Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Diviner's Tale - Bradford Morrow

Cassandra Brooks is already known as the local eccentric. In her 30's, she's the single mother of twin boys and a part time teacher. But it's her side job that has her neighbors watching her with suspicion. She has followed in her father's footsteps and is a diviner of water, a dowser as they are commonly known.

But Cassandra starts to wonder if water isn't the only thing she can divine. On a job for a developer, alone in the woods, Cassandra comes across the body of a girl hanging from a tree. But when we returns with the police, no sign of any thing she saw can be found. Later, a girl is found in the woods, alive, dirty, and lost.

And after that, her visions become darker, more frequent, and Cassandra is forced to confront a past she has tried to forget, and a real life killer who has haunted her since childhood.

This was one of my audio book selections. I enjoyed the story. There was just enough suspense to keep me on the edge of my seat without totally creeping me out. There were moments when Cassandra goes down "memory lane" and it can get a little too lengthy, but it all ties into the story eventually. Overall, I'd rate this one with 4 1/2 stars out of 5. The narrator did an excellent job and the author has produced a nice thriller that is suspensful, but not down right creepy, with  murder, but lacking the gore, and just a hint of romance thrown in for good measure.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Follow The River - James Alexander Thorn

On Wednesday this past week, I got online with the library and downloaded a book to my Kindle. The only thing on my wish list that was available for check out was Follow The River, by James Alexander Thorn. So I checked it out.
I finished it on Saturday, and not any sooner only because I absolutly had to stop reading because my eyes were hurting so badly on Friday. It was one of those troublesome books that won't let me put it away for long, and so I neglect things like sleeping and keeping my husband company.
The story interested me because it is based on real events and people, it's historical, and set in a period of history that interests me greatly. So it was nearly destined to be a winner with me. And about three paragraphs in, I was hooked.
The action starts off right away, and the descriptive writing along with the events of the story and the story telling itself make it a very captivating read.
Follow the River tells the story of Mary Draper Ingles. In 1755, Mary, along with her two children, her sister-in-law, and a neighbor, were taken prisoner during a Shawnee Indian raid of their Virginia settlement. They were taken on a trip of several hundred miles along the rivers and across the peaks of the the Allegheny mountains to the Shawnee town where they were split up and given to different tribal groups.
Mary, determined to get back to her husband and her home, made the heart rending decision to leave her infant daughter, which she'd given birth to on the trail, and slipping away one afternoon, begin the impossible 600 mile trek back home. A woman in the wilderness, where no settlers had ever ventured before, with just a blanket, a tomahawk, her wits and her determination to go home, facing 600 miles of mountain passes and river crossings at the onset of winter.
True story with a remarkable outcome, and now I'm itching to go see these places in Virginia and West Virginia. Just adding to a ridiculously long list of future road trips. My list of "places to go" is like my list of "books to read." Both will be impossible to finish.

Friday, August 3, 2012

The Secret River - Kate Grenville

This was my most recent audio selection. I'd probably give it 3 1/2 or 4 stars. It was interesting and entertaining but it had it's slow moments. I also was frustrated with the main character for not having the morals I hoped he'd demonstrate towards the natives in the story. I wanted him the one voice of reason and kindness and....

Well for the period it's set in, the fact is that Thornhill is written as a real man, and acted exactly how he would have realistically acted at that time.

Which makes sense, since this novel is based on real people and real experiences.

The Secret River is set in and near Sidney, Australia, at it's beginning, when it was where Great Britain dumped it's convicts to rid the country of them.

It's a story of colonial settlement, of reaching beyond the circumstances life plants you in and making the most of them. It's a survival story. It is also an interesting little glimpse into Australia's history.

The Secret River is the first in a trilogy, based on the author's family. I'm not certain if I'll read the other two. I would possibly be interested in listening to them on audio, but my library doesn't always have all the books in a set available. If I can't get them from the library, I don't know if I'll pursue reading them or not. I'm curious to hear the rest of the story, but their are so many other books on my wish list, that if I can't get these for free, I probably won't spend money on them in order to finish the story.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Scent of Rain and Lightning - Nancy Pickard

Ventured forth from my historical novel norm to read a modern day murder mystery. Then again, I didn't get to far from my standard because it's set in a little farming town in Kansas. :) Can't help myself.

Really enjoyable read, just enough suspense and mystery to keep you attentive. About half way through I thought I had it figured out, only to have my theory totally blown out of the water at the end.

Really likable characters who seemed like real people, not so made up for a book. You know what I mean?

So here's the basic gist of the story and then you decide if you want to read it or not, but I really enjoyed it so I'd encourage you to go for it. I've got another of Pickard's mystery novels on my wish list now, another one set in Kansas.

Jody is suspicious of happiness because it always seems to deceive you so that the bad things that follow can sneak up on you. And the bad always follows. When she was three, life was good and happy and then one stormy night her father was murdered and her mother vanished, and she's never trusted happiness since.

Twenty-three years later, life is going well and Jody is happy and suspicious. She's landed a job teaching high school English in her home town, she's surrounded by her loving grandparents and uncles, and has been loved and cared for by the citizens of her home town. But happiness is deceiving and now her uncles are standing in her living room telling her that the man who killed her father is being released from prison and he's coming back home to Rose, KS. His son, Collin, now a lawyer and the one responsible for his father's early release is coming too, convinced his father is innocent of the murders, and determined that Jody is going to take a closer look at the events that happened that night so many years ago.

I checked this book out from the library for my Kindle so you can get it in that version if you want to.

Friday, July 27, 2012

The Blind Contessa's New Machine - Carey Wallace

I loved this book! I would love for everyone to read it. The story is touching, the writing is beautiful, the characters are believable and loveable.  The Blind Contessa's New Machine is set in early 19th century Italy. It is fiction, but based on the invention of the typewriter.  
Carolina is a young woman who loves nature and beauty. Turri is her neighbor and friend, an eccentric inventor who the community accepts, but laughs at behind his back. No one understands him except for Carolina.
Carolina is slowly going blind. She's told her parents and her fiance, but no one believes her. No one except Turri. As her world closes in around her, and darkness claims all the beauty of the world and takes it from her, Turri becomes her closest confidant and friend...and more.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Thirteen Moons - Charles Frazier

This is my third Charles Frazier book, the first two being Cold Mountain and Nightwoods. And once again Frazier took me back to my homeland in the Appalachian mountains with descriptions and voices that conjured up nostalgia in my heart.

Thirteen Moons tells the story of Will Cooper, a boy of twelve who finds himself indentured to a stranger. He's given a map and a key and told to go run the mans store out in the Cherokee Nation in the Appalachian mountains. He quickly develops a bond with the people of the region, adopted by Bear, a Cherokee chief, and warmly welcomed by the community.

Will's story is a story of the search for a home and belonging, fortune and adventure, friendship and loyalty. The adventures he leads and the love he pursues work together to build his character and future.

I really enjoyed this story, and the manner in which it was written. I guess Charles Frazier is just one of those writers who creates a success every time he puts pen to paper.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Next to Love - Ellen Feldman

This book seemed to have mixed reviews on Amazon, but I didn't read them until I was already caught up in the story. Seeing as how I was already caught up, I guess you can assume that I didn't agree with the negative reviews.

Seemed like the biggest complaint was that the story jumped around between character perspectives and went back and forth in time. But I kind of like books that tell you the story from every one's perspective. The time bouncing did get a little confusing, but it didn't disrupt the story, and it wasn't drastic. We're not talking like leaping forward or backward by decades. It would just let one woman tell her part, and then bounce back a year to pick up what someone else was experiencing during the same time and events.

I'm having trouble with words today, so I'm just going to share the synopsis from the author's web page. It describes the story to a 'T'.

"When their men go off to war, Babe, Millie, and Grace, three childhood friends in Massachusetts, live on letters, and in dread of telegrams that can bring only bad news. But as the war drags on, and when peace breaks out, they experience changes that move them in directions they never dreamed possible. The women lose their innocence, struggle to raise their children, and find meaning and love in unexpected places.
And as they change, so does America—from a country in which people know their place in the social hierarchy to a world in which women’s rights, the Civil Rights movement, and technological innovations present new possibilities and uncertainties.
Yet Babe, Millie, and Grace remain bonded by their past, even as their children grow up and away and a new society rises from the ashes of the war.
A story of war, loss, and the scars they leave, Next To Love depicts the enduring power of love and friendship, and illuminates a transformational moment in American history."

This was a great story. I got very involved and attached to characters. I was a little disappointed in the ending. It kind of was anti-climatic, but overall, I'd recommend this book for anyone who is looking for a fulfilling read that they don't have to think too deeply on, but will still move them.