#947 The Werewolf of Fever Swamp by R.L. Stine

The Werewolf of Fever Swamp by R.L. StineThe Werewolf of Fever Swamp by R.L. Stine

Grady and his family, including six deer from South America, have moved to Florida, the middle of nowhere Florida, not the beach Florida. There is nothing around but swamp. There are a few other houses and there’s not really much of a town to speak of. The local swamp is called Fever Swamp. Apparently, some time back people who had gone into the swamp had gotten a fever and starting acting strange.

Grady and his sister, Emily, explore the swamp not long after moving in, where they get lost and encounter a hermit who lives in the swamp.

The pair soon meet the other neighborhood children Will and Cassie. Will says Cassie is weird. She’s always talking about werewolves. The family also acquires a dog, a rather large dog. They hear howling in the night and wonder what it is. They soon start finding animals that have been torn to pieces. They’re not sure what that’s about either. One day one of the South American deer is torn to pieces. Everyone thinks the new dog has done it, but Grady soon finds out that this isn’t the case at all. It’s something much more horrible and unexpected.

What I liked

Florida is a strange place sometimes, why wouldn’t there be a werewolf down there? There are supposedly swamp monsters, after all.

Florida isn’t a place I think of as having “backwoods,” but it does. There is a whole interior of Florida that’s full of pine forests, and swamps, depending on where you’re at. I haven’t explored any Florida pine forests or swamps myself. I always went to the coast, or Orlando, when I went to Florida. I’ve lived in the South most of my life and Florida is a place that you don’t really consider “the South.” It’s just too full of people who moved there from somewhere else and so much weird stuff happens there that no one is really sure how to classify it. It doesn’t really fit it with any other region of the United States. It’s just its own thing.

What I didn’t like

Someone’s always got to blame the dog. I get it, sometimes dogs are jerks. They kill chickens or tear up the neighbor’s petunias, but it’s not always the dog. Maybe neighborhood hooligans did that thing. Maybe a bobcat did that thing. Maybe someone did that thing and is trying to blame it on the dog. Dogs aren’t without blame in many situations and they’re certainly a lot of upkeep, but the first response shouldn’t be to blame all the problems on the dog.

Overall

Just don’t go in the swamp; this solves a lot of issues, whether it’s werewolves or swamp creatures.

Weigh In

Would you go live in the swamp?

Would your mosquito bites ever heal if you lived in the swamp?

#946 The Box that Watch Found created by Gertrude Chandler Warner

The Box that Watch Found created by Gertrude Chandler WarnerThe Box that Watch Found created by Gertrude Chandler Warner

The Aldens are at the park when Watch, their dog, finds a box. In that box is an object. The Aldens start asking around and find out about the world of geocaching. People carry around GPS devices, in the woods, and different places. People hide things at certain coordinates. Other people then use their GPS devices to find those items. They are supposed to leave something if they take the thing.

Their area is home to a geocaching club. Some of the geocaches have gone missing though. Who would go geocaching and just take things without putting anything in its place? What’s the deal?

What I liked

I almost went geocaching once, at Dupont State Park. I didn’t end up doing any geocaching there, but I did do quite a bit of hiking, including a hike one day that took me past three lakes and up to the very top of a waterfall. It was a nice hike, but ended up being kind of brutal, but I did get to see one of the filming locations for The Last of the Mohicans(Bridal Veil Falls) so there’s that. Getting there was fine, going back was awful. It was just one of those hikes where I had to look down at the ground and count each step and start all over again when I got to a certain number to keep my mind off of how far I had to walk to get back to my car.

I think geocaching is a neat idea. I guess that’s sort of what Pokemon Go is these days. It’s an adventure and it gets you out of the house, well, maybe. I guess you could go geocaching in your own house. Where’s the remote? Well, it’s at these coordinates. Find it.

What I didn’t like

I kind of feel like geocaching was probably a big trend at the time this book was written. It seems like the Boxcar Children do a lot of trendy things. When are they going to grow beards and become hipsters?

Overall

This geocache is just directions to another geocache! The hunt is on!

Weigh In

Have you ever been geocaching?

What would put in a geocache that was funny?

#945 Welcome to Camp Slither by R.L. Stine

Welcome to Camp Slither by R.L. StineWelcome to Camp Slither by R.L. Stine

Boone and his sister Heather are going to a camp called Hither, but everyone calls it Slither. Things aren’t right from the bus ride. There’s a big awful snake on the bus. This upsets everyone, of course. At the camp, there are more snakes. Snakes in the bunk houses, people getting bit by snakes, vanished camp counselors, who happen to be snakes–it’s just a lot of snakes. There was some secret experiment that went awry. Will Boone and his sister make it out alive?

What I liked

I don’t hate snakes, but I don’t necessarily like them. I’ve come across snakes several times over the years and I can’t say I was pleasantly surprised to see any of them. Most recently while taking the dog for a bathroom break, there was a small brown snake, maybe a water moccasin, at the bottom of the steps. The dog stepped right over it and I did too before I realized what it was. I wasn’t that excited about this encounter, not that I was that scared by this encounter either.

You have to expect a certain amount of snakes when you live in a country-ish setting.

What I didn’t like

This book was so much like the other R.L. Stine summer camp book I read, although the circumstances were not the same. Let’s go to summer camp, oh it’s really awful and the kids have to get away.

Overall

Just wait until you see the bathrooms at the camp!

Weigh In

If you liked snakes, would you go to a camp about snakes?

Did you ever have a bad summer camp experience?

#944 The Objects of her Affection by Sonya Cobb

The Objects of her Affection by Sonya CobbThe Objects of her Affection by Sonya Cobb

Sophie has found a house that she wants. It’s a fixer-upper, but she’s not really working anymore and her husband only makes so much money. She tells herself that she will pick up more free-lance work. Somehow, she manages to wrangle a mortgage on the house. It’s an ARM mortgage, whatever that is. If only Sophie would have looked up what that actually is, she would have saved herself a whole lot of trouble.

Her husband works at a museum as one of its curators. He’s really into ceramics. While he spends his time tracking down rare collections and pieces, Sophie is trying to figure out how to pay the mortgage once she actually figures out what an ARM mortgage is. One day, while visiting her husband at work, she happens to take a small mirror off a tray of items in her husband’s office. She takes the mirror to a local antique dealer and gets enough money to help buy food and pay the mortgage for a while. When money gets low again, she takes another item. She develops a working relationship with the antique dealer, but it turns out that he’s not such a nice guy after all.

Pressure gets put on Sophie to procure more items that are rarer than the last items. The FBI also gets involved. While Sophie end up in hot water?

What I liked

I do like the art history in this book. It’s not a lot of well-known art history, but it’s still art history. I also like that Sophie’s a bit of a techie.

There is certainly money to be made in the illegal trafficking of art work. That’s why some paintings have been stolen multiple times. You better bet your butt that there are collectors who do not care one bit how such and such painting came to their collection. In fact, they might even encourage the theft of some works of artwork.

For smaller things, I think this approach might work, but for something well-known, let’s say a Van Gogh, you can’t hire somebody to steal it and then collect it, reasonably. First of all, the theft itself would be practically impossible. Second, you would have to hold onto the painting for forever. There’s no holding it for a few years and then selling it for even more money. The painting is just too well-known. The FBI and whoever would be all over you before you could shout, “My ear!” Now, if there’s a secret network of people who like to collect stolen artwork and pay each other millions of dollars for it, then maybe, you could get away with stealing a Van Gogh and selling it.

What I didn’t like

Sophie is some sort of web developer. A lot of the terminology is correct, but I have a hard time believing that someone could just sit down for a little while and be up to speed on all the latest web programming. Look, I can do some web programming–it’s not as easy as learning some HTML code. It’s a lot more involved than that. So, say, for example, if you were a web programmer who learned how to build websites based solely on HTML and then you didn’t program for a while, but then you decided to get back into it, it would be really difficult. For the basics alone you have to know HTML, CSS, JavaScript and jQuery, but better throw AJAX in there as well. That’s basic stuff. Now throw in PHP, ColdFusion, Java, asp.net–I could go on. So much web design is dynamic now, meaning your web pages fetch things from databases and build things dynamically on the page. It’s not simply programming everything in one file that will be on the page.

All of this is just to say that I feel the gravity of the profession of web development isn’t reflected accurately in this book.

Oh, and another thing, sure you may beĀ  web developer, but can you also design databases? Maybe, but also maybe not. Just because you have worked with web development that uses technology that fetches stuff from a database, doesn’t necessarily mean you have the know-how to set up an entirely new database and determine all the ins and outs of how it should work.

Overall

Maybe, Sophie could design an app where illegal art collectors connect.

Weigh In

If you work in a certain profession, how do you generally feel about books that speak of your profession?

Would you steal something from a museum?

#943 The Copycat Mystery created by Gertrude Chandler Warner

The Copycat Mystery created by Gertrude Chandler WarnerThe Copycat Mystery created by Gertrude Chandler Warner

The Aldens are going to visit their Aunt Jane, but she says something strange on the phone. She says they’re going back in time. The kids are a bit concerned and they tell Grandfather, but he just laughs. He knows what Aunt Jane is talking about, but he’s not telling. The girls wonder how to pack for a trip back in time.

The children learn they’re going to a historical site where people dress up like they used to back in the day. The Aldens get to help out around the estate and even help with tours.

The man who used to own the place was a practical joker and liked to play a lot of jokes. Someone starts playing jokes on everyone at the house, but who could it be? It’s certainly not a ghost.

What I liked

It might be fun to volunteer for some sort of preservation society.

Save the Hill Valley Clock Tower…I can get behind that.

What I didn’t like

While there is part of me that thinks the idea of a reenactment/tour is kind of neat, I don’t know what it actually is. Let’s go LARP the Oregan Trail, everybody has dysentery and your wagon is broken. Where’s the fun in that? Just dress up and lie there, acting like you’re having severe intestinal distress.

Overall

Quit copying me, I’m dead.

Weigh In

Would you volunteer for a reenactment?

Would you dress up to save the Hill Valley Clock Tower?