Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore

First of all, the depth of research required to pull off a novel like this, filling in the blanks between the birth of Christ and the point at which we pick up his story again, when he’s in his thirties, is incredible, and even if many of the scenarios in this novel are preposterous, Christopher Moore deserves kudos just for that.

Second, this is parody at its best, and while, yes, it’s controversial, the best comedy comes from darkness and controversy. Parody serves a purpose, it makes us examine the truths we hold close, but non-threateningly.

Third, this novel is hilarious. Completely hilarious. Biff is the perfect foil for the world’s only perfect person, and the notions expressed – What if Jesus studied Buddhism? What if he knew kung-fu? – are delightful to ponder.

As the author points out, it’s fiction, and if reading fiction causes you to doubt your faith, it’s your faith that should be examined, not the novel that caused your doubts.

Read LAMB.
Laugh a lot.

Firefly Lane, by Kristin Hannah

Firefly LaneFirefly Lane
by Kristin Hannah
Get it from Amazon

When you were a teenager did you ever feel like a ram of your head against the wall might be more productive than a conversation with your mother? If you are a parent, have you ever felt that way about your child? If so, this novel is for you.

Firefly Lane is a tale of the lifelong friendship between cool, breezy and somewhat broken Tully, daughter of a strung out leftover hippie, abandoned to her grandmother most of the time, and average, suburban Katie. Their friendship is formed accidentally when they become neighbors, but ends up becoming a sustaining force for both girls.

As they grow up, Tully is the one who knows what she wants and pushes everything out of her way to get it, dragging Katie along in her wake, until, finally, Katie ends up with what SHE really wants – a home and family, and loving husband.

Set against the television news industry Katie and Tully’s friendship follows a timeline from the early 1970’s, when they meet, until present day, when Katie has to face a devastating challenge and needs Tully, estranged in recent years, to help get her through.

While Firefly Lane is not, ultimately, a feel-good novel, it is a strong portrayal of women’s friendships, and the characters drawn by author Kristin Hannah are complex and believable.

Goes well with an ice cold glass of lemonade, an Adirondack chair, and a soft cotton blanket.

Frustration: The Goddesses of Kitchen Avenue

This is not a review. Why? Because you can’t review a book if you haven’t read the whole thing, and after a week of attempts I’m still only about forty pages into Barbara Samuel’s The Goddesses of Kitchen Avenue.

The cover blurb made it seem like a book I’d like – a story about different women coming together in friendship.

The structure is one I would normally find refreshing – it’s told partly in reproduced email messages, partly in first person accounts. It’s different stories braided together.

But I can’t get into it. I can’t get to the zone – you know the one? – where you’re totally sucked into the story, and just can’t read fast enough, and you can hear/taste/see the people and places described? I can’t get there. And so I’m frustrated. I mean, I could be reading about Tampa real estate, and it would be more gripping than this book.

I’ve read reviews of Goddesses…. that praise it, and call it brilliant and wonderful. Is there something wrong with me, that I just don’t see it?

Is it a flaw in the book, or just a sign that I’m supposed to be writing, not reading, right now?

Sometimes, the best thing you can do is put a book aside, and go back to it later. I’m afraid I’ll have to do that with this book.

save our homes

A Dangerous Dress

by Julia Holden

I bought A Dangerous Dress after reading Julia Holden’s other novel One Dance in Paris a couple weeks ago, and exchanging comments via her MySpace page. She’s kindly consented to do an emailed interview for me, when she has a few free moments, and I’m sure you’ll all enjoy it.

Anyway, this book shares with the other a trip to Paris, and is still a chick-lit coming of age story, but there are no trips to anything like Caesars Palace this time, though there is a movie set, a news set, and a bank involved.

The lead character, Jane, is working in her uncle’s bank, and feeling a bit humdrum, when she gets a call from a French movie director (who happens to be her college roommate’s father), asking her to please come to Paris and find the perfect 1928 dress for the star of his film. Her expertise, he says, comes from the college paper she wrote years before, about her late grandmother’s very own flapper dress – a dress so exotic, so unique, that it is literally dangerous. Dangerous in that edgy, seductive sort of way.

The dress is, of course, merely a catalyst. Jane jets off to find love, adventure, new skills, more adventure, and a lot of self-awareness, in an entertaining read that goes by way too fast.