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- Shanda, Sheila, Mindy, and Hillary

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Monday, November 29, 2010

Blink of an Eye by Gregg Luke - LDSWBR Combined Review

Title: Blink of An Eye
Author: Gregg Luke
Publisher: Covenant Communications
Softcover; 293 pages
Genre: General/Mystery-Suspense
ISBN# 978-1-60861-026-6

About the Author:

Gregg Luke was born in Bakersfield, California, but spent the majority of his childhood and young adult life in Santa Barbara, California. He served an LDS mission to Wisconsin, then pursued his education in biological sciences at SBCC, UCSB, BYU, and subsequently graduated from the University of Utah College of Pharmacy. His biggest loves are his family, reading, writing, music, science, and nature.

Gregg has published four books through Covenant Communications: The Survivors, Do No Harm, Altered State and Blink of an Eye.

Learn more about Gregg on his website: www.greggluke.com and on Goodreads.

Read the first chapter of Blink of An Eye in this post.

Shanda's Review:

Having read all of Gregg's books, I can say that so far Blink of An Eye is his best for many reasons.

It amazes me Gregg's ability to take a story involving memories of events that happened so many years ago and make it into a page-turner. He has a writing style that is both comfortable and easy to read as well as intense and suspenseful. Gregg's intelligence and love of science, medicine, the study of the human body and his home state of California are obvious in the way he tells Joseph's story.

Blink of An Eye isn't the typical mystery-suspense novel, yet it holds the reader's attention like one. It is the intriguing and heartbreaking story of Joseph (aka Jose) Ramirez and the accident that triggered the release of repressed childhood memories. While recovering in the hospital, Joseph begins experiencing terrifying nightmares that he cannot remember once he wakes. Joseph's roommate, Clyde Richter, is witness to Joseph's nightmares but is reluctant to talk about what Joseph is revealing in his sleep.

Joseph's father, Estefan, disappeared when Joseph was ten years old and he has almost no memory of his father or his childhood. Consuela Ramirez, Joseph's mother, has always been reluctant to talk about Estefan to Joseph and he has never felt the need to push the issue.

Michelle Haas is Joseph's lawyer in the case against the owners of the cement truck that hit him. I really like Michelle's spunk and generosity. While working to settle the lawsuit, Joseph is suddenly being investigated by police for something unrelated to the accident. Gregg does an excellent job in making his characters believable and real to the reader. Even secondary characters like Joseph's physical therapist, counselor and the nurses never feel cardboard or hollow.

Blink of An Eye took me on an emotional roller coaster; from the intense description of the accident to the confusion of Joseph's dreams, the fear young Joseph felt towards his father, the admiration and love he felt for his siblings and the frustrations Joseph had with his mother.

I wondered why Michelle waited so long to reveal her connection to Joseph, especially because it is revealed on the back cover of the book and isn't any kind of secret she needed to keep from Joseph. I also wondered why Joseph didn't guess the instigator of a certain incident before he did, but neither of those things affected my opinion of the book much.

I give Blink of An Eye 4.5 stars not only because it is an excellently told story, but because I know Gregg Luke's potential and I can't wait to give him that last .5 star for one of his future novels that I most definitely plan on reading.

Well done, Gregg. What is your next book about and when will it be released?

FTC FYI: LDSWBR was sent a review copy by the author that did not change our opinions of the book.

Sheila's Review:

I love all of Gregg Luke's books. The thing I like the most, is that they all are very different.

Blink of an Eye starts off with a bang! The first page has one of the most wonderful hooks that I have ever read! The first line says, "It happened in a blink of an eye." From there you find out how the main character, Joseph Ramirez, is in an almost fatal car wreck. Gregg is so wonderful at "showing" what happens, that you can almost feel the pain Joseph is going through right after the wreck.

This book has so much in it; a mystery, a little romance, and a psychological thriller. Gregg writes Joseph as an empathetic character. Joseph has experienced such disturbing things in his childhood. His mind had blocked out these experiences until he had the brain injury. Though you do read of physical abuse, it is not as graphic as it could have been. Gregg brings out each characters personality in a big way.

As a reader, you dislike his hospital roommate (I did from the start), you really like his attorney, Michelle, you are angry at his drunken father who is the abuser and you shake your head at Joseph's mother for letting the abuse happen right in front of her. This was a very emotional read.

Lastly, the highest compliment that I can give this book is, I call Blink of an Eye a "Pick up this book and you can't put it down until you are finished" novel. I predict that this book will be in the final five for a Whitney Award. In fact, this novel is a winner already from the amazing cover down to the last page.

I loved it and am giving it 5 stars!

Hillary's Review:

Hello Friends!

Did you miss me? I know it's been a while since I've posted, so I am excited to express my opinions about Gregg Luke's new book, Blink of an Eye.

One of my favorite things about Gregg's books in general is that they are all very unique. He has talent as a writer and a vast knowledge of cool stuff, well, like the cool guy that he is. Gregg's ideas are never ordinary and for that I am grateful!

The story, I know the other girls have briefed you on, so I will just tell you what I thought. I lost track of how many times in this story I said "Holy Cow!" because I wasn't sure how Joseph was going to get out of the mess he was in, or "holy cow..." because of how sad his childhood was. Joseph was such a sweet, likeable guy, that you just wanted everything to work out for him. Of course it takes until the end of the book for that to happen, but talk about a ride to get there!

If I could change anything, it would only be that as a reader, the snitch was obvious, and yet it took Joseph a while to figure it out. The great thing is, it's not a deal breaker for me. There were plenty of intense, and frankly, scary scenes to capture my attention.

I would give this book a 4/5 stars! Thanks for yet another good read Gregg!

Later Gators,


Mindy's Review:

Blink of an Eye is the first book that I have read from Gregg Luke, and I was really impressed. The writing was done well, and I enjoyed the way Joseph's story was told, through the present, past, and dreams.

Joseph Ramirez is driving, turning left at an intersection, and in the blink of an eye his whole life changed. He is hit by a cement truck, and hurt badly. In fact, Joseph stays in a coma for three weeks. During his recovery he has visits from his family. His mother in particular, isn't very thrilled with his recent conversion to the LDS church. And has some things put on his chart that Joseph isn't happy about. Aside from that, Joseph loves his mother. What Joseph can't explain is since the accident, he keeps remembering things from his childhood. Terrible things. Events that have been blocked from his memory until now. A monster that hurts him and at times, his mother. Joseph's dreams are very real, he wakes up screaming most nights, drenched in sweat. But, after he awakens, Joseph cannot remember the details. Joseph turns to his siblings for help, buy they would rather let the past stay in the past. To make matters worse, as he tries to get the bottom of his dreams, he has some problems that come up from the accident.

I liked how the author added in explanations here and there of the church, without being preachy, and made our beliefs easy to relate to and understand. I really enjoyed the ending, and thought that with all that Joseph has been through, he will be alright. He experienced unspeakable things as a child, and ended up an admirable man. There was one thing I wanted answered that wasn't, but not getting my answer didn't make me enjoy the book any less.

4 out of 5 stars

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute

"A Town Like Alice"

Author: Nevil Shute

Publisher: Vintage International/Vintage Books

Published: Original Date 1950

ISBN: 978-0-307-47400-1

Paperback: 351 pages

FTC- I borrowed from a friend, but will be purchasing my own copy.

If you are looking for something wonderful and inspirational to read this Thanksgiving holiday, I have the book for you. I read this amazing book for book club this month, and I didn't want it to end. *Word of advice, don't read the back cover, it will pretty much give the whole story away*.

"A Town Like Alice" is the story of Jean Paget. She inherits a small fortune from her long lost uncle who has passed away. Jean's uncle's lawyer, Noel Strachan, tells Jean's story. During World War II when the Japanese take over Malaya, Jean is there working. She has lived there a few years, but lived in Malaya previously when she was younger, so she was familiar with cultures and can speak the language. When Jean is taken by Japanese officers, she is with a friend and her family. The men are taken away, the woman and children are forced to walk hundreds of miles over the course of many months, from village to village, because no one wanted them. Many get sick, and a good deal die. Jean is an amazing strength to these woman, and a tremendous help because she knows the language, and traditions of the people. With that, Jean could also communicate some with the Japanese officers. The other woman who had lived there years longer then her, never bothered.

Jean meets Joe Harman in one of towns and... well, you have to find out the rest. The part in Malaya is a great step in Jean's journey, but what does she want do with the rest of her life?

What I loved most about the book was, of course, Jean. She is an remarkable woman with so much strength and humor. Her reasoning, and why she wants to do what is does, is what I like most about her. Jean is also very humble. Her journey through Malaya makes her well-known, and she can't understand why. Jean also falls in love, and sticks to her standards. I also enjoyed the way the story is told. I liked the jump from Jean telling Noel her story, to him (in a way) telling us different pieces about her life too. Noel is in charge of her trust, so she writes to him now and then for money and advice. Also, keep in mind this story was written on the 50's, so in a couple scenes, things are said differently, and mean different things then they do know. The ending left me teary, I loved what Noel thought of Jean.

I give this book 5 stars of out 5. It truly is an awe-inspiring story, that is one my top favorite books.

Nevil Shute wrote many novels, this was the only that wasn't science fiction based. I also liked the author's note at the end.

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Monday, November 15, 2010

My Big Rant & Things of That Nature

I don't read a lot of YA. The majority of my YA reads include The Hunger Games Series, the Twilight Saga, The Books of Bayern Series by Shannon Hale, and most of Jessica Day George's novels.

Obviously, I haven't read much of what you might call "mainstream" YA Fiction. I see a lot of YA titles mentioned on Twitter, in blog posts, reviews, etc., but haven't taken much opportunity to read them.

YA is big right now.

Recently I picked up a contemporary YA book at a large book signing with several authors. I decided to purchase her book after someone mentioned how much they liked this author's books. I spoke briefly with the author as she signed my book. She is very nice. I like her. I was totally excited to read her book.

I have a "thing" about preferring to read an author's books in order if I can, even if they're not part of a series. I like to see the growth in writing ability, etc. So I picked up one of the author's earlier books at the library to read first.

The cover is cute. Eye-catching. Funny, even. The story sounds interesting and entertaining. I got settled in and started reading.

I made it to page 49 before closing the book.

Seriously, I am so disappointed.

I am wondering, is THIS what "mainstream" contemporary YA Fiction is these days?

That the main character and her friends crash the graduation party I have no problem with. It doesn't bother me too much that there is drinking with the characters in the background, though I wish it could be otherwise. I am bothered that the main character takes a sip when it's offered to her. But I know it happens. And I know I'm reading a nationally published novel.

What bothers me is that they are passing a BONG around. And the boy the main character likes takes a very, very long drag.

But let me be honest here.

I think what really bothers me is that the girls didn't leave RIGHT THEN.

Several times the main character mentioned that her biggest fear was dying a virgin.

Maybe I'm odd this way, but even though I knew I wasn't the most attractive girl in my school, rarely dated and had only one boyfriend- who didn't kiss me once in the 3 1/2 months we dated- I NEVER worried about dying a virgin.

I am pleased to be able to tell my girls that I experienced my first kiss when I was 18, with the man I now call my husband.

Ironically, about an hour after I closed the book, I found a link on Twitter to this article, "How to Judge If a Book Is Appropriate."

I will give the author another chance. I plan on reading the book I initially purchased. I am hoping, oh how I'm hoping, that I will not have to put that book down until I've finished it.

I know that The Hunger Games is violent. That's why my girls won't be reading it until they are closer to Katniss' age, if it's something they even want to read in the first place.

I know that the Twilight Saga is full of sexual situations. That's why my girls won't be reading the books until they are MUCH older, and we've had several discussions, if they even want to read the books at all by then.

I don't like the idea of banning books. That's not what I'm trying to get at here.

But as an adult, I wouldn't want to read a book about an adult main character going to a party to see the man she's attracted to smoking a bong. It doesn't do anything for me.

It sounds different put in that context, doesn't it? Well, it does to me.

At a party with teenagers, it is seemingly "natural," but replace all the teenagers with adults and it's just creepy.

I wouldn't want to read a book about that.

I don't want my girls reading about it, either.

After all the work put into Red Ribbon Week, Public Service Announcements, health classes, and late night discussions teaching our children about the dangers of drugs, telling our children to "Just say NO," it seems so... hypocritical... to allow them to read books where the character is okay being in this type of situation. Like it's nothing worse than hanging out at the local diner.

I'm not so ignorant or naive to think that these things don't happen. All the time.

But if my girls ever find themselves in this type of situation I want them to leave RIGHT THEN.

And I want them reading books with characters that leave RIGHT THEN.

I know that books listed as YA are determined by the age of the main character and not necessarily the age of the intended reader. Considering that I found this book in the clearly marked "TEENS" section of the library, I'd say it should be assumed that readers as young as 12 are being targeted here.

I guess what I'm saying is that if it has YA on it, it should have a rating. Or at least a content warning.

Video games have ratings and content warnings.

TV shows have ratings and content warnings.

Even COMMERCIALS have ratings now.

I can hide the titles of shows above a certain rating on my cable box with my parental controls.

So what about books?

For now, I read most books before I'll allow my oldest daughter to read them, with very few exceptions (a few middle reader series from authors I know).

Also, from now on, whenever we (LDSWBR) review a book, especially one that falls into the YA category, we will include specific content warnings for sexual content, drug use, language and violence. These content warnings will include the context as well.

For example, if there is language, we will let you know the severity (how often was bad language used as well as if the f-bomb was one of them). If there is sexual content, we will tell you if it was limited to innuendo or touching or if clothing was removed, and so on.

Everyone is different when it comes to content. Some people don't mind things that strongly offend others. That's how things are and it's okay. It would be nice, though, to have a heads up.

Considering that we are LDS, and our purpose is celebrating good fiction that doesn't ask you to sacrifice your standards, if we read a book that contains objectionable content, we'll do our best to give you that heads up.

Our blog readers are the best, and we appreciate each one of you. Thank you!

Now, who can direct me to some excellent (and clean) YA Fiction?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Halo - Alexandra Adornetto


Alexandra Adornetto

Publisher: Fiewel and Friends

Published: August 2010

ISBN: 978-0-312-65626-3

Hardcover: 484 pages

FTC... Borrowed from the library

Halo page 1 "Our arrival didn't go exactly as planned. I remember it was almost dawn when we landed because the streetlights were still on. We had hoped our descent would go unnoticed, which it mainly did, save the thirteen-year-old boy doing a paper round."

"Halo" is the story of three angels that are sent to earth to find and fight, if necessary, the agents of darkness. Gabriel, Ivy, and Bethany are the sibling angels. They are the agents of light. Ivy and Gabriel are centuries old. Bethany is only 17 in mortal years. Each sibling has a different gift and their gifts and strengths are why they were sent for this mission. Gabriel is an archangel, a warrior. Ivy is a seraphim and she has the gift of healing. Bethany's gift hasn't been revealed yet, but her ability to relate to humans was why she was sent. Ivy and Gabriel have both fought many battles against the dark forces, this will be Bethany's first. The three are sent to Venus Cove because of the surge of unusually evil activity occurring.

In order to fit in, Gabriel is hired to be the music teacher at the local high school, and Bethany enrolls as a student. Ivy is too old to be a student, so she spends her time volunteering at nursing homes, helping in soup kitchens, knitting hats for clothes drives... Whatever she can do to help around the community. The three of them really stick out because of their beautifully flawless skin, perfect bodies, and if you looked close enough, you could catch their halos. In school, Bethany meets Molly who introduces her to life as a teenager. Bethany is very naive, of course, and makes some silly choices. Eventually, she meets Xavier, and is instantly drawn to him. He has a sad history, and for that reason, Molly warns her not to waste her time, but Bethany can't help herself. Xavier is the captain of the school, and he's a really nice guy, who is nice to everyone.

Xavier and Bethany hit it off. Some surprising things happen, that have to do with wings... :). Later, the bad guy shows up. Luckily, because that's when the story really started to pick up for me. His name is Jake Thorn, and... well, I'll let you find out.

**Heads up: There is a scene with two main characters that is sexual where they don't have sex, but where their clothing is removed, and they lay together in bed. Also, there is some teen-age drinking. Parental discretion should be used for how old the individual should be to read this book.**

I enjoyed this book, but thought it was about 100 pages too long. The story is good and even though, it was slow in parts, it did hold my attention. The climax was exciting and it is set up for a sequel. The coolest part about this book is the author. She is only 18! I couldn't believe it when I read that, and this is her second book. Alexandra's first book is "The Shadow Thief", she wrote that when she was 14. The writing was done well, characters were developed, and there was a good flow to it. I just thought there was some things that weren't necessary, and repeated too much. Oh, to be a teenager again :).

3 stars out of 5, and I will read the sequel, "Hades", when it comes out.