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review 2018-03-28 18:05
A Wind in the Door (Time Quintet, #2) by Madeleine L'Engle
A Wind in the Door - Madeleine L'Engle

After reading A Wrinkle in Time and discovering the interesting concepts of that world, I've decided to continue reading Madeleine L'Engle's Time Quintet series. I picked up A Wind in the Door shortly after finishing the first book and basically got more of the same. Great story concepts; poorly written characters and bad morals. But the morals in this book were a bit too horrible to ignore this time. 

 

A Wind in the Door continues to follow Meg and Charles Wallace in this world with time and space bending and obscuring our current world. I love L'Engle's ideas of how there are many things in this universe that doesn't make sense and it doesn't have to when you have to focus on the bigger picture. In this case, helping cure Charles Wallace of an unknown disease. I really love that this book explored the mitochondria we have within us. I have a fascination with learning about it since I've read and played Parasite Eve a few years back now. So reading this book brought me a lot of nostalgia. Reading these books are fun for me because, as I've said before, I love L'Engle's ideas when it comes to sci-fi and fantasy. What I don't love about her writing is how basic it is and her characters just rub me the wrong way.

 

Meg is still so bloody insufferable. She's a high schooler but she acts like a toddler in many situations. For example, at the beginning of the book, when they are all discovering Charles Wallace was ill, she kept asking her mother what was his condition. The mother would answer she didn't know... only to have Meg ask the same question immediately having been told her mother didn't know only to ask the same question AGAIN only to be told AGAIN her mother didn't know. And that would continue constantly throughout the whole book. It's like, Meg, please, grow up. Just because you ask the same question a billion times doesn't mean the answer is going to change at any point. I really don't like Meg as a character. She has not shown growth at all throughout these two books. In fact, a lot of L'Engle's characters are just one note. They each have a gimmick and they stick to that without growing or changing a bit. Meg is the annoying worry wort. Charles Wallace is the calm, all-knowing "Jesus" character. Mr. Jenkins is the mean, old teacher. And Calvin is the stud/jock. Reading about these characters can get boring after a while.

 

Another thing I do not like about this book was the overall "message." L'Engle seems to be teaching children that it's okay to be themselves... as long as you can fit into society. Throughout the entire book, she kept making her characters say to Charles Wallace that he needs to "conform" so that way he won't have a hard time in school. Let me back track a little, Charles Wallace is being bullied at school for being "different." He's beaten everyday and comes home from school with blackeyes and a bloody nose everyday. And everyone (except Meg) just tells him it's basically his fault for being so different. He needs to learn to "conform" and "be normal" like everyone else. That way, he won't be picked on. Well, I'm sorry, but I think that's a bunch of bullshit. How is it okay to know that a small, six-year-old boy is being beaten at school, and your response is "Well, if you weren't so different, you wouldn't get punched in the face"? Even his parents didn't do anything to help their child! Are you kidding me? Then by the end of the book, L'Engle drives it home even harder that children need to learn to "adapt" so they can succeed in the world. Yeah, no, how about being better adults, teaching kids to get along with others who are "different" so that way crap like bullying doesn't happen every bloody time? It makes me angry when adults see this kind of behavior happening and they do nothing about it. NOTHING! Ugh. I'm frustrated.

 

And don't even get me started on the contradictions when it comes to Mr. Jenkins. How everyone needed to protect his ego when he felt he wasn't unique anymore. You can do that for a grown man but not Charles Wallace? You tell him that there's no one else like him in the world, but you tell a six-year-old he needs to be like everyone else if he wants to be happy and not picked on? Really? No. I just. I can't. I just can't support the hypocrisy. There is nothing in this world that makes it okay for you to tell another person they can't be themselves. Or rather, they could, as long as they fit in with everyone else. That's messed up on so many levels.

 

Anyway, I'm going to end it here. Once again, I'm left with the feeling that Madeleine L'Engle has some great concepts when it comes to sci-fi and fantasy. I just wish she would focus on them more than trying to teach "life lessons" to children. I feel like these books would be a lot more enjoyable if that were the case.

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review 2018-03-18 21:20
A Wrinkle in Time (Time Quintet, #1) by Madeleine L'Engle
A Wrinkle in Time (The Time Quintet #1) - Anna Quindlen,Madeleine L'Engle

Last weekend, the movie adaptation for A Wrinkle in Time was released in theaters here in America. And after hearing about the great representation it contained, I wanted to go see it and support the film on opening weekend. However, I am a person who loves to read the book first before watching the film. So I woke up early on the morning of Friday March 9, 2018 and read the first book in Madeleine L'Engle's Time Quintet before I left to watch the movie later that day. It was quite the experience, let me tell you that.

 

The book follows the main character, Meg, who clearly has a lot of self-esteem issues. She sees herself as plain and boring and stupid. She also tends to have a real bad attitude problem. As the story progresses, she learns that her missing father is lost through various dimensions and it's up to her, her younger brother Charles Wallace, and a school friend named Calvin to go along with three "heavenly" beings to rescue him. 

 

The story itself is interesting enough. I really like the imagination L'Engle created throughout her books. She made it scientific, whimsical, and bizarre. I was fascinated with the explanations about how the "wrinkles" work and what it means when it does. The plot was exciting and the true identity of "IT" was horrifying to say the least. I really enjoyed reading about how the science works in this world.

 

What I didn't enjoy as much was her characters. Let's start with Meg. I understand she is going through her adolescent years and having her father missing really messed with her self-esteem issues, but she was infuriating! She complained left and right, she was mean for no real reason other than because she had a short temper, and she was so immature when she finally found her father that she blamed HIM for all the "bad" things that happened to her and her brother. I know she's young but that's no excuse to be a complete jerk to the people who are trying to help you. That care about you. I'm so glad "movie" Meg is a lot more tolerable. (More on this later.)

 

Calvin is another character that I couldn't stand in the book. He shows up out of no where, insults Meg, and can be a snob at times. And we're supposed to believe that Meg finds him attractive so it's okay he treats her like crap? Really? Oh, not to mention it was because a boy paid attention to her so she started to feel better about herself. Give me a break. He was a jerk and I didn't like him one bit. Once again, so glad "movie" Calvin is not like that. (More on this later.)

 

Last character I want to talk about is Charles Wallace. He's basically one of the few characters from the book I actually liked. He has this "other worldly" presence about him. He knows more than is being told and I found him so fascinating. I love the intelligence he contained. I wanted to learn more about him! I guess I have to keep reading the series in order to get that information. X3 His movie version was good, but he came off more as a child than some "other being." It's not a bad rendition of the character. Just a different one.

 

Basically, this is one of those cases where the movie, in my opinion, is better than the book. I know! Blasphemy! But that's just how I feel. The book leaves a lot to be desired. I just wasn't attached to any of them by the end of it. Whereas the movie, I love how the characters were portrayed in the movie. Meg is so complex. She has self-doubt and doesn't think highly of herself, but she's not mean for no reason, she's not a hateful person like she is in the book. She is compassionate and understanding and she learns and grows throughout her adventures. I loved her relationship with her brother and how far she was willing to go for him. I love that she is a mix child in the movie (in the book, she's white) and how normal it is to have a family like this. I love that.

 

I also much more prefer Calvin in the movie than the book. In the movie, he's kind and charming. He treats Meg with respect. He never talks down to her and he never insults her. He's there to support her and be her friend. AND he's not the "cure-all" for all of Meg's problems. She still needs to deal with her own demons. It's just nice that she has a friend to support her whilst she does so.

 

Oh! And the "heavenly" beings of Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Which were so much more enjoyable in the movie than the book. Especially Mrs. Which. Mrs. Which in the book kinda shows up, tells the kids what to do, then leaves again. In the movie, she's a sort of support to Meg. She helps her, or tries to, see the beauty of who she is and I thought that was a great message to show to kids. 

 

I am in love with the beauty of this film on multiple levels.

 

The one thing I did not really like about the film was the lack of plot. My favorite thing about the book was how eerie Camazotz was and what went on there. Not to mention how horrifying IT was. But the movie didn't focus on it. It focus on the message of having confidence in yourself, about the love of a family, and doing the right thing no matter what. All those are great messages and I don't dislike the movie for that, I just wanted to see a little more of what made the book interesting for me.

 

All-in-all, I think you should read the book. It's pretty interesting when it comes to the science portion and when they get to Camazotz. However, the book can get a bit... preachy so keep that in mind when reading it. But once you do read it, definitely go see the movie. It's a beautifully stunning, well-told story about family and love. Kids NEED to see this movie. It's absolutely wonderful.

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text 2018-03-11 00:58
Still Reading
1001 Children's Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up - Julia Eccleshare

So, I stopped posting reviews here after #70 last year. I did manage to read 100 books in 2017, but getting them reviewed, let alone posting the reviews in two places, proved to be too much for me. I knew that "something would have to give" when I became a mom in July, but it's still hard to actually make those choices and decide what to let go.

 

I am not letting go of this blog, but I will no longer cross-post all my Goodreads reviews here. You can still read them on my Goodreads page, of course.

 

Although I am writing less about books these days, I am still pursuing various book-ish projects. They include --

 

  • The 2018 PopSugar Reading Challenge - Just for fun; I am not going to be crushed if I don't manage to complete it.
  • The Into the Forest Reading Challenge - Into the Forest is a Goodreads group I belong to for fairy tale/mythology enthusiasts. They do a 12-item challenge every year within the genre that is fun to keep me reading widely within one of my favorite book categories.
  • 1001 Books to You Must Read Before You Grow Up - I am working my way through the recommended books in this tome with my son. Right now we are just focusing on the age 0-3 chapter. I am really surprised by how many of these books are NOT in my public library! My plan is to buy my son a big box of any of the books we weren't able to find in the library at the end of the chapter. In the meantime, I've also begun scouring used booksales to help fill in the gap.
  • The cookbook project - In an attempt to actually USE more of my cookbooks, feed my family well, and save money on eating out, I've been marking recipes I want to try since I was pregnant. I rate every recipe I try, and eventually hope to pare down my cookbook collection by getting rid of the books with only a handful of intriguing recipes after I have tried them.

 

I am also working on a "book adjacent" project, which is listening to all 150 albums on NPR's women's music canon. The reason I consider this to be a book-adjacent project is because a) I am getting most of these albums from my local library and b) I am listening to a lot more music these days because my son is more content on drives with music than audiobooks. I am sad to have fewer audiobooks in this season of my life, but I am excited to start exploring music again, and to, you know, have a baby.

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review 2018-03-09 03:45
Lost in the Solar System (The Magic School Bus, #4) by Joanna Cole
The Magic School Bus Lost in the Solar System - Joanna Cole,Bruce Degen

If you grew up in the 90s, more likely than not, you grew up with a certain eccentric red-haired school teacher gracing your television set. Everyday after school, I would rush home to catch The Frizz on afternoon TV, teaching me a wide variety of subjects the world has to offer. I loved how educational and entertaining The Magic School Bus was for my young mind. And this book is no different!

 

This book focuses on the solar system and the planets. This story is one of my favorites for a couple of reasons. One being that it was one of my favorite episodes from the television series, the other being that I used to play the computer game of the same name almost every single weekend! I loved exploring the different planets and learning the ins and outs of each nine (now eight) planets! It was so much fun for me so, naturally, when I saw this book at the used bookstore, I had to buy it!

 

Of course, this being a book published during the 90s, some of the facts and science are a bit out-dated now. However, there is still merit in reading this book. You can teach your kids what scientists used to think to be true. You can use it more as a history lesson than a science one. Then you could continue by following up with a book about the solar system that is accurate to today. There's still plenty to learn from this charming book series. 

 

And if you end up loving this book, then I highly recommend the cartoon show. It's just as educational and entertaining. For you. For kids you know. For anybody. 

 

Reading this book was such a nostalgia trip for me. If I stumble upon any other book in this series, I will definitely be reading them!

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review 2018-03-07 16:38
Review & Giveaway – The Boy Who Swallows Flies by Michael F Stewart @MichaelFStewart @XpressoReads
The Boy Who Swallows Flies - Michael F. Stewart

I know the target audience for The Boy Who Swallows Flies by Michael F Stewart is 4-7, but I am young at heart and loved every minute of it. How about you?

 

Amazing cover done by Martin Stiff

 

The Boy Who Swallows Flies Michael F. Stewart
Publication date: February 15th 2018
Genres: Middle-Grade, Mystery, Superhero

 

MY REVIEW

 

Michael F Stewart has a way of taking a simple story and leading me down a road I didn’t anticipate, but am so very happy to travel. He layers bits on top of bits and I cannot imagine any child…or any person, for that matter…not reveling in his imaginative, creative and excellently written stories that leave me anticipating the next one.

 

Jerrod faints a lot, thus the helmet on the cover. His falling out isn’t all bad, in fact there is a benefit, but he’s loathe to share it and I’m sure not going to tell you. You will have to read this wonderful story to find out for yourself.

 

Gavin is his only friend, other than the bugs he collects. He is the Bug boy, and he revels in it. Gavin is gifted, very smart. Jerrod thinks he’s the dumbest kid in school, but Gavin doesn’t believe that. He just believes Jerrod hasn’t found his ‘aptitude’ yet.

 

I love the world he lives in…letting some of his bugs run free in his room. Like Jerrod, we all have something special to offer the world, we just have to find out ‘talent’. You never know what will lead to your future, so you need to keep your eyes, ears, nose, mouth, and hands open. 

 

I can see how Micheal F Stewart has left the options open for more daring adventures with Jarrod, Gavin, and Jarrod’s new friend, Dog girl. Please say it’s so, Michael.

 

I voluntarily reviewed a free copy of The Boy Who Swallows Flies by Michael F Stewart.

Animated Animals. Pictures, Images and Photos  5 Stars

 

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