Sunday, September 18, 2011

A Distant Melody

I regret I wasn't born during the Roaring Twenties so I could experience the 1940s as a twenty-something. I love this era. As I continue to decorate my house - built in 1930 - I can't help but continue to add little vintage design nods to the 1940s. When I cook in my vintage-inspired kitchen, I usually have Pandora radio on to "The Andrews Sisters" channel I created - complete with an apron donned of course.

So, it should come at no surprise that I really enjoyed reading book one of the "Wings of Glory" series by Sarah Sundin. "Wings of Glory" is a series of three books about three brothers who serve during WWII. The first book, "A Distant Melody," was a very enjoyable read and I enjoyed it more than "A Memory Between Us" (book two of the series I read at the end of 2010). The third book "Blue Skies Tomorrow" came out in August so I have my request in at the library to get my hands on the final story of the series.

Book Summary: (from Goodreads)
Will a chance meeting in a time of war change her life forever?

Never pretty enough to please her gorgeous mother, Allie will do anything to gain her approval - even marry a man she doesn't love. While Allie has nearly resigned herself to that fate, Lt. Walter Novak - fearless in the cockpit but hopeless with women - takes his last furlough at home in California before being shipped overseas.

Walt and Allie meet and begin a correspondence that will change their lives. As letters fly between Walt's muddy bomber base in England and Allie's mansion in an orange grove, their friendship binds them together. But can they untangle the secrets, commitments, and expectations that keep them apart?

I thought Sundin did a fantastic job of character development. At times you really like the two main characters and, like in real life, you want to kick them in the butt sometimes for their stupidity. I love how she allowed the characters to fall in love via coorespondence and for allowing them to be "real." If I have one dislike it was that there were a few too many "extra" characters in Walt's hometown so much so that I started to get confused who was married to who.

If you like WWII airplanes, you'll enjoy the level of detail Sarah uses during the combat scenes. It would be fun to see this series made into movies or a TV series.

To Recap:
Worth Reading? - Yes
Recommend to a Friend? - Yes
Worth Buying My Own Copy? No
Stars: 4 out of 5


Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Miracle of Mercy Land

I had very high hopes for The Miracle of Mercy Land when I read the back of the book. However, I was sadly disappointed. One of the questions in the reader’s guide at the end asks “When you turn the last page…what is the strongest impression the novel leaves with you?” I’m left feeling confused.

I felt that the author, River Jordan, carried out suspenseful plots way too long and in some cases not really providing any answers. Like…was Cilla Satan? Why does Aunt Ida suddenly become a major character in the plot when I feel like I never really knew her? What the heck is the book?

I did think Jordan did a nice job of developing the characters of Mercy Land and Doc. I felt I really knew them and enjoyed the friendship and companionship they had despite the generational difference. This was a fresh character duo compared to most novels I read. I also felt that Jordan captured the essence of Bay City, Bittersweet and the South well.

I really wish I could recommend this novel to others, but it was too drawn out and I left it with more questions and confusion than I started. I received this copy from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers as part of their Blogging for Books program.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Christmas in Plains: Memories

I received Christmas in Plains as a gift and it has been on my shelves for a couple years. I finally picked it up this holiday season and read it. It was a very nice collection of stories from President Carter's life - all the way from when he was a little boy to his years in the White House to the nineties.

I had the opportunity to meet President Carter a couple times through my media relations position with Habitat for Humanity in 2003. So for me, it was fun to read this prose knowing exactly the tone and personality that President Carter would have if he read this aloud.

To recap:

Worth Reading? No

Recommend to a Friend? No...not really unless you're a Carter fan

Worth Buying My Own Copy? No - Use your local library

Stars: 3 out of 5

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott

I apologize for the short review and relying on the recap from another Web site, but just don't have time lately to write thoughtful and poignant reviews. But since, I want a record of what I we go!

Book Description from "Goodreads"

In the bestselling tradition of Loving Frank and March comes a novel for anyone who loves Little Women.

Millions of readers have fallen in love with Little Women. But how could Louisa May Alcott-who never had a romance-write so convincingly of love and heart-break without experiencing it herself?

Deftly mixing fact and fiction, Kelly O'Connor McNees imagines a love affair that would threaten Louisa's writing career-and inspire the story of Jo and Laurie in Little Women. Stuck in small-town New Hampshire in 1855, Louisa finds herself torn between a love that takes her by surprise and her dream of independence as a writer in Boston. The choice she must make comes with a steep price that she will pay for the rest of her life.

My take:

My first "acting" opportunity as a kid was playing Jo March in a radio play I did in 5th grade. I fell in love with Little Women and enjoy the character of Jo March (based on Louisa's own personality/past) so much. So I really enjoyed this glimpse and "what if" about Louisa May Alcott. It definitely had the feel of "Becoming Jane" to it, but it was a nice, relaxing read. The dialog was great and I loved all the historical details about the era. Blew through it in 4 days...that's good for me!

To recap:

Worth Reading? Yes

Recommend to a Friend? Yes

Worth Buying My Own Copy? No - Use your local library

Stars: 4 out of 5

Sunday, January 2, 2011

2011 Books I've Read

Throughout 2011 I'll keep updating this post with the books I've finished. I love having this record of what I read each year.

1. All Clear by Connie Willis -- Completed 1/2/2011

2. The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott by Kelly O. McNees -- Completed 1/5/2011

4. Cherries in Winter -- Completed 2/2011

5. Little House in the Big Woods - Completed 3/11/2011

6. Jane Eyre - Completed 3/27/2011

7. Striking the Match -- Completed 4/24/2011

8. The Miracle of Mercy Land -- Completed 4/27/2011

9. The Gift -- Completed July 2011

10. The Help -- Completed 8/14/2011

11. A Distant Melody -- Completed 9/18/2011

All Clear

Yeah! I finally finished this book!

Okay...honestly...I can say after reading both Blackout and All Clear by Connie Willis, that I did enjoy this story. The were both behemoth books, but they do provide rich detail and dialog that one can't help but feel transported back to WWII London during the Blitz. But, I am awfully exhausted after reading these books and ready to step back into 2011!

If you love WWII historical fiction, suspense and a bit of fantasy (i.e. time travel) you will really enjoy this story. Most reviews I've read also echo what I'm about to say. Both books could have used a strong editing session to trim 100 to 200 pages out of each of them. Obviously some of the detail is needed to weave the story completely together, but there were some sections where you felt like you were reading about despairing characters for 60 to 80 pages.

I also felt that both books were lacking in the romantic storyline. Connections and relationships were formed, but Willis never really took time to explore these fully. I think they would have made the characters feel more "real" and human.

Willis is a meticulous researcher and both of these books are a masterpiece in and of themselves in how she pulled the story together. There was a point three nights ago when I held my head and said "it hurt" because I was thinking so hard about how some of the events/plots were piecing together at the end.

I am looking forward to reading some of her other books, but glad I can move on to some other books that have piled up on my night stand.

To recap:

Worth reading? Yes

Recommend to a Friend? Maybe

Worth Buying My Own Copy? Maybe...especially if you take awhile to read books. I kind of wish I had a copy of "Blackout" to reference as I was reading.

Stars: 4 out of 5