The Jewel Smurfer by Peyo

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Title: The Jewel Smurfer by Peyo

Notable: Book #19 in The Smurfs Graphic Novels series

Premise:

Jokey Smurf is discovered and captured by a couple of street performers.  His performance earns them some really good money, but a thief in the audience wants to collaborate with them to get even more money.  He convinces them that they should take advantage of Jokey’s small size and have him steal jewels from the rich people in town.

My thoughts:

This story was kind of sad as far as Smurf stories go.  There’s kidnapping, robbery, duplicity.  The people are pretty awful.  The poor little Smurfs and an unfortunate mouse are at the mercy of the greedy humans, but eventually Papa Smurf comes up with a plan to foil them all.  The bad buys get what’s coming to them and the Smurfs go back to their village to celebrate the spring equinox.

The most objectionable part in the book is when the thief holds his knife up to the neck of Papa Smurf and the mouse, threatening violence against them unless the other Smurfs cooperate.  It’s not awful, but not really something you want your kids copying, either.

I recommend The Jewel Smurfer to fans of the Smurfs.  It shows a darker side to the human spirit than some of the other Smurf graphic novels.

Possible Objections:

  • The thief threatens violence against a mouse and a Smurf

Rating: 4 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

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The Gift of the Magi and Other Short Stories by O. Henry

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Title: The Gift of the Magi and Other Short Stories by O. Henry

Premise:

This is a collection of short stories by O. Henry.  It includes “The Gift of the Magi,” “The Cop and the Anthem,” “Springtime à la Carte,” “The Green Door,” “After Twenty Years,” “The Furnished Room,” “The Pimienta Pancakes,” “The Last Leaf,” “The Voice of the City,” “While the Auto Waits,” “A Retrieved Reformation,” “A Municipal Report,” “A Newspaper Story,” “The Ransom of Red Chief,” “A Ghost of a Chance,” and “Makes the Whole World Kin.”

My thoughts:

I read this book specifically for “The Gift of the Magi,” a Christmas story.  The book is so short, though, that I decided to just go ahead and read the entire thing.  A couple of the stories were familiar to me (“The Last Leaf” in particular), though I can’t think of where I would have heard/read it before.  Overall, I really enjoyed the book.  Most of the stories were well-written, clever, heartfelt, and several had twist endings.  Henry’s writing is challenging to read, so you’ll want to keep a dictionary at hand.  You will certainly expand your vocabulary!

You should know that there are three instances of the n-word in this book.  I believe they are contained in only two stories, but in any instance where an African American is included in a story, they are talked of in a condescending way.  For this reason, I wouldn’t recommend the book to anyone younger than an adult.

I recommend The Gift of the Magi to adults who enjoy short stories.  Most of the stories in this volume are satisfying reads.

Possible Objections:

  • There is a general air of condescension towards African Americans
  • Outdated/offensive racial language (3 uses of the n-word)

Rating: 4 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer

artemis-fowl

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Artemis Fowl is the first book from my Thrift Store Young Adult Reading Challenge.  Strictly speaking, not all of the books in this challenge are young adult books.  A couple of them are middle grade books, but I’m not overly particular in my classification of novels for young people.  If a person is under 18, I see them as a kid.  🙂

Premise:

Artemis Fowl, child of a crime boss, is seeking a way to reestablish his family’s fortunes.  Though Artemis is only twelve, he’s a criminal mastermind and has plans to obtain gold from the Fairies.  Unfortunately, Artemis doesn’t know about Holly Short with the fairy’s LEPrecon task force–she is a fairy to be reckoned with!

My thoughts:

This book is definitely aimed at the younger preteen-teen crowd.  The story line is fairly simple, but I believe that some of the plot holes will be filled in in succeeding books.  The sections of the story which focus on Artemis and his employees were not terribly interesting to me.  It was probably because I don’t identify with Artemis’ life stage or inner thoughts.  This lady is not twelve years old anymore. 😉

I think the story really picked up and gained some charm when Holly Short and the fairies were introduced.  The characters were interesting, the banter funny, and the action started in earnest.  Holly and Commander Root were my favorite characters.

I won’t comment more particularly on the plot of the book (beyond what was said in the premise section) because there isn’t much I could say that wouldn’t give away the entire story line.  Although the book is simple, I am curious to see how Artemis’ criminal plans (and hopefully moral redemption) play out in future.

I wouldn’t recommend this book to preteens and teens, even though they are the target audience.  Some of the subject matter is, quite frankly, inappropriate for that age group.  I don’t think there is much here to interest adults, either.

Possible Objections:

  • The d-word (4x)
  • A bit of graphic violence
  • The protagonist is a child who engages in crime.  He’s selfish, greedy, deceitful, etc.

Rating: 2 1/2 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

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The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

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I checked this book out on a whim.  Whenever I read the newspaper, I notice that list of popular books right next to the crossword puzzle.  I never have looked at any of those books–until now.  I thought it might be fun to see what’s so great about the current popular books out there.

I finished reading The Girl on the Train a couple of days ago.  It’s not the type of book that I normally pick up, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.  It’s a little hard to classify.  I’d call it a cross between a psychological/crime thriller and peoples’ personal memoirs.  It sounds a bit strange, but the book focuses equally on events and peoples’ thought lives.

Each chapter focuses on an individual character and records their thoughts and actions in diary form.  The chapters jump around from one character to another, where we learn what happens in the story, the characters’ motives and thoughts, and what they think about one another.

This book is interesting in that you don’t really know who the “good guys” are until the end.  In the beginning you will probably think that you have it figured out, but as the story progresses and peoples’ thoughts are exposed, you will come to a new understanding.  The book really got me thinking about what makes a person good or bad.  Outward appearances can be deceiving.

I don’t want to tell you a lot about the plot because that will totally ruin the book for anyone who hasn’t read it yet.  I will tell you that it’s about a woman named Rachel whose husband (Tom) divorced her for another woman.  Rachel can’t move on and she becomes an alcoholic.  While riding on the train past the row of houses where she used to live, she witnesses something that is seemingly inconsequential, but that has a major impact on the other characters in the story.  There are other characters who become entwined in the story–Anna (Tom’s new wife), Scott and Megan Hipwell (neighbors of Tom’s), Kamal (a therapist), Cathy (Rachel’s flatmate), etc.

I would recommend this book as an interesting and engrossing read.  It kept me guessing almost up to the end about who the “bad guy” was.  It’s also a good study on human nature and what makes people tick.  I would say that it’s appropriate for adults because of the language, sex, and violence.

Possible Objections:

  1. Bad language–quite a bit of it.
  2. Sexual themes.
  3. Violence.

Rating: 5 Stars

 

Until next time…

Lori