Tuesday, December 16, 2014

(70) The Murder of Adam & Eve

Title: The Murder of Adam and Eve by William Dietrich
Publisher: Burrows Publishing
Pages: 306
Format: E-Galley
Genre: YA

I received an e-galley of this book from the publisher through netgalley.com in exchange for a fair review.

Synopsis: Two teens time-travel to prehistoric Africa to judge whether to save our ancestors: the genetic "Adam" and "Eve" whose descendants will go on to populate the world. When 16-year-old Nick Brynner explores an old fort on a forbidden island for a school history project, he stumbles onto a time wormhole. What follows is a mysteriously deserted village with a prowling sentry that looks like a gargoyle, and narrow escape with the help of fellow teen Eleanor Terrell. The two are hurtled into a grim series of challenges by an alien race called the Xu, which are considering a Reset of human history because of our poor planetary stewardship. If Adam and Eve are murdered, will another couple, or another species, do better? Nick and Ellie are ruthlessly deposited onto the African savanna of fifty thousand years ago, and the hunt is on.

Review: I was iffy about this one when I started it but then I got caught up in the story.  How would two teens survive in ancient Africa? They have to find food, water and stay alive, all while trying to track down Adam and Eve before the Xu do.

I found this book a bit blaze when it came to the teens having to trap and kill animals.  I know they are hungry but I still think modern teens who aren't into hunting would have a hard time skinning a rabbit.  But if you overlook some of these little things the story is interesting.  What if you had the ability to change time? What if you could become the next Adam & Eve? Would helping to save the current Adam and Eve by any means effect their development.  These are two modern teens with modern thinking can their ideas influence the future? The book doesn't really answer all of these questions but it poses them which makes you wonder can one person change the course that humanity has set? Makes you wonder.

I liked this book.  Its simple but gives you things to ponder long after you close the cover.

Monday, December 15, 2014

(69) The Day the Storm Came

Title: The Day The Storm Came: A Therapeutic Story for children who have experienced loss by Helen Lees
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services
Pages: 17 pages
Format: e-book
Genre: Children, Trauma

Synopsis: Shuffelump's world feels safe, happy and predictable until The Day The Storm Came and his world changed forever. He experiences pain and loneliness and longs for the return of his safe world. Shuffelump has the courage to allow his feelings to surface and then through showing kindness, Shuffelump feels love within himself again.

Review: This book is great for children who have experienced any type of loss or even a change in circumstance. Through a simple story and cute photos it helps kids realize that despite changes that may have happened in their lives and any sadness they are feeling at the moment the sun will come out again.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

(68) When

Title: When by Victoria Laurie
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Pages: 336
Format: E-galley
Genre: YA

I received this as an advance e-galley from the publisher through netgalley.com in exchange for a fair review. This book is set to be released January 13, 2015

Synopsis: Maddie Fynn is a shy high school junior, cursed with an eerie intuitive ability: she sees a series of unique digits hovering above the foreheads of each person she encounters.

Her earliest memories are marked by these numbers, but it takes her father's premature death for Maddie and her family to realize that these mysterious digits are actually death dates, and just like birthdays, everyone has one.

Forced by her alcoholic mother to use her ability to make extra money, Maddie identifies the quickly approaching death date of one client's young son, but because her ability only allows her to see the when and not the how, she's unable to offer any more insight. When the boy goes missing on that exact date, law enforcement turns to Maddie.

Soon, Maddie is entangled in a homicide investigation, and more young people disappear and are later found murdered. A suspect for the investigation, a target for the murderer, and attracting the attentions of a mysterious young admirer who may be connected to it all, Maddie's whole existence is about to be turned upside down. Can she right things before it's too late?

Review: I wasn't sure about this book at first but it sucked me in and took off running.  Maddie can see death dates but she can't see the why or how a person is going to die, which makes her gift useless and irritating.  She wishes that she could use it to help people but so far every time she has tried she has wound up attracting more unwanted attention to herself and not helping.

When a boy whose date she read goes missing she finds herself as a prime suspect.  When a second kid goes missing her best friend becomes the target of the investigation.  The legal hoops in this story ring very true.  Despite what you want to happen despite lack of evidence people can and are help over for trial.  People who are accused become public targets despite not having been convicted.

This book gets high marks for keeping me guessing and its got a highly rated creep factor.  The home drama gets high marks too because it is something, unfortunately, a lot of kids deal with.  I really enjoyed this book and would pick up another by this author in the future.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

(67) Orphan Train

Title: Orphan Train: A Novel by Christina Baker Kline
Publisher: Pocket Books
Pages: 528
Format: Paperback
Genre: Mystery/thriller/suspense

Synopsis: Orphan Train is a gripping story of friendship and second chances. Penobscot Indian Molly Ayer is close to “aging out” out of the foster care system. A community service position helping an elderly woman clean out her home is the only thing keeping Molly out of juvie and worse...

 As she helps Vivian sort through her possessions and memories, Molly learns that she and Vivian aren't as different as they seem to be. A young Irish immigrant orphaned in New York City, Vivian was put on a train to the Midwest with hundreds of other children whose destinies would be determined by luck and chance. 

Molly discovers that she has the power to help Vivian find answers to mysteries that have haunted her for her entire life – answers that will ultimately free them both.

Review: Flipping back and forth between the past and the present, Orphan Train tells the story of two women who have very similar stories to tell.  Vivian lost her family when she was nine and wound up on an "orphan train" to the midwest from New York, where she was given to one family or another in the hope of someone adopting her.  Molly's father was killed and her mother, hooked on drugs, couldn't care for her so she moved from foster home to foster home.

While both Vivian and Molly have a difficult story their is a feeling of hope and closure. It portrays family not only as the people you are related to but the ones that you are drawn to by similar experiences or caring. Family doesn't need to be related.

Its also a story of the child welfare system, how children were often traded for service and room and board, names changed to suit their new wards, babies were adopted first and older children were left unwanted, now isn't all that different. While there are more checks and balances children are sometimes taken in by foster families, "for the money" received to care for them, and treated as little more than servants, shuffled around from place to place. While the foster care system doesn't fail every child it still needs a lot of work. Stories like Molly's are unfortunately too common.

This was a gripping book that shows that you can't judge a person on looks, that there is always a story to be learned from people and that the young can really benefit from working with and learning from older people. The relationship between Vivian and Molly is so beautiful and the loneliness they felt before they met oozed off the page, the discovery of their shared experiences forms a bond that helps to heal both of them.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

(66) The Great Trials of Clarence Darrow

Title: The Great Trials of Clarence Darrow: The Landmark Cases of Leopold and Loeb, John T. Scopes, and Ossian Sweet by Donald McRae
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Pages: 448
Format: paperback
Genre: Non-fiction / law

Synopsis: One of the most famous, if controversial, lawyers in America, defense attorney Clarence Darrow was sixty-seven years old in 1924. His reputation was in tatters after a scandalous trial in Los Angeles and his life and career appeared almost over. Then, in rapid succession, he found himself at the forefront of three remarkable courtroom dramas. Each was dubbed "the Trial of the Century" by the press: the trial of teenage Chicago "thrill killers" Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb; Tennessee's infamous Scopes Monkey Trial, later immortalized in the play Inherit the Wind; and the incendiary case of Ossian Sweet, an African American man accused of murder while defending his Detroit home against a white mob.

Review: Clarence Darrow was a fabulous orator and could hold a courtroom captive with his speeches.  He had just come off a scandalous time in California where he was charged with jury tampering. He now found himself practicing in NY and defending some of the most unsympathetic clients Leopold and Loeb on a charge of murder.  His clients were so unsympathetic and so odd that there was no chance of not having them convicted but he was able to escape the death penalty. After that trial Darrow who thought his career was over after California, found himself front and center in some of the most talked about and important trials ever.

If you have any interest in the law and history this is a fascinating account of one of the best lawyer in America. His home life may have been a mess but no one could ever doubt his prowess in a courtroom. Fascinating read.
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