Book 8 is an amazing book that has been out for sometime on the market. When it was first published in America, I remember hearing all the rave of this amazing life changing novel. It was also recommended to me by a coworker who said this book helped her understand and accept things in her life that previously she hadn't. Has it changed my life, not really, but it has changed my outlook at life, similar to my coworker, and that is important. The book I am referring to is The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. Now this book was not originally written in English, it was translated, but I think the translation did it justice. I don’t thing the English language changed anything about the underlying message this book is trying to convey. So my take on the novel will not at all make sense because it is a book that doesn’t translate in words when it is being described. Now I understand why so many people said you would have to read the book to understand why it is so good.
This book is about a boy’s journey in discovering himself, at least that is what the synopsis has said. The boy’s journey started because of a dream of a treasure but the treasure he finds is not material but more wisdom from his experiences. From that I took the message that it is not the destination is the reward but the journey to it that makes it all worthwhile.
Also there is this underlying theme, for me, that fear is what holds us back from realizing our true potential. We are so scared about losing what we already have that we do not take the risks to go for what we want. I have heard this before, somewhere, but it hasn’t struck a cord until I read this book. It really showcases that though there is a risk and a danger, in the end we all lose those worldly possession and only take with us our experiences.
Another lesson that intertwines with the previous is the pressure and focus we put on the past and the future that we forget the present and how the present is what is the most important. If we concentrate on the future and worry, it gives us more stress for worrying about something that will or will not happen. If something bad is to happen, we put ourselves through more grief dreading that bad then the grief from the bad event itself. We, ourselves, create the misery that we think will happen in the future. The same for when something good happens, the happiness and the joy we get minimizes because we are already anticipating this good event, we feel the emotions before it happens. I hope that makes sense. If we focus on the now, what happen will happen in the future but we can enjoy the present and be happy for that time.
Now there is one thing that I notice with this book and I would like to share. The journey of the boy is written so that you can see a little of yourself in the boy, so the lesson learned will not always be the same for each person that reads it. For some, this is a life-changing book because these teachings and lessons are some that they haven’t been exposed to. I was lucky that I have had such wise people around me to help me see small parts of these lessons so now that I have read the book, it makes me understand what my family and friends have told me little by little as I grew up and has given me some peace of mind when I am usually very anxious. I focus a lot on the future and on what might happen, that I often forget to remember that those things have not happened and I shouldn’t be fearful of them because it is not guarantee that they will. My dad once told me that you should plan for the worst and hope for the best and everything will work out somewhere in-between. That has helped me a lot in my life and I think that I kind of understand now what my dad was telling. Don’t worry about what you can’t change, and concentrate on what you can. I know that doesn’t specifically align with this lesson about not worrying about the future to many people but it coincides with other lessons I have learned and makes sense to me. Remember when I said this book teaches different things for whom ever reads it, this is what I mean. You will always be mindful of the future because it is there but instead of worrying about what will happen and what won’t happen, the only thing you can control is your reaction to it. Don’t know if that makes sense to everyone else, but it does to me.
Anyways, this is where I will leave you. This book was a really quick read for me and I could not put it down because I found it so interesting. It didn’t bring me to tears or change my life but changed my perspective on things and that is also important. For those who feel so much of the negativity that is out there on social media, the news, and the gossip that runs through this world, this is a good book to read. I feel like it would give you some peace. Only you can achieve your true potential and you have to be willing to take the risk of going for it.
Book 7 is a book that I have wanted to read for over a year now, Where the Heart is by Billie Letts. Now, originally, I didn’t know this was a book, I thought it was a really good movie that stared an actress that I really loved, Natalie Portman. I was really interested in reading the book but I couldn’t find it in any bookstore and I didn’t want to order it, for some reason. I was lucky to find it one day at a book resell store. I was really happy as it happened right before the new year and that means it could be used for my new reading challenge. Now I did get caught up in my Star Wars obsession and I put it off a little but felt like now was the right time to read.
So the biggest thing that I really loved about this book is the love story between Novalee and Forney. In the movie, you can see Forney’s interest but in the book it is more highlighted. From the very beginning Forney’s love for both Novalee and Americus is very apparent. It was one thing that I really loved about the movie, the relationship between these characters.
It was also interesting to see how things are different in the book versus the movie. Now usually I don’t compare the books and movies because I think that does both an injustice. With this book and movie, on the other hand, I feel like they compliment each other. I understand why the director and produce moved some of the story elements around and I am really glad the movie kind of glazes over a certain darker part of the story, as it is really disturbing, but the book has it’s own charm and is amazing.
I did like that in the book you got to know the side characters better than the movie. In the movie, when Novalee and Americus goes into the cellar, there is a family in there, if you read the book, you know who everyone is. There are also a couple of side characters mentioned that don’t really get anything in the movie. I
All in all, this was a really sweet book and really does show the naivety of the 90s. The things that people would do to help others wouldn’t be safe in the present day, so it kind of makes me a little sad. The times when kids could go outside and play for a while without parents worrying about kidnappers. Unfortunately there are always those rotten ones that show up and this book does show how one rotten person got his.
Either way, I do recommend this book. If anyone who is older than me reads it, it will bring back a time when things weren’t so hateful and technological, a time when a neighbor would help someone in there time of need, a time when a community actually existed and survived together.
Book 6 is debut author Katherine Arden’s book the Bear and the Nightingale. This book has been raved by several different book news sites on social media and it did not disappoint. The only thing that threw me off was the names as this book is based in Russia in the 1300s. It was glorious and it was magical, and it all centered on the Frost king, death himself. He is a constant character that is referenced in the many times throughout the story, even when he isn’t in the scenes themselves.
So the book’s main character is Vasilisa, a young girl whose mother bore her because she knew that she was important. Vasilisa’s family seems to have a problem with her because she is very much a wild creature. Not that she is uncivilized but she is carefree and refuses to fit within the mold that society has created for women. It is because of her that her people are saved from “The Bear”, a creature that feeds off of fear and war.
The one thing that was really awesome was the concept of the old religions and Christianity clashing. In fact, the villain in this story uses the Christian faith as a way to feed and strengthen himself. It is interesting because if anyone knows the history of Christianity, there were a lot of horrible crimes committed in its name. I’m not saying that Christianity is to blame but that people use what is in the bible and faith as a way to control people. It has been that way in many religions around the world, doesn’t make them wrong, please don’t think that is what I am saying. But it is interesting that the villain was able to trick a man of God to basically terrorize a village of people into giving up on their old beliefs, which kept them safe from the evil in the world. Before the man of God and Vasilisa’s new stepmother came to the village, there were no problems worshiping God but practicing old traditions. They didn’t really believe these creatures they were giving “offerings” to were real, it was just something that was done because it had always been done. It really showcased how Christianity was used to systematically drive out the pagan religions and traditions around the world.
What was also interesting was that, though people feared Death, he himself was not a bad person. The way the book explained his existence was interesting. These spirits came to be the moment the thing they were a spirit of was created. For example, the spirits of the house were created when the house was built, not before. Same for Death. He came into existence when man and man’s mortality came into existence. There is no way of saying that by him being real that God isn’t. I did get a little mad when the Frost King, Death, tried to get Vasilisa to accept her power and her family interfered. Her family came from a good place but they were basically trying to enslave her to either a husband or a convent to prevent her from helping the Frost King. They didn’t even try to explain or talk to Vasilisa to see her thoughts. But then that was how it was for women at this time.
All in all, it took me two days to read this book. It was interesting from start to finish. It isn’t very often that a book gets me so involved in it’s story that I finish in two days and stay up a little late on school night to finish the book.
(sorry if my talk is a little confusing, I tried to be organized but describing this book was hard to put into words because it is just a great book)
Book 5 of the my reading challenge is Lost Stars by Claudia Gray. I do believe in my last post I mentioned that I am on this Star Wars kick and this book is apart of it. I wanted to do a book that wasn’t for the pop sugar challenge because its good to space these kinds of things out. This book was really good. I will admit there are parts that the story slowed a little for me and that is why it took me more than a couple of days to read it but over all the book was really good. Especially if you love the Star Wars universe. Now that does not mean I don’t have some problems with this book but it was more to do with the characters then with the way the book was written. And I understand why the characters were the way that they were, but it was still really frustrating. So to begin:
This book follows two young children into adulthood and the roads they take to get where they were when the Empire falls in Episode 6 of the movies. The amazing things is that Claudia Gray takes iconic scenes and characters from the franchise and merges them in with her own characters. When describing this to some of my students, they said it sounded like a fanfiction but it isn’t. It is apart of the official storyline by George Lucus. It just shows how the not so important people in Stars Wars and how they deal with everything going on. Read the book to understand that if you don’t get it.
Anyways, these two children come from different backgrounds on the same planet but share the love of ships and flying. This love brings them together as they prepare to enter the Imperial Army. They are the highest scorers on their planet and they both get to go to the capital planet (I am not even going to try to spell the name. It’s the planet that the Senate of the Republic is housed and was home to the main Jedi temple that Anakin destroys in Episode 3) They grow together in the Academy and even have a stupid fight that causes them to stop talking for awhile. This fight also lets them see the other in different light. Instead of just a friend, they see someone of the opposite sex (Yes, there is love in this book, get over it). They graduate and get stationed in different place. The male is a pilot protecting the Death Star and the other works on Darth Vadar’s ship. When the Death Star destroys Alderon (I think that is how it’s spelled, Leia’s planet), they both have a different reaction. The male starts to see the evil of the Empire because of the evil he grew up with while the female rationalizes the evil acts away. This creates a divide between the two. The male leaves the Empire and the female covers it up but stays. She remains loyal while he starts to battle against the Empire. Yep, he joins the Rebellion! Yay! At one point, three years after the divide between the two, they meet again (Her mother is accused of an act everyone knows she didn’t commit). He tries to reason with her, her own mother was victim to the Empire, but she doesn’t want to believe it. She goes back to see another Death Star being made and realizes she has been helping the Empire to dominate the galaxy, not help it. She still remains in the Army. Her plan being that she will leave when her contract is up. (You see my frustration)
End the end, both stay on different sides of the law. When the Empire falls, she becomes the criminal and he is the war hero. But they stay true to each other which is really lovely to see even though I find it really unrealistic.
My biggest problem with the book was the naivety of the female lead. I understand why she was the way she was and why she thought the way she did. It frustrated me, though, to see someone rationalize evil. But that is me specifically, and other might not have that much of a problem. It was also a great way to see how the Empire was able to keep so many people loyal to them, even with the horrible things they did.
All in all, it was a great book that definitely showcases duality of characters. If you are a fan of Star Wars, it is a must to read. If you are not, it is still a really interesting book and you should give it a try.
So book 4 is Ahsoka by E.K Johnston. This is the first Star Wars book I have read but it won’t be the last. I have plenty of books to read and I plan on reading all that I can get my hands on. I have always liked the Star Wars universe but have never really felt the need to go deeper into the universe than watching the movies. But one weekend before my Christmas break, a T.V channel showed all the 6 movies before Force Awakens in order they were meant to be seen in the timeline, and it sparked a need in me to know more. My students told me about the animated series that Lucusfilms had put out that were part of the story and weren’t just for young kids. I decided to give it a shot. I started with Clone Wars (after looking up the chronological order of all of the Star Wars universe). I was very surprised that my student was right, these episodes, though a child could watch, had some adult themes to them as well. When I say adult theme, I don’t mean in a “dirty” sense, but in that fact that situations that are presented are situations that even some adult wouldn’t know how to handle. Just watch the series if you want to know more. ANYWAYS, in this show we are introduced to Ahsoka, Anakin Skywalker’s young apprentice. Yep, that is right. Darth Vadar had an apprentice before he had turned. I was a little surprised. This does not come up in the movies and, as stated before, I hadn’t really looked into the universe before this. So I watch the Clone Wars series (there are 6 seasons) and I was surprised to see that the reason Ahsoka doesn’t show up in Episode 3, when Anakin turns, is because she left the Jedi order for a betrayal (not Anakin’s). Watch the show to know exactly what it happened. There is a reason I have written all of this. This book gives some more behind Ahsoka and what happened to her after the Empire took over the galaxies. She reappears in the Star Wars Rebels show, though from what I understand we don’t know what happens to her yet and why she isn’t in any of the older movies (Though I wouldn’t be surprised if mention of her or her herself shows up in the new trilogy).
This book was really back story for Ahsoka but kind of outlines how everyone in the galaxy deals with the new Empire. It really gives an idea of the repercussions of the Anakin’s turn and the newly forming rebels. It was interesting to read and I really enjoyed it. It was an easy read and enjoyable. There were a couple of questions that it brought up and I am hoping that the shows and more books will answer them for me. What happened to the children who were born under the Empire who was sensitive to the Force? Did more Jedi escape like Ahsoka, Yoda and Obi-wan? Could they have? If they did, were they tracked down and killed, and that is why we don’t ever see them in the older movies and Luke must start from scratch? Ahsoka meets a child who is sensitive to the Force, did the rebels ever think to save them from exposure and maybe train them to at least hide? Or did they just leave them to found and killed? Not only that but there was one thing that really got me in this whole book. I don’t think Ahsoka realized her old master had turned to the dark side. I don’t think she knew that Anakin was alive in a way. But then again she kept mentioning throughout the book, an emptiness where she used to feel Anakin, so maybe she knew that he turned and was no longer the man she used to know. I am unsure. I think she didn’t know and I am wondering if she will find out in the Rebels shows and how will she react.
Well that is all I have to say about the book. I know it doesn’t really tell you much about the book, only that it does strike some questions. If you like Star Wars and you have a need to know more about the universe, read the book. The writing is good and the description of the characters and their reactions are believable. I enjoyed the book and I hope that you enjoy it as well.
Book 3 of the year would be Flavor of the Week by Tucker Shaw. Now this was a really quick read for me, like really short read. As in it didn’t take even a day to read this book, more like a couple of hours. 3 if I am correct. The reason being is that the book isn’t that big and is a young adult book so the words are big. But that doesn’t mean this book wasn’t adorable in its out right. I actually enjoyed this book because it had food (and some really cool recipes) and a cute love story, though somewhat unrealistic.
So we meet Cyril, a genius 16 year old cook, who is in love with Rose, his female best friend. Enters Nick, Cyril’s childhood friend who had left without a word 2 years previously. Yep, left without telling his best friend from childhood, he surrogate brother. Not likely. Not only that, but the minute Nick comes back to town, he hits on Rose. Seriously?! I don’t know if it is a guy thing, but usually a girl would get the lay of the land first to make sure they aren’t stepping on someone’s toes. Not only that, to make sure the guy is single to begin with. Not Nick. Seriously, is this a guy thing? Any ways, Nick learns really quick that Rose likes a guy that can cook and then automatically takes the credit for cooking something Cyril did. Well technically he gave something to Rose to eat and she assumed he cooked it and he let her to continue to do so. So now Nick has decided to get Cyril to cook for him so that Rose will continue to think that he was a gourmet chef. Cyril knows that Nick has had a tough life and has missed him, so he goes along with it even though he doesn’t want to. (Totally understand not telling people that you like someone, especially if it is a secret crush. I know people who have done that and I have done that. Just worked out that the person I had a crush on turned out to like me too and made the first move, and now we are happy together. See these things work)
Cyril also has this big audition for a huge fancy cooking school that is super hard to get into. So yeah, no pressure there. The story really is how Cyril suffers through seeing the girl he loves with his best friend (who doesn’t seem like a great friend to me anyways). He has to deal the pressure of this adolescent struggle and with his audition. Of course, since this is a young adult heart felt sweet romance book with lots of good food added, everything worked out in the end, at the last minute, without much build up, and without the circumstances that makes sense. Rose forgave Nick and Cyril easily enough, though how she reacted to the situation kind of erked me. I mean I understand getting mad at Nick because he had lied the whole time and wasn’t who she thought but it wasn’t like she knew him all that well to begin with. But to completely cut out Cyril without letting him explain (after running away mad- totally understand- would have done the same) that seemed a bit cruel in my opinion. She wouldn’t let him explain or even really apologize. If he was such a great friend and they were really close, I just don’t seem a girl totally cutting off someone, at least one of her character profile, doing something like that.
All in all, it is a cute book and I would recommend it for anyone who wants a cute book to read, especially with food.
(Fulfills the book about a food in the pop sugar challenge)
The newest book for the year is the next Sigma Force novel by James Rollins, the Seventh Plague. Now if you know me then you know that I love James Rollins and his sigma force novels. I like his other books too but I have a soft spot for the sigma force. I have followed these guys for a long time so I of course had to read the next novel. Unfortunately I didn’t read this last year when it came out because I wanted to make sure that it counted towards my new year challenge. If you haven’t read James Rollins before, you need to. He’s an amazing author. Still haven’t had the chance to meet him in person like my mom but I will someday.
So the Seventh Plague has to deal with the biblical plagues from Exodus. If you don’t remember what that is, the plagues that Moses created to get the Pharaoh of Egypt to let his people, the slaves, go. So the reason that sigma is called in is because the archeologist that was in search of the mysterious proof of the plagues who disappeared, reappears but he looks like he was mummified WHILE HE WAS ALIVE! So of course there were tests done of the body after the archeologist died from the mummification but what is weird is that the body has set of a plague of it’s own, a strain of some sort of organism that is spreading at an alarming rate. When scientists try to figure out how to stop the plague by looking at the archeologist’s body, someone destroys the body and kidnaps the scientist that is looking into it, who has a connection to the dead archeologist, and who is a friend of Painter Crowe, the leader of the Sigma Force. So of course Sigma had to get involved. So Painter and his assistant (Right hand man) Kat go to find his missing friend while Monk and Grey fly to London to guard and help the dead archeologist’s daughter Jane. Monk and Grey get separated in Cairo (where the ground zero for this new pathogen is) because Monk needs to stay and help the research team because of his medical background and Grey is helping Jane find the cure that her father tried to show her in clues.
So the interesting this about this novel is how well the history and the science is mixed together. I love how James Rollins explained how the plagues in the bible actually happened. Not only that, he mixed in Samuel Clemens into the mix. That was really interesting. I’m not going to say how he did it but I will say that I really loved how he did it. The book was a really interesting mix of science and history that only few can pull off. I was sad, though, at the end of the book because of what happened to Grey. I also am wondering as to what he meant at the end. Is Grey leaving Sigma or did he just want to get away for awhile. I am really interested to know what will happen next. Well on to a new book for me.
(For those who want to know this is the book with a red spin on the pop sugar reading challenge. My first book was a bestseller from a genre I don’t read much. I’m tracking these because I want to finish as much of the challenge if not all of it by the end of the year)
So it’s a brand new year and a brand new book challenge for 2017. If you followed me at all last year, thank you for sticking with me for a year. Since I really enjoyed doing the book blog to catalog my journey for the year, I want to continue so I have started a new blog, this time without the year in the title so I can keep going year after year. So I have decided to do the Pop Sugar Book Challenge again, if you want to know what there is check it out at http://www.popsugar.com/love/Reading-Challenge-2017-42561300 as well as reading 75 books this year. I used to be able to read 100 books a year when I was younger but I don’t have the time and I am reading different books now then back then so I want to work my way back to that or just keep it at 75 books, since I do want to live my wonderful life as well.
So the first book of the year is Lauren Graham’s new book Talking as Fast as I can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girl (and everything in between). Now I loved this book primarily because it was written by one of my favorite actresses. She has plays many characters but there is one character that I loved her the most in and that was Lorelei Gilmore in Gilmore Girls.
Now I didn’t grow up watching Gilmore Girls but watched in my early 20s and I loved the flow of the show. I didn’t like how the characters acted all the time but then again, I never agree with all the my favorite characters. It was really interesting to get a glimpse into the life of the woman who brought Lorelei Gilmore to life. The first thing I noticed, she has the same humor as Lorelei. When I say the same, I often wondered if I was reading a book written by Lorelei Gilmore. I loved all the different things Lauren when over in her book: how she got into acting and the steps she took to get there, her experience with romance, and her experiences with Gilmore Girls. Now I would have loved to hear more stories about what happened behind the screen during the actual filming of the original series. Different funny things that people tend to talk about when they have filmed together. Like the funny stories Orlando Bloom and Elijah Wood would talk about with filming Lord of the Rings (Watch the extras on the DVDs). Or how Chris Evans supposedly played pranks on his fellow actors and actresses in the Avenger movie (was brought up in an interview). I kind of wanted those kinds of stories, so I was little disappointed. But what I did get was really interesting. Especially since Lauren goes through all the seasons of the original episode showing the difference in technology, fashion, and a little about what happened that season. And it was really cool too get to see some of Lauren’s diary entries when they shoot the reboot.
I really liked the chapter about Lauren’s book Someday, Someday Maybe because I read that book and really really enjoyed it. I saw some parallels in the book to what I would guess to be Lauren’s life and when I read this book, I was write about the parallels. Now that does not mean this book is based on Lauren’s life because there are a lot of things in the book that many starting actors and actresses go through, but there are parallels. I really like how she came up with the book and how she started having problems with finding time to write and actually writing. She even puts in instructions to use time wisely to writing. It was really interesting to read.
All in all, I was happy with my first book of the year and I can’t wait to read another book. I also hope that Lauren Graham comes out with another fiction book because I think she has a natural ability to write an interesting story.
Let's enjoy the many worlds there are to enjoy, in just our own heads.