Friday, September 22, 2017

The Border by Steve Schafer

A quincenera is a right of passage. A large celebration for most latin girls. It is when a girl turns fifteen years old. A big party to celebrate this milestone in life is usually thrown. There is family, lots and lots of family, friends, good food, cake and music.  It marks the transition from childhood to young womanhood. There is a big pretty dress and a court made up of friends and family. It is a memorable event. Not one I see mentioned in novels or movies, much. Schafer opens up his novel with this celebratory event.

The reader is lured into a fun and safe place but  tragedy strikes fast and the story unfolds right before your eyes. Pato, Arbo, Marcos, and Glady are our main characters and they have stepped away from the main event when gunshots ring out. When they return to the scene they find they are the only survivors. Everyone else is gone except the gunmen. The gunmen are Narcos and the only way to escape with their lives is to flee.

The fighted, young group of teens are wanted  by the narcos and  have price put on their heads. The only way to make it alive it to cross the border from Mexico into the United States. Getting to the border is the easy part.  Crossing the vast empty, hot land with little to no supplies and surviving will be near impossible. 

Their voyage is fraught with many issues and one can't help but to imagine the desperation not only these characters feel but that of those who attempt to cross the border into the United States every day. There are predators all around, animal and human. Minimal water, oppressive heat, no medication, no map are a few of the issues they will be forced to face. 

The character's are realistic. The story is touching and covers a variety of topics that we don't see in the media or that isn't understood. 

The characters' are flawed and Schafer does an excellent job of giving them voice and making them "alive". I felt a connection to each of them and could easily see them in the people I know, the people I lov and  the strangers on the street whose background story I don't know. 

This was an extremely emotional read for me and it left me feeling helpless, powerless and slightly misanthropic yet I  encourage you to read this. I highly recommend it. 

There is spanish in the novel and it isn't always translated or translated correctly but I feel that a reader would still get the gist of what is being said. 

Saturday, September 16, 2017

A Stranger in the House by Shari Lapena

Tom Krupp returns from work and something is amiss. His wife, Karen is not home and her purse and cell phone have been left behind and there is indications that she left in a rush. A knock on the door raised more questions than answers. His wife has been in a car accident and is left with partial amnesia. She has no recollection of what happened before and after the accident. 

Not for from the scene of the accident a body has been found. The police wonder if the events that happened on the same day are in some way connected and an investigation begins. 

The story unravels slowly and while it was interesting enough it didn't hold my full attention. The characters needed further development and the final reveal and plot twist wasn't nearly as scandalous as I would liked. I was able to easily predict it. 

The secrecy and betrayal between the characters is spicy and keeps the story rolling. It's like watching a novella or hearing juicy gossip  that sucks you in and before you know it, your addicted to finding out the truth.

The book does end rather abruptly and I have to wonder if there was a major edit because I felt as though something was missing. This book was "ok" but it took me far longer to read than usual as it didn't "call" to me.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Unraveling Oliver by Liz Nugent

Oliver and Alice are married and have written children's novels together. Oliver is the writer, Alice the illustrator. One night, Oliver goes mad and violently beats, Alice putting her in a coma.

In order to get the present, one must revisit the past and the following chapters are filled with Oliver's life. Oliver's life history is filled with shame, depravity, deception and a sociopathic dipistion.

The first few chapters are dark and juicy. Empathy ensues and then Olivers character begins to emerge. Oliver's. The following chapters are "fillers" and predictability settles in and then a interesting turn of events happens. Revealing much about Oliver.

I had to be honest here -- I really enjoyed the start of the book but struggled getting through a little more than a quarter. I usually give up on the book by that time but I felted committed to finishing the book and the end was worth it and very interesting.

Did it deliver? A little bit but I wouldn't put it in front of my to read pile.

The Accidental Beauty Queen by Teri Wilson

Charlotte Gorman is a librarian, a "nerd" and enjoys being casual and comfy. Her twin sister, Ginny is an famous instagram conte...