Reading Music

Sunday!  I hope to get lots of reading done today.  I’m a little over halfway through the book I intend to have finished in time for Trashy Tuesday (don’t worry, there’s a back up book already read JUST IN CASE), and like to attempt to escape the noise in my busy household by sticking earbuds in.

Here are a few of the things Meg and I like to listen to while we’re reading.  We’re not huge fans of lyrics because we find them distracting.  I know Heather has a hard time loading pages with lots of videos, so we’ll just post links…plus, some of the songs are only available on grooveshark, so they don’t have videos anyway!

Japancakes – The Waiting

Explosions in the Sky – Your Hand in Mine

Bar Kokhba Sextet – Gediel

Liszt – La Campanella

Bach – Cello Suite No. 1 Prelude

LotR Soundtrack – The Fellowship

What, just because I hate the movies means I can’t appreciate the music?  [angry face]  Okay, you got me – some of these are Meg’s choices.  Stop looking at me like that!  Look, I said stop.  I’m serious.  [even angrier face]

Anyway, hope you all get lots of reading done today, and enjoy our reading music selections!

Trashy Tuesday – VC Andrews (Dollangangers, part 4)

Wow.  Almost done with the Dollangangers, thank goodness.  Only two books left to cover in this series, and this one is probably going to be the most difficult to write about.  Why difficult?  Because it sucked.  Seriously.  This book was terrible.  Combine all of the horribly tragic events of the first two books into one, add Chris and Cathy as an old married couple and you have this dreck.

Seeds of Yesterday starts up 15 years after If There Be Thorns, when Corrine died in the after the fire, we find out that she left the entire Foxworth fortune to Jory and Bart.  Heh, good thing John Amos actually did die in that fire, or he’d have been pissed!  The manor that was burnt down at the end of Petals on the Wind has been rebuilt in its entirety and some old guy who was previously thought to be dead (one of Corrine’s brothers) has returned from some monastery in the Alps to be the creepy guy that’s always whispering in Bart’s ear.

Jory gets paralyzed while dancing at Bart’s birthday party.  Someone set him up to have a horrible accident, thinking he’d likely die.  Oh noes!  He was dancing with his “sister” (remember Cindy, the adopted one?) because his wife (Melodie, another prima ballerina) is pregnant and didn’t want to jeopardize her pregnancy.

Pretend this is Jory, and one of these pillars crushed his legs.

Sooooo…she doesn’t want to jeopardize her pregnancy by dancing with her husband at her brother-in-law’s birthday party, but guess what she will do?  Sleep with said brother-in-law while her husband is in critical condition in the hospital!  Yeah, right?  Cathy catches Bart and Melodie drinking and whooping it up while her oldest son is trying not to kill himself like his daddy did.  Jeeeez.

Cindy is super slutty.  Really, she is.  She invites some guy home for Christmas, promising her parents they’ll be good, but they get caught in bed together.  Too enraptured to even notice or slow their stride, Cindy gets pulled off the guy and screams  about how unfair her family is and how they shouldn’t treat her like a baby because she’s SIXTEEN NOW, DAMNIT!  She gets caught with another guy later in the story, but I will probably forget about it by the time I get there, so I’m telling you now.

Melodie starts showing, so Bart discards her like milk that’s a week past its expiration date.  She goes into labour at home, but decides not to tell anyone for some stupid reason, and by the time everyone finds out, it’s too late to get her to a hospital.  She has twins.  Had no idea there was more than one fetus, because even though this is supposed to take place sometime in the 90s, her doctor couldn’t tell.

She takes off, abandoning her children and her paraplegic husband because she just can’t handle it anymore, and she wants to go back to dancing.   We find out later that she married another dancer right after her divorce papers are signed.  Fuuuuuuuu, all women in this series are just unbelievable strumpets.  It kind of blows my mind.

I know the older couple is Chris and Cathy, and the littlies are Jory's kids...but I'm not sure who the ghostly figure is or if the young blonde is supposed to be Cindy or Melodie?

So, Cathy is pretty much a mommy to the twins, Cory and Carrie Darren and Diedre after they’re abandoned by their real mommy (sound familiar?).  Bart starts sleeping with the nanny/nurse that was hired to help take care of Jory and his kids…but Cathy still wipes his tush because he’s too embarrassed to have the pretty nurse help him out with that.  O.o

Bart and the creepy old guy, Malcolm John Amos Joel, are taking the twins off into the chapel located at the manor and teaching them all of the horrible things that Chris and Cathy heard from the grandmother while they were locked up upstairs.  They are of the Devil’s Seed and were from a garden that should never have been planted, blahblahblah.  Cathy freaks out and tells the nurse (that is now interested in JORY) to never let the twins out of her sight anymore because they’re being corrupted by her son that’s gone over the edge.

(Oh, I think I forgot to mention that if Bart is ever institutionalized for anything, he loses his entire inheritance, so he’s gotta try to keep it together in order to keep his money.)

Creepy old Joel dies of cancer at some point, Chris and Cathy are going to move out of the mansion – taking Jory, the twins and the nurse with them – but before they can…Chris is killed in an accident on a snowy road.  No, I don’t think he got pushed off a cliff by a unicorn-riding dodo bird, but I’m pretty sure there was a shark attack in there somewhere.

Edited post just to add this picture, because it's too awesome to leave out. Thanks, Meg! <3

Cathy is found up in the attic by one of the servants with a note in her hand, saying that she didn’t want to live any longer without her beloved brother/husband beside her anymore.

You know, every time I would start to empathize with Cathy, or feel bad for her…I’d remember that she spent the majority of her adult life married to her brother and that her parents were also related.  That ruined it.  Too much ick factor.

Yuck.

Last book (huzzah!) coming up on Tuesday.

Trashy Tuesday – VC Andrews (Dollangangers, part 3)

At the end of Petals on the Wind, Cathy was struggling with 2 small children and a dying (second) husband.  Paul’s dying wish was that she give in to Chris and allow him to provide for her as a husband would.  So SHE DOES!

If There Be Thorns starts up 9 years later, with Chris and Cathy living as husband and wife (ew) in Northern California.  For some reason, I keep wanting to say they live in New Mexico, even though I know that isn’t right.  Weird.  Anyway.  Cathy has a ballet school and Chris is a doctor.  They tell everyone that Chris is the younger brother of Cathy’s second husband and that Paul was the father of her younger boy.  Unlike the first two books in the series, this one is told from the PoV of Cathy’s sons – Jory and Bart.

Jory is 14 and following in the dance-steps of his parents.  He studies ballet with his mom, everyone goes on and on constantly about how talented he is – even more so than his dead daddy.  He tries to be nice to his little brother, but Bart makes things difficult between them.

Bart is a weird kid.  There’s just no other word to describe him.  He suffers from some rare disorder, which is described as having nerve endings that don’t quite reach his skin, so he doesn’t really feel pain.  It sounds somewhat like CIPA, but I’m pretty sure I remember him sweating in the story – so that can’t be entirely correct.  Who knows, maybe VC Andrews made it up.

Bart and Jory like to visit the abandoned mansion next door, even though they know they’re not supposed to be hanging out there where it’s super dangerous.  The summer of Bart’s 10th birthday, an old lady (that dresses all in black and wears a veil…oooh, mysterious!) moves in and Bart starts spending all of his free time with her.  She buys him all kinds of presents and asks him to call her grandmother.  She’s also got a creepy butler, who talks to Bart when no one else is around.  Creepy butler (John Amos) tells Bart that the old lady really is his grandmother and gives him the journal of his great-grandfather, Malcolm Foxworth.  The journal is full of misogyny.  Ol’ Malcolm blames everything that went wrong in his life on the fact that his mommy left him when he was little, so he spends a lot of time talking about how women are the worst, and “I’ll SHOW THEM!” type behaviour.

Bart has an incredibly active imagination, so he starts pretending that he actually is Malcolm.  Walking like an old man, talking in a different voice, acting like a complete douche, etc.

One day while Bart is digging around in the dirt and the “grandmother” is talking to him over the wall between the two properties, he finds the mostly decomposed corpse of a kitten.  Grandmother asks him if that was her kitten that went missing, but Bart tells her that he has no idea how it got there.  Of course he doesn’t.  He’s not a weird kid that could possibly be killing small animals.  Nooooo, not at all.

Bart’s fondest wish is to have a pony, but grandmother doesn’t want to get him one because if he goes home smelling like a horse, mommy and daddy will know that something’s up.  Instead of a pony, she gets him a Saint Bernard puppy that is “just as good.”  The pony puppy is named Apple, and Bart shows us just how strange he is by deciding that he will turn the canine into an equine if he just wishes hard enough, and only does pony things with it – like riding it around and trying to force it to eat hay like a good pony should.

Because smelling like Saint Bernard drool is infinitely better than smelling like horse.

Jory’s doggy (that interestingly enough was given to him by Bart’s real father) goes missing, and all eyes are on Bart.  No one else knows about the kitten, but they all know that he’s pretty strange and that the dog never really liked him anyway.  Since he suspects his little brother of doing in his pet, Jory starts following Bart, and discovers Apple in the barn next door.  Bart freaks the eff out and tells Jory that this is HIS PONY and he’d better stay away because Apple can’t love anyone but him.  Wow, Bart.  Way to convince people you’ve got it together.

While Jory is struggling with whether or not to tell people about Bart hanging around with the old lady and the creepy butler guy, Bart goes and gets a rusty nail stuck in his knee.  Only since he doesn’t feel pain like normal people do, he continues on about his daily craziness shenanigans and doesn’t think about it other than to poke it with a dirty finger (and he’s been cleaning out his ‘pony’s’ stall, so you know just what was on his fingers…gross, but I digress).  Bart’s leg gets WAY infected (dur, just because he can’t feel pain doesn’t mean he’s immune to infection!) and he has to spend his 10th birthday in ICU.  He’s allergic to every antibiotic they give him and almost doesn’t make it.

Jory goes to take care of Apple while Bart is in the hospital and discovers that the pony puppy is being mistreated.  He’s locked up in the dark barn, his food and water is just out of reach, and he’s all covered in poo because no one has been cleaning up after him.  Did Bart just leave the dog locked up and no one has checked on him?  What, exactly, is the deal here?

Bart survives, Chris and Cathy adopt a little girl (kind of under the table because no one really knows about their situation) and this fuels Bart’s ragey little psychosis even further.  He’s mean to Cindy (dear lord, another C name?!), Apple dies, Cathy insists on dancing with Jory at a recital, has an accident and her dancing days are completely over.  Oh, and John Amos gets even weirder than before.

Cathy decides to start writing a book about their childhood (which we’re to assume is where the manuscript for Flowers in the Attic came from) and of course the kids read it.  Uh oh.  Now they know that Chris isn’t really Paul’s brother, he’s THEIR UNCLE!  More ew.  Jory confesses that Bart has been spending far too much time with the creepazoids next door and so Chris goes over to confront the old lady.  Gasp!  Shock!  Horror!  It’s his mom!  He thought she was locked up in an asylum back east!  “You leave Bart alone!”  “But he should have been my son since his father was my husband and my real kids left me after I kept them locked up for years!  Besides, you don’t want me to tell everyone who your ‘wife’ is, do you?”

[sigh]

Of course, Cathy goes next door on one dark and stormy night to confront the old lady that’s been poisoning her son’s mind and discovers the wicked witch next door is her mother.  Wait, Chris kept a secret from her?  OMG!  Crazy.  John Amos works with Bart to lock Corrine and Cathy in the attic basement.  John Amos has been reading a little bit too much of Malcolm’s diary and thinks women are sooperevil creatures, bent on the destruction of man.  PLUS, if Corinne dies, he gets all of her money.

House is set on fire, Chris, Cathy, Jory and Bart escape.  John Amos dies in the fire, Corrine succumbs to smoke inhalation (I think, I really was only half paying attention at this point), but not before we find out that it wasn’t Bart that was killing all the little animals.  It was the creepier old man, trying to frame the creepy kid.

The end.

Oh, but wait.  There are still two more books.  Will cover Seeds of Yesterday on the Trashy Tuesday – Thursday Edition.  See you then!

ps.  Happy Birthday, Heather!  <3

Trashy Tuesday – VC Andrews (Dollangangers, part 2)

Welcome to the first ever Trashy Tuesday, Thursday Edition!  In an effort to keep my recaps/synopses/reviews from becoming tl;dr posts, I’m going to bring Trashy Tuesday to you twice a week for the rest of the year.

Today we’re covering the second book in the Dollanganger Saga, Petals on the Wind.

When we last left the Dollanganger kids, they had escaped from the attic and were on their way south to join the circus –  images of themselves performing as trapeze artists dancing in their heads.  Because that’s completely realistic, right?  On the bus south, Carrie starts throwing up all over the place and the bus driver freaks out.  The kids are approached by a large, note-writing black lady (we later find out that she writes notes because she’s mute) who tells them she will take them to her doctor-son.  She writes a threatening note to the bus driver, and he decides to leave his route to deliver them to a residential neighbourhood.  This…this seemed completely unrealistic to me.  Really?  Don’t buses have schedules to keep and whatnot?

Anyway, they get to the “doctor-son” and he’s a 40 year old widower with a huge house.  OF COURSE he’s going to take in the pathetic poisoned runaways!  Nooooo, he’s not going to call the cops or anything.  He’s just going to welcome them in and give them the run of his house.  Were there credit cards in the 60s?  If there were, I’m sure he just handed ‘em on over to these kids he didn’t actually know.  Even if he didn’t give them buttloads of cash, it’s not a biggie cos he took them all on a super shopping spree shortly after arriving.  Somehow the doctor-son (now called Daddy-Paul by Carrie) manages to become legal guardian for the three, even though their mother is still alive and if it’s ever found out she has any kids, she will lose everything.  This is another thing that doesn’t make any sense to me.

Corrine’s father knew she’d locked her kids up in the attic, but he still added the codicil to his will stating that if she was ever proven to have children with her half-uncle OR any other children in the future ever, she’d lose everything.  Why was it so easy for her to be summoned to South Carolina to not appear for a custody case?  Surely just the fact that an attorney was reaching out to her with regards to her kids would have been enough to tip someone off?  NO!

Cathy starts bleeding all over the place when she auditions for some prestigious ballet company and we’re told that it was because her cycle was never regular in the attic (what with being stressed out about being locked up and being poisoned and stuff).  Chris is truly, madly and deeply in love with his sister and tells her that he will never want anyone else (ew), that his love for her grew while they were imprisoned together, and his heart will always be hers.

To dissuade her brother’s romantic feelings for her, Cathy goes on dates with a boy ballerina (I know that’s not what they’re called, but danseur sounds so pretentious) – Julian is the son of the woman who runs her dancing school – but she also starts trying to seduce her new daddy, Paul.  This girl…man, she really has issues.  She’s constantly talking about revenge on her mother and grandmother, she’s trying to hop into bed with someone 25 years older than her because he was nice AND she’s still managing to lead her brother on while telling him that it can never be.

Cathy graduates from high school, Chris goes on to medical school, but Carrie (who never really grew properly after being locked up in the attic during her formative years) gets in trouble with some mean girls at her school.  She’s locked on a roof in the middle of the night, and while trying to find her way back inside, falls into the attic (?!) and breaks her leg.  That’s the end of boarding school for Carrie, right as Cathy is about to leave for New York to fulfill her dreams of becoming the greatest ballerina the world has ever seen.  [sigh]

During one of her trips back home, Paul asks her to marry him and of course she says yes.  Chris FREAKS OUT and tells her he’d rather have her marry Julian than Paul (which really doesn’t make much sense because everyone knows that Julian is a jealous douche who is only good for dancing), but says he still hopes that one day she’ll be his.  Jeez, dude.  Let go.  SHE’S YOUR SISTER.

One night, back in New York, Cathy is paid a visit after a performance by a woman who claims to be Paul’s sister.  She says that Paul isn’t really widowed and that the procedure Cathy had after bleeding all over the place in the dance studio was actually an abortion.  An abortion that got rid of a fetus with two heads and three legs.  Gross.  Cathy believes her for some reason, and marries Julian without ever talking to anyone about it.  Smart.

Julian is of course, not the fantastic husband she’d hoped for.  He cheats on her with young girls and hits her, is incredibly verbally abusive…just not a nice guy.  While they’re on vacation in Spain, Cathy receives an invitation to Chris’ graduation from medical school.  Julian refuses to let her go because he doesn’t want her loving anyone more than him, so she drugs him and takes off.

After graduation, Chris takes her back to New York and Julian gives new meaning to the term spiteful dick by jumping on and crushing her toes.  Sorry, Cathy…no more dancing for you!  Julian gets super drunk and crashes his car, finds out he’ll never be able to dance again after the accident and kills himself.  So now Cathy is pregnant AND can’t dance anymore AND a widow at the age of 23.

But things aren’t all bad!  The insurance company doesn’t want to pay up because of a suicide clause, so she decides to find a lawyer.  Guess who’s a lawyer?  Mommy’s second husband!  The one that doesn’t know about them!  Cathy gets her money, then moves to be closer to the home they escaped to put into effect her new plan of stealing momma’s husband.  Nice.  Super classy.

Of course she manages to seduce Bart.  Of course he falls in love with her and tells her all the family secrets.  Through him, she finds out that the grandmother has had a series of strokes and can no longer speak, so it makes perfect sense to sneak into the manor and exact a little revenge against an old lady that’s ready to die.

Not sure why Chris and Carrie are there, or why Carrie's eyes are all demony.

Not sure why Chris and Carrie are there, or why Carrie's eyes are all demony.

Meanwhile, poor Carrie is in love with a boy that doesn’t seem to mind how tiny she is.  When she finds out he plans to be a minister, though, she makes herself eat a bunch of arsenic laced doughnuts so she can go just like Cory did.  It was pretty sad.  What does this make Cathy feel?  The lust for more revenge!

So.  Seduction of mother’s husband?  Check.  Whipped grandma as payback for the beatings you received as a child?  Check.  Pregnant (again) with mother’s husband’s baby?  CHECK!  The only thing that’s left is public humiliation, right?!  So, she sneaks into the house on Christmas night, descends the staircase and gives this huge performance about how she was locked up in the attic for three years with her brothers and sister.  Bart tries to play it off like he’s paid Cathy to perform this little drama, but no one really buys it.  He takes Cathy and Corinne into the library and demands answers, damnit.  Corrine lies at first, but then fesses up to being the world’s worst mother, then goes off running through the house to set the attic on fire (I assume to destroy the evidence of the dead kid that was left up there and all the things that the other three left lying around).

Bart tries to play the hero and goes back into the burning house to rescue the dying grandmother and they both die in the fire.  So…that’s two baby daddys that are dead, Cathy.  You really can pick ‘em.

Paul is dying, so Cathy marries him to give him a last few years as his wife, and so that mini-Bart can take his last name.  Paul’s dying wish is that Cathy let Chris do for her what he can, since she’s already had her tubes tied, there’s no risk of more freaky kids being born.  Wait, what?  How does anyone actually encourage someone else to run away and marry their own brother?!

Does she do it?

Find out on Tuesday!

Trashy Tuesday – VC Andrews (Dollangangers, part 1)

Let me start this off by saying that I’ve re-read these books trying to figure out what the target age group is.  I know that I read this series for the first time when I was 11 and I think the majority of the girls who pick these up are pre-teen/teens – which is pretty shocking when you re-read them as an adult.   I remember being impressed that my librarian let me check them out because they were in the high-school section (yes, I went to a school where K-12 shared a library and a lunchroom), but she thought I was “mature enough” to handle them.  Looking back on it, I’m not sure how I was mature enough to handle incest and rape in the 6th grade, but thanks Mrs W!  There is no other way to describe these books than just trashy.  Well written, engrossing, gothic trash – but trash nonetheless.

Gothic Trash

Um…I’m about to spoil the crap out of this series in these summaries/reviews, so maybe don’t read past this point if you have no idea what they’re about.

The Dollanganger saga starts with Flowers in the Attic (which is apparently loosely based on actual events), the story of a gorgeous family of 6 (mom, dad, older brother, older sister, younger twins) whose world comes crashing down when the father is killed on his 36th birthday.  I feel the need to comment on the ridiculous  tale mommy was told by the police.

According to the accounts which we’ve recorded, there was a motorist driving a blue Ford weaving in and out of the left hand lane, apparently drunk, and he crashed head-on into your husband’s car.  But it seems your husband must have seen the accident coming, for he swerved to avoid a head-on collision, but a piece of machinery had fallen from another car or truck, and this kept him from completing his correct defensive driving maneuver, which would have saved his life.  But as it was, your husband’s much heavier car turned over several times, and still he might have survived, but an oncoming truck, unable to stop, crashed into his car, and again the Cadillac spun over…and then…it caught on fire.

…and then it caught on fire.  Bravo, Ms Andrews – bravo.  I’m a little sad she forgot the whole ‘attacked by a shark and struck by lightning AND THEN pushed off a cliff by a dodo riding a unicorn’ bit, but what’re you gonna do?

Anyway, mommy is used to living on credit and with daddy dead, she can’t take care of her four kids.  She writes to her super-rich parents to beg them to take her back, because she’s been disinherited, but we don’t know why yet.  They agree and what’s left of the family heads off to Virginia to pursue a life of wealth and leisure.  BUT WAIT!  You didn’t think it was going to be that easy, did you?

They arrive at the manor in the middle of the night and are met by a formidable woman who leads them upstairs to a tiny room and tells them they’ll shut the eff up if they know what’s good for them.  Then mommy and the scary lady (their grandmother) leave for the night and lock the kids in the little room.  The following day, we discover that mommy was disinherited because she married her father’s ‘half-brother’ (more on why that’s in quotes next week) and her bible thumping parents didn’t approve.  Now, in order to get back in daddy’s good graces, she has to play the obedient daughter and pretend that her marriage meant nothing…but daddy doesn’t know about the kids, so they only have to stay locked up until he dies.  UNTIL HE DIES.  No big deal, right?  Chris, Cathy, Cory and Carrie are free to have their run of the attic every day after 10 am and they’ll be brought enough food for the day every morning.  They don’t have to worry about anything unless they break any of the grandmother’s commandments, or somehow make enough noise to alert people to their presence.  Um…okay, yeah.

I get that this is supposed to be based on something that really happened, but anyone who actually thinks about it (meaning, anyone who isn’t 11 years old when they read it for the first time) will realize that this is a pretty flimsy excuse to hide your kids away. I get that the parents/grandparents are disgustingly wealthy and money can buy lots of things – including silence – but I still find it incredibly difficult to believe that there’s just no way that no one would notice these children locked away up there, or that they couldn’t have forced their way out at any time.  Seriously, if my kids didn’t put an effort into escaping, I’d be really disappointed in them.

The grandfather doesn’t die.  Well, he does…but not until they’ve been locked up for over three years, and their mother has remarried.  In the meantime, Chris studies medical textbooks, hoping that he can be a doctor on that blessed day they’re released and Cathy continues to dance her little heart out in the alternating sweltering heat and/or frigid ice land of the attic.  The grandmother beats the crap out of them and starves them for a few weeks, so Chris forces the others to drink his blood to keep them from starving (?!).  Chris rapes Cathy, but it’s okay because she could have stopped him if she really wanted to and she was leading him on anyway [gross].    Oh, but guess what?  The Mom of the Year that locked her kids up in the first place?  She started sending them doughnuts laced with arsenic, and the younger boy dies.  Finally, once he’s dead the older kids start to wise up and come up with a plan to get them the eff out of there because they realize that they’re never going to be set free.

I think that's supposed to be the ghost of the grandpa?

Soooooooo…Chris and Cathy carve a key out of wood that somehow matches exactly the master key of the entire house (after robbing everyone silly and finding out that the grandfather has been dead for almost a year) and they make their escape.

This is pretty much where the first book ends, and where I start having a difficult time finishing this post because I’m not entirely sure how I felt about it.  I know that when I was young, I thought these books were amazing.  They were exactly the kind of escapism a young girl looks for (even if they’re not precisely the proper type of reading material).  As an adult, I can see their value for 11 year old me, but that doesn’t leave me any less horrified that this is the kind of thing I was reading then.  I didn’t hate the story as much as I expected to, and found myself completely absorbed again.  Sure, this time I noticed some weird plot points that didn’t bother young me so much, but it wasn’t truly terrible like I thought it would be.  VC Andrews may have written trash, but she sure knew how to tell a story.

3.5/5 stars:  The extra half star is for nostalgia.

I was going to cover the first three here today, but then noticed that my post would be about 3000 words, and figured no one would read it.  A friend of mine convinced me that as a holiday bonus for all of you, I should make Trashy Tuesday come more than once a week – so that’s what I’m going to do.  I’ll be back here on Thursday with another installment of Trashy Tuesday for you all, covering at least the second book in the series.  Hope to see you then!