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Some Choose Darkness–very twisted serial killer

Some Choose Darkness

by Charlie Donlea

Some Choose DarknessI am very conflicted as I finish Charlie Donlea’s Some Choose Darkness. The reason? It turned out to be more of a thriller than I had anticipated. This reader’s taste leans towards Agatha Christie and cozy mysteries. I cut my teeth on Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys. I avoid thrillers because they stir me up too much. I chose to read Some Choose Darkness because I had read a book by Donlea previously and enjoyed it. Somehow I did not expect an intense work of fiction about a serial killer. The problem is that although in some ways I didn’t enjoy reading it, I felt compelled to finish the tale, to make all of the pieces fit together. Donlea has masterfully crafted a thriller with so many layers and connections that rapid page turning is a necessity. Add to the plot not one, but two characters with autism and obsessive/compulsive disorder and this retired teacher is all over it.

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.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Mystery and Thriller

Publication:   May 28, 2019—Kensington Books

Memorable Lines:

With Lane’s reputation as a forensic psychologist and criminal profiler for the FBI’s Behavioral Science Unit, and Rory’s credentials as a reconstructionist who pieced together the very findings the algorithm looked for, they made the perfect team. Police departments listened to their conclusions, and many had started using Lane’s software to track homicides on their own. 

Like a tuning fork that has been tapped, the vibration from the mystery surrounding the woman was at once barely audible but yet impossible to ignore.

Rory’s greatest gift was her ability to piece together cold cases, to pore over the facts and discover things other investigators missed until a picture of the crime—and sometimes the perpetrator—became clear in her mind. Her understanding of a killer’s thinking and motive came from examining the carnage he left behind.

My Son Has Autism

Words of wisdom to ponder from the mom of a boy with autism spectrum disorder sharing her journey of acceptance and understanding.

Penguin Days–autism spectrum disorder

Penguin Days

by Sara Leach

Illustrated by Rebecca Bender

Penguin DaysLauren’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.

Rating: 5/5

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)

Memorable Lines:

“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.

Mardi Gras Murder–lots of Louisiana flavor in this mystery

Mardi Gras Murder

by Ellen Byron

Mardi Gras Murder.jpgMardi Gras Murder takes place in Pelican, Louisiana, as the townsfolk work together to recover from flooding. Maggie Crozat is an artist who works at her family’s B & B as well as a tour guide at Doucet, the plantation that belonged to her mother’s family. The story starts with action as a body no one can identify shows up during the cleanup, but the author, Ellen Byron, also very quickly gives a background introducing many of the characters. It is fortunate that Byron includes a list of characters because I had to refer back to it may times. Families and lineage are very important in determining status in Louisiana, and it seems like everyone is related to or at least knows everyone else in Pelican.

The plot gets complicated as Maggie has to substitute for her grandmother as a judge in the Miss Pelican Mardi Gras Gumbo Queen competition, there is another murder, and Maggie uncovers a lot of local secrets. The storyline is interesting, and I enjoyed the Louisiana setting and a generous sprinkling of Cajun French dialogue. It was also fun to read about the local cuisine, frequently leading me to the Internet for personal searches to learn more. Gopher, a Bassett hound pictured on the cover, attracted me to the book, but he has only a minor presence. All in all, Mardi Gras Murder is an enjoyable read.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Crooked Lane Books for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Mystery

Notes:  1. #4 in the Cajun Country Mystery Series. There are a LOT of characters in this book, but the author seems aware of potential issues and manages them well. This was my first foray into the series, but I enjoyed it.

  2. A detail that makes a fun side story, but is inaccurate: A cast iron pot used for the gumbo cook-off had been passed down the family line. The seasoning that had accumulated over the years was supposedly ruined when some dogs licked it. Actually “seasoning” does not affect the flavor of foods cooked in the pot. Seasoning makes it nonstick and prevents rusting. The well-seasoned, prized pot need not have been discarded. A simple hand washing, heating to dry, and wiping with lard or oil would have restored the pot quite satisfactorily.

Publication:  October 9, 2018— Crooked Lane Books

Memorable Lines:

He made himself sound important, but it came across as someone trying very hard to inflate a small balloon.

“Boy, I had a bad case of SDS back there,” Denise said. She saw the puzzled expression on Maggie’s face. “Southern Door Syndrome, where you take almost as long to say goodbye as you stayed at the party.”

“You know the old cliché, chére. Ninety-nine percent of American families are dysfunctional, and the other one percent is lying about it.”

Murder at the Mushroom Festival–beautiful setting for terrible mayhem

Murder at the Mushroom Festival

by Janet Finsilver

Murder at the Mushroom FestivalMurder, poisoning, blackmail, theft, destruction of Native American lands, assault, and threats! There’s plenty of action in Redwood Cove, a coastal town in northern California where lots of folks are gathering for the Mushroom Festival. Kelly Jackson, new manager of the Redwood Cove Bed-and-Breakfast finds herself in the middle of trouble when she and the Silver Sentinels, a group of amateur sleuths with wisdom and connections on their side, try to find a murderer and determine if the other crimes are related.

Murder at the Mushroom Festival kept me wondering at the identity of the villain as suspicion was thrown on various characters. The solution is much more complicated than one might imagine. Kelly and her Miss Marple-like fellow sleuths are likable. Two children, several dogs and a truffle snuffling pig add further interest. I enjoyed learning about mushrooms and about sinker redwood as the mystery progressed.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Lyrical Underground (Kensington Press) for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: #4 in the Kelly Jackson Mystery Series, but worked well for me as a standalone.

Publication:   April 17, 2018—Kensington Press (Lyrical Underground)

Memorable Lines:

He parked, and we got out in what I felt was an enchanted forest. I breathed in the life of the woodland around me. Musty, sweet, earthy, topped off with a sprinkling of salt from the nearby ocean. Spears of sunlight cut through the towering redwoods like beacons to highlight certain areas. A raven cawed, loud and raucous, as we walked through a sunlit glen. A hawk drifted overhead, soaring on the wind currents.

The waves varied in intensity. When a strong one hit the rocky shoreline, water exploded high into the air. The rise and fall of the swell, like a creature breathing, made the ocean a living body.

People who were sure their way was the only way could make life unpleasant.

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