Category Archives: review

“All We Can Do Is Wait” by Richard Lawson

AWCDIW

 

“All We Can Do Is Wait” follows a group of teenagers through a harrowing day in a hospital waiting room after a bridge collapse in Boston. Each is waiting to hear news of loved ones, one a sister, one a girlfriend, two their parents, and one a father. Not all of them receive good news. But it is more than that too. It tells their background – being a teenager is complicated, full of drama and shadows. Life is big and emotions are bigger. Some secrets seem insurmountable, and we believe they have the power to destroy us. We pull away from those we love, those who know us best, and try to close ourselves off from those who may see through our walls, our facades built of pain, to protect ourselves, to curl up around our secrets, protect them like the Golum in “Lord of the Rings”, hoping no one ever finds out, while we wait for someone strong enough, who cares enough, to break down the wall and come find us. To come find us and tell us we are loveable anyway – despite the secrets that we find so big, despite our pain, our mistakes, and our insecurities. This isn’t limited to our teenage years, even though it can be really hard then. This book talks about secrets, love, life, family, how you feel when you realize that you may never have a chance to see that family again – with all its flaws, and thorns, and who that makes you in this great big world without them.
While this book is a written with young adults in mind, the lessons and emotions felt here are everyone’s age. Definitely worth your time!

 

 

 

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Menagerie by Rachel Vincent

Menagerie

Menagerie focuses on Delilah Marlow, an everyday, small-town Oklahoma girl, whose boyfriend purchased four tickets to Metzger’s Menagerie, a “circus” of cryptids, or beings that are not fully human or fully beast – anything that is a mix of two or more species. These cryptids have lost all rights under the law after the “reaping” in the 1980’s, and are now either shot on sight, or captured and used in circuses, private collections, and freak shows. Metzger’s is the most interesting, well-stocked menagerie in the US, and tickets are ridiculously expensive. While Delilah would have much preferred a quiet dinner and movie with her best friend and their boyfriends, she knows her boyfriend is trying to be thoughtful, so she goes along with it. She feels both guilty and enthralled watching the creatures at the menagerie, but when she sees a young werewolf pup being mistreated and tazed in order to make her change her form in front of the spectators, something snaps inside her, and she has to speak up for the young pup, even though she knows they have no rights. This has disastrous results, with her waking up in jail, and that’s only the beginning. Things go quickly downhill for Delilah, and she learns what it means to have no rights, exist in a cage and made to perform for spectators. Can she fight back when she’s in chains? Can she get justice for herself from a cage? Can she hope to gain justice for the werewolf pup and others like her when she’s no longer free herself?
I enjoyed reading Menagerie, and am impatiently waiting for the second book, Spectacle, to become available at my library!

spectacle

 

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Artemis by Andy Weir

Artemis

 

I loved Andy Weir’s first book, “The Martian”, it was more humorous than I expected, and “Artemis” is like that. The main character, “Jazz” (Jasmine Bashara), has lived on the moon in Artemis since she immigrated there with her father from Saudi Arabia when she was six years old. She grew up there, and although she could have been a master welder, and has “so much potential” according to her father, a devout Muslim, she has become a bit of an outlaw. Her official title is Porter, however, she is actually a smuggler, and she uses her job as a porter to deliver smuggled goods that are banned on Artemis. Flammable goods, light drugs, cigars, etc., but she does have standards, no heavy drugs, and no guns! The one law enforcement officer on Artemis, Rudy, has been trying to catch her red-handed for years, and his main goal in life seems to be catching her so he can deport her to Earth/Saudi Arabia. Of course, Jazz wants no part of Earth or gravity sickness, nor any of the things it would take to get her to acclimate to Earth again. She just wants to be rich. She currently lives in what is not so fondly called a coffin, as it is only big enough to sleep in, not to stand up in, she doesn’t have a private bathroom or shower, and she wants to make enough money to get a place she can walk in and have a private bathroom. (without working for her father). In her goal to become rich, she takes a job above her smuggler status and gets in over her head. She can lose her citizenship on Artemis, she’s being chased by Rudy, her father is now in jeopardy, there has been a double murder, and unbelievably, the entire citizenship of Artemis is in danger, and a mob hitman from Brazil is on the moon, in Artemis, and chasing her. Andy Weir does not disappoint with this novel. It is just as good as The Martian, and it would make a fun movie to watch.

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“Gone Missing” by Linda Castillo

Gone Missing

 

This is the first book I’ve read by Linda Castillo, and one of the few books I’ve read about the Amish culture. I kind of jumped in mid-series, because this was the only book available at the time I needed a book, and while the characters do progress through the series, I don’t think I lost much in reading this one out of order.
Kate Burkholder is a police chief in a small town near an Amish community, and she is also a former Amish person. She was raised Amish, but during her 18th year she decided that she wasn’t cut out for the plain life, and left home to pursue a career in law enforcement. Based on some traumatic events that happened to her, which she addresses briefly, she had a falling out with her parents, and sadly, she never saw her father again.

In this book, several Amish girls have gone missing during an event called Rumspringa. During Rumspringa an Amish teen can live an “English” lifestyle, their poor decisions are mostly overlooked, and they can experience things they would never experience as an Amish person. Typically they choose to come home, be baptized, and continue on with the plain life after experiencing this rite of passage. There are a few that decide not to stay Amish, choose to live an “English” lifestyle, and do not come home. Some of them do not come home because they are taken. And it’s Kate’s job to find out who took them and why.

The case rapidly becomes personal when one of the girls who goes missing is from Kate’s Amish family back home. When a dead Amish girl is found, Kate becomes nearly frantic with worry and begins to dig deeper into the secrets of the Amish community. Who were these missing girls seeing, and what were they doing before they were taken? One was dating an abusive English boy, one was pregnant and contemplating abortion, and another was hooked on drugs. Kate knows that no one can keep secrets like an Amish family, but she is desperate for answers, and some of the answers she gets just might put her own life in jeopardy.

I enjoyed this book enough that I will read the next book in the series because the epilogue left me hanging.  It picked up two months after the book ends, and now I must know how it continues – which of course, is the mark of a good author/plot line.

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The Sleepwalker by Chris Bohjalian

the sleepwalker30211957

Annalee Ahlberg goes missing during one of her husband’s business trips, and her teenage girls fear the worst. Their mother is a sleepwalker, and her affliction manifests itself in ways both dangerous and bizarre. Her oldest daughter, Lianne, has pulled her off the bridge side rails naked, her husband, Warren, has interrupted her spray painting the hydrangea bush in the front yard, and apparently, has rebuffed her sleep “advances”, in a disorder called parasomnia, or sexsomnia. This, understandably, can cause problems in a marriage. When your partner sleep walks, or has “sleep sex”, what happens if you’re not there when that happens? They go in search of another warm body – but is it really their fault? Can you blame them? Do they even know or remember what they’ve done? But does that make the hurt less real for the spouse? So when Annalee goes missing, the first suspect is close to home.

When Warren begins talking to a local minister about planning a memorial service a few weeks after her disappearance, her daughters are surprised, dismayed (does this mean he’s given up hope of Annalee’s return), and a little angry, as her body hasn’t been found, (so how does he know for sure she’s dead?).
Lianne withdraws from college to stay home and take care of her dad who has withdrawn, and her younger sister, Paige, who has begun to show signs of sleepwalking, and is withdrawing from her friends, and favorite competitive sports of swimming and skiing. Both girls try to investigate and look for clues of their mother’s disappearance in their own way. Both uncover secrets that may or may not have something to do with her disappearance, but make them question people around them.
With an unforseen twist at the end, author Chris Bojalian keeps you interested until the very end.

For more information on sexsomnia, or sleep sex, read this link.

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Wave by Sonali Deraniyagala

This was a difficult book to read. I planned to read more non-fiction this year than I have in the past, and so when I read a blurb about this book, I thought it would be a good one to add to my list. I’ve watched the movie, The Impossible, which is based on a true story about this same tsunami from a different perspective. In The Impossible, the family is vacationing in Thailand for Christmas, and in this book, the family is vacationing in Sri Lanka. The 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami reached both places, and affected both families, however, one family was far more fortunate than the other. “Wave” is written by Sonali Draniyagala, who lost both of her children, her husband, and her parents in this unexpected catastrophe. She alone survived. There were so many similarities in the description of the flooding, the hospitals, the devastation, but the grief in “Wave” is unbearable. The book describes the terrifying moments the tsunami hits the southern beach of Sri Lanka, Sonali’s amazing survival after being buffeted by the storm waters, her search for her family at the hospital and morgue after he rescue, and her months vacillating between grief and denial at her uncle’s home in Colombo where he relatives kept a six-month suicide watch over her. It took four years before Sonali was able to go back to their home in London, where things were left just as they were the day in December, 2004, when they left for Sri Lanka just before Christmas. The stark and transparent grief, denial, and slow recovery scares me, although she eventually comes back to herself, enjoying memories of her family, while continuing to grieve and miss them. I don’t know that I would handle this situation any better or differently, and reading another mother’s pain is difficult. I found myself shaking while reading about the initial catastrophe, and crying, imagining her grief through the search and final loss of her family. If you’re looking to expand your non-fiction reading, or are interested in reading an amazing story of survival, spend some time reading Sonali’s story.

Wave cover

Sonali Deraniyagala

Author, Sonali Deraniyagala

Yal Sri Lanka

Location of the author during the 2004 Tsunami. Yala National Park, Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka Tsunami aftermath 3

Sri Lanka, 2004 Tsunami aftermath

Tsunami Aceh

Sri Lanka, 2004 Tsunami aftermath

Sri Lanka Tsunami aftermath

Sri Lanka, 2004 Tsunami aftermath

 

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Lake Silence – By Anne Bishop (The Others #6)

I really enjoy reading Anne Bishop’s books, but “The Others” is my favorite series. I’ve been waiting on book #6 since March of this year (2017), and I was lucky enough to get an ARC copy of this book. I read straight through it in less than 24 hours. If you enjoy fantasy, but the believable kind, the kind that makes you think “What if?”, or “Am I alone?” when you’re out hiking in the woods, you’ll enjoy these books.

Basically the world has been inhabited since creation by a species called the Terre Indigene, or The Others, and they control the earth. They are Elementals (Fire, Water, Air, etc.), Shifters (Crowgard, Beargard, Wolfgard, etc.) and the Elders, who have been around the longest, and stay in the wild until they are called upon to mete out justice in some way.

As the history is explained, “a long time ago Namid gave birth to all kinds of life, including the beings known as humans. She gave the humans fertile pieces of herself, and she gave them good water. Understanding their nature and the nature of her other offspring, she also gave them enough isolation that they would have a chance to survive and grow. And they did. They bred and spread throughout their pieces of the world until they pushed into the wild places. That’s when they discovered that Namid’s other offspring already claimed the rest of the world. The Others looked at humans and did not see conquerors. They saw a new kind of meat. Wars were fought to possess the wild places. Sometimes the humans won and spread their seed a little farther. More often, pieces of civilization disappeared, and fearful survivors tried not to shiver when a howl went up in the night or a man, wandering too far from the safety of stout doors and light, was found the next morning drained of blood. Centuries passed. Humans were smart. So were the Others.

Humans invented electricity and plumbing. The Others controlled all the rivers that could power the generators and all the lakes that supplied fresh drinking water. Humans invented and manufactured products. The Others controlled all the natural resources, thereby deciding what would and wouldn’t be made in their part of the world. So it comes to the current age. Small human villages exist within vast tracts of land that belongs to the Others, And in larger human cities, there are fenced parks called Courtyards that are inhabited by the Others who have the task of keeping watch over the city’s residents and enforcing the agreements the humans made with the terra indigene.

In “Lake Silence”, a battered ex-wife, Vicky Dane, gets a small, very rustic (read primitive) resort property on the banks of Lake Silence, which is a human town, but not human controlled. She follows every rule laid out by the land owners (the Others) in the renovations and repairs to the cabins and main house with her limited resources, while her greedy ex-husband is partnering with unseemly characters from his past to reclaim this property from her, despite her capital improvements. He trusts in his ability to cow and control her to regain this property, despite her legal standing. Unbeknownst to him, she has gained the trust and even friendship of some of the Others living locally, and they prefer her residence to his. When he and his colleagues show up to evict her, it angers not only the Crowgard, Beargard and Panthergard, but some of the Elementals and Elders, and does not turn out well for the hoity-toity Mr. Dane.

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