Virgil tells others off the Rez that he does odd jobs in construction but his mainstay is acting as an enforcer to dispense tribal justice when no one else cares. Now he has been asked to tackle a problem that is closer to his heart. His nephew Nathan is a good kid who has been living with Virgil since his mom, Virgil's sister, passed away. Nathan gets messed up with some really bad guys out of Denver who are pushing heroin on the Rez, a group which includes the guy that Virgil is after. Virgil is one of those lovable misfit characters who try to do the right thing possibly in every wrong way. He half heartedly believes in the old ways but sadly has witnessed too much bad to truly think they will do any good. His is the perfect voice of how the Native American population is treated by the government. Cast aside, forgotten and left to wallow in drugs, alcohol, hopelessness and violence - this book paints a tragic picture. This strong debut will speak to fans of Tommy Orange, ONLY GOOD INDIANS and Craig Johnson's Longmire series. 4 stars
A naive governess in love is thrown into Newgate Prison for stealing an heirloom ring. Pregnant and alone she is then sentenced and put on a convict ship bound for Australia. The women who befriend her, the doctor who does his best and a crew member who has it in for her all shape her story. Meanwhile, a young aboriginal girl is taken from her island home to live with the Governor and his wife as a social experiment. The appalling lack of humanity the British had for the native population and the convicts is jaw dropping. A fascinating story that doesn't try to glorify or romanticize the treatment of both convicts or the islanders and another winner for Christina Baker Kline. For fans of THE THORN BIRDS and THE FORGOTTEN GARDEN, this is an illuminating story in Australia's history. 4 stars
The Nature of Nature by Enric Sala
A thought provoking look at ecosystems and their importance on land, sea and the Earth as a whole. Enric Sala is an accomplished oceanographer and marine ecologist who could swim before he could walk. He has no trouble throwing out big numbers and scary predictions but backs them up with fascinating studies and first hand personal trips making it easy to wrap your head around the science. His description of one ecosystem off the coast of Alaska not only made it perfectly clear how important ecosystems are to our survival but I will never think of a sea urchin in the same way again.
If you haven't given much thought to the overfishing of our oceans, the deforestation of the Amazon jungle or the loss of some of our wildest places then this book will give you much to ponder. 4 stars
Final Cut by S.J. Watson
3 1/2 stars
Alex gets pulled back to where she started from when a new documentary project chooses the location of a small town that is all too familiar to her. This is a town with many secrets and the more Alex digs into what she thinks is her past and that of some missing teens, the more dangerous this documentary will become. This is a very twisty thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat. It has all the necessary parts of a good thriller - unreliable narrator, shady past, drugs, sex and much danger.
3 1/2 stars
A melodic memoir told partly in stories he is telling his daughter about his upbringing and partly in the prose of his own working through the trauma of his chaotic childhood and failures in adulthood. He is very open of his failings in his marriage and his desire to give his young daughter a better childhood and parent than he had. On one hand we see this wonderful relationship he is developing with his daughter taking her to revisit his hometown and on the other we see how insane and unguided his upbringing was not to mention his lack of connection to a parent and his mother's mental illness. His therapy in words raises many questions of our own to ponder about our own childhood, parents and relationships.
The Mother Code by Carole Stivers
In this apocalyptic tale of Earth's demise a group of scientists place genetically perfect embryos inside robot cocoons. The children are raised by their robot mothers who nurture, teach and protect them until it is time to find the others. These children will be the future if they can find each other. THE MOTHER CODE shows us a different side to A.I. and asks if we have what it takes to develop and depend on this kind of new motherhood. It leaves the reader with many questions and would be a unique pick for bookclubs. It will be devoured by sci-fi lovers who ponder on the survival of the human race if there is a devastating disease. 3 stars
Atomic Love by Jennie Fields
3 1/2 stars
The only female scientist on the team working on the atomic bomb in Chicago, Rosalind was devastated after the bombs dropped. She lost her job and lost the love of her life. Now, working at a department store she is leading a very different life. Her old boyfriend suddenly reappears and an FBI agent wants Rosalind to get the dirt on him so he can turn him in as a Russian spy. She finds herself caught between the man she loved and thought she knew and a new man who seems to be everything she needs. This is a solid romantic spy story based on true events.
A memoir of grief and astrophysics - an unlikely combination unless you are talking about blackholes but Sara Seager does a great job of tying the two together in a compassionate and hopeful way. Sara was an ambitious astrophysicist when her husband died of pancreatic cancer leaving her untethered with two young sons to raise on her own. She tried to spend the same amount of energy on her first love- astrophysics, tried to cope with the loss of her second love- Mike and be the whole world for her third loves- her sons. This left her spinning out of orbit but with the help of a support group of fiesty widows and others she finds a way back to Earth and love. Honest and filled with just enough interesting science that even a non-scientist can relate to, this is a logical thinker dealing with something that is pure emotion. 4 stars
The New Wilderness by Diane Cook
A harsh and beautiful look at what the future could hold for us if life becomes too much living in the overcrowded and polluted cities. Agnes is very young when they leave the city to be part of an experimental study living off the land in the Wilderness. Her parents take the risk knowing that her life is at stake unless they can get her clean air. The study will take a group of people with no prior experience living off the land and plunk them into a new lifestyle without power, technology and comfort. Agnes thrives there but many of the adults don't and as the rangers take more control over where they can camp and the dangers start taking lives, tensions in the group start to mount. Agnes is dealt a blow when her mother suddenly leaves to return to the city. It is an interesting study of how societies are born and a different sense of family as well as how quickly it can fall apart. There is a quiet elegance to the landscape and an interesting parallel between how the Community is pushed around and constantly relocated to less desirable camps much like how the government relocated Native Americans long ago. Even though it is futuristic you can relate to it easily and readers who don't normally read the genre will get much out of the human power struggles and the delightful voice of Agnes.
Olive the Lionheart by Brad Ricca
A fascinating armchair journey to the deep dark jungles of Africa in 1910. Olive Macleod ventured with another couple to places that few white people went to let alone a woman to find her fiancee's gravesite and recover his journals. To get there she found herself in dangerous situations such as being attacked by hippos, crossing rivers and swamps atop a guide's shoulders, deadly snakes and insects as well as less than friendly natives, corrupt government and poison. The story has been connected by Olive's letters to her fiancee , his letters and journals and the author's vivid imagination. If you have ever longed to discover a little known wonder or found yourself immersed in Isak Dinesen's OUT OF AFRICA and Wilbur Smith's African adventures, then this book is a must read. I don't know if she was naive, lucky or a bit reckless but Olive Macleod lived life on her own terms and was as fearless as the lion cubs she adopted.
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