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by Eileen Brady
Chained is a cozy mystery about a veterinarian, Kate Turner, written by a veterinarian, Eileen Brady. When you read a book like this one, you can be sure that the animal and medical details are accurate. But can a scientifically inclined person author a work of fiction with interesting characters and a complex plot? Perhaps even some romance? The answer in this case is a resounding yes.
We follow Kate and her assistant Mari as they attend to a variety of animals both in and out of the animal hospital. One of her “patients” digs up a human bone, and Kate finds herself being asked by the family to discover the murderer in a ten year old cold case. There are a lot of suspects, many lies, and countless emotions rising to the surface as Kate and others deal with both the present and the past.
I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Poisoned Pen Press for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Notes: #3 in the Kate Turner, D.V.M., Mystery Series, but worked well for me as a standalone
Publication: December 5, 2017—Poisoned Pen Press
“Come on. Come here, Mr. Katt.” I patted the corner of the desk. He looked away in disdain, but it was all an act. The next moment a plump load of furry feline landed full-force on my lap. As soon as I stroked him, his purr motor began to rumble.
Dina narrowed her eyes. A pink fingernail lightly caressed a loose curl. Her focus tightened, like a lioness on the Serengeti Plain noticing an antelope separated from the herd.
After we hung up I thought about all the angst of high school, and the crazy meaningless ups and downs that enveloped students every day. Between classes, wave after wave of raw emotion flowed like lava down the halls. Imagined slights. Painful encounters. Bottled up feelings. They all added up. Some of us carried those slights around for years and others never put them down.
Lessons in Falling
Lessons in Falling has the expert touch of a gymnast in writer Diana Gallagher. Although the focus of the story is gymnastics, the book is so much more. This is not one of those themed books for young readers aimed at an audience of pre-teen and teenage girls who are, were, or want to be gymnasts. The scope of this book ranges from teenage friendships to romantic relationships. It encompasses issues common to teenagers: college applications and scholarships, driver’s tests, depression, texting, work issues, immigration, parental expectations, extracurricular activities, and discrimination. The plot centers around Savannah, an aspiring gymnast who has suffered an injury, and her longtime friend, Cass. It explores their personalities and relationship during their critical senior year of high school. Teenage years are chaotic for many; Gallagher does not oversimplify or exaggerate the difficulties her characters encounter.
I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Spencer Hill Press for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Category: Teens and Young Adults
- Some bad language
- Although it did not ruin the book for me, I wished I had not seen a summary prior to reading this book. I kept anticipating a certain event and would rather have been surprised when it occurred.
Publication: February 7, 2017—Spencer Hill Press
She could go on all day like this, using me as the shoreline that her words beat against.
Yesterday, she comforted me. Today, I’m her anchor. At the end of the day, we’re thicker than humidity in July.
As kids we played together, schemed together, nursed bruised knees and silly crushes on boy bands. She was quiet unless she was with me. Together, chances were that we were screaming as we sprinted into the ocean and laughing as we splashed each other. We whispered together under the trees as the neighborhood kids ran around searching for us in Manhunt, never giving up our spot. I rode my bike to her house when Richard was first deployed, blinking tears out of my eyes. She met me at the curb and grabbed my hand. Although her hand was bony, cool, without calluses, it was just as strong as mine. Sometimes I think she hasn’t let go. She keeps her arm around me now, reminding me that I’m her anchor, that she will run to me if she needs to be safe.
The Sun is Also a Star
by Nicola Yoon
The Sun is Also a Star is the story of two immigrant families, one Korean and one Jamaican. Legal Korean son meets illegal Jamaican daughter on her deportation day. Both struggle with their identity on a personal level and a cultural level. There are also major conflicts within each family.
Most of the account is told within the scope of one day, but telling this story necessitates side trips into family history to discover motivations. There are no chapter divisions. There are labelled breaks according to who is is narrating the story, Daniel or Natasha. Sometimes there are passages about minor characters or philosophy narrated in the third person. This layout is initially slightly troublesome without chapter divisions, but as you are immersed in the storyline you realize how well this format works for this story.
The plot is engaging, the characters well developed, and the various settings reflect the cultural clashes. Additionally there is an underlying and unifying theme exploring fate, coincidences, and multiple universes. If just one incident had occurred a little sooner or a little later, how would that have affected the rest of the day’s events? It’s enough of a foray into philosophy and religion to attract a teen/young adult reader questioning their place in the order of things.
I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Delacorte Press (Penguin Random House UK) for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Category: Teen & YA Fiction/Romance
Notes: Mild Language
Publication: Delacorte Press (Penguin Random House)–November 1, 2016
The impossible hungry mouth of her loneliness wanted to swallow her in a single piece.
“It’s not up to you to help other people fit you into a box.”
Sometimes your world shakes so hard, it’s difficult to imagine that everyone else isn’t feeling it too.
“This is the life you’re living. It’s not temporary and it’s not pretend and there’s no do over.”
Saving My Assassin
by Virginia Prodan
Virginia Prodan has written a riveting memoir Saving My Assassin. It was difficult to read many parts of this book because of its troubling, torturous content, but the triumphant spirit of this tiny powerhouse of a woman kept me returning to discover how God could possibly use the evil that surrounded her for His greater purpose.
Virginia Prodan was formerly a lawyer during the cruel Communist dictatorship of Romanian leader Nicolae Ceausescu. Currently she is an international lawyer residing in the U.S. where she continues her work representing Christians who find themselves in legal difficulties because of their stand for Christ.
Saving My Assassin begins with a brief glimpse at a pivotal moment in Prodan’s life. That part of the story ends abruptly, but is repeated and continued later in the appropriate time sequence. This is a technique which could be annoying, but is used here to skillfully draw the reader into the critical nature of the happenings in Prodan’s life. Next we learn of mysteries and events in her younger years which help us understand how she became such a determined adult. She endured a cruel childhood which left her determined to discover the truth on all levels. Why was she so mistreated by her own family? Why did she look so different from them? Why were people in Romania not allowed to worship God when their laws said they could? What motivated the cold violence of the Securitate, the Communist government agents who stalked her, interrogated her, and threatened the lives of her and her children? Why were they so willing to torture and kill their own citizens, innocent of crimes, many of whom apparently disappeared into the night?
Although this book is written for adults, I think mature high school students would appreciate it as well. I taught high school English in a Christian school before I became an elementary public school teacher. This is the kind of book I would have used with my seniors. It would be particularly appropriate for reading in conjunction with a history or civics class as it deals with a Communist dictatorship during the Reagan era and shows the power and influence the U.S. can choose to wield in supporting Christians around the world. Because Saving My Assassin has a strong Biblical message, I assume it could not be assigned for reading in a public school setting, but I would be interested in feedback from teachers with more recent public high school experience than I have.
Saving My Assassin has a proposed publication date of June 7, 2016. I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to the publisher Tyndale House for allowing me to read and review this book in exchange for an unbiased review.