Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Cross Currents by John Shors

Thailand's pristine Ko Phi Phi island attracts tourists from around the world. There, struggling to make ends meet, small-resort owners Lek and Sarai are happy to give an American named Patch room and board in exchange for his help. But when Patch's brother, Ryan, arrives, accompanied by his girlfriend, Brooke, Lek learns that Patch is running from the law, and his presence puts Lek's family at risk. Meanwhile, Brooke begins to doubt her love for Ryan while her feelings for Patch blossom.

In a landscape where nature's bounty seems endless, these two families are swept up in an approaching cataclysm that will require all their strength of heart and soul to survive. 

John Shors, brilliant author that he is, tells us at the beginning of this novel that it is about the 2004 “Christmas Tsunami” which devastated parts of Indonesia and this little Island off Thailand.  Two waves hit Ko Phi Phi, and met in the middle of the island pulling buildings and people out to sea, killing nearly one-third of the population of the Island. 

I read this book in almost one sitting. As you read and become invested in these people, in the back of your mind you know the tsunami is coming and you wonder who will survive.  You can’t stand the thoughts of losing any of these wonderful people, but you have to keep reading to find out what happens.  You can’t help love Lek and Sarai and their children and Patch, the American.  This is one not to be missed.

5 stars (PG-13 Brief sex scenes)

The Last Time I Saw Paris by Lynn Sheene

May 1940. Fleeing a glamorous Manhattan life built on lies, Claire Harris arrives in Paris with a romantic vision of starting anew. But she didn't anticipate the sight of Nazi soldiers marching under the Arc de Triomphe. Her plans smashed by the German occupation, the once- privileged socialite's only option is to take a job in a flower shop under the tutelage of a sophisticated Parisian florist.

In exchange for false identity papers, Claire agrees to aid the French Resistance. Despite the ever-present danger, she comes to love the enduring beauty of the City of Light, exploring it in the company of Thomas Grey, a mysterious Englishman working with the Resistance. Claire's bravery and intelligence make her a valuable operative, and slowly her values shift as she witnesses the courageous spirit of the Parisians.

But deception and betrayal force her to flee once again-this time to fight for the man she loves and what she knows is right-praying she has the heart and determination to survive long enough to one day see Paris again.

This is a stunning debut novel from Lynn Sheene. I can’t wait to see what she does next!  I devoured the last half of this book.  She does a great job developing characters that we love and care about.  Claire’s character changes and grows and we grow along with her and cheer for her. 

4 stars (Rated R – War violence and sex scenes)

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Saint of Lost Things by Christopher Castellani

This is the second book of a trilogy.  I did not know that until after I read the third book “All This Talk of Love”.  The first book is “A Kiss from Maddalena”.  It would have been better to read them in the correct order. I had to go back and thumb through “All This Talk of Love” after reading this book just to check a few things out.  “The Saint of Lost Things” takes place about seven years after “A Kiss from Maddalena", while “All This Talk of Love” is 50 years after “A Kiss from Maddalena". 

It has been seven years since Maddalena left her small town of St. Ceclia in Italy.  She is disturbed that she and Antonio have not been able to have a child. Antonio is obsessed with the American Dream, a home of their own, a Cadillac in the driveway and their own restaurant to make them rich.  Castellani takes us on a journey with them and their family and neighbors. He has a way of moving a story forward through flashbacks that is enjoyable and very readable.

4 stars (Rated PG – nothing too objectionable)

Monday, February 4, 2013

The Olive Farm by Carol Drinkwater

Carol Drinkwater is the British actress who played Helen in the BBC series “All Creatures Great and Small”.  This book is her story.  She fell in love with a French man, Michel, and they bought an olive farm in the south of France. 

The farm is situated in the foothills just outside of Cannes, were I spent a few months during my mission. Because of this, my review of this book may be a little prejudiced to area.  Needless to say, she has a wonderful, entertaining voice. Their tale of scraping together the money to buy this place, swimming through the paperwork of the French bureaucracy, finding honest workers to help them, dealing with the slow-paced life in Provence is delightful and enjoyable to read.  She tells their story with wit and enthusiasm.

Her descriptions of the island of Ste. Marguerite (just off the coast of Cannes) almost brought me to tears as I spent a magical day there myself. Even her images of the city of Cannes were delightful and invoked many memories. 

I believe anyone would love this book, but it was extra special to me.

5 Stars (Rated PG, she writes her cuss words as sh**, loved it!)