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Little Big Man (Panther) Little Big Man by Thomas Berger



My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I approached Little Big Man from a novel direction (forgive the pun): I'd seen the movie before reading the book. In fact, I owned the DVD before reading the book. The movie is one of my favorites, you see.

I imagine that had to influence how I read the book. But not too much, I think; in fact, I found myself thinking of Mark Twain far more often than the movie. Berger's style in Little Big Man is very reminiscent of Twain's (somewhat modernized of course). That's appropriate, since the book purports to be the personal reminiscences of a man who lived at approximately the same time as Twain.

It's rather a gory book, particularly at the beginning. It's also extremely funny. I was surprised, a number of times, to find myself laughing out loud. The adventures of Jack Crabb, a boy adopted by a Cheyenne family who never manages to be all white or all Indian, makes for very funny reading.

I find myself wondering if I should compare the book to the movie. In the past I've criticised movies for being unfaithful to the original novel, but obviously I can't criticize the novel for being unfaithful to the movie. The novel came first, after all!

That said, I'll simply say that while much of the flavor of the novel was preserved in the movie, the two diverge in some critical ways. The movie is far more negative about Custer, for example, and makes Jack Crabb a far more active character (in some ways) than he is in the novel. Some events were invented for the movie, and others were rearranged chronologically. And Chief Dan George's portrayal of Old Lodge Skins was simply outstanding.

But to sum up the novel: It's long, funny, well-written, but somehow a little unfocused. I'll certainly read it again, and will be on the lookout for more by Berger. Perhaps, in time, the novel of Little Big Man will be as much a favorite of mine as the movie is.

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Heaven's Reach (Uplift Trilogy, Book 3) Heaven's Reach by David Brin



My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I consider David Brin one of the three best genre writers among those who started writing after 1970 (the other two are Lawrence Watt-Evans and Steven Brust; Barry Longyear might be on that list except I think he started writing before 1970, and I haven't seen anything new from him in quite a while. Barry Hughart would be on that list if he hadn't had to give up writing due to his idiotic publishers).

I'm a huge fan of a lot of his work. His original Uplift trilogy is a favorite of mine. But I was disappointed by the first two books in his second Uplift trilogy. Heaven's Reach represents a significant improvement on those books.

It might get a bit too cosmic (in the same way that his Kiln People did, towards the end), but it's a solid, intelligent, imaginative, and well-written book. Perhaps I like it more because the action takes place out on the space lanes, rather than being cooped up on the sooner planet of Jijo.

Many mysteries are explained, and the resolution, while by no means tying up all the threads of the Uplift series, is quite satisfying. I plan to go back to the first two books in the trilogy to see if I like them better in the light of this book.

And I'll be re-reading the entire first trilogy before too long, of course.

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Castle Luncheonette
420 Social St
Woonsocket, RI 02895
(401) 762-5424

5 out of 5 stars

Excellent local food, definitely not "chain" food. An extensive menu, including seafood, standard American fare, Italian food, and local favorites such as dynamite sandwiches (a mildly spicy meat mixture with peppers and onions, if you didn't know). The prices are *extremely* reasonable.

I'm partial to their meatball subs. My son likes their franks and beans. Their french fries deserve special mention: they're hand-cut, home-made, and the portions are HUGE.

Not long ago they started serving breakfast, at least on the weekends. I'm not sure how that worked out for them, and they may not still be doing it. But we gave them a try. The food was excellent, better than we expected, and very reasonably priced.

A bit of history: The Castle was closed for nearly a year (or perhaps more) because they had a fire (I believe it was a fire in the exhaust system above the kitchen) and their insurance agency apparently dragged their heels. I feared that they wouldn't be coming back, but eventually they did - with an improved dining area, to boot.

This is the opposite of the usual boring, standardized fare that you get at the chain restaurants; it's cheaper and better. Service is pleasant and friendly. It's definitely worth coming back again and again.
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Diamond Pest Control Inc
PO Box 416
Woonsocket, RI 02895
(401) 333-3395

1 out of 5 stars

We picked him out of the phone book when we had a problem with bees, several years ago. He did a fine job, so we agreed with him that we'd pay him a flat amount, three times a year, and we could call him whenever we had a problem with pests.

We called him a few times over the next year or two; not TOO often, I think. Nonetheless, he suddenly stopped answering our calls. I left messages, but he never called us back and never came back to the house. I have no idea why he suddenly chose to drop us. This was EXTREMELY annoying and unprofessional.

I know he's still alive and in business, because we were behind his truck at a red light not long ago. I almost felt like hopping out, knocking on his window, and asking what had happened. But I didn't, of course.

I can't recommend him, for obvious reasons.
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Batman: Dark Victory Batman: Dark Victory by Jeph Loeb


My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I thought long and hard before giving two stars to this one. It's possible that I should have given it three.

It was long, and a decent enough read. In many ways it resembles Frank Miller's acclaimed Batman: Year One miniseries. Much of the art closely resembles David Mazzucchelli's subdued, semi-realistic and oddly crumpled-looking style in Year One. That's not a style I particularly like, but I don't hate it either.

Many of the secondary characters from Year One appear in Dark Victory. But the storytelling style diverges more from Miller's, particularly in the latter half of the book.

In fact, that's the reason I ended up giving Dark Victory only two stars; it starts well, with a promising mystery that seems as if it might be a mystery - that is, that it might be a mystery which the reader could actually have a chance to figure out, rather than simply read and wait for a deus ex machina. The characters are interesting. But as the book progresses, it goes downhill.

I don't like the way that the various supervillains are drawn, for one thing. Semi-realism goes out the window for them, and the effect doesn't work. Two-Face looks as if he's half Mafioso, and half Red Skull - but with a strange-looking nose that manages to be both weirdly long and pug at the same time (and not just on one side, which might make sense, but on both). The Joker is drawn so unrealistically that he might as well be from another universe; his head is twice the size of anyone else's, and half of his face is giant teeth. Again, the effect doesn't work. Robin looks as if he's drifting towards an anime look, of the typical "cute/frightened little kid with a tiny mouth" type.

The writing goes downhill even faster than the art. A major plotline involving betrayal is resolved in an unsatisfying, off-hand manner. The mystery, which began with such promise, sputters out with a whimper; no matter how I try to connect the interesting clues to the resolution, I can't make sense of it. Batman makes more stupid mistakes than he should, throughout; this is NOT a character who should often miss the obvious, and it's annoying when an author plays that tired old card to extend the story.

The addition of Robin to the story doesn't work at all. This is the "dark" Batman, or purports to be, and adding a cutesy/spunky sidekick to that character is a tricky proposition at best. I don't consider Frank Miller to be infallible, but at least he handled the same issue far more skillfully in Batman: The Dark Knight Returns. In this book, Robin is just annoying. I can see what the author was going for, an attempt to make the sidekick issue work with the "dark lone avenger" theme, but he simply fails to carry it off successfully.

I think I might have given this book three stars if it hadn't resembled a far superior work so closely in the beginning, and then failed so completely to fulfil its promise.

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Marathon Man Marathon Man by William Goldman


My review


rating: 4 of 5 stars

A classic thriller from the author of The Princess Bride.

In the late 1970s my father had a rather serious heart attack. Neighbors thoughtfully brought over books for him to read while he was bedridden. Naturally enough, they picked the bestsellers of that time. I'm not sure if Dad read all of them, but I did. Shogun, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, and Marathon Man were among them.

By an odd coincidence, all of those books have ended up being lifetime favorites for me.

In many ways, Marathon Man is quite dated. It was written in the early 1970s, and is very much a work of its time - both in the writing style that Goldman uses, and in the plot. A graduate student, the son of a celebrated intellectual who was destroyed by McCarthyism, finds himself caught up in a bizarre situation with Nazis, torture, family, love, and murder. And running, of course; he's a marathon man. Despite the early-70s feel, however, the book works.

Every reviewer talks about the dentistry scene. That's understandable, since it's very memorable. But good as it is, there are at least two other scenes in the book which are better than that one. And one of them has never yet failed to give me the shivers and make the hair stand up on the back of my neck.

Even though I've read the book at least ten times in the past thirty years - and to be honest that's just a guess, I'd bet it's closer to twenty times - and even though that scene has always stuck in my mind, it still never fails to get me. If you'd like to know which scene I'm thinking of, read the book; if it isn't obvious to you after that, drop me a line.

A good book, well worth reading. I liked the movie too.

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Dr Katz's Me at a Glance Dr Katz's Me at a Glance by Jonathan Katz


My review


rating: 4 of 5 stars

An extremely funny book. I laughed out loud quite a few times while reading it, and more than a little. It's based on the TV show which was on Comedy Central from 1995 to 1999, but no knowledge of the show is necessary to get the humor of the book.

Some books based on television shows are little more than cynical attempts to cash in. Others are simply illustrated transcriptions of episodes. This is neither; it's original, but perfectly in the style of the show.

If you're not familiar with Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist, think of the classic old Bob Newhart show where he played a psychologist. Dr. Katz has plenty of neuroses, but his patients are even crazier. As for his chronically unemployed son and astonishingly unwilling-to-work secretary, it's hard to say if they're neurotic, or just taking advantage.

As such things go, this book is somewhat lighter on illustrations and heavier on text than similar books. It's NOT a comic-strip book, nor are there many images from the show. That's appropriate, given the relatively static animation (Squiggle-Vision) which was used in the show itself.

The book takes form of a personal organizer, the property of Dr. Katz. It includes completed feedback forms from patients (anonymous ones), session notes, suggestions from Dr. Katz's son for marketing himself, song lyrics (Dr. Katz plays in a band) and a wide variety of other stuff - much of it annotated with post-it notes by Dr. Katz himself. The post-its are, of course, simply printed on the pages - but they look surprisingly real.

I'd had no idea there was ever a book based on the show until the minute I picked it up at the used book store next to the public library in Boothbay Harbor, Maine. I'd liked the show, so I picked it up on an impulse; it was cheap. Now, I'll definitely be keeping an eye out from more Dr. Katz books - and for more from the author, as well. Who is, despite the details above, Glenn Eichler - Jonathan Katz and Tom Snyder (yes, the Tom Snyder) are given credit for creating the show, but the book itself was written by Glenn Eichler. I hope he wrote more.

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Tales From the White Hart Tales From the White Hart by Arthur C. Clarke


My review


rating: 5 of 5 stars

Absolutely outstanding. I hadn't re-read this book for at least twenty years. Somehow it had gotten pigeonholed in my memory as a bit boring and dull.

But it's anything but dull or boring! Classic and funny science fiction stories using the classic bar-story format. Over and over I found myself coming across phrases and ideas which I'd incorporated into my personal lexicon, only to forget where they'd come from. "Oh, so this is where I first read that!" I kept saying.

It's a pity that Clarke wrote so few of these stories. They're wonderful.


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Prince Caspian (The Chronicles of Narnia, Book 4) Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis


My review


rating: 4 of 5 stars

First, a note: the re-ordering of the Narnia series by the publisher should be ignored. It is utterly misguided, spoils some of the charm of the series, and makes no internal sense. Prince Caspian was the second Narnia book that C.S. Lewis wrote, not the fourth.

However, in reading the series to my son I chose to read Prince Caspian third - immediately after The Magician's Nephew. Which itself came after the true first book in the series, The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe.

In many ways, this is the dullest book of the series. It lacks a true villain, unlike the White Witch or Queen Jadis; the only villains are the Telmarine nobility, and Lewis didn't make them particularly strong or interesting characters. There isn't even a hint of balance or tension. The villains have no way to overpower or overthrow Aslan. Once he shows up, the struggle and story are effectively over.

There are some lines which are remarkable for their unintended humor. The one that has really stuck with my son was "And the feasts on the poop and the musicians." Since the next book in the series, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, takes places mostly on board a ship with a poop deck, that line is being constantly quoted back to me every time the word "poop" comes up in the text (which is often) - invariably preceded and followed by a torrent of uncontrollable giggles. Coprophagy and cannibalism!

I must also admit that I found it difficult to read the line "...the Maenads who whirled her round in a merry dance and helped her take off some of the unnecessary and uncomfortable clothes she was wearing" while keeping a straight face. Lewis describes Bacchus and the Maenads as slightly naughty English madcaps and jackanapes, which is simply ridiculous to anyone who knows anything of Greek mythology. And of course Lewis' mixture of Greek and Christian mythology which so offended Tolkien is rather jarring, to put it mildly.

While still an excellent book, Prince Caspian is definitely the weakest and least interesting book of the Narnia series. Fortunately it's followed by one of the best books in the series.

One last note: although the movie that was made of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe was relatively faithful to the book, the same can't be said of the movie of Prince Caspian. That movie is violently at odds with the book, so much so that my son complained often about the differences between the two (he much preferred the book, thank goodness). I'd urge anyone who loves the Narnia books to avoid the movie like the plague, but if you must let your children see it, be sure to read the book to them first. The filmmakers simply lifted the characters, the title, and a few plot elements from the book and then made a film that stole equally from Star Wars, the Lord of the Rings movies, and some sort of tawdry Spanish love story. Caspian is a child, not a hot-blooded teenage hunk bursting with passion, and the attraction between Susan and Caspian in the movie is simply wrong.


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The Magician's Nephew (The Chronicles of Narnia, Book 1) The Magician's Nephew by C.S. Lewis

My review


rating: 5 of 5 stars

First, about the numbering: This book should NOT be read first in the Narnia series. It was actually the sixth of the seven Narnia books that Lewis wrote. The remarkably clueless publishers renumbered the series recently, placing The Magician's Nephew first, but that simply ruins what is otherwise a lovely surprise: the origin of the Wardrobe from The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. And from the internal text, it's clear that TL,TW,&TW should be read first. It's in that book that Lewis introduces Aslan, after all.

However, rather than read the series in strict publication order, I chose to read The Magician's Nephew to my son, Sebastian, as the second book in the series. That enhances the surprise at the end, and answered some questions that he'd been asking as we read TL,TW,&TW while they were still fresh in his mind.

The connection of this book to the Pevensies, the four children from TL,TW,&TW, is comparatively tenuous compared to all the other books in the series (except for The Horse and His Boy, which is the only book in the series to have no connection with them at all). However, the link to the Wardrobe that is revealed at the end was more than enough to interest and delight my son.

We follow two English children, Digory and Polly, through some very memorable world-crossing adventures that end up bringing them into the origin of Narnia. Lewis had a gift for imagery, and his Wood Between the Worlds is particularly strong and memorable - as is dead, accursed Charn.

This turned out to be one of Sebastian's favorite books in the series so far, in large part due to the comical but frightening character of Uncle Andrew, the Magician of the book. Sebastian connected with the characters and the story right away, more easily than he did with TL,TW,&TW.

The one drawback is that the illustrations in this particular edition are rather dull and literal. I much preferred the simpler and more imaginative illustrations from the editions that I read when I was young. They had an almost art deco style that reminded me of Tolkien's illustrations for The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.


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The Brotherhood of the Rose The Brotherhood of the Rose by David Morrell


My review

rating: 2 of 5 stars


I picked this one up along with a bunch of others for ten cents each at the permanent booksale on the Boothbay Harbor Public Library porch.

It was okay. A bit reminiscent of all the other thriller/potboilers that inevitably litter the best-seller lists. But The Brotherhood of the Rose wasn't particularly intelligent or well-written. It wasn't painfully stupid either; just a tolerable thriller, a bit predictable, rather shallow, and not particularly memorable or well-written. A tolerable way to kill an hour or two on a commute, but I won't bother to read it again.

For the record, The DaVinci Code is rather similar to The Brotherhood of the Rose; they're both rather simplistic, somewhat insulting to the intelligence of the reader, and awkwardly-written. It you're looking for a superior potboiler of the same general type, try Marathon Man.


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Five stars.

River Falls is an outstanding addition to the Woonsocket area. Located on the opposite side of the bridge from the waterfall that gave the town its name, it would command a spectacular view of the river if the stone walls of the building weren't so very thick, and if the deep-set windows weren't so relatively high and narrow. If they could have a deck built overhanging the river, the view of the river would be absolutely incredible - but their prices would probably have to go up, I suppose.
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River Falls has picked up on one of the nicer features that Box Seats had, by offering unlimited soup - although that might only come with certain meals, I'm not sure. They also managed to add to their menu the authentic berched chicken that used to be served at the famous but now-closed Ma Glockner's Restaurant, although that's available on Sundays only.

All in all, River Falls is a top-notch restaurant, well worth repeated visits.
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Five stars.

A hidden treasure, and a real gem. I didn't like roast beef until I tried Beef Barn. Their hot roast beef sandwiches are like none other: small (about hamburger-sized) on soft grilled rolls, piled high with perfectly-cooked thin-sliced roast beef.

On some days the roast beef is better than others, I think; I try to go on Thursdays through Sundays.
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They only accept cash, and there is no ATM machine on the premises. The closest machine is at the Stop & Shop a few minutes up the street.

What can I say? The Beef Barn is a really special place. There's nowhere else like it!
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[Edited 5/28]

Four stars.

A classic burger place. The burgers are large, plump, and delicious; there's a huge variety, too. They're not cheap, though! The fries, onion rings, and sweet potato fries are all likewise outstanding. Try the sweet red pepper relish at the tables; it's great.

It's almost always hopelessly crowded, though. There's often a long line to get in. Once in, expect to get jostled and bumped quite a bit. My seven-year-old son was hit once in the head by a chair that a waitress was moving, and bonked several times on the head by elbows (he's okay). Odds are you'll end up at the long central table, seated shoulder-to-shoulder and face-to-face with strangers if it's at all busy.
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There's a small dish of parsley by the cash register "for fresh breath". It works really well, but occasionally I've found a grain or two of sand while chewing. Just an FYI in case you have delicate dental work.

All that said, a day spent shopping and hanging out with friends in Harvard Square punctuated by lunch or dinner at Bartley's was my idea of heaven for many years!
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Rule Golden and Other Stories Rule Golden and Other Stories by Damon Knight


My review


rating: 3 of 5 stars

A good, solid collection of novelettes by SF great Damon Knight. They don't write 'em like this any more.

The Introduction by Knight is better than most, with interesting and amusing insights into the inspiration for the stories; in many cases, they were at least partially reactions against the SF tropes of the day.
Spoilers, click to read more )Rule Golden and Other Stories is something of a mixed bag; the oldest stories are the weakest and most superficial ones, so the book gives an interesting overview of Knight's maturation as a writer. But even the weaker stories are well done, and the book as a whole is well worth picking up. Of course, it's not in print and is unlikely to ever be published again, I suspect. But if you happen to see it in a used book store somewhere, you could certainly do worse than to pick it up.

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The Da Vinci Code The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown


My review


rating: 2 of 5 stars

Is the human race getting dumber? Or is it just the literary establishment?

I picked up a mint-condition hardcover copy of The Da Vinci Code at my local public library's permanent book sale for $1. At that price, I couldn't lose; I was going on a six-hour drive with my wife, and I needed something to read. My one concern was that the book might be too complex to be a relaxing car read. After all, according to the blurbs on the cover the New York Times said it was a work of "genius"!

It's not. It's a fairly fast-paced and somewhat over-talky action/mystery/conspiracy theory novel; a potboiler, really. I was surprised by several aspects of the novel. The writing actually betrayed a slightly juvenile touch. No offense to Mr. Brown; he's a competent writer. But standards seem to have gone down in the last twenty years or so. Back in the early 1980s I ended up reading a number of best-sellers. Several of them went on to become some of my favorite books: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Shogun, Marathon Man. All of these were much better-written than The Da Vinci Code, and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy was far and away more intellectually challenging.

Not to mention authors like Frank Herbert and Roger Zelazny. Their works require real thought on the part of the reader. Not so The Da Vinci Code. It's a decent potboiler with some mildly interesting secret-society conspiracy theory stuff, but even that is hardly anything new to anyone who has done even a little light reading on the topic.

On the plus side, at least Mr. Brown didn't get too disgusting. At one point I was afraid he'd pull a Wingrove or Chalker on me, with secret cult ceremonies that might turn out to be truly disturbing. Instead, the ceremony was hardly anything new; in fact, it couldn't have been older.

The characters were rather flat. The plot was a series of wham-bam escapes and secret-society deductions; the pace keeps moving along well enough, but the story becomes a bit repetitive and predictable. It was a decent time-killer (and I got an extra fillip from the odd coincidence that the hotel I stayed at while finishing the book was hosting a Knights of Columbus event, in full regalia), but it wasn't really memorable.

I'll probably give Brown another try, but only because I run out of reading material so quickly. I have to wonder, though: are all of these supposedly "brilliant" modern best-sellers so simplistic and unchallenging? I'd thought that the Left Behind series was unbelievably stupid, but now I'm starting to suspect that it's merely slightly sub-par.

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P.S. - When your "shocking revelation" has already been widely featured in popular culture (including movies like Dogma), it doesn't really qualify as "shocking"!
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Doctor Dolittle's Return Doctor Dolittle's Return by Hugh Lofting


My review


rating: 5 of 5 stars

Doctor Dolittle's Return is the ninth book in Hugh Lofting's classic Doctor Dolittle series. Remarkably, it features some of the most memorable and funniest moments of the whole series. That's a rare thing in a long series!

The book directly continues the plot line begun in the preceeding book, Doctor Dolittle in the Moon. It should be noted that Lofting originally intended to end the series with that book, but for some reason changed his mind; five years after the publication of Doctor Dolittle in the Moon, Doctor Dolittle's Return was published.
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I believe I read the entire series when I was young, with the exception of the Gub-Gub book (which is quite rare). But I don't remember anything past the end of Doctor Dolittle's Return. Is that because the later books were depressing? Or is it that I never read them? I'm not sure. I'll admit that I'm a little concerned, because Sebastian very much wants to continue reading the Dolittle series; as described, though, the final books may not be appropriate for him. We'll simply have to try and see. And if for some reason they're not appropriate for a seven-year-old, at least we'll have the pleasure of reading the first nine books all over again - at least one or two more times, before he's too grown-up to listen to stories read by his old Dad.

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Fair warning: a substantial portion of this review was taken from my LJ post about it while Sebastian and I were in the middle of the book.

The Wind in the Willows (Barnes & Noble Classics Series) (Barnes & Noble Classics) The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame


My review


rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is one of the most lovely, funny, and beautiful books that I have ever read. I've been reading and re-reading it since I was quite young, and it always leaves me wanting more. Mole, Rat, Badger, and especially the ingenious and inimitable Mr. Toad are a perfect fusion of temperaments, quirks, strengths, and weaknesses. An odd shifting of tone from one chapter to the next nonetheless works perfectly, a rare alchemy that would have (and often has) turned leaden in the hands of a lesser author.

But I won't be reviewing the book in great detail here. Instead, here's how Sebastian, my seven-year-old son, reacted to the story.
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I will confess that the reform of Toad is not quite believable (Sebastian confidently told me that Toad would not stay reformed). And the ending comes just a little too quickly. I have always wished as soon as I finished the book that there was more - and so did Sebastian. I know that sequels have been written by some modern-day author; I tried to read one of them, but at the time it didn't quite work for me. Some day, perhaps, I'll try it again...but maybe not. It would be more rewarding to simply re-read The Wind in the Willows once again.

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Doctor Dolittle in the Moon Doctor Dolittle in the Moon by Hugh Lofting


My review


rating: 5 of 5 stars

Doctor Dolittle in the Moon is the eighth book in the Dolittle series. It takes up the story directly from the end of the previous volume, Doctor Dolittle's Garden.

The storyline in that book changed rather radically in the middle of the story; it represented a profound shift in tone. Instead of trying to cope with the foibles and difficulties of human society such as the Doctor's near-constant (albeit unwilling) need for money, the plot began to focus instead on exploration and mystery, as strange and unknown creatures and forces seemed to be impelling John Dolittle off the face of the Earth entirely.
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Along with Doctor Dolittle's Return, this book represents one of the better-written and more interesting parts of the Dolittle series.


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Sam & Max Surfin the Highway Anniversary Edition Sam & Max Surfin the Highway Anniversary Edition by Steve Purcell


My review


rating: 5 of 5 stars

There are two possibilities when you first encounter Sam & Max. One possibility is that you won't get it; at best, it will seem odd and mildly amusing.

The other possibility is that your jaw will drop in amazement that someone out there speaks your secret language - the language of a style of humor that you didn't realize anyone else knew, apart from you and perhaps a few close friends. You'll feel as if you've been reading Sam & Max all your life, saying the same quirky lines back and forth with your friends. And you'll be laughing like crazy.

Sam & Max are freelance police, a six-foot-tall dog who dresses like a 1940s gumshoe, and a white rabbity thing with serious self-control issues. Both carry very large guns, and they're not afraid to use them on anyone or anything.

They live in a world that is completely insane, filled with volcano cults, frightening clowns, criminal rats, giant Moon roaches, ghosts that haunt Stucky's roadside restaurants, and accountants turned pirate - along with uncounted other oddities from the incredible imagination of Steve Purcell.

The violence is not extreme. Well...okay, there's a lot of shooting. A typewriter may have been hurled through an upper-story window. There may have been a disintegration or two. Perhaps an attempted human (dog? rabbit?) sacrifice. Children too young to understand irony probably won't get Sam & Max, but anyone over the age of ten or so would probably be ready.

Sam & Max have been published in many formats over the years. There have been a few comic books from different companies, a guest appearance here and there, some webcomics, a few animated computer games, a TV series with somewhat toned-down versions of the characters, and most recently a Wii game.

This book collects most of the print versions and many of the webcomics. Pick it up, give it a try! If you're one of the people who gets it, you'll be thanking me.

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