It has been years since I first read Ella Minnow Pea. For better or worse, my original review was more of a teaser, I didn't record what I *felt* abouIt has been years since I first read Ella Minnow Pea. For better or worse, my original review was more of a teaser, I didn't record what I *felt* about the book after reading it. The sad thing is, I was tempted to go that way this time as well. The premise is probably the most interesting thing about the book.
Ella Minnow Pea is set on a fictional island called Nollop located a dozen or so miles off the coast of South Carolina. The people of Nollop supposedly "worship" Nevin Nollop, author of this not-so-little sentence: The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog. When the letter tiles start falling off the statue/memorial, the High Council decide it's a sign from Nollop the Supreme Being. It's oh-so-obvious to them, though not particularly to the average citizen, that Nollop is telling them to STOP using the fallen letter. One by one the tiles fall--over six months or so. The penalties for speaking or writing one of the forbidden letters is severe: a matter of life or death if you persistently rebel. But you don't even have to be defiant or rebellious. A crime is a crime no matter if it's accidental or intentional.
How does this effect life? at school? at home? at work? Will this turn neighbor against neighbor? Or will it somehow bring it closer together?
Readers meet a handful of characters through letters. But characterization isn't one of the novel's strengths, in my opinion. All the characters tended to blend together.
The plot, well, it comes a bit later in the novel. A challenge is issued at some point by the council, if and only if, someone can write a new pangram--a sentence using all twenty-six letters, and for the purposes of this challenge limited to thirty-something letters, then the council will bring back all the forbidden letters and life will go on as it did before. The last third of the book is about trying and failing to write the pangram by the deadline.
The premise is the novel's strength. And depending on your mood, the novel may prove worth reading even if it's just for the premise alone. It is a unique idea, in my opinion. And epistolary novels aren't all that common.
What I didn't comment on in my initial review, so I have no idea if it bothered me then or not, is the WORSHIP aspect of this one. How the island has built a cult, of sorts, around Nollop, and talk as if he is actually a supreme being instead of another human. There are elements of this one that are just so over-the-top. I am not sure if it is innocent humor, or hit-you-over-the-head symbolism.
Did I love it? No. Probably not. Did I like it? Well, I read it twice. And it isn't like anyone forced me to pick it up again. It was a quick read and pleasant enough for the most part. ...more
Hoot Owl is HUNGRY, very, very HUNGRY. He's a bit proud that he's a master of disguise. Surely by using his disguises he can satisfy his hunger, rightHoot Owl is HUNGRY, very, very HUNGRY. He's a bit proud that he's a master of disguise. Surely by using his disguises he can satisfy his hunger, right? He spots his prey, he gets in disguise, and.... Well, you need to read the book!
This one is very well-written. I really liked the text. It's very descriptive:
"The night has a thousand eyes, and two of them are mine. I swoop through the bleak blackness like a wolf in the air."
"The shadowy night stretches away forever, as black as burnt toast."
It is also clever and witty in places. It kept me smiling. I won't spoil the surprise, but, I quite liked the ending!
Overall, I definitely liked the text and the illustrations. Have you read this one? What did you think?...more
I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED Beyond the Parallel. I am slightly surprised by how MUCH I loved it. I'll start with the bad news. That's fair, right?! Beyond tI LOVED, LOVED, LOVED Beyond the Parallel. I am slightly surprised by how MUCH I loved it. I'll start with the bad news. That's fair, right?! Beyond the Parallel is the fourth book in a series. The 'bad news' is that you 'have' to have read the first three books in the series in order to get this one. But is that really bad news?! You could easily see it as good news, right, ESPECIALLY since all the books in the series are available now. (And they are reasonably priced for the kindle as of right now). There are some benefits to waiting until the last book in a series is released before starting a series. The cliffhanger endings can't frustrate you if you've got the next book ready to go!
So. If you've read the first three books, I probably, don't need to convince you to pick up the last book. But in case you need a little extra convincing, I'll do my best. I will say that I found Beyond the Parallel to be satisfying and compelling to say the least. And that's keeping the gush out--so far.
So. What is Beyond the Parallel about? Audie, our heroine, is trapped--and not for the first time--in Halli Markham's body. She's been given a second chance of sorts. A chance to redo the last few days leading up to what *might* have been her death. There are a few things that Audie knows for certain, and oh-so-many things that she is uncertain of. On the one hand, Audie is trying to choose differently and avoid what she sees as mistakes from the time before. On the other hand, she's trying to be true to herself and follow her instincts. She doesn't want to over-think things and sit around doing nothing after all.
So Audie finds herself in Halli's body in London reunited with two of her closest friends: Daniel and Sarah. She'll be staying with that family. She's got a fuzzy plan: to find an Oxford professor who may be the only one to help her 'escape' this alternate reality and return to her own life/body. But she doesn't know his name or what school he's associated with. Fortunately, Daniel and Sarah (and their parents) are good at brainstorming. But even if all goes smoothly...there are other challenges to being in Halli's body. Namely Halli's horrible parents and their expectations and threats.
Much of the novel focuses on Daniel and Audie (in Halli's body) working with Dr. Venn. I happened to LOVE Dr. Venn. Those chapters, those conversations, well, I just LOVED the direction the story was going. It was just super-compelling and thought-provoking.
This is probably my favorite of the series perhaps because finally all things are resolved and many questions answered. I don't know that I had expectations on exactly how I wanted it to end, but, I was quite satisfied with everything!
I would definitely recommend all four books of course! ...more
I love Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House series. I do. And On the Banks of Plum Creek, while not my absolute favorite--that would be The Long WinterI love Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House series. I do. And On the Banks of Plum Creek, while not my absolute favorite--that would be The Long Winter or possibly These Happy Golden Years--is worth rereading every few years. One thing I hadn't noticed until this last reread is that the Ingalls' family celebrates three Christmases in this one book!
Plenty of things happen in On The Banks of Plum Creek: *the family moves into a sod house *the family moves into a wooden house with real glass windows *the family gets oxen and horses *the girls start school *the family attends church *crops are planted and lost *Pa leaves the family behind twice to go in search of work *hard weather is endured *Laura gets in and out of trouble (she almost drowns in this one)
The book is enjoyable and satisfying. I love the illustrations by Garth Williams. I remember them just as well as I do the text itself. ...more
For anyone with an interest in World War II and/or the Holocaust, you should consider reading the memoir Determined by A. Avraham Perlmutter. I am alwFor anyone with an interest in World War II and/or the Holocaust, you should consider reading the memoir Determined by A. Avraham Perlmutter. I am always eager to read more, so, I was happy to receive a copy of this for review.
The first third of the memoir focuses on the war itself. On his experience as a Jew during World War II trying to survive. Readers also learn about his family, his background, his childhood, Hitler's rise to power, etc. Everything readers need to know and understand to appreciate his personal story.
The final two-thirds of the memoir focus on his life AFTER the war sharing his experiences in Europe, in Israel, and finally the United States. This section focuses more on moving on with his life and establishing himself. Readers see him as a survivor, a soldier, a student, a husband, a father, and an engineer. The story of his life is so much more than just a surviving-the-war story.
The book includes plenty of photographs and documents to supplement the story.
Looking for a book to read for Lent? You might want to consider reading Russ Ramsey's Behold the King of Glory. Ramsey retells gospel stories for hisLooking for a book to read for Lent? You might want to consider reading Russ Ramsey's Behold the King of Glory. Ramsey retells gospel stories for his readers in forty chapters. The goal of this one, I believe, is to help readers grasp the big picture, to see how all the stories within the four gospels, come together to tell one story: an amazing story of a Savior and King.
It is slightly similar to John MacArthur's One Perfect Life. Slightly. One Perfect Life is made up of Scripture. The Scriptures have--at times--been rearranged or made more concise. But it seeks to give readers a big picture of who Jesus is from Genesis to Revelation. One Perfect Life is also twice as long as Behold the King of Glory.
Behold the King of Glory is a retelling: an informed retelling, no doubt. It is a retelling that seeks to bridge culture gaps and provide deeper context to contemporary readers. It is a substantive project. And it's a project that I can appreciate. The chapters are not short. The readings are not overly devotional. The readings are meaty, substantive, giving readers something to think about. Don't expect a novel. Don't expect a devotional book. It won't read like either type of book. It is not a paraphrase of Scripture. It is at all times reverent.
At times it is creative, imagining how people felt, what people saw, what people said, etc. At times it reads more like an introduction to a Bible book or a study note. But most of the time it is factual sticking closely to Scripture though not the wording of Scripture. ...more
Curious George's Train is NOT the same book as Curious George Takes a Train. The reviews for Curious George Takes a Train may appear under the board bCurious George's Train is NOT the same book as Curious George Takes a Train. The reviews for Curious George Takes a Train may appear under the board book Curious George's Train, but, the books are not the same.
George and one of his friends--a boy, not the man in the yellow hat--are going for a train ride. George is excited, of course. Don't expect this curious little monkey to get into trouble during the ride. It doesn't happen. He stays in his seat like a good little monkey. The text is simple; it rhymes. It's okay. Nothing special.
My thoughts: This was an okay book for me. I liked that this book is in the style of the original Curious George. And I do think that there's always, always a demand for more train books. This one works well enough for that need at least. The wheels on the front cover do spin a little. This book like Curious George's Crane features press-out pieces for children to play with. ...more
The book is one of four in the "mini-movers-shaped" board book series starring Curious George. There's also a train, a firetruck, and a dump truck. ThThe book is one of four in the "mini-movers-shaped" board book series starring Curious George. There's also a train, a firetruck, and a dump truck. The arm of the crane is movable. But the wheels are not. The text is simple, as you'd expect, and features George investigating a construction site. What are they building? A playground!
Not particularly thrilling for adults to read. But for a construction-obsessed toddler, this one probably has some appeal. The book also has press-out pieces so kids can play construction on their own. I'm not sure if these pieces would really work and stand up to repeated use. ...more
In Memory and Magic, Anna begins to worry about her memory. She's just now realizing that she has very few memories of playing with her sister in theiIn Memory and Magic, Anna begins to worry about her memory. She's just now realizing that she has very few memories of playing with her sister in their childhood, and, absolutely no memories of her sister having magic. She learns that Elsa and Kristoff both knew that the trolls took her memories or changed her memories. She wants those memories back! It doesn't seem fair that Elsa can remember things that she can't. Elsa supports Anna in her quest to get those memories back. Even if it means trusting a less than reliable troll--a rogue troll, if you will.
I liked this one fine. I didn't not like it, mind you. But I didn't necessarily find it wonderful either. I will mention that this one shares several memories from their childhood.
Have you read either book in this series? What did you think?...more
I enjoyed All Hail the Queen. In this first book a new series following the events of Frozen, Elsa learns to balance work and play as she begins to reI enjoyed All Hail the Queen. In this first book a new series following the events of Frozen, Elsa learns to balance work and play as she begins to reign as queen. In some chapters, Anna and Elsa get to spend some quality time together. Anna has a to-do list. There are SO MANY things she's eager to do, and eager to do WITH her sister. So much lost time to try to make up for. Most of these things has both Anna and Elsa interacting with the villagers. The depiction of Anna feels quite right. The depiction of Elsa doesn't feel right or wrong to me. (She does spend so much time in the movie isolating herself, and just a few minutes at the end after her transformation).
In other chapters, Elsa is all responsibility. The villagers have come to seek her help. It seems almost everyone wants an audience with her. It's overwhelming to her, in a way. Not to mention exhausting. Anna, I believe, is the one who points out to Anna that the people are using her, and, that she shouldn't so easily give into their pressure to use her magic to solve everything.
It's a pleasant read. For those who can't get enough of Anna and Elsa, I could definitely see the appeal!...more
It should come as no surprise that I loved, loved, loved Kimberly Brubaker Bradley's The War That Saved My Life. It's my kind of book. It's set in BriIt should come as no surprise that I loved, loved, loved Kimberly Brubaker Bradley's The War That Saved My Life. It's my kind of book. It's set in Britain during World War II. (To be honest, it could be set practically anywhere during World War II, and I'd want to read it.) It reminded me of Good Night, Mr. Tom which is a very good thing since I loved that one so very much!
Ada's existence before the war was bleak. Because of her club foot, Ada is verbally and psychically abused by her mother. She's restricted to staying in the family's one room apartment, and she's discouraged from even looking out the window. She hasn't been outside ever as far as she knows--can remember. Her younger brother, Jamie, may not be as abused as his older sister. But neglected and malnourished? Definitely. He at least gets to leave the house to go to school, even if he isn't leaving the house clean.
When London's children begin to be evacuated days before war is declared, their mother agrees to send Jamie off to the country. She has no plans of sending Ada, however, telling her that no one in the world would want her--would put up with her. Ada, who has secretly been teaching herself to stand and even to walk, sneaks away with her younger brother. The two of them need to be together.
Susan reluctantly takes the two children into her home. It's not anything against Jamie and Ada, she says, it's just that she doesn't feel adequate enough to take care of anyone else. If truth be told, she sometimes struggles to take care of herself. Since Becky died, she's been isolating herself, often depressed. But Susan finds herself caring for these two children very much. Could it be she's found her family at last?
Ada and Jamie are difficult, no question. Ada is not used to being treated decently let alone kindly. She doesn't know how to respond and react to love and tenderness and respect. And the fact that Ada knows that it's temporary isn't helping. But Ada will slowly but surely be transformed by the war. One thing that helps Ada tremendously is Butter, a pony. (Butter belonged to Becky, a woman readers never actually meet, but, Susan talks about her often with much love and affection.) Ada teaches herself to ride, and her confidence increases almost daily.
Ada, Jamie, and Susan are all well-developed characters. I cared about all of them. Readers also meet plenty of other villagers. The story has plenty of drama! ...more
Did I love Winterbound the same way I loved Margery Williams' Velveteen Rabbit. NO! I want to be honest about that from the start. Winterbound is notDid I love Winterbound the same way I loved Margery Williams' Velveteen Rabbit. NO! I want to be honest about that from the start. Winterbound is not nearly as charming and lovely and wonderful as The Velveteen Rabbit. But with the right expectations, Winterbound could work for some readers.
Winterbound is about four siblings living on their own in a rented house in rural New England with both parents away. The father is an archaeologist, if I'm remembering correctly. He'll be gone for a year or two. The mother's absence is more sudden. She goes to take care of a sick relative in New Mexico. The family--three girls, one boy--were raised in the city. This is their first time 'experiencing' country life. This is also their first time being independent. The two oldest are nearly-grown--upper teens. Kay. Garry (short for Margaret). Caroline. Martin.
Is the book about anything? Yes and no.
It is a coming-of-age story for both Kay and Garry, in a way. Both are learning who they are as individuals: what they like, love, want, need, etc. Both are thinking ahead, thinking about the future: who they want to be, what they want their lives to look like, how they plan to earn money, etc. I think it's good to approach this one as an "Am I ready to be an adult?" book.
It is a book about family and friendship. All of the siblings make friends within the community. And, of course, there's always their relationships with each other. The sections when they're spending time with their best friends are always enjoyable. Plenty of storytelling.
It is a book about rural life, seasons, and nature. When you see the title don't think LONG WINTER, that isn't fair to this book at all. This book isn't so much about winter, as it is about all the seasons. Yes, the four face a difficult week or two when they're isolated because of too much snowfall, a blizzard perhaps. But that's just a tiny part of the book as a whole. It's just as much about all four seasons.
It is a slower-paced book, I admit. Not every book has to be action-packed and full of adventure and drama. But I wouldn't say that nothing happens. The focus is on the ordinary. ...more
More jungle noir, please! More, more, more! So yes, it's safe to assume that I loved "watching" Jake G. Panda in The Case of the Cursed Dodo. The bookMore jungle noir, please! More, more, more! So yes, it's safe to assume that I loved "watching" Jake G. Panda in The Case of the Cursed Dodo. The book is written in movie/script format. Which could just have easily failed as succeeded, but, in this case worked quite well.
What did I love about The Case of the Cursed Dodo? Well, I loved, loved, loved the writing. More specifically the descriptions.
Ernie's the hotel driver. A thick-skinned pachyderm with a chip on his shoulder. He lost his tusks in a hunting accident. And he's not the kinda guy to quickly forget. But I had a soft spot for the big fella. He had a lead foot and worked for peanuts. (21)
So the premise if you haven't guessed it is that the hero is a detective. Jake G. Panda is "in the protection racket. I'm the Last Resort's house dick. The hotel snoop. The resident fuzz. It's my job to keep the guests safe and outta harm's way" (9). The first case involves a missing hare (Professor Harry), a mysterious long-buried suitcase, and a 'cursed dodo.' Plenty of action and humor. Just a treat to read. ...more
I still haven't read the first book in the Call The Midwife series by Jennifer Worth, but, I have watched and enjoyed the first two series of the showI still haven't read the first book in the Call The Midwife series by Jennifer Worth, but, I have watched and enjoyed the first two series of the show, an adaptation of the books. I loved the second book, Shadows of the Workhouse. I'm not sure I "loved" the third book, Farewell to the East End. I suppose you could say I found it equally fascinating and disturbing. The stories are definitely darker and heavier--dismal and bleak. Mixed in with stories are a handful of research chapters about various topics.
Highlights (not highlights because of 'hope') include several chapters focused on twins Megan and Mave, several chapters focusing on the Masterson family, several chapters focusing on the Harding family, and several chapters focusing on Chummy.
One of the most haunting stories, in my opinion, is "The Captain's Daughter." Chummy is called aboard a merchant ship to tend a woman with stomach cramps. The woman believes she's just had too many apples. But it soon becomes apparent to Chummy that all is not right. The woman is in fact pregnant and in labor, and, the father could be any of the crew including her own father, the Captain. Chummy learns that she's been on board and servicing the men--keeping them all happy--since the age of fourteen, soon after her mother's death. Chummy is a bit shocked--who wouldn't be--but very practical and down to earth. The birth is challenging and quite memorable. ...more
The novel opens with Harold Fry receiving a letter in the mail from a former friend, Queenie Hennessy; it is a goodbye letter. Though they haven't seeThe novel opens with Harold Fry receiving a letter in the mail from a former friend, Queenie Hennessy; it is a goodbye letter. Though they haven't seen each other in decades, she wanted to tell him that she was dying of cancer. He's shocked, to put it mildly. Though in all honesty he doesn't think of her all that often, now that her letter is in his hands, he is remembering the woman he once worked with and what she once did for him. He writes a reply and prepares to mail it, but, on his way to the mailbox, it doesn't seem enough, not nearly enough. His reply is so short and inadequate. So after a brief conversation with a stranger about cancer, he decides to have a little faith and embark on a pilgrimage. He will walk to see Queenie in her hospice home. In his mind, logical or not, he's connected the two: walking and healing. He'll do the walking, but will it work?
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry is a character-driven, journey-focused read. From start to finish, readers are given a unique opportunity to walk with Harold Fry, to really get inside his head and understand him inside and out. It's a bit of a mystery as well. Since readers learn things about Harold chapter by chapter by chapter. The book is very much about Harold making sense of Harold: that is Harold coming to know himself better, of making peace if you will with the past and present.
I liked the book very much for the chance to get to know Harold and even his wife. (At first, his wife thinks he's CRAZY. Crazy for thinking up the idea, crazier still for acting on it. It just does not make any sense at all to her. WHY WALK OVER 500 MILES TO SEE A FORMER COWORKER YOU HAVEN'T SEEN IN TWO DECADES?!
It was a very pleasant read. Harold meets people every single day of his walk, and the book is a book of conversations.