Shark’s Instinct by Bethany Maines is Book One in The Shark Santoyo Crime Series. I note this because I like to start reading a series with Book One; I just never seem to succeed. The novel has helpful Chapters named by dates, so readers know when a backstory is about to happen. The entire novel takes place between 09 October and 21 October. After Chapter Monday—October 16, we have Chapter Two Weeks Ago which is in turn followed by Chapter Tuesday, October 17. We also have Chapter Thursday, October 19 followed by Chapter Five Years Ago followed by Chapter Thursday, October 19. A table of contents can be informative and not boring.
Dragonfly Dreams by Jennifer J. Chow will be an eye-opening opportunity in cultural education for Western readers new to Asian culture or the hybrid culture that grows as immigrants deal with their new adopted culture. Our main character is Topaz. Her job as a narrator is limited by the fact that she dies on Page One while giving birth. During a brief period of ascent just after dying, Topaz is offered a choice between two paths to follow. She has no idea of what to do until the appearance of Sage who lets her know that one path leads to an end and the other path leads to a beginning. The path on the right will allow her to be with her family temporarily but she must choose how long. Topaz wants to see her daughter grow up and decides ten years, a decade, will be fine.
The first line of Piggy Monk Square by Grace M. Jollife set the tone for the style of writing to follow. I knew right away I would like this story. “My name’s Rebecca but me mates call me Sparra cos of me legs.” (p. 1). Set in a poor section of Liverpool where to have a job is considered lucky, the story is told through the eyes of a nine-year-old, “Sparra.” In the first few pages, we can determine that no one in the neighborhood trusts the police. Predatory child molesters lurk everywhere. Whether this is true or not, the reader does not know for sure, but we do know that Rebecca believes it to be true. This is an excellent exposition of several stories that readers will discover for themselves as Rebecca and her “bezzie,” Debbie show us a world that is full of despair as far as adults are concerned. With one exception, Debbie and Rebecca accept the world as it is and make their world as pleasant as possible.
While readers may resist judging a book by its cover, a title like this one would get attention even without art. The Second Virginity of Suzy Green by Sara Hantz is a young adult (YA) novel about survival in high school. In Suzy’s case, this meant survival in two schools. It is not that she attended two schools at the same time, it is that she was trying to project two different personalities. Suzy had a sister, Rosie, who met a tragic end. Suzy and her family were predictably devastated. But Suzy had a reason to be devastated not shared by her parents. Suzy believed she caused Rosie’s death. Readers can decide whether they agree.
Dork Diaries 1: Tales from a Not-So-Fabulous Life by Rachel Renee Russell is written for readers age 9-13 which covers grades 4-8. So what is an OWG (Old White Guy) doing reading this book? First, it is very good entertainment. I don’t generally read this genre and the only thing I have to compare it to is the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. I found this written with more of a sense of enthusiasm for life than I found in Wimpy Kid. My fascination with this read extended beyond this singular work. I found thirteen books in this series alone. The author is an industry unto herself. There are activity books, translations in French, Spanish, and Italian (and probably more but I got tired of the search). There are books outside this series with equally engaging characters. Although I was entertained by the story itself, through it I found a different resource for reading material at low cost.
Reflected Echo by Teresa Grabs is a Young Adult dystopian novel about the struggle for survival of a young girl, Echo, in a tightly controlled government state. In Bakerton High School, students were assessed by ever-present adult evaluators on their attitudes toward the State by the way they walked and the expressions on their faces. There were so many rules with accompanying negative sanctions that Echo and her friends came to accept that their very existence broke some rule. Therefore, there was nothing to be done but plod forward and accrue as few negative comments as possible.
She’s Gone! is a 168- page novel by Lorena May about the guilt and doubt of a mother surrounding the disappearance of her daughter, Cassandra. Shea’s doubt about Cassandra’s disappearance is the doubt about who took her. There seem to be many possible suspects. Shea’s guilt stems from her own doubt about whether she really loves her daughter. Cassandra was cute when she was born but the “cute” factor got old when Ben and Shea took Cassandra home. How could one baby scream so loud and so long? With Shea always working at the office long hours to establish himself as a lawyer, Shea had to deal with the problem 24/7 by herself. The pills she was taking for postpartum depression allowed her to sleep, sometimes right through a screaming session. Shea occasionally tried other more physical things to stop the baby’s screaming. She didn’t really throw Cassandra that hard or that far.
I liked One Night by Deanna Cabinian, thought it was a five star read, and said so in a review located here: https://ron877.com/2017/09/10/what-did-you-do-for-your-summer-vacation/. I liked One Love, same author, gave it five stars in a review located here: https://ron877.com/2018/01/11/can-there-be-more-than-one-love/. One Try, volume three in the Thompson Lake series, also by Deanna Cabanian is a novel I will give two ratings. As a stand-alone novel, I give it three stars. It doesn’t have the excitement of the first two novels. As a stand-alone novel, readers with my interests will be bored. However, I read the first two novels and if I combine this one with them, almost as if this were a final chapter rather than a separate novel, I give this story four stars. But only because I can relate these characters to their history.
The Thing in the Pool by Carol James Marshall is a 38-page short story that I bought for USD 0.99 on Amazon after I read it for free from another giveaway site. I bought it so this review would be a verified purchase. I liked the way the story was told from many different points of view. Edger tells a story from the point of view of an eighth-grader when he is facing the world and his classmates as an eighth grader. This is his exterior, sometimes phony, point of view. There are interior monologues going on as he describes his true feelings about his classmates and himself to himself. This is his honest-with-himself point of view. Other points of view appear. Edger imagines himself as his father in the present and makes value judgments about his own behavior. Would his father approve? Same with his mother. Then he imagines himself as a father in the future. How would he interact with a son who is amazingly similar to the present day Edger?
Hide and Seek by Jack Ketchum is an emotional, action, horror story. That is in reverse order. The horror part of the story is based on a tried and true element, an ancient almost one-hundred-year-old abandoned house. Its original owners, Ben and Mary Crouch, had simply abandoned it. The brother and sister couple, both of whom were considered mentally feeble, had gotten behind on mortgage or tax payments. Warned of imminent foreclosure, they had simply disappeared. Perhaps they had taken some of their dogs with them, but twenty-three were left behind. Confined and hungry, they presented a challenge to the police officers who responded to a call based on neighbor complaints. After throwing food, some possibly tainted with drugs, into the house, the officers waited for the noise of dogs fighting for food to abate before entering the house. They found heaps of garbage, old newspapers, items that could only be considered junk, and general filth. The house remained empty until a doctor bought it, tried to renovate at least parts of it, but eventually gave up either out of frustration or perhaps due to a sinister implied threat from the disappeared Ben and Mary Crouch. Abandoned again, the house fascinated the curious, usually young, inhabitants of Dead River.