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review 2018-09-10 18:26
The Girl in the Locked Room by Mary Downing Hahn
The Girl in the Locked Room - Mary Downing Hahn

I read this well before Halloween Bingo, but it may interest some of you! This was just released Sept 4.

 

Mary Downing Hahn is a powerhouse of middle grade fiction, her talent transcends genre - does anyone else remember 'Stepping on the Cracks'?, but it is the supernatural stories that most people associate with her. 'The Girl in the Locked Room' is a classic story of loneliness, mystery, and discovery.

 

Jules' father renovates houses for a living, so she's used to moving to different town and living in creepy, old houses. Her mother is a writer. Jules has a bad feeling about this house, however, especially after she catches a glimpse of girl's face in an attic window. A window in a room that is sealed shut. The construction puts most of the house off-limits to Jules, but after making a new friend and hearing ghostly sounds in the night, she is driven to investigate.

 

A great thing about the book is the inclusion of the titular 'Girl's perspective. She has been locked away for so long she's forgotten everything, even her name, and it takes time for her to remember what happened to her and her family. This adds delicious atmosphere to the story.

 

The house and Jules' situation would have been a dream of mine growing up, but for Jules the nomadic life is one of loneliness. That element grounded the story and Hahn excels at creating relatable protagonists.

 

As a side note, I loved Hahn's respect for history and attention to detail in all things. My husband appreciated that she even got the dolls right.

 

Hahn still has it! This is a supernatural mystery for younger readers, but has sufficient depth for an adult to read and there are many potential topics to discuss with children.

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text 2018-08-09 21:08
Paperback Crush - Am I dreaming?
Paperback Crush: The Totally Radical History Of 80’s and 90’s Teen Fiction - Gabrielle Moss
The Dead Girlfriend (Point Horror) - R.L. Stine
Poor Mallory! (The Baby-Sitters Club, #39) - Ann M. Martin
Sweet Valley High Collection: Heartbreaker, Racing Hearts, Wrong Kind of Girl - Francine Pascal,Kate William
The Immortal - Christopher Pike

I haven't been a professional bookseller all that long, but its still easy to get jaded about all the arcs that come in every month, but sometimes something like this book happens!

 

As a thirty-something woman who read everything he could get his hands on growing up, and that included Sweet Valley High and Baby-sitter's Club, this book is pure nostalgic gold. And while they might not have been great, sometimes those pink and lavender covers had some meat in them! Heck, I still will look twice at any old Apple Paperback, etc. title at a book sale just in case its offers up some vintage goodness.

 

This will be a lot of fun and I'm hoping Quirk is planning on a boy-series retrospective, too.

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review 2018-07-23 21:25
A bad movie, a nail in the coffin of John Bellairs
The House With a Clock in Its Walls - John Bellairs

I felt compelled to reread this after seeing the godawful trailer for the new film. I ended up reading it aloud to my husband over the course of a few nights. The book is still wonderful. I've linked to book reviews for the Lewis Barnavelt Trilogy at the bottom.

I thought I was over getting nerdrage at bad book to film translations, but those trailers made me see red. 'A House with a Clock in It's Walls' is a meandering book about a lonely, scared boy finding a place for himself in his new family after his parent's death, and, above all, learning about true courage and friendship.

Tonally, aesthetically, and factually this movie has missed the mark. I know its only a trailer, but trailers these days seem to show the whole damn film. The casting is terrible. Lewis is some Hollywood kid instead of the weepy (his parents are DEAD, remember?), overweight bookish loner. Jack Black is all crazy googly-eyed as Uncle Jonathan. Mrs. Zimmerman instead of being the "wrinkliest" woman Lewis has ever seen, all smile lines, is played by Cate Blanchett with a silver wig. What a missed opportunity to bring back some great actress with a meaty role for an elderly woman.

Aesthetically, some effort seems to have been made to put it in early postwar America, but the CGI effects are plastered over everything and used for cheap laughs - complimented by bad dialogue.

Tonally, this was a book filled with gentle humor balanced with atmospheric dread and real scares. How can there be any balance in this movie?

John Bellairs books are in danger of going out of print - 'Figure in the Shadows' and 'The Letter, the Witch, and The Ring' are already gone. The book and the movie are so different that no kid who liked the movie is going to enjoy the book, creating NO demand for those sequels, and any kid with the sense to hate the movie is going to avoid the book thinking they share some similarities. More bad news: when this movie fails some asinine executive is going to think kids don't like fantasy or scary movies, when they only don't like bullshit.

The Lewis Barnavelt Trilogy:

'The House with a Clock in It's Walls'

'The Figure in the Shadows'

he Letter, The Witch, and The Ring'

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review 2018-07-23 18:09
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
A Wrinkle in Time (Time Series, #1) - Madeleine L'Engle

I'm on the wrong side of history here, but I didn't enjoy 'A Wrinkle in Time'. I'd read it before (at too old of an age) but had forgotten everything except the back garden and an alien planet.

Meg Murray and Calvin are great characters, but there didn't seem to be enough of a story for them to move within. I liked the Mrs....I loved the imagination...but it left me cold.

It's not you, its me Madeleine L'Engle.

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review 2018-07-23 06:25
The (Original) Secret of the Old Clock, Nancy Drew #1
The Secret of the Old Clock - Russell H. Tandy,Sara Paretsky,Carolyn Keene

A little over a year ago I read 'Secret of the Old Clock' and mentioned being intrigued, but not necessarily interested in reading the original versions of the classic juvenile detective novels. Of course, in a year's time I've become convinced I need to not only read the old volumes, but to collect them, too.

The Stratemeyer Syndicate under Harriet Adams, the daughter of the man who invented the ghostwritten series and 'Nan' Drew, began revising the series from 1959 to 1976. They were intended to address issues of racism and xenophobia as well as the problem, apparently, of Nancy Drew being an entirely too willful girl. Changes needed to be made if the series was to survive, I wholeheartedly agree, but much of the descriptive language was cut out and plots were simplified, when not altogether altered.

'The Secret of the Old Clock' lost many pages, but not the plot. Nancy Drew is the courageous girl out to solve crimes and right wrong, daughter of Carson Drew and all-around capable woman. In the revised edition she rescues a little tyke who runs in front of a speeding vehicle and befriends two poor, elderly women who are taking care of the girl after her parents died in a boat explosion. They express their disappointment in being left out of the will of a wealthy relative.

In the original there is no boat explosion. No little tyke, either. Nancy learns of the speculated missing will from her father over breakfast, and an encounter with two snobby social climbers who are the daughters of the man who will inherit without the will. The family is obviously new money and their behavior makes Nancy dig in her heels and make sure somebody, anybody else gets the money instead of them.

Other characters stay the same, but Nancy's relationship with them is altered. An odd change is that a pair of young sisters - genteelly poor and kind in contrast to the snobs - have their dream changed from getting seed money to start them in tailoring and farming respectively in the original, to getting damn singing lessons in the revision is baffling. What is wrong with working for a living?

This original book is far superior in every respect, until Nancy accepts an invitation from her friend Helen Corning (No Bess and George, yet) to a camp getaway, but sneaks away to sleuth and gets into trouble. Its not getting into trouble that's the matter. Nancy interrupts a robbery at a lake house and is locked away by the crooks. She is found later by the black caretaker who has an "alcoholic glitter" in his eyes, Prohibition was still in effect in 1930. The caretaker had been given alcohol by the crooks and then locked in a shed to be kept out of the way. There's some unfortunate dialogue and Nancy delivers a lecture and...let's not go into it.

To solve her case Nancy hides evidence from the police, avoids gunfire, and in the end enjoys seeing the downfall of the social climbers as much as helping out the poor friends and relations who desperately needed the money from will. This Nancy is flawed, but I like her a lot.

Next: 'The Hidden Staircase'

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