Time for Some Book Reviews

The last time I did any book reviews was when I shared some thoughts on my Whitney finalist reading. I've read a lot since then so here are my thoughts on some books for you and a few strong recommendations.

Maggie Stiefvater writes beautifully and I liked The Scorpio Races a lot. There is danger, fantasy, beautiful setting, a little romance and a lot at stake. Set on what appears to be an island off the coast of Scotland in the early 20th century, this tells the story of an annual race of the water horses--dangerous horses that come from the sea each year. Puck, our heroine, whose parents were killed by the water horses and whose remaining family is falling apart, is trying to save her home and family by winning the race. 

The Death of a Disco Dancer definitely scores big points for intriguing title. I'd read on several blogs that people were disappointed this wasn't a Whitney finalist so I wanted to see what it was all about. What I found was a sweet story, told from a teenage boy's perspective. It tells of his relationship with his family, Jr. High drama and trauma, and especially his unusual relationship with his dimentia-stricken grandmother who carries around an album of Saturday Night Fever. This is a great story and an impressive debut novel by David Clark.

Edenbrooke, by Julianne Donaldson is a wonderful Regency romance. It's got humor, a likeable leading lady and a swoon-worthy leading man. One of the things I struggle with in some romances is a girl who won't give a guy a chance because of something trivial or silly or contrived. The obstacle for Marianne is loyalty and that is hard to fault. I liked this book a lot, as did both of my daughters. I'll be shocked if Edenbrooke isn't a Whitney finalist this year.

Becoming Bayley isn't your typical YA romance. Susan Auten has written a book that deals with a medical condition that will make you grateful not to have it. Bayley's dreams are coming true--she's offered a scholarship to play BYU soccer, she has a great friend, and she's falling in love with a nice boy she's met. But after a concussion she's diagnosed with alopecia, which causes her to lose her hair and with her hair loss comes a crisis of confidence. I liked several things about this book. I liked the handling of a real circumstance that would shake up any of us. I liked the characters and I liked the growth Bayley experienced throughout the book. This is a good book for all ages, but I highly recommend it for teenagers.

I loved Borrowed Light. Loved it! So I was excited to read its sequel, Enduring Light. It's a good book, but I didn't enjoy it as much as the first. I was a little put off by the excessive nicknames used by Paul and Julia. The first couple of times they had marital relations, I was impressed with how Carla Kelly handled it. It let us know what was happening without giving us a play-by-play. But honestly, after  awhile, the numerous references became tedious and silly. In between all those silly nicknames and references, though, was a good book about life on a ranch and on cattle drives and how hard it was for people to assemble for church in the middle of this vast and lonely land. If you read the first one, you'll like this one, and maybe my little annoyances won't annoy you.

I've saved my favorite one for last. On Little Wings has everything--a great story, well-written characters that are authentic and flawed and layered, gorgeous settings, a romance that makes you ache and writing that takes your breath away. I adored this book and think Regina Sirois puts her words together as well as John Steinbeck did in East of Eden. Her use of language is stunning and there were times when I had to stop and savor a paragraph because it was so surprising and wonderful. In June, Sirois was awarded the Outstanding Breakout Novel by Amazon, which means that she won a contract with a national publisher. Hard copies won't be available until next year, but if you have a kindle you don't have to wait (and right now it's free). This isn't just one of my favorite books of the past year or so. This is one of my favorite books I'VE EVER READ. It's one I'll read every few years for pure enjoyment.

So there you have it. If you've read any of these, please share your thoughts. If you have a great recommendation for me, I'd love to hear it.


Anonymous said...

These sound very interesting. thanks for the reviews. i have been reading a wonderful book and i have read it many many times, and I know i will read it again. It is called "The Book of Mormon." I highly recommend it. LMH LDH (-;
Have a great day.

Tapper said...

I hardly know what to say. Thank you for your review of my book. When I read something like that it makes me want to try even harder to deserve that level of praise. I'm so grateful for thoughtful readers!
Best wishes!

Nicole *Ü* said...

I loved, loved, LOVED Scorpio Races and Edenbrooke. I've marked the other ones you mentioned on Goodreads to check out.

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Andrew Torgeson said...

Edenbrooke was wonderful!

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