What is your reading goal this year?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

These Is My Words

These is my Words (The Diary of Sarah Agnes Prine, 1881-1901) by Nancy E. Turner

(Summary taken from the back book cover) "A moving, exciting, and heartfelt American saga inspired by the author's own family memoirs, these words belong to Sarah Prine, a woman of spirit and fire who forges a full and remarkable existence in a harsh, unfamiliar frontier. Scrupulously recording her steps down the path Providence has set her upon--from child to determined young adult to loving mother--she shares the turbulent events, both joyous and tragic, that molded her, and recalls the enduring love with cavalry officer Captain Jack Elliot that gave her strength and purpose. Rich in authentic everyday details and alive with truly unforgettable characters, These Is My Words brilliantly brings a vanished world to breathtaking life again."

Amazing, incredible, emotional, tragic, unforgettable. Yes, these are words I will use to describe this book. I don't give very many five star ratings, but this book deserves it all the way. I absolutely love this book! It has just become one of my all-time favorite books. I love Ms. Turner's writing style because it draws the reader in and puts you right in the heart of the story. I felt as if I were reading the diary of my great-great grandmother, or someone who would be very dear to me. I felt as if I knew each character intimately and felt each one's joy, sorrow, pain, and fear. Sarah, especially, became a very dear friend. I laughed with her, cried (and sobbed) with her, felt her fear and frustration, and at the same time gained from her strength. I know there must have been women like her living in that time period in the western United States, and it is humbling to know how much they dealt with. It also made me feel very grateful and spoiled for all that I have. I really wish she were a real person because we need more examples of strong women, with a hard work ethic, who overcome tragedy and rise above their difficult circumstances. We need more courage and less whining. I loved that she was "real." Even though she was amazing, she still had her bad days. She lost her temper every so often, she cried, she complained occasionally, but she stood back up and did what needed to be done. I related to her as a mother. Even though I don't have to round-up cattle or kill my own dinner, I am busy with other things, and it is good to know that if she can do it then I can too. I also loved reading about the relationship between Sarah and Jack (and Albert and Savannah as well). It definitely made me thankful for my husband and made me want to work on being a little more romantic. I also decided I should write in my own diary just a little more than I do. There were a few times she would go a year or so before her next entry and I would be upset.....what happened in that year that I didn't get to hear about??

I highly recommend this book. Let me warn you of a few things, though. In the first 30 pages about half the main characters die. Also, there is a rape scene and murders. This is not a "happy" book. It is sad and depressing at times. There is a lot of violence with Indians and some scary characters. There is some language. Times were different back then. I am so grateful it's not that way now. These events are what make Sarah who she is. They are not pretty, but they are what they are. Don't let this scare you away, it is a must-read! I highly recommend this book.

Rating: R (Remember, this does not necessarily follow the movie ratings, it is just my way of saying that it is NOT for younger readers.) Language, violence, death, murder, rape.

Recommendation: 18 and up.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Inheritance (Book #4) by Christopher Paolini

(Summary taken from the inside book jacket) "It began with Eragon...It ends with Inheritance. Not so very long ago, Eragon--Shadeslayer, Dragon Rider--was nothing more than a poor farm boy, and his dragon, Saphira, only a blue stone in the forest. Now, the fate of an entire civilization rests on their shoulders. Long months of training and battle have brought victories and hop, but they have also brought heartbreaking loss. And still, the real battle lies ahead: they must confront Galbatorix. When they do, they will have to be strong enough to defeat him. And if they cannot, no one can. There will be no second chance. The Rider and his dragon have come farther than anyone dared to imagine. But can they topple the evil king and restore justice to Alagaesia? And if so, at what cost? This is the spellbinding conclusion to Christopher Paolini's worldwide bestselling Inheritance cycle."

I have been waiting for this book for what seems like forever! I loved the first three and could not wait for the last book. It's long. It took me awhile to read, but I really enjoy Mr. Paolini's writing style. He draws you in and keeps you there. I like that he uses some "bigger" words and makes you think a little more than other series might. I get so lost in his world. I feel attached to a lot of the characters, like Eragon and Saphira, Roran, Arya, Nasuada, and Orik. I even really like Murtagh, even though he is now sworn to Galbatorix. I just keep thinking that he'll come around. Mr. Paolini has this way with his characters that makes you feel like you are their best friends. I get worried about them, happy for them, sad for them, etc.

At the beginning of the book I was really disappointed because I didn't think Eragon was being true to himself (Mr. Paolini may have forgotten Eragon's disposition in the first three books????). After his farm was burned and his uncle killed, Eragon was filled with anger and wanted revenge; however, he grew more into his new role and grew out of his blood thristy thoughts. He didn't like the fighting. The sight of what the Ra'zac did to villagers made him ill. He fought only because he had to. At the beginning of this book Eragon just seemed like he enjoyed the fighting and the violence. He seemed to want it and even need it. Fortunately, Mr. Paolini saved it in the middle and end by bringing Eragon back to his true self.

By the middle of the book I was finally hooked. Eragon was back to normal, the storyline was filled with twists and turns and lots of tension, and I couldn't read fast enough. I liked the way everything was shaping up. And then came the end. Ahhhhhhhh!!!! Really??? You draw us in, hook us, make us wait forever for this last book, and then this is how you end it??? 849 pages was not long enough....it needed another 100 pages at least to end it the right way. I was so mad. I would have thrown the book if it hadn't been from the library. I still can't believe he ended it that way. We, as readers and fans, don't care about a good ending being predictable, we just want it to end the right way. Boo.

This book was quite graphic. There was some heavier language. There was also a very graphic  torture scene, which disturbed me. There is a lot of fighting and a lot of death. It is war, and it's not pretty.

If you have read the first three books then I recommend reading this one. You need to read it for yourself. Maybe you'll enjoy the ending.....Having said that.....I still think I would recommend the series because the first three are so good, but I was disappointed by the ending.

Rating: PG-13+ (War scenes, death, violence, torture scenes, language)

Recommendation: 14 or 15 and up. My 10 year-old really wants to read this series but I think it's too much for him still. Especially this book. He's going to be mad, but I'm not going to let him read it for a few more years.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Laura's Star by Klaus Baumgart

I love this book! It is such a sweet story. Laura wishes on the evening star for a friend. She sees something shiny fall from the sky and runs outside to see what it is. It is a beautifully shiny star (and it really is shiny....love it!). She takes it up to her room and find that it is broken. She puts a band aid on it and then falls asleep with it next to her. In the morning it is gone and she is so sad. She searches everywhere, but to no avail. All day long she is heartbroken. That night she goes into her room for bed and sees the star right there on her pillow. "Stars only come out at night." She is so happy. She plays games with the star, reads with the star, and finds that the star is getting cold in her hands. She knows she needs to send the little star home. So she ties her balloons to the little star and lets it fly back to its home in the sky. Each night when she looks out at the stars she finds her little star and knows she has a friend.

Need I say more??? What child hasn't wished for a friend?? And what child hasn't looked up at the night sky and felt in awe of the stars? This story relates to almost everyone and is just so sweet. I love that the star is shiny. It just makes this story (sorry, I hate overusing this word, but it fits here, I promise) special. My kids love this story. They point out the shiny star every time we read it. I highly recommend this story! This is a great read-aloud!!

Rating: G Hooray for children's books that are clean!!!

Recommendation: Everyone!!! Girls may like it more, but my boys have always enjoyed it as well.