Saturday, December 31, 2011
Gregor the Overlander (Book #1) by Suzanne Collins
(Summary taken from the back book cover) "When eleven-year-old Gregor follows his little sister through a grate in the laundry room of their New York apartment building, he hurtles into the dark Underland beneath the city. There, humans live uneasily beside giant spiders, baths, cockroaches, and rats--but the fragile peace is about to fall apart. Gregor wants no part of a conflict between these creepy creatures. He just wants to find his way home. But when he discovers that a strange prophecy foretells a role for him in the Underland's uncertain future, he realizes it might be the only way to solve the biggest mystery of his life. little does he know his quest will change him--and the Underland--forever.
I am so glad I found this book! This is a good, fun book. I was worried about it for my 4th grader since Suzanne Collins' Hunger Games is NOT 4th grader approved, but it turned out to be really good. It has a fun and different storyline, which catches you right from the beginning. It's a fast, easy read, and it has some fun twists and turns. The writing style is easy to read and draws you in. It is clean from start to finish (except for some war violence), which I love. I really liked the characters, especially Gregor and Boots, and thought their character development was good. I loved the relationship between Gregor and Boots. It was so cute how much he loved her and how he takes care of her and protects her. Not too many young boys would feel that way about their little sisters. Some of the Underland characters were developed well also. I thought it interesting that she used everyday, not so nice, creatures to become some of the best and nicest characters. I also like that this is a series so I know that my 4th grader has at least that many books to read before I have to find him something else to read.
I really enjoyed this book and definitely recommend it! Hopefully I'll be posting the review for the second book soon. I love that you can have a great book that is clean. So great.
Rating: PG Clean--no swearing or "physical intimacy". There is some war violence with characters dying. And some of the "big bugs" may scare younger readers.
Recommendation: 3rd or 4th grade and up. I enjoyed it. It's not Harry Potter, but it's enjoyable and a fun read.
Friday, December 23, 2011
Divergent by Veronica Roth
(Summary taken from inside the book jacket.) "In Beatrice Prior's Dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, 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). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is--she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself. During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles to determine who her friends really are--and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves or it might destroy her."
I loved this book! It is captivating, exciting, suspenseful, and action-packed. I really like Ms. Roth's style of writing. It pulls you in and keeps you reading. The characters are well developed, but there is also a hint of secrecy around them. I liked a lot of the characters, was scared of some, felt sorry for others, and didn't know what to think of some of them. Ms. Roth did a really good job of drawing the reader in. I was confused with all the factions at first, and couldn't keep them straight, but by the end I had it figured out. There are a lot of characters and trying to remember their names can also be a little difficult, but it works out in the end. There were some good twists and turns and the storyline is just so different and creative. I really liked Beatrice's inner conflict. I like how she tried, in subtle ways, to be both her old faction and her new faction.
The premise of the book is very interesting. It has a hint of "Matched", a spice of "Uglies," and a little bit of "Hunger Games," yet it is all its own. I have NO idea which faction I would choose, since I value all of the factions' qualities. I try to be a well-rounded person, so having to pick one would not be fun for me. The decisions they expect 16 year-olds to make are crazy! I can't imagine making one decision, at 16, that would determine the rest of my life. And how sad that faction comes before family. What good is it to have a family, then? Aren't families there to support us and help us? I found it so sad that when those kids needed their families the most is when they couldn't have them.
I was excited for the first 3/4 of the book that I might be able to let my 10 year-old read this book. It is filled with action and suspense but it is clean.....until the end. Oh man! There is considerable discussion at the end about "physical intimacy," and it plays a role in Tris making it into her faction(She has to pass a test of her fears. She doesn't have to actually do anything). The ending is quite violent as well, with main characters being killed.
I really liked this book and definitely recommend it (to those 13 and up)! The next book can't come soon enough.....
Rating: PG-13 (Discussion of "physical intimacy" and violence)
Recommendation: Probably 13 and up. They don't actually do anything, it is just discussed. And I think a 13 year-old could handle the violence.
Thursday, December 22, 2011
Does Change have to be so H.A.R.D.? by Julie Donley, RN
(Summary taken from the back book cover) "What makes change so H.A.R.D.? we struggle to lose weight, change jobs, improve our relationships or our financial condition and even give up addictions. We succumb to our habits and accept a life of mediocrity, wishing it could be different and incessantly hoping for that magic solution. The reality is that we are creatures of habit and change can be uncomfortable. Change requires hard work, consistency and time. We perceive it as a chore and most of us just don't want to work that hard. Yet, there have been times in your life when you have made great change and it has brought you to a much better place. You were willing to do whatever it took to achieve the outcome you desired and you did it! You succeeded."
I really liked this book. Ms. Donley has overcome a lot of change in her life and she has some very good insights into making change easier. Her writing style is easy to read and understand, and she explains everything well. She definitely made me think I could make any change I wanted to! I really like how she talks about preparing ourselves for change. Sometimes we get frustrated because we keep saying we want to change but we don't do it. Well, her advice is to not feel guilty about that because maybe we really aren't ready yet. We need to take the time to prepare ourselves for change. We need to mull it over and when we are really ready we will do it! Sometimes the "ready" point comes by necessity like having a heart attack makes you eat healthier or a spouse passes away. Other changes though, like losing weight or giving up addictions, need time to prepare ourselves for. Ms. Donley's acronyms are helpful in remembering her steps.
Some of the book is repetitive, but I think that can be good and helpful in a self-help book. Sometimes we need to hear things over and over before they finally sink in.
I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking to change something in his or her life, which is most likely everyone. :)
Rating: G Good, clean reading!!
Recommendation: Middle school and up, just because I don't think children really need to worry about it. It could help a middle school child who is dealing with major change, like a divorce.
Disclaimer: I did receive a free book in exchange for this review. That does not change my opinion, however, I am always honest in my reviews.
Tuesday, December 6, 2011
Holy Stable by Heidi Hanseen
(Summary taken from the back book cover) "The heavenly gift of Christmas transforms hearts and homes. Create lasting memories as you experience with family and friends the shared affection at Jesus' birth. Mary and Joseph's devotion to God and sublime caring for each other will bring you to experience the story as never before. As Joseph searches for comforting words to offer Mary, he is attended by angel children who sing along to welcome Baby Jesus. Discover how sharing the gift of Jesus' love blesses relationships, as you enjoy the magic of children's narration, original music, and song."
This is a beautiful book! The gold-tipped pages are beautiful and give you a sense that what is in the book is important. The illustrations are well done and add greatly to the story. The story of Mary and Joseph is written in poem form and done very well. It is tender and not corny. The music on the CD is very soft and calming. The children's voices are so sweet and convey the message of Christmas well. I love the idea of having the music, narration, and a downloadable script all wrapped up together with the book. This will make having the Christmas pageant in your home or church much easier. You can use her narration or just the music. There are many ways to make it fit perfectly with your needs. Thank you, Ms. Hanseen for such a beautiful book. I will definitely be reading this one to my children this Christmas season.
Rated: G (Clean!)
Recommendation: Great for everyone!!
Discloure: I did receive a free book in exchange for this review; however, this does not sway my opinion. All my reviews are honest.