Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer

This is a wonderfully creepy psychological thriller paranormal murder mystery romance.  Mara's best friend died in a terrible accident that Mara survived unscathed - and she does not remember any of it.  As we follow Mara, she tries to cope and go on with her life, but she sees people and things that are not there - or are they?  She is psychotic and suffering from PTSD after the accident, and Noah, the most desirable boy at her new school is very interested in her.  But, is she too damaged to fall in love?  What is real and what is not? 
I totatlly loved this book and read it in two days. 
I hope that the next one is as good as this one is!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Death Cure by James Dashner

The Death Cure (Maze Runner Trilogy)
Sometimes I am dissappointed with the ending of a series, but this time I was not.  This is the third book in the Maze Runner Trilogy. The book was action packed with lots of twists and interesting and unexpected plot developments.  We get to see more of the humanity of the characters in this book and that Thomas and his friends are, despite all they have been through, just kids who have been manipulated by a bizarre system.  Is WICKED good?  You will have to read the book to find out. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Mostly True Story of Jack by Kelly Barnhill

The Mostly True Story of Jack
This story is truly captivating. It is suspenseful and well written and unique. It is the story of Jack, who has been ignored and felt invisible for all of his life, until his parents split up and he is sent to live with his aunt and uncle in Iowa. Suddenly, people notice him. A lot. He makes his first friends and learns that magic exists and he is a part of it. The setting and characters are richly and well developed and the story draws you into it just as the children are drawn in as well.
We follow Jack and Wendy and Frankie and Anders in this town where magic erupts in certain places, such as that of the old schoolhouse where many children disappeared in the past and Jack's Aunt and Uncle's house which warms to Jack's touch and where vines grow into his bedroom. They must stop Mr. Avery, who really is not a bad person, he only wants to save his own son. In the end, it is all up to Jack.
I really enjoyed the uniqueness of this story. So many fantasies have the same plot line. This one is pleasantly different.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Guinea Pig Diaries: My Life as an Experiment by A. J. Jacobs

The Guinea Pig Diaries: My Life as an Experiment
In this book, AJ describes 9 different experiments that he did to write about either for Esquire or for this book.  I enjoyed the chapters on outsourcing his life to India, and radical honesty.
My very favorite was when he spent a month doing everything his wife told him to. 
I want my husband to read that chapter. 
I would also love to be able to outsource parts of my life. 
The book is well-written, funny, and thought provoking.
The rationality project and acting like George Washington were quite interesting as were his attempts to unitask.
I highly recommend this book - and I especially highly recommend the last chapter to my husband.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Diary of a Mad fat Girl by Stephanie McAfee

Diary of a Mad Fat Girl

30 year old Ace teaches art at a southern high school and has broken up with Mason, the love of her life since they were 11 years old, once again.  Her best friend Lilly has a "mysterious gentleman" friend who is taking up her time and their friend Chloe, the school counselor has a rich, but verbally abusive husband who finally becomes physically abusive.  Chloe and Lilly make up their differences in order to help Chloe get dirt on her husband so she can divorce him.  Lilly befriends a handsome young police officer and the women gain the assistance of the town's richest old widow who has many tricks up her sleeve.  With a lot of who is sleeping with who, the girls dressing in drag, bar fights and the hot biker dude, the book is really funny.  I did not love Ace's character - I found her to be rather whiney and unlikable, and the biker dude's character is not developed well at all.  Despite all that, if given a good cast, I think this could be a great movie. I laughed out loud while reading this book and found it to be a really fun read. I received this book free to review through goodreads. 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Birth Marked by Caragh M. O' Brien

Birthmarked (Birthmarked Trilogy)

400 years from now, the earth is hot and dry and 16 year old Gaia lives outside of the Enclave near unlake Superior and is learning to be a midwife from her mother.  Then her parents are arrested and Gaia becomes embroilled in the politcal quandry that surrounds the business of taking babies from outside of the Enclave in order to try to stave off the hemophelia that is increasing due to inbreeding there.  Gaia has been lead to believe that life inside the Enclave is wonderful and that the babies who are chosen to live there live wonderful lives, but she soon learns that things are not as she was taught.  Though she is scarred and believes that she is ugly, one of the guards finds her to be beautiful and helps her as much as he is able to. 
I had a difficult time putting this book down and read it in two days.  It is the first in a trilogy and I look forward to reading the other books as well!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Encounter by Stephen Arterburn

The Encounter: Sometimes God Has to Intervene

This story was written to be a parable, to illustrate a religious lesson.  It is the story of Jonathan Rush, a wealthy CEO who has anger and resentment issues because he was abandoned by his mother when he was 4 years old.  At the urging of his pastor, after 3 failed marriages and a suicide attempt, he has gone to Fairbanks, Alaska, where he lived as a child to try to find out something about his mother and put his anger and resentment issues to rest.  He meets a good looking woman reporter who helps him to search for his mother and learns that he must forgive her in order to find her. 
I found the story to be a bit too predictable and the characters to be too simplistic, but it was still a very good and well written story. 
I really liked the author's notes at the end of the book about the truth behind the fiction, the real stories that this one is based on. 
It shows a beautiful picture of the Lord's love and forgiveness towards us and how we should love and forgive others.
I received this book to review from booksneeze.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson


Melinda spends her freshman year of high school lonely and depressed due to an incident at a party which led her to call 911 and now the other kids are angry with her for doing that. She speaks little, but shares her thoughts about school and life in the book. A little over halfway through the book we find out why she is depressed and finally she tells other people about it and must fight back and begins to heal.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

thunder dog: The True Story of A Blind Man, His Guide Dog & the Triumph of Turst at Ground Zero by Michael Hingson with Susy Flory

Thunder Dog: The True Story of a Blind Man, His Guide Dog, and the Triumph of Trust at Ground Zero

This book is Michael Hingson's story.  It is the story of how he and his guide dog Roselle survived and escaped from the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 after it had been hit by a hijacked airplane.  It is also his story of growing up blind in a world designed for sighted people.  When I got this book and began reading it, I realized that it is the first book that I have read about the events of 911.  Ten years after those events, I finally opened up myself to a book about the events, because it was also about a dog.  I realize that I have avoided watching tv coverage of all of the memorial events surrounding 911 for the past ten years.  I just found it too unpleasant and traumatic and I preferred not to think about it.  Michael's story not only taught me a lot about blindness and guide dogs, but also helped me to examine and come to terms with some of my own feelings about 911.  People are often more open to a dog or, in this case, a dog story.
The book is well written and insightful and educational and I enjoyed it and highly recommend it.
I received this book free to review from goodreads.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Divergent by Veronica Roth

This is a dystopian thriller that centers around a sixteen year old girl named Beatrice. In the city that she lives in, there are five different factions of people and at age 16, they must decide which faction they will belong to. The factions are "each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent)."
Beatrice has been raised in Abnegation, the selfless group which is also the seat of government since they put the needs of others before their own. She has never felt selfless enough though, and when she is tested, she is found to be divergent, carrying traits from at least 3 groups, which is seen as dangerous. She joins the Dauntless group and we follow her through the dangerous initiation process in which she has to fight others, jump onto and off of moving trains and undergo psyhological training to overcome her fears. She learns about and helps to stop a plot by one faction to overthrow the others and has a romantic relationship with a boy named Four.
The story is well told and interesting, but many parts of the plot are not well developed. Like, why are they locked into the city?, Why does no one care that they are locked in?, what is going on in the rest of the world?, Who is driving the trains that run through the city that the Dauntless jump onto and off of and why couldn't they just have stops for the train?, Where are the trains coming from and going to and why?, and What are the trains carrying?

A Love that Multiplies by Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar

A Love That Multiplies: An Up-Close View of How They Make it Work

In this book, both Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar take turns sharing about their lives as parents to 19 children.  This is a sequel to their book The Duggars: 20 and Counting!  I read that book a couple of years ago when it came out.  This book talks about their life in the past few years since the first book was published.  In it they tell about the premature birth of their 19th child, Josie who was born 3 and a half months early, at 12 inches long, weighing 22 ounces.  This was because Michelle had gallstones and kidney stones and pre-ecclampsia - life threatening high blood pressure which is an incredibly dangerous complication of pregnancy.

Michelle and Jim Bob say that they do their reality TV show (which I do not watch) and have written these books as a form of ministry to share their beliefs with other people. They believe that this is what the Lord wants them to do.  I don't really remember everything that was in their first book, since I read it a few years ago, but it seems to me that this book has a lot more endorsements for other programs, books, and seminars than the first one did.  I just don't remember that in the first book, but perhaps it was there.

I found some of the things that are shared in the book to be very good sounding and helpful.  I substitute teach and there are about as many students in an elementary school classroom as there are children in the Duggar family and some of the principles that they use in their family apply equally to teaching in a classroom.  For example, Michelle states that we need to be consistent in letting children know what behaviors are not acceptable.  If we ignore the little incidents, then the children will continue with more and worse misbehaviors.  If we stop them immediately at the small misbehaviors - often just by looking at them and telling them to stop, we can keep the misbehavior from escalating into something worse.

There were many things, however, in the book that sounded odd to me and a bit creepy.  As I examined them, they all seem to stem from the teachings of Bill Gothard, whom they highly endorse.  On their website they recommend Gothard's seminars and teachings and claim to receive no compensation from him, but when I looked as his website - their book is sold on his website.  It seems like Gothardism is their religion and it affects every part of their lives. Some of Gothard's teachings include that a woman should not work, but should only stay home and take care of and homeschool her children.  Children should be homeschooled and should not watch tv to protect them from the world and worldly views and they have found a way to extend this even into the college years with a homeschool college program.  Women should submit to their husbands in every way and it seems that they only want their children to marry other people who also subscribe to the Gothard viewpoints and who attend his conferences.  His teachings sound icky to me and I hope that people who admire the Duggars won't drink the Gothard kool-aid.

The Duggars seem to be a nice, well-meaning, and large family. Michelle is now pregnant with their 20th child.  Since she is 45 years old and has had such serious issues in her last pregnancy, this is a very high risk pregnancy for her.  I hope that she and the baby will be ok.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Invasion : A C.H.A.O.S. Novel by Jon S. Lewis

Invasion (C.H.A.O.S., #1)

When Colt McAlister is 16 years old, his whole world changes.  He is attacked by something large and tentacled while surfboarding, and then when he gets home from the hospital, he learns that his parents have died in a car accident.  After moving in with his grandfather, Colt learns that it was not an accident that killed his parents, the aliens from his favorite comic books exist and are trying to take over the world, and it may be up to him to stop them.  Together with his computer hacker friend Danielle, and OZ, whose father is the head of C.H.A.O.S, Colt tries to stop the evil Trident company, which is really run by aliens who want to take over the world, kill off the humans and live here themselves. There are jet packs, flying motorcycles and red-eyed, computer controlled assassins.  This is a fast paced thriller and is the first book in the C.H.A.O.S. trilogy.  I got this book for free to review from Booksneeze.  I think it is a fantastic book and I look forward to reading the other two books in the series!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Witch of Hebron by James Howard Kunstler

The Witch of Hebron: A World Made by Hand Novel

Sometime in the post-apocalyptic future in upstate New York, in Washington County, which is cut off from the rest of the world, a world without electricity or gasoline or telephone or cell phone service, a county that is now sparsely populated after the Mexican flu had killed off a large amount of the remaining population,  lives an 11 year old boy named Jasper who is learning how to be a doctor from his father.  When a horse kills his dog, Jasper poisons the horse and runs away.  The horse belonged to Brother Jobe, the strangely powered leader of New Faith, a Christian cult  that has moved into town which has a fat, epileptic woman who can see the future when she has seizures as it's "Precious Mother".
Jasper runs away after poisoning the horse and is forced to travel with a young insane bandit who calls himself Billy Bones and kills a lot of people.
Jasper's father and brother Jobe and others search for Jasper and we follow his travels with Billy. 
Somewhere around the middle of the book, we are introduced to the "witch of Hebron" who is either a prostitute or a witch or both.  She does not play a large part in the story and I am not sure why the book is titled after her.
I found some of the characters to be underdeveloped  - such as the "Precious Mother", and Brother Jobe's strange abilities are never really explained.  The character of the "witch" is also not really developed well either.  The author uses a lot of words that I had never heard of such as "ineluctable", "putative", "pentimento", and "pronking". 
I found several parts of the book to be distasteful and disgusting. 
I received this book free to review from Goodreads.