Book Review: Fathers and Sons by Ivan Turgenev

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Time period: Realism

This is another book that I just finished in English class. I generally would not recommend this book to people who do not like dense reading, although the book isn’t very long. Fathers and Sons was written in 1862, during the realist era, and as such, focuses a lot on science and the different philosophical ideas arising during this time. The books explores nihilist ideals as well as an increased focus on science, which seems to be a recurring theme during this time period.

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Arkady and Bazarov are visiting Arkady’s father at his manor in a province in Russia. Arkady’s father welcomes the two boys into his home but his brother, Pavel, is taken aback by the introduction of nihilism, which both of the young boys seem to support.

After a few days home, Bazarov and Arkady go to a dance where Arkady meets a wealthy widow named Anna Odinstova. Originally infatuated with her, Arkady talks with her about many things, including Bazarov. Anna then invites the two of them over, but to Arkady’s dismay, talks only to Bazarov and dismisses Arkady to entertain her sister, Katya.

Not long after this does Bazarov realize that he has feelings for Anna. But Bazarov’s strong nihilist ideals and disbelief in love, and Anna’s unwillingness to fall in love again sets up obstacles that may never go away.

If you would like to read this book, you can purchase it here: Fathers and Sons (Oxford World’s Classics)

Book Review: La Vida es Sueño by Pedro Calderón de la Barca

Hey everyone! Sorry that I haven’t posted at all for a very long time but I got caught up with a lot of work and also had a lot of debate tournaments in the last few months. Here’s the next book review!

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Genre: Fiction

Age Recommended: 14 and up

This book was part of a reading assignment that I had in English class recently. I enjoyed it immensely because of the way the author made the reader sympathize with the main character’s situation, even though he was portrayed in a bad light. This book was actually written during the Renaissance period around 1635 and was one of the more famous Spanish works.

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Segismundo has been trapped in a dungeon simce he was born. “A man among beasts and a beast among men”, he has nowhere to go and nobody to talk to except his jailer, Clotaldo.

However, one day, a young woman, Rosaura, and her servant stumble upon Segismundo when searching for a person. Segismundo immediately falls in love with Rosaura, with her being the first person that he has ever seen besides Clotaldo. He professes that since seeing her is death, not seeing her would give him something far worse, life, because giving life to an unfortunate man is like giving death to a fortunate one.

“pero véate yo y muera;
que no sé, rendido ya,
si el verte muerte me da.
el no verte qué me diera.
fuera, más que muerte fiera,
ira, rabia, y dolor fuerte;
fuera vida; de esta suerte
su rigor he ponderado,
pues, dar vida a un desdichado
es dar a un dichoso muerte.”

Soon after, Segismundo is freed from his jail cell as a test to see if he can control himself out of shackles or not. If he can, he will be King. But if not, he will see nothing but darkness for the rest of his days.

If you would like to read this book, you can purchase it here – this is a dual language version with both English and Spanish: Life Is a Dream/La Vida es Sueño

Book Review: When You Never Said Goodbye by Meg Kearney

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Age Recommended: 13 and up

This book was an ARC, courtesy of NetGalley

I didn’t really enjoy this book, because while it was a good story and has well developed characters, I felt that the author tried too hard to drag the story out. Even though this book was the third in a series and I easily understood it without having read the first two.

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Liz’s adoptive father has just passed away, which is making her more eager than ever to find her birth mother. After saying goodbye to her mother after another long Christmas, Liz goes back to college with her mission fresh in mind.

When Liz begins investigating her birth mother, all she hits are dead ends. Most people aren’t willing to help her, and those who are willing don’t know how to. Liz finally learns tiny details about her mother through untold sources and begins to piece together an image which she believes to resemble her mother.

However, when a lady finally approaches Liz, claiming to have information about her birth mother, Liz isn’t entirely sure if she wants to know anymore.

Will she eventually find her birth mother?

If you would like to read this book, you can preorder it here: When You Never Said Goodbye: An Adoptee’s Search for Her Birth Mother: A Novel in Poems and Journal Entries

Book Review: Whisper by Stacey R. Campbell (ARC)

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Age Recommended: 15 and up

Whisper

Note: This was an Advance Reader Copy, courtesy of NetGalley.

There are parts of Whisper that aren’t entirely appropriate for someone my age (12) and I felt that the author uses unnecessary cuss words just to make the book seem “cool.”

That said, the story-line is great and the theme of the book really kept me interested. The way that Stacey R. Campbell describes Elsie’s ghost is amazing.

Halle has discovered a journal in the attic. It turns out to belong to Elsie, the dead daughter of the founder of the school. Elsie drowned in a lake, only to have hidden the school’s golden crest on grounds shortly before.

When Halle finds the journal, she is certain that Elsie’s ghost has come to haunt her. She is awakened by a rustling in her room, only to find blue eyes hovering in midair and staring at her.

Halle sets out on a hunt to find the crest along with her friends Calum and Leigh only to discover that Elsie’s soul is getting restless. Will Halle be able to find the crest before it’s too late?

Book Review: An Acceptable Time by Madeleine L’Engle

Rating: 4.4 out of 5 stars

Age Recommended: 11 and up

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An Acceptable Time by Madeleine L’Engle was one of my favorites in the quintet. The beginning was a little confusing because the story was set one generation in the future and the main character was Meg and and Calvin’s daughter, Polly, but the rest of the book was extraordinary.

The time gate has been opened again at the arrival of Polly O’Keefe. Polly has been at her grandparent’s house for a couple of weeks and her life has followed the same routine. One day, when she steps out to the stargazing rock, she looks back at the house. Wait, where is the house?

The place where the house had stood, was now an open plain and the area in front of Polly had turned into a forest. Polly had no idea where she was and she knew that it was up to her to find the way back. She waited for what seemed like hours and walked back to where the house had been.

Poof! The house appeared! She looked back and saw the stargazing rock, not any type of forest. Polly tried to convince herself that that was all a dream, but when she went to the pool later in the day, a girl visited her and claimed that she was from three thousand years ago and that a time gate had been opened. Polly was about to open her mouth but a noise at the door made the girl run away.

Zachary, a guy that Polly had met in Greece last summer came to visit and broke the news to her that his heart was weak and that he had only a little tie to live. Polly felt bad for him and told him all about the time gate only to find him gone the next morning. She looked around and saw that he had asked the enemy tribe’s healer to heal him. The healer required blood and sacrifice, human sacrifice as pay. The people thought that sacrificing a person would bring rain. Zachary was willing to give up a life to save his own, even if it was Polly’s life…

Book Review: Many Waters by Madeleine L’Engle

Rating: 4.2 out of 5 stars

Age Recommended: 11 and up

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Many Waters stands out in the Wrinkle of Time quintet, because the story’s focus is entirely on the Murry twins and there is almost no mention of Meg or Charles Wallace.

In this book, there are many fictional creatures but the story felt real all the same.

The story takes place during the time of Noah’s Ark and the twins are absolutely sure that they are there to change something. What that is, they don’t know.

Sandy and Dennys, the Murry twins, are home alone one time, and in playing with a new gizmo that their dad brought home they manage to go back in time!

They seem to have appeared in the middle of a desert and are badly sunburned. A man named Japheth (Noah’s son) finds the twins and summons unicorns to help them. Japheth takes Sandy and Dennys to his home where they are cared for.

The twins find out that Noah and his father (Japheth’s grandfather) are quarreling. The twins slowly heal the rift between father and son, but will they be able to find their way home?

Book Review: A Swiftly Tilting Planet by Madeleine L’Engle

Rating: 4.8 out of 5 stars

Age Recommended: 9 and up

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A Swiftly Tilting Planet is my favorite book of the quintet so far. In this book, Madeleine L’Engle introduces a number of new characters and the story line is very captivating.

The book takes one back in time and the whole concept of “Within” is truly amazing. I loved how the concept of kything from A Wind In The Door was also used in this book.

Calvin’s family is portrayed exceptionally well in this book, and his mother is one of the main characters. The story is written so that Mrs.O’Keefe’s history has something to do with The Murry family and that makes it really entertaining. I believe Madeleine L’Engle had the entire quintet planned out from the outset.

Mr. Murry gets a call from the President saying that a man named Mad Dog Branzillo from a country called Vespugia is threatening the world with nuclear weapons. Any second, the man could fire a nuclear missile and the government would have no choice but to use their anti-ballistic missiles which would collide with the nuclear missile and create a giant explosion therefore destroying the world.

A unicorn appears in Charles Wallace Murry’s bedroom later that night and tells him that in order to save the Earth, Charles Wallace must go back in time and “Within.” The term “Within” means that Charles Wallace must go inside someones body and try to be a part of them so that Charles Wallace can think their thoughts and figure out how to stop Mad Dog Branzillo from being born.

When he does that, Charles Wallace figures out that Mrs. O’Keefe is somehow connected to this whole mess. Will Charles Wallace be able to stop Mad Dog Branzillo before it’s too late?