Whatcha reading?

Whatcha reading?

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 Fran├žois 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.