Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Last Song by Nicholas Sparks

Sparks wrote this novelization of a movie after he wrote the script for the movie starring Miley Cyrus.

This is another teenager sent to get to know absent parent story. I just wrote about Beige by Castellucci. In this story Ronnie is a rebellious goth girl and her father has a terrible secret. Things get off to a bad start when Ronnie meets the equally rebellious Blaze and scary Marcus at about the same time rich, perfect, athletic boy runs into her causing her to dump her drink down her front. There is also a sweet younger brother Jonah aged ten but sometimes sounding much younger or older.

Rather too easily Ronnie connects with Will the perfect boy rather than Marcus though Marcus and Blaze are always in the background, always causing problems.

Will and Ronnie further connect over their efforts to protect endangered turtle nests and their work at the local aquarium. Ronnie feels sorry for Blaze and tries to befriend her only to get in trouble with the law.

Jonah and his father are making a stained glass window for a church which was largely ruined by a fire of suspicious origins.

Ronnie was a concert pianist with great promise before her father left home, in her anger she abandoned her piano playing. Her father, also a concert pianist still plays and Ronnie is hateful about this.

Those are all the various conflicts that play themselves out in this lightweight story that is more popcorn & peanuts than Escargot and Caviar.

Sparks doesn't seem to have the dialogue of teens down very well, wording sometimes sound very stiff and old fashioned. I think Jonah's dialogue suffers too. Having said that teens who have enjoyed other Sparks novels should like this one as well. Its teary eyed chic lit with a little spirituality thrown in.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A Child Called It by David Pelzer

So I realize I'm probably going to get kicked for this review, but I'm obviously too analytical to just take a book at face value. You mention this book to anyone and the first thing they say is "It's so sad" but what else? What do you walk away from with this book and that's where I think it fell short.

This book is a memoir of a child abuse victim. David's mother began abusing him when he was a child, insisting that he was a "bad boy." Besides physically abusing him and making him her slave, she had him living in a constant state of fear for what her next move would be. Some of her more devious attacks included leaving him in a closed bathroom with an ammonia and bleach mixture that became a gas chamber. She starved him for days, made him sleep in the garage, and at one point even stabbed him. Any attempt he made to get food was often discovered and then punished. His father - a firefighter - was rarely home and when he was, he became another one of the mother's victims, unable to help his son. In the end, after years of abuse, his teachers finally take a stand and save him from his horrible situation.

I don't know where to begin my reaction. I'll completely agree with anyone who says this book is sad because it is terrible what he went through. Do I believe everything? I think that with any biography there are situations that are embellished so I do take things with a grain of salt. I have a hard time accepting that as he went through all of this, no one helped him. For years, no one did ANYTHING to help him - okay, one person called child services, but ONE? That's it? That's hard for me swallow Which is why I think that there needs to be more background about the time period. I work in a school and I know that staff is required to report any sign of child abuse. This kid clearly had signs and no one did anything. I know that this is because of the time period, but I personally would have liked to know more, like when things changed or why no one did anything. Also, this novel is listed as "Self-Help/Psychology/Inspiration." I don't see much self-help going on in this novel. In my eyes, David didn't do much to help his situation. He told himself he could beat her - which he did somethings - and he prayed for her to die or else for her to kill him. How does that ultimately help another child in a similar situation? Ultimately, David survived because others finally came in and helped him. Yes, he grew past his situation and turned the bad into good, but I feel like this book is lacking the words of wisdom to honestly help others in this situation. It is eye opening to the horrors of child abuse but what does it have to say about fighting the system?

In the end, I thought that this book was a sad story and that's about it. It doesn't go much farther than telling the story. I realize I'm probably missing something from this memoir and am probably a cold, cynical person to not be so affected by this book, but I felt like it could have done more for the message.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

True believer By: Nicholas Sparks

This is a novel that caught my eye by the title. We are introduced by the two characters Jeremy Marsh, and Lexie Darnell. The two individuals, or characters seem to be distant. The secondary characters like Doris, is the town psychic, and the town Sherif Rodney are warm personalities. This story takes place in Boone Creek, North Carolina. Jeremy travels to Boone creek , North Carolina to investigate mysterious lights that appear in Boone's Creek local cemetery. Jeremy goes to the library everyday, and gets all sorts of information regarding the town. Jeremy comes from New York to report his findings. Jeremy works as an investigative reporter at a T.V. station in New York.
During his visits to the library he gets to know Lexie Darnel the town librarian , who helps him find the books in his research for the unusual happenings taking place in Boone Creek. The two, Lexie and Jeremy become good friends. They go out on a few dates, and enjoy their company. Lexie tells Jeremy she has no desire to ever leave Boone Creek. Lexie was born in Boone Creek, and raised there.

Moving on, people of the town believe that the lights appearing in the cemetery are the spirits of the dead. This becomes a legend, and attracts tourists to come, and see for themselves, the so called "lights". Town people imagined ghosts in the cemetery.

It all was a big mistake. Read the novel to find out the truth. I liked the novel very much.

LRD 4/14/10

Monday, April 12, 2010

Broken Soup Valentine

Rowan's life is much like a bowl of vegetable soup that has crashed to the floor. Jack, beloved brother, son has died in a tragic accidental drowning. This young man impacted profoundly all those who loved him. His mother cannot bear her loss and sinks into depression. His father moves out being unable to bear his mother's helplessness. This leaves Rowan trying to keep whats left of her home together - alone. This includes caring for both her mother and her much younger sister. A trip to a fast food place with Stroma, a chance meeting with a young man touring Europe in what once was an ambulance after he finds a photo negative he assumes is hers, the meeting Bee plans to get back the negative which was actually hers lead to wondrous revelations about other people who also loved Jack and possibly a first love while matters at home spiral completely out of Rowan's control. While this is a weepy story for those who like to cry, its also a gentle life affirming read. I suppose its predictable, but I didn't catch on to what was happening. Its cleverly done. The characters are great. I need great characters to enjoy a book. I enjoyed this book. It is British with some British language but not so much to make understanding the story a struggle. The fact that I know someone who tragically lost a young man such as Jack and know the profound effect it had on her and everyone who loved him, probably made it easy for me to relate to this story. JDW4/10

Will Grayson, Will Grayson - John Green and David Levithan

Will Grayson and Will Grayson, one is straight and one is gay. One lives in Evansville Indiana and the other in Naperville and their lives are about to become intertwined. Straight Will Grayson has his friend Jane, who he likes, and his other friend named Tiny who is gay. Tiny isn't tiny at all. He's a big offensive lineman who's been friends with Will Grayson since the fifth grade. Gay Will Grayson is more of a loaner and has a few friends including Derek, Simon, and Maura. He's been talking to Isaac online for a year and they decide to meet. They decide on a place in Chicago to meet up at. Straight Will Grayson and his friends are across the street at a club to see a band they all like, but straight Will Grayson can't get in because his fake ID says he's 20 not 21. He's determined to use his ID, and goes across the street to a porn shop where gay Will Grayson is waiting for Isaac. They meet each other with gay Will Grayson thinking that straight Will Grayson is Isaac. Isaac turns out to be Maura, and it was her way of making sure gay Will Grayson was really gay. Tiny and Jane meet up with Will and introduces them to the other Will. Tiny goes off with Will Grayson while Jane and straight Will Grayson say that they like each other, but can't be together because Jane has a boyfriend. Tiny and Will Grayson begin to date and on top of that Tiny has his musical he's putting together about his life. About a week before opening day Tiny and Will get into an argument about the character based on Will. They don't talk for a few days, and he finds out from Jane that Tiny and the other Will have broken up. Tiny and Will make amends and along with Jane put on Tiny's play for the school to see.

I absolutely loved this book. From the opening sentence to the ending sentence the book grabs you, holds on to you and doesn't let you go till it ends. Green and Levithan draw the reader into the lives of both Will Grayson's and you can feel the emotion coming through the words as you read. It's almost like you are there watching the story unfold before your eyes. I would recommend this book to everyone.

T.B. 4/12/10

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Boot Camp by Todd Strasser

I walk away from this book feeling conflicted because I'm angry yet I don't think I'm angry for the right reason. Just to let you know, there are spoilers so don't read the third paragraph if you don't want to see the ending...

Boot Camp is, of course, about one teen's experience in boot camp. Garrett was sent to Lake Harmony because his parents didn't like him having intimate relations with his teacher who was 8 years older than him. Besides that affair, he was a hard working student and a good kid who thought he had the right to love whomever he wanted. Lake Harmony promised to change him into an obedient son, no matter what the cost, which means physical abuse is allowed. Feeling he's done nothing wrong, Garrett resists the work of boot camp, leading to severe mental and physical treatment. Eventually it gets to the point that he and two other inmates escape - these two had been there for years and didn't believe they'd survive another winter while Garrett's defiant attitude would trap him at Lake Harmony forever. Of course their escape plan is only partially successful and Garrett ends up back at Lake Harmony where things are worse than before.

Believe it or not, I'm not entirely angry at the treatment at Lake Harmony. Yes, I was outraged and wanted to punch some of the characters, but I went into the book knowing that they use mental abuse and I guess in some way I was already expecting the physical abuse. Still, part of me was skeptical about all the physical that they did. I've heard of them pushing the kids till they pass out, but how can they employees legally get away with beating them up. Sure I can see the attacks in the bathroom between inmates and looking the other way, but I was a little skeptical of beating them up in a way that left not bruises or marks. Is that even possible? Then again, maybe it happens but that doesn't have me bothered as much as the way it ended. *Spoiler* I know a happy ending is too much to hope for, but to have the system win, it was wrong. What's the sense of the book if you're trying to get awareness for the corrupt system, if, in the end, it works like it's supposed to. The program promised a reformed child, and that's what they got in the end, so how is what they're doing wrong, especially when the kid will argue he deserved it? It seems as though the whole book was just a waste of time if he becomes brain washed anyways. Maybe that's the whole point of the book, but it left me more angry at the book than the system.

In the end, I'm left uncertain about how I feel about this book. I would expect this book to have me outraged at boot camps, not the author.

Three Cups of Tea By:Sarah Thonson

This is a novel about a true event that began in 1993 in the Middle East. One American man made it come true. His name is Greg Mortenson, who was able to raise finances for building schools in rural areas of Pakistan, and Afghanistan.m Normally, girls do not attend schools, and males are educated. The villages in poor, and rural areas never dreamed that male and female would attend schools with a roof, and walls, and even a bathroom for their use. To raise the money for building the sixty odd schools was a feat in itself. Mr. Greg was able to raise the money in the United States by speaking at meetings; when influential businessmen attended. Mr. Greg showed slides, and photos of the people in Pakistan, and the rugged area of the Himalayan Mountains. What began as Mr. Gregg's idea to build schools in Pakistan was when he tried to climb Kilmanjaro which is the tallest peak in the Himalaya's

Mr. Mortenson, became disorientated in the Mountains of Pakistan, and he ended up in a poor village. He promised the village a School. Mr. Greg endured death threats, and kidnapping.
Mr.Mortenson founded a organization called "promises for peace," which students learn about Pakistan and Arfghanistan to create global change. This novel is about Mr. Greg's journey to change the world. He (Mr. Greg) did this wish by building Schools to educate one child at a time.

The novel is heartwarming to the reader, and interesting too. It is a good novel. LRD 4/6/10

Day of the Assasins By: Johnny O'Brien

This is a novel that really took place before WWI . It was exciting to me , because I prefer Historical fiction novels to any other kind. This takes place during the rule of Austria-Hungarian Empire that consisted of Slovaks, Romanians, Croats, Czechs, Polish, Serbs, and other nationalities. I have visited the Schon-Brumm Palace in Vienna, Austria . It is talked about in the novel. I have gone to a Concert of Mozart works. I went in 2001 to visit the Palace.

Back to the novel, the year was 1914 in Sarajevo, when the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand was completed. The actual shooting had been planned for months .

There was four males involved in the killing of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand. The main killer of the Archduke was Gavrilo Princip, who was a teen, and died in jail of Tuberculosis. The other men involved were caught. This novel points out that the wife of Gavrilo Princip helps shoot the Archduke.

We see many struggles in People's lives. It is a time of turmoil for many lives during that times.

Read the novel, and you will see many events that took place during this era in European History. Citizens had to make choices of what they had to do; and what they really believed in their heart. The novel was good, and made renewal in my mind to the actual events leading up to WWI. A very interesting novel. LRD 4/6/10

Saturday, April 03, 2010

D. Gray-man by Katsura Hoshino

If you like mystery, and everything that surrounds the ocult subjet, I recomend this book to read. So far I have readed the first two volumes, and the story goes this far.

Allen Walker, a fifty year old has the special ability to destroy and detect akuma, akuma are demon machinery created by the Milenium Earl, to help him destroy Humanity. When he found out about this power, a misterious man took him in as his aprendice, later on his teacher suggested him to join The Black Order, and organization dedicated to destroy akuma and stop the Milenium Earl. After a few adventures on his way to the Black Order, and a few misunderstandings when he try to join in. Finally the Black Order explained that their main mission was to find the missing pieces of Inocence, a power that can destroy akumas. Which resulted on his first mission, for this mission he was paired up with Kanda, a cold young man with a mysterious past. Kanda didn't like him much, in fact he doesn't like anybody much, but a mission was mission and it had to be carry on. In their way to collect and protect the missing pieces of Inocence, Allen and Kanda enocunter the holder of the Inocence and her friend. And imaginable twist happens at the end of the second volume. And I don't want to spoil it, so you ahead and read it. Art and character designs are pretty great. Truly a explendid book!

Friday, April 02, 2010

Flash Burn by Madigan

This is a romance from a guy's viewpoint. It has a fresh, not unrealistic ending, worth waiting for.

There are two girls in Blake's complicated life. Beautiful, delicious Shannon is his official girl friend. He hasn't really gotten to know Shannon too deeply which gets him into some tight situations. Also, Shannon's mom and his dad are worried about that big S word. Blake's brother appears to be cheering him on when he isn't dissing him.

Marissa, the second girl in his life, is just a friend. She is a troubled friend at that and Blake often tries to help her when perhaps he should be paying attention to someone else?!

Marissa and Blake are in photography classes together at school and work on projects together so they keep ending up together almost against Blake's will, or not.

Anyway the relationships sort themselves out but not the way Blake would want, not the way I expected. Poor Blake, he'll regroup, survive. Oh, he gets some unexpected recognition for his photographic work after the teacher had almost despaired of him, nice touch of hope. This is a really enjoyable read, I'd recommend it to almost anyone.