History, Kamara-Mariatu, Memoir, Non-Fiction, Social Commentary

#998 The Bite of Mango by Mariatu Kamara

#998 The Bite of Mango by Mariatu Kamara was originally published on One-elevenbooks

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Fiction, Keels-Nadine, Romantic Fiction

#996 Hope Unashamed by Nadine C. Keels

#996 Hope Unashamed by Nadine C. Keels was originally published on One-elevenbooks

Children's, Fiction, Mystery, Warner-Gertrude Chandler

#995 The Mystery of the Empty Safe created by Gertrude Chandler Warner

#995 The Mystery of the Empty Safe created by Gertrude Chandler Warner was originally published on One-elevenbooks

Children's, Fiction, Mystery, Warner-Gertrude Chandler

#994 The Firehouse Mystery created by Gertrude Chandler Warner

#994 The Firehouse Mystery created by Gertrude Chandler Warner was originally published on One-elevenbooks

Children's, Fantasy, Fiction, Stine-R.L.

#992 Say Cheese and Die Again by R.L. Stine

 Say Cheese and Die Again by R.L. Stine Say Cheese and Die Again by R.L. Stine

Greg has to do a report in his class about something true that happened to him. He decides to tell the class about a time he and his friends found an evil camera in an old house. The teacher doesn’t even let him finish and gives him an F, but Greg needs good grades to go and visit his cousins over the summer. The teacher tells Greg that he will reconsider the F, if Greg can prove the camera was evil.

This is a bad idea, but Greg decides that he has to go and get the camera back. He goes to the old house where they found it in the first place, but it’s not there; the house has been torn down. There’s a boy there who tells Greg where the camera is and agrees to let Greg borrow it. Somehow in the middle of everything else, Greg gets his picture taken with the camera and it looks like a negative and he’s gigantic. He continues to get gigantic and his teacher isn’t at school that day. What’s going to happen to Greg? Will he ever get rid of that F?

What I liked

Again, R.L. does a good job of continuing a story without having it be out of left field. I think this continuation fits.

What I didn’t like

Why is Greg stupid enough to tell a story that no one would believe? Look, there are times when you tell people the things that happened to you, even if they don’t believe at first. Those things are times like, “Hey, good-upstanding-keys-to-the-city-for-saving-a-drowning-puppy person touched me inappropriately.” The times you don’t tell your experiences to other people are something like Greg’s experience. If some guy came up to me and said, “Hey, I found this evil camera,” I would think he was full of it. Nobody would believe it.

Maybe the thing really happened, but there is a point when you trade off sharing your story versus having people think you’re bananas. People generally don’t believe stories from other people that are about inexplicable things. “Hey, I saw a ghost,” might get you believed by some people. “Hey, I saw a UFO,” will get you believed by a few and people will think you’re one of those crazy UFO-believing, conspiracy theorists.

If it’s something illegal, you tell other people about it, even if they don’t believe you at first. If it’s about that time you, for sure, saw Bigfoot in the woods, you might have to keep it to yourself if you want people to look upon you credibly. It’s kind of sad that we have to filter what we can tell the world depending on if our situations are believable or not. If it really happened we should be able to talk about it.

You can choose to tell people anyway, not taking into account whether anyone will believe you, and maybe it will turn out ok. Greg may have been able to tell someone else all about the evil camera and just have them be like, “Oh, that’s awful! I’m so glad you’re safe now!”

Overall

Couldn’t Greg have just talked about that time he went to a water park?

Weigh In

Have you had something happen to you, that was really weird, and when you told people they didn’t believe you?

Do you think people are generally scared to tell society about things that happened to them because the other people will not believe?

#992 Say Cheese and Die Again by R.L. Stine was originally published on One-elevenbooks

Fiction, Keels-Nadine, Romantic Fiction

#991 Love Unfeigned by Nadine C. Keels

Love Unfeigned by Nadine C. KeelsLove Unfeigned by Nadine C. Keels

Lorraine was pretty good at hand ball when she was younger. Her brother Earl, who was a good brother, invited her to play hand ball with the older kids. One of those kids was Isaiah James. Lorraine kicked his butt at hand ball, but left with a friend. Isaiah began hanging out around Earl and Lorraine quite often. He even went to church with them on Sundays. As their middle school years progressed, Isaiah revealed to Lorraine that he liked her, like-liked her. He asked if she could be his–if they could be a thing. For a while, they were, but home trouble took Isaiah away from Lorraine and she didn’t see very much of Isaiah for a while.

Time passed and each went their way, but both remembered the other. One day, Lorraine heard her name shouted and she was surprised to see a familiar face that she had not seen in a while. It was Isaiah and they had a lot of catching up to do, but Lorraine also needed explanations. What had happened to them?

What I liked

Nadine’s stories are sweet. If you’re the kind of person who likes to read sweet love stories without all the heaving bosoms and Fabios, Nadine’s books are a good choice. I have found the characters in Nadine’s books to be respectful and good examples of how people should treat each other. Of course everyone screws up from time to time, but they do try their best to make it up.

I also like that Nadine has a little religion in this book, but it’s not over powering. I feel like Lorraine has a religious belief, but shows it through action, in her behavior and treatment of other human beings. If you’ve read any Janette Oke or Beverly Lewis, the religion in those sweet romance stories is much more prevalent.

What I didn’t like

Lorraine has suffered from a traumatic experience because someone else thought they had a right to her. They saw themselves as entitled enough to expect Lorraine to do the things they said, but also disregard Lorraine’s ownership over herself. I hate that Lorraine suffered because of this. I also hate that there are still a whole lot of people like that out in the world. Where do people get off being this entitled?

Overall

Aw…so sweet.

Weigh In

What kind of romance novels do you prefer?

What do you think makes people entitled enough to think they have a right to another human being?

#991 Love Unfeigned by Nadine C. Keels was originally published on One-elevenbooks

Children's, Fantasy, Fiction, Stine-R.L.

#990 The Haunted Mask II by R.L. Stine

The Haunted Mask II by R.L. StineThe Haunted Mask II by R.L. Stine

Steve made the wrong choice when he chose to coach the six-year olds’ soccer team. They’re awful. They’re hellions wearing the clothes of small people instead of actual children, not really, they’re just children, very bratty children. Steve determines that he really wants to scare them for Halloween. He remembered that Carly Beth had a really scary mask last Halloween, so he asks her where she got it, but she’s reluctant to tell.

When Steve finally finds out where the mask came from, he goes and gets one, by nefarious means, only to find out that he can’t take the mask off. He feels and sounds like an old man and people aren’t scared of him at all. He has to ask Carly Beth about getting the mask off. She tries what she knows, but maybe this mask is different. Maybe they should go back to the party store.

What I liked

I liked that R.L. was able to continue this story without having it get too crazy and unbelievable, if you can believe in a haunted mask in the first place. Knowing the original story, none of what happens is too far from the events that made the first story possible. I don’t know if any of that makes sense, essentially, I’m saying that this book fits in the world of The Haunted Mask and the reader doesn’t feel like the author is reaching for extreme ideas to continue the story.

What I didn’t like

I don’t feel like this story has the same moral as the last story. Steve does become another person while wearing the mask, but he doesn’t necessarily have different motivations. He does feel different. He essentially steps into someone else’s shoes. He learns what it’s like to be an old man and scaring small children soon ends up at the bottom of his list of things to do. Maybe Steve learned that things that once seemed important, are not important at all. He wanted to be petty, but when he put himself in the shoes of someone else, he saw that it wasn’t really that big of a deal. Sometimes, we just need a change of perspective.

Overall

Don’t put on weird masks you find in basements. I feel as if I’ve said this more than once and I shouldn’t have to.

Weigh In

Have you ever had a moment where something you thought you cared a lot about became not a big deal when you thought of it from another person’s point of view?

Would you put on some random mask you found in a creepy basement?

#990 The Haunted Mask II by R.L. Stine was originally published on One-elevenbooks