#755 Stay Out of the Basement by R.L. Stine

Stay Out of the Basement by R.L. StineStay Out of the Basement by R.L. Stine

Dad is working on something in the basement and he’s been really strange. He hasn’t said a whole lot. He often grunts instead of using words. He’s even yelled at the kids to stay out of the basement no matter what. The kids just can resist though. They go down into the basement and find some strange-looking plants. They’re the kind of plants no one has ever seen before. Of course, when Dad finds out, he’s incredibly angry. He installs a lock on the basement door this time.

Mom has to go away to her sister’s because the sister is having surgery. The kids are there alone, with Dad, and his strange plants. Things with Dad get stranger. He becomes even more reclusive. He is spied eating plant food in the kitchen instead of human food. His blood is green. He starts wearing a baseball cap all the time, even though it looks stupid. When the baseball cap gets knocked off of Dad’s head, there is something strange there, something that doesn’t seem possible.

There are strange creatures down in the basement that no one could have ever imagined.

What I liked

This book sounds like a warning against Monsanto. Kids, this is what genetic modification of plants can get you. Don’t do it. Just say no. Ok?

These experiments are mostly impossible with our current technology, but who is to say that it Monsanto won’t go too far one day?

What I didn’t like

While I do think this is funny and I’m joking about Monsanto genetically modifying plants, this isn’t possible. It’s not even remotely possible. The best horror tales or science fiction tales are the ones that are just out of reach. Maybe, just maybe, this could happen. That’s what makes the best science fiction or horror.

Overall

Just don’t mess with the plants.

Weigh In

If your dad was doing weird experiments in the basement, what would you do?

Injecting plants with animal DNA, yeah or nay?

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#753 The Longest Ride by Nicholas Sparks

‚ÄčThe Longest Ride by Nicholas SparksThe Longest Ride by Nicholas Sparks

A man named Ira has crashed his car in the snow. He’s not alone though, his wife, Ruth, is there with him, but not really because she’s been dead for nine years. He starts the recount their life together. He loved her. They got married after the war, but mumps had rendered IRA unable to have children. Both IRA and Ruth belonged to immigrant families that had moved to North Carolina. Ira told Ruth about the mumps, but he married her anyway.

The two started to collect artwork. The collection grew and grew. They visited Lake Eden in Black Mountain every year.

As Ira sits in the freezing car, more than one day, two other people will soon be in the same area. These two are young and named Luke and Sophia. They met at a rodeo. Luke was one of the bull riders. He’s got a secret though.

Sophia and Luke don’t seem to match, but they start a relationship that they both like, all while Luke’s mother might lose the ranch. Luke ends up doing something dangerous to himself, to save the ranch, but an unforseen bright spot and chance meeting come into both Like and Sophia’s life that really brightens things up.

What I liked

This was not bad for my first Nicholas Sparks book. It wasn’t quite as sappy or as dramatic as I expected. I liked Ira and Ruth’s story, although it was quite sad.

I liked that a large part of this story was set around where I live. I live really close to Asheville, Hipster City USA, which is mentioned multiple times in this story. Black Mountain is also a place I’ve been, heck, I almost got a job there, at Montreat College, not Black Mountain College, which was a real place. The lake mentioned in the book is also real. It’s part of some summer camp now.

I liked that art was such a large part of this book. I am an artist and stories about other artists are wonderful.

Surprisingly, Nicholas got a lot of the PBR stuff correct. My mom used to watch the heck out of bull riding on the TV; yes, you can watch it on TV. It can be a very dangerous procession. People get killed and paralyzed doing it.

What I didn’t like

The idea of a couple not being able to have children, when they want them, is very sad to me. I don’t understand why It’s and Ruth didn’t adopt a child. It was certainly something they could have done. I feel like life is too short not to be a parent when you want to be a parent.

Overall

At least I didn’t burst into tears when I was reading this book.

Weigh in

Would you ride a bull?

Would you stay with someone if you wanted kids and they couldn’t have them?

#746 Moving Day by Meg Cabot

Moving Day by Meg CabotMoving Day by Meg Cabot

Allie Finkle has found out the worst news of her life. She’s moving. Her entire family is actually moving, across town, to an old Victorian house. The worst part of it is that she’ll be going to a new school. None of her friends will be there. It’s also the middle of the school year. When she tells her best friend, Mary Beth, this, Mary Beth tells her not to tell anyone else because it’s her birthday. Allie slips up, of course, and tells someone, and Mary Beth cries and whines all about how Allie ruined her birthday and refuses to be her friend.

Allie Finkle has certain rules for life, which she writes down. They’re things like, “Never eat anything red.” Mary Beth knows about the rules, but not many other people do. Allie goes to see her new house, but she is not impressed at all. There is another girl next door and Allie does find her possible friend material, but she’s still against moving. She tries to sabotage the real estate open house at her current home with her rock collection, but it doesn’t work.

Meanwhile, Allie still has to deal with Mary Beth and the other children at her current school. The worst one is Brittany; she’s a bat thrower. She’s known to throw tantrums and throw anything within reach. When a girl plays with Brittany, they’re supposed to do whatever Brittany says. One day, when Allie is over at Brittany’s house with Mary Beth, and another girl, Brittany dictates all the games and even puts the family cat in a suitcase and drags it around. Allie does not like animals being hurt so she lets the cat out of the suitcase, and outside, this puts her on the friend blacklist even more, but she doesn’t care.

One night, at a family dinner out, she steals a turtle from a Chinese restaurant. Allie doesn’t know that this will change things for a while. In the end Allie finds out that some friends aren’t really good friends.

What I liked

I have to admit, this book wasn’t that bad for a book geared to a much younger audience. Meg Cabot is quite the writer, you’ll know her if you’ve read any of her other books. She writes for an older audience and a younger audience, so usually, anything she writes is catchy enough to keep an adult’s attention.

Allie is spunky and quirky. The fact that Allie does this weird thing, make up rules, isn’t shied away from. Most of us generally have something weird we do.

What I didn’t like

This Brittany kid sounds like an utter brat. How is it even possible for a child to be so bratty? I recently watched the Babadook, and the kid on that movie was a brat too. I might have just let the darn Babadook take him away. It amazes me that there are some kids so bratty, that it’s practically impossible to even think about being around them. Brittany sounds like a spoiled rotten brat, who is going to grow up to be a spoiled rotten teenager, who is going to end up pregnant in high school, but don’t worry, because her mother will take care of the baby while she’s at school, and Brittany will continue to be a brat. Honestly, Brittany will probably be a brat when she’s forty.

Any kid that has a room big enough to jump around in, like Brittany does, has way more than most kids do, if only they got the concept of being grateful for what they have, maybe they wouldn’t be such brats.

Overall

Heck, I’m glad Allie moved away from Brittany.

Weigh In

Would you be friends with Brittany because she has nice things?

Did you ever move mid-school-year as a child?

#733 The Whole Town’s Talking by Fannie Flagg

 The Whole Town's Talking by Fannie Flagg The Whole Town’s Talking by Fannie Flagg

Elmwood Springs started out as a small town settled by a few immigrants from Sweden. The land was cheap. It all started with Lordor Nordstrom. He had his farm and there were a few other people around, but he also wanted a wife. Some of the people talked him into trying for a mail-order wife and Lordor did just that. He ended up with Katrina. It took a while for the two to get to know each other, but soon they did and they married. Lordor started a dairy farm, that later became a huge business.

The town began to grow. Babies were born. More and more people showed up. The town got electricity. The town started to have cars. Downtown grew. Families grew and branched out.

When Lordor died, he was surprised to find that he was still conscious. He was just up on the hill at the cemetery. He was able to think and talk, although there wasn’t really anyone to talk to, except that one guy. As time passed, more people came to join Lordor at the cemetery. They could all talk to one another and it was almost like being alive except for there were no bodies involved. The strange thing was that every once in a while, someone would just disappear and they didn’t come back.

A newspaper was started in Elmwood Springs and the notorious Ida Jenkins decided that she needed to write a society column for the paper. She called it The Whole Town’s Talking. She would write about what was going on in town, perhaps with a little bias, we all know Ida after all. The paper went on, and Ida eventually went on.

Lordor’s granddaughter now owned the dairy, but her husband was a good-for-nothing. When She died, it was made known that the husband had inherited everything, which was strange because Lordor’s granddaughter had originally intended to leave a lot of money to charities. Lordor also wrote a clause into the dairy stating that it could never be sold to a non-family member. The people up in the cemetery knew there was foul play afoot, but how could they do anything about it as dead people? Eleanor, whom we’ve met before, was quite upset about it, but what could she do?

What I liked

I love Fannie Flagg books. I love how she encompasses an entire town in her books. I’ve read other books about Elmwood Springs, which I highly enjoyed. Eleanor is such an interesting character. I love how she feeds every animal around. It’s just so neat to read all the ins and outs of a whole town. I also love how Fannie follows generations from several families. We don’t just find out about the grandparents; we find out about the grandparents, the children, the grandchildren, and the great-grandchildren…maybe even the pets too. It’s great.

Fannie is also funny. She has a knack for creating real-life scenarios, that are humorous. Fannie is a good people-watcher. Some of these people in this book could be people who I know. Tott Wooten reminds me of more people than I can count.

I also love how Fannie can combine woo-woo and real life and make it sound plausible. I can’t imagine that a bunch of dead people sit around in a cemetery and talk, but maybe it happens.

What I didn’t like

Some of Fannie’s philosophy in this book makes me a little sad. I believe in the idea that you can stay connected to your family members after death and Fannie’s philosophy in this book makes that impossible, at least in Fannie’s philosophy.

Overall

The whole town is talking about how great this book is.

Weigh In

Would you want to talk to the people you were buried next to?

If you wrote a society column in a newspaper, what would you highlight?

#708 Gods Behaving Badly by Marie Phillips

Gods Behaving Badly by Marie PhillipsGods Behaving Badly by Marie Phillips

Alice is a regular cleaning girl, sneaking her crush named Neil into an empty theater to see a show by a psychic, or a supposed psychic. The whole thing goes great, besides the plotting that Aphrodite is up to. She wants to stick it to Apollo, just because he’s full of himself and also because she’s not very nice. She gets her son to shoot Apollo with an arrow during his fake psychic performance. The first woman he sees is the woman he will fall in love with. The first woman he sees happens to be mousey Alice.

Soon, Alice finds herself out of a job since she snuck someone into the theater. Neil suggests that she start her own cleaning company. One of the first houses she goes to happens to be the house Apollo lives in with all the other Greek gods, who have for some reason all moved to London. There they live, working day jobs, trying to make ends meet. No one believes in the gods anymore. Aphrodite is a phone sex worker, Apollo is an actor of sorts, Artemis walks dogs, and Zeus stays up in the attic.

Alice starts cleaning house, but Apollo soon finds out that she works in his very house. To him, Alice is the woman of his dreams, but the friendship between Neil and Alice has developed into something more than friends. When Apollo makes his move, Alice rejects him and things turn bad. Generally people don’t reject Apollo. Soon a quest of heroic proportions must take place in order for Alice and Neil to be together, but also to save the world.

What I liked

This book was humorous in bringing Greek mythology into modern-day. How would the gods of yesteryear cope with our modern-day lives? It’s difficult to imagine such a thing, but Marie imagined one way that it might happen.

I like the fact that they all had to get jobs to make a living. You would think they would have a bunch of gold stock-piled somewhere or something.

Each of these gods has very human-like traits, which is something that personalizes the idea of religion. If your god can get angry or horny, are you two really that different?

The traditional hero story is in this book, although not as traditional as usual.

What I didn’t like

I’m not particularly fond of any of the characters. None of the gods are that exciting. They’re all stuck on themselves in different ways. Neil and Alice have a “meh” relationship. The story is still interesting though.

Overall

Maybe the guy who washes the windows is really an out-of-work Greek God?

Weigh In

Do you imagine that you could ever accept that a god lived around you, if it actually happened?

Would you go to the underworld to rescue someone who you loved?