Saturday, September 29, 2012

#2- The Hunger Games By Suzanne Collins

#2- The Hunger Games

Rating- 9/10

I haven't been updating lately and for that i'm sorry. I have been struggling a bit because I kind of felt a complete lack of motivation to do this without my grandma being able to read and tell me how great I have been doing. I originally started this because she offered to buy all of my books and help me through it and I guess her dying has really sent me for a loop as far as writing this, but I know that she wouldn't want me to give up writing and reading and for that reason I will push through this indifference and continue on with the project.

So without further ado, my review of The Hunger Games.

I read this book before it was considered popular. I remember that the third book had just come out and that I read all three books in a week long period. The first book was ultimately the best, but as an entire series its a hit.

The book follows a girl named Katniss who lives in a future world where after a rebellion the government remains in power by holding an annual Hunger Game every year, where two children (aged 12-18) from each of the worlds 12 districts have to fight to their deaths until one person remains the victor.

When Katinss' little sister, Prim, turns 12, Katniss tells her not to worry, that she only has one token in the jar and that its so unlikely she will be chosen. (there is also a way to get more in the pot, by taking food from the government and putting in your name an extra time per year, which Katniss always does) Then the day of the reaping, against all odds, Prim is chosen. In a frenzy Katniss steps up to take her place instead.

From there, she meets her boy tribute, Peeta, and they go to the capitol to train and begin preparing for the Hunger Games. Along the way, Peeta admits that he has loved Katniss since the day he met her, and Katniss wins over the hearts of the people of the capitol as "The Girl on Fire". As the book continues we watch Katniss and Peeta fight the ultimate battle of their lives while also battling the feelings that they have for eachother.

Most people these days have seen the movie, or atleast heard of this book now that its somewhat of a phenomenon. I think that although the movie was very well done, it still isn't as good as the book. So go along and buy the book and read it!

“I can feel Peeta press his forehead into my temple and he asks, 'So now that you've got me, what are you going to do with me?' I turn into him. 'Put you somewhere you can't get hurt.” 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

#54- Hush Hush By Becca Fitzpatrick

#54- Hush Hush

Rating- 7.5/10

This book severely scared me, like right now while typing this I'm a bit creeped out and afraid to leave my bed. Now I will admit that i'm a slight wimp when it comes to things like this, but I actually had to put down the book last night because I was so freaked out.

This book follows a girl named Nora, who lives in a farm house with her mother and goes to public school. She has a best friend named Vee and they are lab partners in biology class. Then one day the teacher changes the seating chart and Nora now sits next to the mysterious Patch. He is a transfer student and has a weird tone to him that freaks Nora out. She asks for a seat change but isnt granted one.

Later that week Nora and Vee meet two boys at the coffee shop, named Elliot and Jules. Elliot has just transferred to their school and they offer to sit with him at lunch. From then on a friendship is born and one weekend they all go to an amusement park together. When they get there, Nora goes off to get cotton candy and sees Patch there, after trying to avoid him, she agrees to go on a ride together, one called the archangel, and during that ride she has a vision of falling out and dying. From there she is freaked out and tries to find Vee to get home, in a state of disbelief after searching the parking lot she realizes that Vee has ditched her and she has no choice but to get a ride home with Patch.

A relationship between Nora and Patch starts to form, and although she finds it slightly putting off, she continues anyways. Throughout the book we start to question which character really is the bad guy, the strange but slightly intriguing Patch, or the new boys Elliot and Jules that seem clean cut but have rumors of a dangerous past. A book with frightening chases and unexpected twists and turns at every page, hush hush is not I book I recommend reading at night! Save these pages for daytime reading only. 

My reasoning for rating this book a 7.5 was due to its ridiculously cliche notions. The new creepy mysterious kid falling for the girl who doesnt want anything to do with him. The idea that sometimes the dark ones arent dark and that the straight A good guys have some curious tendencies, etc etc. It felt a bit like Bella and Edward (from Twilight, for those of you who havent read the phenomenon I promise to review soon) but on a creepier level. In general just not a relationship that I enjoyed reading about. I did however enjoy getting intensely scared over a book, its always nice to have such a great adventure story going on with only words.

“He was the worst kind of wrong. He was so wrong it felt right, and that made me feel completely out of control.”

On a complete side note: This post is dedicated to my beautiful grandmother, Phyllis Bernstein, may she rest in peace. On September 13th she passed away, she was always my biggest supporter of reading and now the journey will be in her memory.  

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

#82- I Am The Messenger By Markus Zusak

#82- I Am The Messenger

Rating- 8/10

Sorry for the complete lack of posts this weekend, I was on vacation in Washington DC! I read this book on the plane/during my down time and really enjoyed it.

The plotline follows a kid named Ed, he is 19 years old, living in a small town, and spends his time driving and taxi and playing card games with his friends. He lives a rather un-spectaculor life until one day he is at the bank and not only witnesses a bank robbery, but thinks on his feet and stops the criminal.

He goes to court and the man whispers to him as his walks away after giving his testimony, "Everytime you look in the mirror remember you are looking at a dead man". 

The next day, he receives a playing card in the mail. An Ace of Diamonds. On this card is three addresses, along with three times. He first considers that the card is a joke from his friends, but when he comes to realize that none of them know about it he sets off to discover the meaning of the messages on it.

At his first address he encounters an abusive husband, at the second a lonely old woman, and at the third a teenage girl who needs a little help with her confidence. As he goes to each place he learns what he must give them, the message that they need help seeing. 

After visiting all of the people on the card he thinks that his adventure is over, until he recieves another Ace in the mail. From there his journey continues, one Ace and three people at a time. He teaches each one a lesson and along the way, learns some messages himself as well.

I really enjoyed this book, I have been having issues giving ratings to all of these books because lets face it, there is a reason it was voted top 100 and at this point i'm reading the books that sound the most interesting to me. This book was interesting and kept me curious about what would happen next. My only reasoning for the 8 was that even at the end I felt myself left with questions and I'm not the type of person who enjoys making up my own decision about endings. I like clear cut final words and for that reason I took a few points off. If you are the type that enjoys thinking of your own happily ever after for the characters then I think you would consider the book an even higher rating. Well deserved of the top 100 and a captivating read perfect for my vacation.

Hope everyone had a nice weekend! Thanks again for visiting this blog and please feel free to leave comments or questions. I have also added two different ways to follow on the right-hand toolbar so if you like it, please click the follow button and keep on coming back!

“It's impeccable how brutal the truth can be at times. You can only admire it. Usually, we walk around constantly believing ourselves. "I'm okay," we say. "I'm alright." But sometimes the truth arrives on you, and you can't get it off. That's when you realize that sometimes it even an answer - it's a question. Even now, I wonder how much of my life is convinced.” 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

#11- The Giver By Lois Lowry

#11- The Giver

Rating- 8.5/10

This book has been around for a long time, it was published in 1993 (only one year younger than me!) and since then has recieved high amounts of praise.

I read this book in middle school and while I knew I enjoyed it, I couldnt quite remember the plot lines so I chose to re-read it for the purpose of this blog.

While reading I was astounded to see how similar it was to many of the other books I have read recently, such as Matched (number 78). I had to keep reminding myself that they werent based off of eachother.

The giver follows the life of a boy named Jonas, who lives in a town set in the far future. Everyone there is exactly the same, they share the same birthday in december, celebrated with a ceremony where they are given a new reward each year. The children are taught from a young age that its important to be good community members, that they must follow the rules and one day they too will become important leaders in society.

Every household has one mother and father, along with two children, one of each gender. They aren't allowed to "love" one another, they may be proud of their accomplishments and feel that they are good people, but when it comes to romance they take pills in order to stop the "stirrings" that raise inside of them. Essentially their entire lives are chosen for them, but they like it, because they know no other way.

At age 12, they are given jobs based on what the commitee of elders decides that they are capable of. The 12's have been doing community service hours since a young age and are usually quite skilled in one profession and have a feeling about what job they will receive.

Jonas is the exception to this rule, he has chosen many volunteer oppertunites and has no clue what will happen to him the day of the ceremony. When the big day comes, he is quite confused when they skip his name during the announcements of jobs. At the very end, the head of the committee explains what is happening, Jonas has been chosen for a very special job. One that has been done by the same old man for many years. He will be the reciever of memories.

As Jonas heads off to his first day of work, he meets "The Giver". The man who holds all of the memories, of all time. He begins to show them to Jonas one at a time, first sledding down a snowy hill, something that has never been experienced due to "sameness" there is no need for snow or hills in their town. After many pleasant memories, Jonas realizes that soon he will have to deal with the painful ones as well. As he continues to receive more and more memories he realizes how much this town is unaware of, and he wants to change it.

Setting out on a journey that could risk both his life and the lives of many others, Jonas tries to do what no one else in his town has done before... be different.

I really enjoyed reading this book, it was short enough that I wasn't wondering when it would end, and fast paced enough that I finished it within one day and found myself wishing that there was still more to the story. It has an interesting way of viewing how different the world could be if people werent allowed to feel different and feel pain. I think its better to be able to feel pain and love and triumph and celebration, you take the good with the bad in order to live life the way that you want to live it.

“The worst part of holding the memories is not the pain. It's the loneliness of it. Memories need to be shared.” 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

#35- Go Ask Alice By Anonymous

#35- Go Ask Alice

Rating- 8/10

My favorite kind of book to read are those in first person, even more so those in diary format. I feel a connection to the character and really enjoy hearing a story in that way. For those reason Go Ask Alice was a very easy read for me.

The book follows a girl who has your typical family situation, a mother a father, little siblings, she goes to school in a suburban town and has her best friends she has known all her life.

Then one summer everything changes. Her friends are all busy with boyfriends and vacations and such and she feels somewhat lost until a new group invites her to hang out. She goes to their house to hang out and they play a game called "Button, Button, Who's Got The Button". At the time she doesnt know what it is, later she finds out that her soft drink was spiked with LSD.

From that point on she goes down a spiral path of drugs, leaving home, going back, traveling all over california and meeting new and exciting but dangerous people. She writes throughout her good times and bad times until she is drugged again for her last time and sent to a hospital. The acid trip was bad and she has clawed all over herself and is deemed to be mentally unstable and sent to an institution. 

The last few days of the journal she at home, feeling happy with her family, and very happy with the boy that she is dating. She even directly says that she has high hopes for her future. Then, as the book cover tells us, the epilogue lets us know that several weeks after that entry she has overdosed and died.

I found the books ending to be very confusing, but I guess it makes sense that it is confusing because addiction never makes sense. I could think of a million different reasons why she decided to do drugs again, maybe her boyfriend dumped her. Or her father stopped believing in her, or her siblings were giving her a hard time. I really dont know the answer. It makes me sad that even after going through treatment and feeling like she had a life worth living she died.

I think its an eye-opening book and one that is worth reading even just to realize the power that drugs can hold over people.

“I'm partly somebody else trying to fit in and say the right things and do the right thing and be in the right place and wear what everybody else is wearing. Sometimes I think we're all trying to be shadows of each other, trying to buy the same records and everything even if we don't like them. Kids are like robots, off an assembly line, and I don't want to be a robot!” 

Saturday, September 1, 2012

#37- Stargirl By Jerry Spinelli

#37- Stargirl

Rating- 10/10

I know i'm beginning to sound a bit redundant when I keep saying, "this was my favorite book ive read during this journey!" but it just keeps continuing to be the case.

I am surprised that I have never read this before, having seen the name of this book and cover of this book and many friends reading it, I dont know what I never picked it up.

Stargirl is a junior in highschool, up until this year she has been homeschool. When she shows up on that first day of school, Leo knows that she is something out of this world. She is wearing a peasant dress down to the floor, carrying a ukelele and has a sunflower bag with her pet rat inside of it.

She sits alone at the lunch table, and this doesnt seem to bother her in the least. She is pepped up and excited for every event, sings happy birthday to people in the cafeteria, sends get well cards to people in the neighborhood she finds out are ill, and every single class period she sets up a vase with flowers on her table.

To some people, this would be considered very strange, to Stargirl it is very typical. She was born with the name Susan, and since then has changed her name many times, she says that her name is like a shirt she wears it until she is sick of it and at that point picks out a new one.

After a few weeks, Leo, along with the entire school, is entranced by her. People start bringing flowers to school to put on their tables, being learning how to play the ukelele and copy other things that she often does.

After a while though, people begin to try and change Stargirl. Leo begins to frequent his time with her often and tries to get her to be "normal" she shows up to school in jeans and a midriff shirt, with lipgloss and smacking gum in tow. Trying to get other people to talk to her changes her essence and Stargirl has never been more upset.

As the book continues Leo learns the lesson that being "normal" and "popular" doesn't always have a happy ending.

As you can tell from my perfect rating, this book really touched me. I know that when I was in middle school/high school I felt this insane need to be well liked. I would wear the clothes from Hollister and put on my Ugg boots even when it wasnt cold outside in order to fit in with the other people. How I wish that I had been able to see things the way that Stargirl does instead. To be able to set aside the need to fit in would leave so much other time for important things. In the book she is able to make others happy with her small acts of kindness and while it isnt always well received I think its a quite inspiring way to live life.

There are things much more important that popularity (although it doesnt seem like it in high school) and I think its marvelous that this book touches on those things. To meet a wild soul like Stargirl in real life would be a treat and I hope that one day I meet someone without the inclination to fit in. In the past I wouldnt have considered looking for someone like that, but now that I've graduated from the world of high school and drama and boys and gossip it appears that its a great possibility to meet someone of the sort.

“The earth is speaking to us, but we can't hear because of all the racket our senses are making. Sometimes we need to erase them, erase our senses. Then - maybe - the earth will touch us. The universe will speak. The stars will whisper.”