Books: The Cheapest Vacation You Can Buy











One KickFrom Goodreads: Kick Lannigan, 21, is a survivor. Abducted at age six in broad daylight, the police, the public, perhaps even her family assumed the worst had occurred. And then Kathleen Lannigan was found, alive, six years later. In the early months following her freedom, as Kick struggled with PTSD, her parents put her through a litany of therapies, but nothing helped until the detective who rescued her suggested Kick learn to fight. Before she was thirteen, Kick learned marksmanship, martial arts, boxing, archery, and knife throwing. She excelled at every one, vowing she would never be victimized again. But when two children in the Portland area go missing in the same month, Kick goes into a tailspin. Then an enigmatic man Bishop approaches her with a proposition: he is convinced Kick’s experiences and expertise can be used to help rescue the abductees. Little does Kick know the case will lead directly into her terrifying past…

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First and foremost, I want to assure readers that, while this novel does deal with child abduction and pornography, there are no descriptions. This is not a graphic story—allusions are made, but readers never learn what Kick herself experienced, and there are no descriptions of the photos or pornography sites the characters reference. This, for me, was a godsend. I was interested in the story, but I knew going in that I couldn’t stomach any graphic imagery at all, and as this is a very sensitive subject, I was very happy that Cain tread lightly here. However, I must admit that I still didn’t really enjoy the story. Honestly, I’m a bit disappointed in the main character, Kick. Said to be the new Lisbeth Salander by the editor in the introduction of the novel, I was expecting great things, but Kick falls bit too flat for me. There is what I consider a lack of action in this novel—with all the hype surround Kick, such as her ability to kill a man 571 ways with just her left hand, I expected to actually see her fight. She rarely does, and, in most instances that she does, she’s actually bested by her opponent. For all the time and training she put in to the arts, self-defense, knife throwing, and the like, I was really looking forward to seeing her skills. But they were not noteworthy, and for me, that’s somewhat of the opposite of what I expect when a character is compared to another kick-butt character, such as Lisbeth Salander.

Kick is still in a fragile state of mind, though she tries to put on a tough front. Abducted and used in child porn for five years of her young life, this is expected. She does have a good handle on herself in most situations, and I admire her perseverance; I find her realistic, though she wasn’t essentially deep or fleshed out in the story. Perhaps one of the reasons Kick is bested time and time again as she hunts for the missing children from Portland is because of her background; freezing up in situations when action is key and she must push herself to survive. Thank goodness she has Bishop there to help her when the going gets tough.

Then again, Bishop is a jerk. The main reason that Kick continually freezes is because Bishop has thrust her back into the world of abducted children. Kick seems to function relatively well in the real world, but once Bishop comes charging in, her entire world shifts, and Bishop is none to kind in his treatment of Kick. In fact, he doesn’t do anything within the novel that redeems him in my eyes. So while the mystery aspect of the novel was indeed intriguing, I did not connect with any of the characters and I wasn’t spurred on to read the novel as much as I’d hoped I’d be, based on the hype surrounding this story.

The first chapter is indeed an attention grabber, but as the novel unfolds, much of the intensity tapered off for me. Overall, I’d say it’s an okay read for me, but it’s really just not my speed. Two stars.
2 stars

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The Impossible Knife of MemoryFrom Goodreads: For the past five years, Hayley Kincaid and her father, Andy, have been on the road, never staying long in one place as he struggles to escape the demons that have tortured him since his return from Iraq. Now they are back in the town where he grew up so Hayley can attend school. Perhaps, for the first time, Hayley can have a normal life, put aside her own painful memories, even have a relationship with Finn, the hot guy who obviously likes her but is hiding secrets of his own.

Will being back home help Andy’s PTSD, or will his terrible memories drag him to the edge of hell, and drugs push him over? The Impossible Knife of Memory is Laurie Halse Anderson at her finest: compelling, surprising, and impossible to put down.

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This is a very well written novel by the ever talented Laurie Halse-Anderson. Based on experiences from her own life, Halse-Anderson once again pens a poignant coming of age story ripe with love, loss, and self-exploration.

Finally stationary long enough to attend a real high school, Hayley Kincaid hardly has time to focus on the trivial subjects set before her knowing her life at home could disintegrate at any time. Andy, her father, suffers immensely from PTSD brought on by his time in the War–having both good days and bad–causing Hayley to mold her life around his. It is a heartbreaking tale of triumph and misery, one that is beautifully told.

Although I tad bit lengthy, this is an amazing look into the life of PTSD. It shows the difficulties that many suffer from once home from war, and it shows the havoc these difficulties can have on families, especially children. Hayley is an exceptionally strong female lead, held up by those who love her and her belief that her father may get better–though in her heart she knows that a good day is becoming more rare with each day that passes.

Caught between shielding her father and taking care of herself, Hayley struggles, taking on burdens no child should have to deal with. Closed off and afraid to open up, she slowly begins to trust others, seeking the help needed in order to provide healing. It’s a touching story that all should read. Four stars.

4 stars

I had the opportunity to hear Laurie Halse-Anderson speak at NCTE 2013 in November and was given an ARC of this amazing novel by the publisher, which Halse-Anderson signed for me.

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