Book Review: Twenty-One Balloons

The Twenty-One Balloons by William Pène du Bois

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.

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Book Review: That Hideous Strength

That Hideous Strength by C.S. Lewis

That Hideous Strength (The Space Trilogy, #3)
by C.S. Lewis
4 out of 5 stars
Jane and Mark are caught between the forces of good and evil. As the N.I.C.E. corporation offers Mark a job to lure him into their wicked schemes, Jane is approached by a very different group of people who have gathered around Ransom. They each have to decide what they believe in when it turns out that archangels and ancient legends are real.

This book has a very different format from the other books in the series, and Ransom is a side character in his own story. The trouble with Jane and Mark being the main characters, is that I don’t really like either of them. They are so wishy-washy and both their personalities are unattractive. However, they do both have extreme character development and really interesting internal journeys.

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Classic Review: Mystery of the Blue Train

The Mystery of the Blue Train by Agatha Christie

The Mystery of the Blue Train (Hercule Poirot, #6)
by Agatha Christie
4 out of 5 stars

Poirot is traveling on the blue train when one of the passengers is murdered and a famous ruby called the Heart of Fire is stolen. There are several mysterious clues in the case that only the great Hercule Poirot can bring to light.

Poirot really is one of my favorite detectives! He definitely shines in this book, and I love the way that he is so protective of the innocent victims. He is wonderfully shrewd. His strong temperament pulls the story forward. Even if he is just having tea with some friends, every word takes on a special meaning when Poirot is part of the conversation!

I love the complex characters in this book! There is a lot of focus on unraveling their personalities and there are so many good scenes where they interact and react to one another. I just love the way each person has their own vivid and memorable personality.

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Classic Book Review: Early Days

Early Days by Miss Read

Early Days
by Miss Read
3 out of 5 stars

The author tells the story of her own childhood growing up in London and then later in the country. She describes her grandparents, her aunts and uncles, and the little joys and sorrows of her childhood. There is a lot of interesting description about the 1910s, how people lived, how their homes were organized, how they cooked and cleaned and dressed.

In the second half of the book, she goes to a new school which she loves. She makes new friends and discovers the beauties of the countryside. This began a life-long love of nature for the author. There are many descriptions of favorite plants and animals and country fairs.

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Classic Book Review: Perelandra

Perelandra by C.S. Lewis

Perelandra (Space Trilogy, #2)
by C.S. Lewis
4 out of 5 stars
In this second book of the trilogy, Ransom travels to another alien planet at the request of Maleldil. This time he goes to Perelandra (Venus), and encounters a new race of aliens, who are struggling with the same temptations from the Evil One that Adam and Eve fell victim to in our own world. Ransom must battle against the Evil Presence in order to protect the innocent new society that is just beginning to form.

I love the imaginative world-building in this book! There are so many different settings and alien animals and weird plants. Perelandra is such a strange planet with a perpetually cloudy sky and rolling islands that float on the seas. And even when you are more than halfway through the book, and you think you’ve seen all the scenery and met all the animals that Perelandra could possibly have, then there are still more mysteries and wildlife and extreme mountains and rivers to be explored.

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Classic Book Review: Aunt Jane’s Nieces and Uncle John

Aunt Jane's Nieces and Uncle John by Edith Van Dyne

Aunt Jane’s Nieces and Uncle John (Aunt Jane’s Nieces, #6)
by Edith Van Dyne (Pseudonym), L. Frank Baum
3 out of 5 stars

Patsy and Beth are on a cross-country automobile drive with their father and uncle John, when they encounter a disabled young girl searching for her distant relatives. They decide to help her, and the group travels across the Southwest, finding adventure on their way to California.

The plot can be a little slow with all the descriptions of travelling, and the scenery, and the mountains and deserts and the plants and wildlife, etc… If you enjoy travelling-style books, then you would like this one. I found it interesting to hear about all the different places they visit, but it definitely slows down the main plot.

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Classic Book Review: Emily’s Quest

Emily's Quest by L.M. Montgomery

Emily’s Quest (Emily, #3)
by L.M. Montgomery
4.5 out of 5 stars


Emily is left behind at New Moon while her friends pursue their dreams and travel the world. She throws herself into her writing and struggles to get her stories published, but gradually earns the respect of her family when she begins to make her writing a success. Through a series of mishaps, she loses her connection to some of her dearest friends and her childhood sweetheart, Teddy Kent. She searches for happiness with a man she doesn’t really love. Emily has to face the truth deep within her heart before she loses Teddy Kent for good.

This has always been my least favorite book in the Emily trilogy. She spends so much of the book being lonely and melancholy, and it makes me depressed. There isn’t as much humor in this book as the other ones. However, it is still an excellent book and an enjoyable read!

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Graphic Novel Review: Bronte

Brontë by Manuela Santoni

Brontë
by Manuela Santoni
1 out of 5 stars

This graphic novel begins when the Bronte sisters have returned from Belgium after completing their additional education. Charlotte convinces her sisters to try publishing a volume of their poetry together. Their brother, Branwell, is an alcoholic and opium addict, and their father, Patrick, is becoming more and more ill and weak. The sisters try to make some money with their writing to help support the family.

The story takes extreme liberties with the historical facts, to the point where very little of their real lives is actually reflected in the book. I also hated the way that the sisters’ personalities were represented. They are written as being foul-mouthed, belligerent, and anti-social; and that is presented to the reader as their “passion” when really they are just rude and mean in this book.

Nothing about their charitable work with their father’s parishioners is mentioned, nothing about their many visits with their close friends, and nothing about their strong Christian faith. Instead they are presented as being completely self-serving and isolated.

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Graphic Novel Review: The Secret Garden

The Secret Garden by Mariah Marsden

The Secret Garden: A Graphic Novel
by Mariah Marsden (Adapted by), Hanna Luechtefeld (Illustrations)
3 out of 5 stars

This retelling of the Secret Garden in graphic novel form is lovely, but has some issues with story-telling. I liked it, but it also has some flaws.

I liked the beautiful art style! The art is whimsical and sweet with bright colors. However, I didn’t like that there were so many tiny panels on each page. It felt too busy.

There is very little dialogue, which makes it difficult to follow the progression of the story. In the original novel, we get to see the gradual character development of Colin and Mary. But with so little dialogue to give the reader clues about what is happening on that internal journey for the characters, the characters seem to leap ahead with no indication of what made them change.

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Classic Review: Sentimental Tommy

Sentimental Tommy by J.M. Barrie

Sentimental Tommy
by J.M. Barrie
3 out of 5 stars

Tommy and his little sister Elspeth live in a poor apartment in London. When their mother dies of consumption, the children go to live in her old hometown in Scotland. Tommy is sent to a little school, where the teachers have high hopes of his academic skills, but he disappoints everyone by being more interested in playing and pretending rather than his studies.

Tommy and Elspeth befriend a prostitute’s child, Grizel, who is sensitive, complicated, and prickly. She is by far the best character in the entire book. She puts on a brave face and acts crabby to ward off people’s mean comments about her mother, but at heart she is sweet and good.

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