Whatcha reading?

Whatcha reading?

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Half Broke Horses: Jeannette Walls

The author tells the story of her grandmother's life in 1st person. It was an excellent read, the narrator's mother was so insensitive and helpless. I like that Lily at 8 years old was wiser than her mother whose solution to everything was to pray. Lily says "If God gave us the strength to bail- the gumption to try to save ourselves- isn't that what he wanted us to do?" and later in the book "Who the hell was he to tell me what I had to believe?...One of the problems with the world today was all the muttonheads...convinced they were the only ones who had the answers and killing everyone who didn't agree with them." After he little sister's death she says "When people kill themselves, they think they're ending the pain, but all They're doing is passing it on to those they leave behind." I can't imagine a lot of the things she did- riding her horse from Texas to Arizona 28 days to her new job- driving he dead father back to the ranch to be buried and having to beg gas the whole way. She was an amazing, determined woman. It also seemed like she was rarely at their house- she didn't see her husband much with teaching in other towns, sleeping with her daughter, and schooling. The book slowy transforms into being about Rosemary, which the author explains in the end. A very good read.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Plum Spooky: Janet Evanovich

This was a Halloween "between the numbers" novel. Diesel is back and looking for his cousin wulf, who is also an unmentionable. The characters include the Easter bunny, Santa, Sasquatch, several monkeys-including Carl and the usual cast. Wulf is working with a scientist who has discovered how to create weather. Their planes are spoiled by Diesel and Stephanie, but not before she ruins two cars and is kidnapped. I don't like these between the numbers books as well as the rest of the series.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Don't Look Now: Daphne de Maurier

This is a collection of five short stories. It was interesting that she chose to tell the majority of the five stories through the eyes of a man. In the first story Don't look now A man tells the story of how he and his wife are going on vacation to get away and heal from the unexpected death of their young daughter. The wife meets two old sisters, one who is blind and claims she sees the deceased daughter and that the little girl is happy. This brightens the wife's mood until they get a call that their son is sick and they need to go back. She makes a comment about how it is for the best since the sister's predicted something would happen to the husband if he was still there the next night. The couple had to arrange separate ways home since there is only 1 airplane seat and the wife takes it. On the way out of town the man sees his wife with the sisters on a boat. He fears she missed the flight and goes back to the hotel to wait for her. She never comes. Once the police are involved and the sisters are found, they claim they never saw her. He learns of a murderer loose in the city from the police. He gets a call from his wife back home saying that their son is doing fine. He is confused on who he saw. He apologizes to the sisters who tell him he must have seen a glimpse of the future. He heads back to the hotel confused. He then runs into who he thinks is a child that he and his wife had seen the night before. It ends up being a little woman who kills him. His wife then returns on the boat with the sisters. In The Breakthrough A scientist is transferred to a place out in the middle of nowhere where rumor has it the scientists there are nuts and nothing gets done. Once there he is shocked by the experiments they are doing. They have a machine that can hypnotize people and another that was created to trap a person's energy after death. A person on the staff ends up dying of leukemia and they trap what they think is just his energy, but ends up being his soul. Through a young child he keeps shouting- "let me go let me go". The scientists do finally let his soul escape the machine, but it changes everyone. Not After Midnight was a creepy story. A man does on vacation to paint and ends up in a hotel room that someone had just been murdered in- only they didn't know it was murder. A loud American man is searching through old shipwreck sites and archeological digs and selling the wares he finds illegally. The man finds this out, but doesn't say anything even after the American's wife visits his room late at night pounding on the door. She leaves a little jug as a bribe and then they vanish the next day. Curiosity gets the best of him and he goes to a site they were at to find the body of the American and realizes the wife has killed him. He throws the bad luck jar into the sea by the dead man's body and leaves. A Border-Line Case is a story about a woman that loses her father suddenly. She feels guilty since his last breath was shouting her name. He was looking at photo albums, which bored her, right before he took a nap and woke up screaming her name before he died. The girl becomes determined to find the friend from his past that he was talking about while looking at photos, hoping to relieve herself of some guilt. She finds the friend who is an old duck and falls in love with him, having never revealed who she was. He ends up dumping her off at a hotel and she heads back home, resuming her life. A short while later he sends a photo of himself as a young man and realizes it looks like her. He is her father. The father that raised her must had realized that right before he died after he had looked through the photographs of his youth. The Way of the Cross is about a church group in Jerusalem and passes from each person and their thoughts about the others- very comical and sad. The man that has an affair gets stabbed in the side at the market and the woman who lost her teeth nearly drowned when she tried stealing holy water.

Friday, June 21, 2013

The Sociopath Next Door: Martha Stout ph.d

This story explains who Sociopaths are and the introduction provides examples of different behaviors. The section that mentioned most people don't go through the day thinking "should I send my child with lunch money? Should I steal my coworker's brief case? Should I leave my spouse today" was shocking. Things that your conscience makes decisions for is missing from a sociopath in everything in daily life. There was a section that talked about an experiment where the test subject thinks they are inflicting pain in someone and they are told to give stronger and stronger punishments. The study showed the more authoritive the person is who is giving instructions, the more likely the test subject is to follow out the orders. It went on to explain how this also happens in war. Soldiers will shoot a lot more when ordered to do so by a commander and less when the commander is gone. There is also the idea of making the "enemy" less human with derogatory names. This section also goes on to show that those with a conscience are the ones who suffer from post-traumatic stress when they return. I related to a lot of this with my grandfather when he spoke of the Vietnam War. This book is weird in that is clearly defines a sociopath as one who has no conscience, not a murderer or villain, but then throughout the book it includes thoughts of "the world is unsafe with them". The section dealing with evolution and is sociopath-ism? a form of evolution was an interesting way to end the book.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The One I Left Behind: Jennifer McMahon

This writer has very fast paced, hard to put down novels and this one was amazing. The story is told through flashbacks and it isn't until the end that you realize one of the flashbacks, was not who you thought it was. I had originally suspected the person it was, but his presence was accounted for when the tan car showed up. I like how Reggie had to learn about who her mother really was, and about her father. The stories of her teenage years and the cutting were so vivid and painful. An amazing story! A girl grows up without her father, but cared for by her mom who is always “rehearsing for her plays” and her aunt who seems like an odd one. Then a serial killer comes to town, his signature is cutting off the victim’s hand, feeding them lobster, and then leaving their naked bodies around town. Suddenly Reggie’s mom is missing and her hand is found, but never her body. Reggie is called up one day years later and told her mother has been found. Once she is back in town her childhood friend goes missing…and all the pieces fall together.

Shunning Sarah: Julie Kramer

A fast paced story about investigative reporter Riley Spartz. She stumbles into a murder involving a young Amish girl who was being shunned by her community because her brother was raping her. The mother had pushed her and she died from head injuries from the fall. The story is about how they tried to cover it up and how the reporter unburies the story. Very good read and fast paced.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Fearless Fourteen: Janet Evanovich

I thought I would have this series done by the end of the month, but I am not sure it's going to happen. In 14 Stephanie has to bring in a woman who skipped her court case and ends up taking care of her child while she's in jail. The kid looks a lot like Morelli. She helps Ranger as a body guard for a celebrity who then does a show following Stephanie around as a Bail bonder. Lula makes Tank believe he asked her to marry him and he becomes stressed. Once the mom gets out of jail she is kidnapped and help in exchange for the money her brother had stolen from a bank years earlier, he just got out of jail for doing time for the crime and he hid the keys to the getaway vehicle that still contained the money, in the basement that Morelli inherited, though he cemented the dirt floor. In the end Stephanie recognizes the kidnapper’s voice while he is doing his day job, and saves the day.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

And the Mountains Moved: Khaled Hosseini

I feel guilty, like there is something wrong with me, but I can't wait to read his books and they are about human suffering. I think I cried through the entire novel. I was relieved that after an especially powerful section he would start someone else's story from the beginning, giving the read time to get a hold of themselves, but then you realize that mild section was building into another especially heartbreaking section. By the end I was sobbing. I am so impressed with how well he captures humanity and can convey emotion, where it feels first hand. His stories all leave the reader feeling haunted, they seem to end on a happy note, but not really. In this one he follows the life of one family that meets misfortune in Afghanistan. A daughter is sold to a wealthy childless family after her mother dies in childbirth with her. The story twists through each child's life told from either themselves or their children. You can see the reasoning, the luck, and the heartbreak the decision to sell the daughter has as the children grow older. The surviving siblings do find each other, but not in the way you yearn for throughout the story. The novel weaves in other people the family had contact with in their lives, making the story that much more solid and amazing. The theme through this story again was the powerlessness they had to control their lives. The first chapter, which started off with the story of a mythical creature taking children was so perfectly crafted with the story it is hard to believe the work is fiction, with how everything written is so important to the story.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

The Last Girlfriend on Earth: Simon Rich

This was a really cute original work. It is a collection of humorous stories all having to do with love in some form or another. I loved the "dog's point of view", the "condom's story", "Center of the Universe"...and many others. They were all very clever. The young author has done so much already in his life I feel like a loser!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Artemis Fowl: Eoin Colfer

This was a different sort of book aimed for middle schoolers? The words seemed too hard for elementary level. He cleverly made it for both genders since the "bad guy" was a 12-year-old boy, a genius, and the fairy hero was a girl. In this book no one gets hurt and everyone seems happy with the outcome. The book schemes to get the "Fairy book of secrets" and uses it to get the Leprechaun's gold. Very fitting for the targeted age group.