August 18, 2004
Jasmine Nights by S.P. Somtow

Jasmine Nights by S.P. Somtow: a coming of age tale set in Thailand in 1963.

Little Frog, who’s real name is Sornsunthorn but prefers Justin, is twelve years old in 1963 when our story opens. Refusing to speak his native Thai and left by his parents with his relatives, particularly his three aunts that he refers to as the three Fates, Justin finds himself living between two worlds - the one where he is but a child living in a vast protected estate and the one that he has created out of the poetry and Greek classics that he loves so much.

Soon an incident involving a stiletto high heel and his beloved pet chameleon Homer at a funeral leads Little Frog to a meeting with an American child living next door and brings about changes that he cannot even start to imagine.

I throughly enjoyed reading about Little Frog’s life. The novel had almost a poetic sense to its writing and almost every scene had a sort of poignancy to it, especially by the end. I’m not really sure that I liked how the novel ended up, but it certainly fit with the rest of it.

My only complaint was that the book was peppered with Thai phrases and vocabulary. There was is a glossary at the beginning of the novel, but I found it very annoying to have to stop reading, flip to the front, look up the word, and then get back into the story. While I enjoyed learning some foreign vocabulary, it really did break up the book.

All in all, though, the novel was extremely well written, very interesting, and well worth a reading.

August 08, 2004
The Bachelor's Cat: A Love Story by L. F. Hoffman

The Bachelor’s Cat: A Love Story by L. F. Hoffman: the story of a struggling artist and how his life changes when he adopts a kitten.

The titular bachelor in this novel is a struggling artist with a gorgeous girlfriend. Unfortunately, she has left him time and time again for other men only to return when her interest in them wanes.

Shortly after his first gallery opening, the bachelor finds a tiny grey kitten on his front porch. He adopts her and their relationship, one built on mutual trust and love, develops. Presently he meets a woman that is very much unlike the women he usually dates (she’s almost his age and is somewhat chubby). However, he has conversations with her that intrigue him and he finds himself gradually spending all his time with her. She’s so different, though, from the girlfriend that he struggles with what he really wants and needs and can only decide with the help of his cat.

I wouldn’t really classify this little tale as a romance novel, though there were definitely elements of that there. To me, this book was more about finding out who you are as a person and finding the person that makes you happy with what you and they are.

I finished it in under an hour, but it was so charming that I honestly wished it would have been longer though it probably didn’t need to be. Well worth reading.

Bluebird Cafe by Carmel Bird

Bluebird Cafe by Carmel Bird: as much as I wanted to get through this short little book, I just couldn’t. There was something about the writing stlye that just made it impossible for it to hold my interest.

August 07, 2004
Felicia's Journey by William Trevor

Felicia’s Journey by William Trevor: a strange little book about a pregnant Irish girl and the man that attempts to befriend her.

Felicia is seventeen and pregnant. Her lover, Johhny Lysaght, has returned to his job in England, so determined to find him even though the circumstances around her points to the fact that he doesn’t want her any longer, Felicia follows him.

While searching the town that Johnny is supposed to work in, she meets Mr. Hilditch, an overweight canteen catering manager. Mr. Hilditch befriends young girls in need and we are left to wonder for what purpose he feels compelled to do this.

The first two thirds of the book I spent trying to determine Mr. Hilditch’s motives. They seemed shady, but since nothing was ever definitely said, I was left wondering. Once his motives are made perfectly clear, however, I found myself not enjoying the book as much and by the last fifty pages, I really just wanted to be done with it. I also must admit that the twist revealed in the last chapter, I didn’t see coming at all.

All in all, a decent read and at two hundred pages, probably worth the read.

August 01, 2004
When Night Falls by Linda Anderson

When Night Falls by Linda Anderson: a thriller set deep in the mountains of North Carolina.

Lannie Sullivan lives alone, seculed in a hidden cabin atop a mountain. Two years earlier, her young daughter drowned in the swimming pool. Her ex-husband blamed her, and after their bitter divorce, she fled her life to live alone. Slowly, though, she has begun to seek out the company of others and meets Drummond Rutledge, a timber baron with secrets in his own past.

Drum and Lannie have an instant attraction for each other and begin a passionate affair. However, a convicted rapist has been let out of jail who is obsessed with Lannie and putting into place a plan to make her his.

For the most part, I didn’t really like this book. It wasn’t until I was on a plane and didn’t have anything else to do that I even managed to finish it. The romance between Drum and Lannie seemed just too sudden. Jeb, the rapist obsessed with Lannie, also seemed like your typical run-of-the-mill crazy, though his ploy to get near Lannie was pretty ingenious. I did like the dark secret that Drum’s past held and I found myself liking the book more by the time I got to the end. However, I would really only suggest this one if you’ve got absolutely nothing else around to read.