Thursday, July 24, 2014

Book Review: An Ideal Husband by Oscar Wilde


Title: An Ideal Husband
Author: Oscar Wilde
Published: July 1, 1999 by Penguin Books (first published 1895)
Setting: London, England UK

from Goodreads: 

A dazzling blend of farce and morality, An Ideal Husband explores human frailty and social hypocrisy. Sir Robert Chilton's secret is discovered and exposed: he is accused of having exploited government secrets for his own gain early in his political career. With this revelation from Mrs. Cheveley comes the threat of blackmail and the ruin of Sir Robert's career. Yet in order to be a successful blackmailer, one's own reputation must be beyond reproach. 

Alleluialu's Review:

I read this selection for the "Push Your Boundaries" reading challenge. One of the categories was "A Play" and I had read "The Importance of Being Earnest," so I thought I might like this play by Oscar Wilde. I also read it to complete selections spelling out my name and other challenges. It was amusing. Characters were mistaken for one another, there were villians - female ones, and heroines, awkward relationships between fathers and sons, and all the things that happened in English society in 1895. Reading a play was a bit different than a book with chapters because you read Acts and they are much longer. After a while, I hardly noticed that I was reading a play, the action just took place in my head just as with any other book. I enjoyed it very much. 

I gave this selection 4 notes - A Concerto! I really liked this book. You should go find it and read it. You could borrow it from your local library, get it here from here from Barnes & Noble, or here from Books-a-Million. Enjoy! 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Book Review: Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

5107Title: The Catcher in the Rye
Author: J.D. Salinger
Paperback: 277 pages
Published: January 30, 2001 
First Published: 1951
Publisher: Back Bay Books
Setting: New York City 1949 & Agerstown, PA 1949
Literary Awards: National Book Awards Nominee for Fiction (1952); Teen Read Award Nominee for Best All-Time Fave (2010)  

from Goodreads:

Since his debut in 1951 as The Catcher in the Rye, Holden Caulfield has been synonymous with "cynical adolescent." Holden narrates the story of a couple of days in his sixteen-year-old life, just after he's been expelled from prep school, in a slang that sounds edgy even today and keeps this novel on banned book lists. It begins,
"If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you'll probably want to know is where I was born and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don't feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth. In the first place, that stuff bores me, and in the second place, my parents would have about two hemorrhages apiece if I told anything pretty personal about them."

His constant wry observations about what he encounters, from teachers to phonies (the two of course are not mutually exclusive) capture the essence of the eternal teenage experience of alienation.

Alleluialu's Review:

The first time I tried to read this book - many years ago - I didn't like it at all. Then my current book club chose it for our July selection. Hmmm...what to do... I decided to give it another go. And it wasn't bad. Yes, Holden used language I didn't like, but it wasn't that bad. He used "goddam" a lot! And he repeated phrases as though he was trying to convince the reader that what he said was true, he really did (like that). Anyway, I kind of liked him by the end of the book. He seemed as though he wanted to do the right thing most of the time, but he was so depressed that he couldn't stick with anything for very long. He went from one boarding school to another because he didn't really care about getting an education or anything really. He did seem to make an impression on his English teachers though. The story is being told as he reflects on things that happened in the past while he is in a place where he can get some rest. It begins as he is kicked out of another school, Pencey. He visits his English teacher, has a fight with his roommate, then decides to take off and go to New York until his Christmas vacation actually starts instead of telling his parents to come get him. Most of the book is about his adventures and misadventures during those few days. He books a hotel room, goes to bars, tries to hook up with a prostitute, gets beat up, calls old girlfriends, visits yet another past English teacher, and finally sneaks in to see his sister. Apparently he is getting sick because he passes out a couple of times. After the last time, the reader is jolted forward to the resting place again. It is near his brother who is a writer and lives in Hollywood. He tells his brother his stories, hence the book. This book is a classic. Some people question that, but I offer this quote as my opinion on why this book is valuable. It was said to Holden by one of his English teachers. 

“Many, many men have been just as troubled morally and spiritually as you are right now. Happily some of them kept records of their troubles. You’ll learn from them – if you want to. Just as someday, if you have something to offer, someone will learn something from you. It’s a beautiful reciprocal arrangement. And it isn’t education. It’s history. It’s poetry.” 

So, that's it. I didn't love the book, but I do think it was worth reading. 

I gave it an Arpeggio - 3 notes! If you want to read "The Catcher in the Rye" you can get it at your local library or here from Amazon or here from Barnes & Noble. 

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Book Review: La Paloma Encuentra Un Perro Caliente by Mo Willems


Title: La Paloma encuentra un perro caliente!
Author: Mo Willems
Paperback: 40 pages
Published: April 19, 2004
By: Disney-Hyperion
Language: Spanish
Series: Pigeon
Literary Awards: Golden Archer Award for Primary (2008)

from Goodreads:
Pigeon's back! And he's found un perro caliente! But a hungry (and very sly) duckling enters the scene and wants a bite of the hot dog. Who will be the more clever bird?For the first time, Mo Willems's New York Times best-selling The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog! is available in Spanish for a new group of kids to fall in love with.

About Mo Willems:

#1 New York Times Bestselling author and illustrator Mo Willems is best known for his Caldecott Honor winning picture books Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus and Knuffle Bunny: a cautionary tale.

In addition to such picture books as Leonardo the Terrible Monster, Edwina the Dinosaur Who Didn’t Know She Was Extinct, and Time to Pee, Mo has created the Elephant and Piggie books, a series of early readers, and published You Can Never Find a Rickshaw When it Monsoons, an annotated cartoon journal sketched during a year-long voyage around the world in 1990-91.

The New York Times Book Review called Mo “the biggest new talent to emerge thus far in the 00's."

Mo’s work books have been translated into a myriad of languages, spawned animated shorts and theatrical musical productions, and his illustrations, wire sculpture, and carved ceramics have been exhibited in galleries and museums across the nation.

Mo began his career as a writer and animator for television, garnering 6 Emmy awards for his writing on Sesame Street, creating Nickelodeon's The Off-Beats, Cartoon Network’s Sheep in the Big City and head-writing Codename: Kids Next Door.

He lives in Brooklyn, New York with his family.

Alleluialu's Review:

My daughter sent this book to me as a reward for practicing my Spanish for 30 days. It is GREAT! I had to look up some words, but I got the overall meaning and I agree, "Un perro caliente es una celebracion en un panecillo! Children's books are a great way to review the Spanish you learned in high school and haven't used for...hmmm...many years.

Yes! I gave this book 5 stars! If you don't have a daughter who will buy this book for you, you can get your copy here at Amazon and here at Barnes & Noble. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Book Review: Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See

Title: Snow Flower and the Secret Fan
Author: Lisa See
Paperback: 258 pages
Published: February 21, 2006
By: Random House
First Published: June 28, 2004
Setting: Hunan, China
Literary Awards: Abraham Lincoln Award Nominee 2008

from Goodreads:

In nineteenth-century China, in a remote Hunan county, a girl named Lily, at the tender age of seven, is paired with a laotong, "old same," in an emotional match that will last a lifetime. The laotong, Snow Flower, introduces herself by sending Lily a silk fan on which she's painted a poem in nu shu, a unique language that Chinese women created in order to communicate in secret, away from the influence of men. As the years pass, Lily and Snow Flower send messages on fans, compose stories on handkerchiefs, reaching out of isolation to share their hopes, dreams, and accomplishments. Together, they endure the agony of foot-binding, and reflect on their arranged marriages, shared loneliness, and the joys and tragedies of motherhood. The two find solace, developing a bond that keeps their spirits alive. But when a misunderstanding arises, their deep friendship suddenly threatens to tear apart.

Alleluialu's review:

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan is the story of two women, Lily and Snow Flower, matched at a very young age by various signs that are significant to the Chinese people. They were to be each other's "laotong" which meant they would be closer to each other than anyone else. Lisa See puts us in the women's chamber and lets us experience the girls' joy at being together and their fear and pain at foot-binding as well as many other experiences throughout their lives. I really felt as though I was there experiencing those things with them. The story took a very logical, chronological path and See taught us many things about the Chinese culture and the relationships between women and how they were treated by men and older women. There were many rules to follow. Snow Flower longed to be more independent while Lily just tried to do the right thing so people would love her. There were twists and turns in their relationship and the story that I don't want to give away, but through the story I leaned toward identifying with Lily. Her life was ordered by the rules of their culture, but in some situations she followed the advice of her mother-in-law: "Obey, obey, obey, then do what you want." That's the kind of advice I would give my own daughters. Do what is expected of you to take care of your family, but make sure there are times that you can do what you want. The love between Snow Flower and Lily was inspiring. It survived over their lives despite differences in their circumstances and misunderstandings. It was a very good book and I am glad to have read it.
I gave this book 5 stars. It was a good story and taught me about the Chinese culture and especially about Chinese women and their relationships. I received this book from a friend, but you can get your copy from your local library or here from Amazon or here from Barnes & Noble.