"A library book, I imagine, is a happy book." Cornelia Funke

"Everything puts me in mind of a story." Ben Franklin

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Fifty.fiftyme Challenge May Stats

Working on the fifty.fifty me blog challenge. Reviews for this post forthcoming!
Majoring in: Japanese Fairy and Folktales

Minoring in: Steinbeck

May Books Read:

  •  Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell: I love this genuinely touching, non-sappy teen romance. In the back of the school bus, Park grudgingly allows the prickly and weird Eleanor to sit next to him. Eleanor is not particularly grateful to the "stupid Asian kid." It is definitely not love at first sight. But slowly, the two develop a deep connection, threatened by Eleanor's miserable home life with her cruel and violent stepfather. Set in the mid 1980s, with mix tapes and no cell phones or Internet, this story will please both adults and teens!
  • In Search of Goliathus Hercules by Jennifer Angus: I recommended this one to sixth graders on my school visits this spring. In 1890, ten year old Henri's father, who is traveling, disappears.His mother goes to search for him, so Henri is sent from England to America, to live with his great aunt. There, he discovers that he can talk with insects and meets his aunt's unpleasant neighbor Mrs. Black. Henri is propelled into a series of adventures, working for a flea circus, traveling to Malaya to look for his father, hunting for the fierce beetle Goliathus Hercules and foiling the vicious Mrs. Black, all while turning pretty bug-like himself.
  • Struck by Lightning: the Carson Phillips Journal by Chris Colfer: I love Glee and I'm crazy about the character Kurt Hummel. Chris Colfer seems cool when you see him as himself. I listened to him read this on CD. The sarcastic humor is fun. If I didn't know who the author was, though, I have to honestly say that I wouldn't recommend this, due to flat, stereotypical characters and an abrupt ending.
  • Bink & Gollie: Best Friends Forever by Kate DiCamillo & Alison McGhee: If you haven't yet met the stars of these early reader/ short chapter books, you have pleasure coming! These two friends are complete opposites, but they totally enjoy each other. In these three adventures, Gollie has found that she is descended from royalty and is now ruling her kindom, much to Bink's annoyance, Bink is tired of being shorter than Gollie & sets out to do something about it, and the girls decide that they will collect something that will get them into a record book.  All of the Bink and Gollie books are charmingly illustrated by Tony Fucille.
  • Boy Toy by Barry Lyga: This was a disturbing but gripping read. When Josh was twelve years old he had a favorite teacher and developed a close relationship with her. Too close. Eve, who is married and beautiful, praised him for his maturity and intelligence and invited him to help her by being part of her grad school research. Josh is thrilled, because he has a big crush on her. The research project led to him going home with her after school every day, which over months led to him losing his virginity to Eve. Five years later, everyone knows about what happened to Josh and he can't wait to get out of town. A girl he used to be close to is back in his life, and she wants to be his girlfriend. It's time for Josh to deal with all that happened to him in the past. Although much of this book really bothered me, as it was meant to, I suppose, I think that Lyga skillfully handled this topic.
  • Magic Under Glass by Jaclyn Dolamore
  • In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters: This creepy historical fiction kept me reading it every chance I got. It’s 1918, during World War I and things are going really badly for 16 year old Mary Shelley Black. Her father has been arrested for being Un-American, her old friend and new love Stephen has gone off to war, and a deadly flu is sweeping the country. Stephen’s brother is making money doing spirit photography and has used the unknowing Mary Shelley as his model. Then word comes that Stephen is dead, she is literally struck by lightning and everything changes. Is she really receiving messages from beyond the grave? What can she do to help Stephen? Who can she trust?
  • Sweet Thursday by John Steinbeck: This is a "happy" book by Steinbeck. It won't break your heart like Of Mice and Men or The Pearl. It follows his book Cannery Row, catching up with the row's  inhabitants after the World War II in Monterey. Doc, collector of marine animals is back, trying to work on a scholarly paper on octopi. There's a new girl in town, Susie, who, although tough and argumentative, has a sweet spot for Doc. Madame Dora is now dead, but her sister "Fauna" has taken her place and is ably running the Bear Flag brothel with an aim to get her most promising girls married off properly. Mac and his slightly different group of flophouse boys earnestly and bumblingly try to help Doc, much to his chagrin. I loved this book! You might also check out the  1980s movie of Cannery Row, which combines the stories from Cannery Row and Sweet Thursday and stars Debra Winger and Nick Nolte. Granted, I haven't seen it in years, but back in the day I thought that it was really funny.
  • Travels With Charley: In Search of America by John Steinbeck: If you are someone who never read this in school, like me, let me tell you that this is a memoir from Steinbeck's time traveling the U.S. for  3 months with his fine French poodle. He equipped a truck with a camper top, christened it Rocinante, and they set out on their trip, with plans to meet Steinbeck's wife halfway through their route. Sadly, for me, he never made it into Minneapolis, although he apparently tried. More on this shortly.
Rocinante, which I absolutely could not picture when I read the book!

 Folktales: Basho and the Fox, Screen of Frogs, The Fool and the Phoenix, On Cat Mountain, Boy of the Three Year Nap, Under the Cherry Blossom Tree (See my blog posts for extended summaries of these).

May Films watched:
  •  Hitchcock: This takes place when Hitchcock is inspired to make Psycho, based on the book by Robert Bloch and the infamous murderer Ed Gein. Apparently, no one thinks that this is a good idea. They think that it will finish him as a director. He also seems to be going through a rocky patch with his wife Alma, who is a partner to him in his filmmaking as well as an assistant director and screenwriter in her own right. I enjoyed the acting by Anthony Hopkins and  Helen Mirren and was very creeped out by the scenes involving Gein.
  • Silver Linings Playbook


Books total: 56/50
Books minus folktale minor: 22/50
Movies: 17/50

Major: 34/7
Minor: 2/3

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