Book review: ‘Heaven Is Here’ by Stephanie Nielson

Stephanie Nielson led an incredibly blessed life. With a husband she adored and four happy, healthy kids, Stephanie’s days were filled with adventures in domestic bliss. She loved to run, hike and spend time in her beloved Utah mountains. Her faith was incredibly important to her, and she’d always known she wanted to care for a large family.

But if that were the whole story, we wouldn’t have much of a story. In August 2008, Stephanie and her husband, Christian, were flying with a close friend in a small plane when it crashed in a fiery wreck. While their friend was tragically killed, Stephanie and Christian managed to survive — albeit with severe burns that covered 80 percent of Stephanie’s body and more than 50 percent of Christian’s. Badly broken, bruised and devastated, the couple were taken to a hospital where Stephanie remained in a medically-induced coma for months. When she finally woke, she was in a nightmare.

But Heaven Is Here isn’t a tragedy. I can honestly say this is one of the most inspiring, tear-inducing, heartwrenching books I’ve read — the sort of story I pass around to friends and family, saying, “You have to read this.” Acknowledging the story as “incredible” in the subtitle really isn’t overstating the case. When all hope seems lost, the Nielsons’ faith and family support gets them through.

Once told she might have to have her limbs amputated, that she would never walk, that she would never live the independent life she’d loved again, Stephanie defies all logic. After many painful surgeries and endless weeks in the burn unit, her skin begins to heal. She starts to walk again, first to the nurse’s station and then to the end of the hall. And then beyond. She begins to eat and drink, to even try to type. Though she doesn’t look the way she used to — and her face is very changed — she is here. Among the living. Given a second chance and an opportunity to see her children grow up.

She doesn’t take it lightly.

I went into Heaven Is Here with limited expectations. Nielson is a blogger-turned-author, see, and I tend to look at those with a skeptical eye. But I’ve followed Stephanie’s journey for years at the Nie Nie Dialogues, an honest look at her life and family, and I find her to simply be an incredible mother and person. I didn’t know if the book would merely be a rehashing of blog posts, but that was not at all the case. I’m very familiar with her story, of course, but it was as if I were reading it all for the first time.

Though we do not share the same faith and I consider myself more spiritual than religious, the power of Stephanie’s beliefs in her healing process was hard to deny. Though religion permeated the book, I didn’t find it heavy-handed or preachy. This is Stephanie and Christian’s story, after all, and she couldn’t tell it without explaining how crucial her faith was in her recovery. Totally get it, and it didn’t bother me.

It’s hard to read the Nielson love story without tearing up a bit, too. Divided into three parts, Heaven Is Here first offers us a glimpse at Stephanie’s early life, her family background and her courtship with Christian, who bounded into her father’s business with an open smile and an interest in taking his daughter out on a date. Even after a whirlwind romance and marriage, life wasn’t perfect — and Stephanie’s honesty is to be commended. She doesn’t cover a plain white canvas with sparkly rainbows, puppies and butterflies. Even as a young and healthy mother, she faced challenges. But nothing compared to those to come.

The book’s second part details the plane crash and the Nielsons’ early months in the hospital, right up until Stephanie is well enough to go home. And here’s the spoiler-that’s-not-really-a-spoiler: Stephanie and Christian do get better. They heal. It’s incredibly hard and emotional and tough and awful, but somehow they manage to survive and even thrive in the face of tragedy. And just this past spring, Stephanie and Christian welcomed a fifth child, Charlotte. That she carried. Herself. In her own bruised-but-never-completely-broken body.

The most gut-wrenching portions of the book came when Stephanie’s four kids — two daughters, two young sons — finally come to visit their mother in the hospital. With a completely different appearance, Stephanie worries endlessly that she will “scare” them and doesn’t want them to ever see her . . . or even to see herself. I was on pins and needles waiting for their reaction, too, knowing how much a negative one could impact Stephanie’s recovery. For a woman who only ever wanted to take care of her children, not being able to do so hurts her to the core. And seeing the kids’ wide eyes and tears was hard to read.

But things improve. Things always improve. And reading about the love Stephanie and Christian share, their dedication to one another and their family, the way they hope and dream and struggle together . . . well, it was inspiring. It really was great. And I could probably write a few more paragraphs about why I love the Nielsons, but I wouldn’t want your eyes to glaze over. So I’ll skip to the end.

Fans of memoirs, tales of tragedy-turned-triumph or those who enjoy inspirational stories with just a dash of faith thrown in can look no further than Heaven Is Here. Stephanie’s raw and honest account of life as she knows it had me in tears time and again, but I ultimately finished the book with an uplifted heart and a desire to never take my own life for granted. The simple things — like walking, talking, seeing — aren’t always simple. We should all count our blessings, and make every day count.

4.5 out of 5!

ISBN: 1401341799 ♥ GoodreadsLibraryThingAmazonAuthor Website
Review copy provided by LibraryThing Early Reviewers
in exchange for my honest review

Best reading of 2012 — so far

As I’ve documented, I am a list-maker. My daily work obligations are now listed in handy list format — the better for me to complete and cross them off, of course. Being as I’m always on deadline, my lists are crucial to my getting everything done before my coworkers shout at me for holding up the presses. (That’s never happened, but I think it would be sort of cool — in a cinematic way.)

Given my penchant for organization and crossing things off, I’ve compiled a list of my best reads of 2012 — so far. It’s scary to think we’re six months into the year, friends, and I get itchy thinking about the passage of time. But we’re almost exactly halfway through 2012 (or has that already passed? Math is not my BFF), it’s time to reflect on the 33 books I’ve read since January. And choose some of the best — because I play favorites.

write meg!’s Four Favorite Books
of 2012 (so far)

Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones

Okay, so here’s the thing: despite having read and adored this book, I’ve never reviewed Silver Sparrow. And I feel really, really guilty about it — mostly because it is so moving, realistic, unique and heartbreaking that I wish everyone had a copy. On the shortlist for the Indie Lit Awards, I picked it up in March and figured I’d wait to write my review until the awards had been announced (and it won!). Then a month went by . . . then two . . . and now I’m sitting here like a dummy, wondering why I never made the time to post about it.

So here I am, posting. Telling you. Imploring you. If you’re looking for an addictive read about family, change, love and class, Jones offers all that and more in one stunning package. Plus, now it’s out in paperback. So you really don’t have an excuse, do you?

Girl Unmoored by Jennifer Gooch Hummer (my review)

Oh, I loved this book. It earned one of my elusive five-star ratings back in April, one of my best reading months ever (10 books!). Apron is an unforgettable narrator who seems to bump into you at the grocery store, at the library, out at restaurants — everywhere, really, because she’s so funny and sad and awesome that you want to squeeze her . . . and therefore look for Apron everywhere you go.

If this book wasn’t already on your radar, consider this your not-so-gentle nudge. It’s been a while since I read a story so simultaneously heartbreaking and uplifting, and I don’t think you’ll regret a second you spend in Miss Bramhall’s company. Kudos to the lovely Jennifer Gooch Hummer, an author with whom I’d love to sip root beer floats and muse about life. She’s awesome.

History Of A Pleasure Seeker
by Richard Mason
(my review)

Ack, this novel. It was sexy. It was unnerving. It was riveting and different and atmospheric, ripe with intrigue and fantastic settings and a charismatic, utterly narcissistic lead who still manages to seem human and endearing when it’s most needed. I sung this one’s praises back in January, and I can still recall certain turns of phrase six months later. That’s the mark of a great read — and a great writer.

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson (my review)

Having spent nearly a month listening to Steve Jobs’ biography on audio, I felt like I got to know the man well through Isaacson’s meticulously researched, thought-provoking account of the trailblazer’s story. I was sad when it ended (and how it ended, of course, but c’est la vie) and felt like I’d been on an odyssey.

When the review was Freshly Pressed by WordPress and featured on its main page, the comments and emails came pouring in — some kind, some not so much. One visitor’s response is probably my favorite personal insult of all time: Her [mine, that is] artistic intelligence is exactly why we need more math and science in schools. (Um, wow.) Some accused me of coming “too late” to the Apple game, being some insipid follower who only “discovered” the brand after iPods began hitting college campuses in the early ’00s.

To which I say: yep. That’s pretty much what happened.

And by the way, that was a book review. Not a character assassination.

That review and its backlash/response taught me quite a few things about blogging and life, but that’s another post. The point is this: if you’re even vaguely interested in the trials, triumphs and joys of Steve Jobs, Isaacson’s biography is a must read. While I got bogged down in the minutiae of Apple’s rise to success, it was Jobs the man who kept me captivated through 20-some discs of his life story.

Book review: ‘Wildflower Hill’ by Kimberley Freeman

Life is hard for Beattie Blaxland, a young Scottish woman struggling to help her family make ends meet in Glasgow. It’s 1929 and everyone is struggling to stay afloat, clutching tightly to their meager wages and stretching them as far as they can. Beattie tries to help her parents by working at a restaurant, and this is where she meets Henry. His marital status doesn’t keep him from flirting with pretty young Beattie, an innocent girl with hopes for the future. Their flirtation eventually leads to clandestine trysts, contact Beattie uses as an escape from her troubled home life. Though she knows it’s wrong, the affair still feels good — until Beattie discovers she’s pregnant.

Disowned by her mother and exiled from the house, Beattie eventually tells Henry about her condition — and the response isn’t positive. Beattie is encouraged by a friend to escape to a country home for women “in her way” until the baby is born. Devastated at having lost both her parents and Henry in one fell swoop, Beattie is shocked to find Henry arriving at the group home with plans for an escape to Tasmania. He’s left his stubborn old mule of a wife, he tells her, and wants to start over. Start over with Beattie and their child.

Life in Tasmania is no cake walk, and Henry soon spends his slight wages on drink rather than food for she and Lucy, their infant daughter. Left to her own devices once again, Beattie tries to turn over a new leaf elsewhere in the country. Through happenstance she discovers Wildflower Hill, a country estate run by a lecherous rich Englishman, and it’s there that her story — and the later story of Emma, her granddaughter — is born.

Kimberley Freeman’s Wildflower Hill is one of the most enchanting, engrossing and poignant novels I’ve read in a long time. It was so absorbing that I tackled all 544 pages over a few days, reading as much of Emma and Beattie’s story as I could between pesky obligations like work and sleep. Freeman enchanted me with her stories of life in Scotland, Australia and Tasmania, and I was truly sad when I turned the last page. I could have read 500 more.

Wildflower Hill spans three generations of women as it fluctuates between Beattie’s third-person past and Emma’s firsthand accounts of life as a prima ballerina in modern-day London, followed by her unexpected return to Sydney and Wildflower Hill Beattie once called home. There’s so much happening here — so very much — but I never once felt bogged down or frustrated with the novel. The pacing is such that you feel as if you’re on a gripping rollercoaster, gliding from one plot point to another.

I’ll admit to taking more of a shine to Beattie than Emma, who initially comes across as a spoiled snot, but the beauty of Wildflower Hill stems from how well I knew these characters by the book’s close. Beattie is an extraordinary woman who spins wheat into gold with nothing more than her two hands and honest ingenuity, and my heart genuinely broke for her at each tragic turn in her life. Despite the weight of the cards stacked against her, Beattie perseveres and finds success. She’s a role model for Emma, who wants nothing more than to dance, and it’s through Beattie’s life and past that Emma finds the will to move forward after a career-ending injury.

The book is stitched together with secrets and mysteries, including what happens to Lucy and how Beattie eventually triumphs over her poverty-stricken existence. Freeman masterfully builds suspense by revealing just enough of the past to keep us intrigued, and we often know things about Beattie’s life far before her granddaughter does. I loved the switches between past and present, highlighting the ways this grandmother and granddaughter were alike — and different.

And the settings. Oh, the settings! Urban Scotland and the wilds of Tasmania! The nasty countryfolk who couldn’t accept an unwed mother and the philandering boyfriend who couldn’t appreciate a good thing — Emma — when he saw it! And all this is to say nothing of the romances building slowly and erupting in both past and present, making me swoon with every page. And cry, too.

By now, I’m guessing you figured out I absolutely loved this book. It had everything I crave in a story: the perfect blend of historical and contemporary fiction; family dynamics; epic romance; enough mystery and intrigue to keep me reading frantically; a wham-BANG! of an ending that had tears rolling down my cheeks. Don’t let the book’s size deter you: this was the most fun I’ve had with a book in a long, long time. Fans of contemporary and women’s fiction will delight in this modern-day The Thornbirds, a novel rivaling  this one in terms of scope and family drama (but with a happier ending).

It’s an instant favorite. Don’t miss it.

5 out of 5!

ISBN: 1451623496 ♥ GoodreadsLibraryThingAmazonAuthor Website
Review copy provided by publisher in exchange for my honest review

Reading fools for the Indie Lit Awards

If you’re looking for me over the next few weeks, I’ll give you a major clue as to where I’ll be: with my face pressed down into one of five heavy books, making my way through the delicious words of Nicole Krauss, Helen Simonson, Emma Donoghue, Tom McCarthy and Peter Geye.

Yes, friends, it’s time of the inaugural Indie Lit Awards — and I’m sittin’ pretty as one of the judges on the literary fiction panel. As such, I’m spending an inordinate amount of time with five books and working with an awesome crew of folks to determine a winner. And that’ll be a surprise to all of us.

Check out the novels culled from nominations made by independent lit book bloggers (maybe yourself?), and feel free to read along with us. Panelists are all busy reading now, and winners in each category will be announced in February. Look for my personal reviews in coming weeks!

2010 Short List for Literary Fiction

C by Tom McCarthy
Great House by Nicole Krauss
Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson
Room by Emma Donoghue
Safe from the Sea by Peter Geye

2010 Shortlist for GLBTQ

Annabel by Kathleen Winter
Jumpstart the World by Catherine Ryan Hyde
Krakow Melt by Daniel Allen Cox
Will Grayson, Will Grayson by David Levithan and John Green
Scars by Cheryl Rainfield

2010 Short List for Non-Fiction

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson
Let’s Take the Long Way Home by Gail Caldwell
Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff
At Home by Bill Bryson

2010 Shortlist for Speculative Fiction

Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness
Kraken by China Mieville
Dante’s Journey by JC Marino
How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe by Charles Yu
The Passage by Justin Cronin

The Best Darn YA Novels You’ve Probably Never Read

Everyone knows the young adult novels that really get the blood of readers pumping — those books, often in a series, that feature vampires, magic or a distant school called Hogwarts. The world of young adult literature is wide enough for everyone, sure, but sometimes it’s hard to step out of the shadow of titans like J.K. Rowling and Stephenie Meyer and see some of the little guys. But those little guys? Totally worth checking out.

Kelly at YAnnabe had an excellent idea for a highlighting those great YA novels that just aren’t getting the face time they deserve — and I’m happy to do my part. If you’re a regular here at write meg!, I’m sure you’ll recognize these titles. But if you’re new ’round these parts? Well, settle in with the caffeinated beverage of your choice and prepare to hit the bookstore — or library. ‘Cause boy, does Meg have some suggestions for you! (And I expect you to take them. Seriously — I’ll be watching.)

The Best Darn YA Novels

You’ve Probably Never Read

The Evolution Of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly

This coming-of-age story, set against the backdrop of Texas in 1900, is the charming, quirky and endearing story of 11-year-old Calpurnia, a young lady more interested in science than cooking at a time when it was simply not acceptable to be so. Callie’s connection to her grandfather — a wise old-timer who helps her with their scientific experiments — is touching, and I loved every moment I spent with the Tate family.

And, um, if I had a time machine? I’d totally go back to New Year’s Eve in 1899 and party with their crew. We thought 1999 was wild? That was nothing. Here’s a world filled with the first signs of automobiles and mechanized home appliances — a time when technology was revered and feared at once. Here’s a time when women were still expected to be in their rightful “places” — and a time when many of them began to rebel against it. It’s inspiring. And Callie’s just my sort of girl.

artichokes_heartArtichoke’s Heart by Suzanne Supplee

Rosemary’s struggle with weight, friendship, family and love in Supplee’s recent novel absolutely broke and bolstered my heart — all at the same time. There aren’t too many books out there which prompt me to whip out a heartfelt email to the author right after finishing, but I laid my little heart out to Supplee as I sniffled my way through the closing of this one! (And she wrote me back a very nice and gracious note. Love when that happens.)

I can’t recommend this book highly enough — it was smart, funny, touching, moving and life-affirming. I’ve thought of Rosie often since finishing, and I absolutely loved her as a narrator. In my mind, she’s already gone on to happiness and greatness! And no one can convince me otherwise.

enthusiasmEnthusiasm by Polly Shulman

I stumbled across this gem of a book in the bargain bin at Books-A-Million, and as soon as I saw mention of Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice on the back, you know I was all over it! The story had me enchanted from the get-go, and I loved the realistic and fun portrayal of close friendship that Shulman provides in Ashleigh and Julie.

It was refreshing to see that two girls can be buddies without it dissolving into petty jealousy and fights when boys enter the picture — anyone else completely sick of that plotline? Hands? I’m not saying girls don’t act totally nuts once cute boys arrive on the scene, but I do get tired of reading about it. You know, having lived it and all. So Enthusiasm was a great change and struck all the right notes with me. A sweet, fast read that’s really flown under the radar.

teashop_girlsThe Teashop Girls by Laura Schaefer

What a sweet, indulgent and fun middle-grade read! I’m 24 years old and I’ll tell you honestly: I was hopelessly addicted to this story. Thirteen-year-old Annie works part-time in her grandmother’s tea shop, a lush world were business is, unfortunately, way down. With the help of her friends and the community, Annie is able to help rescue the Steeping Leaf — and learn quite a bit about what she’s capable of accomplishing in the process.

One of my favorite parts of the book? Another refreshing plotline: girls don’t always have to chase after boys . . . and those boys might not be the ones we really want, anyway. We can stand on our own two feet, you know, and we’re not dependent upon others to place worth on ourselves. An excellent lesson for pre-teen girls — and, you know, their older counterparts. Like yours truly. I read this one at a time when I definitely needed a refresher course on knowledge like that!

north_of_beautifulNorth Of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headley

I’m always waxing philosphic about this novel, I know, but that’s because it’s really just that good. Easily one of the greatest books I read in 2009, North Of Beautiful is the story of 16-year-old Terra, a young woman born with a birthmark staining half of her face — and a family so dysfunctional, it was sometimes painful to read. It’s a novel about maps — and about finding our way. It’s a love story. It’s a travelogue — literally and metaphorically.

It’s just . . . awesome. In fact, I’m going to leave it at that and boldly say now: you have to read this book. Headley’s novel is why I read literature — and why I love young adult literature. Because good books are good books, and any genre label we put on them? That’s totally secondary.

Book review: ‘Life As We Knew It’ by Susan Beth Pfeffer

life_as_we_knew_itAs if I wasn’t completely freaked out after reading this book, I had to come across THIS gem of a story while I innocently attempted to check my e-mail yesterday.

Really, world? We have to punch the moon? Have you not read Susan Beth Pfeffer’s Life As We Knew It?! Because if those folks at NASA had come across this startling, hauntingly realistic young adult novel, I don’t know if they’d be making quite the same call!

Pennsylvanian teen Miranda is grappling with the usual issues of high school-related drama — and dealing with her changing family. Her father’s new wife is pregnant with their first child, and Lisa has asked her stepdaughter to be the child’s godmother. Miranda feels justifiably torn but agrees, and life continues in Howell, Pa., for Miranda, her mother and brothers Matt and Jonny. Until a meteor knocks the moon — our moon — closer to the Earth, drastically altering its gravitational pull. And then nothing is the same.

Life As We Knew It is Miranda’s diary — her chronicle of deteriorating conditions as earthquakes rock the U.S. (and rest of the world), unexpected volcanoes crop up and bury the world in ash and supplies become scarce. As with many natural disasters, no one is immediately aware just how bad things are . . . or how bad they’re going to get. The weather is still warm when the first tsunamis hit, wiping out much of the coasts, so questions of survival in the isolated, freezing Pennsylvanian town where the family lives don’t immediately crop up. But the strange, serene and almost idyllic life that immediately follows news of the disaster gives way to something much more intense — and terrifying.

What bothered me most about this book was how absolutely, completely real it felt. Miranda’s voice — at times angry, sad, resigned, bewildered, elated, enraged — rang as clear as a bell. I guess because I spent my late teens and early adulthood in a post-9/11 world, the slightest news of disaster and uncertainty brings me right back to that day, and I feel, personally, that I live in a state of hyper-awareness. Watching Miranda’s family stockpile food and supplies and seal themselves off from the world, becoming a unit and hoping only to live, despite everything, forced a pit to open in my stomach.

By turns frightening and life-affirming, Life As We Knew It is a masterpiece. Pfeffer’s language is eloquent without becoming clunky or condescending; Miranda sounds — and acts — like a “normal” teenage girl. We also get a glimpse into how religious beliefs play a part in the fear and grieving process of those “left behind” following the meteor’s impact, and I spent a good deal of time remembering how busy Sunday services seemed to get after 9/11. When faced with something beyond our control or comprehension — something looming, something horrifying — people react in a variety of ways. I’m certainly no sociologist, and I know Pfeffer doesn’t claim to be one, either, but she paints a picture of the various coping mechanisms with a deft hand. Miranda takes comfort in the fact that even though her own world becomes smaller and smaller, a larger one still exists . . . and is hopefully going to continue on, even without her. Not to draw a heartless parallel here, but that definitely reminded me of Anne Frank, the young Jewish girl whose diary written during her family’s time of hiding during the Holocaust has become such a moving, iconic glimpse into a terrible time in history. If the moon disaster were “real,” I have no doubt that Miranda’s journal would take on a similar feel. Although the Holocaust was a horrific act of human consciousness and, you know, the moon thing . . . would not be. But you catch my drift (I hope!).

There’s so much I could say about this novel — and so much I want to say — but I can’t give anything away! I read furiously, desperate to figure out how they were going to survive this mess . . . and though the novel ends with many questions, I had enough answers that I felt a sense of closure and could move on. Pfeffer’s companion novel the dead and the gone follows Alex, a New Yorker who must protect his sisters after tsunamis wipe out much of Manhattan. As much as I loved Life As We Knew It, I’m not eager to return to the dystopia of disaster-ridden Earth any time soon . . . my poor, tender heart needs time to recover.

If you’re a fan of dystopian literature, post-apocalyptic tales, family dynamics and stories of the tenacious human spirit, please don’t miss this one. I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to look at the moon the same way again!

4.75 out of 5!

ISBN: 0152061541 ♥ Purchase from AmazonAuthor Blog

Book review: ‘The Hunger Games’ by Suzanne Collins

hunger_gamesI really had little interest in reading this book — I just want to get that admission out there from the beginning! I’m really not a reader of science fiction or fantasy, and I pay little attention to novels set in “alternate universes” or the future. I’m very much a here-and-now kind of gal — and I spend most of my time traipsing through big cities with 20-somethings figuring out their path in life. In that vein, Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games had little appeal for me.

So why did I pick it up, then?

This book is everywhere. Click over to any book blog and you’ll see folks typing away about it, debating the novel’s various points. To be frank, I caved under literary peer pressure.

And I’m so glad I did.

Sixteen-year-old Katniss is our narrator, a young woman from District 12 of what was once the United States. North America is now Panem, ruled by a group called the Capitol, the all-knowing and ruthless government that presides over each of the districts. Starving and exhausted, Katniss hunts with Gale, her closest friend and ally, to provide the meager offerings she can to her mother and 12-year-old sister Prim, but there’s never enough to fill the empty void in her aching stomach.

In retaliation for an uprising against the Capitol many years earlier, an annual Hunger Games takes place — a fight-to-the-death battle televised live on every battered TV in Panem. Each district “randomly” selects one boy and one girl to represent them in the Games, and this year’s contestants are Peeta, a strong baker’s son, and Prim — Katniss’s sister. Without hesitation, Katniss jumps up to take Prim’s place . . . and then the Games are underway.

The suspense in this novel was fantastic, though not unbearable — and I frequently found myself chewing on a thumbnail saying, “Now how are they going to get out of this?” That element of mystery and fear kept me deeply engrossed in the plot — as did the developing love story. Could I see it coming ten miles away? Sure. But that didn’t make it any less enjoyable to experience.

I was a little nervous about the story’s violence and potential gore factor; I’m a squeamish reader. But I wasn’t really disturbed by the book’s imagery or descriptions, though there were a few whoppers in there. Everything was written tastefully, and the plot didn’t dissolve into merely a bloodbath. For that, I was deeply grateful!

As I described the novel’s plot to my sister, she gave me a wry look and said, “Oh, I’m sure everyone is having a field day examining that book as a commentary on our government and civilization.” And I’m sure many people can look at it that way, but I’ll say this — I enjoyed the book for what it was: a riveting, fast-paced story of family, devotion, love and survival, and I absolutely can’t wait to get my nail-bitten hands on Catching Fire, the book’s highly-anticipated sequel.

4.5 out of 5!

ISBN: 0439023483 ♥ Purchase from AmazonAuthor Website
Personal copy obtained through BookMooch