Monday, March 24, 2014

If at first you don't like to read, try, try again!

Four years ago, I tried to read The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place... and I couldn't get into it. I read a chapter or two, said "meh" and put aside the ARC.

The other day I picked it up again. Yes, that's a long time to hold onto an ARC, but I'm a bit of a pack rat. Hey, don't judge. (But believe me, you don't want to see my basement.)

And this time? I was utterly captivated and laughing out loud. Why couldn't I read it the first time? Who knows. Maybe I was tired of Lemony Snicket. Maybe the times have changed. Maybe I've changed.




The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place, Book 1: The Mysterious Howling by Maryrose Wood (February 23, 2010 Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins, for ages 8 to 12)

Source: advanced reading copy from publisher (um, a long time ago)

Synopsis (From the publisher): Found running wild in the forest of Ashton Place, the Incorrigibles are no ordinary children: Alexander keeps his siblings in line with gentle nips; Cassiopeia has a bark that is (usually) worse than her bite; and Beowulf is alarmingly adept at chasing squirrels.

Luckily, Miss Penelope Lumley is no ordinary governess. Only fifteen years old and a recent graduate of the Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females, Penelope embraces the challenge of her new position. But mysteries abound at Ashton Place: Who are these three wild creatures, and how did they come to live in the vast forests of the estate? Why does Old Timothy, the coachman, lurk around every corner? Will Penelope be able to teach the Incorrigibles table manners and socially useful phrases in time for Lady Constance's holiday ball?  


Why I recommend it: It's downright hilarious. Yes, I realize much of the humor will go right over kids' heads (for instance, the narrator calls a couple  of royals Hoover and Maytag), and there's definitely a sarcastic, Lemony Snicket tone to all of this. But it's fun. I had to keep reading to find out what happens. Which of course means I now have to read all the other volumes, because most of the questions are still unanswered (one thing that bugs me about series). 

Do you like reading series books that leave questions unanswered? And have you ever gone back and finished a book after putting it aside the first time?



I hunted down some other MMGM reviews of this very same book:

Middle Grade Mafioso
Gina Carey
Kim Aippersbach

And if I missed anyone, please let me know! For other middle grade reviews, check out Shannon's blog.

32 comments:

  1. I have not read any in this series. And yes, I think you have it right: we change and so do our tastes, so it's good to step back to something we didn't think 'fit' us.

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    1. We do change, Barbara. I had a high school English teacher who believed in re-reading because she claimed we were different people every time we read a book. It's only more recently that I see how wise she was.

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  2. Totally amused that your reaction to it was so different! You know we're always going to wonder what changed...in fact, that almost feels like the beginning of a story! lol

    I was never really able to get into Lemony Snicket, which I suspect had more to do with where I was when my kids read them than the books themselves, but I think I'll add this to my To Read list. Taming the wild children intrigues me. And since I love a good series and mourn their ending, that aspect won't bug!

    --Suzanne
    www.suzannewarr.com

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    1. Hmm, there might be a story idea in there somewhere, Suzanne! I wasn't that fond of Lemony Snicket. I read the first three books but never finished the series. I understood the appeal (and my younger son loved them -- up to a point) but didn't feel the need to finish the series. The Incorrigible Children series definitely has more charm. I think you would love it.

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  3. This one sounds like a lot of fun. I do understand about not being able to get into a book. I have some around I intend to try again. I don't let go of books lightly.

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    1. That's a great phrase, Rosi. Books are too precious to let go of lightly, aren't they?

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  4. I now believe in the power of re-reading a book you once couldn't get into.
    I have one like that. I still think about the book every time I see it featured online. Maybe I will give it another chance eventually.
    Thanks for the feature, Joanne! :)

    Akoss

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    1. Hope you do give that book (whatever it is) another chance, Akoss!

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  5. I think that there are certain kinds of humour that you have to be in the right mood, or the right mental place to appreciate. With this one you have to be able to hear Penelope's voice in your head, I think. I thought she was wonderful!

    Yes, I do find it frustrating not having all the answers at the end of a book! I think we're still waiting for a conclusion to this series, aren't we (or am I behind the times?)

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    1. Good point, Kim. If you're not in the right mood for humor, it'll go sour pretty quickly. I love Penelope too. So far, I've read Books I and II. And you're right. Book IV came out in December and it's not the last volume! So some people might be getting frustrated with the lack of resolution.

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  6. I HAVE gone back an re-read something I put down before, can't think what but I remember being glad I'd held onto the book. I've also gone to re-read something and found it not as special as I remembered.

    Glad you enjoyed the book!

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    1. That's the other side of the coin, Marcy. I've re-read many books in the past few months (when the budget didn't allow for buying new ones and it was too snowy to get to the library!) and sometimes they're just as good as they ever were. But sometimes they're disappointing.

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  7. I've never read this book. It sounds very interesting and different. From your review, I think there are parts of it that I would like. I don't like having unanswered questions at the end of a book, though. I like good endings.

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    1. Well, the other thing you could do, Janet, is wait until all the books are available, then zip through them right in a row! To be fair, there is a perfectly lovely ending to this book, but you don't find out much at all about why the children were wild. There are just some teasers.

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  8. Isn't that interesting that you put it aside and all those years later discovered something about it you could like. I had a similar experience with SCHOOL OF FEAR (School of Fear #1).

    Sheri at Writer's Alley

    Home of Rebel Writer CREED 2014
    Mighty Minion Bureau Team #atozchallenge

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    1. Oh yes, School of Fear! That's another one I put aside after one chapter. I'll have to try that next. Thanks for the reminder, Sheri!

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  9. I don't recall ever seeing this one! I love the cover! I think it says a lot about reading that four years ago it wasn't for you, but this time it hit the mark. Reading can be so subjective and goes along with our moods. Thank goodness you held on to it and gave it another try! This sounds excellent and I have added it to my list. :)
    ~Jess

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    1. So true, Jess. Reading can be subjective. Hope you get a chance to read this someday.

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    1. I think you would enjoy the humor, Erik.

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  11. Yes, sometimes if I'm too tired or stressed about my TBR list I don't like a book that I'll like later when I'm in a better frame of mind.

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    1. It happens, Natalie. But I'm sorry to hear you get stressed about your TBR list, and not just about other stressors in your life. Reading should be fun.

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  12. I guess this is a good example of how timing can play into things when you're querying, too. As readers, sometimes we're just not in the mood for a particular story. I don't often go back, though, mainly because I have so many other things on my TBR list. You never know, though :).

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    1. Never thought of it that way, Michelle, but you're probably right. Agents get inundated with queries and if they're not in the right mood for a particular story... Hmm.

      This is one of the few times I've gone back and read a book I'd previously given up on. I used to feel guilty if I didn't finish a book. Not anymore! My TBR list is always calling me.

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  13. This totally shows, like others have said, that books can hit different emotions or feelings in you at different times in your life. Sometimes I think of a book from the past that I loved and want to read again, but then I wonder if I will still love it as much now as I did then. Guess that is a chance to take! :)

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    1. It can be worth taking the chance, Jennifer. I've re-read and loved several MG novels these past six months (hey, it's been a nasty winter!). But I've also re-read a few that no longer resonated with me. Like you say, different emotions/different times in your life...

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  14. This looks familiar. I've either seen it around or have it on my Kindle. The same has happened to me. I dislike a book, put it down, and then devour it later.

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  15. Loved this book--and now I've read two other books in the series. Yes, the books are hilarious. Love the feisty heroine, the word play, and the satire. Have given copies of the books to my grand-daughter and one of her friends--they are laughing their way through them!

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    1. Hi Ellen! I've read Book 2 and 3 now and they're just as good. Glad your granddaughter and her friends are enjoying them.

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  16. I heard Maryrose Wood speak twice last month at a conference I attended. She's hilarious. So I picked up the first book for Robyn. Rob loved it, but I haven't gotten around to it yet. Thanks for the recommendation!

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    1. Oh, lucky you, Myrna! I would love to hear her speak and I can imagine she's hilarious. Hope you get a chance to read it soon.

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YAY for comments! I read and appreciate each one and I always try to answer. All opinions welcome. Let's have a conversation.