The Home for Unwanted Girls
Author: Joanna Goodman
Published: April 17, 2018
Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 4 stars
In 1950s Quebec, French and English tolerate each other with precarious civility—much like Maggie Hughes’ parents. Maggie’s English-speaking father has ambitions for his daughter that don’t include marriage to the poor French boy on the next farm over. But Maggie’s heart is captured by Gabriel Phénix. When she becomes pregnant at fifteen, her parents force her to give baby Elodie up for adoption and get her life ‘back on track’.
Elodie is raised in Quebec’s impoverished orphanage system. It’s a precarious enough existence that takes a tragic turn when Elodie, along with thousands of other orphans in Quebec, is declared mentally ill as the result of a new law that provides more funding to psychiatric hospitals than to orphanages. Bright and determined, Elodie withstands abysmal treatment at the nuns’ hands, finally earning her freedom at seventeen, when she is thrust into an alien, often unnerving world.
Maggie, married to a businessman eager to start a family, cannot forget the daughter she was forced to abandon, and a chance reconnection with Gabriel spurs a wrenching choice. As time passes, the stories of Maggie and Elodie intertwine but never touch, until Maggie realizes she must take what she wants from life and go in search of her long-lost daughter, finally reclaiming the truth that has been denied them both.
Overall, this was a good book. Orphanages reorganized into mental hospitals, all the orphans relabeled as mentally retarded. That right there is enough to draw me in, I really don’t ask for much! As historical fiction, I enjoyed it. The family saga is interesting and engaging. The stigmas and prejudices of the time came out plainly and were both understandable and disturbing. I liked most of the characters and sympathized through most of the story. But the thing that I had a hard time getting over was the victim mentality that saturated the entire story. In some situations, “victim” seemed the appropriate label; but then when someone was faced with the consequences of their actions, all of a sudden, they’re a victim. That got old really fast.
Other than that, the story was emotional and I quickly found myself caring. This book is the better version of Lisa Wingate’s books. The story was complete and I felt like I got all pertinent information; no loose ends were left. I enjoyed this book and while I won’t ever read it again, I will say that those who enjoy emotional historical fiction will enjoy it too.
Author: Jess Rothenburg
Published: May 28, 2019
Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 4 stars
Welcome to the Kingdom… where ‘Happily Ever After’ isn’t just a promise, but a rule.
Glimmering like a jewel behind its gateway, The Kingdom is an immersive fantasy theme park where guests soar on virtual dragons, castles loom like giants, and bioengineered species–formerly extinct–roam free.
Ana is one of seven Fantasists, beautiful “princesses” engineered to make dreams come true. When she meets park employee Owen, Ana begins to experience emotions beyond her programming including, for the first time… love.
But the fairytale becomes a nightmare when Ana is accused of murdering Owen, igniting the trial of the century. Through courtroom testimony, interviews, and Ana’s memories of Owen, emerges a tale of love, lies, and cruelty–and what it truly means to be human.
I was fascinated as soon as I saw it! The cover is amazing and then the description sealed the deal. If Jurassic Park was done at Disney World and had more than just dinosaurs, then you’d have The Kingdom. Rothenburg does a wonderful job of showing the wonder and fantasy of places like theme parks and what they can mean to people, especially kids. However, her contempt for the huge corporate entertainment conglomerate is easy seen. I can’t really say that I blame her either.
The story focuses on Ana, one of the Kingdom’s AI princesses. While there is a simple plot with a slightly predictable twist, the point of the story is Ana’s growth as a conscious being. Rothenburg tackles a lot of those ethical issues that Jurassic Park focuses on. Ana starts to question her place in life as a whole which then throws off the well oiled machine that is the Kingdom.
It was interesting to see her thought patterns and evolution from the naive, sheltered artificial being into a self aware, questioning woman. Overall, its an engaging read that leaves you thinking and pondering the morals of technological progress. I enjoyed it and I would recommend it to many Disney fans!
Author: Natasha Preston
Published: March 26, 2019
Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 5 stars
In the small town of Aurora, teens go missing all the time. But when one of Piper and Hazel’s classmates disappears, they become determined to find out the truth of what happened to her.
While investigating, they meet three handsome and rich grad students…who kidnap them. The girls are taken to a building in the middle of a privately-owned forest. The building isn’t just designed to keep them locked away—every room is a test in survival. And Piper and Hazel won’t give up without a fight.
I keep comparing Preston’s books to Criminal Minds; I can’t help it, they’re so similar! The Lost might be her most intense yet!
The story is simple, the crime is uncomplicated, but all the detailing and the gritty realism fills in all the gaps and turns the story into a complete book. Teens disappear, Piper gets kidnapped, the boys don’t wear masks or hide from the teens, teens try to find a way out, do the teens escape? Simple, right? Nope!!
The emotions and feelings, and psychology, and physical torture is described in minute detail that you can’t help but sit and consider how you’d respond in the same situation. Being locked in room that gets cold and then hot and back and forth for hours probably sounds worse than it is . . . Until Preston sticks Piper in that room and you end up living it with her! That’s what sells this book so completely. I was so caught up in the nitty gritty, that the book was over before I knew it! While the material is pretty mature, I’d be ok with giving this to teens. I think it would be a great educational tool not only in criminal psychology, but also as a cautionary tale. Anyone who likes crime drama, will love this book!