Mailbox Monday 4.29.13

Mailbox Monday is hosted this month by MariReads.

Hello, happy readers! This week I received a handful of books from Knopf in anticipation of their spring & summer 2013 releases. I'm pretty excited about all of these and actually started in on one of them the second I got it, so look for a new review soon!

by Simon Critchley & Jamieson Webster
Due out June 25, 2013

by Ania Szado
Due out June 4, 2013

by Julie Kavanagh
Due out June 11, 2013


Review: The Spark - A Mother's Story of Nurturing Genius, by Kristine Barnett

The Spark:
A Mother's Story of Nurturing Genius
by Kristine Barnett
Random House (4/9/13)
272 pgs / $25
When I received Kristine Barnett's The Spark  from LibraryThing.com's Early Reviewers program this month, my first reaction was "...why??" I'd remembered requesting it, but couldn't really remember why I'd done so. And I wasn't really in a non-fiction mood, so what was I gonna do? Although worried that my mood wouldn't give me a fair perspective on the book, I dove in anyway, ever so slightly curious.

Very early on, Kristine grabs you and holds on, totally forcing you to not only listen to and embrace this incredible woman's humility, but to acknowledge your own emotions on the subject. 

This author is a woman who, despite having two special needs kids, lupus, and incredible financial difficulties (all on top of the regular taxations of life - family loss, the recession, etc.) still manages to put on a happy face for the sake of helping kids. Her message is that, regardless of their perceived abilities, all children should be encouraged to do what they love. 

As the book takes you step by step through the diagnosis and subsequent trials of Jake's autism, you find yourself cheering for him, for his family, for this incredible boy who was told by professionals at three that he would never read. He was told by professional after professional that mainstreaming would never be an option but now, at thirteen years old, he's a college student, socially adept and considered to be possibly the smartest person in the world.

You don't need a genius - or even an autistic person - in your life to appreciate Kristine's story, but having a child in your life, or having someone in your life with special needs will certainly enrich your experience. And even if biographies and memoirs aren't your kind of thing (they're not mine at all), memoir is only the beginning of a description of this book. Everyone should read it.


Review: Children of the Underground, by Trevor Shane

400 pp. Penguin/NAL Trade.$15.00
All rules are broken, all bets are off.

When we left off with the Children of Paranoia series, Maria's lover Joseph had just been killed by one of his best friends while attempting to keep his and Maria's infant son from the clutches of Them, the fighters on the other side of this faceless, nameless war.

In this next installment in the series, Children of the Underground, Maria is on a mission to find her baby, Christopher, and avenge Joseph's death. To do this, she enlists Joseph's childhood friend Michael (his other childhood friend, Jared, is the one who killed him "for the cause.") and The Underground, a group dedicated to "cleaning" persons from both sides of the war who are no longer interested in participating.

This is a great follow-up to the violent, rapid-paced intro to the eponymous Children of Paranoia series. This sequel is sharply-written, the thrill not there for shock value, but tailored, specific, and crafted brilliantly. By mixing the journal format we grew accustomed to in the previous installment with a new, separate perspective (taking place, it turns out, some years later) allows the plot to expand and contract naturally, ridding the plot of the contrived necessity of exposition that its predecessor required.

Like Children of Paranoia, Children of the Underground perfectly sets up the next in the series which will, if the pattern holds, bring us into the present, into Christopher's fight to end the fighting. It is with a Christ-like (or, even, if you will, Harry Potter-like) fashion that Christopher's origins have unfolded. And if Mr. Shane continues to deliver, the remainder of the series should be a pretty impressive ride.


Giveaway Update: Glow

Penguin Books has now published Jessica Maria Tuccelli's Glow (which I reviewed last year) in paperback (2/26/13) and they've been kind enough to offer up a copy for giveaway. 
The winner of this giveaway is

Laura B.

Please check your email for your winning confirmation.

Thanks to everyone who entered - stay tuned for this week's reviews, coming up over the next two days.