Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Griselda Takes Flight - Joyce Magnin

At first, I thought this book set in the fictional town of Bright's Pond was exceptionally cute and had a good grasp on small rural life.  The characters had small town names (Zeb, Studebaker, Griselda, Gilda, Stella, Agnes, etc.) and the word-isms were hilarious.  This was definitely a study in small town culture.  I laughed many times at the author's sense of humor. 
The premis of the book is that Griselda has been newly freed from the constant care of her obese sister, Agnes, because Agnes recently checked herself into a nursing home.  Now Griselda has an opportunity for the first time in a long time to live life willy-nilly.  She takes an interest in flying.  We get to hear a little about her minimal love life.  On a separate line, some supporting characters, Stella and Nate, are growing a ginormous pumpkin which they have named Bertha Ann.  Bertha Ann will be their submission to the state fair competition.  The book follows their journey and we learn a mild bit of info about pumpkin growing.  The only actual plot I could detect was that Stella's estranged brother, Walter, has come to town seeking a buried treasure and ends up in a coma.  His supposed fiancee is in town, and something seems fishy.  It's a good start, but is really not the focus of the book. 
Overall it was like reading a journal.  The entire book was written from one person's perspective (Griselda's) and written in first person.  It has no sustainable plot and reading it was like moseying through life one day at a time.  I am officially deeming this book a snoozer. 
It didn't work for me, but it may be good for a reader who wishes to relax in a Steel Magnolias kind of way.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Lady in the Mist - Laurie Alice Eakes

I love it when books begin with action.  This one did, and it held my attention all the way through.  This was my first experience reading a novel from Laurie Alice Eakes.  It was well researched and read like a breeze.  This would easily qualify as a good book to relax with on vacation.  I can see myself reading more from this author in her Midwife series.  If you have a Kindle, you can download this for free at Amazon.  As of today (10/7/11), the link is still good. 
The plot was detailed enough, and I learned about the role of midwives in society just after the American Revolution as well as the problem our nation had with the British Navy impressing Americans as little more than slaves on their ships.  There were a couple nights that I just didn't want to stop reading it.  I took my "book" with me everywhere. 
On a score of 1-5, with 5 being completely unpredictable, the mystery plot was about a 3. It bears saying that I never fully believed that the red herrings planted were guilty.  I think the book would have been less predictable if the conclusion had gone a different way. 
For romance, this is a good fix.  The author did a fantastic job with the characters' romance.  The ratio of mystery to romance was roughly 50/50.
Once or twice I noted that the language used was not consistent with the date that the book was set in.  She also chose to use a couple obscure words that I had never heard before, and I used my Kindle to get the definition.  The British word "brainbox" is presently a slang word, and I couldn't get quite over it.  Since the word appeared several times, it must have been a favorite of the author. 
Overall, a fantastic read.  Even better, it was free.  This one is definitely worth downloading!  If you don't own a Kindle, click here for the Nook download, and here for the KOBO download.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Sworn to Protect - DiAnn Mills

After reading "Attracted to Fire," the DiAnn Mills novel sent to me by Tyndale a few weeks ago, I knew I had to have another one.  So I bought and paid for "Sworn to Protect." 
Again Ms. Mills delivered.  In this novel the chemistry between the two main characters was not quite as good as in "Attrated to Fire." Although the romance wasn't there as much, it still made for an exciting storyline, because it leaves the possibility open for treachery.  "Sworn to Protect" is the first in the "Call of Duty" series.  It was published in 2010, so it's still a fairly new release.  This plot was multi-dimensional, but focused mainly on Danika, a Border Patrol officer.  Her husband, Toby, was murdered two years ago, and his killer was never found.  The killer still feels threatened, and is determined to bring down the entire Morales family.  It heats up with a lot of fighting, emotions, and an excellent presentation of both sides of the immigration situation.  Sensitivity was used throughout, although I did resent the use of a certain word which popped up roughly three times during the entire course of the book. 
This book is loaded in research on the job of a Border Patrol officer, the drug cartels and gangs on both sides of the border, and immigration operations and safe houses.  It's a trip to Texas, along the Rio Grande.  Grab a burrito and enjoy.

Contagion (movie)

Normally I review Christian women's fiction books, but I went to the movie theater with a friend last night for the first time in several months, so I'm going to review a movie... 
"Contagion" starring Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Kate Winslet among other non-famous actors revolves around the premise of a highly contagious virus which originates in China and takes over the world.  The virus has a 25% or higher death rate, and we see how quickly that would spread if such a thing were to take place in the world today.  It held my attention, but only because of the medical knowledge presented and the backdoor experience into the CDC (our government's Center for Disease Control).  There were no secondary or underlying story lines; this one is pretty unilateral.  Matt Damon stars in this movie, but you won't see him very much, and for his part not much was required.  He is usually a good actor, but in this movie showed very little emotion and versatility.
"Contagion" is rated PG-13 for graphic scenes.  As far as sex/nudity goes, this film has virtually none except for a short phone conversation at the beginning of the movie which was a little uncomfortable.  It has mild language except for the use of one "f" word.   The rating is almost entirely due to graphic scenes including one man getting ran over by a van (no blood shows), the high number of deaths as a result of the virus, graphic death scenes (convulsions, foaming at the mouth, etc.) and an autopsy.  If you have a weak stomach, I recommend looking away during the death and especially the autopsy on Gwyneth Paltrow.
Kate Winslet also makes a brief appearance, and dies about mid-movie.  Gwyneth Paltrow gets a surprising large part considering that she dies within the first few minutes of the movie.
If you are germophobe, you should definitely avoid this movie.  As always, my opinion is that PG-13 movies are best suited for adults only.  Overall, I would give this 3 stars out of 5.