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Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Fictional Take on the 1992 L.A. Riots: Ryan Gattis's All Involved

Sometimes, it's so clear to see how much life in the country can affect your views. In the case of the L.A. riots, and many other riots for that matter, I often shake my head wondering how destroying other's property and even injuring or killing another is getting anyone anywhere. Looting an innocent business after an disliked judgment or football game ending, setting fire to other people's cars in protest of police action.... Well, I find it baffling. If you are that upset, run for office and change the laws. It will take time sure, but it's a guaranteed way to get your voice heard and put real change in motion. With that, I'll step down from the soap box.

All Involved takes place during the 1992 L.A. riots, the riots that came after the Rodney King verdict. It's a portrait of 17 stories that all link to each other, but showcases a person dealing with his or her own issues. Start with Ernesto Vera. He works in a food truck and dreams of getting out of his neighborhood and into the kitchen of a popular Japanese restaurant where the sushi chef mesmerizes him. His dream will never be realized, however, as he is murdered on his way home from work. When his sister finds out, she sets out to seek revenge on the gang that killed him. This starts a chain reaction as characters share their stories, fight for survival, and do what they feel they must as police and fire crews focus on the site of the actual riots and take far too long to reach the outlying neighborhoods when crimes are being committed.

This book is gritty and definitely captured the mood of the times, at least what I know of it from media reports. The more I read, however, the more I did keep asking why. Why couldn't the characters in this book stop for one minute and think about what they were doing. That leads back to my earlier soap box speech. Short of Ernesto and a couple others, I just felt that so many of these characters were experiencing karma and I felt no pity for them. It's sad but true. I felt drawn to the setting and the action, but it was hard liking many of the characters and that made it a very hard read.

Ryan Gattis's All Involved was published by Ecco and released in January 2016. You can find it in Amazon and many other retailers.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Mo Daviau's Every Anxious Wave

You find out your bedroom closet is hiding a worm hole that allows you to travel anywhere in time. You start going back in time to see music concerts you missed or those you want to see again. That's the reality for Karl Bender. He discovers this worm hole while looking for his missing boot. It's a discovery that changes his life forever.

After telling his best friend about the worm hole, the pair start making plenty of money. Unfortunately, Karl accidentally sends Wayne to 980 instead of 1980 and this causes a major issue. In order to travel back, electricity is necessary and there is no electricity in 980. Wayne begs Karl to find an astrophysicist to help get him home.

Karl's quest is tough as his is a story that's too absurd to believe, but Lena Geduldig gives him a chance and discovers he's telling the truth. While working on the problem at hand, Lena and Karl begin to fall in love as they also travel back in time. The problem is the temptation to change the past is too tempting. Doing so could destroy everything they've found if they're not careful.

Part romance, part sci-fi, and a dose of music history tossed in for fun, Every Anxious Wave ended up being a unique book. At first I feared Mo Daviau's novel would be a little too much of The Time Traveler's Wife for my liking, but it wasn't. It was funny, sad, endearing, and thought provoking all at once, and the romance, while there, does not overshadow anything.

If you're looking for something different, give Every Anxious Wave a try. It's a February 9, 2016 release from St. Martins.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Gone Wild: A Teen Fiction Novel by Jodi Lundgren

Generally, I love teen/young adult fiction novels and the plot of Gone Wild was definitely appealing. The story is short, just 176 pages, and took me no more than an hour to read. It flows smoothly, but I never really appreciated the characters enough to really get into the story.

After discovering she might be pregnant, 18-year-old Brooke heads out into the wilderness to avoid her nagging mother and her boyfriend while she thinks things through. Tired of being bullied by his mother, his mother's boyfriend, and just about everyone else he can think of, 16-year-old Seth runs away and hitches a ride to the Pacific coast. Seeking refuge in rocks and the woods, Seth is only able to survive by stealing from those camping in the wildernesss. When Brooke finds Seth trying to steal food, she offers to share her food with him rather than end up with nothing. This marks the beginning of a friendship and adventure both will remember.

So much of this book's plot seemed unnecessary had either teen used their head. Perhaps it's the way I was raised, but at no point would trekking through the forest have been a better option to sitting down and talking things out. That's why I had a hard time with the characters. They didn't relate well to each other. Seth was petulant at times and therefore unlikable. Brooke was better, but at times too nice given the situation.

The setting and details involving camping were realistic, but everything was so rushed that I felt cheated. I never really had time to get to enjoy the setting, characters, or action as it was over before it seems it even began.