The Secret of the Old Clock by Carolyn Keene

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Title: The Secret of the Old Clock by Carolyn Keene

Notable: Book #1 in the Nancy Drew mystery series

Premise:

Nancy Drew, a young lady who lives with her lawyer father, has a penchant for sleuthing.  When an old man dies and leaves his entire estate to a family he disliked, Nancy wants to investigate whether or not a later will was written.

My thoughts:

Nancy Drew mysteries are what you would call old-fashioned and quaint.  I can just picture Nancy zipping around in her little convertible in her just-so prim dresses.  I’m not one for a lot of prim and proper damsel kind of garbage, but Nancy has enough spunk and daring that I’m willing to overlook her prissiness.

The mystery itself isn’t mind blowing or terribly complex, but it’s a fun story for a younger person who enjoys the genre.  If you want your kids to get started on a mystery series that isn’t morally objectionable in any way, you’ll want to check out this series.  Or maybe you read Nancy Drew as a kid and just want to revisit the books for nostalgia’s sake.  Whatever floats your boat, man.

I recommend The Secret of the Old Clock to those who enjoy tame mysteries featuring a teen/young adult protagonist.

Rating: 3 1/2 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

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Grandfather’s Dance by Patricia MacLachlan

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Title: Grandfather’s Dance by Patricia MacLachlan

Notable: Book #5 in the Sarah, Plain and Tall series

Premise:

This story picks up a short while after the previous one left off.  Jack is now a toddler/preschooler and acts just like his grandpa, John.  Cassie has come to terms with the family’s new addition and she can’t help but love her little brother.  Anna and Justin finally marry, which necessitates a visit from the Maine relatives.  The joyous mood is short-lived, however, when tragedy strikes.

My thoughts:

Well,  I finally finished the Sarah, Plain and Tall series!  It’s a bittersweet ending because I always feel sad when a story featuring some of my favorite characters comes to an end.

In this book, little Jack fairly worships the ground his grandfather walks on and tries to emulate him in all he does.  Poor grandfather is finding it harder and harder to keep up with the rest of the family because of his failing health.  Each family member has to confront the prospect of a future spent without their father/grandfather, and come to terms with that eventuality.

This is a good story for introducing kids to mortality and helping them see that death is an unavoidable part of life.  For kids who might be facing the loss of a grandparent, I think this could be a very cathartic read.  I’ll confess–it made me cry.

I recommend Grandfather’s Dance to kids who are reading beginner chapter books, or as a touching family read aloud.

Rating: 4 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

OTHER SARAH, PLAIN AND TALL SERIES POSTS:

Books We Own: Terry Pratchett

My husband introduced me to the wonderful realm of Discworld some years ago.  I had never heard of Terry Pratchett and at first his books struck me as somewhat odd.  What exactly were these books?  They were definitely fantasy, but unlike any fantasy I had ever read.  I soon discovered that this was a magical and wondrous world, and I wanted to discover all of its delightful secrets.  If you are a fan of English humor and fantasy books, you will love the Discworld novels.  They are simply brilliant!

We are in the process of trying to build a complete set of Pratchett’s books, but they are not as easy to come by here in the States.  Also, I like to add to my book collection by finding the odd book at a thrift sale or Goodwill.  It’s like finding hidden treasure.  The few times I have found one of Pratchett’s books at Goodwill, I’ve wanted to start running through the aisles, waving the book around for everyone to see and shouting out my exultation.  Sweet, sweet victory!  I refrain, though.  Who wants to get carted off by the police because you got overly excited about a book, y’know?

**You can see a slideshow of the books at the end of this post.

♥ = we own the book

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Discworld Novels in Order:

  1. The Color of Magic
  2. The Light Fantastic
  3. Equal Rites
  4. Mort
  5. Sourcery
  6. Wyrd Sisters
  7. Pyramids
  8. Guards! Guards!
  9. Eric
  10. Moving Pictures
  11. Reaper Man
  12. Witches Abroad
  13. Small Gods
  14. Lords and Ladies
  15. Men at Arms
  16. Soul Music
  17. Interesting Times
  18. Maskerade
  19. Feet of Clay
  20. Hogfather
  21. Jingo
  22. The Last Continent
  23. Carpe Jugulum
  24. The Fifth Elephant
  25. The Truth
  26. Thief of Time
  27. The Last Hero: A Discworld Fable
  28. The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents
  29. Night Watch
  30. The Wee Free Men
  31. Monstrous Regiment
  32. A Hat Full of Sky
  33. Going Postal
  34. Thud!
  35. Wintersmith
  36. Making Money
  37. Unseen Academicals
  38. I Shall Wear Midnight
  39. Snuff
  40. Raising Steam
  41. The Shepherd’s Crown

For Younger Readers:

  1. Dodger
  2. Dodger’s Guide to London
  3. Dragons at Crumbling Castle
  4. Johnny and the Bomb
  5. Johnny and the Dead
  6. Nation
  7. Only You Can Save Mankind
  8. The Abominable Snowman
  9. The Bromeliad Trilogy (Truckers, Diggers, Wings)
  10. The Carpet People
  11. The Witch’s Vacuum Cleaner
  12. Where’s My Cow?

Other Titles:

  1. A Blink of the Screen
  2. A Slip of the Keyboard
  3. A Tourist Guide to Lancre: A Discworld Mapp (also by Stephen Briggs)
  4. Death’s Domain: A Discworld Mapp
  5. Good Omens (also by Neil Gaiman) ♥
  6. Guards! Guards!: The Play (also by Stephen Briggs)
  7. Maskerade: The Play (also by Stephen Briggs)
  8. Mort: The Play (also by Stephen Briggs)
  9. Mrs. Bradshaw’s Handbook: To Travelling Upon the Ankh-Morpork & Sto Plains Hygienic Railway
  10. Nanny Ogg’s Cookbook
  11. Seriously Funny: The Endlessly Quotable Terry Pratchett
  12. Shaking Hands with Death
  13. Small Gods: A Discworld Graphic Novel (also by Ray Friesen)
  14. Strata
  15. The Art of Discworld (also by Paul Kidby) ♥
  16. The Compleat Ankh-Morpork: City Guide
  17. The Compleat Discworld Atlas
  18. The Dark Side of the Sun
  19. The Discworld Mapp (also by Stephen Briggs) ♥
  20. The Folklore of Discworld (also by Jacqueline Simpson)
  21. The Long Earth
  22. The Long War
  23. The Long Mars
  24. The Long Utopia
  25. The Long Cosmos
  26. The New Discworld Companion (also by Stephen Briggs) ♥
  27. The Pratchett Portfolio
  28. The Science of Discworld (also by Ian Stewart & Jack Cohen)
  29. The Science of Discworld II: The Globe (also by Ian Stewart & Jack Cohen)
  30. The Science of Discworld III: Darwin’s Watch (also by Ian Stewart & Jack Cohen)
  31. The Science of Discworld IV: Judgment Day (also by Ian Stewart & Jack Cohen)
  32. The Streets of Ankh-Morpork Mapp (also by Stephen Briggs) ♥
  33. The Unadulterated Cat
  34. The Unseen University Cut-Out Book (also by Alan Batley & Bernard Pearson)
  35. The Wit and Wisdom of Discworld
  36. The World of Poo
  37. Turtle Recall: The Discworld Companion. . .So Far (also by Stephen Briggs)
  38. Wyrd Sisters: The Play (also by Stepehn Briggs)

Discworld Books by Other Authors:

  1. The Authorized Terry Pratchett’s Discworld Magazine from SFX ♥

 

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I just noticed that my camera seems to have a scratch on the lens.  That’s awesome.  😦

Books We Own: The Boxcar Children Series

Since we are such awful bibliophiles, I’m finding it necessary to start a list of the books we own.  Right now my kids are really enjoying books from The Boxcar Children series by Gertrude Chandler Warner and they want me to expand our collection.  First I need to take stock of what we already own, hence the following list.  So…while this list is meant to help us keep track of our own book collection, it could be helpful to you in expanding yours also.

♥ = we own the book

This post contains affiliate links.

Mystery Series:

  1. The Boxcar Children
  2. Surprise Island
  3. The Yellow House Mystery
  4. Mystery Ranch
  5. Mike’s Mystery
  6. Blue Bay Mystery
  7. The Woodshed Mystery
  8. The Lighthouse Mystery
  9. Mountain Top Mystery
  10. Schoolhouse Mystery
  11. Caboose Mystery
  12. Houseboat Mystery
  13. Snowbound Mystery
  14. Tree House Mystery
  15. Bicycle Mystery
  16. Mystery in the Sand
  17. Mystery Behind the Wall
  18. Bus Station Mystery
  19. Benny Uncovers a Mystery
  20. The Haunted Cabin Mystery
  21. The Deserted Library Mystery
  22. The Animal Shelter Mystery
  23. The Old Motel Mystery
  24. The Mystery of the Hidden Painting
  25. The Amusement Park Mystery
  26. The Mystery of the Mixed-up Zoo
  27. The Camp-Out Mystery
  28. The Mystery Girl
  29. The Mystery Cruise
  30. The Disappearing Friend Mystery
  31. The Mystery of the Singing Ghost
  32. The Mystery in the Snow
  33. The Pizza Mystery
  34. The Mystery Horse
  35. The Mystery at the Dog Show
  36. The Castle Mystery
  37. The Mystery of the Lost Village
  38. The Mystery of the Purple Pool
  39. The Ghost Ship Mystery
  40. The Canoe Trip Mystery
  41. The Mystery of the Hidden Beach
  42. The Mystery of the Missing Cat
  43. The Mystery on Stage
  44. The Dinosaur Mystery
  45. The Mystery of the Stolen Music
  46. The Chocolate Sundae Mystery
  47. The Mystery of the Hot Air Balloon
  48. The Mystery Bookstore
  49. The Mystery of the Stolen Boxcar
  50. The Mystery in the Cave
  51. The Mystery on the Train
  52. The Mystery of the Lost Mine
  53. The Guide Dog Mystery
  54. The Hurricane Mystery
  55. The Mystery of the Secret Message
  56. The Firehouse Mystery
  57. The Mystery in San Francisco
  58. The Mystery at the Alamo
  59. The Outer Space Mystery
  60. The Soccer Mystery
  61. The Growling Bear Mystery
  62. The Mystery of the Lake Monster
  63. The Mystery at Peacock Hall
  64. The Black Pearl Mystery
  65. The Cereal Box Mystery
  66. The Panther Mystery
  67. The Mystery of the Stolen Sword
  68. The Basketball Mystery
  69. The Movie Star Mystery
  70. The Mystery of the Pirate’s Map
  71. The Ghost Town Mystery
  72. The Mystery in the Mall
  73. The Gymnastics Mystery
  74. The Poison Frog Mystery
  75. The Mystery of the Empty Safe
  76. The Great Bicycle Race Mystery
  77. The Mystery of the Wild Ponies
  78. The Mystery in the Computer Game
  79. The Mystery at the Crooked House
  80. The Hockey Mystery
  81. The Mystery of the Midnight Dog
  82. The Summer Camp Mystery
  83. The Copycat Mystery
  84. The Haunted Clock Tower Mystery
  85. The Disappearing Staircase Mystery
  86. The Mystery on Blizzard Mountain
  87. The Mystery of the Spider’s Clue
  88. The Mystery of the Mummy’s Curse
  89. The Mystery of the Star Ruby
  90. The Stuffed Bear Mystery
  91. The Mystery at Skeleton Point
  92. The Tattletale Mystery
  93. The Comic Book Mystery
  94. The Ice Cream Mystery
  95. The Midnight Mystery
  96. The Mystery in the Fortune Cookie
  97. The Radio Mystery
  98. The Mystery of the Runaway Ghost
  99. The Finders Keepers Mystery
  100. The Mystery of the Haunted Boxcar
  101. The Clue in the Corn Maze
  102. The Ghost of the Chattering Bones
  103. The Sword of the Silver Knight
  104. The Game Store Mystery
  105. The Mystery of the Orphan Train
  106. The Vanishing Passenger
  107. The Giant Yo-Yo Mystery
  108. The Creature in Ogopogo Lake
  109. The Rock ‘n’ Roll Mystery
  110. The Secret of the Mask
  111. The Seattle Puzzle
  112. The Ghost in the First Row
  113. The Box That Watch Found
  114. A Horse Named Dragon
  115. The Great Detective Race
  116. The Ghost at the Drive-In Movie
  117. The Mystery of the Traveling Tomatoes
  118. The Spy Game
  119. The Dog-Gone Mystery
  120. The Vampire Mystery
  121. Superstar Watch
  122. The Spy in the Bleachers
  123. The Amazing Mystery Show
  124. The Pumpkin Head Mystery
  125. The Cupcake Caper
  126. The Clue in the Recycling Bin
  127. Monkey Trouble
  128. The Zombie Project
  129. The Great Turkey Heist
  130. The Garden Thief
  131. The Boardwalk Mystery
  132. Mystery of the Fallen Treasure
  133. The Return of the Graveyard Ghost
  134. The Mystery of the Stolen Snowboard
  135. The Mystery of the Wild West Bandit
  136. The Mystery of the Soccer Snitch
  137. The Mystery of the Grinning Gargoyle
  138. The Mystery of the Missing Pop Idol
  139. The Mystery of the Stolen Dinosaur Bones
  140. The Mystery at the Calgary Stampede
  141. The Sleepy Hollow Mystery
  142. The Legend of the Irish Castle
  143. The Celebrity Cat Caper
  144. Hidden in the Haunted School
  145. The Election Day Dilemma

Specials:

  1. The Mystery on the Ice
  2. The Mystery in Washington D.C.
  3. The Mystery at Snowflake Inn
  4. The Mystery at the Ballpark
  5. The Pilgrim Village Mystery
  6. The Mystery at the Fair
  7. The Pet Shop Mystery
  8. The Niagara Falls Mystery
  9. The Mystery in the Old Attic
  10. The Windy City Mystery
  11. The Mystery of the Queen’s Jewels
  12. The Mystery of the Black Raven
  13. The Mystery in New York
  14. The Home Run Mystery
  15. The Honeybee Mystery
  16. The Mystery of the Screech Owl
  17. The Mystery of the Tiger’s Eye
  18. The Candy Factory Mystery
  19. The Mystery of Alligator Swamp
  20. The Great Shark Mystery
  21. The Black Widow Spider Mystery

The Dark is Rising Series by Susan Cooper

Dark is Rising-w

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What can I say about The Dark is Rising? I like it.  It’s good.  Read it.  Nah, just kidding.  If you don’t want to know any details before reading the book, stop reading now.

For reals now, this book is a sweeping tale essentially about the fight between light and dark, good and evil.  Really that’s it in a nutshell.  More specifically it’s an Arthurian tale of magic and destiny, history and man’s free choice.  The main players are Will, the last of the Old Ones; Merriman, or Merlin; the Drew children–Simon, Jane and Barney; The Rider; Bran, Arthur’s son; and many other characters, both good and bad.  The storyline is very broad and difficult to condense into a shortened form without sounding a bit like the recitation of a boring timeline.  I’ll try to sum it up in short order, at least telling how the characters relate to one another.

The Old Ones are charged with promoting the cause of the Light (good), and pushing back the Dark (evil) when it rises, to make sure the Dark doesn’t become a dominant force.  Will is the last of the Old Ones to be born, and it is up to him to complete a quest to find the magical items needed to permanently vanquish the Dark.  The Drew children are instrumental in helping complete the quest.  Merriman helps guide Will in his various tasks.  The Rider is their main foe, though many others work with him to hinder the cause of the Light.  I don’t want to say a lot about the storyline itself, because if you’ve never read it, it’s nice to make discoveries of your own.

The Dark is Rising can be firmly classified as fantasy, but it’s what I think of as old-school fantasy.  Instead of a vastly different universe housing totally foreign people and places, the story takes place on the good old planet earth that you’re sitting on right now.  It’s fantasy very much rooted in reality.  The first two books, Over Sea, Under Stone and The Dark is Rising, are my favorites.  Greenwitch gets a little stranger, and the last two books, The Grey King and Silver on the Tree are really out-there.  It can be difficult to follow the last two books because of the sheer amount of imagery that is not rooted in reality.  Your imagination really gets a work-out.

So, I do recommend the books.  They’re entertaining, the characters are interesting, the plot has plenty of twists and turns, and the writing is well done.  Also, if you have kids, they would be  great read-aloud books to share with them.

There are some scary parts, but I don’t think it’s too scary for elementary-age kids.

Rating: 5 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

OTHER DARK IS RISING POSTS: