Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Book Review: God and Jetfire: Confessions of a Birth Mother

Title: God and Jetfire: Confessions of a Birth Mother by Amy Seek
Publisher: Farrar, Straus, Giroux
Format: Kindle ebook
Pages: 353 pages
Genre: Adoption, Birth Parents, memoir

SynopsisGod and Jetfire is a mother's account of her decision to surrender her son in an open adoption and of their relationship over the twelve years that follow. Facing an unplanned pregnancy at twenty-two, Amy Seek and her ex-boyfriend begin an exhaustive search for a family to raise their child. They sift through hundreds of "Dear Birth Mother" letters, craft an extensive questionnaire, and interview numerous potential couples. Despite the immutability of the surrender, it does little to diminish Seek's newfound feelings of motherhood. Once an ambitious architecture student, she struggles to reconcile her sadness with the hope that she's done the best for her son, a struggle complicated by her continued, active presence in his life.

Review: Amy Seek writes a gutwrenching account of placing her son for adoption. Seek has an open adoption with the adoptive family of her son, this means that she meets with them, talks to them and exchanges correspondence.  At the beginning of any adoption these days the power really lies with the mother.  She is carrying the child, she gets to choose a family, and ultimately it is up to her to decide if she can go through with placement.

Seek and her then boyfriend Jevn, take finding a family very seriously.  They compose a list of about 100 questions to ask families to see if their values are the same, they interview couples and really take the whole process of finding the "right" family very seriously. After several hours of labor Seek decides to nurse her son, and then ultimately starts having second thoughts.  She winds up taking him home and parenting him for about a month before she relinquishes her rights.  Given that she had a strong support system and people willing to help I found this book really lacking in the reasons why she decided to place.  Its a huge missing gap.

Throughout the book you can feel the grief, anger and frustration that Seek still seems to be dealing with regarding her placement of her son, who by the end of the book is a preteen.  After placement the power shifted to the adoptive parents and away from Seek leaving her powerless and lost with her emotions.  I'm not sure where all the support that she was offered to keep her child went after she placed her baby but this seems to also be a major hole in the story.

Despite these big issues and some others that crop up regarding Seek's later pregnancies I don't think I have ever read a more honest and soul bared account of placing a child for adoption. The mix of emotions, grief, anger, happiness, relief, frustration, loss, etc are laid bare for the reader.  However that being said some of those emotions often felt detached and just out of reach. This book is a good conversation starter, because as this book proves there is so much more to adoption than just placing a baby, its a lifelong commitment and a lifelong journey for everyone involved in the process.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Book Review: Ghostboy, Chameleon & the Duke of Graffiti

Title: Ghostboy, Chameleon & the Duke of Graffiti by Olivia Wildenstein
Publisher: Createspace
Format: e-book from the publisher through in exchange for an honest review
Pages: 319 pages
Genre: YA, Teen

Synopsis: Cora Matthews, the principal’s gloomy goth daughter, is not exactly popular Duke Meyer’s type. Still, Duke finds himself inexplicably drawn to her dark eyes and mysterious manner. She makes it clear she doesn’t return his admiration, but when a burst appendix lands Duke in the hospital, he and Cora will be forced to come together by the most unlikely intermediary: her eight-year-old brother, Jaime.

Duke learns Jaime has brain cancer and little chance of long-term survival. He admires the kid’s plucky positivity and wild imagination and offers to write a story about Jaime’s make-believe superheroes. So begins an epic tale—that of Ghostboy, Chameleon and the Duke of Graffiti—and a deep friendship between Duke and Jaime.

Despite their outward differences, Cora and Duke bond over their affection for Jaime, but unintended betrayal and Jaime’s advancing disease threaten to derail their blossoming romance before it can truly take root.

Review:This is a fabulous YA book that reminded me of John Green's books.  Duke is a pretty boy who hangs with the popular kids and is trying to get initiated into a secret society within his school. During his initiation he gets caught and finds himself sentenced to help clean up the school. It is during this time that he meets Cora, the Goth girl who for reasons he can't seem to explain intrigues and excites him.

Duke lives with his mom, dad and grandmother.  The interplay between Dukes mother and grandmother give this book some much needed comic relief to what could be a downer of a book. Don't get me wrong I cried, but I also found myself laughing and smiling through some of those tears. I was totally drawn in by the characters and despite knowing just as all the other characters did that Jaime's prognosis was not good it still hurt when anything went wrong and I still was hoping for a miracle.

However, Jaime also has a fabulous upbeat outlook on life and as much as we all think that Duke was helping him I think it was very mutual.  What Duke learned from working with Jaime was about living life to the fullest. Not to take things so seriously and laugh at yourself once in a while.  I highly recommend this book, especially if you are a John Green fan.

Monday, October 5, 2015

ARC Review: Pop Goes the Weasel (Helen Grace book 2)

Title: Pop Goes the Weasel: A Detective Helen Grace Thriller (A Helen Grace Thriller) by MJ Alridge
Publisher: Penguin Group
Format: advanced e-copy was received from the publisher through in exchange for an honest review
Pages: 416 pages
Genre: Mystery Thriller

This title is due to be released October 6, 2015

Synopsis: A man's body is found in an empty house. 
A gruesome memento of his murder is sent to his wife and children.

He is the first victim, and Detective Helen Grace knows he will not be the last. But why would a happily married man be this far from home in the dead of night?

The media call it Jack the Ripper in reverse: a serial killer preying on family men who lead hidden double lives.

Helen can sense the fury behind the murders. But what she cannot possibly predict is how volatile this killer is—or what is waiting for her at the end of the chase....

Review: Detective Helen Grace and her co-worker Charlie are still struggling to get back on their feet after what happened at the end of book 1.  Now with a new boss, who seems to want to take all the glory but not actually do any work her team is faced with a new challenge.  Men are being murdered and their hearts are being sent to their families. With her team falling apart, her boss doing everything she can to remove her from the case and the reporter who seems to know her every move, DI Grace is running out of time to solve this case.

Since I read a galley copy of this book I am assuming some of my issues will be solved when it is published but there were transition issues from one character to the next where I found myself confused. Paragraphs ran together leaving me having to go back and figure out whose story I was reading and this was distracting.   Despite this I found that I enjoyed this book more than I did Eeney Meeney, book 1 of this series.  I'm finding the development of DI Grace to be intriguing and it will be interesting to see how some of the other main characters either evolve or disappear in coming books.

All in all this is a good suspensful mystery thriller.  Chapters are short which keeps the book moving and you turning the pages.  The next book in this series is due out in the US in February 2016 and I find that I'm actually anxiously awaiting it. I hope this series just continues to improve.

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