Sunday, January 24, 2016


ZooZoo by James Patterson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Zoo was thrilling and interesting in a way that you only get with a really good sci fi. This was definitely my favorite James Patterson novel. It almost felt as though he was channeling Michael Crichton as he described the feelings of fear as you see a flash of teeth and claws. The thought of your beloved pet ripping your throat out sure gave me some uncomfortable feelings. This is the fear inside of all animal lovers, do our animals really love us back?

I really enjoyed the writing style and felt connected to the snarky Oz and beautiful Chloe. The book was far better than the series. The series takes the initial idea and makes it something else entirely. The series would have been far better if it had stuck to the story line of the book. A blood thirsty chimpanzee breaking the glass to enter your apartment and rip you I don't think it needed any dramatization.

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Friday, January 15, 2016

Five Books You Read in High School You Need to Read Again as an Adult

When I was in elementary school and middle school, my siblings were in high school. They were reading books like The Scarlet Letter and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Being the type of kid I was, the only thing that really mattered to me in life was to make my older siblings like me. Therefore, I was the only 5th grader reading The Scarlet Letter during SSR (sustained silent reading).  As I've grown older, I discovered there were a lot of books I read as a kid that while I understood the overall story, I missed the subtle nuances and themes. These are some of those books:

1. To Kill a Mockingbird

I was 12 when I first ready TKAM. I was in love with it immediately. The moment I met Scout, I knew this would be my favorite book. I read it again when I was a freshman in high school. The second time I read it, I was able to pick up on some things I missed the first time around. There were metaphors and analogies that were just a little to mature for my 12  year old brain to understand. There were also some dark themes that I was too naive and inexperienced to relate to. I  have since read this book at least 5 times and I learn to love it even more each time. One read is simply not enough. 

p.s. Don't read Go Set a Watchman.

2. The Alchemist 

When I finished The Alchemist  as a 16 year old girl, my initial response was, "Huh, well that was kind of weird." But I recently decided to give it another shot. I'm so glad I did. I was finally able to do what I could not do as a 16 year old, empathize with the shepherd boy. As a 16 year old, I had only one job (scoop artist at Baskin Robbins). My parents and teachers told me I could be anything I wanted. I had never known adversity in following my personal legend. It wasn't until college when I was first rejected after a job interview that I knew how it felt to be discouraged about your future and feel as though you will never find the treasure in your dreams. 

3. Fahrenheit 451 

Ray Bradbury has been my favorite author since I first road the merry go round in Something Wicked This Way Comes. His writing style is so unique and from the heart that every sentence on every page resonates with the reader. Of course, this book is important because books are important to democracy...blah blah blah blah. That is what your English teacher wanted you to write in your essay. However, there is so much more to this book. Montag is not a likable character when the reader first meets him. He is every bit as conformed as his fellow firemen. That is what is important in this book. The reader learns to love an unlovable guy because he has the courage to do something hard. Our hero is no Hercules or Odysseus with great might and a strong moral compass. Montag is just a guy. He's you or me. He lies to his wife and his boss. He is a glutton. These are mature themes that very few teenagers could pick up on. This is why you need to re-read Fahrenheit 451. 

p.s. Everyone also needs to read Something Wicked this Way Comes. 

4. The Things They Carried

If I could trade writing talent with anyone, it would be Tim O'Brien. No one sets a scene quite like he does. As a high schooler, this short story hit me hard. It was tragic, raw and I felt a rock sink deep into the pit in my stomach as I turned each page. But I knew I had to read each word. I had to feel each emotion. I had to carry each weight. I don't think I was ready for the magnitude of this story. As I read it as an adult, I was really able to dissect O'Brien's writing and understand why his words had such a strong impact on me. But as a student, I didn't know how to handle those types of emotions. I had never "carried" anything that heavy. This is why I suggest that you re-read this story. It truly is a beautiful story written by a master of words. And as an adult, you will be mature enough to feel those emotions and respond to them in a healthy way. 

5. The Giver

DO NOT WATCH THE MOVIE!! If you are like me, this book was special to you as a child. This was the first book that ever really changed me. Most of the themes are simple enough that a 12 year old can understand them. However, they can only be understood on a certain level at that age. I also think it is important for people who like books such as The Hunger Games, Divergent and Maze Runner to go back and read The Giver. True, this book cannot capture the adventure of Katniss with her bow and murderous gang of children. Jonas and his bicycle could never compete with that. But Katniss could never compete with the wisdom and pain Jonas receives. This is why it should never have been made into a movie. Comparing and contrasting these two very different types of Utopian novels shows a reader how a government or institution can be subtle and dangerous. Children are not murdered in a large arena like in the Hunger Games, but rather they must wear the same type of shirt and settle for jobs assigned to them. The true danger of corruption lies in the silence. That is why you need to re-read The Giver. 

All the Light We Cannot See

All the Light We Cannot SeeAll the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Werner is one of the best characters I've ever known. And I do believe that I know him. I love how Doerr details the lives of these two children in WWII all leading up to just a few hours spent together. I simply devoured this book. Doerr's prose is astonishingly beautiful. His style reminds me of how F. Scott Fitzgerald might describe Paris during WWII. I could taste the smoke and feel the vibrations from the bombs. I was blind with Marie Laure and I was conflicted with Werner. There is a love and a hatred in this book that can be felt in every page.

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Monday, January 11, 2016

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children, #1)Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The premise of the book is extremely enticing, but the story line is borderline dull and I honestly thought the photos detracted from the plot. The story starts off really mysterious and intriguing. The first couple of chapters got me hooked. But then things started to get weird. It felt as though the story was forced around the photos rather than the two complementing each other. Riggs would have a section of great prose and then throw in a random paragraph so he could work in the next photo. It felt very forced and uncomfortable. I really wanted to like this book.

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The Boston Girl

The Boston GirlThe Boston Girl by Anita Diamant
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Diamant's use of plain language and "straight-forward" manner added complexity to the book which I thoroughly enjoyed. Diamant left me longing for more detail and emotion but in the end, I felt as though the lack of added emotion made the book and its characters more elusive. I felt connected to Addie on a level I never expected to be. She went through so much trauma in nearly every aspect of her life and yet maintained composure. Her underlying theme of feminine power fought its way through the book and was victorious in the end.

I was also impressed with Addie's love of friendship and ability to stay connected to friends over decades. This struck me because I have always had difficulty maintaining good friendships and often find myself losing track of old friends but Addie's dedication to her true friends actually inspired me to reach out to those I have lost contact with.

This story encourages strong friendships, feminine power, and perseverance through trials. I highly recommend this book.

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The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

The Immortal Life of Henrietta LacksThe Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Books like The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks are so important to our society. People like Henrietta Lacks deserve credit and appreciation. I wonder what Henrietta would say if she knew about the legacy she left behind. I predict that more and more stories like this will be released in the coming years. I'm so proud of Rebecca Skloot for being so dedicated to this story and family.

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The Selection Series

The One (The Selection, #3)The One by Kiera Cass
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Kass has a strong sense of what the teenage girl is looking for and brings that to life in her main character, America. She is beautiful (but humble), confident (but still scared), highly sought after and tremendously brave. It's Katniss Everdeen without all the violence and traumatic experience.

That being said, I'm not a teenager and the romance and idiotic notions of what love is, sort of made me want to throw up. The main characters were immature and the romance was over the top and unrealistic. Sure, many of you are saying "But it was realistic, they had fights. They weren't perfect!" True, couples have fights. Not the kind they have or over the things they fought over. America's feelings for her two suitors changed from irrevocable love to a "forget him" mentality nearly every chapter.

The writing was entertaining and the overall plot (bigger than the love triangle) was intriguing. This was a Utopian society type I had never heard of and that interested me. Kass did a great job writing to her audience. I'm just not her audience.

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Breathe (Breathe, #1)Breathe by Sarah Crossan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is your basic tyrannical government preventing uprising through suppression and civilian ignorance. Beware of some spoilers. As I'm sure you can guess, there is a secret resistance and our main characters get caught up in it and start a civil war. The writing was entertaining but everything was highly predictable.

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The Nightingale

The NightingaleThe Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Every once in a while, you come across a book that changes you. This book both warmed and broke my heart. As a sister myself, I understood the love that sometimes goes unnoticed but never lost. I appreciated that the love story in this book was always an underlying factor but never the main topic. The main topic was how war can change us for the better or for the worse and it is up to us to decide which.

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The Alchemist

The AlchemistThe Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As my brother in law put it, "It wasn't even about science." No, this book is not about science. It is about finding out how science can exist. It is about finding a relationship with the world and through that a relationship with God. The Alchemist is a wonderful story about a boy who is seeking his personal legend. I love this book. There is so much wisdom in it. It is a small book with big themes such as: the true meaning of love, enduring to the end and the language of the world. It was interesting to get a perspective on Creation and God from a culture I am not very familiar with. The references to the Bible helped reinforce its truthfulness to me. Inspiring and uplifting story.

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Gone Girl

Gone GirlGone Girl by Gillian Flynn
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Flynn has a unique writing style which captures the reader's attention and doesn't relinquish its hold until the final page. However, I thought this book hurt my soul and made me think things I wouldn't want to think. There is no truly redeeming character which made it difficult for me to truly connect to the story. I wanted to love this book but I just couldn't. I thought it was well written and the story was definitely creative. I am tempted to read her other books but I'm just not sure if I can handle that much profanity again.

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Paper Towns

I have never been one for love stories, especially ones that take place in a high school setting. However, the ending of Paper Towns and the theme therein made this love story more realistic and tolerable. I think it is important to instill in teens that a person is just a person and idealizing someone and putting them on a pedestal is unhealthy for both parties. Sometimes, things just don't work out despite your best intentions. But that isn't the end of the world and Green does a great job highlighting this. Some hard truths are learned in this novel and they are taught in a humorous and beautifully written way.

I give it 3/5 stars.