Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Review: "Pippi Longstocking" Classic a Month #8.2014

Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren
3 out of 5 stars

Pippi is one of those books/characters that is probably better off left behind in your childhood memories. Reading her as an adult was excruciating and a little bit sad. As a child, you hear about this amazing girl who lives on her own with her horse and monkey and gets to do whatever she wants, with no adults to ever tell her no. She has fantastical adventures, can go to bed whenever she wants, doesn't have to go to school, nothing bad ever happens to her, and everything is always wonderful in Pippi's world. (Even with her father, the infamous cannibal king, missing at sea.) Who wouldn't love this book, as a child? Who of us never dreamed of being Tommy and Annika, with Pippi as a neighbor? Getting to go on picnics and running into an angry bull, discovering secret clubhouses in hollowed out trees, playing "don't touch the floor" in the kitchen (okay, my sister and I actually did that one in the living room lol), watching Pippi fly thru the air at the circus and beat the strongest man ever. Overall, this is the perfect adventure book for children and it's evident why it's a classic.

However, reading it as an adult brings on a completely different tone. You begin to feel sorry for Pippi, being alone all the time. Many of the chapters are tinged with sadness, such as when she makes the burglars stay and play with her til 3 in the morning and then gives them a little gold for their trouble. Or when Pippi goes to Tommy & Annika's for a coffee party and their mother scolds her for not behaving.

Pippi looked at her in astonishment and her eyes slowly filled with tears. "That's just what I was afraid of," she said. "That I couldn't behave properly. It's no use to try; I'll never learn. I should have stayed on the ocean."

The child just wants to be loved. And honestly, she needs a little discipline. You know you're getting older when you want to just spank the child for behaving like that lol.

And then there was the question of her amazing strength and ability to wriggle out of any sticky situation. Why is she so strong? Genetics? Did Mr Nilsson bite her in a rabies-induced rage? Children don't question those kinds of things, but it just seems odd to an adult. I feel like if Pippi had either not had her super-human strength or got into a little more trouble occasionally, the story would have been more believable. She is never held accountable for her actions, she always manages to get out of a bad situation. That makes the story a little boring at times, honestly. And then there's the lying. Oh, the lying is awful. What parent would want to read this book to their child?? Luckily, children aren't quite so closed minded as adults and just see the story for what it is...a fantastical story about a fantastical little girl with red braids and a monkey on her shoulder.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

My Favorite Children's Book #4: Madeline's Rescue

What was your favorite picture book as a child? What book did you return to, over and over again, until your parents were completely sick of it? Was it Madeline? Max & the Wild Things? Paddington? This feature shows off some of my favorite children's books, in no particular order, and I also want to hear what you think! So comment below. :)

Madeline's Rescue by Ludwig Bemelmans

I asked my sister, A, what children's book I should do this week and she said Madeline, because "she has red hair like me". And then my mom mentioned a Madeline doll she wanted and it seemed like that was the book to do. Turns out I don't actually have the first Madeline book though! I really thought I did too, weird. This is the second book in the series, published in 1953 and a Caldecott winner in 1954. I always loved finding books with the Caldecott or Newbery seal on them as a kid, it made them seem so special. (Which I suppose they were or they wouldn't have won.)

I'm sure you know the original story of Madeline: "twelve little girls in two straight lines. The smallest one was Madeline." Madeline's Rescue can be taken two ways: the first in that she is rescued from the Seine river by a stray dog and the second in that Madeline herself rescues the dog from living on the streets. This book is super morbid for a children's book.

Poor Madeline would now be dead
But for a dog
that kept its head,
And dragged her safe from a watery grave.

Of course she is safe though and they take the dog home with them and name her Genevieve. All is well until the evil board of trustees arrive for their annual inspection and Lord Cucuface (really, that's his name) makes the dog leave. The girls scour the city, looking for her but she is gone. That evening, Genevieve shows back up at the home and the girls are ecstatic to see her. Even more so when she has puppies. (How and when did she have time for that?!) In the end, each of the twelve girls has her own puppy to walk in two straight lines and Genevieve has Madeline.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Review: "Jane Eyre" Classic a Month #7.2014

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
2.5 out of 5 stars

I've decided that I am not a fan of the Bronte sisters and am definitely more of an Austenite. After the fiasco of Wuthering Heights, I should have known better, but I'd heard so many good things about Jane Eyre, that I decided to give it a shot. Looking back at WH now though, I'd be more likely to give it 1.5 stars. :/ I finished this last week and last weekend, I was super bored so I decided to give the Jane Eyre movie on Netflix a shot. It seems like they added a ton of classic movies/series on there recently. (Maybe because I've been searching for them lol.) I got about halfway thru the movie and will probably finish it this weekend, so I'll try to do a Book vs Movie next week for it.

So, Jane Eyre had some interesting parts in the beginning of the story and then around the middle and towards the ending, but everything else was booooring. They could have taken out 100 pages in between each interesting section and made the book half as long. Part of the problem was that there was a good amount of conversation taking place in French, with no translation. "To speak truth, sir, I don't understand you at all; I cannot keep up the conversation, because it has got out of my depth." Also, there was a strong religious theme, which is fine for some people, I just don't enjoy reading about it too much.

The first part of the book deals with young Jane Eyre, who is an orphan and living with her uncle's widow and her incorrigible children. She has a rough time, barely better than a servant, getting attacked by the eldest boy, completely misunderstand by her guardian. Finally, Mrs Reed has enough and sends Jane to a boarding school and away from the family forever. Jane is elated to be away from them, but unfortunately, the school is not much better. Worse, probably. Run by a religious tyrant, she barely gets fed, lives in near squalor but forced to maintain their high education standards, and has to watch her best friend die. (So sad) But Jane perseveres and eventually the school gets better and she becomes a teacher there. (Remember, back then, girls became teachers as young as 16 or 17.)

After a while and too many pages of introspection, Jane decides to leave the school and magically finds the perfect job in the paper. She travels to a far away place to become a governess for the Rochester household. When she gets there, she is welcomed heartily by Mrs Fairfax, the housekeeper (whom she confuses for the lady of the house) and her charge, the young French child, Adele. Jane begins a somewhat comfortable life there but is still a kind of restlessness. One day, she is taking some letters to town when she runs into a frightful man and his horse and giant dog. Literally. She frightens the horse and the man falls and sprains his ankle. Any guesses who that man is?

Yep, the not-so-dashing Mr Rochester. They make a great point throughout the book of how unattractive both Jane and Mr Rochester are. Which I suppose is rather refreshing to not have practically perfect people, but comes across as overly insistent. "No, no. I am quite ugly. Well, I am quite ugly too!" Psshh... Mr Rochester is an unfriendly, gruff man and of course, Jane falls for him immediately.

Jane to herself: He is not of your order: keep to your caste, and be too self-respecting to lavish the love of the whole heart, soul, and strength, where such a gift is not wanted and would be despised.

And then there is a very large amount of pages of them having witty banter, one-sided conversations of Mr Rochester saying lots of stuff, and how Jane feels about it all. I could not unlove him now, merely because I found that he had ceased to notice me. Mr Rochester throws Jane off for a while by showing an intense interest in a young woman named Blanche, who is one of the "pretty people".  But it's all a (stupid) ruse because Rochester has fallen for Jane as well.

Rochester to Jane: "I sometimes have a queer feeling with regard to you-especially when you are near to me, as now: it is as if I had a string somewhere under my left ribs, tightly and inextricably knotted to a similar string situated in the corresponding quarter of your little frame."

This review is so long already, y'all, and I haven't even gotten to the weird parts yet! Let's speed it up, okay? Rochester loves Jane, Jane loves Rochester, he asks her to marry him, she refuses because she's a lowly servant, he doesn't care, convinces her, Mrs Fairfax disapproves, there's a fire in Rochester's bedroom, someone is messing with Jane, Rochester tells her it's all cool, the wedding day comes, and welcome to Crazy Town, population 2: Mr Rochester and his FIRST WIFE THAT HE KEEPS LOCKED UP IN THE ATTIC. Yes, I had to do all CAPS on that, I'm sorry. This is so weird, it doesn't even feel like the same story. Rochester claims it's all perfectly innocent and acceptable, because the first wife is unhinged and mentally ill. And he still wants Jane to stay and be his mistress. Of course, Jane freaks and runs off.

Jane to Rochester: "Do you think I can stay to become nothing to you? Do you think I am an automaton?-a machine without feelings? Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain, and little, I am soulless and heartless? You think wrong!-I have as much soul as you-and full as much heart! And if God had gifted me with some beauty and much wealth, I should have made it as hard for you to leave me, as it is now for me to leave you."

She travels across the countryside for days and nights and ends up on the doorstep, starving and sick, of the Rivers siblings. Spoiler alert: she's related to them. She convalesces there for a month or so and thanks to St John, the eldest sibling, gets a job in the local town as a schoolteacher. And then there's more weird when he asks her to go on a missionary trip with him to the Middle East...as his wife. She's come to think of him as a brother (she doesn't know she's related yet) and still loves Rochester, so she's like "uh, no. But I'll go as your sister." He refuses and says it's her duty and her mission, etc...She still refuses and around that time, gets a letter forwarded from the Rochester house about a distant uncle who died and left her a ton of money. Then it all comes out that she and the Rivers' are cousins, Jane is ecstatic to finally have family, and she splits the money with them.

Finally, Jane gets happy with her money, decides she is worthy of Rochester and still loves him and needs to see him again, so she takes the trip back to him. There, she finds the house burned to the ground and no one around. She learns from the locals that Rochester was badly injured trying to save his crazy wife but she died and now he is blind and missing a hand and living in the woods somewhere. She runs to him and vows never to leave him again and all that mushy stuff. He can't believe his ears at first, thinking her a spirit that he called to him, but he comes around and asks her to marry him again. She says yes, of course, and then spends the last chapter of the book talking about St John. More weird, right?  And that's it, thank you very much. Why do I always spend the most amount of time on the books I don't like that much? Strange.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

TILT: Reading is Awesome!

What do all the cool kids do these days? They read! Why else would all these teen book movies be so popular these days?! (My sister is getting really sick of all the "dying kid" movies lately lol.) So this week's Things I Love Thursday is dedicated to the cool kids. :)

(If you do not want your product mentioned, please contact me!)

Read TShirt by ShopGibberish --this is the kids version, but they do have adult sized also.

Hot Girls Read Printable by MaidservantOf --yeah, we do! ;) (This shop is on vacation right now, but check back in September!)

Smart Boys Poster by MeganLee --I'm in total agreement!

Reading is for Awesome People Print by IkeStudio --love the colors in this one.

Bonus: This cute little print by Wayah is only $4.00!! Seriously adorable...think how great it would be hanging above a shelf full of Rainbow Rowell, Stephanie Perkins, etc...!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Review: "The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line: Veronica Mars #1"

The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line: Veronica Mars #1 by Rob Thomas
3.5 out of 5 stars

Are you a marshmallow? If you said yes, this is the book for you. If you have no idea what I'm talking about and are just craving smores now, stop reading here and go get Veronica Mars season 1 now! Alright, now back to you marshmallows...I figured this would be a good review, since the news about the web series just came out (although I still don't really understand the premise). This book picks up right after the movie, so there may be spoilers for that here. (OMG, the movie was soooo gooood!! *flailing* still 5 months later lol) The first book in the VMars series (yes, it's going to be a series!!) shows Veronica back in Neptune and back in the spy biz, against her dad's wishes.

The best thing about this book is that it is an all new case, it's not a remake of the show or the movie. You get brand new VMars stories. I had a bit of a hard time at first getting into the story and "hearing" Veronica's voice. I've read several reviews that the audiobook (read by Kristen Bell) is very good, so that's what I would suggest to you. Then you can literally hear Veronica's voice! Once I got into it though, it was really good. Most of the favorites are there: Keith, Mac, Wallace. Unfortunately, we don't get much of Logan, as he is off on military duty. Boo. Need more Logan. Shirtless, preferably. Also, more Weevil. He is one of my favorite VMars characters and his story in the movie was just heartbreaking.
(thanks to maneater for the pic!)

The case itself is interesting...it's spring break in Neptune, which is apparently a hot party spot, and girls are going missing. Veronica is approached to help find the girls, since Sheriff New Lamb is just as incompetent as his little brother. Did anyone else find it odd that they made Dan Don's older brother? Veronica takes on the case, because money, and ends up running into someone from her past that she'd never thought she'd see again. Not spoiling it of course, because it could be any of dozens of people, but it was pretty shocking.

Veronica has her smarty-pants on for this case and with Mac and Wallace's help, blows things up for the sheriff and various bad guys. She gets into plenty of trouble along the way, of course. Pretending to be a college girl only interested in how she looks in her bikini, throwing herself at Dick Casablancas (love him, but still want to see him grow up a little), sneaking around and getting caught, a trip to the hospital, tazers, guns, knives, drugs...all a typical day in Neptune.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

TILT: Book Furniture

I am obsessed lately with getting more book space and have started branching out from just plain old bookcases, so I thought this would be a fun Things I Love Thursday. I am especially intrigued by the bookshelves built in and around the bed. I would love that. How about you? Do you have books stacked up into a bedside table? Turned into a chair? Throw a blanket on a stack and sleep on them? ;)

Side Table
Behind the Bed (check out the calligraphy comforter too!)
Bed Cocoon 

Around the Bed
Side Table 2

I did manage to turn a few of these colorful Readers' Digest books that my mom found for me into little shelves. Eventually I want to hang them all and spread my Wild Things out on them. :)

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Review: "Claudia and the Genius of Elm Street: The Baby-Sitters Club #49"

 Claudia and the Genius of Elm Street: The Baby-Sitters Club #49 by Ann M Martin
4 out of 5 stars

This was a pretty good one, especially compared to the last sobfest. Rosie Wilder, genius extraordinaire, is the Child of the Week, who needs a 13 year old to show her parents that they are doing it wrong. Maybe the parents of Stoneybrook should take a child-rearing class, so they don't need the baby-sitter psychiatrists.

The book starts out with Claudia watching a documentary on Andy Warhol and Janine is like, "I don't understand how you can call that stuff art." Psshh...whatever Janine, go study your calculus or something. Side note...why did Janine not skip a grade or three if she's such a super genius? She's taking college level classes but is still technically a junior. Anyway, Claudia gets a Kristy-sized Idea to make a series of pop-art style paintings of junk food. Twinkies, Doritos, Ring Dings, Milk Duds...is anyone else getting hungry? Kristy takes it a step further and suggests she have a show in her garage for the public. Claudia thinks this is a great idea and gets to work on her pieces. Before all that though, we have a What Claudia is Wearing:

I'm into wild clothes and different hairstyles. That afternoon, for instance, I was wearing a man's paisley vest I'd found at a yard sale, over a striped button-down shirt with tuxedo-stripe black Spandex stirrup pants, held up with pink-flecked black suspenders. [Sorry, it's hard to find suspenders!] My hair was pulled straight back with a paisley comb, and I was wearing electric-pink ankle boots. The boots really set off the formality of the rest of the outfit, sort of like the punchline of a joke.

So at the BSC meeting, Mrs Wilder (who is apparently British?) calls and needs a semi-regular sitter for 7 year old Rosie, because her mother has had a rash of illnesses/injuries lately. (Get it? Rash? I crack myself up.) Claudia gets the job and is kind of excited about it, until she actually starts the job. Rosie is apparently super talented in everything she tries and her parents want her to do it all: piano, ballet, violin, singing, tap, acting, science club, math club, modeling (she goes on go-sees, just like on America's Next Top Model lol. (My sister and I have been binge watching ANTM from S1 this summer, it's so great and so much better than the later seasons.)) On top of all that talent, Rosie is really smart too, and ends up making Claudia feel even stupider than usual.

Janine, in her glasses, was explaining things about animal migration and habitats. Rosie, in her glasses, was nodding and asking intelligent-sounding questions.

And Claudia Kishi, with no glasses, was drawing half a Twinkie.

She tries to get to know Rosie better, especially after Claud sees how hard her teachers work her, but it's no good. Then Stacey has to baby-sit Rosie one day and gets totally embarrassed when she has to help Rosie read a script and messes up. OMG Stace, forreals?! That's like, totes mortifying! Jessi also sits for her and tries to bond with her over ballet, but Rosie isn't having it and says she only wants Claudia to sit for her from now on, because she likes her best. Seriously? Okay.

The BSCers help Claudia clean out her garage for her art show and it totally sucks, because it's a big old mess, and Claudia gets kind of upset because everyone is complaining. Then Stacey comes out with this Mary Poppins-esque gem: "Every fun project begins with some dirty work. But you do it because it has to get done. There's no law that says you have to like every single thing you do, right?" And Claudia has an epiphany, that maybe Rosie doesn't really like doing all these things. Duh. At her next sitting job, this is confirmed when Rosie starts drawing with Claud (and she's good, of course) and says that's what she really likes to do. Claudia encourages her to talk to her parents and later, talks to them herself. Of course, this all goes well and the parents don't resent Claud for butting in, and they let Rosie get rid of some of her activities. Another family, put back together by the Baby-Sitters Club!

Claudia's art show, named Disposable Comestibles, a Pop-Art Multi-Media Extravaganza is a huge success, despite that jerk Alan Gray showing up, and she even sells a couple of pieces. Rosie shows some of her work too and her parents agree she can take lessons; Rosie picks Claudia to be her teacher. We'll probably never hear from/of Rosie again though. And that's the end of that! Guess what's next? Another Super Special and then another BSC: All Grown Up!! Yay!