Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Book Thoughts--March 2013

Wow! It's been a really long time since I did a Book Thoughts post. It's not that I haven't been reading--I usually read two to three books at a time. So, I think I'll do a post once a month, or so, and catch up.
Everybody uses some kind of grading system. Since I love coloring almost as much as I love reading books, I decided to use crayons as my guide.

Here is my system:

      1. Sorry, I just couldn't finish this one.

 2. I got through it, but it wasn't memorable.

 3. It had its good parts and its bad parts.

 4. Very few errors. Strong characters and good plot.

 5. Excellent! You need to read this!

Please keep in mind that these thoughts are mine and mine alone. What someone thinks is a boring read may be someone else's idea of the best book they ever read. Don't take my word for it. Please read any of the following books, and feel free to agree or disagree in the comments below. I'd love to hear your opinions!

A Breath of Snow and Ashes  by Diana Gabaldon (Rating: 5)

A Breath of Snow and Ashes (Outlander)

Eagerly anticipated by her legions of fans, this sixth novel in Diana Gabaldon’s bestselling Outlander saga is a masterpiece of historical fiction from one of the most popular authors of our time.
Since the initial publication of Outlander fifteen years ago, Diana Gabaldon’s New York Times bestselling saga has won the hearts of readers the world over — and sold more than twelve million books. Now, A Breath of Snow and Ashes continues the extraordinary story of 18th-century Scotsman Jamie Fraser and his 20th-century wife, Claire.
The year is 1772, and on the eve of the American Revolution, the long fuse of rebellion has already been lit. Men lie dead in the streets of Boston, and in the backwoods of North Carolina, isolated cabins burn in the forest.
With chaos brewing, the governor calls upon Jamie Fraser to unite the backcountry and safeguard the colony for King and Crown. But from his wife Jamie knows that three years hence the shot heard round the world will be fired, and the result will be independence — with those loyal to the King either dead or in exile. And there is also the matter of a tiny clipping from The Wilmington Gazette, dated 1776, which reports Jamie’s death, along with his kin. For once, he hopes, his time-traveling family may be wrong about the future.

The sixth book in the Outlander series is full of romance and history and answers a bunch of questions that come up in the previous books. These books are a great place to lose yourself for a long while. There's only one more to go before I have to patiently wait for the next one. Every one of the Outlander books is thick, so anything else I read feels like a short story. Any of the Outlander books can stand alone but why wouldn't you want to start at the beginning?

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen (Rating: 5)

Water for Elephants: A Novel

Though he may not speak of them, the memories still dwell inside Jacob Jankowski's ninety-something-year-old mind. Memories of himself as a young man, tossed by fate onto a rickety train that was home to the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth. Memories of a world filled with freaks and clowns, with wonder and pain and anger and passion; a world with its own narrow, irrational rules, its own way of life, and its own way of death. The world of the circus: to Jacob it was both salvation and a living hell.
Jacob was there because his luck had run out—orphaned and penniless, he had no direction until he landed on this locomotive "ship of fools." It was the early part of the Great Depression, and everyone in this third-rate circus was lucky to have any job at all. Marlena, the star of the equestrian act, was there because she fell in love with the wrong man, a handsome circus boss with a wide mean streak. And Rosie the elephant was there because she was the great gray hope, the new act that was going to be the salvation of the circus; the only problem was, Rosie didn't have an act—in fact, she couldn't even follow instructions. The bond that grew among this unlikely trio was one of love and trust, and ultimately, it was their only hope for survival. 
Surprising, poignant, and funny, Water for Elephants is that rare novel with a story so engrossing, one is reluctant to put it down; with characters so engaging, they continue to live long after the last page has been turned; with a world built of wonder, a world so real, one starts to breathe its air.
Wow. this book was amazing. When I was a child, I thought the circus life glamorous. I fantasized about running away and joining the circus to be a trapeze artist. This book brought back those fantasies but also showed the dark and ugly side of the circus. If you're a fan of the big top, this is a definite read. 

Talking to the Dead by Bonnie Grove (Rating:  4)

Talking to the Dead: A Novel

Twentysomething Kate Davis can't seem to get this grieving-widow thing right. She's supposed to put on a brave face and get on with her life, right? Instead she's camped out on her living room floor, unwashed, unkempt, and unable to sleep—because her husband, Kevin, keeps talking to her.
Is she losing her mind?
Kate's attempts to find the source of the voice she hears are both humorous and humiliating, as she turns first to an "eclectically spiritual" counselor, then a shrink with a bad toupee, a mean-spirited exorcist, and finally group therapy. There she meets Jack, the warmhearted, unconventional pastor of a ramshackle church, and at last the voice subsides. But when she stumbles upon a secret Kevin was keeping, Kate's fragile hold on the present threatens to implode under the weight of the past . . . and Kevin begins to shout.
Will the voice ever stop? Kate must confront her grief to find the grace to go on, in this tender, quirky story about second chances.

This book had me laughing and crying all within one chapter. Very well written with great characters. I found this book very hard to put down, but I had to--I needed to do stuff! If you can, make time to read this gem in one sitting. 

Strangers In Death by JD Robb (Nora Roberts) (Rating: 5)

Strangers in Death

In 2060 New York, Lieutenant Eve Dallas is about to discover how the ties that bind strangers can kill.

I'm a really big fan of the 'In Death' series. Set in 2060 New York, where soda is sold in small tubes, money is in the form of credits, and coffee is a luxury. Eve is a tough cop with a soft vulnerable center, but she almost always gets justice for the victim. Her gazillionaire husband, Roarke, is Irish and wonderful and  sounds like the perfect man. I hope they never make this series into a movie. No actor could ever be right for his part. If you like mysteries, try one of these books, but again, you might want to start at the beginning.


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