Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Son by Lois Lowry: My Review

About the Book:

They called her Water Claire. When she washed up on their shore, no one knew that she came from a society where emotions and colors didn’t exist. That she had become a Vessel at age thirteen. That she had carried a Product at age fourteen. That it had been stolen from her body. Claire had a son. But what became of him she never knew. What was his name? Was he even alive? She was supposed to forget him, but that was impossible. Now Claire will stop at nothing to find her child, even if it means making an unimaginable sacrifice.

Son thrusts readers once again into the chilling world of the Newbery Medal winning book, The Giver, as well as Gathering Blue and Messenger where a new hero emerges. In this thrilling series finale, the startling and long-awaited conclusion to Lois Lowry’s epic tale culminates in a final clash between good and evil.

My Comments:


I found this one surfing through my library's Overdrive portfolio.  I had read the others in the series so I decided to read this.

For those not familiar with the series, it starts with The Giver, which is set in the future, after a catastrophic war.  The characters live in a technologically advanced community that has given up emotion and individual freedom.  No one suffers pain or want, and everything is decided for everyone.  Two of the characters in The Giver were Jonas and Gabe.  Jonas was chosen to be the only person in the community who was told of its history, and Gabe was a baby who could not conform--and we learn that in that community non-conformity was a capital crime, even if the "criminal" was an infant.  

Son is the story of Gabe's mother--the woman who gave birth to him.  Certain young women were chosen to be birth mothers--it was their job for a few years to carry three "products" to maturity.  Once those products were born, they were raised in a community nursery for a year or so and then given to couples (the governement decided who coupled) to raise to maturity.  

Gabe's mother had problems with the birth and was declared ineligible for future childbearing, but the powers that be forgot to tell her to take her hormone (and feeling) blocking pills and she seeks out her son.  She learns that he is no longer in the community and goes looking for him.

One of the characters is "Trademaster" who had caused disruption in the community featured in another book two of this series.  Basically, he would grant people's wishes, but in return would talk something valuable from them, and in doing so caused misery and dissention.  In Son he grants Claire's wish to see her son, but takes her youth. 

At the end of the book Gabe confronts Trademaster and finds him to be pure evil, not human at all, and destroys him. I found that to be a throught-provoking conclusion.  Gabe started life in a community where no one had to trade--everyone was the same, all choices were made, suffering was absent. By destroying Trademaster, did he destroy evil?  Is it possible to destroy evil without destroying choice?  

While there were parts of the book that dragged, overall I enjoyed it and give it a B. 

Sunday, August 27, 2017

It's Monday, What Are You Reading


I keep saying I'm going to get back to regular book blogging and keeping up with the book blogging community, and I keep failing.  I enjoy joining Kathryn and the gang but life gets in the way.

I recently have set up my Overdrive account with my public library.  If you have a Kindle or other tablet, this is a great way to get e-books delivered.  As with hard copies, there may be a waiting list for the latest and greatest but at least with my library, I've been able to find plenty to keep me busy, and being able to check them out and return them from the comfort of my home makes it easy to try new authors, genres etc.  If I like them, I continue reading; if not, back they go.  

Here are some of my recent Overdrive reads:

Montana Bride: A Bitter Creek Novel by [Johnston, Joan]

Wyoming Bride: A Bitter Creek Novel by [Johnston, Joan]

These were about what you'd expect looking at the covers. They weren't very realistic but were fun.

Family Tree: A Novel by [Wiggs, Susan]

I loved this one, and may write a review in the future.  In short its about a women who finds a new life after a coma takes her old life from her. 

It was a rainy lazy Sunday today and I went to Mass last night so I spent the day writing book reviews and other blog posts so if I never blog again, you'll see a few more posts here.  Two that have already been published are:

Keep You Safe (click for review) caught my eye because it deals with vaccines.  I have an autistic son and one (discredited) theory about autism is that it is caused by vaccines.  

What should you do if a spouse you love comes out as transgendered?  That's the struggle of one of the characters in The Art of Keeping Secrets. 

As a New Orleans area resident I just want to remind everyone to keep the people of Houston in your thoughts and prayers.  Pray that rain lets up and they can dry out and be prepared to dig in your pockets to send money for aid once the storm leaves.  

Keep You Safe: My Review

About the Book:

What if a choice you made for your child could harm someone else's'?

For single mother Kate O'Hara, there was no choice to make. Her daughter, Rosie, is one of a small percentage of children with a disorder that prevents them from being immunized. All Kate can do is hope that herd immunity keeps disease at bay and her little girl safe.

For Madeleine Cooper vaccinations were a leap of faith she wasn't prepared to take. Which was why, following much soul-searching, she and her husband declined controversial measles shots for their daughter, Clara. All she can do is pray that it was the right decision, and if her little girl becomes sick, she gets through it unscathed.

But when both girls wind up in the same elementary school class, telltale red spots appear on Clara Cooper's chest, and on Rosie's a few days after. 

And while one child recovers and the other's health becomes more critical, the two mothers find themselves across a very deep divide...

My Comments:

I have an autistic son.  There was a noticeable uptick in the number of kids diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders starting with kids about his age.  Of course the big question is why.  One thing that changed with kids about his age was "baby shots".  For quite some time before he was born, the shots given to babies had been the same.  A year or two before he was born, the HIb vaccine was put in and shortly thereafter they started giving hepatitis B shorts to infants in the hospital.  A few years later a doctor from England published a paper that stated that the preservative in the shots, a mercury derivative called thimerisol, was responsible for the increased number of autistic children.  I don't know if there was an "anti-vaxx" movement before that paper (which has now been revealed as a fraud), but since that time not vaccinating your children has become an option in many more parents' minds than it had been prior to that time.

I am also the mother of a child who was born after my autistic son and after I began doing a lot of research on autism, its prevalence and its causes.  I was well aware of the purported link between vaccines and autism and well aware that the medical establishment consistently denied such a link.  I am also well aware that tobacco companies for years provided medical "evidence" that smoking didn't cause cancer and that asbestos companies had medical experts who declared asbestos to be safe.  Nevertheless, I decided to vaccinate my youngest, though I always cringed when they did so, and I delayed the shots for a few months.  

This book is about one mother who chose not to vaccinate her child, and one whose child was not able to be vaccinated due to allergies.  First the child whose mother chose not to vaccinate got measles, and then got over them.  Then the child who couldn't be vaccinated got them, and was far sicker.  

The mother whose child became very ill hired an attorney to sue the parents of the child who infected her.  The story is set in Ireland and while I don't know anything about Irish law, I was not happy with the outcome of the court case or the general resolution of the book.  Nevertheless I enjoyed the story and liked the way the author had these moms actually knowing each other--both that the seriously ill girl's mom knew how her daughter became ill and that the other mom knew that her child had infected the seriously ill child.  In other words, the cause and effect were right there to look at for both of them, it wasn't hypothetical.

Another thing I liked about the book is that one of the moms was a blogger.

I'd like to thank the publisher for providing a complimentary review copy via NetGalley.  Grade:  B+

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Review: The Art of Keeping Secrets

About the Book:

They started out as the "misfit moms"—the trio of less-than-conventional parents at their sons' tony private school. They've shared everything. Or so they thought. Now, on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to New York City, they'll sightsee, they'll shop, they'll catch a few Broadway shows. They'll tell all… 

After seventeen years as a single parent, Neve will reveal a past sin that could destroy her relationship with her son. Emma will uncover the roots of her exhaustion and divulge the inappropriate feelings she has for her boss. And Flick—who knows a little about crafting a flawless exterior—will share the shocking truth that lies beneath the veneer of her perfect marriage. 

When the tight hold they've each kept on their secrets for years begins to slip, they must face the truth. Even if the truth will forever alter the course of their friendship and their lives.

My Comments:

Three women, three big secrets (ok, maybe two big secrets and one thing where no one realized what was happening).  Emma, Flick and Neve live in Australia and send their sons to the same private school.  They've never fit in with the other moms, but they have become the best of friends.  Now their sons are graduating and each is finding that life as she knows it will be undergoing more changes than the predicted empty nest.

The biggest secret of all is Flick's, well, actually her husband's.  She learned while they were engaged that he was a cross-dresser, but they agreed it would be their secret.  Now, he has come out to her as transgendered but he (she?) doesn't want to lose Flick.  Flick is torn--she's not a lesbian, she loves her husband, but she doesn't want a wife.  What will she do?

None of these women have the traditional picket fence marriage--at the time of this story, Flick is the only one who is married--and the story is an interesting exploration of what marriage is and should be.  

I enjoyed the book but I can't say that any of the women particularly appealed to me--I felt sorry for all of them at different times in the book, but I was always the dispassionate observer, I was never emotionally drawn into the book.  

I'd like to thank the publisher for making a review copy available via NetGalley.  Grade: B. 

Monday, August 07, 2017

The Summer That Made Us: My Review

The Summer that Made Us

About the Book:

Mothers and daughters, sisters and cousins, they lived for summers at the lake house until a tragic accident changed everything. The Summer That Made Us is an unforgettable story about a family learning to accept the past, to forgive and to love each other again. 

That was then… 

For the Hempsteads, two sisters who married two brothers and had three daughters each, summers were idyllic. The women would escape the city the moment school was out to gather at the family house on Lake Waseka. The lake was a magical place, a haven where they were happy and carefree. All of their problems drifted away as the days passed in sun-dappled contentment. Until the summer that changed everything. 

This is now… 

After an accidental drowning turned the lake house into a site of tragedy and grief, it was closed up. For good. Torn apart, none of the Hempstead women speak of what happened that summer, and relationships between them are uneasy at best to hurtful at worst. But in the face of new challenges, one woman is determined to draw her family together again, and the only way that can happen is to return to the lake and face the truth. 

Robyn Carr has crafted a beautifully woven story about the complexities of family dynamics and the value of strong female relationships.

My Comments:

In a lot of ways, this is the proto-typical "beach read".  There is a beach house which has been in the family for generations; the family that used to gather there yearly; the summer romances;  the guy across the lake; and the tragedy that tore everyone apart.  Nevertheless, Robyn Carr does a good job with this trope.  Her characters include the likable, the pitiable and the one you just want to shake. The story has just enough twists to keep it interesting.  

As the summer draws to a close, all have had their lives changed, and improved by facing the demons of their past and realizing that things really weren't just thier fault.  

I'd like to thank Little Bird Publicity for inviting me to participate in this blog tour and providing a complimentary review copy.  Grade:  B.

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