Monday, April 30, 2012

Reading: Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

            As the end of April neared, I slowly began to realize that I had only read one book this month!  With only a few days left until May, I decided I would need to read some small books and went to my closet where all my children's chapter books were.  The first book I pulled out was Number the Stars by Lois Lowry.  I was required to read this book in 6th grade, I was 12, and haven't read it since then. 
            After reading it again as an adult, I found that I enjoyed the book even more than I did as a kid.  For those of you who haven't read Number the Stars, here is a brief summary: 10 year old Annemarie and her family are living in the Nazi invaded Denmark.  She and her family live in an apartment complex along with her best friend, Ellen, who is Jewish.  Annemarie is haunted by the memory of her older sister who died just before she was to be married and by the soldiers who stalk the sidewalks of her hometown, Copenhagen.  She often questions the role of bravery inside of herself and isn't sure if she can be brave when bravery is trust upon her.  One day, Annemarie finds out Ellen is spending the night and that Ellen's family is in danger.  There is no time to wonder if she is brave.  Annemarie must be brave even when she doesn't know she is being brave. 
            Reading this book for a second time was refreshing.  A lot of the details in this book had been lost to me for years.  All I basically knew about the novel was that it took place in Europe during WWII and that Annemarie's friend was Jewish and they had to save her life.  In the end, it's a kids novel and I can't really say many bad things about it.  I found the book to be poignant and I found the main character, Annemarie, to be everything I would hope a child character to be.  I could really relate to the little things she talked about like running with her friend and playing dolls.  I could also relate to the idea of bravery.  Don't we all wonder if there came a time to be brave, would we be?  It is a very powerful topic to touch on.  I give the book 5 out of 5 stars.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Reading: God Never Blinks by Regina Brett

For the past year I've been on this journey to finding myself.  I guess most people have a time in their lives when they go on this journey too.  I consider myself someone who takes a lot from the books I read but usually those books are fictional.  I'm not one for non-fiction or self-help.  In fact, I've tried to read a few self-help books (and when I say self-help, I mean any book that is written to teach you something) but never seem to finish them.  The subject matters all seem interesting but I would learn more in a classroom than reading them before bed.  Simply put – I get bored.
            Needless to say, I didn't willingly buy God Never Blinks by Regina Brett.  In fact, I had never heard of it until I received it for Christmas.  My mom bought it for me and thought I would enjoy it.  I read over the table of contents and the book's summary and it all seemed very interesting.  I told myself I would read it on the side.  Fiction came first.  I began reading the book in January and read a few chapters every week.  It was simple enough.  The book is split into 50 chapters and each chapter tackles a different tip about life's little detours.  I liked it.  I felt that I could relate to Brett on so many levels.  Though she is older than I am with a lot more experience under her belt, I still felt I could relate to her as a writer and a woman of faith.  As I read about each lesson, I felt as if I'd already known them on some level.  Most of the chapters were things I had thought about before.  If anything, this book helped me think about certain topics in more depth and helped me relate them back to my own life more easily. 
            I can't say I have any negative feedback for this book because it wasn't so much story based as it was helping me with tough situations in my life.  The only thing I can say is that some chapters didn't pertain to me…like one was titled It's okay to cry in front of your children.  I'm only 21 and not having kids anytime soon so this wasn't a very helpful chapter but then again it could help me in the future.  I often assumed while reading this book that Brett assumed her audience would be in their 40's.  But who says someone my age can't try to make the best of their life spiritually and mentally today?  I'm not going to lie – I'm quite proud of myself!
            I am going to give the book 4.5 out of 5 stars.  I can't give it 5 out of 5 because that would mean it's a favorite.  It is definitely a book I know I will pick up again for advice and it taught me a lot but it didn't move me like fiction would.  I recommend the book to everyone though because Regina Brett knows her stuff.  She teaches you how to go through life with the right attitude which today is a rarity. 

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Reading: Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

After reading the first Hunger Games novel there was one thing I was sure of – that the book was amazing and I couldn't wait to read the next two in the series!  Seriously, the hype this book gets is well worth it.  The question is, is the book series worth the hype?  After all, Twilight is a flop.  Harry Potter proves it's worth.  The Inheritance series (Eragon) does a pretty good job.  I was curious how the Hunger Games would continue and curious to see if it would stay consistent or turn into a forced novel written just for it's popularity factor. 
            I picked up Catching Fire about a week before the Hunger Games film debuted in theaters.  I didn't really have a clue as to where Collins was going to take the book series but overall, she did a good job of holding my interest.  Basically, Catching Fire starts after Katniss and Peeta have won the 74th Hunger Games.  The two victors must go on a victory tour and visit each district in Panem.  After Katniss and Peeta "rebelled" against the Capitol with the poisonous berries, a revolution began and while it was small, it was enough to make President Snow stir in his seat.  Katniss had expected her life to go back to normal but instead she must be on her guard 24/7 which includes keeping up her love story with Peeta and cutting Gale out.  No one is safe.  Not even people in the Capitol are safe from President Snow's wrath after Katniss and Peeta's stunt.  At a time when Katniss should be happy that she is safe, she finds little to be happy about.  Little does anyone know what is in store for the future of Panem…well, maybe more people know than we think.
            If you have read the books, you may know what I mean by the last sentence.  For those of you who haven't gotten to the second book or are in the middle of reading it, you will know in time.  This book at times was just as good as the first Hunger Games book.  It was full of intense mystery and suspense.  The entire book is basically the Capitol lashing back at Panem for what Katniss and Peeta did.  The beginning parts were engaging and at some points vulgar (in a good way)!  My heart was racing sometimes!  When I got to part two and three, my heart was beating even faster.  I loved where the book was taking me!  I can’t really say why without spoiling anything so you will all just have to wait to read the book yourselves! 
            One thing I didn't like about the book (and the first) was Katniss's narration.  I mean, I know Katniss is a great heroine and I think she is great.  She is always surprising me and showing her incredible strength.  But oh my goodness, her narration seemed to become a Bella Swan imitation – clumsy and downright annoying!  Things got better as the book went on so hopefully the third book stays that way.  Something that annoyed me was the fact that Peeta and Katniss seem to be meant together and Katniss is ignorant to it.  For example (spoiler alert): Peeta sleeping with Katniss when she has bad dreams!  I mean, come on.  That's a bit much to say you aren't a little bit in love…or on your way to falling in love.  It could be a brother/sister relationship but if we are being honest here, that doesn't seem to be the case in this book series.  I'm torn between Gale and Peeta so I am interested to see who she chooses though.  Another thing that sort of annoyed me about the book was the ending.  It seemed a bit too easy and predictable.  I just hope the third book gets better because the ending of Catching Fire didn't seem to be taking me anywhere exciting (or maybe exciting but expected).
            While the first Hunger Games book is definitely a favorite of mine, this one doesn't quite reach the first book's standards.  I still really enjoyed it though and can't wait to keep reading!  

I give the book 4.5 out of 5 stars.