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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Book Reviews: SUMMER OF LIGHT and RETURN POLICY


As promised, I’ve got a couple of reviews for you today—books by male authors. Just keeping the balance here.

Summer of Light. This book is not a new release (2007, Bethany House), but I’ve just now discovered W. Dale Cramer’s writing and am delighted that I chose this one as my introduction to his fine novels. Mick Brannigan, a construction worker, loses his job when an accident occurs on the “high steel,” and he finds himself playing stay-at-home-dad to his and Layne’s three children. The results are hilarious and poignant, often on the same page. During his tenure, mishaps aplenty occur, a menagerie of animals roam the five-acre lot where the Brannigans live, and Mick discovers passion and purpose in his life. While his wife, Layne, is certain the children will be psychologically scarred . . . if they survive . . . Mick plods along in hopes that the damage to his kids won’t be permanent.

This story was delightful in countless ways, laugh out loud funny at times, and heartwarming to the end. My husband declared Summer of Light his favorite read this year. I couldn’t agree more.

Return Policy (2009, Zondervan) by Michael Snyder has been on my reading list since I first heard it was coming out. I even pre-ordered it, anticipating a rousing follow-up to his debut novel, My Name is Russell Fink. I was not disappointed. Return Policy features quirky (dare I say neurotic?) characters and a plot which follows the three-act structure—Snyder style. Mayhem results with this cast of mismatched, yet sincerely earnest folks. The author brings together the best of the down-on-their-luck characters and weaves an almost believable tale. Along the way you’ll meet a washed-up genre novelist, a single mom with a disabled child, a scraggly homeless man with blank spots on his memory, a priest who runs a mission, and a mysterious family of psychics known as the Grinning Whiteheads. Their intersecting lives makes us all want to be better human beings.

You should definitely add this one to your list of fun summer reads.

A final note here. Both of these books turned out to be flat out funny with a strong thread of discovering who we are meant to be and holding fast to that. While they are certainly inspirational, they give the added value of being highly entertaining as well.

10 comments:

Koala Bear Writer said...

They do sound very good. I'll have to add them to my book list... which is very long, at the moment! :)

carla stewart said...

I hear you on the long list of to-be-reads. And I just placed another Amazon order yesterday. YIKES!

michael snyder said...

Thanks much for the kind words about Return Policy, Carla. I'm honored that you read it, much less said nice stuff about it. I'm especially fond of the last line of your review!

Thanks again and have a blessed week.

Mike

carla stewart said...

Thanks, Mike, for stopping by. Just goes to show what a nice fella you are. And I really DID love the book.

Carmen7351 said...

These sound good. Need light reading for summer. Thanks for the reviews.

Carole said...

I was glad to see your review of W. Dale Cramer's book, Carla. Dale goes to my church and is a truly great guy. I've enjoyed every one of his books.

carla stewart said...

Thanks for stopping by Carmen. These two books will have you laughing your flip-flops off.

Carole, how fun that Mr. Cramer goes to your church. Please tell him he has two new fans in Oklahoma.

Camille Cannon Eide said...

Summer of Light is my all-time favorite book! Tell your genius husband Max he has superb taste. I love Dale Cramer's voice & style, loved all his books. He's my hero and I'm quite jealous of Carole.

Now about that other guy. . . I read a snippet of Russell Fink online once and laughed out loud (something I rarely do, actually) and have always wanted to read it but haven't found one to check out OR buy except a used one and everyone knows that's AGAINST THE PIRATE CODE. I wonder if Mr. Snyder knows of a way I can get both new as a package deal. Hmm. Maybe there's some gargantuan online bookseller I could find who might offer such a deal. Actually, after reading several of Michael Snyder's Novel Journey posts, I realized his was a voice to be reckoned with. He's been on my tbr pile for a while. The pile that rarely goes down because it keeps growing, thanks to the lovely Ms. Stewart.

Thanks for the reviews, Carla. Keep em coming!

michael snyder said...

Camille,

Hey, Mike here. If you'll email me through my website (www.michaelsnyderwrites.come) I may have a couple of ideas for that package deal of novels.

Thanks!

Mike

carla stewart said...

Whoa, Mike, what a deal. I'm sure you'll be hearing from Camille.