Afraid by Sharon McGovern

AfraidFormat: eBook
Pub. Date: 2008
Type: Non-Fiction, True Crime ~ Memoir
Pages: 240
Read: 3/28/2015
Rating: Really liked it ♥♡

The abuse started when she was four, Sharon’s stepfather was helping her learn to ‘wash’ herself. It continued for years. At age 10 it went from touching and rubbing to rape. The only one Sharon told was her best friend. He kept her quiet by threatening her mother and also by making her look like a liar. He did such a good job of it that even after he was gone, her own mother didn’t believe her when she told her she had saved a family from drowning.

When Sharon told a social worker what she wanted most in the world was to “go to sleep and never wake up” because “my dad keeps having sex with me and I can’t do it no more.'” The social worker’s reply was “Do you know what will happen to you if you go around telling lies like that about your dad? You’ll get him into serious trouble. Don’t let me hear you talking like that again.” Further convincing her that she would never be believed and never get away from the abuse.

Although the abuse suffered by Sharon was horrific, and she doesn’t suger coat it, it is not related in a gratuitous way. This book isn’t just about what happened to her. Sharon relates how she coped with the abuse, why she never told anyone and most importantly how she survived. In fact she did more than survive, she went on to have a good life and even managed to get the authorities to file charges against him. She was responsible for him going to prison where he couldn’t hurt another child.

Although I have some doubts about the clarity of her memory of events that happened when she was younger than 4, this book is a compelling read, at first heartbreaking, but reading how Sharon overcomes everything will mend it.

Night by Elie Wiesel

NightFormat: eBook
Pub. Date: 1958
Type: Non-Fiction, True Crime, Memoir ~ Library Book
Pages: 115
Read: 3/25/2015
Rating: Really liked it ♥♡

A concisely written account of the horrors of Auschwitz and Buchenwald from the viewpoint of a teenage boy that survived the experience. Besides learning about the hardships suffered, Elie Wiesel gives us an idea what it was like to live it, we understand how this experience changed his feelings toward God, toward his father and actually, it changed everything. It puts a personal face and feeling on the horrible Holocaust.

I highly recommend this book.

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

Speak
Format: Trade Paperback
Pub. Date: 1999
Type: Fiction, Young Adult ~ Library Book
Pages: 198
Read: 3/24/2015
Rating: Liked it ♥♡

I have heard a lot about this book and eventually decided I needed to read it. It is about Melinda Sordino (written in first person from her point of view, not my favorite style of writing) who called the police during an end-of-summer party, now that school is starting she is OUTCAST. Her friends won’t speak to her, even strangers hate her. Even before I read a spoiler about what happened at the party I had a pretty good idea and I was right. Even so you might find this review has a few spoilers.

Melinda decides the best way to survive is to stick to herself and keep quiet, living life inside her head. Unfortunately a teacher singles her out as a ‘trouble-maker’. She copes by sitting alone against the wall in lunch with the rest of the losers. She cuts classes, then starts cutting school, even though her old friends are not talking to her they are not mean girls, so Melinda cannot hate them. This makes things worse. She has trouble sleeping. Avoiding her parents is easy since they are decidedly un-involved in what is happening to their daughter, leaving notes and money for pizza if they are not going to be home. The only time they show any interest was when her grades started falling, even then they have no interest in why.

A short book, quick read but one that is very well written, Ms. Anderson has done a great job catching the thought patterns and speech patterns of teenagers. I have one complaint, I couldn’t understand how everyone knew she had called the police but no one knew why. Before I read the book I thought they must have heard why, if they knew she did, but didn’t believe her. I just re-read the part where Melinda is remembering the party, and it is explained. I do this sometimes, read books so fast I miss stuff. So it’s not a mystery and it now makes sense. Not that it bothered me horribly before, I still thought it was a good book.

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

CinderFormat: eBook
Pub. Date: 2012
Type: Fiction, Science Fiction, Fantasy ~ Library Book
Pages: 390
Read: 3/17/2015
Rating:Liked it ♥♡

It started with the troll under the bridge. He was only trying to collect the toll and the poor thing got battered by the biggest billy goat gruff (Truth About Three Billy Goats Gruff). Then there was The True Story of the Three Little Pigs followed by The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig. Then “The Wicked Years” series by Gregory Maguire along with his other re-tellings of popular fairy tales. I discovered a Steam Punk version of the Wizard of Oz, actually it was sent to me by the author. I need to find it and read the next installment. I probably enjoy these because I’ve never liked fairy tales, tales of child abuse and misogyny, women were either wicked queens and witches or helpless princesses waiting for a man to come save them. Fathers remarrying because taking care of children is women’s work. YUCK.

Along comes Cinder, a well know fairy tale turned into Steam Punk Science Fiction/Dystopian novel. The next book in the series is “Scarlet”, pretty sure you can guess whose story that is. Cinder is an orphan, abused by her ‘stepmother’ and ‘stepsisters’, having to do all the work and turn her wages over to her stepmother because she is also a cyborg. Her only friend is an android with a malfunctioning personality chip. Since this is Steam Punk she is a mechanic not a scullery maid, and she isn’t missing a shoe at the end, she is missing a foot. A cybernetic foot. She has a computer in her head and is able to store things in her leg.

The setting is New Beijing, the population has been ravaged by a plague that doctors can find no cure for. The lunar people want to take over earth. There is a handsome prince, and a ball, but no happily ever after. At least not at the end of this book.

Let me just say that a few chapters into this book I KNEW who Cinder really is, I uncovered the secrets of her past that will help her save the world. OH COME ON YOU HAD TO KNOW THAT WAS COMING! Then it was just a matter of time till Cinder discovered it and unfortunately her mortal enemy also. Oops, almost a spoiler.

This was a quick read, the story moved smoothly and the ending sets the stage for the next book. It’s gives us questions that we now have to read the next book to get the answers.

Hidden Steel by Doranna Durgin

HiddenSteel
Format: eBook
Pub. Date: 2008
Type: Fiction ~ LibraryThing Early Reviewers
Pages: 251
Read: 3/4/3015
Rating: Liked it ♥♡

A woman walk up in a hospital bed with no memories. She believes she is there against her will for two reasons, she’s not in a hospital and she is handcuffed to the bed. She overhears someone talking, believing they are talking about her and hearing the name Mickey, she takes that name and keeps it even when she learns they were talking about how they drugged her.

Listed as an action, suspense, and romance book, this book hits the mark on all three fronts. Mickey turns out to be a CIA case officer (action) but she has lost her memory and has no idea what she is or what she is working on (suspense), while running away from the ‘bad guys’, she stumbles into Steve Spaneas’ gym (romance). Although I generally don’t like romance in my action books, this had a ‘touch’ of romance, nicely done and didn’t distract.

Another thing about this book is that even though some of it seemed a little far fetched, most of it was believable. Mickey gets dehydrated and famished, and proceeds to pass out. Which is what humans do. There was none of this, “I’m in terrible shape, I’ll just outrun these criminals in peak physical condition.” going on. It’s fiction, but it has to make sense.

I would recommend this as a quick, fun, action packed story.

The Cement Garden by Ian McEwan

CementGardenFormat: eBook
Pub. Date: 1978
Type: Fiction ~ Library Book
Pages: 144
Read: 2/22/2015
Rating: Liked it ♥♡

This is the story of Julie, Jack, Sue and Tom, four orphans who are trying to stay together. After their father dies, their mother gets sick, she sets up an account for them so they will be able to stay at home while she is in the hospital, however, she dies before she goes into the hospital, the children, thinking that they will be separated decide to bury their mother in the basement.

The narrator of this story is Jack who is a teenager, 14 years old. He tells the story very matter of factually, starting with:

I did not kill my father, but I sometimes felt I had helped him on his way. … He was a frail, irascible, obsessive man, with yellowish hands and face. I am only including the little story of his death to explain how my sisters and I came to have such a large quantity of cement at our disposal.

This ‘little story’ tells us rather effectively how the children felt about their father’s death. Their mother’s feelings are left unexplored in the rather self-centered way teenagers can have.

The children attempt to carry on as if nothing has happened. Julie takes over the role of mother to the rest, but she is not much more than a child herself. Each child copes with the loss of their mother in their own way. Isolated from others, the house apparently is in area where most of the other houses are empty (if I remember correctly) and so there are very few children around, the youngest Tom has a friend he plays with, the others appear to not have any friends. From the very beginning of the book Jacks describes a game I would say should be called ‘playing alien doctors’ with his sisters. While this doesn’t continue after the death of the mother, Jack describes Julie as beautiful and athletic, filling the account with sexual tension between the two. The children prove to be not very good at keeping their secret especially when Julie get a ‘bloke’ and he starts hanging around and asking questions.

The ending is expected and abrupt, and while some may say it leaves one hanging, we can draw on our own knowledge of the world and know what comes next. I found this to be a very compelling reading and a interesting account of a very dysfunctional family.

Murder at Yosemite by Carlton Smith

YosemiteFormat: eBook
Pub. Date: 1999
Type: Non-Fiction, True Crime ~ Library Book, 3M Cloud Library
Pages: 239
Read: 2/12/2014
Rating: Really liked it ♥♡

The book starts with the abduction of Steven Stayner from Merced, CA which is very close to Yosemite National Park, on December 4, 1972. He was a prisoner of a pedophile for seven years. The murders covered in this book began in February 1999. The man arrested for these murders was Steven’s older brother Cary Stayner.

After covering the abduction and briefly touching on what life with his ‘false’ dad was like, the effect his abduction and return had on his family in general, we get to the murders. The is rather detailed in describing the investigation, into what would turn out to be the wrong suspects, this leads to questions about the lead FBI investigators and speculation that had the FBI not focused their investigation in the wrong direction, the fourth victim would still be alive. This is just speculation of course, there was no reason for Stayner to be suspected. He had legitimate reason to be at the hotel where the victims were staying.

Unfortunately the book was published before Stayner went to trial, I found the results of the trial at Crime Library. I have also listed them below. Some friend of mine thought the book was boring. I don’t agree with them, but if you like trial details and investigation details as opposed to historical details you might not like this book.

Since the fourth murder was in the park, Stayner was tried in Federal court.
On 2/11/2000 the Feds declared their intention to seek the death penalty.
July 12,2000 a federal judge ruled that the government could seek the death penalty.
September 15, 2000 Stayner plead guilty and confessed to the murder of Joie Armstrong thus saving his life.

In the trial for the other three murders:
August 26, 2002: Stayner was found guilty.
September 16, 2002: Stayner was declared sane.
October 9, 2002: Jury recommended death. Appeal is automatic.

That is all the information that was on that site. Considering how long the appeal process is for death-penalty cases, I wouldn’t be surprised if Cary Stayner is still on death row. Also, some of the details in the Crime Library account and this book are different. Not hugely different however.

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Witness To Death by Dave White

WitnesstoDeath (2)Format: eBook
Pub. Date: 2014
Type: Crime Fiction ~ Library Book
Pages: 256
Read: 2/7/2015
Rating: Was O.K.

John Brighton is convinced his ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend is cheating on her so he follows him to get proof. Maybe he thinks this will get them back together, he does still love her. What he witnesses is a shoot-out on the banks of the Hudson River and John ends up the suspect in five murders. What happens next can only be described as a wild ride.

I had a hard time keeping the players straight in this book, first one person has two names, second you never know who is running things. People are not what they appear to be and bodies keep dropping. It was like Hamlet, everybody dies. Well not EVERYBODY.

WitnesstoDeathThis book didn’t live up to the hype for me. Some suspension of what you know to be true is often necessary when a reading a novel, but this book took it too far in my opinion. Plus the fact that none of the characters, even the good guys were likable. I won’t even go into the WTF? ending.

In short, I didn’t hate this book, but I seriously doubt I will read anymore by this author.

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