Saturday, August 31, 2013

Hunger Games Trilogy Review

Book Title:  The Hunger Games
Author:  Suzanne Collins

Summary:  This is going to be brief, as the movie has been out for some time now and the second is about to show.  I read the books after watching the movie.  The movie followed the storyline fairly well.  As one of my friends summarized, “It’s a Lord of the Flies story of kids killing each other.”  Uhh, not quite that simple.  There are 13 districts, the 13th one believed to be destroyed – because it was the cause of a revolution against the Capital.  Each year, a boy and a girl are chosen from each of the districts to participate in the Hunger Games – where there is only one survivor – and yes, they have to kill each other.  Mixed in is a love triangle, politics and being a pawn no matter which side you are on.

Thoughts:  It’s different.  It’s a little on the blood-eww side, but the movie didn’t go overboard with the gore.    The ending of the trilogy that people didn’t like didn’t bother me so much… but I found the books… depressing.  So much violence and anger and politics.  Worse, it’s something our world could turn in to or have we already….

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Out Of My Mind Book Review

Book Title:  Out Of My Mind
Author:  Sharon Draper

Summary:  Melody has cerebral palsy, severe to the point that she is unable to walk, talk, feed herself, and bathe herself.  She is NOT mentally retarded, but she is labeled this because of her appearance.  The book is told in the first person from Melody’s perspective. 

Melody has a photographic memory and is incredibly intelligent.  But she feels trapped in her own body.  She shares how the school system took a long time before they realized that children with disabilities have abilities.  Finally, Melody is given a Medi-Talker, a device where the computer hooks up to her wheelchair and is able to “give her a voice” as she types things in.

Thoughts:  I feel as though I could write a book about the emotions this story brought about.  My Mom is a recently retired teacher.  She taught inclusion classes.  I shared the summary with my Mom and her response was, “Oh, absolutely!  I remember this one boy who couldn’t move or talk and he had a similarly device that would speak for him.  He was a VERY bright boy!”

My Mom is a living example.  She has albinism and is legally blind – WITH glasses, legally blind.  Yet people don’t know it, because my Mom refuses to ever call herself disabled.  She never has, in my entire life of 43 years, said that she was disabled.  Mom has always wanted to be seen as normal.  Melody wants that, to be a normal girl, with friends who share secrets and people to take the time to talk to her.

I remember when my Mom had her first inclusion class.  What Mom did to prepare her class was to say, “Each of you is going to see what another child might have to face.”  Children were given blindfolds to wear for half the day or kept in a wheelchair, given crutches, instructions not to speak, earmuffs to cover sounds…   Mom said there was a remarkable change in the children.  They understood.  They empathized as best as they could.  They took the time to talk to the children and have a buddy system.

This book isn’t just about children understanding, but also about the school system not being set up and adults who are in charge of the care but unwilling to help advance the children to the best of their abilities… and the horribly long red tape process to get the help that is needed.

It’s a book I recommend.  One that I plan on sharing with my son, as he gets older.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Ender's Game Book Review

Book Title:  Ender’s Game
Author:  Orson Scott Card

Summary:  Born in a futuristic world, Ender is a third son.  Earth is facing a third invasion from aliens called Buggers and if humans don’t take action, this next invasion could be the end of humanity.

In the future, having two children is the maximum allowed, but Ender was bred for military purposes after his older brother and sister didn’t pass the test needed for a commander.  Being a “third” is an insult to a child, so already this puts Ender in the position of being bullied.

The military trains children as weapons.  They need geniuses and they need the geniuses to be weapons.  Ender is already picked on because of his intelligence.  In order for the military to tap into Ender’s ability to command, they force him into isolation by creating a distance with the other trainees.  Yet, he has to be able to command them and work with them. 

It’s a difficult balance and a lot of mind manipulation, where Ender is smart enough to be aware of what is being done to him yet goes with it, because the earth’s future is in the balance.

Thoughts:  The bulk of the book is of Ender in school.  Some might find this boring, but I thought the thought processes were interesting.  The writing style was easy to follow.  There were side plots about Ender’s siblings, but I thought they were more annoying than interesting.  What I didn’t like was how the author obviously set up the start for the second book in the last few pages.  It was just a little.. too obvious.. too much planning into it.

I also have to add that I decided to read the book after seeing a movie preview.  I haven’t seen the movie, but plan on doing so if it gets good reviews.  I’m interested to see how they manage the mind games that go on in the book.

All in all, I’d say to read it.  It’s not an action packed story line, but it’s good.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Ladies' Night Book Review

Book Title:  Ladies’ Night
Author:  Mary Kay Andrews

Summary:   Grace is a blogger.  She has turned it into a career and lives in a Florida mansion.  She built the business based on her eye for design and ability to share it on her blog.  Her husband quit his job to work with her.  Grace is happy and settled until she finds out that her husband is cheating on her with her assistant.

Grace makes a public scene, one that involves driving her husband’s incredibly expensive vehicle into the pool!  Instead of Grace demanding that her husband move out, as he is the one who cheated… Grace leaves. 

Ben, her husband, takes the upper hand and gets her locked out of her house, out of her finances and even locked out of her blog, her main source and only source of income.

Grace hires an attorney to fight to get what is due to her, but the attorney, based on the vehicle in pool, incident, requires Grace to attend six weeks of therapy.  From this point forward, Grace kindles new friendships.

Thoughts:   I didn’t have high hopes for the book, but I’m happy to say it was very enjoyable.  Some things were in extreme, but to the point where it kept the story going.  The stories of the women in the group, well, they are hilarious for the most part.  It’s also a story of recovering and going after what you really want.  I’d recommend the book.

Monday, July 15, 2013

The Last Original Wife Book Review

Book Title:  The Last Original Wife
Author:  Dorothea Benton Frank

Summary:   Leslie married Wesley when she was young.  She was a devoted wife and mother, but in her sixties she’s realizing the demographics are changing.  Her husband’s male friends are divorcing their “old wives” and trading them in for the younger versions.

Leslie takes a hard look at her life and finds she has devoted so much to others that she has ignored her own dreams and desires.  Those around her don’t seem much to care what she’s interested in or her likes and dislikes.

Charleston, her hometown, calls to Leslie and she goes to reunite with her brother and reconnects with an old high school flame.

The chapters are told in alternating voices between Leslie and Wesley.

Thoughts:  It’s a fun story, but I don’t find that there is much… depth to the characters.   Also, how could a woman be so consumed and devoted for that length of time by family who are so incredibly obviously shallow.  The author doesn’t make the “villains” real by only giving them negative traits.

That said, it was a fun read.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Fly Away Book Review

Book Title:  Fly Away
Author:  Kristin Hannah

Summary:  This story establishes that Kate was the center of her family’s strength.  When Kate dies, her friend, Tully, doesn’t handle it well and Kate’s family breaks apart.  The story follows the downward spiral, the struggles of those who loved and lost; the living trying to handle death.

The plot jumps from past to present, but it’s easy to keep straight.

Thoughts:  I understand that this is the second book, the first being Firefly Lane, but I didn’t read that.  It was easy enough to pick up Fly Away without having read the first.  The characters are well developed, but the story is a constant downward spiral until you feel as though there is never a way to climb out. 

That said, I’d recommend the book.  It’s emotional and covers a great deal of family history, but it ties it all back together again.  

Monday, July 1, 2013

Single Infertile Female Book Review

Book Title:  Single Infertile Female
Author:  Leah Campbell

Summary:  This book is an autobiography of Leah’s struggle with infertility and relationships.  It starts off with a brief childhood background and college years, including her decision to donate her eggs for anonymous infertile couples.  From there, Leah writes about falling in love, the high point on the roller coaster ride. 

Leah recognizes that something isn’t right with her body, but she has to go through a great deal of pain and the threat of cancer treatment before she gets a second opinion.  Come to find out, Leah has severe endometriosis.  From this point, Leah’s story has a major theme of infertility, endometriosis and in-vetro fertilization.   Mixed in with these emotions is coupling of emotionally abusive relationships and finding an inner strength.

Thoughts:  I’ve read a great deal on-line about endo, infertility and IVF, because I know too many friends and family members who have experienced one or more of these things.  (Myself being diagnosed as being infertile and seriously looking into IVF, but the cost was a major factor to dissuade me.)

This is the FIRST book that makes those topics make sense.  Leah is able to use the medical terms and describe things in layman’s terms.  She doesn’t write to glorify her life or over dramatize it.   She keeps things real.

I’d definitely recommend this book.  Normally I only purchase books that are on the iBook for iPads.  I’ve become spoiled to the iPad.  But after reading Leah’s blog and appreciating her writing style, I made the purchase through Amazon and enjoyed turning the pages.