#948 Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero

Meddling Kids by Edgar CanteroMeddling Kids by Edgar Cantero

It’s been years since the Blyton Summer Detective Club has gotten together. Each went their separate ways, including suicide and life in a mental institution, but it’s time to get back in the game. There are some strange things going on. Peter is dead, but Nate, Andi, and Kerri are alive, not necessarily well. There is also Tim, the weimaraner, the great-grandson of the original Sean who went on adventures with the kids, when they were kids. Things have certainly changed. The things they encountered in their younger years have left scars on each of them.

There’s a mystery they didn’t quite solve. It has to do with a creepy old mansion and an old woman. Things turn out to be even stranger than they ever imagined. This time, it’s not just someone in a mask. There is some real and terrible stuff going on. There are monsters and volcanoes and all manner of things four people and a dog would never expect to run into. Can they solve the mystery? Can they fix what is about to happen?

What I liked

I really liked Scooby Doo. This is very much the gang from Scooby Doo all grown up. I never really thought to stop and think about what effects such a strange life might have had on the teenagers involved. In the television series, most things were fake, except for the whacky races and the Boo Brothers. Most of the time it was just someone in a mask. I liked how this book was real.

Sometimes it is refreshing to have the thing, the question, the thought, the hypothesis actually turn out to be that strange thing. It doesn’t always have to be just one guy or a guy in a mask, maybe, just maybe, it really is some supernatural creature or happening. It can get old to read stories, over and over again, that always try to explain away the “woo” by blaming everything on one guy with an elaborate plot. While there certainly is an elaborate plot involved, there is certainly woo and it’s just not explained away.

I miss watching Scooby Doo. Why can’t someone put the cartoon on Netflix? I don’t care about the live-action movies at all.

This book also pokes at the possible relationships between the members of the group. Come on, we all know something has to be going on between at least two of them. I always figured Daphne and Fred would get together, but you know, maybe not.

What I didn’t like

I wish I would have had more time to read this book. I feel like there would have been more of it that I would have appreciated. The book also has a Lovecraft sort of feel, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but if you’re expecting run-of-the-mill woo, you’ll be disappointed. It’s definitely woo like the woo from the woo-master himself, H.P. Lovecraft.

Overall

I would have gotten away with it if it wasn’t for those meddling kids…if I had a nickel for every time I’ve used this phrase in real life–I’d have no nickels; I’d be broke and I’d have to live under a bridge.

Weigh In

If you could solve mysteries with your friends, which friends would you pick and why?

Did you enjoy Scooby Doo?

#948 Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero was originally published on One-elevenbooks

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#733 Middle School The Worst Years of my Life by James Patterson and Chris Tebbetts

Middle School The Worst Years of my Life by James Patterson and Chris TebbettsMiddle School The Worst Years of my Life by James Patterson and Chris Tebbetts

Rafe is at a new middle school. He has a plan though. He has this notebook he’s been working on. He wants to break every school rule, every single one. Things aren’t going so great in his home life. There’s a guy named Bear that lives at his house with his mother and his sister. Rafe doesn’t like Bear very much. He sells Bear’s secret stash of sodas at school.

The plan goes. Rafe is late. He streaks through the hallways. He graffitis the walls. He gets bad grades. He gets in school suspension. He knocks things over. He does this and he does that. He makes fun of Shakespeare.

Things just get out of control. Rafe gets a tutor and tries for a bit, but it doesn’t seem to matter. Meanwhile, things at home seem to have come to a point where there needs to be a come to Jesus meeting.

What I liked

This book is entertaining. I can actually remember it and follow it, unlike some of the other James Patterson books I’ve read. I’m not sure why.

Fun fact, Khatchadorian, which is Rafe’s last name, was also the last name of the main character in We Need to Talk About Kevin. The name is originally Armenian and it’s less common than my last name, which is saying something. It’s the 2,891,080th most common name in the world according to Forebears.io.

I liked that Rafe’s mother didn’t give up on him and she didn’t give up on herself. I think if you are a single parent, you can’t do either.

What I didn’t like

I hated middle school. I hated it. I hated it so much. I would say those years were the worst years of my life if I had not been through a mentally abusive marriage and a drawn-out divorce that took much longer than it needed to because of my ex and some archaic divorce laws.

It was such an awful time. Girls have it harder because of puberty, but compound on depression, medical issues, and hard times at home to get just a cocktail of awfulness. That’s my story. Rafe’s story is a little better, but still not awesome. He is depressed. He is acting out. He is having a hard time at school and he’s having a hard time at home as well. If your mom moved in a guy named Bear, wouldn’t you have a hard time at home? I really feel for Rafe. He’s been upended in several ways and then there’s this loser at his house who apparently does nothing but complain and exude the air of he knows what’s right all the time without actually knowing anything about anything. Those aren’t the kind of people you get into relationships with, even if you’re a single mother working at a diner. Leave those losers alone, especially for the kids.

The whole Bear thing made Rafe’s situation so much worse.

Overall

Middle school sucks.

Weigh In

Would you date a guy named Bear?

Did you ever act out at school because of your home life?

#733 Middle School The Worst Years of my Life by James Patterson and Chris Tebbetts was originally published on One-elevenbooks

#925 Jim the Boy by Tony Earley

Jim the Boy by Tony Earley Jim the Boy by Tony Earley

Jim lives with his mother, his father died before he was born, in rural North Carolina. He’s never met his dad’s father, who lives up on a mountain in a town close by. His uncles live close though. He has three uncles and none of them ever got married. They each have their own houses, but they eat at Jim’s mom’s house. His mother does all the cooking and cleaning for the uncles. There’s a girl that helps too.

It’s Jim’s tenth birthday and he very much wants to go work in the fields with his uncles. They give him a hoe, not the one he wants, and Jim sets off to work. Things don’t turn out so well. He ends up cutting down two corn stalks and he’s not nearly as fast as he thought he was. His uncles get him a new catcher’s mitt and baseball for his birthday.

Time goes on and Jim’s friend comes down with polio. They don’t know if he’s going to live for a while. The uncles tell Jim that he needs to meet his grandfather, he’ll regret it if he doesn’t. Meanwhile his mother debates over whether to let another man in her life. She worries that either way Jim will miss something in his life.

Jim learns that there are things you don’t always want to do, but sometimes it’s good to do those things.

What I liked

This book is somewhat local, which is nice. It’s obviously set a while back. I think the author does a good job of portraying that time period. Some people had electricity and some people didn’t. The land was worked by hand. It wasn’t an easy life.

Jim did seem to grow throughout the book. In the beginning he’s very much a brat, as many little boys are, for some reason. Some of them grow out of it, thank goodness. By the end of the book I can see some the maturity Jim has poking through the little boy exterior.

What I didn’t like

It’s sad not to know your father or your grandfather. I didn’t grow up with my father and my step-father wasn’t exactly grade-a dad material, not by a long shot. I can tell you that it is difficult to grow up minus one parent. There’s only one side of things, that’s the side of the parent you live with. It doesn’t matter if they’re right, or if they’re wrong. You only get their side of things. Grandfathers are also nice to know. The one grandfather of mine that I have been around is pretty great. He’s taught me a lot of great stuff and he’s a good person. My life would be terribly different without him.

This is a round-about way of saying I feel sorry for Jim. I think it’s unfortunate that he’s going without so much in his life, but the good thing is that he still has his uncles.

Overall

Don’t get into a fight with your best friend when Ty Cobb is watching.

Weigh In

Did you find yourself feeling lacking if you grew up without one parent?

Do you have a good connection with your extended family?

#925 Jim the Boy by Tony Earley was originally published on One-elevenbooks

#920 I Funny by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein

I Funny by James Patterson and Chris GrabensteinI Funny by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein

Jaime’s uncle has told him about a comedy contest for young people and Jaime has decided that he needs to enter the contest. He practices his jokes out on the people who come to his uncle’s diner and on his uncle’s family. Jaime lives with his uncle ever since the thing that happened that put him in a wheelchair.

That’s what makes Jaime different from other kids; he’s in a wheelchair. None of his friends know why yet. They don’t know why he lives with his uncle and his family instead of his parents.

Some people really like Jaime’s jokes, while others might groan. Jaime looks for everyday events to tell jokes about. At the content, things go well. Some people say it’s because he’s in a wheelchair and people felt sorry for him, but others tell Jaime that it’s because he’s truly funny. He begins to open up to his new friend about his life and about the thing that happened. The thing that happened was actually pretty awful and it took a long time for Jaime to get over it, physically. It’s still hard to get over it mentally, but with the help of his uncle’s family and his friends, Jaime’s doing ok and he is funny.

What I liked

I actually liked this James Patterson book. Granted, he did not write it himself, it’s still the best James Patterson book I’ve read. I think this book does a good job of being comedic, but having a reason for someone wanting to be funny. Jaime wants to be funny to help get over a tragedy that occurred in his life. His life got completely turned upside down, but this stand-up competition, or sit down competition in his case, is an effort on his part to move on with his life. Moving on from something awful is an important part of life. How we move on from things can make or break some other things in the rest of our lives. We have to choose to get up and keep moving, just as Jaime has in this story. It’s quite admirable.

What I didn’t like

The thing that happens to Jaime is a little harsh. It’s certainly not out of the realm of possibility, but it’s a lot to think about. It could be a little much for some younger people.

Overall

Sometimes the best thing you can do is laugh about something.

Weigh In

If some terrible catastrophe happened in your life, how long would it take for you to laugh?

What do you think about people who are always telling jokes?

#920 I Funny by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein was originally published on One-elevenbooks

#901 The Perilous Road by William O. Steele

The Perilous Road by William O. SteeleThe Perilous Road by William O. Steele

Chris is living with his family in the Eastern Tennessee mountains during The Civil War. Chris says he hates the union soldiers. He hates that they come and take what they want from farms. He hates this his neighbors didn’t do anything about it when the soldiers came and took their food. They say the soldiers were just hungry. Chris doesn’t think the Union soldiers need his sympathy, or anybody’s sympathy for that matter.

His brother joins the military to be a wagon driver. Chris finds out that a wagon train is coming through so he wants to warn the other side so there will be an encounter, so he tells a neighbor who says he is a spy. When Chris finds out there is an actual battle going on in the area, he takes off trying to find his brother, not thinking that his brother would still be in training.

When he gets to the battle, heĀ  encounters soldiers from the north, who treat him well and are suffering from the war just the same as anybody else and Chris feels he needs to rethink his position on the other side.

What I liked

I’m not a typical war person, but I’ve read a few novels set during The Civil War. This one wasn’t bad. Chris is being hard-hearted, just as many people tend to be when they think they’re on the right side of something. He finds out that things aren’t so black and white. Just because someone is fighting on the other side, doesn’t mean that they’re not human. They need the same things all humans need. They have the same feelings all humans have. People dying because of a war are people dying because of a war, it doesn’t matter what side they’re on.

I really liked that Chris’ eyes were opened. Just because someone is your enemy politically, doesn’t mean that they’re your personal enemy.

What I didn’t like

Chris’ attitude is all to common. Sometimes we tend to think that our opinion is the correct one and whoever thinks differently is our enemy, and therefore, evil. We don’t stop to consider that maybe both sides are correct in one way or the other, or, that our side is actually the evil side. If we believe something very intolerant and expound upon that belief as the correct one and consider anyone who is more tolerant to be evil, isn’t the more intolerant view the more evil view?

Chris was young and sometimes as younger people we tend to hold onto our “beliefs” as we consider them as if they’re immutable, when, in fact, our beliefs change and grow as we gain experiences in life. Chris did just that in this book.

Overall

It doesn’t matter what side you’re on; we’re all people.

Weigh In

Did you find that your younger self was too idealistic and strict in your views?

Is everybody the enemy on the other side?

#901 The Perilous Road by William O. Steele was originally published on One-elevenbooks