Tag Archives: Review Copy

Review, Book Tour & GIVEAWAY: When She Flew

When She Flew
By Jennie Shortridge
Penguin Group (USA)
November 2009
352pp

Here’s the blurb from the publisher:

Police officer Jessica Villareal has always played by the book and tried to do the right thing. But now, she finds herself approaching midlife divorced, estranged from her daughter, alone, and unhappy. And she’s wondering if she ever made a right choice in her life.

But then Jess discovers a girl and her father living off the radar in the Oregon woods, avoiding the comforts-and curses-of modern life. Her colleagues on the force are determined to uproot and separate them, but Jess knows the damage of losing those you love. She recognizes her chance to make a difference by doing something she’s never dared. Because even though she’s used to playing by the rules, there are times when they need to be broken…

The Short of It:

When She Flew is a gem of a little book. This story gently unfolds into a beautiful thing.

The Rest of It:

This is one of those stories that flows effortlessly. From the moment I picked it up, I knew it was going to be one of those books. As I was reading about Jessica and her relationship with her own daughter, I was struck with how realistically her life was drawn. The life of a cop, a female cop no less…the need to maintain a game face at all times, the pressure to hold it all together, it all rings true. Women struggle to be everything, to everyone and sometimes fail in the process. Jess isn’t perfect, and we see her flaws but she is an easy character to relate to. I appreciated the fact that Jess was strong, but flawed. It made her more human.

As she deals with Ray and Lindy, the ‘forest people’ trying desperately to make a life of their own on what little they have, we see what happens when oil and water meet. Jess has ideas of what a good parent is and she berates herself daily, over the mistakes she has made with her own daughter. However, when she sees the fierce love that Ray has for Lindy, she begins to realize that there may be more than one way to be a good parent. That providing the basics such as food and shelter is just a part of what being a parent is.

The story is told with alternating points of view, one of which being Lindy’s. Lindy is a delicate bird. At the age of thirteen, she is becoming a young lady and has learned to appreciate all she has. Taken from an abusive mother, her father sheltered her from society, yet raised her to be self-sufficient, to live off the land. She is educated and wiser than her years but she is anything but fragile. Like a bird, she is ready to take flight but possesses a sensibility that most young girls do not possess at this age.

Ray, Lindy’s father, is an Iraq war vet battling post-traumatic stress. He lives on a very small income and creates  a sanctuary for Lindy out in the middle of the forest. Shortridge takes great care with Ray. As a reader, you cannot judge Ray. He’s troubled but makes the best decisions he can for the sake of his daughter. I was touched by his tenderness.

While I was reading the book, there was a small part of me expecting a very pat ending. I am happy to report that this is not the case. Shortridge crafts a beautiful story with well-developed characters. When I finished reading it, I felt the weight of it, and lingered in its warmth for a bit.

If you’d like to read more about Jennie Shortridge, click here to visit her website, and click here for an interview and some discussion questions.

To purchase the book, visit Amazon or an independent bookseller of your choice.

Check out the rest of Jennie’s tour stops here.

Source: A big ‘thank you’ to TLC Book Tours for asking me to be a part of this tour and for providing me with a review copy of the book.

GIVEAWAY DETAILS

Jennie Shortridge has provided me with one SIGNED copy to give away to a lucky reader. This giveaway is open to the U.S. and Canada. There are two ways to enter. Please follow the instructions carefully because I want every entry to count!

1. Comment on this review for ONE entry. Include an email address so that I have a way to contact you.

2. For another entry, Tweet about this giveaway and be sure to include @TiBookChatter. After you Tweet, post a separate comment here telling me you did so. If you do not post a second comment, then it won’t count. Sorry!

This giveaway will run through Sunday, January 3, 2010 (8pm Pacific). The winner will be selected randomly and announced on Wednesday, January 6, 2010. I will contact the winner for his/her mailing address so be sure to include a way for me to contact you.

Good luck!

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Review: In a Perfect World

In a Perfect World
By Laura Kasischke
HarperCollins
October 2009
309pp

Here’s the blurb from the publisher:

This is the way the world ends…

It was a fairy tale come true when Mark Dorn—handsome pilot, widower, tragic father of three—chose Jiselle to be his wife. The other flight attendants were jealous: She could quit now, leaving behind the million daily irritations of the job. (Since the outbreak of the Phoenix flu, passengers had become even more difficult and nervous, and a life of constant travel had grown harder.) She could move into Mark Dorn’s precious log cabin and help him raise his three beautiful children.

But fairy tales aren’t like marriage. Or motherhood. With Mark almost always gone, Jiselle finds herself alone, and lonely. She suspects that Mark’s daughters hate her. And the Phoenix flu, which Jiselle had thought of as a passing hysteria (when she had thought of it at all), well . . . it turns out that the Phoenix flu will change everything for Jiselle, for her new family, and for the life she thought she had chosen.

The Short of It:

This is not a feel-good book. It’s a bit dark, and often times depressing, yet there is beauty between its pages and I found its simplicity oddly comforting.

The Rest of It:

The first third of this book is spent setting up the characters. Jiselle starts off as sort of one-dimensional. She falls in love with Mark Dorn and eventually quits her job to care for his three children. As a pilot, he is rarely home and as an ex-flight attendant, Jiselle is well aware of how such a career works. However, she becomes frustrated by his long absences and spends a lot of her time remembering how it used to be. In the mean time, the Phoenix Flu has hit. Celebrities are dropping like flies and panic has set in. To top it all off, Mark is detained and unable to return home so Jiselle is suddenly a single-parent.

The end of the world as we know it, is a scary thing to ponder. If you’ve ever experienced a natural disaster first-hand, you can sort of appreciate, on a smaller scale, the kind of chaos that is possible. For example, when I was in the big Northridge Quake…it did not occur to me that gasoline would be scarce. I mean, there are pumps everywhere, right?  True, but when there is no electricity those pumps don’t work. Nor do ATMs or credit card machines, so if you’re without cash when the big one hits, then you’re up the creek without a paddle.

This book is sort of like that. Kasischke reminds you that food is scarce, that gasoline is at a premium and that medication is a luxury. As you follow along, you realize just how precious that torn scrap of paper is, or that empty plastic bag. As the characters are slowly stripped of their possessions, what remains is a simplicity…a quietness that is somehow comforting. A simple meal, a game of charades, conversation by candlelight…these are things we typically do not appreciate in the fast-paced world we live in today.

What I found particularly shocking was the author’s use of actual celebrities within the storyline. This put a 2009 “stamp” on it and made it all the more real. Additionally, the pandemic storyline strikes a little too close to home.  In the book, the Phoenix flu loosely resembles the Avian flu but with H1N1 raging all around us, its hard not consider the similarities.

Reading about the end of the world is not pleasant and Kasischke does not paint a pretty picture but the novel is very thought-provoking and there are moments of quiet beauty. I found it to be very visual in the telling. A book club would have a lot to discuss.

Source: This review copy was provided by HarperCollins in conjunction with Book Club Girl.