A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
(Summary taken from the inside book jacket) “‘A Thousand Splendid Suns’ is a breathtaking story set against the volatile events of Afghanistan’s last thirty years–from the Soviet invasion to the reign of the Taliban to post-Taliban rebuilding–that puts the violence, fear, hope, and faith of this country in intimate, human terms. It is a tale of two generations of characters brought jarringly together by the tragic sweep of war, where personal lives–the struggle to survive, raise a family, find happiness–are inextricable from the history playing out around them.”
Oh, where do I even start with this book? It’s awful. Well, like “Kite Runner,” the writing is amazing, but the events that unfold are awful. I wanted so much to just put it down and stay in my ignorance, but I couldn’t. I could not put it down. The things that happen to these two women are beyond my imagination. If one or two of those things happened to me I think I would crawl into a little ball and disappear mentally, yet these women found some (albeit small) joy in each other and the children. I kept thinking that it couldn’t get worse, and then it would. It was extremely disturbing at times. It took me awhile to read it because I’d have to put it down and walk away until I could regain my composure. I still have haunting images in my head. I just kept thinking over and over how blessed I am. I have a wonderful husband who treats me with love and respect. He also treats all of our children with love and respect. I have a college education. I may wear whatever I want and go anywhere I want to. I love listening to music and do it often. I worship in the church I want to. My children were born in a very clean hospital with anything that might be needed readily available. If I want a drink of water all I have to do is turn on a faucet. The list could go on and on. I am so blessed. I am so blessed.
This book is not for the faint of heart. It is VERY hard to read. There is violence, war, profanity, rape, torture, death. And why did I read it? It is very well written and it just draws you in. I felt as if I were reading Mr. Hosseini’s diary. I love his writing, yet I despise it. Although it is awful, I am glad I read it. I’m glad to be reminded of my blessings, and I’m glad to be reminded that the world is not at peace. There are evil people out there who don’t care about anything except themselves. It’s a hard lesson to learn. I am so blessed. If you liked “Kite Runner” I would recommend this book. His writing is truly amazing, it is just extremely difficult to read because of all the events that occur. I would not recommend this book if any of the above mentioned things are too disturbing to you.
Rating: R (Remember this does not necessarily follow the movie ratings, it is just my way of saying that children and young adults should NOT read this book.) War, violence, “physical intimacy,” rape, profanity, death, murder.
Recommendation: College and up. Maybe a really mature high school senior, but I would suggest mom or dad read it first to see. It was hard for me as an adult to take it all in and not be overwhelmed, and in fact, there were times that I did have to put it down and walk away because I was so disturbed.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.