What’s Ashley Reading?: Baby Teeth

Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage

First line: Maybe the machine could see the words she never spoke.

Summary: Alex and Suzette are the parents of a beautiful seven-year-old girl named Hanna. With her father she is his sweet little girl. For her mother she is complete opposite. After having been expelled from several schools in the last few years Suzette has had to home school Hanna but as the months pass the tension between mother and daughter continues to escalate. Suzette truly does love her child but she also fears her a little bit. Whenever she tells Alex about Hanna’s behavior he thinks she is overreacting. How can his perfect little angel be as bad as Suzette says?

My Thoughts: There is something truly wrong with this child. I could not decide between a 4 or 5 star rating mainly because I did not know if I could say I loved a book about such a scary little girl. I was completely terrified of her. Even though I was cringing and shocked by the events of the story I could not stop reading.

In alternating chapters we see the perspectives of Hanna and Suzette. I kept telling Suzette (in my head of course) to leave. Just leave. How can a person live in a house with a child who seems to want to kill her mother? Suzette though tries everything she can think of to try and help her child. I think what makes it even scarier is that Hanna does not speak. She cannot or will not tell her parents what is bothering her.

FYI: Not for the faint of heart. I have to say that I had to put this down several times in order to breathe a bit.

What’s Ashley Reading?: The Haunting of Hill House

I have decided to do something different with my weekly blog post.  Rather than just a book review, I am going to tell you about what I am reading, watching and loving or not loving this week.  There is so much here at the library to enjoy and I want to share it with you!

I have been struggling to find something to read that completely captures me.  I go through one or two of these slumps every year when I am anticipating the next in a series or on a book hangover from a great novel.  I have tried several books lately and just had to put them back on the shelf.  Does this happen to you?  Any recommendations?  Please!

I just recently finished reading The Haunting of Hill House.  I have loved the fall weather so I figured creepy books were in order.  In addition, this will soon be a series on Netflix!

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

First line: No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream.

Summary: Hill House, a place that the locals will not go near, is going to be the home of four strangers for the summer. They believe they are going to encounter a few bumps in the night but the house has something even more sinister in mind.

Highlights: I was pleasantly surprised by this tiny novel. I remember seeing the movie (starring Catherine Zeta-Jones) years ago but I could not remember the details. For a tale of haunting it is a very slow burn. The chills come from the atmosphere of the story. An old house in the middle of nowhere with a dark and deadly past. It has many rooms and doors that will not stay open. As the doctor described the house and its construction, it reminded me of the Winchester Mystery House in California.

All of our characters have their own reasons for being there but Eleanor is the one we mainly focus on. Eleanor slowly becomes susceptible to the darkness of Hill House. As the reader, we see her changing moods and thoughts as the narrative progresses. Being inside her head made me nervous for our other characters.

I was a little surprised by the ending.  It was very abrupt but also satisfying.  I was not disappointed.  I had to stop and think for a minute about how I felt.  I would say that this is a marker of a good book.  It makes the reader think and was enjoyable at the same time.

Lowlights: The “witty banter” between the occupants of Hill House started to drive me a little nuts. I think the author was trying to lighten the mood at times with nonsense conversations but I found it annoying. I would much rather have had more insights into the characters and the history of the house.

FYI: Do not try to read this at night! Too creepy.

P.S.: Last night I watched the 1963 movie, The Haunting.  There is something about a horror movie filmed in black and white.  I kept all the lights on in the living room while watching it and I think that this was a good idea.  It was creepy and fun at the same time.  I loved the sound effects and the old house.  There were several changes from the book but for the most part it followed the story very well.  Definitely check it out!

Book Review: One for Sorrow

One for Sorrow by Mary Downing Hahn

First Line: Although I didn’t realize it, my troubles began when we moved to Portman Street, and I became a student in the Pearce Academy for Girls, the finest school in the town of Mount Pleasant, according to Father.

Summary: Annie is a young girl in 1918.  World War I is still raging in Europe and the Spanish flu is spreading across the United States.  When Annie starts at a new school she meets a strange girl, Elsie, who instantly claims her as her friend.  Annie discovers that Elsie is not liked by the other girls in the class.  She is picked on and teased by others, which make Annie a target now too.  But when Annie befriends the other girls in the school and drops Elsie things get worse.  The flu finally hits Mount Pleasant. Annie’s new friends decide to pretend to be mourners and attend funerals in order to receive free treats.  When they attend one funeral they are shocked to see that it is Elsie’s.  She had succumbed to the flu after the girls had teased her and taken away her flu mask.  All the girls feel terrible about what happened but when Annie receives a concussion from a sled ride she starts to see Elsie’s ghost.  And she is not happy.

Highlights: This is spooky.  I read Mary Downing Hahn’s books when I was younger and remember them being scary.  Even now as an adult I was a little creeped out by the character of Elsie.  It was also a history lesson.  I have read and seen many shows that depict the time of Spanish flu but this makes it more real and scary too.  To think how many people died and how quickly it happened can be a little terrifying.

Lowlights: I got really annoyed with Elsie.  The repetition of her obsession with Annie kept dragging on.  This I am sure is what the author intended since she is the villain of the story.

FYI: May be too scary for younger readers.