Romance is not my favorite genre, and the end of this one is very predictable and a bit rushed. But I had to give it five stars because I loved each a...moreRomance is not my favorite genre, and the end of this one is very predictable and a bit rushed. But I had to give it five stars because I loved each and every page. Don's narration totally cracked me up, and he completely charmed me despite all of his social mishaps. It's the perfect light summer read. (less)
Admittedly, I might not be the best person to evaluate the quality of this book because I was already such a big fan of Chris Hadfield. He would have...moreAdmittedly, I might not be the best person to evaluate the quality of this book because I was already such a big fan of Chris Hadfield. He would have had to have written something pretty awful for me not to enjoy it. That said, this is a book I recommend to pretty much everyone, whether they have any previous interest in space exploration or not.
Chris does a stellar (sorry, couldn't help it) job of telling fascinating stories about his experiences while applying what he's learned to everyday life. He shares his belief that anyone can achieve their dreams with an incredible amount of hard work, support...and luck. I like the way he acknowledges that countless things out of his control contributed his success. His plan was to do everything he possibly could to become an astronaut, and then if fate gave him a chance to succeed he would be ready. If it didn't, he could be at peace knowing that he had done all he could and had prepared himself to do other work in the field of aviation or space exploration. Having that attitude kept him humble and down-to-earth (again, sorry, I'm out of control) because it reminded him that more than just his skills, intelligence, and work ethic got him where he was.
Also, I was inspired by Chris' reverence for the little things. His advice is to sweat the small stuff because details make all the difference in his line of work as well as many aspects of "regular" life. Part of that is appreciating the small things, as Chris seems to do in every part of his life.
On top of all the inspiration, this book is simply entertaining. Chris describes what day to day life is like on the International Space Station and that's just really cool. He does a good job of explaining the work they're doing up there without getting too in depth for the layperson to understand. Bottom line: I think you should read this book. Or at least watch some of Chris Hadfield's videos on youtube.(less)
What a refreshing book! It's nice to have a couple of prominent Christians examine contemporary issues by looking at what Jesus actually says instead...moreWhat a refreshing book! It's nice to have a couple of prominent Christians examine contemporary issues by looking at what Jesus actually says instead of toeing the party line. At times they sort of skirt around certain things, such as abortion. They don't pick a particular side or say definitively that such-and-such is right or wrong. Normally that would bug me, but in this situation I liked that they focus on common ground. For instance, going with the abortion example, they acknowledge that abortion is something that's not going to just go away, no matter what the law says, so as Christians we should do what we can to fix the things that cause women to feel they need an abortion: poverty, inadequate access to health care and birth control, etc. In other words, rather than fighting over the end result, we should work on the problems that cause that result. Focus on the actual sickness instead of only addressing the symptoms. So much more gets done that way, and it's an approach that blesses everyone involved. Shane and Tony say that while it's important to examine Scripture for truth and guidance with all things, big and small, we should unite behind the things that Jesus is very clear on--loving each other, reaching out to those in our communities, working toward justice for the poor and other oppressed groups--instead of arguing about different interpretations of certain verses. If we all did that, the world would be a much better place and we'd all look a little more like the real Jesus.(less)
I read this book at the perfect time--right as the 2012 election campaigns were kicking into high gear. Among all the political mud-slinging out there...moreI read this book at the perfect time--right as the 2012 election campaigns were kicking into high gear. Among all the political mud-slinging out there, Jonathan Merritt's voice is a refreshing break from all the negativity. I am thrilled to see a Christians advocating rationality and respect when it comes to politics. I love that he recognizes that you don't have to belong to a particular political party to be a Christian. He makes good arguments for his proposals, too. He not only has the Scripture to back up what he says but he's done the research too. There is a good selection of wisdom from other prominent Christians weaved in as well. This is a solid, well-written, and thought-provoking book that I'll recommend to anyone who's tired of hearing Christians bicker about politics and other divisive topics. (less)
This is definitely one of my favorite books from 2011. I've never read anything quite like it before: totally futuristic, but with a retro feel. It's...moreThis is definitely one of my favorite books from 2011. I've never read anything quite like it before: totally futuristic, but with a retro feel. It's so bizarre to be reading about the insanely awesome virtual reality technology being used to play Frogger or watch "Ferris Bueller's Day Off." I recognized a lot of the 80s stuff, but I missed some of the references since I was born in 1985. I had a lot of fun looking things up and adding old movies to my Netflix queue. I couldn't put the book down; it's nonstop action from page one to 374, but I didn't feel like it was too rushed, either. It's not often that such a thrilling book makes me think a lot, but this one certainly did. It brings up a lot of questions about virtual reality and the implications it can have on society. Is it unhealthy for people to live in a virtual world most of the time, or does it simply give people the opportunities to do things they can't do in real life? Does living in an online world cause people to care less about the real world? If so, is that good or bad? And who should pay for this thing--should it be free for everyone, or should there be a charge for it? All very interesting things to ponder, considering the increasing impact technology has on our lives. But, as much food for thought as this book provided, it's mainly just good, plain fun. I say it's a must-read for anyone who grew up during the 80s or is into video games, but even people who fall outside of those categories will enjoy it as well.(less)
I love "The Strange Case of Origami Yoda" so much that I didn't think there was any way the sequel could be as fantastic, but I was totally wrong! If...moreI love "The Strange Case of Origami Yoda" so much that I didn't think there was any way the sequel could be as fantastic, but I was totally wrong! If you ask me, "Darth Paper Strikes Back" is just as charming and hilarious as the first book. I love the seventh graders and the way they believe in Origami Yoda and talk to him just like any other classmate. They totally made me nostalgic for my younger years. And, of course, Origami Yoda himself is as funny and wise as ever. The ending seems predictable at first and then there's a nice unexpected twist at the end. Overall, I just love the way this book made me laugh and gave me the warm fuzzies. I want more Origami Yoda!(less)
This is one of the most beautiful, heartbreaking stories I've read in quite a while. I challenge anyone who is human to not fall in love with Oskar af...moreThis is one of the most beautiful, heartbreaking stories I've read in quite a while. I challenge anyone who is human to not fall in love with Oskar after just a few pages. I think Foer really captures Oskar's voice perfectly; he's very intelligent and it shows, and yet in many ways he is still charmingly childlike. Many of the secondary characters are very appealing as well. I also love the funky formatting--Oskar's scribbles, doodles, and photographs--that breaks up the text. What stands out the most to me about this book, however, is the way it made me feel, cheesy as that sounds. I can't completely explain it, but this story totally broke my heart and warmed it at the same time. Okay, enough of my mushy rambling--go read it yourself!(less)
This book challenges Christians to move away from a "lukewarm" faith and let God take over all areas of their lives. The author (a pastor) believes th...moreThis book challenges Christians to move away from a "lukewarm" faith and let God take over all areas of their lives. The author (a pastor) believes that many American Christians have become content to simply go to church and try not to curse, smoke, or drink and think that this is all they need to do. Chan says that if someone really loves God, he or she will be totally transformed and live completely differently. Instead of putting all of our efforts into making money, impressing people, and having fun, we should focus on spending time with God and serving others. Chan says that we should pay special attention to those that the rest of society often ignores and the ones who are the hardest to love, such as the poor and the ones who are opposed to Christians.
This book is really popular right now, and I find a lot of Christian bestsellers to be cheesy or oversimplified. This one is different for me, though. It was a big wake up call and it called me out on some specific things, like having judgmental thoughts about others and losing patience with people who get on my nerves (this happens a lot, since I work with the public). It made me think about the way I live my life--can people tell that I'm a Christian? Am I actually doing what Jesus says we should do? Do I make my little corner of the world a better place? I like that Chan uses the Bible to back up the points he makes and provides examples of ways to put his ideas into practice. This book is going to be on my mind for a long time, and I hope I use it to actually make some changes in my life. (less)
For me, William's story was a real eye-opener. First of all, it made me realize how much I take for granted: plenty of food, unlimited access to clean...moreFor me, William's story was a real eye-opener. First of all, it made me realize how much I take for granted: plenty of food, unlimited access to clean water, and resources for keeping my home warm and safe, to name a few, but especially education. In the US, we take it for granted that we'll get at least some kind of schooling (not to say that all the education in America meets the standards it should, but that's another story), and in fact a lot of us complain about having to go to school. William and many other Malawians, on the other hand, aren't guaranteed an education and they treasure every day that they get to spend in school. Reading about William's desperate efforts to stay in school and then to educate himself when he was forced to drop out was a huge inspiration. He demonstrates that there is a ton of talent that is being wasted in impoverished areas because simply living life is too much for some to keep up with. It's amazing that William had the drive and luck to succeed and bring positive change to his community. A couple of other things I liked about the book: it gave me a good idea of how the windmill was built and how it worked without getting super-technical, and I enjoyed William's humorous tone. I recommend this book for everyone!(less)
Dwight is the smelly, not-so-bright kid in his sixth-grade class. But his Origami Yoda finger puppet is full of great advice and predictions, and his...moreDwight is the smelly, not-so-bright kid in his sixth-grade class. But his Origami Yoda finger puppet is full of great advice and predictions, and his classmates start to wonder if it's possible for clueless Dwight to be the source of such wisdom. Maybe Origami Yoda really is connected to The Force! But Tommy has to be sure because the stakes are high: he's about to take Origami Yoda's advice about a girl. He compiles the evidence here in "The Strange Case of Origami Yoda" so you can decide for yourself.
This book is totally random, clever, and cute--all things that I LOVE in books. The characters remind me of myself and my friends when we were in sixth grade. Fun, fun, fun!(less)
This is going to be a totally random, sort of stream-of-consciousness review because "The Book Thief" stands out to me in so many different ways. I. L...moreThis is going to be a totally random, sort of stream-of-consciousness review because "The Book Thief" stands out to me in so many different ways. I. Love. This. Book. I don't recommend doing any multitasking with this one, because I tried to read it on the workout bike at the gym and found that I had to stop and sit down so I could really focus on it. Not because it's hard to follow, but because I felt like it deserved my undivided attention. First of all, it drew me in immediately. The fact that it's narrated by Death is fascinating, and the list of chapter titles at the beginning of each part is intriguing. Furthermore, "The Book Thief" shows a perspective that is quite underrepresented in young adult literature: that of "good Germans" who defied the Nazis and assisted Jews in any way that they could. The characters are brought to life perfectly: Liesel, who has been through so much yet remains strong; Hans, who is the father every girl would want to have; Rosa, Liesel's tough but secretly soft-on-the-inside foster mother; Rudy, who once covered himself in black paint and called himself Jesse Owens; and Max, the guilt-stricken Jew hiding in the basement. I adored them all. Another thing that's great about this book is that it demonstrates the power of books and their ability to change peoples' lives. I also like the way that it shows the extremes of human nature: how horribly evil people can be but also how compassionate and courageous others are. That's really all I can say without revealing a spoiler, so I recommend that you check it out if you haven't already.(less)
This is one of my favorite zombie books, and I enjoyed it just as much when I read it for the second time. I think my favorite thing about it is the v...moreThis is one of my favorite zombie books, and I enjoyed it just as much when I read it for the second time. I think my favorite thing about it is the variety of perspectives. It imagines what a zombie apocalypse would be like for different people in different situations all over the world, which is fascinating. It seems like Brooks did his homework because it really reads like a collection of interviews from a variety of sources. Definitely a must-read for fans of zombie lit and horror in general. (less)