Category: Review

The Boy at the Top of the Mountain

Author: John Boyne
Published:
October 1, 2015
224 Pages

Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 3 stars

Book Description:

When Pierrot becomes an orphan, he must leave his home in Paris for a new life with his Aunt Beatrix, a servant in a wealthy household at the top of the German mountains. But this is no ordinary time, for it is 1935 and the Second World War is fast approaching; and this is no ordinary house, for this is the Berghof, the home of Adolf Hitler.

Quickly, Pierrot is taken under Hitler’s wing, and is thrown into an increasingly dangerous new world: a world of terror, secrets and betrayal, from which he may never be able to escape.

Kim’s Review:

I enjoyed reading this book … but there’s something about it that’s keeping me from saying that I loved it. Pierrot starts out as a kid you have hope for, but then as he grows, he turns into a monster! He even had good influences growing up from the ladies who ran the orphanage. But then, under the influence of Hitler, that sweet little boy dies and a hardened Nazi emerges. I will admit that it’s a very realistic view of how Hitler was able to convince an entire nation to follow him. It just has an air of sugar coating about it.

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas was filled with emotion and condemnation and horror. This book almost seemed to excuse the evil actions of Pierrot in order to save some likeableness for him. Although he struggles with regrets, to me, it didn’t seem sincere. He simply wants to make himself feel better and bring some stability to his life. A guilty conscience is a good start, but this book is almost the equivalent of patting a criminal on the head saying, “oh don’t be so hard on yourself!” I wanted to like this so badly and I just didn’t.

I would recommend this book to anyone who likes historical fiction. But I wouldn’t recommend this to teens, the message is a little too murky and I wouldn’t want to cause any confusion.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

The One and Only Ivan

Author: Katherine Applegate
Published: January 17, 2012
Audiobook

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: June 15-20, 2018
Jessica’s Rating: 4 stars

Book Description:

Ivan is an easygoing gorilla. Living at the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade, he has grown accustomed to humans watching him through the glass walls of his domain. He rarely misses his life in the jungle. In fact, he hardly ever thinks about it at all.

Instead, Ivan thinks about TV shows he’s seen and about his friends Stella, an elderly elephant, and Bob, a stray dog. But mostly Ivan thinks about art and how to capture the taste of a mango or the sound of leaves with color and a well-placed line.

Then he meets Ruby, a baby elephant taken from her family, and she makes Ivan see their home—and his own art—through new eyes. When Ruby arrives, change comes with her, and it’s up to Ivan to make it a change for the better.

Katherine Applegate blends humor and poignancy to create Ivan’s unforgettable first-person narration in a story of friendship, art, and hope.

Jessica’s Review:

I listened to the audiobook version of The One and Only Ivan: It gives the fictional story of a real gorilla, Ivan, who lived for 27 years in a shopping mall until he was moved to Zoo Atlanta in 1994 where he lived the rest of his life. Ivan passed away  on August 20, 2012.

The One and Only Ivan is written for children, but adults could enjoy it as well. Ivan and the other animals did not have a happy life and Applegate made Ivan’s story feel all the more personal through this novel.  There are tough issues addressed in the novel (the death of an animal) and the protestors.  The tough issues are handled well for children to understand and adults to feel something as well. 

I encourage you to learn about the real Ivan and his story before reading this fictional version.  The book ends with a timeline of Ivan’s history. 

The narrator did a very good job keeping my interest.  He did great with Ivan’s voice with Ivan having been a silverback.

The One and Only Ivan is recommended.

Zoo Atlanta’s site about Ivan is here.
Ivan’s obituary is here.
Here is a video of Ivan: https://youtu.be/FF1oWHL-lSs

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

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Mary Kay Andrews: The High Tide Club Review and Book Launch/Signing!

Mary Kay Andrews, better known as MKA to her fans, is a favorite author of Jessica’s Reading Room! Her novels are fun, easy to read beach reads.  Her newest novel, The High Tide Club, was released in May and I (Jessica) attended the book launch in Decatur!!! It was my first MKA signing!  Kim was also able to attend a signing. There will be pictures below!

Author: Mary Kay Andrews
Published: May 8, 2018

Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 4 stars

Book Description:

When ninety-nine-year-old heiress Josephine Bettendorf Warrick summons Brooke Trappnell to Talisa Island, her 20,000 acre remote barrier island home, Brooke is puzzled. Everybody in the South has heard about the eccentric millionaire mistress of Talisa, but Brooke has never met her. Josephine’s cryptic note says she wants to discuss an important legal matter with Brooke, who is an attorney, but Brooke knows that Mrs. Warrick has long been a client of a prestigious Atlanta law firm.

Over a few meetings, the ailing Josephine spins a tale of old friendships, secrets, betrayal and a long-unsolved murder. She tells Brooke she is hiring her for two reasons: to protect her island and legacy from those who would despoil her land, and secondly, to help her make amends with the heirs of the long dead women who were her closest friends, the girls of The High Tide Club—so named because of their youthful skinny dipping escapades—Millie, Ruth and Varina. When Josephine dies with her secrets intact, Brooke is charged with contacting Josephine’s friends’ descendants and bringing them together on Talisa for a reunion of women who’ve actually never met.

The High Tide Club is Mary Kay Andrews at her Queen of the Beach Reads best, a compelling and witty tale of romance thwarted, friendships renewed, justice delivered, and true love found.

Kim’s Review:

Mary Kay Andrews is easily one of my favorite authors ever! She is the queen of funny, Southern fiction and her books are perfect for summer! The High Tide Club is no different. Andrews manages to pull fabulous, fascinating places out of her imagination and then makes them sound like real places that if you tried hard enough, could visit for yourself. Talisa Island is a barrier island off the coast of Georgia, where the Bettendorf family vacation seat of Shellhaven is located. My first inclination was to go straight to Orbitz to book a hotel in St. Ann’s so I can charter a boat to take me to Talisa.

The story of how the High Tide Club came into being and the mysteries surrounding the women, both in the past and present, kept me turning page after page and before I knew it, I was done! It was easy and engaging and I found myself empathizing and rooting for Brooke. I will admit that as much as I loved Brooke and her mother, Marie, and old Josephine, and the residents of Talisa Island, I found myself brisling against Felicia. Yeah, yeah, I know, I’m a racist, but I really disliked her bitterness and the way she kept falling into the victim mentality. I’ve said this many times before, I hate politics in fiction and the last thing I want while reading a story, is to be lectured.

But, to hopefully balance out that opinion, I think the true hero of this book is old Varina! I fell in love with Auntie Vee from the very first time she stepped into the story and her grace and poise throughout the entire book is downright enviable! She refuses bitterness, to think badly of her friend, to accept her niece’s bad attitude. She offers forgiveness quickly and accepts what and who God sends to her life willingly and easily. She is the perfect example of the classy, Southern lady that I aspire to be! I like to pride myself on being able to figure things out relatively quickly when reading mysteries and thrillers, but I gotta hand it to MKA, she got me with this one! By the time the mystery was unraveled and the villains revealed, I was shocked and surprised with my mouth hanging open! High five, MKA, high five! Honestly, if it weren’t for the PC undertones that kept cropping up, I’d have given this book 5 stars! This is the almost perfect summer and beach read!! 

Purchase Links:
Amazon US

Amazon UK


The High Tide Club Book Launch:

I was so excited to attend my first book launch by MKA. There were A LOT of people there! We even got to meet “Mr. MKA” and others from her family.  It was a great launch.  Some of the ladies that attended go to every MKA signing that they can!  They are all friends and know each other well.  I got my book signed, got a swag bag of goodies, some audio arcs and audio books, and had some good food! Everyone had a good time! Here are some pictures from the launch:

Jessica with MKA! I was the second one to meet her and get my book signed!

The decor on the tables was so nice!! I wanted to take it with me!!


You know it’s time to party when there is a disco ball! 😉

MKA with “Mr. MKA”!

MKA’s daughter and grand daughter- it was a whole family affair!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is a picture that was taken of the crown from MKA’s perspective! There really were a lot of people! And do you see Jessica? It’s like “Find Waldo”!

Courtesy of MKA Facebook page


Kim went to Nag’s Head, NC for her book signing. She is a repeat MKA offender:

Her past signings:

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