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review 2017-10-19 05:52
Mr. Bean's Diary by Robin Driscoll & Rowan Atkinson
Mr Bean's Diary - Robin Driscoll,Rowan Atkinson

A hilarious diary presents a zany chronicle of a year in the life of Mr. Bean, from his New Year's resolutions to the trials and tribulations of romance, poetry class, and run-ins with the local police. 





*This review is based on my 1993 edition of this book. A second edition was released in 2010



First published in the UK in 1993, Mr. Bean's Diary is the result of teamwork between Robin Driscoll (British actor / writer for the Mr. Bean show) and Mr. Bean himself, Rowan Atkinson. Here, fans of the show will get a peek into Bean's daily scheduler, which offers hilarious insight into his wacky psyche (not to mention his wild inventions!). 



Sometimes there's some cutesy humor -- Bean having a brief flirtation with the idea of marriage, so he decides to stalk a librarian who catches his eye. Then there's a darker vein of humor, almost in the style of the Ace Ventura "LACES OUT!" bit. There's also some trouble with the police thrown in. One of my favorites was Bean's trip to a psychic medium, where he tries to connect with his mother to ask her where the plunger is so he can unclog the sink (funny, but in a way also rings a little sad). He also mentions posing a question to Charles Dickens regarding his novel Edwin Drood, to which the apparent reply was "Haven't made up my mind yet." :-P Longtime fans of the show will also see plenty of nods to classic content, such as Bean's love of Shirley Bassey and of course regularly avoiding interaction with the landlord Mrs. Wicket. 



The attention to detail on each individual page is quite impressive. It's fun to spot things such as tea stains, blood splatters, passport photos of the back of Bean's head LOL, pressed insects. There's even one page layout that features a pressed flower on one side with faint flower residue on the other! 



Some of my favorite entries:


* His telephone directory in the front: "God -- Everywhere (Literally, apparently)"


* Has a bad day, writes "Whiskey is lovely" in squiggly, run-off cursive. 

* Jan. 19th: "12:15 Lunch in park. 12:25 Left park (too much poo)"

* Feb 15-23 blank entries, Feb 24th "FOUND DIARY!"

* July 27th: "Scream ---> Pull Self Together"

* "Christmas Day, 1992: "3pm -- The Queen"


Also be sure to check out the bonus flip book in the upper right hand corner featuring Bean's car!



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text 2017-09-05 13:10
Children Books I've Read Recently

Recently I decided to go on a binge of reading children stories. I was just in a nostalgic mood and ended up reading some books I never got around to reading when I was younger, and some that are newer published.


Ivy and Bean by Annie Barrows, Sophie Blackall (Illustrator) 

#1 (4 stars)

I was browsing through the kid section of the overdrive library, because I was in the mood for some children/middle grade (possibly nostalgic stuff from my past) and I saw the cover for this book. I thought it looked cute, so I checked it out. I liked it. I think it was silly and fun, and of course cute. I'm in my 30s, but I like to believe I still have a firm grasp on my inner child. I can still relate to younger characters. In the case of these two, I can relate to their imagination and how they get along with family; especially annoying a sibling.




The Adventures of Captain Underpants Dav Pilkey

#1 (5 stars)

I think this book is fun, silly, weird, but I can see why it is a hit or miss with some people. I enjoyed the artwork.




Scream Street by Tommy Donbavand

Fang of the Vampire #1 (5 stars)


I thought this series looked interesting and it turned out pretty fun and cute.

Blood of the Witch #2 (4 stars)

I'm on the fence if I liked this one better than the first one or not. It was quite silly, but not in a bad way, and the author is obviously going with his own vampire lore of how vampires are made

and cured.

(spoiler show)

At least they don't sparkle. ha ha

A fun, quick paced read.




The Magic Tree House by Mary Pope Osborne, Salvatore Murdocca (Illustrator)


Dinosaurs Before Dark #1 (4 stars)

I never read this series as a kid. It is just one of the ones I over looked and never thought about. But I thought this was cute and fun, especially for the age group it is intended for. The only reason adult me would give it a lower rating is because I would love more details and I believe even as a child reading this, more details couldn't hurt!

The Knight at Dawn #2 (3 Stars)

The only reason I give the volumes after #1 a 3 star instead of a 4 star is because of the repetitiveness. The summery of past books within the new story would be really helpful for a person who hasn't read the series in a long time. I will give this series that! So I understand why it happens, but it takes something from me as an adult reader.

However the books are cute and fun. I can relate to them, even as an adult, because I love books and would love to be in their shoes, to see all the worlds in the books, and who wouldn't want a magic tree house?

Mummies In The Morning #3 (3 Stars)

Now that I have finished the 3rd book in the series, I am starting to wonder... is the magic tree house really there, or are the children making up everything in their heads? Either way, I really like it!

Pirates Past Noon #4 (3 Stars)

So now we know who "M" is. I still wonder if the children are making up everything in their minds. Imagination is a powerful thing! Either way, this series is really fun. Sure, it's simple and short for adult readers, but that is completely fine by me! It is nice to sit down with some books without all the young adult drama. Also, I feel like these "children" books and other nostalgia type books are really good when you are in a reading slump.




Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney

#1 (4 stars)

I think I would have rated this higher if the kid hadn't been such a brat. I know kids can be bratty, but he seemed way over the top! I would even say he has a meanness to him and doesn't care what the coincidences of his actions are. I felt sorry for his so called best friend.

I do like diary format in books. I might read more in the series. I hope he grows as a character as the series goes on.

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review 2017-07-27 21:40
The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver
The Bean Trees - Barbara Kingsolver

This is an uneven debut novel from a talented author. It is in some ways a feel-good story, about a young woman who travels far from home and builds a community. The book focuses on the themes of motherhood and of growing up and trying to do right in the face of the ugliness of the world, and does so effectively. There is room for improvement though, in particular because a major aspect of the plot depends on a premise both problematic and extremely unlikely.

Taylor Greer is a young woman from the mountains of Kentucky who decides to reinvent her life, so she sets off in her beat-up old car with no clear plan in mind. By the time she reaches Tucson, she isn’t alone: when she stops at a bar in the Cherokee part of Oklahoma, a woman dumps a 3-year-old child on her. So Taylor unexpectedly has to learn to be a mother, which winds up connecting her to a wider community.

Which is all written very sweetly, but the situation makes little sense. From what little we learn of the child’s background, she’s been abused and neglected, and it’s her aunt who gives her to Taylor after her mother’s death, apparently in an attempt to protect her. All the aunt knows about Taylor is that she’s eating alone at night in a mostly-empty bar, where she requests the cheapest thing on the menu, and she drives a beat-up old rattletrap of a car with out-of-state plates. No names or contact information are exchanged. No matter how desperate the child’s home situation, it’s hard to imagine any relative believing this is a good idea. Meanwhile, although a large part of Taylor’s identity is based on having reached her early 20’s without pregnancy, and although she has no means to care for a child, she easily accepts responsibility after a token protest, without considering that contacting social services or the police might be a better idea than driving off with a stranger's child. She doesn't give a second thought to the ways accepting sole responsibility for a traumatized toddler will upend her life.

That’s the unlikely part. The problematic elements come to the forefront when Taylor’s legal relationship with the child is called into question, and she resorts to dishonest means to resolve it. This is particularly unfortunate when the child belongs to a tribe, given the long history in the U.S. of native kids being removed from their homes. Apparently Kingsolver, who is known for her investment in social justice issues, ultimately came to the same conclusion, since a few years later she wrote a sequel dealing with this issue.

At any rate, it’s easy to see the signs pointing to Kingsolver’s later popularity as an author: the story is engaging after a slow start; the writing and the first-person voice are strong. The characters are interesting, and Kingsolver does a good job of bringing secondary characters to life even with little page time. The main characters are strong although not entirely consistent (Taylor’s roommate, Lou Ann, is a young mother with an obsessive fear of danger that’s nowhere to be seen in the two chapters at the beginning told from her perspective). There are some details that don’t add up – Lou Ann’s husband had an accident in which he fell from his truck, caught his foot in the door and was dragged along, and his only serious injury was to his foot? Taylor, who’s in her early 20s in a story set around 1980, had a great-grandfather who was not only alive but old at the time of the Trail of Tears in 1838? – but their impact on the story is minor.

At any rate, this isn’t a book I’d recommend people go out of their way to read, but it was an enjoyable story. I do plan to read the sequel, though more to see how the author resolves the issues raised in this book than from any deep investment in the characters.

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