Category Archives: Book Reviews

Reading, Books and So Much More!

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Numerous studies have been done on the benefits of reading and children’s success in school.  Reading to children can help their ability to speak properly using correct grammar, can give them knowledge about things they didn’t otherwise wouldn’t know about, creates social skills by allowing them to talk about a book and what they thought, it enhances hand and eye coordination and not to mention it’s just fun!  So to celebrate going back to school, for the month of September, I will be posting some of my favourite children’s books, ranging from baby to early readers to pre-teens.  I hope that you will all suggest some of your and your children’s favourites.  Also, if you are an author of children literature, feel free to message me about having your books featured!

“The New Republic” By Lionel Shriver: A Book Review

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11778910Ever since reading “We Need to Talk About Kevin”, Lionel Shriver has been on my go-to author whenever I feel like having my ideas and opinions turned upside down.  She has an innate ability to take taboo subjects that people often shy away from and rub their faces in it.  She treats her readers as an etch-a-sketch, imprinted with their experiences and then shakes them with her words, leaving them a blank slate to be re-written on.  “The New Republic” received scathing reviews from a lot of people, but I enjoyed it.  Sure there were some characters I felt could have been left out, but the very idea driving the novel was what kept me turning the pages.  A satire on terrorism, this is not for the faint of heart.  She puts a social commentary on terrorism.  While most people see the act of terrorism itself, Shriver makes you a witness to the dealings in the background.  Dark, politically eye-opening, “The New Republic” will make you question your very trust in elected officials, the media and how it spins world events.  For my full review, click here.

“In comes Edgar Kellogg.  A former fat boy and lawyer turned freelance journalist, looking to escape his second string complex and finally get his big break.  Much to his chagrin, he is charged with finding out was happened to his predecessor, Barrington Sadler, who disappeared while reporting on the SOB (Os Soldado Ousados de Barba) who claim international bombing.  When Kellogg arrives, his complex comes back with full force as he finds that everyone cannot stop talking about the infamous Barrington Sadler.  It isn’t long before Edgar realizes there is more to Saddler than all rumours his fellow Rat Pack spew.  Bombings, international recognition and effect on local policy increase, and soon it isn’t long before things begin to spiral.”

Little Red Hen

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The Princess’ teacher sent home an update on what they are learning about at school.  Counting and estimating for math, how vegetables grow for science and they are reading “The Little Red Hen” and have begun their reading journals for English.  As an avid reader, I always told myself that when I had children I would read whatever my children were reading in school so that I would be able to carry on education at home.  I’m a firm believer that in order for your child to excel at school, you have to carry that on at home too.  I try to mix fun with learning and I’m excited to read Little Red Hen with my Princess.  The Princess has numerous books and we are fortunate to have not one, but three copies of this story.

Basically the gist of the story is Little Red Hen plants wheat, harvests is, mills it and bakes it into bread with no help from any of her barnyard friends.  However, once the bread is baked, all the friends want a bite, but the Little Red Hen says no as she is the only one who did all the work.  The moral of the story is that people who don’t want to contribute to the project, do not get to reap the benefits of the end product.

Originally a Russian old folk tale, the Little Red Hen had its role in reading instruction.  In the late 1800’s, there was a shift from religious texts to texts that still portrayed clear morals with less religious content.  Also with its repetitive vocabulary, it is still is reading technique used for reading beginners.

We Need to Talk About Kevin – The Movie

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Back in February, I read “We Need to Talk About Kevin” by Lionel Shriver.  While I struggled with the first part of the book, I did enjoy it.  This epistolary novel tackles the question that parents do not ever want to ask themselves about their own children; Are killers born or made?  Shriver succeeds with this novel by providing many instances throughout where it is left up to the reader to argue whether it was Eva’s fault that Kevin turned out the way he did, or if Kevin, was born evil. Her focus on this theme is demonstrated by the characters themselves; Eva, and her ambivalence toward motherhood, Franklin, the high hope, “my child can do no wrong”, optimist, and Kevin, the antithesis to a loving child.

So when I heard that it was being made into a movie I was really excited.  Now whenever books are made into films, I do try to see the movie first because if I read the book first, I find the movie is ruined for me.  I know how things are going to end, I already have what the characters look like in my mind and things that are omitted from the movie that were in the book irritate me.  But if I watch the movie first then read the books, I can still enjoy both for what they are.  There are scene, lines and characters that weren’t in the movie that are in the book that let me differentiate and enjoy the book.

With all that in the mind, I did read the book first, attended a book reading of Lionel Shriver where she spoke about the book and had her sign my book, so I had high expectations of the movie.  And they didn’t meet them, whatsoever.  I have to say that for the most part, the characters were horribly miscast, especially Franklin, played by John C. Reilly.  With that said, Ezra Miller who played Kevin and  Ashley Gerasimovich who played Celia, were how I imagined them.

I think the thing that bothered me the most was that the movie felt almost like “Art for art sake.”  With the odious music that often drowned out the conversation and the montages of Eva scrubbing the red paint off of her house, the blatant metaphor of “blood on her hands,” I found myself wanting to turn it off.  The movie failed to capture the struggles between the main characters and some of the things that Kevin did in the book.  The movie implied the struggle between Eva and Kevin without showing it, at all.    So if I had to choose, the book all the way!

“Fifty Shades Darker” by E.L. James

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Just when women (and men) thought that they had been left hanging at the end of Fifty Shades of Grey, E.L. James gives what everyone has been asking for, Fifty Shades Darker!  Published in 2011 by Vintage Press, EL James gives her readers what they’ve been asking for the most; more Ana and Christian.  This novel outshines its predecessor in terms of character development, plot twists and most of all, more Shades of Grey.  Read more of my review here.

Grey’s long and complicated history is revealed to both the reader and Ana, leaving all involved grasping for more and more.  Mrs. Robinson makes her debut and Ana’s inner goddess is baying for blood.

“Never Wink at a Worried Woman” by Lynn Johnston

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Graphic novels and comics may not be for everyone, but Lynn Johnston’s “Never Wink at a Worried Woman” is as true to life as you or I.  Witty dialogue, realistic life experiences mixed with the laugh out loud antics of the Patterson Family makes this novel a great read.  Published in August of 2005, “Never Wink at a Worried Woman” is number 24 in a 29 novel “For Better or Worse” series.  For my full review, click here.  For better or worse, never wink at a worried woman!

Another great thing about this novel is that despite being a part of a rather lengthy series, I was still able to read the story without wondering who was this character, and most of the history was discernible that it didn’t leave parts of the story segmented.

Top Five Literary Dads

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There are lots and lots and lots of great fathers in the world, but there are also lots and lots and lots of great dads in the literary world as well. Here are some of my favourites.
1)Eddard Stark The Lord of Winterfell may have lost his head at the end of The Game of Thrones, but his devotion to his children is as strong as the Iron Throne.
2)The Man The father is Cormac McCarthy’s The Road keeps his son safe in the post apocalyptic world while teaching him to keep the fire burning.
3)Atticus Finch Nothing shows true character than a father whom teaches his children right from wrong and stands up for what they believe in like in To Kill A Mockingbird.
4)Arthur Weasley This wizard may wear second-hand clothes, but he teaches his children first rate love and care in the Harry Potter series by JK Rowling.
5)Jack Salmon While I didn’t enjoy the book, Alice Sebold created one of the most empathetic fathers in The Lovely Bones. This father just could not give up on finding his daughter’s murderer.