Saturday, December 16, 2017

Say Nothing: A Novel by Brad Parks

Say Nothing. Brad Parks. Penguin Publishing Group. March 2017. 448 pp.  ISBN#: 9781101985595.

Judge Scott Sampson, his wife Alison and their two children, Sam and Emma, are a happy, peacefully content family.  They’ve moved out to a farmhouse in Virginia so that they can maintain that quiet lifestyle without the pressures of urban living, especially with the frenetic atmosphere of government workers in Virginia, Maryland and Washington D.C.  But the Judge’s family life is about to totally unravel with a hair-raising series of events that keeps the reader’s pulse raised to the very last page.

Judges are expected to be the epitome of neutrality, capable of examining the facts and circumstances of a case and apply the objective law to those situations.  But what does a Judge and his wife do when their children are kidnapped and they are told to await each new message, letting no one else know what is happening?  They say and do “nothing.”  For the lives of Sam and Emma are clearly at stake! 

The first case the Judge is asked to rule on is what should be a simple drug seller case.  Obeying the kidnappers means making a decision that immediately opens up Pandora’s box of the legal world.  Judge Sampson is now under the scrutiny of higher Judges and even politicians.  To keep his children alive, the Judge says “nothing.”  Alison’s family know but promise silence although they are so enraged one wonders how long that will hold true.

The second case heading for Judge Sampson’s decision concerns a patent of a drug that will be life-saving for those who get to try it.  Its very nice to see all the details of the case laid out so that one understands the intricacies of such cases and so that one can see how much complication Judge Sampson must wade through to come to a legally acceptable decision.  The plot thickens substantially at this point.  One of the children is freed but the other one is undergoing terrible acts that will probably scar her for life.

The story evolves to a mind-numbing, horrific conclusion which is very realistic and not like your standard crime novel.  This is a story you will never forget, one that will want to make you read more of any writing of Brad Parks!  Well done, Mr. Parks!

City of Sand by Tianxia Bachang

City of Sand. Tianxia Bachang. Random House Children’s Books. November 2017. 256 pp. ISBN#: 9780553524109.

Tianyi is an unusual girl who doesn’t want to do anything that other “good” girls do.  Unknown to her family, her grandfather left her half a book about what westerners would call “grave robbing.” Then she studies the art of feng shui meant to guide her to correct tombs that will provide blessings in wealth rather than curses all too possible in other gravesites. In China, after all, there are ghosts, snakes, and other nefarious creatures that could kill quickly, neatly and without anyone else knowing. 

From the beginning, Tianyi and her friend, Kai, work well together.  Kai may not have the academic skills Tianyi has from her grandfather’s book but he is an adventurer and can be trusted with any sharing.  Their first encounters with ghosts and/or reanimated corpses is hair-raising but fun that readers will love.  After a while, they realize they need to travel with others of like mind and even better skills.  They thereafter join the archeological expedition of a Professor Chen and the American who is financing the project, as well the Professor’s entourage, to find Jingjue City, one spot on the Silk Road sacred tombs may be found with accompanying cultural artifacts.

No spoilers here!  Suffice to say that numerous adventures follow with some truth, some lies, and some betrayals pitching the action forward.  In some ways, the action goes nowhere, with little of importance discovered at first, and this may frustrate some readers.  But for the most part, the this is a Young Adult novel for those who love to read about myths, legends, adventures and foreign locales.  A bit of a vague ramble about life in a different world few of us could imagine yet get the chance to enter in these contemporary legendary pages!

Blindsided by Louise Henry

Blindsided. Louise Henry. Black Ink Romance. December 2017. 192 pp. ASIN#: BO77WRRMYB.

Sophie Campbell is very good at her job of being Chief Communications Officer at City Hall.  She would love to get the job of managing City Hall but that notion disappears when Marcus, a drop-dead-gorgeous guy, gets the position. 

Add to it that Sophie’s mother is heavily into drinking and bugging Sophie about everything under the sun.  Marcus and Sophie are a pleasure to read about as they have a true love (physically) – hate (cutting conversation remarks or responses) relationship.  The dislike actually blinds them to seeing the great qualities each has for the position they occupy. 

Now, the most unlikely of plots ensues.  Marcus had broken off his engagement before he came to City Hall.  Now it turns out that Sophie’s mother is reuniting with her other daughter whom she hasn’t seen in years.  Add Sophie couldn’t care less and wishes she never had to meet her long-lost sister.  Oh, the surprises get better when Marcus realizes that Sophie’s sister, Veronica, is his ex-fiancĂ©.  And Sophie’s Mom couldn’t be more endearing toward all.

Sophie, after enduring all she can, toughens up after one brief fling with Marcus.  The future is highly questionable; However, Sophie manages to handle her mother, Veronica, Marcus and even her best friend so they understand she is in control of her own life and is not surrendering it to them when she does occasionally ask for help. 

A lovely romance develops after some deserved snap and crackle conversations and too many misunderstandings and exposed secrets.  While the coincidence of Veronica strains credibility quite a bit, it still holds and doesn’t really become the mainstay of the conflict.

Sophie is a spunky, competent gal with just enough lusty femininity to make a romance work well.  Nicely crafted and recommended for a satisfying romance read!