Whatcha reading?

Whatcha reading?

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

The Unofficial Hunger Games Wilderness Survival Guide: Creek Stewart

This book was inspired by the Hunger Games and gives real life advice about how to survive if dropped in the middle of a woods. It was basic survival stuff you would need to know and describes what you would need to hunt for to survive (and assumes you are in a wooded area with water). There is a section in the back about preparing a "bug out" kit to be even more prepared. This was a pretty good book about creating shelter and starting fire with the bare minimum (again in a woods).

Heirloom; Notes from an Accidental Tomato Farmer: Tim Stark

This was a fun book talking about a variety of things on how he ended up returning to his home and becoming a "tomato farmer". The book was divided into chapters that were all very different from one another, it was told more in memory format than a linear order. The chapters talked about Tim's disenchantment with New York City, the gradual merge into tomato growing, his life on a small farm in PA as a child and the caretaker there, his first few stressful years trying to get his tomatoes planted, weeded and picked. The book mentions a story he got published about killing a woodchuck and the outrage the readers had to it calling him a murderer. It also talked about an older woman in the area known for her lima beans and how she pointed out the parking lots and developments that used to be the farm. This was a very interesting book!

Saturday, December 24, 2016

It's a Long Road to a Tomato: Keith Stewart

This was an interesting sort of biography centered around one man's decision to start farming. He gets young adults to work on the farm each year as a sort of free experience and sells his produce at farmer's markets. He shows how much work farming is and tries to educate city dwellers on the cost of providing their food. He notes that milk 25 years ago was more expensive than now, yet the cost of cattle and keeping them has risen exponentially. Farmers are the only people who pay retail for everything, yet are expected to sell wholesale. His shares stories about his animals and experiences and it is an educational book about respecting and helping those who produce our food. I did enjoy his numerous quotes The moving finger writes; and having writ moves on; nor all your piety nor wit, Shall lure it back to cancel half a line, Nor all your tears wash out a word of it. by:Omar Khayyam

Face Down Before the Rebel Hooves: Kathy Lynn Emerson

Loved it! In this book Lady Appleton is drawn into investigating Sir Walter Pendennis' wife's murder. She goes to the rebel camp as Lady Pendennis to try to uncover what Lady Eleanor Pendennis was involved in and how it got her murdered. During her time undercover she is nearly murdered a few times, by arrow, by food poisoning and eventually a woman is murdered mistakenly for Susanna. Susanna learns the plot was to overthrow Queen Elizabeth and replace her with Mary, Queen of Scots. Now she is trying to be murdered by Eleanor's cousin because Eleanor stands in her way of inheritance. Susanna realizes it was the wives of the treasonous men that were responsible for the plot and she aids them in escaping because she pities them and their lack of freedom as women, she understands their lot.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

A little Piece of Earth: Maria Finn

This was a lovely book that gives you ideas on how to grow food in tiny spaces and which plants work best for different climates and situations. I enjoyed the recipes and clever ideas for displaying plants as well as the information on plant rotating and creating your own personal space. I now want tea garden and a garden by the grill!

Bless Me Ultima: Rudolfo Anaya

In this story Antonio is a little boy when Ultima, who is known for her magic in healing, comes to live with his family. The book is about him growing up and finding religion, or figuring out what to believe. It is infused with magical happenings in a quiet town. Ultima is able to heal one of Antonio's uncles from a curse that was supposedly laid on him by three sisters. Ultima makes voodoo dolls of the sisters and puts the curse back on them, 2 of the 3 die mysteriously and the townsmen want Ultima tried as a witch. Ultima and her familiar, an owl, are killed at the end of the book by the father of the three girls as Ultima tries to protect Antonio. Knowing a little bit of Spanish would be helpful in reading this book as there are a lot of sayings that would lose their meaning if translated into English and dialogue in Spanish that add to the flair of the book. In addition to Antonio growing up too fast in the couple of years covered in the book, he has to deal with the pressure of his mother wanting him to be a priest as he tries to find himself and his beliefs while growing up.

Monday, December 5, 2016

The Terrorist: Caroline Cooney

This book was geared toward teenagers and dealt with terrorists in London. The story centered on an international school in England where 50% of the students are American and the others are from all over the world. A little boy, Billy, was handed a bomb in the subway and is killed when it goes off. His older sister, Laura, becomes obsessed with finding his killer and believes it could have been someone in her school. Suddenly a girl from Iran becomes her friend and asks for help to get out of a marriage to a fifty-four year old in Iran who already has 3 wives. She wants to use Billy's passport to escape to the US. Laura, being naïve agrees and it isn't until they are at the airport that she realizes Jehran is involved in the terrorism plot. Luckily her friends put the story together about the same time and the police arrive. Since Jehran is a minor and whoever lived at her house had vanished, she is put into foster care and one day vanished. Laura's family moves back to the US and tries to piece their life together.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Blue Labyrinth: Preston and Child

I loved this book, like a labyrinth there were so many twists and turns it was hard to keep up with what was happening. FBI agent Pendergast opens the door one night to find one of his twin sons deposited there dead. He chases a car for a while, but loses it and his son's killer. Once the body is autopsied, a rare turquoise is found in his stomach. Pendergast has a hard time picturing that Alban could be murdered because he had the ability to see a little into the future and wouldn't have walked into a trap. With the help of some museum curators on the origin of the turquoise, Pendergast goes to the Salton sea, to a mind there and falls into a trap. He is hit with a powerful drug that makes him smell tulips. He learns this poison he was given was actually a "medicine" his great grandfather made "Hezekiah’s Compound Elixir and Glandular Restorative". The medicine was supposed to make a person more energetic, but it ended up causing dependency and killing them. Constance and Margo try to find a cure before Pendergast dies, but are thwarted by Balboa who poisoned Pendergast and also wants to know the cure. Balboa was taking revenge because Aldan made him aware that the genetic deformity Balboa's son died from was because his grandparents were neighbors to Hezekiah's and they were given the elixir. Before both grandparents died they had a child who carried the results of the elixir on to the descendants. Margo and Constance are able to save Pendergast and Balboa goes to jail.

Spy The Lie: Don Tennant · Philip Houston · Michael Floyd · Susan Carnicero

This was an interesting book showing you how to spot when someone is lying. It gives you ideas on what kind of questions to ask and how to set the mood. It gives some examples of famous interviews when people were lying, one of them was OJ Simpson. I liked that the authors pointed out some gestures are culturally significant and some are just common for a person to do (sitting "closed off") and may hint that they are cold rather than lying. You have to establish a base behavior for each individual before diving in. These people also provide in-class training with a program called Q-verity.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Face Down Among the Winchester Geese: Kathy Lynn Emerson

Lady Appleton is temporarily living in London with Robert and finds that in itself suspicious. She is then drawn in to investigate the murder of a woman who, just the night before, visited their home asking for Robert. After some interviewing Susanna finds out every year during the same holiday a short dark haired woman is murdered and found with a goose feather at her side. The idea is that they are no better than "Winchester geese" which is a term for a prostitute. Susanna suspects Robert and his "coworkers" because they were always at the right location for the murders. Instead of hiding being a murderer, Robert is hiding his plot to kidnap the queen's sister and take her to Spain, here he hopes to impregnate her with a crazy Spanish Prince. Susanna thwarts his plans and Robert fakes his death rowing across the English canal. Only Susanna believes he survived. The murderer ends up being Francis Elliot, whos mother left when he was 13 to become a prostitute. In the end he goes to kill her and the mother kills him.

Monday, November 28, 2016

The Handmaid's Tale: Margaret Atwood

This story takes place in a futurist world where a religious cult has taken over the New England portion of the United States. The cult takes their newly acquired territory back to the jesus times. Woman aren't allowed to read and are only kept around for breeding. There were nuclear "incidents" and many babies are born dead or with deformities so the community centers around reproduction where unmarried women, or female "prisoner's" of breeding age are given a chance of survival by becoming breeders. If they don't produce children within 6 years they are sent to the colonies where life expectancy is about 3 years. The story is not told in a linear order, coming in spurts as the narrator "Offred" daydreams about memories before the world fell apart. She was married and had a daughter before they tried to escape to Canada and were caught and separated. One day she was denied a purchase of cigarettes claiming she had no money in her account. Then when she got to work she was fired. It wasn't until hours after getting home that she was to learn woman were not allowed to own anything anymore. She is sent to a new home to breed for an elite family. The man is a captain and sneaks time with her when he is only supposed to meet with her monthly to mate. She does not get pregnant. The wife arranges for Offred to sleep with the Family Chauffer, Nick. Offred develops feelings for NIck, who is usually silent during their continual secret meetings. Both Offred and Nick believe Offred if pregnant. About the time she begins to not care what is done with her because she just wants to survive, she is rescued. Her fate is decided on May day, according to a neighbor handmaid, there is a secret society that rescues women on May day. The neighbor handmaid commits suicide on that same day believing she has been found out, she doesn't want to give any info away while under torture. The wife finds out Offred is spending time wither her husband some nights and at first offred thinks the wife called the secret police to take her away. However Nick tells her it is a rescue and she enters the van unsure of what fate awaits her. The book ends with a scholarly talk years after the cult community collapses. The speaker brings to light his investigation about the people mentioned in the handmaid's tale, which is actually a tape they find, made in the first few years of this Gilead society. The speaker believes the woman "offred" coded names to protect the people who helped her. However her name in the society "of Fred" gave away her captain's identity as his name was actually Fred. Shortly after her rescue, he is tried and killed for harboring an enemy agent, which we know is Nick. This was a fascinating book and I already want to read it again with my new perspective to look for new clues.

Friday, November 25, 2016

The Daring Ladies of Lowell: Kate Alcott

This was an interesting historical fiction novel about the textile mill girls working in Lowell Massachusetts in the early 1800's. The girls work long hours in wet conditions inhaling cotton fiber all day. The cotton builds up and they cough up cotton balls and get very sick. Alice, like a lot of girls in the mill, leaves the farm to find a better future for herself. She becomes friends with Lovie, who is then found murdered by the end of the book. A local preacher had gotten Lovie pregnant and then tried to have the baby aborted, when that didn't work he killed her. The court found him not guilty and he is set free. Alice falls in love with the mill owner's son. I liked the historical part better than the romance, but it was still an interesting book.

The Simplicity Primer: Patrice Lewis

This was an interesting book where essentially each page was a tip for making the most out of life. There was one for each day, in 395 pages :P It starts out with a whammy stating that you choose to have a good or bad marriage and to treat your spouse in a way that you would have no regrets if they suddenly died. Yipes! It had zippy catch lines like " grateful not greedy" and "gratitude is an attitude", haha I'm not gonna lie, I am currently looking for an opportunity to use these. I especially agreed with this statement "...especially with younger adults, a sense of entitlement seems to permeate their lives. They don't want to wait long years and work their way up in the world. They want the things and the perks now that their parents and their employers have worked long decades to achieve." Overall I thought the book was great, however starting with the first chapter on marriage, there was this underling feeling of people telling the author she had a good husband and this book being a way to validate oneself- as in, I am what made my family the people they are, which I don't doubt, but I would have liked it to be a little less showcase-like. It would be hard to take out the personal stories because that was what made it powerful, there were a couple lines that could have been taken out making it a more broad lesson and a little less grating on me. By the end of the book I did completely forget about the first section and enjoyed the read. I need to walk more!

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Prepper's Long Term Survival Guide: Jim Cobb

This was an interesting book. It described in detail different events that could cause life as we know it to cease: Pandemics, famine, economic collapse, mother nature, EMP, war and terrorism. It also listed how-tos for cooking without electricity, purifying water, and what to stock pile for an emergency. It surprised me that the average person uses 100 gallons of water A DAY. Sort of terrifying when you live in the dryer part of the US. The book was mostly educational, but there was some humor thrown in, which made it a quick enjoyable read. I actually did find a gift idea from the suggested things to own :)

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Face Down in the Marrow Bone Pie: Kathy Lynn Emerson

Thia was the first of the Susanna Appleton mysteries. In this one we see the dynamics of the marriage between Sir Robert and Lady Susannah. They both do there own things and Susanna is the reason for Robert's sucess. Before Robert is sent to France on orders of the queen, he gets a letter notifiying him that the overseer of his estate in the north has died "face down in a marrow bone pie". Robert seems uninterested, but when a second letter comes after his departure stating they can't get a new landlord, Susanna heads there. She uncovers the murders behind the deaths of both Robert's father and the overseer. Lady Delhom. the neighbor ends up being the murderer as she was supposed to marry Robert's father years ago, but was thwarted. She does have a daughter by him after Robert is grown and left the nest. Her plot to kill all the remaining Appleton's is an attempt to securing the Appleton holdings for her daughter.

Monday, November 14, 2016

I Will Send Rain: Rae Meadows

This was a story about the Dust Bowl in 1934 in Mulehead Oklahoma. The Bells all have a secret. The Father, Samuel believes God talked to him in a dream to tell him to build an arc because another flood was coming to cleanse the land. Once he tells the town they laugh at him, but eventually his Arc ends up as a curiosity piece in town. Annie, the mom, is sleeping with the mayor, who she thinks might be able to get her out of the god forsaken town. She wonders what sort of woman she could have been and could still be. She wants more for her daughter Birdie, but Birdie's secret is that she is pregnant by a boy that left town because their family lost everything. The Son, Fred, suffers from dust pneumonia and found his mother's apron in an abandoned house, but is not sure why it was there. Fred can talk, but he choses not to talk to people. Fred dies in a dust storm and that is Annie's undoing, she realizes she has to make the best of the life she has and gives up hope of escape. She realizes her daughter is pregnant and accepts it, as she accepts that her husband may have the ability to hear God. There is a rain storm that causes some flooding, they load up into the arc/boat, and it floats for a little while tearing into a wall in the barn. Once the rain stops the Bells return to the house and Birdie gives birth to her daughter Rose. 1 week after giving birth Birdie leaves a note for her parent that she is heading west. Her parents know they could go after Birdie, but they would never find her, and she wouldn't be happy back home if they did. They raise Rose as their own which seems to bring them closer together again raising a new baby.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Looking For Alaska: John Green

I actually just picked this book up on the way out of the library because I assumed it was a travel guide sort of book. I was delightfully surprised. The book is in an interesting format in that it starts with a number of days before the incident and is in a sort of journal format. Miles Halter goes off to a boarding school for high school, looking for a "great perhaps", which was François Rabelais's last words. He is interested in people's last words and has many famous people's memorized. Miles, who is very slender, gets the nickname "Pudge" and is introduced to his roommate's friends Alaska and Takumi. We learn at this point that the title is referring to this girl who picked out her own name, and not the state of Alaska. We now also know that the journal counting down the days for an incident with Alaska someone couldn't have know when writing the entry. Alaska is unstable and eventually we learn that her instability was caused by watching her mom die when she was a little girl. Her father came home to find her by her dead mother and asked why she didn't call 911. Alaska lives with that guilt. Pudge falls in love with Alaska, as do all the other boys, but Alaska has a boyfriend who goes to school somewhere else. One night she takes a phone call from her boyfriend and then comes back sobbing that she has to leave. The boys create a distraction so Alaska can get off campus after curfew. The next day they learn she was in an accident and died. The boys then try to piece together what happened and the entries start with the increments in # days past the accident. The boys begin to piece together that she had forgotten the anniversary of her mother's death and may have decided to commit suicide running into the cop car. She was very drunk, but the boys try to get that drunk and believe it was still possible to see the car and swerve. The story ends with the same number of days after Alaska's death as it started that number of days before her death. It shows that life goes on, but that they will forever be changed by knowing Alaska and maybe she was Mile's "Great Perhaps" as he will never know what the future with her could have held.

The Dead Zone: Stephen King

I like King's books that could be "possible" and this was one of those. The protagonist, Johnny Smith falls as a child when skating and gets a concussion. He starts talking nonsense about battery acid and then snaps out of his daze and seems fine. Shortly after the incident the man who helped Johnny has an accident when working on his car and the battery acid severely burns him. Johnny forgets about the incident and becomes a high school teacher. He takes his girlfriend to the fair one night and is mesmerized by the "wheel of fortune" He wins over $500 before his girlfriend, Sarah, gets sick and he takes her home. He was going to spend the night at her house but since she is sick he takes a cab, which is in a head on accident due to some children drag racing. Johnny spends the next 5 years in a coma and Sarah marries someone else. Johnny finally wakes up to find the world around him changed. He undergoes many surgeries to lengthen his atrophied muscles and realizes he has premonitions after touching people. He is able to tell his doctor that his mother is still alive and lives in California, he also tells the nurse her house is on fire. To Johnny's horror he gets media publicity and it takes a while for his life to settle down. He is contacted by a local sheriff to help solve a murderer and the town was surprised by who it was. Johnny follow the life of politician Greg Stillson and eventually meets him and shakes his hand. In that shake he learns the horrible war Stillson will start and becomes obsessed with determining what he should do with the information he learns. He asks people if they could go back in time and kill Hitler, would they?...most say yes. Johnny learns he has a brain tumor and decides to forgo treatment and to assassinate Stillson. Johnny is a bad shooter and misses Stillson, but watches the future change anyway before he is shot to death by Stillson's bodyguards. Stillson grabs a woman's baby and uses it as a shield while trying to get to safety. A man gets a picture of the incident and then people are outraged at Stillson, who never becomes president.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Shade's Children: Garth Nix

This was a futuristic Sci-fi book for teens. In the near distant future all the adults over 14 disappear and the children are rounded up in buses and taken to camps. In these camps they are kept alive until their 14th birthday when they are then "harvested"- their organs are used for making creatures/ machines, that then hunt escaped children. There is a group of children who have escaped and are being led by a scientist, but the scientist is not actually alive. He has somehow trapped his subconscious and can move between machines. The children he recruits for his plot to overthrow the overlords (who are in charge of the "meat factories" where the children are turned into machines)all have special abilities supposedly created by the "change projectors". Golden eye can see a little into the future, Drum can shape shift, Ella can conjure weapons out of thin air, and Ninde is telepathic. Ninde and Gold eye develop a relationship and are betrayed by Shade and given to the overlords. Drum and Ella escape and try to destroy the "change projectors". About the time Ninde and Gold Eye are being drowned, Drum and Ella are able to shut off the power destroying all the creatures and overlords(and we never really know why or how they became overlords)and freeing the children. Gold eye and drum use their powers and send a vision to Drum and Ella right before they die from the radiation. Gold eye sees the future where he and Ninde have two children who they name after Drum and Ella. That is the last thing Drum and Ella see before dying.

Monday, October 31, 2016

How to Make Money Homesteading: Tim Young

This book brought up a lot of good points to consider before getting into farming; How good is the water? have pesticides been used on the land? and to make sure you get it tested. Lease land to hunters lease land for grazing if you don't have animals yet- bulls eat 50% more than cows I found myself jotting down a lot of websites and book titles, which later amused me because the end said to get rid of your internet! What amused me even more is that there is a huge market for books like these and basically how to do things humans have been doing for thousands of years, A coworker the other day tried to tell me how to make compost...What a funny world we are now living in.

Friday, October 28, 2016

The Kept Woman: Karin Slaughter

The story starts with prologue of a woman watching her adult daughter die. We learn she left her daughter at the hospital after having giving birth and this is her first time seeing her again. There is a man who tries to come into the room where they have been left and the mother looks for a weapon, finding a doorknob. The story then officially starts with two police officers going to a murder scene. A retired detective has been killed by a doorknob to the neck. The story is then slowly pieced together on how the people all knew each other. This was a super suspenseful story as we try to figure out who is who and how everything occurred.

The Mustache Growers Guide

This was a funny little how to guide on mustache growing. It includes pictures of each mustache as well as suggestions on how to wear it and how to grow it.

The Outsiders: S E Hinton

This is the classic teenage boy book. The story is told by 14 year old Ponyboy Curtis about the life on the "wrong side of the tracks" Ponyboy's friend Johnny accidently kills another boy while trying to rescue Ponyboy from being drowned by the boy. The two of them hid out in a church in the country while they try to figure out what to do. One of the older boys, Dallas, comes up to the church and takes them to get a meal, when they come back the church is on fire. A group has been picnicking at the church and there are children stuck in the burning building. Without thinking about it, both Johnny and Ponyboy run into the burning building to get the children. A beam falls and pins Johnny, Dallas goes into the building to get Johnny out. Johnny later dies from his injuries, Dallas can't live with the lost and commits "suicide by police". Ponyboy tries processing the loss and becomes grateful for his brothers who take care of him.

Monday, October 17, 2016

In a Dark Dark Wood: Ruth Ware

CREEPY. I hate books like this where the very beginning hints that something horrible happens, because then I can't put it down. Seriously- where did my Sunday go? Leonora- "Nora" is a successful writer who one day out of the blue gets an invite from an old friend from school. She is having a bachelor "hen" party. Nora has completely forgotten about Clare and doesn't want to go, but she doesn't respond right away and feels guilty after seeing how many people send regrets. Her and another friend from school Nina, whom she still sees, decide to go. Once out in the middle of no where at the "glass house" for the party Nina and Nora wish they hadn't come. They have trouble picturing the Clare they knew (as the story progresses you learn Clare was not a nice person) would not have befriended such an odd group. The party gets worse as the first night ends as drugs are brought out and we learn Nora used to date the man, James, that Clare is marrying. Of course games are played about how well everyone knows James and Nora gets sick. It is hinted at that Nora and James had something big happen which caused the break up and we don't learn until later that Clare was responsible for their break up by sending a text "from" James to Nora about what to do with her pregnancy at 15. Nora then never returned to school. The house is broken into on the second night and a man, James, is shot and killed. At first Nora thinks it was some horrible mistake, but then while she is in the hospital too, is told she sent the texts calling James up to the cabin. Clare set the whole murder up because she came clean about the text to Clare as teenagers. She was going to let either Nora or her obsessive friend Flo take the blame, but then Nora sneaks out of the hospital and goes back to the house where the party took place to try to solve the crime. Clare was faking her condition in the hospital and follows Nora up there and poisons her. The cop comes up in time to solve the mystery.

Daughters of Eve: Lois Duncan

This was a disturbing book about feminists in the late 1970's as the woman takes it too far in a school. The story centers around a group of girls in the exclusive club called "Daughters of Eve", they have to be invited by the other members to become a member. The new teacher who is the head of the organization tells the girls about a "friend" who applied for a principal position and was passed over by a man (her boyfriend) who didn't have any credentials other than being male in a male driven world. She therefore takes out her anger on the boys in her new school. A boy leads a member of the group on after breaking up with another girl and the teacher has them take revenge by shaving his head. Another boy then gets to advance his science project to the next level, chosen over a girl in the group because she hadn't followed the instructions. The group destroys the boy's project and the science teachers room without waiting to hear for the explanation. Another girl gets pregnant and the teacher wants to help her have an abortion. Lastly a girl defends her mother to her abusive father and ends up killing her father. The book then includes a short "where they are now" section where all the girls seem to do well for themselves (with the exception of the girl who killed her father and is in a "psych ward", the teacher even becomes a principal. At the end of the book you are left wondering what just happened? No one (other than the murderer and the father who was killed) seemed worse off after the story, but it still seemed to go too far and became a sort of cult. The book leaves you with mixed emotions, which was done by excellent writing!

Monday, October 10, 2016

The Nest: Cynthia D' Aprix Sweeny

This was a hard book to put down because the characters are so human. They have both ugly sides and good sides, where the reader can relate to both. In a family of four, two daughters and two sons- Leo, the eldest is the most charismatic and the most a mess. The book starts with Leo in an unhappy marriage, he takes the waitress at a party out for a ride in his car and they are in an accident. The girl loses her foot and Leo's family's inheritance money, that was supposed to be split four ways, mostly goes to pay off the waitress. The other children have made bad financial decisions and have been counting on the "nest" money as they've termed it. Throughout the book we learn about each character through both their narrative sections and with memories they have of the other family members both good and bad. Leo eventually takes off to the to another country hoping not to be found because he doesn't want to pay the "nest" money back. In the end each sibling finds peace with losing things they love in order to pay for their financial burden, but they are finally happy in the end. The siblings are back in each others lives with the exception of Leo. This book was about the strange dynamics of family and finding out what is important in life through finding yourself.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Face Down Upon an Herbal: Kathy Lynn Emerson

I loved this book! It was set in England in the 16th century I believe. An herbalist is invited to the castle after a man is murdered and no killer is found. She is not sure why she is there, but finds a twisted plot about forgeries and treason. This book has humor, people falling in love, married people not really in love, and mystery. Even the lady of the castle is not who she claims to be. It was a really fun read.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

The Fall: Bethany Griffin

I loved this story and since it has short chapters it was a quick read. The story serves as a sort of back drop to Poe's "The House of Usher" The house keeps the Usher's both safe and as prisoners until they reproduce the next generation of Ushers. The story is told from the point of view of Madeline Usher starting when she is a child and trusts the house to becoming an adult and knowing she can never leave and the house is killing her.

Darkness Under the Sun: Dean Koontz

This short story starts out with stating this serial killer, Alton Turner Blackwood, learned to kill families from a little boy. When you meet the little boy you are unsure if he is also evil or if he is killed by the serial killer. The main character, Howie, is 10 or 11 when he meets Blackwood in an abandoned building. Howie is scarred from a fire his dad lit in attempting to kill him. Blackwood is disfigured from birth defects. Howie feels a peace with the older man he hasn't felt before with anyone. After making him lunch he asks the man to rent out their room as their renter had just moved out. Blackwood asks for his address and a picture of his sister and mother, then tells Howie he needs time to think about it. Howie is so excited he can't sleep and sometime after 9 pm goes back to the abandoned building to see if Blackwood has made a decision. The building is empty and a little boy that always taunted Howie has been murdered in the building. Howie goes back to his house and finds the window broken and the door unlocked. He yells for his mom to get the gun and is nearly killed as Blackwell throws a knife at him. Blackwell says if he ever tells anyone about him he will come back and kill his family. Howie seems to be watched by Blackwell's pet crow the rest of his life.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The Girl on the Train: Paula Hawkins

This was a fascinating story dealing with unreliable characters/narrators. The story is told through the three female characters in the story; The woman who is murdered, Meghan, the new wife of a neighbor to the murdered girl, Anna, and the ex-wife Rachel, who is a drunk. Rachel has lost her job, due to her drinking and thinks she lost her husband because of the drinking as well. She continues to ride the train to town so her roommate won't know she is jobless and hopes to find another job soon. One day on the train she sees an unknown man on a neighbors deck with the wife of the house. She always noted this couple because they looked so happy, so she is distressed when the woman, Meghan, kisses another man. A couple days later she sees on the news that the woman is missing. She becomes entangled with the investigation and the husband of the missing woman when she tells her story of the "other" man. As a reader you believe Rachel murdered Meghan because she looks a lot like her ex-husband's new wife Anna. Rachael has black outs and is worried herself that she may have done something. The book gets messier with every page as each woman's life is told. The woman who seems happiest with her lot in life is the one who know the least amount about her husband. The murderer is not who we believed it to be, but the person who ties all three women together.

The Woman in Cabin 10: Ruth Ware

This was a really interesting book where you are tore between if the character is imagining things or if something terrible has really happened. I loved the juxtaposition of letters in the future saying Lo never gets home and the present day time of her on the ship. The story is about a girl who takes antidepressants and drinks a lot. She is a journalist chosen to go on a private cruise with a wealthy person the magazine is trying to get as a sponsor. a couple days before she is supposed to leave her flat is broken into and her purse is stolen. It seems like an unrelated incident, but someone else on the bot was also robbed and did not attend the trip because their passport was stolen. You are left to wonder if her break in was something more, but it isn't mentioned again. Right before boarding the boat she has an argument with her boyfriend because she is stressed and sleep deprived. The fight just adds to her stress and at first she is unable to sleep on the boat and begins drinking in hopes it will knock her out. She is a bit of an unreliable narrator as she puts her keys in her purse when leaving her room, but pulls them out of her bra when coming back. She spend the first day on the ship drunk and her story about the girl thrown off the ship gets altered, she never mentioned hearing screams until half way through the book. Halfway through the first night she is awakened by the sound of a door opening and a splash. She believes a body was thrown over board and us trying to figure out who the person was and what happened for the rest of the book. Evidently everyone on board is accounted for and the crew thinks she is a crazy woman. However, she keeps getting messages to stop digging. Towards the end of the trip, again in the middle of the night, there is a knock on her door and it is the girl she thought was murdered. The book then takes a very serious turn as she fights to survive.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

In A Handful of Dust: Mindy McGinnis

This was another fabulous book by Mindy McGinnis and the sequel to "Not a Drop to Drink". Lynn Raises Lucy and life is good until Polio suddenly appears in what is now a small community near their pond. Lucy's grandmother finds the source of illness, Lucy's boyfriend is a carrier, but isn't sick. They banish him from the community and Lynn, knowing Lucy has always wanted a normal life, takes off on foot to take Lucy to California. Lynn finds Carter following them and kills him to ensure Lucy won't get sick. The travel across the country nearly kills them both, but they get to Sand City. Lucy loves the town and the purpose, but Lynn is homesick and at the end of the book is leaving by herself to head back to Ohio to her home.

Living with a Seal: Jesse Itzler

This book was amazing. Not only was it funny, but very inspirational. An easy going man invites a Navy Seal he pretty much just saw at the Badwater Race, to come live with him for a month and train with him. The book is hilarious.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

The Inferno: Dante, translated by John Ciardi

This was my first time reading this and it wasn't what I was expecting...very difficult to get through. It seems like something from a dream or Stephen King. Dante, who faints an awful lot, finds himself lost one day and encounters strange beasts. Dante then meets the spirit? of Virgil who says he will climb this hill past the beasts with him, but first they have to go through hell and purgatory before they can get to heaven. Once in hell they are helped by a woman, a lost love of Dante's? Hell is filled with people who didn't necessarily do right or wrong, they just didn't make decisions based on if it were good or bad. They get on a boat to cross the river and are told only damned souls can enter- there is a crash and Dante loses consciousness. When he wakes he is on the other side of the rive after having been carried by Virgil. They enter the second level of hell where Minos, a serpent,? decides the fate of those who enter by wrapping his tail around the person. The people in the second level of hell are lustful. However many times he wraps his tail around the person determines which circle of hell the person must spend eternity. When Dante walks up from fainting this time he finds himself in the 3rd circle of hell, which seems like a port a potty. Cerberus resides over this hell for the gluttonous. The forth circle is ruled by the demon Plutus and is filled with hoarders and squanderers. The fifth circle of hell was for the wrathful and sullen with the boatman Phlegyas ferrying souls over the river Styx. The 6th circle of hell is for those who lived life with pleasure believing the soul died with the body. The 7th circle was for the Violent and the 8th was for the fraudulent, those who were hypocrites and flatterers. The 9th was for those who betrayed others. Each hell has different layers or pouches and Dante wanders among them because he evidently had quite the imagination and ran out of hells to put all these creatures into. Eventually Dante meets up with Satan who has three heads and in each mouth are the greatest betrayers of all time; Judas, Brutus, and Cassius. Virgil Tells Dante it is time to leave and they use Satan as a ladder to crawl down into their world to make their exit.

No Life but This:Anna Sheehan

This was wildly different than anything I have ever read. It is part fairytale (Snow White) part teen romance novel, and a sci-fi novel. Otto is a genetically created species of part alien from Europa and part human. He cannot speak, but can communicate by senses, using touch so others can visualize his statements. He falls in love with Rose (Snow White) whose parents owned Unicorp, the lab responsible for creating Otto and his siblings. Like his siblings, Otto starts to get sick. The scientists think taking him back to his home planet might cure him. Otto and his brother Quinn, as well as Snow White go to the planet and Otto is cured. He becomes a spokesperson for saving the planet that is being over colonized. Rose can't live on the planet, as Otto can't live on Earth. She goes back to Earth and they live apart.

Not a Drop to Drink: Mindy McGinnis

This book did not end at all like I was hoping. It was very good though. Lynn, a teenager, lives with her mom in her mother's childhood home by the pond. The books starts with the line that she shot a man that day protecting the pond. We realize that this is not the world we know. This dystopia was caused by a disease epidemic and most survivors have moved to the towns. Water is regulated and expensive. Lynn and her mother spend every waking moment surviving; purifying water, gathering foo and wood. After the monotony of shooting people off their land who head for the pond, some huge wolves come. They end up attacking her mother and Lynn trying to help accidently shoots her mom instead of the wolves and they kill her. She lives with her grief and loneliness until the neighbor who they only ever see from a distance, comes over and talks about the people living by the creek. Lynn goes over to investigate and finds a little girl and a boy about her age. The boy tells her she must take the little girl as she is dying because he doesn't know how to take care of her. The little girl's mom is having a baby and grieving for her husband who was killed when they were forced out of the city. Lynn learns to love with the little girl and falls in love with the boy. They become a sort of family until one day the grandmother shows up with some rebels and is "exchanged" for the daughter who lost the baby. The woman shoots herself and Lynn and the group retaliate. The boy is killed and Lynn raises the girl as her own mourning for those she loved and lost.

The Boys of the Dark: Robin Gaby Fisher

This book is about the White house detention home in Marianna Florida and the quest to improve conditions or shut it down. Two men find each other without realizing they were both at the school and work with Politicians and authors to expose the school for the violence and rape that occurred there for a century. The story also goes into detail about how living at the house affected their personal relationships and their eventual families and children. The side stories made it hard to determine what the focus of the story was as there were so many characters playing a role in the story. I understand they wanted to give everyone credit for the book being possible, but about half way I lost interest as the book didn't really move forward, but outward expanding in several directions. By the end the story came back to the house and how one of the abusers, Troy Tidwell was still alive. It is disturbing that he didn't feel regret for anything he did.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

The Wonderful Adventures of Nils and The Further Adventures of Nils Holgersson: Selma Lagerlof

This was a children's fantasy/ morale collection of stories. I have evidently lost my child like wonder because I was thinking "Really?" a lot. A little boy, Nils, is mean to animals and is taught a lesson when he spies an elf and tries to harm it he becomes elf size himself. The Animals think it is funny that now they can get revenge on the little boy who terrorized them. The boy climbs on a goose's back and it takes flight with wild geese when the little goose decides to join them. The wild geese pick on the tame goose because he can't keep up. HELLO, he has a child riding on his back! The story continues as they travel the country and Nils realizes he likes the animals and learns the importance of kindness. Eventually he comes home with the goose and his parents are overjoyed to have the goose and his new family which they are going to butcher. Nils becomes himself again once he defends the goose and saves his life, therefore learning a lesson on love.

Monday, August 29, 2016

The Girl on the Train: Irma Joubert

This was a heartbreaking story about two people who found each other during WWII. Gretl Schmidt and her sister are told by her mother and grandmother to jump from the train they are on and to travel only at night to get to Switzerland to family members. As the story progresses you realize Gretl's remaining family was on a train to Aushwitz. There was an explosion shortly after the girls jumped from the train and soon Gretl's sister, who is dying of tuberculosis, tells Gretl that their mother and grandmother will not be joining them. She dies that morning around the time Gretl sees a man in the woods, Jakob. Jakob is 21 and takes Gretl back to his parents where she lives with them for four years disguising that she is Jewish and German. A little girl in school tells of the burning of Jews in the camps and Gretl starts to have nightmares. Jakob in trying to comfort her, tells her that the explosion was from her family's train being blown up and they couldn't have been burned to death in the camp. He doesn't tell her until later that he set the bombs hoping to derail a Nazi supply train and that the Jewish train was unscheduled and a surprise. Jakob eventually learns to love the little girl, but then his mother says Gretl must go because there are too many mouths to feed. Jakob doesn't know what to do with her, he knows she is extremley intelligent and doesn't want her to have to go to work in a factory. He drops her off at a German orphanage that is trying to get children adopted in South Africa. The seperation is agonizing as Gretl keeps losing those she loves. She is adopted to wonderful, though racist, parents and knows she must never expose who she really is. Life goes on and the nightmares get worse. One day in college she is told she has a visitor. It is Jakob. She finally has someone who loves her even knowing who she is and is able to start their relationship where it left off. Jakob is surprised to find a woman and not the 10 year old girl he dropped off at an orphanage. He falls in love with her. She still thinks of him as a protector and it isn't until she is in a fire and invites him to a college dance that she realizes she has fallen in love with him. A stove explodes when she is home on holiday and Jakob is phoned by her grandfather to come as Gretl is disoriented and asking for him. He learns through her delirium that she lost a baby brother in the ghetto to a fire. Many painful memories that she had buried resurface and her parent learn everything about her past. Her parents feel horrible about all the negative comments they have made about Jewish people. Eventually Gretl and Jakob get married, but the book has a little twist where Gretl mentions she wants to write a book about her life and since it is her book she can have a happy ending. The reader is left wondering if this is the actual ending of the story or the happy ending Gretl wanted people to enjoy.

A Madness so Discreet: Mindy McGinnis

Grace may is a teenage girl sent to an insane asylum after her father rapes her and she becomes pregnant. Everyone is told she is travelling in Europe until her pregnancy is over. The "warden" is brutal and she miscarriages after a "hot wrap" treatment. She does not want to go home because she knows the raping will continue. A Doctor, Dr THornhollow, who is leaving the asylum for a new job in an Ohio asylum understands her predicament and decides to help her. He tells the warden he performed a brain operation on her leaving her clueless and unable to communicate. He tells the doctor to get rid of her, possibly in the prostitution ring, and he will tell the father she died. Instead the doctor takes her to Ohio with him while he both works at an asylum and helps solves crimes using criminal psychology. A serial killer is on the loose in their new town and Grace figure out who he is. Dr THornhollow mentions that now the real work begins as they have to prove he is the murderer. Grace takes matters into her own hands and kills the murderer. Dr Thornhollow knows she murdered him and though angered, does not expose her. Grace then decides to take revenge on her father after learning that her little sister is to be her father's next victim.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Longing for Darkness; Kamante's Tales: Collected by Peter Beard

I believe this is the journal of Kamante as a child on Karen Blixen's coffee farm, but it could have been done when he was an adult? It is done on lined paper and tells of visits from Europe's princes and dukes to the homestead as well as how Kamante came to work at the farm. Each page either had a drawing or a photo and progresses as Kamante gets older telling of how Mrs Blixen's husband died, car accident, to her leaving Africa and we assume he takes over the farming by the letters included. I found it interesting how many times he notes an animal is killed only for it's skin or just for the dogs to eat, and the abundance of the animals in the photos. It's a very different world 100 years later.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Bad Girls Don't Die: Katie Alendar

This was a teen fiction book about a highschool girl, Alexis, who starts thinking her little sister is going crazy. SHe follows her sister down to their creepy basment to comfort her after one of her fits. Alexis tells her the story of a little girl and doesn't know where the inspiration to make up the story comes from, she feels like she was the mouthpiece for telling a true story. The little sister, Kasey, finds something and brings it upstairs without letting ALexis know what it is. The weeks that follow bring her father getting into a serious accident because his breaks were cut and the little sister stalking people and trying to posion the neighbor. In the end Alexis finds out Kasey found the conduit, a doll, to bring a little girl who lived in that house and fell to her death out of a tree years ago, to life. The dead girl was trying to seek revenge on all the descendants of the girls who chased her into the tree and caused her death. Alexia finds the doll and lets it burn as their house burns from a mysterious fire.

Monday, August 15, 2016

The White House Boys: Roger Dean Kiser

This was a very sad book. A little boy (the author) is found by the police when he is five years old in a house his mother abandoned with her three children still there to run off with a man. He was found holding his dead baby brother that was 2 weeks old. The authorities sent both Roger and his sister to her grandparents where the grandparents wanted nothing to do with him because he wasn't their blood. A teacher finally reports the abuse he suffered with his grandparents and he is sent off to an orphanage where he is sexually abused. From there he goes to the "WHITE HOUSE" where he is beaten to a bloody pulp, and sees other children killed. He is eventually released to yet more foster parents and actually wishes for the familiarity of the White house because that is the only home he knew.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Dark Matter: Blake Crouch

This was a fast pace interesting novel. A man, Jason, heads out to a friend's celebration of an award for his achievements and thinks about how ordinary he has become compared to his friend. Upon walking home he realizes how lucky he is as he loves his wife and son. A man in a hoodie kidnaps him and it is obvious he has been following Jason for some time and knows Jason's wife and son. Before drugging Jason, the unknown man asks if he is happy and if he would have lived his life any differently and made different choices. Jason said he wouldn't have and then blacks out. Jason awakens in a lab where the people seem to know him and he has been a part of some experiment. He escapes the lab and goes home to find his wife and son don't exist. He then goes to the hospital because people from the lab chase him to his house. The hospital says there is a drug in his system and he doesn't recognize it and neither does the doctor. He finds an address for his wife at her maiden name and when he gets there she is not home, but he sees a flyer for an art gallery opening she is having that night. He goes. She knows him. She doesn't have a son and hasn't seen him in a while. He realizes he has invented a machine that can travel to alternate dimensions. He understands that another Jason from another dimension that invented the machine has just swapped lives with him. With the help of someone at the lab they escape back into the machine,but realize getting back is not going to be easy. There are a countless number of other dimensions and we get to glimpse the other possibilities where there are disease break outs, snow ins, one or both of them have already died etc. He finally makes it back home only to find out there are at least 10 other Jasons who have found this dimension since it was the only one where he was happy. In the end he goes back into the time machine with his wife and son knowing they can't get back, but that as long as they are together they will be happy, and they will never be safe in their world again.

A Good Marriage: Stephen King

This was a short story about a marriage that had a dark secret. One evening when Darcy's husband is away on business she goes to the garage for a battery and finds a hiding place of her husband's. Opening a box she sees IDs from a woman whose name is familiar, but she can't place it. She puts everything back and then it hits her, the woman was murdered and all over the news. After some research she realizes every time a woman was murdered by the mass murderer "Beatie", her husband was out of town on "business". After hours of restlessness she falls asleep to be awaken at 3am because her husband has returned home, about 17 hours early. He knows she knows and asks her what she is going to do about it. He claims he could never hurt her and explains that all his community service is to make up for his "wrongs" which he doesn't exactly see as wrong. Darcy keeps thinking about one of the women's sons who was also murdered because he came home from school too soon. Beatie claims all these women threw themselves at him teasingly and he got revenge. A couple months go by and Beatie wants to have sex. She can't bear the thought and when he comes up the stairs she pushes him back down. He breaks his neck and arm and she suffocates him before calling 911. Later a detective shows up at the door and knows what she has done. He tells her the case needs to connect her husband with the murders so the families of the victims have closure. He tells her the little boy had been sexually assaulted as well, but it wasn't reported on the news. Darcy is sickened. The investigator leaves telling her she did the right thing and that he won't expose her husband and leaves.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Ghost Summer Stories: Tananarive Due

This was a FABULOUS collection of eerie short stories. The Lake: A woman buys a house after taking a short tour of it and friends warn her about how she rushed in. She was captivated by the lake by the house and starts swimming in it every afternoon, then all evening, then all night. No one in town warned her about not swimming in the summer when there was chemical runoff. Her feet grow webs and she grows gills on her side. She teaches at the local school and asks a boy to help her with the house. The one afternoon invites him for a swim. Once in the water she swims underneath him and realizes everything has led up to this moment because he looks delicious and she tries to keep herself from eating him, but the story ends with her going after her prey. Summer: A woman gets married and finds herself back in the town she grew up in, but living at her grandmother's house near the lake. A cousin she reconnected with at her mother's funeral tells her to watch her baby while living at that house so close to the water because something possesses babies under two years old. She referred to them as "leeches". One night about 3 weeks after this conversation She is awaken in the night but a shadow that seems to stare at her and then goes to her daughter. The next day her daughter is well behaved and seems to admire her. She knows her daughter has been possessed. She calls her cousin who takes her to a relative who has a medicine for it, but once she realizes the "possession" will make her daughter sweet until the end of summer she seems settled on letting her daughter be possessed until fall so she can have some peace. Ghost Summer: A 12 year old boy Davie, his sister, and Dad spend a month with his paternal grandparents. Davie is excited about finding ghosts since his older sister says being able to see and hear them stops when you turn 13. He gets more than he bargains for. First he follows some boys into the woods near his grandparent's house and sees them burying a dog in an extremely deep hole. He doesn't realize until a couple nights later that they were ghosts. That night a ghost dog goes by his bedroom door. He then convinces his little sister to stay up with him and they living room turns to swamp and 3 ghost boys yell at them to run because they are being chased down by a dog. Davie spend the day at the local library and hears the tale of the 3 boys who went missing in 1909. They were moving and the eldest went to say goodbye to his girlfriend when they were chased into a well by the old plantation owner's dog. Their remains weren't rediscovered until Davie convinced his dad to stay up with them and they followed the ghosts into the woods. The ghost occurrences came into the lives of the living, the window in the house broke and both Davie and his sister were attacked by the ghost dog, the dad even heard and felt the dog. The local sheriff gets an excavation team on the well and they do in fact find the remains of the 3 boys. What is really interesting is that the author gets a call years after writing this story that an unknown relative's remains were found at the Dozier School for boys in Florida. Free Jims Mine: This was a story about a slave girl, Lottie, and her Cherokee husband, William, trying to escape Georgia for the North. Her uncle runs "Free Jim's Mine" and she goes to him hoping he can get them and their unborn child to freedom. He is angry that she comes to him and hints that freedom is never free. He puts them in the mine for the night and tells them to say their last words together because they won't see morning. Sometime during the night a "Walasi" a giant frog-like creature appears and William takes off after it. After several minutes Lottie realizes he isn't coming back and that her uncle sacrificed them to the mine. After a short sleep the creature comes back and Lottie cuts off a finger of the creature. She then falls asleep again and is awakened by her uncle calling for her. Her uncle isn't shocked that William is missing and is missing a finger just like the creature. The Knowing: A 12 year old boy talks about his nomadic life because his mother is a drug addict and can't hold a job. He regrets leaving Miami because it was his favorite spot to live, but his mother knows the date people will die and told her landlord who didn't want to know, how long she had left. She even told her son and he knows he only has three years left, though he doesn't know how he will die. The story touches on how people react differently to knowing their own immortality. Like Daughter: A woman reminiscences about a childhood friend and how horrible her life was compared to hers. She remembers as a child wondering why she was born in her house and her friend Neecie was born in her life as they could have easily been swapped. We find later in the story that Neecie wants her to take her child and possibly raise her as her own? The next whammy is that Neecie's daughter, also named Neecie is a clone, created to see what she could have been had she had a good upbringing. Aftermoon: This was a clever story about a girl who tries ignoring the moon as she walks home thinking about her raw steak in the freezer. She passes a sign she never noticed before that advertises dermatology and lycanthropy, irritated she bounds into the office. The Doctor seems like a werewolf himself and instantly recognizes her for who she is. She goes back to him to talk about hair removal and ends up talking to the DR about her fiancé, who does not know of her condition. She muses that she may be able to tell him and he might be supportive. The story ends leaving the reader to wonder how things will turn out for her. Trial Day: A little girl, Lettie, can see into people's souls. Her brother is tried for a robbery he didn't commit and her father refuses to stand up for him because of the trouble it will cause for him. Lettie is told by her mother that she needs to sacrifice something she loves to save another thing she loves, and suggests her cat. When Lettie is in the middle of sacrificing the cat her father walks in and realizes he must go at least try to help his son. One is left believing that Lettie sacrificed her father to save her brother. Patient Zero: Jay, a child is the only person seemingly alive in the world after an epidemic hits and he is the only person, with the exception of two girls in China who mysteriously die, that survived getting the virus. He tells of his life locked up and used for testing, until one day his teacher gets sick and informs him if she doesn't come back he should leave his room to look for food. Once he gets back out into the world it is in shambles and we are left wondering if he can survive. Danger Word: A 9 year old boy Kendrick is living in the woods with his grandpa and slowly we learn why. People are getting sick and turning into Zombies. Kendrick's parents were tricked by neighbors who they invited into their home. Fortunately they have about 10 minutes after getting bit before they go to sleep and wake up inhumane and they were able to hide him in the basement and call his grandpa to come get him. His grandpa was supposed to say the "danger word" so he will unlock the basement door and come out. When grandpa got to the house he had to shoot the Zombies in the yard including his daughter, Kendrick's mother. Grandpa takes Kendrick to a gas station that is still operating to get him a coke because he has started talking again. Once inside he realizes the owner has turned even though he can carry on a conversation, which zombies aren't supposed to be able to do. He is bit before Kendrick shoots the store owner and grandpa gets them back into the truck in hopes of getting Kendrick home before he turns. He realizes he can't make it the 20 minutes home and tells Kendrick to run 20 miles to the nearest help and not to stop and shoot anyone. about 10 minutes later he wakes up because he fell asleep before he was able to shoot himself. He catches up with Kendrick who knows his grandpa has turned, but is still hopeful that they can survive. Grandpa's last words were "breakfast" and the reader is left hoping Kendrick is wise enough to shoot his grandpa and survive. Removal Order: A woman in grad school is taking care of her grandmother who has cancer and fortunately? not the 72 hour illness. Everyone in her neighborhood has evacuated and she moves her grandmother to a neighbors house so they can escape the fleas their house is infested with. Once she gets her grandmother moved and cleaned up she sits on the porch. A police car drives by then stops and informs her she needs to be evacuated within 24 hours because they are burning the neighborhood, hoping to burn the sickness. She explains that she can't she is still waiting, essentially, for her grandmother to die. He gives her some frozen chicken and says he will be back the next day for lunch. When he shows up the next day he eats with her and then as a kindness shoots her grandmother so she can leave. He gives her his family's address and leaves. With mixed emotion she loads up her grandmother's favorite cat and heads off. The cat doesn't want to be in the car so she lets it out to spend its last days in a place it knows. Herd Immunity: Nayima walks California looking for food and a place to live. She believes there will be others alive that have a natural immunity to the 72 hour virus and eventually finds a man who she follows for days hoping to one day meet up with him. They come to a town where a fair was occurring when the virus hit and fill a car with supplies. She tries to convince the man to come with her because she is lonely, but he calls her typhoid Mary and doesn't want to get close with her because he could catch the disease. She tries explaining to him that he precautions of not touching anything and covering himself up aren't what kept him alive and that he is naturally immune like her. He doesn't believe her. Once he falls asleep she kisses him and is awaken in the morning from him throwing up, she gave him the illness, he wasn't immune. Carriers: This story continues with Nayima. She is an older woman now and leaving on the outskirts of Sacramento. A man she met who was also immune to the disease visits bringing news of a daughter. Their eggs and sperm were taken and none of the other children survived but this one who is about 4 years old. She was accustomed to her life in solitude, but is filled with hope when she is united with her unknown daughter. Senora Suerte: An unlucky man is in a nursing home and has met lady luck. The night she comes to bingo she touches a lucky person and they win the game...they also die in their sleep at night. The protagonist still hopes she chooses him. Vanishings: Wow, this was a sad story. A mother of two girls is told by the police that her husband was in an accident and since there was no body- he "vanished". Their youngest daughter is very sick and she knows her husband left because he couldn't handle it, but then there is another explanation that he "vanished" so his insurance money would be paid out helping her with the mounting bills. She thinks her daughter is finally getting better, but then hears from her eldest daughter's teacher that she is upset with her mom because she isn't doing anything while the little sister is dying. The mom finally sees her daughter that night at dinner as she really is and can't believe how pale she has gotten. That night in the tub her daughter says she is "vanishing" as she hides beneath the bubbles in the bath.

Monday, August 1, 2016

The Rose Rent: Ellis Peters

This was to date my favorite of the Cadfael series. A widow, Judith Perle, gives her house to the abbey in exchange for a single white rose that grows on the property as rent. This way each year she is reminded by the rose that she was once truly happy. Both her husband and unborn child died within a month and she is considering becoming a nun. Shortly before the "rent" is due, brother Eluric, who usually delivers the rose asks to be dismissed from the responsibility as he has fallen in love with the widow who is much older. Cadfael consents and the next night a widower returns from visiting his daughter to find the rose bush hacked up and Brother Eluric dead near it. Cadfael sees the impression of a boot and orders a wax impression made. He believes Eluric was trying to save the rose and was unintentionally murdered. Judith decides to officially give the house to the Abbey the next morning, but is kidnapped that night. She is taken by a man hoping to marry her and she refuses, he escorts her to the Nuns. The rose bush is then burned and Cadfael exposes Judith's male cousin Miles as the man bent on getting the house for himself by urging Judith to become a nun.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Big Driver: Stephen King

This was a strange book, but strange is a non-typical King way. A female author, Tess, goes to a book signing at a library and works the crowd by rote. The head librarian suggests she take a back road to "save time" heading home. Tess takes the road and comes upon nail studded planks of wood in the middle of the road and is unable to swerve out of the way. After ruining her tires she removes the wood from the road and throws them into the ditch after a catering van nearly hits the wood. Tess realizes she is near an old gas station and her cell phone does not work. A man pulls up in a truck and offers to fix her tire after asking where the wood went. Tess realizes there is more wood in the back of his truck, all will nails. He comes up behinds her and says something crude before knocking her out. She wakes up while she is being raped. He continues raping and beating her until he believes she is dying and then throws her in a drainage pipe. Once he leaves she sees she is laying on other dead women in various states of decay. She gets herself back into the gas station and gets her clothes and shoes on and sets out on the road to the nearest town. Her car is gone. After a few false alarms thinking on coming traffic is him returning, she makes it to a gas station that is still in business and using the cell phone to call a ride. Once home safety she decides not to report the rape, but to anonymously call in the dead bodies. After some sleep she realizes she will never be safe as the man has her purse and knows where she lives. After some research she finds out the man was the librarian's son and Tess believes she was set up to be raped and killed by the mother and son pair. She goes to the librarian's house and confronts her, the woman is shocked to see her alive. There is a struggle and the librarian ends up with Tess's gun and Tess stabs her after debating on if she could take a life. She then goes after the son and kills the brother of her rapist accidentally. However upon inspection of his house she finds her purse, so he was not entirely innocent. She then kills the correct man and heads home.

The Intentional Spinner: Judith MacKenzie McCuin

This was a very thorough and interesting book. It covered different materials yarn has been and is made from, as well as how to spin it, and how to keep pests out of it. The book also offers ways to spin yarn. I especially enjoyed the section with animal fiber and the different animals who are protected in different areas of the world due to over-use of their pelts.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Sam the Cat Detective: Linda Stewart

This was a cute children's book about a cat who solves some burglaries around town with the help of some other cats. Although highly unlikely that the humans would be robbed a couple weeks after having their apartments painted because they seem to go out of town then, it was still an entertaining read. The cats get around by ridding dumb waiters and even a dog once. They climb the stairs to the pent houses and move in and out through open windows.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Waiting for Godot: Samuel Beckett

This was a play where two men wait day after day for someone names Godot to meet them. The book appears to be like groundhog day, where everyday two friends meet near a tree and everyday the same people pass in and out of their lives each claiming they've never met them before. You could interpret this story in many ways in that the characters are all god or Godot testing the two friends devotion to meeting him.

The Cat Who Smelled A Rat: Lillian Jackson Braun

In this "Cat who Mystery" Koko dotes on three fake apples, a painting of robins and a glove box. Qwill's friend at the book shop dies from ill health and his book store is burned down by arsonists. The local boarded up mines are also victims of arson. A man who just came to town tries selling books at outrageous prices. A young man who was sort of new to the area is pushed down stairs to his death at the curing rink. Qwill puts everything together and realizes the new bookseller is behind all the crime as he and 2 other men are in a Ponzi scheme to get land for condos and businesses.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History By: Bret Witter and Robert M. Edsel

This was an interesting book and I am pleased that it shed light on a part of history many of us were unaware of, but man...it was a long book. There were so many pieces of art being searched by different men in different divisions that I had a hard time keeping everything straight. I enjoyed the story about the French librarian and the afterward claiming Hitler did not want the art to be destroyed. The story along with giving information about these men and their willing-ness to die to preserve art and human accomplishments, makes one appreciate art. I kept stopping and goggling the pieces(maybe that is why the book seemed so long). The story follows the war lives of men chosen to find and preserve all different types of art in the countries being plundered by Germany during WWII. They were to try to keep historical churches from being blown up and plundered, Ancient walls from being knocked down, and paintings and monuments from being destroyed. Meanwhile Hitler is having his men collect famous pieces to put in his museum and in his home. By the time the war was over many pieces were destroyed as the Nazi members burned them as they retreated. Some were found stored in castles in Germany and more was found hidden in mines and caves.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Skeleton Man: Tony Hillerman

This was a really good book! A woman, Joanna Craig, is given some hope that her father's remains will be found after the airplane crash in the Grand Canyon in 1956. Her parents weren't married yet, but her father was working for a jeweler and along with a suitcase of jewels (handcuffed to his wrist) he had a diamond for their engagement ring. After the crash, Joanna's wealthy paternal side disclaims the idea that Joanna is their rightful heir and without any DNA proving otherwise, leaves their fortune to an organization. Joanna hears about a boy who gets arrested fro trying to pawn an expensive diamond and the story is that a man living in a cave traded him his shovel for it. He evidently had a collection of diamonds. With the help of the local community a Navajo woman speaks to another native of the area and finds the cave with the mystery man "the skeleton man" deceased. A bounty hunter grabs the diamond and Joanna finds her father's arm, still attached to the case. A storm comes up suddenly and the bounty hunter drowns and the diamonds are lost. Joanna's DNA matches that of the arm and she gets her inheritance.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

The Cat Who Went into The Closet: Lillian Jackson Braun

This was another cute story where Qwill is investigating the murder of a town woman, Euphonia Gage who was believed to have committed suicide where she was living in Florida. Qwill was renting out her house and Koko keeps bringing things from the closet that have to do with feet. Qwill is then out with the cats and Koko acts funny so Qwill follows a path in the woods and finds the body of Gil Inchpot, a farmer. With the help of a lady living in the retirement center with Euphonia, Qwill discovers a scam taking money from the elderly and determine Euphonia was murdered. Euphonia had a daughter with another man while her husband was in prison and paid a family to adopt her. She was then being blackmailed after her daughter died by her daughter's husband to keep the family secret. The retirement community didn't want to lose Euphonia's money to blackmail and had him killed as well (the potato farmer).

Martin Misunderstood: Karin Slaughter

This was a powerful short story about a "less than average" white guy. His life has been filled with disappointments after his father committed suicide. The kids that bullied him in school grew up to work with him and continue the mean pranks. Martin lives with his mother and one night after coming come from work (after cleaning up a prank his boss played on him) he takes his mom to pick up pruning shears she left when she got kicked out of the garden club. While waiting for her in the car, he sees an advertisement for a massage. He feels he deserves a massage after the brutal day he had and drops his mom off at home and goes back. The massage ends up being a hand job. The whole story centers around trying to figure out what Martin was doing that night because around the time he was getting the "massage" his boss was run over three times with his car. Martin is too humiliated to use the massage place as an alibi. The police detective, Albada, doesn't believe Martin murdered his boss and begins to get a crush on him. Once Martin is released from jail by Albada he is told he was fired from his job and he needed to pack up his stuff. Once he gets to work he finds his assistant, Unique Jones, stealing his stuff and office supplies. She asks him about the murder of their boss and for once she shows him respect. Caught up in the feeling of being respected, he implies he murdered her, which turns Unique on and she basically rapes him. Later that evening she is found murdered in the women's bathroom, of course Martin is the suspect. Once Martin is in prison facing a life sentence for murder, we learn Martin has put together the actual story. His mother murdered the women because they picked on Martin and she wanted revenge for him since he wouldn't take it himself. She has become famous doing interviews and writing books since her son is a "murderer" and she tells Martin he shouldn't be so gloomy because his life has improved as well. He realizes she is right because he has fallen in love with the detective, Albada.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Blond Hair, Blue Eyes A Short Story: Karin Slaughter

This was the prelude to "All The Pretty Girls" Julia's side of the story. This story shows Julia in a different light as it is told from her point of view. (The other story was told from her sister's view and there was a lot of speculation on what happened.) Julia's story starts on the day she went missing. She widens the reader's view on the killer as Julia notices a homeless woman has gone missing and is said to have been last seen entering a van. The idea is planted that there were more girls murdered than accounted for. Julia is portrayed as a woman who is deeply devoted to helping others and improving the world. She is a Virgin and has a boyfriend who she realistically frets over, scared that the relationship means more to her. She goes out drinking with friends that night and takes a drink from an older Man. Later as she walks home she realizes there must have been something in the drink and tries to make it to her parent's who are at a party nearby. A man pulls up in a van and though she doesn't know him, she knows she has seen him a lot lately wherever she has been. He then punches her in the face and the story ends.

The Cat Who Wasn't There: Lillian Jackson Braun

In this Book Qwill goes with Polly and a group of locals to Scotland. Polly and the tour guide room together and Qwill's old love interest, Melinda Goodwinter is along and keeps propositing him. Melinda's father passed away and to the town's surprise, was in debt. Melinda wants to marry Qwill to have children and for his finances. The tour guide suddenly dies and Melinda claims it was her heart. The next day the bus driver, who was supposed to be a friend of the tour guide's also disappears with some of the luggage with a fortune in jewelry. Once back in the states Koko helps Qwill piece together the drama. Melinda and her brother had been living off their father for years and his death left them penniless. Melinda tried poisoning Polly with pills that looked like her vitamin C, only Polly's roommate took them. Melinda commits suicide at the end by driving her car into a wall. She left Qwill a note, but before he could read it, Koko chewed it up.

Monday, June 27, 2016

The Cat Who Tailed a Thief: Lillian Jackson Braun

After reading a few of these books it becomes obvious on who the culprit or caper will be. Someone new comes into town and soon someone ends up dead. In this on a "brother and sister" move to town, they both marry wealthy people that soon mysteriously die. The woman also has a problem with kleptomania which may have been a way to divert suspicion from the murders. Polly, Qwill's girlfriend, loses her last living relative to the couples murdering rampage.

The Cat Who Blew the Whistle: Lillian Jackson Braun

This book was centered around trains and murder. A wealthy man obsessed with trains mysteriously disappears and everyone thinks he ran off with a younger woman after embezzeling money. Qwill gets the help of an extremely happy friend who Qwill believes giggles too much to help with the task. In the End Qwill and Koko realize the young woman actually murdered the man and took the money. Everyone seems to forgive and move on with their lives.

Monk's Hood: Ellis Peters

This was one of the books from the Brother Cadfael series. The story opens with a monk from the year 1138 working with monkshood oil (the poison wolfs bane). He warns others to thoroughly wash their hands as it is extremely poisonous if ingested. A man, Bonel, mysteriously dies shorty afterwards and Cadfael smells the monkshood on the dead man's lips. Cadfael then recognizes the dead man's wife as a woman he was betrothed to 40 years earlier before the church called to him. The warden believes Bonel's son murdered him because he would inherit his property. Cadfael finds out the boy doesn't know how his father was murdered and thought he was stabbed. Cadfael learns there was an older illegitimate son that actually murdered Bonel believing that he would inherit everything. Cadfael helps the murderer escape after he promises to spend the rest of his life doing good.

The Cat Who Knew A Cardinal: Lilian Jackson Braun

This was a cute book about a journalist in a small town of "Pick ax" in Moose County. He likes to play detective and believes his cat Koko can mysteriously solves crimes. Qwill is living in an apple barn that he just had renovated into a home when the local theater club drops by to check out his house. They stay until 3 in the morning. Koko stares out the window alerting Qwill that a car is still there- he goes out to investigate and finds the Principal of the local school, Hilary VanBrook, shot in the back of the head. He had played the Cardinal in the play Henry III which the theater group had been working on. Koko was also intrigued by a cardinal (bird) who would visit the barn daily. Qwill meets a man, Steve O'Hare, who tries to sell him a horse barn. Steve then shoots Koko's cardinal for sport. Koko becomes obsessed with a rabbit typeset. We learn Koko was trying to tell Qwill that Steve O'Hare killed the Cardinal (Hilary VanBrook)

Thursday, June 23, 2016

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest: Stieg Larsson

This was the final book in the Lisbeth Salander series. Lisbeth is in the hospital after being brutally beaten at the end of the last book. She survives brain surgery and still fights for justice while her father recovers in the same hospital. While Lisbeth prepares for her trial, her father is murdered and her half brother goes into hiding. Around the same time Blomkvist moves into Lisbeth's apartment (which I didn't understand) and Berger gets a new job. Lisbeth is eventually freed and released from court appointed guardianship. Blomkvist finds another lover, and Berger, who was being harassed at work, pinpoints the jealous man from her past as the perpetrator with Lizbeth's help. Lizbeth finds her half brother at the end and ties everything up so neatly that by the end of the book all the bad guys are either dead, or arrested.

Pretty Girls: Karin Slaughter

WOW. I don't even know how to describe this book, other than you would need to read it for yourself. It is the most suspenseful thing I have read. A family with three daughters is torn apart by the disappearance of the eldest daughter. The story alternates between the letters written by the father to his kidnapped child and current day lives of each of the surviving sisters. The alternating of the chapters comes with no indication of who the narrator is, but towards the end the two girls have one voice. Claire, the youngest daughter marries her oldest sister's murderer without realizing it. Years go by until the story unravels and has much larger and more gruesome history. The daughter least likely to fight back is the one who has the most control. It was clever on the author's part to show Claire liked to watch a person die, just like her husband did, showing that maybe they had more in common than you originally thought. I was left wandering why Lydia's boyfriend and daughter never called her during the hunt I didn't understand why Claire's husband had 2 groups of women, those he raped and those he killed. There was also no conclusion on if Lydia healed after her ordeal.

Friday, June 17, 2016

The Girl Who Played with Fire: Stieg Larsson

This is the sequel to "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" where Lizbeth travels the world on the money she stole from Wennerstorm. At first the book seems sort of disjointed, the prologue has her throwing gas on a man and setting him on fire. We then see her traveling the world and getting a breast implant which increases her confidence. She spend some time in Grenada where she starts liking a 16 yr old boy and becomes slightly obsessed with mathematical theories. A hurricane hits the island and Salander happens to notice a rich American trying to use the storm as a cover for murdering his wife for insurance money. Salander saves the woman and watches him get swept up by the storm. It seems the whole beginning of the book was meant to show that Salander is just and can be violent, but is not a murderer. When she returns home she buys an extremely expensive condo under a false name and trys to remain untraceable. She wants to keep her other apartment since it links her to her recently deceased mother and has a girlfriend (Mimi) move in rent-free. Salandar realizes she hasn't been a good friend, just leaving the people she cares about and not telling them where she is going, so she drops in on Armansky, from Milton Securities, and learns Holger Palmgren, her former guardian who had a stroke, is still alive. She rushes to him and pays for the best therapy he can get. Blomkvist happens to be walking past her old house one night and is surprised to see Salander leaving in a car. Before she gets in the car a Huge man attacks her she drops her bag and keys and flees. Blomkvist tries to help Slander by attacking the attacker and Lisbeth is able to get away. She doesn't understand why Blomkvist is there and refuses to go back to her car and talk to him. Salander decides to hack Blomkvist's computer again to see what he is up to and finds out that 2 other journalists are writing book "From Russia with Love" about the sex trade. One name "Zala" stops Salander. She had a history with him. She goes to visit the journalists the same night Blomkvist was dropping by to pick up the manuscript. In between Salander leaving and Blomkvist arriving, someone murders both journalists. Blomkvist finds the bodies of his friends and the cops fins Salander's prints in the place. She is then wanted for the murder of three people because her new guardian Bjurman was shot the same night.Milton Securites, Blomkvist, and Salander try to uncover what is happening, all knowing Salander is innocent. The book makes you believe she may have killed Bjurman until the very end. Mimi is kidnapped by Zala because they think she knows where Salander is hiding. She is badly beat up and spends the rest of the book in the hospital. We then learn about the gasoline incident. Zala is Lisbeth's father and part of the sex trade. He constantly abused her mother and one day she decided she had enough and stabbed him. When he gets out of the hospital he lets Lisbeth know he "forgave her everything" which Lisbeth knew meant he was going to take it out on her. She came home from school one day to find her father leaving and her mother unconscious on the floor. Salander ran after him with a milk jug of gasoline which she threw on him in the car and a match. He was severely burned. There was evidently no doubt that she did it because a man saw the whole thing (and evidently never tried to help?) The police agent in charge was a part of Zala's sex network and tried to cover the whole thing up since "Zala" didn't really exist Salander's mother never fully recovered and had brain damage. Salander was sent to a medical institution where she was further abused by being constantly tied down. Salander, realizing the crime may never be solved, goes out to find Zala. She leaves Blomkvist a note that hints she may be committing suicide. Blomkvist finds where she has been living and once inside her apartment begins looking for clues as to where she is going. He finds the rape tape and watches it, suddenly everything makes sense to him. Salandar finds her father and the hit man, her 1/2 bother. she tries to fight them, but her father shoots her 3 times, once in the head and buries her. Salander is surprisingly still alive and unburies herself to try round two. She hides in the wood shed and kills her father while bleeding to death. Blomkvist shows up. He ties up the brother and the book ends with him calling for help for Salander.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Rob Roy: Walter Scott

This Story was based on the life of Rob Roy McGregor. The narrator, Frank Osbaldistone, is asked by his father to take over the family business, but Frank declines saying he wants to be a poet. His father is aghast and sort of as a punishment, he is sent to his father's brother's (Sir Hildebrand) house in Northumberland to see if the new heir, his cousin Rashleigh, will be a good heir. There he falls in love with the cousin of his cousin's Dianna Vernon. She has been sent to live with them because her father had to go into hiding for helping Jacobites. Frank was carrying important papers for his father and Rashleigh takes them and flees to Scotland. Frank leaves with the servant, who stole a horse from his uncle, and they take off after Rasleigh. Frank's path crosses with Rob Roy, a friend of his uncles, and a fugitive of the English crown, several times. Rob Roy appears once Frank has caught up with Rashleigh and the two boys get into a fight. Rob Roy breaks it up and scolds the boys because they are kin. The English capture Rob Roy and before Franks eyes Rob is able to escape. In the end all of his cousin's, Sir Hildebrand's sons, are dead and Frank is left as heir. Frank Marries Dianna and evidently lives out a happy life.

The Appeal: John Grisham

This is a heartbreaking story that exposes what goes on daily in the United States. An attorney couple of Mary and Wes Payton represent a client who lost her husband and child from cancer linked to the dumping of chemicals into the water supply from Krane Chemicals. The large corporation loses value in stocks after the court decision and is determined to see the decisions over-turned. Spending millions, they get a virtually unknown lawyer, Fisk, to run against the Supreme Court Justice McCarthy, who usually sides with the victims. Krane then waits for the new court decision. There is a short time period where you think Krane may not win because Fisk's little boy is injured in a baseball game and he thinks about the victims of malpractice and bad consumer products, but in the end votes for Krane because he is scared he will look silly. No one in the town dying of cancer gets any sort of compensation for Krane's deliberate laziness of dumping toxins in the water.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

The Fifth Sacred Thing: Starhawk

This book was mentioned in the novel "The Millionaire Next Door" as a must read noted by my generation. This was a post-apocalyptic novel where parts of the United States are "tribes" of people living free and taking care of the Earth, but most of the resources, including water, are controlled by a group of Christian Fundamentalist. The Book centers around a utopian society living in present day San Francisco. They hear of troops being sent their way and decide to see what support they can gather from the surrounding communities and how to fight the war. They win the battle by using nonviolent resistance and some mysticism insight and help from bees. It was odd, but it did keep my interest.

Monday, May 30, 2016

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo: Stieg Larsson

This is actually my second time starting this book, the first time I got probably 1/3 of the way through and for some reason the names were getting jumbled and I couldn't keep the characters straight and the book was difficult to read. This time I found it to be a fascinating novel, though heavy on the sadists...lol The novel opens with Lisbeth, who is thought to be mentally handicapped, getting a remedial job at a detective agency doing cleaning, copying, and various tasks. Her past is hinted at, but we know it must be worse than described because she is insistent people shouldn't be pitied for not rising above their upbringing. Her boss decides to fire her because she doesn't get along with his staff and never talks. When he sits down to talk to her she matter of factly states what his staff is doing instead of working and that she has been doing their tasks. He decides to try her out as a detective. She does an astonishingly thorough job and we learn she is a skilled hacker. She is hired to investigate a journalist, who was being imprisoned for Liable. The other half of the story deals with the journalist, Blomkvist, who wrote an article about a ganster billionaire, Wennerström, but part of the story was fictional as his source was a henchman. Right before going to his 3 month prision sentence, Henrik Vanger, a wealthy CEO hires Blomkvist to investigate the 40 year old murder of his niece Harriet. Vanger decided to hire Blomkvist based on the report from Lisbeth. The cover story is that Blomkvist is writing a Biography for Vanger. Meanwhile Lisbeth's guardian dies and she is awarded a new one who rapes her. She gets it on tape and after branding him with a full chest tattoo, shows the tape and threatens him unless he stays out of her life. Blomkvist learns of Lisbeth's report on him and wants her to help with his investigation. We learn she has a photographic memory. Much to everyone's surprise Blomkvist and Lisbeth solve the crime and uncover murders tracing the last 60 years done by Harriet's father, and then continued by her brother after she killed her father. They find Harriet still alive in Australia as a successful business woman. Blomkvist publishes a book exposing Wennerström's crimes, redeeming his reputation. Later Wennerstrom is arrested and apparently an unknown woman (Lizbeth) went to the bank and walked out with some of his fortune.

Defiance: Defiance; The Bielski Partisans: Nechama Tec

This was a fascinating book about Jewish resistance fighters during WWII. The Polish Bielski brothers, gathered a group of resistance fighters and hid in the forest for two years during WWII. Unlike other bands of fighters, this group accepted everyone, woman, elderly, and children and were focused on the survival of the Jewish people over killing Nazis. The book spent a lot of time talking about each person and how they were remembered and what each person contributed. It was very much both a novel about the remarkable will to survive and remarkable people. After the war the brothers who started the resistance group moved to Israel and the United States where they lived very ordinary lives. The author wrote this book to recognize what this group accomplished, but unfortunately he was only able to meet with Tuvia for a short time before he passed away. The Brothers were accused of war crimes associated with the Naliboki massacre, where over 100 people were massacred by Soviets, who supported the Resistance fighters. I was disheartened by the treatment the farmers were given from the fighters, they were constantly raided by the resistance and were expected to give a bulk of their product to the war effort, life for them seemed horrible too with violence from both sides.

The Millionaire Next Door:Thomas J. Stanley

Though this book was published 20 Years ago, it still holds valuable advice. The book was centered around interviews and questionnaires filled out by people who had a net worth of at least a million dollars. Surprisingly the authors had to offer money to interest the people enough to spend time being assessed. The book divided millionaires into categories of UAWs (Under Accumulators of Wealth) and PAWs (Prodigious Accumulator of Wealth) and compared their behavior. The statistics interested me, most millionaires are business owners and out of the immigrants most are Russian. Most own conservative vehicles and the F150 is a popular choice. I liked the detail added about what happens when the money dries up or the children of UAW millionaires try to make it on their own, having become accustomed to a standard of living they cannot support. This book also talks about how expensive gift giving can do more harm than good. It talked about millionaire grandparents paying for private school or trips abroad. Putting the grandchildren in those settings where they are exposed to UAWs in turn makes them want to become consumers of expensive things and they live their lives trying to keep up with the Jones'. The advice in this book was to; spend less than you earn, avoid worrying about status- most PAWs are continuously thrifty, don't believe money is a renewable resource and save for the future. The book also provided a calculator on how to determine an "Average Accumulator of Wealth" (AAW), who has a net worth equal to one-tenth their age multiplied by their current annual income from all sources. I do see a lot of people in my generation as being UAWs, they live above their means with expensive cars, vacations, and homes and think nothing of being in debt. This book really made me wonder what the next 30 years will bring when people don't have money to retire on, will the millionaires be expected to take care of everyone else?

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Stephanie Pearl-McPhee Casts Off: Stephanie Pearly McPhee

This was a cute idea for a book, it just didn't really have enough meat and filler for an actual book. There were cute lines and thoughts, but it had very little to do with travel and seemed like a stretch to fill 200 pages. The book was aimed at knitters with cute little phrases that had to do with knitting and knitter's denial.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Every Day Lasts a Year: Browning, Hollander, and Tec

This was one man's collection of letters he found in his father's trunk after his father passed away. The Jewish Father had worked in a travel agency before WWII and though he tried to convince his family they needed to leave, they didn't understand the urgency. He went to England, claiming to be buying furniture for their new home, (he had just gotten married) then stowed away to the USA. His family was all exterminated during the war and this is a collection of their letters. It was a heart breaking read and very hard to fathom. The letters went from a state of frazzle-ment, to desperation where Joseph is the life raft, to The family in Europe keeps referring to Immigration paperwork Joseph was supposed to get them, but most of the mail sent to them never arrived, I kept thinking, wouldn't it be worse to know the papers were sent and may never show up than the papers were still possibly coming. There was also correspondence about a huge sum of money being transferred to a bank in order to get the family out of Poland, but the Bank never got it. The family moves many many times during the correspondence. The brother-in-laws letters were the most heartbreaking, the women tried to stay positive, but the Men were factual on that they had to close down the business, they needed a way out, had Joseph gotten them papers...etc. By the time the paperwork to go to Nicaragua came through, The Nazi's had halted remaining emigration. The last letter informs Joseph of his mother's death and we assume they were deported to a concentration camp afterwards. This was a very powerful way to present these letters, as you begin to know these people a little bit through their writings and all of a sudden everything stops. The worry become palatable even though the readers already know what happened it is like you are with Joseph wondering what is next.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Tribes, We Need You to Lead Us: Seth Godin

This book is meant to inspire people to take the leadership position and shake things up. it talks about how the "heretics" are the leaders making the most positive change. Companies and people who cannot change will be left behind. I was super surprised to learn Wikipedia only has about 12 workers. This book spoke of a lot of different companies and why the work or why they are drying up. The book kept differentiating between two things, a leader and supervisor; it made it very clear one wants and should be a leader. It also spoke of leaders sitting in the cubicle, doing the same work as the workers - leading from within rather than from above. In the past a government job and a factory were the ideal jobs to have because you didn't have to think, you just came in and did what you were told and you didn't have to beg on the streets. In today's world factories do close, companies do go under with regularity and instead of 12 people without a job, a factory worth of 20 thousand are jobless. I liked the quotes "If you are not uncomfortable in your work as a leader, it's almost certain you're not reaching your potential as a leader" (55) "Albert Einstein said "Imagination is more important than knowledge". Leaders create things that didn't exist before." (137) I loved the part about trying to spread the news to mothers in Rwanda the importance of vaccinating their children, but posters weren't working because 70% of the women were liberate, someone thought to change the way they gave out the information and spread it by song. The most important thing in this book was the voice, it was very inspiring and confident, what a great cheerleader.

The Cry of the Halidon: Robert Ludum

This is the second Ludlum book I've read and I am really impressed with the uniqueness and originality of each. In this one a geologist, Alex McAuliff, is hired by the Dunstone company to do a geological survey of Jamaica for two million dollars. He can't understand why he is being paid so much, but then he is approached by the secret service. The service lets him in on a secret, everyone from the last team sent to Jamaica has disappeared. Realizing he is trapped, knowing too much he puts together a team to go. He thinks he has picked these people himself, but no one on the expedition is who they seem. Once in Jamaica he witnesses several "attacks" where people are injured, only they appear later unharmed. He is them kidnapped by the "Halidon" a secret society living deep in the jungles of Jamaica, who operate as a sort of "watch keeper" overthrowing governments and people in other lands to protect the little people without a voice. The team gets out of Jamaica mostly intact and Geologist McAuliff turns into a bodyguard for the head of the Secret Service until Halidon is happy that Jamaica will not fall into the hands of the white man.