Monday, July 23, 2012

The Always War by Margaret P. Haddix

The Always War begins in the United States, but not the United States that we are familiar with.  The population is at war - has been for about 80 years.  The best and brightest young people are chosen for military training around the age of 10.  Bombs are dropped by drones flown by remote control.  

(It made me think of a young adult version of Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card in this respect.)

Gideon has been declared a military hero for killing over a thousand enemies.  But he hacks into the general's recording of the hit and sees images of his bomb dropping on a marketplace full of women and children.  He is sickened and determines to fly into the enemy zone and apologize for his actions knowing that he will be arrested or killed.

All unwitting, he ends up with his neighbor Tessa and a young girl named Dek flying along with him in the plane.  Dek was called up for military school, but she found a way to get herself declared dead and has been working with the black market ever since.  Tessa tells you a number of times throughout the book that she is no one special.

These three, with their various skills make a discovery that changes the course of, not just the war, but the whole of their society.

I liked this book well enough that I picked up another book by the same author.


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Road to Grace by Richard Paul Evans

The Road to Grace is part three in Richard Paul Evans The Walk series.  The story begins with the death of Alan Christofersen's wife, the theft of his business by his business partner and the ensuing forclosure of his home.  In his grief and anger, Alan decides to walk as far as he can from all of his troubles.  Since he starts in Seattle, his journey is intended to take him to Key West. 

Some people think these books are little more than a travelogue with the sights along the way and the menus of various eateries along the road.  But look a little closer.  Notice the people Alan meets along the way.

In book one, he learns to accept that he is still alive and should not seek death for himself.  (He verges on suicidal in the beginning.)  Book two included him helping someone else to choose life and find a kind of healing for himself.  This book, book three, focuses on forgiveness.  He deals with his mother-in-law who had abandoned her family when Alan's wife was very young.  He falls sick and spends a couple of days with an elderly Holocaust survivor who tells him that if he doesn't forgive his business partner, he will be ceding his life to that man.  Alan would be imprisoning himself without his hatred having the slightest effect on his enemy.

The book doesn't have a twist at the end.  It has road construction (literally) and a boulder in the road for Alan to deal with.  I'm assuming there will be a part four.  I very much wish to know what Alan is going to do next.

The scenery extends from Rapid City, South Dakota, to St. Louis, Missouri.  I think this book is worth the trip.


Monday, July 16, 2012

The Grimm Legacy by Polly Shulman

What if all of those magical items in the Grimm fairy tales existed and actually still worked?  What if there were a circulating material repository that kept all of these wondrous things and much more?  And what if you were a high school girl who had helped a fairy godmother without knowing it and then suddenly been offered a job as a page at the repository?  This is the story told in The Grimm Legacy by Polly Shulman.

Things are going oddly at the repository.  Some items have been stolen.  Others have mysteriously lost their magic.  And four teens - two boys and two girls - have to solve the disappearances, the dissipating magic, and sort through their relationships, all at the same time.  To make it even more fun, they are being followed by an odd man and a gigantic bird.  Throw in a high school teacher who used to work at the repository and his wonder dog Griffin and things get entertaining.

When the repository director and more than one of the pages go missing, the others find that time is running out and it become critical for them to get to the bottom of the mysteries surrounding the Grimm Collection.

This is a Young Adult book, but anyone with a love of fairy tales and those who are young at heart will enjoy this story.


The Mystery of Mary by Grace Livingston Hill

In my younger days, I read Grace Livingston Hill's stories as often as I could find one I hadn't read. 

Many authors have a formula of sorts that they follow.  If you read several of their books in a row, you find that the stories are basically the same with different names for the main characters. That isn't true for Grace Livingston Hill.  Each of her stories has a uniqueness about it.

This weekend, I found The Mystery of Mary in the new book section.  I read it in about 2 1/2 hours.  In spite of it being a short book and having been writing in the context of 1912, it is still a very readable story.  It has stalkers, would-be kidnappers, an "escapee" from a mental institution, and a "knight in shining armor" type of hero. 

If you liked Grace Livingston Hill in the past, this is your next good read.  If you've never read any of her books, this is a fun one to start with.  It is a gentle romance with an interesting plot.