Friday, September 25, 2009

Book Review- Diary of a Wimpy Kid

My friend Lorene and I seem to have some sort of book kinship. We usually love most of the same books, such as Ella Enchanted and Frindle. Well, I decided that I would test to see if her husband Mark and I like the same books. I can't say for sure after just one book recommendations but it looks like the kinship runs in the family.

I often smile at jokes in book but Diary of a Wimpy Kid made me laugh out loud in places. I loved all the little crazy cartoons to help describe the story. I think all of us have parts of that wimpy kid in us and that is what makes it so easy to relate to him and laugh at him.

Since this book takes place in middle school and Seth teaches middle school, I would often read him parts of the book because it sounded like some of the crazy stories he has told me about his students. Sometimes I can't believe that middle school students are really that crazy but Seth is always there to reassure me that they are.

This book is a quick read and has many pictures to illustrate its point. If you need a good laugh and are in the mood for middle school humor I would definitely recommend it.

Book Review- Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator

Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator. In a word, odd. This book is so different from the first one. If all the characters didn't all have the same names as the first book I am not sure I would have known that it was a sequel. I definitely didn't like it as much as the first book and it definitely didn't have as much Roald Dahl charm.

Even though the second book wasn't as good, I wondered why no film adaption had been made of it. When I look it up, I found out that Roald Dahl hated the first movie version of the first book (Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory) and so he never released the rights to the second book. Even as classic as the old movie is, I cringe when I think of it in comparison to the book, I can understand why Dahl hated it.

Even though this book is not as good as the first Charlie book and it isn't as good as Matilda, it is still worth a read but I am not sure that it will ever find itself a permanent place of my shelves.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Book Review- Frindle

After saying I was going to get around to reading this book for almost three years, I finally got around to it. All I have to say is, it is easily on my favorites list.

Frindle is clever and fun. It screams creativity and kid power. The main character of Frindle is what I always wanted to be as a child. I wanted the guts to change the world like he does. Even though the way he changes the world is simple, it has a lasting effect.

The main character of the book makes up a new word for pen, Frindle. He decides that all words were just arbitrarily made up by someone anyway so he should be able to make up his own word. He goes through many clever steps to get people to use his new word and it is eventually covered by the news making it a phenomenon.

This book is fun and easy to read. It is a relatively short read but for being so short it sure captivates the reader. You are cheering for this creative child the whole time, hoping his word catches on and secretly wanting to call pens nothing but frindles for the rest of your life.

If you haven't read this, read it, now. You won't be sorry.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Book Review - The Westing Game

The Westing Game is another favorite of Seth's from his childhood. I really like the book but it was extremely confusing at first. The book introduces tons of characters all at once in the beginning. It takes quite awhile before you are able to straighten all of the characters out and remember the characteristics of each.

The book is clever and it keeps you guessing all the way until the very end. There are multiple times when you think you have figured it out but you are still way off target. It is a little bit of a tougher read when it comes to books for elementary school students because it requires so much remembering. Although it is still a pretty quick read.

This books is definitely worth a read if you are into mysteries at all. It is a mystery but a very different kind.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Rebox Review- Valkyrie

How utterly and completely depressing. Watching Valkyrie is kind of like watching Titanic. Since the movie is based on a historical incident you already know what happens. The ship sinks and nobody assassinated Hitler.

As for the movie itself, it was done well. The movie is based on war and so yes, it is violent and bloody. It was fascinated to see a group of people band together to save their country. I bet there were many Germans who loved this movie. Germany has been trying to make the distinction for years that not all Germans were Nazis and not all Nazis were German. This movie really shows that not everybody believed in the cause that Hitler was fighting for.

The movie was so frustrating in parts because it really showed the human spirit. You know, the side of all of us that wants to do the right thing and still cover your butt? There were so many chances to over throw the regime and to many people were scared and covered themselves instead of taking the chance for a better life.

It is worth a watch but probably only once. If you watch it more than that you might find yourself permanently depressed.

A point of clarification - I actually really liked Valkyrie but it is a movie that I am not sure I will watch again. Ever since I had Sofie I can't do execution type scenes. They make me completely nauseous. I blame it on the scene from the dark knight where Two Face is going to kill the little boy, after I saw that when I was pregnant I can't do scenes like that anymore. So to make myself a little more clear. The movie was really good but really depressing, the actors did a fine job.

Children's Book Review- Matilda

Somewhere I missed the boat.

I spent most of my elementary days reading books that I am pretty sure were way above my comprehending. While in elementary school, I read Roots, Great Expectations and others like them. With my desire to read adult books came a loss. I lost the opportunity to read all of the wonderful books that children read. I am trying to make up for it.
Seth has been recommending books and I have been gobbling them up as fast as I can. Matilda was my latest read.

Matilda was a fascinating book. I know it was written for a child but at times I didn't feel that way. Although since I have seen the movie all I could do was picture the little teeny Mara Wilson as Matilda. It was a fast read. I was done with the book in a couple of hours, maybe less.

I love Roald Dahl's sense of humor and way of holding his reader captive. I would have loved to have read this book as a child. As a child I was fascinated with anyway that I could take control of my life. I always hated that adults had the last say and sometimes when an adult was particularly frustrating I wanted to get back at them. Matilda doesn't want to get back at adults, she does. I think as children we all wished we had guts like Matilda.

It is a fun book and if you are looking for something incredibly intellectually stimulating that it is definitely worth a read.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Book Review - Eat, Pray, Love

Book Review- Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert ( I have tried to not include spoilers)

There is something about this book that is magical to me. Every time there is a trial or hardship in my life, I find myself wanting to run away. Run away to another country and be something else, find myself again. I think the magic in this book lies in the fact that she does get to run away.

After a horrible divorce Elizabeth Gilbert decides to take a journey across Italy, India and Indonesia. Her philosophy is that she is going to experience pleasure in Italy, pray in India and the art of balancing the two in Indonesia.

At times I hated this book and at times I was entranced. Whenever Liz was going through hard times, I found myself aching, remembering my mistakes. I found myself full of despair, wondering if I should even continue this book.
When she started her journey around the world. I was captivated by Italy. I loved it. It seemed so beautiful from her descriptions. It made me want to book the next flight over.

When she left Italy for India, I mourned. I seriously considered skipping the India section of the book because there was no way it could be as good as Italy. I pushed on ahead and found myself in love with India. In such a simple way, the author taught me so many things about myself. She made me want to be better and want to reach into the deep depths of my feelings and cast all of my bad feelings out. In fact, while I was reading this section about her meditations it helped me let go of a few old grudges that have been hanging on in my life.

When she left for Indonesia I mourned again. How could Indonesia be as good as this life of prayer in India?

She did it again. Gilbert entranced me into Indonesia making me want to leave America and experience Bali. I wanted to lie on beaches and become a better version of myself.

Although I cannot leave my home, my child or my husband, in a way I did. In a way, I fell into sort of a trance when I read this book. My husband even said he felt like I was a million miles away. When I closed the book late last night, I felt refreshed, like I had just finished my own journey of enlightenment but my journey had lasted two days instead of a year. This book made me cling to ideas of change and made me want to love everyone deeper and be a better person.

In all reality, I will probably never step foot in Italy, India or Indonesia but if only for two days I felt like they were apart of me. Helping me to become better, inspiring me to become better.

This book is worth reading, perhaps more than once, when we find our lives going a stray. I was sad in moments, I was happy in moments but so was the author. At times I wanted to throw the book away and at times I couldn't imagine putting it down.

I have read many peoples reviews of this book. Some people hated it. Some people love it. I think I feel a little bit of both. At this point in my life, this book is what I needed to read. A year ago, I think I would have just hated it. Yes, the author is pretty self indulgent. Yes, she is privileged without seeing her privilege but she is so incredibly flawed that it makes her journey real. She doesn't pretend to be perfect.

So read it. It might not be for you or maybe you'll be like me where it came at just the right time and was exactly what I needed to hear.