Stacy's Books

books, movies, and boy

A Gentle Rain, by Deborah Smith

Cover ImageFinished on 1-20-09, rating 4/5, fiction, pub. 2007

Shakey pointed a fake finger at me.  “You and that scar-faced mare?  You’re racin’ for all of us who are missin’ a part or two.  You probably won’t win, but at least you’ll get in the game.  You’re proof that God needs even the angels who are missin’ a wing.”

Chapter 20

Kara was raised as one of the elite.  Worth millions, with powerful friends in all the right places, she always felt inferior to her very successful relatives.  When her parents die she discovers she had been adopted and decides to find her bith parents.  Mac and Lily are still together and living on the Thocco Ranch.  Kara changes her name and heads to Florida where she ingratiates herself into the lives of everyone at the ranch. 

Ben Thocco has come up the hard way.  Born dirt poor he lost his parents at a young age and had to escape to Mexico with his younger brother so the courts would not separate them.  Now, in his late 30’s, he is a successful Florida ranch owner still caring for his younger brother who suffers from Down’s Syndrome and a serious heart condition.  His ranch hands are special needs adult who contribute to the ranch and form a makeshift family of society’s outcasts. 

This story of mentally challenged adults and a love between two people who need each other really touched me.  The theme of being different and being loved and accepted anyway is one that we should all be reminded of from time to time.  The book drew me in because of the people, but there was also so much story to tell.  Ben is fighting to save his ranch and his brother’s life and Kara is trying to come to terms with her wealth and what is best for her birth parents. 

I thought the last section of the book had more story than it really needed and I wish I could say more, but it might spoil it.  The end was too tidy and that is the only reason this didn’t rate higher for me. 

This book will appeal to many people.  Jane Austen fans will love the quotes sprinkled throughout the book.  Floridians, ranchers, and horse racing fans will enjoy the story.  Anyone interested in the emotional impact of finding out you’re adopted will not be disappointed.  And, of course, anyone who has someone in their life that is different will appreciate the story of the Thocco Ranch.

January 22, 2009 Posted by | 4 Star Books | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Watchers, by Dean Koontz

Cover ImageFinished 1-8-09, rating 4 1/2, fiction, pub.1987

“We have a responsibility to stand watch over one another, we are watchers, all of us, watchers, guarding against the darkness.  You’ve taught me that we’re all needed, even those who sometimes think we’re worthless, plain, and dull.  If we love and allow ourselves to be loved…well, a person who loves is the most precious thing in the world, worth all the fortunes that ever were.”    -Chapter 9

A top secret lab in California has created two new weapons for the US government – a gentle golden retriever and a savage best, both astonishingly intelligent.  One night they both escape and the NSA mounts a search, but before either can be found one is taken in by a lonely man and one begins killing at will.

Cursed Travis Cornell was looking for some happiness and found the golden retriever, who he named Einstein because of his human-like intelligence.  Through Einstein he found an equally lonely woman, Nora, and the three became inseparable.  The three found happiness together, but danger lurked because not only was the government still looking for Einstein, so was the beast and a crazy assassin. 

This is the ultimate book for dog lovers.  Einstein was nothing short of a miracle and I fell in love with him, just as you will.  He was playful, a protector, a source of comfort, and also possessed the intelligence to communicate fully with Travis and Nora.  The vision of Einstein lounging on the floor reading novels is one that warms this book lovers heart.  I confess that my dog received a lot of extra love and a few extra treats as I was reading this book.

Koontz writes books that move at lightning  speed, but also have heart, three dimensional characters, and a range of storylines that all move together perfectly.  He can do it all and with this book he does.  In the Afterward of my edition Koontz admits that this is probably his favorite book and that should be recommendation enough.

This is a suspenseful thriller, but also addresses some big issues like good vs. evil and the government playing God.  There is DNA mixing going on right now, but this was written 20 years ago!  This book will entertain you, make you think, and definitely encourage you to look at your dog and wonder how much of Einstein is in there.

This a must read for any dog lover!

January 8, 2009 Posted by | 4 1/2 Star Books | , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Outtakes from a Marriage, Ann Leary

Cover ImageFinished 1-1-09, rating 2.5/5, fiction, pub. 2008

Julia has just found out that Joe, her Golden Globe nominated husband of many years, is cheating on her.  She decides not to confront him (she knows he is a good liar) and goes about her daily life taking care of her two kids, teenager Ruby and preschooler Sammy.  She becomes obsessed with checking Joe’s cell messages and listening to the woman’s sexy voice repeatedly, looking for the owner of that voice in Joe’s life.  She surprises him on set and lurks on the celebrity websites spreading lies about her clueless husband.  When the time for confrontation comes the fallout begins with the Golden Globe ceremony as a backdrop.

I was prepared to enjoy it based on the good reviews on other blogs, but I didn’t.  I never connected with Julia and the only time I really liked her was when she interacted with Mr. Mom because she showed some depth.  I understand that this was the point being made, that she lost herself in the marriage, but there was so little spark to the character that I was bored with her botox, hair extensions, and recollections of better times with Joe.  There was no real sense that the story was going anywhere and the end proved that true, in my opinion.

The one thing I thought was fun was Julia’s dad identifying a person’s character by his or her first name.  Neds are thoughtful, Jakes sly, Davids smart, and Jacks funny.  Joes, she learned from her father, are a handful. 

I woudn’t recommend this book, but it has received good reviews elsewhere.

January 4, 2009 Posted by | 2 1/2 Stars or Less | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card

CD Audiobook CoverFinished listening to 12-21-08, rating 5/5, science fiction, pub. 1985

Ender Wigginis a six year old boy who is chosen for Battle School, after his older two siblings failed to make the cut.  He is sent to  school with other children who are the best of the best, but he is quickly established as the brightest hope.   The alien ‘buggers’ had invaded earth before and it is of vital importance that the International Fleet trains Ender in time to save the world from another attack.  Although he only had six years with his family, he is haunted by loving memories of his sister, Valentine, and fear of his brother, Peter and they affect his performance in both positive and negative ways.

Ender is six when he enters battle school and 11 or 12 at the end of the book.  It is easy to forget his age until his vulnerability shines through in his wanting friends or wanting his teachers to like him and it is at these times that your heart breaks for Ender.  The weight of the earth has been put on his small shoulders and at many times he almost breaks from the pressure.

I loved this book.  It was psychological, political, philosophical and just plain fun.  This book is perfect for all ages.  I listened to the Special 20th Anniversary Edition and it was wonderfully done (Of course it was also 10 1/2 hours, so prepare yourself!).

This is the first in the Ender series.

December 21, 2008 Posted by | 5 Star Books | , , , , , | 10 Comments

The Ark, the Reed & the Fire Cloud, by Jenny Cote

The Ark, the Reed, and the FirecloudThe Ark, the Reed, & the Fire Cloud. Finished 11-21-08, rating 4/5, children’s fiction, pub. 2008

This is book 1 in The Amazing Tales of Max & Liz

Max is a Scottish terrier who is called by the Maker to follow a fire cloud.  He leaves everything he knows behind and follows the cloud through Scotland, across Europe, to the Middle East.  Along the way he meets friends who are also being called to follow the fire cloud.  He meets a new best friend, an orange cat named Al, a mate for life, the beautiful white dog Kate, and a partner in leadership, the intelligent black cat, Liz.  Their adventures are fun and exciting and educational.  Liz loves sharing her knowledge with the others, like where rain and thunder come from and how food is fuel.

Their journey is entertwined with the story of Noah and his family as they build the Ark.  Noah’s family is shunned by their neighbors as they spend 100 years building the Ark as God has instructed.  One day animals from every place on earth begin to make their way to the Ark and a new adventure begins once they all board.

This book is magical and adventurous and fun.  It entertains, but also teaches and I think it is a must have for any Christian library.  It expands on the story of the flood without ever changing the biblical tale.  It is about friendship, loyalty, and hope.

This is a 450 page book for children 8-12.  I think it is beautifully done- the cover and the drawings inside.  Have you seen The Princess Bride?  Where Peter Falk is reading this grand adventure story to his grandson, Fred Savage?  Well, that is what I envisioned as I was reading this book.  It is a perfect book for you and a child to read together.  This is a perfect Christmas gift for preteen readers.

Author Jenny Cote has already written the next three in the series of Max and Liz and is also working with a movie studio to produce this book into a film.  I think it would be a wonderful movie.  Visit her website for more details and information,

November 21, 2008 Posted by | 4 Star Books | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Finding Grace: The Face of America’s Homeless, photographer Lynn Blodgett

The Face of America's HomelessFinished 9-26-08, rating 3/5, photography, pub. 2007

This is a coffee table book with a social conscience attached.  Blodgett went around the country to a dozen different cities and visited homeless shelters so he could photograph the people who used them to survive.  The photographs are all in black and white and he lets the photos alone tell the story.  I felt that he could have included more details about the people.  The photographs compelled me to want to know more, which may be the point, but it was a little unsatisfying.

The forward had some interesting statistics about the homeless (I wish I could include them, but I’ve lost the paper I wrote them down on) and it was heartbreaking to read how many are children, families, and women escaping abusive relationships.

I think this book is perfectly timed.  With the current forclosure rates and the state of our ecnomy as a whole, I think only more of our fellow citizens will be joining the plight of the homeless. 

This is not a book to lift your spirits or rattle of numbers and stories about the homeless.  This is a book to look into the faces of the forgotten, to appreciate what you have, and then to question how you might be able to help those people who need it.

This would probably be a great gift for photographers.

September 26, 2008 Posted by | 3 Star Books | , , , , | 1 Comment