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review 2019-05-14 01:37
This brutal and harrowing feminist tale will blow you away; ‘The Grace Year’ is an unforgettable ‘Handmaid’s Tale’ about young women finding their power
The Grace Year - Kim Liggett

‘The Grace Year’ is the brutal and harrowing story about the young women of Garner County who are forced to spend their sixteenth year in a secluded encampment outside the town as they ‘embrace their magic.’ They must release their powers before they marry or go off to work in the fields or labor houses, before they return to civilization, that’s IF they return, surviving poachers who hunt them for their ‘magic’, and ultimately, surviving the time they spend with each other.

This is a feminist tale about survival, group dynamics (hysteria?), and the strength of spirit in the face of incredible adversity. The young women, teenagers, are faced with the odds stacked against them, in a patriarchal society that deems them as property, dangerous, basically as subservient pets. Many of them (all unforgettable characters) fall into the traps that are designed for them, but the main character Tierney, rails against them, questioning her predicament, and hopes for change. Over the course of the ‘Grace Year’ Tierney discovers as much about those around her as she does about herself, and draws on her own strength, of which she didn’t know she even had. It’s an amazing, albeit, often violent story about a young woman discovering herself and her own power against all odds.

This stunning novel from Kim Liggett will draw comparisons with ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’, but it also made me think of both ‘Lord of The Flies’ and ‘The Crucible’, all classics, well-known for their controversy and hard-hitting subjects.
Themes of feminism, social hierarchies, group mechanics, religion, and flower and color imagery throughout the book are vivid and powerful; it’s easy to see why this is being adapted for television before it has even been published. I think it will be hard to read this and not have it resonate with the reader in a strong way; it’s dark and haunting and it honestly blew me away. I want to read it again before I see any TV adaptation because it was just THAT GOOD.

 

ON SALE: 9.17.19

Source: www.goodreads.com/review/show/2705427460
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review 2019-05-03 03:01
THE PANDORA ROOM by Christopher Golden
The Pandora Room (Ben Walker #2) - Christopher Golden

 

THE PANDORA ROOM is a follow up to Golden's novel from 2017, ARARAT. While I enjoyed that book more than this one, it was still an exciting adventure!

 

In northern Iraq, a team of archaeologists have discovered a room and in that room, a box, and in that box? The information is right there in the book's title. Is it real, or not? It was once said there was a box full of plagues, disease and malice; it was also said there was a box full of peace and joy to all. If both of these sayings were true, which box is this? You'll have to read THE PANDORA ROOM to find out!

 

Ben Walker, our protagonist is the ultra-macho hero, dedicated to his job and letting nothing, not even his son Charlie, prevent him from accomplishing his mission. He's wily, not afraid of shooting to kill, and a general all around kick-ass kind of guy. You want him in your corner. Once he joins the team of scientists at the discovery site, the action begins and pretty much doesn't let up for the rest of the book. Since the battle occurs on two fronts, one within the underground labyrinth of the dig, and the other above ground, the story fairly raced along.

 

What I thought was lacking, though, was the depth of the characters. I was already familiar with Ben, and I did like Sophie and Martin, but I didn't feel like I got to know the other characters enough to really care about them. Without caring, what could be tense moments when the characters were in danger, turned into more... tepid situations in my heart. I was disappointed by that.

 

Everything wrapped up rather nicely and I enjoyed the final scenes. They did make me wonder if Pandora's Box or something similar could resurface for Ben sometime in the future? Maybe a cursed shroud of Turin? The removal of the sword from the stone? I guess I'll have to wait and see. Even though THE PANDORA ROOM didn't fully knock my socks off? I'll be in line to read Ben Walker #3!

 

Recommended!

 

*Thanks to NetGalley and Macmillan for the e-ARC of this book for review consideration.*

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review 2019-04-21 09:00
Blake Crouch has written another A+ mind-bending sci-fi thriller; altering time and memory in ‘Recursion’
Recursion - Blake Crouch

Helena Smith and Barry Sutton are inextricably entwined and yet at the same time, haven’t even met yet. And the way it happens at the same moment is thanks to the astonishing memory technology that groundbreaking neuroscientist Helena develops, inspired by the desire to heal her mother’s Alzheimer’s, to preserve memories and relive them.

The very dangerous ability to alter memories and create new timelines leads countless people to suffer from False Memory Syndrome, and what was intended to be a gift for humanity ends up becoming a nightmare and perhaps spells the end of the world as everyone knows it.

 

‘Recursion’ is like reading ‘Back To The Future’ crossed with ‘Memento’ and ‘Minority Report’, with a splash of ‘Groundhog Day’ mixed in (except with none of the funny stuff). And it’s certainly not because Blake Crouch is rehashing old territory or that he’s written a book we’ve all read (or that it’s something we’ve seen) before. It’s because ‘Recursion’ recalls the essence of what made all those movies great, and it’s a gripping genre-bending cross of science-fiction and thriller. And he does it in a way that feels like nothing that’s been done before.

 

Just as he did with the mind-bending science-fiction (and the actual science) behind ‘Dark Matter,’ here in ‘Recursion’ he has tapped into our curiosity about the unknown, the basic human question we all have about our pasts, of how our lives could be different if we could ‘change just that one thing and do things over.’

How everything could be different if someone we loved hadn’t died so soon, or we could’ve stopped that death from happening.

That very scenario comes up for Barry in the book, and just as with the catastrophic repercussions of messing with nature, and the ethical questions behind genetic engineering (thank you, Michael Crichton), most of our instincts probably say we shouldn’t mess with time-travel, our memories, and therefore, our very existence. But science-fiction says we must.

 

Crouch has written yet another tightly-paced read; the book flits between different timelines and at the beginning of the book, it’s unclear as to the connection between our two main characters. But as the stories entwine, and the science starts to make more sense, the pace and the intensity pick up, the lines blur, and  time and memory collide. The consequences of the decisions made by some of the characters, and by humanity as a whole, are emblematic of a whole host of problems and it becomes seriously frightening.

It’s a clear reminder of how our lives are merely made up of a series of memories, and when we stop living in the present, what else do we have? My own greatest fear is losing my memory, my ability to remember my past. But I definitely wouldn’t want to live moments over and over again either.

 

Ultimately ‘Recursion’ is another breakout novel by the amazing Blake Crouch. Thank you for making me question my whole existence (yet again).

 

*Thank you Crown Publishing for my early copy, received at ALA Midwinter, where I also got to MEET Blake Crouch, and have him sign my books!!

 

Source: www.goodreads.com/book/show/42046112-recursion
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review 2019-04-18 20:52
Vega puts a modern spin on the classic haunted house tale in teen horror novel 'The Haunted'
The Haunted - Danielle Vega

Hendricks is undoubtedly living in the house of many a person’s nightmares, and at least one little girl’s death, and as the new girl in town, she seems to be finding this out gradually through her friends at school. Steele House doesn't seem to be an ordinary house by any measure, and not only is it hiding a dark secret, so is Hendricks, one that sent her family packing from Philadelphia and to this tiny town of Drearford.

 

Once her family moves into Steele House, which is being renovated, she finds a new group of friends right away (to her surprise). Hendricks begins to craft a new social life out for herself, involving both the popular guy at school, but also the boy next door, who is also the brother of the little girl who died. She soon finds there are new and far more powerful ghosts than the ones in her past that she has to deal with.

 

This is a pretty basic horror novel, a classic haunting tale that author Danielle Vega has written for teens, and it's perfect for those who might be somewhat cautious about stepping into the genre.

The main character Hendricks embodies all those insecurities and anxieties felt when starting at a new high school and she has a lot of baggage from her past, the very reason the family has had to move. I appreciated these parts about the story, as well as the very real conflict she has with whether she should fall in with cliques at school, but because they couldn't be dealt with very deeply that conversely also frustrated me a bit. The parents also happen to be totally absent from Hendricks' world most of the time, which is pretty convenient (and actually pretty irresponsible).

 

As far as the very descriptive scenes that involve the haunted Steele House, these are vivid and full of horrible paranormal evil that will conjure up images that will stick with you. There's also a very deep-seated reason for the evil that resides in the house and it's actually very sad. I appreciate that Vega tied the narrative together at the end, even though it was quite an abrupt ending.

As an author, I think she has great instincts for what works well to both scare and satisfy, understanding that real life is a bit messy and not perfect. It's kind of why the ending left me with a punch to the gut.

I read a lot of horror fiction and love a great scare, so I love finding creepy books that suck me in; this is a quick YA 'haunted house' read, perfect for a spooky weekend.

 

*I also would have fallen victim to Steele house myself thanks to the cat at the beginning that draws little Meredith into the basement (even though everyone should know the first rule in horror is ‘don’t go into the basement’). But…kitty!!!!

Source: www.goodreads.com/book/show/40818627-the-haunted
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review 2019-04-16 23:32
Heart-wrenching, raw, and incredibly honest portrait of self-harming and recovery in 'Girl In Pieces'; it was emotionally hard to read but this book is so VERY important
Girl in Pieces - Kathleen Glasgow

I'm going to dare to reveal a bit of myself in this review because it absolutely affected my reading.
I had the early reader’s copy for this brilliant book for a few years before I could bring myself to read all the way through it, and I even started it once and couldn’t continue, shelving it for at least a year or so before picking it up a second time. It was an intense and very difficult read for me because of the subject matter, and I got through it after reading Kathleen Glasgow’s excellent second book ‘How to Make Friends with The Dark’ which was almost as difficult for me to read, and equally amazing. Together, these two books encompass so much of my own experience it’s heartbreakingly uncanny, and I was lucky enough to even let Kathleen know this when I met her at her own book signing here in Seattle recently.

I’ve been that ‘girl in pieces’ like Charlie, like the many young women out there hiding their scars from others, under clothing or bandages, caused by cutting, burning, or whatever ‘needed’ to be done in that painful moment. It was a long and very hard journey for me to heal enough from depression, grief, anxiety, self-harming behavior, and PTSD, to where I felt I could cope with life again. The book is honest and gritty, and since Kathleen knows exactly what this all feels like, she understood what I meant when I said it took me a few years to get around to reading this; in the author’s note, she writes that it took her nine years to get this book onto paper. But she’s here. I’m here.
This book is actually about hope, and that’s honestly why I really want many many young women, girls, to read this.

 

When I read ‘Girl In Pieces’ my journey and all sorts of things came back to me, and yes, this is why the book was so hard to read; it brought up thoughts and feelings I hadn’t had for years. I know that’s what will make it hard for others to read too. The cover is a trigger warning or just a plain trigger itself; I don’t know that anyone seeing that will have any doubt as to what this book is about. While the subjects within are difficult to read about, those who understand them stand to benefit the most.
It takes a boatload of talent to tackle all kinds of really difficult issues: drug abuse, sexual abuse, abandonment, parental neglect, grief, suicide, self-harming (and foster kids in her next novel), but Glasgow does a lot in this one book. Some reviews point out that there’s 'too much' in this one book but that’s the point; self-harming is rooted in deep pain borne from many issues, it doesn’t happen out of a vacuum. Many of these issues collide and Glasgow writes about them from her depths of her soul, from her personal experience.

There are a number of different characters in the book (the deeply wounded Charlie, the toxic Riley, counselor Casper, Charlie’s mom, a number of different friends who play varied roles in Charlie’s life along the way), and they’re all memorable and painfully vivid, often uncomfortably so. And Charlie's awkwardness, fear, pain, and bravery can be felt on every page. It's hard and absolutely heart-wrenching to read but it's incredibly worth it.

 

I'll end this by saying that some readers won't 'get' this book at all, others desperately need to read it and will likely have a hard time with it. But this book will reach some people and it will resonate deeply with them. When a book can touch you deep down it can stay with you forever. But scars and memories stay with you forever too, no matter how far in the past, and this story is a reminder of that.
Thank you, Kathleen Glasgow, for writing this book. I wish I'd read this a long time ago, even if I'm not sure I would've been ready. But I'm glad it's out there in this big wide scary world.

 

 

 

 

 

Source: www.goodreads.com/book/show/29236380-girl-in-pieces
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