Monday, March 28, 2011

The Scent of Rain and Lightning

The Scent of Rain and Lightning, by Nancy Pickard

Jody Linder is famous in small town Rose, KS because when she was three years old, during a bad Kansas storm, her father was murdered, and her mother mysteriously disappeared.  But then 23 years after the incident, the main arrested and sent to prison is released, raising a whole bunch of new questions about what really happened that night.

There was a lot I liked about this.  Thunderstorms in Kansas kind of have their own special magic.  Maybe it's that way in all of the Midwest?  I don't know.  I am familiar with Kansas storms, so I liked that part of this book.

The ranch parts were interesting, which I know a little bit about (very, very little) just because of a friend of mine who's father does that sort of thing.

The original story was great.  After we got through the back story into the "present" it sort of got hard.  Jody was not likeable.  The entire Linder families single minded obsession with Billy being the murderer just made them all appear stupid and ... not racist (cause race isn't a factor) but elitest?  The author wanted us to think they were good people because "oh look they hired troubled youth out at their ranch but poor Billy couldn't be saved," but I just didn't buy it.  The author also took it a bit far.  Billy was such a bad seed he was almost a cartoon character.

It did not help that the reader knew Billy hadn't done it from very early on.

I think my public defender (in Kansas courts no less) friends should read this book.  They'd be appalled. Actually maybe they shouldn't read it, as it is sort of appalling how the rich family in the small town railroaded the poor, lower class guy with no family and he spent 23 years in jail because they were CERTAIN he was guilty.

The ending wasn't satisfactory.  I wanted some sort of vindication for Billy, but again, the cartoon character comes into play and he was just really guilty, just not of the particular crime he was accused of.

I gave this three stars on good reads, because it was interesting.  But not four because there were problems.

Saturday, March 19, 2011


Fallen, by Lauren Kate

Lucinda Price is sent to a reformatory school after a suspicious fire kills a boy in her class.  Here she meets a bunch of crazy people, including two boys, Cam and Daniel.  Cam is instantly nice to her and Daniel is a jerk.  Of course she likes Daniel best.

But the school kids are all dysfunctional and have wierd secrets.  And Luce has dreams about wings and flying and bright lights and sees scary shadows during the day, coming to get her.  Come to find out the secrets involve fallen angels, a 100 years battle between good and evil, and an old rule that angels can't fall in love with humans; ever.  Lest the powers that be get mad and the human dies.

So, as with all things YA lately, this is a triology (mayhap a series?  I think there are four?).  And that always makes the first book feel like a preface chapter, versuses a stand alone book.  Word to publishers: please quit taking books that only need one and turning them into three.  You artificially lengthen them and we, the readers, know it.

That being said, Fallen was good.  Not Harry Potter good, or even Twilight good, but good.  I didn't care for the way the author spelled the peoples names (how would you pronounce Arriane? Or even Luce?  Is that Luc-y?  Or Luce as in Loose?).  But the plot was inventive.  The common criticism I've read is that nothing happens until the final two chapters.  Sort of true.  Nothing is resolved.  In fact, I have more questions at the end of the book than I did in the middle.  Is Cam a good guy?  Or a bad guy?

But, like I said, it's a triology.  Torment is already out, and Passion comes out in June.  If I can get them from the library (how I read Fallen) I'll continue.  If not ...

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Help

The Help, Kathryn Stockett

It's 1962 in Jackson, MS.  Skeeter Phelan came home from Ole Miss trying to  be a writer, and a woman in NYC advises her to find a good idea.  Skeeter decides to write a novel about the black maids that raise white children in Jackson, and what happens to those children and those women after that caregiver relationship ends.  And how the maids are treated by the white women who pay them.

This book was really good.  I enjoyed reading about Aibileen and how she cares for the babies and Minny was hillarious and heartbreaking.

This time period is always hard for me to read about, as it just seems so foreign.  Like another planet.  Not the same country that I live in just 50 years earlier.  The segregation, the racism, the crazy Junior League women who think they run the world.  Oh wait those women still exist.

I tease but it was hard to read.  Worth reading, but hard to read.  I've recommended it to the bookclub I'm in.

My only complaint would be the ending, though I'm not sure why.  I found myself turning another page, looking for the rest.  I don't know what would have made me happy.  But it was so sad and heartbreaking.  I really felt for the characters.