Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Over the Moon at the Big Lizard Diner by Lisa Wingate

I think that I really like Lisa Wingate. The only other book I've read of hers is Talk of the Town, which I really liked. This one is along the same lines.

It takes place in Texas, where Lindsey Atwood has gone to spend some time with her family and friends while her daughter is spending some time with her dad (Lindsey's ex-husband) in Mexico.

I don't like writing summaries.

I like it when main characters are dynamic--where they experience growth. In this book Lindsey:  learns to trust her ex-husband a little, she investigates a mystery, she lets her little girl grow up a bit AND she meets someone she may be able to fall in love with.

Yup, this is a romance. And it's squeaky clean and uplifting as well. I didn't find it quite as engaging as Talk of the Town, but I liked it well enough to be very interested in reading the rest of Lisa Wingate's books. I like her characters, I like her settings (she makes Texas look like such a great place to live!) and I love her clean romances.

Chalice by Robin McKinley

Robin McKinley is one of my all-time favorite authors, and this book does not disappoint. It is unusual and very lovely.

Mirasol has always been sensitive to the earthlines, but she never expected a call to be Chalice. The violent deaths of the former master and chalice have left the demesne in a chaotic state and not only does Mirasol have to figure out how to be Chalice, and try to balance the earthlines, but she must also work with a new Master who is not quite human.

I so loved this book. It took me a while to figure out what was going on, but I enjoyed every minute of trying to get the big picture of this story. I loved that Mirasol was a beekeeper--Robin McKinley draws such lovely pictures of the bees and their relationship with Mirasol.

Robin McKinley is a lyrical and original writer. All her stories are all her own, full of bright characters and rich settings. I really, really enjoyed this book.

Gift of Magic by Lynn Kurland

This is the last installment of the Nine Kingdoms story of Sarah of Doire and Ruithneadh of Ceangail. Their story started in A Tapestry of Spells and continued in Spellweaver.

This book was pretty good--a satisfying end to a good saga. I really like Sarah and Ruith, so I enjoyed reading the conclusion of their story. And of course I always appreciate how very clean Lynn Kurland's romances are. I really like that. There's chemistry, but no sex scenes. 

There wasn't as much action in this book as some of the others and it felt a little more meandering...a little like filling pages rather than the plot driving the story. And it bugs me just a little bit that even though we know Sarah and Ruith are very much in love, there's still the silly little places where Ruith sees Sarah is angry and is in doubt as to whether or not she's going to pull her knives on him. Oh please. And they seem to always be uncertain of each other even after significant commitments have been made between them. That's irritating. It's like the romance resolves and then is uncertain over and over again.

Aside from those minor irritations, I liked the resolution of their "mission". It was a little bit unexpected and definitely interesting. I was glad to have their romance finally settled. It was a good book. I have enjoyed reading the Nine Kingdom series, especially these last 3 books. Will we read more about the Nine Kingdoms? Probably. I'll look forward to it, I think.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Princess Academy by Shannon Hale

I really like Shannon Hale but I had put off reading this book because of the title--silly, I know, but I kind of have to be in the mood to read a "princess" book.

However, I was surprised by this book! It's not really a "princess" book at all. It's a book about courage, change, education, friendship, family, love and a little bit of mysticism. I really liked it.

It's set in the mountains in an extremely remote village where the only industry is the quarry. In fact, to these people, the quarry is everything. But what happens when it is decreed that the prince will choose his bride from among the girls in this village? More than you can imagine, actually.

This is the kind of book that I enjoy most. It has: strong characters that change through adversity, varied positive messages, and an uplifting ending. I guess it's been marketed for the voracious female "tween" market, but it's a sweet read for anyone. Highly recommended.

Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner

I actually read this book several years before I started this blog. I've been thinking about "good writing" lately and this book came immediately to mind--without its title or author. Of course. So after searching for and finding it on the internet, I decided to add it to the blog.

This is probably the most beautifully written book I've read in a very long time. I found the language transporting. Who writes like this today? I can't think of a single person. Suggestions, anyone?

However, the reason I do not have this book in my collection is because the story itself is heartbreaking. In common with so much beautiful literature, the writing is fantastic but the story is not. Why is this? In today's literature it seems almost as though the story trumps the writing and, while there is nothing actually wrong with this, I would really love to read a book that has both transporting language AND an uplifting story line.

This is the story of a refined Eastern young lady who falls in love with and marries (and ultimately betrays and is never forgiven by) a rough and gifted Western young man. Stegner sets this on the Western frontier and he makes that time come vibrantly alive.  Several years and hundreds of books later, I still have bright pictures in my mind of his characters and their surroundings. This is truly a memorable book.

If you have the stomach for an unhappy ending and have a desire to read some truly wonderful writing, give this book a try.