A late entry to my favorites of what I read in 2012! This book was an incredibly moving personal story about a daughter making the tough choice to lea...moreA late entry to my favorites of what I read in 2012! This book was an incredibly moving personal story about a daughter making the tough choice to leave her career to care for her aging mother full time. A love story of sorts, the book follows the journey as mother and daughter get to know and appreciate each other again. Jo’s transition from the fast-paced life of New York City to North Carolina provided many moments of humor. The book is packed with lovely moments of realization and wonderful details – I feel like I know this family. While I have not lived this exact situation, the author’s description of her mother’s decline resonated with me and my own experience of preparing to say goodbye to my grandmother. This book is a love letter from daughter to mother celebrating the beauty and wisdom of Mama Jo and the indelible mark she left on her children and, through this book, all of us. I don’t know anyone that should not read this book. If nothing else, it is a moving reminder that the only legacy we truly leave is how we’ve touched the lives of those around us.(less)
I think the wide variation in reviews for this one is perhaps the result of genre confusion rather than the book not being good. For people gung ho on...moreI think the wide variation in reviews for this one is perhaps the result of genre confusion rather than the book not being good. For people gung ho on magic and fantasy, this book is WAY too plodding and mundane. For folks into fairly realistic novels, this one is going to have WAY too much mystical mumbo jumbo. I fell in love with this book very early on and am still enamored – perhaps because this feels like it fits with Alice Hoffman, Christy Yorke and perhaps Jonathan Carroll's sort of magical realistic or magically mundane books. It takes a big pinch of willing suspension of disbelief but the journey is well worth it.
This book is heavily atmosphere but I adored the prose and the lush settings developed. The characters could have been better developed, but set into such a seductive world, I didn't really care. I liked that in this world magic is very difficult, complex, and never fully mastered. No easy spell words or recipes or hand motions here. Also, I appreciated that magic wasn't used to solve problems. If anything, it caused them. I feel like this is one of the few books that really explored the moral complexities of magic in a "real world" setting. I have seen comparisons to The Prestige, which seem apt – but I really liked that one too (book and movie – both of which are a little "the most mundane, low thrill story you will ever experience about earth-shattering magic power"). (less)
This has to be my 20 or 25th rereading of this book. This was always one of my favorite of Janette Oke’s books, perhaps because it is so dark. Is this...moreThis has to be my 20 or 25th rereading of this book. This was always one of my favorite of Janette Oke’s books, perhaps because it is so dark. Is this a deeply insightful work exploring the scars of abuse on a young psyche? Not really. Is it a historically dense exploration of women on the frontier? Not in the least. Do I love it to little bits for being a heartfelt and moving if simple story of love, life, and finding your place in the world? Absolutely!
Damaris grows up in home terrorized by her father’s alcoholic binges. One day her mother gives her a few precious possessions she’s kept hidden, a little cash she’s secreted away, and all but tells her daughter to go and find a life for herself. I love Damaris’ emotional journey as she finds a place for herself among the townsfolk of a small western town and slowly begins to see that all families were not like hers and all men are not like her father.
I love the romance element of this book partly because there is so little overt romance. (view spoiler)[Damaris meets a dear friend of one of her three “bosses”, Gil, and it rang very true to me that it takes her the better part of the year to understand that she has feelings for him, not that she has the slightest clue what to do with them. I am not a big fan of romances that use misunderstanding of as the crux of the drama, but again – here it rings true and I still tear up a little when Damaris comes to realize that Gil wants to marry her out of love for her, not concern for the orphan children she’s taken in.
Honestly, I’ve always wanted more books with these characters. I want more of Gil and Damaris working through their painful pasts and building a new life with the orphans and a few additions of their own. Also, I think half the town would end up Aunties and Uncles to any kids these two had or adopted and I am embarrassed to admit how much I want to read all of the slightly-treacly fussing and loving that would ensue. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
As a writer, I am somewhat hardwired to love books about writers and the writing process. Some of the plot elements in this book should have been clic...moreAs a writer, I am somewhat hardwired to love books about writers and the writing process. Some of the plot elements in this book should have been clichéd or overdone, but the writing just sort of carries you along past some of the more sensational elements. The main character, a writer invited to come and write a bio of another, far more famous writer, is interesting and I love the theme in here about twins and "twinness". Always fascinating to me. This book had just the right touches of the gothic – little sparks of the uncanny that sent shivers up my spine, but it never overdid. Also, the movement from present to past to story is wonderfully done and I'm not sure when I've seen such elegant pacing. I always wanted a little more of the story – whichever story was being developed – but they were all presented in wonderfully bite-sized installments and worked in harmony with the other stories being developed, so that the forward movement of each set just the right tone and mental state of mind to move to the next story.(less)
I was utterly entranced by the film and thought the book might be worth reading. WOW. Totally worth reading. At times it reads like the screenplay for...moreI was utterly entranced by the film and thought the book might be worth reading. WOW. Totally worth reading. At times it reads like the screenplay for the film and it's so easy to "see" the scenes unfolding, but the real power of word over image is the depth of insight gained into the main character. A little creepy and a lot chilling, this neatly done little horror tale weaves a second story thread about the rules that make society hold together, however fragile that bond, and also some really interesting exploration of what makes us human. Is it taught? Is it innate? Does the main character actually qualify as human or is he too bright by half and too easily unfettered by the rules the rest of us follow? I cannot recommend this book highly enough – though it is fairly creepy and disturbing. Basically, read the synopsis on the back. If your skin isn't crawling, you should be fine.(less)