Archive for July, 2017

Staffa is a new student in Jane’s class, and, boy, is she ever strange. With her old-fashioned clothes, and her old lady way of speaking, Staffa isn’t the kind of person, eleven-year-old Jane wants to hang out with during or after school. And why is Staffa always looking at her? Ew. Worse, Staffa follows Jane home. There, Jane finds Staffa is not so bad afterall. Even her many brothers like her.

Jane is invited to meet Staffa’s mother, who’s also a bit odd what with her sweet tooth and strange stories she tells as if they’re true. And what’s with that weird box she carries everywhere? And the strange chauffeur who’s face Jane never sees?

When Jane is invited to Staffa’s home, she’s excited to go, but what she finds there, in the Kingdom of Eck, is beyond her wildest imagination. Worse, she may be trapped there forever.

This is a fun, magical fantasy with bees one can ride and cute, mouse-like people. It contains twists and turns that left me wondering who is the good and who’s bad? The first part of the story is set in Britain and, at first, you might think a regular school with two different types of girls becoming friends. After meeting the mother that changes and you catch glimpses of  another world, but what I thought wasn’t anywhere near what I got. A nice surprise.

If you like Roald Dahl, chances are you’re going to like this book too.



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I’m reading through my old books, deciding which to keep and which to sell or give away. A number of books are Star Trek novels. I’ve already given a lot away, sold them. I didn’t get much. There’s a glut of used Star Trek books on the market.

On the technology side, Star Trek books are usually up there. Even if our twenty-first century tech trumps it, it didn’t matter. You can accept the difference. This one, however, not so much. It was about a huge bomb exploding on the planet Centari. In it, Chekov washed dishes, Kirk called the front desk for room service, and citizens drove gasoline powered cars.


Even if it was written in the 1980’s, it’s out of date. People were even smoking cigarettes.

I thought first I’d keep the book because the premise wasn’t bad, but the technology kept getting in the way. It almost read like a book that had been written for the seventies in the seventies, but revamped for the future. I’ve read plenty of older books where modern technology surpassed what was in the book, but it could be forgiven. The science fiction books from the fifties are so from the times, you take it in stride. In those, the main characters are male oriented and they use flying cars and head off to Mars in rocket ships. That’s excusable. This Star Trek book was not.

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Jury Duty

Mom got a letter on Friday directing her to a magistrate court for jury duty. It’s the second letter for jury duty in the last six months. A picture of my mother sitting in the jury box in her LayZ Boy recliner popped in my head. Sweater. A blanket over her lap. Another blanket over her feet. She’d sit there, chin down, asleep. With a start she’d wake up and say:Don’t forget to tighten the lid so the water doesn’t come out. With her, when she wakes, dreams slide into the real world for a few moments. It takes getting used to.On Monday, I’ll call the office and get her excused from jury duty. She figures she’s too old and she’s done her duty.

It wasn’t that long ago I got three summons for jury duty in a six month span. Each was for a different court.  Before then I didn’t even pay attention what was what. My first letter was for a grand jury. You stayed on that for a year, but didn’t meet until there was a case or several. They did not excuse those who worked in school, but I was fine with it even if the school administration wasn’t. Once the officials of the court excused everyone who had excuses, they turned to a lottery. I knew right then and there I wouldn’t be picked, and I wasn’t.

The next time, I had to drive to Charleston, seventy miles away, for Federal Court. It was summer time so I didn’t have to get out of school. I brought my camera to take pictures. They weren’t going to pick me, I just knew it. I wouldn’t have minded because they’d put me in a hotel and I could wander Charleston and take all the pictures I wanted once court closed. I kind of looked forward to it. I sat through three calls for prospective jurors. I didn’t get picked.

The last time I was called was also in the summer. This was the local, county court, a small room, one smaller than the school library. I didn’t get picked either and it wasn’t like there were a lot of people to choose from.


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Cameron’s dad is a real piece of work. Whenever he shows up, Cameron’s mother moves them to a new place, trying to get away. This time it’s to an old farm out in the country near a small town. As usual the move triggers nightmares, but these are different. For one, Cameron keeps imagining a young boy and he thinks he sees him during the daytime as well.

This is a spooky mystery/ghost/psychological thriller. The dogs mentioned in the title are terrifying especially if you’re already scared of dogs and I happen to be so a little. Also terrifying is the dad. Is he the good guy? Is he the bad guy?

Allan Stratton is a Michael L. Printz honor book award winner. He tells a compelling tale that sucked me in and left me breathless.

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Movie Previews

I love movie previews. I could probably watch a movie worth of movie previews. I go to Youtube and watch them. I watch more movie previews that I watch movies. In fact, so far this year I’ve seen a grand total of three movies. Three movies in six months. That’s pitiful, but with my diminished funds it’s all I can afford right now, and, I’m okay with it. But I do wish I’d gone to see Beauty and the Beast.

When I’m at the theater and a forced viewer of previews, that is having to watch those previews of movies I don’t want to see, I like to grade them. Must see on the big screen. I can wait for the DVD to come out. I can wait for it to be shown on TV. No. Absolutely not. This time I was hoping to see the preview of Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. That’s a Must see on big screen. Along with that I saw Atomic Blonde. Never heard of it before. Wish I never heard of it now.

When did movies get so violent? Is it video games? Honestly, she must have killed like twenty people in the short time the preview aired. Definitely an Absolutely not movie. It made me wish I’d gone to a kiddie movie just to see family fare previews.


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