Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Last Kings of Sark - an enchanting summer read

The Last Kings of Sark by Rosa Rankin-Gee

Jude is just 21 years-old when she flies on a private plane to Sark Island to spend the summer serving as a tutor to shy and awkward adolescent, Pip. Unsure of what she is getting herself into, she is even more uncertain when she meets the holiday cook Sofi, a magnetic Polish girl who lacks any real culinary skills and interjects the ‘f’ word into every sentence she utters. Pip’s mysterious and reclusive mother, Esme, whiles away her days in her bedroom and is rarely seen. Pip’s father spends the bulk of the summer on ‘business’ that takes him off the island for weeks at a time. So, the trio (Pip, Jude and Sofi) soon find themselves idling away the summer, exploring the island, drinking from Pip’s father’s wine cellar, and ditching science lessons for other extracurricular explorations and experiments. Soon a powerful bond develops between the three and the summer on Sark shapes into a pivotal one never to be forgotten.
Sark is a tiny Channel Island and the last place in Europe to abolish feudalism, where the sole means of travel is by foot or bike with miles of beach and terrain to explore, and Rankin-Gee beautifully illustrates the lushness and magic of the island. The tale of this summer adventure is a compelling and sensual story by a promising new writer who summons images of lazy summer evenings, daylight filtering through tree tops, summer downpours and bare feet hitting dusty roads: a perfect summer read.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

A True Story of Undaunted Courage and Ultimate Sacrifice

Fearless, by Eric Blehm, is an excellent and must-read book! It is about Adam Brown, U.S. Navy Seal, a fearless man who did pay the ultimate sacrifice for his country.  Adam was "fearless" from birth; he was wired from the get-go to do what Navy Seals do.  But there is more to the story than being wired for the courageous or being a Seal; Adam had his demons to contend with and struggled to conquer them! It's an honest book and it will grip your heart!  Adam Brown - a man of character and an example to many - lives on in this book. Check it out!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Suffer The Children by Craig Dilouie

If you're searching for a book with extreme "creep factor", then might I suggest the latest horror novel by Craig Dilouie.

Present day: Children worldwide who have not gone through puberty are dying.

Instantaneous death.

One minute they're playing or enjoying a meal with their parents and the next, they're deceased.

Herod's Syndrome.

Morgues are filled to capacity and grieving parents are reluctant to give up their dead. Grave sites are back-hoed and mass burials are performed.

The  mourning is tremendous.
 And then,  few days later, resurrection occurs.

A miracle, perhaps? Or a curse?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Annabel by Kathleen Winter

Kathleen Winter’s novel, Annabel, explores the physical, emotional, and social ramifications of what is a rare and seldom-discussed circumstance.  Set in a rural, rustic outpost of Canada’s Labrador province, the novel opens in 1968 with the birth of Treadway’s and Jacinta’s first child.  Attended by a midwife and two close friends, the delivery is a smooth one, but upon laying the infant upon its mother’s breast, midwife Thomasina notices something peculiar. Beneath the child’s small penis and single testicle lies a vaginal opening.  Far from sensationalizing the intersexed phenomena, Winter’s tale draws the reader more towards empathy than fascination or shock.  When Jacinta is torn between establishing normalcy for her infant via a surgery to correct ambiguous genitalia (all factual and standardized in real-life cases of intersex births), and the desire to let her child, both son and daughter, develop unmarred, the reader is compelled to imagine what his or her own decision would be.  The story progresses beautifully as Wayne (so named after the “corrective” intervention) grows and struggles with a duality he doesn’t understand. Fearing societal reaction Treadway and Jacinta never reveal the true nature of their child to anyone, not even Wayne himself.  Perhaps they would have continued to remain silent, but at age 14 Wayne develops strange symptoms and requires medical intervention.  Thomasina, returned after having spent several years abroad, then reveals to Wayne the reason for the pains in his abdomen, his “unnatural” budding breasts, and the daily medication (explained to Wayne as necessary for treating a blood disorder) he has taken since he was an infant. Readers have no choice but to sympathize with Wayne and struggle to wrap their minds around what would be a baffling and life-changing revelation (Wayne’s medical intervention at 14 revealed yet another stunning secret).  If I read another novel only half as well-written as Annabel this month, I will consider myself very fortunate.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Authority is the second in the Southern Reach series by Jeff VanderMeerIn the first book, Annihilation, four women with various specialties were sent on an expedition into Area X, and only the biologist survived.  Now she has returned to a compound overseen by a government agency dealing with Area X.  The new director, John Rodriques, known as "Control,"  has a reputation for getting to the truth wherever he is sent.  What he finds are locked drawers, blocked closets, and seemingly useless and possibly harmful experimentsSome staff are hostile, and others appear to be hiding information.  Office politics or the effect of Area X? When questioned, the biologist (who says she is NOT the biologist) responds to most  questions with " I don't remember."  What happened to the director before Rodriques?  If the biologist was the only survivor of the last expedition, why are the surveyor and the anthropologist found living in their homes?  Some questions from Annihilation are answered, others are raised. This is a totally different book than Annihilation, which was intriguing,mysterious and filled with foreboding.  This is filled more with frustration because of the staff nonacceptance of Control and the inability of the biologist to give them any answers.  Are they both being manipulated by Area X?  There is a great twist at the end but it leaves us with a sense of impending doom.  Hopefully the third book Acceptance will begin where this ended, and answer some of our questions.  Somehow though I doubt it!

How I Got Skinny, Famous, and Fell Madly in Love by Ken Baker

This young adult novel is centered around sixteen year-old Emery Jackson who is the fat, black sheep of her semi-famous and privileged family. Emery has a strong personality and gives this story humor and heart. Her model mother and workout obsessed father encourage her to sign up for a reality show based on Emery losing fifty pounds in fifty days, titled Fifty Pounds to Freedom.

After reluctantly agreeing to film the show and shed the weight, she discovers how messed up her family truly is and how self-centered her mother and sister could be. Her boyfriend, Ben, has always been supportive of her and is the only source of self-confidence in her life. The creators of the show work hard to make sure that Emery loses the weight but also cause drama in her life with her family and her boyfriend. After realizing the horrible truths of the show and her family, Emery makes a decision that is completely unexpected.

This book was a quick and entertaining read. Emery is a character that many people can relate to with her search for confidence and her journey to becoming empowered. The ending caught me completely off-guard and it was disappointing and left too many questions for me to feel satisfied. Overall, this is a fun read, especially for sassy, young women looking for a feel-good story.