Saturday, August 31, 2013

Adam and Eve by Sena Jeter Naslund (audio)

★ 1/2

"For a moment, I burned with the desire to emblazon Thom's name on history.  But this was Eden, and we were all caught in it's web of non-time.  History was not just insignificant but irrelevant.  What mattered was here and now."

This book was...different.  I have read two of Naslund's other novels: Ahab's Wife and Abundance: A Novel of Marie Antoinette, both of which I loved.  It's not that I didn't like this this.  I guess it just wasn't what I was expecting.  I thought that there would more historical fiction, but instead, it was set in the near future, 2017.  

Shortly before her husband Thom's mysterious death, Lucy learns that he has discovered evidence of extraterrestrial life on other planets.  Three years later, Lucy is approached by Thom's astrophysicist friend, Pierre Saad.  He wants Lucy to smuggle a recently discovered codex out of Egypt that reveals new details on the book of Genesis and the story of Adam and Eve.  This is a dangerous mission, as many Christian, Jewish, and Muslim activists are convinced that this document will threaten the foundation of each of their religions.  While traveling with the document, Lucy's plane crashes and she lands on a secluded piece of land in the Middle East.  Here she meets an American soldier named Adam who is convinced that they are in Eden and that Lucy is the "Eve" that he has been waiting for.  Together, they must help each other heal, learn to live of the land, and eventually return to civilization with the codex.

I really liked the idea of this book, but it felt a little too random at times.  There was a lot going on: discovery of extraterrestrial live, war in the Middle East, an old codex of Genesis, a modern-day Eden, a mysterious monkey-like boy, old cave paintings, religious all fit together in someway or another, but it was a stretch at times.  I would have enjoyed more focus on the codex and the story of Adam and Eve and a little less of the "extra stuff."  My favorite parts of the books we the descriptions of the Eden-like paradise that Lucy and Adam found themselves in.  I loved the idea of being surrounded by a beautiful place that provides everything one would ever want or need.  It really put things in prospective!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Lightning Thief: Percy Jackson and the Olympians Book #1 by Rick Riordan

"Even strength must bow to wisdom sometimes."

I've been meaning to read this book for awhile and finally got the chance the month for book club (click here).  It was pretty good for a children's book.  I felt like this area of children's books has been a little over done lately.  This reminded me a lot of Harry Potter (which I LOVED), but with Greek history instead of wizards and magic.  I did enjoy re-learning about Greek and Roman mythology though.  And I liked the idea of how the Gods would adapt to out world today.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Night Road by Kristen Hannah (audio)

★ 1/2

"They were like soldiers who'd fought on a common battlefield, she and her son.  There were things to say, but they were just words, and they would come in time.  What mattered was that they had survived and that there was still love - between them and around them.  Everything else was a postscript.  There was really only one thing she needed to say to him now.  One question to ask. 'Do you still love her?' "

"That's how we do it, Zach.  We just...forgive.  I use to worry that you and Lexi were too young for love, and I still think of you as young, but you're not, are you?  None of us are, and life doesn't take the straight road."

" 'I'm sorry it took me so long to get here. I got...lost,' she finally said, and once she started talking, she couldn't stop.  She sat down on a granite bench and told Mia everything."

This was a wonderful book that I will be recommending to my friends and family for a very long time!  It has a little bit of everything -  a story about love, friendship, and family.  The characters must learn to forgive each other, and themselves, in the mist of a terrible tragedy.  The first part of the book was so-so.  I was a little annoyed by all of "teenage drama" at the beginning, but I began to like the book more and more as it went on.

The story begins with a young teenager named Lexi.  After a hard childhood living with a drug-addicted mother and many foster parents, she finally settles in with her great-aunt Eva.  On the first day of high school, Lexi becomes friends with Mia Farraday and the two become inseparable throughout high school.  Mia's parents, especially her mom Jude, becomes like a second family to Lexi and she finally feels like she has found a home.  

Early in their senior year, Mia's twin brother Zach falls in love with Lexi and the three develop an even closer bond.  They spend the next months making plans for their futures and enjoying every minute together.  One bad decision leads to a night that will change their lives forever.  In the years that follow, Lexi and the Farraday family are torn apart and must find away to put their lives back together.

I absolutely loved the second half of the book.  It was beautifully written and had a stunning truth that I don't normally see in these types of novels.  The narration of the novel alternated between Lexi and Jude - two very different point of views.  I loved the character of Lexi - she is one of the most realistic and heart-breakinging characters that I have come across in a very long time.  She tried so hard to do the right thing and put everyone she loved ahead of her. Lexi was forced to grow up in a matter of days and is forced with one hard decision after another.  I also loved the character of Jude.  At times, she frustrated me so much I wanted to scream.  Even though I understood where she was coming from, I could not get over some of the things she did.  By the end of the book, I not only understood Jude, but learned to love and respect her as well.  She had a sort-of wisdom that I greatly admired.  

"Night Road" was also the first audio book I listened to.  I have about an hour commute to work everyday, so I figured that it would be a good time to catch up on some extra reading.  I got so attached to the characters, I ended up bawling my eyes out the whole way home while listening to the last two chapters - and I'm not one for crying.  This book was highly unexpected.  I went into it thinking I would ready a good book - one with nice characters, a semi-interesting plot line, and a lot of "chick-lit" type drama.  Instead, I walked away with a stunning story that I will remember for a long, long time.  

This book was #10 on my top ten list of 2013.

Friday, August 23, 2013

1984 by George Orwell

"War is peace.  Freedom is slavery.  Ignorance is strength."

1984 is one of those books that I've always meant to read, but never got around to until now.  I'm still not quiet sure how I feel about this book.  When I first started it, I must have picked it up and put it back down again at least a dozen times. It took me until about page 80 or so before I was actually able to stick with it.  It was interesting and thought-provoking, but not really something I actually enjoyed reading it.  

Orwell creating in erie, but realistic future in which the world is run exclusively by "Big Brother," an organization that controls not only all political aspects of the world, but people's minds as well. Winston Smith is a typical citizen - he follows the rules of the party and works for the Minister of Truth, where he rewrites the past.  Even though he secretly despises Big Brother, he would never reveal this to anyone. Then he begins a relationship with his co-worker Julia and is thrown into a world of uncertainly and betrayal.

What surprised me the most about this novel was how realistic Orwell's perception of the future was - especially after learning that it was written in 1948, almost forty years before the novel takes place.  

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

 " 'One must always be careful of books,' said Tessa, 'and what is inside them, for words have the power to change us.' "

" 'You know,' Gabriel said, 'there was a time when I thought we could be friends, Will.'
'There was a time when I thought I was a ferret,' Will said, 'but that turned out to be the opium haze. Did you know it had that effect? Because I didn't.' "

I read this book as part of a workshop on book discussions that I attended last week in Madison called Reading by the Lake.  Only finished it a couple of days late...

This book was ok.  It had a lot of really interesting fantasy and steampunk (I learned what that was this weekend!) elements.  When a young girl named Tessa travels to England in 1878 to live with her brother, she is captured by the Dark Sisters.  She is suddenly thrown into an underground world of vampires, warlocks, and demons and learns that she has an ability as well - the ability to transform into another person.  She is recused by the Shadowhunters, where she begins to learn about herself and is caught up in the mysteries underworld.

I'd say that the book was an average young adult fantasy novel.  It had some unique twists with the characters and elements of the early industrial revolution. I really liked the historical aspects of 19th century England and Tessa's love of books.  The plot was so-so, but it caught my attention enough to finish the book.