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Show Me 5 Saturday is a meme concept by That’s a Novel Idea.  Please head on over to her blog if you’d like to participate!

(Note: While I usually reserve Saturday’s for children’s/YA books, Fool is definitely NOT kid-friendly.)

1 Book you read and/or reviewed this week: Fool, by Christopher Moore

2 Words that describe the book: bawdy, laugh-out-loud-funny

3 Settings where it took place or characters you met:

  • Pocket of Dog Snogging  – The narrator.  Dog Snogging being the name of the abbey where he was brought up.  Pocket is jester in the court of King Lear.. the one man allowed to “speak truth to nobility.”  He takes advantage of that position rather well.
  • Jones –‘Jones,’ said Taster, pointing to my jester’s scepter, Jones, who is, indeed, a smaller version of my own handsome countenance, fixed atop a sturdy handle of polished hickory. Jones speaks for me when even my tongue needs to exceed safe license with knights and nobles, his head pre-piked for the wrath of the dull and humorless. My finest art is oft lost in the eye of the subject.”
  •  Edmond of Gloucester – Illegitimate son of the Earl of Gloucester; Unable to inherit his father’s estate due to his illegitimacy, he will stop at nothing to change his fate.

4 Things you liked and/or disliked about it:

  • I liked to listen to it!  Ryan and I listened to the audio cd in the car together daily, and while it seems like it would be a funny read, it was HILARIOUS to hear.  The reader does a fantastic job with voices, flow, and punctuating the jokes correctly.  I definitely recommend this format.
  • I like that I now know the story of Shakespeare’s King Lear without having to read the real version.  Some of the dialogue is directly takan from Shakespeare’s version.  However, the plot isn’t exactly the same in Fool.  It’s very accurate until the end, at which point it’s very different.  But, I read the King Lear wikipedia page to compare, so I still know the original version now 😉
  • I do think that it was much more funny in the beginning and middle.  Towards the last third of the novel, it got very focused on tying up the plot and well.. the plot is fairly tragic and not that funny.  I still liked it, just not as much as at first.
  • I like that Christopher Moore is still alive, writing, and prolific.  That doesn’t have a lot to do with this particular book, but let me explain.  I read a lot of books by long dead people.  So, when I really like a book by a new author, I try to wait a couple of years before reading another of their works.  I realize they’re obviously not going to be writing any more, and I want to spread the reading out so I won’t run out of stuff to read by them.  Jane Austen, Daphne du Maurier, Thomas Hardy, Virginia Woolf.  But Moore has quite a few books out, and he’s still writing.. so I can obey my instinct to run out and immediately read half of his books!  Hurrah. 🙂

5 stars or less for your rating? A shaky 4.  It was a very solid 4 until the last disc or so when Ryan and I were both just ready for it to hurry up and end.  It wasn’t as funny at that point, and neither of us really get into extremely plot-driven books, which is what it became.  Nonetheless, the first 5 discs were so fabulous and fun that I’ll still call it a 4.  Read it.. no, listen to it!

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Show Me 5 Saturday is a meme concept by That’s a Novel Idea.  It is now hosted by Jenners at Find Your Next Book Here.

1 Book you read and/or reviewed this week: The Tale of Despereaux, by Kate DiCamillo

2 Words that describe the book: fun, heartwarming

3 Settings where it took place or characters you met:

  • The Dungeon – A maze underneath the castle devoid of light, full of rats.  It is rare that anyone emerges from the dungeon once they enter it.
  • Miggery Sow – A girl named for her father’s favorite pig, and now a pretty-much-orphan.  She longs to be a Princess, but no one ever asks her what she wants.
  • Gregory – The jailor.  He lives in the dungeon, keeping track of the inmates.  Even he doesn’t know all of the windings of the dungeon, and must have a rope tied to his ankle so he doesn’t get lost.  He knows all about the nature of rats.

4 Things you liked and/or disliked about it: 5 Stars or less for your rating?

  • I like that it’s so darn quoteable.  I found myself dog-earing pages with fantastic lines.  “Reader, you must know than an interesting fate (sometimes involving rats, sometimes not) awaits almost everyone, mouse or man, who does not conform.” and “Desperaux marveled at his own bravery.  He admired his own defiance.  And then, reader, he fainted.”
  • I like that the author doesn’t shy away from words children might not know, but encourages her readers to learn them instead.  “At least Lester had the decency to weep at his act of perfidy.  Reader, do you know what ‘perfidy’ means?  I have a feeling you do, based on the little scene that has just unfolded here.  But you should look up the word in your dictionary, just to be sure.”
  • I liked the beginning and middle better than the end.  The ending was rather abrupt and anticlimactic.  But, being a children’s book, there probably wasn’t much else she could do with it.
  • I liked that the author used literary devices, encouraging children to think about the themes of light and dark, the symbolism of the red thread.  She also encouraged readers to celebrate their differences.  Also, she seems to celebrate words, and addresses the reader as ‘reader.’  I wonder if some children, reading this book, are called ‘reader’ for the first time, instilling a sense of bookish identity on them.  I rather like that thought.

5 stars or less for your rating? Three stars.  I didn’t like it as much as the last children’s book I read (of Roald Dahls), but it was a different sort of book and set out to accomplish different sorts of things, which I think it did wonderfully.  I don’t know that the story will stick with me, but I think it is a book that I would really encourage my child to read.

Show Me 5 Saturday is a meme hosted by That’s a Novel Idea.  You can find Mr. Linky if you’d like to post your own at Find Your Next Book Here. Original hostess is MIA.

Going Solo by Roald Dahl1 Book you read and/or reviewed this week Going Solo by Roald Dahl 2 Words that describe the book: adventurous, heartbreaking 3 Settings where it took place or characters you met:

  • Africa – The first setting of the book is Africa.  Dahl is working here before/when World War II breaks out.  Dahl captivates the reader with description of the black mamba, giraffes, and all manner of wild things.
  • Mdisho – Roald Dahl’s “boy” when he was working in Africa.  This boy ironed Dahl’s shirts, polished his sword, and basically did whatever Dahl asked.  Dahl taught Mdisho how to read and write.  Mdisho has warrior’s blood running through him, and when he does something that could get him in great trouble, Dahl shows wisdom and compassion.
  • Greece – This is where Dahl spent the majority of his combat time in World War II.  Having been trained as a fighter pilot, he joins his squadron here.  To his dismay, he finds that he is only one of fifteen pilots allotted to protect the whole of Greece against hundreds or thousands of German planes.  His “adventures” here constitute the majority of the book.

4 Things you liked and/or disliked about it: 5 Stars or less for your rating?

  • I liked the format.  All the chapters were connected and chronological, but they could have almost have been read as stand-alone stories.  There were no cliff-hangers, so I could read a couple of chapters and put the book down without being tempted to peak at the beginning of the next.
  • I liked that it was more adult that Boy which came before it.  It was still in the junior section at the library, but I really feel like the subject matter is for more mature readers, even if the writing style is just as easy to read.  While there was high adventure, there was also war and death and weeks stuck in a hospital bed.
  • I love Dahl’s writing.  His stories, especially these, often make me hold me breath as the action plays out.  While he doesn’t spend a lot of time on wordy descriptions, he gives the correct details to allow you to see the setting.  Reading his work is a wonderful experience.
  • I liked that it was sort-of educations.  I got a little geography lesson, learned some Swahili words, learned a bit about the animals and cultures of the place he traveled.  Fabulous.

5 stars or less for your rating? 4.  It wasn’t one of the greatest books I’ve ever read, but it was certainly better than mediocre.  It was captivating, fun, heart-wrenching, and just generally Dahl-esque.  I recommend it heartily.

Over at A Striped Armchair, I read an entry: Why I Love Being a Book Blogger.  It made me want to give it a go (admittedly, again).

I’m no good at introductions, and they’re typically boring anyway, so I’m going to jump right in with a meme.  Show Me Five Saturday is a meme hosted by That’s a Novel Idea.  I enjoy reading Jenner’s every week over at Find Your Next Book Here.  This last link is where you can find Mr. Linky if you’d like to post your own.  Original hostess is MIA.

(I just linked 3 blogs that I’ve not commented on more than once.  I should lurk less.)

With no furthur ado, Show Me 5 Saturday.

1 Book you read and/or reviewed this week

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

2 Words that describe the book: simply magical

3 Settings where it took place or characters you met:

  • Mary Lennox – a petulant little girl, born in India and forgotten by her parents.  After a cholera outbreak, she moves to England to live with her uncle.  In England, she is educated by the wind, a robin, an animal charmer, a jump-rope, and a hypochondriac.
  • Ben Weatherstaff – a grumpy old gardener who introduces Mary to the robin.  At times unapproachable, he’s really a softie at heart.
  • A robin – at times baffled by the doings of the children, he still assures his mate that they’re harmless.

4 Things you liked and/or disliked about it:

  • Yorkshire dialect.  I loved it.  This is a children’s book, but the author didn’t dumb down the dialect for her readers.  I wonder how many kids went around trying to talk Yorkshire after reading this. 🙂
  • The scene from the robin’s perspective.  It was delightful to hear the robin and his mate chatter back and forth, trying to figure out what those silly kids were up to.  “But then she said indulgently that humans were always more clumsy and slow than Eggs and most of them never seemed really to learn to fly at all. You never met them in the air or on tree-tops.”  I cracked up.
  • I loved the descriptions of the spring.  I felt like I read this at just the right time, as plants are unfurling their leaves around me every day, my own seedlings are shooting up, and my mint is going feral.  I remember that the visual experience of the garden was one of my favorite things about the movie as a child, and the same descriptions were adored as an adult.
  • Sheep!  There was a sheep in it.  Anything with a suckling sheep gets extra points.

5 Stars or less for your rating? 5, absolutely.  And I don’t give those out lightly.  I was enchanted with the movie over a decade ago, and I was just as enchanted with the book.  I found myself clapping my hands together in delight, and laughing wildly with the children.  I sent Mister ecstatic text messages: “She was standing in the secret garden!”  I loved it.

In honor of the book, I present my own neighborhood robin.  It isn’t the same species as the English Robin described in the book, but the American Robin is a welcome spring sight here.