I have put off reading this book for awhile, even though it's been vastly popular for years (in fact we can never keep any copies of this on the shelfI have put off reading this book for awhile, even though it's been vastly popular for years (in fact we can never keep any copies of this on the shelf at our library). I finally found a copy of this first book and took it home. I honestly wasn't impressed. Greg Heffley is your typical skinny 6th grade boy I suppose, with a slightly less intelligent best friend named Rowley, so he is relateable for most kids. But for me that's where the similarities end. He's lazy, is only out for himself, mean and as another reviewer put it, "What an a-hole!" There's a scene at the end of the book that especially pissed me off. Greg and Rowley are on the Safety Patrol (essentially being student crossing guards, which is a pretty cushy job as you can skip class and get free hot chocolate) when a local neighborhood lady sees Greg in Rowley's jacket harassing a group of kindergarteners. She informs the principal and Rowley gets in trouble. Instead of doing the right thing and admitting his mistake, Greg lets him take his punishment and only later admits to Rowley the truth. He rats on Greg, and Greg gets his just rewards and is kicked off the Safety Patrol, while Rowley is re-instated and promoted to officer. So now we're encouraging kids to have bad manners and be jerks?! I know that it's all in good humor and that this book has brought loads of reluctant readers into reading, and for that I am grateful. But there are better and funnier diary-type books out there for kids (like "Alvin Ho"). This just makes me want to find better quality books like this for kids. Recommended for ages 8-12, 2 stars. ...more
Karim and Salima Kufdani are two orphaned street kids from Tangier, Morocco. They are rescued from anonymity by Alejandro Muhammad Cuchulain (Cooch) aKarim and Salima Kufdani are two orphaned street kids from Tangier, Morocco. They are rescued from anonymity by Alejandro Muhammad Cuchulain (Cooch) and educated by his team, which include a martial arts expert and a mathematical genius. After spending some time with them, they are shipped off to a Scottish boarding school called Bairdston to receive a more rounded Western education. But will they be able to survive this new climate, in the face of racism and bullying? Recommended for ages 14+, 2-1/2 stars.
I originally picked this book because I thought the subject matter was interesting. Two Muslim kids from Africa trying to adapt to life in the bitter cold of a Scottish boarding school. What I did not know until I read someone else’s review and the author’s note at the end of the book (which really should’ve been in the beginning), was that this story came from a brief mention in the author’s last book Pulse, an adult thriller. That book is all about Cooch, a half-American/half-Bedouin former CIA agent who becomes the guardian for the teens in this book. You could tell that the author had never written a book for teens before as the writing was pretty dry and didn’t really draw you into the lives of the characters, but kept things mostly on the surface. I didn’t feel like this book had an ending; the story just sort of stopped. Karim and Salima are pretty viciously bullied by teachers and students alike, but nobody seems to want to help them, with the exception of their caregivers and that response is pretty brutal. The only time Islam is really mentioned is at the end when Karim tries to “educate” his teammates on what Islam is and really means. Honestly, the only part I found really fascinating is when Karim joins the soccer team and the author vividly describes a soccer game that the team has with a rival team, and really puts you in the minds of the players....more
The last book in the "Joey Pigza" series, in this volume, we see an older and mature Joey. He's kind of had to be, since his father abandoned them agaThe last book in the "Joey Pigza" series, in this volume, we see an older and mature Joey. He's kind of had to be, since his father abandoned them again at the end of the last book after getting a face lift, and his mother was left alone to take care of Joey and Carter Jr., his baby brother by herself. Both him and his mother adore Carter Jr and believe he is the redeeming Pigza because he is not "messed up" like the rest of his family. Joey's mom loses Joey's medication, has a breakdown while suffering from postpartum depression and leaves Joey and his brother alone in the house and forbids them to open the door to their father. Joey has to stop going to school to take care of his brother, and make sure no one finds out that him mom has left them alone. The only person he has to get through things with is his on-again off-again blind girlfriend Olive, who is one of the few people who doesn't lie to him. Will he be able to cope? Can he find some of his medicine? When will his family go back to being a normal family? To find out, read this exciting conclusion to the series. Recommended for ages 9-12, 4 stars....more
I decided that maybe I should read something a bit better from Hemingway, as he seems to actually be a good writer, but I may have picked his worst boI decided that maybe I should read something a bit better from Hemingway, as he seems to actually be a good writer, but I may have picked his worst book (aka "To Have and Have Not"). So I decided to read Old Man and the Sea to get a different perspective on Hemingway as a writer. Ok, I will admit that after reading the book, I am still not a Hemingway fan. I just couldn’t get into it.
The story is about a decrepit old man who has been a fisherman all his life. He used to have a little boy who helped him but since his luck has run out, the boy is working for someone else. The old man has not caught any fish for eighty-four days (equals out to about 2-1/2 months, which if fishing is your livelihood, is a bloody long time). The boy trys to take care of him and make sure he is fed. The old man goes out in the morning, determined to get a fish today and he ends up battling the father of all swordfish for about 3 days before he finally manages to skewer it. Only problem is that because it is bleeding, this attracts three sharks that eat it before he can make it to land. By the time he does, only the head and skeleton are attached to the old man’s boat. You want the old man to succeed because he has had such a hard time of it and battling this enormous fish for three days, and also slowly going a bit crazy. But at the same time, you know he is doomed to failure. It was a depressing and sad book. Recommended for ages 14+, 2-1/2 stars. ...more
In the third book of the Metamorphoses series, seventeen-year old Tally (short for Atalanta) has got her life all planned out. She is a genius, belov In the third book of the Metamorphoses series, seventeen-year old Tally (short for Atalanta) has got her life all planned out. She is a genius, beloved by her adopted family and her best friend Shane, and will shortly graduate high school and go to college to get her Ph.D in cosmology and/or particle physics. That is until one day, while at a friend's house and she sees a picture of her mother and a famous musician and believes he is the answer to her questions about her mother, who abandoned her shortly after she was born and her as-yet-unknown father. She travels to a small Northwestern town to meet Jack, the musician, and see if he can help her unravel her past. She meets a mysterious young woman named Maddy and falls head over heals in love with her. Will Maddy or Jack be able to help her find the truth about her parents? Read this intriguing new take on a coming-of-age story to find out. Recommended for ages 15+, 3 stars.
If I had known this was the third book in a series, I probably wouldn't have picked it up. It would've helped to read the first book at least, as that mentioned three of the major secondary characters in this volume. First off, I'd like to say that I loved how ordered and scientific Tally was, and even if I didn't understand all the astronomy she mentions, I could tell how passionate she was about it. Tally's best friend Shane was an interesting character as he was transgendered, though the author/main character never made a big deal about it, which was a change from other YA books I've heard about. I know how hard it is to be in love with your best friend growing up (mine were boys) and not be able to talk about, or express how you feel and how frustrating it can be especially if the person doesn't return your affections. Then there is the whole mythological undercurrent to the story, which is loosely based on Jason and the Argonauts. This part was a little hard to read, and I could never quite decide if it was some giant trippy episode, some seriously vivid nightmares or actual plot points. Seems it might've been all three.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher St Martins Press in exchange for my honest review....more
The actual story is about a young Algerian man named Mersault who is ambivalent about everything. His mother dies in the very beginning of the book anThe actual story is about a young Algerian man named Mersault who is ambivalent about everything. His mother dies in the very beginning of the book and he goes to the funeral but is bored by it. When he returns home the next day, he continues with his life by starting an affair with a woman named Marie from his office and they go to see a comedy. She asks him later on if he loves her and he responds "Probably not," but they still agree to get married. He becomes friends with Raymond, an upstairs neighbor and even vouches for the man as a witness with the police he abuses his girlfriend for cheating on him. In a way, hanging out with Raymond leads to his downfall. Raymond's now ex-girlfriend's Arab brother and the brother's friends have started fights with Raymond, one of which Mersault was involved with. He and Raymond are at the beach that day, and later on as he is walking down the beach and the sun is beating down on him, Mersault sees the Arab brother and shoots him five times killing him. He is of course arrested and a trial ensues. The prosecution manages to convey that he is a heartless individual based on the way he handled his mother's funeral and his subsequent actions. He is sentenced to death by guillotine. Recommended for ages 15+, 3 stars.
I was not sure at all how to review this book as I wasn't 100% sure that I understood the complexities that Camus was trying to convey with this seemingly simple short book. At first glance it seems to be talking about the absurdity of life and humans in general, and how we're all going to die anyways so we might as well be happy, but I'm sure people have read/taught it many times probably think it is way more. As this reviewer (http://www.ratracerefuge.com/bookrevi...) has said: "Digesting the content will certainly take much longer [than the afternoon it takes to read it] as this little novel raises serious questions about morality, society, justice, religion, and individuality." The one part I did enjoy about the book was at the very end as he is awaiting his execution and has the encounter with the priest. As this article (http://www.newrepublic.com/article/11...) says, "His only advantage, if any, is that he knows that he does not know anything except the succession of events that was his life. This certainty he cannot betray. That is why he revolts so violently against the priest who comes to console him. Consolation would mean substituting something else for the bare truth." "...more
I honestly picked "To Have and Have Not" because of the 1944 movie starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. I haven't seen all of it, but the sceneI honestly picked "To Have and Have Not" because of the 1944 movie starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. I haven't seen all of it, but the scenes I have seen between them were smoking, so I figured why not give it a try as it sounded pretty good. Only problem is the film is set during World War II and is about getting away from Nazis, whereas the book is set in Depression era Key West and is about early Cuban revolutionaries. Hemingway originally wrote the book as a 2 short stories and a novella, and really only came about because of a contractual agreement with his publisher. I always thought of Hemingway as a man's man, because he is almost always pictured shooting large game on a safari or bullfighting, and he worked as a foreign war correspondant for a newspaper before he became a writer. He was married four times, suffered from depression in later life and eventually committed suicide.
There are flashes of brilliance in the writing, but it is overshadowed by the tangintial storyline with rambles on and on. The whole book seems really disjointed because it starts out with Harry Morgan's story, which was kind of fascinating, but then kept jumping into secondary stories like Richard Gordon, his wife, and the Professor who broke up their marriage. As Andrew Blackman said in his review of the book, "The main problem with the book is that it is schizophrenic. It’s a cross between an adolescent high-seas adventure story and a social analysis of the effects of the Great Depression. The writing style, too, is schizophrenic, lurching from first person to third person, from one character’s point of view to another’s." Ok, I realize that this book was written in 1937 and being racist back in the day was considered socially acceptable, but it is kind of hard to read in the 21st century. Literally for the first five minutes of the audiobook, all the narrator said was the N-word. There are other racist episodes, which include more uses of the "N-word" and derogatory terms for Chinese and Cubans. Hemingway is also generally sexist towards women as well in the text, regarding them as frivilous and stupid.
On to the actual storyline of To Have and Have Not. Harry Morgan is a down-on-his-luck fisherman who takes rich folks deep sea fishing off the Florida Keys. After his last pickup broke one his fishing poles and then skipped out on paying for it, and seeing as he has a wife and three daughters to support at home, he decides to take some illegal work, including ferrying Chinese workers to Cuba, smuggling liquor, and providing a getaway for Cuban gangsters who have stolen money from Key West to fund the revolution in Cuba. It becomes pretty obvious, early on, that Harry and his "rummy" (alcoholic) crew-members are part of the "have-not" crowd who have to struggle to survive, while the rich white men he takes out fishing or that stay in their yachts in the harbor are the "haves". The book is pretty dismal and sad, although I was never quite sure if I should root for Harry or not, as most of the trouble he got into was his own fault. One thing I did really like about the book is the relationship between Harry and his wife. Though obviously not a looker, Marie Morgan tries her best and keeps her bleached blonde look up for her husband. They seem to have a tender loving relationship, despite his prickly exterior and attitude to everything else. She is completely devastated at the end of the book when Harry's actions ultimately lead to his death. 2-1/2 stars....more
It has been a long time since sixteen year old Carly Vega's parents were deported back to Mexico. She and her older brother Julio have been working veIt has been a long time since sixteen year old Carly Vega's parents were deported back to Mexico. She and her older brother Julio have been working very hard to get them back, with her working the graveyard shift at a local convenience store. She is studious and quiet, and not whatsoever on the radar of Arden Moss, the former quarterback of the football team. That is until one night when their lives collide and they realize they have more in common than they think. Arden is still grieving over the loss of his sister Amber, whose mental illness caused her to commit suicide, something their father (the town sheriff) will not acknowledge. Arden sees in Carly a kindred spirit, someone that not only understands him and will not lie to him, but also a partner in crime for his pranks. Will Carly be able to get her family back? Recommended for ages 14+, 4 stars.
The author did a good job of portraying a small North Florida town, and especially the conservative attitudes towards immigration. Apparently she even lived and graduated high school in Niceville, Florida (a bit north of Destin) where my brother also graduated. Having lived in the South most of my life, I have sadly met people like Arden's dad. As others have mentioned, I think Carly's character was a bit too passive (despite her explosive temper), especially in agreeing to work till the point of exhaustion every day to get a little bit of money to send to her parents so they can illegally cross the border again, and I think it was wrong of her family to do this. I mean c'mon, she's only sixteen, let her be a kid a little bit longer. I liked that it wasn't your traditional romance in that Carly didn't immediately fall for Arden, only only agreed to be friends with a lot of conditions before they eventually fell in love.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author, in exchange for my honest review....more
Struan Robertson is top of his class in the tiny ex-mining town Cuik, in Scotland in 1989. A writer, Phillip Prys, whose work Struan enjoyed during hiStruan Robertson is top of his class in the tiny ex-mining town Cuik, in Scotland in 1989. A writer, Phillip Prys, whose work Struan enjoyed during his last school year has had a stroke. His family put an ad in the paper for a nurse to take care of Phillip. Struan, who had previously worked in an old folks' home as his after-school job, is a perfect fit in more ways than one. So he takes the job to fill in his gap-year before university. He genuinely cares about Mr. Prys, in a way that no-one else in his family seems willing or able to do. The family includes the miscreant teenage son, an overbearing entitled ex-wife who still calls herself Mrs. Prys even though it has been many years since they've been married, a chubby selfish daughter and her anorexic best friend, and the current Mrs. Prys who is about forty years younger than her husband. Will Struan survive his meeting the English or will it forever change him? 3 stars.
I picked up this book based off the blurb because I am fascinated with the relationship between English and Scottish people in the modern age, because even though they are part of the same nation, there is still a great deal of animosity there because of past historical events. I lived in Scotland for nine months while in school and my husband is English, so I have a unique perspective on this phenomenon as well. I, for the most part disliked most of the Prys family (especially the previous Mrs. Pryce), and felt sorry for the daughter and the current Mrs. Prys. I had a bit of a tough time getting into the book but was genuinely curious what Struan would get up to in that crazy house, and kept reading to find out. There was a bit of disparaging between the English and the Scottish but wasn't as bad as I would've thought, just your basic Londoners thinking they are better than everyone, especially a Scottish lad from a backwater mining town. But that is also linked to class and ethnicity as well. ...more
This is definitely one of my favorite adult book I've read this year! Hilariously funny and I couldn't wait to get in the car to listen to it. Euan MoThis is definitely one of my favorite adult book I've read this year! Hilariously funny and I couldn't wait to get in the car to listen to it. Euan Morton, who narrated another one of Moore's books, "Sacre Bleu", narrated this one and was absolutely fantastic. This book was a combination of Shakespeare's "King Lear" with a bit of "Macbeth" and "Hamlet" thrown in for good measure, but done in Moore's satirical hilarious style. I have read "King Lear" before, but not since undergraduate and I definitely don't remember it being this good, so Moore has definitely improved it a lot. If you are easily offended, don't enjoy a bawdy romp, or don't like repeated use of the F-bomb, this book is not for you. This is now my favorite Christopher Moore book and I really want to own a physical copy.
Pocket, formerly of the Abbey at Dog Snogging, is the King Lear's fool. He is joined at jestering by his puppet Jones and his Natural, the overgrown giant Drool. One day, King Lear decides to learn how much his daughters Goneril, Reagan, and Cordelia love him, as he is getting on in years and is ready to give up the throne. Goneril and Reagan bend over backward to tell him how much they adore and love him and he gives them large portions of the kingdom. Cordelia however thinks the whole thing is bollocks and refuses to grovel. As a result, she is banished from England and wed to the Dauphin (crown prince) of France. It is up to her old friend Fool to get her back home and save the kingdom from her greedy sisters. Highly recommended, 5 stars. ...more
Surprisingly I've never read any Paddington before. So when I saw this little book in the children's fiction section, I just had to pick it up. This iSurprisingly I've never read any Paddington before. So when I saw this little book in the children's fiction section, I just had to pick it up. This is a new book, but it goes back to the beginning and tells Paddington's backstory through letters to his Aunt Lucy in Peru (where he is originally from). He was named Paddington as that was the label he was wearing and called that by the family that ended up adopting him. He never tries to get into so much mischief, but it seems to find him nonetheless. A short quick read and a good introduction to Paddington. Recommended for ages 6-9, 4 stars. ...more