Wednesday, July 27, 2011

My Thoughts On: Number The Stars by Lois Lowry


Number The Stars
by Lois Lowry 

My Thoughts:  I chose to read Number The Stars as part of the 2011 Award Winning Reads Challenge because I've recently read The Giver trilogy lately and I loved all three books. Lois Lowry is an excellent writer and I figured that if I loved one of her Newbery winners, I probably would love another one as well. Number The Stars is the winner of the 1990 Newbery Award Medal. 

This is the story of how the Johansen family comes to hide Ellen Rosen for a short time during the Nazi occupation of Denmark during WWII in the 1940's, and how the Johansen family help the Rosen family escape to freedom in Sweden. It is written from the perspective of Annemarie Johansen, who Ellen's best friend. 

Lois Lowry has taken a very scary, very real, very awful time in world history and written into a story that is told by 10-year-old Annemarie Johansen. Annemarie is just like any other child. She loves to play with her best friend Ellen, and life is good...until the Nazis come to town. Then things start getting rationed, and times become harder. Things are just, well, confusing for a child of that age. 

Annemarie knows that Ellen is Jewish; she has been allowed into their apartment to witness the lighting of the candles and things such as that. But neither child fully understands the significance of what being Jewish means at this time in history. Their parents do a great job making life as normal as possible, until the Jewish citizens are gathered and "relocated." 

Before they can be found by the Nazi soldiers, Ellen is brought into the apartment and assumes the role of Lise Johansen (Annemarie's older sister who died three years earlier). They are told that they have to "pretend" and that everything will be okay. Ellen's parents are assisted to another safe house by the Danish Resistance, and everything changes. 

Annemarie suddenly begins to question just how brave she really is, and whether or not she can actually protect someone else at the risk of her own life. She also internally begins to question her parents' reasoning for lying all the time. All of this is taking place as internal dialogue that Annemarie has with herself, but it gives wonderful insight as to what it was like for young people during this time. Not only for the children during this time, but for the non-Jewish children - the children of the people helping the Jewish. 

Eventually Ellen is reunited with her family and they, along with a few others, are hidden and smuggled into Sweden by Annemarie's uncle. Witnessing this operation and being a part of it helps Annemarie to realize that she is indeed a brave girl, and that she would in fact risk her own life to protect the people that she loves dearly. 

Here I go with the mother-thing again:  because my girls are eight years old, I could easily put myself in the situation of Annemarie's mother or Ellen's mother in this story. Even though the main characters were young, the author allowed the love and compassion and the feral need to protect that the parents/adults feel in this book to be obvious to the reader. I love that about this book and Ms. Lowry as a writer. 

This story is written for a very young audience. Because the main characters are very young girls living during a very scary, very real time...I think this story has the potential to affect young people in great ways. I am happy that it is recognized as an award-winner and hopefully it is required reading for lots of students. I am continually amazed at how effective Lois Lowry is at taking big themes and ideas - really important things - that people need to be aware of and putting them inside of compelling stories. I think this book is great and hope that lots of people will keep reading it for a very long time. 


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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Think Less But See It Grow {11}

Tune In Tuesday is a weekly event hosted by Ginger at GReads! 

There are some bands that I cannot listen to sitting down. 
Let me introduce you to Phoenix.***
I love them, I love them, I love them. 
At my house, I'm so fortunate to have this really great house surround speaker system and I will plop these guys right on there and frolic around my house like a madwoman with a purpose. 

Everybody has to have those go-to bands, 
those bands that make them happy no matter what. 
These guys are one of those bands for me. 
Plus they're one of my favorite French things
AND one of my favorite bands to play on my iPod when I'm running.  

Hope y'all love this song as much as I do. If that's possible. 

"Lisztomania" by Phoenix





***PLUS on the link above, I linked the band's homepage blog. They blog with pictures, which is really fun since they travel the world. Sometimes they take pictures of things backstage, which really interests me since I love all things rock and roll. Sometimes they take pictures of things in the city they are traveling in at the time. Sometimes they just take random artistic pictures. Very, very cool. Thought I'd share.

Monday, July 25, 2011

My Thoughts On: The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens

The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens
Publisher:  Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers

Publish Date:  April 5, 2011
417 Pages
My Source:  Library

The Emerald Atlas
by John Stephens 
A snowy winter's night. Three small children are chased from their home by the forces of a merciless darkness. Ten years later, Kate, Michael and Emma are no closer to the truth about what separated their family.
The answer lies with an enchanted atlas. 
Brimming with action, humor, and emotion, The Emerald Atlas is the first stage of a journey that will take Kate, Michael, and Emma to strange, dangerous lands and deep within themselves. It is the story of three children who set out to save their family, and end up having to save the world.   -(summary from RandomHouse.com)

My Thoughts:  When I saw the cover of this book, I knew right away that I wanted to read it because it was beautiful. It was pretty and green and it suggested an adventure. I was sold! Childrens/middle grade books are always the ones that make me the most excited because they make my heart pound in my chest. I just love the thrill of the adventure. 

I woke up one morning before anyone else in my house, so I grabbed this book and started reading. Almost two hours later, I looked up and realized that everyone else was awake, dressed, and hungry while I had devoured the first half of the book. It was painful to me to put the book down long enough to be an adult for a few hours and fulfill the duties of everyday life. When I was able to sit back down, I once again got completely lost in the story. I mean, I was IN THE BOOK. ON THE ADVENTURE. It was incredible. 

This book has a little bit of everything "fantasy" in it:  dwarves, wizards, wolves, swords, magic, caves, little cabins in the woods, a king...lots of cool things. There were lots of action and adventure scenes in the book, which made it exciting. I can imagine that if I were a child, I would need this book on my shelves to read over and over. 

As an adult, however, I did notice that there were a couple of discrepancies in the story...nothing that my children would notice, I'm sure, but I'm neurotic about these kinds of things. Also, I think there were so many twists and turns to the plot, I wonder if it could be confusing to the intended audience? I followed along well, but I did have to re-read a couple of paragraphs a time or two, particularly where it described the backstory of the actual Emerald Atlas. I will concede that this confusion could possibly be contributed to me reading while my three young children were active around me, which I try not to do. 

As a reader, I love that I felt a connection to the three primary characters in the story-Kate, Michael, and Emma. While this was primarily Kate's story, Michael and Emma played a very large role in the book and there was quite a bit of interaction between them. It is clear (and very well-written) that these kids desperately want their family back and are missing their parents terribly. They are fierce about protecting one another, which is awesome to experience. They are still young, though, and they have the sibling rivalry, competition, and banter that is very REAL in young kids. (Trust me, I have three of them myself.) The connection I felt with these children as characters is one of the reasons I love this book so much. 

Overall, my response to this book is overwhelmingly positive. I adore books written to this target audience, especially ones that are reminiscent (at least to me) of Narnia. I highly, highly recommend The Emerald Atlas to readers of all ages-as long as you adults keep in mind that this is a childrens book! I'm not sure if this is the strongest possible start to a series, but I'm super excited to see where it will go from here and I will read the next book as soon as I can get my hands on a copy. 

I do not post book trailers often, but thought I this one was indicative of how exciting this book is. 



Mondays Bite: Twilight Re-Read Along {4}

                                


This week we are discussing Chapters 16-20 in our fun little re-read along and I'm still having a great time! This week, the discussion is hosted by The Reading Housewives of Indiana so come see what everyone has to say...


1. If you where in Carlisle's position, do you think you would have been able to fight off your vampiric urges? Would you ever bring someone into that life, as he did with Edward and Esme?  


Well, sure! Carlisle didn't get where he was overnight. I'm sure it took practice and a long, long time for him to become vegan or vegetarian or whatever those vampire cool kids call it these days. If he can do it, anybody can if they really wanted to. 


And I'm sure I would consider bringing someone to life too. Living alone for centuries is a depressing thought, and it worked out well for Carlisle to bring Esme to life. I'd pick a hottie and take a bite. For me, he'd definitely be a rock star with a great voice. 
I'm looking at you, Scott Weiland. 
2. We are introduced to Edward's playful side in these chapters, before he gets all manic about the new vampires, I think we have a better picture of who he is. If you had to describe him in 5 words, what would they be? Good and Bad qualities, whatever you like!


playful protective awesome sparkly crushworthy


3. While re-reading I have been taking notes: observations that I have come across re-reading and comparisons to the movie. One of my notes deals with page 383, in which Edward screams at Alice there is no other option. The first time around I didn't get that he meant the future that Alice saw for Bella as a vampire (because we obviously hadn't gotten to that part), but now that I know the whole story I see that is what he meant... Has this happened to you? Do you have any examples of things that are clearer now or things that you have realized while re-reading?


This does not happen to me! I think I read sometimes with an airheadedness that doesn't seem to catch these details. With a story as intoxicating as this one, I read fast even when I try not to. When I read fast, I don't take the time to think about little things that I may have missed the first time. I'm just reading because I'm loving it. Like McDonald's y'all. 


4. We haven't talked about this yet, but I think the idea of your human gifts amplifying in your vampire life is interesting (Jasper's control of emotions, Edward's mind reading), what do you think your gifts would be?


I think my gift would be that I can make you do whatever I need you to do. And forget things. Kind of like a glamour. The kind of glamour in True Blood or the Iron Fey books. 


I realize that this doesn't amplify any gift that I have now WHATSOEVER. But a gal can dream...


5. We are coming to the end of the book, what has been your opinion on this re-read? First, when was the last time you read it? Second, do you feel you like it more, the same, or less this time around?


I love this re-read. I want to do more of them. Like Harry Potter, the Uglies series...whatever. I just love a read-along period. I'm having a BLAST reading the Iron Fey series with some awesome other gals (big HOLLA to Ginger and Yani and Carrie!)...I luuuurve me some Ash. 


I first read this series not long after Breaking Dawn came out, whenever that was. I read all four books in a week. My great, great friend and coworker Anna brought me the books and begged me to take them on vacation with me, and I am SO GLAD I did. (I nearly neglected my family on that vacation, y'all. I won't lie.)


I'm not sure if I love Twilight more this time around or not...it is just different. This is the second time I've read it. I have read it once before seeing the movie and once, now, after seeing the movie. It is just different. It is fun. I love it. I KNOW that I wouldn't have taken the time to re-read it if it were not for this event, so thank you to all of the hosts. Fun, fun, fun!!!


Jasper, What's up with your HAIR???
                             

Sunday, July 24, 2011

My Thoughts On: Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
Publisher:  Scholastic Press
Publish Date:  August 1, 2009
392 Pages
My Source:  Library

Shiver 
by Maggie Stiefvater 

the cold. Grace has spent years watchingthe wolves in the woods behind her house. One yellow-eyed wolf—her wolf—watches back. He feels deeply familiar to her, but she doesn't know why.
the heat. Sam has lived two lives. As a wolf, he keeps the silent company of the girl he loves. And then, for a short time each year, he is human, never daring to talk to Grace...until now. 
the shiver. For Grace and Sam, love has always been kept at a distance. But once it's spoken, it cannot be denied. Sam must fight to stay human—and Grace must fight to keep him—even if it means taking on the scars of the past, the fragility of the present, and the impossibility of the future.      -(summary from Goodreads.com)
My Thoughts:  I was so reluctant to read this book because I do not usually care for books about wolves or werewolves. But I kept hearing great things about it and how wonderful the writing of Maggie Stiefvater is, so I decided to give it a try. I'm glad I was able to look past my silly wolf prejudices and read it, because I really loved it.

Here are some of the things I loved about Shiver:

  1. The Cover. So, so pretty with all of that light blue. Makes me feel cold. Shiver-inducing. I also loved the little tiny spot of red in the title. 
  2. The Inside. The print on the inside of the book perfectly matches the blue on the cover! It was just beautiful to flip through the pages and see that pretty color. The temperature changes were such a huge part of this book, almost like a separate character. While warm temperatures were integral to Sam's ability to stay human, the blue type was a constant reminder to me, the reader, that the cold temperatures are inevitable in Mercy Falls and it is a constant struggle for Sam and Grace to be together. Absolutely brilliant use of color. 
  3. The Switch. Sometimes it is neat to be able to switch back and forth between perspectives in a story, and this is one of those where it is done well. I was never confused. In Shiver, the switch was important in this case to show that the love between Sam and Grace was consistent between them both. This perspective switch can sometimes backfire if not done well, but in this case it worked beautifully. 
  4. The Cold. The cold is a part of the setting of the story. It is a part of what makes Sam a wolf and part of the pack that he loves. It is a part of what brings Sam the wolf to Grace's yard. I love the part of Grace that is able to love the wolf despite the judgment of her peers and the threat and danger of the pack. 
  5. The Books. I love, love, love the way Sam was bookish. I love the way the author made him work in a bookstore and a constant reader. I like the way he was music-minded, but I love the way he was bookish. 
  6. The End! 

The writing style of this book was really light and breathtaking. The author did a great job of writing with beautiful yet simple language that never became too wordy. To this end, the story remained strong while never  bogging me down. I felt the cold. I saw the snow. I believed I was in Mercy Falls.

The only complaint I have about the book, and I suppose it really is more of an observation than a complaint, is that Grace's parents are not very parental. They made it very easy for Grace to spend a lot of time with Sam, if you know what I mean. There are a lot of parents that are less-than-model-parents, but this seemed almost too easy. Other than this tiny observation, I really enjoyed this book.

I'm really looking forward to reading Linger and Forever. I am still a little wary of wolf books, I must say. (I think Twilight did that to me. Sorry Jacob fans.) But I am open to giving more wolf books a try, especially if they are as beautifully written as this one.

Friday, July 22, 2011

TGIF {8} & Follow Friday {7}


Ginger at GReads! created this fun weekly event called TGIF at GReads! to re-cap the week and ask us fun questions. This week she asked us this:

 Where do you keep your books at home? Are they organized?

I've been avoiding this question for a couple of weeks now. My book situation is actually kinda...bad. I have these wonderful built-in bookshelves on each side of my fireplace/television, but they are full. Since they are full, Mike the Hubby and I are sort of shopping around for a nice big bookshelfish piece of furniture that we want so we can remedy the problem of all of the other books I have lying around. In piles. Everywhere. 

We really are looking for a bookshelf, honest. The thing is that we have this great house and we want to make sure that the bookshelves that we get really complement the house well. Soon my wonderful books will have a place to rest. I promise. Soon. 

Until then...thanks Ginger! Fun Scary question!

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Follow Friday is a weekly event hosted at Parajunkee's View where a question is asked and answered. All the blogs that participate are linked together in one place. It's really cool.

                           
 

This week, the question is:

    Name 3 authors that you would love to sit down and spend an hour or meal with just talking about either their books or get advice on writing from.

My Answer:   

At first, I thought this question would be easy...

1. John Green. This was my east first choice. I love John Green's books. I love vlogbrothers. I love John's brother Hank. I'm a nerdfighter. I'm just a huge fan. I think he has fun being himself, he's a great writer, and he uses his position to do great things.*

Immediately after I chose John Green as my obvious first choice, I knew that this question was very, very hard...

2.  Anne Rice. Although I have never read any of her books (its true!), she is so very controversial and interesting. I have seen interviews with her where she seems nice. I have read different interviews, however, where she seems to take opposing and confusing views regarding her writing, at times defending writing about vampires and at times defending her decision to stop writing about vampires. I would love to sit down and have a chat with Ms. Rice to clarify all of my confusion, straight from her mouth directly. I'm just curious, that's all. It is very possible that I am the only person that is confused by what I have seen and read, and that is okay. Either way, a nice hour-long conversation or meal would be a lovely opportunity to ask her a ton of questions that I have. 
3. (tie) Roald Dahl & Beverly Cleary. Because they're awesome and that is all. Because they gave me a fantastic childhood. Because they are currently giving my children a fantastic childhood, which makes me have a fantastic adulthood. 

Okay, so I know that I cheated and gave four answers. But I think that is okay. This question was super hard, but super excellent.

*The vlogbrothers work hard along with the nerdfighters to rid the world of suck. DFTBA

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Book Blogger Hop 
7/22 - 7/25

Book Blogger Hop

The Book Blogger Hop is a weekly event hosted by Crazy For Books in which a question is asked and an answer is given! This week's question/topic is:

"What’s the ONE GENRE that you wish you could get into, 
but just can’t?"

My Answer:   I am pretty open-minded when it comes to reading, but I have found myself pretty much unable thus far to do anything with graphic novels. I want to like them, I really want to. I just can't get into them. Which is a shame, because I fully recognize that it takes a ton of talent to produce a great graphic novel. I love great illustrations (Hello, The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman...) and I love a great story. I particularly love a great story with great illustrations (I'm looking at you, The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick). But ole' Hugo Cabret has been as far as I can go so far...

I fully plan to keep trying, though. Because I believe that it is important for me to read outside of one particular genre on a regular basis. In fact, I try and make rounds through several different genres all the time. I love general fiction as much as the next gal, but I am crazy about middle grade and childrens literature. In order not to get stuck in a rut, I make sure I read plenty of nonfiction too by throwing memoirs and biographies into the mix, as well as a few general nonfiction books.

On a sidenote, just today on Twitter I was speaking with another book blogger friend and we agreed to each read a book outside of our genre of comfort...we each chose another book/author for the other. By the time the conversation was over, there were a total of four bloggers that had swapped books/authors that we would never have ordinarily chosen to read. Hopefully we will end up liking the recommendations we received, but if we do not, at least we will know that we tried and that is what is so important! Thankfully, today my recommendation was not a graphic novel. Phew! I dodged that bullet today, but eventually I will try again and maybe one of these days I will be able to appreciate them as much as other people do. I really want to. 

Thanks for another great question! 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

My Thoughts On: Rebel Angels by Libba Bray

Rebel Angels by Libba Bray
Publisher:  Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Publish Date:  December 26, 2006
548 Pages
My Source:  Library

Rebel Angels
by Libba Bray
Ah, Christmas! Gemma Doyle is looking forward to a holiday from Spence Academy, spending time with her friends in the city, attending ritzy balls, and on a somber note, tending to her ailing father. As she prepares to ring in the New Year, 1896, a handsome young man, Lord Denby, has set his sights on Gemma, or so it seems. Yet amidst the distractions of London, Gemma’s visions intensify–visions of three girls dressed in white, to whom something horrific has happened, something only the realms can explain. . . .The lure is strong, and before long, Gemma, Felicity, and Ann are turning flowers into butterflies in the enchanted world of the realms that Gemma alone can bring them to. To the girls’ great joy, their beloved Pippa is there as well, eager to complete their circle of friendship. But all is not well in the realms–or out. The mysterious Kartik has reappeared, telling Gemma she must find the Temple and bind the magic, else great disaster will befall her. Gemma’s willing to do his intrusive bidding, despite the dangers it brings, for it means she will meet up with her mother’s greatest friend–and now her foe, Circe. Until Circe is destroyed, Gemma cannot live out her destiny. But finding Circe proves a most perilous task.  -(summary from Goodreads.com)
My Thoughts:  When I began the first book in this series, A Great and Terrible Beauty, I was not sure I was  going to like it. It took me quite a few pages into the book before I was able to gain some interest, and even then, I still wasn't sure if the book was for me. By the end of the book, however, I thought the plot was very interesting and I could not wait to grab the second one and see what was next for Gemma Doyle. With Rebel Angels, I was interested right away and my interest was held throughout the story. In fact, this is one case for me where the sequel proved better than the original story.

Still fairly new to Spence Academy after being raised in India, this will be Gemma's first Christmas in London. The holiday season is filled with parties and teas and visits with friends, and even a budding courtship with the handsome Simon Middleton. It seems that Gemma has left the Realms and their magic behind for now...until the mysterious Kartik soon appears and tells Gemma that she will need to return to the Realms to find a hidden temple and bind loose magic to keep it from falling into the wrong hands and causing chaos in the world. So Gemma grabs her friends Ann and Felicity, and they head back into the Realms to search for the hidden temple before it is found by anyone else.

Rebel Angels flowed very well from A Great and Terrible Beauty. Any loose ends or questions that may have been left after the first book were tied up and answered with this one. I love the way all of the characters were again present in this book, with the addition of a few new ones. The plot had a lot of twists and turns, but it worked for me. I wish I was a little more certain of exactly what is going on with the elusive and mysterious Kartik. His role certainly added to the plot in this book, but also leaves a few questions unanswered for the next book.

I loved how Ms. Bray used the language and imagery to paint the picture of the Victorian holiday in London, particularly with the description of the holiday party attire. It was charming, as well, to be able to learn a little bit more about Felicity's life outside of Spence Academy and exactly how desperate Ann was for a life outside of the servitude for which she is predestined. I also appreciated how the author wrote about the Realms in a much broader sense in this novel. Ms. Bray had to write about a much larger area as Gemma, Ann, Felicity, and Pippa traveled a much larger distance through the Realms in search of the temple. It is hard to decide if the description of the landscape or of the creatures inhabiting the Realms was more interesting; all in all, I enjoyed the Realms much more in this book than I did in the first book. I love the way Ms. Bray left a large area of land unexplored for the final book in this series.

Despite being fairly dark, I think Rebel Angels is a beautiful book (with a stunning cover). Where I was not certain if I would like A Great and Terrible Beauty when I began it, I was certain I would love Rebel Angels from the first page. I have high hopes that I will love the conclusion of the trilogy when I read it as well. I recommend this book adults and young adults that love Victorian novels and fantasy stories with intricate plots. It is really well-written and quite lovely.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

My Thoughts On: Messenger by Lois Lowry

Messenger by Lois Lowry  
Publisher:  Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Publish Date:  August 22, 2006
169 Pages
My Source:  Library

Messenger
by Lois Lowry 
He carried messages for [the people]. It was his job. He thought that when it came time to be assigned his true name, Messenger would be the choice. He liked the sound of it and looked forward to taking that title. 
But this evening Matty was not carrying or collecting a message...He headed to a clearing he knew of, a place that lay just beyond a thick stand of bristly pines...He needed privacy for this thing he was discovering about himself: a place to test it in secret, to weigh his own fear for what it meant. 
Six years earlier, Matty had come to Village as a scrappy and devious little boy. Back then, he liked to call himself "the Fiercest of the Fierce," but since that time, Matty had grown almost into a man under the care of Seer, a blind man whose special sight had earned him the name. Now Matty hopes that he soon will be given his true name, and he hopes it will be Messenger. But strange changes are taking place in Village. Once a utopian community that prided itself upon its welcome to newcomers, Village will soon be closed to all outsiders. As one of the only people able to safely travel through the dangerous Forest, Matty must deliver the message of Village's closing and try to convince Seer's daughter, Kira, to return with him before it's too late. But Forest has grown hostile to Matty too, and he must risk everything to fight his way through it, armed only with an emerging power he cannot yet explain or understand.  -(summary from front book flap)
My Thoughts:  Messenger is the third installment in Lowry's The Giver trilogy, and it is beautiful. In this story, we meet Matty again. Matty was first introduced in Gathering Blue as Matt. In this story, Matty lives with Seer in Village, and has grown a few years older and more mature. Village is a place that is accepting of people with differences, unlike the place with Matty used to live in Gathering Blue...and where Kira still lives despite her handicap. The people of Village are a kind and loving group of people, accepting of everyone despite their differences. However, as the book progresses, Village takes a turn in the opposite direction and things unravel quickly. The citizens become greedy, unkind, and rude. They look out only for themselves, and the Village citizens decide to close their borders and stop sharing their resources with others. 

It is very tough to describe this book to someone who has not read the first two books in the trilogy, and it is even harder to describe this book to someone who has not read this series at all. Basically, it is another example of Lowry describing an example of a possible future society. It is brilliant and moving and amazing. Once again, just like in The Giver and Gathering Blue, Lowry is able to give us another example of how greed can turn a population of people against each other, how good people can turn bad, and how even the best of systems can easily become corrupt. 

In this book, Forest plays a huge role. Forest is present in the first two books as the separator of communities...but in this book, we see that Forest is actually alive, or rather, animated. Forest tends to "warn" people it does not like by scratching them with a sharp branch or twig, etc. If these "warned" people try and travel through Forest again, Forest will kill them. Matty seems to have favor with Forests, having traveled through many times over the course of many years without incident or warning. He has no fear of Forest and knows its paths quite well. To this end, Matty has become Village's messenger and a very respected citizen in Village. 

Messenger has an abundance of secondary characters and they are rich and complex (if you guys know me, you know I love a complex character). These secondary characters are very important to the story because it is through their change over the course of the story that Matty and Seer begin to realize that Village is shifting and that changes are happening. When the people begin changing, Forest begins to change as well. When Forest begins to change, Matty knows that his days of traveling through safely are numbered. He has to make a final very important journey through Forest to retrieve Kira and bring her to Village safely. This journey through Forest dominates the second half of the book. 

Lowry uses descriptive language to paint a picture of how rapidly Forest declines from a place of beauty and life into a place of dense undergrowth, scary noises, rotting carcasses and trees, and foul, rancid smells. Matty and Kira struggle to journey back to Village untouched and find it virtually impossible. It is amazing how Lowry used the Forest and the journey to symbolize the downfall of Village and the community within it, and how the few "good" people struggled to remain "good" and untouched by the corruption and greed. 

Lowry's writing style is very simple and easy to read, so if you haven't read these books, it will not take you long to read through all three of them. They are worth the read...The author does a great job of weaving all three of the books together and at the end of Messenger, we have this neat little well-rounded package, complete with a bow on top. You close the book, you take a breath, and you have to think for awhile. 

I have chosen not to touch on the end here in this write-up because I cannot figure out how to do it without bruising the integrity of the story. I won't do that. I will say, though, that I want my husband to read this series. And when my children are older, despite being controversial, I want my children to read them as well. I want somebody close-by to have a book club and feature these books so I can sit and talk about them for hours with other people. They are so discussable in lots of different ways. 

If I were in school again and had to do a big project, I would no doubt pick these books. I could do research on themes, symbolism, conflict, character analysis...my goodness, I'm about to explode! And I'm not even a writer...

As with the previous two book in this series, I read this book as part of the 2011 Dystopia Challenge


Dystopia Challenge

I Still Owe Money To The Money To The Money I Owe {10}

Tune In Tuesday is a weekly event hosted by Ginger at GReads! 

I love to listen to music (or audiobooks) while I'm cooking dinner. Lots of times I will DVR concerts on TV and play them while I'm making lunch or dinner for the family. One of my favorites EVER was an episode of Austin City Limits on PBS with The National and Band of Horses, which are two of my favorite bands. I watched/listened to it a couple times every week and my kids used to roll their eyes at me when I would turn it on...

...anyway, I accidentally deleted it off of my DVR and have been angry at myself since then! And I haven't been able to catch it on television again to re-DVR it. Ugh! So I just have to turn it on the computer when I want to watch/listen at dinner-cooking time. 

Here's "Bloodbuzz, Ohio" from The National. An excellent song from an excellent band. Really, I have to stop and be in awe and have reverence when I hear this song. I just love it. 


Monday, July 18, 2011

My Thoughts On: Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry

Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry
Publisher:  Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Publish Date:  January 24, 2006 (first published October 1, 2000)
215 Pages
My Source:  Library

Gathering Blue
by Lois Lowry 
In her strongest work to date, Lois Lowry once again creates a mysterious but plausible future world. It is a society ruled by savagery and deceit that shuns and discards the weak. Left orphaned and physically flawed, young Kira faces a frightening, uncertain future. Blessed with an almost magical talent that keeps her alive, she struggles with ever broadening responsibilities in her quest for truth, discovering things that will change her life forever.   -(summary by Goodreads.com)

My Thoughts:  I recently read The Giver for the first time as part of the 2011 Dystopian Challenge and thought it was amazing. I really love dystopian novels that are smart and entertaining, but this one seemed particularly thought-provoking. In fact, when I was finished with the book, I really had the sense that I had read one of the remarkable works of literature of my time. I am following up The Giver with Gathering Blue, also as part of the 2011 Dystopian Challenge.

Gathering Blue is a companion to The Giver. As the book opens, Kira mourns the loss of her mother. She lost her father long ago, so now she has very few options in a society that does not allow for differences. Luckily for Kira, she has exceptional skill with embroidery, which has allowed her to be robe seamstress for the singer for the Ruin Song Ceremony. The irony is that Kira was born with a leg deformity-a handicap that would have caused others to be cast out of the village.

This is a strong follow-up to The Giver. While not quite as strong, it does have remarkable and complex secondary characters, which is a trait that I love in a book. In particular, I felt a strong connection with Matt and the affection he felt toward Kira.

The use of color was a huge part of why I loved The Giver so much, and I love the way the theme of color continued with this book. I love the detailed description of Kira's work, and the imagery Lowry used to describe the colors in the dyes, threads, and robe. I love the way the color blue was missing from the robe, and I love the way it worked itself into the robe in the end.

It is so hard to adequately describe my feelings in print for a book I love so much. I felt this same way when I was trying to describe The Giver. I think this series should be required reading for everyone. The story is not only entertaining but excellent, and it has big, universal themes that span the entire series all throughout. If you are a fan of dystopian literature, you will love The Giver and you will love this book as well.

                                  Dystopia Challenge

Mondays Bite: Twilight Re-Read Along {3}

                                   

Monday means another Twilight link-up and today it is hosted over at The Secret Life of an Avid Reader! If you want to get in on the action, join in! This week we are discussing Chapters 11-15 and wow!...I had forgotten how much I love this book.

By the way, I'm still Team Edward all the way...

1. Do you think the name "Twilight" for this book is fitting with the story? Do you think a better name could have been chosen? What about the series and the names as a whole?  

Twilight works fine to me. I am the least creative person ever, so I cannot judge the choice of title. I also have never given thought to whether or not I like it. HOWEVER...

I am having a HUGE A-HA moment right here in meh chair as I have never realized that all four novel names go together. Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, Breaking Dawn...Hmmm. Right this second, as this is the first time I have realized THIS thought, it seems GENIUS. Stephanie Meyer has pulled one over on me, and it has taken the Twilight Re-Read to expose it. Had I not participated in this big ball of fun, I never would've figured out the theme of the titles. 

Yani, you might just be my hero right now...for helping me to enlighten myself further into the ways of Twilight...

2. On this re-read, what’s your favorite part of the book? Is it the vampires, setting, plot, characters, Edward, or something else? 

I like pretty much the whole thing. That is all. 


You rock my world, Charlie.
3. Edward shows his stalkerish/controlling tendencies during these chapters for the first time (at least Bella is aware), did this bother you the first time you read Twilight? Does it bother you now that you’re re-reading it? Should Bella be more worried about it? 



I don't think the author's intentions were for it to bother us; I think she intended it to be sweet and loving. It has only occurred to me that it is stalkerish as other people have pointed it out. In real life, people should definitely be more worried about crazy weird stalker guys...but those warning signs should have gone up way earlier in the book were this not a paranormal book and were it real life. (If I was gonna worry about the stalking, Edward following me to another town earlier in the book might have been the time to start worrying...)


For whatever reason, Bella-the-Fiercely-Independent seems to genuinely love being Bella-the-Stalked-and-Taken-Care-of-By-Edward. So I'm all for Bella letting him surround her and take care of her. This may not be the popular answer, but this is the make-believe world of a paranormal book. And believe me, if Edward wanted to sit in my room every night while I slept...he certainly could. Stalkerish or not.  :)

4. Do you find yourself, during or after reading another paranormal/supernatural book, comparing it to Twilight? If you do, why do you think that is? Is it because it’s popular or because it’s just a book that makes an impact?
 



I think this is where Twilight gets unfairly treated. Twilight shouldn't be the standard by which all other paranormal/supernatural books are judged. It's just Stephanie Meyer's books. They're great books, but they're just her version of her own stories. 


I believe people compare to Twilight because it has been so popular and done so well...people who haven't read the books have no business making comparisons. Period. Of course, this isn't helped by the much older Twihard women acting foolish over the much-younger actors, which is creepy to the nth degree. And I've even seen older men acting foolish over Bella. Also creepy! I will have to stop myself here because I tend to "go off" a bit on this. And this is supposed to be fun, not Asheley getting all fussy about the ways of the world...


But seriously...a perfect example of this is the whole Harry Potter vs. Twilight thing that seems to be going on right now. What's up with that? Why compare the two? Who needs to judge Twilight OR Harry Potter, for that matter? Both are pure awesome. Twilight isn't even similar to Harry Potter, so why the comparison? Hmmmmm??? alsjdflsajdfljsad f;sajd f;lsadf!!!


Why must the world pick on Twilight? Why can't we all just get along?
 
5. Bella is introduced to the Cullen Family in Chapter 15. Who is your favorite Cullen and why? 



This is like asking me to pick my favorite child!! Just can't do it! 


The Cullens.
Everyone here needs a new hairdo.
By everyone, I mean Rosalie and Jasper.
          


















 
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