Monday, August 31, 2009

Step-Ball-Change by Jeanne Ray

It's impossible not to compare this book to Eat Cake, by the same author. And I think I'd still recommend Eat Cake as the better story. Both begin with a group of people thrown together in the midst of tragedies, who help each other out, and for the most part become better people and solve each other's problems.

That being said, I liked this book. It has a happy, tidy ending. The characters have a good sense of humor about themselves. The family relationships are great. There is a lot of discussion about marriage, and I think much of what is said is insightful.

It was hard for me to imagine Caroline as 62. But I love that she was. She has two sons, a daughter, then a son just like me. I love to think that my kids would be stopping by and sharing their problems with me 28 years in the future.

I love when she talked about dancing, and how that had been her love in life.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler

Reading this book again felt similiar to reading Harriet the Spy to my kids earlier this summer. Both books are great. Both are interesting stories, told well. But this time reading, I just felt like they were old-fashioned. They felt out of date, and I noticed more of a disconnect. It's hard to put into words, but I just wonder if I was reading either of these books for the first time as a child in 2009 if they would be as enjoyable.

(By the way, if Claudia mentions putting on a "petticoat" then the girl pictured on the cover of the book should not be wearing striped tights or Sketchers like my copy.)

Some good quotes:

"She was convinced she would develop a medium-serious skin disease within five minutes after she got off the bus."

"The silence seeped from their heads to their soles and into their souls."

Claudia's explanation:
"When you hug someone, you learn something else about them. An important something else."

I do believe literature is timeless, I do. I think so much of this book is amazing. But somehow childrens' literature just seems to feel more dated to me than other books.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Finished Harry Potter

So I did it. Finally I have finished the Harry Potter series.

I liked #6 & 7 so much better than 4 & 5. I really liked them. I don't want to spoil it in case any of you are like me and late to read the series.

But I loved the quote when Dumbledore said, "time has made a fool of us again." Or something like that in reference to losing track of time.

I liked the way the book ended. Although I will complain that it got unnecessarily complicated. All the Hallows stuff. All these connections or not connections. The wand is connected, but how. I just think that #7 got a little more complicated than it needed to be.

I do love Luna and her sweet, dreamy comments through out the whole series.

I appreciate that J.K. Rowling keeps these books for kids. The little romances are kept so simple and innocent. She often writes that the characters swear, but she doesn't have to write out the words, just references it. I appreciate that these are truly PG books. I do think they are scary, but without being gory. Like she says Malfoy still bore the mark of Voldemorts punishment, but without having to describe the horribleness. Do you know what I mean?

Overall I liked this series. It won't be my favorite ever, but I'm glad I invested the time into reading it. I think the characters are great, and for the most part strayed from the stereotypes that are repeated over and over in literature. I loved the relationship between Harry and Hermoine.

Now I'm off to tackle David Copperfield, all 877 tiny print pages of it for book club next month.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Revenge of the Spellmans by Lisa Lutz

This is another great book in the series. Don't start with it, go in order, but I liked it every bit as much as the first two. They all follow the same kind of plan, but they don't feel formulaic. I have nothing in common with Izzy Spellman, but I love her!

This series is a nice change from the books I usually read. If you took some of the things this family does to each other (invasion of privacy, pranks, etc) too seriously, it might be too much. But taking it as fiction, it is not.

Here are some lines I especially liked:

"The rest of the day I had only one thought in my mind: Is this really my life?"

"My feet felt like lead and I wanted to punch the wind that was slowing me down."

"Petra changed everything and I found that our relationship became too sticky to dust off."
Clever, huh?

I love this series, and I'm thrilled to see that #4 is coming out in March 2010!