Sunday, November 16, 2008

shelter me

by Juliette Fay

Ass kicking widow? Loving mother? Betrayed daughter? Vulnerable friend?


All of these and more. When this book came my way as an advance copy I expected it to be an interesting and light read. It is. It is that and so much more.

Janie is a thirty something mother of two small children who lost her husband in a freak accident.There are many ways to lose a loved one, but to lose a soulmate with no time to say good-bye has to rank as one of the most difficult.

I expected to find a story that was sad and depressing and maybe a little difficult to read. Sad was there,betrayal, vulnerability and fear were all there. And humor. There is lots of humor. Hard to believe I know, considering the basic story. But difficult, I was drawn into this story, and found myself caring about the characters immediately.

Janie is strong, hurt but strong. When she was young, she simply did not believe that she would be one of those women who found true love and a happy life. But she did. She found a man who was able to "Get" her. To understand where she was coming from and to support her, love her and be a wonderful father to their children, Dylan and Carly. Her life had become so much more than she expected. Then he was gone.

A fatal decision, a moment in time and he was gone.

Suddenly a single mom who felt broken, she was carrying on as best she could. She had a wonderful supportive family behind her. Cormac, her cousin and a variety of slightly nutty but caring relatives and friends. Counseling from her priest was at first just an annoyance, but became more, much to her surprise.

Life was not through with surprising her, or testing her.

This book will land on my KEEPER shelf with the books never to give away and to read again and again.

This will be another book I will recommend and in fact give as a gift to friends. I have said before that I love stories about strong women. Women who do not let the stumbles on lifes path get them down. I love Janie and her family and friends and I know you will too.

Friday, November 14, 2008

An Irish Country Christmas

by Patrick Taylor

I could not have been more pleasantly surprised. The characters in the novel are gentle, kind and good.
Barry Laverty, the associate doctor compliments the older more curmudgeonly Dr. Fingal O'Reilly. The story of the practice these two share in a small Irish town very simply warms the heart. As the story flows we hear about the path these men take to become who and where they are today, and what Mrs Kinkaid has to do with it all.

In an easy manner this story is from the home and office of these two gentle doctors, into the lives and homes of the people who count on them. Each family has its own story, and some of them are hard indeed. That it is the holidays makes these stories all the more compelling. It is impossible not to feel drawn to Donal and Susan a set of newlyweds with typical issues but a far from typical history. Similarly, Sonny and Maggie but they are anything but typical. Unusual in appearance they turn out to be angels in disguise.

Eileen who does factory work to keep family and home after her husband leaves them and never looks back. Her three little ones are expecting a visit from Father Christmas. Will it take a miracle for him to appear?

Enchanting and engrossing, this is a perfect read for this special time of year.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Not One Drop

by Riki Ott

A story that began on Friday March 24, 1989.

That is the day that the oil tanker Exxon Valdez spilled many millions of gallons of oil into the sound, and began one of the biggest corporate cover-ups and political shames in the history of this country. The day that a nightmare began.

This book tells the tale of this unwilling journey undertaken by the town of Cordova Alaska, by its families, small businesses and not least of all the wildlife of this microcosm of American Life. People like you and me who wanted nothing more than to work, to live and to seek happiness in their corner of the world.

The main characters of this story, Riki , Dan, Sam and Linden and their children put faces on the misery, on the loss, pain and fear. You will not find a just collection of data here. You will learn about the people who endured this tragedy and fought for years to bring life back to their home. Never giving up but always giving. Helping each other is truly a way of life in Cordova. That is one thing that has not changed.

It took five years for the "speedy trial" of Exxon to take it into the courts. A ruling finally came down and was of course appealed. It was February 2008 before Exxon's appeals reached the Supreme Court, and June of 2008 before they ruled. That a ruling reduced the amount of punitive damages to 10% of the original ruling.

There are fish in the sound these days, but it is not the same. I will never be the same. The herring have not rebounded, it may take many years for that. The people are another story. They have carried on. They have found their way through some very bad times. Life changing times. But most of them found a way to survive, to not give up.

This book is a reminder that what happened to the people of Alaska could happen to any of us during this time when the rights of the individual matter far less than those of the corporations. What was brought to the attention of the country and the world by what happened when the Exxon Valdez bled oil into the waters off Alaska, was only the beginning. The last chapters admonish us to step away from our televisions, climb out of our cocoons and get involved with our communities, our politics and our country as a means to save our own way of live and indeed, our republic.

Very timely, as this book comes to us at a time when our country is experiencing a surge of renewal. A time when our rights have suffered blow after blow, but we find ourselves ready to once again stand up and fight for ourselves and our country.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Another Mother's Life

by Rowan Coleman

This is a British novel. I tend to enjoy books these books because there is a subtle difference between them and the books written by Americans. In fact, that difference may be subtlety itself. I often find the stories to be more charming than those by Americans. The same reason I enjoy British films, I think?

In any case, this was a good story of two friends and a life circumstance ( read: man) that came between them. Most of the story of these two woman as youngsters, and then young women is told in flashbacks. The lives that they are living today, years after that final, crushing separation are compared. Such different paths they have traveled to bring them to the same crossroads.

When they are both young mothers, they are both taken aback when they meet at this crossroad of their lives.
It is the last thing either has ever expected to happen. Their children, daughters are becoming friends in much the same way that they did so many years ago.

This is the story of the possibility of renewing their friendship. Can it ever be as good as it once was?
It is a story of families, and frailties and the ability to trust.

Is it possible to go home again is a question we often come across, because it is really a question with no answer. Or perhaps a question with too many asnwers.

I read this in one afternoon, as I was drawn in and wanted to find out what happened to Catherine and Alison.
Many of us have had a good friend from childhood lost to time, or circumstance. That is what drew me in...

I am glad I read it and will pick up The Accidental Mother by the same author.

This was a good read that I will recommend to friends.