BFF Shout-out and 2 mini-reviews

By: Angie Haddock


If you’ve been reading our blog for a long time, you may have noticed that I get a few of my ARCs (advanced reader copies) through a group called Books Forward. When I first signed up with them, their main headquarters were right here in Nashville. Since then, though, their New Orleans office has become home base. I only mention this because I feel like they’ve picked up a lot more New Orleans-based authors lately! (See this review.) In fact, both books I’m going to talk about today have their roots there.


The first is a coffee table book called MUTTS, by Olivia Pritchard. Pritchard photographed more than 100 dogs for this book, all mixed breeds, and all from the greater NOLA area. The main focus of the book is the pictures, although there is more info on each dog in the back/index part of the book.

This is a larger, hardcover book that would make a great gift for a dog lover. (Hint, hint – Christmas is coming.) And to that end, I’d like to highlight another aspect of this one, taken directly from the author’s note:

“In addition to hopefully fostering more love for mutts, a portion of the proceeds from the book are being donated to organizations that rescue and spay/neuter, including Take Paws Rescue, Animal Rescue New Orleans, Zeus’ Place, Greta’s Ark Animal Rescue, Trampled Rose Rescue, and the LASPCA.”

MUTTS comes out today, September 20th, 2022. Look for it at your favorite retailer or on Bookshop.org.


The next book I want to shout about today is called Phoebe Cakes and Friends: An Alphabet Tail, and is by Michelle Dumont. Phoebe was a rescued Bulldog that lived with Dumont, and inspired her to start writing children’s books. This is the second installment, and is a board book that introduces kids to the alphabet. Instead of “A is for Apple,” though, each letter represents a dog breed!

This one comes out next week, and is perfect for toddlers who love animals. Keep an eye out for it.


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“Jane Eyre” by Charlotte Bronte – Review

By: Angie Haddock


Orphaned as a child, Jane has felt an outcast her whole young life. Her courage is tested once again when she arrives at Thornfield Hall, where she has been hired by the brooding, proud Edward Rochester to care for his ward Adèle. Jane finds herself drawn to his troubled yet kind spirit.

Goodreads


This one was first published in 1847, so I’m not going to worry about spoilers with my review. And if you haven’t guessed it, this was my pick for this year’s #SummerClassic.

The story takes place in roughly five places. The first is the mansion of Jane’s aunt, where the orphaned Jane lives with her aunt, three spoiled cousins, and various servants. The family of the house treats Jane like a second-class citizen, and she is utterly miserable. Around the age of ten, she is sent away to a boarding school. At first, this stage of her life looks like it will be just as miserable as the first. But, Jane proves herself and actually ends up thriving at the school. She even goes on to teach there for 2 years after she finishes her schooling. But eventually, she wants to see more of the world, and interact with other people.

This brings her to Thornfield, where she is hired as a governess to a young French girl who is the ward of the master of this old mansion. She befriends the girl, and several servants there, but the master of the house is initially absent. She eventually does meet Mr. Rochester in an eventful scene, where he injures himself making his way home.

Jane and Mr. Rochester strike up an odd relationship (in my mind). They enjoy each other’s conversations, in part because they feel they can be honest with each other – including being a little antagonistic at times. In fact, Rochester pretends to be engaged to someone else for almost a month just to see if Jane will be jealous.

Jane is in love with him, but doesn’t really consider herself lovable. So it’s quite a shock to her when he asks her to marry him. She does say yes, though.

Here’s the thing: we’re only 55% through the book at this point. So is the back half her married life? Nope.

All along, something’s been weird at Thornfield. Jane assumed it was one crazy servant named Grace, and couldn’t understand why Rochester was protecting her (not firing her, or wanting to talk about it). Then, as Jane and Rochester are about to be married, we learn that… he is already married! And the first wife is both crazy and locked upstairs at Thornfield. Grace, in fact, is actually her caretaker.

So the next morning, before anyone else is awake, Jane runs away. She spends a few days on the road, but eventually finds shelter with some siblings who are just a bit older than her – two sisters and one brother – and their sole servant. The brother is a local minister, and has recently set up a girls’ school, so Jane ends up working there. She eventually comes to learn, through the passing of a distant uncle, that these three are her cousins. They also inherit money from the uncle, which changes her circumstances.

In the year or so she lives with her cousins, she does write to Thornfield to check on Rochester, but no one answers. Her male cousin is pressuring her to go to India as a missionary with him, and she is conflicted about it. She decides she needs to know for sure what happened to Mr. Rochester before she can decide on leaving the country. So she heads back to find that the mansion had burned down not long after she left. The crazy wife set the fire, and did not survive the incident. Most of the inhabitants have gone on to different places, while Mr. Rochester – now blind – lives with just two servants in a nearby cottage.

Jane finds him there, and they finally marry. She lives the rest of her days with him, but continues to see her cousins semi-regularly. The male one does travel to India, so she only hears from him by mail. We learn that Jane is telling this story ten years into her married life, so she is only about 30 years old at the time, but that is where this story ends.

This was my first foray into any of the works of the Bronte sisters! Having finally read it, my question for you, readers, is… is there a particular movie version you love that I should check out? Hit me with the recommendations!


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“Nothing to See Here” by Kevin Wilson – Review

By: Angie Haddock


Lillian and Madison were unlikely roommates and yet inseparable friends at their elite boarding school. But then Lillian had to leave the school unexpectedly… and they’ve barely spoken since. Until now, when Lillian gets a letter from Madison pleading for her help.

Madison’s twin stepkids are moving in with her family and she wants Lillian to be their caretaker. However, there’s a catch: the twins spontaneously combust when they get agitated, flames igniting from their skin in a startling but beautiful way.

Goodreads


Everything I’d seen about this one going in prepared me for it being comedic. I didn’t realize, however, that it takes place in Franklin, TN – which is only about 30 minutes from where I live! So that did add an extra layer of fun for me.

Lillian leads a slacker life – working at a grocery store, living in her mom’s attic. When she was a teen, she had dreamed of getting out of her hometown, doing bigger things, and proving everyone wrong. But now she’s nearing 30, and doesn’t know what she wants out of life.

Madison is rich, married to a U.S. Senator, and has a seemingly perfect toddler named Timothy. She reaches out to Lillian occasionally. Lillian loves and admires Madison, but also keeps her at a distance. She’s a constant reminder of how much Lillian hasn’t accomplished since their school days.

But when Madison offers Lillian a job, she accepts without even knowing what the job is. Enter the “fire twins,” Bessie and Roland. Lillian also enters into a world that includes a posh mansion, with a guest house for her and the twins. A few quirky servants round out life on Madison’s premises.

Lillian knows nothing about raising kids, but she figures she should try to earn their trust first. She lets them eat sugary cereal, reads them mystery novels, and teaches them about her favorite past time, basketball. She does earn their trust, in small increments, and she starts to learn more about them… including how their mom committed suicide in front of them.

All along, the Senator has been blaming their mom (his first wife) for their condition. After all, she was crazy, so the fire thing must come from her side of the family. And Madison is all too willing to send them to boarding school in Europe, where they’d be far away from the perfect family of three that she’s cultivated.

So imagine the confusion and shock when Timothy bursts into flames on live TV. Madison isn’t about to have her child taken from her, or sent off to be studied. So now, she has to rethink her stance on the twins, as well.

This book was both absurd and poignant. A lot of it is about comparing the haves and the have-nots, and how they have different priorities. It’s also about trust, being accepted for who you are, and figuring out what’s important.


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“The Woman They Could Not Silence” by Kate Moore – Review

By: Angie Haddock


1860: As the clash between the states rolls slowly to a boil, Elizabeth Packard, housewife and mother of six, is facing her own battle. The enemy sits across the table and sleeps in the next room. Her husband of twenty-one years is plotting against her because he feels increasingly threatened – by Elizabeth’s intellect, independence, and unwillingness to stifle her own thoughts. So Theophilus makes a plan to put his wife back in her place. One summer morning, he has her committed to an insane asylum.

Goodreads


This was both a fascinating and frustrating read! It tells the true story of Elizabeth Packard, and most of the story takes place in the 1860s.

When we first meet Packard, she is already at odds with her husband of 20-some years, Theophilus. (Even his name is perfect for him, as he’s a preacher.) They share five children, the youngest of whom is just barely out of infancy.

Elizabeth Packard is fairly educated, and she’s been reading. But more than that, she’s been thinking on her own. Specifically, her husband had been affiliated with a more liberal/modern branch of Presbyterianism, but had recently switched to a more conservative branch. Elizabeth didn’t love the “fire and brimstone” lectures, and was disillusioned with this branch because they were against the abolition of slavery. So, she had begun speaking up in some of the church groups that she belonged to. Her husband was the minister, so her disagreeing openly with his views was just not acceptable.

So Theophilus sends Elizabeth to the state’s insane asylum. This facility had patients of both genders, but Elizabeth really only sees the women’s side of things. The man in charge is Dr. Andrew McFarland, who is well respected in his field. (Of course, the idea of treating mental health issues was very much in its infancy, and there were many differing views on it at the time.)

At first, McFarland is friendy toward Elizabeth. She is put in a decent room, and allowed special privileges like walking the grounds unaccompanied. She feels sure the doctor will see that she is obviously sane, and will allow her to leave in mere months. He does encourage this belief at first. But when Elizabeth does not leave, she starts using her privilege to speak up about things she witnesses, and is eventually put into a different ward… where she witnesses even worse things.

She ends up being there for several years, and her status there goes back and forth. She often has friends on the inside – disgruntled staff, usually – who are willing to help her get letters out and such. But she also finds that McFarland intercepts any incoming letters, so she never knows if her friends on the outside are willing to help. She also knows that she can only be let go into the care of her husband, while still married. But if she asks for a divorce, Theophilus would get custody of the children. There is no easy wins in her forseeable future, because she is, in essence, her husband’s property.

Even when Elizabeth does get released from the asylum – by a board of trustees, not McFarland – we know her fight is far from over (mostly because there’s still a lot of book left!). She initially gets free from Theophilus, only to go back by her own volition because she wants to see her children. She ends up locked up again, but is eventually able to stand trial to determine if she is actually insane or not.

She also starts self-publishing her writings on her time in the asylum. This is important for two reasons. Firstly, she starts making her own money, so she can be financially self-reliant. Secondly, she brings light to the issues in the asylum there, and in asylums in general, which starts getting the public interested in the matter. This leads to her eventually touring across the country advocating for both patient’s rights and women’s rights, mostly in state legislatures.

This is an incredible, infuriating, and ultimately redeeming read. I was able to read it for free through Sourcebooks Early Reads, but it’s available everywhere.

(Don’t forget, I keep a bookshelf of books I’ve reviewed here on Bookshop.org, too, if you’re looking for your own copy!)


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“Killers of the Flower Moon” by David Grann – Review

By: Angie Haddock


In the 1920s, the richest people per capita in the world were members of the Osage Indian Nation in Oklahoma. After oil was discovered beneath their land, the Osage rode in chauffeured automobiles, built mansions, and sent their children to study in Europe.

Then, one by one, they began to be killed off. One Osage woman, Mollie Burkhart, watched as her family was murdered. And it was just the beginning, as more Osage began to die under mysterious circumstances.

A true-life murder mystery about one of the most monstrous crimes in American history.

Goodreads


This one has been on my TBR for a few years now, and it’s becoming a movie next year (Scorsese! DiCaprio!), so I thought it was finally time to tackle it. And boy, I was not disappointed!

The full title is “Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI.”

The story takes place mostly in Oklahoma in the 1920s. The author tells of a single murder first, and then branches outward to several more that happened in the same geographical area. We then step back and look at what’s going on in the area, because there are multiple possible motives at play.

First of all, the Osage tribe was forced onto this patch of land by dealings with the federal government in previous generations. Later, oil was found under the land, making it very valuable. This was also the era of prohibition, and with it, the birth of real organized crime nationwide. How much did racism, oil, money, or general lawlessness have to do with the killings of members of the Osage?

The local lawmen and private eyes who tried to look into individual murders seemed to get nowhere, so eventually some federal lawmen were assigned to uncover the truth. These men worked under J. Edgar Hoover, in what would go on to become the FBI. The head of this crew was Tom White, and he got to pick his underlings. Most of them worked undercover, to try to cozy up to locals – both Indigenous and white – to find out what everyone really knew.

In addition to the obvious killings – people who were shot, for example – there were also a lot of Indigenous who would die from unexplained illnesses, or supposed drunkenness. This lead some to believe that there were additional murders that were carried out by poisoning.

Eventually, the team came up with suspects in at least a few of the murders. Once the drama moved into the courtroom, many witnesses went back and forth on their statements, as they are continuously bribed or threatened. There was no guarantee that the suspects would really end up behind bars.

And even then, the government treated the case like it was successfully closed. But were the same few men responsible for all the killings? How many others could have been involved?

There is a final part of this book, in which the author tries to uncover those last questions. Ultimately – and not surprisingly – it seemed like there were many more people involved than those who were brought to justice.

This is a riveting true story, which I definitely don’t remember learning about in U.S. history classes! The topics at play – race, class, land rights, etc. – are still ones we grapple with today. I would recommend this one to anyone interested in history, social justice, or true crime.


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“How You Grow Wings” by Rimma Onoseta – Review

By: Angie Haddock


Sisters Cheta and Zam couldn’t be more different. Cheta, sharp-tongued and stubborn, never shies away from conflict—either at school or at home, where her mother fires abuse at her. Timid Zam escapes most of her mother’s anger, skating under the radar and avoiding her sister whenever possible. In a turn of good fortune, Zam is invited to live with her aunt’s family in the lap of luxury. Jealous, Cheta also leaves home, but finds a harder existence that will drive her to terrible decisions. When the sisters are reunited, Zam alone will recognize just how far Cheta has fallen—and Cheta’s fate will rest in Zam’s hands.

Goodreads


We dive right into this book with Zam walking home from school – and in short order we meet her whole family, learn about the family dynamics, and learn about some of their local customs. Zam and Cheta live with their parents in a small town in modern day Nigeria.

As mentioned in the description at top, Zam gets out of her anger-filled home by moving in with her rich aunt and uncle. She gets this proposal because of how well she’s doing at school, and Cheta immediately resents that she was never offered this deal.

Their uncle is super rich (in the oil business), and life at his house takes some time to adjust to. There are two other teenage girls in the house – Kaira, Zam’s cousin, and Ginika, a family friend who often stays with them while her parents are traveling abroad. Kaira is initially standoffish, but Ginika is sociable. They both harbor anger at their mothers, and the girls all eventually bond over this common problem.

Cheta comes to visit for one week. She has recently graduated from high school, and comes with the idea that she will ingratiate herself to their aunt and get a job with her. It doesn’t work. She was already so set on leaving home, though, that she does it anyway, without a real plan.

After an incident leaves Zam’s aunt and uncle feeling shaken, they decide to move – with all three girls – to London. Kaira is finally able to start breaking down the wall that had grown up between her and her mom, before the girls leave for boarding school. Another family member who is helping them there also sheds some light on Zam and Cheta’s family, and how the two girls actually got along better when they were younger. Zam feels compelled to reach out, but gets no answer.

On a trip home for Christmas, Zam sees her family again, after months of being away. Cheta also rolls back into town from Benin, where she’s been keeping her distance. Their mother treats Cheta like she is basically disowned already, but Zam still wants to try to help her sister. There is one startling revelation near the end of the book, and Zam has to make a drastic decision. Finally, both girls head back out into their separate worlds.

I don’t want to reveal too much about the ending, but I will say that I’ll be thinking about it for quite some time!

This compelling Young Adult novel comes out today, August 9th. I was able to read an advanced copy through Netgalley, and the publisher, Algonquin Young Readers.


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“Wild is the Witch” by Rachel Griffin – Review

By: Angie Haddock


When eighteen-year-old witch Iris Gray accidentally enacts a curse that could have dire consequences, she must team up with a boy who hates witches to make sure her magic isn’t unleashed on the world.

Goodreads


Iris and her mom are both witches. Iris’ best friend back home, Amy, was a witch, too. But she got into trouble, and the witch council took her magic away. Iris was present, but the council determined that she was not involved. Not everyone trusted her after that incident, though, and eventually she and her mom moved away to start over. Her dad did not come with them, which causes Iris to not want to get close to new people. She is especially guarded about being a witch. If even her own dad ended up not being able to handle it, why would other people?

Their new home is in the Pacific Northwest, where they run a wildlife refuge. It’s perfect for them, as their magic is one that focuses on animals. An old friend of her mom’s is also in the area, and runs a restaurant. They’ve established a good “home” there.

Pike Adler, a college student studying ornithology, is interning at the refuge. Not only is he cocky, but he mentions more than once that he hates witches. This makes Iris feel threatened. She doesn’t want her or her mom’s lives disrupted again, not when they seem to have found the perfect place. So she writes a curse for Pike. Now, she wasn’t really intending on cursing him – the plan was to write it out and not use it. Like some people write angry letters they don’t ever send. She means to bind the curse to a bundle of herbs, and burn it. No one gets hurt, right?

Except that an owl swoops down while she’s doing this ritual, and now the owl carries the curse. And then he flies away.

Obviously, Iris is panicking and wants to go after the owl. She knows how much trouble she could cause with the curse out there in the wild, and she’s already had to witness her best friend lose her sense of magic. Her mom, not knowing about the curse part, agrees to let Iris track the owl and try to bring him back… if she takes Pike along. He is a bird expert in training, after all.

This is a YA book, so of course some romance blossoms during their adventures. And in fact, the ending is a little too happy to be believable, in my opinion. (It’s fine, it’s what the audience probably wants, but it’s not super realistic. But then again, it’s a book about magic, so…) But I enjoyed the adventures they have trying to get to the owl, nonetheless. The book takes place in the spring, but I felt like summer was still a great time to be reading about nature, hiking, and camping (and s’mores).

This book comes out today, August 2nd. I was able to read ahead thanks to the publisher, Sourcebooks, and NetGalley.


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“Getting to Good Riddance” by Jodie Eckleberry-Hunt – Review

By: Angie Haddock


Psychologist Jodie Eckleberry-Hunt, author of Move on Motherf*cker: Live, Laugh, and Let Sh*t Go, provides the tools to survive and thrive after a breakup in this empowering, BS-free guide… This seriously motivational guide utilizes salty straight talk, humor, cognitive behavioral therapy, mindfulness, and positivity to get you to growth and recovery. Overcome self-defeat, smash the sh*t out of heartbreak, and get ready to move on, motherf*cker!

Goodreads


The full title of this one is “Getting to Good Riddance: A No-Bullsh*t Breakup Survival Guide.” I’m coming up on my seventh wedding anniversary, so having this one laying around caused a few looks! The first Advanced Reader Copy I reviewed for this blog was by Jodie Eckleberry-Hunt, though, and she graciously kept me on her email list for future releases. I love cultivating relationships with authors through my work here, so how could I resist reading her latest release?

Like in her previous release, the author explains the science behind her methodology in the first few chapters. These include using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), mindfulness, positive psychology, humor, and profanity to recognize negative self-talk and pivot away from it when it is not serving you.

I did find some of the content of these chapters repetitive, especially when it came to explaining her “MOMF” theory. Maybe that’s because I read the book on that one already? But, the idea is to use profanity as a source of both humor and venting. In this one, she repeatedly mentions that it’s not meant to be derogatory toward yourself. I feel like, if someone is uncomfortable with swearing, they probably won’t pick up a book with the word “bullshit” on the cover. Just my two cents.

The rest of the chapters tackle various issues that could come up in/after a breakup. We start in the immediate aftermath, when you’re in survival mode. Then, we’re introduced to the steps of the grief process, which are likely to come into play here. Next, she introduces us to different theories on what love actually is and isn’t. Next are chapters on specific cases: infidelity, and dealing with “bad actors” (narcissists, sociopaths, dependents, abusers). Then come the chapters on moving forward: creating boundaries, preparing/planning to leave a bad situation, finding peace, learning to live within our own happiness, and realizing our messed up core beliefs that got us into the situation (so we don’t repeat the same mistakes).

If you are looking for a tangible way to help a friend who is reeling from a breakup or divorce – and that friend has a good tolerance for swearing and humor – this would be a nice little gift. I’d think of it as a way to support growth without inserting yourself directly in the friend’s personal business.

This book comes out today, July 26th, 2022. Thanks to Jodie Eckleberry-Hunt for the opportunity to read it ahead of time.

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“The Island of Sea Women” by Lisa See – Review

By: Angie Haddock


Set on the Korean island of Jeju, “The Island of Sea Women” follows Mi-ja and Young-sook, two girls from very different backgrounds, as they begin working in the sea with their village’s all-female diving collective. Over many decades—through the Japanese colonialism of the 1930s and 1940s, World War II, the Korean War, and the era of cellphones and wet suits for the women divers—Mi-ja and Young-sook develop the closest of bonds. Nevertheless, their differences are impossible to ignore: Mi-ja is the daughter of a Japanese collaborator, forever marking her, and Young-sook was born into a long line of haenyeo and will inherit her mother’s position leading the divers. After hundreds of dives and years of friendship, forces outside their control will push their relationship to the breaking point.

Goodreads


I knew absolutely nothing about the island of Jeju – or diving, really – going into this book. But, it seemed like solid historical fiction material – a friendship that survives decades, and all the things that happen during those decades.

We meet Young-sook in 2008, when she is already quite old. The “present day” chapters are fewer and shorter than the various flashback ones, though, and that’s where the real story starts to develop.

Young-sook and Mi-ja meet when they are still children, and Mi-ja is new to the village of Hado. Young-sook’s mother is the chief of her diving collective, but they also have some crops to care for on dry land. Mi-ja originally helps with some of this work, in exchange for some food. As they grow older, they also learn to dive together, and even travel to other countries to make more money.

We learn early on that the women in this village are the true heads of their households – at least, where “making a living” is concerned – and the husbands usually stay home and take care of babies. The roles of men and women are debated often, especially while the women are gossiping before or after a day of diving.

Early on, there are two diving accidents that change Young-sook’s life, and the makeup of their collective. Another young diver, only a few years older than her, has an accident that she never fully recovers from. While the girl lives, she is unable to speak again. Not long after, Young-sook loses her mother. This makes her the family’s primary breadwinner.

In their early twenties, Young-sook and Mi-ja enter into arranged marriages, and start having babies. This is where their lives start to diverge, as Mi-ja moves away to live with her husband’s family in the city.

While there is already a lot of personal drama this far into the story, the worst is yet to come.

Things first start to change on Jeju during the World War II years. They were already under the control of the Japanese, who most of them despised, but after the war they now have to contend with Americans. The division of North and South Korea also affects them, as does internal fighting between the government and rebels who want an independent election.

The story takes some brutal turns that I was not prepared for. The adage that came to my mind is “the personal is political,” as these women’s daily lives are definitely affected by the things going on in Korea and in the world at large. One very climactic event was based on real events that happened in 1948-1949. The government then made it basically illegal for people to talk about what happened for decades afterward! Even when the events were publicly acknowledged, and no longer a secret, many older folks – like those in the fictional Young-sook’s age range – still had trouble talking about it, because they had kept their secrets for so long. This aspect of the story was both fascinating and disturbing.

Near the end of the story, I started putting together one “twist,” if you will. The final chapter confirmed my theory, but also still held two more heartbreaking revelations.

Life on Jeju, especially back in the 1930s, was such a different world to me, that it did take me a few chapters to really get into this one. But I loved the strong female characters from early on, and was intrigued by their way of life. That way of life changed drastically over the decades, but the personal and political dramas within their lives became the bigger story.

If you’re a fan of historical fiction, or want to learn more about cultures much different from American/modern culture, this one might be a good pick. But be forewarned that there are some brutal scenes.


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“Upgrade” by Blake Crouch – Review

By: Angie Haddock


At first, Logan Ramsay isn’t sure if anything’s different.

The truth is, Logan’s genome has been hacked. And there’s a reason he’s been targeted for this upgrade. A reason that goes back decades to the darkest part of his past, and a horrific family legacy.

Goodreads


Ready for some sci-fi action?

I know nothing about DNA and genetic hacking beyond the basics we all learned watching the first “Jurassic Park” movie (shout out to Jeff Goldblum, just because). But this one was still a fun ride, and I think the author explains it just enough to keep you following the story.

The story takes place in the mid twenty-first century, so only a few decades from now. Logan’s mother used to be a leading geneticist, and she used her knowledge to try to stop a crop failure in China… but it all went awry, and billions died. Since then, genetic modifications have been outlawed. Logan Ramsay, our main character, works for the GPA – Gene Protection Agency – which watches out for any potential genetic work being done “under the radar.”

Needless to say, there are definitely still scientists working on genetic modifications. And there are still consumers interested in buying their work for various reasons.

What Logan doesn’t anticipate is that his own mother, who supposedly died years ago, is still alive and still working on an intense set of modifications… to humans. After he is unwittingly modified, he finds out that his older sister was also given this same “upgrade.” They find their mother’s suicide note (video, in this case), and learn that she wants to enhance humanity’s intelligence so that humans have a shot at stopping climate change before it’s too late.

His sister, Kara, sides with their mother. Logan does not. Seeing as they are both enhanced – both mentally and physically – this sets the scene for some hard-fought battles.

In addition to all the action, there are various ethical questions at play. There is the obvious one of free will, and people being modified who didn’t necessarily want to. But also, the modifications don’t work on some people, and instead they become ill. So, how many people’s deaths are an acceptable amount of “collateral damage?” And do humans really need more intelligence, or do they need more empathy?

Find the answers for yourself, as “Upgrade” hits shelves today, July 12th. I was able to read an advanced copy through NetGalley.


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