Sunday, October 31, 2010

Decisions, Decisions

I have decided to integrate this blog with my other blog, Literary R&R.  It's a little much to be keeping up with two book blogs at this time.  I feel that I am neglecting this blog as most of my time and energy is being put into Literary R&R.

I will continue reading the Top 100 Banned/Challenged Books: 2000 - 2009, but my reviews will be posted on Literary R&R.  This will be my last post on this blog.  I hope that the followers of this blog will give my other blog a chance.

Thank you for following me on this blog.  My journey will continue, but not on here.

Happy Reading! =)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Goosebumps #4 'Say Cheese and Die!' by R. L. Stine: A Summary

Book Specification Info:  132 Pages; ISBN #0-439-56842-0

Summary:  Greg thinks there is something wrong with the old camera he found.  The photographs keep turning out ... different.

When Greg takes a shot of his father's brand-new car, it's wrecked in the picture.  And then his dad crashes the car, nearly totaling it.  It's like the camera can tell the future, or worse ... maybe it makes the future!

Greg's friends don't believe him.  Shari even makes Greg take her picture at a party.

Only Shari's not in the photograph when it develops.

Is Shari about to be taken permanently out of the picture?
(Taken from back cover)

Banned Reason: Excessive Violence

R. L. Stine and 'excessive violence' do not seem to go hand-in-hand.  There was some spooky incidents and some accidents, but nothing excessively violent.

Overall:  I'm really starting to get into the Goosebump groove.  I can see what would attract the younger crowd.  Even though there are a few paranormal references in these books, the main thing that causes your Goosebumps are the situations that make you think ... Hhmmm... Maybe this could really happen ... from the empty house to the homeless man to the missing child ... R.L. Stine is becoming a master in my mind of taking normal, everyday situations and turning them slightly spooky.

Happy Reading =)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


I have been thinking lately ... a lot, actually ... about this blog and the Top 100.  I am DYING to pick up the pace a little.  There are so many books on this list that I want to read before I get any more gray hairs on my head! :-)

Seriously, though, I am changing the way I do this blog just a little bit.  I am still going to read all 62 books in the Goosebumps series.  HOWEVER ... I am going to continue on with the next book on the list.  I will intersperse my reviews of the Goosebump books with my reviews of the other books on this Top 100 list.

I just cannot take the slowness of this blog any more and am putting my foot down! :-)  For a week or so, you'll still only see the Goosebump summaries, but I am planning on getting the next book in the list and starting it so that I may press onward and upward!!!

Happy Tuesday! :-)

Friday, October 15, 2010

Book Hop #2

Book Blogger Hop

This is a weekly meme hosted by Crazy for Books. This is a chance for people to visit other book-related blogs that they normally wouldn't find and/or visit on their own. To participate, a question must be answered. This week's question is:

"When you read a book that you just can't get into, do you stick it out and keep reading or move to your next title?"

My Answer: This answer can go both ways for me ... Before I started this blog, if I was reading a book and I couldn't get into it, I'd stop reading it. But, now, knowing that I have followers who read my reviews, I tend to force myself thru the book even if I can't get into it.


Because I don't feel that I can give an adequate review of a book if I don't read all of the material. This may be the first-born OCD gene coming out in me, but it's true. And, I'm not saying that if you're a reviewer and you don't finish a book that you're wrong. It's just that, for me, I feel that since the author gave up their time and energy into actually writing the book (even if it is bad) and they sent it to me to read and review, the least I can do is finish it. They may get a long email in return stating every single thing I didn't like about it, but at least I can say I finished it.

If this is your first time to my blog, WELCOME! If this is a repeat visit for you, WELCOME BACK! Either way, I hope everyone has a fantastic Friday night and a fabulous weekend! =)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Goosebumps #3 'Monster Blood' by R. L. Stine: A Summary

Book Specification Info:  128 Pages; ISBN #0-590-45367-X

Summary:  A family, consisting of Mother, Father and son, have to move to Atlanta.  While the parents are in Atlanta looking for a new home, the son (Evan) has to stay with his weird great-aunt Kathryn.  During his two-week stay, he meets a friend (Andy) and they begin hanging out.  One day, they venture into an old toy store where Evan buys a can of monster blood.  Once the can is open, the "fun" begins ... do you dare to read the tale of a lonely boy, his pony-sized cocker spaniel and a witch?

Banned Reason: Excessive Violence

There was some violence in this book, but again ... nothing excessive.  I know I'm only three books into this series, but I have yet to find a passage of text that depicts an episode of excessive violence.  In my opinion, the cartoons of Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner depicted more violence than the Goosebumps series, thus far, and look how much children (and adults) love those cartoons!

I am beginning to form the opinion that whoever began this crusade against R. L. Stine's series was afraid of change.  To my knowledge, this series was the first of its kind that was geared specifically toward the younger crowd.  Oh, if only parents would sit back and remember what it was like to be young.  They, too, enjoyed being scared ... if they'd only admit it.

Overall:  This book was definitely enjoyable.  I appreciated the fact that R. L. Stine wrote about a different family dynamic other than the mother, father, older sister and annoying younger brother.  I think if Evan would've had a sibling in this book, the story wouldn't have transpired as well as it did.

Creepy great-aunt Kathryn was a hoot!  I liked her =)  She was quirky and eccentric ... she was a little mean in the book, but not so much so that I didn't enjoy her.

Andy was a pistol.  She was a wonderful tomboy who still had her girlie side and a no-nonsense attitude.  Evan and Andy together in the story worked out wonderfully.

I don't agree with the banned reasons for this book.  While violence was depicted, it wasn't anything more than what a child would see in a schoolyard tussle.

I press onward ... Happy Reading! =)

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Goosebumps #2 'Stay Out of the Basement' by R. L. Stine: A Summary

Book Specification Info: 122 Pages; ISBN #0-590-45366-1

Summary:  A family is dealing with the father/husband being an out-of-work scientist who is conducting experiments in their basement.  Almost from the moment the story begins, the mother has to leave to go tend to a family member out-of-town.  She doesn't return until the end of the book.  While the mother's gone, the children start noticing changes in their father but are scared to mention them.  Being children, they are curious about what their father is doing in the basement even though he has told them to stay out.  During one of their trips to the basement, they realize things are not as they seem with their father.  It comes down to the daughter being forced to make a decision that could ultimately lead to her father's death.

Banned Reasons: Excessive Violence

For this book, I'm a little torn between agreeing and disagreeing with the banned reasons.  There wasn't excessive violence, but there was a little violence (i.e. one person is stabbed with a knife and another is chopped in half with an axe).  However, the violent incidents are explained in the book and are an integral part of the story.  Ironically, it is the violent incidents which help resolve several confusing situations in the book.  So, should the book be challenged for being violent when the violence has a purpose?

Overall:  I did enjoy the book and do think that it would be okay for a child to read. The ending was a little unexpected.  It made you wonder if the issues in the book had really been resolved at all ... which, an ending that makes think about the story beyond what's written in a book, is a good thing.  It helps feed a person's imagination, which can never be bad.

I have noticed, though, within these first two books that R. L. Stine has stayed with the same type of family.  A mother whose patient and understanding.  A father whose a little preoccupied and can be short tempered.  A daughter/sister who is the oldest and is the first to notice the weird things that are happening.  Finally, a younger son/brother who is slightly spoiled, a nuisance and who thinks everything is fine until the weird stuff is practically shoved in his face.  It makes me wonder if R. L. Stine grew up in this type of family or if this was the family he had always wanted ... ???

I can certainly understand why a parent would not want their child to read this book.  However, I think if a parent restricts their child from reading this book the parent is a little too overprotective.  Strictly my opinion, of course.  Most children like a little scare and violence in their books. That's the whole point of buying a book like this, isn't it? You don't buy a book with a creepy cover and expect to read a love story, right? Right!

Off to read book #3 ...

Happy Reading! =)

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Goosebumps #1 'Welcome to Dead House' by R. L. Stine: A Summary

I was going to post reviews of this series in groups of five, but as I finished the first book I realized that wouldn't work for me.  I'll have to do each book separately. By the way, there are spoilers in this review.  Away we go...

Some book specification info: There are 123 pages; ISBN #0-439-56847-1

Summary:  A family receives a letter in the mail stating that a house in Dark Falls was left to them by the father's uncle, Charlie.  Nobody in the family remembers this uncle, but they visit Dark Falls anyway to view the house.  The parents love the house and the fact that it's free, while the children (Amanda and Josh) find the house a little creepy.  The family moves into the house a couple weeks later.  Amanda has paranormal experiences (i.e. seeing ghosts, hearing whispers and seeing curtains moving) right away, while Josh is just ready to go back to their old house.  Eventually, the family finds out why Dark Falls is so creepy and leaves the town to go back to their old house.

Banned Reasons: Excessive violence

Many of us, if not all of us, have heard of this series ... whether it was as children, seeing them in a library or looking at them in the bookstore.  This series holds major appeal with children because most children like to be scared.  The cover art is drawn specifically to draw children to the books when they see them on a display.  This combined with complaints of 'excessive violence in books intended for children under the age of 12' are the reasons why this series was the most challenged during the 2000-2009 decade, according to the American Library Association.

I must say that I do not agree with the banned reasons.  I'm not sure about the remaining 61 books, but this first book did not have 'excessive violence.'  There was an implication of violence yet-to-come, but no real violence was actually depicted.  Unless you want to count the part where a flashlight was shown on an undead being and it caused his skin to melt off of his skull, his eyeballs popping out and him falling and cracking his skull on a tombstone ... ???  That was not violent.  Gross, maybe .. Violent?  No.

Overall:  The book is definitely suspenseful, but not scary.  I think R. L. Stine may have chosen the series title Goosebumps because he knew the books weren't scary.  People get goosebumps whenever they are spooked by something creepy, not when they're scared... being scared creates a whole different reaction in a person's body.

When I finished reading the book, I came up with eight questions that I did not have answers for (this may spoil some of the story for you):

1.) Why did the undead need fresh blood once a year when they have no blood coursing through their veins?

2.) Why does the light make their skin melt and make them appear to be dead?  Are they really dead?

I came up with question #2 because while one of the undead girls was melting, she was telling Amanda "Thank you."  But at the end of the book, when a new family was coming to live at the Dead House, it appears one of the undead was unharmed and there to welcome the family to their new home.

3.) Why do the undead form a circle around their victims?

I thought the answer to #3 was so the victims couldn't run away, but there were tied up victims in the book and they still formed a circle around them ... So, it got me wondering ...

4.) How did the undead kill their victims?

R. L. Stine never wrote how this was done.  He did have them kill the dog, Petey, first because 'animals always know' when a person is undead, but he didn't write how they did it.  I think it would've made the story a little more creepier if Stine would've had Amanda and Josh watching the undead kill Petey from a distance ... of course, that would've been violence and a valid reason for the book being challenged.

5.) How did the undead choose which family to bring to the Dead House?

6.) Why was it so important for Ray (one of the undead), known as The Watcher, to not let Amanda and Josh know who the undead really were for a few more weeks?

7.) Who buried the dead of Dark Falls?

This I wondered after one of the undead told the story of the town, Dark Falls, to Amanda and Josh.  There once was a plastics factory on the outskirts of town.  One day, there was an accident at the factory that caused a yellow gas to spread out over the town quickly.  So quickly that the people of the town didn't realize what was happening.  They all died as a result.  If they all died, who buried them?

8.)  If all the townspeople died at the same time, why are there different years of death on the tombstones?

I realize these questions probably come from an adult's viewpoint.  I don't know too many children that would think these questions while reading this book.  I do not find anything wrong with a child reading this book ... it is just a story after all.

Now, on to the reading of the second book in this series ...

Stay tuned! =)