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.

The Lucky One

The Lucky One by Nicholas Sparks
(Summary taken from the book) “When U.S. Marine Logan Thibault finds a photograph of a smiling young woman half-buried in the dirt during his third tour of duty in Iraq, his first instinct is to toss it aside. Instead, he brings it back to the base for someone to claim, but when no one does, he finds himself always carrying the photo in his pocket. Soon Thibault experiences a sudden streak of luck, winning poker games and even surviving deadly combat that kills two of his closest buddies. Only his best friend, Victor, seems to have an explanation for his good fortune: the photograph–his lucky charm. Back home in Colorado, Thibault can’t seem to get the photo–and the woman in it–out of his mind. Believing that she somehow holds the key to his destiny, he sets out on a journey across the country to find her, never expecting the strong but vulnerable woman he encounters in Hampton, North Carolina–Elizabeth, a divorced mother with a young son–to be the girl he’s been waiting his whole life to meet. Caught off guard by the attraction he feels, Thibault keeps the story of the photo, and his luck, a secret. As he and Elizabeth embark upon a passionate and all-consuming love affair, the secret he is keeping will soon threaten to tear them apart–destroying not only their love, but also their lives.”
The first few pages of this book definitely turned me off. I didn’t know if I wanted to continue reading it or see if it got better. The first few pages describe a creepy sherriff who takes pictures of girls skinny-dipping and is all-over a nasty guy. I kept going, and I’m glad I did. Whenever the sherriff is in the scene, you can count on his nastiness, but that is not the whole story. He is in the story, but isn’t THE story. So, rest assured, you will get more of him, but not as much as you at first think. After that first scene, I’m glad I kept reading. The story took me a minute to get into, but then kept me reading. I read the whole book in one day. There is a love scene, and talk of it after that, but it doesn’t go into any amount of detail. There are a few profane words, but the worst of it is the sherriff. This story is mysterious and intriguing. You wonder what else has happened to Thibault to make him who he is, and you wonder if he and Elizabeth will make it work. You wonder why he is slow to tell details of his life, but after you learn them you understand why. Especially at the end it is a page turner. I would recommend this book as long as you are okay with the warnings I have given.
Rated: PG-13 (For the creepy and yucky sherriff, the few profane words, and the “making love” scene.)
Recommendation: 18 and up

Brisingr (Book #3)

Brisingr (Book #3) by Christopher Paolini
   This book continues Eragon and Saphira’s adventures in saving the people from the evil King Galbatorix. Eragon and Saphira fight Murtagh and Thorn, they are reunited with Roran, and they continue their training with Oromis and Glaedr. The dwarves throne a new king and Eragon is attacked while away from Saphira. Eragon and Saphira continue to improve their skills, and Roran has his own adventures.
   This book is a very good continuation of the first two and is a page-turner for sure. I like the twists it takes, and I like where it takes the story in general. It is good, but it is very violent and graphic. This book is not for those who do not want detailed explanations of war-time happenings. There are some sad moments, but also some joyous occasions. I thought this was the last book, but apparently there is one more coming, so that is exciting! In this book you learn a lot about Eragon, his history, his parentage, and also the history of a few other characters. I liked learning that a lot, it brings things together well. I recommend this book if you have enjoyed the first two. I would recommend it for ages 15 and up. It really does have some violent and graphic moments, but they go along with the war-time atmosphere.
Rated: PG-13 (Violence and war-time graphic scenes)
Recommendation: 14 and up

Eldest (Book #2)

Eldest (Book #2) by Christopher Paolini
   (Summary taken from the back of the book) “Eragon and his dragon, Saphira, have just saved the rebel state from destruction by the mighty forces of King Galbatorix, cruel ruler of the Empire. Now Eragon must travel to Ellesmera, land of the elves, for further training in magic and swordsmanship, the vital skills of the Dragon Rider. It is the journey of a lifetime, filled with awe-inspiring new places and people, each day a fresh adventure. But chaos and betrayal plague him at every turn, and Eragon isn’t sure whom he can trust. Meanwhile, his cousin Roran must fight a new battle back home in Carvahall–one that puts Eragon in even graver danger.”
   This book is just as good as the first one. It is a page-turner for sure! I like how the story continues and how it brings Roran back into the stoy. I like the surprise of who is to teach Eragon. There are many twists and surprises that make you keep reading. Once again, there is little or no profanity, but there is a war going on so there are some graphic scenes. If you liked the first one, you’ll like the second one! I recommend this book, once again, for ages 14-15 and up.
Rated: PG-13 (Violence and war scenes)

Recommendation: 14 and Up

Eragon (Book #1)

Eragon (Book #1) by Christopher Paolini

   (Summary taken from the back of the book) “When Eragon finds a polished blue stone in the forest, he thinks it is the lucky discovery of a poor farm boy; perhaps it will buy his family meat for the winter. But when the stone brings a dragon hatchling, Eragon soon realizes he has stumbled upon a legacy nearly as old as the Empire itself. Overnight he is thrust into a perilous new world of destiny, magic, and power. With only an ancient sword and the advice of an old storyteller for guidance, Eragon and the fledgling dragon must navigate the dangerous terrain and dark enemies of an Empire ruled by a king whose evil knows no bounds.”
   I really enjoyed this book. It is technically a young adult book, so it is a fast read and there is little or no profanity. It is a little violent, seeing how there is a war going on. There are some graphic scenes, but it is a great story. Christopher Paolini has done a very good job. It is well written, it flows well, and I would definitely recommend it. It is a little reminisent of Lord of the Rings. Some of the names and words are very similar to those in LotR, but the story is completely different. I would recommend it for ages 14-15 and up. Any younger and the violence may be too much.

Rated: PG-13 (Violence and war scenes)

Recommendation: 14 and Up

The Last Battle (Book #7)

The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis (Book #7)
(Summary taken from the back of the book) “The Unicorn says that humans are brought to Narnia when Narnia is stirred and upset. And Narnia is in trouble now: A false Aslan roams the land. Narnia’s only hope is that Eustace and Jill, old friends of Narnia, will be able to find the true Aslan and restore peace to the land. Their task is a difficult one because, as the Centaur says, ‘The stars never lie, but Men and Beasts do.’ Who is the real Aslan and who is the imposter? Will we be forced to bid farewell to Narnia forever?”
I loved this book! I thought it brought everything together really well. I thought the symbolism was really good in this book, and I just loved how it ended. It explained everything well, had action and symbolism, and was well written. I was sad when I finished the series, but it was so good! I highly recommed the whole series! I think it is good for everyone, as I have said before. The older kids will understand it better, especially the symbolism.

Rated: PG

Recommendation: 12 and Up, 9 or 10 if read as a read-a-loud.

The Silver Chair (Book #6)

The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis (Book #6) (Summary taken from the back of the book) “Eustace and Jill escape from the bullies at school through a strange door in the wall, which, for once, is unlocked. It leads to the open moor…or does it? Once again Aslan has a task for the children, and Narnia needs them. Through dangers untold and caverns deep and dark, they pursue the quest that brings them face to face with the evil Witch. She must be defeated if Prince Rilian is to be saved.”

I really liked this book. It can be hard to remember some of the instructions Aslan gives the children at the beginning when you get into the middle, but it is very good. The symbolism is very good and even though it can be sad in parts, it all comes out good in the end. There are some interesting characters in this book. I do recommend reading this book, especially if you are reading the series.

Rated: PG

Recommendation: 12 and Up. 9 or 10 if read as a read-a-loud.