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The Wide Window

The third book in the Series of Unfortunate Events, "The Wide Window" has the three Baudelaire orphans going to live with their Aunt Josephine on the shore of Lake Lachrymose. Poor Aunt Josephine is terrified of everything, and life with her is pretty miserable, but at least they're safe from Count Olaf.
Sadly, not for long. Count Olaf shows up in disguise as Captain Sham, who runs a sailboat rental business. He charms Aunt Josephine, despite the orphans warnings (they see through his disguise right away, of course) and ends up forcing her to write a suicide note leaving the children in his care. Josephine cleverly plants clues in the note that Klaus deciphers and the children find her hiding in the Curdled Cave, braving risking their lives in a hurricane to reach her. Sadly, they are stranded out in the middle of the lake when Count Olaf rescues them, throwing poor Aunt Josephine out to be eaten by the infamous leeches. Mr. Poe shows up just in time to make a bumbling mess of everything, and the kids are once again left without a home.

So, true to form, I reread the second book in the Series of Unfortunate Events titled "The Reptile Room". After proving to the dimwitted adults that Count Olaf really was after their fortune, the Baudelaire orphans are sent to live with their Uncle Monty, who studies snakes. At first things are great: Uncle Monty is a wonderful guardian who takes good care of the kids and is planning a big snake hunting expedition to Peru. Right before they are set to leave, his new assistant shows up: Stephano. Staphano is clearly Count Olaf in disguise, but the kids can't get Uncle Monty alone long enough to explain the dire situation to him. Sadly, Olaf murders Monty and the kids are shipped off to live with yet another guardian.

I read Harold Schechter's "Depraved" years ago (in fact, I might own it...) and of course Erik Larson's "Devil in the White City" (which I know I own). H. H. Holmes has always fascinated me. Selzer exhaustively researched the man and his crimes, and debunked a lot of the theories that Schechter and Larson put forth, namely that Holmes built his "castle" in Chicago to use as a hotel to lure innocent tourists to their deaths in one of his many hidden rooms. The building was built long before the World's Fair, and was never used as a hotel. Selzer contends that Holmes was a con artist, not a serial killer, and although he most certainly did kill some of the people he was accused of murdering, he certainly didn't murder hundreds. It was well written and quite fascinating.

I watched season one of Netflix's new series this weekend, and it was so good, it made me want to reread the series of books. I read them years ago, when they first came out. "The Bad Beginning" starts off with Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire finding out their parents have died in a fire and they are now orphans, shuttled off to live with a distant relative named Count Olaf. It's pretty clear the the Baudelaire children that Count Olaf is just interested in their parents' enormous fortune, which can't be touched until Violet comes of age, but none of the dimwitted adults in the children's lives believe them. It's very funny and witty and charming. I only have 1,000,000 (approximately) library books checked out right now, so I really shouldn't be rereading these, but I think by now we all know how this is going to end :)

I finished a book I bought! Hooray!
It was so interesting, too. Cristin Aptowicz visited Dr. Mutter's museum in Philadelphia and was inspired to write about his fascinating life. He was a pioneer of plastic surgery in the early 1800s, back when people were born malformed or damaged due to injury and lived miserable lives, wishing for death. Dr. Mutter pioneered techniques that are still being used today and was an excellent professor, according to his students. Unfortunately, he died fairly young, but he left behind an extensive collection of medical artifacts. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this one, since medical books have never really been my thing, but it was really good.

This has been on my "to read" list for ages, and since I didn't have anything new (and completely ignoring the thousands of books I own but haven't yet read...) I checked it out. It was fascinating, but really intense, I had to stop reading it and read something more cheerful to break up the ugliness. Roy Hazelwood was an FBI profiler. This book is a collection of some of his worst cases and how he and his fellow profilers were able to help solve them. He was a pioneer in the field of sexual predators, and the first to realize not all rapists raped for the same reasons. He was also the one who came up with the "organized" vs. "disorganized" classification for murderers, which is familiar to anyone who reads true crime or watches "Criminal Minds".


So, once again ignoring the piles of library books and books I've bought but haven't actually read, I chose instead to reread one of my old favorites by Larry McMurtry: "Texasville", the sequel to "The Last Picture Show". I was a teenager the first time I read it, and I started it one night and stayed up all night to finish it, I literally couldn't put it down. And I was laughing so hard I was afraid I was going to wake everyone up :) Since then it's always been one of my go-to books when I need a cheer up. Maybe I've read it too many times, or I'm just getting older, but it wasn't as funny as it used to be. I still had a good laugh at some parts, but through most of it I understood Duane's anxiety. His family and friends behave atrociously and he's left feeling like the only sane person on the planet. I know the feeling, Duane, and it's exhausting It's still fun to reread, even if I don't laugh as hard as I used to.

99 Days

I was so disappointed with this one. I wanted to like it so bad, but I just couldn't. Molly Barlow made a huge mistake two years earlier: she slept with her boyfriend's older brother, Gabe. Even worse, she told her mom about it, and her mom, a novelist, ended up using it as the plot for her next book, which became a huge bestseller, so the whole world found out what Molly did, including Patrick, her boyfriend. She ran off to Arizona for a year to get away from it all, but now she's back, spending one final summer at home before going off to college. Patrick is dating a new girl named Tess, but Gabe is home and he and Molly start hanging out together. She doesn't have many choices, since her old friends are all shunning her after what she did. I thought Cotugno made a really good point about how it shouldn't have all been Molly's fault, after all, Gabe did a terrible thing, too, but he didn't suffer for it. Still, none of the three main characters were at all likable, they all did horrible things, and I felt like the ending was rushed. I kept reading it, hoping it would get better, but alas, it did not.

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