Monday, February 25, 2013

Damaged by Cathy Glass

This was by far the most difficult book I've ever read in my entire life.  I knew something of what I was getting into when I requested the book, but to read the words of abuse inflicted on this precious 7 year old girl was more than I could stomach at times.  The author, Cathy Glass (her pen name), has fostered more than 100 children over the last 20 years.  And the case of 7 year old Jodie (her alias name) was by far her most challenging case ever.  There are just no words to describe the horror and sorrow I felt as I read this little girl's true story account.  I could have read this in a day, had I not had to set it aside after every 30 pages or so as a new detail of the abuse she suffered at the hands of her parents was revealed. 

How the crap are there people like that in the world? 

It's absolutely disgusting and pure evil manifested through her parents.  I was angry at her parents and all those involved and found myself wanting to track them down and make them feel the pain that they caused their very own daughter.  Ugh!

I have so much admiration for Cathy and the huge heart that she has to love the unlovable.  The emotional and physical turmoil she and her family endured to take this little girl into their home is one of the greatest acts of selflessness I've ever encountered or even heard of.  There were numerous little details that she brought to my attention when talking with young kids that helped make me more aware of why they can be grabby, angry, distant or even violent.  So many times we see a "misbehaved child" and then cast judgement on them or their parents, but not know maybe WHY that child is behaving that way.  Cathy had the patience and foresight to endure all the terrifying and violent episodes with little Jodie until she uncovered the truth of why this little girl was so broken.

Cathy Glass is a New York Times Bestselling author and has written over 15 books of the different children she's fostered at one time or another.  Her true stories are inspiring and convicting all at the same time.  A huge thank you to Harper Collins for sending me a complimentary copy!

Description:  Although Jodie is only eight years old, she is violent, aggressive, and has already been through numerous foster families. Her last hope is Cathy Glass. At the Social Services office, Cathy (an experienced foster carer) is pressured into taking Jodie as a new placement. Jodie's challenging behaviour has seen off five carers in four months. Despite her reservations, Cathy decides to accept Jodie to protect her from being placed in an institution. Jodie arrives, and her first act is to soil herself, and then wipe it on her face, grinning wickedly. Jodie meets Cathy's teenage children, and greets them with a sharp kick to the shins. That night, Cathy finds Jodie covered in blood, having cut her own wrist, and smeared the blood over her face. As Jodie begins to trust Cathy her behaviour improves. Over time, with childish honesty, she reveals details of her abuse at the hands of her parents and others. It becomes clear that Jodie's parents were involved in a sickening paedophile ring, with neighbours and Social Services not seeing what should have been obvious signs. Unfortunately Jodie becomes increasingly withdrawn, and it's clear she needs psychiatric therapy. Cathy urges the Social Services to provide funding, but instead they decide to take Jodie away from her, and place her in a residential unit. Although the paedophile ring is investigated and brought to justice, Jodie's future is still up in the air. Cathy promises that she will stand by her no matter what -- her love for the abandoned Jodie is unbreakable.

Rating: *****

Recommend:  I will say because of the nature of the sexual abuse that is described in detail in this book, I find it extremely difficult to recommend.  My mother-in-law mentioned wanting to read it and I just knew it would be more than she would want to know.  However, there is a woman I work with who I know could handle it and has read similiar memoirs, so I'll be lending her my copy. 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

What To Do When Someone Dies by Nicci French

One of my dear friends at work is obsessed with all things Nicci French, so she passed along one of her favorite books for me to try out, "What To Do When Someone Dies".  Though I do enjoy a mystery suspense novel every now and then, this one wasn't really my thing.  It was interesting and definitely kept my attention, I just wasn't all that crazy about it. 

Description: 'This is not my world. Something is wrong, askew. . . I am Ellie Falkner, thirty-four years old and married to Greg Manning. Although two police officers have just come to my door and told me he is dead . . . '

It's devastating to hear that your husband has died in a horrific car accident. But to learn that he died with a mystery woman as his passenger is torment. Was Greg having an affair?

Drowning in grief, Ellie clings to Greg's innocence, and her determination to prove it to the world at large means she must find out who Milena Livingstone was and what she was doing in Greg's car. But in the process those around her begin to question her sanity and motive. And the louder she shouts that Greg must have been murdered, the more suspicion falls on Ellie herself.

Sometimes it's safer to keep silent when someone dies.

Rating: ***

Recommend: If you're already familiar with Nicci French, then you'll probably really enjoy it.  But if you want a super awesome intense suspense thriller - I would go with anything Chevy Stevens.  Just my two cents worth.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Unremembered by Jessica Brody

When it comes to ARC's (Advance Reader's Copies), I only request books that I really want to read.  Unremembered by Jessica Brody was one of those books that I had seen in a ShelfAwareness newsletter and despretely wanted to get my hands on.  By Friday my very own copy had arrived in the mail and by Sunday I had finished the last page.  I read it in two sittings, which is seriously rare for me.  I just could not put it down.  Unremembered is a story about a 16 year old girl who loses her entire memory and as the story develops, you realize she's not your typical 16 year old. There were parts about it that reminded me quite a bit of Eve and Adam, which I also thoroughly enjoyed - but they really were very similar in multiple ways.

The only critique that I would have is that the character Maxxer who is introduced towards the end kept being referred to as a "she" and a "he", which was super distracting.  But I do realize that I had an unfinished copy, so it was more than likely something that hadn't yet been caught in the final editing. 

I'm kinda surprised that I've been enjoying YA Sci-Fi books lately - what's up with that?  I never would have thought I'd be into these type of novels, but cleeearrly when it only takes me 2 days to read a book, I'm very much enjoying it! :-)   From what I can tell on Goodreads, Unremembered is book #1 of a new series, so I'll for sure be keeping my eyes open for book #2 whenever it comes out. 

And last, but definitely not least - a huge thank you to MacMillan Publishing for the advance copy!!

Description: When Freedom Airlines flight 121 went down over the Pacific Ocean, no one ever expected to find survivors. Which is why the sixteen-year-old girl discovered floating among the wreckage—alive—is making headlines across the globe.

Even more strange is that her body is miraculously unharmed and she has no memories of boarding the plane. She has no memories of her life before the crash. She has no memories period. No one knows how she survived. No one knows why she wasn’t on the passenger manifest. And no one can explain why her DNA and fingerprints can’t be found in a single database in the world.

Crippled by a world she doesn’t know, plagued by abilities she doesn’t understand, and haunted by a looming threat she can’t remember, Seraphina struggles to piece together her forgotten past and discover who she really is. But with every clue only comes more questions. And she’s running out of time to answer them.

Her only hope is a strangely alluring boy who claims to know her from before the crash. Who claims they were in love. But can she really trust him? And will he be able to protect her from the people who have been making her forget?

From popular young adult author, Jessica Brody comes a mesmerizing and suspenseful new series, set in a world where science knows no boundaries, memories are manipulated, and true love can never be forgotten.

Rating: ****

Recommend: If you're into YA Sci-fi, then I think you would really enjoy it!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Love Anthony by Lisa Genova

Back in 2009 I read a book about a woman dealing with early onset Alzheimer's called Still Alice by Lisa Genova and it has stuck with me ever since.  RARELY does a book ever do that to me.  The fact that Lisa Genova has a PHD in Neuroscience from Harvard brings a unique aspect to her writing because you know she has the research to back it up.  I love that.  And yet, she doesn't write in a way that's pretentious or overly clinical.  She writes with passion and draws you into the character's life to the point of deep empathy.

As I was browsing the New Fiction section of my library, I saw Love Anthony on the shelf and knew I would enjoy it without even needing to know what it was about.  I just picked it up and walked out.  And as I had predicted, I loved it. 

Love Anthony is narrated by 2 women who are struggling with life-altering events and their struggle of how to make sense of them - and then their paths cross in a completely unexpected way.  Instead of Alzheimer's, we're given a glimpse into the mind of an autistic 8 year old.  I have heard so much about autism as it seems to be one of our cultures hot topics on kids these days, but never from this perspective.  It was so eye-opening and sobering at the same time.  I'm kinda surprised at myself for not reading her other book Left Neglected yet, I'll be looking for my copy at the library soon! Get your hands on a copy of Love Anthony, you won't regret it.

Description: From the award-winning New York Times bestselling author of Still Alice and Left Neglected, comes a heartfelt novel about an accidental friendship that gives a grieving mother a priceless gift: the ability to understand the thoughts of her eight-year-old autistic son and make sense of his brief life.

Two women, each cast adrift by unforseen events in their lives, meet by accident on a Nantucket beach and are drawn into a friendship.

Olivia is a young mother whose eight-year-old severely autistic son has recently died. Her marriage badly frayed by years of stress, she comes to the island in a trial separation to try and make sense of the tragedy of her Anthony’s short life.

Beth, a stay-at-home mother of three, is also recently separated after discovering her husband’s long-term infidelity. In an attempt to recapture a sense of her pre-married life, she rekindles her passion for writing, determined to find her own voice again. But surprisingly, as she does so, Beth also find herself channeling the voice of an unknown boy, exuberant in his perceptions of the world around him if autistic in his expression—a voice she can share with Olivia—(is it Anthony?)—that brings comfort and meaning to them both.
Rating: *****

Recommend: Absolutely.