Posted in Juvenile

Wait Till Helen Comes

Wait Till Helen Comes by Mary Downing Hahn

Helen

I read this book when I was in 5th or 6th grade. I remember it making the rounds in my group of friends, and I thought it was the scariest thing I’d ever read. So after reading another book by Mary Downing Hahn (which I didn’t like that much), I decided to read this again to see if I still liked it as much as I did when I was in middle school.

From the book: Molly and Michael aren’t happy about moving with Mom and her new husband Dave into a converted church in the country. They miss their old friends and all their city activities and Molly has to share a room with Heather, Dave’s spooky daughter, whose mother died in a mysterious fire. Heather is unpleasant and difficult to get along with. She tattles and lies and doesn’t want to do the things the others do. One day when Molly is minding Heather, the little girl wanders off into an old graveyard behind the church. There, Heather becomes obsessed with a small tombstone hidden beneath the overgrown weeds — a tombstone that bears her own initials, H.E.H. And it’s in the same graveyard that Heather develops a strong bond with the malevolent ghost of H.E.H., a girl whose mother died in an 1880s fire as mysterious as the one that killed Heather’s mother. In a novel that’s terrifying and poignant by turns, Molly gradually realizes that even though she doesn’t like Heather, she must save the possessed child before the ghost lures Heather to her doom.

This book still creeped me out a bit, I must say. I’m kind of a chicken, so it’s not really hard to do. But still. I couldn’t remember much about the book, pretty much something about a church and the ghost destroying a bunch of stuff. It definitely lived up to my fond feelings about it. It was written in ’86, but there wasn’t much that dated it in regards to content. Molly talked about listening to her Walkman, but that was really the only thing that would have put me in the mind of the ’80s. My favorite character was Molly. She was real to me. She was scared of a lot of things. She got upset easily. She had a realistic relationship with her mother and her brother. And she saved Heather even though she didn’t like her. I also liked Mr. Simmons. He was my favorite side character. He was friendly and helpful but could also be very serious. Honestly, Dave was probably my least favorite. Let’s look at this objectively. Helen is the ghost of a 7-year-old child who accidentally caused the deaths of her mother and stepfather. She was stuck that way forever. And guilt in death warped her personality into something evil. Heather was also a 7-year-old child who was responsible for the death of her mother. So, first of all, both of the girls were children (even if one of them was dead). Their age plus their circumstances were what made them so mean. Dave, on the other hand, was a grown man who wouldn’t listen to anyone but his daughter who was possessed by a ghost. He was stubborn and rude and quick to jump to conclusions. I don’t know what Jean ever saw in him. My favorite part was probably the struggle between Molly, Heather, and Helen toward the end of the book. We finally found out why Heather had such a connection to Helen and why she was so unhappy for such a little girl. I just kind of wish there was more to that part. I would’ve liked to see it even more dramatic. One thing that I took from this book (and the other spooky books I’ve read this month) is that if my kids ever tell me they’re seeing ghosts, I’ll believe them. Parents never listen in these stories! If the kids weren’t trying to figure things out on their own, the danger might never even develop! I would definitely recommend this book to any middle schooler or anyone who likes middle grade ghost stories. Even though it’s about 30 years old, I think it still holds up.

Began reading: October 15, 2019

Finished reading: October 17, 2019

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Posted in Juvenile

The Doll Graveyard

The Doll Graveyard by Lois Ruby

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I’m still on a spooky kick. I knew this book had been hanging around for a few years without being read. This selection was purely me. I wanted to read it now because it’s October.

From Amazon.com: The house at Cinder Creek hides many secrets. Shelby and Brian Tate have heard heated voices crying out in the night. They’ve noticed the unsettling way things move around on their own. But the most chilling thing about their new home is the cemetery someone’s built out back. The graves are tiny, only big enough for dolls. AND THE DOLLS WON’T STAY BURIED. Soon Shelby’s learning all about them. Betsy Anne’s angelic appearance hides a raging fire behind her eyes, while Baby Daisy changes faces as quickly as she changes moods. And Miss Amelia’s cracked porcelain skin and twisted lips only hint at the pain she once endured at the hands of a very angry girl. If Shelby can help the dolls find peace, she and her family might actually be happy at Cinder Creek. But if she can’t–the dolls will have their revenge….

I liked this book a whole lot better than the last one I read. I don’t think it was super creepy, but I got chills a couple of times. It had a good story, though, with characters that I wanted to learn more about. My favorite character was Brian because he was very understanding for a 9-year-old boy. He was always willing to help his sister, he believed her about the dolls being haunted, and he was kind. My least favorite was Emily, even more so than Sadie. Sadie at least had a reason for being so angry at everyone. She was sick and got no love from either of her parents. Emily was just a spoiled brat. My favorite part of the book was finding out who all of the dolls represented. I also loved the parts where Shelby read the diary of the two girls. For someone who doesn’t like horror movies, I like the juvenile scary stories because they’re not too scary for me. I’ve read some other books by Lois Ruby, and they seemed to be along the same lines. I liked the other ones, too. I only wish that we could have seen more of Sadie’s life and her interactions with the people that the dolls represented. My biggest takeaway from this book was that you shouldn’t judge people too harshly. Like Sadie. They may be rude and hateful, but you don’t know what they might be dealing with in their lives. I didn’t pick up any memorable quotes from this book, so it wasn’t super insightful. But I did enjoy it. It was interesting and fast-paced, and I’m glad that it wasn’t too scary for me.

Began reading: October 10, 2019

Finished reading: October 10, 2019

Posted in Juvenile

The Ghost of Crutchfield Hall

The Ghost of Crutchfield Hall by Mary Downing Hahn

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I chose to read this book right now because it’s October. So that means it’s spooky season. I thought I needed a spooky book to get in the mood. I also read a book by this author when I was in middle school, and I loved it. I was looking forward to reading another book by her.

From Amazon.com: When twelve-year-old Florence boards the crowded horse-drawn coach in London, she looks forward to a new life with her great uncle and aunt at Crutchfield Hall, an old manor house in the English countryside. Anything will be better, she thinks, than the grim London orphanage where she has lived since her parents’ death. But Florence doesn’t expect the ghost of her cousin Sophia, who haunts the cavernous rooms and dimly lit hallways of Crutchfield and concocts a plan to use Florence to help her achieve her murderous goals. Will Florence be able to convince the others in the household of the imminent danger and stop Sophia before it’s too late?

Honestly, I was a little let down with this book. I remembered reading the other book in middle school and being super scared by it. So I guess that’s what I was expecting with this one. Maybe it’s because I’m older; maybe the other book was just better. Either way, this one just didn’t live up to my expectations. It was pretty short, too. It only took me a couple of hours to read it. My favorite characters would be Florence and Spratt. Florence because she was our protagonist. And Spratt because he was always kind and helpful. He believed Florence when she said she kept seeing Sophia, and he had helped James by warding Sophia from his room. Sophia was the worst character, but Aunt Eugenie was pretty awful too. Sophia seemed to be a terrible person before her death, and the afterlife obviously didn’t do anything to help her morality. And Aunt Eugenie was set in her idea that Sophia was perfect. It sounded like she played into Sophia being so spoiled and deceitful; she never gave her any consequences or even thought she was in the wrong. I guess my favorite part was toward the end when James started to get better. I liked James. I was glad his health improved. Although not being haunted by your dead sister was sure to take a load off. I couldn’t find any memorable quotes, and I didn’t really learn anything from this book. Maybe to just be nicer to people because evil souls don’t rest easy after death? My reading environment did affect my experience this time. We had a particularly slow day at the library, and the silence made the story seem a bit spookier. I didn’t have a problem with the pace of the book because it was a super quick read. I can’t think of anything specific that I would change if I was the author. It just seemed to me that the story needed more substance. As it’s written, it’s just forgettable.

Began reading: October 9, 2019

Finished reading: October 9, 2019

Posted in Juvenile

Museum of Thieves

Museum of Thieves by Lian Tanner

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I think for this one, I told Siri to pick a number to choose my next book. This is the one it picked. I can’t tell you when I actually got this book. All I know is that the copyright date was 2010. So I probably got it before I graduated from high school. It was about time I read it.

From Amazon.com: Welcome to the tyrannical city of Jewel, where impatience is a sin and boldness is a crime. Goldie Roth has lived in Jewel all her life. Like every child in the city, she wears a silver guardchain and is forced to obey the dreaded Blessed Guardians. She has never done anything by herself and won’t be allowed out on the streets unchained until Separation Day. When Separation Day is canceled, Goldie, who has always been both impatient and bold, runs away, risking not only her own life but also the lives of those she has left behind. In the chaos that follows, she is lured to the mysterious Museum of Dunt, where she meets the boy Toadspit and discovers terrible secrets. Only the cunning mind of a thief can understand the museum’s strange, shifting rooms. Fortunately, Goldie has a talent for thieving. Which is just as well, because the leader of the Blessed Guardians has his own plans for the museum—plans that threaten the lives of everyone Goldie loves. And it will take a daring thief to stop him. . . .

I didn’t not like this book. It was pretty entertaining. I just didn’t love it. Part of the reason is because it’s aimed at juvenile readers. I know I probably would have loved it when I was in middle school. The world in which the story took place was a little odd to grasp. It kind of reminded me of the world in The Finisher. I couldn’t tell if it was futuristic or set in the past or just in a whole different universe. The only word I can give for it is “bizarre.” Broo was my favorite character because I love dogs. I was about to be super upset when he got shot. I’m just glad he lived. The Fugleman was my least favorite for obvious reasons. He was conniving and manipulative. But I didn’t like Guardian Hope either. She thought she was something special and had the power trip to prove it. My favorite part was when the girls helped Goldie sneak out of Care. They were so resourceful, and we finally got to see Goldie use all the skills she had learned.

Memorable quotes:

“But you can’t hold wild things in one place. And they won’t be tied down.” – Page 120

“You must snatch freedom from the hands of the tyrant. You must spirit away innocent lives before they are destroyed. You must hide secret and sacred places.” – Page 123

“He showed her how to deal with her fear. ‘Don’t try and push it away […] You can’t make it leave you alone, but you can do what you have to do, in spite of it.'” – Page 136

“But they must also be allowed to find their courage and their wisdom, and learn when to stand and when to run away. After all, if they are not permitted to climb the trees, how will they ever see the great and wonderful world that lies before them?” – Page 185

I don’t know if you’ve noticed from my last couple of posts, but I’m kind of following a new format. I got this book journal that asks me questions about each book, and I’m supposed to list my favorite and least favorite characters, favorite moments, memorable quotes, and things that I learned from the book or can take from it apply it to the rest of my life. It’s a little odd to think that way. A lot of the books I read aren’t really out to teach a lesson, so it feels a little corny when I write one down. But it’s teaching me to look more deeply into the books, and I don’t think that’s a bad thing. So a lesson that I learned from this book is that fear isn’t something that can just be pushed away. Like the quote said above, you have to do what you need to do, in spite of it. And something that I can apply to my life going forward? The only thing I could think of was don’t be overprotective of kids. They’re going to get hurt. It’s just the way it is. But the problem with the kids in this book was that none of them knew how to deal with anything because they’d been sheltered all their lives. Like when Goldie cut her finger in the tunnel. She almost thought it was the end of the world, but Toadspit scoffed. So yeah. Kids need to be protected. But if you never let them do anything (just because they might get hurt), they’ll never know what to do if it actually happens.

Overall, I enjoyed the book. It’s part of a series called the Keepers Trilogy, but I don’t think I’ll be reading the others. I just wasn’t that interested, I guess. I would recommend this to middle schoolers and anyone who is interested in juvenile fiction. Like I said, it was pretty good; I just didn’t love it.

Began reading: September 29, 2019

Finished reading: October 6, 2019

Posted in Contemporary, Young Adult

Suggested Reading

Suggested Reading by Dave Connis

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This is my September Once Upon a Book Club book. Honestly, when I read the synopsis, I wasn’t really looking forward to this one. It seemed too heavy or something. I didn’t think I would enjoy myself while reading it. Boy, was I wrong.

From Amazon.com: Clara Evans is horrified when she discovers her principal’s “prohibited media” hit list. The iconic books on the list have been pulled from the library and aren’t allowed anywhere on the school’s premises. Students caught with the contraband will be sternly punished. Many of these stories have changed Clara’s life, so she’s not going to sit back and watch while her draconian principal abuses his power. She’s going to strike back. So Clara starts an underground library in her locker, doing a shady trade in titles like Speak and The Chocolate War. But when one of the books she loves most is connected to a tragedy she never saw coming, Clara’s forced to face her role in it. Will she be able to make peace with her conflicting feelings, or is fighting for this noble cause too tough for her to bear?

This book felt so important to me. It was thought-provoking and poignant. Entertaining, funny, and heart-breaking. For some reason it reminded me of The Book Thief, but it really is a completely different story. I literally couldn’t put it down, and that’s why I finished it in a day. I was enthralled from beginning to end, and I was so impressed with the beautiful and meaningful writing. Dave Connis is a master, plain and simple. Apart from Clara, my favorite character was probably Ashton. He was such a good and loyal friend. But he wasn’t perfect by any means. He was a very real character who knew his best friend was going through a hard time but had no idea how to help him. Jack’s mom was the absolute worst. She was a terrible person, and I’m glad Clara’s dad stood up to her when she was yelling at Clara. My absolute favorite part of the book was the assembly, when all of the Unlib students stood up for Clara. I got chills and was very close to getting choked up. It was beautiful. There were so many good quotes from this book, but here are some of my favorites:

“Tables were realms, separated by moats filled with stares and castle walls built of insecurity.” – Page 168

“We all pretended we were above a good train wreck, but most of us would derail a train with our own hands if it’d help us forget, even for a minute, that we were still sore from walking away from our own wreckage.” – Page 189

“Books are wild things. You can’t tame them. People are wild things. You can’t tame them, either. Put those two together and you can’t know what’s going to happen, but that’s not on you.” – Page 347

“We read with all the layers that make us who we are acting as filters. We read with all that our eyes have seen and all our hearts have felt since birth.” – Page 355

I feel like anyone who would be reading this book would be able to relate to the characters and sentiment inside. But I related to Clara because I’m a book girl too. I even ran a library out of my backpack when I was in high school. Not an illegal one, I might add. I just had a set of teenage romantic comedy paperbacks that all of my friends always wanted to read. So I had them all in my backpack and a piece of paper where I signed them out to people. Wow, what a nerd. But anyone who reads this book is going to be a book girl or boy. It taught me the power of books to make or break you, depending on the person reading it. And another thing that struck me was Clara’s mom telling her that if it came to having to fight, then fight. Kindly. I loved every single thing about this book, and I won’t be surprised when I hear what a big deal it is in a month or two. I would recommend this book to anyone and everyone.

Began reading: September 28, 2019

Finished reading: September 28, 2019