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Showing posts from February, 2015

A Wrinkle in Time | Madeleine L’Engle

A Wrinkle in Time is a young-adult fantasy novel about three kids (Meg, an awkward, impatient, mathematical genius; Charles Wallace, Meg’s younger brother who is a child genius that reads minds; and Calvin, their new older friend that is looking for a family to accept him) that go searching for their missing physicist father. They get the help from three bizarre older women who take them on their journey traveling through time and space. 
This was a pretty quick read and I really liked L’Engle’s descriptions. This is one book where I could feel myself really picturing the new worlds and the situations. That is a quality that’s hard to find in books. I also enjoyed her explanation of time travel. She utilizes complex physics and mathematics in a way that even a child reader could understand—at least on the surface-level. I was also impressed that a book from the 1960’s featured a strong female heroine who is gifted in mathematics—but that’s where my admiration for this book stops. 
I g…

Gone Girl | Gillian Flynn

Gone Girl is a mystery/thriller novel about a women who goes missing on the day of her fifth wedding anniversary. The clues seem to point to a murder by her husband, but things don’t seem to be adding up. 
Yes, yes, yes! THIS is the book that I have been so desperately waiting for. It’s been a long time since I’ve read a book that completely consumed me from beginning to end. I kept saying to myself, just one more chapter…okay maybe just one more… This was literally a book I couldn’t put down. I read all 400+ pages in less than a day. I usually guess the endings to books, but this one had me blindsided at each and every turn!
The chapters go back and forth between the husband and wife’s perspective. At first the marriage seems pretty normal, with just some slight troubles. As the book goes on, Flynn expertly peels back the many layers to this complex story. You start to realize how bizarre and messed up their marriage really was. You think that you know who to trust and what’s going on…

The Wizard of Earthsea | Ursula K. Le Guin

The Wizard of Earthsea is the first fantasy novel in the Earthsea series. It follows a young wizard as he gets recognized and selected to be a part of a grand wizarding school. While in school, competition gets the better of him and he ends up releasing an evil spirit that leaves him horribly scarred and haunts him through his journeys. This book follows his adventures as a wizard healing the sick, tricking dragons, and fighting off the evil spirit.
At first when I was reading this book I thought it lacked originality—wizards, dragons, good versus evil, a long journey, etc. It seemed to be similar to every fantasy book that I’ve ever read, but then I learned the history of the book. This book was written in the 1960’s, a time before fantasy books became popular literature. This was the book that inspired writers, such as J.K. Rowling (ever wonder where Rowling got her idea for a school for wizards? This is it). It was also one of the first books to feature dark-skinned main characters …

The Golden Compass | Philip Pullman

The Golden Compass is about an orphan, Lyra, who lives with scholars on a college campus. One day her friend, and many other children, get kidnapped by evil Gobblers. After overhearing her uncle tell the scholars about a mysterious “Dust” that is causing problems in the North, Lyra decides to set on a journey to rescue the kidnapped kids and help her uncle solve the mystery of the Dust.
Well…this book was a tough one to get through. I am always leery of starting trilogies since they are such a big commitment. You are basically committing yourself to 1200+ pages if you want a complete story, but typically the second and third books are rushed to get published and are therefore never as good as the first. I was definitely not in the mood for that long-term relationship when I started this book. Honestly, I wouldn’t even have had the strength to finish it if it wasn’t required for my Folklore and Fantasy class. I normally love high fantasy novels—which are basically books that create thei…

A Certain Slant of Light | Laura Whitcomb

This is a book about a ghost, Helen, who is stuck in a purgatory-like state. She figures out how to attach to living “hosts” and haunt them to stay away from hell. They don’t see her or know she’s there, but she has to stay in their proximity. When one dies, she moves onto a new host. After about 130 years, Helen notices a human, James, that can actually see her. It turns out that he’s actually a ghost like her that took over an empty body that a teenage drug-addict left behind. They fall in love and James convinces Helen to take over an empty body too. She finds a body of a girl with really overbearing Christian parents. This is a love story, but it is more so about accepting your past and finding happiness and resolution. 
A Certain Slant of Light is a pretty creepy story. From a superficial perspective, its about two humans that get their bodies possessed by ghosts who are avoiding eternal damnation. However, from a deeper level its about analyzing the simple parts of human life. Th…

The Scorpio Races | Maggie Stiefvater

The Scorpio Races is based on the hard-to-pronounce mythological creatures capaill uisce (copple ooshka), also known as water horses. These aren’t the beautiful and sweet horses that you may be picturing. No—these are man-eating, dangerous horses that live underwater. The people of this island capture these ferocious, but majestic beasts and try to tame them long enough to race them in the annual Scorpio Races. Most people end up getting trampled, eaten, or drowned in the races each year, but the promise of wealth makes the risk worth it for many islanders. The main characters, Puck and Sean, have different reasons for competing, but a common interest and love for the island creates an unlikely pair.
Wow, this book was intense. It honestly would have given me nightmares if I read it as a kid. It is meant for young adults, but it even might be too intense for some preteens. There is a pretty long build up to the final races in the novel, but I think that it gave Stiefvater enough time t…

The Supremes at Earl’s All-You-Can-Eat | Edward Kelsey Moore

This is a book about three African-American friends in their fifties, known as “The Supremes”, in their small town in Indiana. They spend every Sunday after church at the local diner, Earl’s All-You-Can-Eat. This book chronicles their lives together from the 1960’s to present day. Above all, it is a book about friendship.
If there was ever a book that was a perfect example of how to do character development, this would be it. Moore makes me feel as if I know each of the characters on a deeper level than most other books. I can even picture the supporting characters and their mannerisms. The characters unfold throughout the chapters without feeling drawn out or forced. While this book deals with many serious issues such as racism, child abuse, death, cancer, infidelity and more, it never feels too heavy. The characters are full of enough wit and humor to make you forget how devastating their pasts are, and realize how beautiful their present is. It is a perfect balance of heartache and …

The Double Bind | Chris Bohjalian

The Double Bind is a novel about a rape survivor who ends up working at a homeless shelter. After one of her short-term residents dies, she is in charge of taking care of his old photographs. The content of the photos leads her to believe that there is a mystery involving her hometown. This leads her on a drastic hunt through the Northeast to solve this puzzle.
I’ll be honest, this is not a book that I would normally pick up on my own. The only reason why I read it was because it was chosen by my book club. I’ll admit that I usually only read a book because it is recommended to me or because it has a catchy title/cover (I know, I know, that’s exactly what you’re NOT supposed to do). I don’t like to know anything about a book before going into it. I find that even the basic descriptions of books reveal something that you may not know until halfway through the book. The only thing I knew about this book was that it was supposed to be a book that you wouldn’t want to put down, and that it…

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone | J.K. Rowling

Ok—let me start off by explaining why it took me so long to read this book, as I realize that most people have either decided to read, or not read, the Harry Potter series by now. The books first came out when I was six years old (I guess you could do the math if you wanted to figure out my age). I remember Scholastic book fairs hyping up this new and exciting series. When it first came out, I was too young to be looking into chapter books. As I went through the grades in elementary school, more and more Harry Potter books came out and the popularity skyrocketed. In third or forth grade I picked up the Sorcerer’s Stone to see what the hype was all about. It was too complicated for me at the time and I just couldn’t get into it (too many crazy names and made-up words). I couldn’t seem to wrap my mind around this whole fantasy universe, so I stopped after a few chapters. I always had planned on picking the book back up when I got older, but by that point, the books were so popular that …