Words on Fire
Author: Jennifer A. Nielsen
Published: October 1, 2019
Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 3 stars
Danger is never far from Audra’s family farm in Lithuania. She always avoids the occupying Russian Cossack soldiers, who insist that everyone must become Russian — they have banned Lithuanian books, religion, culture, and even the language. But Audra knows her parents are involved in something secret and perilous.
When Cossacks arrive abruptly at their door, Audra’s parents insist that she flee, taking with her an important package and instructions for where to deliver it. But escape means abandoning her parents to a terrible fate.
As Audra embarks on a journey to deliver the mysterious package, she faces unimaginable risks, and soon she becomes caught up in a growing resistance movement. Can joining the underground network of book smugglers give Audra a chance to rescue her parents?
I really love Nielsen’s books, especially her historical fiction series. She does such a great job of telling the stories of some of the forgotten heroes of history and she does it with respect and style. Unfortunately, this is not my favorite of that series. It’s not a bad book by any means, I just had some issues with it. I felt a disconnect with Audra that I didn’t want to feel. She wasn’t as likable as Nielsen’s other characters. She strayed into that “idealist” territory, where a lot of preaching happens but not a lot of common sense. Of course books are important and for many people in Lithuania under Russian Imperial rule, they were a lifeline to their language and culture. For some reason, it just felt shallow. In the shadow of big country with a stronger army, the resistance seemed ineffectual. There was no balance between passive and military resistance.
I know that the freedoms we enjoy today, of being able to drive to just about any store and buying any book we want, made book running then look like such a small thing. And that was my own shortcoming while reading this book. I just missed the emotions and feels that I got from her other books. I would still recommend this to history teachers and teens because there are excellent lessons to be learned. I personally felt distant from the story, and that makes me sad.
We Have Always Live in the Castle
Author: Shirley Jackson
Published: September 21, 1962
Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 5 stars
Taking readers deep into a labyrinth of dark neurosis, We Have Always Lived in the Castle is a deliciously unsettling novel about a perverse, isolated, and possibly murderous family and the struggle that ensues when a cousin arrives at their estate.
I decided to roll with my Shirley Jackson kick. I listened to this on audio and the narrator definitely did the story justice. Jackson has this way of setting a scene filled with tension and discomfort and questions. This story is rife with it all. Constance and Merrikat are the weirdos that urban legends are made of. Their family was murdered, Constance was the prime suspect, but acquitted, and now they live in their old family home alone with their Uncle Julian who spent the last decade of their lives trying to write a history of murders. The townspeople jeer and stare at Merrikat whenever she goes into town, but Constance will barely leave the house to go into the garden. Everything about this story is disturbing, but its very subtle.
I spent the whole book wondering about Merrikat. Is she mentally ill? Developmentally disabled? Who killed the family? And then the one scene where my blood boiled . . . But that’s a spoiler so I can’t say it. This is such a great example of Jackson’s iconic style and I think everybody should read it! Awesome story!![Top]
Today Kim brings you a video review of The Lovely and the Lost by Jennifer Lynn Barnes:
The Lovely and the Lost
Author: Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Published: May 7, 2019
Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 4 stars
Kira Bennett’s earliest memories are of living alone and wild in the woods. She has no idea how long she was on her own or what she had to do to survive, but she remembers the moment that Cady Bennett and one of her search-and-rescue dogs found her perfectly. Adopted into the Bennett family, Kira still struggles with human interaction years later, but she excels at the family business: search-and-rescue. Along with Cady’s son, Jude, and their neighbor, Free, Kira works alongside Cady to train the world’s most elite search-and-rescue dogs. Someday, all three teenagers hope to put their skills to use, finding the lost and bringing them home.
But when Cady’s estranged father, the enigmatic Bales Bennett, tracks his daughter down and asks for her help in locating a missing child—one of several visitors who has disappeared in the Sierra Glades National Park in the past twelve months—the teens find themselves on the frontlines sooner than they could have ever expected. As the search through 750,000 acres of unbridled wilderness intensifies, Kira becomes obsessed with finding the missing child. She knows all too well what it’s like to be lost in the wilderness, fighting for survival, alone.
But this case isn’t simple. There is more afoot than a single, missing girl, and Kira’s memories threaten to overwhelm her at every turn. As the danger mounts and long-held family secrets come to light, Kira is forced to question everything she thought she knew about her adopted family, her true nature, and her past.
Kim’s Video Review: