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Archive for November, 2009

Shopping! (mostly at B&N)

Posted by Caitie F on November 27, 2009

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving!

Did anyone wake up at the crack of dawn to go shopping? I didn’t! We didn’t get up until 8:30 and didn’t really get going until 9:15. I figured that we were not trying to get the door-busters, just the early-bird deals (which lasted until 1pm at Kohl’s).

I got my husband a new winter coat that I saved $64 on (he knows that he is getting it, so I can post) and frames for wedding pictures, while he went over to Barnes & Noble. I was only at Kohl’s for 20 minutes, so I walked over to the bookstore too. I got him a few Channakuh gifts and his birthday gift (his birthday is Dec 28 – I feel bad because it usually gets overshadowed). He spent over an hour looking for things for me…and got all my gifts there! He said it wasn’t ALL books, but I am very excited!

There is one thing I know he got me, since I have been pointing it out every time I see it lately (he tells me I never tell him anything I want). It is the book 1001 Children’s Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up. I love the book that lists 1001 general books and since I love children’s and YA books, I thought it would be perfect! I hope it will help me find some gems for the YA challenge. I can’t wait to get it – I really hope he gives it to me during the Channakuh celebration (which means he will probably make me wait!).

I also got him a video game he has wanted for a while – I only have to get a few more things and I am completely done!

Our friend who runs a board gamers group in Princeton opened his store today, so we went and checked it out. We bought two games (for us). The first is called Fluxx Monthy Python Edition (a card game) and the second is Shakespeare, a Bard Game. You are a theatre entrepreneur and you have to put on one of Shakepeare’s plays – you need to get actors together, find props, get a patron, and of, course, get a LOT of money. We love strategy games and love The Bard, so we figured it would be perfect for us! His store was nice – he just needs some trivia games and some more popular games to get in people who aren’t hardcore board gamers (the Shakespeare game was done in Germany…and he has a lot of foreign games). I really hope he does well!

Did you go shopping and score any great deals? Is anyone else almost done? Let me know in the comments and enjoy your weekend!

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Breaks, Books, and Thanksgiving

Posted by Caitie F on November 25, 2009

I haven’t posted in a little while due to a combination of being sick and having to work extra hours (the company I am temping for just launched the site I have been working on). The site looks pretty good and my job was extended for a couple more weeks, which is very good news! Since it has been a while, this will be a summary post.

What I am reading

American Gods– I have been reading this for a week now and am only to page 178 out of almost 600 pages. I can’t decide how much I like it – it seems to be moving very slowly. I will keep reading though, I had four people recommend it to me and two say that it wasn’t very good – I will see.

The Girls’ Guide to Power and Success – Since I am trying to find unique ways to get a job, I figured reading a book about female success would be a good idea. I forget how far women still have to go in the workplace. It has been a little bit helpful – I think the chapters on communication will help if I ever get an interview. My biggest problem is that it basically is just saying everything I already know and have been taught for years.

On Writing – I just started this book by Stephen King and I think it will be really good. I have no aspirations to be a writer (other than this blog), but I think it could help me be a better editor and help me understand writers better.

Reviews

I haven’t been writing any reviews lately, but I want to go back and review some books I read in the past. Do you have any ideas? Head over to my Goodreads account and let me know if you want a review of anything!

Thanksgiving

I did a big post on my holiday plans already, so I won’t go into that here. I just want to say that I hope everyone has a safe and happy Thanksgiving. It is hard for me to remember to be thankful this year – after seven months of applying, I still don’t have a job, I miss my Ohio friends and family, my grandpa is sick, and things are just tough all around…but this holiday is making me remember what I do have. Most of my family is healthy and happy, I have made some great new friends here, I am married to the most wonderful man in the world, and I have found another great community to be a part of. I just need to remember the goods things more often.

Have a great holiday!

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2010 Young Adult Reading Challenge!

Posted by Caitie F on November 20, 2009

Dates: Jan 1 2010 – Dec 31 2010

J. Kaye is hosting the Young Adult Reading Challenge for 2010 and I though it would be fun to join my first official challenge! There are a few different levels and I am going to be bold…I am going for..Super Size Me YA Reading Challenge – Read 75 Young Adult novels. I REALLY need to catch up on my YA books. There are so many out there that I haven’t read. I am not going to list out what I will read exactly, but I know Hunger Games will be there and so will some Sarah Dessen books!

1. The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor
2. Mister Monday by Garth Nix
3. Seeing Redd by Frank Beddor
4. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
5. Grim Tuesday by Garth Nix
6. Love, Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
7. Absolutely Maybe by Lisa Yee
8. The Lonely Hearts Club by Elizabeth Eulberg
9. M is for Magic by Neil Gaiman
10. The Earth, My Butt, and other Big, Round Things by Carolyn Mackler
11. Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan
12. Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen
13. Pants on Fire by Meg Cabot
14. Confessions of a Closet Catholic by Sarah Darer Littman
15. Guyaholic by Carolyn Mackler
16. Vegan Virgin Valentine by Carolyn Mackler
17. If I Stay by Gayle Forman
18. Eragon by Christopher Paolini
19. Inkspell by Cornelia Funke
20. Boot Camp by Todd Strasser
21. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
22.  Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
23. Princess in Pink by Meg Cabot
24. Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson
25. That Summer by Sarah Dessen
26. 21 Proms edited by David Levithan
27. Just Listen by Sarah Dessen
28. Scarlett Fever by Maureen Johnson
29. Love is the Higher Law by David Levithan
30. Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen
31. Bliss by Lauren Myracle
32. Peace, Love, and Baby Ducks by Lauren Myracle
33. Naomi and Ely’s No Kiss List by David Levithan and Rachel Cohn
34. How They Met and Other Stories by David Levithan
35. The Key to the Golden Firebird by Maureen Johnson
36. Ash by Mainda Lo
37. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
38. Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler
39. Tell Me a Secret by Holly Cupala
40. Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr
41. Realm of Possibility by David Levithan
42. Dreamland by Sarah Dessen
43. This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen
44. The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen
45. The Lacemaker and the Princess by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
46. The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting
47. I Now Pronounce You Someone Else by Erin McCahan
48. The Dark Divine by Bree Despain
49. Friend is Not a Verb by Daniel Ehrenhaft
50. Confessions of the Sullivan Sisters by Natalie Standiford
51. I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak
52. Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
53. Prophecy of the Sisters by Michelle Zink
54. Losing Faith by Denise Jaden
55. The Duff by Kody Keplinger
56. low red moon by Ivy Devlin
57. The Unidentified by Rae Mariz
58. Dark Song by Gail Giles
59. Zombies vs Unicorns Editied by Justine Larbalestier and Holly Black
60. The Maze Runner by James Dashner
61. Stay With Me by Garrett Freymann-Weyr
62. Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life by Wendy Mass
63. Perfect by Natasha Friend
64. The Titan’s Curse by Rick Riordan
65. The Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordan
66. The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan
67. Drowned Wednesday by Garth Nix
68.  Sir Thursday by Garth Nix
69. Lady Friday by Garth Nix
70. Superior Saturday by Garth Nix
71. Lord Sunday by Garth Nix
72. Vacations from Hell
73. Princess in Training by Meg Cabot
74. Going Bovine by Libba Bray
75. Matched by Ally Condie

Posted in Blogging, Challenges | Tagged: | 3 Comments »

ghostgirl winner!

Posted by Caitie F on November 13, 2009

I put the number of entries into Random.org and the winner is….

Rebecca N.

 

I sent you an email! Thanks for entering everyone!

 

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The Book Thief: Adult or Young Adult?

Posted by Caitie F on November 12, 2009

As I mentioned in my review of The Book Thief, there is much debate on whether this book is truly a young adult book, or if it should be considered an adult book in the United States, just like it was when it was first originally published.

That brings up the questions of what is considered a Young Adult book. In general, it is a book for 13-25 year olds, but books in the YA category do not fit all of these ages (and many YA books are for 11 or 12 year olds also). Adults books are for people 18+, what we consider an adult.

But why are some books in one category and not the other? Aren’t there several books that cross over, books that both age groups love? The best example is the Harry Potter series which was great for both groups, which many say gets to be too dark at the end for  young people to read.

I can see how people are unsure of where The Book Thief should go. The protagonist is a young person, and that is one of the main ways books are put into areas. If the main character is young, it must be a book for young people. That isn’t always the case though. the main character in The Client is young, but you don’t see people arguing that it is a book for young people.With The Book Thief, you see a lot of information through Liesel’s eyes, which are sometimes innocent and sometimes blunt, and that would also appeal to a younger audience.

Another reason the book could be considered a YA book is that the narrator lets readers know what is going to happen before it does, so the reader has time to prepare for it. Maybe to the publishers, that made the sad things that happened in the book more accessible to a younger audience.

There are many reasons people think this book should be considered an adult book – many adults are reading it. First, it deals with a very difficult subject (spoiler alert!) – almost every character in the entire book dies. Death is not something that many adults want an age group that they still consider children to have to deal with or really think about. I mentioned in my review that it is hauntingly beautiful because many of the images that Death presents are very haunting and may not be appropriate for young adults. The problem with that line of thinking is that it deals with a historical event and there were young people who had to go through it. Life is dark, life is scary. That said, I think it is a good point.

Many people complain about the book being targeted towards young people because there is swearing. This is a claim that I think is utterly ridiculous. People swear, especially when they are dealing with an impossible situation…but not only then, they also swear on the school bus, at the lunch table, and when hanging out with friends. To say that a middle or high school student shouldn’t be reading a book because of “foul language” is crazy. Even JK Rowling used the word “bitch” in her last book. To deny someone a great work of literature just because of a few words is just idiotic. If it was because of graphic violence, I may understand because it is disturbing.

So how can we figure out if a book should be adult or young adult? I am not really sure. I can understand why Knopf went to YA for a few reasons. First, adults are more likely to go get a YA book then the other way around. Adults read Harry Potter, Twilight, His Dark Materials, and many more books that are classified YA. It seems to happen less often the other way around. Second, it is a GREAT book to teach in schools. My husband is teaching it to his enrichment 7th and 8th graders in January and I can’t wait to hear how it goes. It could go along with what students are learning in history and give lessons in narrator, voice, and writing styles. Schools would be less likely to pick a book to teach in classes if it was an adult book. Finally, I think that Knopf saw the book and thought it was something young people would like and appreciate. Sometimes I think us “adults” forget what teenagers can understand and figure out for themselves.

Personally, I think this book should be marketed to both adults and young adults. It should be in both sections of the bookstores (something that isn’t really done). Parents should read it with their teenagers and talk about some of the issues it brings up. That is why books like this are so great – they can span generations and start real conversations. It is a great way for parents and their children to get to know each other more.

What do you think? Should the book be marketed to both, just adults, or just young adults? Leave your comments!

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The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Posted by Caitie F on November 12, 2009

Title: The Book Thief
Author: Markus Zusak
Paperback: 576 pages
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Year Published: 2006
Rating: +++++

Summary (from Book Browse)

It’s just a small story really, about among other things: a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist-fighter, and quite a lot of thievery. . . .

Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak’s groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist – books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement before he is marched to Dachau.

Review:

I first read this book a year ago for my Editing Children’s Books class, then reread it last month for a book club I am in (and I suggested the book. The Book Thief is a book I find myself recommending again and again to a wide variety of people. I am not exaggerating when I say it is one of the best books I have ever read.

I may have loved it, but there are many people who did not, both in my class and in the book club. I think  the main thing that sways a person’s opinion is whether or not they like the narrator, Death. I thought this was a brilliant choice of a narrator that allowed the reader to see World War II from a new perspective. Death did not discriminate against anyone, it came to everyone. It allowed us to focus on Liesel, but also allowed us to see other parts of the war. The most beautiful and heartbreaking moment is when Death describes the Jewish souls coming out of the gas chambers.

Death was also able to give perspective on the human race that we could not have gotten from another narrator. The book ends with Death saying “I am haunted by humans.” Death is haunted by the horrible things we do to each other and the stories of the people Death has seen. It was a chilling and thought-provoking last idea in a hauntingly beautiful novel.

I loved all of the characters in the novel – Liesel, who has to deal with sadness and tragedy at a too early age; her papa, who does the right thing no matter what; to Max, the young Jewish man that they hide in the basement and becomes a friend of Liesel; to everyone in the community. There are not flat characters in this novel, which I love.

But what I love most is that it shows that not all Germans just sat there and did whatever Hitler wanted them to. It showed the compassion and fear that many of them had. It also showed the kinds of pressure people got for not joining the party and going along – you were blacklisted in the community, couldn’t get work, and treated like a lesser citizen. It showed that German people suffered also. It is a great perspective that I had not seen before.

There is a lot of discussion on whether or not this book is really a young adult novel like it has been labeled in the US, which I discuss more here.

I could talk about why I love this book for pages and pages, but I will end this by saying that you should go and read this great book!

Here are some other opinions

For a different opinion, check out The Zen Leaf

For an interesting take on it check out Rebecca Reads

And an incredibly written review at things mean a lot

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Under the Dome – the purchase

Posted by Caitie F on November 10, 2009

My husband and I went out to eat then rushed over to the Barnes & Noble in Freehold, NJ to pick up Under the Dome, Stephen King’s new novel that we have been so excited about…and we almost tripped over the basket they had right inside the door in a small crate. It wasn’t to the side, it wasn’t on a noticeable table, it was just sitting right in front of where people were walking in and out. We were there for five minutes and I saw several people almost trip. That wasn’t the worst of it by far.

After we almost tripped, the first thing we saw was not a display, but a box covered in shrink-wrap on a large pulley cart. Behind it was a similar casing, only taller. Are you kidding me? This wasn’t 10 minutes before the store closed, this was at 7:30 at night on new release Tuesday! It looked awful! It looked like the workers were too lazy to set anything up or the delivery guys just dropped these huge boxes in the front of the store!

My husband and I quickly decided that we were not going to buy the book at Barnes & Noble and headed to the Borders that was 5 minutes away. I am wondering if other people walked out and went elsewhere also. It was poor management and we have decided we are no longer going to that store. Tomorrow morning, I am calling corporate and letting them know what happened. I have a feeling they won’t be happy (especially if someone trips over the basket and into the boxes. Can you say lawsuit?).

I also want to contact Simon & Schuster, the company that published Under the Dome, because the book was not easy to find. It should have been displayed where the boxes were, instead it was on the side and not so easy to find. I am betting they paid a hefty sum to get it in the very front of the store and it was not there. When we went into Borders, it was the first thing we saw on display. I am very glad we went to the Borders and didn’t give the messy store our business. We paid the same price we would have at B&N…and the membership at Borders is free!

Have you ever stopped going to a store because of something like this? Let me know in the comments!

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The holidays are coming!

Posted by Caitie F on November 9, 2009

So the holiday season is coming up and I am SO excited. I love the winter holidays so I thought I would talk about it a little (okay, or a lot since this is a long post)!

Thanksgiving will be a little disappointing this year. Back in Ohio, the entire family is getting together, but we really can’t make it this year due to money. My husband’s mom and stepfather are taking his grandmother back to Georgia, so they will be there, we have problems with his father’s side, and his sister is going to her in-laws. We don’t really want to make the big dinner for just us, so we have reservations for a diner that we love. It just wont be the same. I haven’t had my mom’s stuffing for two years now and I miss it! Thanksgiving is about being with your family and we will be disappointed. At least we have the parade to watch!

And then there is Christmas – my favorite holiday of all. My family goes all out for Christmas. The house is Ohio is completely decorated inside and has lights on the outside. We used to decorate the weekend after Thanksgiving (while listening to Christmas music for the first time!) when we were all there, but now my parents do it a little at a time over that first week. I really miss helping them decorate. They will get a tree usually two weeks before Christmas and we would always decorate it together (we have so many ornaments!), and make hot chocolate but now they will do it alone. When I was in college I would come home about a week before and they would wait…I miss that a lot too.

Then you get to actual Christmas. On Christmas Eve, we go to church for the “Family mass” at 5 – my parents, my brother, my grandmother, my husband and I. It used to be because I was in the children’s choir, but now it is just tradition. Since it is the family mass, the sermons can be really funny, and my brother and I have to bite our lips to keep from laughing. I am sure this makes me a bad person, but I can’t help it…one year it was about the three-legged lamb that gave up his area for Jesus.

We get home, and magically the “Pajama Santa” has been there. We can’t open the gifts until after dinner though – and what a dinner it is! We have my dad’s tenderloin which has been marinating for three days and it is my favorite meal ever! After dinner we open the gifts and get new pajamas and a book. Sometimes my parents will get each other slippers too!

The next morning, we exchange gifts with the people who are there and it is always WAY too much stuff…but we all get things on major sales, so that makes it more reasonable. I always get all my winter clothes then – unless I am desperate for something. We open our stockings first, then the gifts. After that round, my dad makes a great breakfast!

My cousins and aunt and uncle live in Indiana, so we mail each other gifts and open them after breakfast. We then get ready, clean up, and start getting food together for when the rest of the family comes over. My grandpa and his wife and my uncle and his girlfriend come over around 3. We snack then have round 4 of gifts. Now, there is more socializing before the gifts. When we were younger, my brother and I would ask and ask and ask to open them – which the entire family still makes fun of! We have a great dinner of turkey that my uncle makes, stuffing etc. After dinner, the fun people play some games. Christmas is huge at my house because it is a holiday where we can celebrate our love for everyone.

My husband is Jewish, so he tolerates my Christmas obsession. He doesn’t want to go to church, but I think it is weird if he just hangs out at home when we are there. I only ask him to do it once a year, so I think he should…I think we will always have a mini argument about it. He enjoys the rest of the holidays in Ohio, which makes me happy!

Here are some of my Christmas favorites

Movie

I don’t think I can pick just one for most of these, especially the movie! I love A Muppet Family Christmas, but I cannot find the FULL version on DVD anywhere! They have one on Amazon, but it cuts out scenes! If you have never seen it, you are really missing out! It has all the Muppets, from Kermit and friends to the Sesame Street gang to the guys from Fraggle Rock! I laugh my butt off every time I watch it!

I also love It’s A Wonderful Life (and am seeing a musical version of it this year!) and have to watch it every year.

Honorable mentions to: A Christmas Story, The Gathering, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and The Polar Express

Song

I also love Christmas music. I used to wait until the day after Thanksgiving, but ever since I have been away from the Ohio home, I have started listening on November 15th. I probably have over 30 Christmas CDs.I used to sing in several choirs and would have a few holiday concerts which exposed me to some great music!

My favorite general song is probably…”The First Noel”. It is a beautiful song and can be done so well by so many people! My other favorite is “A Mad Russian’s Christmas” by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. I saw them live once and it was amazing I would see them every year if I could afford it. Christmas Eve and Other Stories is fantastic!

Book

As I said before, every year we get a book. It used to be strictly books with a Christmas theme, but now it is a wider range. I would have to say that The Polar Express is my all-time favorite.

Honorable mentions go to A Christmas Carol, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and Skipping Christmas by John Grisham.

This year will be a little different, since it is the first year I will be married for Christmas! We are going to celebrate Chanukah with my husband’s family that weekend. We will drive part-way to Ohio on the 23rd (last year we got caught in an awful storm and swore we wouldn’t drive at night again), then drive the rest Christmas Eve Day, so we can get there in time for church. I don’t know about my job situation yet, so we don’t know how long we are staying. I thought I would share some special things I am doing this year!

Music

I am not buying as many CDs as I usually would because of money, but I am going to get this year’s Carols for a Cure. Every year, Broadway Cares Equity Fights AIDS puts out a CD of casts doing holiday music and the proceeds go to charity. If you are interested, check it out here, the music is always great and it goes towards a good cause!

I am also going to get Jingle Spells 3, another CD that benefits a charity! The proceeds from Jingle Spells goes to Book Aid International. It is a CD that the Leaky Cauldron and Pottercast put together with wizard rock bands (yes, I love Harry Potter and wizard rock) of holiday music. The songs on 1 and 2 were very addicting and I can’t wait to hear Jingle Spells 3! For more information, keep checking the Pottercast website (where you can find out how to get Jingle Spells 1 and 2)!

I may also get the new Sugarland CD and maybe the Tran-Siberian Orchestra, but it will depend on money.

Gifts

Well, gifts are not going to be too exciting this year due to money. Most people are getting framed pictures from the wedding. I have 3 ideas for my husband, which is good since I have to give him something on Chanukah, on Christmas, and on his birthday which is December 28th! Hopefully next year will be better…

Finally, have you signed up for the Book Blogger Holiday Swap yet?

The holiday swap is a way for book bloggers to connect and celebrate the holiday spirit by sharing gifts. It’s done secret Santa style; all of the participants are randomly assigned a blogger to send a gift to and they are kept secret (hence the secret santa part) until the gift is received!

You can sign up at the Book Blogger Holiday Swap website. The Deadline is November 12, so hurry!!

What about you? What traditions do you have? What are your favorite holiday things?

Posted in Blogging | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Coraline by Neil Gaiman

Posted by Caitie F on November 3, 2009

Title: Coraline
Author: Neil Gaima
Paparback: 176 pages
Publisher: HarperFestival
Year Published: 2002
Rating: ++++

Summary from bookbrowse.com:

The day after they moved in, Coraline went exploring….

In Coraline’s family’s new flat are twenty-one windows and fourteen doors. Thirteen of the doors open and close.

The fourteenth is locked, and on the other side is only a brick wall, until the day Coraline unlocks the door to find a passage to another flat in another house just like her own.

Only it’s different.

At first, things seem marvelous in the other flat. The food is better. The toy box is filled with wind-up angels that flutter around the bedroom, books whose pictures writhe and crawl and shimmer, little dinosaur skulls that chatter their teeth. But there’s another mother, and another father, and they want Coraline to stay with them and be their little girl. They want to change her and never let her go.

Other children are trapped there as well, lost souls behind the mirrors. Coraline is their only hope of rescue. She will have to fight with all her wits and all the tools she can find if she is to save the lost children, her ordinary life, and herself.

Review:

Coraline is a great children’s book that adults and young adults can enjoy too! It is a little creepy/scary, but I am afraid easily and I was okay reading it (and sleeping at night!)! Coraline is a great example of a child who feels ignored at home and the entire story results in her boredom and her feeling of being ignored.

Gaiman creates a scary villain in Coraline’s other mother. The descriptions get creepier and creepier as her mask melts away and the reader (and Coraline) see what she really is.

Coraline is mostly on her own, with the exception of a cat and the ghosts she is trying to save, and has to use her wits and bravery to defeat the other mother and save the day.

Other thoughts:

I actually saw this movie a week before reading the book, which I usually try to avoid. Because I did that, I actually enjoyed the movie more. I wish I had read the book first because there is a chance I still would have liked the movie more. That isn’t saying anything against the book, the movie was just so well done. The movie did a great job of imagining the other world and everything in it! I wish I could have made my own picture it, but the movie did a great job!

The movie added another child character in Wybie who annoyed Coraline, helped show the other mother was trying to make Coraline happy, and in the end, actually helps Coraline. That he helps her in the end disappointed me after I read the book. In the book, Coraline is very creative and has to think her way through the problem and in the movie she needed a boy to help her.

That said, they are both fantastic and if you have not read the book or have not seen the movie, you should check it out!

Which did you like more?

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