Rediscovering Lois Duncan

I vividly remember being in middle school and hoarding every Lois Duncan book that came through our school’s library. She was my favorite writer and I inhaled her books in a way that I hadn’t from anyone else.

When I was in my favorite secondhand book store recently, I found two Lois Duncan books that I hadn’t read (or at least at my old age of 27, don’t remember reading). One was Ransom and one was Locked in Time. Of course I bought both of them.

Locked in Time was my favorite of the two. It was unlike any other story I’ve read before. It has it all- murder, mystery, and fantasy. The story is of a girl named Nore trying to accept her new stepfamily. The catch though, is that they are strange and full of secrets. There are constant references to the step-mother Lisette, step-brother Gabe, and step-sister Josie being from a different time period.

Lisette’s goal from the start was for Nore to die, so that no one would come looking for Chuck, and that she would be free to murder him and take his money.  Lisette sends Gabe out to take care of Nore by having her drown in the swamp, but it does not work and Nore survives. Nore knows she is in danger, but she cannot convince her father.

The story takes place in Louisiana- home of weird magical happenings. Nore is correct and Lisette and her children are in fact from a different time period many years ago. Lisette struck a deal with her first husband’s mistress, and in turn Lisette and her children would never age. Nore finds the evidence for this, but is never able to produce the evidence for her father though. When Chuck leaves on a business trip, Lisette attempts to end Nore’s life, but with the help of Gabe, Josie,and Nore’s friend, she survives. Gabe drives off with his mother, leaving Josie behind, and gets into a wreck killing himself and Lisette. Josie goes on to live with Nore and Chuck back in New York, and they put off telling him about the non-ageing Josie, until he figures it out for himself.

I finished this book in two days. It was exciting and different. The book is an easy read, and I highly recommend it. She wrote it in 1985, and it won several awards. The one most notable to me though is the 1988 South Carolina Young Adult Book Award, since I am from South Carolina.

Ransom was also a good book, but I would be lying if I said that I enjoyed it like I enjoyed Locked in Time. It was written in 1966, and one thing I love about reading old books is immersing myself into the language and style of a different time period.

It is the story of five students held hostage while taking a bus home from school in New Mexico. There are three criminals, and they each play different roles; one in charge of phone calls and collecting ransom, one in charge of driving the students and getting them to the cabin where they are being held hostage, and one who plays the “motherly” role. The kids are all very different, one sociopathic all-american guy named Glenn and his brother Bruce, one loner named Dexter, one beautiful girl who has daddy-issues named Marianne, and one well-traveled, intelligent girl named Jesse.

While they are being ransomed for $15,000 each, the kids themselves are hatching a plan to escape. A couple of them are successful in escaping, and when one kidnapper comes after them in the car, he goes over a cliff, dying instantly. I call Glenn a sociopath, because throughout the book it is revealed to us that Glenn is not capable of loving anyone else, but he is capable of doing things like leaving a child to die after hitting him with his vehicle. Even Glenn’s parents have a moment between themselves in the book where they doubt Glenn would save the others if he could get himself out. (They were right).

The book shifts viewpoints between each of the hostage’s views, and the views of their parents. In the end, the same step-dad that Marianne has resented is the one who saves the day. It was a little predictable, but what makes this book so great is that this is such a chilling, realistic scenario. Lois Duncan does a great job at capturing a very real fear that most parents have when sending their kids to school, which is that something bad could happen to them.

The book was a bit rushed, especially at the beginning, but it was still a great read. I would definitely recommend it to anyone interested in Young Adult fiction or any young adult that loves reading.

I’m so glad I picked these two books up. They helped remind me why I’ve always wanted to write Young Adult fiction. I hope that one day far into the future, people will read my books with the same fondness that I have for Lois Duncan’s books.

Audiobook Reviews: Sadie and Camino Island

Happy Friday! I’ve listened to two new audiobooks recently, and I wanted to go ahead and review them for y’all!

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Sadie by Courtney Summers is a great young adult fiction book. I chose to forego the traditional read of this, and instead I went with the audiobook version through the app Overdrive. I am so happy that I chose to go with audiobook for this, because the way the book is written, it almost makes it better than to read it traditionally.

The book centers around a girl who goes missing while searching for her younger sister Maddie’s killer. The missing girl has a bad stutter, and the impact of it would not have been the same to just read it. The point of view shuffles between the missing girl and a man named West McCray, who is looking for her. West is a radio personality and was contacted by Sadie’s grandmother. He develops a podcast series about the girls Sadie and Maddie, and is always one to two steps behind Sadie in her quest. During the book, West hosts episodes of the podcast. I think I would have missed out on a lot by simply reading this book. It  was almost as if it was written with the specific intent to be listened to in audiobook version or to be made into a movie.  The story itself was great, it was full of emotion that tugs at your heart and makes you wonder what you would do if you found yourself in a similar situation with a sibling. Sadie is brave and a hero in her own, messed up way. The ending was abrupt, but I think it was supposed to be. The ending of Maddie’s life was abrupt, and whatever happened to Sadie should be seen as abrupt also. I would definitely recommend this to anyone who enjoys Young Adult Fiction, especially mystery.

John Grisham’s Camino Island is beautifully written, per usual for John Grisham. I like to always have an audiobook to listen to on my way to and from work. John Grisham is a writer I really respect, because I hope to follow a similar path in my writing and career.

In this book, a young novelist named Mercer is in a confusing time in her life not knowing what her next book will be about or how to pay for anything, is approached by a security team to help infiltrate the friendship circle of a group of writers that live on Camino Island, a beach where Mercer spent all of her summers growing up with her beloved grandmother Tessa. Mercer had not been back since her grandmother tragically died, and even more than just the money she is being paid for this operation, Mercer has benefited from being back at the beach. She does infiltrate the circle, and even gets romantically involved with the man she is trying to find out the real information on- a man named Bruce who not only owns the bookstore but also deals in rare, expensive books. The security team believes that Bruce has original manuscripts of books by F. Scott Fitzgerald, including The Great Gatsby, that were stolen from Princeton’s library. No one is expecting the danger that is headed to Camino Island, in the form of the original thieves of the manuscripts. Mercer is out of her league when it comes to solving this mystery, but she makes for a great heroine. The ending is great, because it isn’t what you’d imagine the tidy end to a mystery would be. It’s not tidy, but it’s brilliant. I really enjoyed this listen and would recommend it to anyone who a) loves John Grisham books and b) likes mysteries. He never fails to keep me at the edge of my seat.

 

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NEW YEAR, NEW BOOKS

Happy New Year y’all!

I have made my “To Be Read List” for 2019, including the book I’m currently reading: Smart Women by Judy Blume. I’m planning to keep them next to my nightstand so that hopefully I can stay focused. I hope to finish these sixteen books well before the end of the year, so that I can add more to my list.

As y’all know my favorite types of books are mysteries/cozy mysteries but I did try to add a couple from other genres.

I’m excited for the New Year, and I’m especially excited for my new Bookstagram account!