What is everyone's problem with Amy? Am I the only one in the universe (besides Ms. Alcott, of course), that doesn't mind that she ended up with Lauri...moreWhat is everyone's problem with Amy? Am I the only one in the universe (besides Ms. Alcott, of course), that doesn't mind that she ended up with Laurie? Without giving away too much of the ending, I was very annoyed. I don't mind messing with the classics a little (I wouldn't read so many Pride and Prejudice sequels/prequels/reworkings if I did), but this one took it a little too far. I felt an active dislike for the source material, and it really turned me off. But I was having trouble with the story long before we got to the ending. Emily's "story amnesia" was a cheap plot device thrown around to make things more convenient. Emily herself wasn't much of a character, lacking any substance until the very end, and then only barely. The basic construct of the story isn't anything new, although I will give the author credit for a surprising ending, even if I didn't like it. I think overall, I was just disappointed. I love Little Women so much, I was expecting more from this than what I got. Amy appreciators unite!(less)
Hera, the Goddess and Her Glory – Man has this graphic novel series from George O’Connor got legs. The first two volumes...moreAs posted on Outside of a Dog:
Hera, the Goddess and Her Glory – Man has this graphic novel series from George O’Connor got legs. The first two volumes, Zeus and Athena were fabulous adaptations of the Greek myths, and this installment is no different. It is part the story of Hera, goddess of the air, the sky, marriage and childbirth, and that of Heracles (Hercules to you Roman fans), whose name literally means “The Glory of Hera”. O’Connor opens his story by calling Hera the only thing great Zeus has ever feared, then proceeds to show us why. But what’s great about this book is that it doesn’t present Hera as a vindictive harpy; she has her reasons for being upset with Zeus after all. She is wise to Zeus’ transgressions, and yet agrees to be his wife and queen regardless. O’Connor’s Hera is no fool, but a flawed goddess often caught up in revenge against her husband, taken through the lives of his illegitimate children. In matching the stories of Hera and Heracles, O’Connor is able to show both sides of the goddess: the jealous, cruel side that sends Heracles on his path of his infamous twelve labors and the side of the goddess often ignored by male storytellers. O’Connor tells the story of how Hera would leave Olympus and her husband once a year and take down her hair, wash herself in the river and restore her maidenhood. In the author’s note, O’Connor makes mention of the myths of Greek women that were so seldom told, and jokingly calls his book “the Hera Reclamation Project”. I think he found in Hera a story that ached to be told without judgment, and at this he has succeeded. Hera reads well as part of the “Olympians” series, but stands on its own strong feet as well. (less)
Fairly typical "mean girl learns a lesson" type story. It's not quite as interesting as the other volumes in this series, but still a quick, diverting...moreFairly typical "mean girl learns a lesson" type story. It's not quite as interesting as the other volumes in this series, but still a quick, diverting read. And Dadey's back matter is always fun to read through.(less)
In 2004, Ruby Lu, star of Ruby Lu, Brave and True by Lenore Look, joined the ranks of Ramona, Judy Moody and Junie B. Jo...moreAs posted on Outside of a Dog:
In 2004, Ruby Lu, star of Ruby Lu, Brave and True by Lenore Look, joined the ranks of Ramona, Judy Moody and Junie B. Jones as the newest precocious youngster in the chapter book set. Since then, Ruby has appeared in two more books, 2006’s Ruby Lu, Empress of Everything and the new Ruby Lu, Star of the Show. With this newest title, she’s also gotten a makeover, care of new illustrator Stef Choi (the previous two titles were illustrated by Anne Wilsdorf).
In Ruby Lu, Star of the Show, the family faces their biggest challenge yet when Ruby’s father loses his job and the family purse-strings are tightened. First on the chopping block are obedience lessons for Ruby's new dog, Elvis, who knows many cool tricks, like yoga, but needs help with the basics, like sit. Ruby’s mother gets a job, and Ruby herself learns to adjust to life with a stay-at-home-dad. (Sound familiar? It should – the plot is similar to Beverly Cleary’s Ramona and Her Father). Ruby tries many things to help the family through this rough patch, including running her own spa where her friends (with money scanned from the computer) all get new haircuts to engaging in a bit of pet therapy when her father seems down in the dumps. But Ruby’s biggest challenge comes at the end of the book, when she discovers the past of her beloved Elvis, and learns the value in giving to others in need.
Even though it harkens back to Cleary’s book from 1977, the Lu family’s struggles are very representative of our current economic climate. Ruby’s is not the only family on the block with a parent out of work, and this takes its toll on the children, too. There’s a very moving moment in Star of the Show in which Ruby’s father divides up money that was found and never claimed between two neighborhood families, keeping none for himself. This allows Panchito, who has had a hard time making friends, mostly because of his own attitude, to try candy from Fred’s candy store for the first time and decide that he does, in fact, like candy. In fact, “[h]e liked it very much.” The issue of money is handled delicately, but realistically. Despite Ruby’s worrying, never does it feel like the Lu family is in danger of losing their home, or going hungry, but the effort of job hunting takes its toll, and it shows in arguments between the parents.
Ruby’s trademark humor is in full force as well. Beyond the at home spa, there’s Ruby’s haikus in class, on everything from her dog to her “mean” teacher, Mr. Yu: “Monsters are creepy/Sneaky, send notes home with grades./Monster should not teach”. After this incident, Ruby decides she doesn’t want to be a third-grade teacher any more (Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse, anyone?). Of course, Ruby makes up with her teacher, and even attends tutoring after school to help with her grades. Ruby and her cousin, Flying Duck, even win the school’s Halloween costume contest, in their “cheap” homemade/dad-made costumes: Ruby as a washing machine, Flying Duck as the dryer. Even little brother Oscar gets into the act as a bottle of detergent.
I always look forward to a new Lenore Look title. She’s someone to recommend to nearly every reader. I put her Alvin Ho books into the hands on every Wimpy Kid enthusiast that I can find, and I do the same for Ruby Lu and fans of the aforementioned Judy Moody and Junie B. I think Ruby Lu has earned her place on the reading list next to Beverly Clearly, Barbara Park and Megan McDonald as a solidly entertaining and rewarding early chapter book. I can’t wait to see what she gets into next. A note on the cover: I’m not really a fan of the new look. The inside illustrations are just fine, but the cover image is a bit too girly to me, a bit too generic. Ruby looks like any other big-eyed, apple-cheeked cartoon little girl. She’s lost her Ruby-ness. Of course, in my universe, all Look’s books would be illustrated by LeUyen Pham. But that’s just me. (less)
My first Patterson book, and I'm not impressed. The story here is paper thin, which matches the page-long chapters. It's not dreadful by any means, bu...moreMy first Patterson book, and I'm not impressed. The story here is paper thin, which matches the page-long chapters. It's not dreadful by any means, but derivative, repetitive and lacking any kind of unique spark.(less)
I started out not knowing how I really felt about this book. Then I moved into disliking it, finding the style too staccato for...moreThree and a half stars.
I started out not knowing how I really felt about this book. Then I moved into disliking it, finding the style too staccato for my taste. But by the end, I was quite on its side, relishing in the story, if not the language. I had been taken over by Briony as a character, and by Rose, too, who warrants her own book. I rather wondered what the inside of her mind sounded like, in comparison to Briony's. I do confess to being slightly disappointed as a whole, but only because of the great praise that was heaped upon this book, a burden almost too much for it to bear. But in the end, I enjoyed it.(less)
Interesting, if flawed, and not exactly what I was expecting. There were quite a few connections and ideas expressed here that I had not come across b...moreInteresting, if flawed, and not exactly what I was expecting. There were quite a few connections and ideas expressed here that I had not come across before, specifically the roles of hypnotism and "dreaming true" played in both Barrie's life with the Ll-D boys and with Daphne. Going back farther to explore George du Maurier and his influence (whether incidental or direct) was another new idea. I think the author makes several leaps of supposition throughout, especially later on in discussing Daphne's writing, and certainly seems to want to believe the worst, and is reluctant to delve deeper into Barrie's own mental state except when it underlines the working thesis of a deranged Svengali weilding his influence over two families, bringing them both to near ruin.(less)
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, or so they say. If this is the case, than Lemony Snicket and Pseudonymous...moreAs posted on Outside of a Dog:
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, or so they say. If this is the case, than Lemony Snicket and Pseudonymous Bosch have a great fan in Ellis Weiner. The formers’ style of narration had to be an influence on Weiner’s obnoxious, self-aggrandizing Narrator in his series about the Templeton Twins, the second volume of which, entitled The Templeton Twins Make a Scene is soon to be released. Thankfully for Mr. Weiner, he does not rely totally on readers’ familiarity with peculiar narrators to keep his story afloat, and instead stuffs his book to the gills with jokes, action, twins, inventions and one ridiculous dog.
When we last saw the Templeton twins, Abigail and John, they had just thwarted nefarious twins Dean D. Dean and Dan D. Dean and their plan to steal credit for Professor Templeton’s One Man Helicoptor. After a brief respite, during which the Templeton family moves to a new university, Professor Templeton begins work on a new invention, and the twins get a new nanny (named Manny – Manny the Nanny), the diabolical duo of Deans returns to wreak havoc on them all.
I would go into more detail, but really, you can work it out, especially if you’ve read the first installment. Book two is more of the same. Which is not necessarily a bad thing. Yes, it is predictable, but so is every Nancy Drew mystery, and millions of kids still read and love those. Mr. Weiner is aided greatly by his illustrator, Jeremy Holmes, whose clever and amusing graphics pepper the prose*.
These books aren’t going to be for everyone. Some of you will find the Narrator so maddening, you’ll want to tear your hair out. Some of you are going to find him hilarious. Different strokes. But if you enjoy stories about crafty kids (and their dog, and their Manny) ruining the plans of ridiculous adults, you just might love The Templeton Twins.
*Final art was not seen, but based on the sketches, and Mr. Holmes’ work in the previous volume, I feel confident making this statement.(less)
I loved Precious, and the language and setting, and I loved the way Precious caught her cake-nabbers red handed, but there wasn't much of a mystery he...moreI loved Precious, and the language and setting, and I loved the way Precious caught her cake-nabbers red handed, but there wasn't much of a mystery here. It remains a good tale of friendship, however.(less)