Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus
Series: Life of a Cactus #1
Author: Dusti Bowling
Narrator: Karissa Vacker
Published: September 5, 2017
Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: July 5-7, 2021
Jessica’s Rating: 5 stars
Aven Green loves to tell people that she lost her arms in an alligator wrestling match, or a wildfire in Tanzania, but the truth is she was born without them. And when her parents take a job running Stagecoach Pass, a rundown western theme park in Arizona, Aven moves with them across the country knowing that she’ll have to answer the question over and over again.
Her new life takes an unexpected turn when she bonds with Connor, a classmate who also feels isolated because of his own disability, and they discover a room at Stagecoach Pass that holds bigger secrets than Aven ever could have imagined. It’s hard to solve a mystery, help a friend, and face your worst fears. But Aven’s about to discover she can do it all . . . even without arms.
Life of a Cactus is a novel I read ( I actually listened to the audiobook) for June’s prompt for #Diversathon: Which is a main character with a disability. And again, Life of a Cactus has two main characters with disabilities: Aven was born without arms and Connor who has Tourette’s Syndrome. This novel is a middle grades novel that fits in 100% with that age group. And surprisingly, I really adored this novel!
These are characters that you love and the writing helps you understand them completely with their discomfort with their disability at that age of middle school where they are already experiencing so much change. I revered Aven who takes her disability as it is. She is energetic, kind, and upbeat, but also has that uncertainty of her age. In addition to all the life changes she is experiencing; she has to pick up her life and move because of dad’s new job. She is not happy with this as all the kids are now used to her and she gets along good. Imagine starting a new middle school and you have no arms!
Aven connects with Connor who is a bit of a loner who has Tourette’s. Life of a Cactus gives a very positive portrayal of what someone with Tourette’s is going through including the fear of going out in public. Life of a Cactus really gives the reader an insight of what someone with Tourette’s goes through. I wish I had had this book in middle school as there were a couple of boys in school with Tourette’s. Nothing was every really explained to us with what they had and you just got used to the noises they made. And one ended up getting in trouble a lot because curse words would come out. I guess back in middle school staff did not have a good understanding of Tourette’s.
Life of a Cactus also shows the struggle of Aven’s parents with a lack of job and adjusting to the new job which can be a difficult one. There is also a small mystery that comes to the forefront in the last part of the novel with a conclusion that is a bit unbelievable, but I did not let that mystery hamper my enjoyment of this novel.
Life of a Cactus is one I definitely recommend for middle schoolers! I don’t recall anything that would be inappropriate for that age group in this novel. In fact, many readers need to read this one!
July’s host is Kesara at readswithkesara over at Instagram. She is having a giveaway of One book valuing up to $20 from the Book Depository or Amazon (for US based winner) Be sure to check out her Instagram for full details on that giveaway.
Be sure to check out her YouTube Channel!
The Lucky List
Author: Rachael Lippincott
Published: June 1, 2021
Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 3 stars
Emily and her mum were always lucky.
But Emily’s mum’s luck ran out three years ago when she succumbed to cancer, and nothing has felt right since.
Now, the summer before her senior year, things are worse than ever – Emily has wrecked things with her boyfriend, Matt, and her dad is selling the house she grew up in and giving her mum’s belongings away. The only person she has to talk to is Blake, a girl she barely knows since she and her dad moved back to town five seconds ago.
But that’s when Emily finds the list – her mum’s senior year summer bucket list – buried in the back of her closet. When Blake suggests that Emily take it on as a challenge, the two set off on a journey to tick each box and help Emily face her fears over losing her connection to her mum. As she starts to feel closer to her mother, so too does Emily’s bond with Blake deepen into something she wasn’t expecting.
And suddenly Emily must face another fear: accepting the secret part of herself she never got a chance to share with the person who knew her best.
I do love Rachael Lippincott. I loved her first two books that she co-wrote and I was so excited when I saw this new book sitting on the shelf. Unfortunately, it doesn’t live up to the first two. It started out confusing so I felt lost from the beginning. I don’t want to give away the twist but it just felt so inconsequential to me. I think it would have been so much better if it hadn’t been YA. All that teen drama just brought everything down! And of course the high school, “oh I’ll love you forever! We’ll always be together!” automatically indicates that you won’t. Teen romance very rarely works out and it annoys me that everybody keeps believing it! It just killed this story for me. It had so much potential to be deep and emotional and it just all fell flat. I think Rachael needs to break out of YA because she has the potential to go full on Me Before You and be awesome at it … but not in YA. The teenagers ruined her book.
Author: C.J. Cooke
Published: September 29, 2020
Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 3 stars
The woods are creeping in on a nanny and two young girls in this chilling modern Gothic thriller.
Architect Tom Faraday is determined to finish the high-concept, environmentally friendly home he’s building in Norway – in the same place where he lost his wife, Aurelia, to suicide. It was their dream house, and he wants to honor her with it.
Lexi Ellis takes a job as his nanny and immediately falls in love with his two young daughters, especially Gaia. But something feels off in the isolated house nestled in the forest along the fjord. Lexi sees mysterious muddy footprints inside the home. Aurelia’s diary appears in Lexi’s room one day. And Gaia keeps telling her about seeing the terrifying Sad Lady…
Soon Lexi suspects that Aurelia didn’t kill herself and that they are all in danger from something far more sinister lurking around them.
What a strange book. At its core, it’s a murder mystery. But there’s a lot of weird, Norwegian type horror elements that were just … weird. Then throw in some environmentalism that actually makes everything worse. I know it sounds awful, but I feel like I don’t even remember most of the story. The murder mystery was solid and I like that part of it. But the rest of it feels so muddled. Maybe if I knew more about Norwegian mythology, it would have been better. But unfortunately it just fell flat for me.