Year of the Bookwormz: 2011

52 weeks. 2 friends. 1 challenge.

Book F: LibraryLove April 17, 2011

Salem Falls by Jodi Picoult

Book description~ love can redeem a man…but secrets and lies can condemn him.A handsome stranger comes to the sleepy New England town of Salem Falls in hopes of burying his past: once a teacher at a girls’ prep school, Jack St. Bride was destroyed when a student’s crush sparked a powder keg of accusation. Now, washing dishes for Addie Peabody at the Do-Or-Diner, he slips quietly into his new routine, and Addie finds this unassuming man fitting easily inside her heart. But amid the rustic calm of Salem Falls, a quartet of teenage girls harbor dark secrets — and they maliciously target Jack with a shattering allegation. Now, at the center of a modern-day witch hunt, Jack is forced once again to proclaim his innocence: to a town searching for answers, to a justice system where truth becomes a slippery concept written in shades of gray, and to the woman who has come to love him.

Wow. Jodi does it again. And  yes, I do realize that I’m way behind as I’m reading this after all her other more recent works. But this,  as my friends hypothesized, is now one of my all time favorite Jodi books right up with 19 Minutes. She has such an amazing gift for nuance and amazing character depth. I’m glad to have enjoyed her evolving style and much prefer the way she gives each character their own chapters in her current works, where in her older novels she just separates with a bit of space. It’s a bit more distracting with just a new paragraph when the character’s voice changes, making me appreciate her current style that much more.

Regardless of your beliefs about the legal system, the way she incorporates true-to-life courtroom drama into her novels is something that truly fascinates me. Her ability to not “preach” but rather show the reader all sides of each story is so unique, and not done nearly enough by modern authors. I feel like I’ve learned so much about courtroom happenings just from her books. She does amazing amounts of research to bring this town to its knees over a very controversial and always current topic, incorporating Wicca, teen angst, hormones gone crazy, family struggle, redemption and vindication all in one.

I just adored the dynamic between Addie and Jack. The mystery. The passion. One of my favorite moments was when Jack took it upon himself to break the chain of hurt and changed Chloe’s room . I loved Addie’s open heart and the way Jack brought redemption to her lost soul. This book carried me away with it and I really enjoyed the long stretches of time I had to devote to this book while traveling in airports throughout the last few days. My flights  flew by (pun intended) because I was so intertwined in the characters of Salem Falls. Bottom line, this is a fantastic novel and timeless whether you read it when it was first published or 10 years from now. Th issues, the characters, the dynamics are forever apropos.

5/5 stars

7 down, 19 to go!

In progress, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother

xoxo,

Library♥Love


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Book #49: LibraryLove November 28, 2010

The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May & June by Robin Benway

Book description~ I hugged my sisters and they fit against my sides like two jigsaw pieces that would never fit anywhere else. I couldn’t imagine ever letting them go again, like releasing them would be to surrender the best parts of myself. Three sisters share a magical, unshakeable bond in this witty high-concept novel from the critically acclaimed author of Audrey, Wait! Around the time of their parents’ divorce, sisters April, May, and June recover special powers from childhood—powers that come in handy navigating the hell that is high school. Powers that help them cope with the hardest year of their lives. But could they have a greater purpose? April, the oldest and a bit of a worrier, can see the future. Middle-child May can literally disappear. And baby June reads minds—everyone’s but her own. When April gets a vision of disaster, the girls come together to save the day and reconcile their strained family. They realize that no matter what happens, powers or no powers, they’ll always have each other. Because there’s one thing stronger than magic: sisterhood.

Phew. After FOUR, yes, FOUR Thanksgivings meals shared with both family and friends over the last few days, I finally had this morning and afternoon COMPLETELY unscheduled and uninterrupted to read, read, read like the wind! Although I enjoyed every moment of spending time with friends, families, and babies this weekend, I’ve felt the pressure of this challenge now more than ever. Back in the summer, I was inundated with books to read and review and unfortunately didn’t get to them all. This book fell by the wayside and I finally got around to it this week. Special thanks to Penguin Books and Young Adult (YA) author Robin Benway for sending me this galley copy of April, May & June to review. What a fun and unexpected read! Although I do enjoy the YA genre from time to time, this story was really well-written and could be enjoyed by adults and not just young readers.

“No thanks. I know smoking kills and all that but also, you get these really weird pucker lines around your mouth. And I haven’t been using moisturizer every night since I was ten for no reason. “

The story is focused around the three sisters, named sequentially after the months in which they were each born, each with unique abilities (think Jedi mind tricks!). Dealing with the emotions of being a teenager is more than enough for these three girls. Add on to that a painful divorce for the girls’ mother and you have yourself the starting threads for this fun, suspenseful tale of love, sisterhood, and teen angst. The girls are trying to navigate through high school while missing their father, who now lives states away. The girls’ mother starts to date and so too, do the girls. However, as I was trying to sink my teeth into this quick read, my main criticism is that the mysterious and suspenseful juicy rising action of the plot line didn’t unfurl until almost 200 pages in, then the book suddenly halts and leaves the reader wanting more. I loved April & her love interest Julian’s storyline; I would have much preferred more of them than some of the other extraneous half-developed characters. What is it with most YA novels these days? YOUNG kids are reading 600+ pages of Harry Potter and/or Lord of the Rings; why can’t YA books go a little more in-depth too??

This was a fun and for the most part lighthearted book. Although rated as Young Adult, many of the “party scenes” in this book, to me, wouldn’t be what I’d want my teenager reading. Alright, off I go to enjoy the afternoon with my hubby and puppies in front of the fireplace and excited to crack open of my friends’ suggested reading of The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet. Off I go….stay tuned!

3/5 stars

49 down, 3 to go!

xoxo,

LibraryLove


 

Book #46: LibraryLove November 12, 2010

ROOM by Emma Donoghue

Book description~ To five-year-old Jack, Room is the entire world. It is where he was born and grew up; it’s where he lives with his Ma as they learn and read and eat and sleep and play. At night, his Ma shuts him safely in the wardrobe, where he is meant to be asleep when Old Nick visits.

Room is home to Jack, but to Ma, it is the prison where Old Nick has held her captive for seven years. Through determination, ingenuity, and fierce motherly love, Ma has created a life for Jack. But she knows it’s not enough…not for her or for him. She devises a bold escape plan, one that relies on her young son’s bravery and a lot of luck. What she does not realize is just how unprepared she is for the plan to actually work.

Told entirely in the language of the energetic, pragmatic five-year-old Jack, ROOM is a celebration of resilience and the limitless bond between parent and child, a brilliantly executed novel about what it means to journey from one world to another.

First, I want to say a special thank you to both Little Brown & Hachette Book Companies for sending me a complimentary copy of Emma Donoghue’s ROOM to read and review on the blog. Shortlisted for the 2010 Man Booker Prize, I had a gut feeling that this book be such an amazing read, I selected it for December book club discussion sight unseen. I couldn’t be happier and can’t wait to discuss this book at length. This year is all about reading outside my comfort zone and for someone who isn’t particularly fond of small spaces, this book fit the bill.

For Jack’s 21-year-old ‘Ma’, ROOM is a story about survival; for Jack, ROOM is his whole world and he is content with the 11×11 space he’s be confined to, up until his 5th birthday, when his life is turned upside down. Kidnapped when she was 19 years old, Ma’s incredible story of a mother’s love is so strong, she puts everything aside to create a safe world for her son, her only reason for living, with what little she has. Ma loves her son and holds strong to hope.

Without spoiling the awesome plot twists, ROOM will shock you, but you will keep on reading because the idea alone, is gripping and enthralling. I don’t know about you, but I cannot even wrap my MIND around the idea of being held captive for 7 years, from 19-26, then to mother a child from my captor, and be forced to raise him in captivity?? And the implications if we ever got out? Emotionally? Developmentally? Psychologically? What would life be like? How would I explain the grass, the sky, the rain, a barking dog to my son? For Ma, love for her son propelled her to do the impossible; plot escape…

“Jack, he’d never give us a phone or a window. We’re like people in a book, and he won’t let anybody else read it.”

ROOM is officially on my short list of life-changing novels. No matter who you are, I can guarantee you will feel changed by this book. I literally could not put this book down. I was so consumed by it, which conveniently created an awesome diversion from my reality of the last 3 weeks. Sidebar: My mom is still in the hospital, although finally on the upswing. Being by her bedside brought such comfort so when she slept, I would read. My husband and Mom love to hear the synopsis of the books I read, so of course, they were both so intrigued because this is loosely adapted from a true story, they kept joking with me to hurry up and finish because they too, wanted to know Jack and Ma’s fate.

“I drove myself crazy looking at my watch and counting the seconds. Things spooked me, they seemed to get bigger or smaller while I was watching them, but if I looked away they started sliding. When he finally brought the TV, I left it on twenty-four/seven, stupid stuff, commercials for food I remembered, my mouth hurt watching it all. Sometimes I heard voices from the TV telling me things. “

Even halfway through this book, before I’d gotten to the twist, I was so engaged and haunted. I’ve been texting back and forth with some of the book club babes who have already stepped into ROOM; this is definitely a book you’ll want to discuss with friends immediately after!

“I keep messing up. I know you need me to be your Ma but I’m having to remember how to be me as well at the same time and it’s…”

I love the choices Donoghue made, and she is truly an artist of the written word. I felt like I was with Jack the entire time. Her ability to believably create a world where as the reader, we are seeing the world through Jack’s 5-year-old naive eyes, was done is such a genuine way. The first 20 pages or so, I was a bit thrown off by the ‘child-speak’ tone, I had to get my bearings. ROOM reminded me of Flowers for Algernon a bit. But once I sunk my teeth into the story, I didn’t notice the choppy language because it added so much depth to the story.

“I mean of course when I woke up in that shed, I thought nobody’d every had it as bad as me. But the thing is, slavery’s not a new invention. And solitary confinement- did you know, in America we’ve got more than twenty-five thousand prisoners in isolation cells? Some of them for more than twenty years. As for kids, there are places where babies lie in orphanages five to a cot with pacifiers taped into their mouths, kids getting raped by Daddy every night. Kids in prisons, whatever, making carpets till they go blind. “

Rich in intensity and naivete, the book is paced perfectly. Although I definitely finished ROOM wanting to know more and wanting to keep reading, Donoghue does such a perfect job of tying up the novel giving it a truly satisfying ending.  I want to write so much more but a) I simply WILL not give anything away because I really want you to read ROOM!, and b) I’m so beyond exhausted and now must go pack for a week-long business trip.

Aye carumba!

5/5 stars

46 down, 6 to go!

In progress- Anything But Typical

xo♥xo,

LibraryLove

 

Book #43: LibraryLove October 24, 2010

Strangers At The Feast by Jennifer Vanderbes

Book description~  On Thanksgiving Day 2007, as the country teeters on the brink of a recession, three generations of the Olson family gather. Eleanor and Gavin worry about their daughter, a single academic, and her newly adopted Indian child, and about their son, who has been caught in the imploding real-estate bubble. While the Olsons navigate the tensions and secrets that mark their relationships, seventeen-year-old Kijo Jackson and his best friend Spider set out from the nearby housing projects on a mysterious job. A series of tragic events bring these two worlds ever closer, exposing the dangerously thin line between suburban privilege and urban poverty, and culminating in a crime that will change everyone’s life.

I must first thank Alexis Gargagliano and Wendy Sheanin at Simon & Schuster for sending me a copy of Strangers at the Feast to read and review. From the moment I read the inside book jacket, I couldn’t wait to read this novel, as the autumn weather rolls in and the season of giving thanks draws near.

Race, class, and family are three of the big ideas at the heart of Strangers as the Olson family members observe and learn things about each other around the Thanksgiving Day table they would never have expected….

Through the use of multiple narrators, Strangers is told in what is becoming the most popular writing-style.  The story unfolds on Thanksgiving Day in 2007, through each of the Olson family member’s eyes, both in past and present. We are led inside the hearts and minds of both Eleanor and Gavin’s characters, as the Matriarch and Patriarch of the family, but also inside their children’s and spouses hearts and minds. Instead of the typical construction of a novel,  where the rising action develops in a ‘steady-little-tug-boat’ type way, in Strangers, as the reader, we are strung along until the very last possible moment and then foiled completely and utterly.   I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough and could never have predicted the way the story would unfold.  Normally, I would criticize this; instead, Vanderbes does the artful job of burying little ‘Easter Eggs’ for the reader to discover, piquing curiosity enough to keep turning the page along the way.

“At worst, he thought Ginny would overcook the turkey. He’d been prepared, out of sibling loyalty, to drench slices of Ginny’s holiday char in his mother’s gravy and give a heartfelt yum.  But he’d counted on stuffing, vegetables, dessert. Was this her plan? Deprive them of football and food and teach them some kind of history lesson? See! This is what Thanksgiving was like for indentured servants in seventeenth- century Virginia!”

If one hadn’t read the book jacket to know there was a catastrophic twist coming, you’d simply read this book thinking this was a nice multigenerational story, written with excellent characterization, about enjoying Thanksgiving and learning about each other’s struggles, many of which are buried quietly and deep under the surface…until you read the bombshell on page 149 ending the chapter with this:

“Denise opened the door, through it would be hard later for Ginny to remember if Denise used her keys. Everyone was talking and carrying things. It would be difficult to say with certainty if the door had been locked.”

Chills ran up and down my spine. I wondered what on earth would happen next. Yet it took another 100+ pages to finally work us up to the peak of the rising action, which was indeed worth the wait!

“As the detective expected, the case got the entire city talking. Diana Velasquez was the reporter who finally realized that five white adults plus two dead, unarmed black kids equaled one major story. Having worked at the paper for a decade, she knew to double-check the police blotter every night in the hopes that the cub reporters missed something. She knew that a shooting in the North End would sell papers. When word got out about the stone knife in Kijo Jackson’s pockets, a Siwanoy Indain relic, Diana dubbed the incident the Thanksgiving Day Massacre. “

Tragedy strikes the Olson Family at a most unlikely time- their Thanksgiving meal, as a result of a previous business decision that rocks the family, neighborhood, and city for years to come.

Intrigued? Pick up Strangers at the Feast; you won’t want to put it down.

This Thanksgiving, what will you be thankful for?

4/5 stars

43 down, 9 left!!!!!!!! In the homestretch. Zzzz

In progress- The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake (audiobook) and Burnt Toast

xo♥xo,

LibraryLove


 

Book #40: LibraryLove September 18, 2010

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

Book description~ When Margaret Lea opened the door to the past, what she confronted was her destiny. All children mythologize their birth… So begins the prologue of reclusive author Vida Winter’s collection of stories, which are as famous for the mystery of the missing thirteenth tale as they are for the delight and enchantment of the twelve that do exist. The enigmatic Winter has spent six decades creating various outlandish life histories for herself — all of them inventions that have brought her fame and fortune, but kept her violent and tragic past a secret. Now old and ailing, at last she wants to tell the truth about her extraordinary life. She summons biographer Margaret Lea, a young woman for whom the secret of her own birth, hidden by those who loved her most, remains an ever-present pain. Struck by a curious parallel between Miss Winter’s story and her own, Margaret takes on the commission.

As Vida disinters the life she meant to bury for good, Margaret is mesmerized. It is a tale of gothic strangeness featuring the Angelfield family including the beautiful and willful Isabelle, the feral twins Adeline and Emmeline, a ghost, a governess, a topiary garden and a devastating fire.

This modern-day ‘chunkster’ and piece of literary fiction is written beautifully with a Gothic-style undertone sure to transform you right along with the story AND make your heart pound! Remember how magically transformative movies like The Princess Bride and The Neverending Story were when we first watched them as kids? Remember how halfway through the movie, we’d forget the main character was reading a story? Or as adults, watching The Sixth Sense, when nothing was as it seemed?? This is exactly how I felt while reading The Thirteenth Tale (TTT). The beginning was a bit rocky; I wasn’t sure where the author was going with things. But quickly, after Margaret Lea makes a bone-chilling discovery about her past, she decides to take an offer she can’t refuse.

As the reader, I was transported right along with Margaret to the remote English countryside after accepting the offer to write the sought-after biography of notorious and dying author, Vida Winter. Less than 50 pages in, I was sending fevered texts to some of my book club babes who had already read TTT so I could share in the ride with them. I think if you’re interested in starting your own book club, or just for fun reading a book along with a friend, TTT is a great one to start with; it’s a definite conversation piece, will certainly keep your interest, and spark much conversation.

Biographer Lea couldn’t have predicted the parallels between her life and Miss Winter’s but it is quickly made clear that the adventure she embarked upon will change her on every level. And Miss Winter, although known for her ability to create vivid mockeries when asked to share about her personal life, opens up in such unlikely ways; you have to read to believe it…

“I shall start at the beginning. Though of course the beginning is never where you think it is. Our lives are so important to use that we tend to think the story of them begins with our birth. First there was nothing, then I was born…yet that is not so. Human lives are not pieces of string that can be separated out from a knot of others and laid out straight. Families are webs. Impossible to touch one part of it without setting the rest vibrating. Impossible to understand one part without having a sense of the whole.” – Vida Winter

Although I never would have picked up TTT on my own, I’m so glad it was chosen by one of the book club babes as the October selection.

As usual, I don’t like to reveal too much plot information in my reviews. For a synopsis, you can always read the book description up top. But I want to share some of my reactions while whetting your appetite and hopefully intrigue you enough to want to read this book. I don’t want you going into this novel with too many preconceived notions; just know you will not be disappointed!

“As I started to sleepwrite my questions, the margin seemed to expand. The paper throbbed with light. Swelling, it engulfed me, until realized with a mixture of trepidation and wonderment that I was enclosed in the grain of the paper, embedded in the white interior of the story itself. Weightless, I wandered all night long in Miss Winter’s story, plotting its landscape, measuring its contours, and on tiptoe at its borders, peering at the mysteries beyond its bounds.” – Margaret

One criticism- I wish Margaret’s character was as dimensional as Miss Winter’s character. I’m sure Setterfield did this on purpose, to draw the reader closer to Miss Winter, but I still would have liked Margaret’s character developed a bit more.

TTT was such a fantastic palette cleanser of a book. If you’re looking for a quirky, mysterious, dark and enthralling departure from the norm, I highly recommend TTT as a great way to dive into your fall reading. Special thanks to Tiffany for picking this for October.  I look forward to hearing about everyone’s thoughts.

4.5/5 stars

40 down, 12 to go!

In progress- Stash (Advanced Review Copy)

Xo♥xo,

LibraryLove

PS- sidenote….after our bookclub discussion and two of the book club babes couldn’t stop raving about how well done the audiobook was, I simply HAD to get it from the library. I can’t believe I’m saying this but I now look forward to sitting in traffic getting to re-read this amazing book again knowing what I now know! 🙂


 

Book #38: LibraryLove August 15, 2010

The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkaupf

Book description~ It happens quietly one August morning. As dawn’s shimmering light drenches the humid Iowa air, two families wake to find their little girls have gone missing in the night.  Seven-year-old Calli Clark is sweet, gentle, a dreamer who suffers from selective mutism brought on by a tragedy that pulled her deep into silence as a toddler. Calli’s mother, Antonia, tried to be the best mother she could within the confines of marriage to a mostly absent, often angry husband. Now, though she denies that her husband could be involved in the possible abductions, she fears her decision to stay in her marriage has cost her more than her daughter’s voice. Petra Gregory is Calli’s best friend, her soul mate and her voice. But neither Petra nor Calli has been heard from since their disappearance was discovered. Desperate to find his child, Martin Gregory is forced to confront a side of himself he did not know existed beneath his intellectual, professorial demeanor. Now these families are tied by the question of what happened to their children. And the answer is trapped in the silence of unspoken family secrets.

As if being a mother didn’t already leave you with constant worry. Now you’re daughter is missing and was taken from the comforts of her bed. In your house. In the middle of the night. Oh wait. And by the way- your daughter is a selective mute who has not spoken since tragedy struck her as a toddler. This is the premise for Gudenkauf’s page-turning novel The Weight of Silence. We are along for a suspenseful thrill ride that I would compare to The Lovely Bones and Memory Keeper’s Daughter not in terms of plot, but the tone of the novel.

Silence was narrated by Antonia (Calli’s mother), Louis (detective), Martin (Petra’s father) , Petra (Calli’s best friend) and Ben (Calli’s brother) in first person narrative where Calli’s voice (the main character) is told in the third person. This was an extremely smart and strategic move on Gudenkaupf’s part and I absolutely loved her use of this technique, where if you remember, I criticized it in my earlier review of Heart of the Matter.

Calli, 7, is a selective mute. Calli has not spoken since she was four years old. Calli’s character would not have been anywhere near as magnetic to me if I knew what she was thinking/feeling. Instead, we rely on her best friend, kindred spirit, and “voice”, Petra, who also goes missing that fateful night from her own bed, to fill in the blanks.

“I am thinking that I should have put up posters the day Calli lost her voice. Missing it would say, Calli Clark’s beautiful voice. Four years old but sounds much older, has a very advanced vocabulary, last heard on December 19th, right after her mother fell down the stairs; please call with any information regarding its whereabouts, REWARD.”

Under normal circumstances, I probably would have criticized Gudenkaupf right away too, for how she develops the rising action so slowly, only giving the reader 1-3 pages per character/chapter before it switched to someone else’s voice. I compare it to listening to the radio on SCAN mode; just getting into a song and then it switches to the next station. Gudenkaupf also spent a lot of time on the backstories/love triangle between  Antonia, Louis and Griff (Calli’s father) when as the reader, I wanted nothing more than to stick with Calli, Petra and Ben’s stories. However, I feel as though Gudenkaupf’s goal was to do just that- frustrate the reader. Why would an author WANT to frustrate the reader you say? As a literary device.  How do you think you’d feel if for the last three years you’ve not been able to utter a single word. How frustrated would you be? Gudenkaupf wants to frustrate the reader, igniting a passion to find out what happens next. It successfully allowed me to really connect and relate to what Petra and Calli were going through in the woods, and feel the agony the family was going through during the search, in the moment, for that particular character. If the reader were let inside Calli’s head, there’d have been no element of uncertainty which every good suspense novel needs! I just love Gudenkaupf’s literary choices in this novel and think it really made me want to keep reading and turn the page.

“I see your lips begin to arrange themselves and I know, I know. I see the word form, the syllables hardening and sliding from your mouth with no effort. Your voice, not unsure or hoarse from lack of use but clear and bold.  One word, the first in three years. In an instant I have you in my arms and I am crying, tears dropping from many emotions, mostly thankfulness and relief, but tears of sorrow mixed in. I see Petra’s father crumble. Your chosen word doesn’t make sense to me. But it doesn’t matter, I don’t care. You have finally spoken.”

I enjoyed this book selected by one of my book club babes for discussion later this month. I’m really looking forward to hearing the opinions of our group and you as well, if you decide to pick it up.

If you want a suspenseful and quick read, I definitely recommend this book.

“My own silent little girl is even more of a mystery to me. The way she likes her hair combed smooth after a bath, the joy she has in inspecting her nails after I have inexpertly painted them. Having a little girl has been like following an old treasure map with the important paths torn away”.

4/5 stars

38 down, 14 to go!

In progress, The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake

xo♥xo,

LibraryLove


 

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