Sunday, September 3, 2023

spring/summer reading list part 2

Here's the second half.

The House At The End Of The World
by Dean Kootnz – Katie loses her parents and daughters in a gang attack on the ice cream shop in which they are sitting. There is no justice because the father of one of the punks is highly connected but she pursues it anyway. And then her husband is killed in a hit and run and as he is dying extracts a promise from Katie to live, live for him and their two girls. Katie buys an island, Jacob's Ladder, at the end of an archipelago in an enormous lake arming herself and stocking up with a two year supply of food and goods. One day intense activity occurs on and around the nearby island of Ringrock reported to be a secret government installation. Soon after two secret government men come to Katie's island looking for an escapee and then all hell starts to break loose. That evening 14 year old Libby who has barely escaped with her life from the other near island, Oak Haven, is standing on Jacob's Ladder knocking on Katie's door. Libby's parents are the lead scientists on Ringrock and one day she gained access to her father's computer and learned that an alien life form was discovered and has been studied and has now escaped and threatens the very existence of life on Earth if not stopped. Katie and Libby must escape Jacob's Ladder for the mainland, escaping not only the alien life form but also the government men trying to silence them permanently.

The Little Shop Of Found Things by Paula Brackston – I had no idea what this book was about when I asked the library to get it for me through the lend program with other country libraries but the title intrigued me. I don't know what I was expecting but it wasn't what I read. Flora, newly divorced, and her 20 something daughter Xanthe (really?) have just bought an old antique store in the town of Marlborough whose previous proprietor had died. Xanthe has a talent for getting glimpses of an object's past when she holds it, psychometry, and at auction she holds a chatelaine, a set of short chains that the mistress of the house wore from which dangled various objects she needed close to hand, and got the strongest reaction she had ever experienced and so bought it. In the yard behind the shop Xanthe uncovers a rounded stone hut, a blind house, used to hold prisoners until they can be transferred to court. There she encounters ghost Margaret who tells her to use the chatelaine to go back to the 17th century to save her wrongly accused daughter, ladies maid Alice, of theft whereupon she dissolves and finds herself in the barn of the great house in which Alice worked and sets about to clear Alice's name after she becomes a kitchen servant to give her access to the house to search for the missing items. Little Shop is the first of four books, each involving a different adventure for Xanthe as she travels back in time with the aid of a different object. I liked it well enough but I'm not sure I liked it enough to order the next in the series.

A World Of Curiosities by Louise Penny – another in her series about Chief Inspector of the Sûreté du Québec Armand Gamache and Special Agent Jean-Guy Beauvior and the little village of Three Pines where Gamache lives. The story spans decades involving the murder of a prostitute that was pimping out her two damaged children, Fiona and Sam, and the escape of a heinous serial killer from prison intent on revenge against Gamache. The children are now grown, the daughter having been taken under Gamache's wing, and receiving her engineer's degree, Fiona and Sam return to Three Pines for the graduation party of another resident, Harriet. A mysterious letter, a hidden room discovered, a copy of a famous painting with modern changes all raise Gamache's hackles as he tries to understand what it all means and protect his family. It's a good story, she's a good writer, and this is the first book I've read in a while that I had a hard time putting down.

Wake by Shelley Burr – A once thriving farming community, the small town Nannine in Australia has a claim to fame, the unsolved disappearance of the child Evelyn McCreery nineteen years previous from her parents' isolated farm. Her older sister Mina spends her days sectioning out an area and searching it for her sister's body. Lane Holland as a teen was working the 'guess your weight' attraction at the fair the night Evelyn disappeared. His abusive father had been fired and ordered off the grounds. Now grown, Lane makes his living cracking cold disappearance cases and when he learns that his father is due to be released from prison, he is determined to do whatever it takes to protect his younger sister by proving that his suspicion about his father and Evelyn are true. He shows up on Mina's doorstep and gradually earns her trust by tracking down another disappeared child. However, the day the elder Holland is released, Lane meets him outside the prison determined to force his father to take them to the spot where he buried Evelyn and when Mina gets drawn in inadvertently both their lives are in danger. A little twist at the end. I just could not get drawn into this book until the very end when all is revealed, not because it is poorly written, could not settle down with it which I'm sure it had more to do with me that the quality of the story.

The Spite House by Johnny Compton – Eric and his two daughters are on the run, constantly moving and moving on, Eric taking jobs that paid under the table so they couldn't be tracked down. Eric and 17 year old Dess are very protective of Stacy, never leaving her alone or out of their sight. They are in Degener, Texas en route to Odessa where Eric grew up when Eric sees an ad placed by Eunice Houghton, the last living Houghton, for a job to stay in the Masson House aka the Spite House and record any phenomenon he might hear or observe for an enormous amount of money that was enough to set the three of them up for life somewhere they couldn't be found. The house is, of course, haunted with a backstory generations old involving two families, the Massons and the Houghtons, betrayal and murder. A Houghton betrayed 12 innocent people during the Civil War that caused them to be hanged and their ghosts haunted the Houghtons. They gave Peter Masson's father, the last living descendent of the 12, land and a house hoping to lift the curse. It did not. When Peter went to war during WWI, he died and his mangled body was shipped home and buried. A year or so later Peter returned to Degener furious that his brother had sold the family home to an orphanage and built the spite house overlooking it. Turns out Eric's grandfather was supposed to have died in the fire that burned down the family home but one day he came strolling back to get his revenge on those he blamed for the fire and we find out that Stacy had also died and been buried and showed up one day about a year later, all three having no memory of having died. So Eric is invested in staying in the house that steals people's souls and bodies in some cases looking for answers. It all comes to a head but nothing is resolved, no answers are found, the last Houghton dies, and Eric is split with half himself remaining in the house and the other depleted half moving on with his girls and the money. I've told too much of the story because it's dumb and not very well put together and I don't recommend wasting your time.


  1. I'm going to check out that Koontz book. I really like his writing, but the last few I've read have been either entirely too out there (I mean, more than usual) or too long. But this story line sounds interesting.

  2. The Koontz book sounds interesting. I thought I had read it, but based on your description, I read something else by him.

  3. I will keep my eye out for the world of curiosities book.

  4. I always enjoy Louise Penny's books.


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