Friday, November 23, 2007

Your Oasis on Flame Lake by Lorna Landvik

image from LibraryThing
This is another great Lorna Landvik book.

Devera is a woman in the midst of a mid-life crisis - she has a wonderful family -a quirky husband who cares for her, two daughters - Lin in the midst of of teenage angst and Darcy a sweet and quirky 11 year old.

Her best friend is a spoiled rotten biddy name BiDi. BiDi believes that she is the best, the brightest, and the most of the small town of White Falls. Really she is a tease still living in her high school fantasies. Her first marriage to Big Mike fell apart and she fell in love again with Sergio, a high energy latin baker. BiDi's daughter Franny follows her father Big Mike's size and hockey skills much to BiDi's dismay. She expects her daughter to follow her size two shape.

Into all of this mix Dick, Devera's husband opens a night club in the redone basement of their home. He has decorated with movie posters, candles, black curtains and lots of love. He christens it Oasis on Flame Lake. And much to everyone's surprise it's a big hit.

But Dev makes a terrible choice that will shake their foudations. Franny is vicisouly attacked after she scores a winning goal in a hockey championship and the retailiations put Darcy, in grave danger.

Once again I like that Landvik takes a normal small town life and adds the drama of life. Each of the chapters in this book are written by one of 5 characters - Darcy, Sergio, Dick, BiDi or Dev. The consistency of their point of view added to my sympathy or lack there of.

Another strong recommendation!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Tall Pine Polka by Lorna Landvik

image from LibraryThing

This is another great book!

I had read almost 400 pages. I had enjoyed the twists and turns of the plot. I thought I knew what to expect as the book was coming to a close and then.....I actually shouted "NO!!" I was so surprised by one sudden turn of events I couldn't be quiet!

That's what Landvik did for me in this story!

Fenny Ness is a stay at home, afraid of her shadow, twenty-something hidden away in the tiny Northern Minnesota town of Tall Pines. Fenny is surrounded by her good friends; Lee, the owner of the Cup'O Delight coffee shop, Slim, the barking bus boy/man overcoming the lingering remnants of Post Tramatic Stress Disorder, Frau Katte and Miss Penk the aging lesbian couple, Pete the shoe repairman who secretly runs a thriving mail-order business for handmade shoes, and the mayor. Each of these people works to fill the holes created by the sudden deaths of Fenny's parents. She is happy in this old lady life where everything is predictable and safe.

Into this cliched small town life a movie director is dropped, and Fenny is 'discovered.' Fenny becomes Inga, the fresh mail-order bride, ordered by Ike, a Minnesota lumberman. So, not only is Tall Pines over run with the film makers, but Fenny is also the reluctant star. Her no-nonsense charm washes over the actors, directors and the audience alike transforming a mundane little film into something as magical as the actual Tall Pines.

Midway though the story - Bill, a 1/2 Chippewa and 1/2 Hawaiian piano playing jack of all trades also drops into the scene and the real life in Tall Pines takes turn after turn for both Lee and Fenny.

In that real life there is a shooting ( the gun kind, not the film kind), a death, a birth, a marriage, and a couple of fights.

It's one of those books that could have stopped long before it did. I would have been satisfied, but longed for more. Instead, it rode out the turmoil and resolved itself in a way that only Landvik could.

This is a really good one!!! :)

Saturday, November 10, 2007

No Time For Goodbye by Linwood Barclay

This was our book club's November book. It was one of those that once you are into it...time seems to evaporate as you follow the story.

The premise is 14 year old girl who wakes up and finds her family gone. No note. No sign of struggle. Just gone.

The story then skips 25 years ahead to the making of a news program trying to solve this unsolved mystery. Cynthia Archer is a semi-neurotic over-protective mom of an 8 year girl old who needs to check the night sky to make sure asteroids won't strike their house by the next morning.

The story is told by Cynthia's husband Terry, a highschool creative writing teacher. Terry believes Cynthia, yet as oddities begin to appear in and around her he begins to question... was she more involved than she says?

Then tragedy strikes - Tess, Cynthia's aunt is brutally murdered as is the private detective who is looking into the family's disappearance. Terry doubts seem to grow and Cynthia takes Grace and disappears to get away from the stress and Terry.

That was the last straw - Terry begins his own quest for the truth. This leads him to Vince, the thug Cynthia was with the evening her family disappeared. And then the mystery begins to unravel....

I really liked this book. I thought I knew what was going on - I was only partially right. I like books that do that. There is something comforting in thinking you have a mystery solved. Yet the twist made life more interesting.... I don't want to say anymore - because I don't want to give anything away.

The part I didn't like was the name. It's so corny that I wouldn't have picked up this book on my own.

But, after I read the back - I was looking forward to it.

I also thought it would be more creepy - I do have a 16 year old. But, the book isn't creepy at all. From the beginning it doesn't feel random. That is what makes it ok for me to read!!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Love Walked In by Marisa De Los Santos

This is another one that I enjoyed - although it took me a while to get into it.

The book is told by two characters - Cornelia and Clare. Cornelia is living in a world created by old movies - and hoping for her one true love to walk in the coffee shop that she manages.

Clare is an 11 year old living with a mother on the edge of madness.

The chapters go back and forth between the two of them - picking up the story as they go.

This is one those books that have a great story that I really love - but the writing style bogged me down time after time. Cornelia is constantly living in movies - detailing bits and pieces that I didn't think really added to the story.

Clare's story was much clearer and more childlike. Clare carefully hides her mother's fall into darkness with expert care. She makes sure that she can take care of herself - hiding from all exactly what is going on. That works until her mother completely disappears.

That's when Clare and Cornelia cross paths and Love trully walks in...

This is a sweet and tender story -yet not completely predictable!