Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Book Review Club (May 2010)

Aaahhh. Doesn't it feel good to slow down for a moment during this busy, busy spring and pick up a book? Not only does it feel good, it's good for you. So, grab a chair and a coffee and a chocolate chip cookie (invented by accident in 1933!) and delve into the books below. Happy Reading!

Kelly Hayes, one of my wonderful Denny's Chicks critique partners, has written enough reviews for The Book Review Club that I probably don't have to introduce her! In a weird coincidence, Kelly actually reviewed for May 2009! Anyway, we LOVE her reviews! They are always thoughtful and insightful and well written. I think you'll enjoy this month's.

THE WIFE'S TALE by Lori Lansens

Mary Gooch is a woman who has recently topped out at 302 pounds and has worn a path from her bed to the refrigerator. She always told herself that if she ever hit three hundred she’d kill herself, but like so many things in Mary’s life, that never happened.

From the first few pages, it’s obvious that Mary has given up on herself. And as her 25th wedding anniversary approaches, we find out her husband, Gooch has given up on her too. He’s left her and given her no real clue about where he’s gone. All she knows is that he’s deposited a large sum of money for her in their bank account, but she doesn’t even know where the money’s come from.

Mary’s first impulse is to wait for Gooch to come back and in the meantime eat herself into a stupor. There’s even one wrenching bit where she resorts to gnawing on frozen corn to feed her loneliness and fear. But this kind of dark inertia proves too much even for Mary. She begins the process of tracking down her husband, which takes her from her small Ontario town to Toronto, and then to Los Angeles, where Gooch’s mother lives. There she waits again for Gooch to turn up. And it’s there that her true journey begins and we get a look inside at the pain and disappointment that have made Mary what she is.

But this is not a story about a woman tracking down her husband and the happy reunion that ensues. It’s about a woman finding herself, under all the extra pounds and the fear and the self-loathing. It’s about waking up from the long cold numbness of depression.

If this book were written by a different author it might be a saccharine tale about an obese woman losing a bunch of weight, finding her true thin self, and conquering the world. That would be Hollywood’s version. But in Lansen’s hands it’s a compassionate, honest, realistic story of an unhappy woman at a huge turning point in her life. Does she stay in bed and let the world crush her? Or does she get up and, as her father always said, “take a drink from the hose and push on”?

Granted, this book is not for everyone. I think you are either carried away by Mary Gooch’s sympathetic, funny, heart-wrenching voice or you’re not. I was. I took the journey with her to the end and felt like I’d picked up something valuable along the way.

If you liked The Memory of Running by Ron McLarty, you’ll like The Wife’s Tale. These two books have similar main characters starting on personal journeys after hitting rock-bottom. These are not “larger-than-life heroes.” They’re ordinary people with big problems who push through to find what’s on the other side. And it’s something we can all recognize.

And now, drum roll, onto the amazing reviews from amazing reviewers!!


Staci of Life in the Thumb: THE SHEPHERD'S GRANDDAUGHTER by Anne Laurel Carter (middle grade)

Stacy Nyikos: LEVIATHAN by Scott Westerfeld (young adult, steampunk)

Kaye of the Book Review Forum: KEYS TO THE DEMON PRISON (FABLEHAVEN #5) by Brandon Mull(young adult)

Keri Mikulski: HEARTBREAK RIVER by Tricia Mills (young adult)

Thao of serene hours: BLOOD PROMISE by Richelle Mead (young adult)

Cassandra of When Life Gives You Lemons: DEAD IS THE NEW BLACK by Marlene Perez


Ellen Booraem of Freelance Ne'er-do-well: THE GRAND SOPHY by Georgette Heyer (Regency romance)

Prairie Rose of Prairie Rose's Garden: THE WHITE GARDEN by Stephanie Barron (suspense)

Sarah Laurence: THE POACHER'S SON by Paul Doiron (suspense thriller)

Linda McLaughlin: DUALITY by Renee Wildes (fantasy romance)

Alyssa Goodnight of the Writers' Road Less Traveled: MURDER BOOGIES WITH ELVIS by Anne George (from the Southern Sisters mystery series)

Scott Parker: ABRAHAM LINCOLN, VAMPIRE HUNTER by Seth Grahame-Smith (adventure)

Beth Yarnall: TWO WEEKS WITH A STRANGER by Debra Mullins (historical romance)

Stacy of The Cat's Meow: THE THIRTEENTH TALE by Diane Setterfield



Patti Abbott: ROGUE MALES by Craig MacDonald

**Exceptional previous reviews are only a click away.**

Note to Reviewers: You know the drill.:) If I missed you, leave me a comment and I'll rectify the situation pronto. And award myself one less chocolate today!


  1. thank you, Kelly! You do write wunderbar reviews!

  2. You're so right - very wunderbar - straight from the Tiki Bird Lounge!

  3. Thanks, Kelly, for a great review! If this were a story about Mary losing all her weight and finding her Prince Charming in Hollywood I definitely wouldn't read it. But real characters with real conflicts I do enjoy. Sounds like an interesting book.

  4. I'm really glad I came across Kelly's review today, as I am headed to my favorite book store today. I appreciate her views and will an adventure looking into that book and into the others listed. Sounds like a great book.
    Barrie, when I took my family to the beach a few weeks ago, I was surprised (happily) to see my youngest daughter, with one of your books. She was so into it and LOVED it. I guess she bought it one day when she was out book shopping with her dad. She has good taste! :)

  5. This book looks great! Thanks for the recommendation.

  6. Great review - you captured what I loved about this book.

  7. This sounds like a good one. Is it like Wally Lamb's first one at all? Sounds like it.

  8. Great review, Kelly.

    I participated too. Thirteenth Tale:

  9. The book sounds intriguing. Good review.

    Barrie, the link to Kathy Holmes review appears to be incorrect. I got an error message when I clicked on it.

  10. Barrie, thanks for hosting and good luck with your upcoming launch.

    Kelly, welcome back and great review! I like how the novel appears to buck cliché. Why is there a skinny young girl on the cover given the MC?

  11. The link isn’t working to Kathy Holmes.
    This worked:

  12. Cheryl, I'm like you. If Kelly recommends it, I'll read it.;)

  13. This sounds pretty interesting. The last six or so reads have been middle grade or YA, so it's definitely time for a change...this one sounds promising.

    Thanks for the review, Kelly!

  14. Well, Sarah, that's a great question about the cover and one I kept asking myself as I read the book. Are they trying to trick people into thinking it's a make-over type book? If you look at the author's website it shows the four different covers. The Canadian one has half-eaten chocolates (Barrie would approve!). The Australian cover has a woman's mouth about to bite into a cupcake. And the UK cover shows an obese woman with a fabulous hat and sunglasses laughing. It's so weird how different cultures have such different approaches and the American approach is by far the most repressed and in denial. What's up with that?

  15. What a fabulous review, thank you!

    I've got my iced coffee - with cream! - and am sitting down to enjoy the rest of the reviews now. Thanks, writers!

  16. Sorry I forgot to let you know until now. It's been just a little hectic around here lately . . .

    Anymoo, I will be reviewing DEAD IS THE NEW BLACK by Marlene Perez. YA paranormal mystery

  17. I've heard a lot of buzz about THE WIFE'S TALE. Thanks for the great review, Kelly! ;)

  18. Great review. The book sounds really interesting. Thanks for hosting this club, Barrie. I always find interesting reading recommendations.

  19. I quite like that quote!

    It sounds like a difficult by ultimately satisfying book. Thanks for the review!

  20. Just no time or energy this time, Barrie. Up twice last night doing gramma duty, in Ottawa. I am so tired!!!!
    Great posts, though. I am keen on The Wife.


Comments are always welcome!