Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Shining

Well, I'm no longer sitting in my living room clutching my pillows and jumping at every sound. Why not? I finished The Shining by Stephen King. I have never read a King novel before although I have seen almost all of the films based on his works. Let's just say that I don't think I will be picking up one again. I had seen the movie and it (and Jack Nicholson) has always scared the wits out of me. The novel was no different. In fact, I thought it was even creepier if that was in any way possible. I always thought topiaries shaped as animals were freaky. Now I have justification. If you didn't like the movie, there might still be hope for the book. A lot of items were left out of the movie. Creepy things. Also, some of the elements of the book were changed in the movie and happened to Jack Nicholson instead of the child, Danny. The book focused mainly on Danny, his gift (aka the shining) and the hotel trying to take control of it. I don't necessarily get creeped out easily but Stephen King has one hell of any imagination. I enjoyed the novel and it was nice to sit down and be scared out of your wits but I don't think I want to do it again any time soon. HA! One more decade down and many more to go!

Friday, May 18, 2007


Hitty: Her First Hundred Years by Rachel Field was a trial for me to get through. The story details a doll's adventures as she travels from owner to owner over the course of a century. She ends up living in locations as far-flung as Boston, New Orleans, India, and an island in the South Pacific. A fun and interesting concept for a novel especially seeing the world change through her eyes. However, the language seemed stiff to me. I do understand that writing for children in the 30's was different than the way children authors write today. But it kept bogging me down. I had read somewhere that there was concern over the racial stereotypes and an anti-Christian theme used throughout the book. Neither of these issues seemed foremost to me but I guess one can always find something to take issue with in any book you read. Just remember it was written in 1929! Also, I don't believe in re-writing books so I have no intention of reading Rosemary Wells updated version although I've heard it's great for smaller children.

Summer of the Swans

The second title in my Newbery Challenge was The Summer of the Swans by Betsy Byars. This book simply didn't capture me. I finished it easily since it is a rather short book (142 pg.) but didn't find myself really connecting to any of the characters in what seemed to me to be a character-driven book. Sara appeared whiny and self-centered to me as did Aunt Willie. I was appalled when Aunt Willie refused to fix Charlie's buttons instead preferring to watch tv. I did, however, feel the world of Charlie was far more interesting. Just my two cents.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Jacob Have I Loved

I just finished Jacob Have I Loved by Katherine Paterson as part of my Newbery Challenge list. This title has been in the back of my mind for years and surprisingly I never read it. For shame!!! All the years I missed out on a really great book.

Set on a tiny island in the Chesapeake Bay during the 1940's, Jacob Haved I Loved tells the story of Louise (aka Wheeze) and her twin sister, Caroline. Louise, a hard-working thirteen-year-old, helps support her family and Caroline's music lessons by progging for crab. She finds it hard to live with her over-indulged sister and often feels left out because she is not as pretty as the lovely Caroline. The entire island seems to be under Caroline's spell. But the mysterious appearance of Captain Wallace creates a new connection for Louise. But soon even that relationship is usurped by Caroline. Frustrated by the strained relationship with her family and life on the island itself, Louise must break free from what she sees as a small life and create her own in the mountains.

Like I stated earlier, I absolutely loved this title! It would have been the perfect read for me as a teen. I'm sorry I didn't give it a try then. I can see a lot of myself in Louise. While I don't have a twin, I have experienced sibling rivalry to a degree and have myself felt unworthy. Louise was a truly likeable character. A bit unusual for me but I also enjoyed the setting. I'm not much for water settings since I'm landlocked. It's sometimes hard to relate but Paterson does an excellent job of pulling you into the island and its characters.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Eight Cousins

Eight Cousins
Louisa May Alcott

Rating: 2/5

Finally finished my first book in my first official blog challenge. Eight Cousins by Louisa May Alcott was my first selection from 1870 in the By the Decade challenge. A huge fan of Little Women and the rest, I was somewhat disappointed with this one.

The story surrounds newly orphaned Rose Campbell who comes to live at "Aunt-Hill" where her six aunts fuss over her to no end. A sickly child, whose small size belies her age of thirteen, Rose finds herself overwhelmed by her seven boisterous boy cousins. However, the arrival of her new guardian, Uncle Alec, and his progressive ideas on how to raise a little girl creates a new environment in which little Rose blossoms.

It was a interesting book in terms of the "old-fashioned" upbringing encouraged by the aunts and the "progressive" forms taken by Uncle Alec. In one part, the aunts were appalled with the idea that he might let Rose wear bloomers. And don't get me started on Rose piercing her ears. How far we've come! However, some elements of the book were overbearing. For example, the gentlemanly demeanor of the boys became annoying at times. The story was a little too sweet for me and Rose herself was almost sickeningly so but a lot can be said of my mood at the time. I'd love to hear other thoughts on it!