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Monday, January 31, 2011

The Kite Runner


The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

(Summary taken from the inside book jacket) "Raised in the same household and sharing the same wet nurse, Amir and Hassan nonetheless grow up in different worlds: Amir is the son of a prominent and wealthy man, while Hassan, the son of Amir's father's servant, is a Hazara, member of a shunned ethnic minority. Their intertwined lives, and their fates, reflect the eventual tragedy of the world around them.  When the Soviets invade and he and his father flee the country for a new life in California, Amir thinks that he has escaped his past. And yet he cannot leave the memory of Hassan behind him."

This book is amazing. It's tragic and at times traumatic, but so well written. When I finished the book I felt as if I had just read Mr. Hosseini's diary. He grabs your attention at the very beginning and draws you into this story that pulls at your heart strings, makes you angry, makes you cry, and makes you very glad to have grown up in the United States of America. The plot has twists and turns and even though you may think you know what is going to happen, it still doesn't happen exactly as you thought. Mr. Hosseini's character development is right on. I felt so attached to these characters. His words just come to life on the page.

The events in the story are very difficult to read. I had to put the book down a few times and walk away because I was so traumatized. Even after putting the book down I couldn't get the images out of my head. It was really hard, but I kept going back. I was so involved I had to finish. I don't know how much is true about Afghanistan, like dates of invasions and if the Soviets or the Taliban did the things in the stories, but it sure makes you see world events in a different light. It puts a more personal side to events that happen around the world. I would recommend reading this book if you think you can handle the events that take place. It is so well written and there is a wonderful lesson to be learned. There are some happy moments in the book and the main character, Amir, learns a great lesson and learns to overcome his weaknesses. That is something we can all relate to and hope to achieve. I enjoyed learning more about Afghanistan and the way of life there, and some of their traditons.

Rating: R (Remember this does not follow the movie ratings. It is my way of saying this is NOT for children or young adults.) There is a rape scene and there are descriptions alluding to other sexual abuse. There is a horrible death by stoning scene. There are also war-time events that take place that are not for younger readers. There is also a lot of language.

Recommendation: College and up, in my opinion. Maybe a really mature high school senior could handle it, but I don't think I'd go younger than that. It's an amazing book, but very difficult to read because of the events that take place.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Grandpa's Teeth


Grandpa's Teeth by Rod Clement

(Summary taken from the back book cover) " 'Help, I've been robbed! It'sth a disthasthter!' Grandpa's teeth, handmade by the finest Swiss craftsman, are gone--stolen from his bedside table! Grandpa suspects anyone who doesn't smile widely enough to prove that their teeth are their own. Soon everyone in town is smiling--all the time--and their ghastly grins are frightening the tourists away. Can the culprit be caught before the whole town cracks up?"

This is a fun, great book! It is perfect for a read-aloud book. My kids love it, and my first graders loved it, because you have to read it as if you don't have any teeth. It's very funny. The kids laugh and laugh. The story is very cute and has a twist at the end. The illustrations are very well done and very creative. Some children don't know what dentures are, and so you need to explain that, but once they get it, they love it. I chose this book as my first children's book post because I think it is such a fun and creative book, and I think kids of all ages (and parents too) will enjoy this book. Happy reading!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Paranormalcy


Paranormalcy by Kiersten White

(Summary taken from the inside book jacket) "Weird as it is working for the International Paranormal Containment Agency, Evie's always thought of herself as normal. Sure, her best friend is a mermaid, her ex-boyfriend is a faerie, she's falling for a shape-shifter, and she's the only person who can see through paranormals' glamours, but still. Normal. Only now paranormals are dying, and Evie's dreams are filled with haunting voices and mysterious prophecies. She soon realizes that there may be a link between her abilities and the sudden rash of deaths. Not only that, but she may very well be at the center of a dark faerie prophecy promising destruction to all paranormal creatures. So much for normal."

After reading "Rebecca" I really needed something lighter and more fun, and this definitely fit the bill. I started with hesitation because a friend had told me she hadn't liked it, but I found it a surprisingly fun, easy, and quick read. I really liked the characters, especially Evie and Lend, and I felt like they were well-developed. It only took me a few hours to read, which was really nice, and I thought Ms. White did a good job with the story line. It had some fun twists and turns and everything you could want: action, romance, good vs. evil, and a mixture of every kind of mythical creature. It had some hints of "Twilight" and "Fablehaven" yet held its own. I did like the previous two books better, and think they are slightly better written, but this was easy and fun. I would recommend it if you want to read something that is easy and entertaining. I loved that it was completley clean! There wasn't any language and no "physical intimacy." There was some death of creatures and some violence associated with that, but there are commercials that have more violence than this book, so it's easy to recommend.

Rating: PG-13 (A few characters die and there is some minor violence associated with that. A faerie does kidnap Evie at one point and that scene is a little distressing, but she is able to get out of it okay. There is some kissing, but it's early teen-age kissing so it doesn't go further than that.)

Recommendation: 14-15 years and up. I think it's fine for mid-teens. I think girls would like it more than boys, but you never know. It may even be okay for a mature 13 year-old.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Rebecca

Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier

(Summary taken from the back of the book) "So the second Mrs. Maxim de Winter remembered the chilling events that led her down the turning drive past the beeches, white and naked, to the isolated gray stone manse on the windswept Cornish coast. With a husband she barely knew, the young bride arrived at this immense estate, only to be inexorably drawn into the life of the first Mrs. de Winter, the beautiful Rebecca, dead but never forgotten...her suite of rooms never touched, her clothes ready to be worn, her servant--the sinister Mrs. Danvers--still loyal. And as an eerie presentiment of evil tightened around her heart, the second Mrs. de Winter began her search for the real fate of Rebecca...for the secrets of Manderley."

WARNING: DO NOT READ THIS IF YOU HAVEN'T READ THE BOOK (AND WANT TO)!
I haven't read a classic novel in awhile, and I have missed the beautiful language. I love Du Maurier's style of writing. I enjoy the attention to detail and how it just pulls you in. Her characters come to life and pull you in. However, with all of this, I didn't love the book. OK, well, I really liked it at first. Mr. de Winter intrigued me as much as he intrigued everyone else in the book. I cheered as much as anyone when she got to leave Mrs. Van Hopper. At the same time, I thought he was a complete jerk. He didn't tell her he loved her, he didn't get down on one knee, and he didn't kiss her when he proposed. And, he didn't do anything to prepare her for life at Manderley. He didn't buy her any new clothes, he didn't tell her where the Morning Room was, and he left her alone with Mrs. Danvers all day. And this girl (I don't think it's a good sign when I don't even know the main character's name.) drove me crazy! She wouldn't stand up for herself and change the handwriting on the desk labels, or put the flowers where she wanted them. The worst part though (STOP reading if you don't want to know the ending....) was that she still loved him after she found out that he murdered his first wife. She practically didn't care! Maybe I could see still loving him (????) but once I got over that shock I came to the end. What???  They drive up and find their house is burning to the ground, and that is how it ends??? I immediately reread the first two chapters and didn't find any answers. How long after the fire did they go to this hotel? How long had they been there? Had they traveled around or just found one place? Why didn't they rebuild? Why didn't they want to live in a house instead of a hotel? What happened to the staff, were they okay? Needless to say, I didn't love the ending. I did enjoy the beginning and middle of the book, and I enjoyed the classic style, but I didn't like the storyline at all.

Rating: PG-13 (Some profanity, a murder scene)

Recommendation: High School and up. It's a strange book. Reading about how someone murders his wife is not pleasant.