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!

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.

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.

Angels and Demons

Angels and Demons by Dan Brown
(Summary taken from the back book cover) “World-renowned Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon is summoned to a Swiss research facility to analyze a cryptic symbol seared into the chest of a murdered physicist. What he discovers is unimaginable: a deadly vendetta against the Catholic Church by a centuries-old underground organization–the Illuminati. Desperate to save the Vatican from a powerful time bomb, Langdon joins forces in Rome with the beautiful and mysterious scientist Vittoria Vetra. Together they embark on a frantic hunt through sealed crypts, dangerous catacombs, deserted cathedrals, and the most secretive vault on earth…the long-forgotten Illuminati lair.”
This is a fun book. There were some really gory descriptions of death, and there was more profanity than I remember in “Davinci Code,” but it is exciting and a definite page turner. I enjoyed it a lot. I like Dan Brown’s twists and turns, and I like how he incorporates real-life into his fiction. This book brings out the adventurer in all of us, and makes me want to travel to those places and maybe find an adventure of my own.
Rated: PG-13 (Gory deaths, profanity, “love scene”)
Recommended for: High school and up.

Housekeeping

Housekeeping by: Marilynne Robinson This is not a fast read, but it is a very good human interest story. It is sad and depressing at times, but it really makes you think about your life and how you interact with other people. It is the story of a family. Two girls are left on their grandmother’s doorstep, by their mother. The story continues showing how the two girls react to the different women in the family taking care of them. Each girl reacts differently, and it is very interesting to see. I liked this story a lot and would definitely recommend it.

Rated: PG

Recommendation: High School and Up. I don’t think younger children would be interested.

Breaking Dawn

Breaking Dawn by: Stephenie Meyer This is book number four in the Twilight Series. This book is definitely not appropriate for young adults!!!! In this book Bella and Edward get married, and then do what married people do. Fine for me, maybe, but I do not want my girls reading it as young adults. There are jokes about them being “intimate” and very detailed descriptions about the aftermath (which is nothing like reality….but a young girl would not know that). Bella becomes pregnant, and everyone except her and Rose want to abort the “thing.” Once again, not really something I want a young girl reading. The story is strange but good, and it keeps you reading. Bella’s continuing relationship with Jacob still drives me crazy. I was worried when I started reading, but the ending made it all come together for me. I really liked the ending. Sorry for my strong opinions on this one. The other day I heard a 12-yr-old say she was reading it and I just cringed…

 Rated: PG-13 to R (For language and very adult themes, physical intimacy)

Recommendation: Married and Up. I do not want my young girls to think that “physical intimacy” or being pregnant are in any way like they are in this book. This is NOT for young adults!

Eclipse

Eclipse
by: Stephenie Meyer
This is book number three in the Twilight Series. This book goes through Bella and Edward’s love story. Vampires fight vampires. Werewolves get involved. This book is still very good. I worry about series sometimes, but this one is still really good. I get tired of Bella sometimes, and her relationship with Jacob drives me crazy. But, once again, you just have to read it! This book gets more into adult themes. Bella and Edward are trying to decide how to proceed in their relationship, and I do not think it is appropriate for young adults. At this point I think married women are a more appropriate audience, but that is just my humble opinion.

Rated: PG-13 to R

Recommendation: Married and Up.

New Moon

New Moon
by: Stephenie Meyer
This is book number two in the Twilight Series. Bella continues dating Edward until he breaks up with her, for her own good, pretty much. She falls apart and is “lifeless,” according to her dad. She spends a lot of time with her friend Jacob, who helps her through this time. She still loves Edward, and when Alice, his sister, comes to ask for Bella’s help, she goes with her to help Edward. They end up working things out and getting back together. Edward and Jacob are enemies. As with book number one, this book is a fast read and is well written. I didn’t like it as much as I liked the first one, but it was still really good, and….you just have to read it!
Rated: PG-13 (Some language and adult themes)

Recommendation: Married and Up. This book itself may not warrant the married recommendation, but the last book in the series definitely does, so you don’t want to start a young girl reading it because she’ll want to finish. This series is NOT young adult appropriate.

Twilight

Twilight
by: Stephenie Meyer
A high school student named Bella moves from Arizona to Forks, Washington to live with her father. She meets a beautiful guy named Edward, who turns out to be a vampire. She falls desperately in love with him. Luckily, he lives with his “family” and they are good vampires. They feed from animals, not humans. This book goes through many of the trials that their love affair causes. I loved this book! It is kind of hard to summarize, as it sounds kind of silly when you put it that way, but I thought it was really good. I’m one for sappy love stories, though. And I just found Edward very intriguing. Stephenie Meyer has a very good imagination and, I think, wrote it very well. It is technically a young adult book and is therefore a very fast read, even with its 500 pages. As I said, it is a young adult book….I do not think I will allow my girls to read it until they are older (college age, maybe). It does have some adult themes in it. And if this one doesn’t as much, the following ones do more. The problem is, once you start the series, you’re hooked, and the following books are not young adult appropriate (in my humble opinion).
Rated: PG-13

Recommendation: Married and Up. The series is NOT for young adults or young girls. Parents, please read it first. Don’t give in to your daughters. The last book in this series is not appropriate at all for young adults.