11 April, 2012

Book Review

I've never really been much of a reviewer of books. Reason being, I find myself lacking the ability to think fast enough to organise all my thoughts into a coherent paragraph in my head. I realized today that this feeling of inadequacy stems from having to give reports on books back in school, and read them aloud. I hated that. Fortunately for me (and probably you) I do not have to read my blog aloud very often...
Since I'm going through my own personal challenge/New Years Resolution to read 100 books in 2012 , and I've read some books that I have really, really enjoyed and thought it would be a shame not to share some of them with you. At this point in the game, I have read enough books to feel overwhelmed at the prospect of reviewing them all so I'll start with the ones I've read most recently (ie. over the weekend). Click on any of the images below to view them in Amazon. If you can't see the images, pause your adblocking program on your browser and reload the page.

First up, is Divergent by Veronica Roth.

 I picked up this book on a recommendation after finishing The Hunger Games trilogy and feeling that emptiness that comes when a good story ends...
I was sorta hesitant at first, but I really got into it as it turns out, I'm really looking forward to the next book of this trilogy due in May. The story revolves around Tris, a sixteen year old girl, who lives in future Chicago. She has to choose to either join a new faction or remain in her own, which will define who she is and her identity for the rest of her life. It's a pretty big decision and when she makes it, she also discovers that she has a secret specialness, if you will, that sets her apart.
Now for the spoiler text (highlight to read). 
I really liked the idea of all the factions for the sake of the book. I related to Tris so much throughout the whole book. Growing up wondering who you are and fretting over the choices you make? Totally. Having to make a huge decision that scares you and worrying about how it will affect those around you whom you love? Absolutely. I totally get it, and it was worded beautifully in this book. I loved also all the confusion that Tris felt as she started to have feelings for a boy - something she had never before experienced.  I enjoyed that she chose Dauntless, and was just as surprised as Tris to find out her brother chose Erudite. I loved the twist when the Erudite leader is also tied in with Dauntless to bring down the Abnegation faction, and the whole Dauntless army being controlled by a little chip was a good one, though not all that surprising or original in my opinion. Overall the ending was super disappointing but sets the author up for the next book, which I've heard from a friend (who had the chance to read a pre-release), is just as good.   

Next on the list is Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith.

 As I have mentioned before, I adore historical fiction. I love reading about a story happening during real-life events because not only do I feel absorbed into the story, but I retain quite a bit of the history too. The trouble of course is that I also retain the stuff that didn't actually happen and have to be careful there. I picked up this book after V and I went to see The Hunger Games in cinema and saw the movie poster for Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. I saw the author's name on the poster and remembered that he wrote other interesting titles (like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, and Unholy Night) and decided to download it in the Kindle store and read it as soon as I got home.
The story chronicles Abraham Lincoln's life from childhood on written as a biography from Abraham Lincoln's "secret diaries". Young Abe grows up in a world beset by vampires and the story follows him through trials and tribulations leading to his decision to become a vampire hunter. It is a beautifully woven work of fact and fiction, using real quotes and real events to "authenticate" the story. I absolutely loved this book and had a hard time putting it down. I'm really looking forward to the movie!

Next, is one that I think everyone I know in the states read in junior high school, but somehow this book managed to go unread until now. The Giver by Lois Lowry.

 I can't tell you exactly how or why it came to pass that I did not read this book as a teen. Perhaps it has something to do with my thinking in school that anything the school had us reading absolutely had to be boring and therefore I would avoid reading it at all costs. Yeah. I was that kid. At least until The Hobbit. I was reminded of this book by a friend of mine who recommended it after reading The Hunger Games (hmmmm methinks there is a pattern here...). I pretty much read this on the airplane home from Stockholm on Monday. It is a fairly short book and the story is lovely. I highly suggest that if you haven't read this book, that you do so now. Drop everything. This book has the rare opportunity to have been added to my favorites list.
Spoiler text! Highlight to read...
I loved the part when we find out that the community only sees in black and white. I don't know why that struck such a chord with me, but it really did. I kept thinking, trying to figure out the "changes" that the boy saw in the apple and in his friend's hair and nothing I thought of was nearly as good as just what it was. Color. Sometimes simple really is the best. When thinking about the Giver having all the memories for generations "back, and back, and back" I loved how the author gave him days where he just could barely function because of all the pain and suffering of the world. It made me think of Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane. It made me think of all my pain and loss and sadness, and I couldn't imagine holding onto literally generations of memories. This book made me grateful for my small amount of pain and the fact that I know that there are people who love me. 

Last, is a book that took me quite by surprise, On the Island by Tracey Garvis-Graves.

 I only downloaded this book yesterday afternoon and was finished with it before bedtime, such was the loveliness of this story. I was just browsing around Amazon.com yesterday and happened upon it by mistake, really. I saw the 5 star reviews and the very affordable price, and just clicked "buy" without a second thought. Once I picked it up, I was completely absorbed by it and could barely set it down to do things like make dinner or propagate my seeds, both of which I did while sneaking glances at my Kindle the whole time.
The story is about two people who survive an airplane crash and find themselves on a small island. It follows their trials on the island, with each other, and rejoining society after a long absence. I don't know why there is such a soft place in my heart for castaway stories. They just completely captivate me, and this story was no exception. Buy it. Read it. You're welcome.

What are you reading and loving lately?


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