Crack a Spine Book reviews by Misty en-US Copyright 2010-2018 Misty Walker Wed, 12 Dec 2018 09:23:45 -0500 Wed, 12 Dec 2018 09:23:45 -0500 9000 A Piece of Cake: A Memoir by Cupcake Brown “If you put God in your plans, you can make them as big as you want.” <img src="/images/piece-of-cake.jpg" width="150" height="225" alt="cover to A Piece of Cake" class="booker" /> I've typed and retyped the beginning of this paragraph countless times in an attempt to word this tactfully, respectfully, even wittily when what I really want to say is, “Shut up and suck it up!” Do we really have that much to complain about? In this book I met a woman who endured every conceivable horror but determinedly struggled her way to success. It took a long time. It took a lot of work. It took a strong faith that grew from small gestures of trust. With all the scapegoating and complaining that consumes the world, I was eager to finish this book and discover how this woman rose above the self-pity to make something of herself. Between the covers of this book, I discovered the formula to success: Prayer and trust in God + determination and hard work = happiness living your dream. Who would have thought? I'm embarrassed to admit that as the story progressed, my feelings changed from sympathy to frustration. Working in pharmacy for 13 years has hardened my tolerance of drug addicts. My lack of experience with addiction on a personal level allowed my professional hardships of dealing with the disease to remain at the forefront of my mind while reading this book. For a moment, I lost my compassion. Before this book, I couldn't fathom how someone could return from the doorstep of death to accomplish more than most people with every advantage. You're allowed an open walk through this author's darkest moments and when she finally finds her light, you can't help but discover a little of your own. I take with me the lesson that when life hands you lemons, you can, when ready and willing, make lemonade. Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin A murder mystery was just the break I needed after the intense love story I'd finished reading only days before. I'm partial to reading books set in the historic Deep South. I chalk it up to my desire to know the world during a time I still struggle to understand. <img src="/images/crooked-letter.jpg" width="150" height="225" alt="cover to Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter" class="booker" /> With a glance at the cover and synopsis, the book looked promising, but instead of a whodunnit, I got a who"duh"it. I'm not the girl who figures out what's going on before it happens. The endings tend to surprise me. So as I verged on congratulating myself for my Sherlockian sixth sense, it became apparent that this book was just simply written with a simple plot. That's all. I, unfortunately, retain my complete lack of foretelling. I wouldn't consider myself bored while reading this book, but I didn't walk away with the urge to recommend it either. It was an okay read to pass the time. The book did leave me with one blaring, burning question, "Where was the suspense?" Tease me, please me, make me work for it. Don't just shove it down my throat. I like a little mystery in my mysteries. One Day by David Nicholls Dex and Em, Em and Dex. <img src="/images/one-day.jpg" width="150" height="230" alt="cover to One Day" class="booker" /> That borrowed line from the book could serve as the synopsis. This book is solely about two people, Emma Morley and Dexter Mayhew. Two people whose undefined relationship spans a quarter century. Disinterest set in during the first couple of chapters as the story started to unfold like another boring and overdone love story. But then, it makes a sharp and unexpected turn toward the land of extraordinary love. What made this story striking was the characters' acceptance of their situation. Best friends, both carrying a deep love, but continuing to live separately with the understanding that it might always be that way. As with any romance, you're rooting for that perfect point of union, but in this book you didn't need that inevitable moment. You experienced a love story each time the characters met up. You sensed their unspoken emotions and felt the rumblings of truth that boiled at their cores. Their time together more a testament to love than the boldest affirmation. <i>One Day</i> turned into many years of life revolving around a bond that only exists for the few. The Next Queen of Heaven by Gregory Maguire Every time I get a few chapters deep in a Gregory Maguire book I have the same thought, "What the heck did I get myself into?" But by the time I'm rounding the midway point of the story, I realize I've made yet another premature judgment. I think an explanation of my teetering opinions lie with the writing style of the author. The text tends to be a pinch of cryptic, a dash of dark with a splash of cynical. Although I enter each book with hesitation, I'm never disappointed with the ride. <img src="/images/next-queen-of-heaven.jpg" width="150" height="225" alt="cover to The Next Queen of Heaven" class="booker" /> The party mix of characters were as charming as they were oddly paired. A gay singing trio with a group of elder nuns? Neighboring Pentecostals with Catholics? As with all groups of people with differences, you had the common stereotypical judgments, though these characters seemed to mesh despite themselves. Whether intentional or not, the showcase of camaraderie between these rare couplings strengthened my faith in brotherly love. We don't have to see eye to eye to walk side by side. My single peeve with this book was the ending. I was thirty pages from the back cover and I struggled to figure out how it could possibly wrap up. The last pages held what was possibly the best part of the story but from there it takes a dip into confusion. There were two characters at the end, one was exactly where you expected them to be and the other was just an odd placement. I didn't really get it. Despite Gregory Maguire's unconventional web of storytelling, it's well worth weathering his wacky world of wit for the pearl that awaits inside. The Heretic's Daughter by Kathleen Kent <blockquote>I thought of her cleaving to the truth even as she fell the short distance of the rope.</blockquote> <img src="/images/heretics-daughter.jpg" width="150" height="228" alt="cover to The Heretic's Daughter" class="booker" /> To me, being in the right place at the right time was browsing the bookstore as a stranger placed a book in my hand and told me to read it. To this day, I wish I could repay her with a world of gratitude for gifting me this story. I didn't know much about the Salem witch trials because it wasn't something I was taught in school. I had a general knowledge of its occurrence but I lacked an in-depth awareness of the details until this book. Hysteria is the dominant catalyst for injustice. I'm always surprised by how quickly people will follow suit when fear is the driving force. To think that a handful of young girls were responsible for the imprisonment of hundreds disgusts me. It's terrifying that false accusations left 19 hanging from tree limbs and 1 crushed into the earth. Spending 332 pages with the Carrier family introduced me to the strongest bond I've had the privilege of knowing. Most all the Carriers were plucked and placed in jail for witchcraft. Martha Carrier clung confidently to her innocence but concocted a plan to incriminate herself as a last ditch effort to spare her children's lives. It was a sacrifice that left me sobbing uncontrollably at 3 o'clock in the morning. Even now, as I flip back to reread the final scene of Martha's life, I can't get through it without a choking pain in my chest. Her last moments, as she hangs there dying, is too much to bare. For all the books I've read in my lifetime, I've never cried to this degree with another. It was the end you knew was coming but could never be ready for. This story brought me face to face with the evil and vindictive side of human nature and it's a story I hope we all keep tucked in the depths of our memory. For history can repeat itself when we forget the path we've walked before.