I read Albatross right after reading Faking Faith, partially to see if it would be equally unique in its approach and partially because I was in a reaI read Albatross right after reading Faking Faith, partially to see if it would be equally unique in its approach and partially because I was in a reading rut and feeling uninspired. Albatross explores an emotionally abusive relationship through the eyes of Tess, who falls for brilliant, good-looking, and uber-creepy Micah. I guess the object of this book was to teach kids what an abusive relationship looks like so it can be avoided, and it certainly does that. Beyond that, it fell flat for me....more
The Fault in Our Stars is the story of Hazel, a sixteen-year-old terminal cancer patient, and her somewhat irreverent quest for life and love even whiThe Fault in Our Stars is the story of Hazel, a sixteen-year-old terminal cancer patient, and her somewhat irreverent quest for life and love even while her body is falling apart. This book has already been lauded enough on the world wide web over the last year, so I’ll keep it brief. The Fault in Our Stars is one of the best YA novels I’ve ever read. It’s smart, funny, heartbreaking, and beautifully written–in other words, typical John Green. It deals with the topics of illness, love, and death head-on and without pretense. Recommended....more
I am drawn to any book that grapples with faith in some way, and Faking Faith approaches it from an interesting angle. Following a humiliating publicI am drawn to any book that grapples with faith in some way, and Faking Faith approaches it from an interesting angle. Following a humiliating public sexting incident, Dylan Mahoney discovers the blogs of some fundamentalist Christian girls and starts blogging as one of them using an alter ego. Soon she grows close to one of the girls and goes to visit her family, which wreaks all sorts of havoc. Faking Faith is an interesting book, if not especially well written, and I enjoyed reading it....more
Pastor and author Bill Giovannetti’s latest title opens with a word from the ever-quotable Mark Twain: “When angry, count to four. When very angry, swPastor and author Bill Giovannetti’s latest title opens with a word from the ever-quotable Mark Twain: “When angry, count to four. When very angry, swear.” Back in Twain’s day, that meant something very different than it seems to today. The list of words your mother taught you never to say in public is no longer sufficient to keep you out of trouble. As Giovannetti points out, it’s now equally (if not more) offensive to use words like know when discussing faith or damn when talking about eternal hellfire or wait when it comes to sexuality. So while most people won’t hurl darts at you for muttering an obscenity under your breath when you lose cell reception in the subway, you’ll become a walking target if you so much as suggest that maybe, just maybe, Jesus is actually *gasp* the Son of God.
A few weeks before I received an email pitch for Young and in Love from B&B Media, I learned that an old acquaintance of mine from grade school haA few weeks before I received an email pitch for Young and in Love from B&B Media, I learned that an old acquaintance of mine from grade school had ended up getting married to her high school sweetheart when she was barely eighteen. I mentioned it to a few family members and friends, curious as to what they would think. Young and old, they all had pretty much the same response: raised eyebrows, open mouths, and an implied, “What was she thinking?!” I, on the other hand, thought, “What’s the big deal? She’s been dating this guy for years, they graduated, figured out how to support themselves, and then got married. I probably wouldn’t have done the same thing if I were in her shoes, but there’s nothing inherently brainless about getting married that young.” The timing of the email was perfect, and I jumped at the chance to read Cunningham’s thoughts on this hot topic.
Last year I dove into the world of YA fiction when I reviewed The Hunger Games trilogy and was overwhelmed with the response from readers. Those threeLast year I dove into the world of YA fiction when I reviewed The Hunger Games trilogy and was overwhelmed with the response from readers. Those three reviews rank #1, #2, and #9 on my most-viewed-posts-of-all-time list and I still get at least one essay-length comment on my Mockingjay review every week. Needless to say, YA distopia is hot right now, so I thought I’d give The Chemical Garden trilogy a go since there’s been so much buzz about it recently.
I gave up about 50 pages in. The premise is unique and has a lot of potential, but I was unable to really get into the story. The writing is okay forI gave up about 50 pages in. The premise is unique and has a lot of potential, but I was unable to really get into the story. The writing is okay for a YA novel except for the fact that the text is very heavily populated with parenthetical expressions--to the degree that it distracts from the story. It just didn't live up to my expectations....more
I approached Mockingjay with a mixture of excitement and trepidation. I loved the first two books in the Hunger Games trilogy, but I had read mixed reI approached Mockingjay with a mixture of excitement and trepidation. I loved the first two books in the Hunger Games trilogy, but I had read mixed reviews about the third and I knew that Mockingjay was going to be very different from the other two books based on the synopsis.
The Evolution of Katniss
When we meet Katniss on the first page of The Hunger Games, she’s in a tight spot. For one thing, she lives in a totalitarian state where the majority of the populace is underfed, overworked, and constantly oppressed by the government. Katniss’s entry into the Hunger Games places her in an exponentially more difficult situation and it is there that we see a lot of her real character come out. In The Hunger Games, Katniss displays defiance toward the Capitol’s inhumanity in a number of ways what endear her to readers. She volunteers to take her sister’s place at the reaping, decorates Rue’s body in the arena, and almost eats the deadly berries at the end of the Games.
With her second round in the Games, the ante is upped once again and the pressure on Katniss increases to a point at which most people would crack. In Catching Fire we see a more desperate and hardened Katniss and fewer acts of defiance, though Katniss does extend her hand to Chaff on interview night and tries to carry Mags.
Though physically she is free of the Capitol in Mockingjay, the emotional pressure Katniss is under increases even more, to the point where she begins to lose that inner stability that she displayed in the first two books. We see the old fiery Katniss very little in Mockingjay as her emotional reserves are worn down to a nub. Most of the time she is either in a state of shock or unconscious. I find it ironic that the slogan displayed on the book trailer is “Break Free.” It seems to me that Katniss does not break free in Mockingjay, but instead cowers inside of her mental shell while trying to put on a brave face and still function. She comes across even more hardened than she did in book two. This makes Mockingjay a decidedly darker book than either The Hunger Games or Catching Fire.
Note: While I always do my best not to drop major spoilers in my reviews, I would advise proceeding with caution if you have yet to read Catching FireNote: While I always do my best not to drop major spoilers in my reviews, I would advise proceeding with caution if you have yet to read Catching Fire and I do not recommend reading it at all if you have not read The Hunger Games.
After joining the bandwagon of readers captivated by The Hunger Games, I was thoroughly looking forward to reading Catching Fire, the second installment in the trilogy. I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect. After the smashing success of The Hunger Games, could Collins write Catching Fire even better? (After all, that is what readers generally expect form a series––a progression from amazing to out-of-this-world.)
Overall, I felt that the plot of Catching Fire was almost as compelling as The Hunger Games, but the recurrence of Katniss and Peeta’s entry into Games felt somewhat redundant. I understand the necessity of this to keep the plot moving in the right direction, but still, the wading through 100+ pages of arena killing and misery all over again was a little tedious, despite the introduction of some interesting new characters.
I have read so many reviews of The Hunger Games over the last few months, both good and bad, and finally decided that I had to read it myself to see wI have read so many reviews of The Hunger Games over the last few months, both good and bad, and finally decided that I had to read it myself to see what all the hype was about. I approached the book with a certain degree of excitement (the buzz about this book around the blogosphere is contagious), some reservations (the theme of forcing kids to murder each other is pretty heavy stuff, and the fact that it’s been compared to Twilight didn’t help any), and great curiosity about the philosophical questions that a book like this will inevitably raise.
The Plot, Characters, and Writing: Let me first say that I found The Hunger Games to be a very compelling book. I sped through it in less that twenty-four hours and was about as captivated by it as the next person. The suspense was drawn out very well and the cliff-hanger ending left it impossible for me to even consider not reading the second book in the trilogy. I was also relieved to find that all comparisons to Twilight were superficial at best. Katniss is a stronger and much more dynamic and character than Bella, and Peeta is way more relatable than Edward and refreshingly human.
As for the writing, Suzanne Collins did a brilliant job of illustrating the world in which Katniss lives without spending too much time on long, boring descriptions of futuristic technologies and historical background. (I know some reviewers wished that Collins had spend more time relating the historical events that led to the downfall of America and the creation of Panem, and I do hope that she provides this history in Catching Fire, but I think it was a good idea to leave it out of the first book. However, I do wish that a map of Panem had been provided.) I also appreciated the delicate way Collins described the events inside the arena of the Hunger Games. She effectively communicated the horror and brutality of the Games without being too graphic.
This is the most moving book I have ever read. I have read a lot of moving books before, but this one was different. At the end of it, I felt as thougThis is the most moving book I have ever read. I have read a lot of moving books before, but this one was different. At the end of it, I felt as though someone had just wrenched my heart right out of my chest. It's the type of book that leaves you stunned, horrified, and utterly devastated. Next to the Bible, it's quite possibly the most brilliant book I've ever had the pleasure of reading.
I don't want to tell you exactly what it's about, because I believe it's important to begin without really knowing what you're reading about, with a sense of child-like naiveté, because the story is told from the perspectives of children who don't fully understand their circumstances and surroundings. All I can do it tell you to go read it. Read it now. It won't take long, perhaps three or four hours total. It's a very short, simple book. I promise that you will look at the world differently after reading it....more