So much to say and so little space to say it! I just realized how much I had going on at the original "From the Cheap Seats" and decided to start a little cousin blog. This blog will focus on book reviews and writings of a more creative nature.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Book Review and Giveaway: The Bunko Babes by Leah Starr Baker

Emerald Pointe
364 Pages
Available at Amazon

You might be inclined to dismiss this read as yet another foray into the multitude of stories that has collectively become known as Chick Lit, a term that that I feel dismisses stories told by women about women as being shallow and hackneyed.

Some "Chick Lit" stories may be considered light, fun and easily digestible while lying on a beach or sipping tea in the backyard. There are also stories that challenge the intellect and the soul (my Ben and Jerry stories--yes, you must read them while clutching a pint of Cherry Garcia). Other stories reach deep inside and pull at your heart and make you reconnect with long-lost emotions (tissue, please). Some stories have a little bit of everything. Trite. I think not.

I believe Becca Thorton, wife, mother, Bunko player and the not-so-likable protagonist (don't worry, she has a few redeeming qualities) in Leah Starr Baker's first novel, would agree.

Becca is a wife, mother, Bunko player, and a woman of faith. She has traits that many of can relate to even though we may not wholeheartedly like. The story unfolds on a game table with a few dice where Becca's friends gather and share laughs, tell stories and sometimes, long after the last die has been thrown, open up and share the raw and sometimes gut-wrenching details of their lives. From chronic illness and infertility to loss and infidelity, the challenges each of the Bunko Babes face are ones with which readers will connect.

Becca is flawed, which can be hard for readers to digest being that she is the central character in the novel. She comes off as selfish and self-centered at times, which is why many readers may find they connect with Becca's colorful cast of friends more than Becca. Although Becca's attitude may irritate some readers, there is a payoff (albeit rather late in the read). Readers learn first-hand of her stuggles with a chronic illness as Becca ultimately travels a road of personal redemption.

The easy banter, peppered with snappy comebacks, between the women, the engaging conversations with friends, Becca's accounts of her illness, truthful revelations, highly emotional and intense scenes between friends, and the ever present Christian influences make the novel a little more than a light beach read.

Leah Starr Baker is a first-time author and although the story is awkward and predicatble at times, there is little doubt that the author will grow into her writing as well into her characters. I'm eager to see what's next. Hmmm...maybe The Domino Dolls? Just sayin'!

GIVEAWAY---On a personal note, although this contemporary Christian meets chick lit novel is not my usual fare, there were a few characters with whom I truly connected. Some of their stories resonated with me long after I finished the novel. Which is why I would like to share this book with you. As an English teacher I am quick to give books away to family and friends. I love sharing stories and watching as other connect with them as I do. By the way, has anyone seen my copy of Arranged Marriage?

To win a SIGNED copy of Leah Starr Baker's novel The Bunko Babes, simply leave me a comment. Oh, but wait! There's more. In the spirit of the novel (and my review) you must share with us your most annoying trait. Please, not "I pick my nose" or "snap my gum." Dig a little deeper. Are you OCD to a fault? Do you have a tendency to talk over your friends? Do you tell stupid jokes, ALL THE TIME? Whatever it is . . . spill.

The winner will be announced on August 1st. Good luck!!!

This book review has been brought to you by Blog Stop Book Tours.