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Smashwords book reviews by Compulsion Reads

  • These Fragile Things on Sep. 12, 2013

    What would you do if your child was named the “Miracle Girl” and she claimed to have ethereal visions? For the Jones family this scenario is about to be played out in their lives. Judy Jones was a typical fourteen-year-old teenager growing up in Stratham, England in the 1980’s, when a brick wall fell down on her, trapping her in a phone booth. Against all odds she survives. Distraught over the realization that his daughter may never be the same again, her father turns to the church to save his little girl while her mother focuses on the pragmatic details of nursing her broken daughter back to health. Before the Jones family has time to heal from the trauma of the accident Judy and her father leap into the open arms of the Catholic Church while, her mother battles with the reality that her role in the house has changed. Just as everyone in the family is settling down, Judy starts to have visions. A woman in white has a message for her, and Judy is determined to find out what that message is. When the news that a saint is living among the people of Stratham is leaked, crowds of believers set up camp in front of the Jones’s house, again throwing their routine into chaos. These Fragile Things is a beautiful and thoughtfully written story about a family that is struggling with the harsh reality that life is fleeting. Author Jane Davis paints the picture of a typical suburban family whose lives are turned upside down not once, but multiple times. With each curve ball that Davis throws at the Joneses you can’t help but ache for this family that is desperate to keep some senses of normalcy. Davis is a phenomenal writer whose ability to create well rounded characters that are easy to relate to felt effortless. Every person in the story could have easily been your next door neighbor or your best friend from school. The attention to these details instantly sucks readers into this world. In addition to the strong characters, Davis incorporates strong themes around religion, family, and loyalty that take this book to a whole new level of literary perfection. I would strongly recommend this book to all book clubs. I think you will find that the discussion following the reading will be intriguing. I also would encourage anyone who struggles with the concept of religion or those who believe in miracles to read this book. I am confident that you will walk away with new questions and insight into the Church that you may not have had. Either way, the concepts, ideas and prose found in These Fragile Things will stick with you for a long time. (This book was provided to Compulsion Reads for review by the author.)
  • I Stopped Time on Sep. 12, 2013

    When Sir James Hastings receives a truckload of mysterious boxes, he is displeased to discover they hold the entirety of his mother’s life in photographs, letters and other mementos. Sir James grew up in the void of his mother’s voluntary absence and never forgave her for it. When he reluctantly agrees to allow a young college student, Jenny, to review the materials for a class project, the two slowly piece together the life of an extraordinary woman. I Stopped Time is a beautiful and lush novel and twines the personal narratives of Lottie Pye and her son, Sir James, as he discovers her story in the many photographs she left behind. Lottie was born in 1901, and her life gives voice to the first half of the 20th century. Through her eyes, we watch the slow buildup to “The Great War” and the devastation it wreaks upon an entire generation of young Brits. We also discover the “magic” of photography as a young Lottie Pye wheedles her way into a local photography studio and learns how to stop time behind the lens of a camera. I Stopped Time is incredibly well-researched and populated with vibrant, believable characters. Lottie is particularly well written as is her son, Sir James as he struggles to relate to a world that is quickly passing him by in the early 21st century. His relationship with Jenny is touching and unique. Lottie’s possessions draw them together, giving James an outlet from his reserved life that he didn’t know he needed. I Stopped Time plays with many different themes, including the impact of war, class decorum in Britain, homosexuality and the inevitable advance of time. Touching, exciting, romantic and tender, this novel shines in the deft hands of its author. Fans of Downton Abbey and those who want to travel back to the first half of the 20th century will get a great treat in I Stopped Time. (This book was provided to Compulsion Reads for review by the author.)