The Life She Was Given, by author, Ellen Marie Wiseman is a fictional account of the traveling circuses of the 1930’s. The author extensively researched the subject to the point where it nearly overwhelmed the story.
However, the writing was very good and I was thoroughly engaged for most of the novel. While I’m not a fan of spoilers, there will be one here because I feel it is only fair to the reader.
The novel involves two young women decades apart, but are linked by a mysterious and tragic past. Julia Blackwood returns home to inherit her families’ horse farm. Her parents’ kept a secret that was monstrous. The secret was about another girl, a daughter named Lily. The novel transitions from the past to the near present as Julia seeks to learn more about the mystery. The mystery involves Lily, a beautiful child who was born an albino. The mother kept her locked in the typical Victorian attic her entire young life. At the age of seven, the mother sells Lily to a traveling circus.
Lily goes from the attic prison to another sort of prison. She is owned by a brutal circus boss who uses Lily’s gift with people and her affinity for animals for years to add to his own fortune. She is kept penniless and in fear of being sent to an asylum, as was common in those days for people with disabilities. But, she is befriended by other circus “freaks” and along the way falls in love with the young and handsome Cole who works with the circus elephants. Pepper is an extremely smart elephant, and is loved by both Lily and Cole, but tragedy strikes and Pepper is horribly murdered for protecting her offspring, Jojo. Cole and Lily try to save Pepper, but both are brutalized by the circus owners.
In the end, the mystery is solved, but the ending for Lily is so brutal and so gut wrenching, I was shocked and sickened. While I don’t need happy endings, I expect, in fiction at least, a more humane ending. I rate the ending as a horror story. So, while it is an interesting story, I say, reader be forewarned.
Four **** Stars,
Well, I finally got around to finishing, Sleeping Giants!
Sylvain Neuvel has written an off beat science fiction story that is well founded in science, the man knows his stuff, but having said that I must say this novel isn’t for everyone.
The novel is written in a series of interviews and exchanges between the main characters and an unknown and unnamed narrator who has the benefit of knowing exactly why they have been recruited for a research study that has enormous consequences for the human population. However, he keeps this crucial information to himself. (Spoiler: there is someone else who pulls the strings, an unknown entity)
An enormous (giant) hand was found years before by a young girl who later becomes a scientist. She heads up the team. One is a linguist and the other is an army pilot. Through this series of interviews, we find out how they go about locating all the missing parts of this giant that are located beneath the earth all over the world.
The giant robot has the form of a woman, but with no eyes. This robot is 20 stories high by the time they connect all the parts. It has an energy source that is unknown to anyone on earth. It is also a weapon of mass destruction.
The team accidently engages the energy source and the result is that a whole lot of people in airplanes and part of the Denver Airport are instantly vaporized. Now comes the part, all through interview, where every nation on earth wants the robot, so the US decides its too dangerous for anyone nation and they drop it in a deep trench in the ocean.
However, one nation, Russia, finds a way to retrieve it and they are off and running again, except the controls and two control helmets will not work on anyone other an the two American researchers who first were part of the research.
There is a surprise ending, with an epilog alluding to the next book in the series.
All in all, well written and interesting, but this novel is not for everyone, though I did enjoy it because I like science, but it did lag in places. ***
The Lie Tree, by Frances Hardinge
The Writing is simply brilliant and incredibly imaginative.
Faith Sunderly is a young girl coming of age during the late Victorian era, so this is not your average coming of age novel. This is a time when photography itself is coming of age as is the new branch of the investigative sciences of anthropology and archeology . Darwin’s, On the Origin of the Species has shocked the ideological realm of religion. It is a new world threatening the long held belief that man inherited the world from God with all his fingers and toes place.
Faith’s father, the Right Reverend Sunderly is not only a man of God, but also dabs in the science of the Natural World. His goal is to disprove Darwin’s theory. Unknown to his daughter, Faith and family, he found a dark and mysterious Tree that is said to hold the truth of everything; it puts forth the fruit of knowledge, but only if it hears lies and the liar must present the world with this lie. The lie must be of enormous consequence. He does this by fostering a great archeological fake onto society, and as he is a man of impeccable reputation, it is taken on faith by other famous archeologists. However, the fake is soon discovered and his reputation is sullied and a great scandal ensues.
He and his family are force to flee the scandal, and they are given refuge on an island where they are not well received because of the scandal. Yet, on the island there are others who want the tree and will do anything to get it, including murder. When Faith’s father dies under mysterious circumstance, she is sure it is murder. She is not your average prim and proper young lady of the times. She is clever, and smart and incurably curious, but she must pretend to be simple minded, as all women of the time were thought to be or risk being scorned by society or worse, by being placed in a sanatorium for the mentally unstable which was quite common back then. But she is determined and uses her wiles and her guiles to ferret out the murderer at great risk to herself.
Frances Hardinge has crafted a thrilling and page turning mystery that gets the heart thumping and the pages turning. The writing is gorgeous and the reader is easily transported into the era. I highly recommend this wondrous novel for any age group, but especially to girls coming of age and to those who want a better understanding of the injustices women endured for centuries.
The new comer is ducking and turning slightly to get through the narrow office door. A swoosh of chilly air follows him. Most of us sit with a book or a magazine in our hands. What else is there to do in a waiting room? We slouch in our uncomfortable chairs, glancing up as if we’d been expecting him, though of course we weren’t. Why would we? Each of us just islands, cocooned in our own little worlds, waiting to be distracted by the simple act of an opening door. I view the new comer from beneath my lashes. He has the appearance of an unmade bed. His dark coat, one of those Navy Pea Coats, has a scattering of white fur, cat? Ugh. I stifle a sneeze while fumbling through my purse for a tissue. I am not a fan of cats. Cats are unpredictable, everyone knows that. The new comer leans against the wall by the door, eyeing the only two unoccupied chairs, which happen to be on either side of me. He winks a blue eye and I cringe to have been caught staring. I bring my book up to my nose, pretending to be immersed. “May I?” he says, standing by the chair to my left. I nod, lifting one shoulder in a shrug. He settles in and I get a scent of soap, Tide? It’s warm in the room, warmer now that he is so close. From the corner of my eye, I catch a glimpse of him as he opens his coat, tugging a scarf from around his neck. It’s blue, but not like his eyes. It’s more of a blueberry color, a purplish blue. He’s staring down at it, twisting it, folding it and refolding it. There is morning stubble on his face, but it’s a nice face, I concede. Square jaw, straight nose and a high forehead; his unruly hair is dark, dark as onyx. It’s the kind of hair you itch to comb, or run your fingers through. ~~~~
The mystery hangs on the statement: Don’t Order Dog
The Ice Man Cometh is a well crafted mystery and suspense novel about corporate terrorists with a twist. Witty and horrifying at times, C.T. Wente keeps the reader engaged and guessing until the end. From India to Amsterdam and China to a weathered old saloon in Flagstaff, AZ named, Joe’s Last Stand Saloon, the reader is catapulted across continents and back to the USA. Things get really interesting when the CIA, NSA and Homeland Security agencies spring into action as a result of misinformation and their missions collide causing a full scale investigation that brings down more than one agency. Both exciting and thought provoking, The Iceman Cometh is a great read and what’s more, a sequel is sure to cometh!
Printz Award-winning author Meg Rosoff’s coming of age novel is an unforgettable page turner about a very unusual girl. It is also about the relationship between her parents, love and loss and ultimately, betrayal.
The one person you trust the most to tell you the truth has kept a secret, one that would shed a light not only on their past, but would call into question everything you thought you knew about them.
Mila, our young protagonist, has an exceptionally strange talent. She has the ability to ferret out secrets and clues most other people overlook. She can read a room, body language and people’s emotions as she pieces together the mystery surrounding her father and his missing friend. Equally funny and irreverent, Picture Me Gone is a delightful read that pulls at your heartstrings.