“A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Carnivorous Carnival” by Lemony Snicket

Carnivorous_CarnivalAt this point, things are starting to get mysterious and I’m devouring these books that were originally designed for children. There’s lots of secrets that are hinted at and the possibility that someone thought dead may be alive and some hidden identities that are not yet explained. There’s only four more books after this so I have to know the answers!

In “The Carnivorous Carnival,” Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire have stowed away in Count Olaf’s car, which ends them up at the Caligari Carnival. They disguise themselves as “freaks” to join the freak show (which consists of a contortionist, an ambidextrous person, and a man with a hunched back), and no one sees through it. I guess that’s acceptable because it would be extremely frustrating if no one was any the wiser when it came to all these villains’ disguises, but they immediately saw straight through when the Baudelaires tried it.

You can feel that we’re inching closer to figuring out what in the world “V.F.D.” stands for and getting some information from the mysterious Snicket file, but we’re not there yet. Every time it seems like the orphans have something right in their grasp, it just slips away. Usually because Count Olaf stole it and/or set it on fire. Now that I think about it, Count Olaf is starting to feel like a pyromaniac.

The book leaves you with a cliffhanger, where the elder two siblings are barreling down a cliff with no way to save themselves, while their baby sister goes on with Count Olaf and all his henchmen. But I immediately started reading the next book, “The Slippery Slope,” so the suspense was quite bearable.

I’ve been listening to a lot of these books on audiobook and just realized they are read by Tim Curry. He does an amazing job at changing up the voices and doing sound effects. Particularly evil laughs. You always know who’s evil based on their laugh.

I’m also about to start reading “The Last Summer (of You and Me)” by Ann Brashares. I remember reading it quite some time ago but I cannot remember any of the plot at all. Only time will tell.

Good bye and good night,
Maegan

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“A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Ersatz Elevator” by Lemony Snicket

The_Ersatz_ElevatorThe tragic tale of the Baudelaire orphans continue. This time they’ve been placed with two new guardians, Jerome and Esmé. Apparently Jerome knew the Baudelaire parents before they died and claims to have wanted to take them on as a legal guardian long before, but he was pretty quick to give them up by the end of the book. Esmé only accepted them into her 71-bedroom penthouse apartment because “orphans are in” and she is very into what is in. She’s also the sixth-most important financial adviser in the city.

Anywho, the apartment that the Baudelaires live in here is in the same neighborhood as their old home, but they really don’t seem that bothered by this fact and it really isn’t brought up that often.

The Quagmires are brought back in, of course, because it’s obviously up to Violet, Klaus, and Sunny to rescue them since they have no responsible adults in their lives. Predictably, all plans fail.

One thing I noticed this time is that for being so smart, sometimes the Baudelaires are kinda dumb. I felt like there were a couple things that were extremely obvious well before they were given away that these kids should have figured out, and yet they didn’t. Then again, the series was written for children so maybe I’m just being too critical.

Next up is finishing “Girls in Pants,” which is the third book in the “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” series. I’ll probably also go ahead and start on the seventh book in this series, “The Vile Village.”

Yay books!
Maegan

“The Second Summer of the Sisterhood” by Ann Brashares

5454This book, the second in a series of four, picks up the summer after the last book (“The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants”) ended. The stories are only told throughout the summer, so we don’t know much of the characters’ lives during that time.

They’re set up that way because everything revolves around the Traveling Pants, which are only worn during summer. It’s pretty ironic that the only time these girls wear jeans is during the sweltering summer. Especially considering one of the rules of the pants is that you can never wash them. I mean ew.

But anyway, the four characters are Tibby, Lena, Carmen, and Bridget, and of course they have some shenanigans during the summer. Here’s what they are up to this go around:

  • Tibby — Attending some kind of summer film school at a college nearish. Friendzones one of her best friends and acts like a poser for a while. Offends her mother and then makes a documentary about Bailey, who she met the summer before.
  • Lena — Got a summer job at a clothing store (thanks to her mom) and then proceeds to be the worst employee ever. Has some boy drama, then has some more. Then has A LOT more. Mix in a little family tragedy.
  • Carmen — Rude to a boy who continuously tries to make an effort. Babysits some. Destroys the happiness of those around her.
  • Bridget — Up and decides to go to Alabama after she finds some letters from her maternal grandmother, who lives there, that her dad had been keeping from her. Lies about her identity, Grandma knew anyway.

My favorite story of these characters in this book is Bridget. I feel like she has the most change from the start of the book to the end. Plus she spends her summer in Alabama and I heart Alabama a lot. She stays in a town called Burgess, which I honestly didn’t know what a real place until I just looked it up and I lived in Alabama most of my life. But several places that I do know were mentioned, and it made me miss it a little.

It seems like there’s a little more about the relationships between the four main characters and their families in this book. The last book mainly focused on the girls themselves and the friendships they had with each other. So it was nice to get to dig a little deeper into who they are.

I haven’t started the third book in the series, “Girls in Pants: The Third Summer of the Sisterhood,” but I will probably do so tomorrow. Plus I’m a little into “A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Ersatz Elevator” by Lemony Snicket. You know, that other series that I’m also reading.

Bye for now,
Maegan

“A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Austere Academy” by Lemony Snicket

The_Austere_AcademyWell honestly I didn’t expect to finish this book today and yet here we are.

“The Austere Academy” is the fifth in the “Series of Unfortunate Events” books. At this point, the Baudelaire orphans have been shipped off to Prufrock Preparatory School, which sounds like the absolute worst school ever. I mean, they have class seven days a week, must attend nightly six-hour violin concerts put on by the annoying Vice Principal, and instead of learning things, Violet and Klaus are forced to memorize short stories (and I mean short. Like “The monkey stole my lollipop. He was wearing a green rain jacket.”) and measure objects incessantly. Sunny is too young to go to class so instead she is the annoying Vice Principal’s administrative assistant. She’s actually probably a better assistant that some actual assistants, other than the fact that she does not speak in full sentences and is a baby.

All the while, the siblings are waiting on Count Olaf to show up. Eventually he does, of course, but it’s a little anti-climactic. It seems like he is not actively trying to steal their fortune this time, just trying to make them miserable by running laps literally all night long.

This book does introduce a few new worthwhile characters in Duncan and Isadora Quagmire. The two are actually two-thirds of a set of triplets, but all we know about that is that they’re brother Quigley is gone. There’s not too much into the back story of these new characters, other than that they are in a similar situation as the Baudelaires in having lost their parents to a terrible fire, but there’s seven more books to dive in to that.

Next on the list is “The Ersatz Elevator.”

Bye for now,
Maegan

“The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” by Ann Brashares

sisterhood-of-the-traveling-pants-book-coverI’m really not sure what made me want to reread this series, but it’s been on my mind lately. So about a week or two ago I started on this book, which is the first in a series of four.

For some reason, I remembered these books being much denser and taking much longer to read, but the chapters are not excessively long or anything and I think they come in right around 300 pages each.

I haven’t read the series in years, but I remembered the gist of things. Partly because I own both movies based off the series, which I’ll probably rewatch when I’m done reading the books.

The book centers on a group of four 16-year-old friends over the first summer of their lives where they will all be apart. The characters are somewhat stereotypical, but what are you gonna do? There’s sassy, Puerto Rican Carmen visiting her dad in South Carolina, discovering as she arrives that *surprise* he is engaged to some woman and lives with her and her two teenage kids; tall, thin, blond, sporty Bridget away at soccer camp in Mexico; “beautiful Lena,” who is spending the summer in Greece with her grandparents; and edgy, pierced-nose Tibby (short for Tabitha) who is stuck in their hometown working at a store called Wallman’s and I’m not sure if that’s supposed to be a play off of Walmart, Walgreen’s or both.

Basically the book starts off with Carmen casually buying a pair of jeans that she never intends to wear from a secondhand clothing store. The girls then discover that this one pair of jeans magically fits them all perfectly (not realistic at all) and they decide to mail them around from one person to the next until they’re back together at the end of the summer. Hence the traveling part of traveling pants.

Each character faces her own challenges through the summer, whether it’s boy drama, family drama, or the fact that Tibby meets and befriends a 12-year-old named Bailey who has leukemia. There is a pretty good amount of depth, but I’m sure it could go deeper. It works for the intended audience though.

I’ve already started reading book two, “The Second Summer of the Sisterhood,” and I’m about two-thirds of the way done with “A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Austere Academy” by Lemony Snicket. I’m trying really hard not to start another book before finishing these two series.

Wish me luck,
Maegan

“Beauty and the Beast: Lost in a Book” by Jennifer Donnelly

33412061I discovered this little number when I found the novelization of “Beauty and the Beast” and I had no idea what to expect. All I knew was that it was an original story based off the same characters we all know and love.

This book occurs sometime after Belle is locked away in the Beast’s castle and before she realizes she has *feelings* for him. It happens right around the time the Beast presents his majestic library to Belle and she is smitten with it. One thing though, I don’t remember the “Here’s my library, Belle” scene happening in the same way in the novelization or either of the movies I’ve seen. So just a little discrepancy there.

Anyway, it starts with a prologue where sisters Death and Love are playing chess (with moving pieces, mind you; very Harry Potter-esque). The sisters make a bet, basically that Belle will fall in love with the Beast, when Death decides to tilt the odds in her own favor. She sends a book called “Nevermore” into the library, where obviously Belle is now spending all her time. Naturally, Belle stumbles upon the book and discovers that it’s enchanted and she can actually walk into the story (lost in the book, lol), which has been created just for her. Or so they tell her. But what the characters don’t tell her is that the countess she spends so much time with is Death and Death is really just trying to trap Belle in the story so she can never leave.

Kudos to Death because she knows exactly how to get Belle. She presents her with exotic acquaintances, travel opportunities, tasty treats, and even her father, who she hasn’t seen since she was locked away in the Beast’s castle. But eventually Belle realizes what is going on and tries to escape. At this point, the story gets a little horror feel to it, with all these animatronic puppets and marionettes chasing Belle and preventing her from leaving. There’s talk of their beady, glass eyes, and one just knocks his own head clean off after running into a wall (or other similar formidable opponent, tbh all I remember is the puppet decapitation). I’m telling you, it’s the stuff of nightmares.

But of course everything ends happily ever after. The biggest thing that bothered me about this book (and the other book and all the movies) is how disrespected the Beast is. I mean the man has a name. I’m pretty sure it’s Adam but I honestly don’t know because it is LITERALLY NEVER MENTIONED EVER. How hard is it to just say, “Hey bro, I know I’m a prisoner in your castle but it seems like we’re becoming friends, so what’s your name?”? Instead of just calling him *The Beast* all the time. I mean, I’m sure he doesn’t really appreciate it. He’s just trying to be liked by everyone, ‘kay?

Rant over. Now I’m into “A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Austere Academy” by Lemony Snicket and “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” by Ann Brashares. But hey, at least now I’m only reading two series at once so that’s progress, right? …Right?

Until next time,
Maegan

“Beauty and the Beast” by Elizabeth Rudnick

novelizationObviously this is a novelization of the movie “Beauty and the Beast,” but the new one that came out in 2017, not the animated Disney classic.

I personally LOVED the new movie and I already own it on Blu-Ray and have watched it several times. I think part of the reason I wanted to read this book is because I do love the movie so much and I wanted to see if it was similar. Reading this book was almost like reading the screenplay for the movie. There were lines quoted in the movie that were placed verbatim in the book. I did notice that there were a couple lines that were in the book, but I don’t remember them being in the movie. I have a theory that these tiny pieces of dialogue were either cut or are somewhere in the deleted scenes of the movie.

There’s no hint in the book that the movie is a musical, except when Belle is at dinner and it mentions that the silverware is putting on a show. Other than that, there are certain lines that are used, like “It was a tale as old as time,” but that’s all you get.

This book was pretty short, and I was able to get through it in a couple days. Now I’ve started reading “Beauty and the Beast: Lost in a Book,” which is an original story based off the same characters and premise, but written by Jennifer Donnelly. I’m a few chapters in now and I’m curious about the story because I don’t really know what to expect yet.

That’s all for now,
Maegan

“Buffering: Unshared Tales of a Life Fully Loaded” by Hannah Hart

91THeJupDwL__74340.1475852580I’ve been working on this book for a while, but don’t think it’s because I didn’t like it. I think it was one of those situations where since I owned the book I felt more pressure to finish the books I didn’t own from the library first, but then I just kept finding new books from the library and on and on until I finally just decided that I wanted to finish this one.

The book is YouTube star Hannah Hart’s memoir and it is very well done. Sometimes I almost felt like I knew Hannah just from the way she wrote and the way she told stories. It was one of the most personal memoirs I’ve read so far. She wrote a lot about her family and friends, but she also included a lot of the struggles she’s faced in life. Most people want to bury their embarrassing secrets, but she laid bare all the issues she’d dealt with when it came to mental illness in her family, self-harm, anxiety, etc. It was pretty refreshing and gave some insight for people who might not have so much experience in those areas.

Hannah Hart is known for her online content, but I was surprised to find that she didn’t focus too much on her work in the book. She mentioned some of the projects that she had done, but that clearly wasn’t meant to be the focus. One interesting tidbit: Hannah’s YouTube show “My Drunk Kitchen” was a spur of the moment joke to cheer up a friend. I guess in my mind all the people who are YouTube famous have spent a lot of time cultivating ideas and creating things that they know will be successful. You just don’t expect it to fall into people’s laps, but I guess it can happen.

All in all, this was a very good book and a very good memoir. It’s always interesting to get a glimpse into the life of another and this one was well written and thoughtful. After reading the book I definitely want to meet Hannah Hart because tbh she seems like an awesome person/friend.

Bye now,
Maegan

“A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Miserable Mill” by Lemony Snicket

The_Miserable_Mill_USAI know it’s been a while since I’ve been on this series, but I picked it up yesterday and read most of it before last night. Of course, it’s a children’s series, so I don’t really think that it’s meant to keep you in your seat for weeks at a time.

Anyway, the Baudelaires have now been passed on to some random guardian (?) at the Lucky Smells Lumbermill. They literally never see this man’s face and never hear this name so I’m not even sure how exactly he came to be the legal guardian of three orphans he had never met before. But in short, he’s awful and makes them work at his lumbermill, where the other employees are paid in coupons instead of wages and get only a stick of gum for their five-minute lunch break.

The bright spot of hope in this story is Charles, who is the guardian’s “partner” (read: assistant/servant) but who is just too nice and naive to do anything to help the orphans. Count Olaf eventually shows up and the new guardian is just all too willing to hand the children over to him, despite their protests.

There’s also Dr. Georgina Orwell, who serves as the town optometrist and who also has an affinity for hypnosis. (It’s a long story.) By the end of the book, Mr. Poe, the man in charge of the Baudelaires and their considerable fortune, has returned again to move the children to yet another living situation that will surely be equally horrible.

Other than this series, I’m getting close to finishing up “Buffering” by Hannah Hart, then I want to start rereading “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” series by Ann Brashares. It’s been a while since I’ve read it and it’s been on my mind lately. And I’ll get to the next book in this series, called “The Austere Academy.”

For now,
Maegan

“The Martian” by Andy Weir

18007564I’ve wanted to read this book ever since I saw the movie based off it a couple years ago. And now that I’ve read the book I want to watch the movie again. But from what I remember from the movie, it was pretty spot-on with the book.

The premise is that astronaut Mark Watney has just been stranded on Mars after his mission was aborted, he was injured, and his crew mates all thought he was dead. He is a much stronger man than most for being able to live on Mars alone for this long. He ends up being there about a year and a half, which is ridiculous when you think about it.

Anyway, shenanigans ensue because obviously it’s Mars. There’s always some problem that needs fixing or some impending doom that Mark has no idea he’s about to walk right into, but NASA can’t tell him because there are no functioning communications systems.

The book is told primarily from Mark’s point of view in the form of mission logs. Once it gets a little more into the plot, that alternates with the higher-ups at NASA and occasionally Mark’s original crew.

There’s a ton of science going on in this book, which I am super not into (science, that is), but things were explained relatively well. There were still a few parts where my eyes started glazing over while reading about chemical reactions and the like, but I made it through. It seems like there’s a lot more that goes into space missions than any of us non-space people would know. It was just a very interesting take and a different type of book than I usually choose. But I am glad that I read it.

That’s all for now,
Maegan