4 Star Books · Book Reviews · Middle Grade

Holes by Louis Sachar

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Another Random Question of the Review to start off with:

What book did you not enjoy the first time, but ended up loving as a reread?

 

Holes by Louis Sachar

Published: August 20, 1998

Publisher: Frances Foster Books ~ Scholastic for the paperback version

Pages: 240

Genres: middle grade

Rating: 4 stars

Recommend to fans of: books for the whole family, life lessons, character growth, redemption

Read with food: a tall glass of ice cold water

 

Synopsis:

A miscarriage of justice sends Stanley Yelnats to a harsh juvenile detention center. While the warden claims that the hard labor that the boys are subjected to is meant to build character, it becomes clear that she is really using the boys to hunt for a fortune buried by a Wild West outlaw. The outlaw’s story and a curse put on Stanley’s great-great-grandfather are part of a compelling puzzle that has taken generations to unravel.

 

Review: 

Way back in elementary school this book was required reading for me. I absolutely hated the book. I must have understood the general concepts, because I did well on all my tests. Straight A’s, thank you very much. #nerdalert However, I didn’t truly understand the nuances of the life lessons the author was trying to accomplish with the book. So I’m really glad the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge 2018 encouraged me to go back and reread this assigned book that I originally hated.

As an adult, I really enjoyed Holes. I’m not really a middle grade book reader, but it’s a book that people of all ages can enjoy and learn from. The relevant concepts introduced are child labor, jails, incarceration, the unfairness of the justice system and world in general, deceitful people, learning, personal growth, precious resources, friendship, and finding strength within yourself to accomplish great things. Wow! That’s a lot of hard hitting, important life lessons al jam packed into a middle grade book. No wonder it’s so popular.

I really enjoyed Holes and recommend you give it a read or reread. If you’re a parent, Holes could be a book you group read as a family, and discuss the relevant topics. Might even help explain some of the things going on in the media today.

4.5 Star Books · Book Reviews · contemporary fiction · contemporary romance · romance · Young Adult

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

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Let’s start with the Random Question of the Review:

On a scale of 1 – 10, 10 being the best, how much do you enjoy young adult books? 

 

 

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

Rating: 5 stars

Published: April 15, 2014

Publisher: Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers

Pages: 355

Genres: young adult, contemporary, romance

Recommend to fans of: nice teenagers, coming of age books, books that give you all the feels, happy sweet books, sister bonds, Asian character representation 

Read with food: mocha sugar donuts ~ featured throughout and so accurately represents the fun and sweetness of the book 

 

Synopsis: 

Lara Jean’s love life gets complicated in this New York Times bestselling “lovely, lighthearted romance” from the New York Times bestselling author of The Summer I Turned Pretty series.

What if all the crushes you ever had found out how you felt about them… all at once?

Sixteen-year-old Lara Jean Song keeps her love letters in a hatbox her mother gave her. They aren’t love letters that anyone else wrote for her; these are ones she’s written. One for every boy she’s ever loved—five in all. When she writes, she pours out her heart and soul and says all the things she would never say in real life, because her letters are for her eyes only. Until the day her secret letters are mailed, and suddenly, Lara Jean’s love life goes from imaginary to out of control.

 

Review: 

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is an incredibly hyped book in the book community. I’ve heard so many wonderful things about it, but I tend to be nervous that overhyped young adult books won’t live up to all of the hype. Not to worry, because the book is fabulous! I so enjoyed reading about Lara Jean that I forgot to write down notes for my book review. For me, that’s the mark of a wonderfully engaging read.

The premise of Lara Jean’s love letters getting mailed to the boys she wrote them about could go either way. It ends up making for a great setup, because she focuses on living her life, not worrying too much about what others will think of her. Lara Jean’s relationship with her father and sisters is a major point of the story. I absolutely loved the importance the author placed on family relationships. It’s okay for teenagers to have strong relationships with their family as well as their friends and boyfriend/girlfriend.

Occasionally I was a bit annoyed with some of the drama and fighting, but that’s to be expected in a character driven young adult novel. The tension didn’t take over the story for too long.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is such a cute sweet novel that I can’t get enough of. I’ve already added the next books in the series to my TBR. 

3 Star Books · Book Reviews · Philosophy · psychology · Self Help

The Courage to be Disliked by Ichiro Kishimi, Fumitake Koga

Let’s start with the Random Question of the Review. I want to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

Rank your book format preferences: hardcover, paperback, ebook, audiobook, other 

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The Courage to be Disliked: The Japanese Phenomenon That Shows You How to Change Your Life and Achieve Real Happiness by Ichiro Kishimi, Fumitake Koga

Published: May 8, 2018

Publisher: Atria Books

Pages: 288

Genres: psychology, philosophy, self help

Rating: 3 stars

Recommend to fans of: debates, learning about psychology and new ways of thinking, people looking to improve themselves

Read with food: nice cup of green tea to energize yet soothe us on our foray into learning

 

Synopsis: 

The Courage to Be Disliked, already an enormous bestseller in Asia with more than 3.5 million copies sold, demonstrates how to unlock the power within yourself to be the person you truly want to be.

Is happiness something you choose for yourself? The Courage to Be Disliked presents a simple and straightforward answer. Using the theories of Alfred Adler, one of the three giants of nineteenth-century psychology alongside Freud and Jung, this book follows an illuminating dialogue between a philosopher and a young man. Over the course of five conversations, the philosopher helps his student to understand how each of us is able to determine the direction of our own life, free from the shackles of past traumas and the expectations of others.

Rich in wisdom, The Courage to Be Disliked will guide you through the concepts of self-forgiveness, self-care, and mind decluttering. It is a deeply liberating way of thinking, allowing you to develop the courage to change and ignore the limitations that you might be placing on yourself. This plainspoken and profoundly moving book unlocks the power within you to find lasting happiness and be the person you truly want to be. Millions have already benefited from its teachings, now you can too.

 

Review: 

I won this book for free through Goodreads Giveaways. Thank you to Goodreads, the author and publisher for a copy of the book. As always, an honest review.

The entire book is centered around different conversations between an older philosopher and a young person, called youth. They discuss, in a back and forth debate style manner, elements of philosophy, happiness, psychology, and general aspects of life in the present day. It’s important to note that the book is based on Greek philosophy and the psychology of Freud and Adler. It’s not necessary to have previous knowledge of these concepts, but it certainly helps.

Overall the discussions had in the book make sense, but it doesn’t captivate me nor give me brand new life revelations. The biggest downfall was their discussions about trauma and abuse. The viewpoint is that trauma doesn’t exist as most people think. We use traumas as an excuse which is much different than most psychologists today believe. While your life is not determined by your past experiences, but rather how you choose to live. This aspect I agree with. However I didn’t like when the philosopher doesn’t take the effects of trauma and abuse seriously. It could be very harmful to someone who is vulnerable and takes the book word for word. The damage to one’s psyche could be enormous.

However, I enjoyed the back and forth debate even when I disagreed with either the philosopher or youth. The book definitely made me think. It had some absolutely spot on points, such as people who believe they’re the center of the universe. Also, I appreciated the reminder to focus on the present, not the past or future. We could all do this more.

Overall, I enjoyed reading the philosophical and psychological debates, even when I didn’t always agree with them. An interesting read, especially if you want to discuss the concepts further with other people.