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Monday, December 27, 2010

Worlds of the Crystal Moon #1 World of Grayham


Worlds of the Crystal Moon #1 World of Grayham by Phillip "BIG DOG" Jones

(Summary taken from the back book cover) "Fellow soul...I have been commissioned to deliver grave news. You are dead--a tragedy of a celestial war responsible for destroying the cosmos. Your soul has been without a body for more than 10,000 seasons and your spirit has been placed inside an eternal tome. This book is filled with mythical creatures and, like us, they are anxious to live again. While we wait, there are devious gods living on Ancients Sovereign. They are power hungry and seek to abolish free will. Their desire: control the new worlds created after The Great Destruction of Everything Known. With the theft of the Crystal Moon, chaos is imminent. Because of the Mischievous One's malevolence, the worlds which are to be our new homes may not survive. Yet, there is a glimmer of hope. Three beings have been spared the devastation. They are about to begin an epic journey to save our only chance at rebirth. Their failure to reunite the pieces of the Crystal Moon will be be our sentence to an everlasting nothingness. Allow me, your spirited storyteller, to share everything I know to be fact. Welcome to chaos. Welcome to the World of Grayham."

Wow, where to begin??  I was walking through Costco one day and I saw an author doing a book signing. I couldn't pass that up, right? So I stopped and talked to him. It happened to be Phillip "BIG DOG" Jones. Now, first off, his name just comes across as arrogant and self-consumed, but the book looked interesting and so I had him sign a book for me. He told me that he had published the book previously as an unedited first draft in hardcover and had gotten feedback from the readers and this was now the edited version and coming out first in paperback. Great! Love paperback! Browsing through the book I really liked the full color photos of the characters and places at the beginning. It is helpful to have pictures of the characters and a correct way to pronounce their names.

This book is 592 pages long. It's long, and it's not an easy read like a "Harry Potter" or even an " Eragon." This book is heavier like a "Lord of the Rings," and there is a lot of information to take in and keep track of, therefore it takes a long time to read. As you can tell, I haven't posted in a long time, and that is why, I have been reading a very long book. This book is fantasy and brings in magic, romance, action, adventure, mystery, and lots of mythical creatures. It took me awhile to figure out who everyone was and why they were there, but in the end it came together. Overall I liked it. Jones' writing is not of the same caliber as J.K. Rowling or Christopher Paolini, but it is good. Once you figure out what is going on (about the middle of the book) it gets better and the storyline picks up. I really like some of the characters and some of the character development is really good, but others not so much. There is a lot of gore and death in this book. The gruesome descriptions of how people die did not appeal to me. The character George likes to torture and kill people, and it's not pretty. He also uses lots of "colorful" language, which I also didn't love. He is a confusing character because he pretends to have a soft lovable side that I don't find at all believable. I like Sam and Shalee, but Shalee speaks in a southern accent and sometimes it's hard to figure out what she is saying. When Shalee becomes a sorceress her magic stick gives her moments of "satisfaction" when she accomplishes her goal, and I found it awkward. Luckily it stops after while. It's also hard to get used to talking animals and a talking book, but it works alright.

Overall I did like it and I have ordered the next one. I like that the next one is already out and in paperback. That is definitely a bonus. I would recommend it with the above warnings. It is entertaining but I can't say it's my favorite book. I will read the next one but I'll most like read a few other books in between.

Rating: PG-13 (There are some really gruesome deaths, and quite a bit of profanity when George speaks. There are murders and assassinations as well. There are also some "physical intimacy" scenes before marriage and after marriage.)

Recommendation: High school and up. With all the above I don't think it's appropriate for early teens.

I would recommend it if you're okay with the above warnings. It is interesting and entertaining and there are some good twists that keep you reading.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Eat Pray Love


Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

(Summary taken from the back book cover) "In her early thirties, Elizabeth Gilbert had everything a modern American woman was supposed to want--husband, country home, successful career--but instead of feeling happy and fulfilled, she felt consumed by panic and confusion. This wise and rapturous book is the story of how she left behind all these outward marks of success, and of what she found in their place. Following a divorce and a crushing depression, Gilbert set out to examine three different aspects of her nature, set against the backdrop of three different cultures: pleasure in Italy, devotion in India, and on the Indonesian island of Bali, a balance between worldly enjoyment and divine transcendence."

I liked this book, except for all the language, and the fact that I couldn't relate to this woman in 97% of the book. I am very happily married, I have children whom I adore, and I love my (sort of) quiet life in the suburbs. I also already have a relationship with a loving Heavenly Father. When she was crying and saying that she didn't want to be married anymore, I just had a really hard time relating. I felt empathy for her, but I've never felt that way. Besides a lot of language, this book is well written. The format of the book is different, but I liked it. She writes in lots of short chapters, and it reads well. It's not a really fast read, but it's interesting to see her transformation and her thought processes. It's also interesting to read about the three different cultures she visits. I learned a lot about food in Italy, and am dying to get to Naples for some pizza. I learned a lot about yoga and gurus, of which I knew nothing about. I learned about Balinese culture and was impressed by their healing techniques. I could never do this. I could never just leave everything (especially my family) to live abroad for a year by myself. I think it's great that she was able to do it, and I am glad that she was able to find out more about herself and find peace, but I also think if she had worked harder at her marriage then she wouldn't have needed it. I think it was really selfish to just walk away from a marriage like that. I also got irritated when she thought she deserved this time. Well, what about what you did to your ex-husband??  Didn't he deserve a wife that kept her vows and worked to make the marriage better instead of just walking away?? I really liked chapters 57 and 58, relating to faith and prayers. Overall, I liked the book and am glad I read it. I liked that it gave me one more confirmation to work hard at my marriage and to never get divorced. It is fascinating to learn about how different people live and all that they experience. Ms. Gilbert does a good job of bringing you in to her story, whether you have experienced those feelings or not. She is witty and yet serious, and it makes it enjoyable to read.

Rating: R (Remember, this does not follow the movie ratings, it's just my way of saying that younger readers should not read this story) There is a lot of language, especially the "f" word. I thought I'd be safe from "physical intimacy" scenes because she is celibate for most of the book, however, there is a lot of that at the end. And, she has these discussions with her Balinese healer friend that discuss very private parts of the body and how she heals them, and they are not appropriate for younger readers.

Recommendation: College age and up. I don't think even high school seniors should read this book. There are some aspects of it that would be helpful for seniors to read and think about, but I think the language and intimacy is too much. I would recommend it to my friends with the above precautions. It's a really good human interest story and I'm glad I read it. Thanks to Ms. Gilbert for allowing us to view her most private and intimate moments and thoughts.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Fablehaven #5 Keys to the Demon Prison


Fablehaven #5 Keys to the Demon Prison by Brandon Mull

(Summary taken from the inside book jacket) "After many centuries of plotting, the Sphinx--leader of the Society of the Evening Star--is after the final artifacts needed to open the great demon prison, Zzyxx. If the legendary prison is opened, a tide of evil is certain to usurp control of the world. In an effort to intercept the final artifacts, Kendra, Seth and the Knights of the Dawn race to strange and exotic preserves across the globe. The stakes have never been higher. The risks have never been more deadly. In this explosive series finale, allegiances will be confirmed and secrets revealed as the forces of light and darkness collide in a desperate, climactic battle to control the keys to the demon prison."

I loved this book! As you may remember, I didn't love this series at first. I think it was Book 3 that for sure hooked me, and the finale was all it needed to be. I am really sad to let the story go and to say good-bye to the characters. There is plenty of action and romance and trickery for everyone. I had no idea how Mr. Mull would finish it, and it worked. The last line wasn't my favorite, for some reason, but it fit. I really liked this series and my son is on Book #4 so it's fun to talk with him about the stories. It is clean and well-written. Mr. Mull has really grown in his writing since the first book, and it's fun to take that journey with authors. He is creative and imaginative, and it is a good, fun read. If you are reading the series, you have to finish it off by reading the finale, you won't be disappointed.

Rating: PG-13 Violence (killing the demons, fighting, death of some characters) No profanity or "physical intimacy" scenes.

Recommendation: 3rd grade and up! This is good, clean fun for the whole family. Yes, there is some death and violence, but it isn't over the top or too gory. If you think your child can handle a few characters dying (they are not the main characters) and some demon-killing then they will be fine reading it.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Across a Harvested Field

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Across a Harvested Field by Robert Goble

(Summary taken from the back of the book) "To Jordan Fairchild, the dark-haired girl renting his basement apartment seems somewhat quiet and reclusive. Just a business arrangement, he thinks, as he watches her sign the name "Nattie Hand" on the contract. Though two thousand miles away, Celeste Betancourt, an attractive Georgetown graduate student he met through a mutual friend, has captured his attention. A budding friendship with Nattie soon begins to bloom. Little does Jordan know his girl-next-door renter is none other than the world-famous pop star, a.k.a. Natalia Antonali, who recently disappeared from the public eye; little does he know how much his friendship will mean to her, how, for the first time, a love begins to grow, untainted by 'Natalia,' and how she hopes Jordan never discovers the truth."

I need to begin by saying that this author, Mr. Goble, found me on Facebook and sent me this book to review. I thank him for the opportunity and hope that he still "Like"(s) my blog after reading my review.  Although I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS or Mormon are other sometimes used names), LDS fiction has never been my favorite genre. Unfortunately for Mr. Goble, this book did not change my opinion of LDS fiction. One look at the cover and I knew I was in trouble. I would never have picked this book off the shelf. Having said that, I did read it. I liked the characters in the book, but the whole scenario just seemed too impossible. How would a superstar (comparable to Brittney Spears) end up in Magna, UT? It never explained why she chose to go there or how she even knew where it was. I thought Jordan was a nice guy, but the pieces didn't really fit together for me. I felt bad that he had lost his family at such a young age, and I could have empathy for him, but I just could not see a widowed man in his mid-to-late twenties canning pumpkins, peaches, and pears. My husband does help me when I can fruit, but he would NEVER do it if I weren't around. That just never felt right to me, but maybe other men would do it. And then the thought that "Nattie" and "Natalia" might be the same person never crossed his mind as he saw her on the news and in magazines, never? I don't know.

Mr. Goble's writing style is different. He uses a lot of parenthesis to explain little side-notes that add to the "cheesy" feeling in the book. I was also confused....was it LDS fiction or not? Let me explain: you would expect an LDS fiction book to have references to LDS buildings, church meetings, and standards (not smoking or drinking alcohol, or using profanity), but you would also expect the characters to follow those standards. There was a lot of profanity in this book. Not all the worst words, but a lot of little four-letter words. It drove me crazy. His writing feels forced. He tries in a few instances to have Jordan sound intellectual, but it comes across as someone trying to sound intellectual, not as someone who is actually intellectual.  I think Mr. Goble would have made the whole thing feel better if he had taken all the LDS references out and just made it a fictional love story. To all LDS fiction writers everywhere--that is what readers want, just good, clean reads. We are LDS and we consider ourselves normal, everyday people, not a group that needs special books written just for us. Besides, you will get a lot more readers if everyone can read it and not just one group.

Anyway, this happens to be one of my "soap-box" topics, so please forgive me for going on. Overall, the middle of the book was the best. It actually had me turning pages to see what happened with the paparazzi and with Jordan finding out the truth. Except that I hated how Jordan went into this mad rage and ruined everything in a split second. His rage was over-the-top. The ending was okay but unbelievable. I didn't hate the book, but I would not recommend it to my friends because I know they feel the same way I do about LDS fiction. If you like the genre and are okay with profanity then I would recommend it.

Rating: PG-13 (Profanity, some kissing and some innuendos)

Recommendation: High school and up. I would recommend it if you enjoy LDS fiction and are okay with profanity.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Secret Garden


The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

This book is about three children who find friendship, life, and healing in a secret garden. Mary was orphaned in India and sent to Yorkshire to live with her uncle. Colin lost his mother shortly after he was born and has been sickly and afraid most of his life. His father rarely sees him. Dicken is the brother of one of the caretakers and he is a source of strength and inspiration to the other two. Both Mary and Colin are spoiled and ill-tempered. Neither cares for anyone. Until they find each other and Dicken and bring to life the secret garden.

I LOVED this book as a child, and I needed something happy to read after reading The Mockingjay. I hoped that I wouldn't be disappointed because sometimes things aren't quite so wonderful when you are older, but this book did not disappoint. It was just as magical as I remembered it. I loved it again! And it was amazing how much I remembered. I love the character development in this book, I adore Dicken and Martha, and I love the story. It is an easy read, but so good. It teaches the importance of friendship, positive attitude, and humility. It also teaches the importance of finding yourself in nature and how taking care of something other than yourself can help you find yourself. It teaches about never giving up and finding courage and confidence in yourself. I love this book!

Rating: G This book is great for all ages! There is nothing inappropriate in this book.

Recommendation: As far as independent reading, I think it's about a third grade level. It does help to know a little about the moors and Yorkshire language, a younger child might be confused by that. I recommend it for all ages!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Mockingjay



The Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

(Summary taken from the inside book jacket) "Katniss Everdeen, girl on fire, has survived, even though her home has been destroyed. Gale has escaped. Katniss's family is safe. Peeta has been captured by the Capitol. District 13 really does exist. There are rebels. There are new leaders. A revolution is unfolding. It is by design that Katniss was rescued from the arena in the cruel and haunting Quarter Quell, and it is by design that she has long been part of the revolution without knowing it. District 13 has come out of the shadows and is plotting to overthrow the Capitol. Everyone, it seems, has had a hand in the carefully laid plans--except Katniss. The success of the rebellion hinges on Katniss's willingness to be a pawn, to accept responsibility for countless lives, and to change the course of the future of Panem. To do this, she must put aside her feeling of anger and distrust. She must become the rebels' Mockingjay--no matter what the personal cost."

Wow. What else to say?? This book is very intense and doesn't end the feelings of depression and sadness that permeate the first two books. I know....I also really hoped it could be happy. Unfortunately for us Ms. Collins didn't follow that same philosophy. I finished it about 24 hours ago and I am still not sure how I feel about it and especially how I feel about the ending. I kept thinking, "There's no way she'll be able to finish this in 100 pages (and then 50, and then 35, and then 15, and then 4, etc.)." I don't know....it's very gory and violent, angry and intense. It follows Katniss and the other main characters to a war with the Capitol. She still can't decide between Peeta and Gale, and it drives me crazy (kind of like Bella in Twilight). There is an ending to that, but I don't know how I feel about it. I think it is well written and there are some twists, but....if this were a movie I WOULD NOT watch it. There is no way they could make it less than Rated R. So....there you go. Did I help at all?? There are definitely mixed emotions with this book. If you have read the first two then I would recommend it, but with a warning that it is much more violent and angry than the first two (is that possible?). As far as analysis, like the first one mimicking the reality tv craze, it does kind of go into a kind of socialism, with everyone getting the same food, living conditions, clothes, etc. Did I like it? That's what I don't know yet...yes and no. Was I happy with the ending? Ummmm, I don't know. I may need to do an update in a week or so as I ponder my feelings about it. Does this make you want to read it? Haha, sorry.....now you know what you have to look forward to if you read it!

***Addendum: Okay, it has been awhile and I've thought a lot about it. Yes, I hated it. It was terrible and I heard someone say that it wasn't true to Katniss, and I agree. I do wish I had not read it, and I don't say that very often. My recommendation now: if you liked the series and want to read it--read it with caution and listen to the warnings. Don't be afraid to just stop mid-book if it starts to disturb you. If you don't think it sounds like you will like it--don't read it. Stop reading at number 2 and keep on hoping that something happy and good will come of Katniss and her world.

Rating: R (This doesn't necessarily follow the movie ratings) It is very violent and it is a war. There are many deaths, and very gruesome ones at that. Think of the Hunger Games with a whole country involved.....

Recommendation: College and up. Geez, I don't even think high school. It really is hard to read. This is NOT a young adult book.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Fablehaven #4 Secrets of the Dragon Sanctuary



Fablehaven #4 Secrets of the Dragon Sanctuary by Brandon Mull

(Summary taken from the back of the book) "Two hidden artifacts have been found. More preserves face destruction as the Society of the Evening Star relentlessly pursues new talismans. Desperate to stop them, Kendra discovers the location of the key to a vault housing one of the artifacts in Patton's Journal of Secrets. In order to retrieve the key, the Knights of the Dawn must enter a death trap--a dragon sanctuary called Wyrmroost. Will anyone who enters the sanctuary make it out alive? Or have Kendra and Seth finally gotten in too deep?"

Brandon Mull keeps getting better. His writing is advancing and so are his twists and turns. I am hooked. This book has been my favorite (did I say that about the last one?) so far. Seth drives me crazy. Seriously. I am way too much like Kendra...a rule follower....I go crazy every time Seth moves or speaks. Ahhhhh. But I digress. I really liked this book. It actually surprised me a couple of times. I did not predict the twist at the end. There is action and romance and suspense. There are dragons and giants and all sorts of other magical creatures. I definitely recommend this book, especially if you have read the previous three and enjoyed them. Now my only problem is finding a copy of #5 to read!

Rating: PG-PG 13 (Dark, some gruesome and gory parts, and there is a death of a main character)

Recommendation: I will still allow my third grader to read this book, but it is a little more gory and dark than the previous books. There are some scary parts and some gruesome parts as well. One of the main characters dies, which I didn't like. I guess there was a death in the previous book as well, but it wasn't a character you felt as close to. I'll definitely talk to my son about what happened and hopefully debrief him a bit. 8-9 and up, depending on the child and his maturity.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Plain Truth


Plain Truth by Jodi Picoult

(Summary taken from inside the book jacket) "The discovery of a dead infant shakes Lancaster County to its core. But the police investigation leads to a more shocking disclosure: Circumstantial evidence suggests that 18-year-old Katie Fisher, an unmarried Amish woman believed to be the mother, took the newborn's life. When Ellie Hathaway, a big-city attorney, comes to Paradise, Pennsylvania, to defend Katie, two cultures collide--and for the first time in her career, Ellie faces a system of justice very different from her own. Delving deep inside the world of those who live "plain," Ellie must find a way to reach Katie. And as she unravels a tangled murder case, Ellie also looks deep within--to confront  her own fears and desires when a man from her past reenters her life."

I found this book very interesting. It is different from what I thought it would be, and it pulls at many different emotions. On the one hand, I believed what Katie said had happened, and on the other I didn't. Haha. I just couldn't decide. I liked the characters in the book, except for Katie's father. I think Ms. Picoult did a good job of creating the characters and making you feel like you know them. I thought she did a good job developing the story and it did have a few twists that I didn't expect. I did, in the end, figure out the mystery, but (I'm not going to give anything away here so this may be kind of vague) I couldn't decide how I wanted to take it. I don't think I can believe this person capable of murder, so I want to believe that what Ellie's case showed was truly the case, but that this person was......ohhhh I guess I can't say this without giving it away. Bummer. If you want to know, email me.... Anyway, I liked this book. It was a fairly easy read and it was entertaining and thoughtful. There was a little too much language in it for me, I think she used the "f" word at least once, maybe twice. She also took the Lord's name in vain a couple of times. If that's not okay with you then I would say don't read it. I could have also done without some of the "physical intimacy" scenes. The whole plot revolves around premarital and unprotected relations, but there are only one or two times where it is described.

Rating: R (Remember, the R rating does not follow a movie's R rating, it just means it is not appropriate for anyone younger than college). Language and physical intimacy.

Recommendation: College and up (The language mostly, but also the physical intimacy scenes, make this inappropriate for anyone younger than college. It's sad because it could be used to show teenagers the consequences of their actions, but I think it is just too much.)



Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Exploring the Connection Between Mormons and Masons



Exploring the Connection Between Mormons and Mason by Matthew B. Brown

(Summary taken from the inside book jacket) "Why did Joseph Smith become a Freemason? Who introduced Freemasonry into Nauvoo, Illinois, in the early 1840's? Do the Masons really descend from the stonemasons who built King Solomon's temple? Is there an ancient relationship between the Masonic lodge rites and the Mormon temple ordinances? The subject of Joseph Smith and Freemasonry sparks a wide range of responses among Latter-day Saints, from curiosity to suspicion to outright excitement. In this helpful guide, trusted LDS scholar Matthew B. Brown clearly and skillfully addresses the subject's history, theology, traditional understanding, and myths. Readers will consider provocative questions as well as meaningful scriptural patterns and interfaith connections. With research ranging from the particular to the panoramic, this volume offers engaging, edifying exploration of the relationship between Freemasonry and the blessings of the House of the Lord, and early Christianity and the practices of biblical times."

I'm not a crazy conspiratorial person, but the Masons have always intrigued me. I wanted to read this book because it sounded interesting. It actually was. I had no idea that Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, Hyrum Smith, and other early apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were Masons. My knowledge of the Masons came mostly from the History channel documentaries and Dan Brown's books. I knew that some of the symbols of both groups were similar, but I didn't know what they meant to the Masons. This book is very thorough and well researched. It is easy to understand and well-laid out. I found it engaging and informational. I liked it and I learned a lot about Masons and their symbols, their history, and some of their members who were prominent in the early LDS church. I would recommend this book to those of either group who would like to learn more. Yes, I would recommend this book. It dispels many common myths and helps to find the truth.

Rating: PG

Recommendation: High School and Up

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Fablehaven #3 Grip of the Shadow Plague


Fablehaven #3 Grip of the Shadow Plague by Brandon Mull

(Summary taken from the back book cover) "Very strange things are afoot at Fablehaven. Someone or something has released a plague that transforms beings of light into creatures of darkness. Seth discovers the problem early, but as the infectious disease spreads, it becomes clear that the preserve cannot hold out for long. In dire need of help, the Sorensons question where to turn. The Sphinx has always given sound advice--but is he a traitor? Inside the Quiet Box, Vanessa might have information that could lead to a cure--but can she be trusted? Meanwhile, Kendra and members of the Knights of the Dawn must journey to a distant preserve and retrieve another hidden artifact. Will the Society of the Evening Star recover it first? Will the plague eclipse all light at Fablehaven?"

Okay, I have to admit.....I think he finally got me. I liked the last book, but this one is much better. I think Mull has finally caught me....dare I say I might be excited about reading #4??? There is still that young adult flair to the book, but it is much better written and is fun. The whole plague thing really got to me....At this point I am glad I stuck with the series. I almost didn't even read #2, but since my kids wanted to read them I decided I better keep going. Mull's writing is getting better and there is more of that spark that keeps me reading. It is still really clean and there is enough excitement to keep the younger kids reading, which I love. I definitely recommend this book. It would be a good read-aloud as well.

Rating: PG (My 7 year-old is reading it. It is a stretch for him, so I keep asking him questions to make sure he understands, but he really likes it. My 8 year-old breezed right through and loved it.) There are monsters and some evil creatures and action with those, but it is good, clean fun!

Recommendation: As a read-aloud I would say 6, maybe 5 if you have a more mature 5 year-old. This is great for 2nd, 3rd, and up to read on their own. I recommend any series that is clean and fun and gets kids reading, and this book does that!  I enjoyed it as an adult so I'd recommend it to my friends for a fun, easy read.



Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Lightning Thief





The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson Book #1) by Rick Riordan

(Summary taken from the back of the book) "Percy Jackson is about to be kicked out of boarding school...again. And that's the least of his troubles. Lately, mythological monsters and the gods of Mount Olympus seem to be walking straight out of the pages of Percy's Greek mythology textbook and into his life. And worse, he's angered a few of them. Zeus's master lightning bolt has been stolen, and Percy is the prime suspect. Now Percy and his friends have just ten days to find and return Zeus's stolen property and bring peace to a warring Mount Olympus. But to succeed on his quest, Percy will have to do more than catch the true thief: he must come to terms with the father who abandoned him; solve the riddle of the Oracle, which warms him of betrayal by a friend; and unravel a treachery more powerful than the gods themselves."

This is a young adult book. It is a fun and easy read. I read it to my kids and they LOVED it! They are downstairs right now playing "Percy Jackson." It's great and I love it! I love stories that draw kids in and make them enjoy reading. I liked it myself, even. I liked how Riordan brings boring Greek mythology to life in this modern era. Mount Olympus right above New York City??? Awesome! There was suspense, mystery, action, betrayal, sword fighting, and monsters. What could be better???  I would definitely recommend this book. I wouldn't quite put it up with Harry Potter, but close. Like I said before, I love books that pull kids in, and this one does just that....plus it's fun for me too!

Rating: PG  (6 and up) My 4 year-old heard bits and pieces and wasn't too interested. She didn't understand a lot of it. It is a great read-aloud. There are some parts where I could tell they may have understood it better if they had seen the writing and so I did show them, but for the most part it was a great read-aloud. My 8 year-old could have read it by himself. He would have understood most of it. He would be able to read the words, but complete comprehension??? I don't know. There were gods' names that I didn't know how to pronounce. The mythology is a little over their heads. They had no idea what the River Styx was or the Underworld or even Mount Olympus. For that reason I was glad I read it to them. I think they would have understood most of it but things like those I mentioned above are important pieces to the story so if they don't know what they are then they won't grasp the whole meaning. There is some monster violence but no profanity. Great for kids.

Recommendation: Third Grade and Up. If your third grader is reading it alone, a lesson on mythology is a must! Also, help with pronunciation would also be helpful.

No Apology



No Apology: The Case for American Greatness by Mitt Romney

(Summary taken from the inside book jacket) "In No Apology, Mitt Romney asserts that American strength is essential--not just for our own well-being, but for the world's. Nations such as China and a resurgent Russia threaten to overtake us on many fronts, and violent Islamism continues its dangerous rise. Drawing on history for lessons on why great powers collapse, Romney shows how and why our national advantages have eroded. From the long-term decline of our manufacturing base, our laggard educational system that has left us without enough engineers, scientists, and other skilled professionals, our corrupted financial practices that have led to the current crisis, and the crushing impact of entitlements on our future obligations, America is over-leveraged, overtaxed, and in some respects, overconfident in the face of the challenges we must address."

This is the first book I have ever read that was written by a politician. And, full disclosure, I voted for Mitt Romney in the 2008 presidential election, and my brother worked for his campaign. I really liked this book. It scared me a lot in some regards, but it was engaging and interesting. I nodded my head in agreement at some points and shook my head in others. The statistics he gives are staggering though. For example, "In the 1960's, when the War on Poverty was launched, 7 percent of American children were born out of wedlock. Today, almost 40 percent of our children are born to unwed mothers. As noted earlier, among African Americans, that figure is almost 70 percent..." Wow. I like a lot of his ideas to help make us stronger. Whether or not you agree with his politics, the statistics that he gives really make you think.

I would recommend this book. I think it's good for all of us to start engaging in honest, good discussions (not screaming matches) about what we believe. If we all work together and really listen to each other I bet we agree more than we think we do. There is not enough listening and understanding going on right now. I am glad I read this book because it helps me think of my life in broader terms. I'm not just a mom, wife, sister, daughter, etc., I am an American citizen and I am proud of our country. Okay, there you go...if you don't want to read his book I would recommend reading a book by a politician you agree with. If we get all these ideas together then we can come up with a solution that is good for all of us.


Rating: PG-13 (No language or violence, but the premise of some of it is too much for younger readers.)

Recommendation:  High School and up (It might be okay for a mature junior high student, it would be a parent's choice.)

Friday, June 11, 2010

Nothing To Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea



Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea by Barbara Demick

(Summary taken from the back cover of the book) "A fascinating and deeply personal look at the lives of six defectors from the repressive totalitarian regime of the Republic of North Korea...[Barbara Demick] draws out details of daily life that would not otherwise be known to Western eyes...As she reveals, 'ordinary' life in North Korea by the 1990's became a parade of horrors, where famine killed millions, manufacturing and trade virtually ceased, salaries went unpaid, medical care failed, and people became accustomed to stepping over dead bodies lying in the streets. Her terrifying depiction of North Korea from the night sky, where the entire area is blacked out from failure of the electrical grid, contrasts vividly with the propaganda on the ground below urging the country's worker-citizens to believe that they are the envy of the world...[Her] six characters reveal the emotional and cultural turmoil that finally caused each to make the dangerous choice to leave. As Demick weaves their stories together with the hidden history of the country's descent into chaos, she skillfully re-creates these captivating and moving personal journeys."

This book is heart-wrenching. It is eye-opening and heart-wrenching. I have always known about Kim Jong-il and his father and their totalitarian regimes, but I had NO idea the effect on the people there. I knew they had food shortages, but I had no idea how many people died because of lack of food. And NO electricity. The satellite picture she shows of the difference between North and South Korea is very telling. Learning about each of these individuals and their families made me so emotional and  very attached. I cried when she described how the children lived and died. I am very glad, yet not so glad, that I read this book. I like being informed about the world and its happenings so that makes me glad I read it. However, now that I know the plight of the North Korean people I almost feel obligated to help. How can you know this is happening and just continue to look the other way? On the other hand, what in the world would I be able to do about it? This question kept me up all last night. I was so emotional after I finished that I could not sleep, so I thought about this for a long time. I decided that there isn't much I can do besides maybe writing to my senators and congressmen, or maybe talking to a humanitarian aid program. What I can do, though, is to make sure this never happens here in the United States. I now feel more obligated to give more food to foodbanks and more help to homeless shelters. As a teacher I want to do more to help illiteracy. I would also like to become a bit more involved in politics to keep more of an eye on our government (no matter who is in charge). I hope I can do a little more of this because sometimes I get passionate and then two weeks later I forget. I don't want to forget.  My husband gets mad at me for always taking on more than I can handle, and I do worry about that because I am already involved with my kids' school, but I think if we all give just a little we can do a lot of good. Anyway, I got off track. I would definitely recommend reading this book. If nothing else it will give you such a sense of gratitude for whatever your situation may be, because even if you are poor in the U.S. that would make you wealthy in North Korea. I am very thankful to be here in this blessed country. Our government may not be perfect, but we have so much, and we can work to fix what we think is broken.

Rating: PG-13 (It is really hard to read. There is so much death, disease, and emotion. There is poverty and very blunt descriptions of the realities in North Korea.)

Recommendation: 18 and up. I think it would be great for an 18-year-old to read with his or her parents. It would be a good time to discuss our rights and privileges, and also to discuss how we can help those around us.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Believing Christ


Believing Christ by Stephen E. Robinson

(Summary taken from the book jacket) "In Believing Christ, Stephen E. Robinson eloquently discusses the marvelous news of the gospel: what Jesus Christ has done for us. Using examples from people's lives and modern-day analogies and parables to illustrate scriptural principles, he explains the doctrines of atonement, grace, justification, salvation, and perfection so clearly and understandably one need never be confused by them again. 'The good news of the gospel is good news to me not because it promises that other people who are better than I am can be saved, but because it promises that I can be saved--wretched, inadequate, and imperfect me. And until I accept that possibility, ...I have not really accepted the good news of the gospel.'"



I remember when this book came out and everyone read it and said how good it was....except for me. For some reason I never read it, and I wish I had. This book is amazing! My whole life I have felt guilty about not being able to do everything in the gospel perfectly all the time (let's just say...family history). After reading this I felt a huge weight lifted off my shoulders. I now know that it is okay if I'm not perfect at family history right now as long as I am doing my best. As long as I try my hardest and do my best, and continually stretch myself just a little, then I know I will be okay. Wow. What a relief. I might go so far as to say this book is "life changing." He puts it in so many ways that if you don't understand it at first, by the end you will because there is an example that would relate to everyone. I wish I had read it years ago!

Rating: PG (It's a little deep for younger readers, but I would still let them read it.)

Recommendation: 12 and up. And yes, I would have everyone read it! I loved this book!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

America's Prophet


America's Prophet by Bruce Feiler

(Summary taken from the book jacket) "The pilgrims quoted his story. Franklin and Jefferson proposed he appear on the U.S. seal. Washington and Lincoln were called his incarnations. The Statue of Liberty and Superman were molded in his image. Martin Luther King, Jr., invoked him the night before he died. Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama cited him as inspiration. For four hundred years, one figure inspired more Americans than any other. His name is Moses. In this groundbreaking book, New York Times best-selling author Bruce Feiler travels through touchstones in American history and traces the biblical prophet's influence from the Mayflower through today. He visits the island where the pilgrims spent their first Sabbath, climbs the bell tower where the Liberty Bell was inscribed with a quote from Moses, retraces the Underground Railroad where "Go Down, Moses" was the national anthem of slaves, and dons the robe Charlton Heston wore in The Ten Commandments. One part adventure story, one part literary detective story, one part exploration of faith in contemporary life, America's Prophet takes readers through the landmarks of America's narrative--from Gettysburg to Selma, the Silver Screen to the Oval Office--to understand how Moses has shaped the nation's character."

I really enjoyed this book. It reads easily, yet is very informative. He uses a lot of great vocabulary words, some that I had to look up. Feiler brings up things I had no idea happened in America's past, and I loved it. I love American history, so this book was great for me. I also love the Moses story, so it fit in perfectly with my train of thought. I loved all the little-known details he puts in the book. He did a lot of research and it all comes together very smoothly. I didn't realize how much our country was influenced by Moses and his story, and I found it interesting and intriguing. Anyway, I would definitely recommend this book. You don't have to be a believer in Moses to enjoy it because it discusses America's history, and whether you believe or not, our history was influenced by Moses.

Rating: PG

Recommendation: This would be great for any history class to reference. I think high school students and up would gain a greater understanding of our country's heritage by reading this book. It is lighter than a text book but is still history. His style of writing is very engaging.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Shattered Silence



Shattered Silence by Melissa G. Moore

(Summary taken from the back cover) "What would you do if, as a teenager, you found out that someone you loved had committed the most horrific of acts? Worse, what if he had done it again and again? Could you ever learn to forgive him? Would you ever want to? In Shattered Silence, Melissa Moore shares the true story of her life as the daughter of the notorious "Happy Face" serial killer. In this inspiring story, Melissa grows from a confused child to an outraged adolescent to an accepting adult. As she slowly connects the dots and realizes the full extent of the terrifying and gruesome crimes her father has committed, Melissa also begins to realize that she cannot change her father--all she has control over is her own life and deciding how she will react to everything that has happened. Told with heartbreaking sincerity, this uplifting story of optimism and discovering joy, even in the face of overwhelming adversity, will inspire you to face your own challenges with a similar attitude of hope."

Wow. What a story. This woman is amazing. I know people who have had bad things happen to them and they fall apart and decide not to find joy in anything, which is understandable. This woman, Melissa, does not let that happen. She realizes that we are what we make of ourselves, and it is a choice to find joy and happiness. Oh, to have a dad that commits murder, that could destroy you and your future. Her courage to overcome that is heroic. I was skeptical about this book. I didn't see how it could be uplifting, but it is.  It is well written and surprisingly inspiring. It makes you realize that the problems you have may be hard but are nothing compared to what others deal with. I would definitely recommend this book. There are some parts that are hard to read because of the content, but it is worth finishing.

Rating: PG-13 (She talks about the horrific crimes her father commits, her rape, and domestic violence.) Borderline R.

Recommendation: High School Senior and up. It also depends on the level of maturity of a high school senior. It may be too much for them also. I do recommend reading it though because it puts things in perspective and shows you how you can choose to live your life and not be a victim for the rest of your life.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Catching Fire (Hunger Games #2)


Catching Fire (Hunger Games #2) by Suzanne Collins

(Summary taken from the book jacket) "Against all odds, Katniss has won the Hunger Games. She and fellow District 12 tribute Peeta Mellark are miraculously still alive. Katniss should be relieved, happy even. After all, she has returned to her family and her longtime friend, Gale. Yet nothing is the way Katniss wishes it to be. Gale holds her at an icy distance. Peeta has turned his back on her completely. And there are whispers of a rebellion against the Capitol--a rebellion that Katniss and Peeta may have helped create. Much to her shock, Katniss has fueled an unrest she's afraid she cannot stop. And what scares her even more is that she's not entirely convinced she should try. As time draws near for Katniss and Peeta to visit the districts on the Capitol's cruel Victory Tour, the stakes are higher than ever. If they can't prove, without a shadow of a doubt, that they are lost in their love for each other, the consequences will be horrifying."

Wow. That's all I have to say....wow. This book is VERY intense! It doesn't start out as intense, but at the end....wow. The last fifty pages go so fast and there is so much happening I had to reread a couple of paragraphs because I wasn't sure who was doing what, and there was action everywhere. And the ending.....may I say, "What ending?????" She leaves you hanging on for dear life at the end. I hate it when the book doesn't end...I kept turning the empty pages at the end begging for more. There are so many twists and turns it's crazy. And I have to wait until WHEN for the next book??? AAAAHHHHHH! It's going to be a long couple of months. But I digress....I have to give it to Ms. Collins, she did a very good job on this second book. The characters are much more developed and it is very well written. I felt a lot more as if I were there with the people of District 12, as if I were afraid of the Capitol myself, and as if I too had emotions running wild. Once again, how can you love a book full of death and destruction?? I don't know, but Ms. Collins' writing just pulls you in and keeps you there. If you were depressed after the first book I would say definitely read the second one. It is still depressing, but the intensity of it overrides the depressing factor. You still have no idea between Gale and Peeta, and NOTHING is finalized, in fact, on the last page there are more questions that haven't been answered than have, but it is worth reading because there might be a smidgeon of hope??? You'll have to decide for yourself on that one.

Rating: R (Remember, this rating does not follow the movie ratings. An R rating simply means there are adult themes that I don't think are appropriate for younger children.)  There is little to no language. Peeta and Katniss kiss and sleep in the same bed for comfort, but nothing inappropriate happens. It is the violence and death that make this book inappropriate for young readers. The themes are very mature and would be hard for a younger reader to understand and deal with.

Recommendation: Senior year of high school and up. Also, I would only recommend it to adults with the above precautions. As with the first book, death and despair are abundant......but I liked it??? Hmmm. Hopefully the third book brings some happiness!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

My Prison, My Home


My Prison, My Home by Haleh Esfandiari

(Summary taken from the book jacket) "This stunning arrest was the culmination of a chain of events set into motion in the early-morning hours of December 31, 2006--a day that began like any other but presaged the end of Esfandiari's regular visits to her elderly mother in Iran, and her return to the United States. That morning, the driver arrived on time. Her mother held the Quran over her head for blessing and luck. From the car, Haleh waved good-bye. She checked for her passport and plane ticket. But as the taxi neared the airport, a sedan forced them to pull over. Three men, armed with knives, threatened her and her driver while going through her pockets and stealing her belongings--including her travel documents. She was left unharmed but would not fly home to the States that day. "An ordinary robbery," Esfandiari insisted to friends and family. She took steps to secure a new passport and book a new flight. But it would not be until eight months later that she would leave Iran. Esfandiari became the victim of the far-fetched belief on the part of Iran's Intelligence Ministry that she, a scholar with the Woodrow Wilson International Center in Washington, D.C., was part of an American conspiracy for "regime change" in Iran. In haunting prose and vivid detail, Esfandiari recounts how the Intelligence Ministry subsequently ordered a search of her mother's apartment; put her through hours, then weeks, of interrogation; tapped her phone calls, forcing her to speak in code to her husband and mother; and finally detained her at the notorious Even Prison, where she would spend 105 days in solitary confinement."


To start off, I am so thankful for our country and the freedoms we enjoy. Our government is not perfect, but we are so blessed to be here with a government that at least follows the rule of law. This book is well written and compelling.  I learned a lot about Iran and it's history and government. At times it was difficult to keep track of all the different Iranian leaders and what purpose they have in the government, but Esfandiari writes so well that even though I wasn't 100% sure of who was who, I understood what was going on. She has led a very exciting life, compared to mine. She has lived in Austria, Iran, and the United States. Unfortunately, I do not remember hearing her story when it happened, but I am glad I read the book. It helped me to learn more about world affairs and how different countries rule. It also gave me a personal side to Iran. To me Iran has always been about Ahmadinejad and not allowing him to have nuclear weapons. I have been one to suggest using every option to stop him. After reading this book I still believe, now even more, that Iran should not be allowed to have nuclear weapons, but I worry more about the citizens of Iran and how they will be affected either way. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who wants to be more aware of what can happen in our world, who wants to learn more about Iran and it's history, and who wants to become more grateful for the country we live in and the freedoms we enjoy.

Rating: PG-13  The only reason I added the "13" was because it is difficult to understand and her interrogation and prison life are not happy. She was not physically harmed, but I think it would be too much for younger teens. There is little to no language and no "physical intimacy," but it is about prison life.

Recommendation: I think it would be a great book for high school seniors to read while they learn about world history. I don't know if I would go younger than that. So high school senior and up would benefit from reading this book.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Organizing for your Brain Type



Organizing For Your Brain Type by Lanna Nakone

(Summary taken from the back of the book) "Let your natural inclinations guide you toward gaining control of your environment and learn to live life on your own terms. Drawing on the science of brain function and her experience as a professional orgainizer, Lanna Nakone offers tailored and specific advice that will actually help you tame your desk, unclutter your closet, manage your time, and save your sanity. Take the Brain Style quiz to determine which of the four parts of the brain you rely on the most to process information, and which organizing style complements your brain function. If you rely on the :
1. Frontal left section of your brain, you're a Prioritizing Style. Adept at analyzing data, you prefer to delegate organizing.
2. Frontal right section of your brain, you're an Innovating Style. Artistic and creative, you have a unique stacking system that no one else understands.
3. Posterior left section of your brain, you're a Maintaining Style. You develop and follow routines well and adhere to traditional organizing methods.
4. Posterior right section of your brain, you're a Harmonizing Style. Valuing interconnectedness with your family or coworkers, you need your environment to be peaceful.
Chapters specific to each type offer practical tips and strategies for implementing an organizing system, maintaining your system, and coexisting with different brain types.

Some of you may be laughing right now....hahaha. Why an organizing book? Well, I have children, a husband, a house, food storage, financial records, a dog, a fish, and a bird.  I also have more that I have not listed, and they are all out of control right now. Now, if you know me well you would probably guess that I am a Maintaining Style. I'm fairly good at organizing, and I love purchasing containers and shelves and boxes and such, but it's time and how to do things more efficiently that I hoped for. Her Maintaining Style had me to a tee, but it didn't do all that I hoped for. I'm already pretty good at the paper files and paper trail, but it's the other stuff I wanted help on. She goes into a lot of detail about paper organization and some closet stuff, but it wasn't quite what I wanted. I did think it was helpful and I would recommend it, but I'm still searching for the information I want.

Rating: G

Recommendation: Good for all who want to be more organized! 14 years and up. I don't think a 14 year-old would really want to read it, but, he/she could!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Fablehaven #1


Fablehaven #1 by Brandon Mull

(Summary taken from the back of the book) "For centuries mystical creatures were gathered into a hidden refuge called Fablehaven to prevent their extinction. The sanctuary is one of the last strongholds of true magic. Enchanting? Absolutely. Exciting? You bet. Safe? Well, actually, quite the opposite...Kendra and her brother, Seth, have no idea that their grandfather is the current caretaker of Fablehaven. Inside the gated woods, ancient laws keep order among greedy trolls, mischievous satyrs, plotting witches, spiteful imps, and jealous fairies. However, when the rules get broken, powerful forces of evil are unleashed, and Kendra and her brother must face the greatest challenge of their lives to save their family, Fablehaven, and perhaps the world."

I liked this book, but I didn't love it. It was good and entertaining, but it didn't capture me from the beginning. It didn't seem "real," which is funny because it's fantasy, but that's how I felt. It was good, clean reading, and it would be a good read-aloud for younger children. I do know some people that LOVED this book, so it may just be me. I think I will read the rest of the series because I know my children will want to read them and I like to preview books before they read them.  I would recommend it for when you want to read a book and don't really want to think, just be entertained.

Rating: PG There are some scarier parts and some gory parts. There isn't any language or "physical intimacy."

Recommendation: 1st or 2nd grade for read-alouds and if the child is reading by himself, 2nd or 3rd grade, depending on the child and his reading ability. My 2nd grader wants to read the series and I think I will let him try, although I do want to read it aloud. It's also good for anyone above that level that wants a fun, entertaining book to read.

Fablehaven #2 Rise of the Evening Star



Fablehaven #2 Rise of the Evening Star by Brandon Mull

(Summary taken from the back of the book) "At the end of the school year Kendra and her brother, Seth, find themselves racing back to Fablehaven, a refuge for mythical and magical creatures. Grandpa Sorenson invites three specialists--a potion master, a collector of magical relics, and a trapper of mystical creatures--to help protect the property from the Society of the Evening Star, an ancient orgainization determined to steal a hidden artifact of great power. Time is running out. If the artifact falls into the wrong hands, it could mean the downfall of other preserves and possibly the world." 

I liked this book a lot more than I liked the first one. I think it seemed more "real," if that's possible. It caught my attention more. There are still some corny parts, but overall I liked it. It's a good, easy read that is entertaining and good when you just want a fun book. It is fairly well written and has some good twists and turns. The last page brings a surprise, even though I had thought about the possibility of it while reading. I like the characters and the story. It is good, clean fun. There is some gore and some scarier scenes, but there is no language and no "physical intimacy."

Rating: PG  There is some gore and might be scary for littler children.

Recommendation: 1st grade and up, if being read to. If reading alone probably 2nd or 3rd grade. My 2nd grader wants to read it. It may be a little too difficult for him, but I think I'll let him try. I think I'll read it aloud though.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Hunger Games



The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

(Summary taken from the book jacket) "In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister's place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before--and suvival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that weigh survival against humanity and life against love."

Wow. Where to start with this book? Interesting idea, right? And depressing? Yes to both. I like Suzanne Collins' style of writing. It is an easy read, more like a young adult book, but the ideas, the themes, and the events are very mature and not for young audiences. Younger children would be able to read the words but they would not be able to comprehend and handle all that happens. Some of it traumatized me, as an adult, and I do not want my children reading it. The book definitely draws you in. The story is very compelling and you have to know what happens to this girl. This book really made me think about my life. It made me thankful for our country and our freedoms. It made me thankful for food to eat and a very supportive family, and a good job. It also made me take a harder look at reality TV and my reactions to it. Overall I liked the book. I will read the second one. I was very depressed at the end, so don't read it if you don't like depressing. Also, there are some very graphic death scenes, so don't read it if you don't think you could handle that. I didn't like that it sucked me in, that I became the person rubber-necking on the freeway to get a glimpse of the accident. I didn't like that it had that power over me, but it definitely did. But yes, I did like the book and would recommend it with the above precautions.

Rating: R (Remember, this rating does not follow the movie ratings. An R rating simply means there are adult themes that I don't think are appropriate for younger children.) There is none to very little language. There are no "physical intimacy" scenes, but they do talk about being naked. There are very mature themes and some very graphic death scenes. A lot of people die. (Happy, right???)

Recommendation: Senior year of high school and up. Also, I would only recommend it to adults with the above precautions. See, death and despair......but I liked it??? It kind of makes you think.....what does that say about me????

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Mermaid Chair


The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kidd

(Summary taken from the book jacket) "Inside the church of a Benedictine monastery on Egret Island, just off the coast of South Carolina, resides a beautiful and mysterious chair ornately carved with mermaids and dedicated to a saint who, legend claims, was a mermaid before her conversion. When Jessie is summoned home to the island to cope with her eccentric mother's seemingly inexplicable act of violence, she is living a conventional life with her husband, Hugh, a life 'molded to the smallest space possible.' Jessie loves Hugh, but once there, she finds herself drawn to Brother Thomas, a monk who is soon to take his final vows. Amid a rich community of unforgettable island women and the exotic beauty of marshlands, tidal creeks, and mejestic egrets, Jessie grapples with the tension of desire and the struggle to deny it, with a freedom that feels overwhelmingly right and the immutable force of home and marriage."

Oh, what to say about this book. After Secret Life of Bees I was very excited to read this book. Well, it was very different. If you step back and look at the over-all story, there are certain things that are similar in the books, but..wow. From  page 2 of this book you know the character is going to have an affair, and you know she is going to destroy her life. So after page 2 I was left wondering if I should even read it. I mean, if you read it are you being immoral for reading about a sordid love affair? You know there will be scenes of "physical intimacy." You know that it is going to be a bad situation, and yet do you read it??? In one sense I didn't want to read it because I didn't know if it was morally right to read it. Then in the other sense I was so enthralled with the other aspects of the story, I wanted answers to my questions. And, I really wanted to see if this stupid lady would come to her senses and do the right thing. So did I read it??? Yes, I did. I am bad at stopping half-way. Was I glad I finished it??? Yes, I was. My questions were answered, and (I don't want to give anything away) I was satisfied with the resolution. It ended up being a good book. It really made me think at the end. I don't want to have the feelings she did in 10 more years, so I looked a lot at me, and what I can do to improve my really good marriage now, and also what can I do to help myself? This book shows a lot about human nature, love, forgiveness, mental illness, and friendship. It also shows how what happens to us in our childhood affects what happens in our adult lives. I do love her writing though. It really pulls you in.

Rating: R (Remember, this rating is not congruent with the movie ratings.) My R rating means that there is a lot of language and there is a lot of "physical intimacy." The first intimacy scene is a little descriptive but from then on they just say they "made love."

Recommendation: 18+, but really I would say you should be HAPPILY married, and strong in your relationship if you want to read this book. You should also have a good, strong set of morals and NO inclination to have an affair. I just say this because I had such a moral struggle to begin with, just because I knew the premise of the story. But, I think it ended up being a good thing in the end. So there you go...you have the info. so you can make your own choice.

Monday, March 1, 2010

The Count of Monte Cristo


The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

(Summary taken from the back cover) "Falsely accused of treason, the young sailor Edmond Dantes is arrested on his wedding day and imprisoned in the island fortress of the Chateau d'If. After staging a dramatic escape, he sets out to discover the fabulous treasure of Monte Cristo and catch up with his enemies. A novel of enormous tension and excitement, Monte Cristo is also a tale of obsession and revenge. Believing himself to be an 'Angel of Providence', Dantes pursues his vengeance to the bitter end, only then realizing that he himself is a victim of fate."

I LOVE this book!!! I have read it (the 1,100 page version) at least twice, and I will definitely read it again! This is another of my all-time favorite books!!! I could go on and on about how much I love this book. There is an abridged version for those who do not like 1,100 page books, and I've heard it's good, but I haven't read it. Also, do not watch the movie and think you will get the whole picture. I don't even know why they called the movie by the same name because they are completely different. The movie is good, yes....but it's not the same story at all. I love Alexandre Dumas's writing style. I love the description, the attention to detail, the feeling he portrays, the emotion. I love the characters (well, some of them), I love how he describes them and how everything fits together perfectly. It is a little harder of a read because it was written in the 1800's. I love that language but some people find it hard to get into. There are also a lot of characters to remember, but it's worth every minute of time spent reading. Okay, hopefully I don't get your expectations too high!

Rating: PG-13: (Prison talk, revenge, but mostly you have to be a little more mature to read it just to get into the language and really understand the feelings.)

Recommendation: I read it in high school so I would say high school and up. It's not a good read-aloud. I would recommend it to anyone 17+ who loves  a good read with love, revenge, hate, suffering, remorse, action...it has something for everyone!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Host


The Host by Stephanie Meyer

(Summary taken from the book jacket) "Melanie Stryder refuses to fade away. Our world has been invaded by an unseen enemy. Humans become hosts for these invaders, their minds taken over while their bodies remain intact and continue their lives apparentlhy unchanged. Most of humanity has succumbed. When Melanie, one of the few remaining "wild" humans, is captured, she is certain it is her end. Wanderer, the invading "soul" who has been given Melanie's body, was warned about the challenges of living inside a human: the overwhelming emotions, the glut of senses, the too-vivid memories. But there was one difficulty Wanderer didn't expect: the former tenant of her body refusing to relinquish possession of her mind. Wanderer probes Melanie's thoughts, hoping to discover the whereabouts of the remaining human resistance. Instead, Melanie fills Wanderer's mind with visions of the man Melanie loves--Jared, a human who still lives in hiding. Unable to separate herself from her body's desires, Wanderer begins to yearn for a man she has been tasked with exposing. When outside forces make Wanderer and Melanie unwilling allies, the set off on a dangerous and uncertain search for the man they both love."

This book really took me by surprise. It takes awhile to get into, to figure out what is happening, but it is so interesting. Stephanie Meyer has outdone herself this time. This book is on a much higher intellectual level than the Twilight series. It really makes you think, and look at those all around you. I really liked this book! Up until the end I had no idea how she would end it, and it is surprising, but it is so good! It is worth the 600+ pages to delve into the lives of Wanderer and Melanie. How would I act in this situation? Would I give up? How do I treat those around me who may be different? My enemies? Could I survive? It is a captivating story. It takes a little bit longer to read at the beginning because you have to figure out what is going on. Meyer has a way of ending her chapters at the right time so you have to keep reading. It was a great read!

Rated: PG-13 (Some violence, death ) It is too much for younger minds to digest, I think. There are a few swear words here and there, but not too bad.

Recommendation: High School and up.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Lemon Tart



Lemon Tart by Josi Kilpack

(Summary from the back of the book) "...Cooking aficionado-turned-amateur detective, Sadie Hoffmiller, tries to solve the murder of Anne Lemmon, her beautiful young neighbor--a single mother who was mysteriously killed while a lemon tart was baking in her oven. At the heart of Sadie's search is Anne's missing two-year-old son, Trevor. Whoever took the child must be the murderer, but Sadie is certain that the police are looking at all the wrong suspects--including her! Armed with a handful of her very best culinary masterpieces, Sadie is determined to bake her way to proving her innocence, rescuing Trevor, and finding out exactly who had a motive for murder."

Okay, let me start out by saying that I was very skeptical. Any fiction book you can buy at "Seagull Book" scares me. I don't like cheesy Mormony fiction, usually. This book surprised me. There are a few cheesy moments, for example, when it starts out Sadie is canning applesauce. Overall, though, it is good. There were some twists and turns, it held my attention, and I enjoyed it. I don't know if I'll run out for the next one, but if I get my hands on it then I'll read it. There are some yummy recipes in it also. I've had the brownies and they are delicious! I'm going to try the rest of them. One thing I didn't like was that it almost marginalized the murder because of the cutsy-ness of it all.

Rated: PG-13 (It is a murder, after all.)

Recommended for: High School and up.