Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Threads of Change

Threads of Change
by Jodi Barrows

Genre: Historical Fiction

Synopsis: In the first book of a Quilting Story series, the four cousins-with social graces, charm, and a love for quilting-will face the anguish of life on the frontier in 1856 with every turn along the wagon trail.  Raging storms and adversities hit the small band of travelers.  Relieved to finally arrive at the abandoned military post at Forth Worth, Texas, they begin the hard work of establishing a new home.  When trials follow them, they must decided to become true warriors of their hearts, minds, and souls or fall to the sufferings of prairie life.
From the back of the book

Review:  This book seems like it should be up my alley-I love historical fiction and women's fiction.  But this book was not written well.  The dialogue was so cheesy and inexpertly written.  I felt like I was reading a book written by an amateur writer in a creative writing class.  Perhaps the author was able to finesse her writing skill throughout the book but I just couldn't read anymore.

Rating:  unrated

I Am Malala

I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban
by Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb

Genre: Memoir

Synopsis:  I come from a country that was created at midnight. When I almost died it was just after midday.

When the Taliban took control of the Swat Valley in Pakistan, one girl spoke out. Malala Yousafzai refused to be silenced and fought for her right to an education.

On Tuesday, October 9, 2012, when she was fifteen, she almost paid the ultimate price. She was shot in the head at point-blank range while riding the bus home from school, and few expected her to survive. 

Instead, Malala's miraculous recovery has taken her on an extraordinary journey from a remote valley in northern Pakistan to the halls of the United Nations in New York. At sixteen, she has become a global symbol of peaceful protest and the youngest nominee ever for the Nobel Peace Prize.

I Am Malala is the remarkable tale of a family uprooted by global terrorism, of the fight for girls' education, of a father who, himself a school owner, championed and encouraged his daughter to write and attend school, and of brave parents who have a fierce love for their daughter in a society that prizes sons.

I Am Malala will make you believe in the power of one person's voice to inspire change in the world.
From GoodReads

Review:  I went into this book thinking that I would really like it because I've loved reading about women from the Middle East and their stories.  But this book was so hard to read.  I felt like I was sitting in a history class, reading dry material.  I could not read more than a few pages at a time, it was so uninteresting.  I tried to skim through the history part in hopes that the book would pick up once I started to read about her life but that was not the case.  Even once she started talking about growing up, there was so much history interspersed that the book still was dull.  Once the book was more about Malala's life, it didn't get much better.  Every single detail was written and unnecessary anecdotes were all over the book.  I am so impressed by Malala and how she was brave enough to speak out about education and continue to attend school even with threats against her.  But I really wish the book would have been edited better and written in a more interesting manner.

Rating: 2 stars

Saturday, April 26, 2014

The Book of Rachael

The Book of Rachael
by Leslie Cannold

Genre: Historical Fiction

Synopsis:  If Jesus of Nazareth had a sister, she is lost to history.  So Leslie Cannold has imagined her...

Rachael is intelligent, rebellious and passionate.  She wants many things from life, most of them either forbidden or dangerous.  To read and write, to learn the skills of healing; to marry as she choses.

But when she falls in love with her brother's best friend Judah of Iscariot, the word 'danger' takes on a new meaning.  For even as Rachael strives to attain her heart's desires, events are unfolding around her that will change the world forever.
From the back of the book

Review:  I almost abandoned this book but decided to keep reading because I was intrigued by the concept of reading about Jesus' sister. I loved The Red Tent and loved reading about Biblical times.  But I was so turned off by the portrayal of Biblical characters that it made it hard to keep reading.  The author changed character's names from what we know them to be, including Jesus' name.  Some of what the author did seemed sacrilegious to me-her portrayal of Mary and more.  There were also parts of the book that were confusing to me and I felt like I was missing information that I needed to know in order to comprehend the book.  The book did pick up towards the end but it was still not as interesting as I had hoped it to be.

Rating: 2 stars

Saturday, April 12, 2014


by Lois Lowry

Genre: Juevenile Fiction, Dystopian Fiction

Synopsis:  He carried messages for [the people].  It was his job.  He thought that when it came time to be assigned his true name, Messenger would be the choice.  He liked the sound of it and looked forward to taking that title.

But this evening Matty was not carrying or collecting a message...He headed to a clearing he knew of, a place that lay just beyond a thick stand of bristly pines...He needed privacy for this thing he was discovering about himself: a place to test it in secret, to weigh his own fear for what it meant.

Six years earlier, Matty had come to Village as a scrappy and devious little boy.  Back then, he liked to call himself "the Fiercest of the Fierce," but since that time, Matty had grown almost into a man under the care of Seer, a blind man whose special sight had earned him the name.  Now Matty hopes that he will soon be given his true name, and he hopes it will be Messenger. But strange changes are taking place in Village.  Once a utopian community that prided itself on its welcome to newcomers, Village will soon be closed to all outsiders.  As one of the only people able to safely travel through the dangerous Forest, Matty must deliver the message of Village's closing and try to convince Seer's daughter, Kira, to return with him before it's too late.  But Forest has grown hostile to Matty too, and he must risk everything to fight his way through it, armed only with an emerging power he cannot yet explain or understand.
From the book jacket

Review:  This book started out slowly.  It took me a while to become interested in the storyline.  Matty is a character who we met in Gathering Blue so there is a connect between this book and the last book.  I liked the community that Matty lived in but there just wasn't enough of a plot.  Nothing really happened in this book.  There was some action at the very end but that was about it.  At least I didn't end this book wanting to know more.  I'm satisfied by how this book ended.

Rating: 2 1/2 stars

To read the review of The Giver, click here.
To read the review of Gathering Blue, click here.


by Cynthia Kadohata

Genre: Historical Fiction, Juvenile Fiction

Synopsis:  Twelve-year old Sumiko's life can be divided into two parts: before Pearl Harbor, and after.  Before the bombing, although she was lonely, she was used to being the only Japanese-American in her class and she always had her family to comfort her.

When the government forces all of the Japanese-Americans living in California into internment camps, Sumiko soon discovers that the Japanese are just as unwanted on the Mohave reservation they have been shipped to as they were at home.  But then she meets a young Mohave boy, who, after initial resentment, becomes her first real friend.  Together, they navigate the racial and political challenges of the times, and both help each other understand the true meaning of friendship.
From the back of the book

Review:  It's nice that the author gives young adults exposure to the Japanese internment camps and what happened in our country during WWII because most books are about what was going on in Europe.  Sumiko's story is well told and honest.  We understand her family's fear after the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the waiting game of when they were going to be taken away from California.  We understand the heartache of selling off their goods and watching their home disappear as they leave to be taken to a camp.  We understand Sumiko's lethargy as she is in camp and the feeling of hopelessness and discontentment.  This book is written for a younger audience.  I felt like the ending was fairly abrupt and I would have liked to know more about what happened to Sumiko and her family.

Rating:  3 1/2 stars

Tuesday, April 8, 2014


by Emma Trevayne

Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Dystopian Fiction

Synopsis:  Deep in an abandoned basement, Anthem signs of truth and freedom with his illegal underground band.  Yet on the surface and under watchful eyes, Anthem is unable to resist the call of the Corporation's addictive, mind-altering music tracks, even as he knows they are used to control him and his fellow citizens.

When tragedy strikes close to home, Anthem realizes that defying the Corp comes at a deadly price...and the stakes of preventing his brother and sister from being claimed by the government drug are worth every heart-pounding second.  The key to the revolution might lie with the girl Anthem loves, but will he trust her enough to let her join the fight?
from the back of the book

Review: This book was slow to start but it finally picked up.  I had trouble understanding some parts and at times I was unclear as to what happened.  All of a sudden I would realize that something happened but I didn't remember reading about it!  Perhaps I wasn't reading carefully enough or perhaps things weren't explained well enough.  The writing wasn't quite fluent enough for me.  The story was intriguing with how citizens were controlled by music and music was a drug that they were addicted to.  But there was something about this story that wasn't gripping enough.  There wasn't a lot of action until about two thirds of the way through the book.  This book is certainly different that a lot of the dystopian fiction books in regards to what the world looks like.  This is supposed to be part of a series and I may read more but this book's end left me content.  I wasn't left hanging which I am thankful for.  

Rating: 3 1/2 stars