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Amy Sawatzky has commented on (12) products.

The Last Policeman by Ben H Winters
The Last Policeman

Amy Sawatzky, August 5, 2015

In some ways a police procedural but in other ways a vehicle for philosophy on the human condition. The humor is in the observations of extreme understatement and absurdity.
The premise: a massive meteor has 100% likelihood of hitting the earth in 6months time and life on earth is expected to end as a result. Americans are responding accordingly; some are running off to finish bucket lists, others are in denial, many are ending their lives early. A conscientious detective is assigned an apparent suicide and decides to investigate it as a possible homicide despite evidence to the contrary and his colleagues' ambivalence. Perhaps Detective Palace is deluding himself that a crime has occurred and that his actions still have meaning despite the rest of the world giving up. If that is true, then we should judge him that working his job is simply going through the motions and a waste of the precious time left. And we are left to wonder, if the world-ending metaphor wasn’t present, are the conclusions drawn from it still apt?
If that sounds heavy, you should know that there is plenty of levity to balance out the philosophical musings as when trying to get information from a subject:
"He doesn’t remember. I stare at him, standing there, still smirking. It’s such a fine line with some people, whether they’re playing dumb or being dumb."
The American society described is actually a pretty logical one; cost controls put in place to prevent massive inflation, a thriving blackmarket, a run on guns, an influx of members to new and old religions, insurance companies shuttering their doors, poor cell and internet service due to lack of upkeep. It’s not the wild west of other examples in the apocalyptic genre which makes it believable and underscores the ‘do we behave differently?’ question.
Highly recommended. Its actually a series and I’m torn whether to continue on or pretend that this was a stand-alone because it hit such a perfect note.
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The All of It by Jeannette Haien
The All of It

Amy Sawatzky, August 5, 2015

3.5+ stars. Read due to a passionate endorsement from Ann Patchett, whom I admire.
This is a small, simple-seeming novella about a confession and the impact of the conversation on the receiving priest. Though the confession lies at the heart of the tale, the 'reveal' is actually barely touched on and doesn't really ripple through the tale or the reader, though it is keenly felt by the priest. Really, this is a vehicle to describe - in gorgeous prose - first independence, isolation, love of the land and yearning. So while the plot might lose some points with me, the turns of phrase and the empathy elicited caused me to enjoy the book deeply.

The confessor is Enda, a 60-something, simply-speaking parishioner who struggles to read and had no family other than her recently departed husband Kevin. She is able to express their experiences as children so beautifully though one can't help but admire her as when describing Kevin's reaction to his first truly-free view from a hillock:

"...he sat mute, in a paralysis of involvement , as might a man who hears a call from the dead and desires passionately to answer but cannot, being caught unready, and too amazed, and too glad for belief."

Meanwhile the audience, Father Declan, who stands in for the reader, falls into a sort of spell of breath-held wonder at the scenes Enda describes and the range of emotions she reflects upon that still radiate from her person. For in the few days that the scenes unfold, death is all around - at the actual deathbed, the wake, the funeral - and Enda is bursting with life. Everything else pales.
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Raven Cycle #3: Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater
Raven Cycle #3: Blue Lily, Lily Blue

Amy Sawatzky, August 5, 2015

Finally (book 3) a near perfect story - the relationships move past small hurts and jealousies to true, tested but unshakable friendships. The female character while 'obsessed' with the Raven Boys serves as more than their observer and actually has a lush family and home life of her own to track. The writing is beautiful and magical as when describing Ronan's (non-magical) church:
"But the church didn’t feel empty. It was claustrophobic with the scent of incense, vases of foreign lilies, reams of white cloth, the broken gaze of a sorrowing Christ. It bled with stories Adam didn’t know, rituals he would never do, connections he would never share. It was dense with a humming sort of history that made him feel light-headed."
And the consequences of the local and personal magic are deeply felt and leave scars on the primary characters and the reader.
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Southern Reach Trilogy #3: Acceptance by Jeff Vandermeer
Southern Reach Trilogy #3: Acceptance

Amy Sawatzky, November 11, 2014

Thank you Mr. Vandermeer for rewarding my struggle (patience? displacement? pain and suffering?) through Authority to wrap me up in Acceptance. Perhaps there's a reason the final third of the trilogy is named for the final stage of grief -- this was as visceral as the first two weird, beautiful, frustrating books and yet did draw me to submit by the end to the mystery and wonder that is Area X. The three stories are hard to describe to someone not entangled in their pages, but bottom line - the characters (victims) of the first two books, even those tangentially introduced, are handled with love and care to completion. Though they might not have chosen the same end to their stories, we the embattled readers may at least accept that those finales were somehow right.
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Stumptown Volume 1 by Greg Rucka
Stumptown Volume 1

Amy Sawatzky, August 16, 2014

I loved Rucka's "Whiteout" graphic novels so it was great to discover another crime story of his set in my hometown of Portland which Rucka faithfully puts on display (though perhaps emphasizing the more seedy side)
my only criticism might be that the diversity of the stories' characters is a little wishful thinking for Portland.
note that as with Whiteout, the book would be nothing without his illustrator (in this case Matthew Southworth, in Whiteout's case, Steve Lieber - the things that man could do with white space!)
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