Tag Archives: Romance

Snow Falling on Cedars

By David Guterson

Published by Harcourt Brace

Copyright © 1994

San Piedro, Washington is a sea worn island of tall wild cedars and well tended strawberry fields. These things in addition to the islands weather, isolation, and confinement mold the personality of its residents. “Snow Falling on Cedars” is at once a romance, mystery, and historical drama that, for some, will elicit reflection and strong emotions.

Hatsue and Ishmael grew up together on San Piedro Island, and slowly a secretive and complicated relationship developed between them. In the 1930’s and 40’s interracial relationships of any kind were publicly difficult. When Japan bombed Pearl Harbor and thrust America into World War II any naïve hopes that Ishmael or Hatsue had of making a life together shattered.

Over 10 years later, the two are thrust back into contact. Ishmael now runs the small town newspaper that his father started and he is covering a rare event in Amity Harbor, a murder trial. The defendant is Hatsue’s husband Kabuo Miyamoto; he is accused of killing another man, a former friend, over the ownership of his parents’ old strawberry farm.

The start of Kabuo’s trial coincides with a massive snowstorm which incapacitates the town. However this storm is also going to lead Ishmael to a fortuitous discovery and a moral dilemma. Will he want to share what he learns?

David Guterson has written a story of love and war, and pride and prejudice, that is at times ethereal and then plummets to the harsh and occasionally indelicate.  His descriptions of San Piedro and its surrounding waters are heaven like for anyone who can visualize them – misty and green, white and windy, and the occasional sun dappled strawberry field. These scenes are contrasted against flashbacks of a dead man at sea, an autopsy, war time in the Pacific and European theaters, Japanese interment in American, and the prejudices that existed on both sides.  In addition there are unnecessarily descriptive sex scenes (which rarely ever add anything to a good story) and the possibly necessary, however unenjoyable, profanity laced wartime conversations.

The author adroitly tells his story in and out of flashbacks which would normally turn me off, but he fills them with such meaningful detail that you can’t help but to see the point and the beauty of it. In this way he rounds out so many characters; it is actually difficult at times to tell who the main characters are. He spends so much time with so many characters expressing their physicality, motivations, idiosyncrasies, relationships, and etc. “Snow Falling on Cedars” is just an extremely well crafted story filled with repression, anger, and desire that captivated my attention.


1995 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction


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Filed under Historical, Murder, Mystery, Psychological, Romance, Strong Sense of Place, War


By Suzanne Collins

Published by Scholastic Press

Copyright © 2010

Katniss Everdeen has survived, barely, her second stint in the Hunger Games thanks to a rescue operation carried out by the rebels and their Capitol spies. But all is not well. Not all of the games combatants were rescued. Among those left behind was Peeta who President Snow will now use to thwart the rebel cause and break Katniss.

Things aren’t well in District 13 either. However happy she is about being rescued, it was done with ulterior motives. Katniss finds that she has been saved so that she can be the face and voice of the rebellion, the Mockingjay. However, Katniss finds district 13 to be very strict and antiseptic and something about its leaders gives her an uneasy feeling. Will the leader of district 13, President Coin, still have a use for her when she has accomplished their goal? And will she be saving or destroying more lives? One thing is for sure; the rebellion is going to cause her grief on a level she has never known.

Mockingjay is at once different and similar the first two books in this series. In the first two books she is a captive of the Capitol and the Hunger Games. In Mockingjay she is safely inside District 13, but she is still a captive of the Games. Her life is now about taking down the Capitol the cruel creators of the Hunger Games, but she is still a captive in many ways trying to save Peeta, trying to keep District 13’s leaders happy, and trying to come to terms with all of the sorrow that has occurred since her first trip to the Hunger Games.

Suzanne Collins Hunger Games Finale is exquisite. Her ability to tale a tale that is filled with action, suspense, love, internal angst, and a philosophical and historical understanding of humans is spellbinding. I literally could not put this book, or any of the books, in this series down. The ending is so dramatic that I felt the pain and understood the necessity of Katniss’ actions. This series is just completely awesome. It has moved to the top of my YA Fiction list.

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Filed under Adventure, Community, Family, Romance, Science Fiction, Suspense, Young Adult Fiction

The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels

The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels

By Ree Drummond

Published by William Morrow

Copyright © 2011

Ree loved the city. While she was born in a big Oklahoma town, it wasn’t much compared to Los Angeles (Where she went to college) or Chicago (Where she was planning to move).  She loved the food, the fashion, the party’s, and the fast pace.

The last thing Ree planned on doing was stay in Oklahoma. She was there for a layover, just to get her bearings after college and move near her brother in Chicago. One thing had always caused Ree trouble though, she was boy crazy. And a boy, rather a man, would once again be her undoing, or salvation depending on your point of view. It wasn’t just any man though; it was the most unlikely of men – a Cowboy.

Ree had never thought of herself settling down with a Cowboy, but from the moment Ree met the calm, kind, confident, and hardworking “Marlboro Man” she was hooked. “Marlboro Man” was a rancher that lived an hour away in the middle of nowhere Oklahoma. It was about as far away from the city as she could get, but it might just turn out to be the best place for her.

“The Pioneer Woman” had its beginnings as a blog about a city girl in pioneer life, but interest was so high that it turned into this book. Let me begin by saying, surprisingly, I loved this book. I love reading about real people, with real feelings, and a real life. That being said there were a few things that detracted from the book. First, her proclamations of love and how her man made her feel were so repetitive that they became almost cliché. And second, Ree has made Marlboro man out to be nearly perfect. She has made him out to be the idealized boyfriend/husband. No such man exists, just as there is no perfect girlfriend/wife.

All things considered though, woman are going to love this for the humorous unlikely love story that it is. I think that men should read this book too though, because some of us could take a couple cues from the idealized version of Marlboro man. And hey, guys will like some of the humor as well.

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Filed under Adult Non-Fiction, Humor, Memoir, Romance/Love, Western U.S.