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Review and giveaway: Outside Wonderland

July 17, 2011

Alice, Griffin, and Dinah Stenen lost both of their parents when they were young.  Their paternal grandmother stepped in and raised them, doing the best she could.  Now that they’re adults, the Stenen children all seem to be struggling in their relationships.  Their parents are together in a heaven-like place watching and trying to guide their children.

I liked Outside Wonderland, by Lorna Jane Cook, but I didn’t love it.   It had a similar feel to The Lovely Bones, by Alice Sebold, without the magic of that book.  The book was an entertaining, quick read but I felt like there was something missing, although I’m not sure what.  I did enjoy Cook’s writing, though, and wouldn’t hesitate to read more of it.

I know the Stenen children lived through tragedies as children, but when things were going well in their lives, they seemed to sabotage their happiness and I found that frustrating at times.  I wanted to tell each one of them to “just grow up” at some point in the book and cringed when they made poor decisions.  The book did make me think about love, commitment, and even the afterlife.

It’s hard to say too much about Outside Wonderland without giving something away.  I read this for my book club and every member liked the book, but no one was blown away by it.  We did discuss the issues in the book for close to an hour.

I have an extra copy of this book for one lucky reader.  To enter to win a copy of OUTSIDE WONDERLAND, by Lorna Jane Cook, simply fill out the entry form.  Contest is open worldwide.  I will use random.org to determine the winner.  Contest ends at midnight EST Sunday, July 24, 2011.   Winners will be announced on Monday, July 25, 2011.  Comments are welcome (and appreciated) but will not get you an entry in the contest.

Review copy provided by St. Martin’s Press.  I am an Indiebound Affiliate.
23 Comments leave one →
  1. July 17, 2011 6:18 am

    I bet it was interesting to discuss how these people were affected by their childhoods. Sounds like it was a good book club pick.

  2. July 17, 2011 6:51 am

    It does sound similar to The Lovely Bones, though it’s not as great. It seems good for a one time read. Well, at least it’s entertaining.

    Thanks for the giveaway!

  3. July 17, 2011 8:06 am

    Thank you for making this one International 🙂

    The book seemed to have been quite a discussion piece despite it not Wow’ing the group. At least it offers food for thought.

    I haven’t read the The Lovely Bones but I did see Jackson’s movie. I loved it visually and it did touch the topic of her disappearance in an artistic form. I just found it hard to look at Marky Mark as a father… he’ll always be the underwear CK boy to me.

  4. July 17, 2011 8:10 am

    It would be hard to live up to Lovely Bones. And while the characters were maddeningly self-destructive, that always makes for great book club discussion.

  5. July 17, 2011 8:14 am

    Thank you for sharing.

  6. July 17, 2011 9:19 am

    Sometimes, I think it’s hard for books like this to be perfect for one reason or antoher. I like the concept behind it, though.

  7. July 17, 2011 11:04 am

    Someone in heaven watching, trying to help loved ones still living is a theme or idea used frequently in novels, it seems, and not one of my favorites. I also find it strange that all three of the children cause problems in their own lives when things are going well & sabotage potential happiness. I think I would be aggravated & feel like I was getting knocked in the head too often while reading this book. But it sounds like a good book for discussing so a good choice for book clubs.
    I don’t think this one’s for me but because you liked Lorna Jane Cook’s writing style so I’m going to look out for other books she’s written.
    Thanks, Kathy :o)

  8. July 17, 2011 3:02 pm

    This does sound like a good book for discussion but think it is one I will pass on. I will keep an eye out for other books by the author since you enjoyed her writing.

  9. July 17, 2011 3:18 pm

    You liked this one more than I did — which is good since you read it for your book club 🙂

    I just couldn’t get past the parents’ remarking on the goings on from “heaven”…I do agree though, that the book was well written, and I can see why you would give the author another shot..

  10. July 17, 2011 3:32 pm

    Thanks for the honest review Kathy! You definitely have piqued my interest of this novel.

  11. July 17, 2011 3:35 pm

    I do like a lot of books, love does not come that often, But still with fiction I do need to love

  12. Margaret permalink
    July 17, 2011 3:57 pm

    This sounds good!

  13. July 17, 2011 4:11 pm

    It probably not a book I’d be wild about, but I’m glad it was good enough for a nice long discussion in your group.

  14. July 17, 2011 7:31 pm

    Sounds like an interesting book, but I would have a tough time if its too much like the lovely bones but not as good.

  15. redladysreadingroom permalink
    July 17, 2011 9:06 pm

    I was not a fan of The Lovely Bones so this doesn’t sound like a book for me. That’s great that you were able to have a good discussion about the book. I find our most interesting book club discussions are about books that we are split on and have different takes of the book.

  16. July 17, 2011 9:21 pm

    I’vc heard about this one and I was counting on some feeling of “magic” in it. Glad to hear it reminded you of Lovely Bones, even if it didn’t work that well.

  17. July 18, 2011 9:32 am

    Ack – I hate it when I want to reach through a book and shake some sense into the characters. I may pass on this one.

  18. July 18, 2011 11:41 am

    Like you, weak characters in a book that make me want to kick them take away from my enjoyment of the read. BUT .. having said that, when a writer writes these flawed type of characters, and you actually DO feel like kicking them in the head to give them some sense, the writer has done a great job of drawing them. And .. well, even though we don’t like it, there are actually people like this around us as well. 🙂 Thanks for the review; I think this is the second I’ve seen and both touched on the flawed characters in the same fashion.

  19. July 18, 2011 1:10 pm

    I really enjoyed The Lovely Bones. I think authors have to get the “watching from Heaven” thing just right or it all falls apart. Glad the book provided much food for thought, though.

  20. July 18, 2011 3:13 pm

    Bummer..sorry you didn’t like this one more.

  21. July 18, 2011 11:11 pm

    This sounds good to me despite you not loving it. I still wouldn’t mind trying it out.

  22. July 18, 2011 11:30 pm

    Thanks for the giveaway opportunity. This does sound like an interesting read – and it also sounds like it provide a lot of interesting discussion points.

  23. Veens permalink
    July 20, 2011 5:15 am

    I have entered, thank you for the giveaway.

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