Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Bitter Sweets by Roopa Farooki

An interesting book, not so much for it's look at Pakistani & Indian culture, as it is an exploration of the way in which human beings lie to and deceive each other and the consequences that can occur. This was not a difficult book to read and did hold my attention throughout. I had thought about halfway through that I 'knew' the ending but then there was a twist or two to the story.

This is a story of three generations of a family and the ties that keep them together. A story of keeping up appearances even when we are aware that everything is not quite what it appears to be. It is also a story of discovery in which the characters learn not only of the secrets each are hiding from each other, but also of the ones they hide from themselves.

I enjoyed this first novel by Roopa Farooki, and would definitely be interested in reading her future work. Bitter Sweets is colourful and full of characters one can both like and dislike. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys light reading.

Between A Rock And A Hard Place by Aron Ralston

I wasn't sure what I was going to think or feel about this book although just reading the back of the book astounded me. The strength of the human spirit and the will to survive are things we don't often think about until it looks us right in the face. This book is about that strength and will and what one person can do when faced with the ultimate need.

Aron has a history of facing challenges and throughout this book he illustrates this for us, along with the fact that he is accomplished in survival skills as well. He seems to live for the challenge of conquering mountains, snow and ice, the weather, and even whitewater. Some of us wouldn't even think of going there and don't even understand the need that mountain climbers or whitewater rafters feel. We have no desire to expose ourselves to the elements in this way. Some of us would call him crazy. Some would admire his courage to face these challenges. All of his training and experience comes into play when he finds himself in a most unpredictable situation and realizes that he is now totally on his own, dependent on himself for survival.

I read this book with a sense of envy for the ability to climb mountain peaks and be rewarded with magnificent views and a sense of accomplishment. With a sense of admiration for the bravery to do this in sub-zero weather facing the elements, and also the challenges of whitewater rafting. Yet also with a feeling of amazement at Aron's survivor skills. I have to say that I really don't think I could have survived had I found myself in the same place. I have to respect someone who can so courageously and honorably survive what Aron has been through and still come out of the experience with his spirit intact and continue on with his goals.

I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a story of survival. If books like 'Alive' are up your alley, then I feel certain that you will enjoy 'Between a Rock and a Hard Place'.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Gabriel's Angel by Nora Roberts

I loved this story! Who wouldn't? Nora Roberts knows romance and this was a wonderful, heart-warming story. A beautiful, independent pregnant woman provides a twist to the story. She encounters her handsome knight in an interesting way, and Mother Nature provides a snowstorm that keeps them confined in a cabin in the mountains, where events proceed as we know they will. These are just the basics to any great romance, tho. How the story proceeds from there, the strength of the characters, and the way in which they work through their difficulties and come to love and support each other is what makes this story special. I've never read a Nora Roberts book that I didn't love!

It Takes A Hero by Elizabeth Boyle

The beginning of this one started a little slow, but once all the characters found each other, it moved along quite quickly and satisfyingly with a little humour on the side. I enjoyed it and will be looking for other books by Elizabeth Boyle. This is apparently one of a series of books about the Danvers family, although it also works as a stand-alone book. I enjoyed it enough to want to read more of the Danvers family tree.

Rafe is not your modern day investigator, but investigating is what he does. And that is the reason he gets drawn into searching out the mysterious author of the 'Miss Darby' books. He's frustrated because this seeminly nonsensical task is interfering with a murder investigation which promises to bring him a sizeable sum if he can uncover who the culprit is. And being in somewhat dire financial straits, he could really use that money. The payment for finding the author turns out to be to attractive to refuse, however, and besides, who can refuse one of the leading ladies of English Society!

The characters are well portrayed and diverse. I especially enjoyed the humourous antics of Colonel Posthill, and the crotchety Mrs Wortling. I always like being as surprised as the characters when I find out who-dun-it when they do.

The Shania Twain Story: On Her Way by Scott Gray

An interesting book about one of Canada's superstar performers. This is an un-authorized biography quite obviously developed from available public information. Regardless, it is still interesting and gives us a bit of insite, all in one place, into Shania Twain and her rise to fame. And who wouldn't want to know more. After all, she appears to have it all! Beauty, great voice, savvy business sense, innovative songwriter. Although she has worked and struggled on her own to make it in the country music industry, she also has a husband who compliments her and is able to support and promote her strengths as well. The book is a good gathering of public facts, but is not current, having been published in 1998. A lot has happened since then, including the birth of their child, and the latest that Shania and Mutt have separated and are divorcing.

A lot of this book is familiar and although it doesn't mention it specifically, there is also an un-authorized biographical movie that is practically a mirror image of this book. Possibly the movie was developed from the book? Shania's story is every bit as interesting as any other country music star. I will be even more interested in reading the authorized biography whenever it comes out. Meanwhile, I continue to enjoy her music!

No Time For Goodbye by Linwood Barclay

What a twist this one turned out to be! I found it a bit slow getting started, but once it did, I was totally absorbed. Can you imagine??? What thoughts would be going through your mind if you woke up one day and your family was gone! Vanished in the night! How would that affect you? That's what happened to Fourteen-year old Cynthia Bigge. Then twenty-five years later, she's married with a daughter of her own, and the events of her past are coming back to haunt her. She participates in a Cold Case type TV show and odd things start to happen. Is she losing her mind? Is she somehow behind these events? Or is it something else altogether. You'll just have to read it to find out! I definitely enjoyed the different twists this one took and if you like a good mystery, you will too!