Monthly Archives: March 2013

#Review: In Our House: Perception Vs Reality @netgalley

In Our House: Perception Vs Reality
In Our House: Perception Vs Reality by Marala Scott

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

In Our House: Perception Vs. Reality is a memoir written by Marala Scott recounting the extreme verbal and physical abuse suffered by her, her mother, and her brothers at the hands of her father. As a result of her suffering and later healing, Marala was chosen to be an Oprah Ambassador of Hope in 2009. From what I can see of her presence online, Marala has transformed her horrific life experiences into hope and motivation for others who may be experiencing the same. But getting to where she is today was an endeavor nobody would want to endure.

In Our House follows the home life of Marala Scott, her brothers, and her mother under the frightening rule of their father and husband. Highly sought after by high-ranking government agencies, outward appearances betray the true tale of their daily life. Abuse, both verbal and physical, plagued the children and caused their mother to find solace in the demons of Satanism. This book is a guided tour through the worst of Marala’s experiences.

Reading this book was a labor of compassion and sympathy for me. I have never endured abuse and rarely heard of abuse so persistent and evil. I struggled with the believability of the memories Marala shared. Her age at the time of the memoir compared to the age she was when writing it give me pause as to consider how much of the story has been rewritten in her memory, minor embellishments accumulating over the years resulting in what actually happened magnified and distorted to a terrifying degree. I do not intend to discount Ms. Scott’s experiences, but the extreme detail of the dialogue without adequate concession that these words weren’t possibly remembered with such clarity pulls me away from the ability to trust fully.

Despite this glaring issue (for me), the book is engaging while emotionally difficult. The level of desperation is immense. Sympathy is strong for these children trapped in a world of abuse with no escape. Apparently schools back then didn’t give a damn about kids with (per the author) visibly deep and repeated bruising? Their ordeal must have been utterly and constantly terrifying.

Once Alley (Marala and boys’ mom) started dabbling in Satanism, I disconnected in a big way from the book. I read on because I was invested in the stories of the children, but the part with Mom and the demons was bizarre.

Apart from my distrust of the accuracy of the tale as it’s relayed, the core truth remains that the childhood of these kids was ruined by the ego and temper of their father, and this aspect of the story makes it worth reading. I found myself in need of taking a break fairly often; my brain needed to remove itself from the onslaught of verbal and physical abuse.

It’s a good book to read, especially for those of us who have lived a very different kind of life and could use a little perspective on the struggles that other people go through, yet rise way, way above that and come out living an exceptional life. A wake-up call!

Religious note: There was a LOT of religion in this book. I did not feel preached at. Rather, I felt like Marala shared with the reader how she got through these tangled mess of a childhood. There is a lot of what could be construed as proselytizing, but again, I was easily able to keep it in the context of what she went through and not at all did I feel annoyed by it.

I was provided this book free of charge via NetGalley for the purpose of providing an honest review.

View all my reviews

Marala Scott - authorFollow this author:
Marala Scott Blog
Marala Scott Website

Wool – Part One by @hughhowey #Free on Amazon for a limited time!

wool1

Thousands of them have lived underground. They’ve lived there so long, there are only legends about people living anywhere else. Such a life requires rules. Strict rules. There are things that must not be discussed. Like going outside. Never mention you might like going outside.

Or you’ll get what you wish for.

DOWNLOAD WOOL (PART 1) FOR FREE! LIMITED TIME

What the press is saying:

Boing Boing’s Official Review: “This story is terrific. I was completely immersed, watching Howey slowly paint a picture of a society gone wrong through the eyes and discovery of some truly compelling characters.”

Wired.com’s Official GeekDad Review: “Howey is among a growing list of authors who are making successful careers of publishing without the assistance of agents and traditional publishing houses. The traditional argument has been that if a book couldn’t find a publisher it probably wasn’t worth reading. However, just as iTunes changed how consumers found music and the way in which bands made their bread, ebook readers, and in particular the Kindle, are changing the ways in which authors find their readers and make a living. All of this means the old assumptions about indie books no longer hold true, and readers need to be prepared to adjust their expectations accordingly. The Wool Omnibus is a great book and deserves recognition as a full fledged contribution to the science fiction genre.”

Beyonders: Chasing the Prophecy by Brandon Mull

beyonders-3

Really? That is how you are going to leave it? There is going to be another book or another series… right?

Those were pretty much my exact thoughts upon finishing this book (well, I may have cleaned them up a little bit).

When I picked up the first Beyonders book in Barnes & Noble shortly after it came out I ended up staying at Barnes & Noble until I had finished it. A completely unintentional read. I liked it. A lot.

I have been waiting for this third book for what seems like ages. And I was not disappointed. Jason and Rachel are leading the rebels to overthrow Maldor. Everyone’s favorite displacer is back along with the snarkiest seed person and all the other characters I became attached to in the previous 2 books.

Did you get that Brandon? I am attached to them. All of them.

As with the other 2 books this one is well written and thought out. Jason in particular is incredibly believable as a regular kid who somehow manages to make a place for himself in this new world.In as much as there can be believabilty in a a fantasy series Brandon Mull achieves it.

And quite cleverly the book wraps up the story line that was started in A World without Heroes but keeps open the opportunity for more stories.

If you haven’t read this series you should.

That is the non-spoiler review. If you don’t want to read any spoilers stop now.

I’m quite serious. I am going to throw in some blank lines and then some spoilers are going to fly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So – This can’t be the end. Jason still in Lyrian. Rachel back in our world. Something about a daughter. There have to be more books. I need to know more.

Now let us talk about Ferrin and Drake. That was just kinda rough. After everything Ferrin had gone through and done. The relationships he built. I understand it was honorable and noble – but it killed me. And this was after I had already had to deal with Drake. Again noble and everything but a blow to the heart just the same.

I guess that proves that you had done a good job. I was attached. The characters were more than just words on a page to me. So good job. But I still don’t like it. 😉

Witch Twins by Adele Griffin

witchtwins

Witches are a hot subject for tween literature. Unfortunately this one doesn’t really stand out.

Claire and Luna are cute. But not very real. For a book that seems aimed at the tween girl market the tone is decidedly childish. The reader is often hit over the head with the lessons the twins are learning.

I have nothing against a story that teaches a lesson or has a moral, I just want it to be done with finesse. And tween girls do not need to have the lesson shoved in their face either. Place it naturally in a well written story and they will get it.

Once again the adult characters in the book suffered from a lack of dimensionality. This seems to be a recurring problem in the YA literature I have read lately. It is like they are caricatures without the humor.

Adele Griffin has a nice concept but hasn’t provided any history for the reader. We have been given no real structure or framework for the witch society she has created. This keeps it from feeling real. There needs to be more explanation and depth to the magic. The whys and why nots, cans and cannots  need to be defined so the reader feels there is a real basis for what happens.

This has potential and could be a decent, if light, tween series.

The Gold Dust Letters by Janet Taylor Lisle

golddust

“While searching for her fairy godmother, a young girl uncovers a world of magic” – I wish the books had lived up to the promise that tag line implied.

Three young girls, all friends yet very different, get caught up in the magic of believing there  really are fairy godmothers. Angela, Georgina and Poco (yes that is actually her name) are never fully realized. Each character is left feeling 2 dimensional. There is no depth or realness behind them.

The same is true of the main adult in the story, Angela’s father. He is a flat character whose sudden transformation makes absolutely no sense. We are given no believable background on which the story can play out.

It feels as if the reader has been dropped in the middle of a poorly done elementary school play.

Why does Angela decide to write to a fairy godmother? Why does Poco talk to animals? There are alot of whys that never get answered which adds to the sense of being dropped in the middle of something that no one bothers to explain.

The book also touches on the subject of divorce. But is does so without respecting the intelligence of the children it is written for. It feels like the writer is afraid to actually explore the subject which makes me wonder why she included it.

Afternoon of the Elves by Janet Taylor Lisle

elves

Two girls bond over an elf village. Is it real? Are elves real? Is magic real? It could have been enjoyable and surprising, but it wasn’t.
Janet Taylor Lisle seems to have gotten so caught up in the idea of writing a story that is mysterious and relies on the reader’s imagination- that she forgot to actually finish the story. Two girls – one a misfit – sharing this secret elf world. Simple enough. Then she throws in a missing father, a “sick” mother and a disappearance that comes out of no where.
As a reader I was just left feeling bewildered and let down. It wasn’t like a cleverly done story where the reader is left to decide for themselves, but still feels fulfilled. I was just left to wonder why I had spent time reading it.

I think if I was a child reading this I would have been even more frustrated. There were several instances that seemed like they were leading to a real “moments” in the book, but those moments were never realized.

#Review: Wool Omnibus (Wool #1-5) by @hughhowey #dystopian

Wool Omnibus
Wool Omnibus by Hugh Howey
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Listen, whatever you’re reading – STOP. Put that book down, buy this one and read the hell out of it.

Sometimes I forget how good books can be. I plod through books sometimes, feeling like I’ve read 100 pages when I’ve read only 10. I put the book down and six weeks later remember I am supposed to finish it.

Not this one. Not Wool.

Hugh Howey is an exceptional storyteller. Wool is ridiculously well-written and engaging, all the while desperate, bleak, and suffocating. Trust me – these adjectives all belong together in a single sentence. My husband even says to me, “I can already tell you how this story will go. Everybody THINKS the outside is toxic and uninhabitable, but they’ll come to find out it’s livable..” Not only is my husband WRONG like a wrong person on Wrong Day, but Howey shames him by demonstrating his talents by weaving hope into this dystopian wonderland.

Quick synopsis – in a post-apocalyptic setting, remaining generations of humans and some animals (dogs, bunnies, and rats are mentioned) are existing below-ground in a cylindrical structure buried very very deep into the Earth’s surface. Population control is strict and brutal. For every birth there must be a death. Birth control is implanted in the very-young. Howey has masterfully created a culture and its norms within the walls of the silo, and things are status quo for the reader for only a very short period of time. Things quickly start to unravel, and the wool begins to retreat from their and our eyes…

Read this book, seriously. Begin the journey that is Wool, and you won’t regret it.

View all my reviews

Deadweather and Sunrise – The Chronicles of Egg

cover24769-small

Well dagnabit – now I have one more YA fiction series to add to my list. One more series that I have to keep up with and wait impatiently between release dates for. Why? Because this is an awesome new series.

Rodkey has created a fascinating world. There are elements of fantasy mixed with allusions to our actual history. It is a complex world that took a couple of chapters to begin to fully grasp, but was well worth it.

The story begins with Egbert narrating his own tale. From the start it is made very clear that he doesn’t quite fit in with the rest of his family. His brother and sister are terrors – and that maybe putting it mildly. His father is a bit of an enigma – I am optimistically hoping we will learn more about him in another book.

Egbert lives on an island in the middle of an ocean that is populated by pirates. All different kinds of pirates. Some of the descriptions of house pirates and field pirates has me sniggering out loud. The creation of the inhabitants of the island and the descriptions of life there are priceless and cleverly unique.

Egbert is a very real young boy. He is not perfect. He stumbles through his misadventures in a slightly comical way, but you are always rooting for him.

One thing that Rodkey does extremely well is mixing in a believable amount of truly frightening experiences and circumstances without getting weighed down by it. The novel still keeps its upbeat optimistic feel. An excellent example of this is the character of Guts, yes, that is his name. I don’t want to give anything away – so just keep an eye out for him.

Millicent is another intriguing character. Despite not appearing through the entire middle of the book we manage to see a remarkable amount of character growth with her. She becomes a much more complex and interesting person that I was expecting.

I am finishing with this review now so I can go read the next book.

You should pick up the first book.

Now.

 

I was provided a gratis copy of this book for review.