Whatcha reading?

Whatcha reading?

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.