Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Book Review Club (May Meeting)

Can you believe it?! It's the FOURTH meeting of The Book Review Club! We are so getting the hang of this! No one's throwing tomatoes or spam. In fact, we received emails and/or comments from several authors whose books were reviewed last month. So, we must be doing something right!

I'm sure you all remember KELLY HAYES, a loyal member of the Denny's Chicks critique group. Kelly's back and in fine form. She kindly offered to cover this month's book review on my blog so I could keep on revising I So Don't Do Makeup. (My dh will be very happy when this book is is D.O.N.E.!)

Thank you, Kelly, for coming to the rescue. Thank you for choosing a interesting book. Thank you for providing a thoughtful, well-written review. (And, yes, I know I owe you. :) )

by Tiffany Baker

What would life be like if you were a giant woman in a very small town? Ever thought about that? Probably not. But you will if you read this book. It’s a story about finding your place even when you don’t fit in. And there’s a lot of love, death, deceit and betrayal along the way.

Truly Plaice is the homely giant whose birth kills her mother, leaving her and her beautiful older sister, Serena Jane in the care of a father who cannot bear the burden. When he eventually dies, Serena Jane is taken in and spoiled rotten by the minister’s wife. Truly is not. Instead she’s relegated to the only people who will have her, a family of misfits who own a sorry excuse for a farm on the edge of town. There she bonds with Amelia, an almost mute but tough little girl who becomes her surrogate sister when Serena Jane no longer has time for her.

As a teenager, Serena Jane’s beauty earns her the May Queen crown and the attentions of the town doctor’s son, Bob Bob, who is also the town bully. While Truly’s ever-increasing size ironically makes her less and less visible, Serena Jane gets pregnant and marries Bob Bob. When she finally skips town eight years later, Truly moves in and takes care of her brother-in-law and nephew. But it takes several years of gritting her teeth against Bob Bob’s constant criticism before Truly finds her calling as a healer.

You might think this is a fairly ordinary story about small town life, but you’d be wrong. All of the characters are unique creations. There’s Truly’s foster father, a kind man who makes money by owning losing racehorses. There’s the small, wounded Vietnam vet who quietly loves Truly from the sidelines. There’s Truly’s motherless nephew who refuses to take on the mantel of tradition and become the town doctor. And there are many more.

Then there is Tiffany Baker’s voice, which almost becomes a character in itself. It has a resonant and timeless quality. And for those writers out there who, like me, love to see an author successfully break the rules, Baker uses first person narrative in an unusual way. We’re always in Truly’s head, but sometimes we’re allowed a forbidden peak into the inner thoughts and motivations of other characters, as if Truly has psychic abilities that are never alluded to. We even sometimes see things that Truly doesn’t. All of this gives the reader the eerie impression of a first-person omniscient perspective, which the author handles deftly.

This is a book about outsiders with no hope of conforming to society’s rules. So they have to make up their own rules. And in the process they create and fulfill their own authentic dreams.

This book will appeal to the outsider in all of us.

To learn more about Tiffany (she has an interesting story about getting published), here's a link to Tiffany Baker's website.

And now for the rest of the reviews... The coffee and tea are ready. The home-baked muffins are fresh out of the oven. And the book reviews are up. So, drag over a chair, grab some sustenance and go check out the rest of the reviews. You won't be sorry.


Thao of serene hours: TWO WAY STREET by Lauren Barnholdt

Stacy Nyikos: ALLIGATOR BAYOU by Donna Jo Napoli

Keri Mikulski: PERFECT FIFTHS by Megan McCafferty

Jody Feldman: NO MORE DEAD DOGS by Gordon Korman

Mitch Wallace of The Sphagnum Patch: 100 CUPBOARDS by ND Wilson (Middle Grade fantasy)

Kaye of the Book Review Forum: SECRETS OF THE DRAGON SANCTUARY by Brandon Mull (Book Four from the Fablehaven series)

Ellen Booraem of Freelance Ne'er-do-well: THE MYSTERIOUS BENEDICT SOCIETY by Trenton Lee Stewart (middle grade)

Patti Abbott: THE BOOK THIEF by Marcus Zusak


Sarahlynn of Yeah, but Houdini didn't have these hips: THE DANGEROUS BOOK FOR DEMON SLAYERS by Angie Fox (paranormal romance)

Gary Dobbs/Jack Martin of The Tainted Archive: SUDDEN by Oliver Strange (Western)

Sarah Laurence: SPOILED by Caitlin Macy (short stories)

Jenn Jilks: THE TENTH CIRCLE by Jodi Picoult (contemporary fiction)

Alyssa Goodnight: SUPER IN THE CITY by Daphne Uviller (light women's fiction)

Scott Parker: GABRIEL HUNT AT THE WELL OF ETERNITY by James Reasoner

Prairie Rose of Prairie Rose's Garden THE LAST PLACE by Laura Lippman (Mystery)

D.A. Riser of the Writing Greek: THE CURSE OF CAPISTRANO by Johnston McCulley (aka THE MARK OF ZORRO)

Linda McLaughlin: THE MEMORIST by MJ Rose (paranormal thriller)

From the Desk of Bee Drunken: DAPHNE by Justine Picardie

Wunderwoman: HOW STARBUCKS SAVED BY LIFE by Michael Gates Gill (Biography)

P.S. If I left you off the list by mistake, just leave a comment. I'll get it right!


  1. Kelly, fabulous review. I love your description of Baker's voice and your explanation of why this book has created so much buzz. I'm hooked.

    Barrie, It seems like the book review gets more interesting every time. Thanks for hosting with all that is going on and good luck finishing those revisions.

    My post is up.

  2. Love when authors break rules too! Thanks for the review. :)

  3. Barrie-I sent an email Sunday night saying I would have a YA book review today. THE BOOK THIEF. Sorry if you didn't get it. Patti

  4. It looks like there are plenty of good books to review. I can't wait!

    Good luck with finishing up your book, Barrie.

  5. A great review; this book sounds very interesting. Thanks for hosting this, Barrie!

  6. Patti, thanks for letting me know. You're up now. Yay!

  7. Keep going, Barrie! The end will come soon and then you can breathe!!

  8. I can run but I can't hide - my review will have to wait for June, soory 'bout that. Thanks for all the great suggestions everyone. Lots to add to the pile on my bedside table.

  9. This book didn't initially appeal to me, but then the comments about the interesting point-of-view and authorial voice really intrigued me. This is exactly what is so great about personal book reviews: they draw you in to learning about and admiring books which you wouldn't usually explore.

    I hope the creative juices are flowing, Barrie!

  10. I loved today's review. Congratulations and getting the book review club up, running and receiving comments from authors. You rock!!!

  11. Great review! It sounds like a fun book.

  12. that was a very well written review. I find this to be very exciting, discovering new books through other people's reviews. Thanks for hosting

  13. Sorry, I couldn't participate in this one but I will enjoy checking the links and reading the reviews.

  14. I'm glad people are enjoying the review. I enjoyed writing it. Barrie, you can ask me to fill in any time!

  15. Kelly, the day we decided to form our Denny's Chicks critique group was one of the luckiest days of my life!

  16. That last comment wasn't anonymous, BTW. It was me. Saying...aww. I'm feeling the love.

  17. This sounds like an intriguing and unique book. Thanks for Kelly for the review and to Barrie for organizing our virtual book club. Good luck with your edits!

  18. That's a great review. I'll have to get this novel.

  19. I love the review! I'll look for the book!

  20. Wow. I saw this at our local bookstore (Go Indie Booksellers!) and didn't buy it. NExt trip? I will. It strikes me a little like that Fish movie that came out a few years ago--about the kid who finds out that his dad DID live that fantastic life? I loved it.

  21. Sounds like it would make for a great movie, too. And I'm intrigued by the comments about the author's use of POV. Thanks for the review!

    (And as always, thank you, Barrie!)

  22. hi barrie! it was so good to meet you on friday! i hope that your weekend went well. =) i'll see you at scbwi!!!


Comments are always welcome!