House Rules by Jodi Picoult is a realistic view into the world of a family dealing with Asperger's Syndrome. She illustrates the character with Asperg...moreHouse Rules by Jodi Picoult is a realistic view into the world of a family dealing with Asperger's Syndrome. She illustrates the character with Asperger's syndrome, Jacob, wonderfully, painting a picture of his keen intellect coupled with his stunted emotional growth. Jacob, and all people with Asperger's aren't like the typical autistic children and adults. A person with Asperger's wants to connect with those around him or her, but lacks the necessary skill to do so.
The story is written from multiple points of view: Jacob's; his brother, Theo; his mother, Emma; his lawyer, Oliver and a detective, Rich. Despite all the different points of view Picoult weaves a cohesive story with a strong plot and enough twists and turns to keep you guessing until the end.
House Rules is the story of Jacob and his family, their "normal" life and their life after Jacob is accused of the murder of his social skills tutor, a grad student named Jess. What follows is a passage from the book:
"Once when Jacob was ten, we were walking the aisles of a Toys "R" Us in Williston when a little boy jumped out from an endcap wearing a Darth Vader mask and brandishing a light saber. "Bang, you're dead!" the boy cried, and Jacob believed him. He started shrieking and rocking, and then he swept his arm through the display on the shelves. He was doing it to make sure he was not a ghost, to make sure he could leave an impact in this world. He spun and flailed, trampling boxes as he ran away from me.
By the time I tackled him in the doll section, he was completely out of control. I tried singing Marley to him. I shouted at him to make him respond to my voice. But Jacob was in his own little world and finally the only way I could make him calm was to become a human blanket, to pin him down on the industrial tile with his arms and legs flung wide.
By then, the police had been called on suspicion of child abuse.
It took fifteen minutes to explain to the officers that my son was autistic, and that I wasn't trying to hurt him - I was trying to help him.
I've often thought, since then, about what would happen if Jacob was stopped by the police while he was on his own - "
Jacob has to have a strict routine to function. He has a photographic memory, but watches Crime Busters every day at 4:30 p.m. When his routine is interupted he becomes agitated and may harm himself or others. He has been known to injure others on occasion. He is a forensic science buff. His reason for watching Crime Busters every day is to see if 1) he can solve the crime faster than the CSI detectives on the show do and 2) to see if the ending of the show will be different. He has over a hundred composition books filled with notes from the various episodes, which have been repeats for quite some time and he subscribes to at least one forensic science magazine. He keeps a overturned fish tank in his room to process prints and sets up elaborate crime scenes for his mother to solve.
After Jess is killed the evidence points to Jacob as her killer. He had an appointment with her on the day she disappeared and she is found with his handmade quilt wrapped around her. As time goes on more evidence mounts against Jacob, including some of his own comments and notes. Did Jacob kill Jess and if he did will he be sent to jail or found not guilty by reason of insanity?
House Rules by Jodi Picoult, copyright 2010 by Jodi Picoult, pulished by Atria Books a Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc. 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020 ISBN 978-0-7432-9643-4(less)
Sometimes the system fails and when it does, it’s catastrophic. Damaged by Cathy Glass is the story of one such failure and the little girl involved,...moreSometimes the system fails and when it does, it’s catastrophic. Damaged by Cathy Glass is the story of one such failure and the little girl involved, Jodie. Cathy is a carer, the English equivalent of a foster parent, with twenty years of experience. Jodie comes to live with Cathy when she is just under eight-years-old and while there makes a series of startling revelations to Cathy. The first thirty pages or so are back story, but keep reading, it’s well worth your time.
Damaged is the true story of Jodie and the way the way the system fell apart, failing her in the most dramatic ways, keeping her in a dangerous home, where she suffered multiple injuries requiring emergency treatment, while they monitored the situation for nearly eight years. Her social services file was so extensive none of her social workers had ever read it in its entirety. What follows is a scene from the book:
“ …suddenly I was awake, with my eyes open and my senses alert. I turned and looked at the clock: it was nearly 2:15 a.m. I listened. The house was silent. Yet something told me all was not well; a sixth sense from years of looking after children.
I eased my feet from the bed and felt for my slippers. The house was cold, as the heating had switched off for the night. I fumbled to get my arms into my robe, tied it loosely, and opened the bedroom door. Suddenly, I gasped in shock. Jodie was standing outside the door, her face covered in blood.
‘What is it? What have you done?’ I frantically searched for the source of the blood. ‘Where are you hurt? Tell me! Come on, quickly!’ I couldn’t find anything, but the blood was fresh.
In a trance-like state, she slowly raised her hands and showed me her palms. They were smeared with blood, but I still couldn’t find any sign of a cut. I pulled up her pajama sleeves, and then I saw it. She had a cut on her left forearm, about an inch long, which was lightly seeping blood…
No one had mentioned anything about self-harming, but I doubted this was the first time she’d done it. I looked closer, and saw there were other fine, pink scar lines running up both arms. How recent they were was difficult to tell.”
Damaged by Cathy Glass is published by HarperElement, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, 77 – 85 Fulham Palace Road, Hammersmith, London, England W6 8JB, copyright 2006, ISBN 978-0-00-723634-3. Available online through Amazon, Barnes and Noble as well as other online book dealers, it may additionally be purchased local your local book store and through several book clubs. (less)
Secrets She Left Behind by Diane Chamberlain is a stunning work of fiction revolving around the viewpoints of four main characters Sara, Keith, Maggie...moreSecrets She Left Behind by Diane Chamberlain is a stunning work of fiction revolving around the viewpoints of four main characters Sara, Keith, Maggie and Andy. Maggie, Keith, and Andy are all related because years ago Sara, who is Keith’s mother, had an affair with Maggie’s father. Maggie set a fire which left her half-brother Keith badly burned and extremely bitter.
Secrets She Left Behind is the story of two families whose fates are inextricably wound together. Burn victim Keith is hooked on pain pills and mixing them with alcohol in a family with a history of alcohol abuse. His mother is missing, but where is she and what happened to her? She disappeared the day Maggie got out of prison. Why didn't she take Keith with her. Keith’s half-sister Maggie wants to try to make things better for him but can’t even face him and the two siblings have serious issues they have to overcome in order to begin finding some common ground. Is it even possible for them to overcome the pain and terror in their way?
Add into this mix a stranger who arrives in town and befriends both Maggie and Keith. To Keith she claims to hate Maggie, but to Maggie, she becomes the only friend she has in a town turned against her. Who is she lying to and why?
What follows is an excerpt from the book written from Maggie’s perspective on the first visit to her court ordered pyschiatrist:
“‘What’s it been like for you since Monday?’ he asked.
‘What do you mean?’
‘Being out of prison? Being free?’
He waited for me to go on. I stared out the window with its view of the parking lot until my eyes watered. Then I looked at my ragged fingernails. He wasn’t going to talk until I did. It was like a standoff. A war, but I had the feeling he could take the silence longer than I could.
‘The reporters are everywhere,’ I said finally.
‘Ah,’ he said. ‘What’s that like for you?’
I shrugged. ‘I hate it,’ I said. ‘It’s not fair to my family, either. If it was just me…well, that’s bad enough, but I get why they have to be after me. I’m the story. But I want them to leave my brother and mother alone.’...
…I thought again about Andy walking to the school bus that morning, maybe trying to make sense of the reporters and their questions. Struggling to figure out how to answer them. Before I knew what was happening, my eyes filled with tears.
‘You love your family very much,’ Dr. Jakes said.
He motioned to the box of tissues on the table next to my chair and I took one and pressed it to my eyes. I did not want to cry here. I didn’t want to give this old sloppy fat man the satisfaction of making me cry. But suddenly, that was all I could do. I cried, and he let me. That’s about all I did for the rest of the session. He said that was okay. Good, even. I had a lot of pain inside me, he said, and we’d have plenty of time together to talk it all through.”
Since reading Secrets She Left Behind I’ve been informed the story of these two families actually began in Chamerlain’s Before the Storm, which I’ve never read. I found Secrets She Left Behind to be more than capable of standing alone as a novel. I will read Before the Storm simply because I fell in love with the characters in Secrets She Left Behind and am so glad there is more to their story, even if it occurred prior to this novel.
Secrets She Left Behind by Diane Chamberlain, copyright 2009 Diane Chamberlain, published by MIRA Books, 225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9, ISBN 978-1-61523-062-4 (less)
Full Snow Moon By Lisa Begin-Kruysman Published by Bradley Publishing ISBN 13: 978-1-938076-04-6
Full Snow Moon is the YA debut of author Lisa Begin-Kruys...moreFull Snow Moon By Lisa Begin-Kruysman Published by Bradley Publishing ISBN 13: 978-1-938076-04-6
Full Snow Moon is the YA debut of author Lisa Begin-Kruysman and it is everything a good YA book should be. It is filled with modern adventure that begins the night young Alex Van Note wrecks his Jeep in the middle of a snowstorm. Assisting in Alex’s rescue is the ghost of one Eli Hampton who went missing during the Great East Coast Blizzard of 1888. Eli has a mission for Alex, help him get home, unfortunately for Eli is historic home is about to be torn down to make room for a modern strip mall. Alex has his work cut out for him.
Begin-Kruysman keeps an interesting narrative going throughout the story as well as peppering the story with facts about the expedition of Lewis and Clark, the Peace Medals, the Lenni Lenape people and the Sand Hill Indians. She maintains the reader’s interest by keeping the pace going and the tension in the story evolving.
I found the characters in Full Snow Moon to be interesting and realistic. Stereotypes were avoided and the characters were, for the most part, well-rounded individuals. All the characters were late teenagers poised on the cusp of developing adulthood and the challenges they faced as a result of the storyline would help define who they would come to be in the future.
I loved the way Begin-Kruysman worked historical facts and details into the story. It was done with perfect timing and in such a way that it was interesting, not just superfluous details. I cared not only about the living characters, but also about young dead Eli, his family and his ancestral home. I was alarmed by the statistics that showed how quickly land is being destroyed and developed in the US and how we are losing the character of our cities and towns in the race to update and modernize.
Begin-Kruysman opened my eyes to all of this and more through the story of one historic house and one family. Alex dug for the information that would help him solve the mystery posed by Eli and the house, it wasn’t supernaturally handed to him and his research made what he learned even more interesting to me as a reader. It kept things vital and alive and well rooted in the present even though the problem that was being solved had begun long ago on the fateful nights of the Blizzard of 1888. I would definitely recommend this story to both adults and YA readers who are looking for something out of the ordinary that mixes fact with fiction in a blend that represents the best of each. (less)
Stone Maiden by Ann Aguirre was Aguirre's debut book. I liked the story, but it failed to truly grab me. I thought most of the characters' had earth s...moreStone Maiden by Ann Aguirre was Aguirre's debut book. I liked the story, but it failed to truly grab me. I thought most of the characters' had earth shattering revelations and underwent dramatic changes, only to return, in one form another to their previous states, or a worse state, because they now had knowledge of what the world could have offered them.
I liked the mythological elements of the book, though I was hungry to hear more of the gods of old. I was pleased with the way Aguirre managed to tie in current aspects of the book with the presence of those ancient and forgotten gods.
While I don't think Stone Maiden in any way represents Aguirre's best work I think she has grown tremendously as a writer since its publication and I would like to see her turn her skills to a sequel for Stone Maiden. I think the basic back story is solid enough to build upon and there are several characters in the tale whose long-term fates, I would like to learn.
Stone Maiden is written by Ann Aguirre. Try as I might I was unable to locate an ISBN for the work. I downloaded it on the Kindle, actually, the Kindle for Blackberry application. That left me minus a cover page, but I'm tyring to locate more information and will post it as it becomes available. (less)
Cherie Priest does a wonderful job in creating a world that will scare your socks off. If you live in Seattle BONESHAKER might just give you nightmare...moreCherie Priest does a wonderful job in creating a world that will scare your socks off. If you live in Seattle BONESHAKER might just give you nightmares.
Priest gives a view of an alternate reality where the Civil War has lasted for years beyond its actual span and Seattle has been destroyed by a machine designed to tunnel through the frozen Alaskan landscape in order to access gold veins far beneath the surface. The destruction caused by this machine allows a poisonous gas to escape that causes people exposed to it to turn into zombies called rotters. Priest provides reasons why all of these events takie place so it's easy to enter into her fantasy world and suspend your disbelief.
BONESHAKER is populated with villians, heroes, zombies and air pirates. There is a wonderful buld-up of action throughout the story that leaves you panting on the edge of your seat. There is one major problem, the book is missing two pages near the end. It was very frustrating because I knew I was missing a great scene and there was nothing I could do about it. After emailing Ms. Priest she contacted her editor, according to whom one need simply send the defective book to the address below and the publisher will replace the book with one that is not faulty.
But, the missing pages don't affect the plot or the backbone of the story. It's just a great action scene near the end of the book that probably would have built the tension even more before allowing its release.
Here's an example of Priest's writing:
"Briar reached for her satchel and hastily reloaded. If the rotters had breached the building, she might have to shoot her way through them on her way to the basement.
Her hands paused as she held the canister of shells, but only briefly.
If she went downstairs and they came behind her, she'd be trapped there.
She recommenced loading the rifle, and fast. Trapped downstairs, trapped upstairs. The differences were small, and she was damned either way. Better to keep her gun loaded and her options open.
The cacophony had escalated, and Briar wondered if she hadn't already lost the option of seeking a subterranean escape. She locked the cartridges into place and took another long look over the edge.
On the street the swarm gethered and clotted. The number of rotters had at least tripled, more than making up for the small handful she'd dispatched on her way up the hotel's exterior."
BONESHAKER by Cherie Priest, copyright 2009, A Tor Book, Published by Tom Doherty Associates, LLC, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010, http://www.tor-forge.com ISBN 978-0-7653-1841-1 %15.99 U.S., $20.50 Canada available through Tor Books at the website above, online from Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other online retailers. Also available at local book stores.(less)
Ghost Of The Black by Alan Baxter really had the potential to be a good story. some of the elements were there but it rushed toward the end of the sto...moreGhost Of The Black by Alan Baxter really had the potential to be a good story. some of the elements were there but it rushed toward the end of the story. Also the transition between scenes in some places was unimaginative, merely a spaceflight to a new place or a fight and the new scenes started. The plot line was good, but the characters, including the "hero" were all stereotypical.
Baxter's Ghost of the Black and my appreciation of it may have been affected by its brevity. It is a very difficult task to develop intense characters in novellas and short stories and Ghost Of The Black is not an exception to this problem.
The story line has so much potential for a longer work and I think I'm biased because that's really what it made me want, a longer work were Baxter could explore the characters more and really add some depth to the story. I really like the plot, I just think both the "hero" and the "villian" could have been much rounder characters.
I actually wish we had a score that was a two-and-a-half because there were aspects of this story that I really liked, but there were also aspects I felt were only okay, so given the choices offered I had to give it two stars, though in truth it falls somewhere between two and three. (less)
After the War, Before the Peace By Sharon Poppen Copyright 2002 by Sharon Poppen Published by Xlibris, paperback $22.95 ISBN10 1-4010-6545-7, eBook $9.99...moreAfter the War, Before the Peace By Sharon Poppen Copyright 2002 by Sharon Poppen Published by Xlibris, paperback $22.95 ISBN10 1-4010-6545-7, eBook $9.99 ISBN10 1-4535-8286-X
After the War, Before the Peace is Sharon Poppen’s stunning debut novel set in the years following the American Civil War. With stunning characters who leap off the page and into your imagination and meticulous attention to detail Poppen’s novel is more than the story of one family ravaged by Civil War and left to rebuild their lives in a world that refused to acknowledge things like basic American civil rights, compensation for war crimes or the prosecution of war criminals.
The story of the Farrell family, whose patriarch, as well as two sons fought for the Confederate States of America and the wife and two younger sons left behind in Summerville, South Carolina will cause you to experience the gamut of human emotions from outrage and fear to love and joy. It is a tale of the triumphs, tragedies and deeply personal experiences of a family first torn apart by war, then separated by the need for retribution and revenge. It is a story of love that can overcome any obstacle, as well as love that fails to rise to the occasion and meet the challenges put before it. It is one family’s story that was echoed multiple times throughout a war ravaged country, where, in the author’s own words, “citizen fought against citizen.”
I found myself caught up in After in the War, Before the Peace within the first few pages. I read in bed sick, because I couldn’t put it down. I read it long past bedtime once I was recuperating because I just had to know what was going to happen next. When I awakened in the morning I reached for along with my morning cup of coffee. For seven days the Farrells were an integral part of my waking and sleeping moments and at no point in time was I sorry I had invested so much time and energy into their story. It left me deeply satisfied and looking forward to the sequel Lita’s Story – A Meandering Tale, which is due to be released sometime in the future by Virtual Tales Publishing who incidentally have also picked up After the War, Before the Peace for re-release sometime in 2012. For now though After the War, Before the Peace can be found through Xlibris and on Amazon’s website. Pick up a copy, it’s a wonderful novel I’m sure you’ll enjoy. (less)
Take No More by Seb Kirby is a wonderful book by a promising author. From the first pages Take No More held me enthralled and it delivered on every pr...moreTake No More by Seb Kirby is a wonderful book by a promising author. From the first pages Take No More held me enthralled and it delivered on every promise it made. It is a rich story set a complex tapestry of characters and setting.
My only complaint about Take No More is that twice it managed to break the suspension of disbelief necessary to fiction. Both incidents involved the name of one of the main characters. In the first instance it was a simple misspelling - a case where obviously the writer had been so caught up in telling his story that his fingers had simply moved to fast. This mistake was easy to overlook, as were minor grammar errors, but what really threw me for a loop was when, near the end of the book, the writer got the name of one of the main characters completely wrong. I was so upset I almost threw down my Kindle. It totally ruined the moment for me and thereafter I had a hard time focusing because I was so hung-up on this mistake.
Still, in spite of it all, Seb Kirby tells a wonderful tale and I would re-read the book anytime. Well done.(less)
Bachelor's Bought Bride by Jennifer Lewis was an enjoyable, if somewhat predictable read. This time it is the bride who's wealthy in her own right, a...moreBachelor's Bought Bride by Jennifer Lewis was an enjoyable, if somewhat predictable read. This time it is the bride who's wealthy in her own right, a father who's wealthier and a husband who makes a decent living, but has big dreams. They all come together to form the backbone of the story, but they do it well and with finesse from the beginning.
The characters are well drawn. There are no gaps in their personalities, though there is one character in particular who isn't flat and about whom you still have questions at the end of the story. I would have liked to see that particular element resolved too, but who knows, maybe the author is saving it for a future book. The love-making scenes are tastefully executed and don't overwhelm the book, though the male lead seem to suffer from sex on the brain syndrome. I suppose on a way it's necessary though to establish how much he desires his wife. This scene occurs before their marriage, but it gives an idea of the tone of the book:
"Arousal surged through him, and he tugged his gaze from Bree's breathtaking cleavage back to the artwork at hand. 'Very nice,' he murmured.
She tossed her cascade of curls behind her shoulder. He could almost swear her hair looked totally different last time he'd seen her. It had been tied back-maybe that was it.
It wasn't just the hair. Something was very different about Bree. She'd been pretty in a quiet and unassuming way when they met. Now she was undeniably a knockout. Even the way she carried herself seemed altered. Before, her shoulders were rounded, apologetic. Now she threw them back proudly.
Her stiff evening gown had concealed her body at the gala. This drapey number revealed it in tantalizing detail-her backside was a work of art all by itself. His fingers itched to pull at the bow tied at her waist and unwrap the delicious present in front of him."
As i said it is tastefully done, with rounded characters and a distinct plot that never falters. It is a quick and easy read. It took me about five and a half hours to read it. Overall, I found it very enjoyable.
I purchased Bachelor's Bought Bride through Harlequin Book Club, but it is also available through Barnes and Noble, Amazon, as well as other online sources and your local booksellers. It is additionally available as an eBook through the Harlequin website at http://www.eHarlequin.com ISBN 978-0-373-73025-4. Bachelor's Bought Bride published by Silhouette Books and copyrighted 2010.(less)
Out of Fear By Don Hutcheson Copyright 2010 by Don Hutcheson, ISBN10 145371054X, ISBN 13 978-1453710548, $17.95, Kindle ASIN B004XRAKG0, $9.99 available...moreOut of Fear By Don Hutcheson Copyright 2010 by Don Hutcheson, ISBN10 145371054X, ISBN 13 978-1453710548, $17.95, Kindle ASIN B004XRAKG0, $9.99 available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other fine booksellers.
Out of Fear by Don Hutcheson is the tale of Will Stallworth, an advertising executive returning to his home state of Georgia to take the job of his dreams, but just when things should be the brightest they’ve ever been for Will his life begins to slowly unravel.
Will is haunted by nightmares of his brother’s suicide years before. His relationship with his parents is stressed. His mother is a paragon in his eyes, a perfectly aged Southern grand dame of a mother who represents the finest qualities of Southern women everywhere: grace, poise and irrefutable dignity presented in a solidly middle class life touched by loss and sorrow. His father, well that’s another story entirely. Whereas Will’s mother is kind, graceful and accommodating, Will’s father is harsh, cold and distant as the lunar landscape. But mortality calls to everyone and it’s time for Will’s father to pass beyond this life into whatever is on the other side. Instead of drawing this family closer together Will’s father, Donald’s, impending death puts even more pressure on Will and draws the simmering cauldron of Will’s repressed rage toward his father closer to surface. Instead of reconciliation this deathbed scene will be filled with recriminations and words harsh enough to scar a man’s soul.
Hutcheson’s main character Will Stallworth is complex and interesting. At times Hutcheson gets too caught up in narration, but the story is still a rich one taking you behind the scenes of the advertising world and the pressure it puts on people. How one deal can make or break an entire career. How one misstep in the very public limelight of the advertising world can spell ruin and how sometimes a man’s worst enemy can be the very person who was once his friend and confidant.
Out of Fear is Will’s story, with everyone else acting as secondary players on the canvas of Will’s life and impending breakdown. He has few people he would consider allies, even fewer he would consider friends. He faces the worst of things on his own, beginning to come around only when he is finally able to see he can help someone else who he does considers a friend. It is this friendship, as well as Stallworth’s own redeveloping sense of self-worth that gives Will the courage he needs to begin rebuilding his shattered life.
Told from the male perspective the sex in Out of Fear is raw. There is no painting it pretty, dressing it up and calling it love. It is quite simply robust sex between two consenting adults who have no need to play adolescent games of love. It is self-serving seeking its own pleasure and it is about as raw, vulgar and truthful as it gets. Hutcheson called it erotic but in an email conversation with him I pointed out this definitely didn’t leave me turned on, in fact it had the opposite effect as it was so geared toward the male perspective of sex and there was no representation of the female point of view in the act, other than as a partner for the male. As Will points out, sex between consenting adults is fun, but a slightly more rounded perspective could have added volumes to the book in this aspect.
I have mixed reactions to Out of Fear by Don Hutcheson. It wasn’t my personal cup of tea, but I can acknowledge that another reader might really enjoy it. It is well-crafted, my only complaints being too much time spent in the narrative style and too many stereotypical characters, but, this is Will’s story and because of that I’m not certain how well-developed certain other characters needed to be. In the end, Hutcheson tells an interesting story despite the few flaws I found with it so I would say that if you are interested in psychological thrillers then go ahead and give Out of Fear a try.
All told Out of Fear,/i> is a reasonably good read. As previously noted, some of the characters are flat and predictable. The mother is a paragon of virtue, the father a walking, talking creep and the dead brother is keeping a secret that haunts Will throughout the story. Will and his sister are thick as thieves; they had to be to survive life in their house after their brother killed himself. His co-workers are either driven or tormented with nary a single sane soul among them. But by the final pages Will just might find something he didn’t even realize he was looking for, justification, release and redemption. Maybe he’ll find all three; we’ll have to wait for future books by Hutcheson to find out.(less)
Polly By Stephen Goldin Published by Parsina Press eBook ISBN 13: 9781452469591; Kindle ASIN B004HZYGPO, $4.99 Paperback ISBN 13: 9781456336394
Polly was a...morePolly By Stephen Goldin Published by Parsina Press eBook ISBN 13: 9781452469591; Kindle ASIN B004HZYGPO, $4.99 Paperback ISBN 13: 9781456336394
Polly was a highly unusual read. After his wife leaves him, Herodotus finds himself in trouble with the IRS over past due taxes, as if all this isn’t bad enough his bookstore – above which he lives – catches fire in the middle of the night. Rod, as Herodotus is known, escapes with his life but little else. Beaten down he decides to head for his brother’s ranch in Nevada to lick his wounds and hide away from the world for a while – preferably while huddled in bed in the fetal position, but life has other plans for Rod. Whilst on his way to Nevada, Rod’s car breaks down in front of the only residence for miles. Approaching the mansion, Rod notices what looks like a snowman standing in the heat, but this is only the first of several surprises in store for our erstwhile traveler when he meets the mansion’s owner, Polly. Polly is an enigma. The more Rod, who is now called Hero, tries to figure her out the less he understands her. She tries to teach him some truths about the universe, but can he learn the most important of those lessons? Polly made me think deeply about many things and realize some truths I already knew, but hadn’t verbalized. At the same time there was one philosophical point in Polly I disagreed with – there being no afterlife. I don’t know what that afterlife might look like, but I believe there is one. On most other points I was in agreement with what Goldin postulated through his imaginary character. On the surface Polly is a lighthearted, fun read, but it is also a philosophical primer of sorts which teaches that in the end, hope, and our ability to act upon it is our most powerful tool. It is what truly distinguishes from all other life on the planet. We have the choice to damage, or to contribute. To aid the inevitability of entropy or to slow it through our positive actions. Polly is interesting, insightful, irreverent and thought provoking. I would recommend it most to philosophers, those who wonder about the deeper meaning of life and people in search of a hopeful and lighthearted, but relevant read. (less)