Monthly Archives: March 2011

>Somebody Else’s Daughter by Elizabeth Brundage *Review*

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A young couple, strung out on drugs and one dying of AIDS decide to give up their infant daughter in the hopes of giving her a better life. And all seems to go well for Willa as she grows up. Her parents are wealthy and able to give her what she wants and they love her very much on top of it all.

Her biological father, Nate, now clean from drugs and living a respectable life as a teacher and struggling writer has a yearning to get close to her. He doesn’t want her to know who he is, he just wants to be able to see her and reassure himself that she’s doing okay and he’s done the right thing. He accepts a position as a teacher at the same private school that Willa attends. In fact, she is one of her students.

But Nate is not the only one at Pioneer Academy that has secrets. And some secrets could be deadly!

Somebody Else’s Daughter was not what I had thought it would be about. I was hoping for more of a focus on the father/daughter/biological father relationship as the dust jacket had hinted. Instead I was broadsided with something I was not expecting about halfway through the book. It made me squirm… it was a little uncomfortable… and quite graphic but having already invested enough time to get halfway through I decided to stick with it and see where it was heading. I still don’t believe the book needed this “secret” to get to where the story needed to go and because it was not a subject I felt comfortable with I chose to give this book 2/5 stars.

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>Eye Contact by Cammie McGovern *Review*

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Two children disappear into the woods beside Woodside Elementary School. Hours later one of them, nine-year-old Adam, is found alive, the sole witness to his playmates murder. But Adam is autistic and can say nothing about what he saw. Only his mother, Cara, has the power to penetrate his silence. When another child goes missing and Cara’s unsettling past emerges from the shadows, she has to ask herself whether her efforts to protect her son have exposed him to unimaginable danger.

Cara has tried to protect her son all of his life. When he has a fear of digital clocks, she tries to walk ahead of him and cover up the ones she sees before he does. When Adam is upset by the erratic movements of skateboarders, she drives blocks out of her way to avoid the places they tend to congregate. Cara works for hours teaching him to make eye contact, to answer people’s questions and to try to make friends even though “friend” is a concept foreign to Adam. But when a murder happens just outside the school in the woods next to the playground, Cara wonders if she should have done more. Has she, in her eagerness to help Adam verbalize his thoughts and to trust in people because they want to help you taught him the wrong things? Like maybe you shouldn’t talk to strangers? That possibly there ARE bad people that could hurt you?

The author, Cammie McGovern, is the mother of an autistic child. She knows the ins and outs of the autistic mind and how thoughts can take different pathways to get to the same conclusion that we would come to. Her insight is what made this book so real. I have read a couple of books featuring autistic characters and none of them came close to helping me understand the complexities of the human mind and the difficulties that the children and their parents face on a daily basis. The fact that parents of autistic children have to learn the subtle cues of facial expressions, for instance the raise of an eyebrow or the slight tilt of the head, as a form of communication was incredibly revealing.

As a murder mystery, Eye Contact starts out strong. There are a number of characters involved who could have done it, and at various times you are convinced they have done it. The conclusion of the book however gets a little confusing. The story took so many different twists that I found myself getting a little lost and at the end not really caring that much who the killer actually was.

It’s strength instead is in the relationship between single mother Cara and her son Adam. The love with which Cara will do or try almost anything to draw Adam out of his silent shell is potent. For that reason alone I give this book 3/5 stars.

>Saturday Snapshot March 26th, 2011

>Alyce from At Home With Books hosts a weekly meme called Saturday Snapshot. To participate all you have to do is post a photo taken by you (or a friend or family member.) Please make sure it is clean and appropriate for all eyes to see and leave a direct link to your post at the Mr Linky on Alyce’s blog.

My husband has seen a couple of robins in the last week. I haven’t seen a one but I am so ready for spring that I thought I would post this picture in the hopes it would “call” one in!

>Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez *Review*

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Four slave women meet up every year at a resort called Tawawa House. Brought as mistresses by their slave masters, these ladies share a special bond. Not only are they faced with the same circumstance, but they finally have someone they can talk to who understands the different role they play in the lives of their masters.

More privileged than the field slaves and more special than the other house slaves, the mistresses are resented not only by their master’s wife, but by some fo the other slaves as well. Their children, being part white are not accepted by the other slave children, and not quite accepted by their own father’s as well.

Wench is the story of Lizzie, Sweet, Reenie and Tawu who spend 3 months each year sharing their hopes and their dreams for the future. The dream of one day being free. The dream of their children not having to suffer the same indignities they have. The dream of never having to suffer at the hands of their masters again. But just how far are they willing to go to make their dreams come true? And what will happen if they try?

Wench is a uniquely different angle to the slave sagas I had read in the past. It is one that was seldom written about or talked about but most certainly existed. It is a story that touched me deeply as I read about each character’s tragic and confining life.

The book club that I am in reviewed this in March and I think most of the women were pleasantly surprised by the book. To see another review, and to see how our book club puts a fun spin on the books we review go to my friend Sheila’s website Book Journey. The club’s overall rating was a 4, my rating 4/5 stars.

>Unsolved Crimes by John Wright *Review*

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True Crimes. Is there anything that makes your hair stand on end like a true crime? How about a true unsolved crime with the murderer still lurking about?

Unsolved Crimes, a Reader’s Digest Book written by John Wright is filled with the creepy and the mysterious. Broken down by sections like Murders, Assassinations, Kidnappings, Robbery’s, etc., John Wright gives a detailed background of the victim, the evidence (or lack thereof), the list of suspects and an included sidebox of lingering doubts.

The lingering doubts section really intrigued me because it drew on what was known of the murder or suspects and asked some additional tough questions that haven’t been answered, and probably never would be. Filled with the well known- Jon Benet Ramsey, the Black Dahlia and D.B. Cooper, as well as some not so well known victims from all over the world, Unsolved Crimes is a detailed account of some of the most famous crimes of the century. With photographs and information on DNA processing John Wright had me transfixed from the very first page. 3/5 Stars

>Saturday Snapshot March 19, 2011

>Alyce from At Home With Books hosts a weekly meme called Saturday Snapshot. To participate all you have to do is post a photo taken by you (or a friend or family member.) Please make sure it is clean and appropriate for all eyes to see and leave a direct link to your post at the Mr Linky on Alyce’s blog.

Our Boy Scout Troop has an annual St Patrick’s Day party where everybody is encouraged to bring a “green” dish to share. This is a picture of my Corned Beef Casserole. I put green food coloring in the water when I boiled my noodles. Trust me, it tastes a lot better than it looks!

>Left to Tell by Immaculee Ilibagiza *Review*

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Growing up, Immaculee never realized she was different from some of her childhood friends. During ethnic roll call in her school one day she was asked to stand up and proclaim whether she was from the Hutu or Tutsi tribe. She couldn’t respond because she didn’t know. Her parents had never taught her the difference, because to them there was none. People were people and God loved them all.
Unfortunately, not all Rwandans felt the same way, and by 1994 after the death of their Hutu president a genocide of the Tutsis started that would last a little more than three months and would leave over 1 million of her friends, neighbors and family members dead.
Left to Tell is the horrifying account of how Immaculee spent 91 days hiding in a pastors bathroom with 7 other women while Hutu rebels hunted for them right outside their door. Immaculee’s courage as she prayed, read the Bible and even learned English during her “captivity” is an incredible inspiration.
Even more inspiring is how she has put her life back together after her parents and 2 brothers were brutally murdered and how she has helped people get back on their feet and continues to help them today.
Imaculee is an amazing woman who has put God in the center of her life and has become richly blessed because of it. This Lenten season, if you’re looking for a book to fill your heart and enrich your soul I recommend you read about Immaculee’s harrowing 91 fear-filled days. You won’t regret it. 5/5 Stars