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by Sara Leach
Illustrated by Rebecca Bender
Lauren’s family makes a difficult two day car trip to North Dakota for Auntie Joss’ wedding because flying has been a disaster before for Lauren who has Autism Spectrum Disorder and is learning how to control her reactions to changes and to certain things that make her uncomfortable. She takes things literally and doesn’t always understand jokes or react instinctively to facial expressions or body language. She is, however, an intelligent child with a passion for reading and insects.
Several problems arise in Penguin Days with the whole wedding scenario. Lauren is under the impression she will be the only flower girl when, in fact, she is one of three. She doesn’t like her dress because it isn’t comfortable and itches. Without meaning to, Lauren ruins the dress. Lauren’s mom has several solutions up her sleeve because she works hard to understand what Lauren is thinking. You’ll enjoy learning how the parents solve these problems and enlist the help of extended family members. Lauren even begins to make friends with her cousins as the story comes to a close.
If you are ever in public and you see a child having a meltdown, don’t judge. Maybe he is a child who needs more discipline and boundaries, but maybe, just maybe, you are witnessing a child on the Autistic Spectrum. If the child is lucky, like Lauren, she is receiving professional help to learn how to control her inner fireworks and to interact with others socially. In the U.S., where for whatever reason autism is on the rise, we are becoming more aware of autism and learning how to manage its effects better. Not everyone, however, has the money or skills to navigate that system. Also, the intervention is most effective when it happens early, and the changes do take hard work, consistency, and time. Meanwhile, Penguin Days is a wonderful, sensitive tool to help the child with autism and the rest of us to understand how autism plays out on the inside and manifests itself on the outside of the child on the Autistic Spectrum.
I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Pajama Press (Myrick Marketing) for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Category: Children’s Fiction
Notes: 1. Very good illustrations
2. Sensitive book sharing the perspective of both the autistic child and her family.
Publication: January 18, 2019—Pajama Press (Myrick Marketing)
“You’re precious.” “Gems are precious,” I said. “I’m not a gem. But I would like to be an amethyst. They are purple.”
Mom and Dad always say my brain works differently than other people’s brains because I have Autism Spectrum Disorder. They say my different brain is one of the things they love about me.
The barn got really noisy. Mary Lou mooed. Kevin yelled. And somebody was screaming. I lay on my back in the prickly hay. Mary Lou stepped toward me. I curled into a ball, covered my head with my arms, and started rocking back and forth.
by Janet Dailey
The sun rises on the Flying Cloud Ranch in Arizona, not too far from Tucson, with beautiful descriptions by Janet Dailey in Sunrise Canyon. The ranch belongs to Dusty, a cowboy in his seventies. Originally a working ranch, with the changing times Flying Cloud became a dude ranch and then evolved into a ranch for troubled teens. Dusty’s granddaughter Kira is a licensed Equine-Assisted Therapist. Together they manage the program and raise five year old Paige. The characters have complex backgrounds and relationships. Paige’s mother, Wendy, died in a car accident and her father Jake never returned for her after his last tour of duty in Afghanistan.
Kira and Jake both harbor guilt, but about different situations. The reader is gradually made aware of the causes as the story progresses. Various interesting plot elements unfold as Jake and Kira get to know and trust each other and as the precocious Paige is drawn to the stranger Jake who has come to work on the ranch. We also get a glimpse of the side stories of the teenagers who have suffered from trauma, bullying and dysfunctional home situations.
Sunrise Canyon falls right in between General Fiction for adults and a Romance. It is almost as if the genres are dancing, with the fiction storyline taking the lead and then bowing to the tension of the romance. They separate at times and then come to sway and twirl together. I prefer a good plot rather than emphasis on syrupy or steamy romance. I think Sunrise Canyon finds a nice balance with an interesting tale intertwined with conflicting desires and needs.
Exciting and descriptive, Sunrise Canyon affords a view of PTSD, equine-assisted therapy, and Arizona ranch life. I found the characters to be sympathetic and I wanted a satisfactory ending for them. I got that along with some unanticipated adventure.
I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Kensington Books for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Category: General Fiction (Adult), Romance
Notes: 1. mild swearing and sex
2. If you like motorcycles, you will delight in that minor part of the story. (Telling more would be a spoiler for a nice surprise.)
Publication: Kensington Books — February 28, 2017
His eyelids were growing heavy. He was drifting now, his awareness clouding over as if blurred by windswept sand…
The moon was a fading crescent in the western sky, the sun barely streaking the east with the colors of dawn.
The horrors he’d not only witnessed but taken part in were burned into every nerve cell in his body, and woven into the fabric of his soul. They had become the man he was–the man he would be for the rest of his life.