Monday, August 11, 2008

The Music Teacher

By Barbara Hall

This is a book that is rather hard for me to define. It is, most of all, a book about a woman that never really knew who she was. Even by age forty, Pearl was unable to define herself with any confidence. It seemed to me that she was moving purposelessly through life, waiting for someone else to tell her what her life's purpose was to be. This was perhaps due to the fact that she was allowed to drift through her childhood without the anchor of love and security that she craved.

An intuitive and empathetic woman, she taught music in a small music store. The other characters were mostly other musicians who put in some time working behind the counter of this small independent music shop. They were an idiosyncratic crew, brilliant like so many artists, and flawed like all people everywhere. Rather than developing any close friendships, they seemed to be at odds with each other, for the most part.

Pearl's interaction with the children that she taught was an important aspect of this novel . She came closest to feeling as if she could define herself when she was teaching. Without a doubt she was a caring teacher at times. Other times found her as much at odds with her students as she was with her colleagues.

The characters are compelling and rich. For this reason, it is well worth reading. The story itself is well told and a bonus.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

American Savior: A Novel of Divine Politics

by Roland Merullo

Jesus Christ for President of the United States. I expected this book to be entertaining, somewhat amusing, maybe Pratchett like. I was right. I was also wrong. This was a fascinating political satire that challenges our political system, the media and indeed our very culture.

It does this in a way that is certainly entertaining. At times it is amusing. But essentially, it is so much more. This book forces us to look more deeply into our beliefs, and the way we live and behave. It forces the reader to see that there are options and that perhaps more than options, possibilities.

What would the country be like if we chose kindness over cruelty. Generosity over greed. Truth over lies.
Compelling stuff. It had the effect of making me more dissatisfied than ever with the status quo. I miss more than ever, something that we never really had.

Read this book. It doesn't preach to you. It is a quick read, it won't strain your brain, it will make you smile. It is certainly an easy read. But when you close the cover after you have read the last word. You will feel better about yourself. You will know just a little bit more about love.

Friday, August 8, 2008

The Necklace

by Cheryl Jarvis

This is not a literary work of art. It is a work of art all the same. Thirteen women whose lives were changed because of what began as a simple leap of faith and what might seem to be a frivolity.

Each woman has a chapter that describes who she was, and who she has become due to her commitment to be more. A commitment that began with the necklace and moved forward because of a strength it ingited within them. An unspoken agreement that came as part a parcel of the investment in a piece of fine jewelry.

As I read through each chapter I was filled more and more with admiration and hope born of this sisterhood. I felt my own part in it simply as a woman who has reached maturity and a certain contentment and wisdom . These women took what they had of that, shared it, and then they soared.

The women who owned Jewelia became more than friends, They became a force. A force for rising above, and for doing good. A force for taking small positive steps and making a big difference. This is a book that women of all ages need to read, share and read again.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

The Fire: A Novel.

by Katherine Neville

A sequel to the novel The Eight, The fire continues a saga involving a treasure of immeasurable worth.
A treasure that was handed down through the centuries. One that was protected at all cost.

I read The Eight only a week or two ago. I felt that it was a good story that was somewhat buried under far too many plot twists, details and historical figures. This was not a problem in the sequel.

This book not only allows us to catch up with the characters we had become involved with whole reading the Eight, but introduced more characters to the Game of protecting the treasure. Cat Velis has a daughter now, a young lady who is as spirited as her mother had once been, A daughter born to play the game.

We also find new and equally compelling characters whose family legacies were entwined with The Game. I found some of the methods of communication puzzling, and I do not use that word lightly. Both books were full of obscure references and many puzzles that only the author and presumably chess masters would be able to decipher. Often, I felt, to a point where they became distracting, and sometimes annoying. Nothing was ever clear cut or honest within these families. Nothing was ever as it seemed. Again, I felt it was just a little much. I do not know how any family could survive so much deceit, much less thrive within those constraining boundaries. Where even a childhood friend was not as what they seemed to be.

Having said all of that. The basic story was an interesting one. At first I thought that this book would be same story different characters, and that proved to not be so. There were original twists and turns here.

To me, one of the hallmarks of an excellent read is the question. Would you recommend this book.
For The Fire, as well as The Eight, I would have to say no. Even though my bookoholic friends are enthusiastic about many different genres.. I honestly cannot think of one who would be interested in devoting the hours that it takes to read these books. Despite the fact that it is, as I said, a good story, it required far to much time for too little payoff.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

First Daughter

By Eric Van Lusbader

As one president is about to leave office and inauguration day looms for the next man to take that office, the country is in turmoil. In a novel apparently meant to use the events following 9/11 and the inept leadership in place at that time in history, terrorism is of course, a theme.

The story is fraught with allusions to terrorism and the lame duck president seems to see a terrorist behind every bush. When reality proves that they are not there, his insistence simply trumps reality. Thus we are taken on a merry chase for terrorists, real and imagined. What is real is that the daughter of the president elect has been kidnapped. Whether or not she survives is made very clear in the first pages of this book. The rest is the convoluted tale of this kidnapping and its results.

The thread, no, rather the wide ribbon of religion that runs throughout this story often strikes a discordant not, cropping up in conversations and situations where rather than enhancing, it distracts. This was a promising story that for me failed to thrill but some mystery did indeed remain. Although the reader may believe that the ending would lead us in a certain direction, instead it was a good solid surprising end. Sadly, I found the finish to be the best of the book.