Wednesday, April 23, 2008


Anna Quindlen has really outdone herself with this book. I always enjoy reading her stories and "Blessings" is such a fascinating tale that I could hardly put it down.
In this story, a young (and unmarried, I'm assuming) couple leaves a newborn baby in a box by the garage door at the Blessings estate. The caretaker finds the tiny girl and decides to keep her. He goes to great lengths to not let anyone know so they won't take her away from him.
Eventually, of course, the mistress of the house, who is very elderly, finds out and she becomes part of his plot. She seems to enjoy the intrigue of keeping the secret. However, she does understand there are practicalities that need to be considered and she goes about trying to help him with such things as immunizations, etc. She even has her lawyer looking into how to come up with a birth certificate.
Both of them end up falling madly in love with this adorable baby. They watch her grow and learn about the world around her. And because Quindlen is so good as descriptive writing, the reader will also fall for this child.
I should stop telling about this great book. Otherwise, I'll start giving away what happens and I'd rather you read the book for yourself. Be sure to look for it next time you're browsing the bookshelves. You'll be glad you did.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

A Thousand Country Roads

Robert James Waller is a natural-born storyteller and I just love reading his books. "The Bridges of Madison County" was the first of his novels that I read years ago after watching the movie by the same name. The epilogue is just as beautifully written.
"A Thousand Country Roads" takes the reader on a romantic journey of the main character of "Bridges." Waller said many readers had asked to know what happened to Robert Kincaid after he left Madison County. In this book, Kincaid is on his way to revisit the place where he met the love of his life and we get to meet some very special people along his path.
The book not only tells us what took place after "Bridges," it also introduces us to the events that shaped Kincaid's life.
And, of course, Waller does this with his usual style and grace. He's a superb writer and one of the best around.
If you have the opportunity to read this book, you should definitely take the time to do so. It's wonderful!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Spectator Bird

Wallace Stegner has such a grand command of language that his novels are always a pleasure to read. One of the masters of contemporary literature, Stegner should be required reading for high school and college studies.
This isn’t the first book I’ve read by Stegner and it definitely won’t be the last. The story revolves around an elderly couple remembering a time in their lives when they came very close to parting.
The couple (Joe and Ruth) had traveled to Denmark and stayed at the home of a countess who was displaced from her family. Joe had kept a diary of their time abroad and when, twenty years later, they receive a postcard from the woman, it prompts him to dig out the old journals. Ruth asks him to read them to her and they spend several evenings reliving the past.
Old feelings are brought to the surface, including Ruth’s jealousy as she watched her husband become enchanted with the countess. Her suspicions eventually come to light and she is finally able to voice her fears.
It’s a wonderful story of enduring love, devotion and honesty. It’s also a tale of lasting relationships and the type of marriage many people dream of having.
Stegner wrote a sequel to “The Spectator Bird.” I haven’t read “All the Little Live Things,” but the description makes the story sound as if it actually takes place just prior to their trip to Denmark. Perhaps it explains more of the reasons why they took the trip to begin with. I’ve added it to the list of books I plan to read.
I give very few books a 5 on my ratings list, but “The Spectator Bird” is deserving of high marks. It truly is one of the best books I’ve read.

Monday, April 14, 2008

A Bend in the Road

What can I say about Nicholas Sparks? He is one of the best writers around and I have enjoyed all the books I've read by him. This book has to be one of his best! It has lots unexpected twists.
The story is about a woman who dies when hit by a car as she is walking along the road. She leaves behind her young boy and husband.
The husband just happens to be a deputy with the local sheriffs department, so even after two years, he still hasn't given up the quest to find out who killed his wife. The case has gone cold, yet he continues to go over and over the files in hopes that, one day, his questions will be answered.
He thinks he's finally beginning to get over her death after meeting a young woman who he is attracted to. They start a relationship and everything seems to be going great until ....
Well, you'll have to read the book yourself to find out what happens. This book is just too good to give it away.
Interspersed throughout the story are comments by the man who was driving the car. He expresses his feelings and tells what actually happened. Even though I figured out who he was before his identity was revealed, I still enjoyed the rest of the book. That's unusual. I often give up on a book if I figure out the answer to the mystery before the author is ready to tell us whodunit!
Not so with any Sparks book I've read. I love his writing!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

When I Fall in Love

I’ve always been a fan of Iris Rainer Dart’s novels and this book is another reason why.
Dart is such a smooth writer. Her books, even when tension mounts, are so relaxing.
“When I Fall in Love” is the story of a woman who seems to have everything. She’s writes comedy scripts for a successful TV sitcom, has a wonderful teen-age son and is engaged to a successful doctor. Idyllic, right?
In a matter of a few days, it all changes. She gets a new boss she can’t stand. Then, her son is shot by the housekeeper’s enraged and violent husband, leaving him wheelchair bound for the rest of his life. As she learns to cope with her son’s disability, she begins to grow farther and farther away from her fiancĂ© … and closer and closer to her boss, the last person on Earth she ever would have imagined falling in love with.
Yet, he's the one who stepped up to the plate to offer support to her son, while her fiancé (the doctor, no less!) didn't seem to want to face the truth -- that the boy may not be off on his own within a year, leaving them to a life of just the two of them, with no distractions.
It’s a book about choices and doing what is right for yourself and those you love.
If you’ve never read one of Dart’s books, this would be a good one to start with. Very enjoyable.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008


Dawn Miller has taken the story of a 1870s pioneer family and related it in the form of a journal in “Promiseland,” creating a lovely story about friendship and faith.
The book follows a time period in which the Montana Territory was beginning to be settled. The main characters in the book are Callie, her husband and children, along with her brother and his family and friends they met along the trail. They establish a section of land where they raise their families and herd cattle. This small group isn’t too far from the nearest town, so they do interact with other settlers.
“Promiseland” makes for fascinating reading and provides a glimpse of the hardships of life when the west was being won. However, the reader will do well to remember the book is rated fiction and, as such, shouldn’t be taken literally. From my studies of the Oregon Trail and the settling of the Pacific Northwest, I was able to pick out several inconsistencies with the true facts of the time.Aside from that, I did enjoy the book and the way the author presented this story. Miller has developed personable characters and is very good at describing the scenery of the area. She also gives the reader some excellent lessons to follow in his or her belief in God’s hand and protection in the lives of His children.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

The Alchemist

The Museum, Libraries and Archives Council has a list of the "30 books every adult should read before they die" and this book by Paulo Coelho is on that list.
I was surprised that I liked the book as much as I did. I've found that many so-called award-winning books are often difficult to read and not that interesting. I'm not really sure who the committee members are for the organizations that chose books to recognize, but I wish they would ask the average reader to make the choices.
In this case, however, I can understand why "The Alchemist" was chosen.
Coelho's book has sold more than 20 million copies worldwide and has been translated into 56 languages. It's the story of a quest by a young man in Spain who feels he is being drawn to find his fortune amid the great pyramids in Egypt. A shepherd, he sells his flock and sets out to follow his heart.
As he travels, he meets a variety of people who have an affect on his dream -- a gypsy fortune teller, a man who sells crystals, a king and, of course, an alchemist. They each offer advice and encouragement. He also meets up with some rather unsavory characters, such as a thief and a chieftan, who make him question his decision to make this journey.
Along the way, he learns the true meaning of life and discovers that treasure is often right in front of you and where you least expect it.
A truly good book!

Friday, April 4, 2008


Celia A. Leaman has given readers a collection of priceless short stories in the book “Journeys.” These seven tales take us through the lives of a variety of characters who find peace amid the sadness that has enveloped them.
The stories demonstrate there is always something better ahead, no matter how desperate we feel at the time. My favorite is "Angels Along the Way." It tells of a woman who fondly recalls an aunt who was very special in her life. She returns after many years to visit her and they discuss the true meaning of life. She feels she hasn't accomplished anything important and her aunt admonishes her by saying, "Ah, but my dear, a person doesn't have to make the news or win a medal to feel they've achieved something ... if you reach your grave in as wholesome a way as you can, believe me, my dear, you've achieved something."
Isn't that a great line!
This book is a fast read at only 84 pages, yet it is truly thought provoking and enjoyable.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

In defense of E-books

There's a blog floating around out there that really rags on e-books. The "writer" claims that anyone can publish an e-book and they are all junk. I'm not going to justify the blog by providing a link and I don't even want to leave a comment on it. I prefer to write my own post and share my feelings about it.
First, let me say that I do prefer to read a printed book. I like being able to lean back on my pillow and hold that novel in my hands.
But, I have read e-books and I do have several downloaded on my computer. One in particular I have been asked to review.
There are some great books out there in cyberspace. And, of course, there are some not so great ones, as well. HOWEVER, there are also some printed books that I have absolutely hated and some authors that are considered classics that I have yet to be able to finish one of their books.
Just like there are good and bad movies, good and bad art and good and bad food, there will always be good and bad books and authors. IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH E-BOOK PUBLISHING!
Now, on a similar note, I wonder if the writer of that blog has ever checked out some of the e-book sites that publish the truly classic novels. These are books that have been around for enough years that the copyrights have expired and there are groups that now publish them on the web. For example, at, you can download and read hundreds of classic novels. Authors include Arthur Conan Doyle, Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, Edgar Allen Poe, Jack London, L. Frank Baum, Washington Irving, Willa Cather, H.G. Wells and more. The site also features writings by former presidents, such as Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Jackson.
At, there are books that date back to the first century.
These sites are great for finding books that are out of print or those that used book stores ask ridiculous prices for just because they are classics.
Current writers are utilizing e-books to get their novels out there to a broader sector of readers. It's quick and easy to download a book and very inexpensive. And with the combined price of over $20 for a hardback and $4 per gallon for the gas to get to the bookstore, many people simply can't afford to be running around town looking for a book to read. Plus, for those who are trying to live "green," e-books save those trees!
There are many great reads on the e-book web sites and the blog author who is putting down this new generation of writers has no clue what she is talking about!
I, for one, will continue to support this newest sector of the industry. Writing is not an easy field to break into and the writers of these e-books have my sincere respect. They deserve yours, too!