Read Down 2017: Middle Grade Novels Part II

I begged for Spring and now it is not enough.  It is warm, but not warm enough.

Blog posts are lagging because I am really in crunch time with half marathon training. Two long runs coming, today and next week, but nips into the distances during the week are starting the glorious taper.  I have been learning about my physical limits through all this and  I still do not know where they are. I am learning the importance of stretching and yoga to keep myself from getting hurt when I am pounding pavement and occasionally wondering how close I am to death when I push it too hard.

I survived academia and the daily grind of a supervisor and a healer, trying to keep the reactive emails to my boss to a minimum.  For his sake. But I don’t know how far I can run, or how fast, and I am finding out.  Hopefully my limit isn’t 12 miles because I have a 13 mile race on Mother’s Day weekend to conquer.

I read another round of middle grade novels this time, 8 and up, although one of them I listened to is absolutely not 8 and up.  It is all part of the read down and the exploration of the genre as an adult.  Kids books make me a better mom, but that is a topic for a later post.

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The Headless Cupid, Zilpha Keatley Snyder

This book looks like it is going to be magical and sets the tone for it:  a rambling house, a newly blended family, a grieving and precocious eleven year old protagonist.  But really, it is about the very real grief and transition of becoming a new family when old ones fall apart.  The other protagonist, Amanda, who comes to live with them, has clearly been taken care of with a permissive parenting style:  anything goes, not high on limits or supervision, and her distracted mother (as you can’t have a middle grade novel with too attentive and involvement) walks on eggshells to try and ease her transition.  This novel feels very real to me in its depiction of a grieving and transitioning family and its effect on older children who bear the brunt of it.  Yes, there is a mystery and a touch of magic and whimsy right up at the end and this is a series so I am wondering if the last bit sprinkled at the end is extended into further stories.  I would recommend this to a kid who needs to read about other kids overcoming similar challenges.

 

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The Night Gardener, Jonathan Auxier

This one is more straight up magic and whimsy.  Grieving kids, sure, but there is something much more lurking and sinister that is a very real danger.  Significantly more dark than The Headless Cupid.  More overt grief. Kids surviving on the edge of their wits.  And a scary tree that plays on human desperation to survive.  Everyone is hanging on by their fingernails, and the adults are too wrapped up in their own concerns to break free, so of course the snappy fourteen year old girl turned caregiver has to come in and wrench the family free from the tree’s clutches and give them back to themselves.  Interesting read, I wish I had read this when I was a member of the intended audience to have a feel for how this comes across to a child and their limited viewpoint of the world.  How a kid would process all that.  I very much want to read with my son when it is time for chapter books and I will be interested to see what he takes in of it.

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M is for Magic, Neil Gaiman

How this is classified as a children’s book, 8 and up no less, is a mystery to me.  The title would suggest a children’s book, and Neil has written for children, but this collection of his shorter works from different times in his career has too many adult themes that kids would not really understand.  There is one that talks about sex and infidelity, but even the others, like the story of Galahad trying to get the Holy Grail off a woman who got it in a junk shop by offering other legendary items like the Sorcerer’s Stone as a trade would not make sense to a child in the larger context.  His last story that later became The Graveyard Book, which I own but have not read, and that felt more middle grade-y to me than the others.  And I think I found it to be the most interesting and may have moved The Graveyard Book up on the queue.  That one I bought specifically to share with my son someday.  He’s not a huge reader at this point but he and I might find some mutual book loves if I work at it.  Neil is Neil, a true artist, full of whimsy, legends and magic, and I will probably always love him, but this is not for kids.

I like middle grade novels too while shuffling through something bigger. Something bigger and worth it, but that my brain sometimes can’t hang onto.  And I am seeing what I can share with my guy when he is just a little older from now.  I might be getting just a smidge tired of picture books.

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Maternity Leave Survival Reads

Dear Spring:  Thanks for springing.  Just in time to rescue me from complete despair that you were never coming.

So, it’s Easter Sunday and I don’t have a very Easter-y blog post for today, if you were looking for books about some aspect of the holiday.  Like chocolate bunnies.

If my blogging as of late has felt uninspired, please know I am in the final throes of training for a half marathon.  I wanted to be a more competitive triathlete so I just decided to do a half marathon training program, and then my training partner said that I will never know if the program works unless I actually run one, so then I signed up for a race twice the length of what I am sure I am capable of.  My goal is not to walk.  But the training has taken up my writing time.  I tried to write last week’s post after a seven mile clip through the park and my brain was refusing to comply.    So I am posting on a rest day, an amazing sunny day that I spent outside with my son.  On a topic I have long been considering.

Pregnancy and maternity leave were an interesting time for my reading. During pregnancy, my brain did not hang on to some of the books very well, except I did finish Mansfield Park and it did make me think enough to stay in my mind.  So did A Prayer for Owen Meany and The Grapes of Wrath.  Mystery novels slipped away from me, though, and the ones I read, especially on those summer mornings where the best I could do was walk on the treadmill, deserve a re-read.   Cloud Atlas being one of them. But it was not the pregnancy books that I wanted to post on.

It is the books that got me through the subsequent maternity leave that will be featured today.  The time when I had my very own tiny baby bunny.

Pregnancy requires a degree of survival, although mine was not high risk or especially horrid in any of those ways.  I was just tired, bleary minded, and wanting to fast forward to the baby part because I did not know any better. But it’s just a warm-up for the big leagues.

When I became a mother, I also I became someone who could read on my phone, as it was back lit and could fit in one hand, the other cradling possibly the hungriest infant that ever lived.  I did not only read in those long nights with nothing but the light of the nightlight and the one on my phone,  but it was a better activity than googling my exes and seeing all the places that my best friend checked into in the first year he lived in NYC (something I am really jealous of and something I am also really not).

So what makes a good maternity read?  Engaging and not too complicated.  My sleep deprived, pregnancy compromised brain needed scraps to hang on to but not too many scraps because the scraps would get too tangled up.  I also noticed that the books I am mentioning here are mostly series books, which can minimize the between book angst. Which is completely real, and should not happen at the same time as all the other angsts of new motherhood.

Some of the best books from that time:

Gone Girl, Jillian Flynn

Short chapters and a totally engrossing plot. I already was up most the night and I wanted to be up the rest of it because I just had to know.  And I could be like, just one more part and I’ll put it down… an hour later… ha. Very vivid memory of a time that did not make a whole lot of specific memories.

The Jo Mackenzie books, Gil McNeil  (starting with The Beach Street Knitting Society and Yarn Club)

This one still piqued my curiosity despite lacking the tension of Gillian Flynn’s suspense novel.  They are more a slice of life books than they are about discrete plots where people undergo major changes, but I like a woman following her creative dreams of having a knitting shop after her no good husband dies.

Nero Wolfe novels, Rex Stout

I have long read Nero in the spaces of my life where I needed a book to pull me away but not completely entangle me emotionally.  He was also a break from grad school read.  I do believe I have done 37 of this series, but I almost feel that this should have its own post.

The Plantagenet and Tudor novels of Philippa Gregory

These were more at the tail end of maternity leave, but they got me through January as well:  a double accolade.  I love Philippa’s true historical novels and the fascinating characters and historical events that she brings to life in her writing.  I find myself googling these people afterward.  As of now I have Three Sisters Three Queens on deck and maybe the Taming of the Queen, which I know is about the last wife whose inner light was thankfully not victim to the tyrant king Henry VIII.

What gets me through in my time of need!  If I had another baby, I would finish the Royal Spyness series and maybe some Louise Penny.

Happy Easter!

 

Thoughts/shares/comments always appreciated!!

 

 

 

Read Down 2017: Middle Grade Novels

I have an interest in writing middle grade novels.  A good book can be a childhood survival tool, and there is a decent market for it, and I work with kids, so this should be easy, right?

I might work with kids on the daily but I have been an adult in control of my own destiny for far too long.  And my job is helping kids solve problems in the context of their caregivers, when there are caregivers capable of this.

In middle grade novels, kids themselves are the catalyst, the one who changes and overcomes the problem, usually without an adult or with very little help from one.   This is the piece that I struggle with when thinking about a plot for this age group.  Kids have very little power!

The child protagonists in the three middle grade novels that I read for this post all are the agents of change.  One has evil adults and two have pretty normal adults who are kept in the loop as much as they can be without getting involved.  Because, you know, parents are ruiners.  And they are all decently dark, which tends to be what I read.  Grief is a serious motivation for more than one main character.

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Liesl & Po, Lauren Oliver

I have also reviewed Rooms on here, another Lauren Oliver, which was not intentional.   Liesl and Po is supernatural, marginalized children combating evil adults.  There is a mixup of a common object and each of the children need the object in order to achieve their own means.  Oh, and Liesl is helped out by a ghost, Po.  Just to add something.  They escape from their adults because they have to, and ultimately defeat them. Adults can make this world a scary place and make a pretty good story out of it if they choose to.

 

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The Creek, Jennifer Holm

When I finished this book I went back to be sure it was a middle grade novel, and sure enough, it is.  It pushes the boundaries of the genre, however, with some of its events and themes. People die in this one. It involves a loss of childhood innocence in a lot of ways.  A girl turning 13 who spends the summer running around the neighborhood with her male friends is upturned by a boy returning to live in the neighborhood after a stint in reformatory school for killing people’s pets.  And then, pets go missing and other macabre events, and the neighborhood is blaming the returned boy, but the protagonist knows it is not him but is afraid to tell the adults how she knows he is not responsible for the recent events.  She solves the mystery on her own, to her credit, and can keep up with the boys.

I had one major issue with this story, though.  There is a part where she is cornered by the reformatory school boy, Caleb, and he nearly rapes her, and doesn’t only because he is interrupted.  Okay, that happens to kids.  The part that really bothered me about it is she starts to like it and crave that kind of attention/relationship with a boy.  She has an age appropriate first kiss earlier on, which is sweet, but then she gets a taste for bad boys from this one who imposes himself on her and is like six years older.  She starts to relate to her friend who is a year older and desperately trying to be an adult, smoking and dressing sexy.  Because a 14 year old dating an 18 year old boy like that and showing off her body is completely well adjusted and happy, and it makes total sense that an innocent girl who gets a taste of that at 13 would want more of it.  No.  There is a reason that statutory rape is a thing. Because both of the girls are victims, and at least in the protagonist, I feel that it is made sexy.  Gross.  I don’t know, this one pushes a lot of middle grade boundaries.

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The Day the Angels Fell, Shawn Smucker

This is a biblical story and I did not realize it until I got a decent way in.  A grieving child falls victim to an angel’s plot to resurrect the tree of life, and a huge battle of good vs evil ensues. It is made more relatable than that, but that’s the gist.  The battle between good and evil in the child reminded me of that battle in the other book Rooms  by James Rubart where a man is deciding if he is going to follow Jesus Christ or not and the devil rolls onto the scene to tempt him.  The self doubt and the impulse to go for the short term payoff is similar, the insidious nature, the choice that looks good until one really thinks through the consequences.  The devil is such because he can present a tough choice without you really knowing the extent of the negative consequences.  I imagine he really does show up as everything you have ever wished for.

Reading down my middle grade novels has been helping me shape my thinking further about writing for children.  And reminds me of a child’s perspective to keep it fresh at work.

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Read Down 2017: how does your garden grow?

I think few people can deny that nature is chock full of magic.  The first magic honored the natural world and all the things that it does completely without us, in fact, in spite of us.

This post features two blogs where growing things on purpose is a major component of the book. Books about intentionally  growing things as well as redemption, redemption that is being looked for, and redemption that happens entirely by accident.

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The Orchardist, Amanda Coplin

I picked up The Orchardist a few years ago when it first came out, but it is a part of my Read Down 2017, as I still had not gotten to it.  It’s my kind of historical fiction, the kind that uses a story to steep you into the times, in this case, the American West 1850-1900.  A self elected foster father tries to save two abused pregnant teenage girls escaping a life of sexual slavery because his own beloved sister, the only person he had, disappeared mysteriously decades before.  The kind of vanishing without a trace that you could do in the loose structure of the American West at that time.  But when the girls stumble into his life, he sees a chance to save them, and keeps trying to save them at his own detriment until he dies. Raising the baby that was born and left on his orchard is not enough to assuage his prolonged grief over the loss of his sister.  We don’t even know if she was kidnapped or left of her own accord, but the fact that all that was left of her was a bonnet drives his actions in years to come. The fact that he grows food to sell as a means of sustenance is secondary to the other pieces of the plot.

This is a character driven novel to be read for its beauty and understanding of a different time and place.  I think when it came out, some people commented that it was slow and anti climactic, but I thought it was beautiful and engrossing.

There is also a re read on some of the Reading Challenges that I have been unsuccessfully avoiding.  Yeah, I have been trolling, especially as it relates to my own book collection.  I can’t even hold to my resolution for three months, but whatever, I actually have been drinking more water.  I bought bottled waters that just feel easier at home and reminders when I am out. But, somehow drinking more water has been easier for me to do than not looking at MMD, BookRiot and Popsugar.  But I have not committed myself to a number of books or pages, so that’s a start.  Any. Whoodle.

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The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett

I loved The Secret Garden as a kid, and re reading it as an adult, I am realizing that my love of Gothic novels goes back to before I knew what a Gothic novel even was.  A little girl is saved from who she was by coming to the Moors under the care of an absent uncle and getting lots of outdoors and some good old hands off/borderline neglectful British parenting.  She comes from India, where she is yellow skinned, sour faced and completely unappealing and spoiled to regain health and vigor in the finding and cultivating of a forbidden garden in a big old house full of sadness and mystery.

And she is also saved by the poster child for old school British parenting, the ultimate best case example of a child who is allowed to roam free all day every day, Dickon.  If Dickon was brown he would have been Burnett’s version of the magical n-.  He is poor and uneducated and yet he brings life, love and vigor wherever he goes.  He will probably grow up to have the soul dragged out of him by factory work or some other such drudgery that effectively killed the souls of the poor at that time of history, but for now, he is a veritable beacon of heart and goodness.  Also of gender roles, because the girls in poor families with tons of kids are expected to help with the cooking and childcare and household duties, while the boys can be out on the moors talking to birds and raising orphaned animals or doing what they please for 12-16 hours a day.  Dickon’s older sister was a servant and sending her wages back home and coming home on her one day off a month to help her mother with the baking. Can I be any more obvious that I don’t like it when people hold old school hands off parenting as the gold standard to which we should all aspire?  These kids raise themselves back to having the potential of being productive members of society all on their own.  No help from busy adults who don’t set any limits.

These are both good reads, one is better for the atmosphere, the characters and the themes, and the other is a nice feel good story of redemption. Both worth a go.

 

Comments/shares/likes always appreciated!

 

Magical Realism Part V: In the Cold

Even though this will be posted on the other side of spring, I read today’s book in the winter that was not a winter and then all of a sudden became intensely a winter.  March started out like a lamb and became a lion, so hopefully kitty goes back to being a lamb by the end of this month. I can’t wait to do yoga on my patio like a hipster.  I want to see lambs this week.  Lambs! I want tulips to come up at a time that does not give me intense anxiety that the planet is melting.

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Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin is long enough to have its own cold and magical realist post.  It is my second book over 500 pages of the year, the snow read, topping out at 768 pages paperback and 27 hours of listening at normal speed, but I listen to books at 1.25 and so it was closer to 23 hours for me.  And I wanted to read it for awhile but I am going to be honest, it kept getting pushed down the list because it did not have awesome reviews on Goodreads.  I used to have a friend that did not want to come to the movies to see something that was not highly rated, and I used to think that was absurd, but here I am, doing it with books ten years later.  My excuse is that books are more of a time commitment, 23 hours over 2.

Reading the reviews to gel my own thoughts for this post, I felt validated in my dislike for it. Sometimes I read something that I don’t like and wonder if there is someone out there who is way smarter who thinks that it makes the most sense in all the world.  If there is such a person I have not read his review on Goodreads (well in full disclosure a five star rating of the book by someone who has miraculously read it more than once was discovered but then I saw more interesting disdainful entertainment. I focused on that so I could continue to cradle my delicate ego).  Someone put it on their dumpster-adjacent shelf.  Someone else shelved it as meh.  Someone else posted a picture of a taxidermy small rodent that looks like a horror movie creature come to life to eat your brains because they feel that reading this book is an accomplishment warranting such a statement.  I mean, sometimes when I have a patient that has a serious breakthrough (and I do get to see them) I could use an animal like that.

All right though, I do intend to be “productive” (a therapist word) with this post and talk about why it felt like chewing concrete.  I love turn of the century NYC.  I read all kinds of books about the grime and the prejudice and the immigration and the hard life of those times.  So I was attracted by that.  I have a book on the history of the city itself that warrants my attention.  Helprin is long winded but it is beautiful to listen to if you get into it (one reviewer called it narrative fearlessness). I loved the initial story of Peter Lake and Beverly Penn, and I don’t think this is too much of a spoiler, but after Beverly dies this thing falls apart into nonsensical further plot threads whose later interweaving is wholly unsatisfactory. I thought the whole thing would have it some Beverly Penn, but the consumptive rich woman who was straddling two worlds before she died pretty much stayed on the other side of the veil after she died. I really thought she was going to come back more than she did.

And, it was shelved as Magical Realism, and it was, with the author messing with time, and epic snow and winters, and a horse that is the size of a barn who practically flies.  And it was cold magical realism in the north, where people are more private and don’t have sprawling, messy inter-generational families. It was all very proper to have magical realism in the winters in NYC.  With the added element of time, where it was not like characters would not stay dead, the did not die in the first place, hanging out over a century in the underbelly of the city like it would always be the turn of the century.  It dabbed magic into the usual world.

But ultimately, it did not have a lot of plot and it did not come together at the end, which I was really rooting for.  I read David Mitchell’s The Bone Clocks, and he can get really dense and you don’t know where he is going, but at the end he pulls it together in a really gratifying way that makes you glad that you followed his lead when you were not sure that it was going to lead anywhere.  (I felt The Bone Clocks was more gratifying than Cloud Atlas but I would give Cloud Atlas another go.) Barbara Kingsolver is another who can wind out threads and then weave them, although she does not make you wander as far out into an unknown and seemingly pointless land before pulling you back in.  She keeps you tighter the entire time, which is why I love her, even if she writes about the environmental preservation themes that make me intensely anxious.  So, the fact I go back to her even when I know she will say something that freaks me out is high praise.

I potentially considered abandoning it, but I didn’t want it on my dead soldier shelf that haunted me until I picked it up again. I read other books in the meantime, my Sarah Addison Allen for one, that was enough of a break for me to be ready to wrestle another long winded chapter with events whose purport evaded me.  Writing advice I have seen over and over emphasizes that you can have the most exquisite turn of phrase, but you need plot, too, to cull the masses.  We should all be writing for ourselves, I agree, but if one really wants to write a big hit with the populace it has to be more than beautiful language and unwinding backstories. It just has to.

Do I regret reading this novel? I don’t.  Syfy ruined my faith in books turned into miniseries with The Magicians, so I won’t be looking into the movie anytime soon, but I was intensely curious about this epic that involves many of my reader’s kryptonite.  What is a better magical realism turn of the century NYC book?  The Golem and The Jinni, which I know I have mentioned before but has never gotten its own post.  Talk about winding together the magical plot threads with some twists to knot you up in the end.  Damn.

A thousand words and 23 hours later, I would love comments, shares and likes on this post. I wanted to add The Master and Margarita to this post but I feel that that one will have to be waded through at another time.  The devil comes to Russia.  We don’t need to talk about that with a huge horse, a dead woman and an orphaned immortal amnesiac mechanic with occasional psychotic symptoms.

 

 

 

 

Magical Realism World Tour, IV

So, the books I talk about today are what I thought Magical Realism was, before I really got into the genre.  What I thought was Magical Realism is really a white and privileged sort of magic. I was intrigued, not creeped out, I was involved in what would happen to the characters, but I was not devastated and forced to address my privilege and the power I unfairly wield in the world.  No assumptions were challenged.

And.I.Could.Not.Put.It.Down.

Sarah Addison Allen was praised by Modern Mrs. Darcy as a binge read author.  Sometimes her books float up on Kindle deals and I picked up two, because MMD is enough of a reader to be able to recommend all sorts of books to people who give information on their tastes.  Girl knows her stuff.

If you read my blog with any regularity, you know that I often tackle works that push my assumptions, were written at different eras with different contexts, that were not written just to suck in audiences. I lost track of my susceptibility to a binger.

Please do not confuse my saying that it does not challenge my assumptions that it is not good or worthwhile because it absolutely is.

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The Girl Who Chased the Moon

Her books take place in the South with women finding themselves.  And some men. The magic starts right off when a seventeen year old girl comes to live with her grandfather who she barely knows in a Southern mansion falling into disrepair. So Goth. And the wallpaper changes in her mother’s old room where she sleeps, and this is just accepted and unexplained. People have magical secrets, and not magical secrets, and she tosses in some twists and some forbidden love. Yeah yeah yeah. I had to know. I wanted both of the women’s love stories to win. Sucked this one down in like, a day.

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The Sugar Queen

Then I also had The Sugar Queen, and there was some magical realism in there too, mostly around one character until closer to the end when some crap goes sour and the delicious twist becomes evident.  A woman trying to live down her childhood while eating a stash of junk food in her closet is interrupted in her life by a local woman who shows up to hide from an abusive boyfriend in the girl’s closet and turns her life around.  Another character goes through a time where she needs to find herself after life experiences that have distracted her from this goal.  Whatever. Girl power with some magic mixed in.  My library has two of her books in ebook format ripe for the borrowing.

I want to delve into Alice Hoffman and see how white Magical Realism in her work is. It varies by color and oppression and belief in/dependence on the natural world.  And, I suspect, temperatures. I am reading to see if it is different in colder climates, and it looks to me like it might be.

Short and sweet today, might go read more Sarah but I should see what Alice has to say.

Shares/likes/comments thx 🙂

 

Read Down 2017: When the world was mysterious

Education, internet, and the ease of travel, in my opinion, have lifted the veil of mystery that once shrouded the natural world.  We don’t know everything, and certainly I don’t, but when reading down my kindle books that I gathered long ago, I am reminded that stories could be woven out of metaphysics and travel and the precarious nature of life way back when.  I like being reminded of the comfort and knowledge that I take for granted.

Plus, it will be officially spring in another week and the re awakening around here is a magic in itself that never gets old.

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A Dreamer’s Tales, Lord Dunsany

I picked up another Irish writer (William Hodgson was Irish, too), and I read that these works were an influence on Tolkien, Lovecraft, and LeGuin.  This is a short work, only a few hours of listening on Librivox or an even shorter time to read, I enjoyed this on a very snowy Sunday and finished it even with an hour and a half break to play outside in the torrents with my son. He paints a magical and mythical natural world, considering issues both earthly and spiritual.  Of those writers influenced I have only read Tolkien, but I have hoarded both Lovecraft and LeGuin because I am optimistic they can create a similar magic.  My favorite two and most memorable stories were the ones where he dreams that he has committed a heinous act and therefore the living won’t allow him to be properly buried and he is in a perpetual state of unrest and limbo, even in death, and a pirate captain who learns to curse his crew and does so even after they mutiny.  Of course these things are not so plausible to audiences with more knowledge and exposure to more points of view than the audience that he was writing for.  Magical and fun tales, a short read, an all around win.  Don’t know what that is supposed to be on the cover, but it’s a better cover than the standard public domain covers on my kindle books.

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The Green Mouse,  Robert W Chambers

I should have reviewed this one for Valentine’s Day, being an amusing story about a machine that pairs up lifelong lovers due to matching their “psychic vibration.” It’s quirky and delightful, with the inventor having the luck of being the love interest of a rich woman who can put capital behind his idea.  Of course, it is a highly successful invention also because it matches up people based on social status, which must add to the compatibility of psychic waves.  Skin color must also contribute to compatibility waves, because the rich widowed man who accidentally sets the machine out to draw his match to him worries that it might reveal that someone “black” might actually be his soul mate, and oh, what a tragedy would that be, but thankfully it is a lovely snow white woman of his own class, even if she is “closer to 35 than 25” but the bloom is thankfully completely not off the rose.  He’s probably fat and ugly but since she’s getting a little old and he still thinks she is pretty it’s cool.  The Green Mouse understands that love is not just about love. It is about reinforcing stereotypes and pairing up the “right” people.

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The Man Who Would be King, Rudyard Kipling

I did an extensive project on Rudyard Kipling in the 8th grade, but I think this is the first time I had read something other than his poetry. This story is normally part of a collection of his works, but for some reason I had this 30 page tale as a separate work. This is significantly darker than the other two books I have been mentioning in this post.  Kipling knew the realities of the white man trying to conquer the rest of the dangerous and little known world.  The story is about two white opportunists who decide that they want to live by their own rule so spirit off to a distant land to conquer and rule it, and it ends badly.  Tragically.  Like, madness and death tragic.  But it’s a thrilling ride.  I was having trouble focusing on reading it so I dug up the Librivox version, aptly narrated by a woman named Phillippa with a strong British accent, which just completely made the whole thing.  I have to see what else she has narrated because I need to read all her things.

The world is not so magical or quite so conquerable nowadays. We have to read about times when the world was more mysterious, which I intend to do with reading more Jules Verne and some of the H.G. Wells that also need to be devoured in my quest to read down the neglected titles at the bottom of my kindle books list.

Comments/likes/shares!!