Thursday, March 6, 2014


"Books make you a glutton for life"

Today is a day of catching up on my review writing, my laundry and hopefully, some reading. Busy hardly begins to describe these days! Insane weather, college visits/auditions, competitions and work, not to mention the usual family obligations, have been taking up so much time. They are also quite exhausting. 

Today I finally finished a long over due review of Above by Isla Morley: I started it weeks ago, but due to that travelling, it fell by the wayside, and i feel terrible about it, since I had so much to say.  I was happy to see the book in person at work (at Books a Million), several copies in fact. Very pretty cover!

I actually enjoyed this book, a dystopian novel, one of my favorite genres that I have not been getting enough of lately. There were a few problems with the plot, but nothing I couldn't get past, with the decent writing. That's always a relief.

I also finished The Light Between Oceans by ML Stedman, which was alright; certainly not my favorite book of the year, but it ended better than I expected it to. I felt similarly about Letters from Skye by Jessica Brockmole, (a tad precious was my pronouncement at book group); it was okay, glad I read it, since I do enjoy epistolary novels, but this one was a bit preposterous at times. Both these books were for one of my book groups. I suggested the next book, The Collector by John Fowles. I am really looking forward to it, but I am stopping myself from reading it right now, until I finish the group of books I'm reading now!  Those books are Meg Wolitzer's The Interestings, Ann Patchett's This is the Story of a Happy Marriage (a collection of previously published essays and articles), and a DTB ARC called I Shall be Near to You by Erin Lindsay McCabe, and is set in the Civil War.

I am so fortunate that I have so many books to read and review these days! Some new ARCs from work, quite a few electronic ARCs from NetGalley, and the usual array of books for book group and my own pleasure (I get pleasure from all of them, don't get me wrong!). Currently, my other book group, the one I've been in for almost 18 years, is just not fitting into my schedule, with my return to work and the kids' hectic schedules. Hopefully I can make a return this summer, or at least for the book they chose with me in mind!

I also wanted to share a link to a delightful list of 5 Reading Rules for Book Lovers of All Ages from Book Riot's Rebecca Schinsky.  In short, they are:

1. Never let someone tell you you read too much.
2. Love what you love.
3. You don't have to read what everyone else is reading.
4. Let books make your world bigger.
5. Know that there's no wrong way to read and now wrong reading for reading.

I just LOVE these rules and this is my favorite article of the week!  She has some fabulous insight, so please go and read further. (That's where the quote at the top of this post is from!)

Above by Isla Morley (Review)

(This is a review of an electronic advanced reader copy provided by Netgalley.)

Spoilers:  I am going to be addressing some major plot points and issues, so please do not continue reading this review.

     This books is not Isla Morley's first novel, and that definitely shows: the writing is good, often quite lovely, in fact, and she is a skilled storyteller. I was immediately taken in by the voice of Blythe Hallowell, a young 16 year old Kansan who is abducted by a local librarian and survivalist, named Dobbs.  The story begins in media res, with Blythe fighting against him, and being locked in a very scary dark place.

But the problems, or maybe they are holes in the plot, also start immediately. I grew up in the 1980s. I thought maybe this was the 80s, even the 50s, with its lack of cell phones and internet, and a wholesome town picnic (the Horse Thieves Picnic) that a teenage girl is excited to be attending to meet up with her suitor.  But you find out she is being hidden away in an emptied missile silo. This does not make sense for either of those time periods. It must be after the 1990s. This caused a lot of problems for me thought the book. Does Dobbs not have access to the internet down in the silo/fallout shelter he's created? He saves everything (important historic documents, etc.) on microfiche instead of on  hard drive or disc, or even hard printed copies? This seems antiquated and not in line with the time period. I understand if an actual disaster like nuclear war or an electromagnetic pulse destroyed communications, but I would think those items would be protected on a computer in a silo.

I also feel as if there would be some way for Dobbs to communicate the actual situation "above" to Blythe, to at least make her believe she is actually safer below than above. Obviously, she does not take his word for anything, and he obviously is smart enough to know this: so why not prove it to her, by taking her outside, and releasing her from the mythology of the "old" above?

Aside from some major problems with the plot, the story is gripping and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  Blythe's voice is fairly authentic, and the situations that present themselves in the silo are far from boring: there are moral dilemmas galore for poor Blythe, and she handles them in a realistic way (ie. normal for a teenage girl from a stable home). I shed some tears a few times. 

Prepare yourself for this novel, it is quite original.  I'd be interested to read a sequel to this one! Or anything else by this author.

4 stars