A Review of The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Gilead is a postwar society that assigns women very specific jobs. Some of these jobs include handmaids and marthas. A very small percentage become wives to the men in higher power positions. Offred is a handmaid. She is nothing more than a vessel. Because she is deemed one of the few fertile women after the affects of nuclear fallout she has 3 chances to conceive a child with the Commander in charge of her household, so that his wife may adopt this child and become a mother. In Gilead, women are no more than property and functioning machines.

I think this book is relevant to today. Especially when they describes the political ideology. It is extremely well written and the author has a firm grasp of how to capture a reader and make them feel what the character feels. I found myself worrying about my own safety in a postwar society like this. The way the take over is described seems scary and probably to me.

This is, in fact, one of the scariest books I’ve ever read. And it left me with a feeling of hopelessness after finishing it. I hated the ending. It was extremely abrupt and the historical notes seemed like they should’ve wrapped things up better. Instead I was just left frustrated and weary of the whole think. I’m not a leave it up to your imagination type person. This book has a lot of political ideology and religion. Gilead is a society run by misconstrued political beliefs. I don’t even think the men who created this society really believed the foundation they build their new country on. I think it was a ruse to dominate women and to use them for their own purposes. In an already male dominated society, its scary to think that our rights could so swiftly be taken from us.

I enjoyed this book til the very end. I gave it a 4 out of 5. I thought the end fell apart. Atwood could’ve done so much more with such a strong plot. I look forward to watching the new series based on this book and what they may do with it. I recommend this book to everyone. I think it is a good reminder of the way things could go if we don’t keep our politicians in check and our eyes open to false doctrine.

A Review of The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George

Jean Perdu is a man who has spent the last 20 years of his life in mourning and angry about a woman who spurned him and then died. He lives his life angry at her for leaving him, doesn’t sleep, and lives a very basic sedentary life. He runs a bookstore on a barge floating in the Seine River, called the Literary Apothecary. He has a special talent for reading people emotionally with a minimum of information. With this skill and his love for books he prescribes books to help patrons with what ails them emotionally. He’s been stuck in this rut for a long time, until a newly divorced woman moves into his building and a popular young author seeks refuge aboard his boat, and everything changes.

I absolutely loved this book. It gripped me emotionally from the first few pages. Perdu is a truly broken man and Nina George guides you along his journey as you empathize and feel for everything he is going for. I fell in love with each and every character in this book. They all possessed qualities that seemed to encourage each other to grow and is even great advice for the reader. I found this book to have some of the greatest quotes about life and love. The entire book is a roller coaster of every emotion imaginable. I found myself laughing one minute and crying the next.

There are parts of this book that I think are a bit wordy and I felt my attention drifting a bit, but just when I thought I might lose interest, I was reeled back into the story. There is some mild sexual content, as Perdu is a middle aged man who has completely shut himself down, and along the way he rediscovers his sexuality along with finding that his heart is still capable of love.

I will easily give this book 5 stars. There was no point where I was truly board and I truly empathized with Perdu and rooted for him as he created new friendships, built himself a family, and allowed himself to see the light in life again. I found myself not wanting it to end. I wanted more from the Epilogue. I fell completely in love with this book and the core characters.

A Review of Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

I read this book because it was chosen to be read in the book club I run on facebook. This is a book I have been wanting to read for awhile anyway because I really enjoyed the Studio Ghibli movie they made from it. While the two differed quite a bit I enjoyed both.

Howl is a wizard known as the eater of young women’s souls. He is much feared in the lands his floating castle moves through. Sophie is a y0ung woman at the cusp of adulthood living a boring life in a hat shop, though she seemed to be very good at what she did. Then a woman came in and put a spell on her that ages her 60 years until she’s a very old woman. At that point she decides since she doesn’t have much time left she better go out to seek her fortune. When she comes to Wizard Howl’s castle she decides to go in and try to get a job with him since it is only young woman’s souls he’s after.

This book caught my attention from the very beginning and there was never a dull point. There was a lot going on and though it is pure fantasy there are many elements of mystery that you begin to see unfold throughout the story. I was not expecting the way the book ended at all. I had my guesses but I was caught completely off guard and the last 2 chapters in the book sunk it’s claws into my heart and I was captivated.

I give this book a 5 out of 5 and would give it even more if that was possible. I loved this book and easily put it in my top 10 books of all time. It is a quick and fun read and something I would consider rereading in the future, something I normally don’t do. I recommend this book to everyone who is a fan of the fantasy genre both young and all. There are no adult themes so this is something that would even make a great bed time story for children old enough for chapter books.

A Review of The Book Thief by Mark Zusak

Liesel Meminger is a half Jewish girl living in Nazi Germany. Her mother is Jewish but her father is German. Thankfully, she has her father’s blonde hair. Her mother takes her and her brother to foster care so they won’t be put into concentration camps because she is Jewish. On the train ride to the foster agency, her little brother dies of what seems to be pneumonia. They stop and bury him and by his grave she sees that the gravedigger has dropped a book. She later learns that the book is called The Gravedigger’s Handbook. It is the beginning of a lucrative career of book stealing. She takes this one in particular, because it reminds her of the last day she saw her mother and brother.

Shortly after that, Liesel is dropped off at the Hubermann’s. She says goodbye to her mother, not wanting her to leave, and never sees her again. What follows, is the story of a little girl who grows into a woman during Nazi Germany. She deals with all the issues that young adults during that time period dealt with: school, boys, hunger, sports, and finding your place in a world that seems to be falling apart at the seams.

This story is told through the eyes of death, a kind of jaded observer of humankind. He’s seen it all so nothing surprises or moves him until he meets Liesel. He follows Liesel and her story closer because I think she brings to him some sense of what humanity still could be amongst all this death and chaos. We see a lot more of the world when with death as the narrator but I felt like I was never fully immersed into the story like I would’ve been had it been narrated by Liesel. For one, Death never shows a whole lot of emotion and I’m drawn into a book more when I am made to feel what the characters feel.

Death also had a bad habit of revealing to the reader what was going to happen to the characters before it happened which I felt stole some of the raw emotion. I think that part of the trauma of a tragic story is the surprise that comes with a death you weren’t expecting. Also, the book tended to jump into a different time period right when I was being drawn into a scene. Then in the next chapter it might go back to the middle of that scene and it was just very disjointed to me. I think this book would’ve been more impactful with a linear story line.

Overall it is a good book. I would recommend it and it is interesting to see how the Nazi Party affected the other side. I found out that the Germans were poor and starving too. They may not have had to go through the concentration camps but the youth had to go to meetings for the Nazi Youth where they were treated very poorly and it was a lot like boot camp. Life was not easy during that time for anyone. Even the wealthy seem to be plagued with horrors of their own, like loss of loved ones in the war. I would give this book a 3.5 out of 5.

A Review of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince by JK Rowling

Harry’s 6th year starts out a little differently. Only 2 years into summer vacation Dumbledore retrieves Harry and takes him on a mission to get Horace Slughorn to come out of retirement and begin teaching. Slughorn is a bit of a collector of influential students and people. And Dumbledore is correct. The lure of Harry Potter convinces him to return.

But when the golden trio return to Hogwarts they discover that things have changed. Slughorn was not hired on as the replacement Defense Against the dark arts teacher as they assumed but instead is teaching Potions. Instead, Snape seems to have gotten his way with Dumbledore and finally been promoted to the Defense position he always wanted.

This volume starts out with many interesting mysteries that leave the reader confused as they slowly unravel. What is Malfoy up to? What happened to Dumbledore’s hand? Delving more into Tom Riddle/Voldemort’s history seems to hold the keys to all these mysteries.

This installment started out strong but some parts slowed down a lot for ke, especially when Harry was going over facts pertaining to the case over and over again. It started to seem very tedious and it’s a lot of getting others opinions and nobody believes him again. But the book goes out with a bang and a cliffhanger like ending had me itching to move on to the final book in the series.

Though it had slow parts I gave this one a 5 because it gave me a lot of new information, things to think about, and contained some of the most emotional scenes up to this point. I would highly recommend it. I think it feels in a lot of blanks even while opening up more.

A Review of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by JK Rowling

in Harry’s fifth year at Hogwarts, we meet him where we left off in the Goblet of Fire. Voldemort has risen and with the select few Death Eaters that remain he is trying to regain power. Harry is back with the Dursleys but after a dementor attack on Dudley that was blamed on him, Harry is taken to Number 12 Grimmauld Place where Hermione and the Weasleys have been living. This is both Sirius Black’s family home and now also the new headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix, a group of adult Wizards headed by Albus Dumbledore, formed to stop the rise of Voldemort to power.

The Ministry of Magic doesn’t believe Harry or Dumbledore about the rise of Voldemort and are having the Daily Prophet publish daily fluff articles trying to discredit them. They don’t even believe Harry was attacked by the dementors. So he has to go to trial for doing underage magic. With the help of Dumbledore Harry is acquitted but Harry is getting frustrated that he is starting to have dreams but Dumbledore won’t tell him anything about them.

Upon returning to Hogwarts the undersecretary to the Minister of Magic, Dolores Umbridge, is appointed as the new defense against the dark arts teacher by order of the Ministry. She soon sees all kinds of things going on that she doesn’t like and makes it her mission to reform the school using whatever means possible and for very selfish reasons.

This installment in the series is much better than Goblet of Fire. Though the first part, before they get to Hogwarts, drags, once they get back to Hogwarts things start to pick up. There are a lot of mysteries in this one that have the reader constantly trying to guess what’s going on.

Dolores Umbridge may be one of the most evil villains in the history of literature. Her motives and treatment of children is startlingly cruel. She’s narcissistic, racist, and egocentric, and the whole time you are reading you want nothing more than to reach into the book and choke her.

it also has one of the most emotional endings I’ve ever read. Being this far into the series has the reader emotionally invested in the characters and sympathetic to their emotions. I was ready to jump right into the next book. I would give this one a 5 out of 5.

A Review of The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

I read this book with a book club over the course of three weeks. I’m glad I took the time to read it slowly and discuss it with others because there is much to be gleaned from this book.

Garth Stein writes an amazing story of the struggles of a small and dysfunctional family told through the perspective of the family dog, Enzo. Enzo is a highly intelligent dog who thinks he should’ve been born a man, spurred on even more so from constantly watching TV with a voracious appetite to learn. Even being the highly intelligent being that he is he still gives in to the baser needs of being a dog, giving this tale a more realistic feel.

This story has many highs and many lows but teaches many lessons about life along the way. I found myself laughing and crying. I also found myself bored sometimes. There are a few chapters dedicated solely to the aspects of raceway driving, and while I can see what the author was doing comparing real life with fast driving, it was hard to focus and not just skim through. This would probably really appeal to fans of NASCAR though. And even those who aren’t can draw something from this book as the raceway driving mostly takes a backseat to the family dynamic.

This is a quick, easy read and I would definitely recommend it, especially to dog lovers.

1 like ยท