The Girl Who Fell From the Sky

girl-who-fell-from-the-sky

Bibliographic Information 

Audiobook $29.95
Paperback $9.34
Hardback $8.00
Kindle $8.87
Associated ISBNs 9781565126800
9781616200152 — Paperback
9781410427045 — Hardcover
9781851687459 — Paperback
9781616200374
9781448790708 — Glued Binding
9781565129627

Rating (VOYA)

5Q, 3.5P

This is a 5Q because it is quite amazingly written, in a broken narative in several characters points of view.

It’s a 3.5 because I think that the material is hard to read, and that it will become more appealing over the next few years given the current state of race relations in the States.

Readers Annotation

She fell. Now she must learn how to live.

Summary

Follow the story of the girl who fell from the sky. Told through five different points of view centered around the tragedy of the family who fell from the sky.

Rachel has just moved in with her Grandmother in Seattle after her family fell off the roof of their apartment in Chicago. She is a mixed race girl, coming from a black serviceman and a white Danish girl. She must learn to negotiate a world where people are defined by the color of their skin, while learning to live with her Grandmother and aunt. Her Grandmother is a proud black woman, rich in faith. Her aunt is a proud black woman struggling after her divorce. Rachel must deal with black girl bullies, boys who will take advantage of her kind nature and the death of her aunt. After she is taken advantage of by a boy her Grandmother sends her to volunteer at the Salvation Army.

Brick is a boy when he sees the boy fall from the sky. He lies to the reporter who asks him if he saw anything and says he saw a man on the roof with the family who fell. He visits the girl who lived in the hospital. He bonds with her father in her hospital room. Her father gives him a message to tell her but she moves to Seattle before he can. He runs away from home to get to her and ends up on the street for a few years until he meets her at the Salvation Army.

Nella has left her husband and moved to Chicago with her boyfriend. She is trying to stay sober. She is finding out that things are different in the States than they are in Europe and that there are things she just can’t say.

Evaluation

This is the single most depressing book I’ve read. Here’s the thing about this book, it is incredibly depressing, and disheartening, but its also kind of beautiful. I cried at the end of it. It was very moving. Its a hard read, not because of language or length, but because the subject matter is so hard to stomach.

This was very effectively written, until the very end you were not sure of all the details pertaining to the Event that set the book in motion. I liked the non-linear construction and the switching points of view. The characters were well rounded. You could feel their pain through the story and could understand their motivations.

I wouldn’t necessarily call this an enjoyable read, I got no joy out of it, but it was a moving read.

This would work very well for its audience. Its an amazing story of actions and consequences, depression, and race. This would be a great book to give someone who would want to understand what it feels like to be displaced in the world.

I think a flaw is that it can be so hard to deal with the emotion that some people may need to walk away from the book, which would be a shame.

Genre

Coming-of-age, Literary Fiction, Psychological Fiction

Readalikes

Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin

The Sea by John Banville

Significance

This book gives the unique perspective of a mixed race girl who was raised in Europe and then moves to the States. This move shows how different blacks are treated in Europe as compared to the states. This is one of the main struggles of the main character (Rachel).

Book Discussion Questions and Ideas

How does the book portray race?

Why do you think Nella did what she did?

Do you think that Rachel will be able to live a happy life?

Author’s website

Hiedi W. Durrow

Awards

PEN/Bellwether Prize

Reviews

 

Why I Chose It

I wanted to read this book because it sounded like an interesting premise and a great commentary on race relations both in the United States and comparatively in Europe. It was also a serious Literary novel, and I’ve never really read Literary so I wanted to read one that sounded appealing.

Other Information

Take a Chance on Me

take-a-chance-on-me

Bibliographic Information 

Audiobook
Paperback $10.20
Hardback $34.95
Kindle $7.99
Associated ISBNs 9781414378411
9781611737813 — Library binding
9781414386010

Rating (VOYA)

4Q, 4P

This book is a 4Q because while it is very well written, there are times where the religious aspects can seem a little forced.

I found this book to be quite enjoyable, and appealing despite my non-religious self. I think it has some great crossover potential but that it won’t appeal to everyone which is why its a 4P.

Readers Annotation

After a tragic accident, can forgiveness be found? Can God be accepted?

Summary

The story of four people who have had trials in their lives and must find a way to forgive and find God.

Ivy Madison just moved to Deep Haven to be the assistant county attorney. She lost her faith in God in her childhood as she bounced around the foster system after her mother lost custody of her at 9. She has wanted to live in Deep Haven for a long time. She buys Darek Christiansan in a charity auction and he is quite rude to her. She sees a different side of him when he’s with his son. The two gradually get closer and Ivy starts to feel part of his family. However, she has a secret: she helped find the defense for Darek’s wife’s killer.

Darek has lived in Deep Haven all his life. He is a widower who lost his wife Felicity 3 years ago to a car accident, cause by his best friend Jensen. He has given up his dream of being a fire fighting hot shot and helps run the family resort. He is devoted to his son. As he and Ivy get closer, his wife’s mother keeps trying to take his son away. He lost his relationship with God when he lost his wife.

Jensen has been repenting ever since the accident. He has served nearly 3000 community service hours in the last three years as part of his sentence. However, he might just come up short and be sent to jail. He believes that God doesn’t forgive, and neither do the townspeople. He longs to be with Claire, Felicity’s best friend.

Claire is struggling with what she wants in life and with her relationship with God. She knows she doesn’t want to leave Deep Haven and she doesn’t know if she can forgive Jensen.

The story culminates with a wildfire threatening the town and the police seasing Darek’s son Tiger.

Evaluation

I really liked this book. It was a really lovely story about forgiveness, finding God and finding love. Yes it was a little cliche plot-wise, but it was well executed. I thought the characters were well rounded, though I personally could not understand how they all ended up accepting God back into their lives. The setting was very vivid, it really captured small town life and politics and the tightrope of working in the public service in a small town. I did have some tears when everything inevitably all worked out because I really wanted things to work out for the characters, they deserved to be happy and move on. Its great for the intended audience. I think they’re really appreciate reading about people struggling with their faith and finding God again. And it had two really nice romances. I think a flaw of the book is how easily the characters accepted God back into their lives, but that might just be personal bias.

Genre

Christian Romance

Readalikes

Tidewater Inn by Colleen Coble

A New Leaf by Thomas Kinkade

Significance

I think the significance of this book is down to the rediscovery of faith.

Book Discussion Questions and Ideas

Was the story believable?

What did you think of Nan and her relationship with Darek?

Discussion of finding God.

Author’s website

Susan May Warren

Awards

Christy Awards: Contemporary Series, Sequels, and Novellas

Reviews

 

Why I Chose It

This was a book recommended to me by a librarian. I chose it because it sounded like an interesting book with a unique problem to be solved.

Other Information

The Plumed Bonnet

Bibliographic Information 

Audiobook
Paperback $7.43
Hardback $13.54
Kindle $7.99
Associated ISBNs 9780451190512

Rating (VOYA)

4Q, 3P

Its a Regency Romance, not everyone wants to read that. That’s why its a 3P.

Its a 4Q because its a pretty well written Regency Romance, but entirely predictable.

Readers Annotation

A case of mistaken identity leads to marriage, but can it lead to love?

Summary

Stephanie Gray has just found out that her grandfather left his estate to her. She left her job as a governess to travel to the estate to claim her inheritance but it robbed. She tries to walk the remainder of the journey, but keeps trying to hitch hike. She is wearing an atrocious hat of plumed pink, purple and fushia feathers, and a similarly colored cloak. The Duke of Bridgewater is intrigued by her and allows her to ride in his carriage to the next town. He asks about her life and finds her story to be unbelievable and gets it in his head that she is a great actress and whore. He attempts to bed her the first night but she rebukes him. Stephanie just thinks he’s being nice, but he’s trying to catch her in a lie and then take her as his mistress.

When they arrive at Stephanie’s new estate, the Duke realizes he was totally wrong and that bringing her here has impuned her honor and thusly asks to marry her. Stephanie agrees, though she is stunned to find that he is in fact a Duke. They will be married a month hence.

A week later they meet again in London with his mother, sisters and sisters in-law. They think that Stephanie is a social disaster, so the Duchess of Bridgewater makes it her mission to turn Stephanie into a Duchess in a week. Stephanie gets a new wardobe, and lessons in how to act. These lessons are put to the task after the week at a ball in honor of the Duke and Stephanie’s betrothal.

Stephanie feels completely out of place in this new world she finds herself in, and feels like she’s losing herself. After an amorous encounter with the Duke at the ball and his unfortunate mistake of calling her a whore, she becomes withdrawn and becomes the perfect Duchess for him. He starts to notice that she is not herself around him.

They marry. He confesses to what he thought of her when they first met and their marriage is strained. Stephanie still tries to conceive a child with him, but is not sure she wants to stay. The Duke tries to win her over. They fall in love at the May fair and live happily ever after.

Evaluation

It was surprisingly good. Considering it is every regency trope, it played on a few of the ideas. I liked that Stephanie struggled with her dualing personalities and the Duke’s crisis of conscious. I think they worked up to them falling in love pretty well, though it did seem a little sudden. Stephanie was by far the better, and more rounded character, but the Duke was pretty deep as well. You could see how they were both struggling with the situation they ended up in. The characters really came to life, and the life of the ton was very vivid. The carriage ride to the estate and the home at his estate weren’t as vivid as the ton.

I think romance readers would love it. Its all the tropes, and some steam. But, I would be cautious because there are some triggery elements, and it isn’t all happiness and roses, the characters really suffer in this one. I really enjoyed myself, and I really related to Stephanie’s problem of needing to be one person to be correct for society being in complete dissonance to her true self.

A flaw with this book would be the quick timeline, and the slightly unbelievable time that they fell in love with each other (it would have worked better a little later than it actually happened).

Genre

Historical Romance, Regency Romance

Readalikes

Lucia, Lucia by Adriana Trigiani

Impetous Innocent by Stephanie Laurens

Significance

I think the significance of this book was the almost sobering look at shotgun marriages to people you don’t know. It was also really well done for a Regency.

Book Discussion Questions and Ideas

Did the Duke really need to ask for Stephanie’s hand in marriage?

Discuss Stephanie’s struggle with her identity.

Did the Duke deserve a second chance?

Author’s website

Mary Balogh

Awards

 

Reviews

 

Why I Chose It

I chose this because it sounded like one of the most cliche romance novels I could pick up. I wanted to see if it was going to be as ridiculous as I thought it would be.

Other Information

Redshirts

redshirts_800

Bibliographic Information 

Audiobook $9.99
Paperback $11.09
Hardback $20.27
Kindle $9.99
Associated ISBNs 9780765316998
9780765334794 — Paperback
9781410476074 — Hardcover
9781466815414
9781429963602

Rating (VOYA)

4Q, 4P

4P because its still a little niche, but with Star Trek back in the mainstream it may be more popular than before.

4Q because meta can be hard to read and the formating and voice totally changes, which it should, but it could throw some people off.

Readers Annotation

This is what happens when the redshirts are aware of what tends to happen to them.

Summary

This is the story of 5 new recruits to the spaceship Intrepid: Brian, Hester, Hanson, Finn, and Duvall. Brian thinks there’s something strange going on on the ship. When one of the 5 senior officers appears, the crew mysteriously disappears. There is a box in the Sciencelab that can solve any problem. After having to use the box to create a cure for a deadly disease, Brian is sent to the bridge with specific instructions on how to present the information to Science Officer Queeng. After he delivers his information he and Finn run into a “yeti” who tells them to stay off the bridge if they want to survive.

Brian learns that anyone who isn’t one of the 5 senior officers has a tendency to die on away missions with alarming frequency. The crew is constantly looking for people to replace their murdered crew.

Brian needs to figure out what is happening, and decides to track down Jenkins, the “yeti” who lives in the bowels of the ship alerting crew when a senior officer is coming. Jenkins tells the 5 friends that they are on a poorly written SciFi television show. When they go on away missions or to the bridge they get sucked into the Narrative. Jenkins tells the friends that they are glorified extras because they come with backstory so that it will make viewers sad when they inevitably die. Finn doesn’t believe anything that Jenkins says, but after he and Brian go on an away mission with suspicious ties to Finn, he is killed and his dying words are for Brian to fix this.

Jenkins tells the friends they need to go back in time and confront the writers of the show, so the friends abduct Karensky (one of the senior staff) so that they can travel back in time. They find Brian and Karensky’s counterparts and get a meeting with the creator of the series. He doesn’t believe them until he sees Hestor, who looks just like his son who is in a coma. Together they figure out a way to save the son and convince the head writer to stop the senseless slaughter of background crew.

There are three endings: one from the writer’s POV, one from the son’s and one from the woman who had played Jenkins wife on the show.

Evaluation

Love, love, love! I wasn’t expecting it to be so meta, but it was pretty amazing. I really liked that they were on a show, and that they had to figure out who to stop themselves from being needlessly killed and that the creators of the show had to come to terms with what they were doing. The plot was great. I wasn’t expecting it to go in the direction it did, but that was nice. The characters were all three dimensional. You could feel the redshirts need to fix their situation, and even the people in the “present” were clearly motivated even though we didn’t get too much of them.

Especially for someone who liked Star Trek or was in any way familiar with something similar, this was believable. People not so familiar with the genre may have a little trouble with it, it can work with prior knowledge much better than without.

The main emotion I got out of this story was joy. It had some really touching moments: the third coda in specific, but mostly it was a fun romp that went into serious philosophical ideas.

I think SciFi fans would love this book. It plays on a lot of the tropes prevalent in the genre and turns them on their head. I think that the meta aspects of the book make it even more enjoyable for the reader. Flaws might be that the reader might not have wanted something meta and actually wanted the redshirts to have another explanation, but it doesn’t have many flaws writing wise.

Genre

Science Fiction, Metafiction, Humor

Readalikes

Emperor Mollusk Versus the Sinister Brain by A. Lee Martinez

Phule’s Company by Robert Asprin

Significance

A great meta look at the tropes at play in one of the big names in SciFi entertainment. Very unique take on a Star Trek sort of universe.

Book Discussion Questions and Ideas

Do you think the senior officers were aware of the tendency of the people around them to die at an alarming rate?

Let’s talk about meta.

What would you have done if you were a redshirt and aware that you were probably goin to die?

Author’s website

John Scalzi

Awards

Hugo Awards: Best Novel

Locus Awards: SF Novel

Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award – Best Science Fiction & Fantasy: 2012

Reviews

NY Times

Kirkus

Why I Chose It

I saw that it was about Star Trek ish things and had a mighty need to read it. Plus, great title.

Other Information

The Heretic’s Daughter

heretics-daughter

Bibliographic Information 

Audiobook $4.99
Paperback $12.75
Hardback $26.99
Kindle $9.99
Associated ISBNs 9780316024488
9780316024495 — Paperback
9780316037532 — Hardcover
9781448732999 — Prebind
9780230704435 — Hardcover
9780316144698
9780330456302 — Paperback

Rating (VOYA)

4Q, 3P

This book is really well written, though slow at times.

This won’t appeal to everyone, and as a relatively well known title has probably been read by a lot of people.

Readers Annotation

Be drawn into the witch trials and struggle of living.

Summary

This is the story of Sarah and her family. Sarah is sent to live with her aunt and uncle while her family lives through the spread of small pox in Andover. She quickly becomes enamored with her aunt and cousin and wishes to stay with them. When her father comes to pick her up she doesn’t want to leave.

In comparison to her aunt’s home, Sarah thinks that her mother and father are very cold. The town is wary of her family and especially of her mother, whom some say can work magic. The other girls in town pick on Sarah. After her cousin unsuccessfully tries to burn down their barn, the family starts to hear rumors about the witch trials. Sarah’s mother Martha shares with her knowledge of her father and has her help bury the book on what he has done in a field.

Martha is arrested for being a witch. Before she is taken she tells Sarah to tell her siblings to confess to being a witch. The two older brothers are arrested next, and while they don’t confess to begin with, after the slower brother is tortured, they do. Then Sarah and her younger brother are arrested. They both confess and finger people who have already been arrested. They are thrown in jail.

The jail is appalling. The women and men are packed in, with barely any food, the jailor’s wife keeps trying to buy the clothes off their backs and buckets to use for waste. The children are afraid, but Sarah is able to talk to her mother in the condemned cell. Her brother gets sick and may need to lose his arm, but he gets better. Her mother is hung, and eventually the family is released.

Evaluation

I though that this was a good book. It wasn’t the most earth shattering experience I’ve ever had, but it drew me in and intrigued me. It was an interesting view on the witch trials in Salem. It gave the perspective of one who lived through the tragedy and survived. I think that most of the characters were well rounded. There were times where it wasn’t clear what motivated some of the characters, or why they did what they did, but those details might not have been important.

The setting was perfect. Kathleen Kent really brought life to the life that Sarah’s family lived and the disconcerting feel of the trials and jail. The setting, and the mood it provoked were the star of this book.

I think this is a great Historical novel that anyone interested in the time period or the witch trials would like. It has a lot of detail and feel for the time period.

It wasn’t my favorite book to read, but it was intriguing enough to keep me coming back. I thought that the beginning was a little slow, and that it was a little hard to get into. But really, it was just that I don’t find the witch trials and human suffering enjoyable to read about.

Genre

Historical Fiction

Readalikes

The Wolves of Andover by Kathleen Kent

Lois the Witch by Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell

Significance

This book shows a different side of the Salem Witch Trials. The main character is an outsider who gets drawn into the conflict, giving a first hand account of the experience. This character arc, and stark look at the lives of those accused, are what make this title unique.

Book Discussion Questions and Ideas

Should Martha have confessed to being a witch?

Discuss the reasons the witch trials happened.

How do you think this affected Sarah’s life?

Author’s website

Kathleen Kent’s website

Awards

David J. Langum, Sr. Prize in American Historical Fiction

School Library Journal’s Adult Books for High School Students: 2008

Reviews

NY Times

Kirkus

Publisher’s Weekly

Why I Chose It

This was a required read, but it had an intriguing Salem Witch Trials tie in plot.

Other Information