Touching Spirit Bear is a story that revolves around Cole Matthews, a troubled fifteen year old with an even more troubled back story. With parents thTouching Spirit Bear is a story that revolves around Cole Matthews, a troubled fifteen year old with an even more troubled back story. With parents that drink all the time it is no surprise that Cole does not receive the best treatment from them, and because of that treatment he ends up treating others even worse. He ends up agreeing to a form of punishment where he spends a year on an island in Alaska in order to recuperate from his past pain. On one of his first days there he is attacked by a spirit bear, and spends the rest of his time trying to mend his broken spirit. While the story in Touching Spirit Bear is great as it is, I found that the themes were what made me fall in love with the book altogether. The idea of rising from such a fallen state and allowing yourself to grow through hardships is always an idea that I enjoy in literature. I don't think that many writers can catch the spirit of that like Makelsen can. Whether it was through research or personal experience, he completely got the idea of how damaged hearts and spirits work. However, he also showed the strength that still rests within us...more
Lina is just like any other fifteen-year-old Lithuanian girl in 1941. She paints, she draws, she gets crushes on boys. Until one night when Soviet offLina is just like any other fifteen-year-old Lithuanian girl in 1941. She paints, she draws, she gets crushes on boys. Until one night when Soviet officers barge into her home, tearing her family from the comfortable life they've known. Separated from her father, forced onto a crowded and dirty train car, Lina, her mother, and her young brother slowly make their way north, crossing the Arctic Circle, to a work camp in the coldest reaches of Siberia. Here they are forced, under Stalin's orders, to dig for beets and fight for their lives under the cruelest of conditions. Lina finds solace in her art, meticulously--and at great risk--documenting events by drawing, hoping these messages will make their way to her father's prison camp to let him know they are still alive. It is a long and harrowing journey, spanning years and covering 6,500 miles, but it is through incredible strength, love, and hope that Lina ultimately survives. I thought this book was good but really sad. i would not recommend it for young readers. but it really is an eye opener to see all the things that really happened. ...more
The Outlaws of Sherwood sets out to tell a retelling of the Robin Hood legend, and it does this by following exactly what it says in the title. More tThe Outlaws of Sherwood sets out to tell a retelling of the Robin Hood legend, and it does this by following exactly what it says in the title. More than anything else, it is ALL the outlaws of Sherwood that are focused on. Along with that, many more female characters are focused on and given more importance than before. Marian is shown to be a smart and free woman that is more than capable of fighting as well as Robin Hood can. It is a retelling, but one that I believes does all the characters justice while still focusing on the time period which the story is set in.
As a fan of Robin Hood I was originally disappointed when I felt like such little time was spent on Robin himself. However, as I kept reading I found myself to be falling in love with all these characters and how they were portrayed. Gone were the random outlaws of Sherwood that just wanted to fight the King, instead I was given real human beings with real problems that pushed them in to their actions. That to me was the most important aspect that lead to my great enjoyment of the novel. To anyone that enjoys the Robin Hood legend, I would read this story...more
Ha, her family, and others must make a trek to Alabama to get away from the Vietnam war that's beginning. Brought into a foreign culture, Ha and her fHa, her family, and others must make a trek to Alabama to get away from the Vietnam war that's beginning. Brought into a foreign culture, Ha and her family must adapt as they are taken in by an American family. Being accepting of a different religion and foods are only the beginning as Ha and her siblings must adapt to school and get used to being the odd ball out. Constantly teased for her looks and culture, Inside Out and Back Again is a story of maturation as Ha must grow up quickly in relevance to other children her age. With her father fighting in the war somewhere, she must have hope that things will get better. Ha learns to accept the change for what it is as she slowly begins to fit in the with kids at school and her family who are all struggling with the culture shock. I found that I liked how the book was written in poem form. It made for an interesting and quick read, giving you only the details and not much fluff unlike that of other novels. I liked that the reader was easily able to see Ha mature from the point of living at home and being comfortable before she is thrust into a new life. Her struggles are clear as she is just a child put into an adult situation, although over time she manages to adapt and understand in the way her mother has portrayed from the start. ...more