None of us can know what we are capable of until we are tested.
~ Elizabeth Blackwell, British Physician and first woman to receive a medical degree in the United States. 1821 – 1910 ~
It’s with a heavy heart that I share the passing of one of my favorite children’s authors, Tomie dePaola. The prolific writer of such classics as: Nana Upstairs, Nana Downstairs; Strega Nona (1976 Caldecott Medal); and 26 Fairmont Ave. (2000 Newbery Medal), Mr. dePaola was a mainstay of parents, teachers, and children’s librarians everywhere. To say this is an enormous loss for children’s literature isn’t doing this justice. Here’s the full obituary from Publishers Weekly.
Thanks to Edelweiss and John Joseph Adams/Houghton Mifflin for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: April 7th, 2020
Synopsis: The first novel written for an adult audience, by the mega-selling author of the Divergence franchise; five twenty-something heroes famous for saving the world when they were teenagers must face even greater demons—and reconsider what it means to be a hero…by destiny or choice.
A decade ago near Chicago, five teenagers defeated the otherworldly enemy known as the Dark One, whose reign of terror brought widespread destruction and death. The seemingly un-extraordinary teens—Sloane, Matt, Ines, Albie, and Esther—had been brought together by a clandestine government agency because one of them was fated to become the “Chosen One,” prophesized to save the world. With the goal achieved, humankind celebrated the victors and began to mourn their lost loved ones.
Ten years later, though the champions remain celebrities, the world has moved forward, and a whole, younger generation hasn’t doesn’t seem to recall the days of endless fear. But Sloane remembers. It’s impossible for her to forget, when the paparazzi haunt her every step, just as the Dark One still haunts her dreams. Unlike everyone else, she hasn’t moved on; she’s adrift—no direction, no goals, no purpose. On the eve of the Ten Year Celebration of Peace, a new trauma hits the Chosen: the death of one of their own. And when they gather for the funeral at the enshrined site of their triumph, they discover to their horror that the Dark One’s reign never really ended.
To be honest, I’ve had a mixed feelings about Veronica Roth’s YA books. I enjoyed Divergent, but the rest of the series fizzled, and Carve the Mark and it’s sequel The Fates Divide, never really caught my interest. When I saw the premise for her first adult book, The Chosen Ones though, my curiosity was piqued, and I was thrilled when my request for an ARC on Edelweiss was approved. And you know what? I liked it!
The first forty or so pages were a bit slow for me because it’s a huge info dump, but once I got past that the plot really took off for me. The story begins ten years after The Dark One was defeated by then prophesied Chosen teenagers: Sloane, Matt, Ines, Esther, and Albie. Coming up on the 10th anniversary, they’re all suffering from PTSD and coping (or not), in various ways. At first, Sloane isn’t easy to like. She’s bitter and angry and has closed herself off from everyone. She and Matt are together, but she doesn’t even allow him access to everything that’s going on with her. But as more was revealed about the torment and trauma she endured, the more I understood her and emphasized with her. While most of the story focuses on Sloane, you also get to know her fellow Chosen Ones pretty well, and I liked all of them except for Matt who was a little too “golden boy” for me. I’m interested on seeing where all these characters go in the next book.
The world(s) building is fantastic and once again emphasizes Roth’s main strength—her wonderfully detailed and visual writing style. Except for the bumpy beginning, I stayed fully immersed thanks in part to this and the fairly steady pacing. The conclusion was a little rushed, but perfectly sets things up for the next book.
In my opinion, The Chosen Ones is a strong beginning in this new series for adults, and I’m very much looking forward to seeing what comes next. Roth starts with a familiar fantasy/dystopian trope, and then brilliantly dismantles it. It’s messy and complicated but in a good way, and I highly recommend it for anyone who’s ever wondered what adulthood was like for the Harry Potters of the literary world.
In 1991, President George Bush designated March 30th as National Doctors Day. This year, that’s taken on an even more special significance, and I’d like take this opportunity to say Thank You to all the doctors, and nurses, and other healthcare professionals who are right now putting their lives on the line to save as many people as they can.
I have to admit I never heard of Jason Kay and Jamiroquai, until I became friends with Pete at https://beetleypete.com. He’s written several entertaining posts about this British band starting with this one: https://beetleypete.com/2016/09/04/whatever-happened-to-jamiroquai
I’ve shared a few creative song parodies over the last 2-3 weeks, but when I saw that Jamiroquai had reworked David Bowie’s classic Let’s Dance into a coronavirus anthem called Lockdown, well I knew I had to share it. This is for you Pete!
Thanks to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing, for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: June 2nd, 2020
Synopsis: What happened to Zoe, won’t stay buried…
When Anna Cicconi arrives to the small Hamptons village of Herron Mills for a summer nanny gig, she has high hopes for a fresh start. What she finds instead is a community on edge after the disappearance of Zoe Spanos, a local girl who has been missing since New Year’s Eve. Anna bears an eerie resemblance to Zoe and her mere presence in town stirs up still-raw feelings about the unsolved case. As Anna delves deeper into the mystery, stepping further and further into Zoe’s life, she becomes increasingly convinced that she and Zoe are connected—and that she knows what happened to her.
Two months later, Zoe’s body is found in a nearby lake, and Anna is charged with manslaughter. But Anna’s confession is riddled with holes, and Martina Green, teen host of the Missing Zoe podcast, isn’t satisfied. Did Anna really kill Zoe? And if not, can Martina’s podcast uncover the truth?
Inspired by Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca, Kit Frick weaves a thrilling story of psychological suspense that twists and turns until the final page.
As soon as I read that I Killed Zoe Spanos was based on Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca, I knew I had to request it, and although I didn’t find it a perfect read, there were parts I found quite clever and entertaining.
I liked the spine-tingling plot and the creative insertion of podcast transcripts, but in addition to Anna (who I liked), there were too many characters and I had to work to keep track of all of them. Maybe this wouldn’t have been such an annoyance ordinarily, but given my distracted state of mind lately, this definitely took some enjoyment away. My biggest issue though was with the ending. Yikes! Too many things, some completely thrown in seemingly out of left field, made this a rushed, messy, and somewhat confusing finale.
Overall, I think I Killed Zoe Spanos is creative and original, but doesn’t quite live up to its potential. That said, I do think this is a tale that many teens will like. It’s an intriguing mystery with an unreliable narrator, and that mixed with the podcast and soap-opera drama, makes this a fun, if not memorable read.
If men could see us as we really are, they would be a little amazed; but the cleverest, the acutest men are often under an illusion about women: they do not read them in a true light: they misapprehend them, both for good and evil: their good woman is a queer thing, half doll, half angel; their bad woman almost always a fiend.
~ Charlotte Brontë, Shirley ~
Cindy Knoke, who in addition to being an exceptionally gifted photographer, is also a psychotherapist, has this fantastic three part series on Anxiety Management. So not only do you learn some invaluable “Pandemic Anxiety Busters,” but you are treated to more of her exquisite photos!
In the last two posts we started filling our anxiety busting toolbox and we are now down to our final three tools.*
Thank you to all the bloggers who added their own personal tools that work. They are most helpful and are incorporated into our toolbox. Choose any tool(s) that might work for you, and discard any/all that are not a good fit. Add more of your own resources that work. Adapt your toolbox to suit yourself. The most important thing, regardless of the specific tools, is to have tools in your awareness, to improve your mood, and ease your anxiety, when bad things happen.
Here is our toolbox:
Self Talk Reframing (Cognitive Therapy)
Distraction in Action
Exercise, Diet & Good Health Practices
Carl Jung emphasized the importance of paying attention to our inward…
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