Tuesday, March 12, 2019

February Book Review + 6th Grade Reading

The girls are in an odd place right now when it comes to choosing books to read.  I could see this last year too, so it's not new.  More of something that's been building slowly with age and time.  We're at the point where they have the ability to comprehend certain books but the maturity level may not be completely appropriate.

The Hunger Games is a perfect example of this.  The recommended age for readers of this book is 12 and up.  The girls have peers who have read the book and/or seen the movie.  I've read The Hunger Games and, yes, the romance portion of it is certainly tame enough for an almost 12 year old but there are kids killing other kids.  Do I want my kids to read about kids killing other kids?  Last week, Allie told me there was a discussion about this book in her literacy class and when she heard about a hovercraft removing dead bodies from the arena, she decided she was no longer interested in the series.

So when these questions arise, I travel back in time to when I was their age and what I was reading.  I can't recall exactly when I graduated from the children's section of the library but I do remember one of the librarians telling me I was old enough to be issued an adult library card.  I think I was 12 when that happened.  Honestly, at that point, I had outgrown the children's area.  Back then, young adult wasn't a carved out genre and I know I read books which would have most likely been deemed inappropriate.

Of all the memories I've retained and those I've lost, I think it's funny how I can remember being introduced to Flowers in the Attic.  During a music class in seventh grade, a classmate passed the book to me under the table we were sitting at.  Our teacher was quite eccentric and we had been left with busy work while she was off dealing with some drama.  My eyes widened with each paragraph I read.  I was hooked.

Guys, there's incest in that book.  Yet, I'm sure most of us read it when we were 12, 13 years old.

The girls are voracious readers, plowing through several books a week.  Emily came downstairs last night at 8:40 to tell me she had finished reading her book and didn't have anything to read because she's read every book in the house except for a book Allie got from the latest book order at school but Allie won't let her read it first.  I told her she should try going to sleep seeing as we're all a bit tired and messed up from the time change, and to borrow a book from her literacy teacher's library today at school.

When you think of all the problems you could be dealing with as a parent of a middle schooler, this is not a bad one.  The good news is that there are soooo many more books in circulation than when I was their age.

So let's talk about what I read in February . . .

The Dinner was . . .  not so good.  Two couples meet for dinner at a popular, fashionable restaurant to decide the future fate of their sons, who are both 15 years old and tied to a horrific act.  This book was listed as a thriller/suspense but I found that to be misleading.  The first 40% or so of the book takes place in the restaurant and is boring.  The author gives some hint at drama to come but it's not enough to entice the reader to keep going.

When we finally do find out what's going on, the characters quickly become deplorable.  I find it difficult to enjoy a book when all of the characters are completely unlikeable.  At least the pace and interest increase in the second half of the book as the plot moves outside of the restaurant and into the backstory.

So, yeah, I was not a fan at all.  It's a quick read so I don't feel as if I've wasted my time.  I know I'm a couple of years late in reading this book, but I don't remember seeing negative reviews.  I'm trying to read books I've had on my "to be read" list for years.  Unfortunately, The Dinner is not one I would recommend.


I could not put this book down.  Noah is four years old but he speaks of things of which he should have no knowledge, such as lizards, Harry Potter and guns.  His mother believes he's extremely intelligent and retains information he overhears.  But Noah also has other odd quirks.  He's terrified of water, and asks for his mother and to go home at bedtime, even when he is at home with his mother.

This is about reincarnation and while fiction, it's set around scientific investigations into memories of previous lives.  The plot here was intriguing and all of the characters were likable.  While I wanted to keep reading to see what would happen, the author sets it up so you can mostly figure out where the twists will be.  And that's okay.  It's extremely well written.

I'm going to be real here and say that I do believe reincarnation can happen.  Expect to think quite a bit as you're reading this.  I highly recommend adding The Forgetting Time to your wish lists.

This book is full out crazy town.  Jon Roberts was born into a Mafia family and eventually became one of the top drug traffickers for Columbia's Medellin Cartel.  This is mostly an auto-biography, with small sections written by others.  Roberts' story was the basis for the movie/documentary Cocaine Cowboys.  There are a lot of pages but it's not a difficult read and goes quickly.

Roberts goes into detail of his past crimes and, yes, much of it is violent.  It was fascinating to me to read of this underground world, which is obviously so different from the world I live in.  What does one do with dirty money?  He would actually bury bags of cash because there was only so much he could launder.  There is also quite a bit of information as to how he smuggled cocaine into the country with thoughtful commentary at the end of the book regarding the US government's fight against drugs.

The Other Woman is another standard thriller and, according to Reese Witherspoon, it contains "one of the most twisted and entertaining plots."  Yeah, I really don't think so.  Emily is very much in love with Adam but his mother doesn't like Emily and will do anything to remove her from Adam's life.  Honestly, I felt like the ending was easy to piece together and not a shocker.  This was a very quick read and, fortunately, did not take up much of my time.  I've been trying to avoid reading all the thrillers because they are so many of them now and not all of them are good.  I'm being generous with giving this one 3 stars.    

To see the books I read in January, click here.
For links to my previous book reviews and yearly lists, click here.

Disclosure:  This post contains affiliate links.  TGUH is a participant in the Amazon Services Associates Program LLC, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.


karachris1 said...

My best advice for the girls is to make full use of your library resources. I have a 5th grade boy and his librarian at school has a gift for picking series he loves. More mystical than I or his older brother prefer. He has been reading from the YA section for 1 year or so. Also I use the Young Hoosier List to supplement. We live in Indiana!! I also have found that branching out from our favorite children's librarian helped. One of the part timers gave Charlie a whole new series to read. He is currently reading the Maze Runner series. I was not wild about the idea but he loves it.

christi in ma said...

the summer after 6th grade I somehow got a copy of Amityville Horror. And read it at night under the covers with a flashlight, Yikes. Oh the underground inappropriate book network back in the day.

Like the commemter above, a good librarian is a great resource on book suggestions.

I hear you on thrillers today. Everone is trying to out Gone Girl the plot. You might like Daisy Jones and The Six. It follows a 70s rock band from through interviews with the band members. I kept forgetting this wasn’t a real band.

Pam Kocke said...

Just checked out The Forgetting Time! thanks for the rec!

I read The Dinner a few years ago. Blech.