Saturday, December 31, 2016

Red: A History of the Redhead by Jacky Colliss Harvey

  • THE BOOK
    • Red: A History of the Redhead by Jacky Colliss Harvey
    • Published June 9, 2015
    • First book by author. Upcoming book in 2017 My Life as a Redhead: A Journal

  • THE PREMISE
    • A history of red hair and its genetics with special emphasis on art and culture.
    • The author herself is a redhead and also includes a few personal stories about it, including her trip to the Netherlands for Redhead Day.

  • MY THOUGHTS
    • I am not a redhead myself but I know several: my best friend, her daughter, my husband's grandmother, one of our nieces and her children. I can't think of anyone on my side of the family who is a natural redhead though so we must not have the gene for it.
    • This was an interesting book and had some interesting information on the subject.
      • Red hair is a genetic mutation that seems to have helped as humans moved into the areas of the planet with less sunshine. Pale skin often goes along with red hair and this helps the body take in more Vitamin D.
        • Unfortunately, it also means more incidences of skin cancers.
        • Many red-haired people have different pain tolerances than brown-, black- or blond-haired folk: some studies say more tolerant, some say less.
      • It tended to show more strongly in populations on the edges of civilization, hence why it shows more in the Scots, Irish and other Northern European groups. It also existed in Jewish populations as they generally didn't marry outside their religion in centuries past.
        • Smaller populations give the genes more chances to express themselves.
      • With red hair came generalizations in history: 
        • Wimpier men (probably due to their pale skin which was somehow considered less manly. 
        • Bad tempered, males and females both.
        • Sexually aggressive females.
      • Many artworks feature redheads, at a greater percentage of the general population.
        • It is supposed that painters just liked painting redheads more because it was more challenging or they just liked mixing red paints.
        • Mary Magdalene was almost always painted with red hair even though The Bible does not mention her hair color at all.
          • She was often portrayed as a fallen woman, thus the sexual aggressiveness generalization meant she had to be red-haired.
    • The author, based on her own experience and her interviews of other redheads, thinks that most children disliked their red hair color as children, when people tease them about it or often comment on it, but love having red hair as adults because it stands out more.
      • Red hair dye shades are supposedly the most popular colors purchased today.
    • Fun, quick read, but lots of art history is covered. Paintings are mentioned and while some are included in the photos section of the book not all are. I looked up a few so I could follow along more easily.
    • Recommended for those interested in art, culture and the existence of red hair.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

I'm Your Biggest Fan by Kate Coyne

  • THE BOOK
    • I'm Your Biggest Fan: Awkward Encounters and Assorted Misadventures in Celebrity Journalism by Kate Coyne
    • Published June 14, 2016
    • First book by author

  • THE PREMISE
    • The author has worked for the New York Post's "Page Six" column and Good Housekeeping editor and currently works at People Magazine as Executive Editor.
    • This is her story of a career as a celebrity journalist. Lots of stories about different A-list celebs in every chapter: Tom Cruise, Michael Douglas, Neil Patrick Harris, Mariska Hargitay, Tom Hanks, Matt Damon, Jennifer Lopez, and more. Some are not quite A-list: Kate Gosselin rates a chapter too as reality stars invade the celeb world.
    • It also documents how magazines changed their cover focus once celebrities learned that appearing on the cover of Good Housekeeping was a good thing. 
      • Twenty-six million readers!
      • More people will buy a cover with a celebrity on it than with just a still life of Halloween pumpkins or Easter eggs or what have you.
      • Now try to find a magazine that features any kind of celebrities without a celeb on the cover. Good luck!

  • MY THOUGHTS
    • The author's gossipy and frank stories about her bosses and the celebrities she meets are lots of fun to read. So many of these types of books might tend towards coy rather than dish the goods. This author dishes everything, including her own missteps over the course of her career.
      • Nothing is terribly mean, just amusing accounts of how certain celebrities behave better than others.Just like regular people!
      • Some celebrities come off better than I expected. 
        • I'm not a big Tom Cruise fan but he does seem like a nice guy here. 
        • George Michael --- can't believe he's gone now --- was awfully kind to the author when she was an awkward teen.
        • Even Kate Gosselin engenders sympathy as she navigates her new kind of celebrity: the reality star.
      • Some not so much.
        • Kate Gosselin's ex-husband. 
        • After interviewing Mariska Hargitay the author is invited to her home to join in charades night. Mariska even asks for her phone number to make arrangements but then never calls. Why would she ask for a phone number and then never call?! I guess she just got caught up in the moment because she seems completely nice and down to earth. This particular anecdote is a running thread throughout the book as the author runs into the actress again down the line.
      • Some celebs are in a class by themselves:
        • Tom Hanks only proves that he should be canonized immediately.
    • The author does seem to have lived a charmed life and her talk of annual summer trips to the Caribbean and her private schools were a bit much as she herself admits but as a celebrity watcher and wannabe writer, I definitely envy her work life!
      • I assumed most celebrity journalists become more jaded about celebrity meetings but that doesn't seem to be the case with the author.
        • She seems like a great person and fun to be friends with. I think she'd call you with an official invitation to game night if she asked for your phone number!
      • Meanwhile I'm following celebs less and less with every passing year. 
        • Yesterday at the Sprouts Market I saw a copy of Newsweek's special issue celebrating Harrison Ford's 50-year career at the checkout line. In days of yore I would have snapped that puppy up but I guess I just know what I need to know at this point. 
        • Getting older is the buzzkill here. I used to vaguely pay attention to my husband's sports teams and to keep myself entertained I picked out a player or two to follow and have pretend "crushes" for them. Now that the players are around my son's age --- early to mid-20s --- it just seems too creepy! Same for male celebrities but in this case the "players" don't "retire" when they reach 35!
          • I noticed this when watching shows like "Outlander" or "Game of Thrones". Outander's Jamie (Sam Heughan, age 36) is gorgeous, no doubt, but it's Dougal (Graham McTavish, age 55) that causes a bunch of us middle age women to sigh with lust! And my favorite guy on "Thrones" is Davos (Liam Cunningham, age 55). 
        • I used to love People Magazine but last time we had a subscription (a couple of years ago) I didn't anymore. I have no interest in paparazzi photos of celebs on vacation or walking their dog. And too many celebrities I have never heard of when you factor in all the reality TV stars!
          • That said, it's always the first magazine I pick up in my doctor's waiting room first because glancing through the pictures is better than starting --- and never finishing --- an article before my name is called.
        • On the other hand, I still need to keep up with celebs in general so I can answer "Jeopardy!" clues! It's a fine line between general knowledge and obsession!
        • A line in a "Weird Al" song called "TMZ": "LOOK who's picking up DOG poop!" 
          • So true. I have actually seen pictures in celeb magazines with stars carrying their dog's poop bags. Seriously?!
    • Recommended to me by my best friend's bestie. Thanks! This book was right up my alley. It took weeks to get it from the library as they only had two copies for three counties! (First world problems, right?)
    • Recommended for anyone who is interested in celebrity stories and a closer look at the publishing industry and how those celebrity-wrangling jobs work.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Star Talk by Neil deGrasse Tyson

  • THE BOOK
    • Star Talk: Everything You Ever Need to Know About Space Travel, Sci-Fi, the Human Race, and Beyond by Neil deGrasse Tyson
    • Published September 13, 2016
    • Other works by author include Death by Black Hole: And Other Cosmic Quandaries, The Pluto Files: The Rise and Fall of America's Favorite Planet, and many more.

  • THE PREMISE
    • The author has a TV show called "Star Talk" on the National Geographic Channel. 
    • This is a distillation of the various discussions by Dr. Tyson and his guests on that show and organized into topics: 
      • Space Travel, Colonizing Mars, Science Fiction, Black Holes, and so many more.
    • A companion book to the television series.

  • MY THOUGHTS 
    • This is a fun and quick read. Lots of science facts and lots of pictures.
      • To be crass, it would make a great bathroom book. 
      • Each page has several little blocks of text on it and you can delve in and out without necessarily reading it cover to cover.
    • Recommended for science fans and Neil deGrasse Tyson fans, who are basically the same group of people, right? I mean, the Venn diagram would practically be a circle!

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Julia and the Hand of God by Eleanor Cameron

  • THE BOOK
    • Julia and the Hand of God by Eleanor Cameron
    • Published November 1977
    • Second book in the Julia Redfern series
      • Book one --- A Room Made of Windows --- review here

  • THE PREMISE
    • It's Julia's 11th birthday and she and her mother and brother are on their way from Berkeley to San Francisco to have dinner with her aunt and uncle.
    • Julia is obsessed with the San Francisco earthquake in which her uncle was caught in 1906. Her grandmother refers to it as the "hand of God" coming down on the wicked city. 
    • Julia, her widowed mother and 13-year-old brother all live with her grandmother. The grandmother is often exasperated with Julia and seems to favor her grandson over her granddaughter.
    • Julia makes friends with a retired and widowed doctor. She helps him out when a devastating fire threatens Berkeley. 
      • Spoiler: Julia believes the "hand of God" saved her life from the fire as she was napping in the woods near where the fire began.

  • MY THOUGHTS
    • This book was perfectly fine and an interesting read but I was SO disappointed!
      • Here are the books in order of publication:
        • 1971: A Room Made of Windows (Julia is 12)
        • 1977: Julia and the Hand of God (Julia is 11)
        • 1982: That Julia Redfern (Julia is 8)
        • 1984: Julia's Magic (Julia is 6)
        • 1988: The Private Worlds of Julia Redfern (Julia is 15)
      • The author wrote in reverse until the last book!
        • I have nothing against books about little kids but I get a Ramona Quimby vibe from Julia and I hate Ramona with the heat of 10,000 suns!
          • By the way, apparently Beverly Cleary is still with us at this writing and is 100 years old! I read so many of her books as a child. She's awesome, despite my Ramona hate.
        • I preferred Ramona's older sister Beezus because I was an older sister and had sympathy for her and having to deal with a pesty younger sibling (no offense to my 2 younger bros!).
      • If I had known this I might have read them in character age order. I am totally looking forward to the last book. As a wannabe writer I enjoy stories about people becoming writers, even fictional people!
    • At one point in the story Julia needs to go down to Berkeley's "Shellmound Park" and deliver a package to a man who lives on a side street. The man turns out to be the doctor she will befriend. 
      • I'm thinking, Shellmound? That sounds familiar!
        • This is because the Ikea store closest to me is located on Shellmound Street in Emeryville.
        • In 1923 it apparently had an amusement park and dance hall literally built on top of the mound of shells which was a sacred burial space for the local Ohlone people. (Naturally.) It closed in 1924 as business fell off after Prohibition began.
          • None of this information is in the book; it's just here for your edification!
          • Here's a link to the Wikipedia article about it: Emeryville Shellmound. It has a few pictures!
    • The big fire in the book was huge and I wondered if Berkeley really did have a fire in the early 1920s. It did indeed, on September 17, 1923, destroying 640 buildings.
    • I'm ambivalent about reading the books that go back in time but they are pretty short children's books so I will take a stab at getting through them.
    • This one is recommended for middle school readers.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

A Room Made of Windows by Eleanor Cameron

  • THE BOOK
    • A Room Made of Windows by Eleanor Cameron
    • Published March 1971
    • First book in the 5-book Julia Redfern series
    • Other works by author include several children's books including the Mushroom Planet series

  • THE PREMISE
    • Julia Redfern wants to be a writer. She lives in Berkeley, California, with her widowed mother and 14-year-old brother. Julia is 12.
    • The books are semi-autobiographical as the author lived in Berkeley as a child and was born in 1912. This means the story takes place in 1924.
    • Julia's father was a pilot who died during World War I and Julia idolizes him, especially because he had built her a desk knowing she wanted to be a writer like him.
    • The story involves Julia meeting and coming to know the neighborhood recluse, making a new friend, losing an old one and dealing with the possibility of a new step-father.

  • MY THOUGHTS
    • I was very happy to read a series by the author of the Mushroom Planet books that featured a female character as the lead. The Mushroom Planet books are a little too boy-centric but that was typical of science fiction stories written in the 1950s and 1960s.
    • Julia can be a bit of a brat --- the story actually opens in the middle of a small tantrum during an argument with her mother --- but she is ultimately endearing and interesting as she begins her journey to become a writer.
    • There are hints that her father is not the hero Julia thinks he is but the specifics aren't made clear. Perhaps in a future book Julia will be old enough to face the real story.
    • Her brother is an oddball character, always with his head in a book and working on an Egyptian history. Her mother is young, only 35 and thus was widowed in her 20s, but Julia naturally assumes she's old and beyond marrying again.
    • The title refers to the room Julia has at the top of the house the Redferns rent. It only has room for her desk and a cot to sleep on.
    • One plot point features a friend of Julia's who has a younger brother, a cowed mother and a raging alcoholic father. At one point the father grabs Julia's arm and tries to bring her into his room and those of us in the modern day start to assume "bad things" about him. But a book about a girl in 1924 published in 1971 does NOT include child molestation in its framework: the father knows he has alienated his own children and he just wants to show off his books to Julia. Still kind of scary: he's drunk.
      • Meanwhile there's the possible new step-father. Julia thinks he's a creep but this is definitely a case of an unreliable narrator: he is actually a reasonably kind man albeit exasperated by Julia's moods.
        • There's a missing cats episode and a suspicious modern mind (mine) starts to think the step-father-to-be is the culprit! (Spoiler: he's not.)
    • I look forward to watching Julia move through her teen years in the next four books.
    • Recommended for those who enjoy old-fashioned stories about girls who want to be writers (practically a genre at this point). Aimed at middle school readers (ha, I actually typed "middle aged" first! If the genre fits...).

Sunday, December 18, 2016

The World That Made New Orleans by Ned Sublette

  • THE BOOK
    • The World That Made New Orleans: From Spanish Silver to Congo Square by Ned Sublette
    • Published January 2008
    • Other works by author include The Year Before the Flood: A Story of New Orleans (I read this one in 2013), Cuba and Its Music: From the First Drums to the Mambo, and The American Slave Coast: A History of the Slave-Breeding Industry (with Constance Sublette)

  • THE PREMISE
    • This is a history of New Orleans from before its founding in 1718 until approximately 100 years later.
    • New Orleans, founded by the French, was under control of France until 1763 when Spain acquired it after the Seven Years' War. It was reacquired by France in 1802 in time for Napoleon to sell it to the United States.
    • As a result of this colonial mix of languages and cultures, along with those supplied by slaves and free people of color, New Orleans developed into the city it is today.
    • There is a lengthy section devoted to the French colony of Saint-Domingue (Haiti) which had a large impact on the city and its attitudes towards slavery. 
      • The Haitian Revolution had all other slave owners in the Western Hemisphere shaking in their boots that their own slaves would revolt and more strictures were put in place.
      • Many of the French refugees from Saint-Domingue ended up settling in New Orleans too.
    • The book also covers the history of slavery in New Orleans which is somewhat different that in the rest of America due to the influence of the French and Spanish rather than the British.
      • French and Spanish laws regarding the rights of slaves were less harsh than those of the British, at least until the Haitian Revolution.
      • New Orleans was an important port where slaves were imported from everywhere.
    • The development of music in New Orleans, a fusion of so many cultures, is highlighted and the author is an expert in that area. You can see the pieces coming together in the 1700s and early 1800s that will ultimately lead to the creation of jazz late in the 19th Century.

  • MY THOUGHTS
    • I was born and raised in New Orleans and its suburbs so this was an especially interesting read for me. I knew the bare bones history but not the details. 
    • The author points out (I think; I might have read this elsewhere!) that we don't learn many details in school because there are a few too many unsavory parts not fit for the ears of the young.
      • Such as this: The French settlers took Native American women, and later, African women as their concubines or even as wives.
        • "Concubines" were probably not a subject for those of us in Catholic OR public schools!
        • This might explain why I have the teensiest bit of Native American heritage according to 23andme. One of my (male) French ancestors must have had children with a Native American woman, or possibly a Spanish ancestor who then married a French ancestor. Who knows?
      • Anyway, I am always amazed by how people are always so worried about African-American men who supposedly want to rape every white woman within reach when the real rapists were the white men of the past. They raped African-American women either because they could or because they were trying to increase the "stock". 
        • No one ever seems to bring this up. There's a reason so many African-Americans today have European DNA. It was not an isolated incident; it was brutal, evil and systemic.
        • I have the author's most recent book, The American Slave Coast: A History of the Slave-Breeding Industry on hold at the library.
          • Nothing like some righteous anger for the holidays.
        • One of my great-grandfathers (about 4 or 5 generations back) had children with at least one of his slaves so I, a white woman of French, Irish and German background on my Louisiana side, have distant African-American cousins. I think this is great but I feel so sorry for the woman back before 1865 who had NO CHOICE about it.
          • I will look up her name in the family genealogy and add it to this blog entry later. That would be the final indignity: if she is a nameless slave.
        • Obviously this is a hot button topic for me.
    • It was interesting learning about the people behind the names of things in New Orleans:
      • Example: William Claiborne, for example, has a main street named for him as he was the first governor of Louisiana, among other things.
    • Anyway, I really enjoyed the book. There are a few slower passages and you kind of wonder what the whole Saint-Domingue segue is heading towards but I found it ultimately fascinating.
    • Recommended for history buffs, those interested in the experience of Africans and slavery in the New World, music and New Orleans.
      • I would love a follow up volume covering history from 1820 to today!

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Spark Joy by Marie Kondo

  • THE BOOK
    • Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up by Marie Kondo
    • Published January 5, 2016
    • Other works by author: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing and Life-Changing Magic: A Journal: Spark Joy Every Day.
      • I have read and reviewed the first book here. You will need to scroll down to get to it.

  • THE PREMISE
    • The KonMari method of tidying up involves piling up your possessions by category and then decide if each individual item "sparks joy". If it does, keep it. If it does not, thank it and let it go.
      • This means EVERYTHING: underwear, toenail clippers, stapler, photos, hammer, etc...
      • "KonMari" because names in Japan go last name-first name.
    • This book is more of the same advice with the addition of cute little diagrams.

  • MY THOUGHTS
    • I had not intended reading this book but I found it at the library on the "Lucky Day" shelf.
      • Our library places a copy of most popular books that aren't available for interbranch loan. You can only check them out if you happen to see it on the day you are at the library. Hence, Lucky Day!
    • The obsessive need to determine whether an item of clothing "sparks joy" --- a term you may come to loath as you read the book --- and then fold it for storage? It's not the method for me but I am fascinated with how committed the author is with this approach.
    • I am fascinated also by the fact that the author's name is rendered "Kondō" on Good Reads and Amazon. I assume the line over the second O indicates a long o sound (i.e. "oh").
      • Is it necessary? Would there be any confusion on how to pronounce it? Kon-dah? Kon-due? Kon-doe? Is this a specific Japanese language thing? 
    • A quick read but it tends to be repetitive. A pamphlet would probably be enough for most people rather than a book.
    • Recommended for those interested in a way to tame clutter and find a new method of tidying. Which is NOT the same thing as cleaning, KonMari points out!
      • You are either going to love this book or hate it.
      • There is an amazing review on Good Reads by a woman named Diane. It is HILARIOUS. (I don't know if you can read reviews on Good Reads without signing up.)
        • One quote that my pun-loving husband will especially enjoy: "I don't own a camisole but it's good to know that if I had one I shouldn't "criticize it for its failure to stand up." This criticism would be very bad for the cami's soul. I totally get that but am I missing out on something big by not having a camisoul?"
        • One more: "Exactly what vibes do your clothes give off that let you know whether they're happier being folded or hung? Mine just don't seem to care. Do I need to stop buying my clothes at Walmart?"

Monday, December 12, 2016

A Life in Parts by Bryan Cranston

  • THE BOOK
    • A Life in Parts by Bryan Cranston
    • Published October 11, 2016
    • First book by author

  • THE PREMISE
    • Bryan Cranston is an actor known for the following roles:
      • An original cast member of the soap opera "Loving"
      • Playing dentist Tim Whatley in several "Seinfeld" episodes
      • As the dad Hal in the Fox sitcom "Malcolm in the Middle"
      • Walter White in AMC's "Breaking Bad"
      • Portraying LBJ in both the play and film of "All the Way"
      • Dalton Trumbo in the film "Trumbo"
    • He covers his childhood --- not a happy one with a father who abandoned the family to an alcoholic mother coping with being left alone with 3 children to raise.
    • His job history from youth to award-winning actor is a large part of the book, and he also shares stories of his romances and ultimate happy marriage.
    • He shares his tips on acting and life throughout.
    • The "parts" refers to his roles in acting jobs as well as son, brother, friend, husband and father.

  • MY THOUGHTS
    • This was a quick read but interesting and cohesive.  It skips around a bit but is basically chronological.
    • There aren't tons of anecdotes about "Breaking Bad". A behind-the-scenes book about that series, this is not. In other words, his role on "Loving" is given equal weight in the anecdote department. Mr. Cranston is an equal opportunity anecdote teller!
      • Perhaps he will write a future book on "Breaking Bad" eventually to satisfy all the avid fans.
      • I only watched the first few episodes of "Breaking Bad" when it began. If I recall correctly it was touted as a dark comedy rather than the meaty drama it became.
        • I didn't find it to be a dark comedy and stopped watching --- silly me --- but always kept an eye on the plot. Someday I will binge watch it all.
    • If you like Bryan Cranston -- and who doesn't? --- then you will enjoy this book about his life.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Wonderland by Steven Johnson

  • THE BOOK
    • Wonderland: How Play Made the Modern World by Steven Johnson
    • Published November 11, 2016
    • Other works by author include How We Got to Now and The Ghost Map, both of which I've read and several others I haven't gotten to yet.

  •  THE PREMISE
    • In six sections the author shows how the pursuit of play and pleasure (he excludes sex specifically) influenced technology and innovation.
    • Example: The pursuit of spices boosted exploration as the different superpowers of the day tried to get in on the trade, leading to good --- the age of discovery --- and bad --- colonization of the people already living in the discovered lands.. 
      • Christopher Columbus famously searched for a route to more easily obtain spices for Spain when he ran into the Western Hemisphere instead.
      • Nutmeg and cloves were indigenous to only one place, located in the "Spice Islands", now known as the Maluku Islands, today part of Indonesia.
    • The book also covers music, games, taverns/pubs and more.
      • Pubs were instrumental in helping along the American Revolution because they offered a convenient meeting place for all people.

  • MY THOUGHTS
    • I enjoyed this book quite a bit and kept picturing it as a video in my head.
      • PBS showed a series based on the author's last book How We Got to Now and I really hope they make a TV show out of this one too!
    • Recommended for those who enjoy general history as well as micro-histories.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Time and Mr. Bass by Eleanor Cameron

  • THE BOOK
    • Time and Mr. Bass by Eleanor Cameron
    • Published in 1967
    • Fifth book in the Mushroom Planet series
      • Good Reads lists it as Book #6 because there is an e-book available that includes 2 short stories published in 1964 thus by chronology it could be considered Book #5.

  • THE PREMISE
    • The final Mushroom Planet book really amps up the adventure and fully involves Mr. Tyco Bass and his past.
    • An ancient scroll and necklace are stolen from the Mycetians (the Mushroom people who live on Earth) and begin causing problems. Mr. Bass and the two boys, David and Chuck, go searching for them in England and Wales.
    • Meanwhile, an ancient enemy of Mr. Bass is also on his trail.
    • David and Chuck learn the story of Mr. Bass and why he has such amazing powers.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

A Mystery for Mr. Bass by Eleanor Cameron

  • THE BOOK
    • A Mystery for Mr. Bass by Eleanor Cameron
    • Published in 1960
    • This is the 4th book in the Mushroom Planet series. Other works by author include the Julia Redfern series and many other books for children

  • THE PREMISE
    • Continuing the series in The Mushroom Planet books, fossil bones are discovered in Pacific Grove by the two boy protagonists, David and Chuck.
    • The bones turn out to be 500,000 year old and glow green. They are the bones of a Mushroom person, like Mr. Bass, and are only supposed to be interred in the secret burial grounds hidden from human eyes in Wales.
      • Removing the bones from their resting place is supposed to bring terrible luck to the person who removes the. Prewytt Brumblydge, introduced in an earlier book, is having a bad run of luck. Is he the culprit? Mr. Tyco Bass is on the case!
    • The council of the Mycetians, another term for the Mushroom People, meet in Wales, putting Prewytt on trial. David and Chuck accompany Mr. Bass to the trial in their spaceship.

  • MY THOUGHTS
    • This was probably my least favorite of the books so far. I thought the plot was a little confusing and I never really understood why the bones were stolen in the first place.
      • I was also wondering if the presence of Mushroom People on Earth was supposed to be known or a big secret.
    • Mr. Bass is always popping in and out of the first four books so you like his character but you never really get to know him well. (Spoiler alert: I am currently reading the last book in the series and Mr. Bass is front and center and you finally learn all about him!)
    • The books are very 1950s in their science and customs as the stories take place before 1957 and Sputnik and the space race. The author is refreshingly modern in her sensibilities, however, and the science is accurate for its time.
    • I only read the first book in the series as a kid which is too bad. I would have loved to read the whole series as a kid. I guess I didn't know there were more books.
    • I have the 5 books of the author's Julia Redfern series from the library and I am looking forward to see her work with a female protagonist despite the fact that it's not science fiction.
    • Recommended for middle school ages and up.