BoneMan’s Daughters by Ted Dekker

Title:  BoneMan’s Daughters

Author:  Ted Dekker

Hardback:  401 pages

ISBN:  9781599951959

They call him BoneMan, a serial killer who’s abducted six young women.  He’s the perfect father looking for the perfect daughter, and when his victims fail to meet his lofty expectations, he kills them by breaking their bones and leaving them to die.

Intelligence officer Ryan Evans, on the other hand, has lost all hope of ever being the perfect father.  His daughter and wife have written him out of their lives.

Everything changes when BoneMan takes Ryan’s estranged daughter, Bethany, as his seventh victim.  Ryan goes after BoneMan on his own.

But the FBI sees it differently.  New evidence points to the suspicion that Ryan is BoneMan.  Now the hunter is the hunted, and in the end, only one father will stand.

-From the front flap of BoneMan’s Daughters by Ted Dekker

When I first heard of this book, I was excited to read it.  The interactive site has creepy music and graphic pictures, and it looked as if it was going to be a suspense/horror novel.  I was all geeked out when I won a copy from The Literate Housewife‘s giveaway.  Alas, it has not lived up to the hype.

It is possible that I am disappointed in it because of the genre confusion.  It is, as it turns out, more of a crime/detective novel… something like Coben, but not nearly as good.  There is nothing like wetting your whistle for a tall glass of icy sweet tea, only to guzzle down lukewarm pickle juice instead.  So the fact I was geared up for some Clive and got Coben-knock-off didn’t help.  But… that wasn’t all.

As I read along, there were ways that Dekker wrote than just annoyed me.  Choices in words and phrases, as well as the way he stretched credulity beyond its snapping point.  By the end of the novel, I honestly didn’t know if the bad guy was going to win, not because his snazzy and clever writing, but because “Hell, at this point, anything’s possible.”  Honestly.  The Iraqi boneman takes Ryan, then the Texas BoneMan takes his daughter… and then that final connection between the serial killer and Ryan’s daughter was too much.  It made my “willing suspension of disbelief” impossible to maintain.

Add to that the complete lack of character development, or believable motives, or any reason I’d feel any sympathy for any of them.  By the end of the book I was hoping BoneMan would kill Ryan, the detectives, the publisher, me… Dekker, even.  Just get it over with!  End my misery!  Kill me now so I don’t have to finish!

A positive thing to say about it… Dean Koontz can sleep well knowing he’s not my least favorite author anymore.  Also, Dekker does present a fascinating moral dilemma.  How far would you go to protect your child?  Would you be willing to let another die in your child’s place?  Would you be willing to kill innocent people to save them?  I’ve found myself returning to this concept long after putting the book down. 

I give BoneMan’s Daughters by Ted Dekker 2 out of 5 stars.

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Homer’s Odyssey by Gwen Cooper

homers-odysseyTitle:  Homer’s Odyssey:  A Fearless Feline Tale, Or How I Learned About Love and Life with a Blind Wonder Cat

Author:  Gwen Cooper

Hardback:  289 pages

ISBN:  9780385343855

Challenges:  ARC Challenge

The last thing Gwen Cooper wanted was another cat. She already had two, not to mention a phenomenally underpaying job and a recently broken heart. Then Gwen’s veterinarian called with a story about a three-week-old eyeless kitten who’d been abandoned. It was love at first sight.

Everyone warned that Homer would always be an “underachiever,” never as playful or independent as other cats. But the kitten nobody believed in quickly grew into a three-pound dynamo, a tiny daredevil with a giant heart who eagerly made friends with every human who crossed his path. Homer scaled seven-foot bookcases with ease and leapt five feet into the air to catch flies in mid-buzz. He survived being trapped alone for days after 9/11 in an apartment near the World Trade Center, and even saved Gwen’s life when he chased off an intruder who broke into their home in the middle of the night.

But it was Homer’s unswerving loyalty, his infinite capacity for love, and his joy in the face of all obstacles that inspired Gwen daily and transformed her life. And by the time she met the man she would marry, she realized Homer had taught her the most important lesson of all:  Love isn’t something you see with your eyes.

Homer’s Odyssey is the once-in-a-lifetime story of an extraordinary cat and his human companion.  It celebrates the refusal to accept limits -on love, ability, or hope against overwhelming odds.  By turns jubilant and moving, it’s a memoir for anybody who’s ever fallen completely and helplessly in love with a pet.

-Inside dust cover of Homer’s Odyssey by Gwen Cooper

Okay… breathe…  I’m going to do my best to review this book on the its merits alone, and not gush about the author herself.  It would be easy for me to go on about how, upon hearing that my daughter, also named Gwen, loves animals and has a black cat, was really excited by the book when I got my advanced reader copy and wanted me to read it to her, emailed me for my address and not only sent her a signed copy of the finished book with a beautiful hand-written card and pictures of Homer, but also sent her a copy of the audio book.  AND that, with all that she’s got going on in her life with book-signings, fundraisers and feeling under the weather, she still takes time message us and even remembers my daughter’s cat’s name.  But this is a review of the book, not the author, so I will focus my attention on that.

Homer’s Odyssey by Gwen Cooper is a memoir of how the things that we might never choose on our own can be exactly what we need.  It is about recognizing value in someone or something and building your life around it.  It is about how, by looking at life and love through the eyes of another, we take on the traits we admire in that person.  In Gwen Cooper’s case, that person was a blind wonder cat, through whom she learned courage, how to love, and perseverance.

One thing I really like about this book is the format.  It’s set up as a journey from who and where Gwen was when she got the call from the vet about the eyeless kitten whom nobody wanted and would likely be put down if she, his last chance, didn’t adopt him, continues through jobs and moves and romances, and ends with what she has learned and insights she has gained through knowing and loving and living with Homer.  But, each chapter is also a tale in and of itself, making it a book that can be devoured straight through (honestly, it’s very hard to put down) or you can nibble on it and ponder each lesson.  Also, each chapter begins with a picture, usually of Homer, but occasionally of Scarlett or Vashti, Homer’s big sisters, and a quote from the other Homer, the Greek storyteller.

Another thing that I enjoyed with this book is Gwen’s sense of humor.  There are so many laugh-out-loud moments,  like bringing her date in and the two of them being greeted by a cat who not only discovered the tampons, but how to unwrap them, proudly carrying them in his mouth to show to his mommy.  Also, there is a quality to her writing that made me feel like we’ve been friends for years.

Like life, though, the book isn’t all sunshine and roses.  There are real dangers and some terrifying moments, like waking up to find a burglar in her apartment.  As well as the heart wrenching days after September 11th, when Gwen tried desperately to get back to her cats who were trapped in their apartment, just blocks from where the two towers had stood.

I found Homer’s Odyssey by Gwen Cooper to be moving and inspirational, at times hilarious and touching, and am thankful that there was a vet who refused to accept that an eyeless kitten was better off being put down, that Gwen Cooper was in the vet’s contacts list and opened her heart to him, and that she has shared Homer and his wisdom with all of us.  I give Homer’s Odyssey by Gwen Cooper 5 out of 5 stars.  It’s one of my favorites and I’ll be rereading it again and again 🙂

The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards

Title:  The Memory Keeper’s Daughter

Author:  Kim Edwards

Paperback:  401 pages

Date Published:  2006

Publisher:  Penguin Books

ISBN:  0143037145

The head crowned.  In three more pushes it emerged, and then the body slid into his waiting hands and the baby cried out, its blue skin pinking up.

It was a boy, red-faced and dark-haired, his eyes alert, suspicious of the lights and the cold bright slap of air.  The doctor tied the umbilical cord and cut it.  My son, he allowed himself to think.  My son.

“Where is the baby?” his wife asked, opening her eyes and pushing hair away from her flushed face.  “Is everything all right?”

“It’s a boy,” the doctor said, smiling down at her.  “We have a son.  You’ll see him as soon as he’s clean.  He’s absolutely perfect.”

His wife’s face, soft with relief and exhaustion, suddenly tightened with another contraction… he understood what was happening… “Nurse?” the doctor said, “I need you here.  Right now.”

…”Twins?” the nurse asked.

…This baby was smaller and came easily… “It’s a girl,” he said, and cradled her like a football… The blue eyes were cloudy, the hair jet black, but he barely noticed all of this.  What he was looking at were the unmistakable features, the eyes turned up as if with laughter, the epcantha fold across the lids, the flattened nose… A mongoloid.

The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards, pages 15-16

When Norah Henry goes into labor during a blizzard (I know, very Lifetime Movie, right?), Dr. David Henry is forced to deliver their children himself.  There is only one other person present at the delivery, the office nurse, Caroline Gill.  When David realizes that his newborn daughter has Down’s Syndrome, he passes her to Caroline with the directions to a “home for the feeble-minded,” and the name of the person to talk to there.  His intentions are to tell his wife, who is passed out from the anaesthetic gas, about their daughter’s condition when she comes to, however, when the moment arrives, he lies to her and tells her the girl is dead and her body sent to be buried in the family cemetery on his partner’s farm.  In her grief, Norah plans and announces a memorial for the lost child, “Phoebe,” and informs David of all this after it’s been made public, sticking him fast to the story he told her of the baby’s death.

Caroline, after seeing the deplorable conditions of the place David has sent his daughter to be dumped off and after being informed that the person to whom she was to speak no longer works there, decides to keep Phoebe.  Caroline, now in her early 30s, has spent her whole life waiting for her life to begin, waiting to be someone and to make a difference, she takes Phoebe and moves to Pittsburgh to raise her as her own.

The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards is the unfolding of the outcome of David’s decision.  It shows how this one secret, and really, much more that David has kept all his life, erects a wall between him and his family.  In his attempt to spare his wife and son the pain of having a daughter and sister who’s condition he believes will be a burden on them their entire life, he has only substituted one pain for another.  By the time he realizes his lie has caused more heartache than the truth ever could, his family has become individuals, islands unto themselves, lonely and feeling like they could never be good enough for the rest.

Because this book does a great job at recreating the sentiments of the time period toward special needs children, there are times when what’s being said is offensive.  My two older girls have special needs, and when the nurse in the Pittsburgh hospital asks Caroline if she really wants her to save Phoebe’s life, it rankled me as much as it did Caroline.  The book doesn’t crank out a happily ever after scenario, nor does it become an “Oh my God, yet another tragedy” soap opera, instead it presents a plausible, heart-felt outcome.

Things to keep in mind if you plan to read this book:  It is a real look at what life is like raising a child with special needs, and raising that child into adulthood.  It is a lifetime of events, and therefore can seem long, but it doesn’t drag.  Also, it does have heavy and sad moments, the character’s don’t do “the right thing” and there are no heroes… except maybe Paul and Phoebe, and even then maybe just Phoebe.

The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards can help the reader have more compassion for caretakers of special needs children, as well as having a moral that the truth is always the better way to go, that the best of intentions is often the surest and straightest path to Hell.  I give it 4 out of 5 stars.

**************************************************************************************

P.S.  Do NOT watch the Lifetime movie of this.  It is officially the WORST book to movie EVER! EVER EVER EVER EVER EVERI give that POS movie NEGATIVE infinity out of 5 stars.  It made the characters appear flat and shallow, it changed parts of the story that didn’t need changed and it was just plain crap.  Anyone who says they didn’t like the book because the characters were shallow and selfish, I have to wonder if they really read the book or watched the movie.

TSS – Middle-aged Vampire adopts Malevolent Child

The Sunday Salon.com

I’ve been much happier with myself this week. I feel like I’ve actually accomplished something. I finished The Richest Season, registered my 15-year-old for school, read Twilight(my high-schooler was shocked about that. She said, “Everybody in my school’s reading those!” I guess I’m hip?), read and reread and re-reread Cherise the Niece, accomplished my goal today of finishing Book One in Caesar’s The Conquest of Gaul… which may be the death of me, and am almost a fourth of the way through When We Were Romans… which I’m not sure if I like it or not, but at least it’s simple and short.

I also started a meme (even if it’s a meme of two… thanks Suey) this week called Viral Video Wednesday. A lot of people left their videos in the comment section, as well. This weeks was VVW – Numa Numa. A post dedicated to the history and evolution of Numa Numa. bermudaonion gave me the idea for next weeks, so check back in to see. I’m still trying to figure out how to slip Mr. Safety in next week’s post.

As promised, Today is the day I announce the winner of the signed copy of Mishka: An Adoption Tale. Again, I used Research Randomizer because it’s free… Random.org charges money… and the random number is 17, which is The Eighth Art! With only one entry I might add… Buy a lottery ticket, today seems to be your lucky day! So email me your address so I can send you your beautifully illustrated, heartwarming book 🙂 Check in on Monday, when I will announce my next giveaway!

TSS – Mummies, Mishka, and More!

The Sunday Salon.com

Wow! What a week! It’s Sunday already and I don’t know where the week went! I only read one adult book and on children’s book, but I’m okay with that. I gave away $50 in Borders gift cards, announced a giveaway for a signed copy of Mishka: An Adoption Tale, I helped capture a dangerous sociopath, and more.

This week was the last week for Maggie’s summer school classes. One of her classes was a drama class which held their performances on Wednesday and Thursday. Sammi and I went on Wednesday, and were the only family audience that day, then I took my little actress out for a fish sandwich at Burger King afterwards. Then I went to sign Gwen, my 14-year-old, and Mags up for school. Meg’s happy because she’s got a sweet teacher and all her friends (and none of her enemies) are in her class this year. Sammi’s in 10th grade this year, and high school registration is on Tuesday.

I thought I was excited and ready for them to go back to school… until I went clothes and supplies shopping. YIKES! Three outfits a piece totalled $270. Supplies, backpack, unmentionables for growing girls, and a Hannah Montana outfit I promised to get Mags two weeks ago added up to another $260 at Wal-mart.  We might have to cut back to one meal a day, but at least they’ll look great when they go back to school 😉

Thursday was the last day of the giveaway contest. So Friday I ran the numbers through Research Randomizer and posted the winners: M, The True Confessions of a Book Lover Named M, won the $20 Borders gift card and a bonus gift, then Jessica and Dawn, She Is Too Fond of Books…, won the $10 cards, and Suey, It’s All About Books, and Judy Brittle won the $5 cards. I still haven’t heard from Jessica or Judy Brittle and if they don’t email me their address by 3 pm today, then I will draw two new names for their $10 and $5 cards.

Friday night, while y’all were fighting in line for Breaking Dawn, I haven’t read any off them and have a copy of BD on hold, we went to the movie theater to see the new Mummy movie.

It was an incredible movie. It has something for everyone (except small children I suppose), mummies, dragons, Yetis (is that the right word for more than one Yeti? or is it like the word “fish”), new love, reclaimed love, animal love (yeah, but is strictly platonic), action, battle, immortals and Shangri La. The kids came home and immediately put the first Mummy movie in the DVD player, and they’ve been flipping back and forth between one and two. I want to see this one again!

THE MOST IMPORTANT THING THIS WEEK, blogwise that is. Seriously, I can’t say this enough, Mishka: An Adoption Tale is an exceptionally good book. Not only is the book a really wonderful and heartwarming book, but for each book that’s sold, and any other DRT Press book, 5% of the profit is donated to charities that help orphaned children in the EE and Russia. How can you go wrong with that? You get a great book to keep, AND the knowledge you are helping a child, who has no one, eat or get a new pair of shoes. It’s win-win!
Don’t forget to check out my Interview with Adrienne Ehlert Bashista and be sure to enter to win a signed copy of Mishka!

OH, and by the way… tell me what you think of my new look!  I’ve added a “Quote of the Day” to my sidebar, as well as rearranging the widgets (thanks readerville for the text box trick!)

Mishka Book Giveaway!

An Adoption Tale

Mishka: An Adoption Tale by Adrienne Ehlert Bashista is a beautifully illustrated and wonderfully written book about Mo the bear’s journey finding a family and home. It’s a great story for all children and perfect for opening the discussion of adoption. In the tradition of The Velveteen Rabbit, this emotionally touching story is written from the point of view of a stuffed bear.

I am giving away a beautiful, brand-new! copy of Mishka: An Adoption Tale. It has been signed by Bashista. Maggie and I reviewed Mishka (click here for the review), and I interviewed Mishka‘s author Adrienne Ehlert Bashista.

So here are the rules:
1. Post a comment here for your entry. (I will save comment information from this post for contact info, if you’re not entered here, then you’re not entered.)
2. Post this giveaway on your blog, then let me know, for two extra entries.
3. Post a comment on the review for another entry.
4. Post a comment on my interviewwith Bashista for another entry.
5. Doing all four will get you two more entries, for a total of seven chances to win.

This contest is open until Saturday, August 9th.  I will announce the winner in my Sunday Salon post on the 10th.   So get busy and enter already!

Mishka: An Adoption Tale by Adrienne Ehlert Bashista

Title: Mishka: An Adoption Tale
Author: Adrienne Ehlert Bashista
Illustrator: Miranda R. Mueller
Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: DRT Press
Publish Date: 2007
ISBN: 9781933084015

Mo sat high on a shelf in an airport gift shop.
Every day he watched as people rushed by. He wondered where they were going, and what they were like. Often, he’d see a mother and a father and some children and he’d long for them to come into the shop and buy him, but no one ever did.
More than anything, Mo wanted a family. He wanted a home.

Mo’s feelings echo those of any child living in an orphanage, watching people and families going about their own busy lives. When Mo finds himself in the company of a man and a woman, he wonders where they’re going. When they land in Russia, he asks if it’s their home. And at the orphanage, he wonders who they are seeing. Throughout the whole book, it’s Mo’s uncertainty that we hear, which of course reflects the child’s feelings.

It is for these children Bashista has written Mishka: An Adoption Tale. This is quite a beautiful book, both the detailed illustrations and the story are captivating and heartwarming. Mishka walks the reader through the process: the initial visit between prospective parents and child, then claiming the child and getting the paperwork in order, and finally the going home. However, it’s not an “instructional” or even a chronicle of events, instead it’s written from the point of view of Mo the bear who is the thread that connects the couple and the child throughout the story.

I really enjoyed this book, and I’ve read it three or four times already. I just can’t stop smiling whenever I look through it. Mo the bear’s body language and facial expressions change on each page, expressing the feelings of the moment. He is the ball in the game of catch, and he is the comfort object during the couple’s absence.

Maggie’s review:

I really loved this book. I liked Mo the bear and want one of my own. They should make a Mo to sell with the book so I can hold him while we read the book. My favorite part is when the man and the boy play catch with Mo as the ball. I think this book is so sweet! And I love the drawings, they’re pretty. The book has two stories in it. One story is about the little boy’s adoption. The other story is about Mo the bear getting a family and a home. I thought the part at the beginning when he’s on the shelf and nobody wants to buy him is sad, but if somebody had bought him then he wouldn’t have been Yuri’s Mishka. This book is for children in Russia who are getting adopted. I give this book 100 stars out of 5 stars. I really really liked it!

Mishka: An Adoption Tale is a perfect book for a classroom reading time book for ages 4 through 8 (though, Maggie’s 9 and loved it, too). It’s a wonderful conversation-starter and I found myself, quite unexpectedly, telling Maggie about how I had considered giving her up for adoption while I was pregnant with her. We talked about that for a while, as I explained to her that I had thought of it because I had wanted her to have the best life possible. I couldn’t do it, obviously, and I’m very glad I didn’t. I think the process makes her special to me because I chose to keep her. And I think adopted children are loved with that same special love because they were also chosen.

The ability of a book to draw out discussions of more difficult subjects without effort is a characteristic of an exceptional book, as is the ability to carry the reader along without the reader seeing the process, and Mishka does this.

I give Mishka: An Adoption Tale by Adrienne Ehlert Bashista five out of five stars. 😀

Don’t forget to enter to win a signed copy of Mishka: An Adoption Tale!