Monday, April 30, 2012

Thunder and Rain by Charles Martin

Third generation Texas Ranger Tyler Steele is the last of a dying breed - a modern day cowboy living in a world that doesn't quite understand his clear view of right and wrong and instinct to defend those who can't defend themselves.  Despite his strong moral compass, Tyler has trouble seeing his greatest weakness.  His hard outer shell, the one essential to his work, made him incapable of forging the emotional connection his wife Andie so desperately needed.

Now retired, rising their son Brodie on his own, and in risk of losing his ranch, Ty doesn't know how to rebuild from the rubble of his life.  The answer comes in the form of Samantha and her daughter, Hope.  On the run from an abusive ex who has the resources and the determination to hunt them down, thy are in danger, desperate, and alone.  Though it's no longer his job, Ty knows he can help - protecting the innocent is what he does best.  But it may cost him more than he's ready to pay to let the pair into his life.  Meanwhile, the man who ended Ty's career and almost ended his life, if up for parole and looking to finish what he started.

As his relationship with Sam and Hope unfolds, Ty realizes he must confront his weakness if he wants to protect them and, ultimately, offer the real strength they need.

Monday, April 23, 2012

A Day and a Life

Booklist magazine begins its review of Carol Anshaw's Carry the One with this sentence: "Words used to praise Anshaw's earlier novels (Seven Moves, 1996; Lucky in the Corner, 2002), witty, warm, intimate, poignant, apply equally well to her most compelling book yet, a wholly seductive tale of siblings, addiction, conviction, and genius." I'm not sure about the word "seductive," but all the other adjectives definitely apply. The book starts out with a wedding, Carmen's and Matt's. It's an eclectic and unusual group. At the wedding, Carmen's sister Alice, an artist, meets and falls in love with Matt's sister Maude, a model. Carmen's brother Nick, who comes dressed in a gown, brings his new girlfriend and fellow drug user Olivia, who comes dressed in a tux. Carmen's friend Jean brings her married boyfriend and folk singer Tom.They all end up leaving the wedding together that evening, crammed in Olivia's car. Olivia and Nick are as high as kites, and the others are all in various states of inebriation or tipsiness. A young girl walking down the road is hit and killed. From this moment on, these people are forever linked by this tragic event. The "one that must be carried" when the Kenney siblings add themselves up is the girl. They all feel different levels of guilt and pain, and the results are evident in the lives they end up leading. Nick takes the most obvious downward spiral. He is a brilliant physicist but can't seem to stay sober. Alice becomes famous for her painting; she produces a collection of paintings of the girl who died, wearing the clothes she had on that fateful night, but reset in different phases of her future life that she will never experience .This is an exceptionally written, gentle story about the ways we can and cannot forgive ourselves and others.

Saturday, April 14, 2012


Having completed a film documentary director, Justine Nolan, returns to the Connecticut family home. Her mother, Deborah, in China working a business deal, directs Julene to open her mail. Justine opens a letter with no return address postmarked Istanbul. Anita Lowe, their Gran' s friend, sent this note to Deborah's saying her mother is heartbroken and needs to end their estrangement for Gran turns eighty and is and in poor health. Justine is stunned to learn that Gran is alive for her mother told she and her brother, Richard, that their Gran had died in a plane crash. They had grieved their loss ever since.

The brother and sister decide to find Gran and Justine goes to Istanbul to look for Gran on the pretense that she is doing a documentary of the city. Their neighbor and good friend, Joanne, arranges for Justine to meet her friend, Professor Ifrit Ozgonal in Turkey. Even with the help of Ifrit, Justine cannot find Gran. While going on a boat ride touring the city, Jestine sees her Gran in her camera lens. She rushes past everyone including Gran's best friend Anita and her grandson to hug her Gran. Both are thrilled. Justine tells Gran, that her mother Deborah, told she and Richard that Gran had died. Besides such a great family story, this book written by Barbara Taylor Bradford, also gives insight into Berlin during WW II and a wonderful tour of modernday Istanbul. Readers will enjoy learning Gran's final solution to their family problem that turned Deborah against her.

Monday, April 02, 2012

Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos

Living in Norvelt may be a dead end in 1962, but it is never boring in Jack Gantos's 2012 Newbery Award winning novel! Twelve-year-old Jack Gantos has been grounded for various offenses and his only ticket 'out of jail' is to help arthritic Miss Volker type up the obituaries for the dying pioneers of Norvelt. His punishment for the summer is to dig a bomb shelter in the backyard, and the time he's allowed to escape to help Miss Volker becomes a welcome reprieve from the back-breaking work. In this task he discovers the history of the town of Norvelt and of its oldest residents. Historic Norvelt was a community designed by First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt following the Great Depression to offer its residents good affordable housing in this experimental utopian town. But by the sixties, society has moved on and so have many of the businesses and residents. The remaining residents are colorful, wacky, and often hilarious; even Jack's dad, who is determined to escape Norvelt in a salvaged airplane he is rebuilding in the garage and is constantly feuding with Jack's mother, who refuses to leave her hometown. Young Jack's adventures lead him to unusual chores involving the newly dead, molten wax, the Hell's Angels, and countless bloody noses. This is a funny mix of true circumstances and wildly crazy fictional antics!