Great Philosophy

"You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You're on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who'll decide where to go..."-Dr. Seuss

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Therapy for Ghosts by Eric Praschan


Cindy James is a Cognitive Behavior Therapist in Sleepy Oak, Missouri. She starts a memory from her past, memories that have long been suppressed, and faints in her office. She is then taken to a hospital, where tests are done for physical problems. There are no physical ailments and Dr. Shipper, a neurologist, tells she can not go back to work until she sees another CBT for at least an hour session.
She goes to the appointment with the only other CBT in town, Dr. Anthony Prost. She is immediately turned off by his office, his demeanor and only stays for half of the session, without really giving anything up about herself.
She goes home to her five-story home. She climbs into bed on the fifth floor and locks the two deadbolts like normal. She starts to have more memories and realizes that the perfection she thought she was attaining in her life is not there.
She goes back to Tony Prost for the next half hour to complete the obligation and be able to go back to work. Tony starts her on her process of remembering the terrors of her childhood and they decide to become friends.
Cindy then  decides that she needs to remember why she feels such failure with herself and her life. What in her past has made her feel incomplete and so inferior. Tony slowly helps her process those memories and they are not pleasant.
The vocabulary in this novel is very rich. Eric Praschan has a wonderful way with language. You are extremely drawn to finding out about Cindy's long suppressed memories of her childhood.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom


The year is 1791. A young, red-haired, white Irish girl who has become indentured to James Pyke. She has been brought to a plantation called Twin Oaks, in Virginia, and is handed to Belle and Mama Mae to learn how to help in the kitchen house. The young girls' name is Lavinia, although she can has repressed her memory of who she is or where she came from.

Belle is a black/white woman who helps Lavinia adjust to her surroundings and becomes very much like a mother to her. There are many other slaves who fill Lavinia's new life, some older and some her own age and younger.

Eventually, Lavinia recalls the loss of her parents, immigrants from Ireland, who passed away on the trip over to the United States, She also had a brother, Cardigan, who was indentured elsewhere.
Lavinia becomes a true member of the family at the kitchen house and at the plantation. She is very shy and aims to please all who come in to her life.

The Pykes, James (Cap'n) and Miss Martha, have two very beautiful blond children, Marshall & Sally. Lavinia does not have much interaction with them, as they are the children of the manse. There are occasions when they are allowed to interact, and Lavinia loves both of them.

A master is hired for Marshall Pyke, and things aren't right with how he is treating Marshall. The slaves can see this, but Miss Martha is often in a drug-induced state of mind, with her use of laudanum. This happens because her husband is often away on business in Philadelphia. Cap'n has hired a manager, Rankin, who takes care of the plantation. Rankin is very mean-spirited and extremely prejudice about the indentured individuals working at Twin Oaks.

Lavinia's life takes on many changes. As she is white, she is treated differently than the black slaves, especially at church.

This novel is based on real events researched by the author and there are some very happy events, but also some horrible events. I really like the way Kathleen Grissom switches the chapters between Belle and Lavinia. It gives you a true sense of both sides of plantation life at Twin Oaks.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Revival by Stephen King

RevivalJamie Morton is a six year old and has received the best birthday present ever from his sister Claire. It is a foot locker full of soldiers and tanks. Jamie spends many hours in his yard creating battles between the Americans & the "Krauts".

This is in the summer of 1962. Jamie lives with his family in Maine (where else!). His family consists of his parents, his sister and 3 brothers.
They are a very church-going family and the older children attend MYF classes at the church each week.

One day Jamie is creating a battle in front of his home when a shadow falls over him. This is his introduction to the new Reverend of the family church.

Jamie learns to love Reverend Jacobs and his wife Patsy and their son, Morrie. The reverend share many fun things involving electricity with MYF classes and Jamie. The reverend has a love of learning about electricity and creates many fun experiments.

A few years into this a car accident takes the life of the reverends wife and son. Reverend Jacobs is inconsolable, but continues to preach until what is call by the Morton family as "The Terrible Sermon".

Reverend Jacobs leaves the church and the Morton family miss him, but continue to live, although the church has slowly not become as important as it once was.
Jamie becomes involved in music and gets into some bad situations. As he has gotten into a very bad lifestyle, his "fifth business" pops back into his life. The reverend is the mentioned "fifth business".

The reverends absolute love of learning about electricity has always stayed with him and seems to be his escape after the loss of his wife & son. These experiments will rule the rest of this book and lead Jamie, Reverend Jacobs and many more characters to some very interesting conclusions.

Stephen King is my favorite author and this was well written, as usual, but the ending left me a little flat, but it is always a pleasure to read from a master, whether you like the ending or not.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Bad Elephant Far Stream by Samuel Hawley


Far Stream, the elephant, is born to her mother in the wild. She has a sister, Red Moon. Men come and take the herd. Far Stream is separated from her family and shipped to the United States. She then becomes part of a circus and learns to dance and become part of pyramids and such.
The novel tells us of Far Stream's journey. You feel her joy, her pain, her sorrow at given points. Being told from Far Stream's perspective, this is written well.
I would definitely recommend this book, as we all need to be reminded that humans aren't the only living creatures that have feelings and matter.

I was lucky enough to win an ebook copy of this book for early review by LibraryThing.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Prison Noir edited by Joyce Carol Oates


I have often said that I could see sitting in prison, being able to just relax and read books for a while.

This book has changed my mind about that. Some of these stories have you feeling sorry for the individual, some have you hating the individual, but all are extremely well-written and there are a few that surprised me a lot.

You have images of men and women in prison who are probably not well educated or well written. Untrue according to these stories.

This book is filled with draw-you-in stories and some even leave you wanting to know the outcome for these prisoners.

This was very well done and edited perfectly by the great Joyce Carol Oates.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

A Weekend Getaway by Karen Lenfestey

A Weekend GetawayBethany is currently living with her boyfriend, Drew. They are renovating a Victorian home and helping Drew's sister raise her daughter, Emma. Beth wants very much to ask Drew to marry her and takes steps in that direction by giving him a tie tack. Drew doesn't get it and acts as though he is not ready to make that commitment.
Beth goes away to a weekend reunion with college friends and reacquaints herself with her first love, Parker, who married one of her friends from school, Ivy.
This is really the only part of the book that was interesting. Bethany is just not a happy person and nothing in her life is as she would like it to be.
This novel was written well, but the story is rather stunted and there really is no resolutions to the problems that Beth has in her life.
I will definitely not give up on the author, though. Will read more of her work.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline


Molly is a young girl who is living with her current foster parents. She was placed into the foster care system after the death of her father and her mother becoming unable to care for her. She dresses in "Goth" to make herself unapproachable, distant. Easier for her not to get close to anyone.

She currently lives with Richard & Dina, although Dina doesn't have much tolerance for her. Molly gets the distinct impression that the fee for housing and taking care of her is the only benefit Dina gleans from having Molly in their home.

Molly has a boyfriend, Jack, who really likes her and has gotten behind all the ways Molly has of shutting herself off from people. Unfortunately, Molly has stolen a book from the public library, one she has always wanted to own, "Anne of Green Gables".

She has the opportunity to do her time with helping a 90-year old woman, Vivian, clean up the attic of her mansion instead of going to juvenile detention. Jack's mom, Terry, has helped to set this up for her, even though Terry is not really that fond of the relationship between her son and Molly.

As Molly is helping Vivian clean boxes in the attic, we learn Vivian's story of the Orphan Train and her experiences in her youth.

This is a very good novel that brings you into a lonely world, a scary world, of children that were orphaned and placed into homes that weren't always the best places to be.

This book will make you appreciate your family and remind you that, while relatives may be whatever they are, at least they are a connection to you and your life. The children on the Orphan Train never had that luxury.