On Reading, Reviews

If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch #amreading #bookreview

If You Find MeIf You Find Me by Emily Murdoch

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This quick, easy read had me turning pages and staying up late to finish. Most characters are well-crafted, and while the protagonist’s mother seems overly stereotyped, a story told from a teenager’s POV makes this completely acceptable. I thought at first this novel might have ended up categorized as young adult simply because of the young protagonist (as, unfortunately, so many novels lately have tended to fall). As I read on, however, I felt myself wanting to go back and edit this book to encourage the author to rewrite it or an adult audience. The book *almost* makes there… and the places it doesn’t quite get there are SO easily identified. As a young adult novel, it ends up somewhere near a Flowers in the Attic-type of read -a bit too salacious for the teenage set, a bit under-written for more advanced readers. Not a bad read by any stretch (I couldn’t bring myself to give it 3 stars), it easily could have been better.

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On Reading, Reviews

Book Review: Orphan Train

Orphan TrainOrphan Train by Christina Baker Kline

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I picked this up as one of my (many) audiobook selections to listen to while long-run training for a marathon. I normally have a rule that I can only listen while I’m running (to entice myself for one more mile…), but I’ll admit on this one that when it came to the last hour of listening, I just couldn’t wait until the next workout. On top of the story being simply delicious, the readers (Jessica Almasy and Suzanne Toren) blew me away.

I love the historical fiction aspect of the storytelling mixed with the contemporary story, even if the two story lines seemed a bit too neatly, conveniently, tied together. Christina Baker Kline pulled of the transitions with minimal jarring through solid establishment of her main characters (both young Niamh and old Vivian, as well as Molly) and well-placed, though somewhat stereotypical, secondary characters that help keep the reader (listener) grounded.

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On Reading, Reviews, Uncategorized

Book Review: Dear John

Dear JohnDear John by Nicholas Sparks

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I went back and forth for a while between three stars and four for Dear John. Certainly not meant to be high literature, it is engaging and fun. I found the character development solid and the protagonist’s journey believable – two important factors for this kind of summer beach read. Plus, a romantic novel from the man’s point of view (written by a man) is refreshing. I’ve seen claims that Sparks’ books seemed “cookie cutter” so I hadn’t picked any up since A Walk to Remember, but this one was pretty good.

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On Reading, On Writing, Reviews, Spiritual

Book Review: Whispers of Hope

Whispers of Hope: 10 Weeks of Devotional PrayerWhispers of Hope: 10 Weeks of Devotional Prayer by Beth Moore

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I recommend this so highly that I just bought another copy so I can do it again. Using the P.R.A.I.S.E. method, Beth gives tools to and structure to effectively combine journaling with prayer time (Praise, Repentance, Acknowledgement, Intercession, Supplication for Self, and Equipping). I think what I’ve enjoyed the most is looking back through my prayer journal all these months later and getting perspective by seeing what was “so important” to me at that time and how, with God and prayer, I was guided through an unfortunate and ugly situation unscathed.

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On Reading, Reviews

Book Review: Paris in Love

Paris in LoveParis in Love by Eloisa James

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This author came at this memoir from an interesting angle by creating a collection of random, yet cohesive, thoughts from her social media posts. This quirky, fun, fast read was recommended by a friend of mine and I recommend it, as well. Eloisa James is a professor at Fordham who writes historical romance novels. She is married to an Italian, lives in New York, and the memoir is about her year in Paris, so there’s lots of flavors here. Having seen reviews running the gamut of love to hate, I think perhaps I might not have enjoyed it as much if I’d had different expectations. I went into it looking forward to a light summer read, however, and did not walk away disappointed.

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On Reading, Reviews

Book Review: The Secret Life of Bees

The Secret Life of BeesThe Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Secret Life of Bees has been on my “to read” list for years and years. Why I waited so long, I can’t really say. I avoided the movie so I could read the book first; however, I think I may skip the movie altogether because I so thoroughly enjoyed the book.

The well-paced story and solid character development make this a great book for writers to dig into, but I read it this first time through for the sheer pleasure of taking a little mental vacation down to the farm. And being from Columbia, SC, I got a special kick out of all the local references (Bull Street!).

I saw only a couple instances where the timing jumped or the plot thinned enough to break rhythm. This time period in South Carolina was, unfortunately, much more dangerously violent than the book portrays, although I’m not sure being more realistic on that front would have added much to the story. Some of the other “unrealistic” items/passages can easily gloss over within the innocence of the 14 year old storyteller, with the exception of what happens to May. I won’t spoil here – I’ll just note that over the course of a couple pages the book drops from 5 stars to 4 (well, 4 1/2 really, if the ratings would let me) because a carefully crafted character shifts in unbelievable ways (with a terribly forced presentation, to boot!)

Race remains as a hot topic around here, with 2015 seeing the flag over the Capitol finally come down (having flown there since 1961 – the time around this book). I’m not so sure a white girl living with a bunch of black woman wouldn’t raise some eyebrows even today. If you’re looking for a good quick read that is wildly appropriate for Black History Month, this might be your pick.

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