187 A Wind in the Door

awindinthedoorby Madeleine L’Engle, 1973
narrated by Jennifer Ehle

This is the book that taught me the word “mitochondria”!

In this second installment of the Time Quintet, we find Meg Murry worried about her younger brother Charles Wallace. He’s being bullied at school over his intelligence and his penchant for speaking about complex subjects like an adult. At home, Charles Wallace is seeing dragons in their back yard, and he and Meg discover some unusual feathers. Meanwhile, Charles Wallace appears to be getting sicker and sicker, suffering from some sort of malady that affects his breathing. Their microbiologist mother believes it may be a disorder of his mitochondria and their farandolae. Later, Meg teams up with Calvin O’Keefe, and the two engage in a cosmic battle involving good and evil and a Fantastic Voyage-like journey inside Charles Wallace to save his life.

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176 A Wrinkle in Time

wrinkleintimeby Madeleine L’Engle, 1962
narrated by Hope Davis

It’s been quite some years since I read A Wrinkle in Time. I read the entire Time Quartet when I was young and I remember loving it. With the movie version of the first installment fast approaching, it seems a good time to back and see if the book was every bit as good as I originally thought it to be. The verdict? Different from what I remember, but still a wonderful read.

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132 The Vile Village

vilevillageby Lemony Snicket, 2001

Things are starting to heat up for the Baudelaires! We’re still using the same formula as ever: the siblings are placed in the care of some well-meaning but less than apt adult, Count Olaf shows up in a new disguise, and the orphans end up having to save themselves. In this case, however, an entire village fails the three, as the moniker “It takes a village to raise a child” is put to the test in their new home, the Village of Fowl Devotees. Or, if you will, VFD.

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111 The Austere Academy

austereacademyby Lemony Snicket, 2000

Fifth verse, same as the first. Snicket has yet to deviate from formula in The Austere Academy, the fifth book in A Series of Unfortunate Events, but that doesn’t mean it’s not still enjoyable to read. In this installment we see the Baudelaire orphans transferred to the care of yet another idiotic adult, a Vice Principal Nero at Prufrock Preparatory School. The three are expected to do ridiculous things – Violet to memorize the stories of the boring Mr. Remora, Klaus to measure all the objects Mrs. Bass demands, and Sunny to serve as Nero’s administrative assistant – and no one believes them when they insist that the new, amazing Coach Genghis is really Count Olaf in disguise. To be honest, I’d have tired of this by now if it weren’t for Snicket’s cleverness, which continues to permeate each one of his stories.

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109 The Miserable Mill

miserablemillby Lemony Snicket, 2000

I remember from my first reading of these books that they become somewhat formulaic. We have certainly reached that point as there is little to distinguish the plot of The Miserable Mill from those that have come before it. The Baudelaire orphans are again placed in the care of an ignorant adult, Count Olaf dons a disguise in an attempt to capture them, no one believes the orphans when they insist that he has found them, and then eventually Olaf’s evil plan is unveiled and he escapes to scheme another day. This doesn’t mean that the Series is any less fun to read for its reliance on a tried and true formula, but it does render them less new and exciting as the tale winds on. Continue reading

100 The Wide Window

widewindowby Lemony Snicket, 2000

We’re back with the Baudelaires! At this point in the series, the stories are still pretty formulaic. The siblings are placed with another well-meaning, but short-sighted adult, Count Olaf schemes to kidnap them and steal their fortune, and the intrepid youngsters have to save their own butts. This time they are placed with grammar-loving Aunt Josephine, whose house overlooks Lake Lachrymose and whose husband was bled to death by the Lachrymose Leeches. Owing to these traumatic events, Josephine is fearful of nearly everything and does little to offer the Baudelaires the safe home they deserve.

Reminder: spoilers!

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