“When Wolf Comes” John Pappas

Historical adventure, 1801. A survivor from an attack on a trade ship is sold as a slave to the Makah tribe of the Northwest Washington Coast. In a beautiful hostile land of people with strange spiritual ways he will become teacher and student, find friendship and even love, and realize escape comes in many guises, and survival is not always as simple as saving your own life.

When Wolf Comes Cover

Amazon Buy Button

“When Wolf Comes” begins with Aiden doing what he does in much of the book….deliberating on his next move. Aiden has found himself far from home and does his best to be positive while also endeavoring to be useful. When the first ship comes Aiden’s spirits lift and life takes a new path. Like life can do, the path quickly shifts again and Aiden finds himself once more a slave. This time though, maybe being a slave is a step forward.

As Aiden finds his purpose within his masters tribe and culture his eye finds itself stuck on another slave. Neveah is a beautiful native woman who also turns out to be more than what she appears. Their relationship blooms slowly and it’s a real treat to see. 

Something that should be noted is how Pappas managed to embed a message of tolerance in his story. Aiden and the Makah are very different and those differences are stark at the beginning but as the story deepens those differences don’t seem so far apart and each culture melds together to find this new direction that I found fascinating. Aiden’s culture and knowledge was accepted (albeit with suspicion) and their culture became another piece of Aiden. This story has a message of oneness that resonates even now.

“When Wolf Comes” is well researched. Time and again I found myself lost in time and imagining the beauty of the northwest. The wonder of it’s people and their means of survival. I haven’t read much into this time period or the tribes that inhabited the northwest but Pappas leads the reader expertly through the complexities of both it’s cultural and natural wonders. Pappas has a real talent for cultivating a love in his readers that has at the very least encouraged me to learn more. I imagine that sentiment will spread through each new reader.

Squintanasis was a character that I really couldn’t get enough of. I would love to see him get his own book. I felt like there was more to tell and learn from this most stoic of men. He was mysterious and wise. He was shrewd but fair. I liked him immensely. He was a big part of what made this story bury itself so deep into my psych. 

Pappas depiction of battle is gory but not overly so. The horror is addressed but not dwelt upon. The significance is put more on how the community came together and their bond. I thought it was well written and well balanced.

I could go on for days about how much I enjoyed this story. I encourage you to hop in and lose yourself in the magic of the early 1800’s.

Absolute 5 star book.

5 stars

Amazon Buy Button

The Technical Data:

Title: When Wolf Comes | Series: N/A |  Author(s): John Pappas  |Publisher: Amazon Digital Services / Publication Date: 5-8-2016 |Pages: 264 (Print) | ISBN: B01FEC6YM6 |Genre(s): Historical Fiction  |Language: English |Rating: 5 out of 5 |  Date Read: 8-29-2017 |Source: Copy from author.

When Wolf Comes Cover

“The images conjured up by the Northwest Coast tribes is one of fierce people what with their dramatic masks, nose bones and complex ceremonies. This story takes you to the people beneath that image. It highlights their sense of community as well as their recognition of the changes being brought by traders. It tells of how they treat their “slaves”, their capacity for compassion and their lack of tolerance for wrongdoing.” – Amazon Reviewer

Advertisements

“Emotive” Kevin Laymon

Emotive is a tale of life, love, compassion, and the pursuit of happiness as told through the eyes of the story’s narrator, Linus. Linus is a puppy living in a small city located in the rolling hillsides of upstate New York. When the abnormalities of his owner Sam are all he knows since birth, he gains a perspective of unyielding acceptance and love towards the man who feeds him, takes him to the park, and murders women in his basement.

I AM LOYAL. I AM TRUSTWORTHY. 

I AM POWERLESS

Emotive Cover

Amazon Buy Button

When I read the summary of “Emotive” it immediately piqued my interest. I have a huge soft spot for books narrated by animals. Since I also love a good thriller, “Emotive” was a must-read for me and boy am I glad I did. I was glued to this book from the first sentence of the first page. I literally read this entire book in one sitting. Well, I read it in the bath but you get the idea.  I can’t believe I let it sit on my shelf so long unread. I feel like I’ve offended the book gods by letting such a story sit unattended. My apologies, please don’t smite me!

Fair warning, this book will rip your heart out. Don’t worry it’ll return it eventually but holy moly is it one hell of a ride. Of all the murders in this book, I have to admit the cow was the hardest. After all Linus had been through, I had tears streaming down my face as I read those pages. How alone he must of felt. How betrayed by humans. How completely hopeless he must of found it all.

Sam will boggle your mind. He’s a total psycho, of that I have no doubt, but he also has one glimpse of remorse for poor Linus. I had a bit of hope for our little K9 hero but that hope was quickly dashed when Sam fell deeper into his obsession and paranoia. It was hard to see Sam discard Linus from his affection. It was hard to see Linus’ basic needs not be met and realize how animals must feel when us humans don’t make them a priority. When we forget to feed them on time or their water bowl doesn’t get refilled or we make them wait hours and hours on end before we let them out to potty. It was eye opening to see how emotionally devastating it is to animal kind to be at the absolute mercy of someone else’s compassion……or lack there of.

It was incredibly hard to see humans fail this one dog over and over again. This is a sight of our kind that will leave you with a bad taste in your mouth and a brand new perspective. As I read, my own two dogs lay next to the tub and I caught myself looking at them multiple times wondering just what they were thinking and what they thought of me. I didn’t expect to be so affected. As a pet owner and human in general, this story will inspire some introspection and I was definitely not expecting that when I began to read.

The climax is cleverly crafted and brings everything full circle. Laymon has written a masterpiece. I strongly suggest you read it.

5 stars

The Technical Data:

Title: Emotive | Series: N/A |  Author(s): Kevin Laymon  |Publisher: Amazon Digital Services / Publication Date: 4-5-2016 |Pages: 194 (Print) | ISBN: B019YT5UIY |Genre(s): Thriller / Novella / Serial Killers / Psychological  |Language: English |Rating: 5 out of 5 |  Date Read: 8-20-2017 |Source: Copy from author.

Emotive Cover

 

“Emotive was a unique read full of interesting perspective. The storytelling through the eyes of a dog created deep emotions & connections with powerful characters. The writing was strong & visual.” – Amazon Customer

Amazon Buy Button

 

 

 

“Emotive” Kevin Laymon – Book Spotlight

Emotive is a tale of life, love, compassion, and the pursuit of happiness as told through the eyes of the story’s narrator, Linus. Linus is a puppy living in a small city located in the rolling hillsides of upstate New York. When the abnormalities of his owner Sam are all he knows since birth, he gains a perspective of unyielding acceptance and love towards the man who feeds him, takes him to the park, and murders women in his basement.

Emotive Cover

Amazon Buy Button

What reviewers are saying

“I absolutely loved this book. I stumbled upon it on accident while I was on the Goodreads site. I shelved it and waited anxiously until it was available for purchase on Amazon. Being a huge dog lover is why the cover sparked my interest. The description interested me a lot, even though I knew it was probably going to be a grim book. I love how the book is told from the dog’s point of view. It really makes you think about the emotions dogs probably really do feel, but can’t communicate to us. This book went in directions I didn’t expect. I was kept at suspense and enjoyed how it all played out.” – Kaylee

“Emotive was a unique read full of interesting perspective. The storytelling through the eyes of a dog created deep emotions & connections with powerful characters. The writing was strong & visual.” – Amazon Customer

“I absolutely loved this book !!! Blunt and straight to the point, a quick read that moves right along and delivers. A fresh point a view from the main character that I found myself rooting for and falling in love with. This story takes off like a bolt of lighting right from the starting line. I’m an avid reader and though this story is brutal it is well written and I found that I could not put it down and felt quite satisfied with the ending which was heroic to say the least. I give this book a solid rating of 5 stars. This is the second book in Kevin’s line up that I have read and I can eagerly say that I am looking forward to reading his next publication. He’s a new and young writer who shows a lot of promise. I highly recommend this book as well as his first ( FUTURE WINDS )” – Don B.

Have you read this book? If so, do Mr. Laymon a solid and give your two cents by reviewing it on Amazon or Goodreads! 

We loved this book and will tell you all about it in our review in a few days! Keep an eye out but in the mean time give it a look yourself and see what all the buzz is about!

 

Book Review “Fox In The City” Daniel Cabrera

This is the story of a fox–a fox named Tom. A fox who couldn’t in his wildest dreams imagine what it would be like to stand up on two. To behold and experience all the wonders of the world of man. The lights that light up the ground: The hum of the engines that roar and the fervor that engulfs everyone in the impassioned pursuit of happiness. Could he understand that the most amazing part is not in what we built?

Fox in the city Cover

Amazon Buy Button

“Fox In The City” is the first book I’ve ever read that’s from a Fox’s perspective. The first part of the book was the most interesting to me since it goes through the daily struggles of being a wild animal left to his own devices. It was odd looking through that lense and I wish that part of the book was a bit longer. One, because I was really wrapped into it when it abruptly changed course and two because I’m just genuinely curious to see the author take it a bit further.

Tom meets Nora and she changes his life. Nora is a beautiful character and I loved everything about her. She was wise beyond her years and incredibly kind for all she had been through. It takes a special person to rise above hardship and thrive. Nora thrives and lightens the path of all around her. Her brutal honesty keeps Tom on his toes and gives him a thread to hold when all starts falling apart.

Tom’s introspection goes deep into what it means to be an animal but also what it means to be a human. Cabrera balances these sections well with his action scenes. One does not overwhelm the other and they exist in a nice harmony to keep the stories meaning as well as keep the reader engaged in the plot.

The only complaint I have about this book is it’s language is a bit choppy. Most of the story is very formal and it doesn’t flow the way it should. There was a time or two the choppy language pulled me from the story and damped my enthusiasm.  I would like to see Cabrera do another edit and smooth out some of the unneeded words and replace them with conjuctions to allow the story to flow much more smoothly.

Other than my one complaint, I very much enjoyed the story and loved how it appeals to such a huge age group. 4 stars!

4 star

The Technical Data:

Title: Fox In The City | Series: N/A |  Author(s): Daniel Cabrera  |Publisher: LULU.com / Publication Date: 7-17-2017 |Pages: 193 (Print) | ISBN: B0749S2XGW |Genre(s): Fantasy / Novella / Fable |Language: English |Rating: 4 out of 5 |  Date Read: 8-15-2017 |Source: Copy from author.

Fox in the city Cover“The protagonist is well-imagined and its development will interest readers in many ways. It takes a lot of skill to create a story featuring compelling characters that readers can relate to, but it takes genius to write a fable that speaks straight to the heart of the reader, and Daniel Cabrera has just that. A very inspiring and entertaining story!” Five Stars—Reviewed By Divine Zape for Readers’ Favorite

Book Spotlight – “Fox In The City” Daniel Cabrera

This is the story of a fox–a fox named Tom. A fox who couldn’t in his wildest dreams imagine what it would be like to stand up on two. To behold and experience all the wonders of the world of man. The lights that light up the ground: The hum of the engines that roar and the fervor that engulfs everyone in the impassioned pursuit of happiness. Could he understand that the most amazing part is not in what we built?

Fox in the city Cover

Amazon Buy Button

One great thing about this book is it’s appeal to a wide range of age groups! Looking for a new book for your teen? Great! Adult? Great! It’s appropriate for everyone. Keep an eye out for our review in the next few days.

Spoiler – We LOVED it!

Have you read this book? Hop on over to Goodreads or Amazon and show this book some love by leaving a review! Drop us a comment and let us know what you thought!

 

 

“Naveed – Through My Eyes” John Heffernan

The explosion jolts him awake. He sits up, gasping for air, heart thumping.

Was the blast real? Perhaps it had only happened in his head, a bad dream. Demons of the dark, his father had called them. ‘Push them away. They’ll only poison your thoughts. Seek the light and they can’t hurt you.’

Naveed is sick of war – of the foreign powers and the Taliban, the warlords and the drug barons that together have torn Afghanistan apart. He’s had to grow up quickly to take care of his widowed mother and little sister, making what little money he can doing odd jobs and selling at the markets. When he adopts Nasera, a street dog with extraordinary abilities, he has a chance to help rebuild his country. But will a new friend’s betrayal crush his dreams of peace forever?

From the winter of war comes the spring of hope.

Naveed Cover

Amazon Buy Button

     I found this book while browsing the kids chapter books at my local library. It was one of those books the librarians shelve cover out so it caught my eye rather quickly. I picked it up and after reading the summary decided it sounded like a book I should read and maybe later add to my kids homeschool reading list when they are the appropriate age. I often grab a chapter book along with the younger kids books and if they sound like something that would interest my four year old now, I read them to him. My four year old is much too young for this book but it’s absolutely a book I’ve added to our reading list for later years. 

“Naveed” offers two unique perspectives that, as an American, I don’t often get to see. An Australian solider and a young Afghan boy. Naveed may be a child but his struggles are anything but small. Naveed’s mother relies on him to provide for the family and Naveed works hard to do so. He also provides for his younger sister who, due to a bomb, has lost her legs. Naveed carries a heavy load of responsibilities but it’s clear that he carries them with love. Naveed’s love for his family is beautiful. He has known nothing but war and it’s touched every single piece of his young life.  

After a bomb took away his father and severely injured his sister, Naveed’s family lives in a hovel and their situation is precarious. The land lord is a bad man who has even worse friends and cares for no one but himself. He sets his eyes on Naveed’s mother and I held my breath with worry about Naveed’s family and how or if they would find a way out of that nasty man’s reach.

Naveed is adopted by Nasera (the dog) and his life takes on a whirlwind of change. By chance he meets Jake and opportunities open that he never thought possible. Naveed’s world is almost broken by a relative (whose really broken himself) and for a time, everything is thrown into chaos once again.

I want to talk about that chaos for just a minute. In the west, we are so quick to see a terrorist and dehumanize them. We don’t think of all the things that built up and turned this otherwise unassuming person into an extremist. Heffernan brings humanity back in this tale and gives us a look into what goes into the makings of a terrorist. It’s not harped upon but Heffernan gives us a window into a world I don’t think we discuss or even acknowledge nearly enough.

Kudo’s to John Heffernan for doing his part to put a very human face on a very ugly war. May his stories enrich our lives and encourage us to find peace with one another.

5 stars.

5 stars

The Technical Data:

Title: Naveed | Series: Through My Eyes |  Author(s): John Heffernan  |Publisher: Allen & Unwin / Publication Date: 9-1-2015 |Pages: 216 (Print) | ISBN: B00YVBQO8Q |Genre(s): Middle East / War / Historical Fiction |Language: English |Rating: 5 out of 5 |  Date Read: 8-05-2017 |Source: Copy from library.

 

“The Betrayal of KA” – Book Spotlight

As the spaceship secretly lands on Earth, Ka’s mission is clear: find and kill Transprophetics. His shipmates think of him as a killer. On his home planet of Koranth, he is considered a murderer. Haunted in his dreams by the boy whose life he stole, Ka struggles to define who he really is.

A girl in a temple in Thailand. A boy kidnapped in Mexico. Both can do the impossible. Both can move objects with their minds. These two Transprophetics pose grave risks to the Donovackia Corporation as it plans its invasion of Earth.

With a blade in his hand, Ka’s decision to kill, or not, will reverberate across the galaxy.

The Betrayl of Ka Cover

Amazon Buy Button

How about those reviews?

“Betrayal of Ka is sci-fi at its best. It starts out strong, keeps its pace and manages to be suspenseful till the very end. I initially thought the story would be pretty average, looking at the description. Many sci-fi favorites hover over some cliches. Of course, this book too remains true to some of the regular elements of a sci-fi thriller. But it brings in a lot of novelty.” – Page Hungry Bookworm

“Five stars for The Betrayal of Ka, and a warning that, as the saying goes, “once you start this book you won’t want to put it down.'” – Don Sloan

“This book is GRITTY. It hits on politics as well as some of the lesser used subjects in science fiction. It will kick your butt. This book is also multi-faceted. It brings up real political issues that are relate-able to our current time period while at the same time creating a story that is both entertaining and emotion catching.” – AlliesOpinions

This is one Sci-fi book you don’t want to miss! It’s listed for free with Kindle Unlimited! Get your copy and see what all the buzz is about.

Amazon Buy Button

Shea Oliver Author Pic

Shea Oliver lives in Niwot, Colorado, near the base of the Rocky Mountains. He can often be found wandering through mountain forests and alpine tundra. An avid hiker and photographer, he often uses his time in the mountains to work through various characters and plots. When he is not enjoying nature, Shea is a devoted father of two teenage sons and a serial entrepreneur.

 

“Double Dealing In Dubuque” Dean Klinkenberg

     Writer Frank Dodge is feeling optimistic for a change. He just landed a plum assignment from a national magazine to write about the growth of boutique food in the Midwest. Dodge’s mood quickly turns sour, though, when his scheming rival Helen shows up–is she trying to steal another story from him? When a fire erupts at the food convention Dodge is scouting out, two people die and Dodge can’t shake the feeling that the fire was no accident.
 
Dodge’s search for the truth will take him from the specialty shops of Galena, Illinois, through the neighborhoods of Dubuque, Iowa, and to the murky backwaters of the Mississippi River, landing him in the middle of a volatile feud between ice cream queen Stella and chocolatier Ashley.
 
Can he keep Helen at bay as he investigates the fire? And how far will Stella and Ashley ultimately go to skewer each other? Double-Dealing in Dubuque is a compelling novel that delves into what can go wrong when feuds get out of hand.

Double Dealing in Dubuque Cover

Amazon Buy Button

There is so much that I loved about this book! It was so good! Frank Dodge is witty and very clever. He may stick out like a sore thumb at times with his fancy hats but as different as he is….he’s also right at home along the river. His love and acceptance of others cultures was moving. He has a depth and realness to him that really made this book. He also has a way with people that I would think comes in handy in his profession. He has this down-home quality that inspires people to trust him….. which leads to confessions. Oh…the confessions!

 Klinkenberg has real talent with crafting characters. Each new person introduced as I read added another layer to this story. From a bartender to a backwoods bear of man, every single person adds authenticity to the river culture. The river is really it’s own character. Everyone’s lives revolve around it in some way and there’s no doubt it’s got a bit of a siren song. It calls to many and doesn’t let go of some. The Midwest really does have it’s own magic and allure that is too often overlooked. Thankfully, books like Klinkenberg’s come along and fix that. If after reading “Double Dealing In Dubuque” you don’t feel the call of the river……I don’t know if anything will call you….ever.

Want diversity in your reading? Well this book delivers in the best way. Not only is Frank a gay man but it’s not a defining part of his character! Do you get that? It’s as mundane as his hair color! Why? Because who Frank loves isn’t who he is, it’s a part of him…not one label but one of many. I loved how Klinkenberg handled Frank’s “relationships”. Our partner preference isn’t the whole of our identity and thanks a million to Klinkenberg for pioneering that logic into his writing! I don’t want to drop any spoilers but…..the end….I’ll admit it…I cried. It was beautiful and tragic and sad. Really, really sad.

By the way, don’t read this book on an empty stomach. Actually, wait…maybe you should. “Double Dealing In Dubuque” inspired me to try all kinds of new restaurants. The food in this story will inspire you to find a few pounds you weren’t previously sporting though but, you know what, YOLO. Ha ha, but really. Try the foods. Klinkenberg knows what he’s talking about. 

I loved everything about this story. It moves fast but not too fast and the story keeps you engaged with plenty of twists to make you wonder just “who dun it”. I enjoyed the story and I know you will to.

5 stars.

5 stars

The Technical Data:

Title: Double Dealing In Dubuque | Series: Frank Dodge Mysteries |  Author(s): Dean Klinkenberg  |Publisher: Amazon Digital Services / Publication Date: 7-7-2017 |Pages: 298 (Print) | ISBN: B072TM35FR |Genre(s): Mystery |Language: English |Rating: 5 out of 5 |  Date Read: 7-28-2017 |Source: Copy from author.

 

 

Books That Matter

As a parent, one of my main goals is to raise my kids to care. Not just care, but care deeply. I want my kids to see other’s suffering and genuinely want to change it. I am doing my best to contribute to a generation that has the skills (emotional, educational & physical) to face the trails headed their way. Trials like deep inequality, rampant homelessness, lack of adequate food, clothing, health care and sadly the repercussions of perpetual war. I want my kids to feel empowered to make changes. A good way to do that is to give them a deep understanding of each issue. Books are a great tool to achieve this.

Malala Yousafzai Quote

    When I was growing up war was just the way things were. No one took the time to explain to me that there were other ways to handle attacks from other countries. I remember sitting in my classroom in middle school as the Twin Towers were hit by those planes. We watched the people jumping from the buildings on our tiny bulbous screen hung in the top corner of our classroom. About the time my teacher realized that people were jumping to their death in front of a class of children she turned the TV off. 

Another teacher came into my class and the two of them angrily discussed blowing those terrorists to smithereens. My classmates heatedly discussed how America would kill them all. In middle school…the KIDS went straight to death. There was no talk of any other way to handle the attack. I remember sitting and looking at all that anger and hate and all I could feel was devastation at the choice those people jumping had been forced to make. My mind reeled with the horror I knew was coming to the country responsible. I knew in a round about kind of way what happens in wars. I knew because every chance I had I was reading story after story about anything and everything. I cared because from a very young age my brain was used to thinking from anothers perspective.

I want my kids to think diplomatically and find solutions other than to kill everyone. I want my kids to understand that a handful of people from a country do not represent an entire populace. I want my kids to find solutions to complicated issues.

Einstein Quote about peace

  One way to do that is to read them or have them read stories that illustrate the consequences of war and poverty. I recently stumbled upon the “Through My Eyes” series while browsing books in my local library. At 20 months and 4 years my kids are still too young to read these but you can bet I will introduce them later. I suggest you read through them and introduce them to your kids when appropriate. 

Naveed CoverThe explosion jolts him awake. He sits up, gasping for air, heart thumping.

Was the blast real? Perhaps it had only happened in his head, a bad dream. Demons of the dark, his father had called them. ‘Push them away. They’ll only poison your thoughts. Seek the light and they can’t hurt you.’

Naveed is sick of war – of the foreign powers and the Taliban, the warlords and the drug barons that together have torn Afghanistan apart. He’s had to grow up quickly to take care of his widowed mother and little sister, making what little money he can doing odd jobs and selling at the markets. When he adopts Nasera, a street dog with extraordinary abilities, he has a chance to help rebuild his country. But will a new friend’s betrayal crush his dreams of peace forever?

Amina CoverAmina lives on the edges of Mogadishu. Her family’s house has been damaged in Somalia’s long civil war, but they continue to live there, reluctant to leave their home. Amina’s world is shattered when government forces come to arrest her father because his art has been officially censored, deemed too political. Then rebel forces kidnap Amina’s brother, forcing him to become a soldier in Somalia’s brutal ongoing war.

Although her mother and grandmother are still with her, Amina feels vulnerable and abandoned. Secretly, she begins to create her own artwork in the streets and the derelict buildings to give herself a sense of hope and to let out the burden of her heart. Her artwork explodes into Mogadishu’s underground world, providing a voice for people all over the city who hope for a better, more secure future.

 

Shahana Cover‘Open your eyes. We will not hurt you.’
The boy quietens; his eyes open.
‘Where are you from?’
The boy stares at them both; then says, ‘Who will you tell?’

Shahana lives alone with her young brother in the shadow of the Line of Control, the border patrolled by Pakistani and Indian soldiers that divides Kashmir in two. Life is hard, but Shahana ekes out a living with her beautiful embroidery. Then she finds a boy lying unconscious near the border. Zahid is from across the Line of Control, and Shahana takes a terrible risk by sheltering him. But how can she give Zahid up to the authorities when she knows he’ll be imprisoned – or worse?

An unforgettable novel about one young girl in war-torn Kashmir.

Emilio CoverFor high-school student Emilio Garcia Lopez, it’s an ordinary school day. But that evening the knock on the door announcing the arrival of his police officer cousin Juanita, flanked by a tall man in the uniform of the Federal Police, will turn his ordinary day into the beginning of a long nightmare. Emilio’s mother has been kidnapped in broad daylight from a hotel car park by unidentified criminals, who appear to know a great deal about her business and who have mistaken her for a wealthy businesswoman. An action-packed story set in a contemporary conflict zone.

 

 

Malini CoverMalini lives with her parents and young sister, Banni, in northern Sri Lanka. As the civil war heads towards its catastrophic end, Malini and her family are herded by Tamil Tiger troops towards the coast where they and thousands of other Tamil civilians will act as human shields. When Malini’s father pushes a phone into her hands and tells her to run off into the forest with Banni, Malini does as she is told. But then the shelling begins, and Malini has no way of finding her mother and father. With the role of parent thrust upon her, Malini has no choice but to travel to her grandfather’s village a long way inland. She and Banni will need to keep off the highways and stay alert for soldiers. But where will the next meal come from? Who can they trust? Where will they shelter? And will they ever be reunited with their parents again?

Zafir CoverZafir has a comfortable life in Homs, Syria, until his father, a doctor, is arrested for helping a protester who was campaigning for revolution. While his mother heads to Damascus to try to find out where his father is being held, Zafir stays with his grandmother – until her house is bombed. With his father in prison, his mother absent, his grandmother ill and not a friend left in the city, Zafir must stay with his Uncle Ghazi. But that too becomes dangerous as the city becomes more and more besieged. Will Zafir survive long enough to be reunited with his parents?

Dystopian Novel Societies & Their Impact

Dystopian novels are super popular and I know I’m not the only one who has given serious thought to how crappy existing in one of those societies would be. Dystopian novels burrow deep into our psych and give us way more than just entertainment. This genre has a power that most others just don’t. Novels like “The Handmaid’s Tale” influence politics and it’s symbols have been used in many a protest in an effort to protect women’s rights. Novels with that kind of power tend to find themselves quickly thrown into the “banned book” pile with lots of outrage on both sides of the aisle. There’s been so much outrage regarding this particular book that it’s found itself on the 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books list for 20 years. At my tiny high school in Oklahoma we most certainly didn’t read it. I read it on my own and it was eye opening. I’ve since read it at least 30 times and it hits me just as hard as the first time, every time.

The Handmaids Tale Cover

Amazon Buy Button

I think what is most haunting about “The Handmaid’s Tale” is that Atwood wrote only about restrictions that have actually happened in real life. Most of the time books that are based off truth make me very nervous but what really gets my cogs turning is the books that speculate. Books like “Life As We Knew It” or “The Last Orphans” open a window of possibilities. The scenarios in both of these books are completely out of the blue and throw the world into chaos. It’s those scenarios that scare me the most. There is no where far enough to run in these worlds. “The 5th Wave” is another one that leaves me shaken.

I’m thankful for the freedom that remains in fiction and it’s ability to bring to life every scenario possible. I would like to see these writers given more credit for the depth of influence their writing has. Seeing the extreme consequences of an action either by a government or a natural disaster gives us the ability to see the ripples possible with every decision we make as a populace. There is no price tag on preparedness. 

Another thing to consider is how dystopian writers explore ethics of science and religion. It’s like the saying “just because we can doesn’t mean we should”. I know with the rise of CHRISPR and even when stem cells were beginning to be used, religious leaders were and are in a bit of an uproar. I’m not against either of these but I’ve seen a lot of people throw one heck of a fit about it. From what I’ve seen personally, I think a lot of the anger has more to do with a lack of understanding then anything else. While I know that the US public school system struggles to fund even the most basic of an education…. I am thankful that books and movies help bridge that gap some. The real solve for this issue is a better education and I feel that superstition will fade with better understanding. In the meantime, I would like to see books and movies come even closer to actual science and explore further. 

While on the subject of ethics, I’d like to bring up how dystopian novels also breed enormous amounts of empathy. One book, “The Dean Machine” flips the script on puppy mills. Instead of dogs, the appalling conditions are experienced by humanity. Dylan Lee Peters dives deep in his book and it’s one of the most eye opening and disturbing things I’ve ever read. It also made me take a deep look at society and it’s treatment of animals in general. Author’s have a lot of power in this regard. They literally help shape public opinion and can make real changes with the power of their words. 

What are some dystopian stories you’ve read that shook you? 

Check out the books mentioned in this article below!

life as we knew it cover

I guess I always felt even if the world came to an end, McDonald’s still would be open.

High school sophomore Miranda’s disbelief turns to fear in a split second when an asteroid knocks the moon closer to Earth, like “one marble hits another.” The result is catastrophic. How can her family prepare for the future when worldwide tsunamis are wiping out the coasts, earthquakes are rocking the continents, and volcanic ash is blocking out the sun? As August turns dark and wintery in northeastern Pennsylvania, Miranda, her two brothers, and their mother retreat to the unexpected safe haven of their sunroom, where they subsist on stockpiled food and limited water in the warmth of a wood-burning stove.

Told in a year’s worth of journal entries, this heart-pounding story chronicles Miranda’s struggle to hold on to the most important resource of all—hope—in an increasingly desperate and unfamiliar world. An extraordinary series debut!

Susan Beth Pfeffer has written several companion novels to Life As We Knew It, including The Dead and the Gone, This World We Live In, and The Shade of the Moon.

The Last Orphans Cover

 

One horrifying day will change the life of sixteen-year-old Shane Tucker and every other kid in the world. 

In a span of mere hours, the entire adult population is decimated, leaving their children behind to fend for themselves and deal with the horrific aftermath of the freak occurrence. As one of the newly made elders in his small town, Shane finds himself taking on the role of caretaker for a large group of juvenile survivors. One who just happens to be Kelly Douglas—an out-of-his-league classmate—who, on any other day, would have never given Shane a second glance. 

Together, they begin their quest to find out why all of the adults were slaughtered. What they find is even more horrifying than anything they could have expected—the annihilation of the adults was only the beginning. Shane and his friends are not the unlucky survivors left to inherit this new, messed-up planet. No, they are its next victims. There is an unknown power out there, and it won’t stop until every person in the world is dead. 

the-5th-wave    After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.

Now, it’s the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth’s last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie’s only hope for rescuing her brother–or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up.

 

The Dean Machine Cover  Meet Dan Delacor, an utterly boring citizen of Yellow City. Every day he puts on his yellow shoes, yellow shirt, yellow pants, and yellow tie, and catches a ride on the Tunnel Runner from the suburbs into downtown. He has a job, a home, and a girlfriend, and he never wonders what waits beyond the giant glass wall that surrounds Yellow City.
Except… Dan isn’t as boring as he seems. He often wonders why everything in Yellow City has to be yellow. He wonders why he suffers frequent anxiety attacks, and why he can’t help himself from strolling through dangerous neighborhoods, or running wildly through the fields that separate downtown from the suburbs. Mostly though, Dan wonders why he can’t remember how he lost his right arm, or anything that happened before five years ago.
So, when Dan’s mundane yellow world is interrupted with the seemingly impossible presence of a little red dog named Dean, he quickly finds out there are answers to his questions, and that everything he knows is a lie.
Follow Dan as he learns the secrets of his true identity, the scope of the world beyond the wall, and the true intentions of Yellow City’s mysterious leader, Chancellor Elgrey Vinsidian. Meet Wendy, the twelve-year-old girl on a rescue mission, Echo Valkzdokker, the woman with a love for danger, James Perkins, the wily pilot who has a way with words, and Bianna Kensington, the cold-mannered rebel with a cause. Look through the cracks of this new world with Dan as he learns why his little friend is nicknamed The Dean Machine, what special bond they share, and why the dog deserves a legacy that should live on forever.

He lives to love.
He would die to protect.
His heart is a machine.