Friday, May 22, 2015

The Widow of Larkspur Inn, Lawana Blackwell

I couldn't find a usable picture for this one.

This was an enjoyable book to read. Not a page turner the whole way through, but a nice, thoughtful and thought provoking book. It is a Christian author, so there are many thoughts from the main character, Julia Hollis, that are directed towards God. Through very difficult circumstances, Julia must come to terms with her faith and what she's made of. She has good friends who also help her to see things in a better or different light. For instance, there is a time when she is putting the Larkspur Inn together and wishes she had better silverware to use for service when she has lodgers. Her maid and closest friend, Fiona, suggests she pray for silver. At first the notion seems silly. When she had already been blessed so much, why pray to God for something that seems almost frivolous? But she reasons that she might as well, because if it's not right, then obviously God would know and would let her know or at the least not let a set of silverware fall into her path. Not much later, one of her other new found friends offers her a set of silverware, it's not a coincidence! And some people might say it was just luck. That's fine. Others might say that sort of thing doesn't happen in real life. But it does. Let me tell you. Twice in my life I've had to sell a home. Twice I've had a home sell in two weeks. And this current one we're in the process of is nothing short of a miracle because we listed on our own with just a sign in the yard and an ad on craigslist. I believe in God and I believe that when you are following His will, He makes a way. Sometimes that way is not always easy; ease of the way is not always evidence of His hand. But I believe when things REALLY matter, they have a way of working out. And when they DON'T, there's a reason.

There are some things that happen with other characters in the book that didn't need to have happened, but because of the mistake of another, vital information did not reach its intended target and there was a lot of anguish that might have been avoided. But there's also the chance that had those things NOT taken place, none of the characters could have turned out the way they did having NOT suffered a certain hardship.

Though this book is part of a series, each of the books (I'm told) are not a chronological continuation of the same people. They follow story lines of other people who live in the same town. I've got a stack of other books I need to read (all my holds from the library came at once!), but I do look forward to reading more of these books. There were times when I thought it was a little eye rolling with the Christianity, but then as I read more, I kept thinking about how different my daily life might be if I were more mindful of God and if I conversed with him in my thoughts throughout the day rather than just in formal prayer. It'd probably do me some good, to be honest.....

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Unwholly, Neal Shusterman

The second book in the "Unwind" triology (which actually ended up turning into a quartet, by the way).

Same phenomal split narrative writing skills. Some of the same characters you know and love (Conner, Risa, Lev) and some new ones. You see different groups of people rise up. The group that saves tithes from themselves, the AWOLS who go in and actually rescue kids from their homes BEFORE the juvie cops get there. And the storks. One kid, who goes by the last name Starkey, was a kid who was storked. Not that he was the model child, but he went AWOL after getting away from the juvie cops that would take him to his unwinding. Oh. My. Goodness. This kid is a character you love to hate. Kids like him make you actually consider unwinding as a viable option to dealing with the problem. He plays the victim like the best special interest groups of today do. He gets every other kid who was storked to believe that they are special, that they have been second class citizens for far too long, that they deserve special privileges to make up for all the wrongs done to them. GAH! It made me SICK! And because of this attitude, his volatile temper and his inability to see the problem with using violence, he puts the entire resistance effort and ALL the kids in the Graveyard in a big compromise.

Another totally unexpected character is a boy named Cam. I won't say too much about him. You've got to learn who he is as you go.

And of course, the evil Nelson (the juvie cop Conner tranq'd with his own tranq gun) is back and you get his perspective too and it is down right CREEPY to be in that guys head. He has turned into a "parts pirate". Apparently, because the age of unwinding dropped to 17, there is a shortage of parts, if you will. So you have these 'parts pirates' who will take, unwind and sell parts on the black market to those who can't get them with the regular waiting list. They pay higher than the reward for turning in an AWOL so you can see how a guy like Nelson, shamed for his incompetence, would turn into a villain like that.

Hair raising, bone chilling, and page turning. But I'm really excited because you're starting to get more details. History. People at the head of the pioneering. How a man responsible for the technology that makes unwinding possible created an organization that was SUPPOSED to keep things in ethical balance, who are now responsible for some of the most horrific sci-fi stuff in society. I have hope that things can change in this futuristic society. Which is why I'll continue to read these books about such a crazy, messed up society.

At the heart of all this is the question of the human soul. Apparently, if you don't technically die, then your soul (if it exists) is never released from your body. You continue to exist through others in this "divided state" of being. And of course, it's total speculation, but if you ceased to be YOU as a whole, how could your soul be split? I mean, aside from Horcruxes of course ;-)

Another discussion is how much control can mankind actually HAVE over the human body and/or soul. How much can science have control over before whatever Greater Being (if you believe in such) would surrender. For instance, even if such a thing as unwinding were possible, I have a hard time believing that a God would keep a person's soul trapped in a divided state. That while all the organs, bones and tissues were still "alive" according to science, they would just be parts. Yes, perhaps muscle memory *might* come into play, but I believe that the soul cannot be divided. But it is an interesting concept to explore-especially since unwinding is done while the subject is fully conscious (yet completely numbed from any pain) and the heart never stops, nor do any brain segments stop functioning either. But that's another thing entirely-can the brain be kept "alive" and functioning even if it is separated from itself? I have no idea if that science exists and part of me kind of hopes this kind of thing is never discovered to even be possible!!