Monday, November 6, 2017

AMERICAN FIRE


AMERICAN FIRE
by Monica Hesse
 
This is the true story of how and why two people, romantically involved, set fire to more than 60 buildings in the Eastern Shore of Virginia.  This area used to be a booming farming area but now is an economically depressed area with many abandoned businesses and homes.  As building after building burned, the people in these towns became desperate to find the arsonist.  Because this area is very dark and underpopulated, it was relatively easy for the arsonists to set the fires.  Eventually though they were caught.  You will need to read this book to find out how this peculiar love story prompted the fiery destruction of property.
Reviewed by Mimi @ Genoa Branch Library

Thursday, November 2, 2017

MEMBER OF THE FAMILY


MEMBER OF THE FAMILY
MY STORY OF CHARLES MANSON, LIFE INSIDE HIS CULT, AND THE DARKNESS THAT ENDED THE SIXTIES
by Dianne Lake and Deborah Herman



This book is very readable and very disturbing on many levels.  Not only did Dianne Lake live with the Charles Manson when she was a young teen but her parents abandoned her at age 14.  Dianne lived a relatively normal life as a child until she was in junior high.  At that time, her father left her mom.  Dianne and her siblings lived with their mom for two years in the projects.  Then her father reappeared and reconciled with his wife and moved the family to California.  He wanted to "drop out" so he traded their house for an old bread truck.  He put in bunks and  the family sold almost all their belongings and headed west from Minnesota.  Once in California, Dianne's parents became involved in the drug culture and turned her on to marijuana and acid at the age of 13.  Eventually they joined up with a commune.  At age 14 her parents wrote out a note indicating that Dianne was permitted to be living on her own.  She took off with a man she had just met to go to San Fransisco.  From there she drifted from place to place until she ended up meeting Charles Manson and falling under his spell.  Luckily for her she happened to be gone when "the family" went on their murderous spree.  She ended up spending the last few years of her teens with a policeman and his family as a foster child. The rest of her life was spent as a married mother of 3, active in her church and her community.
What a story!
Reviewed by: Mimi @ Genoa Branch Library

Thursday, October 26, 2017

HITLER'S FORGOTTEN CHILDREN




HITLER'S FORGOTTEN CHILDREN
A TRUE STORY OF THE LEGENSBORN PROGRAM AND ONE WOMAN'S SEARCH FOR HER REAL IDENTITY 
by Ingrid Von Oelhafen & Tim Tate

During Hitler's reign of terror, he wanted Aryan type Germans to do a lot of procreating to increase the population of Germany.  He thought this Aryan "blood" would make his country the strongest in the world.  However, he realized that even if Germans had more children, he still wouldn't have a big enough population.  His solution then, was to kidnap children from countries that the Nazi's invaded.  Children with blond hair and blue eyes were favored to be "Germanized."  These children were sent to the Lebensborn home.  There they were subjected to many medical tests, forbidden to speak their home languages, and eventually sent to German families to be fostered and given new German names.  Their foster parents usually told them nothing about their early lives, so these people found it very difficult to find out where they had come from.  This book is one woman's story. She was born in 1941.  She was raised as Ingrid Von Oelhafen by what she thought were her mother and father in Germany.  Eventually she found out they were her foster parents.  She did not really begin her search until many years later when she was in her 50's.  She was shocked by what she learned as she searched for her identity.  This is an insightful but sad book.  So many lives were ruined.  Nearly 500,000 children were abducted across Europe and "Germanized."  Even after the war ended, many children were not reunited with their original families.  Those that were, still struggled since they had no memory of their early lives and could not speak the language of their families.  I found this book to be an important one, in hopes that history never repeats itself in this way.
Reviewed by Mimi @ Genoa Branch Library

Monday, October 16, 2017

"Death of a Ghost"
by M.C. Beaton

"Death of a Ghost" is number 34 in the Hamish MacBeth mystery series, written by M.C. Beaton.  Hamish is the most unambitious policeman in the Scottish Highlands, consistently giving credit to others for his crime-solving, so that he will not be promoted.  He is happy in the village of Lochdubh, with his assistant, Charlie, and his pets for company.  In this book, Hamish and Charlie are summoned to an old castle, after the owner complains of eerie, ghostly noises.  Hamish does find foul play, but not as expected.  The story had many twists and turns.  I pride myself on being able to guess the murderer after many years of reading mysteries, but the ending came as a complete surprise.  Ms. Beaton also writes the equally popular Agatha Raisin series of mysteries.   

Thursday, October 12, 2017

NOMADLAND






NOMADLAND, SURVIVING AMERICA IN THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY
by Jessica Bruder


Amazon and National Forest campground in CA have found a new source of low-cost, dependable workers.  Who are these workers?  Primarily older workers who are houseless and not necessarily by choice.  Many of these older people have only social security as a means of income which does not usually cover rent, food, medical expenses and other necessities.  These people are existing by living in vans, old campers and sometimes cars.  Amazon actually has a CamperForce program.  They hire these transient workers for the busy Christmas rush and let them park their vehicles on the property.  Then as the weather gets cold, many of these folks travel to Arizona where they try to park "off the grid" to save money.  These transient vandwellers also work long, hard hours at CA National Forest campgrounds but they get to park their vehicles for free and earn a minimum wage.    This book is a very eye-opening look at America's downtrodden older generation.  Many of them are fairly resilient and they use ingenious methods to be able to live in their vans and  park "in plain sight" so as not to have to pay the high cost of renting a camping spot.  It is rather heartbreaking though how precariously they people exist.  Frequently they are just one step away from total homelessness.  
I'm glad I read this expose' on the plight of some of America's most vulnerable souls.
Reviewed by Mimi @ Genoa Branch Library

Monday, October 2, 2017

RABBIT, THE AUTOGIOGRAPHY OF MS. PAT





RABBIT, THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF MS. PAT
by: Patricia Williams


I have heard Ms. Pat on the radio and I think she is extremely funny.  I always wondered about her because her life sounds totally crazy.  I enjoyed this book immensely.  Patricia had a very dysfunctional upbringing and by the age of 15 she had 2 children.  She is someone who was able to rise from poverty and her abbreviated childhood, and was able to provide for her children as well as some of her cousins, whom she also raised.  She has a big heart and can look at the funny side of a tragic event. 
Reviewed by Mimi @ Genoa Branch Library

Friday, September 29, 2017

"The Lost Book of the Grail"
by Charlie Lovett

Arthur Prescott is a curmudgeon who must perforce teach English at a second-rate university and suffer through department meetings.  His true love is antique books, and his happiest hours are spent in the library of the cathedral, perusing the ancient manuscripts.  His peace there is broken by Bethany, who arrives to digitize the library's manuscripts.  Arthur and Bethany share a love of Arthurian legend and the search for the Holy Grail, and soon join forces in searching the manuscripts for clues to the existence of the Grail and the resting place of St. Ewolda.  The stories of the Guardians, who have sheltered and hidden the Grail for over a thousand years, are   intermingled with Arthur & Bethany's search for clues before the manuscripts are sold to make needed repairs to the cathedral.  The writing is witty and engaging, and it's nice to read a suspenseful book that doesn't involve bloodshed.  I look forward to reading the author's other books, one featuring Jane Austen.  Reviewed by Amy @ Harris-Elmore Public Library.