The three most important parts of a book are: a well constructed plot, compelling characters, and a satisfying conclusion.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Banks of Certain Rivers by Jon Harrison

I was immediately swept into this book with the prologue.  Neil Kazenzakis is employed as a teacher by the Port Manitou School District.  Neil is directed to attend an educational conference in Wisconsin and he takes with him his wife, Wendy, and son, Christopher.  It was to be a relaxing mini vacation for them.  Then, the unthinkable happens, a terrible accident in the pool and Wendy is flown to the University Hospital which leaves her in a vegetative state.  And the story unfolds ---

This is a captivating story about the power of family love, loss, sacrifice, and survival.  The author does an amazing job of getting into the hearts and minds of the characters and a lot of drama unfolds.

One negative comment:  After the prologue, which grabbed me, I struggled with this book early on for several chapters, almost giving up - too much information.  But, I'm glad I continued on - I eventually became engaged in the storyline as the chapters really started to flow with many twists and turns and a myriad of obstacles to overcome.  There were splashes of humor spread throughout and I especially loved the father-son relationship between Neil and Chris - very touching.

The last several chapters and the ending were my favorite part of the book.  The chapters were written beautifully with poignancy that will absolutely touch your heart and an ending filled with new beginnings.

This is a wonderful debut novel by Jon Harrison and I'll be watching for future books by him.  My rating is 3.5 stars.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Rockin' Chair by Steven Manchester

The Rockin' Chair is an engrossing read that is told with emotion and poignancy.  From beginning to end the story captured my heart with the good old fashioned story telling and the author managed to wrap it all into one beautiful package.  An amazing read!

The endearing character of John McCarthey, aka Grampa John, touched my heart.  Sometimes referred to as a stubborn, old codger, Grampa John is facing loneliness.  His wife of many years, Alice, is close to dying with the dreaded illness, Alzheimer's disease.  His world is about to collapse and all he can do is sit back and watch it happen.  Alice has been cheated one of life's greatest gifts, her memories, and is fast becoming no more than a shadow of the past.  Alice has always been the strong member of the McCarthey family - the one who instilled the family security.  As Alice's condition worsens, Grampa John decides it is time to call his family home - his three grand kids, Georgey, Evan and Tara, to say their goodbyes.  And the story unfolds ---

Over the years, Grampa John had carved four names into the seat of "the Rockin' Chair," that sat on their porch, Hank, Georgey, Evan and Tara.  From early on they'd all spent their childhoods rocking, laughing and learning to love and receiving Grampa's unconditional love.  Grampa John is not ready for the promised land until he knows these four loved ones have found peace in their lives and family problems are resolved.  There is mending to be done before he can join Alice in eternity.

After reading this book, I was left with a warm feeling - an absolutely wonderful read.  It is a favorite of mine for 2013.  My rating is 5 stars.  
I received a complimentary copy from Net Galley for an honest review of the book.  The opinion's shared are solely my responsibility.