Saturday, July 16, 2016

Devil and the Bluebird - Jennifer Mason-Black

Bluebird's sister, Cass, left two years ago.  Blue summons a crossroads demon at midnight with a guitar.  The demon gives her six months to find her sister or both their souls are the demons.  As a down payment for their agreement the demon takes her voice.  The next day Blue packs clothes and brings her mom's silver ring, her mom's guitar, a notebook, pens, and pencils.  She leaves a note for Lynne telling her she's gone looking for Cass and not to worry.  Blue starts her journey by hitching a ride with a woman driving a truck full of fish.  The women tells her the best way to save her money is to stay at shelters, and not at motels.  The next day she gets a ride from Jed who is heading to Albany for a gig with his band.  They find a place to eat in Albany and the demon appears telling her she can only stay three days with someone who knows her name.  Three weeks if she keeps herself hidden.  Any longer than that and Blue will invite suffering onto whoever she is staying with.  She crashes at Jet's girlfriend's aunt's house.  She accompanies them to hear Mr. Chicken play and they get offered a recording deal.  Bet, Jet's girlfriend, is the only one that isn't happy about the deal.  Back at the house Blue sees a girl sitting on an old freezer, which turns out to be the demon.  The demon tells Blue she only has two days with people, not three.  Blue packs up her things and leaves before midnight.  She boards a bus to Rochester.  After she gets there she meets an old woman who offers her a place to stay and something to eat.  She goes with Amy and when they get there she introduces her son Marcos.  Her husband and younger son Yoshi aren't home.  Just as Blue gets comfortable Amy comes and accuses her of giving Marcos weed, and tells her to leave.  She gets a ride to a town outside of Rochester and goes to buy food.  She pays for it from money she was going to use for a bus ticket.  When she looks in her wallet to get money she discovers the rest of her money is gone.  It dawns on her that Marcos took it while she was in the bathroom.  She sits in a park figuring out what to do next.  An old women sits next to her, who turns out to be the demon in disguise.  She tells Blue not to blame her for the money getting stolen.  Blue has to focus on their deal.  She tells Blue to keep the guitar close because it carries more answers than she can imagine.  She plays and people give a few dollars here and there to listen to Blue.  She's made up some of the money that was taken.  She heads to the library to figure things out.  Blue asks the librarian call a local motel for rates and directions.  The librarian then offers Blue a room to stay for the night.  She stays for the night and leaves when the librarian goes to work the next morning.  Blue plays for the librarian and in return she gives Blue a frame backpack to help Blue carry her things.  She heads back to the park to play for money, and encounters a boy who shows her where to get gloves so her hands won't freeze.  His name is Steve and doesn't want to talk about his family.  They grab lunch and end up back in the park.  He tells her somethings about him, and she tells him she's looking for her sister.  He suggests they travel together, and Blue tells him about the deal with the crossroads demon.  He doesn't think she's crazy, and they hitch a ride to Chicago with a couple.  Steve quotes Bible verses to make them seem like good Christian folk. They end up at Cynthia's sister Ruth's house.  Ruth reluctantly agrees to let them stay in the guest room.  After their things are taken to the guest room Fred tells Blue he knows who she is and where she's supposed to be.  Ruth and Cynthia want Blue to play for their church group in exchange for staying a day.  Blue reluctantly agrees and tells Steve she needs to leave by midnight or the demon will hurt Fred, Cynthia, and Ruth.  She plays for the church group, and after gets a visit from the demon.  The demon reminds her about the two days since Fred knows her name.  She leaves a few minutes before midnight with Steve chasing after her.  They make their way through Chicago hoping someone will pick them up.  A bus picks them up and they end up in a bus graveyard questioning whether the bus ride was real or not.  They find a dinner to have breakfast at.  When Blue shows Steve the song she played for the church group he gets mad and leaves.  She reaches Union Station where a guy is being really nice to her.  He leaves when another girl comes up and chases him away.  She leaves the station and heads to a park like the one she met Steve in.  She sees Steve who is angry at Blue.  He explains why he got mad at the song she played.  She apologizes to him and they start heading to find a place to stay.  The next thing they know the girl from the station named Florida and a guy named Rat kidnap them.  Is Blue's journey destined to end in Chicago, or can she and Steve escape so Blue can find her sister?

 When I read the summary for this book it sounded like an episode of Supernatural come to life in book form.  It's a story of a girl who made a deal with a crossroads demon to hopefully find her sister.  I could see Sam or Dean doing this in an episode of Supernatural.  Throughout the whole story I felt drawn into the book, and could put myself where Blue was going on her journey.  I thought it was a really good story and I enjoyed reading the book.


Friday, July 01, 2016

All the light we cannot see by Doerr. Prisoner of night and fog by Blankman and These shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly

Doerr's book takes place in Hitler occupied France during the years 1941 to 1944.  It deals with the resistance movement with the use of radio transmissions, the attempts to preserve valuables in Museums, to keep them out of enemy hands and a blind girl who was part of it all.  The writing is beautiful, tight, absorbing.  It may be a little slow moving for folks who don't read a lot but many who have read it say how fast they got caught up in it and how much they enjoyed the read.  I did too.

Donnelly's story is a different time period, earlier in history.  Shipping is big business, things go wrong often.  Women know their place and it is not in the workplace.  There is much poverty and all the low life and prostitution and stuff that goes with it. A teenage girl's father dies, said by the wealthy folks to be accidental.  But, she overhears a conversation in which it is said that he was murdered.  Now Jo is on a mission to solve her father's murder.  But it being unbecoming for a woman of her class to do so and she doesn't know her way around the seedy areas she must go to, she needs help.  That comes in the form of a newsie named Eddie.  The pair fall in love though this is a forbidden love.  They search for answers to Jo's father's murder.  They suspect that a few other recent accidental deaths or suicides were also murders by the same person.  It takes a lot of heart ache and danger and searching to unravel the mystery.  

Blankman's story takes place in Munich during the same time period as Doerr's.  As a vehicle for showing teen readers the inner workings of the Hitler party and its rise to power it works fairly well.  It is interesting to read about the bevy of young girl "pets" he liked to keep around him and pamper, the heroine of this story is one. And about his hit squads, how he decided who was aryan enough to serve in his military and Hitler's psychological profile. The phrase "night and fog" is more a part of the French occupation than that which occurred in Munich.  That was just one of the bothersome things in this story.  There is once again a teenage girl who overhears folks saying that her father was murdered.  The story was that he was killed stopping bullets from hitting Hitler when the military of the ruling party fired on Hitler and his marchers during a demonstration and therefore died a hero.   Gretchen sets out to discover every facet of her father's death from who all the conspirators were to who did the shooting to why and more.  There is a picture.  A Jewish Journalist she crosses paths with gives it to her and they form a bond though not like the strong love between Jo and Eddie in Donnelly's story.  The pair work together to get that information which Gretchen wants.  Its just that every person she wants to talk with dies or in the case of Hitler warns her off.  One can assume a cover up and that her nosing around is causing the murders of all those people.  Also, Gretchen has a very creepy brother  and even after a couple of dangerous encounters she keeps throwing herself in his path which does risk her life.  She risks the journalist's life as well.  Its true there is a nail biting finale which i am told folks really like but in Donnelly's story Jo was willing to stop her search for detail when other lives appeared at risk.  Jo was to me a much more sympathetic character than Gretchen with her nothing will stop me attitude.  Remember I said she had been shown a picture of the incident in which her father was shot.  Even though she never admitted it, Gretchen had to have know who shot her father in the back, who murdered him just from the photo.  
jdw 7/1/16