3.5 I really liked the first three-quarters of Girl in Translation; it felt reminiscent of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and Hotel on the Corner of Bitter a...more3.5 I really liked the first three-quarters of Girl in Translation; it felt reminiscent of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet. The last quarter of the book really picked up, almost too quickly. Because of how slowly the story unfolded at the beginning, I wasn't sure if I felt ready for so many drastic changes so quickly. However, I really loved Kimberly, the main character, and felt as if she were real and I was reading her memoir. The ending was abrupt and I'm still trying to make sense of the Prologue and how it fits into the rest of the story. Very enjoyable read!(less)
This is a great debut and the writing was outstanding. I really connected to Adam - he was definitely my favorite character. By the end of the book, K...moreThis is a great debut and the writing was outstanding. I really connected to Adam - he was definitely my favorite character. By the end of the book, Kenji had really grown on me and I think he may be more of a standout in book two. The first third of the book felt so much more vivid and painful than the last two-thirds, almost like two separate stories, though that may be Mafi's intention. Her storytelling was at its best during the dark and hopeless scenes at the beginning when Juliette was in prison, although some of Juliette's thoughts and arguments inside her head seemed to drag on a bit. The romantic parts (read: steamy!) were some of the best I've seen in YA - so emotionally charged and passionate that you feel like you are there (or at least watching it on the big screen). The world Mafi created was so brutal and sad, leaving me a little more depressed than I typically like with dystopian - although there was a definite surge of hope at the end. As I was reading, I couldn't help think that the storyline in Shatter Me felt like a cross between Wither and Under the Never Sky. You can't go wrong with that! (less)
When it comes to dystopian novels, the stories I am drawn to are those that are close enough to reality to make me shiver at the prospect of probabili...moreWhen it comes to dystopian novels, the stories I am drawn to are those that are close enough to reality to make me shiver at the prospect of probability. The Hunger Games felt disturbingly plausible considering humanity's violent history combined with a morbid attraction to reality TV. Though I have enjoyed other dystopian novels, including Divergent (which is somewhat of an exception to this), I think the key element of probability is lacking in most dystopian novels. Although most dystopian imagined worlds are unique, creative, even thrilling; their detachment from any kind of reality often leaves me feeling cold.
Whither is different. It is one of those novels that takes your breath away for all the wrong (or right, I suppose) reasons. You are appalled and horrified at DeStefano's world, not only because of the pervasive dehumanization of females, but also (or mostly) because of the chilling familiarity to our not-so-distant past. Wither's world felt eerily similar to the way women were viewed and treated only a few hundred years ago in civilized countries, and even presently in places like the middle east and Africa. I couldn't help thinking I was reading a historical fiction novel about King Henry VIII and his wives, or even the more current "A Thousand Splendid Suns," it felt too disturbingly real.
The story takes place in a future world where modern science, in its attempt to create perfect humans, has doomed every newborn to die young—males live to age 25, and females to 20. While a cure is supposedly being sought after, young girls are kidnapped and forced into polygamy to keep the human race alive. Despite her twin brother's watchful eye, 16-year old Rhine is kidnapped and forced to wed a young man, not much older than herself. Though her new home is like a palace, where everything she could ever dream of is at her fingertips, the only thing she truly wants—freedom—is impossible to find.
DeStefano's writing is gorgeous, yet not flowery. The author probably had nothing to do with the cover, but kudos to Simon & Schuster for perfectly capturing the feel of this captivating, haunting, beautiful book. (less)
I don't know why my interest in food and diet books, but I seem to have an obsession nonetheless.
A few weeks ago I read Michael Pollan's "In Defense o...moreI don't know why my interest in food and diet books, but I seem to have an obsession nonetheless.
A few weeks ago I read Michael Pollan's "In Defense of Food," and now this. They are helpful companion books, though each author spouts out a different philosophy as to what is ultimately behind the whole obesity and Western Diseases epidemic here in the good ol' U. S. of A. (I also suspect the two authors are friends because I sensed a sneaky, almost admiring mention of each others' viewpoints that seemed to be gushingly supportive of each other).
Here's the lowdown of this book: We get fat because of carbs. Enough said...though not really. There is much, much more science and confusing brain chemistry within these pages that gets to the heart of the modern misconstrued notion that calories in/calories out is all we need to know about gaining or losing weight. But, there's much more to it. That much more happens to be insulin, which is released with the consumption of carbs. There are also other factors to consider, one of them being: genes actually do play a huge role in obesity, though they don't sentence you to a lifetime of being fat if you choose to fight it, yet as we continue to get fat and then pass our genes on to our children, who will pass it on to their children, well - it's no wonder we are a heavier society now than any time prior.
I most connected to Taubes' theory at the very end of the book, where he spells out various suggestions for carb-free lifestyles. He is not apologetic toward those of us who "cannot live without sugar," any more than he is apologetic about smokers who can't live without a cigarette. However, his suggestion that once we've reached our ideal weight we can test our own body's reaction toward a measured reintroduction of carbs is what makes sense to me. My own common sense just can't make peace with the idea that REAL foods like potatoes or rice are BAD. I guess they're not if you're at a healthy weight. But Taubes' whole point is that most people aren't.
Now, back to Pollan's book. I still prescribe to his notion that much of our obesity/disease issues stem from the lack of real food in our diets. Taubes' can't refute that, though he doesn't try. He's still convinced that our ancestors' focus on meats and the hunter/gatherer types of carbs is evidence that carbs are the culprit. Though that appears to be true, I can't help but return to Pollan's theory that obesity and disease is not necessarily attributed by carbs OR meat, but the TYPE of carbs and meat (meaning processed, and not real at all anymore, thanks to packaged and government-subsidized entities). This is something that has yet to be tested.
In other words. I think they're both right.
Now onto my final book in this food-obsession serious: "We Have Met the Enemy: Self Control in an Age of Excess," by Daniel Akst. Maybe he'll sum it all up. (less)
This book was HUGE, small print, too. But it was GOOD. It was like a smash-up of "I Am Legend," "The Forest of Hands and Teeth" and "The Stand," with...moreThis book was HUGE, small print, too. But it was GOOD. It was like a smash-up of "I Am Legend," "The Forest of Hands and Teeth" and "The Stand," with the feel in tone of Steinbeck, Stephen King and Michael Crichton. Is that possible?
4.5 stars, really. There is also some bad language - but it's the end of the world and there are vampires roaming the land, so you kind of can't blame them for it. Other than that, this was one of those books where I was glad it was long because I was excited to see where the story would go next; the ride Cronin takes you on is exhilarating, frightening, exciting, crazy, etc., etc. I loved the story, the different points of view. One of the most interesting and chilling narratives was through the viewpoint of someone as they are transforming from human to monster. You can't help but read it twice
Quick rundown of the story: It begins somewhere in the near future with the army (of course the government is always involved in the takedown of mankind) testing a virus on deathrow inmates with the hope of coming up with a way to beat death. Of course the virus gets out and all hell breaks loose. But not before their last test subject, a little girl, who actually survives the virus and remains human. Skip forward a hundred years...and I don't want to give away anything else, except to say that the remaining 3/4 of the book begins at 100 A.V. (after virus) with a whole new group of characters that take a little time getting used to. Once you do get used to them and their world, that's when everything gets interesting and fun (and scary).
There will obviously be a sequel, and I can't wait to read it. (less)
Terrifying, fascinating true story about the outbreak of the Marburg and Ebola viruses that originated in Africa during the 70s and 80s. The author ca...moreTerrifying, fascinating true story about the outbreak of the Marburg and Ebola viruses that originated in Africa during the 70s and 80s. The author can get a little too descriptive at times - sort of like a horror movie where they pacify you with the mundane aspect of someone's life so you don't know when or where to expect the bloody attack - so he is effective in that way. But I did skim in a bunch of parts. If you like learning about this sort of thing - it is a great read.(less)
Really seemed interesting and I was so excited to read this, but despite the awesome 80s references, there was way too much video game lingo for me. I...moreReally seemed interesting and I was so excited to read this, but despite the awesome 80s references, there was way too much video game lingo for me. I didn't finish it, which is why there is no rating. However, it still seems like a fun book for the right person.(less)
This book is ten years old!! Hard to believe - I have seen this on Amazon and elsewhere and never wanted to pick it up because it's about rape, and th...moreThis book is ten years old!! Hard to believe - I have seen this on Amazon and elsewhere and never wanted to pick it up because it's about rape, and that's not a subject I really want to delve into. However, when I saw it at the library and read the back cover, I was so intrigued by the line: "multi-award-wiinning first novel about a girl who chooses not to speak rather than give voice to the truth," that I thought I'd give it a try. It is tastefully done and extremely well written. But more than that, I really related to how Melinda, the narrator, changed from something very depressing and negative into something much stronger once she discovered her own beauty and power that was inside of her all along. Her transformation is subtle and slow – like real life. Sure, not everyone who reads this has been raped, but we've all felt awful and lonely during high school, and the author's ability to touch on that so accurately attests to the fact that adolescence is a universal struggle we must all somehow endure and hopefully conquer instead of letting it trample us to pieces.(less)
I had a review all typed up and then my stupid computer lost it while I was looking for a quote I liked from the book. So I gave up! However, what I h...moreI had a review all typed up and then my stupid computer lost it while I was looking for a quote I liked from the book. So I gave up! However, what I had intended on saying was how much I love Stephen King's writing. Granted, I am not a fan of horror nor do I condone or like profanity, but I still love King's down-to-earth approach to life and writing. He seems humble despite his gifts and money, and I was really impressed with his adoration for his wife, whom he has been married to since the beginning (when they were poor and in their twenties). Most of his writing advice was extremely helpful—stuff I could apply to my own writing. He also reignited in me a sense of optimism and the determination to try harder to be a better writer. Lastly, he has a very funny sense of humor and there were many times while I was reading that I laughed out loud; he was especially funny and self-depricating about his own flaws, and I really liked that. I guess now I'll copy and paste this into my review!(less)
Probably one of the best openers of all time: "We went to the moon to have fun, but the moon turned out to completely suck." How can you ever forget t...moreProbably one of the best openers of all time: "We went to the moon to have fun, but the moon turned out to completely suck." How can you ever forget that? This story takes place somewhere in the way distant future when people are connected to electronic "feeds" of information, constantly streaming into their brains, like a personalized computer with ads and answers and feelings and pictures...and so on. But because of it, everyone has become stupid and ignorant, without realizing it. They have everything they want right at their fingertips, but have lost anything meaningful in the process, like a warped evolution. Obviously an extremely thought-provoking satire about corporate greed and exploding technology, it makes you really think about the importance of preserving our humanity. It was kind of jarring and annoying to read at times because of the idiotic phrasing and vocabulary used by the characters, but that is obviously the point. Some bad language.(less)