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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My January Reading

I’ve had a good batch of reading so far this year (I know the year is young….).  While I don’t typically do Reading Challenges because I’m stubborn, and don’t like being told what to do, I did decide to broaden my reading horizons by reading more non-fiction, and authors I haven’t read before.  I sometimes get overwhelmed seeing all the books in the world that I want to read (and all the ones yet to be released) while knowing that I most likely will not live to be 250 years old.  If SciFi is real, and paranormal beings do exist, I would be willing to become a vampire just to have unlimited reading time.  I’m already as translucent and sun-repellant as it gets, can’t get a tan if I try, so having more time to read seems only beneficial.

As a side note, my reading goal for the year is the same as last year,  because I barely made my goal last year.  My lovely daughter, going through a particularly wounding teenage moment, informed me that she was “disappointed in me” for ONLY reading 133 books last year, as she “expected more”, and hopes that I do better this year.  She also suggested I update my reading goal to a book a day to reflect an actual challenge that would make me push myself. *sigh*  Who is this child?  Does she know other people who read 7 books a week on the regular?  I can’t even tell her that I read 21 books in January.  Most people would say, “Wow, that’s cool!”, or something else, like my husband, who says, “You aren’t normal!”, but if I told HER, she would probably say, “Really, Mom?  21?  You had 31 days.  What did you do with your time?”  I can’t deal with hot flashes AND that kind of negativity in my life, so I’m not going to tell her that I’m happy to have read 21 books and that GoodReads tells me I’m ahead of schedule on my meager goal for the year.  My emotional wounds aside, here are my January books:

  1. The Black Book by James Patterson
  2. Wave by Sonali Derangiyagala (review on blog)
  3. Clean Sweep by Ilona Andrews
  4. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
  5. Touch & Go by Lisa Gardner
  6. Very Good Lives by J. K. Rowling
  7. The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith
  8. The Silent Corner by Dean Koontz
  9. Year One by Nora Roberts
  10. The Sleepwalker by Chris Bohjalian (review on blog)
  11. Matagorda by Louis L’amour
  12. Lando by Louis L’amour
  13. Silver Canyon by Louis L’amour
  14. The Sackett Brand by Louis L’amour
  15. Utah Blaine by Louis L’amour
  16. The Whispering Room by Dean Koontz
  17. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  18. Crash & Burn by Lisa Gardener
  19. 113 Minutes by James Patterson
  20. The Crooked Staircase (ARC) by Dean Koontz
  21. Helium by Rudy Francisco

Three of my twenty-one books were non-fiction, which in terms of percentages, isn’t much, 14%, but a bigger percentage than I typically read in NF vs Fiction I think.  #4 was a re-read, but it has been about six years, so there were details I didn’t remember, and I loved it as much as the first time I read it.  The books by Lisa Gardner are second and third of a series I started in late 2017, and #8 is a book I got for Christmas, first in a new series by Dean Koontz, and boy was it good!  I got the second one from the library and was fortunate enough to get the third one as an ARC, as it doesn’t release until May.

My mom called one evening, and as my family is full of readers and book lovers, we talked books, then specifically Louis L’amour books.  She had some duplicates in her collection and wanted to know if I was missing any she could send to me.  The more we talked and reminisced about his stories, the more I felt the urge to reread a few of them, which started me on a short burst of westerns.

Somehow in all my reading through high school and college, I never read Fahrenheit 451, so I got that done, and finished the month with my third non-fiction of the year, a poetry book called “Helium”.  Y’all.  Have you read this?  If not, you should.  I LOVE IT.  I saw a FaceBook clip of Rudy Francisco doing a live reading of one of his poems, and it moved me.  His words are like a paintbrush of emotions.  Incredible.  I knew his book was coming out, and I could hardly wait.  I stalked my library, I stalked my library’s book buyer, then stalked the “processing” section of the library books, and I may be the first person in town to have checked out this book.  I think I’ve read it through three times, and read some poems five or six times each.  I’ve sent them to friends, I’ve posted them, I’ve tagged Rudy on his FB page, all but offered to have his kids (because that’s weird, and I’m married).  He’s amazing, you should watch him, listen to him, read him.  You can find his FaceBook page at RudyFranciscopoetry.  He’s touring, you can follow his events or watch clips of him reading.  You should check it out.

All in all, I’m pleased with my January reading, and am looking forward to all the wonderful books coming my way in February!!!  I’d love to see/hear about what you’re reading, and what your favorite January books were.

 

2018-02-02 (2)

Books Read In January

 

This is a poem from the book, “Helium” by Rudy Francisco.

 

Good Morning

“Good Morning” by Rudy Francisco

 

Here is a link to Rudy Francisco speaking about “Complainers” – just fair warning – this brought me to tears.  Maybe it’s just me and those darn hot flashes…

Rudy Francisco – Complainers

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“The Crooked Staircase” by Dean Koontz

TheCrookedStaircase

 

Ok, y’all, this series….this, is awesome. I have loved Dean Koontz’ work for a long time. I believe the first book of his I ever read was “Watchers” – a great blend of a tantalizing plot and just enough scary, then on to “Lightening”, which not only grabbed my by the heartstrings, but made me use the phrase “Mulepuke” for a good 3 months, and quandry paradoxes for quite some time. “Sole Survivor” and “Life Expectancy” are more of my favorites….then I met Jane Hawk. I can’t say Jane knocked out my top 3, but they have definitely expanded my number of top favorites. My family gave me “The Silent Corner” for Christmas, the first in this series, and I devoured it. Sometimes when a book is written about a strong female lead, they must make her almost unhuman to be strong, but in this case, Jane is just a person – a strong person, but a person with weaknesses, a person with a background that gives her an edge over us “normal” everyday people, but she’s so much less powerful than those she fights against. Its a David & Goliath story from the very beginning. In the true Dean Koontz fashion, through “The Silent Corner” and the second book, “The Whispering Room”, people from different places come together in coincidental ways, and lend each other support during Jane’s journey. She must keep herself safe, alive and hidden, protect her son’s location and identity, and those who hide him, protect any who support or assist her, while seeking out the head of the snake while they use seemingly endless resources to track her down. You don’t think of all the ways you can be seen in such a digital age, but Jane has too – and if she doesn’t, or she forgets, for even one split second – someone usually dies. She’s on a mission to prove that her husband’s suicide wasn’t of his own volition, and that many other people in particularly strategic or influential positions haven’t died of natural causes. But will anyone believe her? Does anyone want to believe her? To believe that they can be controlled by such a large high ranking deception by a large group who could potentially control the course of the world? Well, I don’t know yet, because this is an ARC, and it doesn’t finish Jane’s journey – I’ll be waiting with baited breath for the fourth installment, “The Forbidden Door”, and praying that Mr. Koontz will randomly ask me to be a preview reader of this latest gem.

 

(I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  Release date May 8, 2018)

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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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