Category Archives: British Literature

BFG, Flora and Ulysses, Ben & Me, and Ender’s Game

Oh, I am hard-pressed to say which of the characters in these books for kids/young adults I love the most! The Big Friendly Giant, Ulysses the flying squirrel, Amos the mouse who lives in Ben Frankin’s fur hat, or Ender, the 6-year-old military mastermind. Okay, my feelings for Ender aren’t exactly affection or delight like I have for the others, but this is my most recent batch of books read for homeschool. The BFG was yet another Roald Dahl I’d never read before, and I’m…

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Witch of Blackbird Pond, Roald Dahl’s Witches, and Sign of the Beaver

In our homeschool, we just finished Week 12 with Sonlight Core D and we are still really happy with it. I have jettisoned a couple of books because I didn’t like them, but it was easy enough to substitute other books. We really loved the read-alouds Sign of the Beaver and Witch of Blackbird Pond, both by the tremendous Elizabeth George Speare. She brings such a deep humanity to her historical fiction, and is a master at building suspense. Both books brought history to life…

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Cormoran Strike, Dungeons and Dragons, and Creepy ‘Eileen’

I’m utterly enthralled by Cormoran Strike, the private detective at the center of JK Rowling’s pseudonymous crime series. The third book, Career of Evil, finds Strike and his assistant Robin Ellacott the target of a psychopath with a penchant for dismemberment–and Robin seems to be his target. Rowling (as Robert Galbraith) understands that she can’t just deliver an intricately plotted crime story, she also has to take the characters further on their journey. At the end of the book, I was so heavily invested in…

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Last from Ruth Rendell, Fantasy Debut

I’m so sad to be writing a review of Dark Corners, because it’ll be the last book from one of my favorite authors of all time. Ruth Rendell died earlier this year and left behind a tremendous legacy. As her alter ego Barbara Vine she wrote beautifully complex psychological thrillers, and while her Rendell books were more procedural they still always had crazy amounts of depth. Dark Corners isn’t her greatest Rendell work (I reserve that praise for Judgment in Stone), but I was duly…

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The Handmaid’s Tale, Academy Girls, and the Worst Bachelorette Party Ever

I have read The Handmaid’s Tale maybe 4 times since college, so when my book club picked it for our December meeting, I thought I’d see if the audiobook version was any good. Oh my my, oh hell yes, time to put on that Handmaid’s Dress because Claire Danes simply kills it. As Offred, trapped in a bizarre patriarchal system where she has to bear children for wealthy men or else risk exile or worse, Danes finds a beautiful balance between the handmaid’s naiveté and…

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Kid Stuff (Not Just for Kids)

I originally bought Abby Hanlon’s Dory Fantasmagory for my older daughter, who liked it at first then lost interest. My younger daughter (turned 5 today) picked it up and had me read the whole thing to her over 2 reading sessions. It’s an absolutely adorable tale of a little girl with a big imagination, and the illustrations are a lot of fun. She has all these imaginary friends and enemies who tend to take over her life and make her do things that her family…

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The Silver Chair and Two About Murder

We finished listening to the audio version of The Silver Chair by CS Lewis this week. I have always loved the humor of this book (particularly Puddleglum), and Jill Pole was the Lewisian girl I most connected with. I got teary-eyed at the end listening to the tender depiction of good King Caspian’s death and resurrection into Aslan’s country. It means more to me now that I’m an adult then it ever could have when I was a child. The title Anne Perry and the…

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More Courtney Summers, Crazy Moms

Just in time for Mother’s Day I finally picked up Her by Harriet Lane, about an exhausted mom of a newborn and a toddler who’s befriended by a chic artist who seems to save the day over and over again. Of course this lady (a perfectly normal seeming woman with a high school age daughter) has an ulterior motive that comes to light in a suspenseful way. It reminded me a lot of Notes on a Scandal. I’m also continuing my Courtney Summers love fest.…

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Laura Lippman, Lauren Oliver, Lloyd Alexander + more

Oh, I have had so many disappointments lately when trying to read Important Books by Important Authors that I needed to spend my spring break immersed in good genre. And even though not every book I read was entirely successful, my plan worked–consider my palate cleansed and my love for reading restored. The best of them was Hush Hush by Laura Lippman. It’s “A Tess Monaghan Novel” which should put me off, because I generally do not like series fiction with a recurring character. For…

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Emma, Wild, Phantom Tollbooth, Under the Skin

I keep getting fed up with books and not finishing them. What is wrong with me? Two recent give-ups were The Buried Giant and The Book of Strange New Things. The former I dropped because it just go so boring, and the latter I dropped because the Christian missionary main characters didn’t ring true for me and my brain got tired from arguing with the book. I didn’t quite finish Wild by Cheryl Strayed, which was this month’s pick for book club. I meant to…

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