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80 of 81 people found the following review helpful
on September 14, 2008
Rain Song was an absolute pleasure to read and absorb. Alice Wisler does a marvelous job taking the reader to Nicole's world in N. Carolina. I couldn't wait for each new chapter to see what would happen next. It was a refreshing change from so many Christian novels that are, let's be honest, full of nothingness.

Each character came alive for me while I read. It reminded me a lot of my own family. I believe that everyone has an Aunt Iva in their family, a Monet, and if we're lucky enough, a Harrison.

As a middle school English teacher in N. Carolina, I appreciated every facet of the book. I am actually going to see about having it read by my eighth graders in the spring. With the discussion questions at the end of the book, it's perfect! The questions are initially posed with regard to the book, afterwhich, they tie into the reader's personal life. An opportunity for personal growth are at hand if one is wise enough to respond with an open and honest heart.

I only have one thing that I didn't really like about the book ... when it ended. I am ready for the sequel, Ms. Wisler! Thank you for sharing this part of you with the world. We await the next, impatiently!
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111 of 121 people found the following review helpful
on August 7, 2010
Nicole Michelin lives in fear. She avoids airplanes, motorcycles, her past and Japan - the land where her mother died. She lives in fear of her grandmother's death and only finds solace in her fish and her writing. Her online column at the Pretty Fishy Website attracts the attention of one Harrison Michaels. As Nicole and Harrison correspond, he reveals that he knew her as a child and that their parents were friends. Nicole is intrigued, but very hesitant when Harrison suggests that she visit him in Japan. After all, that would require riding in an airplane. Ultimately, this story is about confronting fear and experiencing liberty.

I quite liked the main character narrating the story. The author gave her a unique and pleasing sense of humor. Unfortunately, I was quite dissatisfied with the book. I try to not be overly critical in my book reviews, but there were some issues that bothered me. The synopsis of this book made it sound like a romance. There was little to none. There was potential in the concept, but the author chose not to execute it. Also, I noticed at that author slipped from present tense to past tense writing at points where it should not have been done. I can understand the change if the the narrator were to begin recounting an event from her past. However, this particular slip was not made at such a point. Not only was it poor grammar, but it made for uncomfortable reading. But my biggest complaint about the book is that it stopped right in the middle of her visit to Japan. There was no epilogue, no sequel. Just a bunch of openness and things that were unresolved. (Her relationship with Harrison, her relationship with her father, etc.)
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30 of 34 people found the following review helpful
on October 7, 2008
Absolutely delightful! This book brims with interesting characters set in a small Southern town, some of whom you may recognize from your own family experience. I enjoyed following Nicole through her major decision to return to Japan, something she had firmly avoided. Her family trials were believable and heartwarming. Her visit to Japan answers questions and allows her to experience a bit of her past which had been lost to her.

An excellent first novel from this author and I eagerly await the next one!
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on September 4, 2011
I just finished Rain Song, and first I want to say my, how refreshing it was to read. At first I was dubious about the present tense, but quickly got used to it - I think I even like it better than past tense! It makes it seem like everything is actually happening, right then, as you're reading.
Her writing as a whole was enjoyable; it felt fast-paced even when "nothing" was happening and kept me constantly turning pages. I noticed a lot of reviewers complaining about it being slow... perhaps their style is an adventure or action novel. Plenty of things happened - no, she didn't get abducted or crash her car or stumble upon the world's biggest diamond - but things did happen. Small things, that mattered to the heroine, and thus matter to us.
I loved the insights the author would throw in. Nicole thinks about her fish, how content they are without any worries or cares. Things like that - it was just a treat.

I confess I did find Nicole (the heroine) rather self-focused... she worries a lot about her own problems and doesn't seem to care about any one else's. She does get better as the book goes on, but there is never anything that suggests that she is wrong to be like that. She also deceives her co-worker several times, which got on my nerves. (If she doesn't want to tell Kristine her personal life, she can just say "I'd rather not talk about". She doesn't have to lie.) Aside from those things, though, Nicole was a very likeable protagonist. She's timid and tries hard to build herself a life, but she's missing something. I could totally feel her day-to-day life and felt connected to her.
I did eventually find myself caring about her past, though I never got to feeling it was as important as she felt it was. That was the force that carried the novel though, and it was fine.

The other characters were rather one-dimensional, especially Iva, but somehow it seemed fine that way. I did enjoy Monet and her addition to the story. I loved how Nicole became more kind toward her, whereas at first she was loathe to have her over.
I wasn't sure what Dennis leaving Grable had to do with anything. It seemed a sad, unnecessary detail that only made us wonder if Nicole would last if she got married. It seemed odd to put something in like that and not to put the antidote to it. As if that's just something that happens and that's the way things are supposed to be.

Okay, now the tough subject. Why I gave this book 3 stars instead of 4 or 5. I know this book wasn't listed under religious fiction, but there are plenty references to God inside. What troubled me was how it seemed to be in-between. Either a book has no reference to God, or honors God and includes him in the story (which I would prefer.) It was, for lack of a better word, annoying, how God was kind of thrown in because it was the "right" thing to do. Nicole prays, and Ducee talks about God sometimes. There's comments about fish being "created". At the end, Nicole thanks God and says "you were always with me". However, it was obvious Nicole herself didn't really have a relationship with God. How do I know? We hear a huge percentage of her thought life.
There are no morals implemented really, with the exception of trusting God and taking risks. And yet one of the last things we hear near the end is that her reflection is "a confident woman". Hmm. Confidence? It seemed to clash with her trusting in God.

Also one thing that REALLY bothered me was her whole relationship with Harrison. Starting a personal friendship with a man across email (and eventually giving your heart to him when he doesn't know it) is not the wisest thing to do. I knew she wouldn't get "punished" for it (as in, Harrison lets her know he's going to propose to someone), although I almost wished she would. The book sets it up as an example even, since it results in her being happy (we presume. I'll talk about the ending later.)

To make up for all that, I will put in that I was pleased with how little romantic mush there was, as it wasn't the main point of the story. That was refreshing.

And since lots of people complained about the ending, I'll just say, yes, it could've been more resolved, but I wasn't completely left hanging. I would have liked to know more about Harrison and was looking forward to hearing about their first meeting, but I can understand why she had to end it quickly. The story was over. Much more would've dragged it on when it had no reason to continue. Her being with Watanabe-san resolved her yearn for knowing the past. It was adequate.

Well, I'm very sorry this review is so long, but I hope it's been helpful to someone. My summary sentence would be: If you're looking for good writing and a refreshing read, this is for you as long as you realize you're not getting built up in your faith by reading it.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on September 9, 2008
Rain Song captures all the elements of an entertaining novel. Set in a small town in NC, there is plenty of family tradition and charming characters. Nicole, the main character, has tried to hide from her past, a place she wants nothing to do with. But when she starts to correspond with Harrison, who lives in Japan, things can't help but change her heart and mind.

Alice Wisler does a wonderful job creating a novel that keeps the pages turning. Her writing style is fresh, poignant, and threaded with humor. Having lived overseas, I particularly enjoyed the Japan references.

There is a recipe for the McCormick family pineapple chutney at the end of the book. After all, traditions are what unite us, according to Nicole's grandmother Ducee.

I hope this is just the first of many more novels by this talented author.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on October 10, 2011
This book should definitely be read slowly. The tone and pace of it is like molasses dripping slowly off a spoon.

I'm not going to describe the story again, or write a long review, I just want to say that I found the characters in the book were beautifully rounded and believable, I especially loved Ducee, everyone should have a grandma like her. And I loved to "hear" Nicole's uncertainties and see the courage that she didn't know she had come out when she most needed it.

I had, still have, a doll exactly like the one described in the book. When I read about Sazae, I had to get mine, Belinda, out and reacquaint myself with her!

My only complaint about the book would be that I wanted it to go on longer. This is a delightful, relaxing, funny and tender book. Give it a try!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on March 6, 2011
This is one of those books that makes me grateful for public libraries -- because if not for a display of this author's books in honor of her coming booksigning in our town I would never have stumbled upon this little gem. It is a deceptively simple book -- on the surface the plot would take about three lines to summarize and the characters an equal amount of text. Yet swimming beneath that is depth of thought, of feeling, of description. It's one of those books that makes me question the separation between the narrator and the author herself because the main character is so real, except that the author has published multiple books. The realism of her narrator, then, speaks to talent and imagination -- as does the book itself.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on November 15, 2008
"Rain Song" chronicles the story of Nicole Michelin, a young woman filled with fear and held motionless by a hole in her heart that longs to be filled. Tragedy entered her life at the tender age of two, leaving blank spots that desperately need to be colored in.

Through what appeared to be chance, Nicole has found a friend in Harrison Michaels via email. He discovers her through her articles posted online at Pretty Fish, a website for lovers of aquatic beauty.

What Nicole soon discovers is that nothing about God's plan is random: from the moment she was taken in by her grandmother, to the quirky Southern family who helped raise her...even to the random email from Harrison...all tie together to heal Nicole of her fear and her questions about the past.

Her biggest fear involves her life of two years in Japan where her parents served as medical missionaries...where she lost her mother and all memories of her life in Japan. Harrison lives in Japan...and he remembers Nicole.

Can she release her fear long enough to ask the questions her heart yearns to have answered? Or will Nicole push Harrison away, leaving the past as a gaping heart hole that nothing but answers can fill?

Alice paints a vivid picture that slowly captivates the reader. That ache inside Nicole will awaken any ache you've had buried inside your heart. That sense of mystery that surrounds many of us--you'll find a kindred soul in Nicole.

And those fears that entangle us and hold us back? Alice's slow, Southern style, filled with Grandma Ducee's Southern Truths, will carefully unwind the burial clothes that enshroud us and set us free.

You simply have to be like Nicole and step out in faith and learn the "Rain Song" of Alice J. Wisler and her cast of beloved characters. I have a feeling we haven't seen the last of Nicole, Harrison, and the entire McCormick/Michelin clan...at least, I'm hoping so.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on April 17, 2010
How I loved this book Rain Song- not only a "feel-good'Story, but one I wanted to share with others. Rain Song touched all the right buttons for a lovely read- got me involved, did'nt want the story to end and so on.I was after an escape, and Rain Song provided that. So I strongly recommend this author for what she has written and look forward to her next story!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on January 1, 2013
Loved the book until last page... I literally thought I had skipped half of it or something.... needs an ending.
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