Friday, October 23, 2009

2-in-1: A Flickering Light & Always Watching

For today’s edition of 2-in-1 I am talking about two very different but equally enjoyable books. First one is a historical fiction novel and the second one, a YA mystery novel. The one thing they have in common is that they are both the first books in the new series.

1. A Flickering Light by Jane Kirkpatrick

This is a novel set in early 20th century Minnesota detailing the life of Jessie Gaebele. As a fifteen-year old Jessie already knows what she loves and wants to do for the rest of her life: photography. From the moment she gets her first camera from her uncle, she is enchanted by the nature and landscape and wants to capture their beauty forever. Things get complicated when Jessie gets a job in a photo studio of F. J. Bauer and there is now a real possibility that her dream may become a reality as she

learns the trade of photography from an expert. But working with Mr. Bauer soon turns into something much deeper than just taking pictures and as Jessie grows up to become a woman, she has to decide which path to take: follow her dream career or her budding love for F.J.?

A Flickering Light was my first book that deals with photography. I have read my share of painters, musicians, poets and writers as main characters, but never a photographer. And I must say that I was pleasantly surprised by what I found in this book. Ms. Kirkpatrick managed to turn this not very interesting to me subject into something I found myself intrigued by. Part of it is probably that this book had a personal meaning to the author, as it is based on the life of her grandmother, who was herself a photographer’s assistant. Another part of the book that maybe was even more important than the photography aspect, was Jessie’s drive and determination to overcome whatever troubles may come only to fulfill what truly mattered to her. The book is set in the early 1900’ but this theme of going after your dreams is as timeless and important as it can get.

As I mentioned, A Flickering Light is book one in the Portrait of a Woman series and I gladly will continue with Jessie on her quest for what matters.


2. Always Watching by Brandilyn Collins & Amberly Collins

Always Watching is a YA murder mystery written by a mother-daughter team. The main character, sixteen years old Shaley lives a life of a rock star, or rather a rock star’s daughter. This entails not really having a real home, spending most of her life on tour with her mom and the band and really looking for friendship wherever she may get it, as it comes rarely enough. Shaley’s world gets even more tragic when one of those rare friends, the make-up artist Tom is murdered and Shaley is the first one to find him dead. To say it was traumatic for her is an understatement and Shaley starts questioning a lot more than just who would kill Tom.

I don’t usually read Young Adult novels. The main reason for it is the flood of paranormal that seems to upstage every other sub-genre in the world of books of teenagers. The worst part of it all is, once you read two or three of them, you can pretty much feel you’ve read them all. Another thing is my own daughter who is entering the world of 12 year-olds and up doesn’t like anything that even remotely deals with ghosts, vampires, fairies and such. I reached out for Always Watching because for a change it’s a good ‘ole mystery and I am looking for anything that might interest Karolina as far as reading goes. And I have to tell you, even I, the person who strays as far away from YA as possible, enjoyed this novel and actually read it pretty fast because I wanted to find out how it ended. And it’s definitely going on the list of books I will be recommending to my daughter. What a pleasurable change it was to actually read something for teenagers that doesn’t involve sex, drugs, psychologically damaged kids and silly girls swooning at the sight of their love interest. This mother-daughter team really did a fine job of creating a very likable and down-to-earth character with which many girls her age can identify and it’s okay if they do (even if she has a life that’s completely different from an average teenager’s, she still is a girl that has the same problems, feelings and emotions).

Always Watching is part one of The Rayne Town series and I am looking forward to more books featuring Shaley.

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I received a copy of A Flickering Light via the Library Thing Early Reviewer program.