Book Review: Recursion by Blake Crouch

Recursion-cover-1263x1920Helena Smith’s mother is suffering from Alzheimer’s and she wants nothing more than to bring back her mother’s precious memories. So she begins experimenting with a new technology that will preserve special moments in life while also allowing them to relive learning to drive, getting married, the birth of their children or the last few moments with a loved one who is about to pass over into the afterlife.

Through her research and efforts, “the chair” is created. It can send you back to different memories in time, creating new timelines and erasing past mistakes or events. The only problem is, Helena’s boss isn’t using it for the purpose she intended and instead of doing good, her technological advancement is wreaking havoc on the current timeline of the world.

NYC cop Barry Sutton stumbles upon Helena’s invention while investigating False Memory Syndrome – a condition that’s causing people to kill themselves based on memories of lives they never thought they experienced. Unknown to them, their jolting memories, which return to them once they’ve reached the moment in time the original event was altered, are a side effect of someone else in their life using “the chair” to undo some event in the past.

The general public doesn’t know about “the chair” – only Helena and a few other researchers, and their subjects are poached off the street by Helena’s boss, Marcus Slade.

Soon the government will get involved and that opens a whole new Pandora’s Box. They start small by jumping timelines to undo school shootings or horrific criminal acts and soon, top officials want to eradicate past events like the Holocaust.

Recursion is a stellar follow up to sci-fi writer Blake Crouch’s thriller Dark Matter. There’s a lot to keep track of with the shifting timelines, but once you get used to it, it’s not hard understand where our characters are in the story line.

In addition to the face paced writing style, Crouch challenges readers to think about if changing the past really would really be for the moral good and if the human race can ever be trusted to carry that out if the technology is ever invented.

Easily one of the best books I’ve read all year, Recursion should be at the top of your reading list. Netflix has already optioned it for a film/TV series with Shonda Rimes’ production company to produce.


Book Review: Say You’re Sorry


Say You’re Sorry by Karen Rose

While walking home one night, Daisy Dawson is attacked, but manages to fight the perpetrator, swiping a necklace and some skin cells off under her nails in the process. What she doesn’t know is that her would be kidnapper is a serial killer, and she’s the only victim that has gotten away.

Daisy has a high profile public job, so it doesn’t take long for her attacker to figure out her identity. Enraged that he wasn’t able to capture her the first time, her assailant begins stalking her and Special Agent Gideon Reynolds, who’s been assigned to protect her.

While he’s stalking her, he’s also kidnapping and murdering other women, collecting necklaces and drivers licenses as trophy pieces once he’s done with them. However, one of his victims isn’t about to give up; she begins memorizing every name and is determined to break out of the prison he has set up in his basement.

As the detectives begin to piece together clues about the case, they uncover details linking the assailant to someone from Agent Reynolds past, and in order to catch a killer, Reynolds and Daisy take off on an interstate adventure that brims with romance, action, murder and mystery.

There’s a little something for everyone in this romantic suspense from Karen Rose and even though it’s over 600 pages, it’s a quick read that you’ll have a hard time putting down.


Book Review: ‘A Spark of Light’ by Jodi Picoult

Book Review: ‘A Spark of Light’ by Jodi Picoult

Jodi Picoult is one of the best fiction writers out there today. Never one to shy away from controversial topics, she has a gift for presenting both sides of an issue and leaving readers to decide for themselves which point of view is the correct one. In her new novel, A Spark of Light, she confronts abortion and a woman’s right to choose head-on.

A gunman has burst into Mississippi’s only remaining abortion clinic, killing several staff members and wounding some of the patients. Not everyone is there for an abortion; some are only there to receive medical care or birth control. The story is told in reverse, allowing readers to trace back to what caused such a tragedy and how the cast of characters arrived at the clinic that fateful day.

For A Spark of Light, Picoult interviewed both pro-life and pro-choice advocates and loosely based one of her characters on the Christian abortion doctor, Willie Parker, who compares abortion restrictions to slavery and believes he is doing moral good by providing women with abortions. Picoult also shadowed Parker when researching her novel, watching as he performed three different abortions – one at five weeks, eight weeks and fifteen weeks.

Picoult includes in her author’s note at the end of the book that for the early stage abortions,  she “saw the products of conception, and there was nothing to suggest, to the naked eye, a dead baby.”  These observations are worked into the story, and at times the novel can be quite graphic, especially with the fifteen week abortion, which is described in detail and was quite frankly, emotionally draining to read. Picoult herself even admits that among the remains of that procedure are “tiny, recognizable body parts.”

She spoke with over 150 women who have terminated a pregnancy – the majority think of their choice daily but only one told the author that they regret that choice.

Surprisingly, there is no anti-gun rhetoric in the novel, especially since it centers on a shooting at the clinic.

A Spark of Light is not a beach read. The subject matter is heavy, yet engaging and opens up all kinds of moral discussions for either side of the abortion debate. Picoult does a pretty good job at balancing viewpoints, however  readers will be able to tell which side she favors based on the way some of the characters are portrayed.

What left me as a pro-life advocate especially sad was that even after observing several abortions and admitting a fetus is a life, Picoult still believes that the rights of women should be protected over that of an unborn baby. In her end notes, she uses the age old argument that criminalizing abortion won’t stop women from getting them and by keeping it legal, we are protecting women from complications and even death from at home attempts to terminate pregnancies.

Picoult also laments that both sides hold deep and unshakable convictions that they are right. Instead of shouting at each other or “demonizing” the opposing viewpoint, she suggests we talk with each other, listen and respect opinions even if we don’t agree with them. That’s refreshing to hear, especially in this current, toxic war between liberals and conservatives.

While I don’t share Picoult’s views on a woman’s right to choose, I applaud her for tackling a tough issue, writing about it in a fairly balanced manner and showing kindness to the pro-life movement.

4 out of 5 stars.

Book Review: The Beauty Suit – How My Year of Religious Modesty Made me a Better Feminist by Lauren Shields

41zMxUQgBZL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_As women, we’re constantly bombarded by society to look younger, stay slim, have blemish free skin and frizz free hair.

Social media hasn’t helped us out at all – fashion bloggers are constantly reminding us we need to have our eye lashes filled, our eyebrows microbladed, our skin freshly spray tanned and that last week’s top we bought from the clearance rack is already out of style.

Superficiality is consuming western society and in The Beauty Suit, Lauren Shields argues that women are being told that our worth is defined by our looks and even though the measurement of our hemline is supposed to liberate us, it actually can stifle our path to empowerment.

So she set out to do an experiment – for nine months out of her life, she was shedding “The Suit” as she calls it, and dressing modestly. No make-up, no heals and no blow-outs – Sheilds decided to take inspiration from American Muslim women who wear a hijab for feminist reasons and see how dressing modestly affected her life and how people treated her.

This was a fascinating read and one that most women will relate to. The first time Sheilds goes out in public without make-up, she’s mortified to show her bare face in public. Will someone ask her if she feels alright? Are people noticing the blemishes on her face? What women who wears make-up on a daily basis hasn’t felt that way?

She noticed that men stopped paying attention to her when she’d go out with her friends, preferring someone who looked like they “made an effort.” People asked her if she was a nun. As she documented her experiment for Salon, fellow feminists criticized her saying she was trying to dictate how other women dressed.

Her entire experiment is coupled with the way religion views modesty, so there is quite a bit of historical context throughout as well as a lot of feminist exploration of the patriarchy, toxic masculinity, slut shaming and victim blaming.

However, Shields focuses so much on how women do all these things to please men, but she never really addresses the idea that women put on a full face of make-up for other women. I would have to agree that at first, women try to look their best to catch a mate, but once our significant other has seen us barefaced and naked, we don’t care so much about always looking attractive for them. Instead, we put on “The Suit” because we’re constantly scrutinizing – and judging – how other women look and we know they’re doing the same to us.

(If you’re a woman and you’re reading this saying “I’d never do that” then I’d have to call B.S. on you because ALL women have done this at least once in their life.)

I personally would have liked a little more about what she was feeling and how people were reacting to her experiment versus the heavy focus on feminism and religion but overall, this is an intriguing read and a challenge to women to look past the materialistic facets of our lives and start embracing that “life’s too short to keep cramming ourselves into a costume that tells us we’re secondary in the world.”