Wednesday, September 18, 2013

All the Dancing Birds by Auburn McCanta

  All the Dancing Birds by Auburn McCanta set my heart aflutter and my mind to dancing as it immersed me in Lillie Claire's struggle to hold on to herself. McCanta's lyrical prose wrapped me in the story like a comforting blanket as we traveled through Lillie Claire's good days and bad days. I cringed as Allison, Lillie Claire's daughter, struggled accept the reality of the changes in her mother as Lillie Claire lost her hold on her memories, her life, and her self. I blinked back tears as Bryan, Lillie Claire's son, gently but efficiently guided Lillie Claire through the necessary steps to preserve her dignity as much as possible. The letters Lillie Claire wrote for her children explaining her "failures" as she saw them and giving them their ancestral heritage left me clamoring for more as I'm sure her children felt when they finished reading them. Lillie Claire's "woman" aka Jewell made me appreciate how precious caretakers for those who can no longer care for themselves are. John Milton the Cat made me smile with every appearance. McCanta's brave book about Alzheimer's made me think about what I would want in Lillie Claire's situation gently bringing me to understand the emotional journey Lillie Claire traverses through various stages of her disease. No one in this book is perfect allowing the reader to identify with each one at various times and imagine myriad ways to handle the situations that arise. As a reader, I was enchanted by McCanta's writing and characters. As a writer, I was inspired to write from my heart. All the Dancing Birds flutters around one's being and settles into one's soul through words that dance across the page in an easy to follow rhythm.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Chocolat by Joanne Harris


Click to purchase
book from Amazon.com
Click to purchase
movie from Amazon.com
I watched the movie, Chocolat, several years ago, so I recently decided it was time to read the book. Perhaps I wasn't paying close enough attention when I watched the movie, but I expected something very different when I sat down to read the book. I expected the book to be more... romantic, sensual... Instead I found it to be an exploration of the effects of intolerance. Harris takes the intolerance so rife in our world and concentrates it in one small community showing how limiting we can be when we refuse to see beyond that which we've always been taught. She deftly explores the effects of exclusionary behavior and the harm of not bothering to get to know other people. With the story set around a newcomer who opens a chocolate store during Lent and the priest who opposes not only the chocolate shop but her mere presence, the town seems divided down the middle with people willing to blind themselves to other people's pain in order to maintain the status quo of their lives. I'm not sure the book was intended to make me feel sad, but it often did because it so aptly displayed how divisive human beings can be toward one another while wrapping their judgment up in a warped version of religious righteousness or even concern. Chocolat is a thought-provoking, entertaining book with characters that touch the heart and take up residence in one's imagination.


Sunday, September 1, 2013

Blue Ice by I.C. Enger

Blue Ice by I.C. Enger introduces Brooke Breckenridge and Homeland Security Special Agent Jack Strickland as each embarks on quests that will soon intersect. Brooke searches for a quiet, peaceful place to recover from the death of her finance and dog while Special Agent Jack Strickland searches for a lost friend. When Brooke ends up housesitting Stickland's missing friend's house, she finds herself under Jack's watchful eye. Brooke tends to unintentionally make herself look anything but innocent as she goes about trying to live in a small, lake community with Homeland Security camped in the house she's housesitting. Hiding secrets of her own, Brooke invites ever more scrutiny with her reluctance to discuss her past and her tendency to act recklessly. Danger, espionage, and death have infiltrated the small lake community leaving everyone at risk.