March 13, 2021

A Couple of Novels: Missing Pieces, & Grave Secrets

 I have read a couple of novels over the past few weeks. They've been a good break from some stress I've had going on. It's funny--sometimes when I'm stressed I need the fiction, fun books to escape for awhile. Other times, especially if the stress is related to feeling like I have a lot to do, then I tend to gravitate more towards the nonfiction, because I can just pick it up for a few minutes at a time. It's easier to disconnect with, I guess. 

Missing Pieces, by Jeni Grossman

4 stars: Fit in very well with what we're learning in history right now.

Dulcey Moore is a seasoned reporter for CNN and has taken an assignment to the Middle East, specifically Turkey. There is a magnificent golden statue that is supposed to be unearthed from an archeological dig and she's going to be the one on camera as it is broadcast live to school children and others around the world. 

She doesn't realize going in that the statue has more than just historical significance. Al Queda wants the statue for the fulfillment of an ancient prophecy, a pawn in their scheme to consolidate power. As Dulcey tries to navigate cultural differences, it becomes clear that more than just the broadcast is at stake.

* * * * *
We've been learning about the civilizations of the Ancient Middle East, in our homeschool history class. This dovetailed so perfectly with those lessons. The setting felt authentic--I appreciated reading afterword that the author had spent some time in Turkey, herself. I was very interested in the cultural exchanges between the American TV crew, the ex-pat archaeologist, and the other people of modern day Turkey. 

I also really liked how there was so much history that even common-place looking homes could have a wealth of ancient treasures inside them, just picked up from the surrounding areas. I realize that was fictional, but I could see it happening. That sense of deep history is something that I don't have any experience with, but I was drawn to it.

The plot thread of Al Queda and the statue's potential significance kept the story moving along briskly. 

This was well-written and gave me much to think about.

Grave Secrets, by Marlene Austin

3 stars: Slow starter, but a satisfying conclusion

Bethany has been looking forward to spending the summer after her graduation with her grandmother Amelia--not because they've been close, but because they haven't been. She's counting on them finally having a chance to connect and hoping to finally win her grandmother's love and approval. Then, on the day of her graduation, she finds out that her grandmother has died. 

Along with her grief and anger, there is a good deal of confusion, as well. Bethany has inherited a run-down cottage in Maine, with the stipulation that she live in it and take time to write a book. Nothing like vague edicts from beyond the grave to give a girl some purpose to life! 

So off she goes to Maine, but meanwhile, there seems to be someone after her--little "accidents" that don't add up, and threatening messages. It's all very peculiar. She's not sure who to trust.

* * * * *
There was a lot I liked about this book. I liked the ties to family history and finding out what happened to the people who lived in the cottage before her. The "slow start" I mentioned does not include the Prologue, which was actually quite exciting. The suspense surrounding Bethany's project and stalker (?) was a very slow build-up, though. I didn't particularly like the love interests either.

Bethany's issues with her grandmother dominated the book more than I would have liked. That seemed to be mostly what Bethany's entire life revolved around, so that got to be a bit tiresome. The ending was predictable, but satisfying.

So, it was fine, but probably not one I'll re-read. 

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