Sebastien Ranes has drifted aimlessly since graduating from high school six months ago. Down on his luck, the 19-year-old is recovering from pneumonia, working a dead-end job, and living in a shabby makeshift bedroom in the basement of his mother and stepfather’s home. Looking to escape his lousy situation, Sebastien robs a local grocery store and makes off with $4,800 - but not without the store’s security cameras spotting him. Driven to a state of panic, Sebastien is hit by a drunk driver.
I read and devoured Steffan Piper's first book, "Greyhound", in just a couple of days.
"Fugue State" was a much tougher and grittier read. In some ways, Sebastien has grown up from the naive yet hopeful boy of "Greyhound" seemingly overnight, and the world around him (his family, notably) seems to not have changed at all. It's a juxtaposition that is incredibly jarring.
The narrator is terrific, as always, and this book would probably have been better if one hadn't read "Greyhound" first...
Doaa Al Zamel was once an average Syrian girl growing up in a crowded house in a bustling city near the Jordanian border. But in 2011 her life was upended. Inspired by the events of the Arab Spring, Syrians began to stand up against their own oppressive regime. When the army was sent to take control of Doaa's hometown, strict curfews, power outages, water shortages, air raids, and violence disrupted everyday life.
I am normally a big fan of Robin Miles as a narrator. However, it is clear she is not an Arabic speaker. I found her pronunciation of names (even well-known leaders) awkward and sitracting.
The story is compelling, so I think I'll read this one in print, and listen to other Robin Miles performanes that are much stronger.
In Dhaka, Bangladesh, a garment factory burns to the ground, claiming the lives of hundreds of workers, mostly young women. Amid the rubble a bystander captures a heart-stopping image - a teenage girl lying in the dirt, her body broken by a multi-tory fall, and over her mouth a mask of fabric bearing the label of one of America's largest retailers, Presto Omnishops Corporation. When the photo goes viral, it fans the flames of a decades-old controversy about sweatshops, labor rights, and the ethics of globalization.
This is my third Corban Addison book, and I have previously enjoyed his writing.
I can't quite put my finger on why this book didn't capture me as much as "A Walk Across the Sun" or "The Garden of Burning Sand".
It started off with a vivid and terrifying description of a factory fire and the public relations nightmare that ensued.
And then we meet a group of corrupt business executives and "heroes" facing tragedy.
And they talk.
I've gotten two thirds of the way through the book, which shifts forward and then backward and then forward with another character, and the "good guys" are blackmailing the corrupt ones (most of whom are of Bangladeshi or Middle Eastern descent).
I got to the point where I got bogged down with all the tragedy and the conversation and the blackmail, and I don't think that's the direction the author wanted me to go.
When Nina finds out that her 15-year-old daughter, Scarlett, is pregnant, her world falls apart. Because Scarlet won't tell anyone who the father is. And Nina is scared that the answer will destroy everything. As the suspects mount - from Scarlett's teacher to Nina's new husband of less than a year - Nina searches for the truth: no matter what the cost.
I first discovered Amanda Brooke with her novel "Where I Found You" and recently followed it up with "The Child's Secret". I found both were stronger reads - either because of the choice of narrator or because the characters were more sympathetic.
With this book, I massively disliked almost all the characters. I couldn't understand why Nina was friends with Sarah, why she married a man her kids didn't know or accept, then accused him months later of impregnating her daughter.
Amanda Brooke has a knack for creating emotional and complicated characters, but in this book, these were all just navel-gazers who never reflected on their own motivations and justified themselves. They talked and talked and TALKED to each other without saying anything substantive, and the narrator frequently couldn't well-differentiate between characters, and some of those she could (Sarah, in particular) sounded like she had marbles in her mouth.
Perhaps I will read this in print, but this audiobook definitely didn't do it for me.
I'll check out Amanda's other books, though :)
When all she wanted was to fit in, Tamika Catchings stood out and felt left out, never knowing one day she'd stand out - as a basketball superstar and an inspiration. She faced being set apart by her hearing loss, separated from family, living up to high expectations, and the pain and discouragement of debilitating physical injury. Yet she reached for the stars with hard work, perseverance, and her faith in God. Through the silence, she found the way to shine.
I'm not super familiar with basketball, so perhaps this is where I struggled. Tamika is clearly a gifted athlete, and while this book starts out strong with her discovery of her love of the sport, it gets bogged down with statistics (nearly two hours is spent on her first season of college games alone) and preachiness (basketball was the most important thing in her life, then she realized she needed to play for God).
I'm not one to say athletes can't believe in God, or use their platform that way, but I wanted more and found this book just didn't get carried through for me.
From the outside, Sycamore Glen, North Carolina, might look like the perfect all-American neighborhood. But behind the white picket fences lies a web of secrets that reach from house to house. Up and down the streets, neighbors quietly bear the weight of their own pasts - until an accident at the community pool upsets the delicate equilibrium. And when tragic circumstances compel a woman to return to Sycamore Glen after years of self-imposed banishment, the tangle of the neighbors' intertwined lives begins to unravel.
This book held my interest as a light summer read. It fit the bill nicely. However I found myself annoyed by the one narrator's southern accent that changes and fades and becomes more drawly seemingly in the same breath. A native southerner could've probably pulled it off better, but this narrator was otherwise competent.
I also found the coincidences too predictable and soap-opera-like. Some of the "secrets" I could see from a mile away, others I couldn't. But all of the relationships and affairs and bad decisions just... didn't make a lot of sense.
It's a nice light read, one I'll probably pick up again when I want to read a book that doesn't make me think too hard, but not really one I would recommend either.
"How do I want to die? Oh, I don't know. How about a pillow over my face? It will probably be a family member." Thus illustrates the biting candor of Amanda Bailey, the youngest in this poignant, funny, painfully honest story of bitterly divided family. With their father on his deathbed, eight siblings engage in a feud over property and possessions. Born with Down syndrome, Amanda is pulled into a belligerent guardianship dispute. Her favorite sister, Nancy, is immersed in bankruptcy and foreclosure.
I wanted to love this book...
But ten minutes in I wanted to shake the narrator for her sing-songy performance... I couldn't get past it, sorry to say.
On a clear, moonlit night in December, police detective Jimmy Vega races to the scene of a reported home invasion in an upscale New York community. As Vega arrives, he spots a Hispanic man who fits the description of the armed intruder running from the victim's estate. Vega chases him into the woods. When the suspect refuses to surrender - and reaches into his pocket - Vega has only seconds to make a life-or-death decision.
I read the first two books in this series and enjoyed them. They provided a gritty look at illegal immigration, with complicated questions and even more complicated answers.
This third offering by Chazin could have been ripped from the headlines, but instead the main characters (Vega and Adele) spent so much time in emotional navel-gazing and self-pity. We're also forced to rely on coincidences - an immigrant living in the Bronx with no access to a vehicle takes a job in a posh restaurant 50 miles away?
I wanted to like this book more than I did, and I will definitely read the next offer in the series; I am just slogging through this one, though.
Jillian Daugherty was born with Down syndrome. The day they brought her home from the hospital, her parents, Paul and Kerry, were flooded with worry and uncertainty, but also overwhelming love, which they channeled to "the job of building the better Jillian". While their daughter had special needs, they refused to allow her to grow up needy. "Expect, Don't Accept" became their mantra. Little did they know how ready Jillian was to meet their challenge.
Over the years I have known several families whose children have Down Syndrome. I wanted to read this book about a family that had high expectations for their daughter, to acknowledge the reality of Down Syndrome, but also allowing her to chart the course of her own life.
I started out really liking this book. It's written in a generally accessible and readable style, and the narrator is quite good. But as the book continued, I began to grow more and more uncomfortable. As a person with a disability myself, I am well familiar with the dynamic of "forced" high-achieving by family members for their child, almost like Down Syndrome doesn't exist at all. The low-expectations dynamic is equally dangerous, because it stifles growth and a desire for the child (and later adult) to explore and be independent, and to learn things that may *gasp* get them hurt; but I don't know if forcing a child out of the stereotypes of "over-friendliness" by having them make eye contact and shake hands with adults at an early age is much better.
The author completely lost my readership when (paraphrasing) he wrote that HE viewed Jillian as his daughter; his wife viewed her as a monument under construction.
That phrase will not soon leave me... and not in a good way.
Kristina, the second of four children, begins by telling how a little sip of vodka sipped secretly at a party her parents were giving started her on a pathway to addiction. In that instant, alcohol became her pathway to comfort. Over the next eight years, she sank further into addiction, moving on to cocaine and methamphetamines. In telling her story, she gives a brutally honest description of her addiction and crimes.
I read this book quickly. Reading the alternating chapters between mother and daughter - the pain, the recovery, the clawing back and letting go. it was written in an engaging and accessible style and what it taught me about addiction and recovery will not soon leave me.
I will say that the choice of Hillary Huber as a narrator for the daughter was a rather strange one. Her voice does not sound particularly young, and while she did an admirable job, it just struck me that she sounded older than the person she was meant to portray.
Well worth your time and credit, whether or not anyone in your life struggles with addiction.