Category Archives: Thoughts About Books

MOP April 27: A Few Notes

The thing about setting a lofty goal for myself like “I’m gonna post every other weekday in the month of April!” is that sometimes I post things that resonate with a lot of people and get lots of comments, and other times I barely have it in me to post at all.

Today is the latter type.

First: Thank you to everyone who commented on my last post. I read, loved, and appreciated them all. I wanted to reply to a bunch of them but then I got busy and tired and had lots of homework and gave up.

Second: Today I was going to continue on that theme and post about books I’ve read/enjoyed that are about people who are really “different,” and/or living in more than one culture at once, but I just want to go to bed so maybe I’ll post about that on Friday.

However, if you have any books to recommend on that topic I’d LOVE to hear it. Most of the ones I could think of are Middle Grade books.

Okay. Goodnight.


MOP April 15: Emily and Jenny Review a Book

“Hey Jenny, I have an idea!” I said.

“Yes?” she asked, warily.

“Let’s do a video book review of…” I scanned the stack of books she had recently borrowed from me. “Once On a Time!”


“Come on, we’ll make a really short video that doesn’t need to be edited. And we’ll take turns talking so we don’t interrupt each other.”

“Okay,” she agreed.

We sat in front of her door, and I balanced my tiny pink laptop on my knees and turned on the webcam. It gave an excellent view of our chins, a not-so-excellent sound quality, and it shook when we laughed.

Oh well. We strive only to entertain, and to have fun whilst doing so.


P.S. I just realized that I insinuated that only pretty chins are worthy to be shown off. Oops. I respect the rights of all people to show off their chins, no matter what their chins may happen to look like 🙂

P.P.S. Once on a Time can be found for free here.

Ten Books that have Stayed With Me in Some Way

In no particular order, the 10 that popped into my head are:

1. Peter Pan, by J.M. Barrie

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2. The Moonstone, by Wilkie Collins

It was a bit of a serendipity, the way I came to read and love this book. It happened like this:

I was 19 years old and living in Virginia when I decided to take my SAT. I signed up to go through the four-hour ordeal on a Saturday, the day before a big trip I had planned.

The most interesting section of the SAT (and of course the part I did best at) was the reading comprehension bit. I opened the little booklet, and there was a full-page excerpt of a book called The Moonstone. I read the little blurb at the top, which went something like:

This is the story of a stolen diamond that was inherited by Rachael Verinder, a young English woman. The night of her 18’th birthday, the diamond was stolen from her.

A little thrill went through me at the words “stolen diamond.”

Then I read the excerpt. It was narrated by a man named Gabriel Betteredge, who was Miss Verinder’s butler. He was such a funny character, and had a strange obsession with the book Robinson Crusoe. He said, in essence, “I’m going to write down how the diamond was stolen.” And then, having come to that conclusion, the excerpt ended.

I hurriedly tried to remember the name of the author, Wilkie Collins Wilkie Collins Wilkie Collins, and got on with the test. The thing is timed, see, so you have to be careful about dawdling over fascinating excerpts.

By the time the test was over I had forgotten both the author’s name and the title of the book. Not that I had time to think about it much. I was too busy getting ready to leave on my trip, sleeping, boarding a plane, and flying to Colorado.

When I got to Colorado Dad and Ben met me at the airport with our van. They had driven out to help me gather all the belongs I had left in the area from when I lived there, and then we were all going to drive to Oregon together for Ben’s graduation.

That evening we got a motel in Canon City, the town I used to live in, and settled down for a bit of a rest. I sat in a chair. Dad relaxed on one of the beds and opened a book.

“What’s that you’re reading?” I asked.

“It’s a book Amy picked up somewhere,” said Dad. “It’s called The Moonstone.”

3. Stargirl, by Jerry Spinelli

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4. Howl’s moving castle, by Diana Wynne Jones


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5. The blue castle, by L.M. Montgomery


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6. I capture the castle, by Dodie Smith

I guess I’m just really drawn to books with “castle” in the title. This book is about a dirt-poor family of fascinating characters that lived in a castle in 1920’s England. The cleverness and humor of this book astounds me.

7. Love of Seven Dolls, by Paul Gallico


8. Wuthering Heights, by Emily Bronte

I can’t even explain why I like this book. It is dark and weird but absolutely enthralling. I think it stuck with me because it was so different from anything I had ever read before.

9. The Personality of a House, by Emily Post


I found this book in the library at Bridgewater College, and couldn’t put it down. It’s somewhat outdated (it advises that you decorate in colors that complement your skin tone) but also the most timeless book on decorating I have ever discovered.

I ended up buying my own copy for more money than I have ever spent on a book before.

10. Once on a Time, by A.A. Milne


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What books have stuck with you?


Thoughts About Books: Plot Twists

Most of my interesting moments this summer are happening vicariously through the books I read.

The thing I’ve noticed about books is, whether they’re good or bad, deep or fluffy, long or short, literary or popular, they all get me thinking about ideas that I want to share on my blog.

I’ve thought about doing book reviews on here, but often the books I read are ones that you guys either won’t want to read or won’t be able to get a copy of, due to my acquiring them at a garage sales.

So instead, I give you “Thoughts About Books,” a general conglomeration of the things that I think about, sparked by the books I read.

This book, “Beneath the Glitter,” is a very fluffy book about two girls who got famous doing beauty videos on you-tube, and now live in LA and live extremely glamorous lives. It was just what I expected it to be–kind of dumb and poorly written, but fun and glamorous, like watching chick flicks with great fashion.

But there was a twist at the end.

It was a confusing twist, sloppily tacked on like an afterthought. Someone was plotting to steal someone else’s money, and the wrong people were blamed, and it was all very dramatic and ended suddenly with no one sure who the real thieves were.

Time to buy the sequel, I guess.

It absolutely did not fit into the plot, clarify anything for the reader, or enhance the quality of the novel one iota. I was left thinking, “why on earth did the authors feel the need to add this twist to the end?”

It reminded me of another book I read recently. “Inferno,” by Dan Brown.

“Inferno” was a fascinating read for the first 4/5ths of the novel. People were chasing people. People found ingenious ways to escape. People were trying to unravel this mystery involving Dante’s “Inferno,” and several other ancient works of art, including paintings and buildings and I don’t remember what all. The author is really one fantastic researcher.

But then, the last 5th of the novel involved plot twists. One after another after another. I can only think of one that actually clarified what had happened earlier, advanced the plot, and added depth to the characters. The other plot twists were merely sensation devices.

In the end, the bad guy won, except there weren’t really any bad guys after all, just misunderstandings. And all the chases and escapes need not have happened at all. All for the sake of the plot twists.

I began thinking about other books I’ve read. It’s amazing how many of the “bestseller” “food for the masses” type books end in huge plot twists. I’ve read two Jodi Picoult books, which did this to such a degree that I concluded she must do it in all her books.

Other books do it as well, though not as bad as Picoult and Brown. The most popular ending twist is the “wrongful death” twist, where you expect one main character to die and then the other main character dies instead, or something similar. This is so common that I’ve found myself, a page and a half before the unexpected death, suddenly realizing who’s gonna die.

Is the new formula for popular books “exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, plot twist?”

I don’t understand. Sure, give me an occasional plot twist that adds depth and clarity, but spare me the contrived tacked-on creations that are merely sensation devices and add nothing to the message the novel is trying to convey.

Thank you.