Sunday, April 26, 2009

Tide, Feather, Snow

by Miranda Weiss
For many years I have been intrigued by Alaska. I have heard stories from people who have traveled there, read magazines and books that featured this mysterious place. I have longed to visit, all the while knowing that chances of that happening were slim, at best.

I recently read Not One Drop by Rikki Ott, a book that tells the story of the aftermath of the Exxon Valdez disaster as it relates to Cordova and its people. An engrossing and compelling read, that made me want to learn more.

When this book became available, I knew I wanted to read it, and I am glad to have the opportunity to do so. It too explores the vastness and purity of our forty ninth state. It paints a picture of the beauty as well as the hard core grittiness to be found there. This book takes us across Alaska and allows us to look into the lives and homes of some of the people who have chosen to make the state their home, as well as those who were born there.

I think this is a must read for anyone who enjoys a good adventure story, learning about another way of life, or simply enjoys reading a memoir about someone who is essentially like them, an ordinary person but one who makes extraordinary choices.

Down Around Midnight

by Robert Sabbag

This is a fact filled, mostly unemotional account of the authors experience of a plane crash in 1979.
It was a foggy night and after a delay, Air New England Flight #248 flight left LaGuardia airport, bound for Hyannis.

When the plane went down, killing the pilot and critically injuring the co-pilot, there were ten passengers on board, including Suzanne. She was to play a significant part in the rescue of the survivors. She was in fact, quite a hero that night. The author Robert Sabbag played an important role himself, but this is described dispassionately and with no self importance.

This book, written so many years after the actual event, gives us a unique perspective into how a single event can affect lives forever. The author began by speaking with his own family about the crash, something that had never really been done in the days immediately following. He then found and interviewed other passenger, as well as rescue personnel. The result being one of the most intriguing books I have ever read.

I recommend this book . It is an easy read, and an interesting, if not fascinating topic.
Truth is of course stranger than fiction, and some of the events described here bear that out.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Lake Champlain Islands ( Images of America)

By Tara Liloia

This book contains beautiful pictures and good information. It was obviously well researched. This is the first of the Images of America books that I have read, but it certainly will not be the last. I have found that similar books are available for many areas of the country that I am interested in learning more about. I can only hope that they are as wonderful as the book about the Lake Champlain Islands.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Mystery of Grace

by Charles De Lint

There is a blurb on this book by Alice Hoffman. She said "Nobody does it better".
I don't usually put much stock in these author blurbs, but I have to say that I agree with this one.
I don't remember how I found Charles De Lint, but I am grateful that I did, because as Ms Hoffman says, nobody does it better.

This is the story of Grace. It is a story of life and love and faith, or the loss of it.
It is a story of friendship and commitment and death. Most of all, it is a story that reminds us, as do all of De Lint's books of the magic within us all.

Grace with her tattoos and her grease and her family, the good and the bad,, is each one of us. Grace is more aptly named than you might think at first look. Grace learns to open her heart wider than she ever believed that she could, and see truth.

This is yet another must read in a long line of must reads by this magical author.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Still Life

by Joy Fielding

Joy Fielding is quite a story teller! Casey Marshall has a life that would be envied by nearly anyone. She is young, healthy, beautiful, successful, wealthy and happily married. After a lunch with her two best friends, while walking to her Lexus, she is struck and nearly killed by a speeding SUV.

So much for the perfect life. Fielding brings the horror of being trapped helpless in your own body a new twist. While lying in a hospital bed, Casey can hear all that is said around her, and has no way to communicate to anyone that she is able to do so.

Her younger, and very troubled sister Drew visits, as do her two friends. Janine and Gail. They continue their visits throughout the months that Casey lies unable to connect with them in any way. Her husband Warren makes the decision that Casey would be happier if she were to be taken to her own home, and cared for by professionals he hires.

This really is a wonderful, yet horrifying and suspenseful read. It is a book that you will not want to put down, and I didn't. I have never read anything by this author before, but I absolutely will. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good suspenseful story with a lot of believable twists and turns.

A Final Arc of Sky

by Jennifer Culkin

This book has only one failing as far as I am concerned. It is far too short.

The episodes related in this book range from critical care for infants in PICU units, to lifesaving measures applied while being bounced around in a helicopter. Each of the stories told by the author of her experiences on the job are mirrored by other stories about her personal life. This serves to make a very compelling read.

The style of this author is informal and down to earth. This is a style I enjoy when reading a memoir. It provides a sort of intimacy that is not to be found by a more formal approach.

I will indeed recommend this book to my friends, and I will also hope for a volume II by Jennifer Culkin.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

My Abandonment

by Peter Rock

"Valor consists in the power of self discovery"
There are many such quotations in the book. A book filled with both bits of wisdom and mounting horror. Caroline is a thirteen year old girl. She and her father are homeless, and living in a public forest. It doesn't take long to realize that her father is both mentally ill and very protective and loving in his own peculiar way.

Caroline is "home schooled" meaning that her father, who is not unintelligent, sees to her education. They visit the public library in the town nearest to them. Caroline has encyclopedias which she reads, and she is taught math and an odd sort of philosophy among other things, by her dad.

Although Caroline has been warned to stay out of sight at all times, they do live on public land, and inevitably, one day she is spotted. What follows is enough to give you hope that she will somehow be given an opportunity to live a more typical life.

The characters in this book are compelling, especially Caroline. I was impressed to find a teenage girl so well portrayed by a male writer. There was something very unique about the writing style of this book, the cadence of the text. I found this book to be difficult to put down. It is so easy to become deeply involved in the story, you just want to go on and on. I will recommend this to friends, it is a very good read.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

The Little Stranger

by Sarah Waters

I received this book from Amazon vine. I want to say that Sarah Waters is a favorite author of mine. I have read all of her books, and I have seen the British films made of Tipping the Velvet and Fingersmith. Wonderful on all counts.

I was thrilled to see that a new book was soon to be released, and I was particularly happy to be able to read an advance copy, and not have to wait.

The story mostly takes place at Hundreds, the family estate of the Ayres family. When we are first introduced to this home it is in its heyday, the family at it's peak of social and financial success. The story takes place after the war however, a time when many estates are failing. Hundreds has not escaped this fate.

The Ayres family is doing their best to save their home. In fact, they are struggling even to keep food on the table and feed their livestock on the estate farm. The bulk of the responsibility has fallen on the shoulders of Roderick, the man of the family since his fathers passing. Roderick suffers from emotional and physical injuries sustained in a plane crash while he served his country. The burden of saving the family's home and fortune is almost impossible for him to bear.

Caroline, his older sister busies herself with keeping house and caring for her mother. Roderick will not allow her to help him with what he sees as his duty to the family. Mrs Ayres has perfected the ability to live in denial.

We are introduced to Dr. Farraday, when he is summoned to care for Betty, the young girl who works for the family. He is to play a huge role in this story and the fate of this family.

I am sad to say that none of the characters in this novel appealed to me as much as those in her previous novels. These characters were lackluster and annoying. The story seemed to trudge along, rather than flow naturally as all of Water's other novels do.

Perhaps if one has not become so enamored with the type of novels that Water's has written in the past, one would enjoy it more. I knew this was going to be a bit of a departure for her, but perhaps it is just not what she does best. I am sorry to say that I was disappointed