Monday, April 17, 2017

If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo

If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo   This book seems so simple, but it isn't.  It's a beautifully written work about issues that are difficult and deeply personal.  Issues that  we, as a society, are struggling with how to deal with and yet this breaks it down into such an understandable  and personal way.

Andrew knows that there is something wrong.  All of his life, he has felt off, like something was missing. 

Amanda is the new girl at school.  Just like all teenagers, she wants to fit in, make friends, fall in love.   But Amanda has a secret and she is determined not to let down the walls protecting herself for anyone..... until she meets Grant.

If you read one book this year - this is it. I gave this book to my mother and it opened her eyes and changed her heart.   This book proved to me, once again, the power of words.  They can raise awareness, make us more compassionate and ultimately change the way we view our world.  This book is so much more than it seems.  It's a powerhouse.  Read. It. Now.  5 stars and I would give it more if I could.

King's Cage by Victoria Aveyard

King's Cage by Victoria Aveyard

This is the third installment in the Red Queen series.   The second book left us with quite the cliff hanger.  Mare has agreed to turn herself over to Maven in order to secure the safety of her friends.  What's ahead for her is literally a living hell.

I loved this book because it demonstrates, once again, what a strong character Mare is.  She has focus and a strength of will that many would  be lacking.   I love the way that this author brings the story full circle for the Lightning Girl.  Will she be able to escape the Kings Cage only to fall into another?  I don't want to give too much of the plot away, but I will say that  I can't wait to read the next part of Mare's story. 

This is YA at it's best.  5 stars.

Creativity Inc by Ed Catmull

Creativity, Inc. by Ed Catmull   I wanted to read more nonfiction this year.  This was  one of the first books that I chose.   I have to say, it didn't disappoint.

I had no idea exactly what was behind Pixar.  The creative minds, the practices they employed, the cultural changes that they were involved in - fascinating.

Ed Catmull wanted to work for Disney since he was a child.  When he had his opportunity, they offered him a job as an engineer creating rides in their theme parks.  He took a pass.  It wasn't his passion, it wasn't what he wanted to do.  But honestly, how many of us pass up on our dream because it was just a little shy of perfect?

All the greats are here:  Walt Disney, Steve Jobs, George Lucas and the list just goes on.  I found this book fascinating and riveting.  I was inspired.  5 stars.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Our Chemical Hearts Krystal Sutherland

Our Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland

This is a story about high school.  It's a story about first love.  It's a story about life.  My daughter's favorite librarian recommended this one to both of us, so I gave it a shot.  Perfect for the "recommended by a librarian"  part of my reading challenge.

Henry has never been in love.  He thinks he is impervious.  He wants to survive his senior year, become editor of the school paper and move on.   Then he meets Grace Town and his romantic heart begins to beat.  I'd say that Grace isn't like other girls, but I hate it when books and reviews say that - it sounds so trite.  Grace becomes the co-editor of the paper and Harry discovers that there is something very mysterious about Grace. 

I don't want to give the plot away.   So I will just tell you what I liked about this book instead.  I love that the reader gets the full flush of exactly what young love feels like - the rush of hormones,  the urgency of it all.   I love that the reader also comes to understand that sometimes  love just isn't enough. I gave this one four stars.   I highly recommend it for 8 - 12 graders.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

The Star- Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi

The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi   This was one of the 15 books from my TBR pile that I committed to reading this year.   I'm so glad I did. It got bumped up on my pile when I realized that it's sequel will also soon be released.

This is also a story by an author from another culture that I don't really know much about and I have been trying to expand my reading horizons.    Maya, the main character, is cursed.  She is born with a horoscope that promised death and destruction in her wake.   Her father arranges a competition of sorts which will allow Maya to chose her husband.  Her father's intention is to betray that choice and the results are disastrous for his kingdom and surprising in many ways for Maya.

There are so many interesting characters in this book.  Maya herself,  Amir- her husband,  Kemala - the talking demon horse ( a personal favorite) and Maya's younger sister , Gauri.

I thought this book was original, creative and wonderfully told.  I'm looking forward to the next installment,  A Crown of Wishes.    I gave this one for stars.

The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood

The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood  If you have read any of my prior blog posts, you already know that I am a fan of Margaret Atwood.   Her revolutionary The Handmaid's Tale opened my eyes to so much that is currently going on and alerting me to what could be going on.

I had to read a book based on myth for my challenge.  Greek mythology and the Odyssey, in particular, have long been a favorite. This tells the familiar story but from Penelope's point of view.   We see the cunning Odysseus from Penelope's eyes and we also witness the events leading up to the Trojan war.   Penelope rightly tries to dissuade Odysseus from going off to war, but he refuses to listen and the result is quite tragic for Penelope. 

I'm sure, if you are reading this, you are familiar with the story so I won't bore you with my humble attempt at a summary here.   I will say that I found the treatment of Penelope's handmaidens to be the most interesting part of the story both in this life and then, their judgement of Penelope in the afterlife.

I gave it three stars.  Not because it isn't well written but because I was hoping for a more than rehashing of an already familiar story.

Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler

Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler   I read this one for my "book recommended by a favorite author".   This book was recommended by Margaret Atwood, so I thought I would give it a try.  This is the story of  Lauren, a minister's daughter growing up in a possible future of ours.  Her world is effected by global warming and the blight of greed.  Her family lives in a neighborhood community behind a wall that they have to guard to protect themselves from outsiders.   These outsiders come in and pillage the food the community is growing and steal much needed resources.  

Lauren's brother, Keith, decides that he will go into the outside world and make a way for himself.  He doesn't think that the outside world is as bad as everyone says it is.  Needless to say, that doesn't end well for Keith or his community.  Lauren is the only one who appears to see what is truly happening in the world around her and to be preparing for what she knows will come.

The book has many interesting philosophical questions in it, particularly regarding the nature of God.  I found it interesting and thought provoking but not enough so to continue on with the series.  I gave it three stars.