Contemporary Reviews

The Chosen One

[openbook booknumber=”0312555113″][rating:4/5]

Thirteen-year-old Kyra has grown up in an isolated community without questioning the fact that her father has three wives and she has twenty brothers and sisters, with two more on the way. That is, without questioning them much – if you don’t count her secret visits to the Ironton County Mobile Library on Wheels to read forbidden books, or her meetings with Joshua, the boy she hopes to choose for herself instead of having a man chosen for her.

But when the Prophet decrees that she must marry her sixty-year-old uncle – who already has six wives – Kyra must make a desperate choice in the face of violence and her own fears of losing her family forever.

This book addresses a very powerful and deeply controversial subject and in a surprisingly strong, vivid and heart breaking way for a YA novel. I think this book exemplifies one of YA’s true strengths in that way. Kyra is a young girl growing up in a remote compound belonging to a polygamist sect. She has grown up in a family with one father and three mothers and now has twenty siblings with two more on the way. She has known no other life and in fact finding out about other ways of life is next to impossible and is considered a sin. By chance Kyra discovers a mobile library and that discovery, along with a library card, opens up fresh new horizons for her and she discovers a world beyond the compound’s barbed wire fences and brutal attitudes towards freedom and independent thought.

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Love Begins In Winter

[openbook booknumber=”9780061661471″][rating:4/5]

On the verge of giving up – anchored to dreams that never came true and to people who have long since disappeared from their lives – Van Booy’s characters walk the streets of these stark and beautiful stories until chance meetings with strangers force them to face responsibility for lives they thought had continued on without them.

This turned out to be a wonderful collection of uplifting stories about love, forgiveness, romance, family and hope. Each short story contained a character that had either given up hope or was at a crossroads in their life and had to make a decision or take a leap of faith or sometimes just open their eyes to see the love that was all around them and in some cases had been all along. They were all written wonderfully, very literary and lyrical with wonderful twists and turns that were at once completely surprising and then after some thought completely expected.

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In The Bleak Midwinter

[openbook booknumber=”0312288476″][rating:4/5]

It’s a cold, snowy December in the upstate New York town of Millers Kill, and newly ordained Clare Fergusson is on thin ice as the first female priest of its small Episcopal church. The ancient regime running the parish covertly demands that she prove herself as a leader. However, her blunt manner, honed by years as an Army pilot, is meeting with a chilly reception from some members of her congregation, and Chief of Police Russ Van Alstyne, in particular, doesn’t know what to make of her or how to address, “a lady priest,” for that matter.

The last thing she needs is trouble, but that is exactly what she finds. When a newborn baby is abandoned on the church stairs and a young mother is brutally murdered, Clare has to pick her way through the secrets and silence that shadow the town like the ever-present Adirondack mountains. As the days dwindle down and the attraction between the avowed priest and the married police chief grows, Clare will need all her faith, tenacity, and courage to stand fast against a killer’s icy heart.

I really enjoyed reading this book. I loved the setting, I loved the characters, I loved how the storyline pulled me in and didn’t let me go until the last page was turned. It had unique characters, well researched back story, and of course a killer on the loose to help spice things up as the death toll keeps climbing. Between the mystery and suspense surrounding this small baby abandoned on a church door step, to the believable relationship and build up between Reverend Clare and Chief Alystyne (will they? won’t they?) it ended up being quite a page turner and I was up late into the night on several occasions because I could not put this book down.

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Jacob’s List

[openbook booknumber=”0764203266″][rating:3/5]

When you lose a child it is considered “the worst loss”. For the Nolans the loss of their son doesn’t just risk destroying their world, it also risks tearing them apart, as he was the only thing that was keeping them together.

When I saw this book I assumed it was going to be a book about a married couple completing the things on their son’s list and going on a lot of adventures together in his memory. Pretty naive considering how the book turned out.

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The Second Summer of the Sisterhood

[openbook booknumber=”0385729340″][rating:4.5/5]

I loved reading The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. I picked it up expecting chick lit but got so much more. I tore through the entire book during a fishing trip, finishing it all in one sitting. I have no idea why I put off reading about The Second Summer of the Sisterhood. I guess it goes back to that old weakness of insisting on reading the first book in the series immediately before I read the sequel so that it’s fresh in my mind. For whatever reason I’m glad I got back to this series, because I loved it!

The four girls decided to put off wearing the pants all school year long in favor of bringing them out only in the summer time. At the start of their second summer Tibby left to go and do a film program at a college in Virginia, and Bee took off to find her roots, and herself, in Alabama. Lena and Carmen are staying home, but things are never simple when it comes to this sisterhood! Lena faces the ashes of her relationship with Kostos while Carmen deals with her mother’s new flame David. Altogether though I thought this book was much darker then it’s first book, and not nearly so uplifting. All of the girls seemed to be in a great deal of more trouble then last summer and to be facing tougher problems, also it seemed to me that some of the girls hadn’t learned much from the last summer and had lessons that needed repeating.

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