“The Wedding Dress”

Hauck, Rachel.  The Wedding Dress.  Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2012.  Electronic Book.

Purchased for Nook Tablet from Barnes and Noble.

Read between October 31 and November 6, 2012.

Three out of five stars.The Wedding Dress

It’s what every little girl dreams of: Finding her perfect wedding dress.  For Charlotte Malone, it should be a piece of (wedding) cake.  She does, after all, own a contemporary bridal boutique in Birmingham, Alabama that she runs with her best friend Dixie…
Finding the perfect gown should also be “To-Do List Task Number One”, being that her wedding to Tim Rose is just two short months away.  So why then, does Charlotte find herself heading up to Red Mountain seeking God’s wisdom and guidance, praying for answers to her questions and doubts?  Perhaps it was fate that brought her there on the exact day of the famous Ludlow Family Estate auction.  Maybe it was destiny that drove her to bid on and win a rickety old trunk.  Inside the trunk, to Charlotte’s surprise, is a pristine wedding dress.  One that has quite the story to tell…

What follows is Rachel Hauck’s heartfelt, homespun novel The Wedding Dress, tracing the interwoven tales of four women: Charlotte, Emily, Hillary and Mary Grace; and the bridal gown that is the common thread tying their lives together.  It makes a valiant attempt at being a whimsical blend of romance, historical fiction, and chick-lit, but in the end falls short of this lofty goal.  The book focuses heavily on only two of the women, Charlotte and Emily, almost ignoring the other two, and bites off more than it can chew.  I felt that it should have picked one or the other, romance or historical fiction, instead of trying to be both plus Christian  and/or Inspirational fiction.  I include Inspirational fiction because it’s not overly religious, rather it mentions God sporadically or a character prays in passing.  The Wedding Dress will appeal to brides-to-be, newly-weds, women celebrating their umpteenth anniversary, and anyone in between who appreciates a sincere and spiritual light-hearted book about love between friends, strangers, partners, families, and yes, occasionally God.

“Houdini Heart”

Longfellow, Ki.  Houdini Heart.  Port Orchard, WA: Eio Books., 2011.  Electronic Book.

Purchased for Nook Tablet from Barnes and Noble.

Read between October 24-30, 2012.

Four and a half out of five stars.Houdini Heart

Houdini Heart is the harrowing tale of an anonymous narrator, driven by a horrendous ordeal to flee  her glamorous life in Malibu for a small town in Vermont where she briefly stayed with her mother as a child.  There, she finds shelter in the River House, a once magnificent hotel that has been turned into a series of dilapidated apartments and shops.  Within the walls of the River House the narrator sets out to complete a task, her final novel, one to best her others, but soon finds there are forces at work inside the hotel (or, perhaps trapped inside her own tormented mind) that have other plans for her…

Ki Longfellow’s suspenseful, dark, and eerie novel is a compellingly written examination of the intense psychological unraveling of a lone, unnamed protagonist.  Woven together as a series of flashbacks, internal monologues, and excerpts from the central character’s best-known book, “The Windigo’s Daughter*”, Houdini Heart slowly and meticulously reveals the narrator’s  troubled past, and the terrifying events leading up to her arrival at the River House. With extraordinary subtlety and skill, Longfellow slowly spins an inauspicious web, pulling readers in until they’re no longer sure of what is real or imagined.  Is the River House truly haunted, or is our nameless heroine (anti-heroine?) losing what little remains of her sanity after what happened back in California?  Free from vampires, werewolves, zombies and other traditional staples of the genre, Houdini Heart is a work of literary horror that delves deep into the psyche and leaves readers questioning their own lucidity.  This book will stay with readers long after uttering its final haunting words.

I cannot adequately express how much this book affected me.  I’ll admit, I wasn’t immediately drawn in, but by the time I realized what was happening (though I couldn’t really be sure what was happening), I was so engrossed I couldn’t put it down.  Once I finally (regretfully) did, I could not stop thinking about it.  I felt the need to discuss with others what had happened, and if what I thought transpired had really occurred at all. I wanted to not only keep reading far past the book’s conclusion, I also wanted to dive into “The Windigo’s Daughter”, the protagonist’s award-winning-novel-turned-movie that Longfellow expertly ties into the storyline.   My only true criticism is that at present, the book is only available as a print-on-demand or electronic download. That, and I still have no clue what really happened in the River House, though that is equally a criticism and utmost praise for Houdini Heart. I will definitely be reading other works by Ki Longfellow.

*Windigo: The wendigo (also known as windigo, weendigo, windago, waindigo, windiga, witiko, wihtikow, and numerous other variants) is a creature appearing in the legends of the Algonquian people.  It is thought of variously as a malevolent cannibalistic spirit that could possess humans or a monster that humans could physically transform into. Those who indulged in cannibalism were at particular risk, and the legend appears to have reinforced this practice as a taboo. (Thanks, Wikipedia).

“I’ve Got Your Number”

Kinsella, Sophie.  I’ve Got Your Number: A Novel.  New York: The Dial Press, 2012.  Electronic Book.

Borrowed from The Cedar Falls Public Library OverDrive Service.

Read between October 17-23, 2012.

Three and a half out of five stars.

Sophie Kinsella of Shopaholic series fame is back with another fun chick-lit novel.  I’ve Got Your Number is set in 2012 London, and follows Poppy Wyatt over the course of a week, and more than a few unfortunate events.  First, she loses her priceless family heirloom engagement ring, then her phone gets stolen, all just days before her wedding to the tall, dark and handsome Magnus Tavish.  She finds a cell phone in a trash can, which just so happens to belong to the up-and-quit-to-be-a-model assistant to a very important (and hot) businessman, Sam Roxton.  What follows is a smart, sassy, and sexy (though not erotic) story of Poppy’s attempts to turn the curt Sam into someone a bit more personable, all while using the found phone.  As she and Sam communicate through text and email, Poppy finds herself questioning her relationship with Magnus and their upcoming nuptials.  Is he truly the one for her? And will she be happy marrying into a family of academic elitists, who use words like “IRIDIUMS” and “CARYATID” in Scrabble and frequently discuss the merits of subjects (way) beyond the scope of her knowledge?

Told in a candid, conversational tone complete with text message jargon and acronyms, I’ve Got Your Number will appeal to readers who are looking for a fast-paced, dialogue-heavy book full of witty banter and gossipy twenty-somethings.  Readers of chick-lit will identify with the present-day setting and recognize somewhat stereotypical characters, though they may not agree with the protagonists choices, or will they… Kinsella includes footnotes throughout the book in a type of stream-of-consciousness rambling from Poppy, which was difficult to follow in an electronic format.  I enjoyed the book, though I can’t say I’ll be dying to read any more of Kinsella’s work, or any chick-lit, for that matter.  Kind of like a romantic comedy movie, I feel as though I know what’s going to happen before it does, but while I’m watching/reading I am briefly entertained but ultimately left wanting more character or plot development.  I would recommend this book as a good read for a beach: breezy and humorous, but not quite captivating enough.