The best of this bunch are - Little Squirrel Squish (3.5 stars) about a squirrel who wants to be a reindeer. The Christmas Bunny (4 stars) about Santa's bunny helper, Brave Benny (3 stars) which is about animals getting ready for winter. It has the best pictures but I don't understand how a deer pounced joyfully and at times the illustrations were too dark for the word printed over them.
Arial YouTuber is nice because it has extras that would interest a child, including a recipe and how-to guide. (3 Stars)
Grumpy Dinosaur and Dragon's Breath (3 star) aren't bad but the lesson is a bit heavy handed.
Mariko and the Magic Mirror is a good look at grief and death for children, but feels off because of the use of culture that isn't fully explored or used. (3 stars)
The worst is the Singing Horse (.5 star) which uses stereotypical illustrations of Native Americans. I mean, living in teepees in the desert bad.
Well this was short, but sweet. I loved the set-up of Poirot going to an old country house in order to retrieve something for a prince. While there though not only does he get to the bottom of the mystery of a stolen item, but is also able to help sway a young woman to her future. No Hastings, which is a disappointment, but everything else works. This would definitely be a great story for the Festive Tasks that we do every year.
"The Adventures of the Christmas Pudding" follows Poirot being asked by a higher up in the British government, to help a foreign prince retrieve a priceless ruby that got stolen from him by a special friend of his. Poirot is implored to go to Kings Lacey and stay with the Laceys during Christmas. Poirot who loathes cold wants to stay in his modern little flat with the heating and plumbing. He finally agrees to go and while there manages to figure out who is behind the stolen ruby and direct a young woman away from a bad romance.
So Poirot was actually agreeable to me in this one. Usually he drives me a bit insane, but he is really there to listen to certain characters and give advice. My favorite part of this story was him talking to Mrs. Lacey who is concerned that her granddaughter Sarah has become involved with a man named Desmond Lee-Wortley. Mrs. Lacey and Poirot comment on how much has changed with young girls of the day (this book takes place in the 1960s I assume since it was published in 1960) and how "far" they seem to go with unreliable young men.
Mrs. Lacey is quite smart and reminds me a bit of past Christie characters (an older relative knowing what's what and the best way to get a young woman over an infatuation with an unremarkable man) and definitely knows what what.
I liked Sarah a lot and she seemed to be realizing that maybe things with her beau Desmond are not all they are cracked up to be.
We also have secondary characters like the Lacey's grandson, the aging butler, the cook, and other friends as well.
So the writing was really good and maybe I laughed at Christie talking about how young women nowadays dress terribly and don't wash or brush their hair. Was this a thing in England at the time? Yikes. I always laugh a bit that Poirot via Christie laments the changes in the young and how things were much better back in the day.
The flow really works and the story moves along nicely. We have Poirot arriving before Christmas day, Christmas, and then the day after.
The setting of this country house that is much too large (though modernized here and there) definitely to not be the norm for the time that this book is taking place. Lots of Christie books it seems get into the small fortune that many had to pay to upkeep family homes and how they have to be let and or sold off (see The Body in the Library and The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side to see how the Bantrys eventually sold off their home).
The mystery gets nicely resolved and it's up to the reader to imagine what is next for some of the characters in the story. But based on past Christie books it's pretty obvious what Sarah is going to end up doing next. Or who she will end up with.
I FINALLY read Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, y'all. I absolutely loved the film adaptation of it and while I also enjoyed the book (hold on to your seats, folks) I preferred the movie version. While the book was able to go into more details in terms of world building and the puzzle solving aspect of the plot I enjoyed the storyline of the movie more. [A/N: I don’t want to give the impression that I didn’t enjoy this reading experience because I definitely did but the film just has an extra oomph.] Additionally, the book's version of Halliday seemed cruel and cold whereas Morrow was a lot of fun (and mostly absent from the film's version). The hero of this dystopian novel, Wade Watts, is living in a world that has become entirely taken over by The Oasis which is a virtual reality environment where anyone can be anyone. The majority of the human race has been crammed into tiny communities that are stacked one on top of the other but their consolation is getting to live their dreams online. Even school is conducted in virtual schools! The creator of this world, James Halliday, passed from this mortal coil but left behind a grand prize (ownership of The Oasis) for anyone who manages to solve his puzzles and find the 3 hidden keys buried within The Oasis.
This is a boy's quest to pull himself from his dire circumstances while learning that he's got the 'right stuff'. (Did I mention this book is chock full of 80's references? I definitely downloaded some Rush albums after I finished reading it.) All in all, a really fun book. 9/10
A/N: Title courtesy of Rush "Bastille Day".
What's Up Next: A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
What I'm Currently Reading: Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips