Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Review: Here and Now and Then

Here and Now and Then Here and Now and Then by Mike Chen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I pretty much love time travel books, particularly ones that are well done and have rules and constraints. This is one of them.

Kin is a secret agent time traveling enforcer. He gets his orders and carries them out. His assignments have to do with people who have changed events through a time traveling blip. The most often offenders are trying to play with the stock market or some other monetary gain. The book opens with Kin taking out a target but not before the target shoots him where his beacon is imbedded, purposely cutting him off from his own timeline, 150 years in the future. The quandary is that he is to not have contact or interfere with others or events in order to keep the timeline pure. Yet as the years drag on, he forgets his other life (it’s a time traveling truism that you can’t comprehend too Times at once for long. Horrible headaches). By the time his retriever finally comes, Kin has spent 20 years living a life in his past.

With all the rules and regulations, how will the agency view his years in the past? His life lived? The lives he changed? On the other hand, how does he settle into his old life in the future after spending decades in the past? Hint: time in the future did not pass at the same rate.

I can’t remember what the book description included so I want to be very careful about what I say but the conflict was quietly engaging and resolution very satisfying. Actually, quite clever and heart warming. I think that is the problem I’ve had with time traveling books in the past is that the ending leaves me feeling sad. Not this one.

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Monday, December 10, 2018

Review: Where the Crawdads Sing

Where the Crawdads Sing Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It is not the story that is particularly exciting but more of the atmosphere that is painted as well as the simple life of living where the crawdads sing. Of course, there is a plot and a mystery. There is even a court case yet the most compelling reason to continue reading is the protagonist and her sharp, intelligent mind yet her simple life that she enjoys. The love story didn't hurt, either.

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Review: Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption

Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Somehow I believed I had an understanding of discrimination. My dad was a freedom rider. He started Head Start in Mississippi and Detroit. He got beat up by the sheriff we saw in Mississippi Burning. He was out on the night that MLK Jr. died and feared for his life. He told us all of these stories and more and taught is about civil rights. And all this happened when I was a little girl so it was a long time ago.

BUZZ!

The events covered in this book did not happen a long time ago. There may be more discrimination in southern states but it’s happening now all the time, all around me, to people I know. For all my talk and even action to champion the underdog, at the end of the day I come home to my middle class home, mortgaged against my husband’s and my underpaid but highly educated jobs, where my kids have plenty of food but “nothing to eat,” and my reflection in the mirror is of a white, middle aged woman.

To Bryan Stevenson - I am in awe of his perseverance and rabid optimism in his cause. He has made a huge dent in a societal problem that MLK Jr. died for. The issues persist in much more sneaky manner which makes this problem harder to fight and so insidious. But there innocent are men and women who are living life because of this man and his vision. I honestly can’t celebrate him enough.

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Review: The Winter Soldier

The Winter Soldier The Winter Soldier by Daniel Mason
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Excellent book! Multifaceted that gave me a new appreciation to the soldiers of this war and the horrors they saw and experienced. The Winter Soldier also gave a satisfying ending. Not necessarily a happy ending but one that, when I read the last word, closed the book, I felt satisfied.

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Review: Library of Souls

Library of Souls Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs
My rating: 4 of 5 stars



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Review: Rising Water: The Story of the Thai Cave Rescue

Rising Water: The Story of the Thai Cave Rescue Rising Water: The Story of the Thai Cave Rescue by Marc Aronson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is, in and of itself, an amazing story of survival and a world that united to save a soccer team from Thailand from an impossible flooded cave. The facts are well written and the characters are well represented. It didn't grab my attention, probably because I already knew the story. For someone who didn't know the story it might be a much more interesting read. For me, it was just rehashing the news that I followed intently during the crisis.

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Friday, December 7, 2018

Review: An Invisible Thread: The True Story Adapted for Young Readers

An Invisible Thread: The True Story Adapted for Young Readers An Invisible Thread: The True Story Adapted for Young Readers by Laura Schroff
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This truly is an amazing story of two people who just happen to meet on the streets of New York. Yet is it really coincidence or were they meant to strike up a friendship that changed them forever? The author posits that there is an invisible thread that connects certain people - that they are to be in one another's lives.
This is the true story of Laura and Maurice. Laura is a success story from a humble background. She lives and works in New York where she passes 11 year old Maurice, an African American boy who asks her for some change because he's hungry. She passes him by then stops and walks back to him. She takes him to eat at McDonald's. So begins their weekly dinner dates and unlikely friendship that spans decades.
What struck me as incredible is that Laura recognizes and honors the boundaries that must stay in place. She crosses them on occasion, but she realizes that she is not to be the rich, white lady that gives Maurce everything he needs. They are to be friends. In the beginning, she shows him a world where there is another alternative to what he has been exposed to. A place where people get jobs and work every day, earning a paycheck. They eat three meals and use silverware. The best part is that they eat at a family table, like the one at Laura's sister's house, and stay after the meal is finished and enjoy each other's company.

Maurice is practically and then truly homeless and always hungry. He lives with his grandmother, mother, and sisters in section 8 housing. Different grownups sleep in the one bedroom apartment. He is inured to the adults being on drugs in the "zone," drug deals, even murders occurring right in the apartment. You eat when you can find food. He didn't know about tissues being used for blowing your nose. How to use utensils or how to set a table.

Maurice and Laura spend years together in their friendship. They count on one another even as their circumstances change. Their commonality is their love for their family but also abusive childhoods. What they each gain is something that can't be quantified.

The reason I give it 4 stars instead of 5 is because I also read the unadapted version of An Invisible Thread and found the depth to be much more satisfying. I believe this book should be required reading in junior highs and middle schools.


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