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2021 Literary Escapes Challenge

- Alabama
- Alaska
- Arizona (1)
- Arkansas
- California (4)
- Colorado (1)
- Connecticut (1)
- Delaware
- Florida
- Georgia
- Hawaii (1)
- Idaho
- Illinois (4)
- Indiana
- Iowa
- Kansas
- Kentucky (1)
- Louisiana (1)
- Maine
- Maryland (1)
- Massachusetts (1)
- Michigan (1)
- Minnesota (1)
- Mississippi
- Missouri
- Montana
- Nebraska (1)
- Nevada (1)
- New Hampshire (1)
- New Jersey (1)
- New Mexico
- New York (4)
- North Carolina (1)
- North Dakota
- Ohio (6)
- Oklahoma
- Oregon
- Pennsylvania (1)
- Rhode Island (1)
- South Carolina (1)
- South Dakota
- Tennessee
- Texas (1)
- Utah (1)
- Vermont (2)
- Virginia (3)
- Washington (3)
- West Virginia
- Wisconsin
- Wyoming (1)
- *Washington, D.C.

Australia (2)
Canada (3)
England (6)
France (1)
Ireland (1)
Switzerland (1)
The Philippines (1)
Wales (1)

My Progress:

28 / 51 states. 55% done!

2021 Fall Into Reading Challenge

My Progress:

0 / 24 books. 0% done!

2021 Children's Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

2021 Children's Historical Fiction Reading Challenge
(Hosted by Yours Truly!)

My Progress:

6 / 25 books. 24% done!

2021 Popsugar Reading Challenge

My Progress:

33 / 50 books. 66% done!

Booklist Queen's 2021 Reading Challenge

My Progress:

35 / 52 books. 67% done!

2021 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

2021 Craving for Cozies Reading Challenge

The 52 Club's 2021 Reading Challenge

My Progress:

39 / 52 books. 75% done!
Monday, March 12, 2012

And, Once Again, I'm Not a Fan ...

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

You may have noticed I'm not much for inspirational fiction. There's a reason for that. On the whole, I've found that books in this genre tend to be preachy, predictable and so ooey-gooey it's nauseating. No offense to those who adore this kind of thing, but personally, I keep my distance. Why, then, am I reviewing The Walk by Richard Paul Evans? Simple: The second volume in the series is one of this year's Whitney Award finalists. Because I have a serious case of reading OCD, I couldn't dive into the second book without jumping into the first. I didn't want to do either, mind you, but I did. That's just the kind of devoted, self-sacrificing contest judge I am. Uh huh.

Anyway, The Walk concerns 32-year-old Alan Christoffersen, a successful advertising executive who's enjoying the very best life has to offer. He's got a luxurious house, a zippy sports car, a beautiful wife, and a wall full of business honors and awards—all the trappings of a happy life. Or so Alan thinks. When tragedy strikes, his perfect world begans to crumble. As Alan watches everything that's important to him slip away, he becomes so grief-stricken and depressed that he contemplates suicide. Then he does something even crazier: he decides to walk from his home near Seattle all the way to sunny Key West, Florida.

As Alan tries to outwalk his grief, he gets a taste of the adventure, danger and exhaustion that comes from crossing so many miles on foot. But what about the clarity he was hoping to find from his extended nature walk? Is he gaining a new direction in life or just striding away from his problems? As Alan puts one foot in front of the other, he'll have to decide who he really is, what he really wants, and how far he'll really go (physically and metaphorically) to find the answers.

Preachy? Check. Predictable? Check. Ooey-gooey? Check, check, check. The Walk must, therefore, be inspirational fiction at its finest, right? Maybe, but what I found was a whole lot of tell-not-show storytelling, flat characters and underdeveloped relationships. Alan's idea to walk to Florida made no sense to me since he seemed to have no real, concrete motivation to do so. The biggest problem for me, though, was that, while there was enough going on in the beginning of the book to keep the story moving forward, the majority of the novel is spent on the road with Alan. Which would be okay if the details were interesting, but they're just not. Reading about every town he crosses into, every diner he enters, and every meal he inhales gets tedious and boring. I had to drag myself through it, kicking and screaming, until the end, when something exciting finally happened.

Although the book deals with grief, I have to say it is more uplifting than my usual reading fare. It's definitely a feel-good book, so if you like that kind of thing, you'll probably dig this one. But, for me, The Walk was too unrealistic, too saccharine and too preachy. The author, I think, was trying so hard to teach a powerful life lesson that he forgot how effectively that can be done through the subtleties of good storytelling. Which, come to think of it, is my absolute biggest beef with inspirational fiction. So, yeah, while I can appreciate the aim of this genre, I'm still just not a fan.

(Readalikes: The Walk: Miles to Go by Richard Paul Evans

Grade: C

If this were a movie, it would be rated: PG for mild language and sexual innuendo

To the FTC, with love: Another library fine find

And My Love/Hate Relationship with OSC Novels Continues ... *Sigh*

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Although Danny North has grown up in an isolated compound in the mountains of western Virginia, surrounded only by members of his family, he's never really felt the love. Unlike his vast collection of aunts, uncles and cousins, Danny's not special. While the rest of them practice their magical, godlike powers, he can't. Because he has none. Considering who his parents are, Danny should be the most talented member of the clan. And yet, he's not. He's a lowly, misfit drekka—a person who should have powers, but doesn't.

As Danny grows up, struggling to decide what he is and where he fits in with his strange family, he makes a startling discovery: he can create "gates," which allow him to move about the compound unnoticed, invisible. This revelation leads to an even greater understanding—Danny's not a drekka, he's the most powerful mage to enter the world in a thousand years. As a gatemage, he should be able to move between lands, between times. Danny has no idea how to actually do that, but he knows that rival clans—heck, even his own clan—wouldn't hesitate to kill him just for one shot at using his power as their own.

On the run from his family, Danny must find the answers to all the secrets that have been withheld from him, secrets about his people, his powers and, most of all, himself. Finding his way in the modern world, of which he's never really been a part, is hard enough for Danny, but with the angry, warring clans chasing him, it will become downright life-threatening. If Danny can't figure things out fast, he may lose his talent—not to mention his life—before he has a chance to understand just how powerful he really is.

Orson Scott Card books are always hit and miss for me. Some I love (Pathfinder, the Women of Genesis series), some I loathe (Ender's Game, Saints). The Lost Gate, the first entry in OSC's new Mithermages series, falls somewhere in between. While I enjoyed the idea of the book, I wasn't so impressed with its execution. I liked the beginning and end, both of which had enough action to satisfy, but got irritated with the middle, since it just got ... weird. As for the book overall, the writing is bumpy, the characters are so-so and OSC's intense world-building gets in the way of the actual story. So, yeah, I found this one disappointing. Not too surprising, considering my love/hate relationship with Card novels, but still, I always hope.

(Readalikes: Um, I don't know. Suggestions?)

Grade: C

If this were a movie, it would be rated: PG-13 for language (no F-bombs), sexual innuendo/content, violence and scenes depicting illegal drug use

To the FTC, with love: Another library fine find

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