Saturday, June 24, 2017

Book Review: Just Babies: The Origins of Good and Evil

As a psychology major, these types of books are so interesting to me. I am still in school so I consider myself pretty much a lay person. This is completely approchable. There is no pretentious language, and no talking down to you. Even if you are not educated on much of the subject you will be able to get something out of this book. 

The majority of this book is written about infants and toddlers, and their morality. Although to be honest, much of the book is completely relevant for all of life. So don't let the "just babies" title freak you out. This book is divided into seven rather interesting chapters. Like most psychology books the chapters are rather long and are packed with interesting.

 The first explains most of the technical terms and lays out the guidelines, and various aspects or challenges with testing babies. Along with what the results of the experiements. I enjoyed learning about the variou

The book is divided into seven chapters, with the first explaining at length the technical aspects of testing babies, along with the results of these various experiments. This first chapter is fascinating not only because of the results but because of the experiments themselves; the researchers’ ingenuity in devising ways to test babies is impressive. 

“Even moral philosophers don’t agree about what morality really is, and many non philosophers don’t like to use the word at all. When I tell people what this book is about, more than one has responded with ‘I don’t believe in morality.’ Someone once told me--and I’m not sure that she was joking--that morality is nothing more than rules about whom you can and can’t have sex with.”

I find it super interesting how Bloom examins the mechanisms in which natural impulses occur in the action of action morally are overriden. An example of this is listed on page 131, Disgust is a powerful force for evil. If you want to exterminate or margalize a group, this is an emotion to elicit. He also examines the means in which religion is used to either include or exclude groups from certain circles of moral people.
"When the moral circle contracts, perhaps because of war or some other external threat, people “tend to find a scriptural basis for intolerance or belligerence.” When it expands, “they’re more likely to find the tolerant and understanding side of their scriptures.” Believing that scripture itself causes these changes is like concluding that newspaper headlines cause plane crashes."
This isn't so much a review as a bunch of information of what I find interesting. I really like this whole idea of the book. 

Links to purchase: Amazon // Barnes and Noble // Abe Books // Book Depository

Goodreads Description: 

A leading cognitive scientist argues that a deep sense of good and evil is bred in the bone.

From John Locke to Sigmund Freud, philosophers and psychologists have long believed that we begin life as blank moral slates. Many of us take for granted that babies are born selfish and that it is the role of society—and especially parents—to transform them from little sociopaths into civilized beings. In Just Babies, Paul Bloom argues that humans are in fact hardwired with a sense of morality. Drawing on groundbreaking research at Yale, Bloom demonstrates that, even before they can speak or walk, babies judge the goodness and badness of others’ actions; feel empathy and compassion; act to soothe those in distress; and have a rudimentary sense of justice.

Still, this innate morality is limited, sometimes tragically. We are naturally hostile to strangers, prone to parochialism and bigotry. Bringing together insights from psychology, behavioral economics, evolutionary biology, and philosophy, Bloom explores how we have come to surpass these limitations. Along the way, he examines the morality of chimpanzees, violent psychopaths, religious extremists, and Ivy League professors, and explores our often puzzling moral feelings about sex, politics, religion, and race.

In his analysis of the morality of children and adults, Bloom rejects the fashionable view that our moral decisions are driven mainly by gut feelings and unconscious biases. Just as reason has driven our great scientific discoveries, he argues, it is reason and deliberation that makes possible our moral discoveries, such as the wrongness of slavery. Ultimately, it is through our imagination, our compassion, and our uniquely human capacity for rational thought that we can transcend the primitive sense of morality we were born with, becoming more than just babies.

Paul Bloom has a gift for bringing abstract ideas to life, moving seamlessly from Darwin, Herodotus, and Adam Smith to The Princess Bride, Hannibal Lecter, and Louis C.K. Vivid, witty, and intellectually probing, Just Babies offers a radical new perspective on our moral lives.

About the Author: 

Paul Bloom is the Brooks and Suzanne Ragen Professor of Psychology and Cognitive Science at Yale University. 

His research explores how children and adults understand the physical and social world, with special focus on morality, religion, fiction, and art.

 He has published more than a hundred scientific articles in journals such as Science and Nature, and his popular writing has appeared in the New York Times, the New Yorker, the Atlantic Monthly, Slate, Natural History, and many other publications. 

He has won numerous awards for his research and teaching. His newest book--Just Babies: The Origins of Good and Evil--is coming out in November. Paul Bloom lives in New Haven with his wife and two sons.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Author Interview: Marina Eple

Marina is an indie writer from Yaroslavl, Russia, where she grew up on and was influenced by American movies like Terminator, Rambo and Aliens. She studied journalism at Yaroslavl University and worked as a journalist for the local newspaper.

No stranger to a blank piece of paper, Marina had begun writing stories to share with classmates by the age of 12, and won district poetry competitions while still in school. Later, she became a laureate in a Russian National Contest for Young Writers Debut. Her two prize winning novellas were subsequently published in a Moscow literature magazine.

Besides having a great passion for writing, Marina loves to read, travel, study martial arts, and has developed quite a taste for tex-mex since relocating to the Houston area. She enjoys nature, animals, long walks with her husband, and competes in 5K and 10K runs as time allows.

Always a natural story teller, Marina has already come a long way since her modest beginnings, both figuratively and literally. From her first serious study of English in 2007 to starting her first novel upon arrival to Canton, Ohio in 2011, Marina demonstrates very well what one can achieve with a strong imagination and hard work no matter the obstacle.

She mostly writes YA dystopian, with plenty of action and adventure, but is a great fan of all good stories containing lots of twists and turns and surprise endings.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

Answer: Around the age of twelve, I was already writing short stories to share with classmates. They could never seem to get enough, so I realized a future writing fiction was possible.

When did you write your first book and how old were you?

Answer: I wrote my first serious novella at the age of eighteen for a Russian national competition for young writers. The effort earned local recognition, a trip to Moscow, and publication in a major national magazine.

What obstacles did you have to overcome in becoming a writer?

Answer: After relocating to the US, the major obstacle I’ve had to overcome in becoming an American author, would have to be the language barrier. As a native speaking Russian, mastering the English language to the level of actually writing books, was a challenge of gigantic proportions. 

What education or professional training if any have you received?

Answer: I received my college degree in journalism and worked as a journalist for a local newspaper. I’ve also added countless hours of online research and joined writing forums.

Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?

Answer: Ideas for my books come mostly from my imagination. They come to me in the form of dreams and sometimes from real life experiences. I try to imagine interesting and exciting worlds in which I’d like to visit.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?

Answer: That the characters took on a life of their own and controlled their own destinies within the story more so than I. 

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

Answer: That I prefer to actually write a pre-book with all dialogs beforehand, not just working strictly from notes or off a rough draft. The pre-books for the Mind Breaker trilogy have all run close to 130 pages.

How long does it take you to write a book?

Answer: It depends. The fastest I’ve written a novel has been eight weeks, and the longest has been two years.

What is your work schedule like when you're writing?

Answer: I’m working pretty much 24/7 while writing. I’m always either writing or thinking about my story until it’s finished.

What do you like to do when you're not writing?

Answer: I enjoy going for long walks with my husband, reading, watching movies and competing in 5K and 10K races as time allows.

Who are some of your favorite authors that you feel were influential in your work? What impact have they had on your writing?

Answer: Jim Thompson is my favorite American author. He gave me added confidence to write what I want and to be bold in my writing. Another favorite author is of course the Russian-American novelist Vladimir Nabokov. He was one of only a handful of native speaking Russians to successfully become an American author. I’m taking a similar path.

What do you think makes a good story?

Answer: A good plot, interesting characters with lots of depth, plenty of twists and turns, and of course a really good ending. Before you get too far in, the book should grab you by the belt buckle and slam you up against a wall.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Weekly Reads: 01- May 29- June 4

I have been reading a lot, so this is going to be long. 
Last Week I finished: 
I am currently taking a class on Shakespeare, so we read two of his plays: 
  • Julius Caeser by William Shakespeare - I enjoyed this one, all though it wasn't my favorite and I kind of hated all the characters. 
  • Othello by William Shakespeare - This is my all time favorite play of his, although I have only read 13 so far. I read two different copies of this one, so I could compare and contrast it. I thought that it was an interesting commentary on race and love. Desdemona is one of my favorite female characters Shakespeare has developed. 
I finished the audiobook of Tuesdays at the Castle, by Jessica Day George - this was a cute enough middle-grade story with loads of adventure! 

Little things and Short things I have read this week: 

This week I am going to be reading or am still reading:

  • Voluntary Madness by Norah Vincent - currently at 147 pages
  • Delta of Venus: Erotica by Ana├»s Nin - currently at 111 pages
  • The Other One by Colette - currently at 56 pages
  • O Oceano no Fim do Caminho by Neil Gaiman - currently at 2 pages 
  • The Winter's Tale by William Shakespeare- currently at 36 pages
  • Shakespeare and Music by Edward W Naylor-currently at 7 pages
  • Beauty and the Beast Lost in a Book by Jennifer Donnelly-currently at 3% 
This week I will start: 
  • Into the Water by Paula Hawkins 
  • The Dancing Pancake by Eileen Spinelli
  • Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
Finished This Week:
  • Love that dog by Sharon Creech

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Book Review: Dark Places

I have tried to hold out from reading this book for so long as I could. I normally hate books that have so much hype and that everyone is reading. They tend to be overdone and overrated. I was surprised with how different this one was. I am glad I finally picked up this one.  This is such complex and well-developed mystery

OMG, this book is incredible, its intense and crazy good. This really made me sick to my stomach and made me incredible sad. There is something wonderfully evil and gross about this story. I couldn't believe how deep this story was. 

“I have a meanness inside me, real as an organ. Slit me at my belly and it might slide out, meaty and dark, drop on the floor so you could stomp on it.”

This book will make you want to lose hope for humanity. This has a lot of horror in it so if you can't stomach that, then this might not be the book for you. I actually really went into this book with expectations, theories, and such, and they were all wrong. You can't really expect what happens, you just go with the flow. 

The main character is Libby Day, a troubled woman, who has seen the worst, and is scared from it. She is truly the most unique, and most unforgettable character that I have ever met. She is so mentally scared, and emotionally numb. She is trouble, and she believes everybody owes her, due to her past. She also is someone that doesn't really take responsibility for anything, or her actions. The crazy thing that she feels like a real person, I feel like I could be taking to her in real life, her actions seem real. I really can feel how bitter she is, and how cynical. It's very understandable of course. 

Her unhappy, depressed, and deeply defeated voice is so unforgettable, and haunting. 

i was not a lovable child, and i'd grown into a deeply unlovable adult. draw a picture of my soul, and it'd be a scribble with fangs.

I liked that Dark Places is a book that alternates between two different time periods. The first is present day, and the second is 1985. This was refreshing and an interesting part of this story. 

In 1985 her brother Ben Day massacred her entire family, the only one surviving the blood shed was Libby Day. She somehow survived this gruesome act, but wasn't left unscarred. She was seven, so she can remember everything, all that gruesome bloodshed. It is heartbreaking. She testifies agains him and her brother is convinced of those almost satanic murders, justice for his horrendous actions.

More than the story, the writing is the real show stopper her. It is just nothing short of pure talent. I was I was completely sucked into the mystery, and into the action. I really loved it. 


Goodreads Descriptions: 

Libby Day was just seven years old when her evidence put her fifteen-year-old brother behind bars.

Since then, she has been drifting. But when she is contacted by a group who are convinced of Ben's innocence, Libby starts to ask questions she never dared to before. 

Was the voice she heard her borther's? Ben was a misfit in their small town, but was he capable of murder? Are there secrets to uncover at the family farm or is Libby deluding herself because she wants her brother back?

She begins to realise that everyone in her family had something to hide that day... especially Ben. Now, twenty-four years later, the truth is going to be even harder to find.

Who did massacre the Day family?

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Book Review: The Ravenstone: The Secret of Ninham Mountain

This is a series that involves spotlighting wonderful Children's literature in both publishing worlds. This is a once or twice a month feature. Feel free to check out the series here. 

This is such an interesting and cute little book. I love books full of adventure. This is technically middle grade, but it could be classified as young adult. This is one of my favorite novels that I have read lately. This is such an imaginative story.

One thing that is important to mention is the writing style of this book. I found the book simple and easy to read. Kids will get introducted to some challenging and educational vocabulary. They will be entertained and it will keep their interest. At the same time the book is not at all inapproprate, or belittling to the young reader. ``

The plot in this story is rather interesting. Without giving away everything to the plot we see the characters Nadia and Aidan find this artificat, and then figure out it can help them time travel. They come across a wizard, who explains a quest that they must go on. Basically the whole point is to learn how to solve problems, do your research, ask questions, and really solve mysterys. The point of view of this book was really different I thought. The book actually switches between both of the characters Nadia and Aidan.

Let's talk a little bit about the characters, Nadia and Aiden are 13-years-old twins. There isn't many stories that involve twins, so this added some interst. The twin relationship is explored and developed quite nicely in this story. Aside from these two main characters we really don't dive deep into any others.

They do exsit though, you have Heather, their older sister. We get to meet their parents, and grandparents, but I found myself wanting to have those relationships explored a bit more. Overall the characters are very realistic and interesting. They seem like real people due to the authors including some intersting character flaws that add some depth to the novel. 

The time traveling aspect does interfere a bit with the world building in this story. It is set in a few locations. First in present time in the United States, there is some interesting information about locations in this part. They the travel back in time. The authors made sure to explain the locations, the when and why, which creates cotinuity in the storyline. 

One issue I found in this book was that the authors kind of spelled things out a little bit, and I do understand it is a middle grade novel, I just didn't feel like somethings needed to be explained so much. Kid's aren't dumb. 

The biggest and most obvious downside to this book was the serious lack of diversity in this book. I found it to be basically only one Indian woman, and the rest were just white, of course these are the major roles and nothing besides more traditional relationships. 

Overall this was a great book.

Disclaimer: I received this book in exchange from the author for my honest and completely unbiased review. All thoughts are my own.

Links for purchase: Amazon // Indigo 

Goodreads Book Description: 

"You were born to this path! This quest is your fate."

Imagine a raven appearing out of thin air and guiding you to an exquisitely carved icon that glows with ancient light and pulses with shamanic power.

This is how the adventure begins for Nadia and
Aidan Shaw, thirteen-year-old twins, who live
in idyllic Cold Spring, New York, on the banks
of the Hudson River. Armed with the power of the Ravenstone and their own special gifts, they embark on a harrowing quest across centuries, at the bidding of a mysterious old shaman. They must depend on their courage, their faith in their friends, and luck. Or is it destiny?

If they succeed, what they bring back could
change the course of human existence.


"Solomon and Carey's imaginative storytelling sweeps you into a fascinating tale of mystery and adventure. Young twins Nadia and Aidan stumble upon an ancient power that could help their family in the future, or trap them in the past forever." ~ Linda Zimmermann, successful author of 30 books about hauntings, the paranormal, and mysterious stone sites.

About The Author: 

Diane grew up in Oregon, and says she can’t remember a time when she wasn’t singing. Her father gave her a guitar for Christmas when she was 13, and she taught herself folk and country styles, and started to write songs. At 19, believing her first talent was acting, she headed off to England, determined to study acting at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. 

But life can take some funny turns. Before she could arrange an interview, she was literally “discovered,” playing her guitar and singing to a small, private, New Year’s Eve party at a London hotel.

A BBC television producer was there, a screen test followed, and the result was a network primetime series of variety specials! “The Diane Solomon Show” of the late 70s, was a great success, and she quickly became a regular on British TV, with other specials of her own, and numerous guest appearances, including several Royal Gala Specials. She recorded 5 albums, appeared on countless radio shows, TV hosting, and musical theater productions. She headed four major UK Theater concert tours of her own, toured with Glen Campbell on three European tours, and opened for a major Kenny Rogers’ tour in 1991.

But then life took another turn, this time not so fortunate. She was diagnosed with the infamous M.E., or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and for the next three years was too ill to walk across the room unaided. For a total of seven years she struggled with half a life. In the darkest hours songwriting was her saving grace, and the title cut of her new CD, “Good Things Don’t Come Easy” was born of this troubled time. With the help a brilliant German homeopathic system of healing, plus nutrition and herbs, she regained her health. Diane was so impressed with these alternate therapies that she has since gained degrees in both nutrition and homeopathy, achieving a doctorate degree from the British Institute of Homeopathy. She practiced nutrition and homeopathy for fifteen years, using a combination of nutrients, herbs, homeopathic remedies, and diet and lifestyle recommendations.

Now focusing on writing, Diane lives in beautiful southern New Hampshire. She has just finished a middle grade mystery/fantasy novel with her husband Mark Carey, entitled "The Ravenstone: The Secret of Ninham Mountain," published Oct 1 2016. 

She has written several non-fiction books 

Friday, June 2, 2017

Bonus Short Review: The Heirs by Susan Rieger.

Somewhere around 4.5 stars to be honest.

I really enjoyed this book, it is quite beautifully written. The story unfolds over time, it is intertwing in and very deep at times. It alternates between a number of different characters. It starts with Rupert Falkes passing. He is  the patriarch of a wealthy Manhattan family. He dies leaving his wife, Eleanor, and five grown sons. Of course like we see all too often many people tried to make some sort of claim on his fourtune and estate. An unknown woman arrives, and everything will change. This woman is claiming that had two sons with Rupert. As you probably are imagining  new information throws the family into turmoil. As you dive deeper into this story, more family drama will unfold.

I enjoy books like this, dysfunction, atypical family, I hate drama in my real family life, but I don't want to read about a perfect family.

The major issue is that many of the issues in the book have very little resolve or solution. You are left disatisfed with the ending an sort of wanting more. But perhaps there is a point to that.

Disclaimer: I recieved this book from Blogging for books in exchange for my honest an unbiase review.

Goodreads Description: 

 Brilliantly wrought, incisive, and stirring, The Heirs tells the story of an upper-crust Manhattan family coming undone after the death of their patriarch. Six months after Rupert Falkes dies, leaving a grieving widow and five adult sons, an unknown woman sues his estate, claiming she had two sons by him. The Falkes brothers are pitched into turmoil, at once missing their father and feeling betrayed by him. 

In disconcerting contrast, their mother, Eleanor, is cool and calm, showing preternatural composure. Eleanor and Rupert had made an admirable life together -- Eleanor with her sly wit and generosity, Rupert with his ambition and English charm -- and they were proud of their handsome, talented sons: Harry, a brash law professor; Will, a savvy Hollywood agent; Sam, an astute doctor and scientific researcher; Jack, a jazz trumpet prodigy; Tom, a public-spirited federal prosecutor. 

The brothers see their identity and success as inextricably tied to family loyalty - a loyalty they always believed their father shared. Struggling to reclaim their identity, the brothers find Eleanor's sympathy toward the woman and her sons confounding. Widowhood has let her cast off the rigid propriety of her stifling upbringing, and the brothers begin to question whether they knew either of their parents at all. 

A riveting portrait of a family, told with compassion, insight, and wit, The Heirs wrestles with the tangled nature of inheritance and legacy for one unforgettable, patrician New York family. Moving seamlessly through a constellation of rich, arresting voices, The Heirs is a tale out Edith Wharton for the 21st century.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Book Review: All Rise For The Honorable (Children's series)

This is a series that involves spotlighting wonderful Children's literature in both publishing worlds. This is a once or twice a month feature. Feel free to check out the series here. Below is a running list of each post in this series.

This was an intense book. This is such a good book. This is an emotional book. I really don't even know what to think about this book. This is an astonishing book about love, forgiveness, and innocence. I really didn't expect such a deep story from a middle-grade novel. This is a novel that will make you laugh, smile, cry, and jump for joy. It is a roller coaster of emotion. It is a book you will not soon forget. 

This is the story of the sweet boy named Perry T. Cook, who is being raised by his mom at a correctional facility, named Blue Review Co-ed Correctional Facility, in the city of Suprise, Nebraska. The Cellblock C is really used to him being there. I really find this to being an interesting viewpoint, and a refreshing idea. This novel deals with real life issues, and tough ones at that. 

This is until the new district attorney found out and Perry is forced to leave the only place he knows, and go into a foster home. This causes major problems for Perry. He feels trapped and completely betrayed. He decides to go on a quest for the truth, for answers, for some truth. He wants to find out what his mother did to get inside the prison. What he finds out will teach him more than he ever could have imagined about life and love. 

My only real criticism of this book is the fairytale view of prison in this book. There are no real life issues that prisons have in this book. I know it's a middle-grade novel but there are no mean guards, no mean or abusive prisoners, no drama what so ever. I just think the author made Perry and his mother's life a little too perfect for having spent many years in prison. 

I believe that some middle-grade readers will be put off by the length of this book. It is about 400 pages, and that is alot for this genre typically. I really think it is worth it, if your child can stick with it. I also think there might be some confusion as to the point of view. It shifts from first person of Perry to the perspective of the mother. 

This story ends far too abruptly, which is strange for a novel that is over 400 pages, maybe I am just being greedy because I wanted more out of this story. I felt like there were just a few loose ends that were never explained. Maybe the author left room for a sequel? 

Overall this is one of the best middle-grade novels I have never read. 

Goodreads Description: 

From Leslie Connor, award-winning author of Waiting for Normal and Crunch, comes a soaring and heartfelt story about love, forgiveness, and how innocence makes us all rise up. All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook is a powerful story, perfect for fans of Wonder and When You Reach Me.

Eleven-year-old Perry was born and raised by his mom at the Blue River Co-ed Correctional Facility in tiny Surprise, Nebraska. His mom is a resident on Cell Block C, and so far Warden Daugherty has made it possible for them to be together. That is, until a new district attorney discovers the truth—and Perry is removed from the facility and forced into a foster home.

When Perry moves to the “outside” world, he feels trapped. Desperate to be reunited with his mom, Perry goes on a quest for answers about her past crime. As he gets closer to the truth, he will discover that love makes people resilient no matter where they come from . . . but can he find a way to tell everyone what home truly means?

A Little Bit About The Author: 

From the author's website:

My life began suddenly (you can even ask my mother) in an antique farmhouse outside of Cleveland, Ohio. I was born right on the family room floor ~ no time to get to the hospital! I swear, I’ve been in a hurry ever since.

When I was in fourth grade we moved to a neighborhood full of kids outside of Schenectady, New York. My Dad worked for a company that sold some of the finest printing papers in all the land. He often brought home big, beautiful, heavy books that pinned me to my chair when I held them in my lap, and I loved to turn the pages, look at the photography and illustrations and smell the ink.

As a kid I took dancing lessons and did gymnastics. I could be found upside-down in odd places like the middle of the stairway, not that I recommend it! My bedroom was a messy nest full of paint sets and paper scraps, embroidery threads and sewing projects. In school I was good at some things and not at all good at others. Still, I found my passions. I went to college, first at SUNY, Cobleskill, where I received an associate’s degree in agriculture, and later at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, Ct. where I earned a bachelor’s degree in fine art.

At first, I was interested in children’s books from an illustrator’s point of view. But the writing part surprised me ~ came up from behind and tapped me on the shoulder. I realized that my head and heart were very full of stories and that I should pay attention! My ideas come from everyday life, and I write for readers of all ages.

I live in the Connecticut woods with my husband and three children. (Well, the kids are getting big and they all drive cars now so they come and go a lot these days.) We keep our bird feeders full, do a little gardening and stack a lot of firewood. I hike the trails near my home almost every morning. Then I make a pot of tea and get to work. Usually, my loyal Writing Dogs are right by my side. (Sometimes I even borrow dogs from my neighbors. You can’t have enough dogs.)

I love making artisan pizzas and pots of soup and my favorite treat is dark chocolate. I also love to ride my bike down to the diner to meet my friends for breakfast and more tea. (Hmm...that’s a lot of eating, isn’t it?)

Life is fine!

Check out her website: here

Book Review: Once Was Lost

This is my favorite young adult book I have read, in a long time. This was my first book I have read by Sara Zarr, and I really love her style and approach to storytelling. She really is a great contemporary read. She doesn't write anything that is immature or mature. She is wonderful. 

Once Was Lost, was a different type of novel than I have ever read. She took a very unlikable complex character and made her entirely approachable. I really didn't think I would like Sam, she is moody and a bit of a complainer. She is constantly making everything about her.

“I wonder how you're supposed to know the exact moment when there's no more hope.”

The main character Sam is a teen girl who is really ostracized by her status of a paster's daughter. She is a girl struggling with her faith, even though she must pretend to be a devout Christian, perfect daughter, and good role mood. Which you have to admit is a lot to place on a young girl. The problem is her life is really far from perfect. Her mother is currently in court-ordered rehab, after a DUI, her dad barely has time to even care about her issues and overall she is growing more and more depressed. When a horrific tragedy happens, her small little town is shaken, and Sam begins to doubt her faith in God. 

This is a book about faith, make no doubt, but it isn't about a preachy religious faith. There is no agenda in this book. It is more about how to find faith, and about having faith in the people who are around you. It's about having faith in your family. It is about how you figure out as a young adult that life isn't perfect, your parents can have issues, and that people all make horrible mistakes. The title even takes about this message, "Once was lost, but now am found." is the song of amazing grace. That'ss what this book is about. Finding your faith, finding your purpose in life. 

But the message this book has is so much bigger than just faith. It is also about repression and denial. The mom is in denial of her issues for most of the book, dad was in denial of everything Sam was going through. Also same was in denial, she was in denial of her emotions. The anger, jealousy, her grief and the doubt she felt, all pushed to the bottom. She was keeping it all bottled inside her. Through, out the book, we watch this part of her crack. Of course, we know that she will develop into herself, as is Sara Zarr nature. 

Links to purchase: Amazon // Barnes and Noble // Abe Books // Book Depository // Better World Books //  Indigo 

Goodreads Description: 

Once Was Lost is a quiet, moving novel – rich with authenticity and meaning – that addresses a complex issue in an approachable and balanced manner. 

This was a quiet wonderfully moving novel. A novel about how we find faith and learn how to be authentic. It addresses major issues in a good, clear, non-judgemental manner. I recommend this to fans of contemporary and young adult fiction. 

As a pastor's kid, it's hard not to buy into the idea of the perfect family, a loving God, and amazing grace. But lately, Sam has a lot of reasons to doubt. Her mother lands in rehab after a DUI, and her father seems more interested in his congregation than his family. When a young girl in her small town goes missing, the local tragedy overlaps with Sam's personal one, and the already worn thread of faith holding her together begins to unravel.
In her third novel, acclaimed author Sara Zarr examines the coexistence of affliction and hope, and what happens when everything you thought you believed—about God, your family, and yourself—is transformed.

About the Author:

Sara Zarr is the acclaimed author of four novels for young adults: Story of a Girl (National Book Award Finalist), Sweethearts (Cybil Award Finalist), Once Was Lost (a Kirkus Best Book of 2009) and How to Save a Life. Her short fiction and essays have also appeared in Image, Hunger Mountain, and several anthologies. She lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, with her husband, and online at