Sunday, February 28, 2010

February Wrap-Up

Books read:

And Another Thing (Colfer)
Bloodchild (Butler)
The Extraordinary Adventures of Ordinary Basil (Miller)
Attack of the Volcano Monkeys (Miller)
Alice I Have Been (Benjamin)
Truly, Madly (Webber)
Sister of the Bride (Cleary, ebook)
A Little Princess (Burnett, ebook)
Me and Death (Scrimger)
Shades of Grey: The Road to High Saffron (Fforde)

 Audio Books finished:

Harriet the Spy (Fitzhugh)
Plum Lucky (Evanovich)
From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler (Konigsburg)
Fearless Fourteen (Evanovich)

Nancy Drew finished:

 The Mystery at Lilac Inn (audio)
  The Secret of Shadow Ranch
  The Secret of Red Gate Farm
  The Clue in the Diary (e-book)
  Nancy's Mysterious Letter (audio)
  The Sign of the Twisted Candles (audio)

Based on a Book Movie Reviews:

Harriet the Spy
A Little Princess
From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil. E. Frankweiler

Challenge status:
Take a Another Challenge (status: 2.5/12 tasks)
Twentyten Challenge (status: 5/20)
Buck A Book Reading Challenge (status: 30)

Challenges Joined:

Dystopian Challenge @ Parajunkee's View (status: 1/5)

Completed Challenges:

The Shelf Discovery Challenge (6/6)

My favorite book this month would have to be And Another Thing.  I really liked how it captured the Hitchhiker's spirit.   My favorite audio would be any of the Nancy Drews but especially The Mystery at Lilac Inn.  I love Laura Linney's narration.  I got through a lot of audiobooks this month, 6!  But my reading was a little hampered by my inability to decide what to read next.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Shades of Grey: The Road to High Saffron

From Good Reads:
In a society where the ability to see the higher end of the color spectrum denotes a better social standing, Eddie Russet belongs to the low-level House of Red and can see his own color—but no other. The sky, the grass, and everything in between are all just shades of grey, and must be colorized by artificial means.

Eddie's world wasn't always like this. There's evidence of a never-discussed disaster and now, many years later, technology is poor, news sporadic, the notion of change abhorrent, and nighttime is terrifying: no one can see in the dark. Everyone abides by a bizarre regime of rules and regulations, a system of merits and demerits, where punishment can result in permanent expulsion.

Mrs. Gamboge replied that this was just the sort of "fanciful nonsense" that librarians are apt to speak, and professed her opinion that if it weren't for the Rules, she would long ago have relocated Lapis Lazuli's band of librarians to "somewhere they might benefit the community," an opinion that caused Mrs. Lapis Lazuli to go so red with anger that I think even the Ochres noticed.
Eddie's world runs very much like a boarding school with demerits and merits and prefects.  There is shaming instead of punishment and everyone is expected to be nice and polite and the Rules are infallible leaving the residents with no choice and no thought of misbehaving.  It just doesn't seem to occur to Eddie to do something wrong.  And then he moves to the Outer Fringes where they think a little differently and all the moral training he's received conflicts with their actions.  But as he moves around in East Carmine, his natural curiosity takes over and he begins to see how the world is really run until the shocking truth comes out.

I've been contemplating how to describe this book. I've been thinking about what I even think about this book. I must say that out of all the Jasper Fforde books I've read, this one is the quirkiest and the most serious and the most unbelievable and the most fantastic. There are so many elements that I could talk about because Fforde builds a world that is real in this book. It is intricate and sound and alive. The thing I love about a Jasper Fforde book is that he shows and doesn't tell. This concept, in the hands of a less author, would have fallen flat. He doesn't set up a great deal of exposition, but rather allows the reader to find out how this world works on their own. Not to say that there is no explanation, but it only comes when it is natural. There is no forced description or dialogue. It made for a confusing book til I got the hang of the slang and the language and what was going on.

There is so much mystery involving the Something that Happened and where the Previous went and why there are roads that are alive and metal that floats and lightning balls that travel around looking for targets.  The government does its best to keep everyone in ignorance, but no one questions why since they are ignorant and believe in the Rules.   There are also lots of funny jokes and some great moments over all.  This is first in a series so I'm sure the answers will come in time.  If you've never read a Jasper Fforde, then this is a great place to start.  And if you have, then let me know what you think.

Dystopian Challenge @ Parajunkee's View - COMPLETE

Parajunkee's View is hosting the Dystopian Challenge and I've decided to sign up.  Shut up.  I know.  I've joined too many.  But it's almost March and I'm moving right along on my other challenges.  Check out her blog for the complete rules.  I'm joining at Level 1 - Experimental - 5 booksIt runs from January 24 - August 24, 2010.
ETA: I'm upgrading to Level 2 - Addict - 10 books
Anyway, I'll list here.

1.   Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde
2.   The Dead-Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan
3.   Bones of Faerie by Jannie Lee Simner
4.   The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood
5.   The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
6.   Birthmarked Caragh O'Brien
7.   This World We Live In Susan Beth Pfeffer
8.   The Maze Runner James Dashner
9.   Incarceron Catherine Fisher
10. Sapphique Catherine Fisher

COMPLETED 8/13/2010

From this list:

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
Incarceron by Catherine Fisher
The Dead-Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan
This World We Live in by Susan Beth Pfeffer
The Maze Runner by James Dashner
The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson
Candor by Pam Bachorz
Epitaph Road by David Petneaude
Birthmarked by Caragh O’Brien

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Fearless Fourteen: A Stephanie Plum Novel (audio)

The further madcap adventures of Ms. Stephanie Plum.  This time Stephanie has to deal with a wedding obsessed Lulu, a teenage boy and his missing man, the boy's crazy bank robbing uncle and an aging popstar.

I really enjoyed this one and was surprised by the ending.  It had its usual hijinks of Stephanie and Lulu trying to take down some FTAs but not as many as usual.  This one focused more on Ranger's security detail on the popstar, Brenda, a cross between Britney, Madonna, and Dolly Parton.   Brenda was a great addition since she was so funny and her "stalker" Gary was hilarious.  I love how Stephanie just accepts these people in her life and gives them sandwiches.  That was so great.  It was also funny how Brenda made Ranger nervous.  You just don't get that from Ranger.

Lulu's decision to marry Tank so also a great subplot.  I think it's funny that Tank is scared of Lulu and just lets her go on.  I doubt that they will get married, but it's a fun thing to read.  Grandma Mazer makes many hilarious appearances as does Mooner.  It was a great book and I really thought I knew how it was going to end and I was wrong.  So the predictability went out the window with this one.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler (audio book/movie)

Claudia is tired of living her ordinary life; of having to take care of her brothers and doing her chores.  So she decided to run away to the Metropolitan Museum of Art taking her cheapskate (and "rich") brother, Jamie, with her.  The two have a great time living at the museum when they discover a statue reported to have been carved by the great Michelangelo.  Determined to find out the truth about the statue leads Claudia and Jaime to the original owner, Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.

I read this book a lot when I was a kid.  Like a whole lot.  I was always fascinated by the idea of living in a museum and how awesome that would be.  And of course with the mystery of Angel, the Michelangelo statue.  I thought that was so great and I loved Claudia and Jamie and how clever they were.  I still thought that though I realized how annoying Claudia was and Jamie is so funny.  The money exchange was funny because this was written in 1968 when a dime was big money and a quarter was even bigger.  Nothing really new stood out though from child to adult perspective, but it was nice to revisit an old favorite.  I will definitely be adding this to the little man's shelf.

The narrator of the story is Mrs. Frankweiler and it was read by Jan Miner who did an excellent job of giving everyone voices and adding some humor to the reading.

 I watched the made-for-TV movie with Lauren Bacall as Mrs. Frankweiler, Jean Marie Barnwell as Claudia and Jesse Lee Soffer as Jamie.  I saw this when it originally aired in 1995, but hadn't thought about it much.

This movie gives Claudia more motivation than the book does for running away.  Her parents are very busy and expect her to pick up the slack and her brothers don't seem to do very much.  So the story stays pretty true to the book; the kids run away and live in the Museum and then the Angel statue comes to the museum and Claudia wants to solve the mystery.  Mrs. Frankweiler appears a few more times in the movie and the parents have a bigger part.  I liked the kids they picked for the parts.  They did a good job with their parts and they were age appropriate.  It is a very cute movie and a good example of turning a book into a movie.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Nancy Drew February Recap

I've done fairly well getting through the Nancy Drews and since I set up my Sleuthing Sundays, I've been posting several at once every other Sunday.  I find that my recaps are getting a little snarky.  I love Nancy Drew but there is an abundance of exclamation points and some fairly obvious plot points.

4. The Mystery at Lilac Inn
5. The Secret of Shadow Ranch
6. The Secret of Red Gate Farm
7. The Clue in the Diary
8. Nancy's Mysterious Letter
9. The Sign of the Twisted Candles

Teaser Tuesday - Shades of Grey

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along!
Grab your current read

Open to a random page

Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page

We rolled the man over so he was on his side, and as soon as the staff and the customers saw the Purple Spot pinned to his lapel, they all went quiet.  Only an Ultraviolet having an inconvenient dying event right here in their store would cause more headaches. 

p.16 Shades of Grey Jasper Fforde

A little explanation - in this book people are classed by what colors they can see and they are ranked by those colors.  People who see Purple are highly ranked, then Green, Red, etc.  Grey is the lowest ranking you can be.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Weekly Round-Up 2/22

Weekly Round-Up is my wrap-up of last week's activities and includes what I'm reading this week and anything of interest plus From the Library, my weekly listing of what I've checked out from the library.
This week I'm reading Shades of Grey (Fforde), The Clue in the Broken Locket (Keene) and maybe start Rampant (Peterfreud).  I'm listening to Finger Lickin' Fifteen (Evanovich) and The Maze Runner (Dashner).

Since last week I've read The Clue in the Diary (Keene) and Me and Death (Scrimger).
Additional reviews posted:
Sister of the Bride (Cleary)
Plum Lucky (Evanovich)
A Little Princess (Burnett)
The Sign of the Twisted Candles (Keene)

From the Library is my weekly listing of what I checked out from the library recently.  I also checked out some Nancy Drews in addition to these.

Finger Lickin' Fifteen (audio) - by Jane Evanovich, read by Lorilei King
(I am almost done with Stephanie Plum for now.  The 16th book comes out later this year and then I will be done with this challenge.)
While recovering from an ill-timed makeup mishap, Lula is a witness to celebrity chef, Stanley Chipotle, losing his head - literally. Now Lula and Stephanie are on the hunt to identify the killers before Lula is next on the chopping block.

Meantime, Ranger's recruited Stephanie's help for a top secret mission. Someone on the inside at Rangeman is leaking client information, determined to bring the company down. No one is above suspicion, not even Ranger's right hand man, Tank.

Can Stephanie hunt down a killer, a traitor, five skips and keep Grandma out of the sauce?

It's the sexiest, scariest, most fun Plum yet. So good you'll want seconds.

Fire - Kristen Cashore
(I'm fairly certain everyone else has read this by now so it's my turn.)
Fire, Graceling's prequel-ish companion book, takes place across the mountains to the east of the seven kingdoms, in a rocky, war-torn land called the Dells.

Beautiful creatures called monsters live in the Dells. Monsters have the shape of normal animals: mountain lions, dragonflies, horses, fish. But the hair or scales or feathers of monsters are gorgeously colored-- fuchsia, turquoise, sparkly bronze, iridescent green-- and their minds have the power to control the minds of humans.

Seventeen-year-old Fire is the last remaining human-shaped monster in the Dells. Gorgeously monstrous in body and mind but with a human appreciation of right and wrong, she is hated and mistrusted by just about everyone, and this book is her story.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Sleuthing Sundays - Nancy Drew #7, #9

The Nancy Drew, Sleuth Unofficial Website is a virtual fount of information about our girl detective.  There is a lot of history and interesting tidbits over there.  I especially like seeing all the old covers.

The Clue in the Diary (ebook) (Nancy Drew Mystery Stories 7)
"Count me in to help with the sleuthing - if it's not too dangerous."

The first appearance of Ned Nickerson, soon to be Nancy's "special friend" aka the one who rescues her and does her bidding and has nothing else to do but follow her orders as a good boyfriend should.  But first they meet at the house fire when Ned moves Nancy's car out of the way of the fire and she thinks he is stealing it!  But that all washes out and soon Nancy is embroiled in a mystery about the house fire and looking for a little girl's lost dad.  It all turns out ok thanks to our Nancy.

The Sign of the Twisted Candles (audio) (Nancy Drew Mystery Stories 9)

When Bess, George, and Nancy go to a quaint old inn to check on a relative of Bess and George, Nancy becomes embroiled in a mystery.  It seems the old man, Asa Sidney, is very rich and the center of a family feud.  When he dies and his will is read, his relatives are shocked by the contents.  Added to this are the inn's caretakers who are stealing and acting very shady.  Nancy must uncover the treasure hidden at the inn and save a very unfortunate young orphan.  Once again, Nancy is up to her eyeballs in mystery, orphans, and randomly rich people.

Danica Reese is the narrator and she does a much better job than the one for Nancy's Mysterious Letter, but she does this weird pronouncement thing and sometimes makes the characters British for no reason.  And there is no overly dramatic music and that makes me a little sad.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Me & Death: An Afterlife Adventure

Fresh from having stolen a piece of fruit and taunting the grocer, Jim, a fourteen-year-old wannabe gangster, bully, and car thief, is run over by a car. What follows is a hilarious, bleak, and ultimately hopeful visit to the afterworld, courtesy of Richard Scrimger, one of the country’s finest writers.

This is an afterlife peopled with unforgettable characters that might be drawn from video games: angry Slayers, tearful Mourners, and scary Grave Walkers. Jim meets them all and is given the chance to return to earth with the extraordinary gift of knowing what happens when we die. Now he must deal with living demons, including a neighborhood torturer and a truly creepy older sister.

As the days went by I continued to act strange for me. p.95
Me and Death reminded a little of A Christmas Carol which obviously influenced this book.  In fact, that was even pointed out in one chapter of the book.  Jim was a no good burgeoning thug until he had an near death experience and three extremely disturbing visions accompanied by three extremely different ghosts.  There are even parallels to the ghosts in A Christmas Carol.  When he wakes up, he tries to live a different life and make amends for the bullying and stealing he's done, but he finds that is harder to do than he thought.  I was amused by some of his attempts.  I was surprised by the ending.  I thought that something else was going to happen but it made sense, especially given something Jim sees in one of his visions.  I liked the ending and enjoyed the story overall.  Some of it seemed too simple, but then maybe things in life are simple sometimes.  It's just a matter of saying "Sorry."

*won from Library Thing's Early Reviewers*

Friday, February 19, 2010

A Little Princess (eBook/Movie)

Sweet, rich Sara Crew is sent to boarding school by her father.  When he dies and loses their fortune, she is made to be a servant by the headmistress of the boarding school.  But Sara combats the drudgery and hunger of this new life with her imagination.

While I've read The Secret Garden many time, I've never read A Little Princess before.  I'm not sure why except maybe I never liked it when Sara loses her fortune and everyone is really mean to her.  She is an expectational sweet child, very modest and good and wonderful.  She has a wonderful imagination and I liked that part of the story.  It is so horrible how Miss Minchin treats her and Becky, the scullery maid and Sara puts up with it wonderfully.  She is, admittedly, a little too nice and sometimes I wanted her to lose her temper, but I suppose that would negate the point of the story which is be nice and wonderful things will happen, I guess.

While I had never read the book before, I have seen the Shirley Temple movie many times.  It isn't nearly as sad as the book.  Sara's father is listed as dead in the Boer War and so she is made a servant and she is suppose to be tired and hungry and dirty, but she doesn't look it.  The whole book only happens over a year and Sara is 10 at the end of the movie.  There is a subplot with two of the teachers falling in love and then the man goes away to the war, but for some reason they don't tell that they got married before and that causes problems.  The man next door does help her out and give her nice things but they never explain why.  Shirley Temple is delightful and since she is in this movie there is are two musical numbers, one to cheer up soldiers and one in a fantasy sequence.  She was awfully cute.  And there is a happy ending, after all because what kind of Shirley Temple movie would it be without a very happy ending.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Plum Lucky: A Stephanie Plum Between the Numbers Novel (audio)

Stephanie can't win.  Grandma Mazer finds a bag of money that a little man in green pants claims is his.  He also claims to be a leprechaun.  Grandma Mazer is of the "finders keepers" persuasion and takes the money to Atlantic City.  But there she finds a heap of trouble instead of luck and it's up to Stephanie to get her out of this mess along with the very hot, very mysterious Diesel.

The Between the Numbers books are so funny and short.  It's like a little taste of Stephanie but with a new hot guy and a little paranormal.  Lorilei King is the narrator of the Stephanie Plum books and she does a great job.  I wasn't sure of her at first, but now I can't imagine it read by someone else.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Sister of the Bride (ebook)

From Barnes and Noble:
Barbara can hardly believe her older sister is getting married. With all the excitement of wedding plans going on, Barbara can't help dreaming of the day she will be the bride. She can't wait to fall in love.

But as the big day gets closer, wedding planning often turns into family arguments. Even the bride and groom are bickering over details, and Barbara's fun-loving sister is turning into a very practical, grown-up person. Weddings are fun, but all this serious stuff is scary enough to make Barbara think she's not going to be rushing into a serious romance any time soon.

Oh, don't mind me, Barbara thought, I'm just the sister of the bride. p.284 ebook
I've never had the experience of reading any of Beverly Cleary's teen books so I thought I'd give this one a try.  Written in 1963, it had a very old-fashioned tone.  Normally I don't notice this things since I read and watch so many old books and movies, but for some reason I noticed with this book.  It was funny because the girls know how to sew and Barbara makes cookies for her "love interest" but mostly what stood out was the way her dad talk about "man's house is his castle" and her little brother referred to polishing silver as "women's work."  But I could tell that Cleary was trying to be modern because Barbara's sister, Rosemary, is still going to college and have a career even though she is getting married.  That was a really big deal to everyone in the book and I thought it was funny.  I also liked how Barbara's imagination would get the best of her and she acted like it was her wedding too.  I know that little sisters can be like that.  But as soon as she saw the reality of what married life would entail for Rosemary, being a wife, working and going to school, she wasn't so eager to get married or grow up so fast.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Throw Me Something, Mister! Happy Mardi Gras!

I know most people don't celebrate the great holiday of Mardi Gras, but it is a big deal down here in Louisiana.  I'm not sure what we are doing on the actual day itself, but we are going the Friday before to my father-in-law's parade and then we will try to hit the little parade that rolls through our little town on Saturday.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Weekly Round-Up 2/15

Weekly Round-Up is my wrap-up of last week's activities and includes what I'm reading this week and anything of interest plus From the Library, my weekly listing of what I've checked out from the library.

My reading has been somewhat scattered lately.  I can't seem to stay on list so I'm sort of fumbling around and grabbing things at random.  So this week I'm going to attempt to read Rampant (Peterfreund) and The Clue in the Diary (Keene).  I'm listening to Fearless Fourteen (Evanovich) and The Maze Runner (Dashner).

Since last week I've finished A Little Princess (Burnett), Truly Madly (Webber), Alice I Have Been (Benjamin), Sister of the Bride (Cleary) and The Sign of the Twisted Candles (audio; Keene).

Reviews posted:
The Extrordinary Adventures of Ordinary Basil (Miller)
Attack of the Volcano Monkeys (Miller)
Harriet the Spy (book/movie review)

From the Library is my weekly listing of what I checked out from the library recently.  Most of my holds list is newer fiction so that comes in fairly slow.  Only one book and a few e-audiobooks this time.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Truly, Madly

Lucy Valentine is stuck with the family matchmaking business when her father goes on holiday to avoid a scandal.  The only problem is that Lucy does not possess the same matchmaker skills as her father and is scared of messing up.  Add to that a potential murder mystery and the hot private detective in her building and Lucy might be in over her head.
My type of ESP related only to lost objects, and that certainly didn't pertain to what I'd seen in the images of me with Sean.  Not even close. p.44
I'll be honest.  I wasn't expecting much from this book.  It looked like a little throwaway chick lit.  But I was pleasently surprised by how fun and compelling it was.  I enjoyed the paranormal aspect of it and I liked the mystery part.  It was a really fun book and the romance is pretty sizzling.  I loved Sean and I loved Lucy.  I think they will make a cute couple.  They reminded me of Heather Wells and Cooper and a little of Stephanie Plum and Morelli, a cute, sweet romance with a little bit of danger.  Just like this book.  I will definitely be recommending this series to mystery lovers.

*won from Library Thing's Early Reviewers*

Leelou Blogs
Just a note to say Happy Valentine's Day to everyone!  I hope you have a lovely day regardless of if you plan to celebrate it or not.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Alice I Have Been

Alice Liddell Hargreaves lived an interesting life.  Immortalized as Alice in Wonderland, she also had to live with the rumors of her relationship with Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll).  What really happened between the two of them that caused such a break in their relationship?  They were great friends until one day they suddenly stopped speaking and Dodgson no longer visited the Liddell girls.  But beyond was the life that Alice lived beyond her immortal childhood and that fateful story.  In this fictional biography, Alice tells of her life, that friendship and the loves and hardships beyond Alice in Wonderland.
So yes, I do get tired; tired of pretending to be Alice in Wonderland still always. Although it has been no easier being Alice Pleasance Hargreaves.  p.8
 I enjoyed this book.  It was well written and told an interesting story.  But I was bothered by the friendship between Alice and Dodgson.  The author seemed to want to censure it and make it okay at the same time.  The fact that they loved it other was fine.  It was crossing the boundary into romantic love that she couldn't seem to decide on.  It was written like a pure love tainted by the rumors of others, but real life is rarely that cut and dry.  I know it's hard to write a fictional biography and to have to decide where to stray from the path into speculation.  And, of course, much of the relationship between the two remains a secret after the destruction of each of their letters and papers from that time.

Beyond that it was interesting to learn more about Alice's life as an adult and her marriage and children.  She goes through a lot through her lifetime and is also haunted by the little girl she used to be.  Not many people represent the epitome of innocence and childhood and yet Alice must bear that burden even as her life makes her more and more adult.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Harriet the Spy (audio book/movie)

Harriet loves to write in her notebook.  She takes notes on anything that she sees and writes down all her thoughts.  But when her notebook is read by her class and they see some of the things she thinks about them, they decided to start a Spycatcher's Club.

I read Harriet the Spy along time ago and, though, I thought it was good, it was never one of my re-reads as a kid.  There are so many elements that made me uncomfortable that I could never bring myself to read it again.  Some of that still hits home as an adult.  When I was a kid, I also felt sorry for Harriet.  Her classmates read something that was private and made her miserable and they turned on her so quickly without giving her a chance to explain.  They played mean tricks on her.  And she is so sad after the loss of her nurse, Ole Golly, which adds to her general misery after being ostracized at school.  So I could never stand to read about her depression.

As an adult, I see all of that and I still feel sorry for Harriet.  Because she really was depressed. But the thing I wonder about are the adults of the story, specifically Harriet's parents and Ole Golly.  I really wonder if they thought Ole Golly could leave and Harriet would just move on.  I'm assuming that Ole Golly did most of the caretaking and so it would be like your mother just one day saying Bye.  Have a nice life.  I mean I know Golly loved her and was sad to go.  I can see more of that now that I'm older.  But Harriet is not the most mature or introspective child and so she couldn't recognize the depression that followed Golly leaving.  And the adults really did nothing to help that.   And then to add to Harriet's misery her friends find her notebook and turn on her.  They really don't do too much to her, but then ignoring her I think is the worst.  Harriet though cannot understand why they are mad and if she would have just ask an adult I think they could have explained it to her.  Also her parents take away her notebook which was the worst decision they could have made.  I was glad when they finally took her to a psychologist because she really should have gone much earlier.

Harriet as a character is funny and insightful and brutally honest but she is also a pain in the neck and shouts too much and is very sassy.  In other words, she is very much like a lot of 11 year olds.  I think she was a good friend to Janie and Sport and out of all of the kids those two should have given her a chance to explain.  But then, I guess, when your best friend says mean things about you, you would take it the hardest.  Though someone needs to explain to the children that we all have uncharitable thoughts about others at one time or another.  Harriet just make the mistake of writing them down.

In 1996, Nickoledeon made a movie starring Michelle Trachtenberg as Harriet and Rosie O'Donnell as Ole Golly.  And I sat down to watch it after listening to the book. This is a fairly accurate and a good represenatation of the book.  There are a few chances here and there, the biggest being that after Harriet's friends start their club and spill paint on her (instead of ink) she gets back at them in various ways like posting an embarrassing picture of Sport and messing up one of Janie's experiments.  She does some mean stuff in the book, but not quite like in the movie.  And Golly comes back instead of just writing to her.  But the tone is right and Michelle Trachtenberg does such an excellent job of protraying Harriet.

Side note: I've heard that Disney is doing a new verison with Jennifer Stone from Wizards of Waverly Place and I just cannot fanthom that.  She is way too old to play Harriet and I think it is going to be awful.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Attack of the Volcano Monkeys

Basil continues his adventures with his friend, Louise and a trip to Monkey Island.  The monkeys there are been made smart by a scientist and there is currently a dispute among them as to how to run the island.  The revolution is fighting the current monarchy and Basil and Louise wind up right in the middle of things.  Luckily, both are smart and capable kids.
"Whatever you do, don't talk with the monkeys." p.21
There is less about Helios, the Atlantis in the sky, and a little more about how Basil is "one of them" and about how smart Louise is.  I think that there is going to be a wonderful explanation for how Basil can do the things he can do and I'm curious about Louise's abilities.  I love the illustrations and think the entire story is so fun.


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Extrordinary Adventures of Ordinary Basil

Basil lives in a lighthouse and wishes for an extraordinary adventure.  One day a man shows up in an air-boat and Basil gets his wish in this high flying book.

Wiley Miller, the author, is the creator of the comic strip Non Sequitur and so this book has a lot of illustrations.  It is a very fun little story.  Basil feels so ordinary and then one day he is whisked away to a city in the air and from there has a grand adventure to help save the city.   The illustrations are fun and the story is definitely a good one for kids.

Here's a couple of (bad) page shots:

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Teaser Tuesdays - A Little Princess

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along!
Grab your current read

Open to a random page

Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page

When Becky went down-stairs, she was not the same Becky who had staggered up, loaded down by the weight of the coal-scuttle.  She had an extra piece of cake in her pocket, and she had been fed and warmed, but not only by cake and fire.

e-book p. 54 A Little Princes Frances Hodgson Burnett

Monday, February 8, 2010

Weekly Round-Up 2/8 + an award!

Weekly Round-Up is my wrap-up of last week's activities and includes what I'm reading this week and anything of interest plus From the Library, my weekly listing of what I've checked out from the library.

I had actually picked out The Hollow (Verday) to read last week, but I just never got around to it and it's due back at the library so I'll get it another time and actually read it.  I started A Little Princess (Hodgson) and read a whole slew of Nancy Drew books.  So this week I'm going to finish A Little Princess and read The Clue in the Diary (Keene) and Rampant (Peterfreund).

Reviews posted:
And Another Thing (Colfer)
Bloodchild (Butler) (GLBT February Mini-Challenge)
Nancy's Mysterious Letter (Keene) (done in character)
The Mystery at Lilac Inn (Keene)
The Secret of Shadow Ranch (Keene)
The Secret of Red Gate Farm (Keene)

Louise from Adori Graphics gave me the Sunshine Award.  She is the one who made my header and is so super nice and very talented.  I'm in love with all of her designs so check her out.

I can pass this on to 12 bloggers.
1.  Juju at Tales of Whimsy
2.  Amanda at The Zen Leaf
3.  Jill of The O.W.L.
4.  Trisha at Trisha's Book Blog
5.  A Buckeye Girl Reads
6.  NotNessie at Today's Adventure
7.  Runa at One Reader's Trash in Another Reader's Treasure
8.  Jenny at Wondrous Reads
9.  Brit at Confessions of a Book HabituĂ©
10. The Literary Omnivore
11. Nina at J'adore happy endings
12. Celi.a at Adventures of Cecelia Bedelia

From the Library is my weekly listing of what I checked out from the library recently.  In addition to those listed below, I checked out the Madeline books.

10 Things I Hate About Me - Randa Abdel-Fattah
(I liked Does My Head Look Big in This? well enough to try another book by Abdel-Fattah, but I'm hoping the writing is a little better)
"At school I'm Aussie-blonde Jamie -- one of the crowd. At home I'm Muslim Jamilah -- driven mad by my Stone Age dad. I should win an Oscar for my acting skills. But I can't keep it up for much longer..."

Jamie just wants to fit in. She doesn't want to be seen as a stereotypical Muslim girl, so she does everything possible to hide that part of herself. Even if it means pushing her friends away because she's afraid to let them know her dad forbids her from hanging out with boys or that she secretly loves to play the darabuka (Arabic drums).
But when the cutest boy in school asks her out and her friends start to wonder about Jamie's life outside of school, her secrets threaten to explode. Can Jamie figure out how to be both Jamie and Jamilah before she loses everything? 

Wild Seed - Octavia Butler
(I reviewed Bloodchild for the GLBT Challenge, but the only book I've read by her was Clay's Ark and I've been meaning to read this one.)
Doro is an entity who changes bodies like clothes, killing his hosts by reflexor design. He fears no one until he meets Anyanwu. Anyanwu is a shapeshifter who can absorb bullets and heal with a kiss and savage anyone who threatens her. She fears no one until she meets Doro. Together they weave a pattern of destiny unimaginable to mortals.

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler (audio) - E.L. Konigsburg, read by Jan Miner
 (I use to love this book.  Read it more times than I can remember.)
When Claudia decided to run away, she planned very carefully. She would be gone just long enough to teach her parents a lesson in Claudia appreciation. And she would live in comfort - at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She invited her brother Jamie to go, too, mostly because he was a miser and would have money.
The two took up residence in the museum right on schedule. But once the fun of settling in was over, Claudia had two unexpected problems: She felt just the same, and she wanted to feel different; and she found a statue at the museum so beautiful she could not go home until she had discovered its maker, a question that baffled even the experts. The former owner of the statue was Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. And without her help Claudia might never have found a way to go home.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Sleuthing Sundays - Nancy Drew #4, #5, #6

Cleolinda, who is so awesome, made an outline for a standard Nancy Drew novel.  It is so hilarious that I highly recommend fans of Nancy check it out.  And I highly recommend everyone check out Cleolinda.  She is one of the coolest bloggers I've ever read.

The Mystery of Lilac Inn (Nancy Drew Mystery Stories 4) (audio) read by Laura Linney
 Nancy, an attractive titian blond, grinned up at her friend. p.1
Weird things are happening to Nancy Drew and once again a mystery is afoot.  Nancy seems to have a doppelganger who is running up bills and causing trouble.  And when she visits her friend's new inn, there are a lot of mysterious occurrences there as well.  Nancy must solve the mystery of Lilac Inn and also find out why someone is impersonating her.

I like listening to these books because Laura Linney is a great reader and the soundtrack provides great dramatic music for all the overly dramatic passages in the Nancy Drew books.  Unfortunately the audio CDs are hard to come by at the library.

The Secret of Shadow Ranch (Nancy Drew Mystery Stories 5)
"We could certainly use a detective. And I've got to hand it to you, Nancy - you sure can keep your head." p.27
Helen Corning ceases to exist while Nancy gets new friends that she's apparently had all along.  It's Bess and George, of course!  Nancy ventures to Bess and George's aunt and uncle's ranch for a vacation and finds a mystery to be solved (of course).  Well, there's like 3 mysteries going on.  One is the phantom horse and the sabotage that follows at Shadow Ranch.  Then there is Bess and George's younger cousin's missing father. And then there is the missing treasure of outlaw, Dirk(!) Valentine.  Of course, the solution for two of the mysteries is the same and Nancy is an expert at finding things that have eluded others for a long time.
Oddly there is a mention of Ned even though Nancy doesn't meet him until The Clue in the Diary (#7).  This was apparently a mistake when the revisions were made. Also (highlight for "spoiler") what are the odds that the bank robbers would keep Alice's dad around after 6 months especially if there were planning on killing him later?*

Things mentioned often now: George's short hair and how level headed Nancy is.  It's a good thing she has George and Bess around now so she will always have someone to be kidnapped with.  There is also an over use of exclamation points in these books and that is where the audiobooks excel at the DUN DUN DUN music.

The Secret of Red Gate Farm  (Nancy Drew Mystery Stories 6)
"Nancy, you're a whiz, as I've often told you," her friend declared. p.36
After Bess buys a perfume called Blue Jade, Nancy becomes ensconced in a mystery.  Bess accidentally spills some of the perfume on Nancy who is then approached by a strange man speaking in code!  Plus Nancy helps a waif-like girl trying to find a job and ends up at that girl's farm where a mysterious cult is renting a cave nearby!  That happens all the time!  Somehow Nancy figures out that maybe the perfume mystery and the farm mystery and the cult mystery and the counterfeiter mystery (I didn't mention that earlier, but totally plausible) are connected because if Nancy had to solve more than one mystery that didn't lead to the same conclusion the book would explode.  Craaaazy.

*(highlight for "spoiler") Also how stupid is it that the counterfeiters would rent a CAVE near a farm to do there stuff and it would be a huge operation and everyone managed to keep their mouths shut?  And WHY would they leave her a mysterious and easily verified note from her dad?  Because that only manage to peak her interest further.  These people deserved to get caught.  Also, Nancy would be helpless when confronted with a real villain/spy because in her pretty head if you are from Texas you have an accent, there is no covering it up.*

Friday, February 5, 2010

Nancy's Mysterious Letter (Nancy Drew Mystery Stories #8) (audio) (character review)

One day I was minding my own business (not likely.  I am a sleuth after all.) when I notice our mailman struggling along.  I invited him to stop at the house for hot cocoa and he accepted.  He is a very nice old man and he is friends with my housekeeper/mother figure Hannah.  While he was at our house, his mail bag was stolen!  Who could do such a thing?  I asked around and found a very reliable source, my 5 year old neighbor, who said it was a man in a yellow coat and hat.  I checked to make sure he didn't have a curious monkey with him.  But it turned out to be the mailman's brother!  There was also a mysterious letter addressed to me from London!  But it turned out to be for a Ms. Nancy Smith Drew and she was to inherit a large sum of money!

Of course, I just had to track her down and through a coincidence that wasn't insane at all, it turned out she was going to be at Emerson College where I happened to be going to see my "special friend" Ned Nickerson play football at the Big Game.  I had a terrible time there what with the almost being run over and being locked in the theater and all, but I'm persistent and found out where the other Nancy was staying.  It turns out she was being conned into marrying the brother so he could get her inheritance!  I jetted off to New York after them, because it is completely plausible that my dad would fund my adventures to stop a total stranger from doing something stupid.   Bess and George came too because, frankly, they have no lives outside of my adventures.  And even though I was drugged and knocked out in the bathroom I still wasn't dissuaded from finding  and stopping the girl and being everyone's favorite girl detective even though I had already forgotten what happened and was thinking about my next mystery, The Sign of the Twisted Candles (now in stores)!

I would also like to say the narrator of this particular adventure was insane and made Hannah southern for no apparent reason and George talked like she was clinching a cigar in her mouth (FYI she usually does because she has SHORT HAIR) and Bess sounded so meek and ridiculous (FYI she is and she is CHUBBY because she has a normal appetite).  Voices are fine but only if they don't sound completely out of character.  I hope she doesn't narrate anymore of my thrilling adventures.
"I don't promise to forget the mystery, but I know I'll have a marvelous time." p.127
This review is for the Take Another Chance Challenge: Become A Character For this challenge, you can read any book you want. However, you have to write about the book as one of the characters from the book. The character can comment on his/her treatment by the author, other characters, the "untold story," what happened next, and so forth. You could even have two characters interviewing each other! Your imagination is the only limit. Because of the difficulty level of this challenge, it is worth two entries.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Bloodchild (GLBT February Mini-Challenge)

On an alien planet there is a colony of humans who have developed an alliance with the insect-like Tlic, the native inhabitants of the planet.  The humans have to give one of their family to the Tlic to carry their young.  Gan is one of the young humans who has been selected and he is honored by this choice.  But after witnessing one of these "births," he is unsure about what he has to do.  He loves T'Gotoi, the one whose eggs he will carry, but he experiences doubt about what must be done.

This was an interesting and creepy short story.  The idea of carrying and hatching insects inside a human grosses me out.  In fact, Butler says in the afterword that she wrote it partly out of fear of the botfly who lays eggs in tissue and her fear of this.  I've read one other book by her, Clay's Ark, which I really enjoyed and when I was searching for an author for this mini-challenge, I found out she was a lesbian.  So knowing that I liked her writing, this was so great.  And this is a disturbing little story, but at the same time, sweet and caring.  T'Gotoi loves Gan and he loves her, but he is unaware of the exact repercussions of is going to happen.  And when he finds out he must decide what to do about it.  The choice he makes is a hard one, but probably the right one.

Octavia Butler is a female African-American science fiction who won numerous awards for her work.  The story "Bloodchild" won the following awards:

Something interesting is the foreword included where Butler talks about writing short stories and getting rejected by publishers.  She says she hates writing short stories because she finds it frustrating to try and contain her ideas in a smaller format.  But the stories included in this book are truly short stories for her.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

And Another Thing

An Englishman's continuing search through space and time for a decent cup of tea . . .
Arthur Dent's accidental association with that wholly remarkable book, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, has not been entirely without incident.
Arthur has traveled the length, breadth, and depth of known, and unknown, space. He has stumbled forward and backward through time. He has been blown up, reassembled, cruelly imprisoned, horribly released, and colorfully insulted more than is strictly necessary. And of course Arthur Dent has comprehensively failed to grasp the meaning of life, the universe, and everything.
Arthur has finally made it home to Earth, but that does not mean he has escaped his fate.
Arthur's chances of getting his hands on a decent cuppa have evaporated rapidly, along with all the world's oceans. For no sooner has he touched down on the planet Earth than he finds out that it is about to be blown up . . . again.
And Another Thing . . . is the rather unexpected, but very welcome, sixth installment of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series. It features a pantheon of unemployed gods, everyone's favorite renegade Galactic President, a lovestruck green alien, an irritating computer, and at least one very large slab of cheese.
Ah, yes, thought the old man.  Tea.  At the center of an uncertain and possibly illusory universe there would always be tea. p.6
The sixth installment in the Hitchhiker's trilogy comes from Eoin Colfer, best know for his Artemis Fowl books.  Before his death, Douglas Adams had expressed an interest in continuing the story of Arthur Dent, Ford Prefect, and the rest of the characters since the last book, Mostly Harmless, ended on a rather bad note with everyone dying and so on.  So Colfer was commissioned to write the sixth book.  I was a bit apprehensive starting since I'm a big fan of the series and Adams in general, but I was extremely impressed.  It was such a Hitchhiker's book with the tone and notes and irreverence that is expected in this books.   I was happy with the characterization of Arthur, Ford, Zaphod, Trillion, and some other familiar faces.  It was nice to have a better wrap-up for all the characters even if Arthur still has no luck.  I wonder what the book would have been like had Adams been able to write it, but Colfer did an great job of continuting the story  in a way that I think Adams would have approved of and with his sense of humor and style.