RSS Feed

Category Archives: Book Reviews

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

Posted on

Where the Wild Things AreWhere the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Where the Wild Things Are
by Maurice Sendak

This 1964 Caldecott Medal award-winning children’s book written and illustrated by Maurice Sendak is a classic story of a boy’s boredom and imagination. Banned from libraries and schools when it was first released, Where the Wild Things Are has grown to be loved by both children and adults for its ability to visualize the realistic emotions children experience.

The book tells the story of Max, a boy who gets in trouble for goofing around in his wolf costume. His mother has had enough of his mischief-making and she sends him to his room without supper. Max is very angry at his punishment so he imagines that he leaves the safety of his room and sails out to where the wild things are. In this forest, there are gnashing beasts who wish to scare Max, however he is courageous. He stares into the beasts yellow eyes without blinking and impresses the beasts so much so that they make Max “the king of all wild things”, dancing with the monsters in a “wild rumpus”.

Max has a good time being “the king of the wild things”, but, before long, he finds that he is lonely and sails back to his bedroom. When he arrives, he finds that his dinner, still hot, is waiting for him. He is happy to be home and equally happy that he had an exciting adventure.

The book was made into a film released in 2009 and directed by Spike Jonze. The author, Maurice Sendak died on May 8, 2012, leaving a legacy of talent and imagination that will live on through his works.

View all my reviews

Copyright © Jamie Nowinski and Grandmother Wisdom/ Grandmother Musings 2012-2013.
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jamie Nowinski – Grandmother Wisdom/Grandmother Musings with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
 
Advertisements

Water For Elephants by Sara Gruen

Posted on

Water for ElephantsWater for Elephants by Sara Gruen

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Jacob Jankowski tells his story as the novel’s protagonist who is a 93-year-old nursing home resident. As Jacob is told what to do and what to eat in the nursing home, he fights the idea of giving up his will by reminiscing about his time as a veterinarian in the Benzini Brothers Circus. Going flawlessly back and forth through time, readers learn what it was like to be a part of a Depression Era circus train that traveled from town to town-bringing people entertainment.

The hero meets up with some strange characters on the circus train. His train-mate is a dwarf named Kinko whose only friend is a Jack Russell Terrier named Queenie. The trio starts roughly but grows into a sweet friendship. Jacob works for an abusive Circus owner named Uncle Al, who will do anything to make a buck. Jacob also meets up with Marlena a star performer who loves horses and her husband August who can be both charming and brutal. The three form a unique love triangle that threatens to take all their lives.

Of course, the story’s title tells us there must be elephants in this circus, and there is an elephant. Her name is Rosie and Uncle Al purchases her from another circus. Rosie is ornery when Jacob is charged to take care of her. That is, until he realizes that Rosie only understands Polish and he begins to give her direction in his native language.

This five-star novel will make you laugh, cry, and horrified all at the same time. Some of the scenes deal with the abuse of animals and for the faint at heart; this may be difficult to read. Ultimately, this is an excellently woven story that accurately depicts the time and place it is set. Its themes of morality, mental illness, ageing, and love will pull the reader into the emotional turmoil experienced Jacob Jankowski and the people he surrounds himself with in the past and present.

View all my reviews

Copyright © Jamie Nowinski and Grandmother Wisdom/ Grandmother Musings 2012-2013.
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jamie Nowinski – Grandmother Wisdom/Grandmother Musings with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The Giver by Lois Lowery

Posted on

The Giver (The Giver, #1)The Giver by Lois Lowry

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If you like dystopian stories like The Hunger Games, you will love The Giver. This young adult novel written by Lois Lowery is set in the future where everything is “sameness”. The main character in the story is Jonas, a 12-year-old who has been assigned his life’s profession as a Receiver of the community’s memories.

In Jonas’ community, you apply for your mate, and apply for children. Birthmothers whose assignment in the community is only to have babies for three years birth children. The elderly and those who are not perfect are chosen for “release”.

The book has won The 1994 Newberry Award, and the American Library Association named it as one of the 100 Most Challenged books.

This book deals with the ideas of sexuality, war, and controlled societies. It is listed as a Young Adult Novel; however, it is written so well, that adults will enjoy the story, too. Lois Lowery weaves a tale that makes you think deeply about even it after you have put the book down.

View all my reviews

Copyright © Jamie Nowinski and Grandmother Wisdom/ Grandmother Musings 2012-2013.
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jamie Nowinski – Grandmother Wisdom/Grandmother Musings with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
 

The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America by Erik Larson

Posted on

The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed AmericaThe Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This non-fiction book reads like a great mystery novel. It won me over immediately due to its setting of Chicago in 1893. This was at the time of The World’s Fair (The World’s Columbian Exposition) and the great architect Daniel H. Burnham who created the “Great White City”.

The book revolves around Herman Webster Mudgett (aka Dr. H.H. Holmes) who lured his victims from the fair and murdered them. This serial killer even built his own building, “The World’s Fair Hotel” with a plan to gas the victims in the gas chamber, dissect them at the dissection table, and rid himself of the bodies in the crematorium. Dr. Holmes often removed the skeletons of his victims and sold them for medical and scientific study. Many of those skeletons may have been used in medical colleges and hospitals.

The interesting thing about this book is how the author wove this story of murder and mayhem with the story of the architect Daniel Burnham. The reader is given insight to the character and dream of Burnham and of the politics that went into creating a World’s Fair.

This excellent book leaves the reader hungry for more. Leonardo Di Caprio purchased the film rights to this book in 2010. Word is that a movie starring Di Caprio is in production. No word as to when it might be released. If the movie is half as good as the book, it will be a blockbuster.

View all my reviews

Copyright © Jamie Nowinski and Grandmother Wisdom/ Grandmother Musings 2012-2013.
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jamie Nowinski – Grandmother Wisdom/Grandmother Musings with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
 

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

Posted on

The Glass CastleThe Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Jeannette Walls writes her deeply disconcerting memoir, The Glass Castle that recounts her life growing up with dysfunctional parents. Jeannette’s father was an amazingly intelligent man who could teach his four kids physics, geology, and fearlessness when he was not drunk. Jeannette’s mother was an artist who would rather get lost in her art than feed and raise her children. Mother and father were a perfect storm of two people who should never have had children. The memoir takes the reader on a tour of great ups and horrific downs for this wandering family.
From the very beginning, I was completely enthralled with this book. The story is expertly woven and easy to read. At times, the book touched a nerve, and it would make me so angry with Jeanette’s parents that I would just have to scream. This was a great book for my book club where we discussed the story with emotion and dismay. I would highly recommend this book.

View all my reviews

Copyright © Jamie Nowinski and Grandmother Wisdom/ Grandmother Musings 2012-2013.
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jamie Nowinski – Grandmother Wisdom/Grandmother Musings with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
 

Illusions by Richard Bach

Posted on

IllusionsIllusions by Richard Bach

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Two barnstorming pilots meet in an Illinois field. One of them is Donald Shimoda, who quit his job as a mechanic at a garage and as a “Messiah”. He left both jobs, because, he was frustrated by people who cared more about the show than the message. Shimoda becomes a teacher to the other pilot, Richard, and even teaches him to perform miracles on his own.
Shimoda share quotes from the “Messiah’s Handbook” with Richard. Some of the more inspiring quotes are…
• “You are never given a wish without being given the power to make it true. You may have to work for it, however.”
• “Argue for your limitations, and sure enough, they’re yours.”
• “The mark of your ignorance is the depth of your belief in injustice and tragedy. What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls a butterfly.”
• “Here is a test to find whether your mission on earth is finished: If you’re alive, it isn’t.”

Illusions is a novel that lets the reader decide what is reality and what is illusion. It states that we are all potential “messiahs” if we choose to be. This book is a precursor for the bestselling novel Jonathan Living Seagull. I have read them both, however, Illusions has left a lasting impression on me.
I have shamelessly read this book at least four times. I no longer have a hard copy of the book because I loaned it to someone and he or she never gave it back. It is a short book with only 192 pages, but the information in the book is so applicable that you will want to keep it and refer to it often. I highly recommend reading this book.

View all my reviews

Copyright © Jamie Nowinski and Grandmother Wisdom/ Grandmother Musings 2012-2013.
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jamie Nowinski – Grandmother Wisdom/Grandmother Musings with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
 

The Summerhouse by Jude Deveraux

Posted on

The Summerhouse (Summerhouse, #1)The Summerhouse by Jude Deveraux

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is a romance novel about second chances. Three young women meet on their birthday at the New York DMV. Ellie, Madison, and Leslie are seated together and they instantly decide they want to be friends. We learn that Madison is beautiful and is sent from her hometown in Montana to become a model. Leslie is a graceful dancer wishing to make it big. Moreover, Ellie is going to become an artist that shows her creative spirit. It seems that these women have their whole life ahead of them.
Flash to nineteen years later when the three meet up again at a borrowed old summer house in Maine. Things have not quite worked out the way they had envisioned when they were young. The three are then given a magical opportunity to go back in time to change the mistakes they made.
I thought this was decent read. I enjoyed Madison’s story more than the other stories. Some of the later concepts introduced by the author were not very believable. There were some areas of the story that I flipped quickly through, because I was bored. In the chapters that discussed Madison’s life, I felt very connected with the character and sympathized with her problems. Morally, I had a few issues with the choices the main characters made. Nothing horrible, but it still made me question. The writing was light and easy to follow. I feel that book was good and it generally held my interest; however, it was not the greatest book I have ever read.

View all my reviews

Copyright © Jamie Nowinski and Grandmother Wisdom/ Grandmother Musings 2012-2013.
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jamie Nowinski – Grandmother Wisdom/Grandmother Musings with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
 
%d bloggers like this: