Okay, so I know that it’s been a while since my last book review; not since April. And I am a few days early this time, as I usually wait and post the very last day of the month.
I’m always questioning whether I should continue to do them or not, one reason being that I don’t always finish a book within a month’s time. I think that’s kind of sad, but then I have to remember that at least I’m making an effort to keep up. I always set my expectations too high in most everything that I do and this is no exception. But this is for fun so I don’t need to be so serious about it. 😛 Anyway, I’ll keep at it, as long as you guys are reading them.
So this time around, I have more than one book to review (after four months of not doing any reviews, I would hope to have more than one read!). They are all children’s novels, but all very good stories and ones that I would recommend you read.
The first one up is called The Kindness Club: Chloe on the Bright Side by Courtney Sheinmel. It’s the first of what I assume to be a series (currently reading the second one) of books that are told through the eyes of each of the main characters, Chloe, Lucy and Theo.
Title: The Kindness Club: Chloe on the Bright Side
Author: Courtney Sheinmel
Genre: Children’s General Fiction
Pages: 206 (209 counting the Acknowledgements Page)
This book is told from Chloe’s point of view, a fifth grader who just moved to Maryland and is attending a new school. Wanting to fit in right away, Chloe makes an effort to join in the “IT Girls” club, consisting of a group of girls, which can be classified as the typical “mean girl club” found in middle and high schools. The self proclaimed leader of the IT Girls group, Monroe, starts off liking Chloe and wishes her to join the group, but is later seen as being quite dismissive of her when Chloe tries to be a part of the newly formed “Kindness Club” with Lucy and Theo, which they form as part of their science club project.
There is a moment where you feel like Chloe will become a permanent member of the IT Girls, but comes to find out that it’s simply not for her. As you’re reading, you sort of get the sense that Chloe is like the typical “goody-two-shoes” or “Pollyanna” type of person, simply wanting to please others, but she is more than that, which makes her very “likeable” I feel. And her struggling to deal with her parents being divorced and her mom and dad not exactly on “speaking terms”, you can’t help but feel for her a little. Overall, Chloe’s character is one that you will like and not find annoying (at least I didn’t). Lucy and Theo are also very likable, with Theo being the typical “geek/nerdy” type and Lucy is… just plain sweet. You will have to read the book to find out how!
And I can tell you right now that Lucy will have an even bigger role in the next book, as it is told from her perspective and she describes more about herself. She may be even more likable than Chloe! I can’t wait to find out!
Overall, I give this book a 5 out of 5. A great and fun read!
The next book I have is called The Night Diary by Veera Hiranandani.
Title: The Night Diary
Author: Veera Hiranandani
Genre: Children’s Historical/Fiction
Pages: 264 (267 counting the Author’s Note, Glossary and Acknowledgements Pages)
A historical fiction novel, set in 1947 India, it tells the story of a young girl named Nisha, who lives with her father, grandmother, younger brother and cook.
Though I will say that the story ended happily, most of it has a very sad and melancholic feel to it. It’s told from Nisha’s point of view, in the form of a secret diary that she is writing to her mother, who is dead. The basic focus of the story centers around Nisha’s attempt to understand why the people in her country must separate, mostly based on religion. She and her family must migrate from the part of India (what is now Pakistan) into what she calls “The New India” for fear of being killed. Throughout the story, you sense the tension between Hindus and Muslims, as well as the tension building up within Nisha’s own family, as her father is Hindu, while her mother was Muslim. Nisha struggles within herself as to who she really is and wonders should she feel if she is either more of one or the other.
I love how the author really makes you feel like you are there with Nisha and her family as they travel to their new home; the struggles and challenges that they face. There’s a part in the story where they are nearly out of water to drink in their travels and I actually felt thirsty just hearing about how thirsty they all were during their difficult journey. It certainly helped me to appreciate clean, drinkable water a lot more! You are willing to do some pretty desperate things in order to satisfy your thirst, as you will see when reading the story.
I really liked all of the characters in the story and the author really helped give you a sense of who each character is through their various personalities. You see this the most with Nisha, and her brother, Amil. Nisha is very shy and quiet while Amil is more outgoing and open. There’s a point near the end of the story in which Nisha refuses to talk at all and only communicates through written notes; feeling hurt that she angered her father.
There’s a character in the book that makes a brief appearance, in which I really like. Nisha temporarily befriends a young Muslim girl named Hafa while on their travels and she is even more shy than Nisha. I listened to the audio version of this book and the reader did a really superb job in portraying the soft-spoken Hafa, who you can’t help but like. Unfortunately, they are caught by Nisha’s father, who harshly reprimands her for disobeying him in remaining hidden from view and talking to strangers, which in turn, makes Nisha “go silent” for most of the remaining story.
I also really liked Kazi, the family’s cook. Though he was Muslim, he remains a loyal friend of the family, especially to Nisha, who greatly admires him and looks upon him with great respect as she is often seen cooking with and helping him prepare meals.
Like I said, this was a very nice story and it really helped give me a knowledge of India’s history (part of it anyway) and what people went through during that time. The US wasn’t the only country facing discrimination in the late 40s/early 50s…
I also give this book a 5 out of 5.
The last book that I have to present is called Amal Unbound by Aisha Saeed.
Title: Amal Unbound
Author: Aisha Saeed
Genre: Children’s General Fiction
Pages: 226 (231 counting the Author’s Note and Acknowledgements Pages)
Ironically enough, this book is set in present day Pakistan. This book and the last one I just reviewed are not related, though it sort of feels like it, as we basically jumped ahead 71 years.
This book is about a 12 year old girl named Amal, who temporarily gives up her freedom when she is forced into servitude by a powerful Pakistani family after she unintentionally insults one of the members. She has to leave her home and her dream of becoming a teacher behind to “repay her debt” to the Khan family.
While living in the Khan family mansion, Amal encounters others living there, either by choice or in the same situation as her, and she must learn to work together with them if she wishes to have any hope of escaping this “prison mansion”. One character makes this difficult for Amal (there’s always a ‘foil’ to help challenge the protagonist, right?); Nabila. While at first, she is seen as Amal’s “rival” in a way, getting her into trouble and such, she later becomes a sort of ‘friend’ to her after Amal stands up for her for a prank that originated from Nabila herself. So you’ll see a little bit of character development there, which always helps to move the story along. I’ll admit that I didn’t like Nabila at first. But after seeing her become a better person towards Amal, she became MUCH more likable.
The one character I didn’t like was Jawad, the main antagonist and member of the Khan family. Simply put, he’s a jackass; abusive, both verbally and physically. He even physically hit Amal once when she was standing up to him for Nabila. His father, who is just as much a douchebag as his son, is not seen too often, but he, like his son, both get what’s coming to them by the end of the story, which I’m all for seeing that happen. But Jawad’s mother, Nasreen, is very likable and is nothing like the men in the family. While not a ‘friend’ friend, she is seen as a “mother-like” figure towards Amal while she is in the mansion and often tries to protect her from her son’s more abusive actions. And at the end of the book, Nasreen helps Amal in a very big way.
Again, another great story here as I really enjoyed reading it. And can I just say that the cover alone makes this book a good read; so colorful! I also give this one a 5 out of 5.
And there you have it. Two books read, one audio listened; not bad. I hope to get my reading routine back in gear and will have more books to review next month. I have a few of them going already. Let’s see if I can get through them in time!
And please be sure to check out my friend, Salazar’s blog over on 14 Shades of Grey to see what she’s reading!