A Stolen Life Review

A Stolen Life

By Jaycee Dugard

Genre: Memoir, Autobiography

4 out of 5 chickadees singing. Jaycee is a truly amazing girl! She survived such a horrific situation and somehow raised two girls in spite of it all. This is her sharing her story. Unlike similar memoirs about people who have gone through horrific situations, this book was written by Jaycee alone. She says in the book’s introduction that this book may seem confusing, but that’s how her life felt during this time. It was good to have that “heads up” because the book did jump around a lot and was confusing. There were a few sentences that even seemed contradictory to each other and I’m not sure why that wasn’t fixed by an editor? Despite these issues, which I understood since Jaycee only had about a 5th grade education, this was still a good read.

I liked that this book included entries from Jaycee’s secret journal during the time. They weren’t very specific about what was happening in her life at the time, but they were filled with emotion. She was trying to make sense of the crazy new world she was put in where she had no control. I was amazed to read how Jaycee made a strange little life for herself and her daughters in the backyard. She learned to use the computer and created some graphic designs. She homeschooled her girls by printing worksheets off the internet. I was also shocked to read about how often she actually went out in public when she was older. Despite these things, her life was never her own. This book reminded me a lot of Hidden Girl: The True Story of a Modern-Day Slave Girl. Both girls were out in public at times, yet no one noticed that things were amiss. I also loved reading about Jaycee’s recovery because how does one recover from 18 years of sexual and emotional abuse?? I really want to find out more about Jaycee’s story, because there were some holes, and how she is doing now. This book is an incredible testament to the resiliency and strength of the human spirit!

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The Name of the Star Review

The Name of the Star: Shades of London #1

By Maureen Johnson

Genre: YA, supernatural, thriller, mystery

4 out of 5 chickadees singing! This book starts as a typical YA novel about an American girl from Louisiana moving to a boarding school in London. She has to adapt to her new culture, try to make friends, and stay on top of her studies. Sure, there’s a Jack the Ripper wanna-be running around and committing crimes just like the ones that happened over 100 years ago, but that doesn’t really affect Rory’s life. That is, until the middle of the book….

It turns out that Rory’s near-death experience of choking on beef has given her a special ability. Soon, she has to use this special ability to try to catch the new Jack the Ripper. I’m trying not to give too much away because I really enjoyed not knowing much about the book before digging into it and trying to figure things out along the way with Rory. The book does take a while to morph from typical YA to thriller, but it’s a series, so I forgave the long beginning.

The premise is really interesting, as are the characters. The book ends on a small bit of a cliffhanger and I definitely want to continue reading this series. If you like YA books that are a little bit different, I would suggest picking this one up!

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Saving Abby Review

Saving Abby

By Steena Holmes

Genre: Women’s fiction

3 out of 5 stars. I loved “Finding Emma” and “Emma’s Secret” by Steena Holmes and had been wanting to read more of her books for a while. In “Saving Abby,” Claire and her husband, Josh, have been struggling with infertility. They go on a worldwide tour to get inspiration for the children’s book series Josh writes and Claire illustrates. This vacation is also a chance for them to put the past and their baby dreams behind them and move on. The story flashes back and forth between their vacation and the present day, which didn’t make that much sense to me. I think the book would’ve been just as complete without the vacation flashbacks.

When Claire returns home, she starts getting horrible headaches and being exhausted all the time. It turns out she is finally pregnant! Josh and Claire are so excited, but Claire’s symptoms are getting worse, not better. Josh and Claire’s best friend, Abby, push her to get checked out. They find out that Claire has a brain tumor and they can’t do anything to treat it while she is pregnant. Claire makes the choice of her baby’s life over her own. There is also the subplot of Claire having placed a child for adoption when she was a teenager and her continued grief over that situation.

This book had an interesting premise, but it could’ve been better executed. Claire’s brain tumor was discovered so late in the book, even though that was a huge part of the plot. In addition, there was no struggle in Claire’s decision. She decided she wasn’t going to get treatment until after the baby came and that was that. I think it would’ve been interesting to see Josh and her labor over that decision or see more conflict when they both had different opinions. Even though the subject matter should’ve been tear-inducing, I didn’t feel like the book really delved into all the emotions that the characters would be feeling. Josh was super supportive one minute and then annoyed with Claire the next. Claire was pretty resolute and we never really saw her stress over dying, even as she was making “just in case” preparations. The character who seemed to be the most developed was Claire’s mother, Millie. She was very relatable and you could feel her regret over choices she made in the past and her uncertainty as she attempts to make things right.

Overall, this wasn’t a bad read, it just wasn’t as good as it could’ve been.

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Engaged in Danger Review

Engaged in Danger: Jamie Quinn Mystery Series #4

By Barbara Venkataraman

Genre: Cozy mystery

In November, I reviewed the first three books in the Jamie Quinn Mystery Series hereI was given a copy of book #4 and am voluntarily reviewing it. I really enjoyed the latest Jamie Quinn mystery! Jamie is a divorce lawyer who keeps finding herself engrossed in more complicated mysteries than who gets the house. In this one, Jamie and her best friend, Grace, eventually agree to represent the wife of the most powerful man in town. She wants to divorce him, but doesn’t know what assets they have. Jamie’s neighbors also ask her to look into who owned the plane their sister and brother in law were in when it crashed. Jamie gets caught in the middle of scandal and corruption and her life and reputation hang in the balance. 

I feel like every Jamie Quinn book that is released has a more elaborate and well-thought-out mystery plot. The books just keep getting better and better! Jamie and her friends are likeable characters with quirky personalities. I like the fact that we get to see characters from old books here and there, like Adam and Jayashree. All in all, this was a great book for fans of cozy mysteries!

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Skin Deep Review

Skin Deep

By Casey Watson

5 out of 5 singing chickadees!

This book was incredibly heartwarming. Sweet and affectionate Flip comes to live with Casey after a house fire. She has fetal alcohol syndrome (FASD) and is sure that she’s ugly. She attaches to Casey immediately, calling her mummy. Casey thinks it’s a part of her FASD- forming shallow attachments with people because she struggles with empathy. It turns out that Casey’s mother is an alcoholic who inadvertently started the house fire. More secrets about Flip’s difficult home life are revealed as she stays with the Watsons. We also get to read more about the Watson family, including Tyler, who they are fostering long-term.

I really enjoyed this book. It felt like a quick read and I fell in love with little Flip. I love Casey’s openness and honesty about fostering, the challenges she faces, and the mistakes she sometimes makes. I plan to read a lot more of her books!

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