Sunday, March 4, 2012

Catching Up on My Reading

I've finished four books in the past couple weeks and I'm quite proud of the accomplishment.  I should admit that I am a very fast reader and all of the books I read were by choice and so I was looking forward to all of them.  I know a couple people who do the reading challenge at the beginning of the year where the reader picks 12 (or so) books that he or she wants to finish over the course of the year.  At the end of the year the list is examined for what was completed and what wasn't, and also additional books that were read but weren't on the original list.  I would fail at that kind of challenge because I read the books that appeal to me in the moment.  I suppose I could challenge myself to read a certain number of books, but with two children I can't guarantee anything.  So I will continue what I'm doing :)
So my recent books:
Crossed, by Ally Condie
Summary by
In search of a future that may not exist and faced with the decision of who to share it with, Cassia journeys to the Outer Provinces in pursuit of Ky - taken by the Society to his certain death - only to find that he has escaped, leaving a series of clues in his wake.
Cassia's quest leads her to question much of what she holds dear, even as she finds glimmers of a different life across the border. But as Cassia nears resolve and certainty about her future with Ky, an invitation for rebellion, an unexpected betrayal, and a surprise visit from Xander - who may hold the key to the uprising and, still, to Cassia's heart - change the game once again. Nothing is as expected on the edge of Society, where crosses and double crosses make the path more twisted than ever.

My opinions: First, this is the second book in a series.  I finished the first book last year and I have to say that I finished it and I wasn't sure if I liked it or not.  Even weeks later I hadn't made up my mind about it.  So when this book came out I checked it out from our school library and brought it home and it sat on my bedside table for months.  I finally finished the books I "wanted" to read and tried to talk myself into reading this.  I picked it up and was immediately drawn into the characters.  The chapters alternate between the perspectives of Cassia and Ky as they travel through this dystopian society in which children are "matched" [the title of the first book] by the people who run the society.  Cassia was "mistakenly" matched with two people, one of whom is Ky, who should not have been in the matching system to begin with.  I really liked the layout of this book as opposed to the last one.  It leads into a third and final book.  While I enjoyed this book more than the first, I was still not overwhelmed by the book.  I will read the third book because I can't just leave things unfinished, but I'm hoping this last one will be more impressive.  I give it 3 stars out of five.

Book 2 - The Weight of the Sky, by Lisa Ann Sandell
Summary by
Sarah, like every college-bound junior, deals with constant pressure from teachers, friends, and parents. Besides that, she s a marching band geek and the only Jew in her class. So when she gets a chance to spend the summer on a kibbutz in Israel, Sarah jumps at the opportunity to escape her world. But living in Israel brings new complications, and when the idyllic world Sarah creates suddenly shatters, she finds herself longing for the home she thought she d outgrown.
This lyrical novel beautifully captures the experience of leaving behind a life that s too small, and the freedom of searching for a place with a perfect fit.
This book was okay.  It's nearly 300 pages read more like about 75 because it's all in free verse.  I'm not a huge fan of free verse, but I've read others that weren't bad.  The characters were not very developed, the plot was not overly logical to me, and I didn't agree with how the plot played out at the end.  The Jewish religion was very prominent and was examined by the main character as she travels through Israel.  Again, it was okay, but I probably won't search out anything else by this author.  I should add that the reason I read this book to begin with was because I needed something to read while I was doing some other things.  It's not one I would have picked up on my own, but it was available when I needed it.

Book 3 - Delirium, by Lauren Oliver
Summary by
Before scientists found the cure, people thought love was a good thing. They didn’t understand that once love -- the deliria -- blooms in your blood, there is no escaping its hold. Things are different now. Scientists are able to eradicate love, and the government demands that all citizens receive the cure upon turning eighteen. Lena Holoway has always looked forward to the day when she’ll be cured. A life without love is a life without pain: safe, measured, predictable, and happy.
But with ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena does the unthinkable: She falls in love

I started this book and didn't realize that it was the start of [yet another] trilogy.  It's also another dystopian society book which I have enjoyed.  I wasn't thrilled with the writing, but the story was good.  I think I would have enjoyed it more if I had known there was more to come.  Full confession: I like books that wrap up with a nice little bow.  I don't have to agree with the ending, but I want the questions to be answered.  I finished this and that is NOT what happened.  When I returned the book the next day, very disappointed, my school librarian let me know that there was more to come.  Lo and behold, the next book came out last month!  I will be looking for it very soon.  Overall, after learning there is more to come, I give this book 4 out of 5 stars.

Book 4 - she said/she saw, by Norah McClintock
Summary by
Tegan was in the backseat when her two best friends were gunned down in front of her. Was it an argument over drugs? An ongoing feud? Or something more random? Tegan says she didn't see who did it. Or know why. Nobody will believe her. Not the police; not her friends; not the families of the victims; and not even Kelly, her own sister. Is she afraid that the killer will come back? Or does she know more than she is saying? Shunned at school and feeling alone, Tegan must sort through her memories and try to decide what is real and what is imagined. And in the end she must decide whether she has the strength to stand up and do the right thing.
I enjoyed this book.  A lot.  At just over 200 pages I expected it to take longer than it did.  The chapters alternate between the two sisters.  Kelly sees life from the perspective of a movie director and her chapters read like scripts, complete with action cues, monologues to the camera, and flashback scenes.  Tegan simply narrates her own chapters and presents her side of the story.  Throughout the book the reader does not know what, if anything, Tegan saw.  As a reader of many different books, I had a couple ideas of where the plot could go and I was partially correct at the end.  There are not many plot twists, and I thought the behavior of Tegan's schoolmates was very passive, considering the circumstances.  Maybe that means I've been reading too many violent books.  I can't see that being the situation in "real life".  I would give this book 3.5 stars out of 5.

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