Triumph by Carolyn Jessop
My interest in religious cults continues, apparently. This is Carolyn Jessop’s continuation of the story she began in Escape. It focuses largely on her involvement with the raid on the Yearning for Zion Ranch in Texas in 2008. While the children taken in the raid were eventually all returned to their families (which Jessop believes was the wrong move to make), the raid did result in several prosecutions and convictions of FLDS men for allowing underage marriages to occur. Jessop testified at some of these trials/hearings and talks a lot about how trying it was for her and her family, but that she also found courage and power in it. The second part of the book goes into how she found the strength to succeed as a single mother with eight children in a world that didn’t understand her (and vice versa). She writes about what she learned from her grandmothers and how she leaned on the welfare system as well as how she drew from her own well of strength and believes others can learn from her example. She prefaces this by stating that at her speaking engagements, many people asked her about these things and she thought it was worth exploring. I agree, but the number of Goodreads reviewers who lambast her for being full of herself or “inserting too many of her own opinions” are alarming. She believes she is strong and extraordinary, and she is. It reminds me a lot of that social experiment that went around the internet a few weeks ago where women accept compliments and then get hate for it. People tell Carolyn Jessop she is extraordinary but then expect her to declaim it. I’m glad she doesn’t.
Audiobook borrowed from my library.
Beastkeeper by Cat Hellisen
I read Hellisen’s YA book, When the Sea is Rising Red, a few years ago and was impressed by the lovely writing but let down by the story. The blurb for her middle grade, Beastkeeper, was intriguing and the book was short enough that I felt like I wouldn’t be wasting too much of my time if I ended up not enjoying it. It’s about a girl, Sarah, whose mother leaves her one day, and whose father slowly starts turning into a beast. He leaves her at her grandmother’s house and she learns of a curse going back two generations in her family that causes a person to turn into a beast when they fall in love – or something like that. The mythology is interesting but it just never really came together. I’m still a little puzzled by it. Moreover, the characters always felt like they existed at a remove from the reader, something that may just be characteristic of Hellisen’s writing, as I felt this way about her other book as well. Promising, but ultimately just OK.
Review copy received from the publisher. Beastkeeper is available now.
Dragons Beware by Jorge Aguirre and Rafael Rosado
The first book in this graphic novel series for kids, Giants Beware, was a favorite of mine in 2012, and I was part of the judging panel that chose it as a Cybils winner that year. Dragons Beware brings back all of the delightful characters – fierce fighter Claudette, her little brother Gaston who has a fondness for baking (but has resolved to give it up until he too can learn to fight), and her friend princess Marie. This time, they take on the dragon that maimed her father in order to reclaim his sword. This book chronicles yet another funny, exciting adventure with full-color, expressive artwork. The characters genuinely care about each other, they’re all brave in their own way, and Aguirre and Rosado clearly respect their individual strengths. While Claudette is a tomboy, the book handily dismisses the notion that a girl who want to be a princess and loves frilly dresses (Marie) can’t also fight and be brave and save her friends. And Gaston is precious as ever as he learns to accept his own uniqueness rather than trying to emulate others. Another home run.
Finished copy received from the publisher. Dragons Beware is available today!