My first Thomas Hardy novel was simply fantastic. Emotionally poignant but also socially resonant, Tess of the D’Ubervilles provides an intriguing story about Victorian social and sexual hypocrisy through characters with clear flaws to recognize and appreciate. And yet, although it was clearly a commentary on the social structures and sexual morality in Victorian England, Hardy never once lectured or made his novel about those issues. At first and last glance, the book is a tender one about one poor woman and those who associate with her.
Note: this post contains spoilers for the entire novel.
This week’s Cybils’ focus is on babies! Since my baby is quickly getting old (she’ll be ten months old next week), I’m mourning the loss of a not-yet-crawling baby, but looking forward to coming months of a baby who is more interested in playing and reading with me! She obviously already loves books by the way she devours them (literally trying to eat them, which is of course perfectly age appropriate!). (more…)
I really enjoyed reading the first Hereville graphic novel, so when I saw the next one on netgalley, I was eager to revisit Mirka’s somewhat bizarre world. Hereville: How Mirka Met a Meteorite by Barry Deutsch (published November 2012) is another look at the spunky young Jewish girl who has fantastic adventures in her small community.
In the first volume, Mirka fights a troll in order to win a sword, but her battle ends up being different from what she expected! In this second volume, Mirka learns that a meteorite is coming to the earth. The witch helps her by transforming the meteorite, but it was not quite what she was expecting! Once again, Mirka must come to terms with herself in the humorous challenge she faces in this volume.
Hereville is such a blend of creativity that I really enjoy reading it, and I imagine the intended audience (young middle grade readers) loves it far more than I do! It has a strong strand of Jewish culture, but it also is a fantasy, an adventure, and a tale of a girl dealing with bullies, family, and basic pre-teen difficulties. I am not Jewish and I loved the glimpse at an Orthodox Jewish family and community. In general, I really like the world Barry Deutsch has created, and I’m glad he’s continued Mirka’s saga in this second volume of her adventures.
Note: I read a digital review copy from the publisher via Netgalley for review consideration.
This post contains thematic spoilers.
I have put off writing my thoughts on the prequel to the Boxcar Children series for more than two weeks now. It’s not that I didn’t like it. On the contrary, I really enjoyed seeing the children interact with their parents, relish their life on a small farm, and find their own ways of enjoying life over the course of one year. It was quite fun to revisit Henry, Jessie, Violet, and precious Benny in their home setting.
However, something about the book as a whole didn’t resonate well with me. Is it because I just can’t imagine the emotionally stable children of this book then running away and avoiding adults (such as their unknown grandfather) as they do in the first chapters of the original The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Harris? Is it because the book had to, of course, end in the death of their parents so the children would be orphans, as they are in the first chapters of the original?
The Boxcar Children Beginning: The Aldens of Fair Meadow Farm (Albert Whitman and Company, August 2012) was written by Patrician MacLachlan, a master storyteller of historical fiction in rural communities featuring close-knit families. She did a wonderful job, as always, at creating the setting in rural, depression-era America, and the children’s personalities seemed to fit the already created personalities as we know them from the other books. My son and I loved the adventures the kids had as they looked for things to do.
The Clutter Cure by Judi Culbertson (McGraw Hill, 2007) helped me refocus my efforts at keeping my home nice. In her book, Ms Culbertson helped me identify my weak areas for accumulating clutter, recognize what I really want out of my space, and undertake some easy solutions for eliminating clutter without guilt. As I read her short book about clutter, I felt inspired to walk around my home with a garbage bag and box (for donations). (more…)