Whatcha reading?

Whatcha reading?

Saturday, November 18, 2017

The Bastard on the Couch: Daniel Jones

This actually wasn't what I was expecting. It was the companion novel to "The Bitch in the Kitchen" and a collection of stories of men talking abut life. A few of them talk about trying to find balance at home now that women are in the workforce and exhausted when they come home ad would like help raising the kids and doing chores. Some live non-traditional lives where the wife works and the man stays home with the children. Some stories talk about their relationship with their Children and views on life. the stories were written from vastly different people and they were all very interesting and enjoyable. None were "wife bashing" and gave insight on how the men view the feminist movement differently.

Hope was Here: Joan Bauer

This was a cute teen fiction about Hope Yancey and how she deals with a life of disappointment. Her mom left her with her aunt to raise and they move from city to city working in restaurants. They end up in a small town in Minnesota where her Aunt falls in love with the owner, who has leukemia and runs for governor. The book talks about waitressing and the politicking and campaigning to get him in office. The book ends with Hope finding a dad in the restaurant owner and he succumbs to the disease.

The Bird's Nest: Shirley Jackson

The protagonist, Elizabeth Richmond is introduced as a very plane woman who has more and more time she can't account for or remember as the book progresses. She is soon diagnosed with multiple personality disorder as 4 distinct personalities emerge. we find out her mother had had a personality illness and Aunt Morgan, who has raised her since her mother's death, is about at wits end dealing with the "four" women. Elizabeth's personalities seem to have "spilt" from the death of her mother, which is seems like she had a part in when Elizabeth shook her mother. her mother was seeing "Robin" who didn't want a child and Lizzie can't remember if her mother ever defended her. Aunt Morgan and Dr Wright get Lizzie to understand that her mother is dead, because one of the personalities, Betsy, believes she is still alive and Beth, thinks her mother just died 3 weeks ago. Once the girls come to the realization their mother is dead, they all merge back into the one personality, or so we believe.

Monday, November 13, 2017

As I Knew Him My Dad, Rod Serling: Anne Serling

This was a very heartfelt, heartwarming story. Instead of it reading like novel, it felt like sitting with a friend reminiscing while going through her father's things. I applaud Anne for telling about her grief after her father's death as that is something people try to hide and don't understand well. This was very well written and anyone can relate to the feelings and memories evoked when reminiscing about a parent.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Schindler's List: Thomas Keneally

Oskar Schindler was a member of the Nazi party and obtained an enamelware factory during WWII where he saved over 1000 Jewish citizens from deportation and concentration camps by hiring him in his factory that rarely had anything to contribute to the war machine. By the end of the war he had spent all his money on bribes to keep his workers safe. Before joining the Nazi party and after the war he was bankrupt and unable to hold a job. It sounded like he got assistance from Jewish relief organizations for the rest of his life. It seems surprising he was able to hold it together during the war to save so many people. Very sad story, but time and time again he seemed to be at the right place at the right time to rescue his workers.

Friday, November 10, 2017

The Crystal Cave: Mary Stewart

This story is about the childhood of Merlin. His mother, a princess falls in love with a prince from an enemy territory. She refuses to tell anyone who his father is and refuses to marry. Eventually she enters the convent and Merlin tries to run away, but is kidnapped by his father, which seems like fate. Once his maternal grandfather's kingdom is captured he goes to see his mother who gets sick and dies before she is reunited with Merlin's father. Merlin's father also dies and his uncle uses him to impregnate the queen before the book ends. A lot more happens obviously, but it is a long book.

Dracula in Love: Karen Essex

This was the story of Dracula told from Mina Murray's point of view and more of a romance novel than gothic- think Twilight series, yes Dracula still flies?! but Dracula can turn himself into a wolf, so you get the whole package here :P. It is rather interesting to see how the author expands on the daily life during the time period and how she develops the characters and I found myself unable to put the book down because I wanted to see how she brought the characters from Dracula all together to carry out that book. I like how Braum Stoker is in this novel looking for stories of monsters. This novel looks into the entire life of Mina and how Bram got the fodder for his book. The book also leaves in open for a sequel once Jonathon dies and she can be with Dracula.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Flowers in the Attic: V.C Andrews

This was laborious to get through. A family with 4 children lose their father and instead of finding work, the mother goes back to her parent's house hoping to inherit their fortune. The mom was disinherited because she married her uncle. This book insists this is a heroic thing as they followed love...even within the family. The mom never tells her father that she has 4 children, so she locks them upstairs. She goes out with friends and lives her life trying to get into her father's favor and into his will because he is sick. The children are boring and annoying and I kept waiting for something to happen to redeem the story, like they find the game Jumanji in the attic or something...but alas, it was just a lot of wasted time finishing the book. Eventually the 2 oldest; Chris and Cathy, fall in love and have sex, which again the book makes seem totally natural and not disgusting. The two little twins health declines through the novel and the boy, Cory dies of "pneumonia" which is really arsenic poisoning. The mother tries to kill all four children because her father's will gave the fortune to her only if she didn't have any children from her incestuous marriage, or with her new husband. The three remaining children escape and evidently become a family and raise the remaining baby. So many things were wrong with this book- train wreck!

Monday, November 6, 2017

Someone in the House: Barbara Michaels

This was a feminist work which I found sort of frustrating on the feminist plot. A woman and her boyfriend fight about chores and duties around the house and then he gets an opportunity to travel abroad for work. Anne decides to spend the summer in a friend's (Kevin) parents mansion to finish the book they are writing on together. At first Anne is mad at everyone and everything; she wants everyone to applaud her on how independent she is, but then complains when Kevin doesn't pick her up at the airport. Kevin's aunt comes to live with them and the two women are meant to be foils. Aunt Bea does all the cooking, Anne occasionally helps, but she comes across as she expects to be waited on and someone has to do the daily bring duties, but she is above them. Something or someone starts visiting Kevin at night and Bea assumes it is Anne. They hear and see a shadowy figure leave his room after midnight and call in a priest and a neighbor Bea has started to fancy. They look into the history of the house, but can't seem to find anything demonic. Kevin and Anne start a romance as Bea and Harry get comfortable in theirs. It seems like Anne realizes she has become happy and doesn't need to be abrasive to everyone and that is when she realizes something isn't right and the house wants to make them all happy. She leaves taking Kevin's car saying that she wants to know she is making the choice to be with Kevin, and it's not the house manipulating her.

The Good Daughter: Karin Slaughter

Another suspenseful novel by Slaughter. Two teenage girls talk about their house being burned down by some unhappy client(s) of their father's, who is an attorney. Their mother has been coughing up blood lately and lectures the eldest daughter, Sam, that she needs to take more responsibility of watching over Charlie. Suddenly 2 men enter their house and change their lives forever. Zachariah Culpepper, a client of their father's, shoots the mother to death and they march the girls to a field where they have dug a grave intended for their father. Zack had already nearly blinded Sam and she urges Charlie to run. Sam is then shot in the head and buried alive and Charlie runs to the neighbor's and there is question on what actually happens to her before she gets to safety. The girls end up deciding it is too painful to see one another and go 28 yrs without contact. Sam lives daily with intense pain, but walks, which the Doctors didn't think was possible. Each girl deals with their grief differently based on their internal or external abuse. Charlie reaches out to Sam after a school shooting, she happened to be in the school during. After their father dies they realize how much he loved them and their mother and they become close again; the story of what really happened that night is told.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Moonstone: Wilkie Collins

This was one of the first books to use different narrators to tell the story. The mysterious moonstone diamond is one of the largest in the world and has the reputation of causing bad luck to anyone who possesses it. A man wills the stone to his niece as a way to get back with his sister because they fell out of touch. The stone is stolen shortly after the niece received it and it ends up causing her bad luck. She accuses the man she loves of it's theft, her mother dies, and many other things. As the diamond changes hands the people experience awful things and even death.

Friday, October 27, 2017

The Purple Terror: Fred White

A group of Americans are dispatched to get a letter to port in Cuba. They stop one night in a small village and one of the men admires the purple flowers around a dancer's neck. Her boyfriend gets jealous of the attention the men give her and gets jealous. The American reassures the man he was only interested in the flowers and the Cuban tells him he will show him the flowers in the morning for a dollar. The men start off through the jungle in the morning and see a man caught in a web of vines in the trees. the Cuban makes up a story on how he got there. That night they stop in a spot that is covered in bones. One man awakens in the morning to their dog whining and sees the plant with purple flowers has killed the dog. more vines come down for the other men. They cut one man loose and corner the Cuban who tells them the plant has killed many men before them.

The American's Tale: Arthur Conan Doyle

Joe Hawkins and Tom Scott got into a row at the bar and Scott was about to kill Hawkins, but Hawkins was so drunk he couldn't get his gun out. Scott tells him he's going to spare the life of a drunk, but he should do something better with his life, Hawkins staggers out. The narrator who was drinking with Scott see's Hawkins outside under a plant waiting for Scott to leave the bar. No one expects to see Scott alive the next morning, However the next morning Scott is fine and no one has seen Hawkins. They are about to execute Scott for murder when Hawkins is unfurled from a huge venus fly trap sort of plant.

The Hell House: Richard Matheson

3 "ghost hunters" are hired by an elderly man with cancer to either rid the notorious "hell house" of its ghosts or just confirm there are ghosts. The Hell house is known as "the most haunted house in the world" due to the acts of perversion the owner Belasco encouraged. The ghost hunters included 2 mediums and a parapsychologist, who brings his wife and equipment. One of the mediums, Benjamin Franklin Fischer, had been the only survivor of the house when he was 15 and merely comes back for the pay. The other medium, Florence Tanner, falls in love with "the spirit of Belasco's son" and ends up dead at the end. The Book is very sexual and the author was seemingly obsessed with boobs. The parapsychologist, Dr. Lionel Barrett, uses a machine to cancel out the energy in the house and seems to weaken the spirit, but the spirit is still able to kill him. The only 2 that survive are Mrs Barret and Mr Fischer, who come back to the house to finish off the spirit, understanding they may not get out alive. This was a bizarre horror/erotica story.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Stuck in Neutral:Terry Trueman

This is a story about a 14yr old, Shawn, who was born a quadriplegic with cerebral palsy. His father leaves the family because he has trouble accepting Shawn's condition. Shawn is able to watch sections of a TV program his father does about him, with interviews from a prisoner who killed his son who had a similar condition. Shawn knows his dad is debating with the idea of killing Shawn "to end his suffering". The book ends with Shawn's dad coming over when the rest of the family is away and Shawn has a seizure. We are left to decide if Shawn's dad takes the seizure as a sign to suffocate him.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

The Birds: Daphne du Maurier

In this story a man notices the birds acting oddly. He accidently lets a bird into his daughter's room and then kills it. The birds seem to take revenge and start attacking. People are killed from attacks and the large numbers of birds bring a plane down. The family becomes trapped in their home, thinking nature is taking revenge from all the evil that came out of WWII. We are left to interpret the last words as we will, with the father planning to grab a dead man's gun saying he will take care o them...always.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

We Have Always Lived in the Castle: Shirley Jackson

This was a story that keeps you into mystery on what us odd about the min characters and why the townspeople hate them. We find out the youngest daughter, Mary Kate, poisoned the family. The girls befall yet more heartache as the story progresses.

Paperbacks from Hell: Grady Hendrix

I loved this Book. The author has separated books from the 70's- 80's into themes, which are hilarious. I enjoyed the "Parenting the Homicidal Child" section so much that I had to share it...although that person just sort of smiled at me. I loved that the sections were short, so it was just enough time for the author to get you laughing and move on, there weren't any slow parts. I was sort of bummed that a lot of these books are out of print, probably because they would be scoffed at by todays readers due to technological and scientific advances. I had never read or even heard of a lot of the books. After reading this book you have a better appreciation for all those awful horror stories you've ever read as they all had a place and were a result of their times and what the fear was (communism, science advancements etc). Some of them sound so dreadful that I want to find and read them for that purpose. I loved that he could make a small comment about a book and then provide the title, so you learned about a lot of new books on every page. This book was more than just about the fiction stories (or non-fiction as some claim to be) The author also talks about the cover artists, the publishing companies, new styles of book covers, and some of the authors/what the story was based on. I learned that V C Andrews had only written a few books before her death and the rest was assembled by author Andrew Neiderman. Anne Rice was also born a male and wrote her first book after the death of her first child.-some of these author's lives seem more interesting than their books. I also like that King was alluded to, but not dwelt upon, because the book could have been entirely about him- which would be fun to read if Hendrix did that.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Small Assassin: Ray Bradbury

https://talesofmytery.blogspot.com/2013/01/ray-bradbury-small-assassin.html This story was both creepy and thrilling. A woman has a baby and at first you think she is suffering from post-partum depression, but then you begin to suspect something else is happening as the baby does seem to want to kill its parents…and then succeeds.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Those Girls: Chevy Stevens

I didn't like this book. It was too disturbing. The book follows the lives of three sisters who were abused by their father. The youngest daughter, Jamie, shoots him one night after he burned the middle daughter's face. Jaime's shot kills I'm and after burying him the girls run. Their truck dies in a nearby town and they are helped by two boys who become their kidnappers and rapists. After a week of abuse the girls escape and months later Jaime realizes she is pregnant. Against her sisters' wishes she keeps the baby girl and names her Skylar. Once Skylar is 17 she learns about the dark past of her mom and aunts and tells her one aunt they should have killed the men. Aunt Chrystal disappears and went back to the town to find the boys who raped them 18 years ago. She finds her aunt locked in the man's house and becomes a victim herself. Jamie and her other sister rescue the two, but after Chrystal is shot and dies next to Garret, who she stabbed to death. The story then comes out about The three girls' father, but the blame the death on the deceased Chrystal and are finally free to live their lives.

Monday, September 11, 2017

One of the Boys: Daniel Magariel

This book was unique in that it captured the lives of two boys living with their self destructing father, where you often read about an addicted mother. I don't remember the boys getting names in the book leaving it open to the idea, these boys could be anyone and everyone. The story starts with the father picking up his youngest son from his mother (they are divorced)because the mother claims the boy is out of control. Soon they call the child protective custody and make up a story about abuse so the father gets full custody. He takes the boys to New Mexico to start a new life because e was happiest there for a time in his life. The boys think they are going to start a new life, but their father gets into drugs and pulls the boys into his downward spiral. The oldest boy is forced to quick basketball, which he loves, because he misses too many practices taking care of his father. He then has to get a job to feed them and starts stealing from the store to get by. The little brother who is coming of age, starts to realize his father isn't the hero he thought he was and is pitting him against his brother. After a brutal beating from his father and dealing with his father's drug dealer, the cops show up at the door with the oldest brother arrested for stealing. The dad tells him not to open it and heads back to his room to get high, the boy opens the door and we assume both boys are taking into child custody. The book ends with a happy memory of the three of them on the trip from Kansas to New Mexico before everythingn fell apart.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Shrek: William Steig

This was the book the movie Shrek was based on...loosely. It was much more vague than I was anticipating.

The Book of Polly: Kathy Hepinstall

The book starts with mother (Polly) and daughter (Willow) heading to school with a falcon because they have been called to the guidance office to deal with Willow's lying. Polly declares "no one calls my daughter a liar" and has the falcon perched on her should while she talks to the guidance counselor to prove she does hunt with a falcon like willow fabricated. She goes along with Willow's documented statements only pausing on the one where she has a "tail". The story is hilarious. Polly had Willow when she was in her late 50's so Willow is terrified her mother is going to die at any moment and is obsessed with figuring out her past and why she refuses to return to her childhood home where someone she loved did jail time. Eventually Polly is diagnosed with cancer, which she calls "the bear" and quits smoking, but it seems like Willow's nightmare has come true. They embark on one more adventure to see a healer from Polly's childhood home.

Monday, September 4, 2017

One of those hideous books where the mother dies: Sonya Sones

This was teen fiction and a bit predictable, but still good. A 15 yr old's mother dies from a disease and she is forced to live with her father whom she doesn't know. Her aunt has taken her to see her father at the movies because he is a movie star. So she knows who her father is, just doesn't know him. Her aunt sends her to Hollywood and she is appalled by how big her father's ego is. She also has culture shock and is very different from the students in her school. She keeps in touch with her best friend and boyfriend from back home, but when they start dating each other she falls into depression. Ruby's only friend is Max, a friend of her dad's...who also ends up being her father's boyfriend. After a few months she finds the good in her father and forgives her best friend and starts to make a new life for herself.

The Accident Season: Moira Fowley Doyle

This was a teen fiction book dealing with the supernatural. Claire lives with her sister Alice, her sort of step brother Sam- who was her step dad's son, and her mom. Every year in October the family suffers from what they call the accident season. In the past Clair's dad, uncle, and grandfather have died from accidents in October and they all suffer from broken bones and cuts. One day Claire goes through her photos and sees an old friend Elsie is in all of the photos even the ones out of town. She goes on a quest to find out what happened to Elsie, they fell out of touch after she healed from her father's death and made friends. No one seems to remember her, but they find an address that takes them to an old abandoned house. In the end we find out Elsie was a sister that died from drowning in October before they were born and every October she goes looking for "the light" and doesn't protect them from injury. Claire falls in love with Sam.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

The Humans: Matt Haig

I loved this book! It centers around an alien that has come to earth to hide evidence that a mathematical hypothesis is solvable because it would greatly change the universe if humans had this knowledge. The mathematician and the person he shared his findings with are killed by the alien, but along the way, the alien falls in love with the mathematician's wife and son and isn't able to terminate them. He actually saves the son after a suicide attempt. The book continues and you realize we all feel a little alien sometimes and that life is precious, savor the moments.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Turbo Twenty-Three:Janet Evanovich

Another typical Plum novel, she ruins a car, gets an ice cream truck blown up and sleeps with Ranger. In this one, the local ice cream company has a robbery and one of the human relations people winds up frozen and dipped in chocolate and nuts to resemble one of their ice cream bars. Stephanie helps Ranger uncover the culprit. Mean while Lulu drags grandma into her making of "Naked and afraid".

The Radleys: Matt Haig

This was hilarious! It is a vampire book for adults without being a fantasy or romance novel. A family of "abstaining" vampires live in the city and try to fit in so they can raise their two children to be "normal" children. But the daughter decides to become vegetarian and has a break down where she drinks a boy to death. The parents then have to confess that they are vampires and call in the Father's brother, who is a typical vampire villain, to help clean up the mess. It was a very enjoyable read and hard to put down as the family and situation gets more complicated. It sort of pokes fun of the Twilight series and laughed out loud thinking " and WHY do they have to fly??" A++

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Lucky You: Carl Hiaasen

This was another hilarious book by Hiaasen. Two rednecks win the Florida lottery, but are aghast to discover someone else won too. They decide they are not going to share their winnings and rob the other winner of her ticket after shooting one of her turtles. The story continues on a chase where the woman comes after the white supremacists and gets back not only her ticket, but through a series of events also ends up with theirs. She buys a wetland and makes it into a nature preserve to save the turtles.

A Case of Need: Michael Crichton

Abortion is illegal and when Art, a well known abortionist, is arrested everyone is in disbelief. The medical community knows Art is being the scape goat, but no one wants to get involved at risk of soiling their name. An important person in the medical community's daughter bleeds to death from a botched abortion. While investigating the crime the narrator finds out the girl wasn't even pregnant. In the end, through many twists and turns, we find out the girl had a history of psychological issues and her roommate, who was a nurse, did the "abortion".

Monday, August 7, 2017

Salem's Lot: Stephen King

Creepy. An older couple of men move into town and set up an antique business about the same time children start disappearing. No one sees the partner in the antique business and questions start being asked. Then some of the people that have disappeared start visiting their family and friends at night, hovering outside their windows. Soon most of the town has turned to Zombies and two men with the help of a little boy try to save the survivors. Dun dun dun...

The Zombie Survival Guide: Max Brooks

This was both entertaining and a sort of survival guide in you can use some of the tips for ACTUAL crises. Parts of it had me laughing because the author comes across so serious, as if the Zombie Apocalypse is an actual possibility. There are sections on weapons, on determining who is a zombie and who isn't, and where to seek shelter. It was an entertaining read that I recommend!

The Women in the Castle: Jessica Shattuck

This was interesting and I understood what the author was doing, but the jumping back and forth between so many characters as the story progresses and then flashes back, was difficult to follow and took away from the story. There were three main characters, but then you had to keep track of their husbands and siblings and children. The story follows three women who were wives of Nazi resisters who were murdered for their plot of trying to kill Hitler. The main character Marianne was tasked with finding the wives and keeping them from harm. She then lives with two very different women throughout the war keeping them and their sons, as well as her own fatherless children, safe. The situation and experiences are very real and you are swept up into their lives up until present day where amends are made to the survivors.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Carmilla: Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu

This was one of the first vampire works of fiction. A young girl is disappointed to know that an expected visitor has died suspiciously and suddenly. While out walking with her father a carriage turns over in the road and a young girl is left in their care until the mother can return from her emergency. The girl, Carmilla, is beautiful and charms the father and daughter. during her stay several woman in the village fall sick and die. Carmilla sleeps late into the day and becomes obsessively in love with the narrator until she too starts to fall ill. Carmilla is found out to be a vampire and is beheaded in her grave. The narrator then recovers. The story leaves itself open for a sequel as it never explains who Carmilla's "mother" is(we assume she too is a vampire) or if the narrator's mother was also a vampire since she was of the same family.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

The Horn of Roland: Ellis Peters

A woman goes with her father back to his hometown where there seems to be an old buried secret. Lu, the father was a member of the resistance during WWII and was unable to save a friend. As soon as the pair get settled they receive a couple phone calls from a child of Valentine Gelder threatening to kill LU in revenge. The story plays out where the offspring of Gelder likes and respects Lu and the murder doesn't happen and the truth come out on what happened on that night when they find the witness to the events.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Free Range Chicken Gardens:

I loved this book, it has everything! Plants to have for chickens- for food and shade, different coops, to have a water source, keeping out predators. This is definitely something I want to refer to again and again- I highly recommend to anyone who has chickens, plus the pictures are really adorable.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Monstress: Marjorie M Liu

This was a graphic novel were mythical beings are at war. The graphics are beautiful and it was a fun read.

Orbiting the Giant Hairball: Gordon Mackenzie

This was a clever little book about managing people and how we forget the important things; Harboring diversity and creativity.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

The Lovers: Rod Nordland

This was very well written and I am glad the author included his exasperation with the lovers. He seemed equal part dealing with teenagers and herding cats for as much as Ali listened to his advice. The author did a really good job in showing us a different culture; both in the mentality behind honor killings, the corruption in people, and the way illiteracy keeps people ignorant and robs them of opportunity. In the story two teenagers, Zakia and Ali, consider the possibility of falling in love. They had been neighbors growing up and grazed their families animals together. One day Ali tells Zakia he loves her and she tells him it's impossible. They come from different tribes, different religious sects, and in their culture the fathers choose the spouse. He then joins the military and while he is gone she ponders the proposal. She decides she loves him and when she goes to tell him she accepts she finds he is gone. He gets into a vehicle accident while on assignment and is sent back home to heal. He gives Zakia a phone and they start talking, he then comes to her house every night until he is caught and the families both beat up their children threatening them that it cannot be. Zakia's parents tell her up front that they will kill her if she dishonors the family. They run off together and after spending 6 months in a woman's shelter Zakia realizes her parents will in fact kill her when given the opportunity. The lovers escape to the hills and then to Kabul living off the kindness of strangers without really considering the danger they bring to everyone they stay with. Along the way they get married and Zakia gets pregnant. The author gets them some contacts in order to file as refugees and get out of the country and saves them numerous time. The lovers are told specifically what to do and never seem to do exactly what they are told so everything is much harder than it needs to be. They were told to take their case to court in the big city of Kabul, but it isn't until Ali is arrested that they finally do and the court sides on the favor of Ali and Zakia so charges are dismissed. They are then told to go to Pakistan to file as refugees so they can escape to another country, but they don't. After living on donations from strangers and putting Ali's father further into debt they are finally convinced to go to Tajikistan, where they lose the rest of their money by repeatabily being robbed by the corrupt police. They make it back to Afghanistan and move back in with Ali's father where 18 people live in their 4 room home. Zakia gives birth to their daughter Raqia and the family pressures Ali and Zakia to finally listen and get to another country because they will never be safe. Zakia's brother was seen in town once winter was over and the family knows it is just a matter of time. The story ends with them (Ali) still deciding what to do.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Healing Touch for Dogs: Michael W Fox

This was an interesting "how to" for giving you dog healing messages

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Listen to the Squawking Chicken: When Mother Knows Best, What's a Daughter To Do?: Elaine Lui

This was a hilarious book about the relationship between mother and daughter and how doubly hard it is in Chinese culture. Elaine writes this book as an amusing ode to her mother who has become sick in recent years after being diagnosed with POEMS. She credits her mother for her success and seems to be in constant contact with her throughout the day. Her husband also seems like a saint as he deals with the mother-in-law being the one his wife goes to for advise and guidance, which he gets to follow too. It was a really good book that explores the ties between mother and daughter.

Monday, June 5, 2017

The Chicken Encylopedia: Gail Damerow

This was a REALLY good book for chicken owners. It was literally an encyclopedia, but I learned a lot! Our chickens currently have mites and I am going to try washing them in a apple cider vinegar rinse and see if that does the trick. There were interesting entries on how much poop a chicken produces a year an how much nitrogen etc is in it at different stages. it listed different minerals a chicken needs and how it should be getting it. I especially loved the entries on all the different calls they make and that they don't have a voice box like humans. Something I want to have in my library!

The Tristan Betrayal: Robert Ludlum

This was a fast paced globe trotting novel. An American spy during WWII is one of the best in the operation and avoids death while getting into just enough trouble to be convincing. His boss sends him back to Moscow after his cover is blown in France. He rekindles a relationship with a Russian Ballerina that he had fallen in love with 6 years earlier. She never tells him they have a son even when she goes to her death. The spy uses her to send forged documents to her Nazi boyfriend in an effort to get German to invade Russia. She understands that she has to be found as a traitor in order for the documents to seem real. She does this for her country, for the man she loves, and so her son will live in a better world.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The Female Brain: Louann Bizendine

This book was fascinating. It not only talks about the female brain, but compares to the male brain and the teenage brain, scientifically explaining what is going on in different situations and how it differs at different times of the month even after the teenage years. I liked that it was completely readable and not solely a scientific read.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Serial:

https://serialpodcast.org/season-one This was really interesting. It was in the format of a woman talking to you about a high school boy, Adnan, who was charged with murdering his girlfriend. He has been in prison for 15 years and the judge has ordered another trial. Evidently some of the facts that put Adnan into prison were not validated. The woman talking does her own investigating and we get caught up in the case ourself. We are on a roller-coaster on believing he is guilty, then innocent, then guilty. The timeframe for the murder is possible, but unlikely. The person who found the body seems suspicious. The friend, Jay, that potentially aided in the crime and pointed fingers to Adnan seems sketchy as his story keeps changing. the story is given in several ways- the site has documents you can look at, people are interviewed and you can hear the interviews. The do a really good job of using actual places and having the interviews all sound like they are coming from different sources, phones, taped interviews etc.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

All The Missing Girls: Megan Miranda

A woman, Nicolette, goes back to her hometown because her brother had to put their father in assisted living. She comes back to help sell the house before she gets married. While at home she meets up with her old boyfriend, Tyler, and their past comes up to haunt them. The story moves linear then jumps ahead 10 days and moves backwards to add suspense. At first I found this really annoying, but once you get used to it, it worked really well- plus you can always go back and read it in linear order. You find out "Nic's" best friend went missing 10 years ago while they were still in school. While Nic is at home cleaning the house she realizes a lot of her stuff including Corrine is missing, then her neighbor goes missing. She breaks into her house and finds her missing memorabilia. The clock starts ticking backwards and we are in confusion as we learn Nic was pregnant, she and Tyler were going to get married, Corrine wasn't the sweet innocent girl Nic tries to remember her as and Nic may have unintentionally killed her. The story from 10 years ago starts to unravel when her father tells the assisted living staff that he remembers seeing Corrine that night she disappeared and the case gets reopened. The neighbor girl trys to black mail Nic as she evidently has been doing to her father over the last few years because she has a photo of Corinne's body on their porch 10 years ago. The boys dig out their barn which had gotten a cement floor about the time of the disappearance and find Corrine's body. Soon after the neighbor girls body is found and we assume she was killed by Nic's pregnant sister-in-law. Nic had unknowingly killed Corrine, hitting her with Tyler's truck in the accident where she lost her baby.

In the skin of a jihadist: Anna Erelle

This is an interesting book in several different ways. A journalist starts talking to a terrorist over SKYPE using a false Identity. She is trying to figure out how young adults get caught up in the "freedom fighting" leaving their country to become a terrorist. Surprisingly enough he reaches out to her because she is a "young woman lost in the world" It was creepy how confident this "Bilal" was on getting this young woman to see things his way. He seemed to truly fall for her, but was outrageous in his demands and attitude. How would a woman want to leave her home to go to a desert and be treated like a slave? It is all very bizarre, especially how he claimed he would marry her and treat her like a queen. What do these people think that means? Bilal insisted no one see "Melody's" face and she come to Syria to be with him. Without her consent he claims they have become husband and wife online because he spoke with a priest who did it. Would a young woman ACTUALLY think that was a valid marriage and she had a husband? How can these new recruits be so naïve- I had a hard time trying to figure out why anyone would do this, he came across soo creepy in addition to being a terrorist and murderer! I appreciated that the author put in the book the trouble she had becoming two people - the rage she would have to hide while being melody and the frustration she had not being able to do more to help innocent people. I was also glad to have her add the human side to further differentiate herself from this man. When she heard he died it really bothered her and she needed to know if her dealings with him had something to do with it. She couldn't stomach the thought that she could have been responsible for someone's death.

Mercedes and the Chocolate Pilot: Margot Theis Raven

This was a cute little children's book paying homage to the real chocolate pilot Gail Halvorsen. The story is short and sweet about children expecting Gail to drop candy directly to their house from his airplane, some children even included maps for him to use.

The Princess Diarist:Carrie Fisher

I really enjoyed this book. It was mostly about the romance? between Carrie and Harrison and her life while filming Star Wars. I loved her poetry it was both dark and hauntingly personal. The ending was nicely done, it ended the book in an uplifting way talking about doing autograph signings and the crazy things people say. This was a nice tribute to her life in Star Wars, though sadly she wouldn't have known it at the time.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

The Dressmaker's War: Mary Chamberlain

This was a very good book that pointed out the gender gap during WWII. A young woman hoping to move up from her family's working class, got a job as a dressmaker right before WWII. Shortly afterward she meets a suspicious man, Stan, who seemed to be courting her. He invites her to Paris, where she has always wanted to go because they are so advanced in their fashion. She believes he is taking her there to propose. She makes her family believe she was going for work. What actually happen is War breaks out and they are stuck in France. She is forced to find a job and support them both. France is invaded and since the man didn't have a passport, she was able to get them out into Belgium, where he leaves her. In desperation she seeks asylum in a convent. When the convent is invaded the nuns were sent to Germany to take care of their elderly. A few months into the assignment she realizes she is pregnant and gives birth to a stillborn baby, but she believes the baby is alive and taken to an orphanage. She is sexually abused by one of the old men, who gets her reassigned to a home in dacha right by the camp. She is locked in a room and given sewing assignments, one for Eva Braun. Years later the Americans free her and she makes it back to England believing she will save up some money and come back for her son. Her mother calls her a whore and wants nothing to do with her. She gets a job as a waitress and then becomes a prostitute because she can make more money. Her naivety keeps her from realizing her boyfriend is actually her primp and she is forced to have sex with one of his friends, who ends up being Stan. She kills him and stands trial where it is exposed she suffered a mental break after the birth of her son and her different view of reality causes the jury to think she is crazy, at the end of the book she is walking to be hanged in prison.

The Apocalypse Directive: Douglas MacKinnon

This book was good and really pulled the reader in, but it seemed to end abruptly. There is a conspiracy in the White House. The President and a group of followers of a Christian extremist group work to hasten the end of the world. They have built a bunker at the bottom of the ocean to wait out the nuclear fallout they have plotted to start. The Vice President and a few officials in the CIA have uncovered the plot which was narrowly avoided. The President commits suicide by exploding the bunker killing all those closest to him who were also in it.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Floatsametrics and the Floating World:Curtis Ebbesmeyer

This was super interesting. I learned the military had bases on ice bergs during the cold war, I learned about water slabs, Guinness sent bottles to sea as advertisement with instructions inside on how to make a lamp out of the bottle. It also talked about ocean gyres and how the one on the pacific coast has about a three year rotation, I also learned about pool cues and the Nike as well as the rubber ducky spill. It seemed like I learned something on every page and I really enjoyed the variety of topics I was educated on-I highly recommend this book!

Monday, April 24, 2017

Finding Me: Michelle Knight

WOW, this book is heartbreaking the whole time. The woman had a horrible childhood of rape by a family member, she runs away from home and lives under a bridge, then works for a drug dealer before he is busted and she is back on her own when her father finds her and brings her back home. As soon as she grows up and is free she loses her son because of someone else in her house hurting him. Then when she tries to get him back, is kidnapped by a sick deranged man who further beats and rapes her for 12 years. She has 5 miscarriages in the house induced by the man hitting her in the stomach with barbells and pushing her down the stairs. She describes the abuse the girls went through in the house and how the man loved to torment her that no one was looking for her and he hated her and punched her constantly. When she is freed she realizes her son is nearly grown and through pictures he looks happy. It is bittersweet for her as she misses him terribly, but also knows he is happy with his new life and new family so she doesn't want to disrupt him. She also doesn't want him to think she abandoned him. She is optimistic about the future and though she can no longer have kids, wants to do something to help children

Sunday, April 23, 2017

The Crane Wife: Patrick Ness

This was an interesting mythical type writing. A man, who is a likeable but boring fella, is everyone's friend, but no ones love. His daughter doesn't even call him dad, but distances herself from him by calling him "George". One day George hears keening in his yard and finds a Japanese Crane...in England. The crane is hurt, an arrow has been shot through her wing(which is part of the myth) George removes and arrow and the bird takes off. The next day in his shop, a woman, Kukumo comes in and George falls in love with her and finds meaning in his life through her. She takes his paper cuttings and makes tiles for him, which makes him rich and famous. He goes to her home uninvited and sees she is a crane and makes the master pieces using feathers, which she plucks from herself. That nice the house mysteriously burns down and even though George knows the crane caught him when he jumped out of the house, the woman's body is found in the remains of the fire. The story that is interwoven with the novel is the story of the creation of the earth, the crane, which was the daughter of the sky, falls in love with the volcano, which creates and destroys the world at it's whim. The two both love and hate each other equally. As the crane flies off to leave the volcano, he shoots her- which becomes the beginning of the novel where the crane enters George's life with an arrow in her wing. The story then ends as the volcano and crane meet up again showing that stories start way before we see them begin and never end.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Freedom: Jaycee Dugard

This was an odd book, it was in the format of random rambling thoughts about life after horrible events, but it really lifted my spirits and was absolutely a feel good type of book. The author is so excited in her writing about her life after rescue and it comes across really cheerful and uplifting.

Hope: A Memoir of Survival in Cleveland; Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus

This was a sad horrifying story about the three girls abducted by Ariel Castro in Cleveland Ohio, but written by just two of the kidnapped. Astonishingly all three were kidnapped during the day and no one witnessed anything! Michelle Knight was kidnapped shortly after losing custody of her young son. Ariel lured her into his car and then into his house with the promise of a puppy for her son. She went with him because she knew him and his daughter. she was then tied with chains, locked in a room, beaten, and raped for the next dozen years. Her family didn't report her as missing because they assumed she left town upset about losing her son. Over the course of her abduction she has 5 miscarriages, each induced by Ariel's systematic violence so she won't give birth. A year later Amanda Berry was kidnapped in the same way. She got off work at Burger King early and when she is walking home is stopped by the father of a girl she knows from school. He asks if she needs a ride and wants to see his daughter, she says sure, but then he takes her home and ties her up with chains in the basement. Her captivity is similar to Michelle's, only she gets pregnant and Ariel lets her keep the baby, who he actually treats like a daughter. Not quite a year after Amanda's abduction Ariel sees Gina and his daughter talking. Once his daughter walks away he asks Gina if she'd like a ride and of course she accepts because he is one of her best friend's dad and her family knows him. Again she ends up in the basement and he doesn't believe she is only 14 and a virgin until he rapes her, then gloats that he is her first and she will always remember him. As time goes on the girls either figure out what sets him off and try to avoid it or he decides he wants to view these tortured women as family and life becomes more bearable for Gina and Amanda after Amanda gives birth. It doesn't seem like life ever gets easier for Michelle as he still continuously beats and rapes her. Eventually Ariel seems to get bored with the girls and is bothered by his daughter living a life locked in a room with her mother He starts talking about letting them go, but he doesn't want to go to prison. One day he accidently leaves Amanda's door unlocked and she is unchained. Her daughter keeps asking where daddy went with the car and Amanda acts through panic that he is tricking them. She goes to the locked front door and screams, but the neighbors are hesitant to help her and walk away. One man goes up to the door and kicks it, but then tells her to kick her way out. She is able to create an opening large enough to crawl out and grab her daughter, then uses a neighbor's phone and calls 911. The entire time she is terrified he will come back and kill them all, but the police some and get the other 2 girls and they are rescued.

Memoirs of a Milk Carton Kid: Tanya Nicole Kach

I wasn't sure how to feel after reading this book. On one hand Tanya didn't have anyone to tell her to stay away from old men and the man knew what he was doing was wrong, hiding her in his house even from his parents, sex with a minor, abuse etc. On the other hand, if the school personnel suspected the security guard, they could have assumed she was safer with this man she chose to be with, rather than her parents. I had a hard time placing blame and seeing this story in black and white. I know captors feel like they have no where else to turn if they run, but it seems like she could have just walked out of the house whenever she wanted to. I had trouble relating to the way she eventually ostracized those around her after getting free, even the grocery store owners who helped her, she claims abandoned her. She includes in her book that people are warned away from her because she is too much drama, the reader is left wondering how much of that is true...and if the captor did kill any of the other missing girls. I also found it strange that the book was co-authored by her attorney...like he wanted to make sure his name was forever linked with hers. (remember me! remember me!)

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

How Starbucks Saved My Life: Michael Gates Gill

This was a heart warming story about getting back on your feet and finding the love in yourself and in others. A man who was accustomed to the affluent life is fired and finds himself in situations he never imagined he would be in. He has an affair and has a child with the other woman, gets divorced and realizes he is going to be broke before long. He goes into Starbucks to drink what he thinks will be his last coffee, because he won't be able to afford it anymore and is offered a job. The job turns his life around and he learns how to be truly happy with less.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

How Not to Hate Your Husband After Kids: Jaycee Dunn

This book is hilarious and spot on. This book is sort of a self help book on surviving raising your children while raising your husband with the sense of humor and language one can completely relate to. The writer states that before her daughter came around her husband was great. Now she has returned back to work after 2 years of staying at home with the baby and hasn't gotten help with any duties and is exhausted all.the.time. Her husband has taken up sports that leave the house for hours at a time. She also resents how he spends his time with their daughter when he is there. In one hand he plays on his cell phone while absentmindedly watching her. It was surprising to me how much research she put into this ( but it was a double whammy, trying to save their marriage and write a book).They met with a marriage expert for a 5 hour session,he pointed out how they were both at fault and Jaycee's activity was to grab a photo of her daughter before blowing up and tell it- her anger was more important than her at that moment- which understandably brings her to tears. She spoke with an FBI hostage negotiator, she figured her husband could learn how to talk to her when she was furious and reads and speaks to many other professionals in the field finding out that women are both better able to multitask and handle stress. She pointed out men leave situations in which they are not comfortable- check out the car wash on Thanksgiving- and when women are upset it stresses out the man, but the children are only stressed when the dad is stressed. The woman doesn't take her anger out on the children, but the man explodes taking everyone with him. The section on bonding was also interesting- men just need to be in the same room as another person to be bonding, a woman needs to be talking to the other person. My husband listened to some of this with me- got a book on tape- and he laughed a lot in agreement.

Rising Sun: Michael Crighton

This was an interesting book about cultural differences and ways of doing business.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Pox Americana: Elizaberth A Fenn

This was an interesting book on the effects of Smallpox. She points out a lot of interesting things I would never have given a thought to, mostly how much easier life is today without small pox. In the 15-16th centuries it would have been hard to find a person in Europe/ Africa that wasn't exposed to the Pox at least once every five years. If you survived you were usually scarred, but immune for the rest of your life. Then the Europeans came to the New World where the natives had never been exposed to the virus and since they all had similar immune systems the disease did not have to mutate much or at all to have a devastating impact. Where in Europe the number who died was up to 20-25% in the Americas the number could be 80% wiping out whole tribes. The book talks about the first attempts of inoculation and how much if the process was unnecessary- bleeding, poison, etc. and how many towns had banned the process because they didn't want to introduce the disease into the population. The book also talked about the revolutionary war and how people didn't want to fight and get exposed to small pox. Eventually they would march the thousands of troops to inoculation hospitals. As people moved around more the epidemic created a tidal wave of infection. In Mexico city the population went from 25 million to 2 million after an epidemic and the Sonora desert lost 90% of their native population. People would get sick and not be able to attend their crops, if they survived they wouldn't have any food and at a weakened state faced starvation. Lewis and Clark noted remnants of the disease on their travels well before Europeans got to the interior due to the natives extensive trade routes with one another.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Surviving Ireland: Colm Tobin

This was a funny account of the quirks of Ireland mean for both the native or those travelling there. The topics ranged from the weather to the stages of drinking to short history lessons. It was funny, there are a lot of references to other parts of the world and you find yourself bursting out laughing. A delightful book.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Comes a Horseman: Robert Liparulo

Two FBI agents are called to investigate a string of murders where a seemingly random selection of people have been attacked by dogs and then decapitated. They then find themselves as the next to be stalked and both narrowly survive the attacks. They uncover a centuries old cult who believes they need to follow the antichrist to become powerful. A psychopath leads them to believe he is the antichrist and sets out to murder people who claim to have died and seen hell and people who get in his way. In the end the cult "the watchers" have a gathering and they are able to kill the "antichrist" before he continues his murdering rampage.

Unhooked: Lisa Maxwell

This was a teen book loosely based on the story of Peter Pan. A girl grows up with her mother constantly moving her as though they are running away from something. They have just moved to a new flat in London and Gwen's only friend Olivia is helping them get settled. The landlord tells them they must leave the lamps burning all night, but Gwen can't sleep with it and decides to turn it down, Instead she puts it out and they are kidnapped by dark creatures. I couldn't help but picture the monkey's from "The Wizard of Oz" though that's not what how they were described. The dark beasts drop them in "Neverland" Where nothing is like the fairytale. Gwen falls in love with "Captain Hook" who is but a boy himself and Peter Pan is the villain who brought them to Neverland to suck up their souls to become more powerful. Gwen realizes she is part Fey and uses her new powers (after removing a rune her mother placed in her arm to keep her from using her power at home) to free the Queen of Neverland. The queen is more villainous that Peter Pan. Olivia, who has spent her time there in a fog, kills the queen who attempted to kill Captain hook, who killed the fey Fiona, who killed Peter Pan, who was taking Gwen's soul. The queen turns Olivia into porcelain before she dies and Gwen is unable to take her back home, but takes Captain hook instead. Back at home, the girls have been gone for over a year and there doesn't seem to be much concern over Olivia, but Captain hook is given a new identity and the story pretty much ends happily ever after.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Whirl Wind: Robert Liparulo

This was book 5 of the series. David and Xander discover they can go from 1 world to another by following portals without going back to the house. They go to the Civil War world and get the doctor they were asked to get the first time and in doing so rewrite history. Evidently the war is shortened by saving a wounded man. They then go into a portal taking them to a torture chamber, and then to an ancient world where battles are fought on elephants. They make it home alive, but then are taking to Atlantis and sold into slavery before escaping and making it back to the house,

Frenzy: Robert Liparulo

This was the sixed book of the dreamhouse series. This one starts with a prologue where Xander goes to the world where Jesse is still a kid and tells Jesse David was stabbed by Taksidian. Xander is able to protect David with a metal shield type deal and David survives. They also find the mom and shoved Taksidian back into the portal. The book ends as though there could be more, but it does provide closure if there aren't anymore.

Monday, March 6, 2017

House of Dark Shadows: Robert Liparulo

This was the first of the Dream House Kings series. The King family with children Alexander, David, and Victoria are uprooted by their father on a whim. He has gotten a job as the school principal. The move to a town in the middle of nowhere, where the dad finds a house that is not on the market. The kids realize this creepy house is the reason dad moved them all. He had lived there as a boy and the house had taken his mother. He moved back after his father died to find his mom. before the book ends, the house takes his wife.

Timescape: Robert Liparulo

this was the 4th of the Dreamhouse Kings series. In this book, they are able to keep their grandma, who they found in the civil war world by substituting another body into the worlds. This didn't make sense to me- if there needs to be the same number of people in the world that it started out with, taking a body from the future and leaving in on the titanic world, still leaves an empty spot where they took grandma, let alone the mismatched numbers between worlds. Jesse gets attached by Taksidian, who cuts off Jesse's finger. Taksidian thinks Jess is dead...because he cut off a finger?? David visits Jesse in the hospital and Jesse tells David to stay with his brother and visit him. David and Alexander find the world where Jesse is a boy. Jesse's brother and father are building the house that The Kings will live in. Evidently Jesse's father and older brother spend all their time making sure people return to the world they came out of and that all the stuff that came from each world returns. I didn't understand how these portholes then end up on the third floor of the house...before the house was built were people falling out of the porthole in the sky? The boys are now obsessed with saving the world so it doesn't end up like the future world they entered. The boys seem to have a lot of fun playing around in the worlds, when you'd think they'd be looking for their mom. At the end of this book both David and Xander are in Taksidian's house and have found the remains of a lot of bodies. These books are getting cornier, but 2 more to go.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Gate Keepers: Robert Liparulo

This is the third book in the King series. An old man shows up at the house and claims to be the kid's great uncle. He explains he had to move away because the house kept pulling him through portholes on it's own. The kids spend a lot of time "flying" around in the yard which went on entirely too long for me. They find the grandmother in this book and bring her home, dad gets out of jail, grandmother is sucked back into the house, dad, boys, and New character of Uncle Jesse's care provide go to the world of the future and book ends with them being chased by future beings.

Watcher in the Woods: Robert Liparulo

This is the second of the Dream house King Books. The book is aimed for young boys, so there is a lot the adult reader has to just overlook- cheesy humor, the weird stain the book has to establish the young characters that the first book didn't seem to have. The King Family has just lost their mother to the portals in the house and the boys keep jumping into different worlds without their father knowing in an attempt to find her. I found it hard to believe that life would just go on for them when something terrifying like that happens, knowing their grandmother disappeared and never came back. Davis discovers a portal between the school and the house and so do others. A man comes to the house threatening that they need to leave before "bad things happen" the dad is thrown into jail for assaulting an officer. The kids are left to fend for themselves and stop going to school. The stranger keeps coming to the house and frightens the kids.

Sphere: Michael Crichton

This book starts and ends mysteriously. A physiologist, Norman, is flown to a remote island on a mission which he assumed dealt with a plain crash. When he gets to the island the navy has set up an underwater lab. Norman is told there is a spaceship at the bottom of the ocean, which they think is 300 years old, or has at least been siting there for 300 years. Once the team gets to the bottom they realize the "space ship" was made in America...in the future. On board they find coke in the pantry, but no crew. There is also a large "sphere" made of an alien substance. Everyone goes back to the underwater lab and they learn they are going to be stuck down there for a few days because a huge storm has caused the navy to pull out above them. On the camera they see one of the members of the crew, Harry, has gone back into the ship and opens the sphere. he walks into it and it closes around him. a couple hours later he comes out and can't remember much about the experience, just that they NEED to get out and get out now! We later realize that he has become paranoid. Strange things start to happen. Miraculously large sea fans begin growing by the lag, scores of squid, then jellyfish, then shrimp appear, which have no digestive organs. One of the crew goes out and is consumed by jelly fish. People start dying right and left including the captain of the mission. A large squid like something from Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea starts coming to the lab and tearing it apart. The remaining three people in the crew start to figure out the appearance of the monsters only happen when a certain person is awake. Norman and Beth put an IV in Harry to keep him asleep in order to keep themselves alive until the storm subsides and they can escape the lab. However Beth starts acting strange as well and she locks Norman in a section of the lab turning off his air and electric. He watches one of the tapes from the ship and sees that Beth also entered the sphere. She was afraid of sea snakes and a tornado of them appeared when she went out to the sub. The things she materializes allow her to be in control and save people. Norman escapes out the lab and enters the ship and the sphere to try to understand what is going on. The sphere doesn't seem to react with him the way it did with the other two. He accidently arms the explosives Beth had set up around the lab and escapes in the sub himself once the storm is over. He is on his way to the surface when he realizes he is no better than the others when he panics and leaves them behind. He goes back and awakes Harry, who knocks out Beth and they just barely get out to the sub before the explosions, Harry's power of positive thinking is more powerful than Beth and Harry's complaints that they will never make it to the surface in time. They are the only survivors and the only ones who know about the sphere. The time frame is wrong for the explosives- which bothered me-it was a 20 min timer at 0140, at 0130 there is still 14 min left? At the end they all agree to forget about the sphere because its power is too much for both them mankind. They decide to just remember the accident (as a reminder of why so many on their expedition died) for the navy questioning that will follow. They are able to use there new found ability to erase the sphere from their mind. We know both Harry and Norman forget, but you are not convinced that Beth went through with it as she doesn't really comment in the same way as the other two and she still has a beauty that the sphere seemed give her. Interestingly enough, the only person not chosen by Norman for the expedition was Levine, who got sea sick and returned to the surface before the expedition began. and the person they most rely on, Harry, turns out to be the one responsible for the manifestations of the creatures that kill everyone off. We are left thinking the spacecraft was probably abandoned by the future Americans who also realized people weren't ready for the power of the sphere yet. One has to recognize and accept that they are part beast and part nice guy.

Monday, February 20, 2017

The Pleasures of Tea: Kim Waller

This was a collector's soft of book seemingly designed as a unique gift to give someone. There are interesting recipe sections speckled throughout the book. There is also a section on collecting teapots, throwing a tea party, and books to read when relaxing with a cup of tea. It was a very cute book.

The Nazi Officer's Wife: Edith Hahn Beer

This was a powerful novel about a Jewish woman who survived the holocaust by being clever. Her father died from heart failure as the Nazi's took power, Vienna was then filled with Nazis. Edith was sent to work camps after her mother was able to get both younger daughters sent to Britain and Palestine. She was fist sent to an asparagus farm where she and the other girls lost so much weight they stopped menstruating. After about a year, she was sent to a paper factory where another woman's husband sent news back about the failures at the front line. She caught scarlet fever and shortly after recovering was sent home to be with her mother in relocation. She and the other girls sent home to Vienna decide to take off their stars before leaving the train and the melt into the crowd. Edith finds refuge in the city by constantly moving between people who help her, but she is constantly worried she will be putting those helping her at risk. One day she gives up and tells a Nazi friend that she is going to find her mother, the woman directs her to a friend of hers, who was leaving for Africa the next day. He tells her to find a non-Jewish friend that looks like her and have the friend register that she is going on holiday, then take those food rations, then have the friend say she lost her purse in the river, take her original documents, the friend will then file for replacements. There was still a list of things she couldn't do because they would find out there were 2 of the same woman. Edith then moved to Munich to work with the red cross where a Nazi, Werner, started courting her. She told him she was Jewish, thinking she was signing her death warrant, but he had her live with him. When she got pregnant he was very unhappy, but married her and never told her secret. Once the battle was lost and Werner was a POW in Russia, Edith was able to find another apartment, theirs had been burned, but she was able to get her suitcase with her original paperwork. She finally practiced as a judge and was eventually asked to be at the Nuremburg trials, but being Jewish, she didn't want anyone to accuse her of being bias and pleaded to not go, they took her license away so she wouldn't. She was able to get Werner released from prison, but he was unhappy that Edith stopped being "Grete" and was actually very smart and independent. She was providing for her daughter and didn't have time to do the domestic chores he insisted she do, they divorced. Edith and her daughter were able to get to England out of luck and the tickets provided by her youngest sister and brother-in-law. This was a heartbreaking story as it wasn't until after the war that she learned of her mother's fate and then suffered survivor's guilt as few members of her family survived. It didn't sound like she and her middle sister ever reconciled and a one line sentence was stated that the sister didn't want them with her in Palestine. Edith died in 2009, right before the featured film of her life.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

The Boys in the Boat: Daniel James Brown

This was a really interesting story, it focuses on Joe Rantz (I assume because he outlived everyone else)and then at the very end talks about the Olympic race in Berlin in 1936. Joe's mother dies when he was very young, his father fled to Canada after her death, though it never really says why. Joe was raised by relatives for a couple years, then his father got remarried and took him back for a couple years until Joe yells at his little step brother for pulling up carrots and his step mother insist the father, who evidently was also a flake with no backbone, finds work for the ten year old who then has to forage or find a way to eat. After a few more years, the father takes him back until Joe comes home from school at 15 to find the family car packed up and the family leaving. For the third time the dad tells Joe he can't come and has the audacity to tell Joe the little kids need him more than Joe does, after having left him when he was four. The story then goes on to explain how the "boys in the boat" where selected and that they were all from working class backgrounds, which was evidently uncharacteristic for boating at the time. The Team heads to Germany by boat and one of the boys, the 1st rower, gets a lung infection yet still competes because his team mates insist they will row him across the line just as long as he is in the boat. The race doesn't start off well, they were given the worst lane, which was choppy from the wind, and couldn't hear the starting call, so they got out late. While rowing, the sick boy sort of went catatonic, and there was so much noise from the crowd that no one could hear the coxswain trying to increase the pace. The Coxwain resorted to pounding on the boat and the sick boy became alert, they rowed to exertion taking the gold metal.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Watchers: Dean Koontz

At the beginning of the book, a psychotic killer is paid to hit 4 doctors. They all worked at the same lab. A man, Travis, is out hiking to try to find meaning in his life and runs across a dog and some mysterious being in the woods. He and the dog run all the way to his car, and he takes the dog home after he realizes the dog can understand what he is saying. We find out 2 creatures escaped from the lab. One is a dog, who was created to be as smart as a human, the other is a baboon hybrid, created to be a killer. The baboon creature spends months stalking the dog, who with Travis, travels a few times. In the end, Travis ends up killing both the baboon and the psychotic killer, though we never really get confirmation that the killer is dead. The dog goes on to have puppies that are as smart as him.

Skink No Surrender: Carl Haasen

This was an adventure book for young adults. Richard is 14 and meeting his cousin on the beach, but she never shows up. While waiting he finds a plastic straw in the sand and starts messing with it. A man comes exploding out of the sand, he was using the straw to breathe while waiting to catch a man illegally collecting turtles. The man, Skink, then helps Richard find his cousin, who was lured into meeting a man she met in a chat room. They go on a wild adventure including saving animals from getting hit on the road, to learning how to drive, to a run in with an alligator, and a fight on a sinking houseboat. Richard does find and safely bring home his cousin. Skink disappears after his hard work, and the kidnapper gets away.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks: Rebecca Skloot

This book was about the journey of discovering "who was Henrietta Lacks?" Henrietta died in 1951 of cervical cancer. She left behind five children, the oldest two being about 16 and 12 the last three all under 5yrs old. The little ones never knew their mother and grew up wondering who she was. There is controversy around The removal of Henrietta's cells as neither she nor her husband gave permission to donate the cells to science. Henrietta's cells have made her immortal because they were used to develop the polio vaccine, cloning, gene mapping, in vitro fertilization, and more. Rebecca bonds with Henrietta's only surviving daughter, Deborah, on a journey to discover not only who her mother was, but who her sister Elsie was and how she died in a state hospital. The journey is heartbreaking, but eye opening not only to the woman who unknowing made the world a much better place, though she died in terrible pain, but to the scientific experimentation done to people with no voice. This is a must read.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Different Class: Joanne Harris

Another incredible book by Harris. I constantly marvel at her characters, they are all so different and so...human. You don't completely hate anyone and often they remind you of someone you know. In this novel a school master's life is turned upside down when the new head of the school ends up being a previous student, Harrington, who Rob has mistrusted since he was a student. The book is told in two voices and split between 1981 and 2005 (present day)One of the voices is of Roy Straitley , the Latin master and one of the boys from the class in 1981, who we initially think is Harrington, but ends up being his friend. The story centers around 2 murders that happened near the school. The mysterious boy's story is told in letters and we find out he was molested. The town wrongly assumes it was by the gay teacher, Harry, at St. Oswald's. Harry is then imprisoned and dies right before the story begins. By the end of the book we find out Straitley's childhood friend and another teacher at the school, Eric, actually molested the boy. Straitley praises himself for knowing what is going on in his classroom, but this completely catches him unaware. It was a very good book filled with lessons and heartbreak.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Fallen Angels : Walter Dean Myers

Aimed at young boys, this book follows the life of 17yr old Richie Perry who is sent to Vietnam after he signs up for the Army. Perry has a knee injury which he though would keep him out of battle, but the paperwork gets misplaced and he is sent to the front lines where faces death for the first time. Perry struggles with wanting to tell his little brother and mother in his letters about the fighting, and wanting to protect them. There is the discrepancy of life in the letters between the soldiers and their loved ones at home. The soldiers worry over petty things back home even though they are fighting for their lives in Vietnam. Perry and his friend not only fight discrimination in their own squad, but have to figure out how to survive and deal with the loss of people that have become brothers in a war they don't understand. While out on patrol Peewee and Perry are attacked and slide into a spider hole to hide. Eventually the Viet Cong comes back to his hole and the boys kill him. They make it to the drop spot and find another one of their squad sitting strangely by a tree, then realize he has a gun trained on him. In a heroic effort the boys take out the Vietcong and get the other boy on the plane when it comes, their injuries are serious enough that they are sent home. Peewee's injury seems unstable, but I think we are meant to assume both boys make it back to the States and live long lives. The book closes with boys on a plane back home.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Strangers: Dean Koontz

This was a fast paced climax building book, but you pretty much know from the start it will be about Aliens... The book introduces you to several characters and at first you don't know how they are going to come together, but then they start getting the same obsessions. Night and the moon. Some of the characters commit suicide or seemingly go crazy before we learn they were all at the wrong place at the wrong time and were brainwashed. The remaining people who are lapsing from the brain wash go back to the hotel the incident happened. The military starts following them around.

Bossy Pants: Tina Fey

This book was hilarious, I am going to give it to my mom to read on her plane ride home so she will be laughing and sounding like a crazy person the whole way. Tina's Honeymoon story was hilarious and so similar to stories everyone has. My husband also unknowingly lays guilt on me thinking I am a better, more thoughtful person than I am. I laughed so much when reading this. She adds little comments you don't expect or had been a joke earlier in the book and you find yourself snorting in delight. A must read, I am glad she got her second baby :)

Yes Please! Amy Poeler

This was a funny auto biography on Comedian Amy Poeler's life. She talks about the one huge mistake and regret she has, her skit on Hurricane Mary. She talks about her sleeping problems, having children, and life in a funny book.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Star Wars X-Wing Rogue Squadron: Michael Stackpole

This takes place after Luke Skywalker and Wedge Antilles destroy the Death Star. This book follows Wedge Antilles as he becomes a commander of the rogue squadron and trains new pilots for the rebellion. In this story we meet Corran Horn, who becomes the new Ace pilot. They battle together at Black Moon to create a base for the rebellion.

Before They Pass Away: Jimmy Nelson

This was a beautiful book, quite the work of art. The book is oversized and the photos are amazing. Some of the pages flip out and it is printed on very glossy paper in three languages. The book is dedicated to capturing the last surviving tribes of native people throughout the world in their environment before their culture disappears. The photos themselves are amazing and capture the people in a way it looks like it isn't posed. We see how they dress, their weapons, and their life in desolate places that look impossible to sustain life. The people selected live anywhere from the desert to the jungle to the North Pole. The book is an attempt to show the world at large that people are still fighting to hold on to their roots, their land, their way of life even as daily we become more of a melting pot.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

American Psycho: Bret Easton Ellis

SUPER DISTURBING A coworker wanted me to read this book so we could talk about it...because he loved it. OMG, I had to keep skipping parts because the book made me nauseous, but felt the need to finish it because I was wondering what sort of psychopath my coworker was and if I needed to be afraid. The book starts out with the protagonist Patrick Bateman in a cab with a friend going to a girlfriend's party. They ramble on and on about clothes and designers. The people come across as outrageously shallow, but no one to be afraid of. Throughout the story Patrick is described as being a wallflower and is often teased about being a Grinch and the boy next door, not a threat. He constantly rambles on about music, or clothing, or stereos, and everything is a competition for him. Patrick sees himself as a success, yet others fail to notice him or remember his name which makes him an unreliable narrator. Slowly Patrick starts having a breakdown and he realizes this in himself. He pokes out a homeless man's eyes and beats up some prostitutes. The homeless man's abuse is described in detail, the prostitutes simply leave with a limp and bruised, but you know there was a coat hanger involved. Patrick's snapping point seems to be when a coworker, Paul Allen gets the account he wanted. After a few extremely graphic murders of a child, Paul Allen, and several woman with sex ending in torture and murder, we meet Patrick's mom, who is in a sanatorium. She is characterized very similarly to Patrick, who we already know has lost it. At one point the story switches to 3rd person where Patrick sees himself as the star of a movie or the nightly news resisting arrest from the police, yet a little while later we learn there have been no reports of missing people or murders. The murders seem to all be fabrication in his head. His lawyer mentions something about a message Patrick left on his machine admitting to the murders, but the lawyer claims to have just seen one of the victims a few days before in London. He also describes Patrick as a "brown- nosing goody goody", so we as readers too start to believe Patrick couldn't do these horrible things. He has dinner with Evelyn and breaks up with her then has her eat a urinal cake. In the beginning Patrick admitted he didn't listen to Evelyn ramble on and day dreamed. We begin to believe he is so far gone he can't distinguish his daydreams (murders, feeding Evelyn urinal cakes) with reality, eating dinner while Evelyn chats on. Patrick becomes obsessed with being a somebody and fabricates that he is acting out on his monstrous imaginations. He is then disappointed that he hasn't gain notoriety and no one believes him, he is stuck in this boring life with no meaning.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

The Unknown Gulag: Lynne Viola

This book exposed not only the first gulags of Stalin's reign, but also the intent to completely rid not only capitalism from Russia, but all "capitalists" by either breaking them or killing them. The first Gulags resettled peasants. The farmers were stripped of everything they had even sometimes the shoes on their feet and were sent on train cars to The Northern Territory, Siberia, the Urals, Kazakhstan, and the Far East. Their land was turned into collective farms and the evicted were forced to chop down forests for shelter and mine for the state. The same time Hitler was building concentration camps, Stalin was building Gulags. The book gives statistics on how many people survived and the amount of food given, sometimes it was nothing. The people who survived were either those who ran away- there weren't enough guards to keep everyone there, or the woman and few remaining children who survived the conditions. It was an incredibly heartbreaking book, but stuff like this needs to come to light after it has been buried for 50 years.

Monday, January 2, 2017

The Female of the Species: Mindy McGinnis

Another great book my McGinnis. Alex's sister was murdered when Alex was a freshman in school. The town couldn't convict her murderer because they didn't have any evidence. The man feed her to the wild animals. Two years later, realizing that her sister's murderer will go free, Alex kills him herself. She then makes friends with a girl in her class who is also working at the animal shelter and her life changes. She falls in love and starts to live in the world again. She murders two more people who were getting away with crimes and at the very end dies from a fall which crushed her skull. It is a fast paced book and by the time you get to the end and see there are still chapters to go before the end, you know Alex is going to die somehow.

The Mini Farming Handbook: Brett Markham

This was a super helpful book. There were all sorts of charts; cover crops- nitrogen yields, Crops in rotation, 3 year bed rotation examples. There was also a section on disease, like using compost tea for rose black spot. This book talked a little about everything, growing fruit and fruit trees, raising chickens, canning, making wine, making trellis', starting seeds, sterilizing soil, cheese making etc. I grew up doing these things, but still learned a lot! I was especially drawn to the info that cancers may be linked to people not getting basic chemical trace elements from the soil and their food. The part about counting earthworm in the soil to determine how rich it is was also awesome- what an easy tool to use to add nutrients!