Sunday, April 9, 2017

The Obvious Closing...

(image from Google Search on Bye for now. All rights are of the original creator.)

When something does not feel right it is hard to go back to it. When something feels like it just isn't who you are at this particular moment of your life you step away from it. I have mentioned previously that this blog felt "tainted" in my mind. I have continued to feel that way because I feel that it became about "toys" and the "love of them" instead of what I enjoy in my own life. I feel that I needed to update at least once since my last post was that I had been sick. I got over that, but I never got over this internal feeling of that I should not return to this project. 

I am working on finding aspects of life that I enjoy. Things that I want to do in it while I am still on this planet. This is why I feel that I will never return to Cassie's Library because it feels wrong. It does not feel like where I am supposed to be at this moment of my life. I am at a point of my life though where I will not say that I will never return to blogger or blogging in the future because I know that once I say that in a year I will be back on here eating crow. That isn't what I want, so I am just saying that for now I wanted to state that the library is "closed, officially". I want to say though that I am already starting to think of ways to reconnect with the outside world in a similar fashion to what I was doing here, so if and when I start a new project I will update this post to show where you can go to see the new content.  

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Tuesday, December 13, 2016

This weather will be the death of me or Yes, I am in bed sick with a cold.



So here in Indiana the weather has been going back and forth, like it will. Unfortunately it has made me have a pretty bad cold. I am trying to recover from it as best as I can, so that I can get back to posting. That being said I am trying to recover, so that is why I am not posting right now. Not any other reason currently. This is, however, allowing me to play catch up on my reading and watching some Christmas media, thus I should return with some postings ready and able to go when I feel 100%. Does anyone else feel terrible during this weather, if you live in an area where it goes back and forth? Are any of you lucky enough to live in an area where the weather stays one particular temperature year-round? If so where the heck are you and let me know ;-)

I shall return later this week I am sure! Until then I hope you all continue to have a Merry Holiday season, whatever holidays you celebrate!!!

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Friday, December 9, 2016

Christmas with Anne of Green Gables and other stories by L. M. Montgomery or Anne of Green Gables has a Christmas book, hot diggity dog...


Christmas with Anne of Green Gables

This short story was interesting to read because several years ago I read the first book in the Anne of Green Gables series, which shares the same name as the series. I remember rather enjoying it, but that it took awhile for me to get through because of the writing style was a bit dull to me as an individual that likes mystery and intrigue in their books. Having enjoyed it I remember bits and pieces of it and this felt like it was torn directly from the book , which made me question if perhaps I did read it in the first book. I will eventually restart the series and if this is in it I will laugh for them putting it in a new book.

This short story is about Matthew seeing that Anne doesn't have the same clothes as other girls in town. Since it is around Christmas he decides Anne must have a new instyle dress to wear with puff sleeves. He tries to purchase it in a store to no avail, so he gets the help of Rachel Lynde. I won't go further than that into the plot of the story, but overall this was a very satisfying Christmas story. It focused on the holiday and the gift giving of the season, so it was a very pleasant addition to this collection even if it felt like it was pulled from those books. 

Christmas at Four Winds

This fits some where in the book timeline, but I have not gotten that far. As a result, I felt that it contained some minor spoilers to events that occur within. Luckily, as someone that grew up around the series from various family members, I knew the basic overall plot elements. This being said, however, this story should be skipped by people that have not read the entire series and intend to read it eventually. 

This story takes place in the home of the Blyths, who are having a Christmas dinner. The story focuses heavily on one of the guests who is a bit of a gossip. This character is encouraged by a couple of the male dinner guests. While this story does take place at a Christmas dinner, I did feel that it could have been written surrounding any dinner party. This fact makes the story feel a little out of place in a Christmas collection, but overall the story is still interesting to read for those that enjoy L. M. Montgomery's work, specifically those that like Anne.

The Josephs' Christmas

This was a beautiful tale of family, helping others, and Christmas. Out of the first three stories in this collection I would say this was the best representation of what Christmas is for me. It is a magical time of year where we try to get what we can for each other, regardless of how much or how little we have. This story revolves around a family that has very little. The Josephs have love for each other though and kind-hearts, which goes a long way when they receive a knock on their door from people needing a place to stay. It is through their kindness that the family ends up having one of the best Christmases ever. This tale truly warmed my heart and I would recommend this book solely to read this particular part of the collection.  

Aunt Cyrilla's Christmas Basket 

When I began this story I rolled my eyes because I immediately knew what it was going to be about. Lucy Rose hates that her Aunt brings a basket with her every time they take the train to see relatives. I knew that this would be one of those stories where the person complaining learns to love whatever they are complaining about, but what took me by surprise was that I enjoyed it. While there was a simplicity to the story and predictable nature, I enjoyed the time period of it and how that intersects with part of the story. In our modern age a train  getting stuck seems unrealistic, but when looked at by that time period I took on a different perspective. This differing perspective made me feel aglow from the warmth I felt from this tales light. It showed me that even though stories can be clich├ęd there can still be a certain magic contained within them. 

A Christmas Mistake

Out of the stories thus far this was perhaps my least favorite, but it progressed to a satisfying ending. The story starts with a mother announcing to her children that they will not have a Christmas dinner. The story then progresses when they are mistakenly invited to a dinner. This story gelled with a strong sense of Christmas since it is a time of forgiveness and getting over past hurts to come together, so that theme was nice to have in the collection. While none of the stories feel skippable, besides the minor issue with time frame of the second in regards to the Anne series, this is the closest. It was enjoyable to read, but not the best either.

A Christmas Inspiration 

I really thought that the Josephs' Christmas story was going to be my favorite one in the collection, but I feel that has changed upon reading this one. This story embodies exactly what Christmas should and is about. We should be willing to love, help, and appreciate our neighbors. This story takes place in a boarding house. Most of the girls have gone home for the holiday season, but five girls for various reasons have had to stay at the boarding house. They recognize upon cheerfully gossiping about their own Christmas presents that another boarder was alone. The girls spread the Christmas cheer, even though they do not like the individual much. The ultimate lesson in this story is a classic christmas cliche of it being better to give than to recieve, which is a cliche I love and appreciate. Giving to others has always made my heart the happiest, so I believe that is why I rather liked this story. I also liked it because it didn't involve a family, but instead a group of girls at various stages of their own life that saw a fellow human in need. A beautiful little tale and definitely one filled with Christmas cheer.

The Christmas Surprise at Enderly Road

This was a rare treat as the main character of the story was a male. This appears to go against the comfortable grain of the female protagonist that Montgomery normally goes with. Two male friends come across a little girl crying about the lack of being able to decorate her school and the boys decide to help out! Another great example of what the holiday season should be about; helping each other and making small children feel that the time of the year is magical. I also liked that this story again did not focus on family, but instead on the spirit of helping that is a classic Christmas theme. This story was and is a great addition to this Christmas collection.  It keeps that happy aglow feeling that came with the previous story going. I believe if this much Christmas warmth is to be had by the remaining tales even the Grinch himself would be pressed not to feel his heart grow a million times over.

The Falsom's Christmas Dinner

At the time of reading this particular story I can tell I am getting a little burned out on the time period that Montgomery wrote these stories. I feel that I enjoy much more contemporary pieces than her work, but so far it has been interesting to read something from a drastically different way of life and time. That being said the Falsoms are a brother and sister who have to separate due to unfortunate circumstances. They feel that they may get a reprieve when an uncle comes out of the woodworks.  They know that they must put their best foot forward, even with the little they have. Unfortunately the meal they cook is taken. This leads to the Christmas part of the story, which is about loving your neighbors and offering forgiveness at this time of year.  I enjoyed this theme as it was portrayed in this story and the ending is a cheerful one that made this a great addition to this collection as well. I may not be enjoying her writing style as they feel old, but I will say I am enjoying the gleam of hope that these tales are portraying. 

Christmas at Red Butte

So the cheesy factor is running a little high in this collection, but this can be awesome when it is in a Christmas collection because let's be a bit honest with ourselves Christmas can and is cheesy. It is almost the definition of the holiday season. This story is the epitome of cheesy Christmas cliches though in that it involves a family that doesn't have enough, someone saving them, and then someone returning that was no longer with the family. It is every single cliche wrapped into one about 8 page story. I did laugh due to time period comtext because four dollars bought a lot. I could not fathom getting the items that are mentioned for that price, so context is definitely playing an important part of reading this collection. The way that Christmas was saved in this story came out of nowhere. It felt a bit forced and as a result it drags the story down. It is an okay Christmas story. If it was by itself I would not recommend it, but as part of this collection it helps round  it out with another important Christmas cliche that I don't feel had been seen thus far in the collection, which is that return of someone thought lost. Christmas stories love to bring back people, so it does provide that necessary element to the overall collection. 

Clorinda's Gift

The message of this story was another good addition to the overall collection; People must give from their hearts, not just things bought. Presents should have meaning behind them. Careful consideration of something that the person would want to have or have done for them. Clorinda learns this through her Aunt Emmy. I feel that this story serves the theme element needed for the collection and makes it more fully rounded. I am not sure I would feel that the collection was entirely complete without it, so it is a rather strong addition. It also feels enough like a Christmas Story to warrants its place within.  I appreciate that each tale thus far has not overlapped greatly thematically. This has made reading each new tale interesting, even if it is just because I am interested in seeing which Christmas cliche is used by Montgomery next. 

The Brothers Who Failed

This is both my favorite and least favorite stories, which may leave you a bit puzzled but let me explain. This story is the strongest story wise in the entire set, partially because it is one of the longer pieces contained within. The issue, for me, is that it does not feel altogether Christmas-like. This story could be told around any family get-together. This results in it being my least favorite story in the collection, but it is one for content that I would and will gladly read again in my life. The story revolves around the Monroe family reunion. The least successful one overhears the matriarchal family member say he is an utterly failure, but we discover the successes of all the other family members somehow originates or stems from him. This is a great short story about how we do not always know the worth of a man by simply looking at what they do or do not have. They may be richer in ways than you may ever recognize. I enjoyed that element of this story and as I stated had it been in another collection slightly revised it would have been perhaps my favorite one. I enjoy stories where we discover small truths about people that is beyond our immediate understanding. It is when you dig deeper that you find the true worth of a man. That is why I will return to this story one day, it made me remember to not judge based on our initial thoughts or what we think we know. We must know that there is life that occurs that we are never privy to. When we recognize this we will not be as judgemental, which is a lesson that this matriarchal figure learned. 

The End of the Young Family Feud

The collection ends with a story of mistakes and forgiveness. The young girls are visiting one uncle in the same town that another uncle that their part of the family is feuding with lives in. This makes for and link awkward Christmas for the girls when they end up in the wrong house. I have to say that this wasn't a favorite story in the collection. It also suffers from feeling that it could have taken place at any moment of the year, so it does not feel like a true Christmas story. This one also lacks the heart of the previous, so it does not come even close to becoming a favorite or even a story I would want to reread at a later time.  The story is lacking in themes that are not presented better in other stories in the collection. It also lacks any emotional high points due to this.  It feels like this last story could have been edited out and the last one could have been the previous one making it at least end on a strong, even if uneven, note. This does not add much and almost feels like it begins to subtract when you compare it across the board with the other stories. In a short story collection, I feel, weaker stories should be placed in the middle. This helps to make them rise above mediocrity slightly because the reader is trying to trudge along the collection anyways at that point. The first and last stories should be the strongest to give good vibes to the reader when reading, so they are left feeling a warmth from the entire collected works. This did not do that, but altogether this is still an enjoyable Christmas collection. 

Overall Rating 


Reason - Overall this is neutral Christmas collection. There are great stories contained within and there are others that are not so Christmasy. It is great to read for at least one Christmas though, but it is not one I could see someone wanting to spend every single Christmas with, thus it received a slightly lower star rating due to this.

GOODREADS PROGRESS (So you can see what I was saying while reading it on GOODREADS)-

READING PROGRESS

11/28marked as:currently-reading
11/28page 35
35.0%"I have finished the first couple of stories in the book. I am glad that I started with this particular book as I feel that it will probably be my least favorite of them all and it would have gotten a worse review if I had read it in the middle or near the end of the Christmas reads I plan for this holiday season."
11/30page 47
47.0%"I finished "The Joseph" story contained within. It was a good short story."
12/06page 67
67.0%"I am still progressing in this book. I read at least one story a night. I have been reading other Christmas stories to try to get the library blog site updated, so this has been a little back burnered. I hope though to still have it completed before the end of the week though. I am writing the review as I go though so that every story is reviewed as I complete it when it is still fresh in my mind."

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Thursday, December 8, 2016

The Snowman & The Snowman and the snowdog or I didn't know a children's movie could be a HORROR FILM!!!


The Snowman Rating and Review -

I was interested in watching films/movies/specials that also revolved around the theme of "winter" since it is a prominent Christmas theme, so I saw on HOOPLA the film "The Snowman" was available. I had not heard of the film or the book that it is based on either. I went in without many expectations and I am glad I did. This film was weird, to say the least.

The film opens up with a guy walking into the woods (live-action) and stating about how he came to know "The Snowman" basically. Then the image changes and the entire rest of the short film is done in animated form. The other drawback of this particular short is that there is no voices. For the entire film you see character moving and you see the scenes of "The Snowman" play out, but you never heard people's reactions. In some cases (i.e. Buffy's HUSH episode), this can provide a dramatic story, but in other cases it can be a bit off-putting. Unfortunately for "The Snowman" it is the latter category. It suffers greatly from the lack of voice-acting. 



The perk though of it is that it is a quick watch. This film clocked in at 27 minutes, so it was more like watching a Christmas special. The animation is also crafted very well. These elements almost make-up for the lack of voices, but not exactly. There are moments where you feel you need the voice, such as there is a scene where the snowman drags the boy away from his home. In that moment there is duress on the boy's face and having him saying he does not want to go or that he is excited would have greatly helped the audience to not feel frightened of what is occurring to the child. 



Which leads me to the greatest issue with this film, I would NOT let my child or any child under my care watch this particular film. There are reckless moments (i.e. riding a motorcycle) and moments where a child could be frightened (i.e. the previously mentioned scene where the snowman seems to be stealing the child from his home). As an adult, if these moments caused me to go WTF? I assume as a parent of a child they would also make you feel uncomfortable as well. Also the film has a weird ending that makes me wonder why this would be marketed towards children at all. It was not an overly pleasurable watching experience to me. I was taken aback so many times that these scenes would be occurring in a children's film that I could never stop and enjoy the artwork, as much as I would have liked to do so. This film could have done with a parent editing some of the moments out of it and replacing them with better more "kid-friendly" material. This is also coming from someone that feels that current incarnations of children's media is too wary, so if I felt that way this means that these moments felt out of place or just all together wrong. A film has to know its intended audience and it feels like "The Snowman" missed that mark, at least to me. As a Christmas film, I would say avoid this, but as a simple winter watch I would say it would be fine, just be prepared to help your kids understand certain moments of the film.

Reason: 1 Star was simply added for the artwork, but the inappropriate moments for children severely damaged my opinion of this film. I feel it could have been done much better than this.

"The Snowman and the snowdog" Rating and Review - 

When I started to write the review for "The Snowman" I started looking for pictures, as I always do when reviewing. When I did this I discovered that there was a sequel film. I was taken a little aback, if you read above you know why. I knew though that I would take the time to find the film and watch it for review. I found it and watched it this week to review with the original and I am glad I did. I liked it a little better than I did the original "The Snowman" film. 




This one has a little more charm and grace about it. The elements I hated were a little lessened here, but this could simply be due to understanding that there would be no voices again. I take that back a little bit. There is a moment where we have a voice. The voice of the main character's dog barking. This added a needed element to the film. It also let us know exactly part of the film was going to be dealing with loss, which I appreciated them doing from the first moment of the film instead of making moments scary like in the original. 



The artwork is a little more refined and shiny in this film, but it is still largely on par with the art that was in the original work. You can tell that they tried to emulate that style as much as possible, but also given that this was made years later (1982 vs. 2012) they had updated technology that helped to make it appear better. I appreciated that this was used, even though they could have probably produced it identically to the original to get the same exact effect. I feel that they understood that certain elements had to be changed for this film to feel better for the audience than the original. 



There will be moments in this film where you have to discuss uncomfortable themes to your child, but it will come less with possible cries of fear or bewilderment of why the scene is in the film. The moments here will be of gentle life lessons and helping your child understand love, death, and life. I appreciated this film on a deeper level as a good winter film, but like "The Snowman" this is not a "Christmas film." If that is your intention with wanting to watch this film I would avoid it and save it for a more wintery day that you do not want to be filled with the Christmas spirit. It is still, however, a good film at 27 minutes of length. It is by far more enjoyable than the original and provides a stronger overall message as well.

Reason: This is a much better film than the original! The one star is for the theme at the beginning of the film that could have been removed for a parent not wanting to have to explain certain concepts of life and death to their child, but overall this film is superior to the other, in my opinion. 

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Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The Berenstain Bears: Night Before Christmas & The Nutcracker books or Wow, Cassie you still read the bears? Aren't you an adult? Yes I am but LOVE THEM!



Night Before Christmas Review & Rating - 

Out of the two books that I read I felt this was the weaker of the two. This was largely because it felt like it could literally have been any version of "The Night Before Christmas." There was no moment that made it feel like they put a "The Berenstain Bears" twist to it or even made it about those particular characters, even though they are represented in the artwork. It felt like it just regurgitated the original poem, verbatim. One of the interesting things for me about this series of books was that even when they used ideas that originated with someone else they put their own spin to it. They simply did not do that here. This does not mean though that a parent should avoid this book though to be read to their children. It is still a great way to introduce the characters to your children or even a fun way to introduce the poem to your children who may be a little more put off by the original works, but perhaps already have found a love for the bear family. 


Reason - This just felt like a basic retelling of the poem instead of it feeling like a fun rendition done by the Berenstain Bears. It is still, however, a great children's read.


and The Nutcracker Review & Rating - 

This was the better of the two books. The main issue I had with the previous book is not done here. They let the characters play out the story of "The Nutcracker." Making it squarely about them instead of about reading to children. I found this to be an enjoyable read, even as an adult, because of seeing how the cubs played out the story. Seeing who got which parts and how they would ultimately get to the conclusion in the limited number of pages that these books have. I also love how they put the Nutcracker into the story to begin with, so it felt organic to the world that they live in instead of a forced children's story that is just a retelling of the original material. I would highly recommend this as an introduction point to parents that love "The Nutcracker" and hope to one day introduce the Ballet/Play to their children. This is a good segway to that and to give them memories of it while they are too young to appreciate something with more adult sensibilities. This book also has a great sense of "Christmas Spirit" about it, so it is also a good read for those simply looking for a quick story for the holiday season and are not looking to put a lot of massive work into it. You get the Christmas feeling from it and you get transported into the world of imagination that I have came to associate with this series. You will appreciate it, even as an adult, if you like children stories.

Reason - The way that the Nutcracker comes into the story is done well. The retelling of "The Nutcracker" also directly involves members of the The Berenstain Bear's family, so it was a better book for the series. I highly recommend it to parent's to read to their children.

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