Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Challenger Deep


Challenger Deep 
By Neal Shusterman

Wow. This was such an unique and fascinating peek into what it is like to deal with mental illness. I love well written books that explore topics that are not as widely talked about. At first I found it a little difficult to get into the story as it jumped back and forth between reality and fantasy. But it all started to come together and I began to understand the connections. Neal Shusterman did an amazing job of weaving together what was happening to Caden in real life and the world he was imagining around him. I thought this was a great way to show just how easy it is to confuse fact and fiction when you are suffering from mental illness.

Maybe it can even help others better understand their friends or families who are going through something similar. It seems like there are more and more books that are addressing hard issues like mental illness, but I think there is still somewhat of a stigma around this subject. We need to talk more openly about Mental illness.

I know there were a couple times at the beginning of the story that I completely understood the anxiety that he was feeling, because I've been there and felt very similar. After reading this book I feel really lucky that my postpartum anxiety eventually got better and didn't become worse. I didn't understand what was happening to me and I didn't realize that I could get help for it. I really feel like that is because we just don't talk about these things very much. I hope that stories like these will help others become more willing to open up about their mental illness, so that more people see that they are not alone and that it is ok to ask for help.

Monday, March 20, 2017

The Emperor's Soul


The Emperor's Soul
by Brandon Sanderson

So those of you who have been following my blog, already know just how much I like Brandon Sanderson's Writing. He is a fantastic storyteller and his books never disappoint.

This is a short story, set in the same world as his book Elantris (how have I not read that book yet?). It was a fascinating tale about a girl who is a forger. She uses a type of magic to change objects, animals and even people into something different. She is tasked with saving the Emperor.

I thought this new type of magic was really interesting and different from anything I have read before. This is why I love his books so much. They are so unique.

He is so great at developing characters rich in detail and history. People you genuinely care about and want to know more about. It did not take me long to get drawn into the story and I wanted her to succeed just as much as she was determined to do the impossible.

This story made me want to move Elantris higher up on my to be read list. If you enjoy fantasy but have not read one of Brandon Sanderson's books yet, you should really give this one a try. Even if you don't read fantasy much, I think you will find his style of writing enthralling.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Between Shades of Gray


Between Shades of Gray
By Ruta Sepetys

So I'm going to just get this out there right from the start... This book is exactly why I love historical fiction so much. History is just so fascinating, especially when it is in such a well written story such as this one. I think books like this are the perfect way to introduce people to subjects, not often talked about but need to be told. Because it is in a fictional setting, it is more approachable then a historical text book and it makes you feel more. You get to see and feel what the people in these situations really went through. I think that is what makes this story just so touching. My heart broke for the characters in this book and it makes me even sadder that this is based on real events. Events that I don't think have been talked about nearly enough.

This story takes place in Lithuania and Russia during the time of WWII. It follows a teenage girl and her family as they are deported, by Stalin's secret police, from their homes in Lithuania and sent to work in Labor camps in Siberia. It is as brutal as it sounds. I know that people talk about how evil Stalin and communism was but I'm not sure we truly understand just how horrible the things he did were. When we talk about WWII we tend to focus on the Nazis and the Holocaust because that was so horrific  but after reading this book it is clear that Stalin did things just as horrific. 100,000's died during his cleansing of the Baltic Region. It was surprising to me just how similar some of the situations these people were put in were to what the Jews went through in Germany. Maybe we don't talk about this much ( I don't remember learning anything about this in school) because during the war Russia was our allies. Or maybe it's because we just didn't learn about it until recently. They were so well hidden from the rest of the world. Even after they were finally freed 12 plus years later, they were considered criminals and forbidden to speak about it or risk going back. I think people are still gathering knowledge about these crimes against the Baltic people. But what ever the reason may be for this not being talked about much, their story needs to be told and this book did a great job of telling that story.

I loved how she put little flash backs through out the book about what their life was like before they were deported.  It was such a contrast to the current situation they were in and it really helped to highlight just how drastically their lives had changed. There were so many interesting characters in this book, all with different life situations.  I think that it helped show the different types of trials that this group of people faced. I was really touched by this book. It was one of those stories that brought me to tears because I felt so deeply for the characters. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone interested in learning more about Lithuania and Russian history.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Heartless


Heartless
By Marissa Meyer

I was so excited to read this book, written by the same author who gave us the Lunar Chronicles. I loved that series so much and a book based in Wonderland seemed like a really fun idea. This story takes place before Alice's visit and introduces you to many of the beloved characters history. I always like a good back story. Who doesn't want to learn more about what made a person who they are? This was a fun story with plenty of whimsy and nonsense that you would expect in a story which takes place in Lewis Carroll's Wonderland.

This was not my favorite of her books though and I actually struggled a little bit to get through it. I should probably make a little confession before I continue. I am not a huge fan of Alice in Wonderland. I'm not particularly fond of the cartoon or the book. It's not that I disliked the book or anything, it's just not a book I would list as a favorite or even choose to reread. So now that that's out there, it shouldn't be shocking that I felt the same way about this book. The story was entertaining and the plot interesting but I just didn't love it.

A few positives about this book: I loved that she stayed true to the original feel of wonderland. I really did feel like I was in the same world created by Lewis Carroll. There were a couple characters that I particular loved, The Cheshire cat and Jest. They were perfect for this story.

My negatives: I found the main character to be frustrating. She was constantly going on about her big dreams and how she would do anything to make them happen but she spends most of the book just trying to avoid things. She was just so passive aggressive it was frustrating. Second, the ending was just so depressing. I mean I knew it was about the Queen of Hearts, based on the title, but it was so sad. I'm just not a huge fan of sad ending I guess.

So there it is. I thought this was a creative story and I enjoyed the book, I just didn't love it like I thought I would.