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Sheila Deeth has commented on (263) products.

Devil's Lake by Mr Aaron Paul Lazar

Sheila Deeth, November 13, 2014

What might it be like to escape from an abductor and abuser after two years? How would a woman pick up her life? How would she learn to trust a man again? Aaron Lazar’s Devil’s Lake invites readers to ponder these questions through the story of Portia who returns home, still in shock and terror, to find her parents and sister gone and a seeming stranger in their place. But order, and family, are restored in good time, and what’s left is, perhaps, revenge and retribution.

Some jarring political notes and a deep distrust of authority are probably true to the attitudes of the area. Frustratingly, they lead to a private quest that might cost lives. But Portia’s not the only one who’ll need to learn trust in this tale, and recognizing the difference between controlling and protecting might be important in many arenas besides her wounded life.

Redemption proves more important than revenge and retribution by the end of this tale. And it’s not just Portia’s relationships that find healing. Love can and does prove the strongest bond of all, making this dark story a tale of light as well, and a satisfying read.

Disclosure: I enjoy Aaron Lazar’s writing so I was delighted to be given an ecopy of this novel, and I offer my honest review.
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The Casual Vacancy by J. K. Rowling
The Casual Vacancy

Sheila Deeth, November 13, 2014

If you watched Broadchurch, or the American version, Gracepoint, you probably already know the flavor of J. K. Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy. A small English town and its even smaller suburb across the hill form the backcloth to the tale. A wealth of characters, rich and poor, young and old, all hide their sins and secrets, living seemingly normal lives with normal afflictions covering normal needs. But one man has died, leaving a “casual vacancy” on the council. The council’s word just might decide the future of a teenage girl and her run-down neighborhood. But it all depends on who can win the most votes, sway the most opinions, or beat the system most efficiently.

J. K. Rowling paints convincing characters interacting with wholly authentic dialog. The flavor of England, slightly gone-off, over the hill, wounded, or even scared, fills every page. Every picture reveals its hidden side, and every argument remains strong in its own dark twisted way. Readers follow the paths of runaway, stay-at-home and stranger, picking favorites perhaps, struggling to approve when the next betrayal looms. But these characters aren’t there to please---their aim is just to survive. And this novel brings their world and their suffering to life.

Thought-provoking, sad, neither casual nor vacant, this novel is a heavy tale of real people, torn and darkened by the past, then lit, in the end, by just that hint of silver lined clouds when the rainstorm’s passed.

Disclosure: I might not have picked it up if it weren’t written by J. K. Rowling, but I found it cheap in a store and I’m glad I bought it.
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The Olive Tree by Elsa Marston
The Olive Tree

Sheila Deeth, November 13, 2014

When Lebanon was wracked by war, some families stayed and some fled. Sameer’s family kept an eye on the house next door, and enjoyed the fruit dropped by the olive tree between their properties. Muna’s family fled. But now they’re home.

While Sameer longs for a new playmate to climb the tree with him, Muna’s more concerned to keep things safe and right, and hang on to what’s hers. And the olive tree, that could unite them, has grown on her side of the fence.

Author Elsa Marston never explains why Muna’s family fled, or why they might seem unfriendly on their return. What readers see is what a child will see, illustrated with haunting simplicity by Claire Ewart, and described with smoothly lyrical writing and voice. When Sameer is told he can’t enjoy the olives anymore, he lets them rot on the ground, and nothing more is said, no argument... until the storm.

Two families, separated by an olive tree, are united in the end by surprising kindness when nature takes a hand. Meanwhile readers gain a glimpse into a different culture, a smile from a different world, and a wonderful story of sharing, forgiveness and hope to offer to children everywhere.

Disclosure: I received a free copy from the publisher and I offer my honest review. It’s a beautiful book!
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Fields of Blood: Religion and the History of Violence by Karen Armstrong
Fields of Blood: Religion and the History of Violence

Sheila Deeth, November 13, 2014

Subtitled Religion and the History of Violence, Fields of Blood is a well-researched, weighty tome, dark with the world’s dark history, and honest in its analysis of church and state.

The author’s research reveals a historical past where faith was part of a community’s self-expression, and where conquering nations didn’t, in fact, fight because of faith, or destroy the faiths of those they ruled. Secular power-grabs resulted in wars, and faith, at the service of state, emphasized the fight for God’s purity, uniting peoples under the state's command. But in time of peace, those same religions upheld the value of neighbors' lives under God as a mitigating factor to the danger of state brutality. Secular powers fight wars. But in peace it's often religion that demands fair treatment be offered to enemies and strangers. In the end, while state may indeed be separated from faith in our Western world, state without faith might prove far more dangerous than any scape-goated religion, its unbridled force becoming the most dangerous enemy.

Fields of Blood is a long slow read, filled with intriguing facts, convincing arguments, and thought-provoking analysis. Details from the past lead up to modern war and terrorism, with every argument backed up by well-researched statistics. There are some seriously interesting surprises presented, offering truths not often told when they don’t fit the plot. And the world’s history of violence proves not to be the same as its history of religion. But this book tells both, offers food and facts for thought, and is highly recommended.

Disclosure: Blogging for Books provided this book to me for free in exchange for an honest review.

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Perfect Flaw by Robin Blankenship
Perfect Flaw

Sheila Deeth, November 13, 2014

Wow! Robin Blankenship’s anthology, Perfect Flaw, offers dystopian science fiction fans a perfect treat of cleverly imagined, terrifying and tormenting tales, ranging from near-future near-reality to shores of distant strangeness and estrangement. These dystopias aren’t bound to the post-apocalyptic horrors of modern movies; instead they grow from worlds of today, each taking its own specific path. From an obsession with cleanliness and safety in Frank Roger’s Cracks in the Concrete, through the scary brutality of goodwill in Carolyn Chang’s Smilers, to the shocking misery of Michael O’Connor’s The Choosing, and beyond, the stories run the gamut of sci-fi possibilities, haunt the reader with questions of probability, and offer a perfect mix of entertainment and food for thought. Endlessly fascinating, disturbingly dark, and enthrallingly hard to put down, this anthology certainly grabbed me and wouldn’t let go.

Disclosure: I received a free ecopy during the blog tour for the book’s release. I’m just sorry it took me so long to get around to reading it. I loved it!
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