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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Angels and Demons


Angels and Demons by Dan Brown

(Summary taken from the back book cover) "World-renowned Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon is summoned to a Swiss research facility to analyze a cryptic symbol seared into the chest of a murdered physicist. What he discovers is unimaginable: a deadly vendetta against the Catholic Church by a centuries-old underground organization--the Illuminati. Desperate to save the Vatican from a powerful time bomb, Langdon joins forces in Rome with the beautiful and mysterious scientist Vittoria Vetra. Together they embark on a frantic hunt through sealed crypts, dangerous catacombs, deserted cathedrals, and the most secretive vault on earth...the long-forgotten Illuminati lair."

This is a fun book. There were some really gory descriptions of death, and there was more profanity than I remember in "Davinci Code," but it is exciting and a definite page turner. I enjoyed it a lot. I like Dan Brown's twists and turns, and I like how he incorporates real-life into his fiction. This book brings out the adventurer in all of us, and makes me want to travel to those places and maybe find an adventure of my own.

Rated: PG-13 (Gory deaths, profanity, "love scene")

Recommended for: High school and up.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Princess Bride


The Princess Bride by William Goldman

(Summary taken from the back of the book.)  "As Florin and Guilder teeter on the verge of war, the reluctant Princess Buttercup is devastated by the loss of her true love, kidnapped by a mercenary and his henchmen, rescued by a pirate, forced to marry Prince Humperdinck, and rescued once again by the very crew who absconded with her in the first place. In the course of this dazzling adventure, she'll meet Vizzini--the criminal philosopher who'll do anything for a bag of gold; Fezzik--the gentle giant; Inigo--the Spaniard whose steel thirsts for revenge; and Count Rugen--the evil mastermind behind it all. Foiling all their plans and jumping into their stories is Westley, Princess Buttercup's one true love and a very good friend of a very dangerous pirate."

Wow! Do I love this book!!! I have read it before, and I will definitely read it again! My first experience with it was when my Dad read it to my siblings and me. I was hooked from the beginning. We actually read it right before the movie came out, so it was exciting to be able to watch the movie after reading it. I loved it, and as soon as I could read well enough, I read it on my own. It is a great read-aloud, for boys and girls. It has it all--action, romance, suspence, love, sword fighting, drama, ROUS's, death, miracles, and one of the most beautiful girls in the world. Who could ask for more? I love the humor, the characters, the plot, and I think I have almost the whole thing memorized. Classic. That's all I can say, classic! I recommend this book for about age 10 and up. I also recommend reading it out-loud for your child's first time. Don't worry, you don't have to read the kissing parts!

Rated: PG (Kissing, I know.....ewww! Sword fighting, poisoning, and the fire swamp)

Recommendation: Fourth Grade and Up. In the book the author says he read it to his son at 10. Great as a read-a-loud or a read-to-self book.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Les Miserables


Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

Wow! Where to start? Jean Valjean is imprisoned for stealing a loaf of bread. This story takes his life during this time and follows him through his life. He gets out of prison and breaks into a priest's house. The priest has mercy on him and gives him the items, asking him only to change his life in return. This he does. Valjean starts anew and builds a good life for himself. He becomes a good person. He meets a lady named Fantine. She tells him of her daughter who is living with an innkeeper family. She begs him to take care of her daughter, and then she passes away. Valjean goes and finds her. Her name is Cosette, and she is being abused by her supposed caretakers. Valjean takes her and they leave together.  Valjean becomes her father. They move often, keep to themselves, and take care of each other. She meets Marius, who ends up fighting in the war. Valjean fights also. All this time Cosette does not know her true identity. She and Marius end up getting married, and that is when Valjean tells her about her mother and his promise to her. Okay, so my summary could go on and on and I definitely did not do it justice.

This book (non-abridged) is absolutely amazing!!! It is 1,463 pages long, so it is a very long read, but it is worth it! I love the detail, the history, and the story. I love the characters. I love....everything about this book!!! Okay, so can you tell this is my absolute favorite book??? I have read it at least twice, maybe three times (I can't remember), and each time it just gets better. I LOVE THIS BOOK!!!! There you go, in case you were wondering what my favorite book is, this is it!! I would recommend it for everyone maybe 16 and up (There are prostitutes, and it is a war-time book). It's worth the time put into it! If you're not into such long books, there is an abridged version available and I've heard it's good.

Rated: PG-13 (Prostitution and war-time themes)

Recommendation: High School and Up

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Lucky One


The Lucky One by Nicholas Sparks

(Summary taken from the book) "When U.S. Marine Logan Thibault finds a photograph of a smiling young woman half-buried in the dirt during his third tour of duty in Iraq, his first instinct is to toss it aside. Instead, he brings it back to the base for someone to claim, but when no one does, he finds himself always carrying the photo in his pocket. Soon Thibault experiences a sudden streak of luck, winning poker games and even surviving deadly combat that kills two of his closest buddies. Only his best friend, Victor, seems to have an explanation for his good fortune: the photograph--his lucky charm. Back home in Colorado, Thibault can't seem to get the photo--and the woman in it--out of his mind. Believing that she somehow holds the key to his destiny, he sets out on a journey across the country to find her, never expecting the strong but vulnerable woman he encounters in Hampton, North Carolina--Elizabeth, a divorced mother with a young son--to be the girl he's been waiting his whole life to meet. Caught off guard by the attraction he feels, Thibault keeps the story of the photo, and his luck, a secret. As he and Elizabeth embark upon a passionate and all-consuming love affair, the secret he is keeping will soon threaten to tear them apart--destroying not only their love, but also their lives."

The first few pages of this book definitely turned me off. I didn't know if I wanted to continue reading it or see if it got better. The first few pages describe a creepy sherriff who takes pictures of girls skinny-dipping and is all-over a nasty guy. I kept going, and I'm glad I did. Whenever the sherriff is in the scene, you can count on his nastiness, but that is not the whole story. He is in the story, but isn't THE story. So, rest assured, you will get more of him, but not as much as you at first think. After that first scene, I'm glad I kept reading. The story took me a minute to get into, but then kept me reading. I read the whole book in one day. There is a love scene, and talk of it after that, but it doesn't go into any amount of detail. There are a few profane words, but the worst of it is the sherriff. This story is mysterious and intriguing. You wonder what else has happened to Thibault to make him who he is, and you wonder if he and Elizabeth will make it work. You wonder why he is slow to tell details of his life, but after you learn them you understand why. Especially at the end it is a page turner. I would recommend this book as long as you are okay with the warnings I have given.

Rated: PG-13 (For the creepy and yucky sherriff, the few profane words, and the "making love" scene.)

Recommendation: 18 and up

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Brisingr (Book #3)


Brisingr (Book #3) by Christopher Paolini
   This book continues Eragon and Saphira's adventures in saving the people from the evil King Galbatorix. Eragon and Saphira fight Murtagh and Thorn, they are reunited with Roran, and they continue their training with Oromis and Glaedr. The dwarves throne a new king and Eragon is attacked while away from Saphira. Eragon and Saphira continue to improve their skills, and Roran has his own adventures.
   This book is a very good continuation of the first two and is a page-turner for sure. I like the twists it takes, and I like where it takes the story in general. It is good, but it is very violent and graphic. This book is not for those who do not want detailed explanations of war-time happenings. There are some sad moments, but also some joyous occasions. I thought this was the last book, but apparently there is one more coming, so that is exciting! In this book you learn a lot about Eragon, his history, his parentage, and also the history of a few other characters. I liked learning that a lot, it brings things together well. I recommend this book if you have enjoyed the first two. I would recommend it for ages 15 and up. It really does have some violent and graphic moments, but they go along with the war-time atmosphere.

Rated: PG-13 (Violence and war-time graphic scenes)

Recommendation: 14 and up

Eldest (Book #2)


Eldest (Book #2) by Christopher Paolini
   (Summary taken from the back of the book) "Eragon and his dragon, Saphira, have just saved the rebel state from destruction by the mighty forces of King Galbatorix, cruel ruler of the Empire. Now Eragon must travel to Ellesmera, land of the elves, for further training in magic and swordsmanship, the vital skills of the Dragon Rider. It is the journey of a lifetime, filled with awe-inspiring new places and people, each day a fresh adventure. But chaos and betrayal plague him at every turn, and Eragon isn't sure whom he can trust. Meanwhile, his cousin Roran must fight a new battle back home in Carvahall--one that puts Eragon in even graver danger."
   This book is just as good as the first one. It is a page-turner for sure! I like how the story continues and how it brings Roran back into the stoy. I like the surprise of who is to teach Eragon. There are many twists and surprises that make you keep reading. Once again, there is little or no profanity, but there is a war going on so there are some graphic scenes. If you liked the first one, you'll like the second one! I recommend this book, once again, for ages 14-15 and up.

Rated: PG-13 (Violence and war scenes)

Recommendation: 14 and Up

Eragon (Book #1)


Eragon (Book #1) by Christopher Paolini

   (Summary taken from the back of the book) "When Eragon finds a polished blue stone in the forest, he thinks it is the lucky discovery of a poor farm boy; perhaps it will buy his family meat for the winter. But when the stone brings a dragon hatchling, Eragon soon realizes he has stumbled upon a legacy nearly as old as the Empire itself. Overnight he is thrust into a perilous new world of destiny, magic, and power. With only an ancient sword and the advice of an old storyteller for guidance, Eragon and the fledgling dragon must navigate the dangerous terrain and dark enemies of an Empire ruled by a king whose evil knows no bounds."
   I really enjoyed this book. It is technically a young adult book, so it is a fast read and there is little or no profanity. It is a little violent, seeing how there is a war going on. There are some graphic scenes, but it is a great story. Christopher Paolini has done a very good job. It is well written, it flows well, and I would definitely recommend it. It is a little reminisent of Lord of the Rings. Some of the names and words are very similar to those in LotR, but the story is completely different. I would recommend it for ages 14-15 and up. Any younger and the violence may be too much.

Rated: PG-13 (Violence and war scenes)

Recommendation: 14 and Up

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Last Battle (Book #7)


The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis (Book #7)
(Summary taken from the back of the book) "The Unicorn says that humans are brought to Narnia when Narnia is stirred and upset. And Narnia is in trouble now: A false Aslan roams the land. Narnia's only hope is that Eustace and Jill, old friends of Narnia, will be able to find the true Aslan and restore peace to the land. Their task is a difficult one because, as the Centaur says, 'The stars never lie, but Men and Beasts do.' Who is the real Aslan and who is the imposter? Will we be forced to bid farewell to Narnia forever?"
I loved this book! I thought it brought everything together really well. I thought the symbolism was really good in this book, and I just loved how it ended. It explained everything well, had action and symbolism, and was well written. I was sad when I finished the series, but it was so good! I highly recommed the whole series! I think it is good for everyone, as I have said before. The older kids will understand it better, especially the symbolism.

Rated: PG

Recommendation: 12 and Up, 9 or 10 if read as a read-a-loud.

The Silver Chair (Book #6)

The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis (Book #6) (Summary taken from the back of the book) "Eustace and Jill escape from the bullies at school through a strange door in the wall, which, for once, is unlocked. It leads to the open moor...or does it? Once again Aslan has a task for the children, and Narnia needs them. Through dangers untold and caverns deep and dark, they pursue the quest that brings them face to face with the evil Witch. She must be defeated if Prince Rilian is to be saved."
I really liked this book. It can be hard to remember some of the instructions Aslan gives the children at the beginning when you get into the middle, but it is very good. The symbolism is very good and even though it can be sad in parts, it all comes out good in the end. There are some interesting characters in this book. I do recommend reading this book, especially if you are reading the series.

Rated: PG

Recommendation: 12 and Up. 9 or 10 if read as a read-a-loud.

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (Book #5)


The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis (Book #5)
(Summary taken from the back of the book) "The Dawn Treader is the first ship Narnia has seen in centuries. King Caspian has built it for his voyage to find the seven lords, good men whom his evil uncle Miraz banished when he usurped the throne. The journey takes Edmund, Lucy, their cousin Eustace, and Caspian to the Eastern Islands, beyond the Silver Sea, toward Aslan's country at the End of the World."
I have to say, this book was just okay for me. It was the one I liked least out of all seven. I would still recommend reading it to go with the rest, but it was a little strange for me.

Rated: PG

Recommendation: 12 and Up. 9 or 10 if read as a read-a-loud.

Prince Caspian (Book #4)


Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis (Book #4)
(Summary taken from the back of the book) "Narnia...where animals talk...where trees walk...where a battle is about to begin--A prince denied his rightful throne gathers an army in a desperate attempt to rid his land of a false king. But in the end, it is a battle of honor between two men alone that will decide the fate of an entire world."
I liked this book a lot. It has a lot of action and symbolism. It keeps with Narnian themes and is a page turner.

Rated: PG

Recommendation: 12 and Up. 9 or 10 if read as a read-a-loud.

The Horse and His Boy (Book #3)


The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis (Book #3)
(Summary taken from the back of the book) "During the Golden Age of Narnia, when Peter is High King, a boy named Shasta discovers he is not the son of Arsheesh, the Colormene fisherman, and decides to run far away to the North--to Narnia. When he is mistaken for another runaway, Shasta is led to discover who he really is and even finds his real father."
I liked this book a lot. The symbolism is not as apparent as in other books, but it is there and almost more meaningful. I definitely recommend it.

Rated: PG

Recommendation: 12 and Up. 9 or 10 if read as a read-aloud.

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (Book #2)


The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis (Book #2)
(Summary from the back of the book) "Narnia...a land frozen in eternal winter...a country waiting to be set free. Four adventurers step through a wardrobe door and into the land of Narnia--a land enslaved by the power of the White Witch. But when almost all hope is lost, the return of the Great Lion, Aslan, signals a great change...and a great sacrifice."
I LOVE this book!!!! I love it from beginning to end!! I love the symbolism in it, I love the writing, I love the story, I think it is one of my all time favorites. C.S. Lewis did an excellent job in this book. I highly recommend it! I think it's great for younger readers, and the best thing is that it is also great for adults! I think it meant a lot more to me when I recently read it because I understood the symbolism, but I remember loving it as a younger reader as well.

Rated: PG

Recommendation: 12 and Up. 9 or 10 if read as a read-aloud. (As in book #1, the symbolism may be over the heads of younger kids, but it would be a great read-a-loud for 10+, or they would enjoy reading it by themselves.)

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Magician's Nephew (Book #1)


The Magician's Nephew (Book #1) by C.S. Lewis
(Summary taken from the back of the book) "When Digory and Polly are tricked by Digory's peculiar Uncle Andrew into becoming part of an experiment, they set off on the adventure of a lifetime. What happens to the children when they touch Uncle Andrew's magic rings is far beyond anything even the old magician could have imagined. Hurtled into the Wood between the Worlds, the children soon find that they can enter many worlds through the mysterious pools there. In one world they encounter the evil Queen Jadis, who wreaks havoc in the streets of London when she is accidentally brought back with them. When they finally manage to pull her out of London, unintentionally taking along Uncle Andrew and a coachman with his horse, they find themselves in what will come to be known as the land of Narnia."
I did not know this book existed until after I had read all the other books, so I read it last. I liked it a lot! It explains how Narnia came to be and sets up the rest of the series. I would recommend reading it first, but it was still good at the end. I would definitely recommend this book and the whole series. I love the symbolism.

Rated:PG

Recommendation: 12 and Up. 9 or 10 if read as a read-aloud.  (Great for everyone!!! I think it would be good for kids maybe 10 or older, just because the older children will understand the symbolism a little more.)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Housekeeping

Housekeeping by: Marilynne Robinson This is not a fast read, but it is a very good human interest story. It is sad and depressing at times, but it really makes you think about your life and how you interact with other people. It is the story of a family. Two girls are left on their grandmother's doorstep, by their mother. The story continues showing how the two girls react to the different women in the family taking care of them. Each girl reacts differently, and it is very interesting to see. I liked this story a lot and would definitely recommend it.

Rated: PG

Recommendation: High School and Up. I don't think younger children would be interested.

The DaVinci Code


The DaVinci Code
by: Dan Brown
This is a definite thriller that keeps you reading. The curator of the Louvre Museum in Paris is killed and left in a strange way. American professor Robert Langdon is awakened by the French police at his hotel room. They ask for his help. He goes to the Louvre and finds the curator. There starts his adventure. The police accuse him of the murder and Sophie Neveu, a cryptographer, helps him escape. They go together to put the pieces of the mystery together. They run into many twists and turns along the way, and eventually find out why they were both picked for this adventure. I really liked this book. I had watched the movie first, so some of the surprises weren't surprises, but it was really good. I also read it after the mass frenzy, so my expectations weren't as high.
Rated: PG

Recommendation: 16 and Up

Breaking Dawn

Breaking Dawn by: Stephenie Meyer This is book number four in the Twilight Series. This book is definitely not appropriate for young adults!!!! In this book Bella and Edward get married, and then do what married people do. Fine for me, maybe, but I do not want my girls reading it as young adults. There are jokes about them being "intimate" and very detailed descriptions about the aftermath (which is nothing like reality....but a young girl would not know that). Bella becomes pregnant, and everyone except her and Rose want to abort the "thing." Once again, not really something I want a young girl reading. The story is strange but good, and it keeps you reading. Bella's continuing relationship with Jacob still drives me crazy. I was worried when I started reading, but the ending made it all come together for me. I really liked the ending. Sorry for my strong opinions on this one. The other day I heard a 12-yr-old say she was reading it and I just cringed...

 Rated: PG-13 to R (For language and very adult themes, physical intimacy)

Recommendation: Married and Up. I do not want my young girls to think that "physical intimacy" or being pregnant are in any way like they are in this book. This is NOT for young adults!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Eclipse


Eclipse
by: Stephenie Meyer
This is book number three in the Twilight Series. This book goes through Bella and Edward's love story. Vampires fight vampires. Werewolves get involved. This book is still very good. I worry about series sometimes, but this one is still really good. I get tired of Bella sometimes, and her relationship with Jacob drives me crazy. But, once again, you just have to read it! This book gets more into adult themes. Bella and Edward are trying to decide how to proceed in their relationship, and I do not think it is appropriate for young adults. At this point I think married women are a more appropriate audience, but that is just my humble opinion.

Rated: PG-13 to R

Recommendation: Married and Up.

New Moon


New Moon
by: Stephenie Meyer
This is book number two in the Twilight Series. Bella continues dating Edward until he breaks up with her, for her own good, pretty much. She falls apart and is "lifeless," according to her dad. She spends a lot of time with her friend Jacob, who helps her through this time. She still loves Edward, and when Alice, his sister, comes to ask for Bella's help, she goes with her to help Edward. They end up working things out and getting back together. Edward and Jacob are enemies. As with book number one, this book is a fast read and is well written. I didn't like it as much as I liked the first one, but it was still really good, and....you just have to read it!
Rated: PG-13 (Some language and adult themes)

Recommendation: Married and Up. This book itself may not warrant the married recommendation, but the last book in the series definitely does, so you don't want to start a young girl reading it because she'll want to finish. This series is NOT young adult appropriate.

Twilight


Twilight
by: Stephenie Meyer
A high school student named Bella moves from Arizona to Forks, Washington to live with her father. She meets a beautiful guy named Edward, who turns out to be a vampire. She falls desperately in love with him. Luckily, he lives with his "family" and they are good vampires. They feed from animals, not humans. This book goes through many of the trials that their love affair causes. I loved this book! It is kind of hard to summarize, as it sounds kind of silly when you put it that way, but I thought it was really good. I'm one for sappy love stories, though. And I just found Edward very intriguing. Stephenie Meyer has a very good imagination and, I think, wrote it very well. It is technically a young adult book and is therefore a very fast read, even with its 500 pages. As I said, it is a young adult book....I do not think I will allow my girls to read it until they are older (college age, maybe). It does have some adult themes in it. And if this one doesn't as much, the following ones do more. The problem is, once you start the series, you're hooked, and the following books are not young adult appropriate (in my humble opinion).
Rated: PG-13

Recommendation: Married and Up. The series is NOT for young adults or young girls. Parents, please read it first. Don't give in to your daughters. The last book in this series is not appropriate at all for young adults.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families


The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families
by: Stephen Covey
This book is a very well written book by Stephen Covey that illustrates how to improve your family relationships and overall family life. There are many examples written by people who have implemented the strategies in their own lives, and they help show how the strategies work. This book is more about common sense and self -improvement than some strange program. I would definitely recommend this book. I have a really good family and family life, but I wanted to make it better, and I think the information in this book helped to do that. I would recommend this book to any individual or family that wants to take a good thing and make it great.

Rated: G

Recommendation: Great as a family read-aloud. I'd say 12 and up to read alone. This is especially good for parents to read.