Friday, February 28, 2014

The Devil in the White City

The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America
By Erik Larson

I don't often read Non-fiction. I tend to gravitate towards fictional tales and fantastical worlds but this book was a good reminder of how much I like history. I find it fascinating and love learning how the world and society work in different eras of time. I often get my history fix by reading Historical Fiction but this book showed me that non-fiction books can be just as engaging.

It is clear that Erik Larson put a lot of work into the writing of this book. It is filled with vivid details that really made the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago come alive for me. For me it read almost like fiction. Some of the beginning chapters about the architects responsible for the creation of the fair did move a little slowly for me but as the Fair started to come together the story really came alive for me. I love that he was able to create a story so full of rich historic detail. I found it fascinating to see how the Fair really helped change America. It was fun to read about the little things that seem so common place today but were new and upcoming then. (Like Shredded Wheat and Aunt Jemima Pancake mix). I also enjoyed learning about the first Ferris Wheel. After reading this book I feel like I know what it must have been to live during that time.

As morbid as it seems, I think that parts I found most fascinating were the chapters about the serial killer, H.H. Holmes. It seems so strange to me that he was able to get away with so much for so long with out raising any questions. How could so many young women go missing from his hotel with out arousing suspicion? The fact that this really happen makes me sad and I would hope that it would be much harder in our day to get away with something so macabre. I'm also glad that he was eventual caught and an end was put to his horrendous crimes.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Giver

Book Club for February:

The Giver 
by Lois Lowry

I feel like to really talk about how I felt about this book. I may have to include a few spoilers... I will try to keep them vague.

I sat down and read this book in a day. It is a children's book and only around 180 pages so it was a quick read. What a fascinating story! I seriously could put this book down.

This is a story about a dystopian society where everyone lives with out pain or feelings. They live by a strict set of rules and are told what their jobs will be when they turn 12. As with most novels of this type, everyone seems content with this way of life but things are never as they seem at first glance.

I always enjoy reading these types of novels where a group has attempted to create the perfect society. It seems like in these cases the people must give up something fundamental to what it means to be human.  Being a twin myself, I found the part about the twin babies, especially heartwrenching.

I was a little disappointed with the ending, only because it felt so abrupt. And I questioned what it really meant. Did he find what he was looking for or was he so near death that he was delirious? I would like to think that in the end he was rescued but I'm not positive that is what happened. Anyone else who read the book wonder the same thing?

There are three other books about this society but I think they follow different people and places. So I may never get my answers. I guess I will have to read them and find out!

Now for the March Book of the Month:

The Glass Castle 
by Jeannette Walls

Monday, February 24, 2014

The House of Hades

The House of Hades
by Rick Riordan

I wanted to make sure I read this book before I forgot what happened in the last book. It has been a while, but after a couple pages I was able to jump right back into the story from where it left off in the last book. I was definitely glad about that because that would have been a lot of books to  review if I hadn't remember everything that lead up to this book.

I must admit that it took me a long time to get through this book. It seemed to move a little slowly, so it didn't keep my attention as well as some of his previous books. Once I got closer to the end it really picked up speed and I ended up enjoying the story.

I especially liked that he brought back some characters from previous books (Calypso, being my favorite). It will be interesting to see how it all plays out in the next book, which I'm kind of hoping is the final book in this series. Only because I want to know what happens to all the Heros and because I just can't imagine the story dragging out any longer then that.

Thursday, February 13, 2014


By Veronica Roth

Even though I have been hearing mixed reviews about the final book in this Trilogy, I was excited when a copy of this book arrived at the Library for me. My Husband turned to me last night, noticed I no longer had the book in my hand and asked, "You already finished it?" I grinned and replied in the affirmative. It doesn't take me long to read, when I really like a book!

I read this book every spare moment I had. And despite the mixed reviews I thought it was perfect. It was exactly what I needed to wrap up the story. Most of the story takes place in the outside world and there are some very sad moments but I liked where the story went. After the second book I felt kind of let down and didn't quite get why the big reveal was so shocking. This book really cleared those feelings up for me and once they went out into the world it made a whole lot more sense to me.

One complaint I heard was that people didn't like that it switches between Tobias and Tris' point of view. I didn't mind that it switched between Tris and Tobias' point of view because I felt like it help created a more complete picture of the situation. Although I did have to remind myself several times just who I was reading about from chapter to chapter.

I have read plenty of Dystopian novels now and most of them I have always felt that, although the story line was fascinating, we as a society wouldn't let things go that far or take such an extreme view of the world. For me this book felt much more real. I could truly imagine a world where people held such extreme views. It doesn't seem so far fetched that and entire population can be control and manipulated by limiting their knowledge and telling half-truths. Isn't that a little how the media, politicians and varies  organizations get people to believe what they want, even today's society?

I really liked what this book had to say about love, selflessness and sacrifice. It definitely made me really examine what those meant to me.

Anyway, I really loved this series. All three books were great reads and I can't wait to see what they do with the movie!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Library Finds

It is time for some more fun children's books that we brought home form the Library.

Wink, The Ninja Who Wanted to Be Noticed
by J.C. Phillpps

This was a really fun story about a little Ninja who found it hard to be stealthy. I love that he finds a way to be a ninja but stay true to himself at the same time. I also loved the artwork in this book.

The Sea Serpent and Me
by Dashka Slater

I thought this was such a sweet story about growing up and leaving home. I loved everything about it... It is beautifully written and the pictures are lovely to look at. Plus my boys liked it too because it was about a Sea Monster.

Splat and the Cool School Trip
by Rob Scotton

The boys thought that this story was so funny. They love all the penguins in the bathtub! This was a cute story about a school trip to the Zoo that didn't go quite as planned.