Saturday, October 17, 2015

Anne's House of Dreams (and Mine)

Anne's House of Dreams (Anne of Green Gables, #5)Anne's House of Dreams by L.M. Montgomery
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I'm not sure it's healthy that I gush any more about how much I loved reading some of the Anne books this summer, but I could not have loved this one more. How could I not? Anne and Gilbert finally got married and moved into their first house together and Seth and I finally got married and moved into our first little apartment together. It's too perfect, so to save the gushing, here are two of my favorite quotes from the book. Can't wait to revisit this story again.

“But it was a happy and beautiful bride who came down the old, homespun, carpeted stairs that September noon - the first bride of Green Gables, slender and shining-eyed, in the mist of her maiden veil, with her arms full of roses. Gilbert, waiting for her in the hall below, looked up at her with adoring eyes. She was his at last, this evasive, long-sought Anne, won after years of patient waiting. It was to him she was coming in the sweet surrender of the bride. Was he worthy of her? Could he make her as happy as he hoped? If he failed her - if he could not measure up to her standard of manhood - then, as she held out her hand, their eyes met and all doubt was swept away in a glad certainty. They belonged to each other; and, no matter what life might hold for them, it could never alter that. Their happiness was in each other’s keeping and both were unafraid.”

“All in all, it was a never-to-be-forgotten summer — one of those summers which come seldom into any life, but leave a rich heritage of beautiful memories in their going — one of those summers which, in a fortunate combination of delightful weather, delightful friends and delightful doing, come as near to perfection as anything can come in this world.”

Happy reading--

You're not awkward...I'm awkward...

I know my blog is overly full of book reviews. I'm really obsessed with books right now, and writing about books is just as enjoyable...I'm also even more obsessed (as you already know) with Seth, but writing about Seth isn't quite as much fun as being with Seth, we are.

I just thought I would acknowledge the awkward title of my last book review "Between Shades of Grey". Who knew historical fiction could be so awkward? I'm sure the author also wishes she could have a redo because her important literary work gets thrown in the same conversation as books that are wildly inappropriate. Oops.

ps. I reached my goal this year of reading at least 24 books. I know that's not a lot compared to some and way more than others, but this really isn't about other people. I just really wanted to read more this year, and I did it..and I'm happier for it. As always, happy reading and happy living.

Between Shades of Grey

Between Shades of GreyBetween Shades of Grey by Ruta Sepetys
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Some stories deserve to be told more than others. This is one of those stories. The Lithuanian experiences of World War II and beyond are not as well known as those from western Europe. Stalin's grip on eastern Europe and Russian was crushing - more than 20 million of his own people were killed during his reign. 20 million - we can't even conceive of numbers like that. Coupled with the Hitler's devastation, it's hard to believe that people were able to go on after their collective experiences.

"Between Shades of Grey" follows fifteen-year-old Lina and her family through their nightmare - being torn from their home, from each other, and from their dreams to ultimately ending up in Siberian prison camps. The subtle details that Sepetys layers into her story are beautiful. I only wish that the shades of grey (definitely not the same as James' 50 shades) that Sepetys crafted into Lina's art were visually rendered as part of the story. It would bring the story to life just the same way that the deftly included artwork did in "The Book Thief" or "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close". Either way - this is a great book worthy of your time. It's truly a 4.5 star, but I can't help but round up for such an important story.

Happy reading--

All Quiet on the Western Front...Round 2

All Quiet on the Western FrontAll Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I did it. I read all of All Quiet on the Western Front, and finally I get it. I get the subtle beauty, the tragedy, the disillusioned heartbreak. True to classic literature, it is not an easy read, It is not a book I would recommend to many, but Remarque spoke for a generation that lost their voice and their possibility. It's a great predecessor to Tim O'Brien's "The Things They Carried", and I am finally glad for the chance to teach it.

Happy reading--

Before I Fall

Before I FallBefore I Fall by Lauren Oliver
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

One of my favorite book reviewers said, "Can't really decide what to think of this book." And I don't really know either.

I hate the "Mean Girl" mentality of the main characters.
I love the inner dialogue of how fragile mean girls really are.
I hate the profanity and the triviality of the things teenagers (and let's be honest, adults too) are obsessed with.
I love Kent. He's the kind of guy every girl should fall in love with, rather than the silly boys we crush on in high school.

This could go on for a long time, and so let's boil it down to three things:
1) I love teen fiction.
2) I love the concept of Groundhog's Day, so a book that follows that format resonates with me.
3) I could not put it down. I started carrying it with me on the off chance that I could find a minute to read it.

So despite my reservations and distaste for some of the behaviors and mindsets, I gladly read Before I Fall and was SO frustrated by it. I don't know who to recommend it to because it's the type of book that teenagers would love, but also would seemingly get bad ideas from it. Adults who read it might be too put off by the attitude and triviality of the teens, but will have a much clearer understanding of what it's like to be on the other side of be an adolescence...and see now the big picture that we so often miss when we're young.

I would give this book 3.5 stars, but I can't because despite my constant writing about it, the Goodreads gods haven't made it happen. So I'm giving it 4 stars because it's well written and haunting.

Read it, don't read it. Ambivalence all the way, but as always, happy reading--

The Selection

The Selection (The Selection, #1)The Selection by Kiera Cass
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I chose my past three books based on student recommendations - dangerous path to follow, I know. However, I wanted to be able to bond with my new batch of kiddos over their love of reading, and YA fiction is much easier to wade through once my grading stacks start growing.

Let me say first - The Selection is not a great book. It's a Dystopian version of The Bachelor that's aimed at angsty teenage girls. {Why didn't I think of that?} We love to devour bad reality television. It's like that cheap Halloween candy that you'll stash in a drawer and pretend not to have (oh, wait - is that just me?) for the next month. There's something ridiculously satisfying about it, and I'm not sorry to have read it (or eaten it for that matter). I know there's no literary merit, and sometimes the plot twists are contrived, but I enjoyed it. Just like I'll enjoy the next one, and I 100% understand why my freshmen girls cannot get enough of this story. It's first kisses, forbidden love, drama, princes, fancy dresses, and dreams. So pass me the Butterfingers and book two. I'm ready.

Happy reading and happy fall--