Monday, September 21, 2009

Book Review: The Host

It took me a while, but I finally got around to reading this very long book. It was interesting and different from what I normally read, but enjoyable.

The Host The Host by Stephenie Meyer


My rating: 4 of 5 stars
In The Host Stephenie Meyer tells the story of life on Earth after the planet has been taken over by an alien species that steals the bodies of humans. Wanderer has been placed in the body once belonging to Melanie Stryder. In most cases the host’s mind is supposed to fade away, but Melanie refuses to leave. She fights Wanderer and shows Wanderer images of the people she loves causing Wanderer to love them too. When circumstances force Wanderer to run away, she and Melanie seek refuge with an unwilling host of humans who would just as soon see them dead than shelter them. However, Melanie and Wanderer do find the man they love and seek acceptance in this unusual community of humans.

This was an extremely long book. I think Meyer’s editor could be a little more forceful, this story did not need to be over 600 pages. That said I did really enjoy this book, more so than the Twilight Series in many ways. This book made you think from time to time and ponder moralities in these unusual circumstances. Wanda is a noble character and she is admirable in many ways, but sometimes you just found yourself wishing she would act.

This book may appeal to fans of the Twilight series, but that is not a guarantee, because it is so different. Both Wanda and Melanie are likable characters, and Uncle Jeb is an interesting treat. You will find some romance in this book, but not to the same extent as the Twilight novels.

Good read for someone looking for something different and doesn’t mind the exceptional length.

Cautions for sensitive readers: There is a lot of violence and violent deaths in this book. Although there is no sex in the book it is mildly alluded to. I don’t remember any foul language, but I can’t say for certain that there isn’t any.

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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Book Review: What I Saw and How I Lied by Judy Blundell

Yippy, yippy, I'm done, I'm done! This was my last book on my list for the committee. Yes there are still others to work on, but at least my assigned list is complete with this last book. I can't believe how happy I am to have this list behind me--now I can read Catching Fire by Collins, like I have been dying to since it came out. I may have to finish The Host by Meyer first though--I have been listening to the audio in my car and it has kind of caught me up. We'll see though--at least the decision of what to read next is now in my hands and not that of a committee list! Yippy!

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy being on the committees I am on and have been on in the past. They get me to read books I wouldn't normally have chosen for myself. I even sometimes discover that I really liked a particular book that I wouldn't have read on my own if I hadn't been on the committee. It helps my reader’s advisory because it forces me to read outside of the box. But any committee member who has ever been on a book award committee will tell you, when you finish with the list it is a wonderful to feel free to choose again.

What I Saw And How I Lied What I Saw And How I Lied by Judy Blundell


My rating: 2 of 5 stars
What I Saw and How I Lied is at its essence a story of deception. On an impromptu trip to Florida with her mother and stepfather, Evelyn (Evie) falls in love with a young man who served with her stepfather in World War II. To Evie, Peter is perfect, handsome, smart, and polite. To her stepfather Joe, he is a threat, a reminder of what happened and what they did during the war. To her mother, Peter is an escape. Evie, Joe, and her mother all lie to each other either by omission or face to face. None of them wants to come to terms with their relationships with each other or with Peter.

Evie is a teen in a hurry to grow up. She wants to be exactly like her beautiful mother, Bev. She wants Peter to see her as a woman, not as a girl. When tragedy strikes, Evie learns that sometimes you do have to grow up fast, and sometimes you don’t like what you have to do as an adult.

In the end, I think I did enjoy this book, though I was thoroughly frustrated with the pacing. The book was too slow, and it takes you a while to get interested in what is happening. It is an interesting book in it nuances, but not my cup of tea. The book is exceptionally well written and researched. The author knows that time period very well.

The rating system for Goodreads is based on how well I liked the book not on quality. Since I only marginally enjoyed it and didn't like the pacing I give it two stars. If the rating was based on quality, I would have had to score it much higher with a score of 4.5 stars.

Cautions for sensitive readers: Some sexual references and brief encounter, very little or no language, but some violence.

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Monday, September 14, 2009

Book Review: The Last Exit to Normal by Michael Harmon

One more down, one more to go for my committee reading list! Yippy!!! The only one I have left is Judy Blundell's What I Saw and How I Lied. I am so glad I am almost done. Now if I can just get though this last book!

The Last Exit to Normal The Last Exit to Normal by Michael Harmon


My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Last Exit to Normal by Michael Harmon is the story of Ben Campbell and his life after his dad suddenly announces to Ben and his mother that he is gay. What happens tears Ben’s family apart. His mother leaves him with his dad and doesn’t look back. Ben tries to get even with his father by doing drugs and getting in trouble with the law. Finally Ben’s father and his boyfriend Edward move with Ben to Edwards’s hometown in Eastern Montana in hopes that they can get Ben away from the bad influences in his life. While there Ben learns a new way of life, and learns respect through a few knocks on the head by the incredible Miss Mae, Edward’s mother.

I really found myself enjoying this book a whole lot more than I thought I would. Although Ben was often belligerent, and sometime crude, he was a decent guy struggling to get through a very difficult situation. His life was essentially blown apart by his father’s sudden announcement, and Ben was reacting to it. It is at its essence, a story of a boy attempting to find his identity, do the right thing under difficult circumstances, and discover what kind of man he wants to be.

Cautions for sensitive readers: This book was very good, but the language could be very crude at times including references to sex acts. There is some violence in this book, as one of the major subplots deals with a young neighbor boy being physically and verbally abused by his father.

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Saturday, September 12, 2009

Book Review: My Most Excellent Year: A Novel of Love, Mary Poppins, and Fenway Park by Steve Kluger

Okay one more down and 2 more to go and I will be done with my list for the committee.

This one surprised me. I thought I wasn't going to like it, but it turned out to be a really lovely book. (More than a bit unrealistic, but lovely.) This is the way you wish high school could have been--the dreamy Disney automatic acceptance. The narrators are intelligent, nice kids, who probably act a little too adult for the age they are supposed to be portraying. All in all, this is a fun light read and makes me wish high school could have really been like this.

My Most Excellent Year: A Novel of Love, Mary Poppins, and Fenway Park My Most Excellent Year: A Novel of Love, Mary Poppins, and Fenway Park by Steve Kluger


My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Some of the other reviews that I have read of this book accused the narrators of sounding too old, too alike, and too unrealistic. To me this book was like a dream. It is how high school and friends should be. This book has humor, friendship, bantering, but most importantly love. Some moments are laugh out loud funny, while others are more serious.

My Most Excellent Year: A Novel of Love, Mary Poppins, and Fenway Park is the story of three friendships as they traverse their “most excellent year.” T.C. Keller loves Alejandra, Alejandra is best friends with Augie, Augie is a “brother” to T.C. As you can see these kids lives are heavily intertwined. This book shows how friendship is supposed to be—you should accept your friends no questions asked. It is a fun light read and even the parents are perfect.

On a more critical note, sometimes things are too perfect, but I liked that—it is nice to see things work out right in a piece of YA fiction for once. Sometimes YA fiction takes itself too seriously and there is always a lesson to be taught or issue to address. It was nice not to have that hanging over my head in this book, and to just be able to enjoy three characters who enjoy each other.

Highly recommended to teens who like a fun, light read.

Cautions for sensitive readers: There is no foul language, violence, or sex in this book. One of the most charming characters in the book is just discovering that he is homosexual and dealing with his first crush.

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Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Book Review: Genesis Alpha by Rune Michaels

One down, and three to go. Unfortunately these are the three that I am least excited about reading. Nothing to do but put my nose to the grindstone and keep on reading!

Genesis Alpha Genesis Alpha by Rune Michaels


My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Josh and his brother Max have always been close. He was born to save Max’s life when cancer was killing him. Josh admires his brother and is similar to him in many ways. They look similar, they both share an interest in the same online video game, Genesis Alpha, they even meet online to play while Max is in college. Until one day when Max doesn’t show up in Genesis Alpha, and Josh finds out it is because his brother has been arrested for the brutal murder of a college girl. Josh can’t believe that his older brother could commit such a heinous crime, but as fact come forward Josh learns that everything isn’t always how it appears.

This book was a page turner. It hooks you from the beginning and draws you though the novel at breakneck pace. It raises some interesting ethical questions, and might make for an interesting book discussion. Josh is a likable character and you can see how he struggles with the idea that the brother he loves could be a vicious killer.

This book is well written and highly enterataining. I would recommend it to readers who like mysteries and thrillers. I especially found Rachel’s character interesting, and perhaps one of the scariest characters in the book.

Cautions for sensitive readers: There is some violence in the book, but no sex. I don’t remember any foul language in the book.

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Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Yippy!!! Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Catching Fire (Hunger Games, #2)
Just picked up Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins at the bookstore over lunch! I can't wait to start reading it. Maybe tonight I can set aside a little time to start. I have been waiting so long for this book to come out, I am so excited!

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