Monday, October 20, 2014

The Witchy Worries of Abbie Adams by Rhonda Hayter, 242 pages

I had to kill an hour waiting for Samantha on Saturday and this was the only thing I could find in the car. A girl has to deal with 5th grade, a younger brother, and hiding the fact that her family are witches from her best friend. Then you throw in a new kitten that seems to be just a little peculiar, and it might be more than this witch can handle.
This was actually a really fun book that I enjoyed.

Dead City:Blue Moon by James Ponti, 328 pages

This is a great teen zombie series, not nearly as dark as Maberry's stuff but still a great read. I can't wait to see what happens next. I hate discovering a new series early on, because then I have to wait for each new book.

The Victorian City: Everyday Life in Dickens' London by Judith Flanders, 520 pages

This was a fascinating read. I love anything historical, more so if it has an English view, so this was great. I learned a lot, including the fact that newspapers used to be rented at one point. So much of this could be made into a great BBC documentary.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

When She Woke by Hillary Jordan, 341 pages

Working at a library doesn’t help with a book addiction because I’m constantly coming across more books that I want to read than I actually can. My to-read list is usually pretty long and always growing, so it takes a good description to hook me and move a book to the top of the list. “When She Woke” by Hillary Jordan is one of those books that caught my eye and had me almost instantly engrossed.
Hannah Payne awakens on a hospital table in a slightly futuristic Texas with her skin colored a bright red. She has been sentenced to be a Chrome for sixteen years, for the crime of having an abortion and refusing to name either the father or the doctor who performed her procedure.
As a means of dealing with overcrowded prisons, all but the most dangerous criminals are now sentenced by melachroming, a means of dyeing the skin different colors to reflect the different crimes, and released into the general population. Yellow serves for misdemeanors, blue for child molesters, and red for murder.
After a rampant sexual disease scourges the world, infecting men as carriers, but turning women infertile, abortion is completely outlawed in many countries, including most states in America. China and India even turned to forced fertilizations for all women of childbearing age until a cure for the disease was found. But in Texas abortion is still a crime.
Hannah, raised by fundamentalist parents, has never questioned their beliefs in politics or religion, which has become intertwined. That is, not until she finds herself seeking help after becoming pregnant -- not because of the impact it would have on her life, but because it would destroy the famous, married, religious man she loves. Found out, Hannah is sentenced to try to survive in a world that judges one by the color of their skin, literally.
After a vigilant group called The Fist, dedicated to “punishing” Chromes, comes close to killing her, Hannah is taken in by an underground terrorist group that fights against the draconian abortion laws. Hannah’s only hope for survival and any type of life is making it to Canada in a way that seems reminiscent of the Underground Railroad. But doing so means walking away from ever seeing her family and the man she loves ever again.
During this ordeal, Hannah finds herself questioning the beliefs she was raised with. At one point, Hannah is asked what she thinks about something and her reply is that she doesn’t because she was raised not to. That seems to be symbolic of how women are treated in many fundamentalist religious extremes, be they Christian, Islamic or other religion, with regulations about what they’re allowed to wear, read, learn, and even think.
This book, well meant as an updated retelling of “The Scarlet Letter” by Nathaniel Hawthorne, reminds me more of “The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood. Both show a future that is all-too-frightening in how easily it could come true. The author has done an outstanding job of showcasing an alarming look into a world where religion and politics combine, threatening a woman’s right to a safe and educated life.
From the first sentence of this book, I was hooked, and had to physically pull myself away to go back to work and fulfill other daily requirements. I finished the book outraged at a society that would allow this to happen, a sign of a book that truly reaches the reader. I wholeheartedly recommend this to fans of “The Handmaid’s Tale”, and for anyone concerned about the growing movement to politicize religion.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Burning Blue (291 pages).

By Paul Griffin

From the cover: "a beautiful girl, a hideous crime, and one boy caught in the middle of it all."

I NEVER would have picked up this book based on the above sentence. I read it for teen Lunch Bunch. This book was actually pretty phenomenal. Lots of nuanced female characters and a mystery that unraveled at a pretty great pace. Not bad at all. 

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon, 627 pages

During my early days of employ here at the library a patron had told me how great this series was. I looked the plot up at the time and thought it was right up my alley but had never taken the plunge to actually read it. Then came the show on Starz which was getting a lot of positive buzz so I was finally prompted to give it a try.

Claire is finally enjoying a bit of peace as she and her husband take a second honeymoon to Scotland in 1945. Having been apart during World War II, her a combat nurse, and he an officer, they are getting to know each other again. All that changes when she is touring a circle of stones (a small Stonehenge) and suddenly is transported back in time to 1743. She then has to explain her presence as a British woman alone, in "modern" clothing in the rough Scottish Highlands at a time when relations between Brit and Scot are rocky at best.

Honestly, at the outset of the novel I thought it was a bit slow but loved the characters and the setting. Then came Jamie, the hunky rough-around-the-edges answer to Claire's plight and I was swooning a bit. All the while, Gabaldon was describing in vivid, piercing, gut-wrenching detail anything violent and nasty, and there was plenty of that content. I was kind of ok with all of that until the book took an unexpected and strange turn that completely turned me off from the book and series. The villain was probably the most terrifying and vile of any book I had ever read and he possesses a certain preference that is taken, perverted and twisted into something VERY ugly in the book, due to what must be major mental illnesses. Personally,  I felt this was derogatory to other healthy people of this same preference.

Additionally, I read the synopses of the other books in the series also and their plots seemed disjointed, spazzy, and "Outlandish" - pun intended. I won't be continuing with this one.

Runaways: Homeschooling, 136 pages

This one was really odd, kind of short on plot and the artwork felt weird.