characters I liked and only focused on them. I think you can tell by reading my synopsis. This book was far from horrible, I think it would be a great movie. If it sounds like something you would like, I suggest giving it a try. I'm curious about her other books, I will have to give Cathleen Schine another try.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Review: Forever Queen by Helen Hollick

Author: Helen Hollick

Publisher: Sourcebook
Pages: 622
Source: Publisher
Category: Historical Fiction
Reprint: The Hollow Crown
Rating: 5/5

Helen Hollick creates a fascinating world during Pre-Medieval England. The story of 'The Forever Queen' recounts the story of Queen Emma. A young girl who understood that as the daughter of Richard I, Duke of Normandy, and sister of Richard II she would have to marry. It was her duty to marry a royal. Daughters were an opportunity to form alliances, and agreements. Emma, the youngest sister was married to the King of England, Aethelred 'The unready.' A man 21 years her senior, a man who was abusive and incompetent. As Emma is crowned Queen of England, she begins life as a timid, bashful, and insecure young girl. During her first couple of months as Queen, Emma endures many uncomfortable situations. She must bed her husband, learn to speak a new language, and endure many resentful women. Emma clung to her mother' advice 'never shed a tear in public.' Quickly she became confident, determined and compassionate. Emma falls in love with England, and vowed to give her all to her country. She weeds out those who want to hurt her, and tries to make the best of her situation. She deem's her husband as an incompetent coward, a man unsure of himself and how to rule, a man who trusts the wrong advisors, and completely ineffective as a ruler. Aethelred was loathed by his young bride. He would feed his ego by pummelling her or others smaller than himself. She reluctantly bore him two sons, and a daughter. Children she tried to remained detached from. Her first son was conceived through rape, her second- duty and her daughter would be married and sent away, never allowed to stay with her. Once Emma had her children, she had leverage. She would not stand down from her husband, and proved that she was secure in her role as Queen. Emma outlived Aethelred, and eventually England is inherited by Cnut of Danes. Emma finds herself in a precarious situation. She could possibly loose everything, and be at her brother' mercy once again. She takes her life in her own hands, and suggests to Cnut an offer he couldn't possibly refuse. Emma becomes his Queen. Cnut has England's approval, Emma still has her home. Emma marries a man she grows to love, respect, and admire.

Overall Impression:

I loved this one! I'm a huge historical fiction fan. This book is filled with action, adventure, emotion and suspense. Once you start this book, you will not want to put it down. The history is very well researched, and the flow of the novel is perfect. The details are not hard to follow, and the characters very easy to remember. Considering a lot of the names look similar, I was very pleased to remember the characters. I usually have a hard time when too many characters are introduced. This book was an exception, I knew within the first couple of pages that this book was for me.The descriptions are beautiful and Hellen Hollick creates a fascinating world filled with violence, battle and uncertainty. Emma' emotions are real, her story believable and astounding. She was a remarkable historical woman. 'The Forever Queen' was a great surprise! Highly recommended. Definitely, a 'top 10 2010' book read.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Review: The Waiting by Suzanne Woods Fisher

Publisher: Revell (Baker Publishing Group)

Pages: 305
Source: Litfuse Blog Tour
Category: Amish Fiction
Rating: 4/5


Lancaster County is home to an Amish Community. A close-knit community filled with a variety of personalities. Some who are content with small-town life, and others who wish to see the world. In 1965 Ben Zook is sent to Vietnam. serving as a conscientious objector. He's left behind Jorie King who is living with her grandparents. Jorie King has vowed to wait for Ben to return, and hopes he will ask her to marry him upon his return. Jorie has fallen in love with Ben Zook, a man not content with Amish life. Jorie has been patient and understanding, but she hopes Ben will mature, wish to settle down and marry her according to Amish standards. In the meantime Jorie becomes the newest school teacher, but faces many obstacles when parents do not approve of her teaching tactics. The goodness of Jorie's heart causes issues when she does something the English community disapproves of. Cal Zook, Ben's brother has become the newest minister in the community. He believes Jorie will be the perfect teacher to teach his younger brother Ephraim and daughter Maggie. Cal and his wife Mary-Ann have raised Ephraim since his parents death, and his brother Matthew has helped with the farm. When Mary-Ann suddenly becomes sick, and is diagnosed with cancer she welcomes death and hopes to demonstrate her unwavering faith to her loved ones. She believes this will comfort them, and will be a great lesson in life. Prior to Mary-Ann passing, Ben Zook is reported killed. His ashes are brought back to the community, and a funeral planned. The multiple tragedies strike in a matter of weeks, and Cal is filled with grief. He must accept the death of his brother and wife, while the community watches and openly judges him. Many members encourage Cal to remarry, while Cal wishes for the community to give him space and let him grieve. Cal seeks friendship with Jorie during their time of grief.

Overall Impression:

The Waiting is an inspirational, uplifting book. In the face of tragedy, faith is the comfort. Suzanne Wood Fisher has done it again, she has written an amazing story that had me glued to the pages. I will admit that I enjoyed 'The Choice' more but the Zook's captured my heart as well. I felt frustrated when the community was encouraging Cal to remarry, I really wanted him to move on at his own pace. Many twists and turns kept me thinking, and I never tired. I don't normally read books from the same author back to back but I really loved 'The Choice' and couldn't wait to pick up this one. This book was extremely enjoyable, and I was never expecting to enjoy them as much as I did. I'm really looking forward to the third book in the series. Suzanne Woods Fisher has one more fan, who is patiently waiting for the release of her upcoming book!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Review: The Choice by Suzanne Woods Fisher

Publisher: Revell (Baker Publishing Group)

Pages: 308
Source: Personal
Category: Christian Fiction (Amish)
Rating: 5/5


Carrie Weaver thought she had everything planned out. She grew up in an Amish community but she's been leaning on leaving. The love of her life Solomon Riehl has an opportunity to play professional baseball, and Carrie intends to follow him. They plan to marry and leave the Amish community that has always been their home. A hesitant Carrie acknowledges that her and Sol would not be shunned by the community. It is essential that they leave before they're baptized, otherwise they would never be able to come back and visit. However, life is constantly changing and you can never plan your entire life. When Carrie' father passes away after a farm accident, Carrie is drawn to her community and vows to take care of her little brother. She cannot bare to leave Andy with their detestable step-mother. A home that they were brought to when their father married Esther. A home where they never belonged. As far as Carrie is concerned Andy, a hemophiliac has received his last thrashing from Esther. Carrie is distraught when Sol leaves her behind, and she seizes her first opportunity to leave Esther's home. Carrie agrees to marry Daniel, a kind young Amish man her father approved and encouraged before his death. Carrie believes there's no better way to anger Sol. Daniel and Carrie both agree that they do not love each other but wish to build a home and move on from their misfortunes. Carrie inherits an extended family that she begins to adore. Throughout the book many twists and turns cause Carrie struggled with her faith. Her feelings towards Daniel are jumbled, and just as they begin to find their way towards each other Daniel is killed in a buggy accident. Carrie is guilt-ridden and overwhelmed. Carrie has no idea how to manage the orchard on her own, but she's adamant to survive and care for Andy and Daniel's grandmother. She wants to live in a home that is hers, a home where she belongs.

Overall Impression:

This is one of those books that I did not want to put down. It's was my first Amish novel, and I wasn't expecting to love it as much as I did. I fell in love with Carrie from the beginning, I laughed and cried along with her. Carrie is strong-willed and determined, when life kept throwing obstacles in her way she trudged through it all. I admired her, and really wanted her to succeed and be happy. Suzanne Woods Fisher created a sensational, inspirational read. This book dealt with forgiveness, love, anger, guilt and perseverance. I understood when Carrie' faith staggered. After all that she went through, it's hard not to wonder 'why me?' I was honestly thinking the same thing, why? Leave poor Carrie alone, I wanted her to be happy. As Carrie struggled with her Faith, she understood that God would take care of her. It's through the hard times that you need your faith the most. The characters were all amazing, there were characters I loved, others I hated. I stayed up late into the night reading this one, and quickly picked up the next installment 'The Waiting.' Honestly, a truly amazing, uplifting story. One you will not want to put down. This is for anyone who is looking for a gripping story. I will not be parting with book...