Hark! The end of August is upon us!
How time flies when you’ve been rendered unconscious by the heat of the sun.
But I will spare you my endless squawking about the heat and tell you about much more important things that happened this month. Like books.
Mister Max: The Book of Lost Things by Cynthia Voigt
On the back of the book we are told of mysterious circumstances surrounding the disappearance of Max’s parents and that now he must find them. From this, one would deduce that the book would be about… Max trying to solve the mystery of his parents disappearance and finding them.
In reality, the book is mostly about Max finding a lost dog, a lost spoon, and a lost child’s parents. Very little actually happened.
I liked the idea of the kid who dresses up in different disguises (costumes from his parents theater company) and establishes different identities, but overall I was just bored. They ate cake though. And pastries. That was nice.
Coraline by Neil Gaiman
I read this book because I had seen the movie (I know, shame on me). The trouble is, I actually liked the movie better. The story felt more fleshed out and the plot was thicker. I also quite liked Wybie and was disappointed to find he wasn’t in the book.
It’s hard to tell what I would have thought of this book if I wasn’t comparing its movie adaption. And now I’ll NEVER KNOW! (This is why we need time machines, people)
The Boundless by Kenneth Oppel
This book was… fine. It takes place mostly on a train called The Boundless (hence the title) which is making its maiden voyage across Canada. Then murder happens and people try to kill people and there’s a circus and Sasquatches.
It was interesting enough for the most part, but nothing really spectacular. The narrator kept reminding us how shy the main character was, but I wished the kid would just show us how shy he was himself so the narrator could just shush and eat some toast or something. The romance was eye-rolling. He meets the girl in the prologue, they talk for two minutes, then three years later he sees her again and he writes her a note that basically says, “You are the most amazing, interesting person I ever met! I’ve been thinking about you every day for three years! Let’s meet somewhere!”
More or less.
Also, there was this weird The Picture of Dorian Gray thing going on and I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it. It seemed like it was trying to be some cool literary parallel-ish thing but… It didn’t quite work for me.
Goblin Secrets by William Alexander
Goblins and theater and magic and dust fish. Not that the dust fish actually had anything to do with anything. But they were part of the world building I suppose, which I thought was pretty good. It was a nice sort of fantasy, vaguely steam-punk flavor. The main kid was a little boy who was looking for his brother, and I quite like brothers (and siblings in general) in books. (You may have picked up on this from the fact that I wrote a whole post about the subject….)
I didn’t quite understand the ending? The climax confused me and I wasn’t quite satisfied with it. Other than that, the book was pretty good.
Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt
This is a companion to The Wednesday Wars, which I liked, but wasn’t sure if I had any interest in the companion because the best thing about The Wednesday Wars was Holling’s voice and, as this book was about a different character (Doug Swieteck), Holling would not be narrating. But lo and behold, this book ended up in front of my eyeballs and so naturally my eyeballs went to their default setting and started reading.
Not only was Holling not narrating, he wasn’t even in the book except for the very first scene. But did I lose heart? No indeed. For the main character was created by the same author who created Holling, and he knew what he was doing.
I quickly became attached to Doug and spent a good portion of the book wanting to squish him in a hug. I also spent a good portion of it snickering to myself, for ’tis quite a humorous book.
Momo by Michael Ende
This book, though set in the real world, was more of a fairy-tale. It was quite original and charming, but also the sort of book that makes you think. It was all about time and how we spend it, something I often struggle with. I liked the perspective this book had on the subject.
The characters include: Momo (a remarkable listener), Gigi (who tells stories), and a very special turtle.
Bubble by Stewart Foster
This book takes place almost entirely in one room. Joe is a boy who has been living in a hospital room his whole life. Due to his condition, he cannot go outside or he could catch any disease and die.
I will tell you right now, this book was STRESSFUL. Half the time you’re afraid the kid is going to DIE.
But it was GOOD.
I liked the character of Joe and his relationship with his sister (because siblings!!). The writing was engaging and enjoyable to read.
Also there was a guy named Greg and half the time I pictured him looking like Lestrade from Sherlock, so that was great.
August wasn’t a huge writing month for me. I didn’t write any three volume novels or anything. I wrote a short story about troubled kids (do I write about anything else??).
I wrote about tulips and ghosts and heart surgery and living on the moon.
Maybe I wrote something on a grocery list?
By which I mean CHARLES DICKENS.
Unfortunately, I became re-obsessed with Dickens near the END of August, by which time school was about to invade my life and absorb all the excess time which is necessary for tackling a 900 page book. So I did not read any Dickens. For this my heart grieves.
But the invention of the BBC is the most magnificent thing on the planet and for this I give much thanks.
In the last few weeks of August I watched two such adaptions, Little Dorrit (2008), and Bleak House (2005).
If you are unacquainted with Dickens or are under the impression that all works bearing his name are dry and dull and boring, you clearly haven’t met any of his characters. Charles Dickens characters are, quite simply, brilliant.
LIKE JOHN CHIVERY.
I think I shall stop now and just leave you with that. I hope you find yourself inspired and go meet John Chivery for yourself. Or Mr. Guppy. Or Mr. F’s Aunt.
What did you do this month? Was it a good month for reading, or did you find yourself reading instructional manuals for household appliances? Are you acquainted with any Dickens characters? Do you have a favorite? Or a favorite character from another author? Or a favorite flavor of ice cream? Or tooth paste? Let me know in the comments!
2 responses to “August Recap- Reading, Writing, and Dickens”
I haven’t read much Dickens – just Great Expectations – but I’ve heard of Little Dorrit (the movie/miniseries?) and thought it might be something to look into. And in the John Chivery picture, is he the older or younger man? (And is the younger man the same actor as ‘Alonzo’ from that one Dr Who episode about the space Titanic??)
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Ooh, Great Expectations is good. I love Herbert!!
This version of Little Dorrit is a miniseries and John Chivery is the younger chap. I haven’t seen that episode of Dr. Who, but I know he’s the same actor who plays Henry Knight in Sherlock if that helps?