The Help by Kathryn Stockett

I listened to most of this book in the car on my way to and from work, as well as just around the house,or when running. I really enjoyed it. I like that it had different people reading the different characters. It was easier to distinguish, and it was fun. The book is written from three different perspectives. Minnie, Abeline, and Skeeter (Eugenia), and they tell the story beautifully. Minnie and Abeline are Black maids in Jackson, Mississippi. And with the civil right movement they are gonna be in a heap of trouble if anyone discovers they are telling stories about their employers. Their selfish, rude and lazy employers. I really like Skeeter and was rooting for Minnie, Abline is just so sweet and the little girl she takes care of just made me want to cry. How could a stay at home mom, be so busy with clubs and other nonsense that she needs a nanny and a maid to take care of her house? They don't seem very rich either, can't they just do their housework themselves. Ugh they made me so angry. Skeeter is awesome, she has an open mind and doesn't care to get married and drop out of college. This book made me sad, angry and laugh out loud. It's a great story about friendship, trust, life and different people coming together to create change.

 

I watched the movie right after I finished the book, and boy did I hate it. There just isn't anything good about it, I understand that they had to fit a whole book into a 2+ hour movie, but they really botched it up. I watched it with my boyfriend, and he never read the book, I had to explain most of what was happening. I don't think it's easy to follow if you didn't read the book first, they left a lot out and changed a lot of what they didn't leave out. I was waiting to watch this movie since it came out, and I got to say I wish I never had. The book is a 100% better. I do not recommend watching the movie. But please read the book.

Ugly To Start With by John Michael Cummings

I was asked by the author to review this book, but what can I say, I really didn't feel connected to this book, it wasn't horrible, but it wasn't my type of read. I just couldn't get a feeling of the boy. Each chapter is a different story, so they don't really follow each other, and I couldn't tell how much time has passed between them. The boy is supposed to be in this teens, but sometimes I felt like he was a child. So it would help a lot of the chapters had dates.
 
Jasons life deals with violence, neglect, social and racial issues, as well as some abusive language so don't let your kids read this. The title pretty much sums it up, Jason consideres his family ugly. Not in the bad looking kind of way, but their manners, living style, and overall characters seem to be ugly and offensive. Well I don't know if Jason should be the one talking, he tried to kill his cat because after a few cat fights it looked ugly. That was a sad moment, I almost put the book down right there. 
 
The writing itself was clear enough and had a good flow, I just didn't connect with the story, maybe it was a bit exaggerated. It deals with so many topics at once, it's hard to image a young boy going through all that. As the stories continue, the reader sees more and more issues that Jason goes through in order to become a better person, he does have a good soul, and he tries to understand the world around him. 

Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon

"With her now-classic novel Outlander, Diana Gabaldon introduced two unforgettable characters — Claire Randall and Jamie Fraser—delighting readers with a story of adventure and love that spanned two centuries. Now Gabaldon returns to that extraordinary time and place in this vivid, powerful follow-up to Outlander....
 
For twenty years Claire Randall has kept her secrets. But now she is returning with her grown daughter to Scotland’s majestic mist-shrouded hills. Here Claire plans to reveal a truth as stunning as the events that gave it birth: about the mystery of an ancient circle of standing stones ... about a love that transcends the boundaries of time ... and about James Fraser, a Scottish warrior whose gallantry once drew a young Claire from the security of her century to the dangers of his....
 
Now a legacy of blood and desire will test her beautiful copper-haired daughter, Brianna, as Claire’s spellbinding journey of self-discovery continues in the intrigue-ridden Paris court of Charles Stuart ... in a race to thwart a doomed Highlands uprising ... and in a desperate fight to save both the child and the man she loves...."

Despite all the romance that goes on in this book, it's really a historical fiction, the reader gets to explore 18th century Scotland, from the  King Louis XV of France to the Jacobite Uprising of 1745 in which Bonnie Prince Charlie unsuccessfully tries to reclaim the throne of Scotland and England. And not only that, we also get to know the lives of regular people as well, down to the workings of hospitals and medicine at that time. Which in itself is amazing, how without modern medicine Claire is healing people with plants and herbs. I felt like I was learning a lot. There are also a lot of twist and turns as we discover more ancestors and how many of the characters seem to connect with one another. But aside from all the history in this book, it still focuses on Claire and Jamie's love. We see them grow more and more toward each other in a realistic way. And it makes us feel like we're in this relationship too. Not just reading about it, but that is mostly through the massive amounts of research Gabaldon did for these books. And you will definitely not be disappointed with the humor, sometimes I would have to stop reading because I was laughing so much. She has found that special way of making the characters feel normal, and real. Like we're in the same room with everyone, you can clearly imagine what everyone is doing, wearing and the facial expressions they make. It really makes you fall in love with all the characters of this book.  Jamie has a strong male role, he's the hunky Scot who protects Claire at every step, who is not afraid to die for what he believes in, and he will take unexpected risks for his own reasons. But don't think that Claire is a girly girl. She is a strong woman too. And stubborn just as much as Jamie. She is healing people left and right, which results in it's own problems. Yet they are so down to earth, you can't help but love them. So I'm recommending this book to everyone. Especially if you read the Outlander, it does not loos any of it's charm.

Mansfield Park by Jane Austen

Ok so I'll be honest for the first half of the book I thought I was just going to give up on it. I couldn't get my head around all those characters. There was too much going on in the first few chapters. I felt like I just popped in unannounced and had to catch up to the story. And then once I did catch up on what was going on I didn't feel like Fannys story was important enough. Austen paced the book well, maybe too well. There was too much unimportant information between the important, interesting events.

The story of Fanny starts with Mrs. Norris inviting her to live in Mansfield Park, because Fannys' mother just had another baby and with her no good husband her sister (Mrs. Norris) decided to help. But she herself couldn't suppost Fanny, instead she told her brother in law Sr. Thomas to keep her. He and his wife reluctantly agreed to help the girl. They had four of their own children Maria, Julia, Tom and Edmund. Fanny was treated as she was, poor and ignorant. Her cousins Maria and Julia made fun of her and never let her forget that she was below them. But Edmund took her under his wing and protected her. He made sure she was treated equal.  That's the beginning, the rest pretty much covers how her life evolved at Mansfield Park, how from a poor young girl she grows up to be a civilized young lady. If your read Pride and Prejudice this might be a disappointment to you, it doesn't have the same suspense, you can pretty much guess the whole story from the beginning.

 

Anna Karenina By Leo Tolstoy

Tolstoy is a master of the written word, he has the ability to completely engage the reader into the lives of his characters.

"All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way," is the first sentence of the book, and this is really what the whole book is about, how each character strives for happiness because they feel unhappy. It examines the way people view their problems, families and how they strive to resolve their issues. The book is not necessarily all about Anna, it's about all the people she knows and the story is told from all of their perspectives. You get to know each character on a deep and personal level, their fears and their hopes come to life, and even though it's set in the 19th century Russia, we can relate to each character on some level. It's no wonder this book is said to be the best of the best. It's not a very easy read, as Tolstoy mixes romance with Russian politics and socioeconomic problems, but once I finished the book I understood why he did it. It's to make the reader more aware of all the issues that were going on at the time, everything influences our lives, even if it is politics, people are effected by all that is going on in their country. And the character Levin is deeply involved in farming so the socioeconomic issues are important to understand.  The book really needs to be read to be appreciated, and I really wish I hadn't seen the movie after I finished reading this, it just ruined it for me. The book is so much better then all the movies made from it so far. I loved this book, too bad I knew the ending before I started it, but it still did the job, I read a few chapters a day, it was a bit difficult to wrap my head around all these characters and all their problems, with a lot of details and imagery. But the story is beautiful, it takes time to understand.

"The Guernsey Literary and Potato Pie Society" by Mary Ann Schaffer and Annie Barrows - REVIEW

A historical novel about life after war. It's about friendship, human nature, life, love, family and a unique society.

The story is set in London 1946, when Juliet, an author, receives a letter from Dawsey Adams a member of the "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Pie Society", he somehow is in possession of a book she used to own and wants to know more about the author of the book. They start corresponding and soon enough Juliet is captivated by his experience with the war. Before long she is writing letters to all the members of the Society and learning of their experiences, and how the society was established as a cover up during the occupation. And even after the war they keep their meeting. Juliet is writing a book about the German occupation and wants to gather more research, feeling that these strangers have a lot to offer she visits them. While there she is beside herself, their lives were shattered during the war and now they are recovering better then she thought. She befriends each one, and even falls in love.

We find out how many nasty and good things the German officers did on the island, anyone who is a pet lover should beware of reading a letter from "The Animal Lover". But by the end Juliet's love trouble will have you falling off you chair laughing.

The characters are well developed, they have a lot to offer to the reader. Learning what each character went through and their life stories was enchanting. With all the humor this book offers one can forget that it's about war. The characters, although affected by the war have a witty and humorous personality, I had to put the book down because I was laughing so much. And constantly had a smile on my face. 

I loved it! It's well written and laugh-out-loud funny. 

I would recommend it to readers who like an amusing as well as informative and captivating read. The book is a series of letter between the society members, Juliet and her friends. 

Amazing! is all I can say.