Book Review: The Reader by Bernhard Schlink

Grade: B

Sometimes, not very often but sometimes, I can finish reading a book and still be unsure whether I liked it at all. I’d imagine the fact that I finished it at all means I liked it at least a little, since there are other books which I can simply walk away from and say, “No thank you.” Maybe the truth is simply that I did not love it. I certainly did not love The Reader by Bernhard Schlink but I am glad to have read it, I did find myself anxious to read ‘what happens next’ even if I never really fell in love with any of the characters or their story.

The Reader tells a few stories. It tells the story of a grown woman who has an affair with a fifteen year old boy, and the consequences of that affair for the boy as he grows up in his love life and beyond. It tells the story of a generation of young Germans trying to understand the Nazi past that most of their parents had had involvement in – how do you deal with knowing what your loved ones have done or lived through? How do you deal with what fellow humans like yourself are capable of? But this story also tells, and this was the most enjoyable part of the story for me, is the story of a woman who cannot read or write, and her shame in this and her inability to admit it to anyone, has a long laundry list of consequences. It effects every area of her life, always for the worst, and even when admitting to her illiteracy could potentially save her, the shame of being found out is just too great – the things she suffers for her secret are astounding. Never mind the small details of a life without written word, all the simple things which become difficult that nobody could understand or expect without knowing.

The first half of this story, the story of Hanna and Michael’s affair, I could not relate to, did not enjoy and mostly just suffered through. If I had not known what was coming next, I can assure you I would have walked away from this story very early on. But between the Nazi Germany connection and the story of Hanna’s illiteracy, I kept reading, knowing that those stories could be wonderful. And while I’m still not sure if they were wonderful, they were definitely worth reading. I tend to read much lighter stories, rarely venturing back into the world of ‘serious literature’ so in part, this may be simply a complaint with having forced myself to read a ‘grown up book.’ It was also translated from German, and it’s possible that in the original language, if I could read German, that it might have been a better story – translations never show the exact beauty of the written word as it’s originally intended – you are often just left with the basic bones of the story, which while interesting, I doubt it is the same at all. And of course the last possibility, is that I simply did not love it.

I would still encourage anyone interested in The Reader to try it. It was not a difficult read, despite those draw backs previously mentioned. I read it no more or less quickly than another book of it’s size and even for those who might feel squeamish about the first part of the story, Hanna and Michael’s story, I can say it could have been worse. Anyone who has had a physical relationship should be able to handle reading this, I’d think. But to those readers who are younger and have not experienced this, I’d advise they wait on reading this one as it is fairly detailed (without being down right smutty). Basically, I say this book is worth a shot and certainly capable of being an enjoyable read. I wouldn’t be surprised if many, many people love it in a way that I simply did not.

About the Momma:

Jen is a Stay at Home Mom and Loving Wife. She spends her time online reading RSS feeds and posting in her blog. If you haven’t heard from her in awhile, she’s likely lost in a good book, sleeping or watching Grey’s Anatomy.

Advertisements

Book Review: Waiting For Birdy

Grade: A+

I read a lot of books during my first pregnancy and shortly after giving birth to my son – but I found it was the handful of memoir-style books that appealed to me the most – real stories in all their imperfection helped me cope and deal and plan much moreso than the technical tombs like What To Expect…, etc. When I got pregnant a second time last fall, I began searching out similar books but based on a second or third pregnancy, etc. I already know what babies are like and how to go about raising them, for the most part – what I was looking for was a book about learning how to “stretch your love” so to speak – the feelings of this pregnancy are different than they were with a first pregnancy. You know the basics and understand why your body is changing, but the idea of a new baby coming into the world and competing for love and affection with your current brood can be daunting. Am I making the right decision? Will I be a good mother of more than one? Am I completely crazy?? (That last one usually gets asked when I find myself in the middle of not dealing terribly well with something my 2 year old is doing.)

There isn’t much out there – at least not much that I’ve found – so I lucked out that the one that I found – Waiting For Birdy by Catherine Newman – was perfect and exactly what I was looking for. Not only is she pregnant with her second child and raising a just turned three year old boy (dealing with potty training and typical toddler turned preschool mayhem) she is hesitant. Constantly – “Am I doing the right thing?” comes up a lot. Which for me is a godsend, because an entire book of, “I’m so happy and together,” probably would have driven me insane. Now I feel slightly better prepared – armed – she was just as scared silly and just as normal and she made it through okay – she loved her new baby and eventually her son came around and decided to like the new baby okay, too.

This book was filled with relate-able humor and I found myself laughing a lot. It was real – I found myself worrying a lot, too, but everything worked itself out in her life which makes me feel like maybe everything will work itself out in mine. Life is full of the occasionally seemingly insurmountable odds, but it’s full of laughter and kindness, too, depending on where you look. You’ll find all of that here. And Newman is a terrific writer – this book was originally a weekly column at babycenter.com called “Bringing Up Ben and Birdy” – learning this made me laugh hard, because I read babycenter.com all the time – heck I map my pregnancy by it, thoroughly week by week, as my regular readers well know. So this is also kind of pretty cool proof that this blogging thing can be more than just a hobby, can be real and fulfilling and for some of the lucky, can lead to bigger things.

In short, I loved this sweet, funny memoir on second time pregnancy and recommend it to any mother, new or old.

Book Review: God’s Debris

Grade: B+

Scott Adams is probably best known for his hugely popular comic strip, Dilbert, but he’s also written a couple of books that you could categorize as philosophical fiction, or as he likes to call it, a thought experiment. My husband (who is a fan of both Dilbert and Adams’s books) has been encouraging me to read God’s Debris for years and I finally broke down and did so a couple weeks ago. It didn’t take long – these books are very thin, quick reads, despite the whammy of intellectual stimulation going on between the covers, I managed to finish it in a few days.

This book is fiction, but the ideas in it are very philosophical. The ideas presented in the story might offend some people or simply confuse, but if you like challenging your opinions on things possibly well established as facts, this might be the book for you. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that college aged guys in particular will like this – people who say, “Why?” a lot might like this. People unsatisfied with conventional outlooks on religion, science and life will like this.

I’ll confess I got frustrated with this book a lot, especially in somewhere in the middle when the two (only) characters seemed to go off on the world’s longest tangent talking about I still don’t even know what – something in the math science realm I’m assuming. For me, it was akin to being in a room with two people talking about a subject you know so little about that they could be speaking a foreign language for all you know, and ignoring you completely. I almost put it down and moved on, but my husband insisted that I finish it and keep reading so I did and it did get better. The end of the book was probably my favorite. Now that all the big walls of thought have been essentially torn down, physics, math, science and religion sort of redefined – they move onto much easier to digest concepts and I found myself nodding along and going WOW to a lot of basic concepts about things about relationships, communication and how we learn. I even learned a thing or two.

So where does that leave me? I think that if you are like me, in that you are comfortable with having things you consider a fact questioned – maybe you are even a little thrilled by it – that you will likely enjoy the book, at least in parts. For me it was worth the quick read entirely for the few things I took away from it. If you have a scientific or mathematic background and can handle and understand language from those areas – man, I think you will love this book with a passion. I highly recommend it for those people and cautiously recommend it for the rest of us.

Book Review: The Perilous Journey

Grade: A+

I am in love with this new series by Trenton Lee Stewart! The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey is the sequel to The Mysterious Benedict Society. That’s quite a mouthful, I know, but it’s seriously worth every word. My husband and I are both huge fans of this new series about a group of extraordinarily gifted children: Reynie, Kate, Sticky, and Constance – each uniquely talented, smart and savvy in their own ways and together quite a team.

I love how this series shows kids that there are different ways to be smart and none are more or less impressive than the others. It teaches kids that there are a lot of ways to solve their problems and that when they think hard and care about something that they can accomplish anything – especially when working together as a team. What a great lesson to learn while reading a thrilling adventure story, huh? They’ll even pick up some great new vocabulary words along the way.

In The Perilous Journey the heroic foursome find themselves leaving home to rescue their beloved mentor, Mr. Benedict, and against all odds manage to leave England and travel to many new, exciting countries, facing off against some pretty terrifying bad guys, and learning a lot about themselves along the way. For four very smart children, they still have a lot of growing up to do, and like all children it isn’t always easy for them – or for their friendships.

I really recommend this series to any child or adult – I think it could be a really fun book to read with your children – or on your own. This, in my mind, is the new BIG series worth trying. I promise you will love it! You can buy the Mysterious Benedict Society and The Perilous Journey together at Amazon.com today for less than $20 with free shipping!

Book Review: Revenge of the Spellmans

Grade: A+

Next Tuesday, March 10, Revenge of the Spellmans by Lisa Lutz hits bookshelves everywhere. This is the third installment in a truly addictive series about a family of private detectives, namely one Isabel Spellman. Izzy could be considered the black sheep in her family. Despite her good intentions, things never really go the way she hopes and she frequently finds herself a bit in over her head, getting caught up in her own curiosity and sometimes letting normal people details escape her. And while you may not always be able to say you’ve “been there” when reading about her escapades, in spirit you have. I think we’ve all kind of felt like the black sheep of our lives at one point or another (or constantly).

And that’s one of the things I love about this series. You will find no unrealistically good looking, smart, savvy people who you could never dream of being. I hate those people. Talk about an ego suck. Like Stephanie Plum in Janet Evanovich’s Plum series, Izzy Spellman is a girl like you, even on your worst of days, who pulls through in spite of herself. Now, don’t get me wrong, in a lot of ways Izzy is one smart chick. She is a talented PI, in a family of talented PIs, and can usually sniff out a mystery with her nose plugged. It’s turning that curiosity off that’s usually the problem. Imagine being unable to stop yourself from reading that diary, following that car, running a background check on all your boyfriends (and all your family and friend’s significant others, too). She seems to lack an off switch, which makes the people around her crazy sometimes. But to be fair, I don’t think anyone in her family has an off switch either. It’s a family trait.

Anyway, in Revenge of the Spellmans Izzy is forced to endure court-ordered therapy, unemployment, a not so preferable living arrangement, a mountain of secrecy, mysterious blackmail letters, an unintelligible Irish bartender, oh and the guy she’s pretty sure she’s in love with but can’t quite bring herself to tell him? He has a girlfriend now, who despite all her best efforts, she can’t seem to dislike. Amidst all of this is the usual circle of mysteries, in which Lutz weaves the worlds biggest whose duping who and seriously whodunnit web of awesomeness. I actually never figured out any of the mysteries in this book before Lutz wanted me to and I’m GOOD at figuring plot lines out. It’s a talent.

I really cannot complain about this latest installment of Spellman goodness, except to say that, “Lisa, that kiss – and you know which kiss I speak of – was heart breaking. And I’m not sure I’m okay with it.” Oh, and, “I can’t wait for book four!”

Are you new to the Spellman series? You’ll want to start with book one, The Spellman Files (now in mass market paperback!), then move on quickly to Curse of the Spellmans (now in paperback), before finally devouring Revenge of the Spellmans (comes out in hardcover March 10).

If you are already a SpellmanAddict like me, have you gone to Lisa Lutz’s website yet? You can sign up for her quarterly newsletter here!

Book Review: Something Rotten by Jasper Fforde

Grade: A +

It’s no secret that I love me some Jasper Fforde. His Thursday Next series just blows my mind every time with brilliant awesomeness. From the first book, The Eyre Affair, I was absolutely hooked and I’ve been devouring them ever since, most recently with book four, Something Rotten. These books have a little bit of everything – the literary references are never ending and wonderful, the worlds he creates inside and outside of literature is fascinating, detailed and wonderful even when absurd. There is a science fiction angle involving things like time travel, cloning, eradications and being able to jump inside (and out of) books. There are wonderful commentaries on religion, politics, marketing, big business and more. There’s even a love story thrown in for good measure.

It’s hard to go into great detail as any number of details from this book would be a spoiler for books prior to it – and you really don’t want any mysteries spoiled going into this. I will say that the Thursday Next series, while wonderful, is not as easy a read as the other books I typically read. I can usually read any standard book (okay fine, young adult and chick lit) in under a week. Thursday Next books take me at least two (the first one took me even longer, as I had to acclimate myself with Fforde’s hugely detailed plot lines, not to mention the complex world he’s created). But I love every minute of it. My husband frequently gives me strange looks when I laugh out loud in the middle of the night (when I should be sleeping but instead am up reading justonemorechapter) and has enjoyed several passages that I’ve quoted for him out loud when I just couldn’t stand keeping the brilliance to myself.

So if you like science fiction, literature, love stories, satire, and funny, intelligent plots with a never ending twist, I highly recommend the Thursday Next series, including but not limited to Something Rotten, book four.

Book Review: Envy by Anna Godbersen

Grade: A+

Can you believe it was only one year ago that The Luxe by Anna Godbersen hit bookstores everywhere? Having no idea what it was about but being smitten with the cover, I knew I had to read it. I had this hunch it was going to be really, really good. I was loving the idea of historical fiction meets young adult romance, and the fact that it took place in New York, very close to home for me, was an added bonus. And did I mention the gorgeous cover?

Well, I was right, The Luxe was fabulous, in ways I’d never anticipated. It was also suspenseful, addictive and heartbreaking in other ways I hadn’t imagined. When I finished it, I was desperate to read book two, Rumors. And seemingly days later, it was Envy, Godbersen’s latest installment in the series that I was coveting so badly that I could hardly stand it. After the incredible cliff hanger of book two, I was heartbroken and hoping for some sort of comfort, some kind of, “and then…” that would make it all okay.

And while Envy was nothing remotely close to comforting, it was just as amazing as the first two books in the Luxe series, if not better. At this point in the series we are well acquainted with the four leading ladies of this suspenseful love story which takes place at the dawn of the 20th century, a time of gorgeous ball gowns, arranged marriages and the always demanding status quo. I loved reading from the points of view of all four ladies, even the ones you loved to hate and seeing how all of their actions affected the lives of the others, even if they didn’t realize it. I loved holding my breath, waiting for something to go right, only to slam my fists in dismay when it only got worse. Godbersen creatively weaves you along, making you think you have it figured out only to take you somewhere else entirely. And of course, Envy ends at another terrible cliff hanger, causing me anxiety over not knowing when book four, Splendor is due to publish.

I won’t give any more than that away, because these books I think are best enjoyed with complete mystery shrouding them, so you can really enjoy the full course of the story in each installment, and be thoroughly surprised along the way. Have you read these amazing books yet? What are you waiting for?? Pick up the Luxe today and I’m willing to bet you’ll have devoured Rumors and Envy as well before the month is out!

How to Teach Filthy Rich Girls

How to Teach Filthy Rich Girls
By Zoey Dean

I picked this out on recommendation from a good friend of mine, and I think we have very different ideas of what a good book entails. I’m not a fan of the chick lit genre, preferring the classics myself.

Product Description: Recent Yale graduate Megan Smith comes to Manhattan with big plans for a career in journalism and even bigger student loan debt: $75,000. When she flails at her trashy tabloid job, she’s given an escape hatch: tutor seventeen-year-old identical twins Rose and Sage Baker–yes, the infamous Baker heiresses of Palm Beach, Florida, best known for their massive fortunes and their penchant for drunkenly flashing the paparazzi — and get their SAT scores up enough to get into Duke. Impossible job — yes. But if she succeeds, her student debts are history. Unfortunately for Megan, the Baker twins aren’t about to curtail their busy social schedules for basic algebra. And they certainly aren’t thrilled to have to sit down for a study session with dowdy Megan. Megan quickly discovers that if she’s going to get her money, she’ll have to learn her Pucci from her Prada. And if she can look the part, maybe, just maybe, she can teach the girls something along the way.

My thoughts: This book is pure chick-lit: a smart, sassy heroine in a lighter-than-air plot that makes for a fun, quick read.

I didn’t really like this book but finished it quickly because of the writing style. I have a ton of issues with it that started bugging me shortly after I finished.

Issue #1: I stopped believing fairy tales a long time ago and I guess I?m kind of irked that Megan had to have a total Cinderella makeover before she started believing in herself. C?mon! She?s a Magna Cum Laude Yale grad! She should be smarter than that!

Issue #2: [A bit of a spoiler ahead] Megan spent only 8 weeks with the twins and yet she manages to fix all of the psychological trauma associated with the death of their parents at an early age and being raised by their cold and distant grandmother while still managing to tutor them enough to pass their SATs. This one is really pushing the envelope of belief – she?s not psychologist, nor a teacher. Granted, she was a good student herself, but nothing leading up to this except for a slightly competitive relationship with her own sister leads us to believe she would have the wisdom or skill to pull this off.

Issue#3:The ending is totally unrealistic and I saw it coming from miles away. I won’t give it away here, but you’ll know exactly what I mean when you read it.

Bottom line, if you can suspend your disbelief a little bit and you love stories about high society, you?ll love How to Teach Filthy Rich Girls, but if fairy tales and living happily ever after aren?t your thing you might want to pass.

About the Momma:

Mrs. Suzzi Heartbreaker is a homemaker, roller derby vixen,

freelance web architect, boutique owner, wife, and mother of two girls. She is a supermom and loves it.

Don’t forget to check out our giveaways: a SmartShopper Grocery List Organizer. The winner for this giveaway will be announced Wednesday February 11! And two Leslie Sansone Walk Away The Pounds DVDs. The winner will be announced Monday February 9!

Book Review: Wicked: Witch & Curse

Grade: B+

It’s tough having the same title as a literary phenomenon turned Broadway musical. How do you compete and set a name for yourself? Well if you’re smart you get a really standout cover and make the book as huge as possible (even if you have to combine two books in one). Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguie can consider this a job accomplished. Their book practically leaped off the shelf at me while perusing my local bookstore and I thought, “If you can judge a book by it’s cover, this is going to be a good one.”

I really enjoyed this story of Holly Cathers and her cousins Amanda and Nicole, descendants of a hugely powerful wiccan tribe, the Cahors whose long running blood feud with warlock family the Deveraux has been passed down from generation to generation as the ghosts of Isabeau Cahors and Jean Deveraux attempt to live out their destinies through each generation, resulting in bloody massacres, heart break and deception.

The book’s story is rich and complex, and grows more and more intricate with each chapter, but never feels like too much – Holder and Viguie masterfully weave their tale in just the right way, the mix of current teen culture and ancient magical history is well accomplished. I really enjoyed the story and definitely plan to read the next book, Wicked 2: Legacy & Spellbound. I did feel like some of the story was rushed, some tragedies seemed to simply fix themselves with little explanation.

I also think this story might be way too much for some teenagers to handle. This book has a lot of death – and a lot of the deaths are friends and family. There are some very dark passages describing magical rituals, some involving sex, though not explicit, it isn’t romantic either. I’d be hesitant to recommend it to just anyone in the teenage set. A college student and above I think could easily handle it and some mature teenagers might do fine, but it’s definitely not for the faint of heart.

Still, all said, I really enjoyed this story and look forward to the next installment.

About the Momma:

Jen is a Stay at Home Mom and Loving Wife. Spends too much time online reading RSS feeds and posting in her blog. If you haven’t heard from her in awhile, she’s likely lost in a good book, sleeping or watching Grey’s Anatomy.

Book Review: Pride and Prejudice

Which Pride and Prejudice character are you?

I am Elizabeth Bennet!

Take the Quiz here!

About four months ago I read Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen for the Classics Bookclub @ 5 Minutes for Books. It was my first time reading it, and one of the first classic novels I had attempted to read in a long time (I think Gone With the Wind was probably the last one, and that was a few years ago at least). Since then I have attempted to read a couple of classics with little result – and Pride and Prejudice is certainly still my favorite. I can’t believe, looking back now, how long I waited to read it.

One of the reasons I waited so long was because I’d already seen the movie with Kiera Knightly, which was enjoyable but confusing in my opinion, not having read the book. I’ve seen several movies based on Austen’s books and have previously had a very hard time reading a book when I’d already seen the movie. You could say I’d developed a prejudice towards the situation.

And of course, Austen’s books all seem a bit dry in many ways, with their antiquated language and tendency to blather on about what sometimes seems like nothing. Despite often enjoying them, I have not been good about reading all the classics and I think I may have been a bit scared that I wouldn’t understand it, after so many years away from a classroom – that I’d find it boring simply because I lacked the propensity to enjoy it. Oh yes, I was prejudiced.

I think, if you’ll bear with me for a moment, that you could easily compare my experience reading this book to Elizabeth Bennet’s experience with Mr. Darcy. The first half of the book bordered on dreadfully boring in my not very humble opinion, the language seemed stale and unnecessarily verbose. I thought for quite some time I’d have to force myself to finish it. But then somewhere in the middle I fell in love – I realized the language wasn’t terribly stale at all, the story was easy to understand, and the level of “wordiness” was actually just right. Her writing style began to become marvelous to me and now even as I type this, I think I’ve perhaps been reading classic literature quite long enough because it is surely affecting my writing style.

By the time I realized I was loving the book, I was no longer certain why I hadn’t liked it originally. I’m not sure if my initial dislike of the book was the author’s fault or my own. Had I become lazy after so many years of reading only modern literature or did Austen’s writing style change over the course of the book – perhaps even on purpose? Was it her intention that I feel prejudiced towards the book initially, marking it off as unworthy of my time, only to wow me in the middle, win me over the by the end, and have me quite in love when all was said and done?

In short, at first the book seemed unnecessarily dry and proud and boring – but by the end it was surely the warmest, most involved book I’ve read in awhile. I’m quite fancying myself in love with it. I might marry it. My family will be quite shocked, I’m sure. Can you see the parallel yet or should I say the same thing in a different way again? No? You’re good? Me, too.

Have you read Pride and Prejudice? Did you love it, loathe it or find yourself indifferent? What is your favorite classic novel?

About the Momma:

Jen is a Stay at Home Mom and Loving Wife. Spends too much time online reading RSS feeds and posting in her blog. If you haven’t heard from her in awhile, she’s likely lost in a good book, sleeping or watching Grey’s Anatomy.

Grab Momma’s Button



Found my Fit @ Lee

Proud to Be

Mommas Current Giveaways

Zero Water Ends April 24th

Kiss My Face Skin Care Products Ends April 22nd

Monsters vs Aliens Video Game Ends April 20th

...and more coming soon.

March for Babies

February 2018
M T W T F S S
« Jun    
 1234
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
262728  

Blog Stats

  • 47,509 hits

Note

All products (unless stated otherwise) are provided to Mommas Review for review purposes. We do not receive any other sort of compensation for our reviews unless stated. We promise to provide our sincere and honest review of the product that is received.

Kristin’s Virtual Baby Shower

ExtaOrdinary Mothers

EM Sorority Sisterhood

Team Mom Member

MR is an Ethical Blogger

Ethical Blogger

Click Free

Kristin @ An Ordinary Life

Jennifer @ Rundpinne

Jennifer @ Eighty MPH Mom

Sky @ Seeryus Mama

Casey @ Couch with a View

Casey’s Snazzy Summer

Toni @ Daily Dose of Toni

Live Laugh Love and Bloggings

Amy @ Coffee with the Mrs.

Erin @ Mrs. Cox’s Slice o’ Heaven

Angie @ Simple Life

Queen Mommy Sarah

Lori @ Downs Gang

The Mom Buzz

Stacy @ Tree Root & Wig

Linda @ My Trendy Tykes

Hyla @ Green Earth

Snow Mama

Lolli @ 1 Mom of 5

Ariazink

Paperback Designs

Moo Musings

Collyn @ Mommies Angels

Piece of Me

Lyric and Adrias Mom

A Nut In A Nutshell

Michelle @ Crazy Life

Sweeps Advantage