Friday, November 13, 2009

Catching Fire

Catching Fire does not disappoint. The Hunger Games was my favorite book last year, and Catching Fire is my favorite this year. It's that simple. I think I'm going to combust if I don't buy the third and final book of this series on the day it comes out next year. If you've been looking for something new to read, this is it. I promise you'll thank me. This series can be shocking, but it's only because you'll see so much of our present day in this disturbing future setting. Catching Fire is the story of what happens after the games end in book one, and if you've read it, you know that the Capitol is very angry with Katniss. They are ready to take revenge. The romance is just anguishingly good too. Gale...or Peeta? I say Peeta all the way. (If you have an opinion, feel free to weigh in.) Catching Fire has everything I love in a book. It's just so...*stutter* *mumble* *stutter* beyond my powers of description good.

The Lost Symbol

Generally, I've liked Dan Brown novels. I thought DaVinci Code and Angels and Demons were both original and incredibly interesting. Having read a few more by him, including this latest, I'm starting to feel like he's become very formulaic. The symbolism stuff is way cool, but the rest is rubbish. So boring. Basically, it goes like this: someone has discovered a dead body, mutilated in some disgusting way that only Robert Langdon will recognize as a symbol leading him on some hunt to discover the truth before the world is destroyed. Oh, and what? There's a beautiful women who's incredibly smart and related to the original murder victim who is ridiculously intelligent with a secret lab and access to information Langdon needs and no one else can give him? Yeah, that's all part of the Dan Brown formula. Add in famous locations, secret societies we all know about, paintings that obviously mean more than meet the eye, and you have a complete Dan Brown novel. Like I said, parts of his books are so cool and interesting. There was a lot of Masonic stuff in this book and I thought it was fascinating to read about. Dan Brown just needs to come up with a new plot.

Harriet the Spy

This book is solely responsible for my going through a phase where I only wanted to eat tomato sandwiches for lunch as a child. It also got me started on keeping writing notebooks. I love it, and it's no wonder that when I had to think of a modern realism book to share with my children's lit class this was the first and only option I considered. Harriet is wonderful, and if you've ever read this book, you know why.

Mara, Daughter of the Nile

Definitely my kind of book. I love all things Egyptian and this book has it all. Mara is a slave girl who is sold into a new life as spy for Queen Hatshepsut who is trying to prevent her son Thutmose III from taking his rightful place as pharaoh. Everything gets turned upside down when she's recruited as a spy for the opposite side as well! She works as a double-agent for a while, but begins to believe in Thutmose III's cause, and develop feelings for the leader of the rebellion as well. Mara's duplicity is discovered and mayhem ensues which determines the fate of both Egypt and Mara. This book is beautifully written. Love, love, loved it.

The Fairy Rebel

I'm not kidding, this was one of my absolute favorites when I was a little girl. I'm thrilled to rediscover it. It wasn't nearly as great a book from an adult perspective, but I have so many memories attached to it. It's like everytime I turned a page I caught a glimpse of my younger self reading it. I kept remembering things I'd been doing when I'd read it as a child. It was so fun to read it again. I think Sarah will love this book as much as I did, since she's totally into fairies. Just to jog your memory, (in case you loved this book as a child and forgotten about it like I did) this book is about a woman named Jan who is unable to have children and who miraculously meets a fairy named Tiki one day. Tiki takes pity on Jan and uses her magic to help her have a baby. Jan and her husband name the baby Bindi and all is well, until the fairy queen decides to take revenge on everyone - especially Tiki - for such an illegal bit of magic.

The Indian in the Cupboard

Absolutely loved this book as a child. Who didn't? It is so fun to imagine being able to bring toys to life. The thing I've loved most about my children's lit class is that it has brought so many great book memories from my past. I'm so excited to share this book with my kids. I can't wait until they're old enough for this one.

Bridge to Terabithia

I read this book as a child and refused to read it ever again. I hated it. It is such a sad book! I ended up breaking that vow for my Children's Lit class. It wasn't quite as bad to read it as an adult, but I still don't like sad books. I do think that this would be good book for older children (probably no younger than high school, actually) who are dealing with the death of a loved one.

Princess Ben

Princess Ben came as a bit of a disappointment, although she came highly recommended. I think this book would be great for 7-9th graders, though. Ben (short for Benevolence) got on my nerves at times, but aside from that I loved the plot. It was just a bit juvenile for my tastes. Which doesn't make a lot of sense, because I read a lot of children's/YA lit and love it, but for some reason this one just seemed way too young for me.

Johnny Tremain

Loved this book! It was a little slow getting into it, but then it takes off with a bang of revolutionary gun powder (ok, maybe that was cheesy...). I'm such a big fan of historical fiction. I've always loved it, and I think it's the best way to teach children history. I know it works for me, even as an adult. I loved everything about this book, especially the character of Johnny himself. Unlike some main characters who seem to be flawless, Johnny is very real. When you don't want to hug him and tell him everything will be fine you want to slap him across the face. He reminds me of my own children... Just kidding. Sort of. Anyway, Johnny's a classic, and if you've never read it, you should.

Sea Glass

This is the first book I've read of Maria V. Snyder's since her first, Poison Study, that I've really liked. Magic Study, Fire Study, and Storm Glass all seemed to be cheap-ish imitations of the first book, but it was worth it to keep going. This book was a very good read. Can't say much without spoilers, but if you're patient with this series' previous books it'll pay off.

The Hiding Place

What a beautiful book this is. If I ever feel like my life is rough I plan on rereading this. I have never read a story with so much faith and hope in it. This is the story of Corrie Ten Boom, expert Dutch (non-Jewish) watchmaker, who's work for the underground during WWII puts her in a concentration camp. You'd think this would be another horrible account of concentration camps, and in a way it is, but Corrie's faith and recognition of God's tender mercies is incredible. Great book, but it had me totally bawling. I'm not always in the mood for books that make me cry like that, but I'm so glad I read it. Consider yourself warned. :D

Lincoln: A Photobiography

Generally, I'm not much of a biography reader, or a non-fiction reader of any sort for that matter, but I loved this book! It wasn't at all dry or boring. I can see exactly why this book won the Newbery. I learned a few things I'd never known before about Lincoln too. Highly recommend it.

Troubling a Star

I loved this book when I was a child and recently found it at a used bookstore and had to buy it. I ended up using it in my Children's Lit class, too. I have to admit, it wasn't nearly as impressive to me as an adult as it was when I was young. I did still love the whole Antarctica aspect of this story and imagining what it would be like to take a trip there. At the moment, though, I'm feeling very cold in Idaho Falls, so I think I need to go find a warmer book to write about.

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever

Most of the books I've read for Children's Lit have been familiar to me, but I'd never heard of this book before. It's just too bad, really. I would have loved it as a child. I loved it as an adult. I got some seriously good belly laughs out of it. Basically, it's the story of the Herdmans (described in the first page of the book as being "absolutely the worst kids in the history of the world") and how they take over the local church's Christmas pageant and teach everyone a little bit about the true meaning of Christmas in the process. It's a short book (practically a short story) and completely worth it if you've never read it before.