October 1, 2011

The Other Boleyn Girl

By Philippa Gregory

Kristin: I really enjoyed reading about the rule and reign of King Henry the 8th. I watched the mini series of the Tudors before reading this book so I was able to envision a lot of the characters in my mind throughout the book. I really enjoyed the writing style of this author-sometimes reading a historical novel can be dull and boring but Gregory did an excellent job keeping you engaged. The rivalry of the 2 sisters will keep you entertained-there isn't much that will stand between them and their rise to power.This was a pretty big book but I found myself not wanting to put it down. Even if you aren't very interested in English history I would still recommend this book-it's a great love story set in an intriguing historical time.

Amy: What an absolutely fascinating story. I was at first hesitant to read the book because I have seen the movie before (and because it is 600 pages long) but it was by far one of the best and fun and quick reads in a long time. I remember hearing about King Henry in school and how he kept killing his wived because they wouldn't provide him with a son so it was kind of cool to read about it like you were living among it. I found it fascinating with all the research Gregory did and how she built a most likely happened story from facts around the time. It was like you were living in the castles, friends with all the right people to hear all the drama and in the middle of it all. I would highly recommend this period drama (and already have to multiple people!)

The Help

By Kathryn Stockett

Kristin:  I thought this was a great book. I loved that the author tried to write it from the perspective of a black woman in the South. I was interested to read that the author grew up in Jackson Mississippi and saw on a first hand basis how different you were treated based on the color of your skin. The amount of love that the "help" had for the children that they took care of was so heart warming. It was sad that the white parents missed out on so much of their children's lives because they didn't want to be bothered with daily tasks of child rearing. I found myself as I'm sure everyone else did as routing for Skeeter and wanting to fight Hilly myself! I also felt a connection with Aibileen and Minny. Minny was sassy, but deep down she always did what was best for other maids and her children. Aibileen reminded me of a wonderful woman that truly loved the children she cared for. You could see how much of an impact she had on Mae Mobley.  Having lived in both the North and the South I was able to see how different Southern woman really are! The Southern way of life is truly worlds apart from anything else I have ever experienced-more so in the days of the civil rights movement than present day. This book brought many laughs and at times heartache for how poorly some white people treated the black people. It was a delight to read and I would highly recommend reading this book. Can't wait to go see the movie now!

Amy: Is set in the slavery south. It involves love, maids, tradition, hatred, newspapers, college, death, rights. It sheds light on things that you and I (I am sure) take for granted every day. It helped me realize that people are always hurting out there even if they put a smile on and some people are just plain mean- there is no reason to stay friends with these people even if you are supposed to. I now practice something in my own life that before I never did because of this book- a prayer journal. Please do not be mistaken, this book is not all about prayer- it is just one woman's way to get through the day. This book has such a feel about it that I can't explain and it leaves you feeling powerful to be who you are and to appreciate and respect those around you.

September 20, 2011

Love Walked In

By Marisa De Los Santos

Sonneri: This book easily found it's way to the top of my favorites list! I'm absolutely in love with the author's writing style - you feel as though you're having an intimate conversation with a best friend. Even the story was different, not at all your typical love story, but beautiful and heart-warming nonetheless. You'll fall in love with the characters the way the author intended and find it very difficult to put down. I don't really want to give anything away... so I'll just finish by saying that this book is a must-read!

Kristin: This is my idea of a great beach read. Laid back,easy to read and a unique spin on a love story. I liked the author's writing style- whitty at times. I liked how each chapter switched from the perspective of the 2 main characters. This story reminds me how sometimes in life you meet people that you automatically click with and feel like you've known them forever. Great read!

Amy Marie: Love Walked In is by far one of my most favorite books. I have recommended it to almost everyone who reads and they have all loved it! This book is wonderfully written. It is the first book that I was introduced to with this style of writing. It is a telling story about a woman trying to find her mister right. It involves a girl, a coffee shop, a past love and the need to keep reading because you want her to end up with him and have to keep reading to make sure she does! Ah! I just loved this book (and the sequel!)

August 29, 2011

Sarah's Key

By Tatiana De Rosnay

Amy Marie: This book keeps you from the first time you open the book. All the chapters are very short and filled with huge events that happen in the book. I won't lie and say that I didn't put this book down... because I did. I stopped reading for a little while because I knew the story was only going to get worse for a little while, that the story couldn't get better.  From back when I started reading in the 4th grade... Holocaust books have always had a place in my heart, brought tears to my eyes and never left me thinking that the story wasn't a good story. This book is about the round up of Jewish families (including children) in France in July of 1942. It is the intertwining and connecting story of a little girl and her connection to a modern day family and big secret. A wonderful love story that keeps you between the little girl, her family and the modern day journalist.

Kristin: This book was one that I had a hard time putting down. It did a great job of capturing your attention from the very beginning. I have always liked to read about stories from the Holocaust. It always dumbfounds me that we as humans could be so cruel and inhumane to our own human race. I liked that the chapters were short...I felt like I could sit down and read several chapters at one time...which is probably why I finished the book in less than 2 days! It was a really touching yet sad love story. The story had been kept a secret for generations but the pain and hurt of the secret carried on in the characters through out their lives. I tend to like books that are based on historical truths....granted the characters were fictional but the actual events that happened in German occupied Paris during the war were very true and historically accurate. I am looking forward to seeing this movie when it comes out...however...I don't think it will be as good as the book...guess time will tell! Would definitely recommend this book, especially if you were an Anne Frank book lover as a child.

Sonneri: As with almost every book written about the Holocaust, Nazi occupation or anything to do with either World War - you know going into it that the story won't be all fluff and happiness. So I knew it would be sad, which it was to some degree, but I didn't expect such a wonderfully written story of secrets. This book had so many layers - past and present, multiple families, historically accurate events and fictional characters - that you don't usually see in a book of this time period. It was so riveting that I couldn't put it down, despite the horrors and heartaches that come with World War stories. The author did a fantastic job of weaving all the elements together, and while the ending wasn't "feel-good", it suited the story perfectly by showing that redemption and forgiveness are possible by honoring your past.

August 21, 2011

One Day

By David Nicholls 

Amy Marie: This book was an amazing story. It was one of the first books where I was happy to know that Anne Hathaway was playing the character because I could put her character into the book while I was reading it. I wanted to finish the story so quick so I could go see the movie. It is a fantastic way to write a story- tracing the friendship and relationship of a couple on the same day over twenty years. I found myself laughing out loud and feeling excited to keep reading because some of the years end on cliff hangers. I do have to admit I did shut my book at one point and get really upset at what happened, but by the end of the story I found myself not high on a cloud but feeling joyful to live this day. I found this book very real... and full of life. If you are looking for a Disney love story where everything turns out how you want it... this isn't the book. For that I can appreciate this real life book. It is funny and sad and confusing and ends the way some things might end in our lives... not ideal but good. I like how Nicholls addresses the everyday feelings between people, spoken and unspoken. He does an amazing job at narrating for both Dex and Emma and their conversation with each other. I love how it was written with a british accent... it wasn't too hard to follow but made for fun reading. I would absolutely recommend this story to anyone who is looking for a great read full of lots of emotions.

Kristin: I had no idea what this book was about when I started reading it. The book had a different writing style...each chapter was written on the same day, July 15, over the span of 20 years. At times I felt like it was a little "choppy" and hard to follow. Parts of the dialogue  made me laugh out loud and I could totally see Anne Hathaway playing the part of Emma...I pictured her through out the entire book. However, I can't say that is was one of my favorite books...in my opinion is was kinda depressing. Neither Dex nor Emma had very fulfilling lives. There was no sense of "hope" in anything for either character. It did have a twist that I was not expecting. Overall, it was a worthwhile read that kept me engaged...but I when I was finished it left me sad. I was reminded by this book that each day is a gift and we should not take our time on earth for granted. If you are looking for a "feel good" romantic book...this is not for you....however if you are looking for a book that kinda shakes things up a bit then I say give it a go! 

Sonneri: I did not like this book! While the writing style was interesting, I would not say that this is a story to read if you're looking for a happy-Hollywood-ending. Kind of like the feeling you get when you go to see a movie with high expectations, and it turns out to be not that great... making you wish you could get your money back. I literally wanted to throw this book across the room when I finished. Sorry, but it's true! Ok, so there were pretty funny parts, and you get very attached to the characters through the extremely real quality of the writing. But the ending was miserably frustrating and goes against everything I believe about there being hope in the worst of circumstances.

July 27, 2011


 By Ralph Helfer

Kristin: I loved this book from the very 1st chapter. I'm a huge animal lover and was so touched by this sweet and enduring relationship of this boy and his elephant. The trials these two faced were unbelievable, but their bond and their love for each other carried them through unimaginable hardships and tragedies.  I am a firm believer that animals have feelings and are capable of showing love and feeling emotions. I have always loved elephants....Dumbo was a childhood favorite of mine. Elephants are such fascinating and beautiful creatures-so huge, yet so gentle and loving. This true story really affirms that animals are amazing creatures-they may not be able to talk and express their selves in human ways but show their affection and intelligence in more subtle ways. So many parts of the books were so sad and devastating, but neither Modoc or Bram gave up hope which I think is am important lesson to learn in life. Bram had an interesting worldview-believed everything was connected in nature. While I don't believe in reincarnation I do think his positive outlook on life was something to take note of. I do believe everything happens for a reason-why they happen I don't always understand but I know that being positive and upbeat is the way to handle adversity and move on in our walks of life.  I would definitely recommend this book to anyone(even if you aren't an animal lover)....it was more than a true story of someone's life and journey- it was truly a heartwarming love story.

Sonneri: The story of Modoc and Bram is unbelievable! They endure so much over the course of their lives that you almost don't believe it's real. Their connection with one another is incredibly heartwarming, and the experiences they share make for a beautiful story when told by the animal trainer that brought them back together after a sudden and unexpected separation. While I liked the book, but I did not like the author's writing style. The sentences were short and very non-descriptive. Some may like this writing style, but I wasn't a fan. It was the love between animal and human that redeemed this book in the end

Amy Marie: I finished this book last week and really liked it. It told probably one of the most amazing stories of any animal I have ever heard of. If any part of this book written is true, that alone in and of itself is an amazing story. However, I thought the writing was overly simple. I enjoyed the story but the narrating was hard to get past... it makes me sad because I think I would have read this book again if it was written differntly. All characters seemed to have the same personalities when they spoke and the author, in my opinion, tried too hard to make the personality by telling it instead of creating it. What I did enjoy reading was the bond between the boy and elephant. It is a bond I think we can all relate to with any animal you love in your life- even though this bond was tested and survived death quite a few times more then maybe most human-animal reationship. The bond was a nice reminder that there is a connection to anything in nature and that everything here on Earth are all under the same roof- we are all connected through a God that created us. 

July 5, 2011

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

by Mark Haddon

Sonneri: I've never had any personal experience with someone with autism, but I've seen them portrayed in movies and on television. The little boy Christopher in this book is quirky, smart, and very passionate about the things that interest them. But he also seems to be very robotic and almost incapable of true emotion. This, however, couldn't be farther from the truth. The most interesting, and eye-opening part of the story to me was when Christopher describes having two "Black Days" in a row (a "Black Day" is what he considers a bad day - after seeing four yellow cars in a row on his way to school, yellow being his least favorite color)...
"The next day I saw 4 yellow cars in a row on the way to school, which made it a Black Day... And the next day, too, I saw 4 yellow cars in a row on the way to school, which made it another Black Day... But on the third day I kept my eyes closed all the way to school until we got off the bus because after I have had 2 Black Days in a row I'm allowed to do that."
His logic for a bad day may not make any sense to us, but how often do we allow ourselves to "close our eyes", simply to have a break from that which bothers us?

Amy: So I am a fan of love stories, always have been, always will be.  When we decided to read this book I was not that excited, but very curious.  I have been telling myself that I need to read other books and expand my reading material because there are so many good books out there.  So this book was a good start.  I actually really liked the book.  It was interesting and kept my attention.  I don't really work with children that much, I am a nurse and I work with adults.  Adults can communicate and tell you their needs without wondering what they really want.  But I realized that is exactly what this little boy did as well.  Autistic children are about as literal as they come.  It was so fascinating to see from his eyes, how the world works.  It was also very sad to see how hard it was for him to cope in dealing with change and new situations and it was interesting to see the dynamics of all the people in the book and how they all relate to the boy.  I am glad we read this book and have already passed it on to a friend!

Kristin: From the standpoint of a teacher I loved the book. I've worked with so many children that have so many different conditions ranging from ADD/ADHD to autism and processing disorders. It was very interesting to me to really get a feel for how these children feel and view their surrounding world. It was also sad to me to think that so many children that suffer from this live in a constant state of fear and anxiety. They feel like they are a prisoner in their own world. I thought it was very clever of the author to write it from the child's perspective-I don't think it would have had as big of an impact into the mind of an autistic person coming from the viewpoint of a "normal" person. It is amazing to me to see the level of "genius thinking" that these children are capable of-mind blowing!  I would recommend this book to anyone who works in the field of education or other fields that deal with children. Overall it was a fun quick read that I found to be interesting and worthwhile! 

Amy Marie: So at first I was not a fan of this book. Have you ever read The Catcher in the Rye? Well, I was told to read that book and didn't like it so much- yes it was cleverly written but there was nothing that really happened and that is how I kind of felt about this book at first.  This book is told from a 15-year old genius boy. So... there is a lot of talking that leads you nowhere. However, there was a story and a good one at that. It wasn't too hard to follow and I found it extremely interesting looking at a world through a little boy's perspective. It makes me think and realize that everyone has different perspectives and those perspectives are important to respect, no matter what the age. I would recommend this book if you are looking for a good story to read and a cleverly written novel.