Saturday, November 22, 2008
Does Time Heal All Wounds? Michael Stewart doesn’t think so. Thirteen years later, he’s still struggling with the demands of being a single father. His life revolves around his daughter Elizabeth – a precocious girl who’s growing up much too fast. Michael is all too aware of time – time lost, and time still slipping away. But fate, or perhaps something more divine, has other plans for Michael. When he and Lizzie stumble upon a root-cellar door in the floor of an old church, they discover that it‘s actually a tunnel leading back in time to first century Jerusalem during the tumultuous last week of Christ’s life. With the help of Leah, a newfound friend, they try desperately to escape, avoiding menacing soldiers at every turn, including one determined to make Elizabeth his own. Trapped in the past -- both literally and figuratively -- Michael comes face to face with some of his most limiting beliefs, and realizes he must open himself up to the possibility of a deeper faith in God, people, himself, and love before he can find his way home.
First off, great title! The storyline intrigued me the moment I read about it; books set during the time of Christ’s death are always very interesting to me. Although Elizabeth’s character was whiny and immature (I guess I’m just not used to thirteen year olds anymore) the characters of Leah and Michael made up for it. I loved the flashbacks into Michael’s past where you learned more about his life before losing his wife. I wish that Jesus could have been a more central character, or at least had a bit of dialogue-or done something momentous-like in Ben-Hur. I can see how Necessary Heartbreak could be seen as a middle-school read as well as an Adult read, but it doesn’t hit the Young Adult market very well in my opinion. I am hoping that the next two books deliver in the ways that this one did not.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
The extraordinary true story of a family, a brutal shooting, and the year that would change their lives forever. When Cylin Busby was nine years old, she was obsessed with Izod clothing, the Muppets, and her pet box turtle. Then, in the space of a night, everything changed. Her police officer father, John, was driving to work when someone leveled a shotgun at his window. The blasts that followed left John’s jaw on the passenger seat of his car—literally. Overnight, the Busbys went from being the "family next door" to one under 24-hour armed guard, with police escorts to school, and no contact with friends. Worse, the shooter was still on the loose, and it seemed only a matter of time before he’d come after John—or someone else in the family—again. With their lives unraveling around them, and few choices remaining for a future that could ever be secure, the Busby family left everything and everyone they had ever known…and simply disappeared. As told by both father and daughter, this is a harrowing, and at times heartbreaking account of a shooting and its aftermath, even as it shows a young girl trying to make sense of the unthinkable, and the triumph of a family’s bravery in the face of crisis.
This book is an amazing contribution to the world of true crime writing. Cylin and her father John’s perspectives seamlessly tie together, illustrating their story of survival and triumph. I was appalled at the neglect from Law Enforcement towards Officer Busby and his family. To think that there are people out who we believe are out to protect us, but in fact our willing to cover up a serious crime. John Busby has now become an advocate for extending the statute of limitations on crimes against police officers. How the Busby family stuck together through everything shows great courage and love. I am so glad that everything turned out the way it did and that justice was served in the end. The Year We Disappeared is a riveting, true tale that should be read by all. (I am hoping it will be turned into a movie at some point!)
Saturday, November 15, 2008
I was recently approached by an author by the name of M.J. Sullivan. He asked if I would like to read his book, Necessary Heartbreak, the first book in his When Time Forgets trilogy. He is currently writing the second and third books, and would like some feedback. He was gracious enough to send me a hardcover copy and three paperbacks to share with others. I have not begun reading the novel yet, but am greatly looking forward to it. After giving two of the paperbacks to my English teacher and to a friend, I have one left that is up for grabs! Here’s a preview of the book:
Does Time Heal All Wounds?
Michael Stewart doesn’t think so. Thirteen years later, he’s still struggling with the demands of being a single father. His life revolves around his daughter Elizabeth – a precocious girl who’s growing up much too fast. Michael is all too aware of time – time lost, and time still slipping away. But fate, or perhaps something more divine, has other plans for Michael. When he and Lizzie stumble upon a root-cellar door in the floor of an old church, they discover that it‘s actually a tunnel leading back in time to first century Jerusalem during the tumultuous last week of Christ’s life. With the help of Leah, a newfound friend, they try desperately to escape, avoiding menacing soldiers at every turn, including one determined to make Elizabeth his own. Trapped in the past -- both literally and figuratively -- Michael comes face to face with some of his most limiting beliefs, and realizes he must open himself up to the possibility of a deeper faith in God, people, himself, and love before he can find his way home.
“Necessary Heartbreak is the product of a big talent and a mighty heart, and this entrancing tale of mysteries both temporal and spiritual is sure to take up residence under your skin.” - Sam Hamm, Screenwriter (Batman Movies and TV Series M.A.N.T.I.S)
If you would like my last copy of Necessary Heartbreak, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send it to you ASAP!
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Popularity is as easy as a good secret. Serena just wants to fly under the radar at her new school. But Serena is deaf, and she can read lips really well-even across the busy cafeteria. So when the popular girls discover her talent, there's no turning back. From skater chick to cookie-cutter prep, Serena's identity has done a 180...almost. She still wants to date Miller, the school rebel, and she's not ready to trade her hoodies for pink tees just yet. But she is rising through the ranks in the school's most exclusive clique. With each new secret she uncovers, Serena feels pressure to find out more. Reading lips has always been her greatest talent, but now Serena just feels like a gigantic snoop...
This book is a good example of a stereotypical Young Adult book for teenage girls-which I am not a fan of. First of all, way too many uses of what I pen as “middle school talk” like “gawd” and “whateva”. Unfortunately the characters were flat and stereotypical and the romance cheesy. I had been excited to read this book, the storyline seemed promising, but sadly it did not deliver. Serena was an annoying, judgmental character who happened to have an interesting talent. The lip-reading storyline was the best part of the book. While the other involving the “top secret sorority” was unoriginal. Now, if you’re a first time YA reader, don’t think there all like this. Keep reading and you’ll discover just how universal the YA genre can be. Now, if you really want a snippy, high-school girl experience, go watch Mean Girls.
Monday, November 10, 2008
Eric Poole has just been released from juvenile detention for killing his mother and stepfather. Now he’s looking for some tenderness-tenderness he finds in caressing and killing innocent girls. Lori has run away from home again. She is also looking for tenderness-tenderness that is about more than just sex, tenderness she finds in Eric. Together, they begin a harrowing journey that will either save or destroy them.
Marilyn Payne Phillips states it perfectly when she says, “the ugliness of the story contrasts with the beauty of the language”. Robert Cormier writes a tale filled with suspense and intrigue. Neither Eric nor Lori is a very likeable character, but by the end of the novel, the reader comes to sympathize with them. Cormier is able to write a disturbing horror novel without the blood and gore that is usually associated with the genre. Much like my previous review, this book sends you straight into the mind of a psychopath. What really makes this a thrilling piece of writing is how everything that takes place could happen in real life. It shows you what our society is capable of, and that’s a terrifying thing!
Thursday, November 6, 2008
On November 15, 1959, in the small town of Holcomb, Kansas, four members of the Clutter family were dragged from their beds in the early hours of the morning and tied up. All four were savagely murdered by blasts from a shotgun held a few inches from their faces. There was no apparent motive for the crime, and there were almost no clues. Author Truman Capote, on assignment from the New Yorker, traveled to Holcomb in late 1959, along with his assistant and close friend, Nell Harper Lee, to investigate the killings for an article he was to write. After completing his assignment, Capote was still intrigued by the murders and continued with his investigation. He organized interviews with everyone in town; he scoured through police records and statements. The killers, Perry Smith and Dick Hickock were eventually arrested and sentenced to death, with Capote interviewing them during their stay on Death Row. The Clutter killings became an obsession for Capote, leading him to write a book that would not only introduce a new genre to the literary world, non-fiction novel, but become a literary classic in it of itself. What is great about Capote’s In Cold Blood is that it can be seen as a novel, a creative work, and a piece of journalism.
I had been looking forward to reading this book for a long time, having seen it lying on my sister’s bedroom floor for years and the title alone had given me shivers. Independent Reading at school gave me the perfect opportunity to read it. Having been written in 1965, I was surprised to find that this book hasn’t dated at all. It interested me that this book delved into not only the social factors that shape a psychopath, but also the points-of-view, however horrific they may be, of the perpetrators of the crime. Capote explored the killers’ upbringing, relationships, and actions. I enjoyed the fact that, from the beginning, the reader knows exactly who was to be killed and who the killers were, instead of it being a guessing game. Something that has stuck with me long after finishing the book was the realization that there are people like Perry Smith and Dick Hickock out there in the world, willing to kill in cold blood with no motive. “There’s got to be something wrong with somebody who’d do a thing like that.” Ironically, one of the killers, Perry Smith, said this about himself, while the other killer, Dick Hickock said about himself, “Deal me out, baby…I’m a normal.” A harrowing look into the minds of a killer, In Cold Blood is a chilling account of one of America’s most famous murders. And although certain parts dragged at times, overall, Truman Capote’s nonfiction novel is a literary masterpiece.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
When Bliss’s hippie parents leave the commune and dump her at the home of her aloof grandmother in a tony Atlanta neighborhood, it’s like being set down on an alien planet. The only guide naive Bliss has to her new environment is what she’s seen on The Andy Griffith Show. But Mayberry is poor preparation for Crestview Academy, an elite school where the tensions of the present and the dark secrets of the past threaten to simmer into violence. Openhearted Bliss desperately wants new friends, making her the perfect prey of a troubled girl whose obsession with a long-ago death puts Bliss, and anyone she’s kind to, in mortal danger.
I was shocked when I heard that Lauren Myracle was coming out with a “spine-tingling chiller”. I am very proud of her for taking the turn from easy-going chick lit to horror, and doing it well! Bliss was a full of suspense and the supernatural, targeting a new sort of audience for her. I loved the character of Bliss, while her friend Sandy scared the crap out of me. The backdrop of the story was beautiful, filled with historical references from the sixties including segregation, the Nixon era, the Charles Manson murders, and the popular TV show, Andy Griffith. I found myself eagerly reading ahead to get to the quotes that were scattered throughout the novel, setting the scene. The one rather large fault I found was the blunt, abrupt, and strange ending that left far too many questions unanswered. I was very confused when I turned the page and found that the book was over. Although there was no huge cliffhanger at the end that suggested a sequel, I’m hoping there is one that will help redeem the ending of an otherwise flawless book.
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
I'm incredibly lazy today, so I'll let a reviewer cleverly named, "A Customer" from Amazon UK do the work!
Combining narrative with historical detail, this is the story of one of the most shocking events of the 17th century - the wreck of the Batavia. It describes the wreck of the Dutch ship off the coast of Western Australia and the extraordinary events that befell its stranded survivors.
"This superb novel explores the uneasy guilt felt by the victim of a great crime - a mutiny and massacre on an island off the coast of Western Australia in the early Seventeenth Century. The Dutch flagship, the Batavia, ran aground, and when her captain left in an open boat to fetch help, the ship's under-merchant, Cornelitz, led a regime of barbarism that had Holland stunned for a generation.Heyman retells the story from the perspective of Judith Bastiansz, a naive but spirited eighteen year old, whose venial father is employed as the ship's chaplain. The ship and then the island are the claustrophobic setting for her increasing exposure to the unbearable harshness of deception, treachery and finally an uncontrolable lust for death. Her adulation of Lucretia, her love for Conraat, and her disapproval of Wiebbe Hayes all serve to highlight her intense but misguided allegiences. From the outset we know that Judith will survive the horrors of her ordeal, but how and at what cost? What kind of life can she build from the ruins of hope? From an already amazing true story, Heyman has crafted a subtle and riveting novel. Though set in the Dutch Golden Age, there are clear parallels with the genocides of the much more recent past. Heyman's unflinching, intensely moving prose seems to require us to answer for ourselves: faced with such evil, what would you have done?"