#807 The Mystery at the Crooked House created by Gertrude Chandler Warner

The Mystery at the Crooked House created by Gertrude Chandler WarnerThe Mystery at the Crooked House created by Gertrude Chandler Warner

The Aldens are visiting another friend. This friend has a crooked house. The man who made it wasn’t a carpenter, so some things aren’t entirely straight. The family member who currently lives there, rents rooms out, like a bed and breakfast. The problem is that there is a new hotel or something in the area and people may not want to stay in the crooked house, which could mean that the family would lose the house because they couldn’t afford the upkeep. Supposedly, there is a secret to the house, complete with riddles. The secret may just save the crooked house.

What I liked

I like the idea of a crooked house. One time, I went to Blowing Rock, North Carolina. There is a crooked house there. It’s called the Mystery Vortex; it’s not that far from the Tweetsie amusement park. Anyway, there is nothing mysterious about it. It’s not ghosts that made it all wonky. Someone built it at odd angles that trick your brain. You think you see water going uphill and brooms standing on their own and all sorts of things. It’s all a trick of perspective. You know it’s all scientific when you get there, but it doesn’t stop you from being completely disoriented by it.

What I didn’t like

Just make a few substitutions in this book and you’ll have the last Boxcar Children book I read. We might lose the house. Oh no! Someone is being nefarious about the house for selfish reasons. Oh no! There’s a secret treasure to the house that just might resolve everything. Yippee! Seriously, all you need are a few substitutions and you have the other book. Whoever wrote this one got a little lazy.


They found the treasure.

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Do you think all old houses should have a mystery?

Should the house always get saved?

#806 The Mystery at Peacock Hall created by Gertrude Chandler Warner

The Mystery at Peacock Hall created by Gertrude Chandler WarnerThe Mystery at Peacock Hall created by Gertrude Chandler Warner

The Aldens are going to Monticello, to visit somebody grandfather knows. She lives pretty close to Monticello and actually works there. In case you didn’t know, Monticello is the house that Thomas Jefferson designed, and worked on for many years, in addition to getting in on with his special ladies there. There are plenty of quirky things about Monticello, as the Aldens soon find out. Thomas Jefferson was an inventor. He tried to invent a clock, but part of it ended up on a different floor.

The problem with the whole thing is that their host is about to lose her house. She owes some back taxes. Another relative wants to buy her out, for a fraction of what it’s worth. She has until the auction to pay the taxes. Her house is called Peacock Hall. Supposedly, there’s a treasure in the house somewhere. The Aldens set about looking for it in hopes that the tax bill can be paid. Some other strange stuff goes on as well. Someone may or may not be living in the smoke house. Is there really a treasure of Peacock Hall? Will that peacock let Benny have one of his feathers?

What I liked

Ok, so the part about Thomas Jefferson getting it on with his special ladies at Monticello was not actually in this book, but I thought I’d enlighten anyone who didn’t know. Thomas Jefferson had at least one child, that looked a lot like him, besides the obvious difference in skin colors, with one of his slaves.

What I didn’t like

Property taxes are stupid. So you buy a house and then you pay it off, but you still have to pay the government, every single year, otherwise they’ll take your house, even though it’s good and paid for. Jerks. I think if you own your house, you own your house, or you should own your house. There shouldn’t be any of this, “Oh, you forgot to pay your taxes, so we’re auctioning off your house, even though the taxes you owe are like a thousand dollars, which is a small fraction of what the house is worth and what you’ve paid on it.” This is just one example of how our government infrastructure is a bit broken. A lot of those property taxes go to schools, but you still have to pay property taxes even if you don’t make use of the schools in any manner.

I don’t find it likely that the woman in this story would be offered any kind of extension, especially since an auction was already scheduled. I think the government would just be like, “Too bad, you had your chance.” They don’t care if you’re losing a house that has been in the family for generations.


If only there was some mystery treasure in the house I live in.

Weigh In

Do you like peacocks?

What do you think about property taxes?

#804 Monkey Trouble created by Gertrude Chandler Warner

Monkey Trouble created by Gertrude Chandler WarnerMonkey Trouble created by Gertrude Chandler Warner

The zoo is having a contest. The deal is that you buy a disposable camera from the zoo, take pictures, and then submit the entire camera to the zoo. he winner gets a year pass to the zoo. The Aldens only have enough money for one camera, so they decide to share the winnings, if they win. There are a couple of other friends around. There is a friend named Blake who insists that he needs two cameras. There is another friend who is a swimmer practicing for sporting events. She doesn’t really have money for a camera. The contest lasts a couple of days. One day, Blake discovers one of his cameras is missing. Who has it?

The Aldens start checking around. They have several suspects, but there are reasons each of the suspects do not have the camera. At one point a monkey escapes and it turns out the monkey has quick fingers, that do steal things. Is the camera with those things? Did someone take the spare camera or did a monkey do it?

What I liked

I like zoos. I’ve actually been a couple of times in the past couple of years. One day I went with my friend to a zoo in South Carolina where we encountered a woman, by herself, squatting down in front of a tortoise and talking to it as if it were a baby or small child. “You’re just a baby. I bet your daddy was a hundred and fifty years old.” I am not even beginning to joke about this. There were no children with the woman, nor was there even another companion with the woman. Apparently, she just liked to go to zoos, by herself, and talk to reptiles like they were babies. Maybe she did the same thing with all the snakes.

The last time I went to the zoo was with my boyfriend, stepdad, mom, and niece. My family couldn’t decide what they wanted to do, but they finally decided on the zoo, which was over an hour away. The problem with this is that it’s always going to take more than an hour to drive there and that my family takes forever to go anywhere. Several hours, I’m serious. I’m not even joking. When I want to go somewhere, I put on my clothes and go. My family does not do this. My mother takes at least an hour to get ready; I’m not even sure what all she is doing during this time. She doesn’t curl her hair. It’s not like she’s in their contouring like a Kardashian. I just have no idea. It’s like the entire family can’t get moving without first watching a movie, fiddling with random junk, and taking an excessive amount of time in the bathroom before getting out of the door. How long does it take to put on clothes? Ten minutes–that’s how long.

We finally made it to the zoo after many stops, but there were only about two hours left in which to see the zoo. So we had to speed-admire the animals. Oh, it’s a tiger, well lets move on. If you look to your left as we’re zooming by, you can see the gorillas, next stop, the pandas. We didn’t have time to go gift shopping. We didn’t have time to do much. There was this conversation with my boyfriend on whether or not I could just wear my undershirt out in public, it was hot. Turns out that it was way too thin. So we got to the zoo and then we left the zoo, about two hours later. A bunch of kids started showing up as super heroes, I’m not really sure what was going on. Needless to say, it wasn’t exactly the most relaxing experience. Do not go to the zoo with my family. If they ask you, pretend you’re busy. Go to the zoo by yourself.

What I didn’t like

This was kind of a rip off. We’re having this photography contest. Buy a camera from us, then take pictures. We’ll use your picture on promotional items and you get a zoo pass. That doesn’t sound like that great of a deal. Oh, and we’ll get children to do it.


Meerkats are fun. I think I could have a pet meerkat and it would be great.

Weigh In

Do you like to go to the zoo?

What would you want as a prize for this contest?

#803 The Cold Girl by Rachel Caine

The Cold Girl by Rachel CaineThe Cold Girl by Rachel Caine

Kiley always wanted to date her boyfriend, but no one else really saw why. People flat-out didn’t like him, but she did. One night,they were going out, there was a carnival in town. There was a mix up with their phones. Kiley’s ended up smashed and she ended up with her boyfriend’s phone. She knew she shouldn’t peek, but she decided to anyway. He had been really concerned about photos and videos on the phone. She saw the photos; they were of her boyfriend and another girl. She saw that there were videos, she decided to watch one. The video wasn’t what she was expecting. The video showed her boyfriend strangling this girl and then raping her.

Kiley knew she had to get away from her boyfriend. He knew she had seen the phone. He tried to take her on a ride, but the carnie people seemed to know she was in trouble. They told her to go and see the fortune-teller. Kiley’s fortune was not good. She would die tonight. It would take her two days to die. The cold girl would come for her. Her boyfriend did catch up to her and he did kill her. She lay there, for two days, no one found her, but one boy did find her ghost. The cold girl finally came. She had been with the carnival for some time. Her touch froze skin. She told Kiley she could save her. She was a vampire, of course. She liked revenge and maybe Kiley could enact some revenge on her murdering boyfriend.

What I liked

I thought this story was interesting. I’m not all into vampire stories, but this one was kind of neat. I love how this mythology seemed to follow the cold girl, who was cold not only in temperature, but in her lack of human feeling. It seems the murdering boyfriend got what he deserved, much like Rosalie’s one-time fiance in the Twilight series. The story is a bit similar between the two characters.

I, like many people, tend to like retribution stories. If the bad guy gets what’s coming to him, we feel better about the story. We have this deep-rooted sense of right and wrong. We always feel that punishment must accompany a bad deed and we can get upset when it doesn’t. Think something like the Casey Anthony case, most of us feel punishment was not meted out. In this story though, the bad guy does get what’s coming to him.

What I didn’t like

I think I would have liked a full-length book rather than just this little bit. Who knows–I may read more from the series,


Just one more reason to think carnivals are creepy, as if the Freakshow version of American Horror Story wasn’t enough.

Weigh In

Do you find the mythology of vampires interesting?

Should evil-doers always be punished or are you the bigger person for not punishing them?

#802 The Simple Faith of Mister Rogers by Any Hollingsworth

The Simple Faith of Mister Rogers by Any HollingsworthThe Simple Faith of Mister Rogers by Any Hollingsworth

Mister Rogers didn’t generally do interviews, but he decided to grant Any one. Maybe Amy expected a personality that differed from Mister Rogers’ television personality, but what she got was the same Mister Rogers everyone grew up with. A friendship continued after the interview and Amy learned how great Mister Rogers really was.

Letters followed and so did stories. Mister Rogers never wrote a memoir himself, so Amy hopes that this book will serve as something of a biography for him.

Mister Rogers was always a spiritual and sensitive man. He wanted children to know it was ok to feel emotions. He wanted kids to know they were worth something. He took the time to take each child’s request seriously. When a blind girl asked if he fed the fish everyday, because he didn’t always say he fed the fish, he started saying he was going to feed the fish.

He created a world of himself inside The Land of Make-believe. Each puppet seemed to be a different facet of himself.

He taught the author that it was ok to be sad and that it was ok to be quiet. Some of the best things can come from silence.

Ultimately, Mister Rogers had to quit his show and he did for, but several decades of children grew up to his even-toned voice. They learned about emotions and they learned to be better people.

What I liked

I, like seemingly everyone else who got PBS on their bunny ears, admire Mister Rogers. He was a great man. He made an impact on the world in a way that so many people can’t. There are preachers and ministers galore, but it was Mister Rogers, who spoke with a gentle voice, that made an impression on children. Children learned that their feelings mattered. It was ok to be sad. It was ok to be angry. This might be a lesson some people could take to heart these days. We are not ever-cheerful automatons.

This man brought a voice of reason and sanity to more than one generation of children. When crazy was all they knew otherwise, Mister Rogers was a constant. He always put on those shoes and that sweater. He always fed those fish.

What I didn’t like

I really would have liked if this book had been more strictly a biography. I like Any, but it would have been nice to know even more about his life.


Won’t you be my neighbor?

Weigh in

What impact, if any, has Mister Rogers had in your life?

Is Mister Rogers an example of how television can impact our lives positively, in your opinion?