Title: Shudderville Part Two
Author: Mia Zabriskie
Publisher: August 30, 2012
Reviewed by Dana Micheli
When I reviewed Part 1 of Mia Zabrisky’s Shudderville series, I stated in my review that I would never again underestimate her as a master storyteller. That said, when I read the second installment of Shudderville, I was once again struck by Zabrisky’s ability to delve, not only into the wickedness of the human mind, but into the battle between good and evil that rages---to varying degrees—within each of us.
Set in the turbulent Vietnam War era, Part 2 is the story of serial killer Leonard Sipes. Part Jack Kerouac, part Hannibal Lechter, Sipes travels across a divided America, preying on its most vulnerable citizens. With his average looks and Ted Bundy charm, Sipes insinuates himself into the lives of his victims, then moves in for the kill to achieve power, purpose, and enjoyment. He is pure, unadulterated evil, yet like many serial killers, he possesses a strange moral code known only to himself. When he rents a room in the home of a mysterious widow and her children, Sipes vows to do the ‘right thing’; however he will soon learn there are forces in world even he can’t control.
While I couldn’t bring myself to pity Sipes, his backstory certainly gave me pause. If things had been different, would he have used his intelligence, charisma and adaptability to achieve success? Or would he have simply become a different kind of monster? It is these deeper questions that separate Zabrisky’s work from run-of-the-mill horror.
The time period and characters of Shudderville Part 2 are completely different than Part I; so is the voice and the mood. They are equally as terrifying, however, and only a writer with Zabrisky’s skill and versatility could create two such separate yet finely drawn universes.
Title: The Summer called Angel: A Story of Hope on the Journey through Prematurity
Author: Sola Olu
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (November 7, 2012)
Reviewed by Dana Micheli
Women who are expecting a baby understand that they will undergo enormous changes, physically and emotionally. They also know that once the baby arrives, the dynamics of their daily routine will change, probably forever. What they are not prepared for is a life and death battle that begins in the womb and continues well into the child’s first months—even years – of life. Sola Olu’s new book, The Summer Called Angel chronicles the incredible story of two pregnancies that ended in premature delivery and the lengths she and her husband went through to save their children.
Sola was a busy graduate student when she learned she was expecting her first child. She and her husband were overjoyed about this wonderful addition to their already happy, and hectic, lives. Sola had been feeling a little extra tired, but when she arrived one afternoon at her doctor’s office for a “routine” visit, she was sure it was ‘nothing a good nap couldn’t cure’. She couldn’t have been more wrong. The doctor, concerned about certain markers in Sola’s blood, sent her for further tests, and the results were terrifying: Sola had preeclampsia and was dangerously close to delivering long before the due date. Suddenly, her life, so full with a myriad of concerns about school and other daily-to-day matters, was immediately distilled to one: ensuring her baby survived.
One of the reasons The Summer Called Angel is so powerful is that it began as her private journal, infused with raw emotion and containing real time descriptions of the pregnancies and post-birth complications. It also details the procedures being done to correct these complications, including risky and invasive surgeries.
The Summer Called Angel is an honest account of the vulnerabilities, strengths, weaknesses, faith and doubt as well as other conflicting emotions that parents of preemies sometimes go through. It is intended to help others navigating their own journey of worry, fear and hope when dealing with complications arising from childbirth, and it fulfills this mission tenfold. It provides not only a wealth of invaluable information, but also inspiration. When reading it, one literally feels like Sola is there, holding your hand and telling you that there is nothing more important than faith in God and the love for your child. The Summer Called Angel is a must-read for all parents.