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Sunday, March 19, 2017

Playing Catch Up! Conversion by Katherine Howe

Playing Catch Up has really been helping me through my ever growing TBR list. I'd like to welcome all other blogs to participate too! If you do, be sure to post your links in the comments section. I'd love to see your Playing Catch Up Reviews, and I'm sure others would too!! *wink*

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Conversion by Katherine Howe
Genre: Young Adult (Historical/Contemporary Fiction)
Date Published: July 1, 2014
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane comes a chilling mystery—Prep meets The Crucible. 

It’s senior year at St. Joan’s Academy, and school is a pressure cooker. College applications, the battle for valedictorian, deciphering boys’ texts: Through it all, Colleen Rowley and her friends are expected to keep it together. Until they can’t.

First it’s the school’s queen bee, Clara Rutherford, who suddenly falls into uncontrollable tics in the middle of class. Her mystery illness quickly spreads to her closest clique of friends, then more students and symptoms follow: seizures, hair loss, violent coughing fits. St. Joan’s buzzes with rumor; rumor blossoms into full-blown panic.

Soon the media descends on Danvers, Massachusetts, as everyone scrambles to find something, or someone, to blame. Pollution? Stress? Or are the girls faking? Only Colleen—who’s been reading The Crucible for extra credit—comes to realize what nobody else has: Danvers was once Salem Village, where another group of girls suffered from a similarly bizarre epidemic three centuries ago . . .
Inspired by true events—from seventeenth-century colonial life to the halls of a modern-day high school—Conversion casts a spell. With her signature wit and passion, New York Times bestselling author Katherine Howe delivers an exciting and suspenseful novel, a chilling mystery that raises the question, what’s really happening to the girls at St. Joan’s?

Conversion by Katherine Howe had a very interesting premise that quickly grabbed my attention. The Salem Witch trials has always interested  me, and this story line flips back and forth between present day and the Salem Witch trials. Both story lines were based on true events. The Salem Witch trials obviously happened, and the present day events were based on a group of high school girls who got sick in 2012. I think the story was trying to link the two events together. Aside from both events dealing with a group of girls exhibiting odd symptoms, there really wasn't much similar about them. I didn't think so anyway. I thought there'd be some deep, dark thing revealed that would link the two, but I never got that "aah"  moment where it all came together. That lack of a link was a disappointment. I wasn't sold on the ending either. There were a few things in the end that didn't belong or add up. So, it just left me wondering why? I think I may have gone into this book with a different set of expectations that I just couldn't get my head to give up enough to enjoy the actual story. It may be something you'd enjoy though. Give it a go!


MAY 30, 1706

How long must I wait?

His tongue creeps out the corner of his mouth while he writes, the tip of it black with ink, the blacking in his gums staining his teeth. He looks like he's got a mouthful of tar. I've been waiting for some time, but Reverend Green's still writing. His quill runs across the paper, scratching like mouse paws. Scratch scratch, dip, scratch, lick, scratch.

My feet ache, and shifting my weight just makes the one hurt worse than the other. I'm leaning in the door frame, and in my mind my mother prods me in my back to make me straight. It's so sharp, the prodding, I could almost swear she was really there.

"Ann?" he says.

I'd gotten so used to the waiting that I don't hear him at first.

"Ann!" He's tossed his quill down.

"Yes," I whisper.

He turns a chill eye on me, an arm over the back of his chair. His elbow's worn the turkey-work well away, 'til it's so threadbare, it shines. Reverend Green's the kind of man who's always being interrupted. A harassed look about him, as if he can never get time to concentrate on one thing altogether. Spends his whole life turning around in his chair.

I take a step back, thinking better of my errand. He gives me a long look. He's none too eager to hear what I've got to say either.

"Well, you'd best come in," he says at length, returning to his paper.

He hunches over his desk, free hand clutching bunches of his hair
like he's anxious to finish whatever he's writing. Scratch scratch scratch.

I should've gone when I had the chance; he'd never've known I was here. I glance over my shoulder, through the parsonage hall. Goody Green, his wife, has got the fire going all right, but the door's open to the yard, as it's a warm day. The patch of sunlight on the floor is so bright, I have to squint. A long stretch of shadow, and a cat wraps around the doorjamb and flattens himself out in the sunshine with a yawn. He rolls on his back, batting at ghosts.

Goody Green's at the table wringing out cheesecloth. She looks harried, and no wonder, with the baby hiccoughing so. She was bouncing him up and down the hall when I arrived, beating him over her shoulder. I said she should hold him upside down and give him a little shake, but she glared and said, "If you'll just wait for Reverend Green over there."

I not being a mother, I suppose she'd ignore my advice, though it's common knowledge how many Putnams I raised myself. Now I see she's given up. The baby's stashed in a long wooden cradle near enough that she can rock it with a foot, but she's just letting him cough, all red in the face like a baked apple. And to be sure she can't call on anyone for so much as a poultice.

No one can, in the village, anymore.

"Go on, then," she says to me, giving the cloth a final twist. She's got some arms, has Goody Reverend Green. "Don't you keep him waiting."

If she weren't there, I could sneak away. I feel my heart pressing against my ribs, and the top of my head opening, as if my soul were being ripped from my body by the hair.

A girl in a dirty coif wanders in from the yard, finger in her mouth, her apron splotched with mud. She looks over at me all shy, because she doesn't know me, or perhaps because she's been warned to keep away. She's like a sweet piglet walking on two legs, with those pink cheeks all in mud like that, and I smile at her. She squeaks in terror and runs to hide behind her...

Katherine Howe is the New York Times bestselling and award-winning author of four novels and a nonfiction book. Her best known works are The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane, which debuted at #2 on the New York Times bestseller list in 2009, and Conversion, which received the 2015 Massachusetts Book Award in young adult literature. Her newest novel, a New York City-based literary thriller called The Appearance of Annie van Sinderen, was released in paperback in 2016. She has appeared on “Good Morning America,” “CBS This Morning,” NPR’s “Weekend Edition,” BBC Radio 5, and the History Channel, and she hosted “Salem: Unmasking the Devil” for National Geographic. Her fiction has been translated into over twenty languages. In 2015 she was the visiting writer in residence at Lenoir-Rhyne University in North Carolina, and she spent 2016 as a visiting scholar at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford. While at CASBS she completed a novel set among the pirates of the Gulf coast. She holds a BA in art history and philosophy from Columbia and an MA in American and New England studies from Boston University. A native Houstonian, she lives in New England and New York City.

To learn more about Katherine Howe and her books, visit her website.You can also find her on Goodreads, Facebook, Google+, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter.

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