Year of the Bookwormz: 2011

52 weeks. 2 friends. 1 challenge.

Book #15: LibraryLove March 7, 2010

Raven Stole The Moon by Garth Stein

Book description: In this haunting debut, Garth Stein brilliantly invokes his Native American heritage and its folklore to create an electrifying supernatural thriller. When a grieving mother returns to the remote Alaskan town where her young son drowned, she discovers that the truth about her son’s death is shrouded in legend—and buried in a terrifying wrinkle between life and death.

Coloring powerful legend with universal emotions, Garth Stein masterfully evokes our most primal dreams and fears. Remarkably vivid and relentlessly suspenseful, Raven Stole the Moon marks the arrival of a stunningly imaginative new talent.

Has anything ever been stolen right out from under you? Can you describe the feeling that comes over you when you mourn the loss of a friend or loved one? It’s pretty intense and hard to articulate with the proper nuance, yes? Does it feel like your whole world has gone dark? Almost as if the moon is no longer present in the night sky to guide you on your way? Have you ever gotten out of bed in the middle of the night and struggle finding your way without a nightlight, feeling lost just on the way to the bathroom? That’s what Jenna, Raven’s main character must have felt when her young son Bobby, drowned in an unfortunate  accident. The surrounding events and its toll on Jenna and her husband Robert, are the basis of this novel.

One of my FAVORITE things about reading is to uncover through my inference, or the author’s intent, the meaning behind the book title. For me, Raven was not just about the Native American fable Stein spells out in the book. But rather the idea that sometimes a life loss sucks the light out from under us and a dark cloud moves in. Anyone with a heart can relate to this.

Don’t want to dwell, but for most of us who have one time or another felt that immeasurable loss, I recommend you read Raven. And if you’re going to read this book, I recommend you take a sick day, take a vacation, do whatever you can to hole yourself up for uninterrupted quality reading time! You will NOT want to put this book down. If you do, it’ll make you cranky because you want to keep reading- trust me, I know from experience 😉

Due to a jam-packed birthday celebration schedule (I know, woe is me, where’s the violin? saucer of milk?), this week didn’t afford me the opportunity for much uninterrupted reading time. However, I sacrificed sleep to read, it was that good! I say the above, because although Raven was SUCH a departure from Stein’s second novel, Art of Racing in the Rain, which is on my short list of best books I’ve ever read, their differences make them each all the more powerful in my eyes.  They’re both amazing books for different reasons. I don’t want to give too much away about either book, but I recommend you read Art of Racing first, as I did.  I love to hear about how/when books find you and their impact on your life. After reading Art of Racing, I felt so fulfilled, satisfied with the ending, and with a goofy grin on my face. I told all my friends. Many of them went to their local libraries and both read it AND loved it immediately. It  forever changed, for the better, the relationship I have with my pets.  Because I loved Art of Racing so much, I decided to check out Stein’s other novels on Paperbackswap last fall. Sure enough, one of the (now out of print) copies was available! I had a stockpile of credits, so there it sat on my bookshelf. I grew busy with library books and book club reads that I forgot all about it. Last Sunday, Planetbooks mentioned she’d been approached by Stein’s new publisher asking if she’d kindly read and review it, as she did for Art of Racing, to promote the re-release and drum up some more interest and internet/blog traffic. When Planetbooks mentioned it, I nearly leapt out of my seat and suggested we read it together. We could compare notes and send texts back and forth sharing our thoughts. I’ve had the book and been waiting to read it, this was the perfect excuse. She had a short window of time and needed to read and review it within a week, to coincide with Raven’s re-release. Knowing myself, I knew that this would be no problem for me, and that I was actually just finishing another book that same evening and could start the following day!

I’m really looking forward to getting to meet Garth Stein at one of his book events this year. Chatting with one of my favorite authors will be a dream come true for me. Art of Racing will without question remain one of my top five books of all time, but recommend you give Raven a try- the action never quits!

5/5 stars

15 down,  37 to go!

In progress- Three Cups of Tea (Audiobook), Waiting for Daisy

Xoxo,

LibraryLove


 

Author’s Spotlight::Beth Hoffman::

Did you enjoy my review of Saving CeeCee Honeycutt?

I loved that book so much I had to do a feature on Beth Hoffman. After a career in one of her life passions (interior design), Beth had the chance to pursue her other passion, writing. When she suffered group A streptococcal infection that resulted in septic shock and was forced to reevaluate her life, she seized the opportunity. She spent the next four years writing her debut and, in my opinion, exploded onto the literary scene! If you haven’t picked up Saving CeeCee Honeycutt yet, I am confident it is the first of many delightful stories to come from Beth Hoffman!

Check out my review of Saving CeeCee Honeycutt and visit Beth’s website. And this bookworm is following her Event Schedule hoping she makes it to the nation’s capital! Maybe I’ll see you there!

Happy Reading!

~Fabookulous~

 

Book #8: Fabookulous

Following Jesus: Biblical Reflections on Discipleship by N.T. Wright

Book description: “The longer you look at Jesus,” writes N.T. Wright, “the more you will want to serve him in his world. That is, of course, if it’s the real Jesus you’re looking at.”

Plenty of people in the church and outside it have made up a “Jesus” for themselves, an invented character who makes few real demands on them. He makes them feel happy from time to time, but he doesn’t challenge them, doesn’t suggest they get up and do something about the plight of the world- something the real Jesus had an uncomfortable habit of doing.

N.T. Wright has already written about the search for Jesus in his book, Who Was Jesus? In Following Jesus Wright talks about the “so what?” that necessarily follows from that search.

The twelve exhilarating meditations in this volume explore what it truly means to follow Jesus today. Wright first outlines the essential messages of six major New Testament books- Hebrews, Colossians, Matthew, John, Mark, and Revelation- looking in particular at their portrayal of Jesus and what he accomplished in his sacrificial death. Wright then takes six key New Testament themes- resurrection, rebirth, temptation, hell, heaven, and new life- and considers their significance for the lives of present-day disciples.

Though I think N.T. Wright offers great ideas and intelligence, this book wasn’t the typical Christian read for me. I found it to be a bit “scholarly” for lack of a better word. It definitely wasn’t a book I couldn’t put down as I found I had to motivate myself to pick it back up. There have been Christian authors that I’ve struggled to read before, and its not to say I ‘struggled’ with this book. But I did find myself reading the words without hearing them. In one ear out the other.

Perhaps I felt rushed because while reading this, the library emailed to say that several of the books I was waiting for became available to me and because there was a wait list, I couldn’t check them out more than once. I admit I may not have given this book a fair chance. That being said, there are a lot of other Christian themed books that have really made an impression on me and I’ve retained a lot from. So if you are a believer seeking wisdom on discipleship, don’t let me sway you. Try this one for yourself.

As for me, 3/5 stars.

~Fabookulous~

 

Book #7: Fabookulous

Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman

Book description: Twelve-year-old CeeCee Honeycutt is in trouble. For years, she has been the caretaker of her psychotic mother, Camille- the tiara-toting, lipstick-smeared laughingstock of an entire town- a woman trapped in her long-ago moment of glory as the 1951 Vidalia Onion Queen. But when tragedy strikes, CeeCee is left to fend for herself. To the rescue comes her previously unknown great-aunt, Tootie Caldwell.

In her vintage Packard convertible, Tootie whisks CeeCee away to Savannah’s perfumed world of prosperity and Southern eccentricity, a world that seems to be run entirely by women. From the exotic Miz Thelma Rae Goodpepper, who skinny-dips in her backyard bathtub and uses garden slugs as her secret weapon, to Tootie’s all-knowing housekeeper, Oletta Jones, to Violene Hobbs, who entertains a local police officer in her canary-yellow peignoir, the women of Gaston Street keep CeeCee entertained and enthralled for an entire summer.

Laugh-out-loud funny and deeply touching, Beth Hoffman’s sparkling debut hums with wacky humor and down-home heart. It explores the indomitable strengths of female friendship and gives us the story of a young girl who loses one mother and finds many others. Above all, it is a book full of feminine wisdom- one to cherish, remember, and share.

I do not know where to begin because I cannot say enough good things about this book! I loved the fact that the main character is 12 and the story is through her eyes. It was fun to live the story through a child’s eyes. The innocence, the humor, the confusion. I completely lost myself in this book as I remembered how I viewed the world at such a young age.

CeeCee is an extremely lovable main character and very relatable. I found myself wishing I could give her a hug and encourage her. Call me crazy for getting so involved, but this book ran like a movie through my mind the entire time. Yes, I realize that’s what happens when you read, but I mean I was ON the streets of Georgia with them, I was at the roadside lunch outside the jewelry shop, I was next door watching Miz Goodpepper with CeeCee and I sat down at the kitchen table with Oletta and CeeCee during breakfast. I loved everything about this book and will recommend it to whoever needs suggestions!

This book reminded me a lot of the movie Steel Magnolias and I loved the sweet southern belles and all their hospitable endeavors. I laughed out loud at the tales of friendship and I enjoyed all the surprises throughout the book. For a 306 page book, I feel I spent every part of that summer with them. Beth Hoffman did a superb job in her storytelling and I love that this was her debut novel as now I will follow her career!

You know how sometimes you see a movie and you really like it, and then it’s announced that a sequel will be made? And you know how it makes you wonder if it will be as good as the original? In the same way, I thought this book was so entertaining and enjoyable that I wonder if Beth Hoffman could even top herself! That’s not in any way to doubt her creativity or capabilities as an author, but rather to say how refreshing and wonderful this debut novel was! It’s been a long time since I’ve related to characters so well and Beth is a marvel at creating characters you will wish were your friends and neighbors. CeeCee’s aunt Tootie makes you feel right at home among her house and her friends. They are one big happy Georgia family!

I couldn’t put this one down from the minute I got it at the library. And now I can say I have proudly purchased my very own copy, not only to lend to friends but to get signed if/when I meet Beth on her book tour! I highly recommend for anyone looking for a good read. Women will especially enjoy this as it develops the beautiful friendships between women where we can talk and laugh and fight and cry and make up and still love each other in this crazy thing called life. Please, grab some sweet tea and find a spot outside and step into the southern world of Savannah with CeeCee!

5 out of 5 stars!

~Fabookulous~