29. August 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: History, Informational Book, Janet, NonFiction

Haunted Ozarks by Janice Tremeear, read by Janet, on 08/28/2013

Haunted Ozarks     We live in an area of the Ozarks that has a very interesting history.  Some people who lived here before are not content to be forgotten.  The lay of the land is so varied that many types of living arrangements have developed through the years. From the earliest man living here, about 10,000 BC, to the present, many groups of people have had experiences that have left a busy history in this region – the Mound Builders, the Baldknobbers, and the Jessie James gang, to name a few.  There have also been happenings that involved many people, such as the Civil War and the Trail of Tears.  It seems that when some people die untimely, their spirit remains in that area.  Many stories are Indian legends.    Every county has at least one place where the restless bodies are known to be seen or heard, things are moved, or one feels the presence of another body.  Many homes are named in this story: Ha Ha Tonka, Leeper Mansion near Chillicothe, Houston House at Newburg, the Iberia Academy, the Kendrick House at Carthage, and Ozark Avalon were a few.  There are also many castle-like homes which have haunted legends.  Along with the stories are old sayings and superstitions listed.  This is a very interesting book with lots of historic information.

21. August 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Biographies, Janet, NonFiction

The Man Who Loved Books Too Much by Allison Hoover Bartlett, read by Janet, on 08/19/2013

The Man Who Loved Books Too Much: The True Story of a Thief, a Detective, and a World of Literary Obsession     This is “The True Story of a Thief, a Detective, and a World of Literary Obsession”.  It was well told and one feels you really get to know John Charles Gilkey, who deeply loves books.  (He just doesn’t think he should pay for them.)  The author often discussed his activities with Ken Sanders, who also loved and collected books (legally) and worked as an amateur detective to catch Gilkey.  Although he was put in jail several times for thievery, it didn’t dampen his love of books and need to collect.  He agrees with the saying, “Physical artifacts carry memory and meaning, and this is as true of important historical texts as it is of cherished childhood books.”  He likes them all.  He considered himself to be an existentialist because “they can’t differentiate between right and wrong”.  He read many of the books he took and didn’t think it was wrong to have a book he enjoyed.  He did have a job occasionally (usually working in a bookstore), but made a good bit of his spending money selling stolen books.

Gilkey knew the author was writing a book about him and was both careful about how much he shared, and delighted to be considered an important subject.  At the end of the story he was known to have just stolen a book from a Canadian dealer.  He was not arrested.  “The story never ends.”

08. August 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Janet · Tags:

Falling In by Frances O'Roark Dowell, read by Janet, on 08/07/2013

Falling In   Isabelle Bean was not really interested in schoolwork as this story begins, gets in trouble, and sent to the principal’s office.  However, she stopped to help a wounded boy to the nurses’s office first, which is where interesting things begin to happen.  She “dropped in” to another time period, where she was at first thought to be a witch by some children at a camp where she landed.  She escaped them and walked through the woods until she met an old lady who lived there.  This lady, Grete, taught Isabelle and the girl who followed her, Hen, many medicinal uses for the plants around them.

The girls went back to the children’s camp and found most of them very ill.  Using the knowledge of plants they had learned from Grete, they began to heal them.  Needing more help, Samantha headed back to Grete, but found her dying from a poisonous plant she had been fed accidently.

Some children from camp followed the girls and wanted to kill the “witch” but were talked out of it by Isabelle.  They learned Grete’s advice had saved the children’s lives.  All ended well and Elizabeth was going to try to bring her mother to meet Greta, her own mother.

01. August 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Janet, Teen Books · Tags:

Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold, read by Janet, on 07/31/2013

Lovely Bones     This is the first time I have ever read a story told by an angel, but it is a very warm and full of feeling adventure of a teenage girl, Suzy, who watches her family try to prove a neighbor man killed her.  She is learning about her new home in heaven while trying to help the situations in her old home on earth.  Life on earth must go on and she is not forgotten by family, or murderer.  They all still see her in their own way.  It has an amazing ending.

24. July 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Janet, Romance · Tags:

A Walk to Remember by Nicholas Sparks, read by Janet, on 07/23/2013

A Walk to Remember     Although this is written as the thoughts and actions of a seventeen year old boy, it was very easy to feel a part of the story.  Landon was ready to enjoy his senior year in high school and certainly didn’t expect to have special feelings for the quiet daughter of the town’s Baptist minister.  Life works in strange ways, though, and he found himself in a play where she was the Christmas angel.  Somehow this girl who always wore a brown sweater and her hair in a bun on her head changed completely and was radiently beautiful!  As he got to know her better he realized how kind and cheerful she always was and his feelings deepened.

Things don’t always work out the way we would like, though, and Landon learned to accept heartbreaking fate with adult decisions.  The ending was sad, but with understanding of the deep feelings that would stay with Landon the rest of his life.

19. July 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Janet, Teen Books · Tags:

New Moon by Stephenie Meyer, read by Janet, on 07/19/2013

New Moon   This  was my first time to read any of this series where a teenage girl is drawn to a werewolf and a vampire.  Both love her and are enemies.  There are good descriptions of how they use their special powers and how the characters feel about those around them.  Bella loved life, but is temped to end it so she can join Edward, who is a vampire.  She has many adventures that endanger her life, such as learning to ride a motorcycle while listening to voices in her head, and crashing.  Of course her dad doesn’t appreciate her friends and strange adventures, but they come to agreements.  I will have to check out the next book, Eclipse, to see what is pahhening next and if Bella graduates from high school and goes to college as she planned.

08. July 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Historical Fiction, Janet · Tags:

Atonement by Ian McEwan, read by Janet, on 07/06/2013

Atonement     “Satisfaction given for wrongdoing” is Webster’s definition of “atonement”.  This is the story of a girl who felt her sister stole the attention of a boy she was in love with and let her imagination cause them great problems.  Written in the early 1900’s, in England’s strict behavorial ethics, the lives of all three were greatly affected.  Briony never told the truth about the incident until they were all much older and had suffered the hardships of World War II.  She used her strong imagination to write plays and stories, but could not find peace within herself.  The boy, Robbie, was the son of a cleaning lady, but his intelligence had caught the attention of her father, who welcomed him into their manor and was planning to send him to college.  Thanks to Briony’s story, though, he was sent to prison.  Her mother suffered much of the time in her bedroom with severe headaches and her father was engrossed in his business, so she really had no one to talk to and explain the situation.  The older sister, Cecilia, pretty well ignored her, as she really did love Robbie but couldn’t expect to change the family’s belief in Briony’s story.  The three went in different directions during the war but finally came back together and Briony apologized.  In 1999, Briony worked to tell the real story in her final book.

24. June 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Janet, Literary Fiction · Tags:

The Road by Cormac McCarthy, read by Janet, on 06/23/2013

The RoadThis is a rather tight-nerved tale full of love between a man and his son as they travel through the American countryside after it has been blasted and burned.  Very few people are left, very little food can be found, and no one can trust anyone else.  The man remembers how things used to be, but the son is too young to know of the “good old days”.  They are headed south, for warmth and the ocean, but it is winter and still uncomfortable.  They both have illnesses from their hard life, but the man loses his battle at the end of the tale and the boy is taken in by a man who had a family and was aware of his circumstances.  A good ending for a frightening tale.

20. June 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Janet · Tags:

The Orphan Master's Son by Adam Johnson, read by Janet, on 06/16/2013

This is a story of a man who was involved in the disrest between North Korea and America.  Jun Do’s mother was a singer and, as all beautiful women in provinces, was shipped to Phongyong.  His father was the Orphan Master, who ran the orphanage where kids were kept until adopted.  Jun Do had to do the unwelcome jobs at Long Tomorrows and was hurt in many ways by his sad father, but was not allowed to be adopted or work in the factories.  When the year of floods came, wiping out many homes, factories, and lives, he became a tunnel-soldier at the age of fourteen, trained in zero light combat.the orphan master's son  When he was twenty-two, he was put on a fishing boat where he was trained in Japanese, some English, and how to listen to military soundings on the radio at night.  He also listened to many other soundings, like the two American girls rowing their way around the world.  He became a professional kidnapper, fell in love with the actress Sun Moon, and took on the role of the leader Kim Jung II to save her.  This story tells the horrible tale of life during those treacherous war years.

31. May 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Janet, Poetry

You Come Too by Robert Frost, read by Janet, on 04/23/2013

These are favorite poems for young readers by Robert Frost.  Being simple, direct, often outdoors related poems, this was a pleasent book to read.  Robert Frost looked with understanding on the people, animals, and scenery around him.  Many of his best-known poems are in this collection: “Stopping By the Woods on a Snowy Evening”, “The Death of the Hired Man”, and “The Road Not Taken”.  He said that a poem “begins with delight” and that feeling runs through his poetry.You Come Too

31. May 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Janet, Poetry

Edna St. Vincent Millay - Selected Poems by Edna St. Vincent Millay, read by Janet, on 04/23/2013

Edna St. Vincent millay was a very intellectual, sophisticated poet whose work involves a bit more deep thinking than most work I have been reading lately.  She projects unhappiness in many of her poems, perhaps from her feminist or political unrest with society, or her decline in health in later years.  She has been described as “a militantly political feminist” yet is able to present love as a passionate surrender in some poEdna St. Vincent Millayems.  Her poems asre not fast reading, but give much feeling and information as digested.

29. May 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Janet · Tags:

The Familiars by Adam Jay Epstein & Andrew Jacobson, read by Janet, on 05/25/2013

The Familiars      This is a great adventure of three “Familiars” – animal buddies of wizards.  The unusual trio are a blue jay (Skylar), a tree frog (Gilbert), and an alley cat (Aldwyn).  The bird and frog know they have magical powers, but the cat uses his “street smarts” to pretend he knows magic. The wizards get abducted and the Familiars have to ge across many lands to rescue them.  There is continuous action and concern about the future through the whole story.  Many lessons in friendship, courage, and trust are woven into this excellent tale.

21. May 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Janet · Tags:

The Unwanteds by Lisa McMann, read by Janet, on 05/20/2013

The Unwanteds     In the “perfect” society of Quill, those who don’t follow the exact rules or meet the highest qualifications are weeded out when they reach thirteen.  They are taken to the outer wall of the kingdom, through a gate always kept locked from the inside, and handed to some enormous Eliminators to be thrown into the Boiling Lake of Oil.  Alex and the others knew they were doomed, but were very surprised to be welcomed by a giant flying tortoise and Mr.Today.  They actually had escaped from a land of black and white with stiff rules to a colorful place where people were enjoyed and taught many magic and creative activities that would eventually save their lives.  Alex missed his twin, Aaron, who was a Wanted in Quill, but visited him in dreams, hoping to someday bring him here to Artime.  There are many surprises and lots of exciting experiences – good booki!

16. May 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Janet · Tags:

Crispin, The Cross of Lead by Avi, read by Janet, on 05/14/2013

Crispin  This is a great adventure story of a boy living in the English fourteenth-century countryside whose parents died and not only was he on his own, but accused of a crime and labeled a “wolf’s head” – making him open to death by anyone.  The very large magician, Bear, adopted him and taught him to think for himself.  As they travel through the countryside Bear also teaches Crispin how to defend himself, which will be very necessary when he has to save Bear’s life and his own.

14. May 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Janet · Tags:

A Gathering of Days, A New England Girl's Journal, 1830-32 by Joan W. Blos, read by Janet, on 05/13/2013

A Gathering of Days    This is a very interesting diary by a thirteen year old girl (Catherine Hall), living on a farm in New Hampshire during the 1830’s.  Her mother died of fever so she is taking care of her younger sister, Mary Martha, and her father, Charles.  She goes to the little one-room school in the winter and has one friend, Cassie, who doesn’t live too far away to visit.  There is an uprising of black slaves in the south, so when she lost her school book one day and it had a message in it when returned a few days later, she guessed who had taken it.  Being winter, the message asked for food and something to keep the person warm.  She took one of her mother’s old quilts, wrapped it around some food, and left it in the woods so her dad wouldn’t see it.  It did dissapear.  Her father remarried and it took awhile to get used to her new mother and brother, but all worked out well.  The difference in life style and communities then, compared to now is quite unique.

10. May 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Janet, Literary Fiction · Tags:

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, read by Janet, on 05/06/2013

This is a delightful story of a boy who escaped the killer who murdered his parents when he was just a toddler.  He managed to crawl up the hill from his parents’ home to a graveyard.  The spirits there felt sorry for him and took him in, sheltering him from the killer, who was convinced to leave and forget his reasons for being there.   One couple took over as his parents, providing a snug home for him in the forsaken funeral chapel and a half-way person brought him food and clothing and watched over him when he was big enough to leave the graveyard.  Several of the spirits (who appeared real to Bod) taught him math, reading, and understand others.  Not knowing his name, they named him Nobody and called him “Bod”.  He also learned how to fade into invisibility, go through walls, and see in the dark.  Eventually he began to mature and the killer returned for him.  By this time Bod was very aware of how to use his powers.  I had no ideas before this story how helpful the graveyard souls could be!

06. May 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Janet, Mystery · Tags:

Missing on Superstition Mountain by Elise Broach, read by Janet, on 05/05/2013

Missing on Superstition Mountain   Why were people warned to not go on Superstition Mountain?  Was there really a lost gold mine there?  Whose skulls were lined up on the ledge?  Simon, Henry, and Jack couldn’t pass up the temptation to explore and had a very exciting adventure.  Looking for historical information in the library introduced them to a new neighbor, Delilah, who also wanted to explore.  Unfortunately, she had an accident on the mountain, which led to finding a hidden canyon and another mystery.  This was an exciting book that was hard to put down (even as an aging adult).

29. April 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Janet, Poetry

Class Dismissed! by Mel Glenn, read by Janet, on 04/27/2013

Class Dismissed

This a very good selection of teen-age poems showing their thoughts and feelings. Some mentioned others who were writing, but most were entirely about their own thoughts. These poems show how teens work out changes from childhood to growing into adulthood – the problems in between. There were teen pictures also, that seemed to fit the poems, but were really taken by an assistant principal for science in a different high school. It is easy to go mentally back into that age while reading these poems.

Fox

24. April 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Janet, Poetry

Fox by Adrienne Rich, read by Janet, on 04/23/2013

Fox

This is a collection of poems by Adrienne Rich between 1998 – 2000 that includes dialogues between poets and artists, refers to  poetry and history, and calls up feelings and visions. Although written in a simple style, these are messages that require one to visualize and contemplate their meaning – not light, airy, quick reads.

08. April 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Janet, Poetry

The Old Dog Barks Backwards by Ogden Nash, read by Janet, on 04/07/2013

The Old Dog Barks BackwardsOgden Nash definitely likes the sound of words.  Often I did not understand the words he used and was not sure if they were from another language or make up by him.  Many words were evidently made up by the author for sound and to fit the subject.  He has had a wide variety of interesting jobs, giving him a rich, varied outlook on many things.  This background enhances the richness of these delightful verses.  Titles range from “Bet You a Nickel My Unhappiness Can Lick Your Unhappiness” to “Coefficients of Expansion” – humorous and thought-provoking.