While some of the books I review on my site are furnished by the publishers, authors, or publicists for the purpose of review all of my reviews are truthful, honest, and my sincere opinion.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Review: Blind Hope: An Unwanted Dog & the Woman She Rescued by Kim Meeder and Laurie Sacher

Thank you to the Blogging For Books group for sending me a copy to review.

About the Book

Laurie had her own shattered dreams before she came to work at Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch—the ranch of rescued dreams—where broken horses and broken children encounter healing every day. Reaching out to save a dog in need, Laurie soon realized that the dog was rescuing her.

An inspiring true story told through the engaging voice of Kim Meeder, Blind Hope reveals poignant life lessons Laurie experienced from her ailing, yet courageous canine friend. Despite the blindness of her dog—and her own heart—Laurie uncovered what she really needed most: authentic love, unconditional trust, and true acceptance, faults and all.

As Laurie and her dog, Mia, both learned to follow the lead of a master they couldn’t see, Laurie discoverd the transforming power of God’s selfless love even for imperfect and selfish people—and she experienced a greater love than she has ever known.

“Love is a bridge that stands firm through difficulties and connects one heart directly to another, not because of how it looks, but because of what it is.” --Kim Meeder, Blind Hope

My Review

Since I love animals I was again destined to fall in love with this story. And since one of my dogs just happens to be an Aussie I was even more attached to Mia's story.

Not a whole lot of information was given about Mia's background, other than she was malnourished and was living under a rusted out car. But the story doesn't really need her background info as she creates such a great story without it.

Mia could easily have been put to sleep, and even though Laurie's intentions in saving Mia might not have been honorable at first Mia soon changed her heart. I've always been a firm believer that dogs are smarter than we give them credit for and if we just "listen" to what they have to tell us that we will be amazed. Laurie and Mia's story just strengthens that belief.

Mia, who despite all her problems, was just a dog who loved her owner and was happy to be alive. Many times throughout the book it is mentioned how she is so content with her life the way it is, and that her faith that her master will do no wrong by her is enough to keep her content. Laurie, who had struggled with her faith in God learns from Mia how to truly have faith and live in the light of God.

So while this is a story about a dog it is also a story about faith and finding your path to God. It is really inspirational. I cried many many times reading this one. I think the struggles that Laurie went through are not uncommon to struggles that many of us have gone through at one point in our lives. Her connection with Mia helps her to see how her relationship with God is not unlike Mia's relationship with her.

Seeing Laurie change was inspiring, and seeing how Mia is able to persevere through her obstacles is even more inspiring to me. And while I've said it before it is worth saying again: even though I know not all abused/abandoned animals can be saved it is so refreshing to read about one with a happy ending.

Blind Hope: An Unwanted Dog and the Woman She Rescued

Review: Oogy: The Dog Only a Family Could Love by Larry Levin

Thank you to Anna at Hachette for letting me review this book.

About the Book

In the bestselling tradition of Rescuing Sprite comes the story of a puppy brought back from the brink of death, and the family he adopted.

In 2002, Larry Levin and his twin sons, Dan and Noah, took their terminally ill cat to the Ardmore Animal Hospital outside Philadelphia to have the beloved pet put to sleep. What would begin as a terrible day suddenly got brighter as the ugliest dog they had ever seen--one who was missing an ear and had half his face covered in scar tissue--ran up to them and captured their hearts. The dog had been used as bait for fighting dogs when he was just a few months old. He had been thrown in a cage and left to die until the police rescued him and the staff at Ardmore Animal Hospital saved his life. The Levins, whose sons are themselves adopted, were unable to resist Oogy's charms, and decided to take him home.

Heartwarming and redemptive, OOGY is the story of the people who were determined to rescue this dog against all odds, and of the family who took him home, named him "Oogy" (an affectionate derivative of ugly), and made him one of their own.

My Review

Being an animal lover I'm a little biased to how great this book was.... But I think it'd take a person without a heart to be at least a little touched by the story of Oogy.

Oogy is a rescue dog who was horribly disfigured, apparently as a bait dog to train fighting dogs. The poor dog suffered through his pain and despite the odds was nursed back to health by a vet who did all Oogy's work for free!

Oogy's story is full of mischievousness, love, compassion, and sadness. As Levin explains what he's learned of Oogy and how he got to be where he was I cried. Animal abuse is so heart-wrenching. And while I know they can't all be saved it warms my heart to read stories like this, ones with happy endings.

Oogy's antics are sometimes hilarious, as I can see my dogs trying some of the same things (although I must admit they're not yet smart enough to open the refrigerator, but I wouldn't put it past them). The story doesn't just follow Oogy but it follows the entire family as they grow as a unit.

This was a very quick read. I finished it in one setting and it only took me two hours. It's so well written that I could envision exactly what Levin is describing (although the pictures at the beginnings of chapters did help me to build an image in my mind).

Oogy: The Dog Only a Family Could Love

Review: Just After Sunsent: Stories by Stephen King

Thanks to Book Cove Reviews for sending me a copy of this to review.

About the Book

Stephen King -- who has written more than fifty books, dozens of number one New York Times bestsellers, and many unforgettable movies -- delivers an astonishing collection of short stories, his first since Everything's Eventual six years ago. As guest editor of the bestselling Best American Short Stories 2007, King spent over a year reading hundreds of stories. His renewed passion for the form is evident on every page of Just After Sunset. The stories in this collection have appeared in The New Yorker, Playboy, McSweeney's, The Paris Review, Esquire, and other publications.
Who but Stephen King would turn a Port-O-San into a slimy birth canal, or a roadside honky-tonk into a place for endless love? A book salesman with a grievance might pick up a mute hitchhiker, not knowing the silent man in the passenger seat listens altogether too well. Or an exercise routine on a stationary bicycle, begun to reduce bad cholesterol, might take its rider on a captivating -- and then terrifying -- journey. Set on a remote key in Florida, "The Gingerbread Girl" is a riveting tale featuring a young woman as vulnerable -- and resourceful -- as Audrey Hepburn's character in Wait Until Dark. In "Ayana," a blind girl works a miracle with a kiss and the touch of her hand. For King, the line between the living and the dead is often blurry, and the seams that hold our reality intact might tear apart at any moment. In one of the longer stories here, "N.," which recently broke new ground when it was adapted as a graphic digital entertainment, a psychiatric patient's irrational thinking might create an apocalyptic threat in the Maine countryside...or keep the world from falling victim to it.

Just After Sunset -- call it dusk, call it twilight, it's a time when human intercourse takes on an unnatural cast, when nothing is quite as it appears, when the imagination begins to reach for shadows as they dissipate to darkness and living daylight can be scared right out of you. It's the perfect time for Stephen King.

My Review

After reading the fist few stories in this one I was thinking to myself "King has lost his touch". The first few stories were so predictable. But then it started getting really good. There were only a handful of the stories in this one that I didn't love. It wasn't that they were bad, they were just predictable.

I think my favorite stories were Stationary Bike, The Things They Left Behind, and N. I really think that they could have been turned into full-length novels. But they were still really good as short stories. N kind of had a IT feel to it. The Things They Left Behind was just weird, but in a good way. Stationary Bike was also weird. I thought it would be kind of like Thinner when I started reading it.

I usually don't like to read short stories, as I don't get enough time to connect with the characters and it's hard for me to get a real feel for things. With a few exceptions in this collected that was not the case. King's ability to write a short story that doesn't seem abrupt was great. And the characters were all fairly well-rounded.

This one did take me a while to read. Although at 539 pages it didn't take me nearly as long as I thought it would. The short stories were fairly fast paced and so they lent themselves to be read very fast.

Overall it was pretty good. The preview of Under The Dome in the back has me chomping at the bit to get my hands on that one.

Just After Sunset: Stories

Review: The Lion by Nelson DeMille

Thanks to Anna at Hachette Books for sending me a review copy of this title.

About the Book

In this eagerly awaited follow-up to The Lion's Game, John Corey, former NYPD Homicide detective and special agent for the Anti-Terrorist Task Force, is back. And, unfortunately for Corey, so is Asad Khalil, the notorious Libyan terrorist otherwise known as "The Lion." Last we heard from him, Khali had claimed to be defecting to the US only to unleash the most horrific reign of terrorism ever to occur on American soil. While Corey and his partner, FBI agent Kate Mayfield, chased him across the country, Khalil methodically eliminated his victims one by one and then disappeared without a trace.

Now, years later, Khalil has returned to America to make good on his threats and take care of unfinished business. "The Lion" is a killing machine once again loose in America with a mission of revenge, and John Corey will stop at nothing to achieve his own goal -- to find and kill Khahil.

You can get more information about The Lion by visiting Hachette's website.

You can visit Nelson DeMille's website.

You can also "Like" The Lion on Facebook.

My Review

This was a great story! I wasn't instantly drawn into it, but once it got going I couldn't pull myself away from it.

I hadn't read the first in this series, so there was a bit that I think I was missing from this one, but I don't think it deterred from the story at all. I was able to piece together what had happened in the first book and pieced together the back story.

I've never read DeMille before, but I'd heard great things about his writing. I wasn't disappointed! There is quite a bit of wit in the writing. I don't know if it was just the nature of the main character, John Corey, or if it's a common thing for DeMille, but it made this story easier. I think without the witticisms this could have been a very difficult and dark book.

I really liked Cory. He was witty, he was strong, and (like us all) he had faults. His drive to finish what The Lion started was so strong. While not all of The Lion's actions were meant to egg on Corey, Corey seemed to take them all quite personally. Although since The Lion promised Corey that he would be back to finish what he started I guess there was a vendetta to settle, and since Corey knew what The Lion's plans entailed I can see how he took everything personally.

The story was pretty intense. But again, the wit helped to break it up. It didn't make the story any less serious, but it made it not so dark and hopeless.

The narrator was pretty good. He wasn't mundane, but he wasn't the most lively narrator I've ever listened to. He gave the characters their own voices, and did a pretty good job at helping the listener to differentiate who was talking.

The Lion

Review: The Mask of the River King by Jules Wellesley

I won a review copy of this title from a giveaway on LibraryThing.

About the Book

Frey has spent his life as a slave mining ancient ruins left behind by a lost race, the Anunai. But when an explorer comes searching for a powerful relic, Frey joins him on an adventure that spans worlds. From floating cities to cloud ships, every step of Frey's journey takes him closer to battle with the evil Dravikos, whose quest to control the Mask of the River King threatens all life.

My Review

I've been reading this book for a long time. It's got a good premise, and the world that Jules creates in this one is beautiful. I just can't seem to keep things straight in this one. I don't know why, but it's been very difficult for me to read. Every time I pick it up I have to go back and re-read a bit of it to re-orient myself as to what is going on.

I really want to like it. I like Frey, the main character. He really seems to be coming into his own. The other characters are so neat. The way some of them are mixed breeds is a cool concept. They're not mixed like characters we're familiar with, from mythology or something, they're really unique mixes.

The idea of the Nexus is a really cool idea. It gives the book endless possibilities.

I just, for whatever reason, can not get situated with this one. I really want to like it, and I've been trying to. I just can't get there...

It's got some great qualities. The world(s) that Wellesley creates are amazing. I would love to give this a much better review, as I think it has the potential to be a great book.