Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Vow: The True Events that Inspired the Movie by Kim and Krickitt Carpenter With Dana Wilkerson

I loved this book! The faith that this couple had going through this ordeal is truly amazing. Kim and Krickitt had been married for only 2 months when they were in a horrible traffic accident going home for Thanksgiving. Krickitt sustained massive brain damage and wasn't expected to live for longer than a few hours. After she was able to speak, they realized that she had no memory of the events of the last year and a half- the time frame where she met, dated, got engaged and married to her husband!

Amy had seen the movie a few weeks ago and we compared the book to the movie. EVERYTHING was changed!! The city they lived in, the accident, they NEVER got a divorce (that's the whole point of the title-they kept their vow to each other and to God), the relationships that they had/have with their in-laws is very strong and I could go on. The book is mostly written from Kim's perspective. I kept waiting to hear from Krickitt to see how she felt after the accident. There are some of her journal entries added, but that's really all from her perspective. However, after finishing the book, I think hearing it mostly from Kim didn't detract from the message.

I just love reading about real stories of the amazing challenges and trials people face in life and how they overcome those trials through their faith in God and help from others. It was very refreshing to read a book that bore witness to the fact that God does exist and there are miracles happening everyday. I highly recommend reading the book.

"The House I Loved" by Tatiana Rosnay

FINALLY!! My first post!

I am a HUGE fan of historical fiction! I loved Tatiana Rosnay's "Sarah's Key" so when I saw this on the shelf, I grabbed it.

In the mid 1800s, Napoleon III odered large scale rennovations of Paris to make room for wider streets and a more modern city. His prefect, Baron Hausmann, has gone through the city and destroyed hundreds of houses, eradicating whole neighborhoods at a time, erasing the history of Paris. Rose Bazelet is determined to fight for her home- the only home her husband ever knew. The reader is told the story of the house through letters that Rose writes to her deceased husband, Armand and through scattered letters from people who have been a big part of her life- past and present. As Rose remembers, she is forced to come to terms with a secret that she has kept for 30 years.

I loved that the novel was written in letter form. It made the connections to the characters in the story more real and tender. I enjoyed seeing her love for her husband pour out in her letters. I don't feel like it was as well written as "Sarah's Key", though. It felt rushed, especially toward the end- like the plot hadn't been fully developed. The ending was a bit morbid, but I kind of like the macabre.

Good, fast read. It just wasn't as captivating as I was hoping.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

"Matched" by Ally Condie

There is so much great Young Adult literature out there.  Add Condie's "Matched" to the mix.  This was a referral by a friend and I'm glad I followed through with it.

The society seventeen-year-old Cassia Reyes lives in exists at some point in the future.  Technology has failed civilization as we know it and the people have had to reconstruct society.  In fact, it becomes known as the Society.  The story begins with Cassia's Matching Banquet, where 17-year-olds go with their parents to be told to whom they have been matched for future marriage based on genetic compatibility for the healthiest offspring.  Usually the face that shows up on the screen at the banquet at city hall displays a match that lives somewhere else in Society, and over a course of years the two youth fulfill their contract and get married and start their families.  Cassia discovers her match is Xander, a childhood friend.  She is considered very lucky.  Each matched participant receives a data card with information with their matched partner, and Cassia thinks it's funny to even look at the file on Xander because she already knows everything about him.  But when she examines the data card the following morning, she begins to wonder if Xander is her perfect match after all.

This book reminded me a bit of "The Hunger Games," "The Uglies," and "Fahrenheit 451" in the fact that these civilizations are established to 'protect' its citizens when in fact the citizens are manipulated into believing they are blessed to have the security they enjoy, when really everything they do is for the benefit of Society, and not the populace.  I'm excited a sequel, "Crossed," is out and that the third book "Reached" will be released in November.

Confession:  I didn't read "Matched," I listened to it.  It was a delightful production and I need to encourage my library to buy the audio for "Crossed" and "Reached."  Because life is becoming so full and busy these days it seems the best way I can enjoy most books is with my iPod growing out of my ears.

"The Picture of Dorian Gray" by Oscar Wilde

"Dorian Gray" is a title my book club had tossed around from time to time when we needed to come up with more books for our to-do list.  Before reading it, my only familiarity with the book/character came from the movie "A League of Extraordinary Gentlemen," and I don't really even remember much about the movie or what role Dorian played.  I had also never read Oscar Wilde before, so I was interested in it.

Dorian Gray is a up-and-coming bachelor in England.  He has recently befriended an up-and-coming painter, Basil, who finds inspiration in Dorian's delightful good looks.  Lord Henry Wotton is also a friend of Basil, but there is nothing good about him, except perhaps being good at confusing truth for lies.  Henry's influence is immediately toxic for Gray, who bemoans the portrait Basil made for him and curses the fact that the portrait shall always remain pure and untainted while he will go on in life and age and become unwholesome to look at in time.  If only the case were reversed; if only Dorian could maintain his youth and handsome looks while the portrait receives the brunt of aging.

And just that happens.  And that's the end of my disclosure.

At some point during our book club discussions the host usually asks, "Did you like it?"  The reactions to this one were largely negative.  It's a dark story, and no happy ending.  But I liked it for its symbolism.  And the book made me ask how much of Dorian Gray can I see in myself?  How much of Dorian Gray is in all of us?

Saturday, July 7, 2012

"The Trumpeter of Krakow" by Eric P. Kelly

If you've read more than one of my entries on this blog you'll know I have a goal to read all the Newbery books in my lifetime.  You'll also know that I've struggled reading them.  Most of them don't hold my attention span well.  But that changed with the 1929 Newbery Medal winner, "The Trumpeter of Krakow."  Unlike most of the seven Newbery books I've read, I had actually heard of this title before and Micaela says it was her favorite book in late elementary school (if anyone wants to know my favorite book in late elementary school, it was "Wolf by the Ears" by Ann Rinnaldi).  And I don't blame Micaela for liking this book so much.  Taking place in the mid-1400s, the tale takes the reader back in time to the heart of the Renaissance in Poland's capitol.  A family honors a centuries-old oath to protect a much coveted crystal.  This mission drives them from their home when power-hungry Russian thugs burn their house and lands.  Seeking refuge in Krakow, the family are determined to hand the crystal over to the king for safe keeping.  And of course, that's easier said than done.  I won't tell you anymore because unlike that pigeon book I read, this is a book I think everyone should become familiar with.  No spoilers here.