Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Kashmir Shawl by Rosie Thomas

The Kashmir Shawl by Rosie Thomas is intrigue and history tangled to present a very interesting read.

From the publisher: "It is 1941 and World War II has engulfed the globe. Newlywed Nerys Watkins leaves rural Wales for the first time in her life, to accompany her husband on a missionary posting to India. When her husband leaves her in the exotic lakeside city of Srinagar to take on a more dangerous mission, Nerys discovers a new world. Here, in the heart of romantic Kashmir, the colonists dance, flirt, and gossip as if there is no war. Nerys becomes caught up in a dangerous liaison, and by the time she is reunited with her husband, she is a different woman. Years later, when Mair Ellis clears out her dead father's house, she finds an exquisite shawl. Wrapped in its folds is a lock of child's hair. Tracing her grandparents' roots back to Kashmir, Mair embarks on a quest that will change her life forever . . . ."

The clash of two cultures and the liberating role of women during war time adds to the fascination of this mystery. Bringing the present day generation into the mix encourages the readers to pursue the next development in the story.

Posted for reader Mary S.

Monday, December 17, 2012

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

The December 2012 adult book club discussion book was The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey. The author was inspired to write it, her first novel, by the Russian folk tale about a maiden made of snow who comes to life. Jack and Mabel are recent arrivals to 1920 Alaska, a brutal place to homestead. They are childless and drifting apart, but in a moment of levity during a snowfall they build a child out of snow. The next morning the snow child is gone – replaced by Faina, a living child of the woods.

  I really enjoyed the first part of the novel. The descriptions of the people and the landscape were very good, and the secrets of the mysterious child kept me intrigued. I wanted to keep reading to find out what was going to happen next. I felt the plot went a bit flat with the entry of a romance toward the end of the book, and I found the ending somewhat unsatisfying. Still, if you are interested in Alaska and the charm of a novel based on a folk tale, it is well worth reading.

Members of the book clubs very much enjoyed the book, and we had two great discussions about The Snow Child.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Bridge by Karen Kingsbury

I have a genre prejudice. I am not proud of it and I want to clarify that it is my own; I am not representing the library in this matter. I am a Christian, but I am unlikely to pick up most current Christian/Inspirational Fiction because I feel that if an author of that genre feels the need to contribute to the world of words, then that author's book should be not just good but better than. If that book is meant to glorify God, edify believers, and give seekers a glimpse of why believers believe, it should aspire to be better (at least!) than the Twihard saga, a horrible yet strangely compelling read. And most of them are not.

Yet even as I confess this, I realize my prejudice is subjective. Like many churchgoers, I've sat through some wince-worthy musical offerings and have celebrated the offerer for willingness to give. Still, those performances are gifts, and the publishers seem to have a more cynical perspective:

“We call it ‘bonnet fiction.’ You slap a bonnet on the cover and double the sales.” said Steve Oates, marketing vice president for Bethany House in a 2010 interview in Newsweek (reported on The Daily Beast).

These thoughts and more rattle through my mind every time I shelve and re-shelve “gentle” reads.
At the same time, I realize the need to confront my prejudices and examine them, and the popularity of Karen Kingsbury (author of Life-Changing FictionTM ) made me decide to take a look at her latest title, The Bridge.
The Bridge of the title was a bookstore before the hundred-year flood hit Franklin, Tennessee. Already in a tenuous state financially with the recession and the rise of e-books, the Bartons, the owners of the bookstore, seem only to have the option of selling, and thereby losing, their livelihood and dreams.

Meanwhile, former college sweethearts Molly and Ryan are living their lives but missing each other and the moments they cherished at The Bridge. Ryan is at a crossroads in his music career when he hears about the troubles the Bartons are facing and decides to do what he can to help.

My guess is that those who are already fans of Kingsbury will like this sweet, predictable title. Readers looking for a gentle read may also like this book. I didn’t dislike it, but I did find myself wondering about a couple of plot points. If the Bartons were so strong in their faith (not billboard-like, but certainly implied) one could reasonably assume they belonged to a faith community, so where was that community? Or, leaving aside the faith community, if the Bartons and their store touched so many in their community and beyond, how did so many months go by before an outsider noticed their troubles?

The Bridge was released on October 23rd and is available for checkout. Amazon also shows an eBook prequel to the story for 99 cents.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Chasing the Skip by Janci Patterson

Submitted by Brighton, teen reviewer:

The book Chasing the Skip is impossible to put down.  I could not stop reading it - I finished it in one day.  It is about a 15-year-old girl named Ricki.  Her mom runs out on her and she goes to stay with her grandmother.  Ricki's dad wasn't around when she was a kid, but after a few weeks with her grandmother she finds herself stuck going to live with her dad.  Her father is a bail enforcement officer (aka bounty hunter).  Ricki finds herself being dragged along with him to catch the "skips."  Her dad takes on a particularly sketchy skip named Ian Burnham.  Ian escapes three times and ends up kidnapping Ricki twice.  Ricki sets Ian free and attempts to escape, but he holds her at gunpoint.  Ricki's dad comes to the rescue, and Ian finally ends up in jail.