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The Twenty-One Balloons
by William Pène du Bois
5 out of 5 stars
Professor Sherman is sick of teaching mathematics to unruly children in San Francisco, so he decides to take a year-long balloon ride around the world and never touch land in all that time. However, within days his balloon crashes near the mysterious island of Krakatoa, and he discovers the secrets of the island where a most unusual society is flourishing and fabulous diamonds are available to anyone.
This is such a fun and entertaining story! The plot has all these hilarious details all about the reception for Professor Sherman when he returns to San Francisco, his arrangements for his balloon house and how he planned his balloon trip, and the strange society that lives on Krakatoa and how they organize their days. Most of the narrative is explaining things, so there isn’t a ton of action, but the descriptions are so wild and interesting that you never feel bored.Continue reading
1900-1950 Readathon Katie at Books and Things: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gCu0QEvzt0k&t=678s
Agatha Christie 2021 Challenge: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3I9911MDRPI&t=52s
Emily of New Moon Trilogy Review: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r4MC0UWW_BU
C.S. Lewis Space Trilogy Readalong: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5kJ7Rlma0ZY&t=40s
1984 by George Orwell: https://amzn.to/3aZwAxi
That Hideous Strength by CS Lewis: https://amzn.to/3eYpb2z
The Mystery of the Blue Train by Agatha Christie: https://amzn.to/3epokJj
Aunt Jane’s Nieces by L. Frank Baum: (FREE for Kindle) https://amzn.to/3nO1ZYN
Mistress Masham’s Repose
by T.H. White, Fritz Eichenberg (Illustrator)
4 out of 5 stars
Rereading it for the second or third time, I have enjoyed it just as much as the first time.
Orphaned Maria lives in a crumbling old palace that her ancestors built on an extensive estate full of gardens and obelisks and temples and monuments. But there is no money to repair the palace, and she lives in poverty with her governess and one old cook.
When Maria is exploring around an island in a small lake, she encounters the tiny Lilliputian people who Gulliver brought back to England after his travels. They are in danger of being discovered by Maria’s evil guardians, the vicar and governess, and Maria must use all her ingenuity to save them from being kidnapped and sold as slaves.
I love how imaginative this book is. My favorite parts are the scenes that describe how the Lilliputians make their living on the Mistress Masham’s Repose island. They fish, and hunt, and train mice as their horses. They have their little homes in the roofs and hollow pillars of the Repose cupola, and keep their tiny farm animals in stables built into the steps of the structure.Continue reading
by James Fenimore Cooper
For the most part, I liked the writing style which reflects the time period very well. The writing has a very ornate style, and the dialogue is especially antiquated at times. I love the richness of the language, but wish it was a little more clear sometimes.
The characters are well-written, but I didn’t care about them very much. They are not very complex characters. There is so much time spent on the action of the plot, that we barely have any restful moments to really get to know our characters or develop any emotions for them. I would have liked to see more intimate details of their friendships and family relationships. There are a few very powerful scenes where we do get glimpses of their emotional ties, but it wasn’t enough to make me love the characters or be invested in their relationships.
The plot moves quickly with lots of details that add to the suspense of each moment. The plot does get repetitive though. They are captured, and then escape, and they get recaptured and are rescued, only to be recaptured again. Each time is different though, with a lot of different elements and terrain and secondary characters. There are some good plot points with deceptive disguises, and wood lore, and native legends. It kept my interest.
I knew there would be a lot of violence in this book, but wow. There was a lot of senseless and horrible violence in this book. And not just the menfolk fighting and scalping and shooting each other. The poor women and children that suffered and died too. Ugh. Really sad.
I found the intricacies of the political relationships of different native tribes to be very confusing, and not at all clearly explained. This is not helped by the fact that everyone and everything is called by at least two or three different names. Sometimes Magua’s tribe are called Hurons, sometimes Mingoes. Another tribe are called sometimes the Delawares and sometimes Lenape. Mohicans are also a part of the larger Delaware tribe, so it’s hard to know which Delaware character is being referred to when. It wasn’t until the end of the book that I finally understood that “Yengeese” means English. Ugh. If this was just clearly explained, maybe it would make more sense.
Every character has several different nicknames, proper names, names in French, Native American nicknames, and on and on. Nathaniel Bumpo is mostly referred to simply as “the scout”, but he is also called “La Longue Carabine” and Hawk-Eye. Every character is so hard to keep track of, because you have to memorize their three different names.
Overall, it was an entertaining read, but I didn’t love it. It was fine.
by Emmuska Orczy
I had so many problems with the direction of this plot, but I loved the writing style. I was also very disappointed that the Scarlet Pimpernel himself is not in this book at all. He barely gets two sentences in the entire book.
Andre as a character is described in delicious detail. We see his fury against the aristocrats who have everything, while his poor mother slaves away doing odd jobs of washing and sewing to make a few pennies. Andre is constantly described as having this unquenchable rage and hatred of the aristocrats, but especially of the de Marigny family in his village.