The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: Book 4, The Interrupted Tale by Maryrose Wood

I read the first book in this series a couple of years ago, and here’s a recap of my very brief review:

The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: The Mysterious Howling by Maryrose Wood is the first in a series about three children who were raised by wolves. The story, which features governess Penelope Lumley, a fifteen year old graduate of the Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females, is rather cute and fun, but it ends practically in mid-sentence with most of its questions unanswered. The next book in the series, The Hidden Gallery, will be in stores Feb 22, 2011. You may want to wait for it and then sneak a peek at the ending to see if the words “to be continued” are again the (non)ending, if that sort of thing bothers you as it does me. These books look to be similar in tone and attitude to Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events.

I must give a disclaimer here and tell you that many questions are still, in this fourth book, largely unanswered. However, since I went into this fourth book with the expectation that it would be interrupted and incomplete, I was not disappointed. There was a happy ending and a defeat for the villains of this episode in the lives of the three Incorrigibles, even though the larger questions about where they came from, where Miss Lumley came from, and how they will all find their place in the world were left hanging.

Running jokes, taken quite seriously in a Victorian sort of way, about iambic pentameter and poetics in general, the art of rhetoric, the care of orphans, wolves and chickens, and other timely topics were the main source of entertainment in reading this story. The Incorrigible children are incorrigible, wolfish, and quite intelligent. Miss Lumley is resourceful and brave. And the villain of the piece, Judge Quinzy, is perfectly villainous. Sprinkled throughout the book are references to the founder of the Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females, Agatha Swanburne, who is regrettably deceased, but who left to the school and its students and teachers a huge store of wise and pithy sayings, proverbs and bits of wisdom that serve them all well as they navigate the vicissitudes of life and education.

The series is worth starting and continuing, if you like Snicket-like stories and if you’re willing to be patient with the unanswered questions. I believe the books are getting better as the series goes along, and I’ve come to terms with the incompleteness of the plot.

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This book is also nominated for a Cybil Award, but the views expressed here are strictly my own and do not reflect or determine the judging panel’s opinions.

Oh, the Thinks You Can Think, or Strange Creatures of the Imagination in Speculative Fiction

Your assignment: Draw a world that contains many or all of these creatures as imagined by you. You get extra points if you can name the 2014 speculative fiction Cybils nominees that feature each one of these weird and fantastical creatures. You get even more credit for naming a qualifying imaginary being from 2014 middle grade speculative fiction that I neglected to add to the list.


Albino Ackaway.
Albino witch.
Alien Tremist.
Ashari haldani.
Augmented actualizers.
Aviars (bird people).
Ax-wielding Feuerkumpel.
Bad-tempered great grey hippokamp.
Black-eyed terragogg.
Bog Noblins (semi-aquatic lowland Nobificus).
Bombinating beast.
Carnag the Monster Semblance.
Dreaded toothy cows.
Drill sergeant fairy.
Egyptian demigod.
Extraterrestrial from Bosco in the constellation Draco.
Fangs of Dang.
Flesh-eating valravens.
Furry raccoon-shaped Dome Meks.
General Cockroach.
Giant carnivorous weeds.
Gigantic redback vole petling.
Hoppernots.
Icewing dragons.
Incorrigible howling wolf children.
Jabberwock.
Jupiter pirates.
Kampii (fishy mermaid people).
Little green or gray spacemen.
Luck Uglies.
Mangleborn.
Manglespawn.
Masked Venetian magicians.
Medieval pilgrim squirrels.
Mudwing dragons.
Neptunian blorkbeast.
Nightgaunts.
Nightmare scorpipede.
Nightwing dragons.
Ninja librarians.
Phantom fox familiar.
Pink gargoyle dudes.
Platypus police squad.
Plug-Ugly, the disappearing cat.
Rainwing dragons.
Reptilian Exorians.
Rhinebra.
Sandwing dragons.
Seawigs.
Seawing dragons.
Self-assembled artificial intelligence SmartBots.
Serpentii (snake people).
Seven-headed hydra.
Shark whisperer.
Skander-winged puck.
Skirrits.
Skywing dragons.
Soul jumpers.
Sparkers.
Spirit duppies.
Spying blue butterflies.
Sunflower skeleton eraser.
Vain vitrina.
Xanite kasiri.
Zombie hamster.

I wish I could draw.

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Saturday Review of Books: December 20, 2014

“Live always in the best company when you read.” ~Sydney Smith

SATURDAY December 27th, will be the annual special edition of the Saturday Review of Books especially for book lists. You can link to a list of your favorite books read in 2014, a list of all the books you read in 2014, a list of the books you plan to read in 2015, or any other end of the year or beginning of the year list of books. Whatever your list, it’s time for book lists. So come back on Saturday the 27th to link to yours.

SatReviewbutton

Welcome to the Saturday Review of Books at Semicolon. Here’s how it usually works. Find a book review on your blog posted sometime during the previous week. The review doesn’t have to be a formal sort of thing. You can link to your thoughts on a particular book, a few ideas inspired by reading the book, your evaluation, quotations, whatever.

Then on Friday night/Saturday, you post a link here at Semicolon in Mr. Linky to the specific post where you’ve written your book review. Don’t link to your main blog page because this kind of link makes it hard to find the book review, especially when people drop in later after you’ve added new content to your blog. In parentheses after your name, add the title of the book you’re reviewing. This addition will help people to find the reviews they’re most interested in reading.

After linking to your own reviews, you can spend as long as you want reading the reviews of other bloggers for the week and adding to your wishlist of books to read.

Christmas in Virginia, 1864

From Charlie Skedaddle by Patricia Beatty:

“Charley volunteered, ‘On Christmas Day at home we go to Mass and then give each other presents. After that we o visiting people we know, and we always have a real fine Christmas dinner when we can afford to have one, roast goose or roast beef.’

‘Do tell! All those goings-on in one day! Malindy wouldn’ like hearin’ that about the goose. We don’t fuss so much here in the hills, but we do eat a good supper, and we sing some, and outside a feedin’ the livestock we don’ do no work. I ain’t got no gift for ya, but I’ll feed ya fine today.’

Charley had to admit that the highlight of the day was the dinner the best he’s ever eaten here—a tender ham they’d salted down the previous summer and now soaked in water, then baked; and a lard crust pie from sun-dried apples.

After they finished eating Granny Jerusha sang a mountain carol to Charley in her harsh, deep, old woman’s voice.

In turn, Charley sang a carol in Latin which the sisters had taught him. At its end, Granny Bent said ‘Ya got a sweet voice.’ Then she went on to sing him another carol, ‘The Cherry Tree Carol,’ about the tree that at the request of the Baby Jesus let liquid flow off its bent branches to water the thirsty, kneeling animals at the manger.”

Charlie Skedaddle is a Civil War story about a twelve year old boy from New York’s Bowery section who lies about his age and joins the Union army. However, Charley’s first battle is more than he bargained for, and he “skedaddles”. Charley end up in the hills of Virginia, where he takes refuge with Granny Bent, an old mountain woman who trusts Charley about as much as he trusts her—not much. Will Charley always be a coward in hiding from both Yankees and Rebels, or will he grow into manhood in the hills of Appalachia?

Patricia Beatty’s books are all worth searching for and reading. She wrote ten books with her husband, John Beatty, and then after his death, she wrote more than thirty works of historical fiction by herself. Some of her other books that I have enjoyed are Bonanza Girl, That’s One Ornery Orphan, Behave Yourself Bethany Brant, Be Ever Hopeful Hannalee, Wait for Me Watch for Me Eula Bee, and Jayhawker.

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Christmas in France, c. 1930

From Noël for Jeanne-Marie by Françoise Seignobosc:

“Listen, Patapon,” says Jeanne-Marie. “Noël is the birthday of the little Jesus.”

“And there is something more about Noël. If you are very good, Father Noël brings you presents. He comes in the night. No one sees him, no one at all. I put my wooden shoes near the chimney and Father Noël fills them with presents. You will see, Patapon, you will see . . .”

Unfortunately, Patapon is Jeanne-Marie’s pet sheep, and sheep have no wooden shoes to place beside the chimney for Father Noël to fill with presents.

I love both the illustrations and the story in this simple picture book about a little French girl and her pet sheep. Ms. Seignobosc, a French-American author and illustrator who used the pen name of simply “Françoise”, wrote and illustrated over 40 picture books between the years of 1930 and 1960. I would suggest that if you find any of her books about Jeanne-Marie or any of her other lovely picture books that you snap them up. They are not only collector’s items, but they are also delightful, simple stories for reading with preschoolers and for the young at heart.

Take a look at this one about Biquette, the white goat with a lovely special-made coat.
Or Springtime for Jeanne-Marie, one of my favorites.
More from Springtime for Jeanne-Marie.
And here’s some information about another Francoise book, The Thank You Book.

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12 Book Lists from 2014

I will round up the bloggers’ book lists at my Saturday Review of Books on December 27th, the day after Christmas, giving everyone plenty of time to post their lists. Also, on the day after Christmas I’ll start posting my several lists of favorites and books I’m looking forward to reading in 2015.

In the meantime, the other end of the year book lists are already starting to multiply. I have a love/hate relationship with lists of “best books” or “favorites”, mostly love. But it is frustrating to see how many books there are that I would love to read and how little time I have to read them all.

On the other hand, what a blessing to have so many books to choose from! What an embarrassment of riches!

14 Best Books of 2014 (with runners-up) by Tony Reinke at Desiring God. These are Christian nonfiction, and there are at least a couple that I want to read, including John Piper’s book on authors George Herbert, George Whitfield, and C.S. Lewis and Karen Swallow Prior’s biography Fierce Convictions, about poet and reformer Hannah More.

Christian Science Monitor’s 10 best fiction books of 2014. Almost all ten of these sound intriguing, and I added most of them to my TBR list at Goodreads.

Speaking of Goodreads, Goodreads Selects Best Books of 2014. Some of these were already on my radar; others are new to me.

Mary DeMuth’s Best Ever Gift Guide for Book Lovers. I added four books to my TBR list from Mary’s gift guide, and I could have added more:
Rush of Heaven by Ema McKinley and Cheryl Ricker.
The Invisibile Girls by Sarah Thebarge.
Living Without Jim by Sue Keddy.
Calling Me Home by Julie Kibler.

The Best Books of 2014, according to Slate staff. Some of these are a bit too risqué or my tastes, but others sound intriguing:
Five Came Back: A Story of Hollywood and the Second World War by Mark Harris.
Blood Will Out: The True Story of a Murder, a Mystery, and a Masquerade by Walter Kirn.
Lock In by John Scalzi.
Without You, There Is No Us: My Time With the Sons of North Korea’s Elite by Suki Kim.

And another Slate list: 27 Books you shouldn’t have overlooked in 2014. I think I’ll not overlook at least one of these:
Like No Other by Una LaMarche. YA fiction, “featuring Jaxon, who is black, and Devorah, a Hasidic girl who isn’t even allowed a phone.”(!) They meet in a stranded hospital elevator during an electrical outage. Color me curious.

Newsweek: Our Favorite Books of 2014. Not my favorites, but maybe you will find something here?

Washington Post: The Top 50 Fiction Books for 2014. Many interesting pick here:
All Our Names by Dinaw Mengestu. About an Ethiopian emigrant, this one fits into my interest in all things African.
The Children Act by Ian McEwan. Mr. McEwan is always provocative–and evocative.
Lila by Marilynne Robinson. I already had this one on my list before it was even published.
An Unecessary Woman by Rabih Alameddine.

Washington Post: 50 Notable Works of Nonfiction.
Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China by Evan Osnos. National Book Award winner.
Congo: The Epic History of a People by David van Reybrouck, translated by Sam Garrett. If it’s readable.
Countdown to Zero Day: Stuxnet and the Launch of the World’s First Digital Weapon by Kim Zetter.
John Quincy Adams: American Visionary by Fred Kaplan. For my U.S. presidents project.
A Spy Among Friends: Kim Philby and the Great Betrayal by Ben MacIntyre.

Hornbook presents its Fanfare! The best books of 2014. I’ll need to read the following, all of which I’ve seen recommended on numerous lists and in numerous reviews:
Sam & Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett
The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, and the Fall of Imperial Russia by Candace Fleming.
The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus by Jen Bryant.
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson. National Book Award winner.

Entertainment Weekly: 10 Best Nonfiction Books of 2014. The usual suspects, plus a few more.
The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison is starting to sound interesting. Also, maybe I’ll buy What If? Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe as a gift for Engineer Husband.

NPR’s Book Concierge: Our Guide to 2014’s Great Reads.

As she does every year, Susan Thomsen at Chicken Spaghetti has lots more 2014 book lists, specifically those that include children’s and YA books.

Christmas in Alaska, 1948


From The Year of Miss Agnes by Kirkpatrick Hill:

“When it was Christmastime, we had a tree in the school. . . We put popcorn strings on it and little chains made of green and red paper. That tree looked just beautiful.

It was supposed to have candles on it, but Miss Agnes said that spruce was too dry, the needles just falling off with a little sprinkling sound when you walked by it. We might set it on fire if we put candles on it.

Miss Agnes showed us some Christmas pictures from other countries, and those Christmas trees were just fat. Different from our skinny little trees. Our little skinny tree branches couldn’t even hold a candle, I don’t think.

Miss Agnes taught us a whole bunch of Christmas songs. Some we knew from the radio already. And we put on a play.”

Miss Agnes is the new teacher in a small Athabascan village in Alaska, and the narrator of the story is ten year old Fred, one of her pupils in the one-room schoolhouse. This 113 page book would make a good read aloud story for younger children or a good independent reading book for those who are confident enough to start reading chapter books by themselves. It’s a lovely story about a very special teacher, and the Christmas celebration that Miss Agnes has with her pupils and their parents is especially fun to read about.

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Recommended.

Christmas in New Jersey, c. 1988

From Ten Kids, No Pets by Ann M. Martin:

“Jan was sure she wouldn’t be able to sleep at all on Christmas Eve. The day had already been exciting, and so many more exciting things would happen while she was in bed. The tree had been trimmed several days earlier, but on Christmas Eve Mr. Rosso had turned on its lights for the first time. Jan had looked at her little tree standing in the corner of the living room in a haze of soft, glowing color and thought she’d never seen anything so beautiful.

Then Jan the rest had brought al of their presents out of secret hiding places and arranged them under the tree. They’d sung Christmas carols and had eggnog (Jan had spit hers out), and then Jan had set out a plate of cookies for Santa Claus.

Finally, Mrs. Rosso had said, ‘Time for bed, kids!’ and Jan hadn’t objected Santa would come only after she’d gone to sleep. Then he’d slide down the chimney and fill the twelve stockings and pile more presents under the tree. Before he left he’d stop to eat Jan’s snack. Oh, it was so exciting! How could Jan possibly fall asleep?”

I snagged a copy of this book, featuring a family with ten children, at the library book sale on Saturday afternoon. The children are very happy with their large family, but they long for a pet. I have a special affinity and understanding for this story since my eight children begged for a puppy or a kitten for years before we finally got one of each in one year when my resistance was especially low.

So much for “no pets.”

Amazon Affiliate. If you click on a book cover here to go to Amazon and buy something, I receive a very small percentage of the purchase price.

Saturday Review of Books: December 13, 2014


“She read all sorts of things: travels, and sermons, and old magazines. Nothing was so dull that she couldn’t get through with it. Anything really interesting absorbed her so that she never knew what was going on about her.” ~What Katy Did by Susan Coolidge

SatReviewbuttonWelcome to the Saturday Review of Books at Semicolon. Here’s how it usually works. Find a book review on your blog posted sometime during the previous week. The review doesn’t have to be a formal sort of thing. You can link to your thoughts on a particular book, a few ideas inspired by reading the book, your evaluation, quotations, whatever.

Then on Friday night/Saturday, you post a link here at Semicolon in Mr. Linky to the specific post where you’ve written your book review. Don’t link to your main blog page because this kind of link makes it hard to find the book review, especially when people drop in later after you’ve added new content to your blog. In parentheses after your name, add the title of the book you’re reviewing. This addition will help people to find the reviews they’re most interested in reading.

After linking to your own reviews, you can spend as long as you want reading the reviews of other bloggers for the week and adding to your wishlist of books to read. That’s how my own TBR list has become completely unmanageable and the reason I can’t join any reading challenges. I have my own personal challenge that never ends.

Christmas in Ohio (?), c.1994

From Mr. Putter and Tabby Bake the Cake by Cynthia Rylant.

“Mr. Putter loved to give Christmas presents. He started thinking about Christmas presents in July. He liked to think of what he could give to the grocer and to the librarian, and to the postman. Mr. Putter also had to think of what he could give to his neighbor Mrs. Teaberry. This was the hardest of all. He usually had to think about this all the way to December.
Mrs. Teaberry liked strange things. She liked coconuts made into monkey heads. She liked salt shakers that walked across the table. She liked little dresses for her teapots. Mr. Putter could live with monkey heads and walking salt shakers and dressed-up teapots. But Mr. Putter could not believe hat Mrs. Teaberry liked fruitcake. He could not believe that anyone liked fruitcake. . .
He thought Mrs. Teaberry should have a good cake for Christmas. . . And one night as he and Tabby sat dreaming at their snowy window, that is what he decided to gee Mrs. Teaberry for Christmas. Mr. Putter would bake her a Christmas cake. It would be a cinch.
The cake was not a cinch.”

This series of easy readers by Cynthia Rylant has the distinction of being about an elderly man and his elderly neighbor, Mrs. Teaberry, and his cat Tabby. Most children’s books are about children. But I have seen lots of kids enjoy these simple stories about an old man and his simple joys and problems. I enjoy them, too. The other books in the series are:

Mr. Putter and Tabby Pour the Tea
Mr. Putter and Tabby Walk the Dog
Mr. Putter and Tabby Pick the Pears
Mr. Putter and Tabby Fly the Plane
Mr. Putter and Tabby Row the Boat
Mr. Putter and Tabby Take the Train
Mr. Putter and Tabby Toot the Horn
Mr. Putter and Tabby Paint the Porch
Mr. Putter and Tabby Feed the Fish
Mr. Putter and Tabby Catch the Cold
Mr. Putter and Tabby Stir the Soup
Mr. Putter and Tabby Write the Book
Mr. Putter and Tabby Make a Wish
Mr. Putter and Tabby Spin the Yarn
Mr. Putter and Tabby See the Stars
Mr. Putter and Tabby Run the Race
Mr. Putter and Tabby Spill the Beans
Mr. Putter and Tabby Clear the Decks
Mr. Putter and Tabby Ring the Bell
Mr. Putter & Tabby Dance the Dance

I wish I had all of these in my library, but at any rate I do have Mr. Putter and Tabby Bake the Cake–just in time to inspire me to bake something for Christmas.

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