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WELCOME TO MY BLOG, WHERE BOOKISH DELIGHTS HOLD CENTER STAGE AND WHERE BOOKS HELP CHASE AWAY THE BLUES.

Monday, June 27, 2011

SECRETS, RITUALS, & A UNIQUE HERITAGE -- A REVIEW

What happens when a vegetarian hippie girl from California finds herself living in Savannah, groomed for something called The Magnolia League?

Alexandria Lee grew up with her single mother in a commune, and now at sixteen, devastated by her mother's tragic death, she has lost all of her significant connections. Her grandmother seemingly wants to provide for her, but her care comes with a price. And there are many secrets that Alex will only discover after weeks and even months have passed. Will it be too late then? Are the secret rituals that are part of the League holding her captive?

Throughout this story, we meet other teens who seem too perfect, too gorgeous, but have no motivation to leave Savannah. What do the strange hoodoo rituals (yes, hoodoo, not voodoo) have to do with their behavior, appearance, and expectations? And what will Alex have to do to escape the future her grandmother has designed for her?

The Magnolia League is a captivating tale about the strange hold a unique heritage can have on a young person, and the cost of belonging. I kept turning pages, intrigued by the story. The ending was rather abrupt and left more questions than answers. Perhaps the book is the first in a series. I gave this one four stars.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A DISTURBING JOURNEY TO MADNESS -- A REVIEW

In the early 1960s in Manhattan, John Wilder is a man in his mid-thirties with a seemingly successful career and great family life. A wife and son, with everything pointing to a promising life. But after a business trip, John calls his wife and says he is not coming home.

What happens next could be characterized as an abrupt break with reality, but Wilder's week in Bellevue, where he is placed after an episode of "disturbing the peace," can be seen as an inevitable midpoint to something that has been coming for a long time.

When Wilder's reflections carry us back in time to his childhood and the break from his family of origin, we can catch a glimpse of what might have set off this dark journey for him. Now, though, he begins a downward spiral that will carry him into insanity that is horrific and vividly shown to the reader, almost as if we are in his head.

Wilder's alcoholism complicates his journey, but some might argue that the drinking led to the insanity, while others would point to the alcoholism as just another symptom of his madness.

What is most remarkable about this tale of one man's unraveling mind is how the reader can experience the descent with the character. Even though told in the third person, we can see his view of the world and almost feel what he is feeling. As unsympathetic as this character presents to us, we cannot help but feel his pain.

I liked how the story ended. It is 1970, and we are now slightly outside this man's "head" for awhile and can see what the supporting characters are feeling, and how they have fared afterwards. Our outside view also includes a glimpse of Wilder. A startling revelatory glimpse.

After I turned the last page, I felt stirred as I hadn't in awhile by a book. But not surprising for a Yates novel, Disturbing the Peace is a remarkable journey into one man's disturbed mind. Five stars.

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Laurel\-Rain's bookshelf: to-read

Mary Ann in Autumn: A Tales of the City NovelHanna's DaughtersMiss Hildreth Wore BrownElizabethSolomon's OakSolomon's Oak

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