This is the first children's book I've read by Alexander McCall Smith. While it's really not up to the caliber of the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency b...moreThis is the first children's book I've read by Alexander McCall Smith. While it's really not up to the caliber of the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency books, this is still a fun book of three short stories for children. The common thread of delicious food is a bit thin, but I did like the idea. Each story had a few improbable bits, but still managed to make me hungry for its featured type of food. (I had a delicious hamburger tonight! Maybe tomorrow I'll have to have spaghetti.) This was a light, quick read that some children might really enjoy. 2.5 stars.(less)
The students at my school are studying "main idea" and "facts and details" right now. While reading this, I felt like a student. I believe I get Borge...moreThe students at my school are studying "main idea" and "facts and details" right now. While reading this, I felt like a student. I believe I get Borges' main idea, but his facts and details leave me a little puzzled. The writing is beautiful, but what does it mean? I do love the concept of the universe as a library - ubiquitous, infinite, and everlasting. I'm giving this 3.5 stars - at least until someone can help me understand those facts and details a bit more?(less)
Add this to the short list of books whose movie adaptation is better than the book. And in this case, MUCH better. There is a lot here that wasn't use...moreAdd this to the short list of books whose movie adaptation is better than the book. And in this case, MUCH better. There is a lot here that wasn't used in "A Christmas Story," and some of it is really good. A second movie could have been made with Ralphie and friends - maybe a summer movie with emphasis on the Fourth of July and fireworks. I would like to see that movie - although I'm sure it wouldn't be as good as the original. I'm giving this 3 stars, but it's really closer to 2.5 for me. There are some really funny parts, but it was a chore to wade through all the rest to get to those good parts.
A couple of quotes that made me laugh out loud:
Speaking of school and bad weather: "There was no question of staying home. It never entered anyone's mind. It was a hardier time, and Miss Bodkin was a hardier teacher than the present breed. Cold was something that was accepted, like air, clouds, and parents; a fact of Nature, and as such could not be used in any fraudulent scheme to stay out of school. My mother would simply throw her shoulder against the front door, pushing back the advancing drifts and stone ice, the wind raking the living-room rug with angry fury for an instant, and we would be launched one after the other, my brother and I, like astronauts into unfriendly Arctic space. The door clanged shut behind us and that was it. It was make school or die!"
Speaking of playing in the high school marching band: "Sometimes, in a high wind a sousaphone will start playing you. It literally blows back, developing enough back pressure to produce a thin chorus of "Dixie" out of both ears of the unwary sousaphonist."
Edit: I just found out that they DID make a sequel to "A Christmas Story" quite a few years ago called "My Summer Story." How funny! It doesn't have the same actors for the main characters, and apparently it was a flop. I want to see it! :)(less)
This is a nice collection of retold fairy tales focusing on fairy tale villains. It features stories and a few poems written by many excellent fantasy...moreThis is a nice collection of retold fairy tales focusing on fairy tale villains. It features stories and a few poems written by many excellent fantasy authors such as Delia Sherman, Garth Nix, Peter S. Beagle, Holly Black, Jane Yolen, Nancy Farmer, Neil Gaiman, and a few others. As I expect with short story collections, there were some stories I enjoyed much more than others.
Probably my favorite story was "Up the Down Beanstalk: A Wife Remembers" by Peter S. Beagle. It is a retelling of the Jack and the Beanstalk story from the giant's wife's point of view. I was surprised that I enjoyed the story so much because I recently read Beagle's "The Last Unicorn" and didn't like it all that much.
Catherynne M. Valente's "A Delicate Architecture" is also very memorable and beautifully written. It's a bit dark and creepy, but I really like her idea of telling the back story of the witch from Hansel and Gretel. I would like to read something else by her sometime.
I found I enjoyed each story more if I read the note at the end of the story first - which gave a short blurb about each author and their work, and also why they chose their particular fairy tale.(less)
Maybe you have to read and enjoy these stories first when you are younger? Garth Nix is so enthusiastic about them in his introduction! I've read othe...moreMaybe you have to read and enjoy these stories first when you are younger? Garth Nix is so enthusiastic about them in his introduction! I've read other Joan Aiken books that I really liked, and I definitely plan to read more Joan Aiken in the future. But overall this collection of stories about the Armitage family somehow fell just short of the mark for me. I think I would have enjoyed the stories a lot as a child, but somehow the quirky magical stories didn't thrill me reading them for the first time as an adult.
I only ended up picking this book up again for a challenge task in which I needed to finish some unfinished books. Thanks to Goodreads, I knew exactly which page I had ended on and could pick it up exactly from there. And what a great feeling it is to pick up an unfinished book and complete it! I've never thought it was wrong to stop reading a book you aren't really enjoying, but what a sense of completion and accomplishment it gives you to finish one of those books!
I did find some stories that I liked in the second half, particularly those with Mark's music teacher, Mr. Johansen, and his lost princess - especially "The Serial Garden." A story that made me chuckle was "The Stolen Quince Tree." I found that I enjoyed the stories more if I read just one or two at a time and didn't try to rush through. Overall, though, I'm going to go with a rating of 2.5 stars for this one - but round up to 3 stars since right now I'm feeling so great about finishing this!(less)
If you don't want to read this entire book, start at the end with "Everard's Ride" and then work your way backwards through the stories. When you get...moreIf you don't want to read this entire book, start at the end with "Everard's Ride" and then work your way backwards through the stories. When you get to stories you don't like, stop, because they only diminish in quality the closer you get to the beginning of the book. I think some of the stories - even ones I didn't really like - could be worked into pretty good full-lenth novels. But here in their short story form, they just don't do much for me. Besides the novella "Everard's Ride," which I really liked, my favorite short stories were "Dragon Reserve, Home Eight," "Little Dot," and maybe as a distant third, "What the Cat Told Me." Based just on the short stories, I would give this a solid two stars, but "Everard's Ride" brings it up to three stars for me.(less)
**spoiler alert** This started out as a solid three stars for me. The stories were nice enough, if a bit pointless. The author warns readers that his...more**spoiler alert** This started out as a solid three stars for me. The stories were nice enough, if a bit pointless. The author warns readers that his fiction "does not set out to tell a story." He isn't kidding! The stories felt a little like someone's journal entry or a personal letter to a friend written about mundane incidents. Even in the story about a couple's honeymoon, nothing eventful happens. This is true for the first three stories: "The Temple," "In the Park," and "Cramp."
I rate the next story, "The Accident," at two stars. Something does happen, but again there is no attempt at a story. We don't get to know the characters in any meaningful way or get to know the reasons behind what happens.
I absolutely hated the last two stories: "Buying a Fishing Rod for My Grandfather" and "In an Instant." In these two stories, it felt like Gao Xingjian had written several different stories and then cut them apart and pasted the paragraphs back together at random. Either that or they were some form of uninteresting "stream of consciousness" writing. Either way, they were both much too long and not enjoyable to read at all.
I only recommend this book to those who are looking for an "X" author for an Author A-Z challenge, which is why I read this book. The first three stories are pretty painless to get through, but things go downhill from there.(less)
On the whole these were nice enough stories - some stranger than others. None of them were incredibly memorable, but none of them were incredibly horr...moreOn the whole these were nice enough stories - some stranger than others. None of them were incredibly memorable, but none of them were incredibly horrible, either.
My favorite short story in this collection was Chivalry, followed by How to Sell the Ponti Bridge. My least favorite was Sunbird - the one with the Epicurean Club.
I was interested that the first three stories each had a character named Jack. I thought the trend might continue throughout the book, but it didn't.
My favorite part of the whole book was the introduction by Neil Gaiman where he says: "Stories you read when you're the right age never quite leave you. You may forget who wrote them or what the story was called. Sometimes you'll forget precisely what happened, but if a story touches you it will stay with you, haunting the places in your mind that you rarely ever visit."(less)