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Tuesday, November 13, 2012


FICTION - Simon & Schuster (August 7, 2012)

(FROM AMAZON.COM)  Book Description

 August 7, 2012
Told from the tender perspective of a young girl who comes of age amid the Cambodian killing fields, this searing first novel—based on the author’s personal story—has been hailed by Little Bee author Chris Cleave as “a masterpiece…utterly heartbreaking and impossibly beautiful.”
For seven-year-old Raami, the shattering end of childhood begins with the footsteps of her father returning home in the early dawn hours bringing details of the civil war that has overwhelmed the streets of Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s capital. Soon the family’s world of carefully guarded royal privilege is swept up in the chaos of revolution and forced exodus.
     Over the next four years, as she endures the deaths of family members, starvation, and brutal forced labor, Raami clings to the only remaining vestige of childhood—the mythical legends and poems told to her by her father. In a climate of systematic violence where memory is sickness and justification for execution, Raami fights for her improbable survival. Displaying the author’s extraordinary gift for language, In the Shadow of the Banyan is testament to the transcendent power of narrative and a brilliantly wrought tale of human resilience.

It has been very rare that I find a book where the words are just so delicious and lyrical that I find myself re-reading pages over and over again.  It is like savoring the flavor of a delicate french pastry, or running your fingers through a luxurious blanket, or losing yourself in an incredible Opera's Aria.  These are moments that make me grateful and I wish would never end.  This book was just that type of experience for me.  AND, just as an added bonus, the story and characters were just as gratifying!  This book truly has it all!  The complexity of these characters was heart wrenching and inspiring.  There was not a single page of this book where I felt bored, not a single lull.  The whole book was like taking a ride on a boat down a river, sometimes calm but sometimes turbulent, it just continued to carry me through to the very end.  It has been about a month since I read this book and I think about it often.  I await the day that Vaddey Rattner releases her next book because I will be the first in line.  WHATEVER YOU DO, DON'T MISS THIS BOOK!  THESE ONLY COME ALONG A FEW TIMES IN A READERS LIFETIME!  5 OUT OF 5!

Book Review - The Time Keeper - Nov 2012


From the author who's inspired millions worldwide with books like Tuesdays with Morrie and The Five People You Meet in Heaven comes his most imaginative novel yet, The Time Keeper--a compelling fable about the first man on earth to count the hours.
The man who became Father Time.
In Mitch Albom's newest work of fiction, the inventor of the world's first clock is punished for trying to measure God's greatest gift. He is banished to a cave for centuries and forced to listen to the voices of all who come after him seeking more days, more years. Eventually, with his soul nearly broken, Father Time is granted his freedom, along with a magical hourglass and a mission: a chance to redeem himself by teaching two earthly people the true meaning of time.
He returns to our world--now dominated by the hour-counting he so innocently began--and commences a journey with two unlikely partners: one a teenage girl who is about to give up on life, the other a wealthy old businessman who wants to live forever. To save himself, he must save them both. And stop the world to do so.
Told in Albom's signature spare, evocative prose, this remarkably original tale will inspire readers everywhere to reconsider their own notions of time, how they spend it and how precious it truly is.

I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher and was so excited to read it as I have been a fan of Mitch Albom's since his first book Tuesdays With Morrie".  I have read and enjoyed all of his books, some more than others, so I had high hopes and expectations for this one.  The story started off introducing the reader to a caveman who invents "time" but then is punished by God by being put in a cave while listening to everyone on earth beg for more, less, faster or slower time.  He is then sent to earth on a mission to save the lives of two people.  Where this book began to get a little bit weak for me was in the character development and story lines of these two people, one a teenage girl and the other an older man.  Neither one of these characters were endearing to me, in fact I found them to be somewhat annoying.  I wanted to like them and I really tried to care about each one's plight but ....  Anyways, the end of the book wrapped up a little bit quick for my liking and I felt a bit disappointed.  This has happened before to me when finishing a Mitch Albom book.  But overall I must say that I did like it a lot and would rate it 4 out of 5 stars.  The character of Father Time and his lessons learned were heartfelt and intriguing. If you have read Mitch Albom's prior books, pick this one up, but if you have never read him before, do yourself a favor and read "Tuesdays with Morrie" instead.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Book Review: The Dog Stars - November 2012

Book Review - November 2012
The Dog Stars by Peter Heller
Fiction - 336 pages - published August 2012
Voted as One of Amazon's Best Books of the Month for August 2012

Synopsis (from
Amazon Best Books of the Month, August 2012: Adventure writer Peter Heller’s The Dog Stars is a first novel set in Colorado after a superflu has culled most of humanity. A man named Hig lives in a former airport community—McMansions built along the edge of a runway—which he shares with his 1956 Cessna, his dog, and a slightly untrustworthy survivalist. He spends his days flying the perimeter, looking out for intruders and thinking about the things he’s lost—his deceased wife, the nearly extinct trout he loved to fish. When a distant beacon sparks in him the realization that something better might be out there, it’s only a matter of time before he goes searching. Poetic, thoughtful, transformative, this novel is a rare combination of the literary and highly readable.

My Review:
I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher.  I was concerned when reading the back of the book that this was just yet another end of the world story which the market seems so saturated with over the last couple of years but I could not have been more wrong!  This book is beauty personified in an anything but beautiful world that is left after a disease has killed most of earth's inhabitants and animals.  The writer was so bold in his vision of the ugly and the good left on the planet.  What I especially loved was the fact that this book never became too depressing but never "rose colored glasses" either.  To me, these characters could not have been any truer in their complexity and their ever changing emotions and views.  I loved the main character Hig and even came to love his neighbor.  The scenery described in certain scenes and the emotions it evoked in Hig were heartbreaking and lyrical, hopeful and dreadful all at the same time.  It is a rare talent who would be able to balance these extremes and Peter Heller is that master!  Don't miss this AMAZING BOOK!