I first started to read this in high school, not long after reading and loving The Hobbit and all of The Lord of the Rings. But this one didn't catchI first started to read this in high school, not long after reading and loving The Hobbit and all of The Lord of the Rings. But this one didn't catch my interest, and I wasn't sad to have to return it before the end of the school year. I never went back to it - until I needed to read five books I have been dreading to read for a challenge in one of my groups here on GR.
In attempting to read this a second time, it again didn't immediately catch my attention. I was seldom completely drawn in. I often found my mind wandering off to think other thoughts while my eyes kept reading. I would come back having read an entire page yet not remembering any of it and have to go back and reread.
There were some stories that caught my interest, but then the narrative would too quickly move on to something else. It felt a lot like when I was reading the Newbery honor book, The Golden Fleece and the Heroes Who Lived Before Achilles by Padraic Colum. And I guess that's appropriate since this is giving the mythology of the elves and Middle Earth. Both are books that many people have absolutely loved, but for me they are the type of book I only want to read once in a while. I'm glad to have read this, but I'm also glad I won't ever have to read it again! ...more
This is a quick read and a sweet Christmas story. Is it true that cows have feelings and are capable of grief, loss, and loneliness? I had no idea! IThis is a quick read and a sweet Christmas story. Is it true that cows have feelings and are capable of grief, loss, and loneliness? I had no idea! I recommend this for all fans of Patricia MacLachlan and anyone looking for a sweet Christmas story set on a farm....more
I read this almost entirely in one sitting. I enjoyed it very much, but not quite as much as Megan Whalen Turner's first book in the series, The ThiefI read this almost entirely in one sitting. I enjoyed it very much, but not quite as much as Megan Whalen Turner's first book in the series, The Thief. This is the fourth in the series. I've enjoyed them all, but they just don't quite capture that same magical "something" that was there in The Thief. I think it's because Gen hasn't been as much of a main character since that first book. Also, the complicated politics in this world tend to weigh the storyline down a bit. The politics were there in the first book, but not as strongly. With that said, I'm glad to read any book that Megan Whalen Turner writes with these characters, and I anxiously await book five!...more
Is it wrong that I kept thinking of different TV shows while reading this? First it made me think of the show Psych, where the guy pretends to solve cIs it wrong that I kept thinking of different TV shows while reading this? First it made me think of the show Psych, where the guy pretends to solve crimes using psychic powers but he is just very good at quickly noticing and correctly interpreting little details that other people overlook. It also made me think of Lie to Me, where the guy can immediately tell if people are lying just by looking at microexpressions on their face - and that was even before I got to the section where he discusses microexpressions! :) I think I watch too much TV.
This is the second book I've read by Malcolm Gladwell. I read The Tipping Point last summer and quite enjoyed it. Immediately after reading it, I found myself wanting to discuss the concepts from the book with everyone I met. I found the same to be true with Blink.
I was particularly interested in the concept that having too much information can actually hinder making good decisions. Of course, not every decision should be made with limited information as a snap judgment using the unconscious. The trick is to know which information to consider and which to filter out. I think the crux of the book is in this quote from the afterword: "One of the questions that I've been asked over and over again since Blink came out is, When should we trust our instincts, and when should we consciously think things through? Well, here is a partial answer. On straightforward choices, deliberate analysis is best. When questions of analysis and personal choice start to get complicated - when we have to juggle many different variables - then our unconscious thought processes may be superior."
He goes on to say that he only gives the above as a partial answer because the question of when to draw on our instincts and when to rely on conscious analysis is just too complicated. He says the best we can do is to try to puzzle out the right mix of conscious and unconscious analysis on a case-by-case basis.
He also quotes Sigmund Freud who seems to have agreed with him: "When making a decision of minor importance, I have always found it advantageous to consider all the pros and cons. In vital matters, however, such as the choice of a mate or a profession, the decision should come from the unconscious, from somewhere within ourselves. In the important decisions of personal life, we should be governed, I think, by the deep inner needs of our nature."
I enjoyed many of the examples he gave to illustrate his ideas of "thin-slicing" - of filtering out extraneous information in order to more clearly understand a situation and make a good decision. One of my favorites was the use of screens in auditions for professional orchestras. Filtering out how the person looks, whether they are a woman or a man, how they hold their instrument, and only listening to how they play makes a lot of sense! But I got really tired of the examples he brought back again and again - especially the kouros statue that he talked about in his introduction. He brought that one back again and again and again. I got really tired of it!
Will this book change the way I think and make decisions? Well, it certainly gave me something to think about! :) I will try to be more aware of my unconscious thoughts and prejudices and act accordingly. I will also give more credence to my feelings when I just "know" something and try to figure out how and why I just know it....more
I grew up in Arizona, yet I never remember hearing about Winnie Ruth Judd. I must have at some point, but I don't remember ever hearing her name or anI grew up in Arizona, yet I never remember hearing about Winnie Ruth Judd. I must have at some point, but I don't remember ever hearing her name or any details of the case. After reading this book, I feel like I've read everything I need to about the case. Jana Bommersbach was thorough and meticulous in her research. She paid great attention to detail including many first-person sources and interviews that have never before been published. Her writing was compelling and very readable. Once I started, I could hardly put the book down. This was the adult book for One Book Arizona for 2010, and I'm glad I finally got around to reading it!...more
This was a quick, light read that I quite enjoyed. I've heard that the series gets even better as it goes along, so I plan to read more of these in thThis was a quick, light read that I quite enjoyed. I've heard that the series gets even better as it goes along, so I plan to read more of these in the future. I immediately liked Harry, even though he does tend to get a bit descriptive about every woman he meets. I've seen a few episodes of the TV show, so in the beginning I kept seeing Paul Blackthorne and hearing his voice for Harry. But after a couple of chapters, that mostly went away. (Although I do think Paul Blackthorne makes a very good Harry.) If you like urban fantasy mixed with detective fiction, this is definitely a series to check out. 3.5 stars....more
It's been years since I last read anything by Mary Higgins Clark. I really enjoyed her early books, but at some point she ran out of new ideas. At leaIt's been years since I last read anything by Mary Higgins Clark. I really enjoyed her early books, but at some point she ran out of new ideas. At least that's what it felt like to me. All of her books started to feel the same so I stopped reading them.
This one has been sitting on my iPod for a couple of years. I got a good deal on it from iTunes, but then never listened to it. I wasn't sure how much I would really enjoy it. But I wanted something light and easy after spending WAY too much time on audio with Moby Dick. Also, I thought that I would probably enjoy this more right before Christmas than any other time of the year.
I gave it three stars, but my real rating would be 2.5 stars. It did fit the bill of something light and easy. In fact, very light and quite cheesy and silly in some places. Some of the characters were laughable, and not in a good way - although I do really like Alvirah Meehan. Mary Higgins Clark wrote this with her daughter, Carol Higgins Clark. It has characters from both of their books: Alvirah and Willy Meehan (from MHC books) and Regan and Jack Reilly along with Regan's mom (from CHC books). It felt like too many cooks in the kitchen - or maybe I should say too many sleuths in the mystery! Apparently there is a series of books they have co-written with all of these characters and all set around Christmastime.
The audio version was read by Carol Higgins Clark. For the first little bit her speech seemed very stilted and forced. I wasn't sure I would be able to listen to the entire book. I continued, though, and after a while I didn't notice it as much. Either I got used to her speech patterns or she relaxed and sounded more natural. She did some nice women's voices, but her men's voices could be better - which is a common complaint I have with many female narrators.
Overall, this was okay to listen to since I was in the mood for something light and easy, although I most likely won't ever want to listen to it again. I also won't buy any others in this series, but might listen to another if I found it at the library and it was around Christmastime....more
Maybe I would have loved this if I'd read it first when I was little. Reading it as an adult, it just seemed silly - and not in a good way. Why wouldMaybe I would have loved this if I'd read it first when I was little. Reading it as an adult, it just seemed silly - and not in a good way. Why would the zookeeper let Sammy leave the zoo and go exploring around town? Why would the teacher let Sammy stay in school? How can Sammy learn to read and write in the space of two sentences? ("Sammy learns to read. Sammy learns to write.") I usually don't mind some silliness and a bit of fantasy in stories, but this one wasn't a favorite. I did enjoy Syd Hoff's illustrations, which brought back nice memories of Danny and the Dinosaur....more
What a touching, true story! I'm not sure I would be able to read this one aloud to a class without some tears. I love the photos of real items througWhat a touching, true story! I'm not sure I would be able to read this one aloud to a class without some tears. I love the photos of real items throughout the book and the letters, tracings, and photos on the endpapers. The author's note adds a lot to the story. Very nice!...more
Margaret Peterson Haddix comes up with such interesting ideas around which to base her books. This one begins with an airplane mysteriously appearingMargaret Peterson Haddix comes up with such interesting ideas around which to base her books. This one begins with an airplane mysteriously appearing at an airport. It isn't scheduled to be there. In fact, according to the radar, an airplane DIDN'T land there. But there it is, sitting on the runway with its door open. When Angela, a new employee at the airline, investigates the plane, she finds no pilot, no crew, no adults at all. Sitting in each of the 36 seats is a baby.
This book picked me up and wouldn't let go! I found myself sneaking in times to listen even when I wasn't in the car, just because I wanted to find out what happened! I'm very glad I knew not to expect a satisfying conclusion. I felt satisfied with the questions that were answered, and I look forward to reading the next book in the series, Sent, as soon as possible!...more
This was a very nice coming-of-age/adventure/quest/fantasy story set in India. I thought it was well-written and enjoyed the plot and characters veryThis was a very nice coming-of-age/adventure/quest/fantasy story set in India. I thought it was well-written and enjoyed the plot and characters very much. Right up until the very end it was a solid four-star book for me. But there was one aspect of the ending that I didn't expect and that really bothered me the more I thought about it. It really didn't seem in keeping with the rest of the book. The setting and the use of the conch as an object of power added an interesting touch to this story, so while I'm really giving it 3.5 stars, I'll round up to 4 stars for my Goodreads rating....more
Wow, so much information! I found this very readable yet also very disturbing - which is exactly what I believe Eric Schlosser meant to do. This was fWow, so much information! I found this very readable yet also very disturbing - which is exactly what I believe Eric Schlosser meant to do. This was first published in 2001. The edition I read was published in 2002 and included a new afterword where Schlosser discussed some of the feedback and results from his book. I would love to read an edition updated to 2010. I'm sure much of what he discussed has changed in that amount of time.
My favorite part of the book was his section on the flavors, colors and smells of processed food provided by "natural flavor," "artificial flavor," and color additives. That section alone was worth reading the entire book - although it made me very suspicious of all sorts of food I eat and not just fast food! Schlosser says: "For the past 20 years, food processors have tried hard to use only "natural flavors" in their products. According to the FDA, these must be derived entirely from natural sources--from herbs, spices, fruits, vegetables, beef, chicken, yeast, bark, roots, etc. Consumers prefer to see natural flavors on a label, out of a belief that they are healthier. The distinction between artifical and natural flavors can be somewhat arbitrary and absurd, based more on how the flavor has been made than on what it actually contains."
Just a few other things I found interesting and/or disturbing:
"The Golden Arches are now more widely recognized than the Christian cross."
"America's fast food restaurants are now more attractive to armed robbers than convenience stores, gas stations, or banks. Other retail businesses increasingly rely upon credit card transactions, but fast food restaurants still do almost all of their business in cash."
"For years, some of the most questionable ground beef in the United States was purchased by the USDA--and then distributed to school cafeterias throughout the country."
"Having played a central role in the creation of a meatpacking system that can spread bacterial contamination far and wide, the fast food chains are now able to avoid many of the worst consequences....The enormous buying power of the fast food giants has given them access to some of the cleanest ground beef. The meatpacking industry is now willing to perform the sort of rigorous testing for fast food chains that it refuses to do for the general public. Anyone who brings raw ground beef into his or her kitchen today must regard it as a potential biohazard..."
I'm sure I won't stop eating fast food altogether, but this book will certainly make me think about it first!...more
Colin is sixteen, and having a difficult time coming to terms with the death of his parents. He is angry and alone, and wants to know why such a thingColin is sixteen, and having a difficult time coming to terms with the death of his parents. He is angry and alone, and wants to know why such a thing would happen to him. He travels to a monastery to visit his father's friend, Brother John, and ask him why this terrible thing happened. When Colin refuses to be comforted, Brother John tells him of a magician who lives in an ancient, haunted castle who may offer him something to help answer his questions. Colin finds the castle and the magician, who says he is the keeper of the maze at the heart of the castle. He makes no promises, but offers to let Colin journey through the maze if he wishes. Colin sets out on a journey that will change everything for him.
This is so different from any other Dorothy Gilman book I've read that it's really difficult to compare. If I think of it as a straightforward YA/quest/fantasy/adventure type of story, it is just okay. Nothing spectacular. The kind of story you don't mind reading, but later can't remember much except some vague details. If I think of the book as an allegory, though, with deeper meaning beyond just the surface story, I like it much more. I still don't think it's Dorothy Gilman's best ever, but I'm glad I read it.
I do think Dorothy Gilman meant for us to take more from this book than just the surface story. There are hints scattered throughout the story. This is probably the most crucial one:
"It came to him, standing there, that he could choose for himself what thoughts he might carry down this mountain with him, for if his future lay in the valleys below, then to take his past with him was to walk backward into that future, always looking over his shoulder and stumbling. There had to be something better ahead--there already was, he realized: the first green that he'd glimpsed since he rode out of the forest..."
I like that the above quote came in the middle of the story. Even after that realization, Colin still had hardships to overcome which tested his new ideas and allowed him to learn even more about himself.
If your cat could time travel, which nine places and times would he choose to visit? Well, Lloyd Alexander's cat would go to Egypt in 2700 BC, Rome anIf your cat could time travel, which nine places and times would he choose to visit? Well, Lloyd Alexander's cat would go to Egypt in 2700 BC, Rome and Britain in 55 BC, Ireland in 411 AD, Japan in 998 AD, Italy in 1468, Peru in 1555, The Isle of Man in 1588, Germany in 1600, and America in 1775. Lloyd Alexander's cat would also take his friend, Jason, along with him on these nine time traveling visits.
This is not your typical type of time travel. As part of his cat's time travel magic, Jason is immediately dressed to match the period of wherever they visit. He also immediately understands and speaks whatever language necessary. These visits are more about the time period, the people, and whatever it is that Jason and Gareth (the cat) need to help or to teach those they meet - usually with a focus on cats.
This is the book that started it all for Lloyd Alexander and children's literature! He says in the author's note at the beginning of the book: "Beginning with Time Cat, I became devoted to writing books for young people. I found myself able to express my own deepest feelings more than I had ever done before. It was the most creative and liberating experience of my life." And it was the research that he did for Time Cat that started him on the way to writing the Prydain Chronicles!
This is another book that I had started, but never finished. Yet this one I always meant to get back to, and I'm sad that it took me so long to finally get to it! At first I thought this was going to be like nine of the Magic Tree House books or nine of the Time Warp Trio books put together. But Lloyd Alexander is a master at his craft, even in his first children's book. With each country and time visited, the characters and settings become more and more fleshed out. This is a quick read, but well worth it. And I really love how he wrapped everything up. I highly recommend this for Lloyd Alexander fans, anyone who likes to read time travel stories or historical fiction, and all cat people!
I added two quotes from this book to my favorite quotes here on Goodreads. The first is from the author's note and the other is from the text of the book itself, Gareth talking to Jason:
"Books can truly change our lives: the lives of those who read them, the lives of those who write them. Readers and writers alike discover things they never knew about the world and about themselves."
"The only thing a cat worries about is what's happening right now. As we tell the kittens, you can only wash one paw at a time." ...more
I'm surprised more people haven't read and reviewed this early work by Russell Freedman. Perhaps it gets overshadowed by his Newbery-award-winning LinI'm surprised more people haven't read and reviewed this early work by Russell Freedman. Perhaps it gets overshadowed by his Newbery-award-winning Lincoln: A Photobiography which was published the same year.
As always with a Russell Freedman book, I learned a lot! He presents biographies of six Indian chiefs, focusing on their leadership during the time of the conflict in the American West as more and more white people settled on the land and hunting grounds occupied by various Indian tribes. The six Indian chiefs are: Red Cloud (Sioux), Satanta (Kiowa), Quanah Parker (Comanche), Washakie (Shoshoni), Joseph (Nez Perce), and Sitting Bull (Sioux).
With such an emotion-laden topic, I think Freedman made a great attempt at maintaining a neutral voice and presenting facts. It would be very easy to slant the material more to one side or the other. Both sides made mistakes and reacted emotionally, and many times violently, to wrongs done to them. I was especially sad to learn about tribes whose leaders continually tried to keep the peace yet their people were still eventually forced to leave their lands and move to reservations.
And yet you can also understand those who did fight back. Freedman quotes one Sioux chief who said: "The whites were always trying to make the Indians give up their way of life and live like the white men. If the Indians had tried to make the whites live like them, the whites would have resisted, and it was the same with many Indians."
I've really enjoyed most of the Cornelia Funke books that I've read, but the first time I started The Thief Lord the story felt way too typical. Why dI've really enjoyed most of the Cornelia Funke books that I've read, but the first time I started The Thief Lord the story felt way too typical. Why do so many children's books have orphans for main characters? I felt like I'd already read this book quite a few times. And I felt like the Thief Lord was way too arrogant to be any fun as a character. So I stopped reading after not very many pages and moved on to something else.
On the plus side, this book and the question it raised about orphans in children's literature led to a very interesting conversation with a librarian friend. After abandoning this book and then having that conversation, I started an "orphans" shelf here on GR and have been tracking all of the children's books I read with orphans as characters. It's been very interesting to take note of how various children's book authors deal with parents or the absence of parents in their books.
Also since then, every time this book has been checked out of my library, I've wondered if I missed anything by not finishing it. It didn't feel like anything unique in the beginning, but how could I know for sure if I didn't read it? Well, now I know. It wasn't the typical story I thought it would be. She really did bring something fresh and fun to the story. And she made me really want to go to Venice sometime! But this also isn't the book I would recommend reading first if you want to read something by Cornelia Funke. (I would recommend reading Inkheart first.)
I came to really like many of the characters. The Thief Lord wasn't as arrogant as he appeared in the beginning - although I guessed his secret LONG before it was revealed. I liked how the story progressed, but it did feel a little jarring to have a bit of fantasy take place in the last fourth of the story. Overall, though, I'm happy to cross another title off of my "unfinished" list and add another book read to my "orphans" shelf. 3.5 stars....more
While I was reading this, I kept wondering what rating I would give it. Is this a three-star book? Four star? Two star? Did I like it at all? Why wasWhile I was reading this, I kept wondering what rating I would give it. Is this a three-star book? Four star? Two star? Did I like it at all? Why was I making myself read this? Sometimes I found it fascinating and other times I was just bored with it. It felt like it took forever to read, yet when I finally got to the end, I wanted it to keep going!
I didn't expect to find so many pervasive themes such as family and religion. I can see why this book is often studied in literature classes. If I were asked to write a paper on The Brothers Karamazov, I would analyze the father relationships in the story, such as those between Fyodor Pavlovich Karamozov and his three sons, between Ilusha and his father, Captain Snegiryov, and between Alyosha and Father Zosima.
I felt that the first half of the book was particularly slow and drawn-out. We meet most of the characters and get LOTS of detail on their characters, their history, their place in the storyline, and their relationships with other characters. This information helps out later on, but it felt like Dostoyevsky took a long time getting to the actual meat of the story. Once we got to the murder (or patricide), I became much more interested in all of the details and the story moved along a little bit more quickly - although just a bit! Dostoyevsky really likes to take his time revealing things.
This is on the Lost literature list, which is one of the reasons I chose to read it. The themes of fathers and patricide are also important themes in Lost. Also, The Brothers Karamazov was the book Locke gave to Ben Linus (then Henry Gale) when he was held captive in The Swan. Ben asks, "You don't have any Stephen King?"
Now that I've finished the book, I'm still pondering what rating to give it. It wasn't difficult reading, but it was slow. I was interested in the characters, but once I stopped reading I wasn't always that anxious to start again another time. But then, as I mentioned, I wasn't ready for it to be over when I got to the end! That REALLY surprised me! So, while it hasn't been my favorite book in the world, I did find it interesting to read and I don't regret the time I spent with it. I wouldn't mind reading another book by Fyodor Dostoyevsky sometime. I would give it 3.5 if I could, but I'm going to round up to 4 stars because of how I felt when I got to the end.
Some personal statistics for this book:
* This is the first LONG book I've read entirely on my Kindle.
* This was book #10 in my "10 Classics in 2010" challenge!...more
I didn't enjoy this one quite as much as These Is My Words - especially in the beginning. I think I was missing Jack nearly as much as Sarah! It was rI didn't enjoy this one quite as much as These Is My Words - especially in the beginning. I think I was missing Jack nearly as much as Sarah! It was really quite painful to go through that mourning process with her. She thought about him a LOT, and I kept thinking, "WHY, oh why couldn't he be in this book as well?" I do love Sarah's character, though. She makes me want to be a better person. She has such a wonderful, down-home type of common sense. There were times later on in the story when I wanted to yell at her, though. Why wouldn't she just say "NO!" to Rudolfo Maldonado?! Can you tell, the characters and the story all feel very real? This one didn't feel like as much of a journal as These Is My Words, but I didn't seem to mind at all. Overall, I enjoyed this a lot. And now I'm looking forward to the third book in the series, The Star Garden, where I hope we get to know all about Udell Hannah!
I listened to the audio version narrated by Valerie Leonard. I loved her voice for Sarah, but some of her male voices could have been better.
Two of my favorite quotes show Sarah's attitude towards people and life:
"I have a deep-down belief that there are folks in the world who are good through and through, and others who came in mean and will go out mean. It's like coffee. Once it's roasted, it all looks brown. Until you pour hot water on it and see what comes out. Folks get into hot water, you see what comes out."
"Living is getting knocked down time and again, then standing up time and again, and once more. It's easy to act honorable when things are coming along and all your pastures are green. Plenty difficult when the ground is dried and burned and people have connived to take even that from you. I'll sell this place, or I'll lose it. I'll go on. People who don't have hard times aren't living."...more
This has been at the bottom of my to-read stack for the longest time! I mean, literally, the bottom of a large stack of books sitting here just waitinThis has been at the bottom of my to-read stack for the longest time! I mean, literally, the bottom of a large stack of books sitting here just waiting for me to read them. It's a solid, hefty book and it helped to make my TBR stack very sturdy. I planned to read it LONG ago, but then got upset when they suddenly changed the name to "The Time Travelers" for the paperback copy. Why do they do that?? It just confuses things and I don't like it! With so many other books clamoring for my attention, I lost my enthusiasm for reading it and let it act as a nice base for my book stack. But this month I finally pulled it out from underneath all those other books and read it. I'm glad I did! This is a fun time travel adventure story. I particularly liked Gideon. And I learned some things about eighteenth-century England I hadn't known before. Did you know that they used the word "bottom" as a synonym for courage? For example, "We shall make a brave show to any footpad, highwayman, or cutpurse that crosses our path, shall we not? We've got enough bottom for an army!" I wouldn't mind reading the second book in this trilogy sometime. And now I need to get busy reading some of those other books on my TBR stack before it falls over! :)...more
Another excellent addition to the Ranger's Apprentice series. This was a little slow in the beginning, but even during that part I absolutely enjoyedAnother excellent addition to the Ranger's Apprentice series. This was a little slow in the beginning, but even during that part I absolutely enjoyed the bantering between Halt, Will, and Horace. They are all three such great characters who work well together. I was soon caught up in the story and couldn't stop reading. Halt is in peril and Will and Horace must save his life! (I know I'm making it sound cheesy, but it really was very gripping and intense.)
What can I say? If you've read others in this series, you definitely want to read this one. If you haven't read others in this series - why not? I look forward to April 2011 and The Emperor of Nihon-Ja!...more
I'm VERY glad that my library also had this so that I could read it immediately after 84, Charing CrossSome random thoughts after finishing this book:
I'm VERY glad that my library also had this so that I could read it immediately after 84, Charing Cross Road. I was a little disappointed in the change of format - from letters to diary entries. Diary entries just don't give the same interactions between characters that you get from letters. But I was very glad to read more of Helene Hanff's story. And if this is telling a real story, there may not have been enough letters for a second book.
Since I've always wanted to visit England, I was just a tiny bit jealous of her good fortune. I also thought she should have taken the trip MUCH sooner! That's one thing that helps convince me these books are telling a real story, though. In a fiction book, she would have had to get to England soon enough to meet all the characters we knew and loved from the first book!...more
I was so disappointed when I came to the end of this book! It felt WAY too short! I wanted more! Luckily, there is a sequel: The Duchess of BloomsburyI was so disappointed when I came to the end of this book! It felt WAY too short! I wanted more! Luckily, there is a sequel: The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street.
I enjoy stories told in letters. Something about getting the story only in letters makes it all feel so real. And as far I can determine, these letters were real, and this book isn't fiction. There must be some question, though, because quite a lot of people have shelved it as fiction, and my library has it in the fiction section. Either way, I enjoyed this very much and am glad I finally got around to reading it.
I do think that in our modern day of internet, email, and social networking sites, this type of story isn't as unique as I'm assuming it was back then. More and more people are "friends" with people across the world who they've never met in person, and probably never will. One main difference is that there were often months and months in-between their letters. Also, I wonder if Helene Hanff wasn't one of those "before her time" types of people, because her letters often felt quite modern. Sometimes she didn't even bother to capitalize sentences or include a greeting. Or was that more common then than I realize? We tend to blame those sorts of things on the quickness of modern communication like email and texting.
I've seen lots of reviews comparing this to The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Although since this came first, I guess it should be the other way around. I would say if you've read and enjoyed either one, you should definitely read the other as well. And if you haven't read either one, well, I'm recommending them! 4.5 stars....more
I had to read this one quickly because it was bad for me. Very bad. Is there anyone who has read this and didn't feel the overpowering NEED to eat choI had to read this one quickly because it was bad for me. Very bad. Is there anyone who has read this and didn't feel the overpowering NEED to eat chocolate while reading this book? If so, please post in the comments to this review because I want to know where you get your incredible willpower! And the problem was that if I wasn't eating chocolate, I just had to be eating something, anything, while reading this book! I defy anyone not to salivate at his descriptions of chocolate. Here's just one example of his description of a favorite candy bar:
The Caravelle tasted more like a pastry: the chocolate was thicker, darker, full-bodied, and the crisped rice had a malty flavor and what I want to call structural integrity; the caramel was that rarest variety, dark and lustrous and supple, with hints of fudge. More so, there was a sense of the piece yielding to the mouth. By which I mean, one had to work the teeth through the sturdy chocolate shell, which gave way with a distinct, moist snap, through the crisped rice (thus releasing a second, grainy bouquet), and only then into the soft caramel core. Oh, that inimitable combination of textures! That symphony of flavors! And how they offered themselves to the heat and wetness of the mouth--the sensation of the crisped rice drenched in melted chocolate, chomped by the molars in the creamy swirl of caramel. Oh, woe and pity unto thee who never tasted this bar! True woe! True pity!
He had me laughing from the very beginning with his bit about Baker's Chocolate as the cruelest food product ever invented. I have vivid memories of biting into that block of chocolate as a child despite warnings from my mom that I wouldn't like it.
There were parts I didn't find quite as humorous or as interesting - such as when he would veer off-topic into his thoughts on politics. But overall, I found this quite fascinating. They need to market this book with a sample box of all the candy bars mentioned! Some I had never heard of, and some I haven't eaten in a while and now need to go find, such as the Big Hunk! Ah, the memories....more
This is another book that I enjoy while I'm reading, but I know that later I won't remember many details of the story. This is also another Newbery hoThis is another book that I enjoy while I'm reading, but I know that later I won't remember many details of the story. This is also another Newbery honor that I wonder why it won. Not that it isn't a perfectly nice story. It's a quick read and a coming-of-age story about Tigre, a young Maya boy in Yucatán who must plant the corn his family needs for food when his father is injured in an accident. The hardest part about planting the corn is that first the "milpa" or cornfield, which is a chosen area in the center of the forest, must be cleared (or bushed) by cutting down the trees and burning those trees after they have dried. The corn must then be planted with faith that the gods will send rain so that it will grow. In fact, all of the bushing, burning, and planting process must proceed with careful timing, attention to the weather, and with faith in the gods. For the Mayas, "making milpa" is a religious rite.
Hm, maybe I'll remember more of the details of this book now that I've put them in my review.
Quite a few people have shelved this as historical fiction, and it definitely has that feel. But it isn't strictly written as historical fiction. The time period is never mentioned. Is making milpa still something the Maya people did in 1956 when this was published? Do they still do it today? A quick check of Wikipedia confirms that "milpa is a crop-growing system used throughout Mesoamerica. It has been most extensively described in the Yucatán peninsula area of Mexico..." Consequently, I've shelved it as fiction. 3.5 stars.
A favorite quote:
Tigre worked on his rope. Several times he had to unravel it and start again, but each time it was a little easier. A few months ago, he thought, he would have given it up as not worth the trouble. But his persistence in keeping on with the bushing had done something more for him besides getting down bush. As using his muscles constantly had strengthened his arms, so doing the hard thing had exercised and strengthened his will. It was easier now for him to stick to unpleasant things....more
While reading a Newbery Award winner or Honor book, there is always a tendency to judge it and decide if it is worthy of the award. This is a quick reWhile reading a Newbery Award winner or Honor book, there is always a tendency to judge it and decide if it is worthy of the award. This is a quick read and a sweet Christmas story, but I couldn't see why it would win a Newbery honor until towards the end:
The lamp chamber always gave Ronnie a strange feeling. You reached it breathless from the long climb, but at the top step something else took over. The sea piling up to the horizon, the expanse of sky, the bold swooping and circling of the gulls lifted you somehow. You felt light as air, as though you had only to lay a finger gently on a gull's claw to go off and up. But tonight there was something more. The whole chamber was diffused with color, a dull green and gold from the glow still lingering in the western sky. It gave everything a gentle radiance of its own.
Such beautiful writing that conveys not only the unique setting, but a wonderful mood and feeling. Very nice....more
Another autobiographical dog book by Gary Paulsen that will make you both laugh and cry. This one is all about Cookie, the dog he dedicated My Life inAnother autobiographical dog book by Gary Paulsen that will make you both laugh and cry. This one is all about Cookie, the dog he dedicated My Life in Dog Years to. I think I didn't initially connect as much with this book because I don't know much about sled dogs. In fact, nearly everything I know about sled dogs, I've learned from Gary Paulsen's books. But once he started telling stories about Cookie's puppies, I was hooked. 4.5 stars....more
Wow. I loved this book. If you are a fan of Gary Paulsen, or a dog person, or both, you will like this book! I read it during silent reading time withWow. I loved this book. If you are a fan of Gary Paulsen, or a dog person, or both, you will like this book! I read it during silent reading time with my library classes, which actually wasn't a great idea because I was alternately crying or laughing or both - and trying to be quiet! - during the different stories. I would have enjoyed even more a much longer book with many more stories of dogs from Gary Paulsen's life.
A favorite quote: "I have always had dogs and will have dogs until I die. I have rescued dozens of dogs from pounds, always have five or six of them around me, and cannot imagine living without dogs. They are wonderful and, I think, mandatory for decent human life."...more
I didn't immediately love this. I enjoyed it a lot, but felt that it just wasn't up to the greatness of Savvy. But the more I read, the more I enjoyedI didn't immediately love this. I enjoyed it a lot, but felt that it just wasn't up to the greatness of Savvy. But the more I read, the more I enjoyed the story, cared about the characters, and LOVED the book. Now I'm wondering if I might like it even more than Savvy. Either way, they are both 5 star books! Ingrid Law has a savvy for writing amazing books!
Note: I hope that in her next book she will talk more about the race of tiny people who live in the library and come out at night to shelve books! :)...more