Sunday, February 22, 2009


by Patricia Wood

Ok, I am foregoing the normal routine here and heading straight to the thoughts. Perry L. Crandall might not technically be retarded, but I found it frustrating to read a book written from the perspective of someone who almost is!  And he might think L. stands for "lucky", but I'd say it stands for lame (as in unconvincing, implausible). Really, this was just Forest Gump wins the lottery..... "life is just a big... lottery" as stated by Perry's gram. He also has many obstacles, ends up becoming an amazing businessman by proposing some clever ideas to his employer, blah, blah... 
Granted, there are some nice thoughts on the importance of valuing relationships over money, and how to treat all people; slow, handicapped, overweight, etc. However, these were forced on the reader as opposed to a conclusion the reader might draw from experiences presented. 

It is a fast read, and if you are prone to like Hallmark movies of the week, you might like this book.  

Sunday, February 15, 2009

A Prayer For Owen Meany

by John Irving

General: John Wheelwright just can't seem to get over Vietnam; even after 20 years, even after moving to Canada, he is still haunted, and yet, he never served a single day! John grew up in small town New Hampshire with his best friend Owen Meany.  Owen was never just a normal boy, for starters, he was small (barely 5'), and he was light (his friends played a game of lifting him), but the strangest thing about Owen was his VOICE. Owen's voice was in a permanent high pitch, near scream. Another thing that was different about Owen was that he believed he was an instrument of God, put on this earth to serve a specific purpose. None of Owen's friends understood or believed him, but Owen stuck to this belief with unswerving faith. 
The story tells of the friendship of these boys, struggling through their teen years, with school, girls, religion, and naturally politics and war. This was the generation of JFK, Vietnam, hippies and draft dodgers. John and Owen find a way to get through these years, but not all the way through.

Thoughts: This was my book club selection. Although I had read this book before and really liked it, I decided to re-read it and see if I still felt so. YES! This is a very well thought out, well planned book. All of the details, which at times you wonder about, are so seamlessly tied together at the end! It all makes sense, the VOICE, the constant practicing of the shot, the dream, the baseball; each piece was needed to form this tidy end package. I like the symbolism: the armadillo, baseball, the nativity, the dressmakers dummy, even the Christmas Carol. I like all of the controversial thoughts: the struggles with religion and predestination, the struggles with war and decisions of government, and the constant reminder of our (Americans) short memory for history. I liked Owen's solid faith (it's a story, I might question what I think about him knowing, but that's a different issue). Owen said, "FAITH TAKES PRACTICE." 
If there was one thing I could say negative, it might be that the diary narration of the present day was sometimes a bit distracting. For me, I can see that it remained within John's character,  but it didn't lend to developing the plot. Regardless, that can be overlooked; it's well worth reading.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Ballad of Castle Reef

by Honor Tracy

General: The Barraclough's of Ireland, have been soldiers for centuries. Until the latest boy, Francis, decides to buck the tradition, and go "find himself" in Paris! this causes his orderly father quite a disturbance, so in order to teach his son a lesson and give him some respect for hard work and responsibility, he decides to turn their family home over to his trusted servant upon his death, until that fellow would die, then it would go back to the family. the father thinking his death would be far off, and his son would possibly come to his senses prior to these events ever occurring. However, Major Arthur meets an untimely death, and chaos ensues. Castle Reef, in the hands of Maguire, goes to the dogs. The remaining servants leave in a huff, Francis returns with his new bride in order to teach him how to maintain order, meanwhile, Maguire mistakenly is kidnapped by some group trying to extort a ransom. 

Thoughts: Nothing special. This whole book seemed written to give a message of don't use your will to try teaching a lesson that you'd like taught in your lifetime, because you might not live to see that lesson taught. It makes me wonder if there was a personal circumstance in this woman's life which was the springboard for this book, perhaps she (or a family member) had been written out of a will, just because she did something to upset a parent when she was young.....