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The Sooner the Better by Debbie Macomber

“The Sooner The Better” starts when Lorraine Dancy finds an agonizing truth that everything she knew about her father was a lie. She was always made to believe that her father was dead, but evidence that she finds after her mother’s passing not only reveals that he is alive but that he lives in a small town on the south of the border. She heads out in search of him and in the process lands herself in big trouble. To save her from the police and a deadly thief, her father sends his friend Jack Keeler. Jack is experienced, strong and attractive and it is hard to ignore the blooming chemistry between them. Will they both find true love in one another?

I like romance novels that are not completely romantic; by that I mean the ones that do not make me feel all mushy and sentimental. The Sooner The Better was a novel that had the right proportion of different elements in it. There was adventure, some amount of suspense, betrayal, emotions of all cadres, lots of love and just the right amount of violence. The story line kept me interested till the end of the book. If I had to leave the book; I was eager to get back to it to know what was happening; and that is always a good sign.

The characters in the book had a lot of depth to them. The focus was not just on the lead characters but on most of the other characters too. Like Lorraine’s father, his second wife, her fiancée or his wife (well, you need to read the story to understand these relationship complications) – they all had relatively small appearances but left with an impact that only the lead protagonist can in most novels. I enjoyed the book for the different flavors of emotion. While I disliked a few people in the beginning; I ended the book feeling secure about the world we live in and the abundance of goodness that resides in people.

I enjoyed this book in every sense!! The Sooner The Better is a really good book by Debbie Macomber and was made better by the narrator. An interesting audio and a fulfilling story makes me want to give it a four smiley faces:
HappyFaceHappyFaceHappyFaceHappyFace


kavyen

Ugly to Start With by John Michael Cummings

The Book:

Source for ‘The Book’ section : From Goodreads
Jason Stevens is growing up in picturesque, historic Harpers Ferry, West Virginia in the 1970s. Back when the roads are smaller, the cars slower, the people more colorful, and Washington, D.C. is way across the mountains—a winding sixty-five miles away.
Jason dreams of going to art school in the city, but he must first survive his teenage years. He witnesses a street artist from Italy charm his mother from the backseat of the family car. He stands up to an abusive husband—and then feels sorry for the jerk. He puts up with his father’s hard-skulled backwoods ways, his grandfather’s showy younger wife, and the fist-throwing schoolmates and eccentric mountain characters that make up Harpers Ferry—all topped off by a basement art project with a girl from the poor side of town.
Ugly to Start With punctuates the exuberant highs, bewildering midpoints, and painful lows of growing up, and affirms that adolescent dreams and desires are often fulfilled in surprising ways.

The View:

“Ugly to start with” is not a book I would pick up randomly. It definitely does not fall in my “always-read” category but what surprised me was how much I liked the book as I kept reading through it. Yes, there were certain stories that I would have liked to skip through (only because of the uncomfortable topics) and a few that left me thinking about it for a long time. But the point is, the book is impactful and isn’t that what you would expect out of a book like this.

Jason is an interesting character who grows and evolves with each incident in his life. There are stories were you see different shades of him adding a surprise element to the character itself. I liked that all of his reactions were acceptable..nothing over the top or unbelievable… Just genuine reactions from a boy who grows stronger with each passing day.

The authors writing style is vivid yet simple. The small town boy growing up in a community that could otherwise be termed “dangerous” is done well. Emphasis still remains on descriptions of events and places that any other author would have done away with; but John Michael Cummings has stuck to the integrity of story telling by keeping it intact. I enjoyed this book and would rate it a 4 on 5. There a few stories that could have been done better, but for the most part it was more good than bad.


kavyen

My Life in Black and White by Natasha Friend

The Book:

Source for ‘The Book’ section : From Goodreads
What if you lost the thing that made you who you are?

Lexi has always been stunning. Her butter-colored hair and perfect features have helped her attract friends, a boyfriend, and the attention of a modeling scout. But everything changes the night Lexi’s face goes through a windshield. Now she’s not sure what’s worse: the scars she’ll have to live with forever, or what she saw going on between her best friend and her boyfriend right before the accident. With the help of her trombone-playing, defiantly uncool older sister and a guy at school recovering from his own recent trauma, Lexi learns she’s much more than just a pretty face.

The View:

“My Life in Black and White” is a good book that talks about the friendship between two girls and the drama that comes along with teenage friendships. When I started the book I expected it to be very similar to a Disney series, intact with two friends, cute boys who pose a threat to the friendship, other friends who form a part of the larger group, some booze, some car rides and the general good-tale-turned-bad-turned-good episodes.

Lexi was a character I did not like from the very beginning. She is a spoilt brat and her beauty only makes her appear even more proud and unapproachable. The girls friendship was something I enjoyed and I wish there were a few more tales of things they did together or laughs they shared. After her accident on that fateful night Lexi changes; you would think it would be for the better but on the contrary she becomes even more annoying (as if that was even possible). She complains about every small thing and does not appreciate any of the help offered. But all is well that ends well. Eventually she accepts the person she becomes devoid the beautiful face and even patches up her broken friendship. Aww! Dont we love happy endings!!!

I liked some parts and did not like some parts. The story was simple with nothing out of the ordinary and the characters were typical yet interesting. I think it will be fair to give this a 3 on 5.


kavyen

The Inn at Lake Devine by Elinor Lipman

The Book:

Source for ‘The Book’ section : From Goodreads
It’s 1962 and all across America barriers are collapsing. But when Natalie Marx’s mother inquires about summer accommodations in Vermont, she gets the following reply: The Inn at Lake Devine is a family owned resort, which has been in continuous operation since 1922. Our guests who feel most comfortable here, and return year after year, are Gentiles. For twelve-year-old Natalie, who has a stubborn sense of justice, the words are not a rebuff but an infuriating, irresistible challenge.

In this beguiling novel, Elinor Lipman charts her heroine’s fixation with a small bastion of genteel anti-Semitism, a fixation that will have wildly unexpected consequences on her romantic life. As Natalie tries to enter the world that has excluded her–and succeeds through the sheerest of accidents–The Inn at Lake Devine becomes a delightful and provocative romantic comedy full of sparkling social mischief.

The View:

The Inn at Lake Devine is split into three parts and each part had a unique story telling style. Part 1 was hilarious, I found myself grinning and even laughing out loud at certain scenes. This was the part I enjoyed the most, teenage Natalie and the way she chooses to take things in her own hands will remain memorable for a long time. The latter parts had Natalie as an adult and portrayed her continued relationship with the Inn that once dint want anything to do with Jews.

I did expect the story to have a lot of serious scenes because it dealt with a topic such as anti-Semitism and was pleasantly surprised when it dint. There were a few chapters I did not enjoy because it seemed very laid back and slow, but most part of the book was enjoyable. The romance element was much-needed and showed Natalie in a different light. Certain memorable scenes are when the chef asks Natalie for sexual flavors, the food poisoning episodes and the time when she returns home and stays with her parents.

I liked the book as it had a lot of characterization in it. The plot was filled with a lot of elements that kept me awake reading and for that I have to give it a 4 on 5.


kavyen

People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks

The Book:

Source for ‘The Book’ section : From Goodreads
In 1996, Hanna Heath, an Australian rare-book expert, is offered the job of a lifetime: analysis and conservation of the famed Sarajevo Haggadah, which has been rescued from Serb shelling during the Bosnian war. Priceless and beautiful, the book is one of the earliest Jewish volumes ever to be illuminated with images. When Hanna, a caustic loner with a passion for her work, discovers a series of tiny artifacts in its ancient binding – an insect wing fragment, wine stains, salt crystals, a white hair – she begins to unlock the book’s mysteries. The reader is ushered into an exquisitely detailed and atmospheric past, tracing the book’s journey from its salvation back to its creation.

In Bosnia during World War II, a Muslim risks his life to protect it from the Nazis. In the hedonistic salons of fin-de-siècle Vienna, the book becomes a pawn in the struggle against the city’s rising anti-Semitism. In inquisition-era Venice, a Catholic priest saves it from burning. In Barcelona in 1492, the scribe who wrote the text sees his family destroyed by the agonies of enforced exile. And in Seville in 1480, the reason for the Haggadah’s extraordinary illuminations is finally disclosed. Hanna’s investigation unexpectedly plunges her into the intrigues of fine art forgers and ultra-nationalist fanatics. Her experiences will test her belief in herself and the man she has come to love.

Inspired by a true story, People of the Book is at once a novel of sweeping historical grandeur and intimate emotional intensity, an ambitious, electrifying work by an acclaimed and beloved author

The View:

A book about a book???? Why wouldn’t anyone love it. That is what I thought when I started reading about Sarajevo Haggadah, a 500-year-old Jewish book that was rescued by a Muslim Librarian. As I read People of the Book, I realised that just as the name suggests this one is more about the people associated with the book and not the book itself. The uniqueness of the story telling lay with the numerous people who handled the book and thus left some prints that would reveal it’s path many years later.

Hanna Heath, a book restoration expert finds a few interesting items associated with the book like a butterfly wing, a wine stained page etc. She investigates each of these items and finds that every single one of them had a tale of its own. The story telling moved between eras talking about the most recent discovery and the associated tale from the past. Because of the standalone tale and the story telling style I felt that the plot lacked a very important element – “The Flow” and this was a major disappointment.

The characters in the plot had different effects on me. The elements, descriptions and people from the past were detailed well-enough to leave an impact on the reader. But the most recent people, like Hanna, her mother, her lover etc where not at all impressive. I felt the plot had some forced relationship failures like the mother daughter misunderstandings or Hanna’s relationship with the librarian. I would have liked Hanna to be more realistic, someone who struggled with making some key findings. I understand her obsession with knowing the truth and her passion; but would have liked for her to have a few failures and frustrations as that would have made her much more realistic.

I enjoyed this book, but I wanted it to be so much more and for that I can only give it a 3.5 on 5. I loved the journey that the book takes and wish that many many years from now our future generations can find tales about us through our books.. And for that, put down your e-reader and pick up a paper book now.


kavyen

Yankee Doodle Dead by Carolyn Hart

The Book:

Source for ‘The Book’ section : From Goodreads

Sleuthing couple Annie and Max Darling watch as the Fourth of July explodes not only with fun and fireworks, but with murder. The new library board member has alienated everyone in town, especially the women. But Annie finds it difficult to ignore him–particularly when he is shot dead before her eyes.

The View:

“Yankee Doodle Dead” is the first book I read from the “Death on Demand” series and I am surely hoping that the rest of them are different. I struggled with reading this book as it refused to keep me entertained. Initially I just attributed it to the fact that I dint read the series in the order it was intended too, but I realized that it had nothing to do with it.

The story was simple but there were a lot of dialogues and descriptions that threw me off. The beginning of the book was slow. After almost 1/3rd of the book, there was some action but by then the characters refused to make an impact or create any spark. The constant references to mystery writers, quotes and books was also not very pleasant. Many of the characters were lame and if I see them in real life I would either run away or stare at them profusely hoping something would change about them.

Overall it took me forever to read this book and I only finished it because I dint want to leave it midway. The writing was not impressive, the characters were boring and the story simple. There were no major twists or at least none that would make an impact. Rated a 2 on 5 and I’ll be honest and say that I only finished this book because I had started it. Not worth reading this one!


kavyen

Bleachers by John Grisham

The Book:

Source for ‘The Book’ section : From Goodreads
High school all-American Neely Crenshaw was probably the best quarterback ever to play for the legendary Messina Spartans. Fifteen years have gone by since those glory days, and Neely has come home to Messina to bury Coach Eddie Rake, the man who molded the Spartans into an unbeatable football dynasty.
Now, as Coach Rake’s “boys” sit in the bleachers waiting for the dimming field lights to signal his passing, they replay the old games, relive the old glories, and try to decide once and for all whether they love Eddie Rake–or hate him. For Neely Crenshaw, a man who must finally forgive his coach–and himself–before he can get on with life, the stakes are especially high.

The View:

I struggled with this book and now that I am actually noticing it, I have had it on my Monday’s “Going to Read” list for more than a month and a half. I would pick it up read a few pages and put it back.. Get back to it in a few days, start all over again , read a few pages and put it back. This weekend I told myself that I have had enough and hence stuck with it till the end.

The story revolves around an impressive high school football coach who rules the moods of people in the small town. He bullies the players to meet targets and provokes mixed emotions from his players, ex-players and residents. Some of them hate him and many others still love and respect him. He is in his death-bed and some of his former players are finally meeting with each other. Stories are being told, memories shared, wounds healed and in the process they slowly discover the man they knew as a coach and a mentor.

I am not a sports fan and maybe that was why this book dint capture me. There were too many references to games, quarterbacks and scores; that it all went over my head. I liked the characters and how they slowly opened up as genuine people but I could not connect with them as their world seem to revolve around the game. Neely was a flawed character and his reaction to people who recognized him irritated me. Of course you are from here and people would recognize you.. Stop making a big deal about it. The only character I loved was Coach Rake and it is unfortunate that we only saw him through others eyes. I wish there was some part of the narration where he spoke about his thoughts.

Overall the book was below average. I only read it because I hate to put down a half-read book. Rated a 2 on 5 Continue reading