Anonymous. Beowulf. Translated by Seamus Heaney. New York: W. W. Norton, 2001.
Reason read: Another Halloween story.
Everyone raves about Seamus Heaney’s translation of Beowulf and I have to wonder, is it just the translation or could the accompanying gorgeous illustrations and photography have something to do with it? Everyone knows the story of Beowulf the mighty warrior from an English lit class. As a poem, it is the courageous story of a man who learns of a King’s annual nightmare. A monster named Grendel destroys fifteen knights a year without fail and has been doing so for the past twelve years. Beowulf, upon hearing this sad tale, takes it upon himself to vanquish Grendel only to face Grendel’s vengeful mother. Yeah, he kills her, too. Then there’s the fire-breathing dragon (think Bilbo Baggins) who tragically wins over Beowulf. In truth, I had forgotten the graphic violence of men being mauled by the monster Grendel. The clash is pretty dramatic. It would make a great movie. Wait. Knowing my knowledge of movies…it probably is.
As an aside, I have to wonder if this was ever made into a movie? Think about it. The battles full of violence…the claw of Grendel’s as a trophy. What a great prop for the big screen!
Lines I liked, “But it was mostly beer doing the talking” (p 37),”He is hasped and hooped and hirpling with pain, limping and looped in it” (p 65). Even though hasped and hirpling are not used in everyday vocabulary, you can envision the monster in sever pain.
Author fact: No one has ever been given credit for writing Beowulf although hundred of people have translated it.
Book trivia: Heaney’s translation won the Whitbread Award.
Nancy said: Pearl said Heaney’s translation of Beowulf beautiful.
BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Poetry: a Novel Idea” (p 186).
Reid, Melanie. The World I Fell Into: What Breaking My Neck Taught Me About Life. Vancouver: Greystone Books, 2021.
Reason read: This is the September offering from LibraryThing’s Early Review program.
Here is the coincidental thing about reading The World I Fell Into by Melanie Reid. It came at the same time I was finishing up Inside the Halo by Maxine Kumin. Two very similar stories about an accident involving a horse and breaking bones in the author’s neck and/or back. Maxine had to wear a halo device to keep her neck and head stabilized while her bones fused. Melanie, at 52 years old, was paralyzed from the chest down. Both of them went through extensive rehabilitation to learn to live with their injuries. Both of them have a form of writing as a successful career (Maxine is a poet and Melanie is a journalist). Both of them are mothers with complicated relationships. Their lives post-accident is where their stories truly diverge.
Where Melanie’s story diverges from Maxine’s is at the “happily ever after” part of the story. Maxine makes a near-full recovery from her accident while most of The World I Fell Into is about the loss of life as Melanie once knew it. When one reviewer called it “lacerating” they weren’t wrong. Reid’s journey to acceptance is a painful one to travel.
As an aside, I am 52 years old. One of the most heartbreaking moments, for me at least, was when Reid asked for one of her 10k race shirts. She thought of it as a symbol of who she was and who she would return to being. When she fully realized she would never run again she grew so embarrassed she threw it away. Another moment was when she wrote about her skin yearning for moisturizer. She deserves someone who would carefully, lovingly take the unwieldy jar with its impossible lid and once opened, with that same care and love, rub the cream into her skin. Then I thought, who am I kidding? I want that intimacy for myself.
Author fact: Melanie has won awards for her journalism.
Book trivia: The World I Fell Into includes some black and white photographs of Melanie pre and post accident and was originally published in the UK in 2019.
Playlist: Sister Sledge’s “We are Family,” “Heartbeat” by Nicole Scherzinger and Enrique Inglesias, “Sex is On Fire” by Kings of Leon, “Human” by the Killers, and musicians Janis Joplin, Roy Orbison & Bruce Springfield.
Allende, Isabel. The House of the Spirits. New York: Everyman’s Library, 2005.
Reason read: read in honor of the ghosts…just in time for Halloween.
The House of the Spirits begins with a letter to a hundred year old grandfather. Meet the del Valle family. Clara del Valle has paranormal powers as every magical realism book must have. Clara predicts her sister’s death by poison and is traumatized into muteness by the autopsy (wouldn’t you if you saw your sister cut open?). The generational story goes on to include more crimes against humanity in the form of adultery, rape, whippings, curses, maiming, and murder. Balanced with all that grief is an undeniable love story. Passion abounds between the harshness.
As an aside, my favorite character of them all was Rosa de Valle. Born with green hair she is thought to be a mermaid and was murdered early in the story.
Author fact: Allende write a letter to her 99 year old grandfather and The House of the Spirits was born.
Book trivia: I always find it really interesting when novels (or art of any kind) that end up being huge successes are at first rejected. Allende and Van Gogh have that in common.
Nancy said: Pearl said The House of the Spirits offers “a picture of Chile that’s suffused with love (and a bit of magic)” (Book Lust To Go p 115).
BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Magical Realism” (p 148) and from Book Lust To Go in the chapter called “It’s Chile Today” (p 114).
Race, Peggy. Desiree: the Music of My Soul. Texas: Black Rose Writing, 2021.
Reason read: as a member of LibraryThing I review books for the Early Review program. This is the August 2021 selection.
There is no doubt in my mind Peggy Race has had her share of heartbreak. This is how one dog was able to mend her heart and put her on a path of purpose. Losing her second husband of only nine months to a freakish accident, Peggy was lost. Dogs became her lifeline. One dog in particular became her saving grace.
Confessional: this took me a really long time to read. The language is extremely flowery, for lack of a better way to describe it. The overuse of the word “as” became obsessively distracting. I became acutely aware of every time it was used as an adverb, conjunction, or preposition. It just seemed to be everywhere. Additionally, every sentence with “ing” as a suffix was equally distracting. There seem to be a formula to Race’s writing because “like” imagery was everywhere: “Like a film reel…” “Like the waters of Katrina…” “Like a blank chalkboard…” “Like a soundtrack of songs…” “Like a fresh coat of paint…” I could go on and on. I loved the story. I loved Peggy’s devotion to puppy mill dogs and her volunteerism brought me to tears at times. I just couldn’t synch with her writing style.
As an aside, I am addicted to a voyeuristic show called “Murder, Suicide, Accident.” Each episode is dedicated to a person’s questionable death. There is a certain formula to the show. Someone finds the body and from all outward appearances it looks like either a suicide or an accident. Enter the medical examiner, pathologist, and autopsy reports. Suggestable evidence points to something quite different happened. Experts agree something isn’t sitting well with the evidence. At the same time loved ones are interviewed and their words support a particular slant – “She was depressed and mentioned suicide to me.” “They were fighting a lot right before he died. She threatened to leave. The cops were called a few times.” “She was always getting hurt and was very accident prone.” The viewer starts to make judgements on the nature of death until there is a killer’s confession, suicide note, or irrefutable evidence pointing to an accident. Terry’s death could be featured on this show. Family would argue Terry was an expert rider. Would he work in a closed garage with a motorcycle running? Would he intentionally kill himself leaving his worldly belongings to an ex-girlfriend only nine months after marrying Peggy? Both of these actions seen short-sighted and slightly daft.
Playlist: “Thank God for Kids,” “God Bless the USA,” “I will Remember You,” “Have You Ever Been in Love,” “My Way” by Frank Sinatra.
Author fact: Race has written other books about rescuing dogs.
Book trivia: there were no photographs in my copy of Desiree.
Line I hope is kept in the final publishing, “Plowing through the uncultivated boundaries of my heart, I managed the feelings that came with loss” (p 6). That is what you do, isn’t it? You keep charging through unrefined emotions, just trying to keep your sh!t together.
Adiga, Aravind. The White Tiger: a Novel. New York: Free Press, 2008.
Reason read: There is a festival in October that celebrates women called the Sanjhi Festival.
Much like Between the Assassinations, The White Tiger takes place over the course of seven nights. Balram Halwai, also known as the White Tiger, is writing a nightly letter to the Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao prior to the Premier’s visit. Does Balram want the Premier to see India for what it really is or is there a different motive, one that is more personal? The reader isn’t 100% sure until the end. In these letters Balram explains his life and how he escaped servitude as a rich man’s chauffeur to become a cocksure and wealthy businessman. He makes no excuses for his methods for success or the sacrifices he (and his family) had to make. Even from a young age Balram knew he was destined to make his way out of the slums of India, even if it meant murder and corruption and betrayal.
As an aside, I am intrigued by Balram’s frequent references to his favorite poets: Muhammed Iqbal, Rumi, Mizra Ghalib, and a fourth whose name he can’t remember. The known three are actual middle eastern poets.
When stand-alone novels have a ring of familiarity across them I question if the author is striking the formulaic bell.
Edited to add the one quote I liked: “Strange thoughts brew in your heart when you spend too much time with old books” (p 218). Yup.
Author fact: Adiga also wrote Between the Assassinations which I read in 2017.
Book trivia: White Tiger was adapted for film in 2021. Of course, I haven’t seen it.
Playlist: Sting, Enya, Eminem.
Nancy said: Pearl mentioned The White Tiger winning the Man Booker Prize in 2008.
BookLust Twist: from Book Lust To Go in the chapter called “Sojourns in South Asia: India” (p 213).
Brittain, Vera. Testament of Friendship. New York: Seaview Books, 1981.
Reason read: I dropped the ball on finishing Brittain’s trilogy. I was supposed to read this in August. Woops.
As both Carolyn G. Heilbrun and Vera Brittain noted in her introduction and preface respectively, the recording of a friendship between women is rare. Both Heilbrun and Brittain cited the Biblical relationship between Ruth and Naomi as being one of the few female friendships not only documented but widely accepted. Brittain set out to record her sixteen year friendship with Winfred Holtby and produce a detailed biography of a woman who died too soon, “She seemed too vital and radiant a creature for death to touch” (p 1). Indeed. It is stunning to think what Holtby could have accomplished when you think she was writing poetry by the age of eight and by age eleven was published. [Okay, okay. So her mother paid to have the poems published.] She was the Charlotte Bronte of her time. On a personal note, I think women should celebrate their friendships more often. This prompted me to reach out to friends I’ve known for nearly 40 years.
Author fact: Brittain was the author of 29 books. I am only reading the three Testament books for the Challenge.
Book trivia: Testament of Friendship does not contain any photographs. Too bad.
Setlist: “Fight the Good Fight,” “Give Me the Moonlight,” “Because,” “Until,” and “K-K-K-Katy.”
Nancy said: Pearl didn’t say anything specific about Testament of Friendship except to say that it continues the trilogy Brittain started with Testament of Youth.
BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter called “Living Through War” (p 154).
Lewis, Michael. Moneyball: the Art of Winning an Unfair Game. New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 2004.
Reason read: the World Series is held in October every year. Read in honor of baseball’s biggest moment.
On the surface, Moneyball is about the Oakland Athletics baseball team. They don’t have enough money to buy the big name players and yet they keep winning. Their manager, Billy Beane, is working some kind of statistical magic. What is his secret to success? As Lewis takes his readers on a strange journey into the world of armchair pitchers and amateur baseball theorists I couldn’t help but think of a Dungeons and Dragons meets sports enthusiast group of geeks. This is truly a book with a dual audience. Moneyball, for obvious reasons, appeals to the sports fanatic, but the nerd with a mathematical slant can geek out as well. To win one must understand sabermetrics.
Author fact: Speaking of geeking out. I had a moment when I found out Lewis is married to Tabitha Soren.
Book trivia: Moneyball was made into a movie in 2011 starring Brad Pitt. You guessed it. I haven’t seen it.
Nancy said: Pearl said Moneyball turned her into an Oakland A’s fan.
BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter called “Dewey Deconstructed: 700s” (p 71).
Petterson, Per. Out Stealing Horses. New York: Picador, 2003.
Reason read: Petterson is a Norwegian writer. An old friend of mine lives in Norway and was born in October. Read in her honor even though we haven’t spoken in a long time.
Trond Sander, at 67 years old, is a simple man living alone with his dog, Lyra, deep in the Norwegian woods. He likes the quiet. He loves the solitude. It’s as if he has run away from memories. In reality, he has done just that. Trond lost his sister and wife in one month three years prior. That was when he stopped talking to people. His silence is profound until he meets a stranger in the woods near his cabin. Only this stranger carries the very memories Trond has been trying to escape. Lars is a member of a family with entangled deep tragedies and Trond knows them well. Petterson is able to move Trond from past to present with remarkable grace. Trond as a teenager versus Trond, the aging adult in Norway’s breathtaking landscape. Like any good drama, there is violence, illicit love, abandonment, and atonement with surprises along the way. I hope the movie is as spectacular as the book.
Lines I liked, “When the record ends I will go to bed and sleep as heavily as possible without being dead, and awake to a new millennium and not let it mean a thing” (p 5) and “A shipwrecked man without an anchor in the world except in his own liquid thoughts where time has lost its sequence” (p 195).
Author fact: I am reading three of Per Petterson’s novels: In the Wake, In Siberia, and Out Stealing Horses.
Book trivia: Out Stealing Horses was made into a movie Just last year in 2020. It looks really good.
Playlist: Billie Holliday
Nancy said: Pearl had a lot to say about Out Stealing Horses. Along with the general plot she said the writing is spare and restrained. The plot emerges slowly and should not to be missed. She also mentioned the translation as being beautiful and the cover as evocative.
BookLust Twist: from Book Lust To Go in the chapter called “Norway: the Land of the Midnight Sun” (p 162).
King, Stephen. Carrie. New York: Doubleday, 1974.
King, Stephen. Carrie. Read by Sissy Spacek. New York: Recorded Books, 2005.
Reason read: Halloween is in October. Not much is scarier than Stephen King. Read in his honor.
The absolute scariest thing about most Stephen King novels is that they are only slightly out of the realm of impossible. With a little twist of science and magic any of his stories could be reality. Take Carrie: could a girl with telekinesis powers; one who is bullied relentlessly at home and school, be pushed to the point of a colossal psychotic break; one which causes her to go more than a little berserk? Well, sure. Especially if this same said girl has an overly devout yet highly paranoid mother who loves her to the point of fanatic torture. Most definitely.
Carietta “Carrie” White was bullied and tortured all through grade, middle, and high school. For her schoolmates she was an easy target with her abundance of acne, weird ill-fitting clothes, severe lack of hygiene, and apparently absent communication skills. Her uncomprehending grunts and blank stares only fueled their taunts. Unfortunately, there is one classmate who wants to make it up to Carrie.
What makes Carrie so scary is how King intersperses the story with snippets from psychological papers regarding Carrie and her telekinesis. These interruptions give a sense of reality to the horror.
Author fact: Carrie was King’s first novel and it launched him into stardom.
Book trivia: Carrie was made into a movie in 1976 and are you ready for this, I actually saw it. There was another remake in 2013 which, you guessed it, I didn’t see.
Playlist: “Hey Jude,” “Stars and Stripes Forever,” “Just Like a Woman,” and Tennessee Ernie Ford’s “Let the Lower Lights Be Burning.”
Nancy said: in general Pearl said horror was her least favorite genre and she mentioned Carrie.
BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror” (p 213).
Crichton, Michael. Jurassic Park. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1990.
Reason read: October is National Dinosaur Month. What better book to read than something that combines dinosaurs with a little Halloween scariness?
It is hard to imagine that in Jurassic Park only 24 hours pass on a remote Costa Rican island. Deep in the jungle lies a high-tech amusement park built by greed and commercialized genetic bioengineered DNA. The main attraction? Living, breathing dinosaurs supposedly super safe behind huge moats, tall electric fences, and concrete walls so thick they rival World War II fortresses. What could possibly go wrong with fifteen species of cloned, female dinosaurs? The engineers supposedly thought of everything. They thought wrong. Everyone knows the rest of the story, either through reading the novel or watching the movie. I will say that one reviewer called Jurassic Park “tornado-paced.” They were not wrong.
As an aside, I found Lex to be the most annoying creature on earth. Maybe that’s why I don’t have kids. She watches a dinosaur attack a man and she whines she is hungry. She nearly dies herself and whines that she is hungry. Give the kid some fries!
Author fact: Crichton is a powerhouse of a writer in the literary world. I am only reading Jurassic Park for the Challenge but he has written best sellers like Andromeda Strain, Terminal Man, Great Train Robbery, Congo, and Sphere as well as some nonfiction.
Book trivia: Jurassic Park made its way to the big screen in 1993 where it was an instant success. The sequel came four years later. Thus a franchise was born with four more Jurassic movies produced between 2001 and 2019. A fifth Jurassic is promised for 2022.
Nancy said: Pearl didn’t say anything specific about Jurassic Park. She only mentioned Crichton as a horror writer.
BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror” (p 213).
Evanovich, Janet. Ten Big Ones.
Reason read: this finishes the Stephanie Plum series for me. The list goes on and one, but I’m done.
It is three months later and Stephanie has broken up with Morelli again. Same old, same old. Grandma Mazur is still attending funerals as a dating ploy. Stephanie’s mom is still plying people with baked goods. Valerie is very pregnant. Lula and Stephanie are still trying to bring in the bad guys. There is always something dangerous and something goofy going on with Stephanie’s collars. For the goofy, this time she needs to bring in a woman addicted to potato chips and other snack items. For the serious, Stephanie and Lula are witness to a deli being robbed then firebombed. The culprit is a member of an increasingly violent gang, the “Red Devils.” Because Stephanie can identify the Red Devil she is a target and must go into hiding…in Ranger’s high-tech posh apartment. How convenient. Speaking of same old, the sexual tension between Ranger and Plum has not diminished. Rex still lives in a soup can (now at Ranger’s) and Bob the Dog still lives with Morelli…
I should mention the title of Ten Big Ones refers to the reward that the city of Trenton was putting out for the capture of cop-killer, Junkman.
If you are keeping track of the vehicles Stephanie destroys: her canary yellow Ford Escape survived book nine. It wasn’t so lucky in book ten. It gets firebombed pretty early in Ten Big Ones.
As an aside, can I just say I love Point Pleasant showing up in Plum novels? I just love that place.
Author fact: Janet Evanovich is onto the 28th installment of the Stephanie Plum series. Is that insane or what?
Book trivia: I think I mentioned this already but it bears repeating because I am sad about it, but this is my last Stephanie Plum mystery.
Playlist: Black Sabbath
Nancy said: Pearl didn’t say anything specific about Ten Big Ones
BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter called “Ms. Mystery” (p 169).
Sones, Sonya. One of those hideous books where the mother dies. New York: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2004.
Reason read: I needed a book in verse for the Portland Public Library Challenge.
Ruby Milliken’s whole world has been turned upside down. First her mother dies of an illness. Then her aunt ships her off to a celebrity father in Hollywood. Ruby is forced to leave behind a boyfriend, a best friend, Boston’s varying weather, everything she has ever known in exchange for a strange school, palm trees, sunny skies, and a man she barely knows who calls himself Ruby’s dad. Whip Logan divorced Ruby’s mom before Ruby was born and not once did he try to meet his daughter. Now Ruby has to live in his world? Not fair. Ruby’s story is told in blank verse with emails to her boyfriend, best friend, and deceased mother thrown in. A cute story that is highly believable. My favorite parts were when Ruby was flying to Los Angeles and noting the differences between coach and first class as they started the descent and when she was at the beach and swimming with the dolphins. She allowed herself to have a good time.
Author fact: Sones has written a bunch of young adult books but this is the only one I am reading for the Challenge. She said it is similar to her life.
Book trivia: People have said there is a sequel to one of those hideous books where the mother dies but it’s not on my list.
Playlist: Eminem, Jimi Hendrix, and Streisand.
Nancy said: Pearl didn’t say anything specific about one of those hideous books except to say it is a good book for teens.
BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter called “Best for Teens” (p 25).
Heller, Joseph. Catch-22. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1995.
Reason read: I started reading this in September but I can’t remember why. I learned that the paperback version was released in the month of October so I’ll go with that.
This is the anti-war anthem of baby boomers. Army Air Corps Captain John Yossarian can’t stand flying missions even though he’s a trained bombardier. As a pacifist, he will do anything to avoid combat missions. Most of Catch-22 is Yossarian constantly getting caught up in red tape and dealing with crazy people in even crazier situations. The combination of multiple points of view and no sense of chronology drove me crazy. Admittedly, I did not finish Catch-22 even though it’s a pretty short and easy to read book. I got caught up in how disorganized it all seemed to be. As an aside, I was talking to the president of my institution and was pleasantly surprised to learn he didn’t care for Catch-22 either. He was as lost with the absurdity of it all as I was. To me, it was the repetition. I am not a fan of hearing something a thousand times ten different ways.
Quotes to quote, “Men went mad and were rewarded with medals,” and “Hungry Joe was a throbbing, ragged mass of mobile irritability.”
Author fact: Joseph Heller’s first novel was Catch-22.
Book trivia: Catch-22 was made into a movie in 1970 starring Art Garfunkel, Orson Welles, and John Voight. Of course, I haven’t seen it. Is anyone surprised? It would drive my husband absolutely crazy to know this is on my list. He loves war crap.
Playlist: “The Star Spangled Banner”
Nancy said: Pearl mentioned Catch-22 because the plot is similar to Kafka’s The Good Soldier Svejk and His Fortunes in the World War. They are both black comedies about an unwilling soldier dealing with bizarre military bureaucracy.
BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Czech it Out” (p 70). Since Catch-22 has nothing to do with the Czech Republic, it shouldn’t be in the chapter.
Farmer, Nancy. The Ear, the Eye, and the Arm. New York: Richard Jackson Book, 1994.
Reason read: October is National Fantasy Month.
The year is 2194 in Zimbabwe, Africa. The Ear, the Eye, and the Arm takes place in a world of computer animated Dobermans and genetically engineered monkeys; a world where creatures called She Elephants (that aren’t actually elephants) mine for plastic in a toxic dump. Robots and rockets are the norm. Basically, insert your favorite sci-fi stereotype here. It is also a world full of ancient African cultures and traditions. Witchcraft, spirits, and powers beyond human recognition rule the landscape.
In this landscape are Tendai, Rita, and Kuda. They are the overprotected and bored children of General Matsika, Chief of Security. Matisika has too many enemies so homeschooling, work, play; essentially his children’s every blessed second is spent behind gigantic heavily guarded walls. Much to his father’s disappointment, Tendai, the oldest child, will never make a good warrior. Tendai is the gentlest and most sensitive of all the children. He has the ability to physically feel the harm done to others. Rita, the middle child, is fiery and headstrong; not afraid to speak her mind or start a fight with anyone, human or otherwise. Kuda, by default the youngest, is impetuous and bold; simply not afraid of anything.
Confined as they are, the three children are eager to break out of their homemade prison when given the chance. And rest assured, break out they finally do. There wouldn’t be a story otherwise. Once the Matsika children find a way to trick their babysitter, the adventure outside the fortified mansion begins and it is not what any of them expected. Sold into slavery, the children are forced to work along side the vlei people sorting trash for a tyrant so large she is called “She Elephant.” It is not a spoiler to say they escape from this predicament only to fall in the trap of another and another and another.
General Matsika, consumed with remorse for letting down his guard for a second, hires a mutant detective agency called Ear, Eye, Arm to find his children. Ear has super sensitive hearing. Eye (you guessed it) has super sight. Arm is the most unique of all as he can feel empathy to the point of seeing into one’s soul. Together they chase the children from one entrapment to the other. The ending combines science fiction with ancient African customs for a Hollywood ending.
Apparently, I didn’t like any lines because I have nothing to quote.
As with any good fantasy, there has to be a connection to reality to help the reader connect. Instead of “jet” lag, individuals in 2194 experience “rocket” lag. Funny.
Author fact: Nancy Farmer wrote a bunch of really good stuff. Unfortunately, none of it is on my Challenge list. Boo.
Book trivia: The Ear, the Eye, and the Arm won a Newbery Honor award in 1995.
Nancy said: Pearl didn’t say anything specific about The Ear, the Eye, and the Arm except to describe the plot.
BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Not Only For Kids: Fantasy for Grown-Ups” (p 174). I would definitely agree this would be entertaining for adults.
Snicket, Lemony. A Series of Unfortunate Events #1: the Bad Beginning. New York: Scholastic, 2000.
Reason read: Halloween is October 31st. Same as it ever was. Read in honor of spooky stories.
This is a pretty horrible story, even if it is for older children. Unfortunate event #1: The parents of Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire die in a terrible fire. In accordance with their parents’ last wishes, the children are to live with any next of kin. No one else will do. The judge happens to find distant relative, Count Olaf (unfortunate event #2). Olaf turns out to be a greedy son of a b!tch who will stop at nothing to get at the children’s rather large inheritance. I almost drew the line at incestual nuptials but was determined to finish the less than seventy page book. You can live through seventy pages of anything. What kept The Bad Beginning interesting was the frequent didactic definitions of words and phrases and the air of Victorian gothic mystery kept the story chilled. Truthfully, the all-out creepiness kept me engaged. Like a train wreck, I couldn’t look away. It’s no wonder there were sequels. No wonder most of the series were made into movies. It has even been a series on NetFlix.
Line I happened to like, “Sometimes, just saying that you hate something, and having someone agree with you, can make you feel better about a terrible situation” (p 15).
Confessional: When these books were all the rage (and then again when the movie came out) I wasn’t tempted to read them. Not in the least tempted. The same way I wasn’t drawn in by Harry Potter or the Twilight series, I had no desire to read Lemony Snicket.
Author fact: Lemony Snicket is the pen name of Daniel Handler.
Book trivia: Everyone knows the Unfortunate Events series was made into a 2004 movie. (One I have yet to see. Big surprise there.)
Nancy said: Pearl called the series “wonderful.”
BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Not Only For Kids: Fantasies For Grown-Ups” (p 174).