Book Review: The Wake Up by Catherine Ryan Hyde

About the Book:

The Wake Up

From New York Times bestselling author Catherine Ryan Hyde comes a hauntingly emotional novel of how one man’s life changes forever when he rediscovers his ability to feel the pain of others.

Something has been asleep in forty-year-old cattle rancher Aiden Delacorte for a long time. It all comes back in a rush during a hunting trip, when he’s suddenly attuned to the animals around him, feeling their pain and fear as if it were his own. But the newfound sensitivity of Aiden’s “wake up” has its price. He can no longer sleepwalk through life, holding everyone at arm’s length. As he struggles to cope with a trait he’s buried since childhood, Aiden falls in love with Gwen, a single mother whose young son bears a burden of his own.

Sullen and broken from his experiences with an abusive father, Milo has turned to acting out in violent and rebellious ways. Aiden can feel the boy’s pain, as well as that of his victims. Now he and Milo must sift through their pasts to find empathy with the innocent as well as the guilty, to come to terms with their deepest fears, and to finally discover the compassionate heart of a family.

My Thoughts:

I would like to thank Lake Union Publishing and NetGalley for a copy of this novel. Slated to release this December, Catherine Ryan Hyde’s upcoming novel will pull you into a world of horses, cattle and people. Filled with heavy emotions, this story is as different from her others as it can be. Having red and reviewed Allie and Bea earlier this year, I am impressed at the diversity in the plots and the way the author writes. It is a pleasure to read her stories and there is always something to learn out of them.

The story revolves around Aiden, a man in his forties, who experiences something he refers to as “The Wake-up”, the title of this story. All of sudden he is able to feel the emotions – fear, happiness, sadness, desperation, etc of animals around him. Being a cattle rancher, there is a lot to deal with and the decision to stop scares not only Aiden, but people around him who have known him for a very long time. This concept is a lot to take in and deal with.

As the story progresses, Aiden is left alone by his neighbours and girlfriend, mostly due to his sudden change in behaviour which nobody understands or wants to. During this time, he meets Gwen, a single mother and her two children Elizabeth and Milo. Gwen is like a ray of sunshine in Aidden’s life, giving him the hope that he will be alright. Elizabeth is mature for her age and a very understanding child, the perfect child that every parent would want.

Milo on the other hand has been a victim of abuse at the hands of his father and acts out in a lot of harmful ways, especially towards animals. It is difficult to talk to him, to understand him and he doesn’t get along with Aiden. Here starts the story, the journey of healing and acceptance. As Aiden starts to seek help, his therapy sessions bring out a lot about his childhood and helps the reader understand who he is and how he came to be this way, including how his own step-father took a chance on him. This inspires him to try to help Milo, to earn his trust and to show him that he is worthy of love no matter what he has gone through.

The story also shows us how if you place your trust in a person and show them that they can achieve things in their life, it will change them. The story comes full circle with a horse birthing, that being the moment which changed young Aiden’s life and later something that helps Milo. As the truth unfolds, it is shocking to discover the abuse Milo has dealt with as well as the kind of dysfunctional family Aiden lived in until his step-father came into his life and helped him.

The reader will marvel at the subtle hints the author drops about the issues raised and how the simplest gesture can hold more meaning than a big grand one. A story of trust, acceptance and learning, ‘The Wake Up’ will leave the reader with a lot to think about and maybe the concept of being sensitive to other people’s feelings if not other beings.

Book Review: The Screaming Staircase (Lockwood & Co. #1) by Jonathan Stroud

What happens when you walk into a book fair, find books that you’d once read and then discover more books by those same authors? You’re right! You cannot help but be hit with a strong sense of nostalgia!

And once it kicks in, there’s no stopping the onslaught of memories.

It was this same feeling that prompted me to pick up this book by Jonathan Stroud. After all, my mind reasoned, it will be worthwhile coming from the author of the famous Bartimaeus series.

About the Book:

The Screaming Staircase (Lockwood & Co., #1)

When the dead come back to haunt the living, Lockwood & Co. step in . . .

For more than fifty years, the country has been affected by a horrifying epidemic of ghosts. A number of Psychic Investigations Agencies have sprung up to destroy the dangerous apparitions.

Lucy Carlyle, a talented young agent, arrives in London hoping for a notable career. Instead she finds herself joining the smallest, most ramshackle agency in the city, run by the charismatic Anthony Lockwood. When one of their cases goes horribly wrong, Lockwood & Co. have one last chance of redemption. Unfortunately this involves spending the night in one of the most haunted houses in England, and trying to escape alive.

Set in a city stalked by spectres, The Screaming Staircase is the first in a chilling new series full of suspense, humour and truly terrifying ghosts. Your nights will never be the same again . . .

My Thoughts:

A truly wonderful book and concept, this book will ensure that you are hooked from the first page. The story is divided into parts, jumping into the middle of the plot in the beginning itself, then looping back in time to give us some background and perspective, and then charging right on. The best part? All these seemingly unconnected situations all come together in the end and wrap the plot up neatly.

The characters are brilliant, smart, funny, naughty but with a depth that will surprise the reader. There is more to them than meets the eye and it becomes rather clear as we read. Anthony Lockwood proves to be something of an enigma, not only to Lucy but to the reader as well. He is charming for a youngster, conducts himself as well as the elders and still manages to hide some things from everyone. Lucy is likeable and strong, with a talent that far surpasses both the boys. Together the trio set out to make London a safer place, protecting people from ghosts. The climax and the sequences leading up to it are intense and perhaps the best part of the entire book, but what stands out is how every seemingly random situation has a connection in the end. Everything is vital to the plot and it helps to pay attention to even the smallest of details.

It felt really great to immerse myself in this story. The author, with his wonderful storytelling ability, vividly describes each situation and haunting. Every case that the trio take up, we are given a chance to imagine what is happening, sometimes we can even see it playing in our mind. This just points to the wonderful way the author has with words. The characters are well developed and the basis of the plot along with the back story of how the various agencies came into existence makes this book all the more interesting. The ending leaves us with just enough information to want to continue the series.

Overall, not just for the sake of nostalgia, but for the beauty of the story, I strongly urge all my fellow fans of fantasy, ghosts and mystery to read this book!