Author: Marsha Hayles
Published: June 5, 2012
Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 4 Stars
Description from Amazon:
Evvy Hoffmeister is thirteen years old when her family brings her to Loon Lake Sanatorium to get cured of tuberculosis (TB). Evvy is frightened by her new surroundings; the rules to abide are harsh and the nurses equally rigid. But Evvy soon falls into step with the other girls in her ward. There’s Sarah, quiet but thoughtful; Pearl, who adores Hollywood glamour; and Dina, whose harshness conceals a deep strength. Together, the girls brave the difficult daily routines. Set in 1940 at a time of political unrest throughout the U.S. and Europe, this thought-provoking novel sheds light on a much-feared worldwide illness. Hundreds of thousands of people died each year of TB, and many ill children were sent away to sanatoriums to hopefully recover.
This book was a simple narrative about a little girl who has active tuberculosis and goes to a sanatorium to rest and recuperate and to keep from spreading the disease. I liked the perspective of thirteen-year-old Evvy (pronounced like Chevy). She’s a sweet girl whose life is thrown upside down by her condition, she doesn’t even get to keep her stuffed bear with her in the sanatorium because of germs.
However, she moves from the scared little girl, ripped from her parents and twin brother to a mature teenager who is willing to sacrifice for her friends. And the heartbreaking journey of the patients of the sanatorium hit me right in the gut! I decided to ask Ivan about Evvy’s chart (yes there are pictures in this book! YAY!!) and his prognosis was not good. I did my senior college thesis on a local TB hospital back in Greenville, SC, so I knew a little about the stays of patients at these types of institutions.
Tuberculosis is a scary disease and my heart went out to these people. This is not an action-packed book, there isn’t any mystery or crazy drama. I would recommend this to history teachers, and they should absolutely have this book on their shelves, or to anyone looking for an easy, historical read.
Santa Claus Is for Real: A True Christmas Fable About the Magic of Believing
Author: Charles Edward Hall
Published: October 14, 2014
Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 5 Stars
Description from Amazon:
A heartwarming true-life fable from the Radio City Christmas Spectacular Santa—including his personal journey of discovering the magic of Christmas. Every year, over a million people attend the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, where they have the pleasure of seeing Charles Edward Hall don a traditional red suit and become the world’s most famous Santa Claus—a role he has played for twenty-seven straight years. But Hall wasn’t always such a jolly old soul. Believe it or not, this Santa was once a Scrooge. For the first time, Charles tells the inspiring story of his own transformation, from a wide-eyed child who once caught a glimpse of Santa through a frosty windowpane, to a young man who lost his faith in jolly old Saint Nick. It wasn’t until fate intervened, in the form of an unexpected role, a stage malfunction, and hundreds of letters from children, that Charles rediscovered his Christmas spirit. Ultimately, he realized Radio City was his life’s work, and that Santa isn’t just a role. He lives in the hearts of the millions who attend the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, and everyone who embraces the Christmas spirit. Santa Claus, in other words, is real. When Charles needed him most, Santa was there, with kind words and a special gift. As this delightful true-life fable proves, he is there for everyone. All it takes is a good heart, an honest joy, and a belief in the magic of Christmas.
This has become one of my all-time favorite books. It has become tradition for me to listen to the audiobook every November. If you don’t believe in Santa Claus, then I guarantee you will by the end of this book. I still believe in Santa and Christmas is my very favorite time of year. Mr. Hall managed to capture all those amazing, warm, tender feelings that Christmas always seems to elicit.
My original Goodreads review was, “I have nothing to say! Everything wonderful, magical, unexplainable, awesome, compassionate, loving, everything about Santa is in this book! I laughed, I cried, I believed! A truly amazing book!!” This is the third year that I’ve listened to this book and that review has not changed at all. And to make it even more special, I decided to write a letter to Mr. Hall last year, thanking him for this book. I wrote the letter while sitting in my Grandmama’s hospital room. She had been put on comfort measures and it was only a matter of time. I had been taking the 10pm-2am slot at the hospital that was an hour away from my house, so I was struggling with exhaustion and grief, and I thought pouring my heart out in a letter would be comforting. And it was! As I was writing, I felt like Mr. Hall was actually listening to me. I thanked him for writing a book that touched me so deeply. I told him about coming from a background where Santa was not allowed because he took the place of Jesus. I told him that having faith in something not seen, is never a bad thing. I told him all about marrying someone who had never believed in Santa, but who I was slowly bringing around. (So far we’ve reached a compromise on Father Christmas.) I felt happy and relieved after I finished the letter and sent it out along with letters to Santa from my nephews. I wasn’t expecting an answer.
Unfortunately, very few authors and celebrities live up to the standards that we, their readers and fans, set for them. Mr. Hall exceeded my expectations. Less than a week went by, and I received a package in the mail. I opened it to find a physical copy of the book, with a beautiful note from Mr. Hall inside. I have no problem admitting that I broke down in tears. The man who played Santa in the Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular, who knows Santa personally, who wrote the book that embodies the Spirit of Christmas in such a perfect way, took the time to not only answer my letter, but to send me a gift! I plan to add a letter to Mr. Hall to my annual tradition.
I would absolutely recommend this book to anyone. This is a perfect book for believers and nonbelievers, alike. Even Ivan, a proud nonbeliever, admitted that this book is awesome. If you haven’t managed to get into the Christmas Spirit, read this book. If you want an early start on Christmas, read this book. If you are struggling with faith, read this book. If you need someone to believe in you, read this book. “Santa isn’t an answer, he’s a friend.”
Author: Mindy McGinnis
Published: October 6, 2015
Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 5 Stars
Description from Amazon
Grace Mae is already familiar with madness when family secrets and the bulge in her belly send her to an insane asylum—but it is in the darkness that she finds a new lease on life. When a visiting doctor interested in criminal psychology recognizes Grace’s brilliant mind beneath her rage, he recruits her as his assistant. Continuing to operate under the cloak of madness at crime scenes allows her to gather clues from bystanders who believe her less than human. Now comfortable in an ethical asylum, Grace finds friends—and hope. But gruesome nights bring Grace and the doctor into the circle of a killer who will bring her shaky sanity and the demons in her past dangerously close to the surface.
This is the second time I’ve read this book; unfortunately, I didn’t remember much from my first reading, so I went for a second reading. I’m so glad I did! This book is fantastic! I originally found this book sitting on the YA shelf in Barnes and Noble, but I don’t believe this is a YA book. I wouldn’t let any younger teens read it at all. There isn’t anything blatantly explicit, but certain themes are not appropriate for younger readers. I don’t want to imply that this is a dirty, ultra-mature book. There is very little language, some “old fashioned” crude humor, and grisly murder scenes. This is another book for the Criminal Minds fan.
Thornhollow and Grace view crimes through the lens of behavior. There’s also the frustration of knowing who the culprit is, but having no physical evidence to confirm guilt. Although Grace’s life is now centered around asylums, they are not actually the center of the story. Grace goes on a journey of self-discovery that is fascinating to observe. The irony of her status as insane while being of exceptional intelligence thrilled my soul. There is also a theme of true feminism during a time in which women were still fighting for the right to vote and fighting against the power of men to do as they please with no consequences.
Unfortunately, this book highlights problems we still have within our American mental health system. Involuntary commitments are still rampant, based on nothing but one person’s word, for whatever reason a judge deems sufficient. And the ending is oh so satisfying!!!!! I completely forgot how the story ended so I gasped out loud when I figured out Grace’s scheme! Totally worth it! I would absolutely recommend this book to anyone who likes criminal psychology, historical fiction, mental health issues, or just looking for an awesome story.