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review 2014-06-05 10:55
(Very) Loosely based on a real life story and manages to basically kill you a little on the inside
We Are Called to Rise - Laura McBride

***This review has also been posted on The Social Potato

This is one of the most emotionally moving books I’ve read in a long time and while I had been looking forward to reading it, I had no idea it would have such a huge impact on me.Based loosely on a real life event (VERY LOOSELY), this book has a way of capturing your heart and making you feel overwhelmed with the realities of lifewhere people can get away with things. In spite of the saddness that is packed in this book, this book gives you hope. Hope that while terrible things happen, all is not lost.

This book has four different storylines that are brought together by a terrible incident (which I will not mention for the fear of spoiling as it doesn’t occur until halfway through the book). There are little things that connect these stories though and one of the major connections, aside from the fact that all 4 narrators live or come from Las Vegas, is war. War is an ugly thing and I love the way the author portrays it. She shows what it does to young men who didn’t know what they were getting into but it also shows a side of it, which while not positive, isn’t completely negative. Like this one instance where, Luis, a young soldier who has been on 91 live runs, talks about how when you’re at war, you forget about the trivial differences between people, it doesn’t matter what god they pray to or what race they are, the only thing that matters is protecting one another and SURVIVING.

This book is brimming with diversity and it’s so beautifully brought to life in the city of Las Vegas. I, for one, have never really imagined Las Vegas as anything but the stereotypes portray it to be, a lively city with a dynamic night life and tons of casinos but the author brings to light another side of the city, the one with ‘regular’ life.

The book opens with Avis, a 53, year old who has just found out that her husband is in love with another woman. Avis was a great character. She had a horrible childhood and it has had a major impact on the person she is today.There are constant flashbacks into her past but they are paragraphs and not pages. They give an insight into why she is this scared person who is afraid of not being noticed. The person who can be insecure at times and is wonders if life is worth going on anymore since there seems to be nothing to live for. The situation with her son changes things. Nate’s time in the army has changed him. Changed him to the point where he may or may not be abusing his wife and when Nate finally crosses the line Avis is forced to consider the possibility that her son is no longer the little innocent boy she knew him to be. As the story progresses, Avis has to choose between her role as a mother and doing the right thing and she grows. She grows as a character and throughout the book we see how her past forces her to re-evaluate certain things. It’s wonderful watching her progress throughout the book and she doesn’t let you down in the end.

The only thing that I didn’t really like about her story was her husband. Jim bothered the living daylights out of me and personally I had wished things would have gone another way. The Jim of the past sounded like a wonderful guy but the Jim we knew? I couldn’t even fathom the two as being the one and the same. I would have enjoyed it a lot more if things hadn’t turned out the way they had and they two would have dealt with the issue together instead.

Roberta only played a minor part in the book even though she had her own story line. Her story line wasn’t really personal and didn’t add much to the story which is why I am not sure it was needed. I never really got to learn more about her as a person aside from the fact that she really liked helping people and wanted to make as much as a difference as she could and really, if that’s all the author wanted to show, it would have been easier to make it evident from a 3rd POV instead of her having a narrative. In my opinion, that page space could have been better spent on exploring the other story lines.

Luis’s story was heartbreaking. He is just a 22 year old and has lived through more things than any kid should have to. He didn’t have a sad/heartbreaking childhood though, he, from what I can gather, had a perfectly normal childhood aside from the fact that his grandmother had raised him. His time in Iraq affected him, a mistake he made haunts him, to the extent where he may or may not have indirectly caused the death of his buddy and to the point where he killed himself after writing a very offensive letter to an 8 year old. A lot of the book deals with him trying to recover from the trauma he is suffered and we get a small glimpse of PTSD.

It’s really overwhelming to see his struggle. The way he cannot seem to remember what actually happened and the way he is surprised by the kindness he is shown by Dr. Ghosh. It’s heartbreaking to see him latch on to the hope of forgiveness that an 8 year old offers him with and it’s heartbreaking to see this guy, who is barely an adult himself, have to live with so much guilt.

The character who really stole my heart and the show is the said 8 year old, Bashkim. It took him only a few pages to weasel his way into my heart. His innocence stole my heart and the way he had more courage than so many adults really made me just want to hug him. His story really tears your heart out and seeing any 8 year old in that situation would get even the most unfeeling to at least feel some compassion.

One of my favorite things about Bashkim’s story, aside from the wonderfulness of his character, was how the author chose to portray his father. His father, although someone who could not be labelled as innocent and for a large part was unlikeable, was also a poor man with no way out. He was not a great man but at the same time, he wasn’t an evil guy. He was an immigrant who hadn’t caught a break in what seemed like forever. It’s what made the situation they were in so much more heartbreaking. The fact that they had no family to turn to and the fact that they were poor would ensure that they would never get justice and that tore my heart out.

I cannot say much about the plot because saying anything would be spoiling the book and in all honesty, it’s something everyone needs to experience for themselves.

With a delightfully complex characters and a powerful message at its heart, this is a story that’ll leave you thinking for a long time.

I am not sure I’ve done this book justice with my review but it’s safe to say this is one of the most moving books I’ve read this year and I’d definitely recommend this to anyone looking for something deeper.

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text 2014-01-02 17:35
Coping Plans in My Moving Day Countdown

So the hardest thing for me, the book lover, in this move is packing up my books and not knowing exactly when I'll be seeing them again - they may sit in storage for a few months or longer, because things are kind of up in the air right now. So far my ways of dealing with this:


- Reading the really short, fun books before packing them. That way I'll have gotten my fill and won't want to do an immediate reread. Also nostalgia reads are often great for getting your mind off of things.


- Buying ebooks, but holding off on reading them til now. That way I can pack away the paper books because I have a huge pile of ebooks waiting to be read - and those can be easily taken with me, anywhere. (Which is a HUGE comfort. I'd not really realized how much books are a security blanket til this move.) The fact that I've purposely kept myself from reading them has also been sort of fun too - I now have them to look forward to. And the best thing about reading an ebook now - I don't have to rush to finish it, and I don't have to worry about misplacing it in the boxes. And I can read multiple ebooks and not worry about their physical size. (The multiple books thing is more important now that I find it's harder to pay attention to some books - stress is making me an easily distracted reader.)


- Taking several boxes of books with me. Some I've taken on ahead to my temporary-stay-home (with the parentalfolk), and because I have problems choosing, I'll have one box to pop in the car. I'll end up with around 20 or 30 books that I've either not read or didn't read all of (nonfiction books that I used for research). That may seem like a lot (and the box weighs a ton) but it means that I have a good selection. Also most of these don't exist in ebook form, which means there's no other way to consume them than in paper.


In the past my music collection has been a similar worry for me, and video games too - but using "the cloud" has solved a lot of these issues. All my music is now in mp3 format, though only about 70% of those have a CD as backup. Some are backed up in the cloud, but some aren't, and I'm not going to be able to go through the thousands of files to figure out which. (I'm fond of remixes, which don't always end up on albums.) But since I'm focusing on books this move, I've been less antsy over music for some reason. Many of my video games are either in my Steam Library or are online, and so no real worries about backing up there. All I have to do is make sure I make a copy of a saved game or two (Dragon's Age Origins, I don't want to lose those character files, and I think I may need to figure out how to save all the DLC just in case) and I'm set.


I've given plenty of books I don't want anymore to my local library's bookshop (they raise money to be used for the library). The only difficulty in that - besides finding a time to go when I can get parking near the door - is keeping myself from browsing in that bookshop, because it is SO tempting.


Getting everything else done in the next 13 days? (yeek.) Well, we'll see... (I have a lot of backup plans. Like "I can always mail X after the movers leave." Also I repeat to myself "this is all going to work out" a lot.)

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photo 2013-10-03 22:11
I count this as one stack. Kind of.

Currently I'm packing up my books. Or at least preparing to pack. Since it's not set in stone how long they'll be in storage (along with other stuff) I'm relying on online book lists (Booklikes, GR) to keep track of what I have. And to people who might wonder why I'd need this - in going through my books I've found at least two books I've bought twice. One had a different cover, but the other one was exactly the same - I just didn't remember. This is why being able to check my list on a phone app really matters.


Anyway, I'm cataloging and then will start packing.Which made it great timing that Booklikes came out with a way to set up Exclusive Shelves. I started by naming two shelves Ebooks Owned Unread and Paper Books Owned Unread - but then I began to dislike that. Yes I have a LOT of books to read, and damn those cheap book sales. (And I immediately began to argue with myself that a lot on that ebook list is free/gutenberg.) To stop me from lecturing myself on my book habits, I named them Waiting for Reading. Less why-haven't-you-read guilt involved.


This time I'm going to put silica packs in most of the boxes, not that I know I'll need them but it was a good tip I picked up from a How To Pack Books page. The other thing I remember - use smaller boxes when at all possible. Otherwise they will be really, really heavy. (I will have movers, thankfully.)


Of course I know no matter how things go, there will come a time when I will wish I could put my hands on one of the books that will be in storage. That's why I'm trying to only read paper atm, and save all my ebook reading. In hope that will keep the "oh damn, that's packed" moment from happening. (I'm probably doomed.)


But! If anyone out there has any storage and/or book moving tips, do send them along!

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