Archive for December, 2006

Magic Hour by Kristin Hannah

December 19, 2006

From BooklistAlthough a judge rules in her favor, child psychiatrist Dr. Julia Cates is found guilty of incompetence in the press. Her entire life has centered on her exclusive practice, and now all her patients have abandoned her. Salvation comes unexpectedly at the behest of her estranged sister, Ellie, the chief of police in their hometown of Rain Valley, Washington. Julia never wanted to go back to their small logging town, where she was the scrawny bookworm and Ellie was the homecoming queen, but now, even though they refuse to admit it, the sisters need each other as they try to save a young girl found in a forest in the company of a wolf. She behaves like an animal and doesn’t speak. Julia works hard to break the mute silence of the mysterious little girl; Ellie tries to find out where she belongs; and both of them defend the girl they decide to call Alice against those who would exploit her. Through helping this young lost soul, Julia and Ellie learn a lot about themselves and about their relationships in one of this perennially best-selling writer’s most compelling and riveting novels to date. Magic Hour will enhance Hannah’s popularity and affirm her dominance in women’s fiction. Patty Engelmann
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

My Comments: I still have to thank my friend, Lori for introducing me to Kristen Hannah. This is my second book by the author, and I enjoyed it just as much. I recognize her “formula” and I’m comforted by it. There’s the misfit in an uncomfortable situation who grows and flourishes and lives happily ever after. What’s not to love? But that over simplifies what Hannah accomplishes with her books. I love a writer who really makes you feel the characters and the situation. You can easily get lost a Hannah novel.

This book deals with another estranged sister situation and it’s a pleasure to witness the sisters grow together and overcome. Throw in a handsome man with a broken heart that needs healing, a little girl who needs rescuing and love and a little town full of quirky characters.

I’ll be passing it on to a friend most likely. I don’t think I’ll be reading it again, but I’m grateful for the trip I took with Julia, Ellie and especially Alice.

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Salem Falls by Jodi Picoult

December 9, 2006

From the Publisher: Jack St. Bride is twice damned. Just released from prison for a statuary rape he did not commit, this ex-teacher has become a dishwasher in a remote New Hampshire town. Hoping to maintain a low profile, St. Bride begins to develop a relationship with his attractive boss almost against his will. Healing, however, is turned to exposure, when our mild-mannered ex-con is accused once again by a teenager. This high-voltage legal thriller has a nice human edge.
My thoughts: I literally could not put this book down. That’s the case with the majority of Picoult’s books for me. I enjoyed how it was loosely based on The Crucible, giving the story a modern bent. The author bent over backwards in her research about Wicca and sexual abuse and it shows. She does an amazing job of showing both sides of the story and remains sensative to both sides as well.
I was abused by a teacher as a teenager, and as difficult as I thought this would be to read, it wasn’t. I was wisked away to a little town of Salem Falls and into a totally different situation. But having personal experiences of my own, I could appreciate how delicately the events were written and how accurate. And I gained insight from a completely different point of view.
There was a certain point in the book where I couldn’t have put it down if you paid me. The final 75 pages were a whirlwind. I only wish I had taken the time to savor it more instead of powering through. There is quite a surprise at the end, which I had actually seen coming, but I still didn’t want to believe it. I found myself re-reading it to make sure I wasn’t mistaken.
I think I’ll find myself visiting Salem Falls again, if just to enjoy it more and take my time. That’s the only disadvantage to Picoult for me. I get so wrapped up in her story, that I find myself reading until way past my bedtime, and stealing moments in waiting rooms. Picoult’s prose should be savored.

Shakespeare’s Christmas by Charlaine Harris

December 5, 2006

From Publishers Weekly: Harris, author of the Aurora Teagarden cozies, adds a touch of grit to her books featuring briskly efficient, 31-year-old Arkansas cleaning lady Lily Bard. Lily hides a traumatic past under a prickly exterior, but, in the series’ third book (after Shakespeare’s Champion, 1997), this karate expert lowers her defenses just long enough to reconcile with her family and help solve a series of grisly murders. Returning to her home town of Bartley (a stone’s throw from her residence in Shakespeare, Ark.) for her sister Varena’s wedding, Lily is plunged headlong into an eight-year-old kidnapping investigation after her lover and confidant, Jack Leeds, a PI with a questionable past, arrives to follow up an anonymous tip that the kidnapper and the missing girl are both in Bartley. When the town’s beloved family practitioner, his nurse and a young mother are bludgeoned to death, suspicion falls on Varena’s fiance a widower who just happens to have an eight-year-old daughter. The investigation intensifies, and Lily uses her family connections and her impeccable cleaning skills to ferret out some crucial information. Harris tells a forceful story with a complex, flawed heroine who is wary of emotional attachments. The denizens of Bartley: the shrewd sheriff; old high-school classmates with long memories; Lily’s loving but overprotective parents form a memorable gallery of secondary characters. Harris’s blend of cozy style with more hard-boiled elements isn’t always smooth, but it’s interesting to see her working toward a deeper complexity. Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

My thoughts:
This was a very fast read. It was a nice little mystery to cozy up to on the weekend with a Christmas-y theme. I enjoy Lily Bard and like to see her character develop and get a look at how far she’s come. From victim to super sleuth, Lily is an unassuming hero. I enjoy her, but I wouldn’t mind some more depth. Lily is definitely mystery-lite, but that’s not a bad thing. She has her place.

Very enjoyable, but not a book I’ll hold on to. I posted it to Paperback Swap and it was requested right away.