book review, Fiction

Shades of Grey: The Road to High Saffron

shades-of-greyShades of Grey: the Road to High Saffron

Jasper Fforde
Viking Penguin, 2009

Excerpt from the dust jacket: “It’s summer, it’s hot, it’s our world, but not as we know it. Entire cities lie buried beneath overgrown fields and forests. Technology from another time litters the landscape, and there is evidence of great upheaval. Welcome to Chromatacia, where for as long as anyone can remember society has been ruled by a Colortocracy. From the underground feedpipes that keep the municipal park green, to the healing hues viewed to cure illness, to a social hierarchy based upon one’s limited color perception, society is dominated by color. In this world, you are what you can see. … In a world of enforced simplification, answers are in short supply, and every question begets another: What was the “Something That Happened”? Why does no one ever return from the long-abandoned village of High Saffron? Where did all the spoons go? Is there more to color than just color? … Utterly original, bizarre, entertaining and thought-provoking, the world and characters in this new work confirm Fforde’s place as one of the most brazen and original literary fantasists of our time.”

So, tell me, did you even understand any of the above? This reading has been the 3rd time I’ve read this book (my first review of it, however) and I still have questions. There are also subtleties I picked up on for the first time during this reading. Maybe to make it easier, let me explain: society is divided by the color you can perceive. Everybody sees in shades of grey with the exception of one color, either primary (red, blue, yellow) or complementary (green, purple, orange). For those unlucky enough to not see any color at all (or minimal color), those folks are the worker-drones of society and are called Greys. The more of your familial color you can see the higher up in society you are – meaning more powerful, more money, more of everything. Marriages are not based on love but on enriching the family hue (the ability to see color fades with each generation unless one of the partners can see a lot of color).

But all is not well in this post-apocalyptic utopia (as few utopias actually are) and the main character, Eddie Russet (a Red) is turning 20 and about to have his whole life planned for him – marriage, career, residence, etc. until he meets a Grey named Jane and she alters his whole life and his perception of society in four short days.

I love this book – as I love all Jasper Fforde’s books. He has a brilliant imagination and he’s the kind of writer that if you like your fiction firmly rooted in reality, you might as well skip him. I finished the book the other afternoon and am still pondering it days later. If you liked Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake series and The Handmaid’s Tale, you’ll probably like this book. My only disappointment is that there are two follow-up books planned but they haven’t been published yet. It’s been a long wait since 2009. But don’t let that stop you from checking out this book. It can stand just fine on its own.

5 daisies a definite 5-daisy rating!!

Debby 2 Debby

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book review, family, Memoir, mental illness, Nonfiction Review, psychology, self-help

Codependent No More

codependent

I will never stop reading this book. Codependent No More reminds me to nurture the person I am and not feel guilty about that. To take care of myself. To remember I cannot control others no matter how much I may think I know what’s best for them.

I know. It’s ridiculous. I sound like I’m nuts. But sometimes my family makes me nuts.  Codependent No More – How to Stop Controlling Others And Start Caring For Yourself was originally written from the prospective of a former alcoholic married to an alcoholic.  Melody Beattie is very frank about her background and knows where of she speaks.

However, this book for any one who is in a relationship that seems out of control. Is your teen acting out or your adult child abusing drugs? Are you are overeating, overexercising, overspending while you seethe and obsess about ways to solve the problem or what advice you want to give?   Is your spouse taking advantage of your good nature and you are doing all you can to keep the peace while inside you feel resentful and used?

It’s natural for us to want to help. The problem is sometimes things have to run their course. Sometimes we really Can. Not. Help. Still we feel compelled to try. And nothing happens. Or the person we tried to help doesn’t appreciate us. Or they don’t want our help. We feel frustrated. Angry. Hurt. Victimized.

Being codependent isn’t always about alcoholics, drug users, or someone living an extreme lifestyle, though it can be, and if that is your life then this book is for you.  But it is also about people-pleasers like me, who care too much when it is actually ourselves for whom we should be caring.

Read Melody’s book. She will make you feel good about yourself, help you embrace the strong wonderful person you are, and in the long run, help you develop healthy relationships with all your loved ones.

4-daisy-rating

Reviewed by Leigh

leigh-21

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Melody Beattie

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book review, Children's Fiction, Fiction, murder, Mystery Review, youth fiction

Speaking From Among the Bones

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Speaking From Among the Bones
A Flavia De Luce Novel

 

Alan Bradley
Delacorte Press, 2013

 

From the back of the book: “Eleven-year-old amateur detective and ardent chemist Flavia de Luce is used to digging up clues, whether they’re found among the potions in her laboratory or between the pages of her insufferable sister’s diaries. What she is not accustomed to is digging up bodies. Upon the five-hundredth anniversary of Saint Tancred’s death, the English hamlet of Bishop’s Lacey is busily preparing to open its patron saint’s tomb. Nobody is more excited to peek inside the crypt than Flavia, yet what she finds will halt the proceedings dead in their tracks: the body of Mr. Collicutt, the church organist, his face grotesquely and inexplicably masked. Who held a vendetta against Mr. Collicutt, and why would they hide him in such a sacred resting place? The irrepressible Flavia decides to find out. And what she unearths will prove there’s no such thing as an open-and-shut case.”

 

You’ve probably guessed by now that I am a fan of Flavia de Luce. She is funny, brilliant, bold and a real smart-a**. But she is also vulnerable to her sister’s vicious and hurtful attacks – so much so that she alternates between wanting to poison them and wanting to love them. She never really goes through with any of her diabolical plans, but it’s fun to read her plans for them. Her true love are poisons and she thinks about them all the time. I have to share this quote with you, it’s so “Flavia”: “Whenever I’m a little blue I think about cyanide, whose color so perfectly reflects my mood. It is pleasant to think that the manioc plant, which grows in Brazil, contains enormous quantities of the stuff in its thirty pound roots, all of which, unfortunately, is washed away before the residue is used to make our daily tapioca.”

 

In this book, Flavia cycles her way through the English countryside, crawls through an open grave into a tunnel that goes under the graveyard to the church and, of course, is almost killed (she rescues herself!). Through it all she keeps herself motivated even when the police tell her to stay away, when her sisters bring her to tears and her father forbids her to leave the house. The murder itself happens before the book opens, there are a couple acts of mild violence and some shocking news at the very end of the book (no spoilers!). As always, this book is for middle-grade readers of all ages, especially those who like strong female characters and cozy mysteries.

 

Rating: 4-daisy-rating

 

Reviewer: DebbyDebby 2
book review, cattle mutilation, electrocution, Fiction, kidnapping, Mystery Review, Nebraska, school outbreak, suspense

Hotwire: A Maggie O’Dell Novel

hotwire

I’d been in a dry spell, with nothing good to read, when a coworker recommended Alex Kava.   The novel I chose to read by Kava was Hotwire : A Maggie O’Dell Novel.

Maggie O’Dell is a FBI agent, who as the story opens, has been asked to speak at a conference on her specialty: forensics. But when she arrives in rural Nebraska, Maggie receives a call from her boss telling her to put the conference on hold a day to help  local law enforcement.  In many small midwestern towns cows often outnumber the people living there. This makes it difficult for these towns to afford their own forensic departments, so they must rely on state and federal  resources for assistance. That said, Maggie finds it odd to be called on to investigate a cow mutilation.  Even more unusual is the fact the carcass is completely drained of blood, with one eye missing and the poor animal’s legs raised towards the sky.

What is thought to be a government cover-up by the cattle ranchers, and part alien invasion by more creative residents, has Maggie stumped. And when local teenagers begin to die under mysterious circumstances Maggie decides to stay on to further her investigation, conference or no.  Later, when the body of yet another teen is found she is so puzzled  Maggie feels the need for a break.  Running down a secluded country road Maggie turns to see an old truck pulling to a stop at the top a hill. It guns its’ motor. Within seconds Maggie is run down, electrocuted, and kidnapped.

Meanwhile, across the country a strange outbreak occurs in Norfolk, VA and moves through several schools, making elementary students violently ill.  Maggie’s boyfriend, Colonel Benjamin Platt races the clock to discover just what is making the children sick, and hopefully discover an antidote.

How the author links these seemingly random events makes Hotwire an exciting read. Maggie O’Dell is a resourceful character with lots of experience from which to draw and being independent as well means she doesn’t depend on her boyfriend to rescue her from the kidnappers.

I enjoyed Hotwire.  It was a fun, fast-paced novel, with enough science and real life scenarios to keep me guessing.  While the epilogue didn’t pull all the events together as well as I would have liked, I was still satisfied with the results.  I plan to read another Maggie O’Dell novel, just to see what happens next!

4-daisy-rating

Reviewed by Leigh

leigh-21

alex
Alex Kava

 

book review, Cornelia Funke, Fiction, Young Adult Fiction

The Golden Yarn

golden yarn

The Golden Yarn
A Mirror World Novel

 

Breathing Books, 2015

 

This is the third book in the Jacob Reckless, Mirror World Series. Reckless is basically a treasure hunter from our world who passes through a mirror into an alternate world where the humans coexist with otherworldly/magical creatures such Goyl (a race of people with stone skin), fairies, thumblings (teeny people), shape shifters and all sorts of other magical stuff. Through the series of three books the reader follows Jacob as he goes back and forth between worlds.

 

I read the first two books several years ago (Reckless and Fearless) and from what I can remember enjoyed them a lot. But this third book I have struggled through – if I had read the first two books again and then read The Golden Yarn, my opinion on the book might be different, but that’s not what I did, so I can only review what I did read. This book cannot stand alone – it is intricately tied in with the second of the three books  – the main characters of both Jacob and Fox (a shape shifting human woman who changes into a fox) have deep issues with the events of the 2nd book and this book doesn’t explain what happened to them. Nor does it explain what happened to Will, Jacob’s brother, in that book, only that he has issues recovering from those events as well.

 

This is another one of those books that I really hoped it would be a wonderful fantasy, one to lose myself in and get swept up in the magic. But considering I put the book down for 5 days and didn’t even think about reading it – well, that tells me a lot doesn’t it? As I was reading it today (I’m 3/4s of the way through) – I asked myself “why am I reading this?” I was lost, having forgotten what had happened. Anyway, you don’t need to know all of that.

 

Suffice it to say, I didn’t finish it. I’m not saying it’s good or bad – just uninteresting. Which means  its a no daisy rating.
Rating: no daisy
Reviewer: Debby Debby 2