Monday, February 22, 2016

The Invention of Wings

The Invention of WingsThe Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Stories about slavery in America never fail to shock me. I've read numerous true accounts of the brutality that was the life of an African American slave. But this story not only made my stomach turn but it also brought hope to my heart. In all the ugliness, two women are brought together. This isn't a story about best friends who stick together through thick and thin, but rather a tale about two women whose lives are intertwined in the most uncomfortable way: the slave and the mistress. Kidd has a beautiful way with words that made me not want to put the book down. Kidd not only attacked the evils of slavery and racism but also sexism and sometimes Christianity.

One of my favorite aspects of the book is the complicated relationship between Sarah and Handful. For a majority of the book, the two aren't even in the same region but a promise and a lost friendship binds them together in every step they take.

I would suggest this book to anyone who likes historical fiction and doesn't always expect a happy ending.

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Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The 5th Wave

The 5th Wave (The 5th Wave, #1)The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The 5th Wave was a blast. I have been over apocalypse novels for a while now, but I couldn't help but like this book. Cassie was realistic, Sam was adorable and Evan Walker was irresistibly charming. One of my favorite elements was the mystery behind "The Others." I would put The Fifth Wave on par with the Divergent series.  It is in no way a life-changing novel. If you are looking for something beautifully written that touches your soul, this is not your book. However, if you are looking for an easy read to just veg out to, I highly recommend this book. If you are looking for a present for your 14 year old niece, she would like this book.

p.s. If you liked this book, don't go see the movie. It was awful. They changed the characters, the acting was bad and the writing was equally terrible.

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Thursday, February 4, 2016

Redeeming Love

Redeeming LoveRedeeming Love by Francine Rivers
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I don't like love stories. I hate chick-flicks, romance novels and the like. However, this book hooked me. The writing was engaging and the characters were easy to connect with. I loved the book until I got about half way through and it just kept repeating itself. At this point in the book, it started to move slowly and the same characters began taking the same actions. Angel put up shields and ran away, Miram loved everyone and got her feelings hurt, Michael forgave Angel and stood by her side, Paul was a jerk...etc. I did appreciate that Rivers showed how sex can be used as a tool for abuse, violence and dehumanization while contrasting that with sex as a means for creation and forming a special bond between a husband and  a wife. Sex is more than a physical act, it is emotional and spiritual as well.  I think the book could have improved by being half as long. Why say something in 400 pages when 200 will do?

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Monday, February 1, 2016

5 Books You Read in High School You DON'T Have to Read Again

Some books are just weird. It doesn't matter if they teach you about tyrannical governments or technology take over, they are just weird. Why force kids to read a book they will definitely hate which then causes them to not like reading? I'm all for students reading classics, some of them are just not necessary.

1. Animal Farm

Orwell is a master of words. There is no arguing this. But I really don't think freshmen in high school understand Soviet Communism. Nor do I think they necessarily need to understand Soviet Communism. The allegory is creepy and disturbing. It is simple to read, the characters are stereotypical on purpose and while the themes are good ones to learn, they could all be learned through a more audience appropriate book like How to be an Alien by George Mikes. It has less creepy factor with similar themes.

2. Ethan Frome

Ethan Frome is written in an interesting style. It is a prolonged flashback but there is little to the plot. The writing is dry and many of the themes often go misunderstood by high schoolers. It is also pretty depressing. While I agree, students need to learn that not all stories end happily, I also think it is important to instill hope in young people. We have enough cynics already. I would personally prefer to inspire positive creativity.

3. Catcher in the Rye

I'll be honest, I didn't read this one. However, when I asked my friends and colleagues, Catcher in the Rye was frequently at the top of their most hated list. One of the biggest complaints was that Holden was difficult to connect with as a character. In addition, he was whiny and immature. I cannot back up these allegations, but from them, I have been deterred from ever reading it.

4. The Stranger

I hated this book. Existentialism was difficult for me to comprehend as a high schooler and Camus purposely creates a character who has no connection to anything or anyone. It was hard for me to accept that this man was a murderer and had no remorse which was supposed to somehow be fine. No thank you. The plot was not friendly to a young audience and neither was the writing. It is always interesting to learn about new perspectives, but "interesting" only goes so far.

5. The Grapes of Wrath

I loved Of Mice and Men. It was beautifully written, tragic and moving. But for some reason, The Grapes of Wrath just didn't do it for me. It was unnecessarily long and many scenes were highly uncomfortable for me. Under no circumstances was I expecting a book about The Great Depression to be happy go lucky. I was expecting to have my heart broken, but I never loved the book enough for it to break my heart. I guess my problem was my love for Of Mice and Men.  Maybe if I had read this first, I would have liked it.