Time Lord!3klnXNcRlQ No.42068264
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I've been slogging through books this year (clearing out my Nan's collection, plus was gifted some), so sure, here's this pile next to me and some others I read recently:
>The Complete Fox (Les Stocker)
Factual book about foxes by someone who looks after and rehabilitates wild animals in the UK, and it's pretty good! Author doesn't have a good understanding of statistics*, but it was still informative and interesting.
>And the Policeman Smiled (Barry Turner)
Another factual one, this time about the evacuation and managing of child refugees from Nazi Germany. It wasn't fantastically-well written and some chapters dragged with how poorly they were constructed, but overall it was highly depressing, e.g. the bureaucracy that lost children their lives; desperate people hoping that, if they waited a bit longer, they wouldn't lose all their belongings, and suddenly realising that they and their families were trapped; the problematic creation of Palestine with issues that are STILL GOING ON; the abuse many suffered in the care system; and so on. There's a little anecdote at the end where someone returned to Germany after the war and, seeing a familiar face, remembers themselves to the person, only to be met with a "they should have killed the lot off you off" attitude. Humanity can be pretty damn tragic...
Anyway, onto fictional things:
>Truth or Dare (Celia Rees)
Story about a kid solving a family mystery that I kept hoping it would turn into horror/fantasy, but it didn't. Would give it points for having autistic characters (albeit one very cliché one) without putting it into a spotlight, but the last chapter was basically just a list of facts and stereotypes.
>Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tales
Emphasis on the 'Christian', what most surprised me was 'The Little Mermaid', since one of my childhood friends told me, when I was little, that they were cross about Disney's version making it all about a mermaid who had nothing better to do than be lovesick, whereas I would now argue that Disney played that down a LOT: Hans' titular mermaid sacrifices her life and soul to trying (and failing) to impress a boy. Cheery!
>F. A. Steel's fairy tales
Here's a woman who REALLY wanted kids to read about death! Example: in her version, Red Riding Hood gets eaten and that's the end of that. 'Mr Fox' is one of Steel's that could certainly do with more recognition though!
>West of Widdershins (Barbara Sleigh)
Fairy-tale-espe stories by an author who has strong opinions on what young women should do with their lives. It got a bit repetitive.
>The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett):
The first half had its moments, but I was not aware this classic was so very Christian. It's less subtle than the Narnia Chronicles! Eesh. Last chapter doesn't quite deliver the emotional punch it should, either.
I've never been a big fan of these, but reading them all together, plus some analysis at the end, helped give me more appreciation for the set.
>The King of the Golden River (John Ruskin)
Fairy-tale-espe story that was entirely fine. I won't be keeping the book, but it was definitely a thing.
>Love of Seven Dolls (Paul Gallico)
I am not at all sure who this is aimed at! It's about a girl who joins a circus' puppet show (talking to the puppets and taking on different roles in the plays), and the description of the puppet plays and the puppets' interactions with the girl (they're separate personalities from the puppeteer) are pretty engaging and fun, but then it's also got a whole bunch of carnival rape thrown in, so it's probably not aimed at kids. Spoilers as this is so confusing/frustrating and I don't recommend reading the book: At the end, instead of running off with the handsome young athlete who fought for her, the girl talks to the puppets again and the puppeteer who'd been physically, sexually, and verbally abusing her all this time confesses his love, so she stays with him forever. The end!
>The Magic Fiddler (Claude Aubry)
French-Canadian folk tales, very similar to the Irish ones I've read in that most every one stars the devil in a boring way. Learnt that 'porpoise' means 'sea-pig' (pig-fish) though, and that's something I hadn't noticed before!
>West Country Folk Tales (Llywelyn W. Maddock)
Can't actually remember this one much (I read it a few months ago), but it's one of the non-gift books I'm keeping, so I guess these were more fun? Despite my critical attitude, I am very into fairy tales and folk lore, so it's not a big surprise. I think they were suitably distinct from others.
>Harald: First of the Vikings (Young)
Vikings! Haha, I couldn't really get into it, but it did seem like the type of story that'd do well as a film and, at a glance, I think that's what the Vikings TV series IS doing? Fair.
>Mary Deare (Hammond Innes)
I'll end on a proper novel that I did quite enjoy (though I didn't keep it). It's about mysteries and shipwrecks in the mid 1900s, and I thought it held together pretty well. Not the type of thing I normally go for (I like horror and fantasy), but it was a fun change to instead picture the protagonists dealing with great sinking ships and dangerous rock formations.
I hadn't read much more than short stories online and (excessive amounts of) webcomics for quite a while, so all in all I think I'm doing pretty well! A lot of my Nan's books were easy to dismiss as 'miserable fiction about children during the war', 'miserable fiction about young women not enjoying family life', and/or 'miserable fiction about people returning to their home towns and thinking over what could have been' (bonus points for when they were about ALL of those things).
Not sure I'd call any of these books must-reads unless you're particularly into fairy/folk tales, though.