Category Archives: Book Reviews

Sorry I Was Using HG2G On A Vogon Ship

So, I obviously wasn’t chilling on a Vogon ship, but I was drowning in an avalanche of homework and despair. So, yeah.

_____________________________________________________________________________

 

I recently began reading the second book of The Hitchhiker’s Guide series by Douglas Adams, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe. And I realized that I never reviewed the first book, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, which is a shame because it was the epitome of entertainment.

 

The story originated as a radio comedy on BBC Radio 4 and soon became a staple for the station. Obviously, it’s popularity rose enough for it to be created into a series. It’s one of those series that has a crazy fanbase, bordering on a cult phenomenon.

 

The series revolves around Arthur Dent. He is your average, everyday protagonist whose high school yearbook professed him to be “most likely to end up living in a hole in the Scottish highlands with only the chip on his shoulder for company.”

 

His only worry in life was protecting his home from demolishment, until his dear friend Ford Prefect reveals to him that he is actually Ix, a Betelgeusian from Betelgeuse 5 and that the Vogons are about to blow-up the Earth to make space for their new hyperspace bypass.

 

Ix luckily has a way out of this seemingly hopeless predicament and uses his Electric Thumb to hitch them a ride on a Vogon ship. They soon are joined by Trillian Astra who turns out to be a girl that rejected Arthur’s attempts at flirting at a flat party and a depressed robot named Marvin.

 

Trillian and Arthur are resigned to their fate of living in space for the rest of their lives and go on the adventure of figuring out what the meaning to life is. Which is the number 42 according to Deep Thought, the most powerful computer in the universe.

 

This book was absolutely hilarious in the most cynical way possible. The characters were perfectly developed and I can’t resist a depressed robot. So, if you are looking for your daily dose of dry humor why don’t you hitch a ride with Arthur Dent and Ix?

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

This is Why Elephants are My Favorite Part of the Circus

It’s hard to find a book that is both historically accurate and interesting at the same time. There is a couple out there that I have read a few times and would recommend to anyone, even if they don’t like to read. One of those novels is ‘Water for Elephants’ by Sara Gruen, which switches between the voice of the past and present main character, Jacob Jankowski.  The book mostly focuses on Jacob during the Great Depression trying to make it in the world.

Reading ‘Water for Elephants’ is like making a new friend that you know you will be with forever. After finishing this book you get this melancholy feeling, the ending is a happy one, but at the same time you feel unsatisfied. You are happy that Jacob is happy, but you want more. You want to read more about him and continue hearing his story after the book ends.

When you first meet the main character Jacob Jankowski, he is days away from graduating from Cornell University with a degree in veterinary sciences and exploring a burgeoning love with one of his fellow classmates. All of that changes the day of his final exam, when Jacob’s parents are killed in a car accident.

Drowning in grief, a broke Jacob starts to walk, and he doesn’t stop. He decides to walk to a new city, find a job, and get a fresh start. As he walks down the train tracks he hears a train and decides to jump on, not knowing that he is about to enter a wild and colorful new world. The train Jacob has jumped onto is the train of the Benzini Brothers Circus, where he is given the job of the circus vet by the head trainer, August, despite his failure to complete his final exam.

Jacob’s new life is a whirlwind of magical acts, toothless lions, beautiful women (for him a very beautiful forbidden woman), and a mischievous and stubborn elephant. Although he has the perfect job and an amazing paycheck, he can’t help but feel unsatisfied as he can’t have what he wants the most, the brutal head trainer’s wife, Marlena.

Throughout the book Jacob struggles with his need for Marlena and protecting the circus animals from August’s violent schizophrenic outbursts.

Shortly after Jacob jumps the The Benzini Brothers train, they acquire an elephant from a bankrupt circus. So not only did they gain an Ivy League vet, but also an elephant, which is circus gold. Unlike Jacob’s silent rebellion against August, Rosie blatantly disobeys her trainers and always drinks the lemonade. Jacob and Rosie end up having something special in common and they create a bond that is unbreakable.

The thing that I loved most about ‘Water for Elephants’ was the many different varieties of characters. There was charismatic, but evil August, the beautiful, mysterious and secretly sad Marlena, drunk and hopeless Camel, the grumpy, but on the inside soft Walter and his dog Queenie, and Jacob, the depressed, love-stricken twenty-three year old trying to find his way in life.

‘Water for Elephants’ was a heartbreaking, hilarious, and insightful book. Sara Gruen give the reader an inside look into the hard life of being in a circus during the Great Depression. I felt everything the characters were feeling and I actually felt like I was there watching everything happen.

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/43641.Water_for_Elephants

This is a book that will keep you up all night until you finish it, and when you do you will want to read it again. I know I did, I just finished reading it for the second time and I can’t wait to read it again.

‘Water for Elephants’ was also adapted into a film and stars Robert Pattinson as Jacob,  Reese Witherspoon as Marlena, and Christoph Waltz as August. My advice is to read the book before watching the movie because nothing can compare.

Kisses. xxx

Tagged , , , , , ,

Basically My Only Reason for Living

Now I know there are about a million Harry Potter book reviews out there, but I would like to contribute. This review definitely isn’t trying to convince you to read this series because most of you should have by now. *threatening glare* Right?

I just want all of you to understand the severity of my obsession with everything Harry Potter. I, like every other child out there, cried when I didn’t get my letter inviting me to join the most amazing school in the world, Hogwarts. I went into my room, got all of my Harry Potter books, hugged them to my chest, and rocked back in forth in the corner.

As if you need any other proof to how much I’m in love with these books: I have read all of them nine times. Nine. I will start reading them the first week of Christmas break and exclude my whole family for the next week and a half. If any one tries to bother me I whack them with my book.

When my parents hear my laughing my ass off while reading the books they always ask me, “Pushkin, how can you read those books over and over and still find them that funny?”

To tell you the truth, I have no idea. I just have a special bond with them that will never be broken. I find new things every single time I re-read them and whenever I read a funny line or scene that I had forgotten about it is just as funny as it was the first time I read it. Most of these scenes have something to do with the amazing people that are Fred and George Weasley. If you try to tell me that they aren’t your favorite characters in the series then you’re lying.

I beg to differ too.

I beg to differ too.

Seriously the best people in the world.

I mean how did you not fall in love with them the first time they tricked Mrs. Weasley into thinking that they were the opposite twin before going through the barrier to platform 9 3/4? Classic Fred and George. Or Gred and Forge as they like to call themselves. That is actually one of my favorite quotes in the book:

You haven’t got a letter on yours. I suppose she thinks you don’t forget your name. But we’re not stupid — we know we’re called Gred and Forge.
George Weasley to Harry on their Christmas Weasley jumpers

Oh, and don’t forget their infamous escape from Hogwarts in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. I remember the look on Umbridge’s face to this day… or the feeling from the book, you know what I mean.

You honestly can’t go wrong with these books, I mean really every character is bad-ass and awesome. I have made a vow to myself that I will read these books every year and will be my children’s first bed time story and their favorite books they ever read and the cycle will continue in every generation of my family.

Kisses. xxx

Tagged , , , , , , ,

And Love Was Supposed to Conquer All

Over the summer I was assigned the book, ‘Zeitoun’ by Dave Eggers. Of course I wasn’t incredibly excited about reading it because it was a true story and it was summer. I love to read, but come on! I would much rather be reading a fantasy or thriller!

Unfortunately, it wasn’t a book I could skim through and then spout fluff about how much a certain part spoke to me. So, after putting it off for basically 3/4’s of my summer I started to read it and found that I really liked it! The story was great, the situation they were put in was one I hadn’t heard about before, I learned about the Muslim religion and how the stereotypes out there aren’t true, and in the end the characters won their battle because of their love for their family.

It was the perfect story. I even thought about finding more books like it (Key word: thought).

Summer ends and it’s the first week of school and I’m all prepped to discuss ‘Zeitoun’. Until this happened:

“…But in recent years, the stable, loving relationship between Mr. Zeitoun and his wife, Kathy, that was described in the 2009 best seller has taken a series of dark turns. The couple divorced last year after he was convicted of assaulting her. And on Wednesday, the New Orleans police charged him with plotting to have Kathy Zeitoun, her son and another man murdered,” (Celebrated Hero in ‘Zeitoun’ Book Facing Charges in New Orleans, Robbie Brown, New York Times).

and my school ignored the fact that they ever made us read it.

So everything that I admired about ‘Zeitoun’ has all gone to… You can fill in the blank and I wasted the last few days of my summer vacation reading something that I wasn’t even going to need for school.

And this isn’t the first time our school has assigned us a true story book that has come back and bitten them in the butt. The first time this happened was when we were to read, ‘Three Cups of Tea’ by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin.

Now that book was awful. I’m sorry everybody, but that book was the most tedious read of my life. I wanted to rip the book in half and shred it, but I pulled through and finished it.

And then this happened:

“…The report, to be aired by CBS on its “60 Minutes” programme on Sunday night, alleges that Mortenson’s charitable organisation has also taken credit for building schools that do not exist or were built by others. Mortenson was awarded among others the Sitara-e-Pakistan for his work.

The investigation by correspondent Steve Kroft quotes Into Thin Air author and mountaineer Jon Krakauer as saying he learned from one of Mortenson’s companions that the tale of how Mortenson got started was “a beautiful story” but “a lie,”” (Three cups of tea: ‘US author fabricated charity work in Pakistan’, Agencies, The Express Tribune).

This was literally the worst experience of my life due to the fact that (unlike ‘Zeitoun’) I had to write about five papers on this book and then it just didn’t count anymore.

So the lesson to this story is: Always make sure you’re not about to read BS and to be really safe, just stick to fantasy and fiction.

Kisses. xxx

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Even Mark Twain Loves It!

You know that quirky comedian you sometimes mistake for Sarah Palin? If you don’t, her name is Tina Fey, and you might have seen her on the show Saturday Night Live or 30 Rock, where she stars as Liz Lemon, the awkward producer of The Girly Show. Tina Fey has not only cornered the market on female comedy, but also comedic non-fiction literature.

Tina Fey’s memoir, Bossypants, is about her journey into comedic stardom and motherhood, mixed with self-deprecating humor, nerdy confessions, and beauty tips.

Bossypants’ cover is graced by a picture of Tina Fey’s head morphed onto the body of a hairy man in a tie. The back has two sections of promotional quotes, praise for Tina Fey:

“You’d be really pretty if you lost weight.” -College Boyfriend, 1990, and advance praise for Bossypants: “Do not print this glowing recommendation of Tina Fey’s book until I’ve been dead a hundred years.” -Mark Twain

Bossypants was one of those books that I said I was going to read, but then forgot about. So, when I realized that I forgot to pack a book for the beach five minutes before my flight was about to leave, I grabbed it off the shelf of an airport kiosk, threw some cash on the counter, and ran to my boarding zone.

And I am so glad I did. Once I started reading it, I couldn’t stop. Tina Fey makes her memoir a very entertaining and refreshing read. Her journey to NBC is one that shows how hard it is for a woman to succeed in the entertainment world and much fun it can be as well.

Tina’s introduction to the acting world was as a gawky teenager when she took refuge in a summer acting program called, Summer Showtime, where she manned the ticket booth and bonded with gay teenagers who found a place to be themselves. She then moved on to work at a small improv theater called the Second City, and that was where she was first introduced to sexism in the comedy world. She was in a scene between two women that was cut because according to the director, “No one wants to see a scene between two women.”

Mrs. Fey encountered situations like the one she faced in Second City multiple times throughout her career, but in the end came out the winner when she disproved everyone who told her women couldn’t be funny by mentioning her multiple Emmy awards in her book.

Not only did we learn about her inspirational climb up the comedy ladder, we also got a hilarious look into her awkward childhood and teenage years where she learned to appreciate her straight greek eyebrows, thin upper lip, and weird feet. During her teen and college years she also experienced her fair share of heartbreak and learned that there are many different things that can be wrong with a woman’s body. She finally realized that none of that mattered and that was one of the main things she wanted to teach her daughter.

This memoir was a very interesting and lighthearted read, especially for the beach or on a car-ride. And if you aren’t much of a reader, there is an audio version read by Tina Fey that many say is even better than the print edition because of bonus readings and the fact that it sounds even more hilarious when read by the author herself.

Normally I’m not one to read memoirs or true stories, but this was one that I really wanted to read. Honestly the only reason that I wanted to read Bossypants was because of the mutated man Tina on the front cover:

bossy-pants-tina-fey-10-410x290

I mean come on… just look at those elegant hands.

On the first day of my Spring Break all I did was stay in my villa room and roll around on the bed laughing. I was laughing hard that my family started to knock on my door, concerned that I was having some sort of mental breakdown.

Tina Fey knows how to write a funny book. And TV show. And character.

Kisses. xxx

Tagged , , , , ,

A Whole New Meaning To: “Stranger Danger!”

If you are in the mood for a quick and colorful read, I’ve got the perfect book for you. Descriptive words and metaphors entwine to create a magical narrative in The Fifty-Year Sword by Mark Z. Danielewski.

From the outside, the book looks like a regular chapter book, which is what I thought it was when I bought it. Much to my surprise, when I opened it, each page was set up like a poem and had pictures made out of string, as if they had been sewn into the page.

The book was an adult’s scary story set up in the form of a children’s book. Told from five different points of view that are identified by color-coded quotation marks, you don’t know who the narrators are, nor does it matter.

“so crossing his legs, folding himself into himself,

“refolding, until right before their eyes he no longer seemed

“hrowling or gulking but sat quietstill,

“overdraped in his strange silveryblack tunic, his head heavily bowed.

“Following this example Tarff, Ezade, Iniedia, Sithiss and Micit sat down too,

“crossing their legs, and if not

“exatecly

little

“and bushy-bluestem cozy

“then

armadillo tight,

“wanting now only to know what was

“—inside.

Disgraced seamstress, Chintana is reeling from her recent divorce caused by a woman named Belinda Kite. Trying to get back on her feet, Chintana reluctantly attends the 50th birthday party for Belinda on Halloween Eve, where she meets a social worker exhausted by five small orphans with peculiar names.

Trying to avoid a run-in with Belinda the Witch, she decides to help the social worker out and goes with the children to hear the storyteller invited to entertain the kids. They all sit in front of the “hrowling and gulking” storyteller whose mysterious manner captivates them.

A black case with five clasps faces the five children. The storyteller grins evilly at his small audience and begins his chilling story.

Starting by warning them of his black heart and bad intentions. He informs that he was looking for a weapon. Not a gun or a bomb. But a special weapon that he searched all over the world for. He had searched for years, until one day he heard a story about:

“a valley assault and

“a forest of note

“and a mountain of

“any

“won

“paths and a man with no

“harms who made terrible weapons which he sold but never for

“money.

The storyteller takes the children through his quest for the special weapon that he has dedicated his life to finding. Once he finds this dangerous weapon he has to wait fifty years before he can use it. It is a weapon that not only kills lives, but also memories and experiences. At the end of his story, each child flips one of the clasps of the case up. To see nothing.

The storyteller pretends to pick it up and is about to slice one of the childrens’ necks with it when Belinda enters the room, grabs the “sword” and proves to them all that it is fake by slicing every part of her body with it. Nothing happens. The storyteller leaves and everyone at the party goes outside at midnight to toast Belinda’s birthday with a glass of champagne, not knowing that something mysterious and gruesome was about to happen.

Soon after the storyteller leaves, another one comes rushing up to them apologizing for being so late. This was the one that was hired.

Who was the other man? Could the sword have been real? And what happened out in the moon lit snow?

 

The Fifty-Year Sword was a new experience for me. I can’t say that I loved it or that reading it makes me want to go check out some of Danielewski’s other works, but I can say that it is something you should try. That is why I have reviewed and recommended it. It is such a uncommon set-up and writing style that it makes me remember the book.

A book is good if you can remember it. I have read more books than I can count and I know that people have asked me about a book I’ve read before and I won’t even remember reading it. I have books that I will finish reading and 30 minutes later: nothing, can’t even remember the main characters name because nothing in the book stood out to me.

So, though The Fifty-Year Sword is nothing to gush about I would recommend trying it because it is something that will intrigue you.

Heads Up: spelling, grammar, and logical thinking are thrown out the window in this unique poem/book/scary story.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Nordic-Crime-Kidnapping-Sex-Trafficking-White-Collar-Organ-Stealing-Midlife-Crisis Novel

What does a three year-old boy have to do with a muscled up thug and a wealthy businessman?

Originally written in Dutch, The Boy in the Suitcase by Lene Kaaberbøl and Agnete Friis is a Nordic crime thriller that follows Red Cross nurse Nina Borg as she deals with a crumbling marriage and her overwhelming need to save the world.

Nina is one of those people who can’t say ‘No.’ So, when her frantic friend, Karin, gives her a key to a public locker in a train station, she goes to get the item that has her friend in a meltdown.

You wouldn’t think much of it if your friend asked this of you, but what if once you got there and lugged the suitcase outside, you found a drugged, blonde-haired, three year-old inside?

After finding this poor little boy in the suitcase Nina is faced with a problem. Do the sensible thing, and turn the boy over to the local police and leave it to them to get the boy back to where he came from, or try and find his mother herself.

Nina knows that her husband will not let her get away with running away from her duty as a mother again, but she feels that she needs to help this little boy herself. There is one pressing question on her mind, “Could he be part of sex-trafficking?”

One stressing detail of Nina’s character is her lack of concern for her family’s well-being. Throughout the whole book she doesn’t feel the need to contact her very worried husband and confirm that she is alive and well. It was hard to relate with her troubles, as she didn’t seem to be very conflicted about helping the boy or staying with her family.

As Nina is avoiding the people who put the boy in the suitcase and trying to converse with the foreign boy, the child’s mother is frantically trying to get the police to take her seriously. This is her second child that has been taken from her and she will do anything to get him back.

While the boy’s mother is trying to find someone to help her get her child back, a wealthy businessman, Jan Marquat, is trying to appease an angry thug that wants his repayment for a suitcase left in a locker.

The thug, Jucas, seems to be the only character in contact with every other character in the story. His narrative was very crude and desperate. All he wants is to live with his love, Barbara, a woman almost twice his age. He can’t run away with her unless he gets repayment for the suitcase he left in the train station locker. Since he is a violent man he doesn’t think to try and fix the problem with words; he uses his fists to kill everyone until he gets what he wants.

All of the character’s flaws hinder the boy’s return to his mother and Nina’s return to her dysfunctional family.

All of the characters will come together with a bang at the end of this incredible page-turner.

Though the theme of the book is a little violent, it is one of the best books I have read in a long time. The multiple points of views definitely made the book a challenging read, but incredibly interesting. It is one of the first books that I read for pleasure where I actually needed to make a chart and annotate to keep track of how each character is connected to the other. But don’t let that stop you. I found it well worth the effort.

If you are interested in any type of mystery, crime, or thriller, this is the book for you. Similar to the Millenium trilogy by Steig Larsson, The Boy in the Suitcase is a vivid study in human desperation with morally ambiguous but compelling characters.

Some of the themes in this book might be offensive to certain readers. It contains violence and has allusions to sexual abuse. But seriously don’t let that stop you because this book was amazing.

20130408-070928.jpg

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,
The Punchy Lands!

Embrace Your PUNCHY Nature

iwishthingswerebetter

I write. You can give feedback.

silver wolf

Stories blog

Jeyna Grace ©

Imagination, the perfect form of escapism.

BookwormCastle

what gets you hooked

Travels with the Trio

Exploring Europe with Hermione's wits, Harry's curiosity, and Ron's budget.

Unpacking Life

Finding the Souvenir in Today

Bookcasey

Confessions of a Bibliophile

Christopher Stocking

Books for you. Written by me.

Game4Learning

Fun Learning Resouces for Kids

Daily (w)rite

A DAILY RITUAL OF WRITING