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Monday, November 26, 2012

The Book Thief


The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

(Summary taken from the book jacket) "Narrated by Death, Markus Zusak's groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a young foster girl living outside of Munich in Nazi Germany. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she discovers something she can't resist--books. Soon she is stealing books from Nazi book-burnings, the mayor's wife's library, wherever they are to be found. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, Liesel learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids, as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement."

This book took me awhile to get into because it is so different, but it is very well crafted and the language is beautiful. It is very descriptive, and strangely, that is what threw me at first. There were images that didn't make sense to me, but then I just decided to read on and enjoy the imagery. I LOVE books, so I related to Liesel, although I don't think I'd steal them. I loved the characters in this book, and they are developed so well. I think my favorite character was Liesel's foster father. I picture him as so gentle and loving and patient. I also picture him as fun and happy. He's also a hard worker and very compassionate. Liesel's foster mother is definitely rough around the edges, but I think she is also a very loving woman, she just shows it in a different way. Rudy. Rudy is Liesel's best friend and what a character he is! I love the scene where he runs like Jesse Owens. I felt so bad for Max. What a terrible time in our world history. Yet, how wonderful that there were still people with common sense and courage to help the Jews. I loved that Liesel loved him so much. I cried when I read the book he wrote for Liesel.

The story in this book just drew me in. What an amazing story of survival, hope, despair, courage, and love. Like I said, the imagery is beautiful, and yet a little confusing at times. This is not a happy book. It's World War II in Nazi Germany. There are Jews paraded down the street, there are many deaths, and war violence. There is a suicide hanging. The children steal. A lot. There are bombing raids and bomb shelters. However, there is also enough hope and love and courage and survival that it's not too depressing. I was left with hope that challenges can be overcome and difficult situations can be worked through. I was also filled with hope because there are still good people in the world. I really liked this book and recommend this book with the previous warnings.

Rating: PG-13 + (Language, violence, death, war violence, cruelty to Jews)

Recommendation: 16 and up. This may be too early for some kids, so I recommend that parents read it first to make sure it is appropriate for their child.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Dark Matter Heart


Dark Matter Heart (Book #1) by Nathan Wrann

(Summary taken from an email the author sent me) "A new town. A new school. A new beginning. Seventeen year-old Cordell Griffin, and his mother, moved from Southern California to the Pacific Northwest to deal with his "sun allergies," and bizarrely restrictive "human blood diet". Cor has one goal: To blend in and be invisible. Unfortunately for him, no matter how far he goes, danger and tragedy lurk around every corner. "

Mr. Wrann hooked me on this book from page one. Cor's character intrigued me from the very beginning. Why was he hiding under a blanket in the car? Why did he and his mom need to leave Los Angeles? Why is he a fugitive? Is he in trouble with the law? And, in order to find the answers to these questions, I kept reading and reading and reading. I liked the character development in this book. I really liked Cor, Taylor, Caitlyn, and Mr. Gifford. Cor did make me nervous hanging out at scary parks in the middle of the night with a murderer nearby, but as I read I understood a little more. I pretty much knew what was going on before Cor did, but I kept reading because I couldn't stop. Although it has a storyline that is similar to a lot of current books, it does have a different twist that makes it interesting.

I loved this book.....until I got to the last few pages. Oh man. I was really disappointed. In what had been a fairly clean book, suddenly there was a barrage of "f" words and other harsh language. There was a graphic rape scene and graphic murders. It became very violent and gory. I, the reader, felt violated after reading the last couple of pages. I didn't like it at all. And the sad part was, there was a really good twist at the end, and I just felt blah. Even though I really want to know what happens in the next book, I don't know if I'll read it because of those last few pages. I wish it hadn't ended on that note, because I really want to read the next one. I just don't know if I want to read it if it is going to continue to be that violent and graphic. I may give it a shot just because I'm kind of hooked, but I'll let you know.

Rating: R (Language, including a few "f" words, violence, a rape scene, murders, graphic descriptions)

Recommendation: College and up

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Beau and the Beanstalk


Beau and the Beanstalk by Lee Baker

(Summary taken from www.mediaguests.net)
"Beau and the Beanstalk is being released as a revolutionary Interactive App. Children will be able to read along with the text as Lee Baker narrates the story as well as hear the characters speak as they interact on their PC, Mac, ipad, iphone, Android pad, Android phone or Kindle Fire.

Author Lee Baker created a fun new book for children of all ages to enjoy. A reverse on the classic tale, Jack and the Beanstalk, Baker's Children's book Beau and the Beanstalk is about an adolescent giant who is ridiculed in a magical kingdom in the clouds and climbs down a beanstalk to meet Jack, a hack-magician with a love of fire tricks, who will do anything to be the star of the circus.

This book is an instant hit with parents and educators. The book teaches values like overcoming difficulties, taking care of mistakes, standing up to bullies and choosing the right friends. The illustrations will immediately draw the reader into the story."

This is a fun book! It's not like your ordinary picture book you read to the kids at bedtime. This book will definitely engage younger readers because it is on the computer and it is fun! The story line is really cute and a play on your typical "Jack and the Beanstalk." The illustrations are wonderful and it was fun clicking on all the characters to see what they had to say. There are some really good lessons for kids in the story as well. It teaches taking responsibility for your actions, that bullying others is not okay, and that if you work hard enough you can overcome whatever problems you may have. It isn't very long and will for sure hold the children's attention. There are some scarier pictures, but they aren't too bad and should be okay with the kids. I enjoyed reading this story and will definitely open it up for my kids tomorrow. I think all my kids will enjoy it, even my 11-year-old son. I did receive it for my PC, but I think I'm going to look for it for my android phone, that way I have it at those unexpected times when I need something to keep the kids busy and all I have is my phone.

Rating: PG (A few pictures are a little bit scary, bullying, some fighting)

Recommendation: Everyone! Just make sure with the really little kids that you go through it beforehand to make sure it's not too scary. It will be fine for my four-year-old, but it might scare yours--all kids are different.


Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book/app in exchange for my honest review.


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Flurry


Flurry by J.G. Hewitt

(Summary taken from an email the author sent me) "Laurel Fairchild is high born. She is a gifted student and athlete. Parker is an acrobat in a travelling circus. He is street-smart and charming. They were never supposed to meet but fate intervened. Laurel knows the circus boy and his secrets will be her unraveling and lead to her execution but like a moth to a flame, she cannot resist him.

The Crystal Treaty requires Laurel to compete in the Stadia Games at seventeen to be ranked for her Senior year when she will be forcibly married in a mass wedding to a husband that she neither knows nor wants, or face death by stoning. In a post-apocalyptic world, the Earth's surface has been drained of water and civilization destroyed. There are no clouds, no trees, no rain. There is no freedom. There is only the Realm, which is ruled by a Guild of power-hungry Barons who command the Division, a brutal army that maintains social order through violence among the working class serving the Realm’s elite for a meager daily water ration. It has been this way since time immemorial but the catastrophic events at this year’s Games are going to change everything, not the least of which for Laurel and Parker."
 
I enjoyed this book. It is another book about controlled society, but it does have a different twist. It has some elements of "Matched" and "Divergent" and a few from "Hunger Games," but it does throw in its own twists and turns. I liked the main characters, Laurel and Parker, and thought they had a lot of courage. I thought the character development in this book was good.  I enjoyed the story and did get drawn in.  I liked the images of the circa and the interesting things they did. It reminded me a lot of Cirque du Soleil and the things they do. This story made me thankful to be able to go to my tap and get water whenever I want to. It also made me very thankful for the freedoms we have, and that we don't have arranged marriages.
 
There were a lot of grammatical and spelling errors in this book, which was annoying, but they can be fixed. I did continue reading, but there were some errors that I had to read and reread several times before I could figure out what was happening. There were also some graphic scenes in this book that I don't think are appropriate for younger readers. There was a murder that was too descriptive and made me sick. It was very graphic. There isn't any "intimacy" besides some kissing. I don't remember any language, but there may have been a couple of words. I also got confused with all the characters. I had a bit of trouble remembering which person came from which group, and who that person was in the group.
 
I did enjoy the book, though, and will read the next one. I recommend it with the above warnings.
 
Rating: PG-13+ (Graphic murder, violence)
 
Recommendation: 16 and up. As always, I recommend that parents read this book first to see if it is appropriate for their children.
 
Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.