Saturday, March 31, 2012

To Kill A Mockingbird by Lee Harper

The unforgettable novel of a childhood in a sleepy Southern town and the crisis of conscience that rocked it, To Kill A Mockingbird became both an instant bestseller and a critical success when it was first published in 1960. It went on to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1961 and was later made into an Academy Award-winning film, also a classic. 

Compassionate, dramatic, and deeply moving, To Kill A Mockingbird takes readers to the roots of human behavior - to innocence and experience, kindness and cruelty, love and hatred, humor and pathos. Now with over 18 million copies in print and translated into forty languages, this regional story by a young Alabama woman claims universal appeal. Harper Lee always considered her book to be a simple love story. Today it is regarded as a masterpiece of American literature.

What really can I say about this book?  It's a classic that took me this long to read (not sure why I didn't have to read it in high school - but maybe if I did I would not have liked it this much)
It was full of quotes, I love quotes.

“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view... Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.”

“Atticus said to Jem one day, "I’d rather you shot at tin cans in the backyard, but I know you’ll go after birds. Shoot all the blue jays you want, if you can hit ‘em, but remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird." That was the only time I ever heard Atticus say it was a sin to do something, and I asked Miss Maudie about it. "Your father’s right," she said. "Mockingbirds don’t do one thing except make music for us to enjoy. They don’t eat up people’s gardens, don’t nest in corn cribs, they don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.” 

“People in their right minds never take pride in their talents.” 

“Pass the damn ham, please.”

“See there?" Jem was scowling triumphantly. "Nothin' to it. I swear, Scout, sometimes you act so much like a girl its mortifyin” 

“Ladies in bunches always filled me with vague apprehension and a firm desire to be elsewhere.” 

Monday, March 26, 2012

Miracle for Jen by Linda Barrick

I received Miracle for Jen compliments of Tyndale House Publishers for my honest review.  They have also provided another copy to giveaway.  If you would like to enter for a chance to win this book just leave a comment.  Draw will take place on March 31th.

"Lord...take this year and my life and allow Your glory to shine! Take it and use it to its fullest potential."
an entry for Jen's journal, written just 3 months before the crash

On the night of November 5, 2006, the Barrick family was driving home from church when their van was struck by a drunk driver. Fifteen-year-old Jen suffered multiple skull fractures and severe brain trauma and was not expected to survive the night. But against all odds, she did. As she lingered in a coma, doctors warned that if Jen ever woke up, she would be cursing and screaming in confusion due to her brain injuries. Instead, after five weeks she opened her eyes and began praying and praising God. Jen didn't remember her middle name, recognize her parents, or recall that she had a little brother, but she remembered Jesus and every word to every praise song and scripture she had hidden in her heart before the accident. As any loving mother would, Jen's mother Linda wanted God to heal Jen, make her like she was before. Normal. But a loving God had something else in mind--instead of making her normal, God is making Jennifer and the whole Barrick family--extraordinary, miraculous. Hope Out Loud is the remarkable true story of a family who overcame tragedy and learned to trust God's plan for their lives in a whole new way.

It is hard to know where to start with this book.  Here is a story that could totally have been avoided, it should never have happened.  A drivers license suspended, a driver slumped over his steering wheel, pulled over by the police just minutes before the accident.  But still it happened.  How does a mother (family) get past that?  Told from the point of view of Linda Barrick, Jen's mother.  Here is an emotional packed book that grabbed me and I had a hard time putting this book down.  

Miracle for Jen is an amazing book it will cry, make you laugh, it will make you live each day to the fullest because you don't know what is around the corner, that you life can change in the blink of an eye.   It will  make you realize that even in the toughest times, even in the darkest hours there is still hope. 

Monday, March 19, 2012

11/22/63 by Stephen King


In this brilliantly conceived tour de force, Stephen King—who has absorbed the social, political, and popular culture of his generation more imaginatively and thoroughly than any other writer—takes readers on an incredible journey into the past and the possibility of altering it.
It begins with Jake Epping, a thirty-five-year-old English teacher in Lisbon Falls, Maine, who makes extra money teaching GED classes. He asks his students to write about an event that changed their lives, and one essay blows him away—a gruesome, harrowing story about the night more than fifty years ago when Harry Dunning’s father came home and killed his mother, his sister, and his brother with a sledgehammer. Reading the essay is a watershed moment for Jake, his life—like Harry’s, like America’s in 1963—turning on a dime. Not much later his friend Al, who owns the local diner, divulges a secret: his storeroom is a portal to the past, a particular day in 1958. And Al enlists Jake to take over the mission that has become his obsession—to prevent the Kennedy assassination.
So begins Jake’s new life as George Amberson, in a different world of Ike and JFK and Elvis, of big American cars and sock hops and cigarette smoke everywhere. From the dank little city of Derry, Maine (where there’s Dunning business to conduct), to the warmhearted small town of Jodie, Texas, where Jake falls dangerously in love, every turn is leading eventually, of course, to a troubled loner named Lee Harvey Oswald and to Dallas, where the past becomes heart-stoppingly suspenseful, and where history might not be history anymore. Time-travel has never been so believable. Or so terrifying.

My first Stephen King book since Cujo and Pet Sematary when they first came out.  I usually shy away from Stephen King, his books are massive, they are scary and to be honest kinda creepy.  Why then did I read this one?  

The premise of this book was too intriguing to pass up, and I'm glad I didn't.
There was no horror, blood and guts usually associated with Stephen King (remember Misery, legs chopped off? didn't read it but sure did hear about it).  Does that mean this is a boring book?  No of course not, it is anything but.   You gotta ask yourself what life would have been like if Kennedy wasn't assassinated on 11/22/63, what if you could go back and change it.   Or better yet, should you?

Life in the late 50's, early 60's, so different from today and King did a wonderful job of portraying it.  Sock hops, dancing, pound cakes.  No cell phone, computers or internet.  This book was well researched and the story just flowed nicely, I had a hard time putting it down - 'just one more chapter'  - devoured it in less than a week.

If you're avoiding it because you think Stephen King only writes horror, please reconsider.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Cleopatra's Daughter by Michelle Moran

The marriage of Marc Antony and Cleopatra is one of the greatest love stories of all time, a tale of unbridled passion with earth-shaking political consequences. Feared and hunted by the powers in Rome, the lovers choose to die by their own hands as the triumphant armies of Antony’s revengeful rival, Octavian, sweep into Egypt. Their three orphaned children are taken in chains to Rome; only two– the ten-year-old twins Selene and Alexander–survive the journey. Delivered to the household of Octavian’s sister, the siblings cling to each other and to the hope that they will return one day to their rightful place on the throne of Egypt. As they come of age, they are buffeted by the personal ambitions of Octavian’s family and court, by the ever-present threat of slave rebellion, and by the longings and desires deep within their own hearts. 

Paperback, 431 pages
Published March 1st 2010 by Quercus Books (first published January 1st 2009)
from personal library
Continuing my Egyptian theme, Cleopatra's daughter seemed the next logical choice.  This was an audio for me.  I love audio books, usually have one on the go at all times.  I can listen while taking my puppy for a long walk and get lost in the story.  If its a really good book I tend to have a cleaner house too (looking for something to do while listening).

I was warned before hand that this book had a YA feel to it, which to me is fine since I love YA books.  Maybe if you didn't take that into account one could be disappointed, I wasn't.  It was a refreshing read as this is a part of history that I am not familiar with.  I think Michelle Moran did a good job of portraying Selene and her twin Alexander, what a confusing time it would have been for both of them.  The story does center more with Selene as a 12 year old and later on when she is 15.  It seemed to be historical accurate and keep my attention throughout.

I gave it 4 out of 5 stars.