Thursday, July 29, 2010

Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace... One School at a Time by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin

Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace . . . One School at a Time
"One day in 1993, high up in the world's most inhospitable mountains, Greg Mortenson wandered lost and alone, broken in body and spirit, after a failed attempt to climb K2, the world's deadliest peak. When the people of an impoverished village in Pakistan's Karakoram Himalaya took him in and nursed him back to health, Mortenson made an impulsive promise: He would return one day and build them a school. Although he was a homeless "climbing bum" living out of his aging Buick in Berkeley, California, Mortenson sold what few possessions he had to launch one of the most remarkable humanitarian campaigns of our time." "Three Cups of Tea traces Mortenson's decade-long odyssey to build schools, especially for girls, throughout the region that gave birth to the Taliban and sanctuary to Al Qaeda.

While he wages war with the root causes of terrorism - poverty and ignorance - by providing both girls and boys with a balanced, nonextremist education. Mortenson must survive a kidnapping, fatwas issued by enraged mullahs, death threats from Americans who consider him a traitor, and wrenching separations from his family." Today, as the director of the Central Asia Institute, Mortenson has built fifty-five schools serving Pakistan and Afghanistan's poorest communities. And as this real-life Indiana Jones from Montana crisscrosses the Himalaya and the Hindu Kush fighting to keep these schools functioning, he provides not only hope to tens of thousands of children, but living proof that one passionately dedicated person truly can change the world.

I Loved this book. It made me grateful for the education I have. It also made me Appreciate the fact that we have so much, when others around the world have so little. Well worth the read.

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

The Help

Skeeter is a young woman in 1960's Jackson, Mississippi. She’s a college graduate and NOT a housewife- which distresses her proper southern mother very much. Her girlfriends are housewives and society ladies…the perfect quintessential picture of how it ‘should be.’ Yet upon her return home from college, a smarter, more worldly Skeeter starts to notice things are not as perfect as they seem…not for the humble, hardworking black women who raised them.

This novel is mostly about relationships- between "the help" of Jackson Mississippi and their employers, the children who love them, and the rest of the country as a whole. While in the North integration is making great strides, Jackson is resistant to say the least.

Spurred by a desire to find out the truth about the beloved nanny of her youth, Skeeter sets out to expose Jackson’s darkest secrets, to tell the story of the women of Jackson- black and white, and finds there to be a lot of hate, alongside a lot more love than she had ever imagined.

I just couldn’t put The Help down- the story was so moving. It is a little over 400 pages and I read it in 2 days (with 3 kids! It is that good.). It was well-written from three interesting points of view- a white woman and two black maids. (I love this style of narration- it keeps me interested!) It is funny at times as well as heartbreaking- it really gets you involved emotionally. It is always intriguing to get a peek into the personal lives of others and this book does just that- but with and important message that can be summed up in this quote from the story, "Wasn't that the point of the book? For women to realize, We are just two people. Not that much separates us. Not nearly as much as I'd thought." I can’t do this book justice here, you’ll just have to read it to know what I mean- it is worth the wait at the library, or I’d even purchase it- it’s one you’ll want to pass on to friends/family!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Dogs of Babel by Carolyn Parkhurst

The Dogs of Babel is about a man, Paul, who is so desperate to learn the truth of his wife's death that he attempts to teach his dog, Lorelai to speak. Lorelai was the only witness of the death and he believes that she just as desperately wants to tell him what happened.

The narration is incredibly engaging. Paul, begins by telling about his wife's death. He then goes back to the beginning of their relationship and takes you all the way up to the day before her death. As he talks about his wife, Lexy, you can see different aspects of her character developing throughout the book and she ends up not being at all like you expected her to be like in the beginning. And is seems she is not what Paul expected in the beginning as well.

In between stories about their relationship, he describes his efforts in trying to get Lorelei to talk. He's encouraged by stories of partial success others have had, including one very prominent case in which a dog testified in court against his abuser. His involvement with an underground group, whose members hold an almost cultish belief in their dog’s abilities to speak to them, leads to a heartbreaking discovery of their methods and trouble with the police. There is some interesting commentary here about people's ability to believe something they really want to be true.

It's really interesting that what could be such a funny subject, you end up taking so seriously and really hoping for his success. Of course, it’s not really about talking dogs, but about Paul slowing driving himself crazy trying to figure out if his wife committed suicide and if so, why and when she decided to do it.

There are a couple of funny parts, like when he ends up on the floor, drinking out of Lorelei's water dish, trying to encourage her to repeat a "wa" sound she made when she yawned. My favorite line in the book comes when Paul is dreaming that he is eating a plate of spaghetti and meatballs. Lorelei comes to him and says "Give me a meatball, and I'll tell you everything you need to know."

This is a very captivating book and will have you just as eager to learn the truth about Paul’s wife.

Mockingjay Countdown

Mockingjay, the final book in The Hunger Games Trilogy is being released August 24, 2010!


We are just a little bit excited :)

Friday, July 23, 2010

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

I tried to pace myself - honestly I did.  But I finished this page turner at 10:00 last night.  And wouldn't you know it, the library was closed today - sad!  This being my second time through I was often frustrated when Katniss just wasn't getting it- grrrrr.  You'll be glad to know I have since forgiven her!  I absolutely love the title for this book, it captures the mood of the districts completely as well as The Hunger Games trilogy itself - if anything has caught fire this has!
First line: I clasp the flask between my hands even though the warmth from the tea has long since leached into the frozen air.
Katniss Everdeen's life can never really return to normal even though she has beat the odds and returned home victor from the Capitol's Hunger Games.  It's not just the nightmares, but the strained relationships, constant recognition, lack of privacy, and threats from the capitol.  She is a prisoner in her own body, even her own agency stripped from her - something she could still find away to live with, but then - a death sentence.  She has sparked something though.  The girl on fire has given hope to the too long oppressed people of Panem and whether she intended it or not, it is catching fire.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

I read this one again JUST FOR YOU squeezies!  Okay, really, I have this unhealthy obsession with re-reading the books in a series just before the next book comes out.  Which in the case of The Hunger Games Trilogy is in just ONE MONTH (August 24)!!! Seriously on pins & needles over here... thank goodness for Amazon pre-order: Mockingjay!  This review may seem a little rushed only because I am FORCING myself to write it before I read Catching Fire (again).  I wanted to jump right into it.  True love shown right here peeps!  The Hunger Games is not like any other book I have ever read.  In fact it's not like any other book I have ever read two or three times.  I knew the plot, I knew the characters, I knew the ending and I could still not put the dang thing down.  Okay- I am pregnant and have a 1 & 3 year old, sleep is very, very important to me - but not as important as this book!
First line: When I wake up, the other side of the bed is cold.
The book is set far into the future, not important how far really - but it does give scary insight on what the world could become.  It's ridiculously barbaric - but it has parallels to things gone wrong in our world now.  Katniss Everdeen is the heroine, a 16 year old girl who struggles everyday to keep herself, her younger sister, Prim, and mother alive. She is skilled with a bow and arrow - trained by her father, who died when she was just 11 - and illegally hunts in order to barter, trade and feed her family.  Her world is called Panem and it consists of a controlling central Capitol and 13 outlying districts.  As an exhibition of their control the Capitol forces 2 tributes from each district to compete in the annual hunger games.  Katniss finds herself heading to the arena as the female tribute for district 12.  I should mention that the 'games' are a fight to the DEATH of children aged 12-18, therefore "ridiculously barbaric."  Every value or belief you have ever possessed is challenged by the way Panem is ruled, and the games operate: religion, culture, government, entertainment, education, economics, fashion, trends, even life and death.  
I cannot begin describe the emotions you experience as you read.  Some novice book reviewist I am! But really, if you haven't read it, crawl out from underneath your rock and get 'er done!  You'll be glad you did!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Peace Like A River by Leif Enger

I'm a mom.  A title I love with satisfaction and pride.  A mom who loves to read - only for the enjoyment of it.  I'm not deep or scholarly, I don't enjoy the type of reading that requires a dictionary be close at hand.  I like to lose myself temporarily into another world.  Luckily I am not the only one  posting to this newly formed blog. So if your tastes vary from mine, you should still be satisfied.  
This Book review is of the Fictional story Peace Like A River by Leif Enger.  
I was in the waiting room of the VA hospital waiting for my hubby to have a biopsy done of this leg when I finally cracked open the cover of the book loaned to me over a year previous from my mom.  It was just what I needed it to be, interesting enough at the very beginning to keep my mind occupied, not hard at all to get into, but could easily be set aside for long periods of time. Which is exactly what happened.  Once we arrived home it sat unopened for a few more weeks, then I began plunking away at it.  It was refreshing to be reading a book that I enjoyed but that could be a relaxing, casual read. 
First Line: From my first breath in this world, all I wanted was a good set of lungs and the air to fill them with--given circumstances, you might presume, for an American baby of the twentieth century.
Reuben grew up with his father and two siblings  in the generation following the great depression.  His Father worked miracles hidden among everyday life, and Reuben was counted among them.  Basically pronounced dead at birth, is first breath was something his body was unable to perform and it only happened with the faith filled command of his father "Reuben Land, in the name of the living God I am telling you to breathe."  And he did.  The family had their share (or more) of trials.  The biggest of which when Reuben's older brother, Davy, shot and killed 2 boys that had broken into their house, the same two boys that had kidnapped for the afternoon his little sister, Swede, a few weeks prior.  When the case of 'self-defense' didn't seem it was going to hold Davy took off, escaped from Jail and headed west.  The younger kids had a passion for Wild West literature, and thought it a great adventure to pack up and head in pursuit.  By the home stretch all casualness had disappeared.  I couldn't put it down through the unexpected and teary ending.  Truly inspiring faith and love shown by a Father.

Our Beginning

I have this friend Emilee that I used to work with who reads more than anyone I know. She was always telling me about books she was reading. I have no idea how she knew, but she was telling me about Stephenie Meyer's Twilight well before it was popular. She did the same thing with The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. So I'd read these books, LOVE them, and months later the whole world was talking about them. Well that's what I want this blog to be. I want to find books and let you all in on them before the world knows. That way you can share them with your friends and be the one who loved them first. So for anyone who loves to read, or who wants to start getting in to the wonderful world of reading, follow us on our blog and join in our adventures.
I'm also big into learning. I love to read non-fiction, and I'll post some of those book reviews on here too. Maybe something I learn may help some of you.
Happy Reading!

Read Away!

All I can say is that I love to read, and I hope I can get you excited about reading too. A person who doesn't read is no better that a person who can't read. Just keep learning and expanding your mind. Knowledge is power! Happy reading!!

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