When Hope Calls by David Lui

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

When Hope Calls: Based on a True Human Trafficking Story by David Lui

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Morris, a humanitarian worker, and the staff of a human rights organization receive a desperate phone call from a girl named Mya, saying she’s been kidnapped. She doesn’t know where she is, but Morris and his team are determined to find and rescue Mya as part of their fight against human trafficking in When Hope Calls by author David Lui.

Although I found this novella (based on a true story) categorized as a kidnapping thriller, the subject didn’t have me expecting thrills, and all things considered, I indeed wouldn’t call this a thrilling read.

It’s suspenseful, but for much of the time, the characters are waiting in dismal silence. Fiction-wise, the plot development suffers from emotional lows that are overwritten and redundant, with the characters sitting in abject despair for hours and spending a good amount of time feeling sorry for themselves and this place in their careers or lives. On a more technical note, there are some missing words and recurring errors in punctuation.

However, sometimes a story’s message and purpose are bigger than the story, and that’s okay. This quick and relevant read serves to raise awareness of a widespread, urgent real-life issue, without sugarcoating it but also without resorting to unnecessary vulgarity. It’s a call to remind humanity that we have to fight against modern-day slavery.

 

Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Karana is twelve years old when her people leave their island, but circumstances leave her behind. Her story of years of survival on her own unfolds in Island of the Blue Dolphins by author Scott O’Dell.

After recently reading and becoming engrossed in Sing Down the Moon by the same author, I decided to revisit this Newbery Medal-winning children’s classic based on true events. I remember listening to the reading of it back when I was eleven or so, but the author’s writing style didn’t do much for me back then.

So I tried again, curious to see if adulthood would give me a new appreciation for this book. As I read, it reminded me of the movie Cast Away at times, what with a lone human being fending for herself on an island: building shelter, hunting and gathering food, facing the elements and hostile wild animals, etc. And some parts here and there moved me, particularly near the beginning.

On the whole, though, this still wasn’t the most interesting book for me. Lots of solitude, very little dialogue, and although the heroine is a brave, self-reliant girl-turned-woman, I wouldn’t have stuck with this understated account about living in nature if I didn’t know it would be a quick read.

Still, because I have enjoyed one book by this author, I plan on trying at least one more.

 

First Light by Erynn Newman

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

First Light by Erynn Newman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Drew and Elisabeth have loved each other since their teenaged years. But the personal tragedy that hits their lives on September 11th shakes the foundation of their relationship in First Light by author Erynn Newman.

Well! This novelette pulled me right in. The moments I liked best said just enough, as leaving out elaborations of implied information can be smart and compelling, especially in short reads.

The ending became oversweet for me, maybe because a more minimal approach was working well earlier in the story. But even so, I’d say these romantic vignettes with a dash of danger are an effective setup for a romantic suspense novel to follow.

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And the romantic suspense novel that follows is Out of Darkness.

 

Crystal by Walter Dean Myers

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

Book cover image courtesy of FictionDB.com

Crystal by Walter Dean Myers

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

“Modeling is a tough racket. You have to put up with a lot of garbage. You’re earning this money.”

Crystal is at the beginning of a glamorous modeling career in New York City. But what begins as an exciting experience for the sixteen-year-old becomes more than she bargained for in Crystal by author Walter Dean Myers.

I first read this YA novel back in my adolescence. Although the latest edition I read this time may have more than one detail updated from the edition I read decades ago, I can still see why the story painted such an accessible picture for me back then. It says enough, and ultimately hits pretty hard, without spelling everything out.

Yes, this is a story about the entertainment industry, modeling intersecting with television and movies, but of course, the importance is in Crystal’s journey of self-discovery. And what I understand more this time around is an aspect of the pressure of Crystal’s opportunity where her parents are concerned. Now, there were places where I didn’t get the best sense of Crystal’s personality, and this isn’t a sparkling tale with a happy-go-lucky ending, but it’s a compelling one.

This may be the only novel I read by this late author back in the day, but I plan on trying at least a little more of his work.

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Note to my blog readers: this novel contains some sensual material related to modeling and show business, although the content isn’t too explicit.

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A copy of the 1989 mass market paperback edition pictured above was the first one I read. I prefer that cover because sometimes characters in the story think Crystal is mixed, or that she’s something other than Black, which adds its own nuance to the racial aspect of the story.
The 2002 edition pictured below is the one I read this time.