Sunday, November 26, 2017

Fahrenheit 451: By Ray Bradbury

Hey readers, happy thanksgiving! I can't wait to share with you the latest book I have read. I started and finished this one in one night, so I suggest you see what it is about and pick it up yourself!

This dystopian novel is appropriate and should be read by those of all ages. I do not want to give too much away, so I will make this short and sweet.

The protagonist: a firefighter.

Now I know what you are thinking, firefighters put out fires and save lives. However, in this backwards world set in the distant future they instigate fires in order to burn books, and even end up killing people occasionally along the way. Montag, the firefighter, has little concept of the wrongs he is committing, and has little to no knowledge of what a book even is.  All he knows is that books are illegal in this dystopian society.

Montag lives in a society where thinking is something no one does and people walk around like zombies without feeling. They watch TV and go on "joy rides" in their cars in order to feel anything at all. When Montag meets a 17 year old girl names Clarisse, his eyes are opened to the world around him and the events to follow are that of a thriller (to me at least).

In today's society where people are constantly absorbed in their screens, this book is more than applicable. We go about our lives in our screens with little thought to the world around us, turning into zombies without emotions or original thought, just like in the novel. This cautionary tale about the loss of knowledge and human curiosity is one that is just as applicable as it was when Bradbury wrote it.

I suggest this quick read to those of all ages. Even if someone young does not have the deeper understanding of the book yet, I think that it is a book one can reread (I know I will).

Enjoy and happy holidays :)

Your Friend,
Rae Sparks

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Turtles all the Way Down: By John Green

Hey readers! So I have been waiting for a new John Green book, and I am happy I found this one! It just came out in October and I got some flashbacks of younger me reading his books like Paper Towns or The Fault in Our Stars.  This book is perfect for my younger readers and even teen ones as well! Although this book is very different than any other John Green book I have encountered, it still has the John Green charm and genius.

What I really enjoyed about this book is the three "plots" that are interwoven throughout; a love story, a depiction of mental illness and a mystery.

The Love Story:  You have your typical John Green love story. Aza and Davis. Davis is the son of a millionaire and has his own complicated life. While Aza ...well I will explain in the paragraphs to follow.

Depiction of mental illness:  You also have something not typical of John Green novels. John Green deals with the painful reality of people living with mental illness. Aza has OCD and constantly describes how she is "spiraling" into a mess of thoughts and emotions that she cannot control. Green really included the raw truth of what many have to live with, and he did not only include the good parts.  This is what made the story real and an honest portrayal - something needed for young adults.

Your mystery.  My not so favorite subplot. Davis's father has disappeared and a reward of $100,000 is offered. Aza wants the money to pay for college and she and her good friend Daisy are determined to solve the mystery.

I did like Aza as a character, mostly because I loved how real she was, however, I could not seem to wrap my head around the Davis-Aza love saga. It seemed so superficial to me. Maybe I am getting a bit old for these tween novels but I found their relationship unrealistic. Although this book included texting (which is needed because teens communicate via their phones all day, everyday these days), I found the texting philosophical and not at all how I have seen any teenager behave.

While the premise of this book was really great, I found that the three subplots, although intriguing, made the overall plot seem as if it was stretched out too thin and failed to make much of an emotional impact on me. Without the big mystery of the father, not much of the story would be lost at all in my opinion and I think the story would be better without it.

My message is contradictory though. I loved how real the book was with mental illness, yet I hated how fake it was with the love story. Loved Green's seemingly new style, yet also found it kind of annoying and not as predictable as expected. Overall, by my standards I would give it a "fine" or a "please read it but don't expect your mind to be blown". It definitely passed the time and John Green is always an interesting and easy read to pick up in your free time.

But as I said the mental health portrayal in this book was honest and I found it to be the best part of the book. Well done John Green. Kudos to you.

I hope you guys enjoy this new Green novel! I know I (kind of) did.

Your Friend,
Rae Sparks

Thursday, September 21, 2017

A Clockwork Orange: By Anthony Burgess

Hey readers! I am sorry it has been a while since my last post! I had a busy summer, but I am back with an amazing book! This classic, A Clockwork Orange, is one that cannot be beat. It has definitely made my top 5. This book, however, is not for my tween crowd but ventures on the teen and adult side.

Written in 1962 Burgess portrayed a dystopian society in which everything is run by the state. The totalitarian society's rigid rules leave little room for freedom.

Alex, the protagonist, uses the little human freedom he has to engage in two things: violence and classical music. Although a seemingly juxtaposing pair, they are quite similar in Alex's mind.

Alex, the egotistic, brutal, violent and overall awful human being spends each night going out with his 'droogs' or friends committing horrible acts of terror from rape to robbery and even murder.

Although seemingly graphic, the book is written in Burgess's made up language "Nasdat".

The language was definitely the coolest thing about the book. In the beginning, just warning you, it is hard to understand what is going on because you have to get used to a new language. The slang of the Nasdat language has some similar sounding words to that of English, however, it takes concentration to become "fluent" in Nasdat. For that reason it is hard to fully understand the violent acts Alex is committing.

After the first few chapters though I found myself understanding the narration, and being in complete shock. The violence-packed book is masked by the language which really helps you take a step back from it all. SO if you are not interested in violence I still recommend you give it a try, because you may not even realize what is going on!

 In a world where the state thinks taking away one's humanity is better than having free will, Alex gets sucked into the system and spit right out.

You think you would feel bad for such a terrible human but guess what? You don't! It is exactly the opposite. You will find yourself feeling sympathy and even wondering what is wrong with other people, but not Alex! You will be confused on who the victim truly is, and what is the crime.

After reading this book I began to ask myself if this was really where our society was heading. Not only was I entertained and intrigued to keep reading (and maybe even a second reading), but I found it weird and mind-blowing that I was able to pick up another language so quickly by just reading this book. Do not be discouraged though, not every word is in this made up language.

Overall...READ IT. You won't regret it. Apparently there is also a movie, but don't go for the movie until you have read the book...please.

Your friend,
Rae Sparks

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Gone: By Michael Grant

Hey readers, we are almost nearing the beautiful summer weather!! As summer comes along, we are all in need of a new book to sit with by the beach, pool or even just to read at night:)

I recently read Gone, by Michael Grant. This book is for my teen and tween audiences, not so much for the older teens and adults. This book reminds me a lot of the Lord of the Flies mixed with the Maze Runner.

This sci-fi novel begins suddenly with the disappearance of everyone 15 and older. With no explanation, all kids under the age of 15 are left alone in the town of Perdido Beach. The town is suddenly surrounded by an impenetrable boarder which won't let anyone in or out.

When no adults are around the world of these children is sent into chaos. Struggles for power and order. Bullies taking over. There are kids to take care of and mouths to feed. Confusion all around. Not to mention once the kids turn 15 they disappear. To where? I certainly don't know nor did I find out after the first book.

If that wan't enough the kids begin to find out that they have powers.

As a middle schooler or teen fascinated with sci-fi, this book is definitely interesting. I could not put it down, mostly because I had so many questions throughout the novel. However, that was part of the problem....

The reason I picked up this book is because the concept is fascinating. What would kids these days do if all of the sudden there was no authority? Adding the supernatural into the book was a good idea in theory, but I think there was too much for Grant to develop. I was left with so many questions that I was so frustrated that nothing was being answered.

This book was good don't get me wrong, but I feel that I am starting to see a pattern in all of these dystopian novels. If I had read this book a year or two ago,  it would be a different story.

The writing style also did not agree with me. There were a lot of main characters, so much so that I feel like it was hard for the author to develop them in one book. I recently realized that there are 6 books, however, I do not know if I am intrigued enough to finish the whole series. There are so many questions I have that are unanswered, which is why I will continue reading, but it may be short lived.

Overall, I don't strongly deter you all from reading this, so please be my guest and give it a try. I just must share my honest opinion as a blogger and give you the whole truth.

Your Friend,
Rae Sparks

Monday, March 27, 2017

The Mind Readers: By Lori Brighton

Hey readers!  I have breezed through the first book in the Mind Reader series. Those who liked Divergent will definelty enjoy this one. I must say though that this book is more for my tween crowd, however, I know adults who very much enjoyed it too!

Cameron is anything but normal. I mean how can she be when she is a mind reader?! Her ability, however, is a secret that she and her grandma keep from the world. This ability keeps her and her grandmother constantly on the move, with her grandmother forcing Cameron to move throughout her childhood in order to protect her from people who she is told will do her harm and abuse her powers.

Cameron seems to have her life under control, hiding her powers behind a facade of normalcy until Lewis waltzes into the picture.

Lewis, aka a hunk, tempts Cameron with not only his looks, but his promise to take her to a place where she could learn more than to just read minds. Cameron is in shock to learn that there are others like her and is tempted by the freedom he offers her.

Cameron soon realizes she is more powerful than she previously believed and she gets caught up in a war where she doesn't know what is right or wrong.        

I definitely enjoyed this book and I have to say it was very fast paced and easy to get through. I loved the fluidity between the "mind reading" and the dialogue. Very well done! There is definelty plenty of suspense to keep anyone interested.

My only reservations about this book is that the protagonist was, at times, not very likable.  I found myself regularly annoyed with her and her oversensitivity.  I also found her decisions annoying as well and I found myself saying,"Did you seriously just do that!"

Despite these reservations, the ending definitely made it worth the read and I found myself eager to pick up the next book, reading it in merely 2 days. I intend to finish the series, but for now I hope you all get started on the first book!

Your Friend,
Rae Sparks

Monday, February 13, 2017

Room: By Emma Donoghue

Hey readers, I have a new book for you all to read, as always.  I will warn you though, it is quite upsetting and is meant more for the teen and adult crowd than tweens.

Room is a story told by 5 year old Jack.  What makes this novel so intriguing is that as a reader you understand everything the way Jack does, as a 5 year old.

Jack and his Ma have been in Room for as long as he can can remember. The Room that they live in is a small shed with only a skylight for sunlight. They have a TV, wardrobe, bathtub, toilet, kitchen and a bed. It is Jack's whole world.

Jack has only encountered 2 people in his life: his mother who he calls Ma and Old Nick. Old Nick is the reason that they are in Room. He has held them captive there for 7 years. To add to the craziness Jack has never been in the outside world, nor does he know that there is an outside world.  Room is his whole universe. It is really hard to grasp how little Jack knows about the world he lives in. As the reader though, you know that there is more to the world than just Room.

And, so does Ma.  She knows this is no way to live so she devises a plan for them to escape....but she needs to rely on a Jack to follow through with the craziness and riskiness of the plan. My heart was truly pounding as I read how they planned to escape. It was definitely suspenseful.

I love the whole idea that the novel is told by the perspective of such a young child. When I heard about this novel, I really did not know if I would enjoy the book being told by a child's perspective. It seemed as if the complexity of the novel would be lost by a child's perspective. But Emma was able to keep the sophisticated nature of the novel, all while using the voice of a 5 year old! Quite impressive. I was in awe at the development of Jack's mind as time progressed and he learned about the world.

Although I could not put it down, I was not entirely pleased with the ending. You can form your own opinion.  I did, however, find it very intriguing and I would recommend that you read it and watch the movie afterward so you can appreciate the novel more (it had a better ending by the way).

I hope you enjoy!

Your Friend,
Rae Sparks

Thursday, January 5, 2017

The Westing Game: By Ellen Raskin

Hey readers! I hope you all had happy holidays and a happy New Year as well. I am apparently out of the loop with this book that I just read. I was told that this is a book I should have read a long time ago, and I now that I have read it, I totally agree!

This captivating mystery book begins when 16 seemingly random individuals are invited to the reading of Sam Westing's will. It just so happens that they all live in the same apartment building, Sunset Towers. This is not exactly a typical reading of a will for it involves an introduction to a game.  The goal of the game is to find the murderer of Sam Westing. They are set up in pairs and are tempted to take part in the game with a goal of winning the prize of 200 million dollars. Each pair is given random words as hints and they are left to decipher them. To add onto the madness during the reading of the will, it is announced that the murderer is among them! They are left with that information and the game begins!!

I had not read a mystery book in quite some time and I really appreciated the genuine thinking process it lead me through. I was practically taking part in the game myself! I truly enjoyed reading this book and I recommend it for all ages.

This book kept me guessing and on my toes and I hope you all get the pleasure of reading this mystery at some point. The ending was definitely satisfying.

Your Friend,
Rae Sparks