Monthly Archives: October 2014

Saving Paradise, by Mike Bond (Mandevilla Press, 2012) – 4 stars

I’m giving Mike Bond’s Saving Paradise 4 stars because it’s not just a decent novel but also is an exposé of the hoax wind energy companies (which are also oil companies) are perpetrating on us. I’ll rant about the hoax itself elsewhere and here say only that the disturbing details, on their own, make the book worth reading.

The plot is timely and suspenseful, pitting the wealthy and powerful against native Hawaiians and threatening the islands’ ecology and sacred spaces. Hawaiian Pono Hawkins, the book’s main character, is a Special Forces veteran and excellent hero material. His passion is surfing, his survival skills are finely honed, he keeps himself in excellent physical shape, and he knows the islands (and a number of beautiful women) intimately. His prison record and native status make him automatically suspect by the police, but he’s a good guy who took a fall for a friend (a disabled vet who once took a bullet for Pono) and he’s an habitual rescuer of damsels, animals, and friends in distress, compelled to take risks for good causes. He’s an interesting narrator, too, able to use native dialect naturally, but also so that it illuminates native customs, values, and settings in ways relevant to both character and plot.

I’ve ordered a copy for our library and recommended its purchase in digital form for our Overdrive Consortium. Here’s hoping Pono stars in many more Bond novels to come.


5 STARS for Gracefully Grayson, by Ami Polonsky (Hyperion, 2014)

Ami Polonsky is a young writer I am delighted to add to my “must follow” list, her first novel is so well done. Gracefully Grayson is a wonderful book that I hope many adults as well as young readers will read and share with their family members and friends. I’ve ordered it for our library and recommended its purchase in digital form for our Overdrive Consortium.

The narrator and hero, Grayson, is a 6th grader who mostly keeps to himself, trying to avoid humiliation and abuse by hiding a secret, that he is a girl trapped in a boy’s body. Keeping that secret is increasingly difficult to do, and when the story opens, Grayson is already looking for ways to let that inner self out.

Grayson’s parents died when Grayson was 4. Aunt Sally and Uncle Ethan took him in, but Grayson doesn’t feel part of their family or safe enough to tell them the truth. Aunt Sally has rigid standards for acceptable behavior and wants Grayson to be more athletic and more like her son Jack. 7th-grade cousin Jack no longer acts like a protective big brother but seems to condone his athletic friends’ bullying. Uncle Ethan and younger cousin Brett try to be supportive, but Sally and Jack ignore them.

Grayson’s quest for identity, self-esteem, and acceptance is a heart-pounding suspense story that will keep you turning pages, worrying, cheering, and caring about not only Grayson but other characters, teens and adults, who share in the risks Grayson takes. I hope you’ll read Gracefully Grayson soon. Read it, talk about it — and pass it on!

Let’s Get Lost, by Adi Alsaid (Harlequin Teen, 2014) – 4 STARS

Never did I think I’d write a glowing review of a Harlequin publication, but Let’s Get Lost is a wonderful novella, extremely well written — and, yes, I have ordered a copy for our library and recommended its purchase in digital form for our Overdrive Consortium.

The novella’s 5 parts each center on a different character, but Leila, whose own story is the focus in the last section, plays a pivotal role in each of the other 4 parts. This structure lets the point of view shift comfortably from Hudson (in Vicksburg, Mississippi), to Bree (in Kansas), to Elliot (in Minnesota), to Sonia (in British Columbia and Tacoma, Washington), and finally to Leila, who travels from Texas to Alaska and back again. Leila’s ability to both empathize with others and see their situations objectively lets her help them through life crises while she deals with her own quest to understand herself and choose how she will live.

Let’s Get Lost is much more than a romance. I recommend it to readers young and old.