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review 2018-07-16 12:54
Mud City (The Breadwinner, #3) by Deborah Ellis
Mud City - Deborah Ellis

After reading Parvana's Journey, I decided to hop right into Mud City to see what will happen next to Parvana and her family. However, once I started to read it, I quickly discovered that this book followed her friend Shauzia, not Parvana. That's didn't deter me from reading the book, of course, because I loved Shauzia in the first book and was looking forward to her journey since last we heard from her. I just had to change my expectations of what the book was going to be about. And is was such a fantastic read! Reading these books have been a wonderful experience. I'm enjoying it tremendously. They have been heartbreaking, especially this installment for very personal reasons which I will explain momentarily. But these book have been a valuable experience throughout.

 

I'm going to start off by talking about Shauzia. This is the first time we get the story through her perspective. In The Breadwinner, we see her through Parvana's eyes. We learn that she wants to escape her life in Afghanistan by going to the sea and traveling to France. At the end of the first book, we learn that Parvana and Shauzia make a promise to meet in twenty years on top of the Eiffel Tower to know that they were able to make it out safely. In Parvana's Journey, the only mention of Shauzia we get is through the letters Parvana writes to her. We don't actually see her. So this is the first time we get to learn more about her. She is a lot more hot-headed than Parvana is. She is someone who fights hard for what she wants, not paying any mind to the consequences. Shauzia is more of a loner and a fighter than Parvana, and I wouldn't have her any other way. She makes some foolish mistakes, but she comes out the better for making them and I'm now looking forward to learning more about her and Parvana in the last book in the series! 

 

Deborah Ellis continues to write about difficult subject matters in an approachable way so that anyone, children and adults alike, can understand and empathize about the wars happening in Afghanistan. I am learning so much about what happened in Afghanistan in the past for it to be the way it is now. Although, I remember some of what happened through personal experience. I lived across the Hudson when the World Trade Center Towers were destroyed. I saw them crumble down. I saw the sky covered in the thick, black smoke. I saw people running around, trying to get their families together. I heard yelling and crying and screaming coming every which way. I was stuck in traffic for five hours in a ride that should have taken ten minutes. All of that is still fresh in my mind. So reading about that in this book, it was so hard for me... but I'm glad to see that this book didn't shy away from mentioning that terrible event. I'm glad it's being talked about and written about and taught to younger kids. That this book shows that there's good and bad everywhere. That even though what happened in New York that day still haunts and hurts a lot of us here in the States, that there are people in Afghanistan who are hurt by those same events and that they, too, want the violence and suffering to stop. Just knowing that this book is out there for kids to read and learn that not everyone is cruel gives me hope.

 

I'm going to stop now. Reading Mud City and then writing this review has made me emotional, I know, but I had to get this out. This is an amazing book. An amazing series! Please, if you have not read the first two, give them a shot. If you have, read this one, too! It's just as good as the first two. Read it to your kids, if you have any, or just read it for yourself. They are such great books and I highly recommend them.

 

And now I'm off to read the final book in The Breadwinner series. I'm a bit worried to see how everything is going to end, but there's no way I'm going to stop now. I want to know the ending and I can't wait to read My Name is Parvana.

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review 2018-07-14 14:08
Parvana's Journey (The Breadwinner, #2) by Deborah Ellis
Parvana's Journey - Deborah Ellis

After how much I adored the first book in this series, I decided to continue on with Parvana and her journey to find her family. I'm glad I did. This is a beautiful, heartbreaking, painful story about a young girl as she travels throughout Afghanistan under the Taliban rule. I'll put it bluntly, this book is a difficult read. People are dying, children are starving, and there's violence throughout so... it's not for the faint of heart. However, I highly recommend you read this book if you've read the first one and appreciated the story within.

 

Parvana is still an incredible character. In this book, she is very angry and tired and looses patience quite easily with the other children. Can you blame her? Her entire life has been nothing but strife and chaos. She's a young girl who knows war and only war. And it's getting to her. I felt so strongly for her in the first book, but I feel so much more for her in this one. She's been through so much already and you know she's only going to experience so much more pain still. Asif is a new character and I adore him, too. He starts off as a brat and, as the story continues, he's still a brat but he acts more like a brother to Parvana. He's sweet and caring, he just doesn't know how to show it. Another character that's new to the story is Leila. She is a lovely little girl with a vivid imagination who joins Parvana and Asif on their journey to find Parvana's family. She is free-spirited and so sweet; I adore her so much!

 

Ellis did a fantastic job in writing this book and creating these characters. She is bringing awareness to what happened in Afghanistan and is helping young children understand that part of the world a little more. She is urging for us to help in any way we can so that way people in Afghanistan, especially women and children, have a chance to live a life free from war and violence and starvation. I love that she wrote these books with the intention to help those in Afghanistan.

 

I love this book just as much as I love the first book in The Breadwinner series. I will continue to read the rest of this series because I want to know what is going to happen with Parvana. I have to see how her story will end. I hope she is able to find peace and happiness one day. I truly do. And I shall continue to read in order to find out! Please read this series! To learn more about our history, Afghanistan's history, and the history of many women who have lived through the war under the Taliban rule. It's a heavy read, but one well worth the weight. 

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review 2018-07-05 08:43
The Trouble with Thirteen
The Trouble With Thirteen - Betty Miles

Well, that was an embarrassingly devastating re-read.  It's been ... a number of decades (which I refuse to think about), since this book was relevant to me, but I couldn't resist when I found a copy.  I remembered nothing about it save it was one of those books I read as a pre-teen.

 

This isn't so much a story, as it is a snapshot of a moment in time that's nothing but constant change for any tween, but poor Annie and Rachel get hit with a trifecta of monumental changes all in a few short months.  Best friends and neighbours since nursery school, Rachel's parents are divorcing and moving her to NYC.  This is a snapshot, as told from the POV of a 12 year old, of the way life's changes are often completely outside your control, happening whether you like it or not.

 

Honestly, this book made me a weepy, sniffly mess.  I can't believe how relevant it is at its core after almost 40 years.  There's a conversation on a landline, something most kids won't recognise today, but the rest of this very short story entirely focuses on the things that are timeless: friendship, jealousy, guilt, sorrow, it's all here.  There're no quick answers or fixes offered, just a very empathetic narrative that doesn't talk down or preach (although I suspect the writing style would be considered too simplistic in comparison to today's titles).  I'd have no hesitation giving this to my nieces if and when it's relevant - along with a packet of tissues, just in case.

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review 2018-06-28 18:13
The Breadwinner (The Breadwinner, #1) by Deborah Ellis
The Breadwinner - Deborah Ellis

I am so happy I read this book! I know I probably should explain what the book is about before I say how I felt about it. But I'm just really excited to talk about how much I loved this book! I first heard about it on BookTube when the animated movie was coming out. When I heard what the subject matter was about, I knew that this is a book that I had to read, and I am so glad I did.

 

The Breadwinner follows a young girl named Parvana living under the Taliban rule in Afghanistan. She and her family try to make the best out of a terrible situation, until one day her father is arrested by the Taliban and she, along with the rest of her family, are left to fend for themselves. Disguised as a boy, Parvana takes it upon herself to provide for her family, find her missing father, all whilst hiding from the Taliban's cruel regime. Because if they were to find out a girl was passing herself as a boy, it would be death not only for Parvana, but her entire family. 

 

Let's start off with the story itself. First off, this is a very hard-hitting book. I love it, yes, but it's not light-hearted in the least. We are reading about war. War is cold. War is violent. War is bloody. War is death. And this book displays the hard truths of war with each page you read. I love it for being as blunt as it is because we need to read about the truth. We need to know about the horrible acts that innocent men had to endure if they went against the Taliban. We need to know that women weren't allowed outside without a man, covered head to toe, and was beaten even if they looked at another man. We need to know young girls were being married off, usually to much older men, and having children whilst they were still children themselves. It's difficult to digest but it's important to know these events are happening in our world. To educate ourselves and to do something about it.

 

There's violence, abuse, starvation, and sickness that men, women, and children experience throughout the book. The violence towards women and young girls are especially prevalent. Ellis writes a story to give women and girls a voice in Afghanistan who have been abused just because of their gender. She does not shy away from giving the gritty details about what these women had to suffer through. Ellis writes a beautiful story about the heartache many families had to endure during this time period and does it in a way where the reader feels empathy and sympathy for them. It hurts to read about, but it's a necessary hurt. Her descriptions of a decrepit Kabul are vivid and devastating. Ellis did a fantastic job in bringing awareness to such issues happening in Afghanistan. And for that, I am grateful.

 

Ellis's characters are also well-written. Each one is as vivid, complex, and beautiful as the next character. Parvana, herself, is such an extraordinary character. She is only eleven-years-old yet she is willing to risk her life for her family. She wants to just have fun and go to school like any child should, but she recognizes the situation she is in calls for other actions and is more than willing to change, to do what she must in order to save herself and her family. She is strong, brave, and amazing. Everyone in her family is like that in their own way. They are just trying to live in the best way they know how. In a war-torn country, there are many people just trying to live to the best of their abilities.

 

Parvana also has a friend called Shauzia and I feel for her so much. She doesn't have as good a living situation as Parvana, and she wants to move as far away as possible. She, too, is brave and strong, but she struggles with leaving because everyone is expecting her to be there for her family... even though her family is abusive. She must come to term with either staying in Afghanistan with an abusive family or making her escape and living a good life in France. She is one of those characters that just breaks your heart and you hope that somehow, someway, they are able to make it out of their situation. I want to continue reading the series just to see what becomes of these beautiful characters.

 

There's another character that appears in the book that I'm very interested in. She only appears during a few scenes, doesn't have any dialogue, but leaves such a powerful impression and I want to know more about her. She is only known as The Woman in the Window and she occasionally threw presents down to Parvana when she was trying to earn a little bit of money. We don't know anything about her but she really is quite fascinating. I want to know more about her and I hope she appears in the other books as well. 

 

And I'm going to end it here. Honestly, I could go on and on about this book. It's absolutely amazing what Ellis has written here. I encourage everyone to read it. And once you do, go watch the movie because it's just as beautiful. I don't love it as much as the book, but it's still good. I highly recommend both! Just keep in mind that there's violence, blood, gore, and abuse. But it is important to learn this story so that, one day, things like this won't ever happen again. So, please, read this book and watch the movie. They are incredible! 

 

I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the books in this series. I need to know what's going to happen with Parvana and her family!

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review 2018-06-25 22:08
An Acceptable Time (Time Quintet, #5) by Madeleine L'Engle
An Acceptable Time (The Time Quintet, #5 ) - Madeleine L'Engle

It's been a while, but I am back! I finally finished the Time Quintet. It took me a while but I finally did it! I've had a lot of issues with this series and for that, I did not feel motivated to finish this last book. However, I am here today with my review of An Acceptable Time. Let's get this show on the road!

 

In this book, we follow Meg and Calvin's daughter named Polly. She moved in with her grandparents to get a better education with them when she discovered a time portal to the past. Intrigued, she makes it her personal mission to find out more about her connection to the people living 3000 years in the past and what her friend from the present, a sick boy named Zachary, has to do with it all. 

 

Alright. The actual premise of this book is rather interesting. Much like a lot of L'Engle's books are. I enjoyed learning about the Ogam stones and the language spoken by the People of the Wind. I also really like the culture surrounding them as a group of people living in the past. Now, with that comes the issue of race. L'Engle has a problem with referring to Native Americans as "Indians" or as "savages" and that never sat right with me. She did that as well in previous books. I know some will make the excuse that it "was a different time" and, yes, I understand that. However, I don't have to agree nor like nor excuse that type of language when it comes to addressing a different group of people. It's racist. Plain and simple.

 

Another problem I had with this book is Zachary. Oh... my... word... I do not like his abusive, manipulative, gaslighting, misogynistic tendencies. I do not like him as a person. The way he treated Polly was downright awful. And Polly is actually a great character! A much better improvement over her mother, Meg. The only problem I had with Polly was with how she let Zachary treat her as a lesser person. Why? Because he's sick? That's no excuse! He claimed to love her. He claimed to want to be with her. But the first chance he gets, he's willing to give her up to be sacrificed. He questioned her loyalty to him every chance he got. He tried to make her feel guilty for not wanting to be with him because he was "dying." Look, I know he's sick and that sucks, but Polly doesn't owe him anything. She doesn't have to be in a relationship with him just because he's ill. That's not a good enough reason to be in a relationship. There's also the fact that the moment they went back in time, he saw another girl, and right away was "interested" in her. So much for caring about Polly. He's a coward who abuses women and I think he's trash. Zachary was my main problem with this entire book and because he is one of the central characters in the book, he's there for quite a bit of it. Which is a downer.

 

Another of my main problems was with Polly's grandparents, Alex and Kate Murray. They've been in the previous books. They have been surrounded by weird time loops and portals for years now. They are not strangers when it comes to the bizarre existence of different time periods suddenly popping up. But for some reason they had a hard time believing that going back 3000 years was actually possible! What!? How!? How can someone who created the bloody tesseract not believe that one of his closest friend and his grandchild were able to travel through time! They blamed the Bishop that he was insane and putting stories into their granddaughter's head! How inconsistent to the previous books can you get? It was obnoxious and unbelievable for the history of the characters that was created in the previous books.

 

At this point, you know I have issues with this book series. I started off reading these books because the movie was coming out and I really wanted to read the book before seeing the movie. The first book started off well. It wasn't perfect but I liked it well enough to continue reading the rest of the series... and it just went downhill from there. It really is a "product of its time" and it definitely needs to be read with a very critical eye. It has its interesting ideas, but the way L'Engle handles sensitive issues is very poor. I do think it's worth reading at least once through so that way you know the story. However, this is not a series that I will ever be revisiting. There are plenty of other books out there. Better books for children and adults alike that should be read over this. This series is a favorite for many people and that's great. But, for me, I'm going to have to skip out on the rest of the books L'Engle has written for the series after this fifth one. I read the main quintet and that's good enough for me.

 

Like I said, I think you should read this series at least once. Just for those interesting ideas. Other than that, read it with a critical eye. And if your child is reading it, let your child know that a lot of the language used to describe anyone who is not white, is NOT the proper way to described them. Be involved and I think the reading experience will go well. Hopefully, you end up enjoying the time theories if nothing else. Those, I think, are worth exploring at least.

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