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02/09/08

  02:31:00 am, by Airycat   , 204 words  
Categories: Book Reviews, Fiction

The Sex Club by L. J. Sellers

The Sex Club, by L. J. Sellers, starts out with a sense that it's going to be preachy about pro choice, but it doesn't take long for it become a very compelling mystery. Detective Wade Jackson is a thoroughly real and likable guy. [In my mind he appeared as Greg Grunberg (Matt Parkman from Heroes).] Wade, Kera and the policemen were all likable characters. Even the Mayor had something likable about him. The mystery was complicated enough to keep me interested and, although I had an idea, I didn't solve it before it was revealed. Sellers has an easy reading style that kept the story moving.

The only part of the story that bothered me, though it may not bother everyone, was the depiction of the Christian characters. Most of them seemed one sided and I don't recall any but the victims being given a likable trait. Sellers needs the kind of character she painted to tell her story, but I wish she had also shown that there are some fundamental Christians who are caring and forgiving, and not merely of their brethren. The stereotypes do exist or there wouldn't be stereotypes, but not everyone is a stereotype in the reality of my experience.

The Sex Club

  02:13:00 am, by Airycat   , 252 words  
Categories: Book Reviews, Fiction

Dreamers of the Day by Mary Doria Russell

I liked Dreamers of the Day by Mary Doria Russell. Agnes Shanklin is as real as any living, breathing person I've met.

The plot of the story is simple. Agnes, an "old maid" (this is about 1921) schoolteacher, takes a trip to Egypt after recovering from the war and the influenza epidemic of 1919. While there, she meets some of the famous statesmen and military men who were "solving" the middle east problem. She also falls in love while there.

The plot is not what held my interest. As Agnes tells her story, you know that she lived through what she is telling. Reading it, I sensed that some of the gaps in my knowledge of the period were being filled without the drudgery of history lectures. I found myself fascinated by a topic that had not particularly interested me before.

I was delighted to read in the acknowledgments at the end, that Ms. Russell had done her homework and invented only Agnes's story. Where it crossed the well known individuals, she kept them true to reality.

While I didn't hate it, I felt the final chapter was added on to express some opinions of the author that didn't naturally fit into the story. The naturalness, and reality, that I loved about the rest of the book fell away here. Though Russell gave hints early on, it just didn't work for me. Nonetheless, the book was a good read and I would recommend it to anyone interested in love stories and/or the early twentieth century.

Dreamers of the Day

01/13/07

  02:52:00 am, by Airycat   , 334 words  
Categories: Book Reviews, Fiction

How Stella Got Her Groove Back by Terry McMillan

What a disappointment! I must have missed something in all the hype about it when it came out. I knew what the premise of the book was. The disappointment is that there is nothing beyond the premise that I can see.

McMillan writes in a very conversational, run-on sentence way. At first this annoyed me, but as I continued to read, I began to appreciate it. It drew me in and created the familiarity I needed to finish the book

McMillan creates good characters. By the end of the book you feel like you know these people, and generally like them. That's a good thing. My favorite character was Stella's son Quincy. There was no one to hate in this novel.

The books fulfills the requirement that a character must change. Stella has changed quite a bit by the end of the book. The whole book is about her obsessing about whether or not she should be falling for Winston, who's half her age. If you like romances and very light reading, I guess it works. I found it boring.

I take it back. There is a little more to it. McMillan also briefly talks about women taking charge of their lives, giving up the "role" they've made for themselves for practical reasons. Had she developed this more, it could have been more interesting. But McMillan doesn't really develop this aspect. Stella was an investment analyst and learned from the job and a mentor, and she was very comfortable financially. She could afford time to figure out where her heart was professionally as well as romantically.

The best part of the book for me was when she first arrives in Jamaica (maybe the second day) and is going through the books she took with her, trying to decide what to read. She comments on all of them -- including Terry McMillan's Waiting to Exhale.

On a five point scale I'd give it a three. It's ok, but I didn't find anything to think about, really.

How Stella Got Her Groove BackHow Stella Got Her Groove Back

11/18/06

  01:57:00 am, by Airycat   , 250 words  
Categories: Book Reviews, Fiction

Jew Girl by EminemsRevenge

If you don't mind a sometimes difficult, quirky (and sometimes annoyingly so) book that will make you think, this might be it.

The Fabric of Life

This book is not for someone looking for light escape fiction. It exposes the everyday reality of life with it's lack of connections and unpredictability while at the same time showing the threads that connect all of us just because we're human. We see how each of us lives in our own world, affected by the world outside and things we can't control, never really knowing what we think we know about someone else and his world.

Ian Odamench sees Reuven as a potential messiah. Some of the women who work with Reuven's mom think he's special, too. Reuven just wants his mom to get well. He's looking for a savior for his dying mom, Eileen. He thinks Jonah is who he is looking for. Jonah has gone through life only barely aware of how he has affected others. Though once part of Eileen's life, he's just looking to get through each day.

For all the connections of the main characters, all the lesser characters have their impact too. No one has a truly minor role. Sometimes it's the character the walk-on role who provides the most significant catalyst. These characters are real whether or not they live on your patch of the fabric of life. This book can be startling, annoying or difficult but ultimately, it reveals the true pattern of the whole.

Jew GirlJew Girl

04/15/06

  01:51:00 am, by Airycat   , 199 words  
Categories: Book Reviews, Fiction, Short Stories

Setting Suns by Elizabeth Donald

Elizabeth Donald's collection of short stories rather deliciously makes a point against the adage that shining a light on our fears makes them go away.

What I liked (??) about this collection is that some of the stories ["Gauntlet," "Memoir," and "Our Turn" from her first (unpublished) novel, Sanctuary] touched the fears hidden within my own soul. Growing up when I did (early cold war), I have a latent fear of the "enemy" attacking. The enemy in these stories is as unknown as the one I feared as a child, and perhaps more worthy of fear. The fear is the same, though not as buried.

Another story that I particularly liked was "Symphony of the Woods." The young heroine of this story has a lovely ability that is apparently both her burden and her salvation.

"Wonderland" takes a look, with a classic science fiction stance, at the fear many have of any new technology -- even some of us who embrace it.

Each of these fifteen stories held my attention and even compelled me to continue. I appreciated the diversity of stories -- from present day psychological tensions to futuristic science fiction, with a dash of fantasy, and not a little adventure.

Setting SunsSetting Suns

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