Wednesday, July 27, 2011


When my cousins came to visit earlier this summer, we took a trip too Powells and stocked up on books for the summer. One of my cousins, Amelia, purchased a book called Matched by Ally Condie. I had read the inside cover and thought that it sounded extremely interesting. I found that it reminded me a lot of the Uglies series but that it was also very different. So anyway, once we got home all of us went straight to reading, totally absorbed in our books. After what had seemed like a very short time but was really more like two hours, we all came back to the world to discuss our books. Amelia was the one to say the least about her book, saying that we had to read it to find out, which of course made me want to read it even more, i also noticed that she was already half way through so it must have been very good.

A month or so passed after they left and i couldn't stop thinking about Matched. So when my mom and i walked to Powells, i knew that i had to buy it. And it was amazing! It was very well written and totally captavaited me. I could not put it down. now I understood how Amelia had gotton half way through in a sitting. It was not what i had expected and that was a good thing.

In the world that Cassia lives in, the officials decide everything. Where you work, who you love and even when you die. Cassie has been dreaming of the day when she would turn seventeen so that she could be matched ever since she was a little girl. And now it is finally happening. She knows that this is going to be the best night of her life, not only because she can wear a pretty dress instead of her regular plain clothes and eat the most Delicious calorie loaded food apposed to the vitamin flavorless food she usually eats, but also because this is the night when she finds out who she loves, who she will spend the rest of her life with and build a family. So then when she finds out that she is matched with her best friend Xander, everything seems to be perfect. I mean, what are the odds of getting matched with someone you know, none the less, your best friend? Pretty much 0 to 1. Even though Cassie knows Xander better then anyone, she still wants to find out what the Officials thought she should know about him and puts the little chip in to the port. But what she sees will change her future forever. Another face shows up. Ky Markham. The mysterious boy who came from the outer provinces and seems to somehow know so much more. Cassie will have to decide, does she follow her heart? Or do whats right?

I loved this book, and would recommend it to anyone. Even if you dont like Sci-Fi books, this is a love story that will keep you anxiously reading.

Crossed the second book is comming out on November 1st! So if you read Matched and love it, then you can pre-order Crossed now!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Are you done yet?

Alysa stood beside me, inquiring into my slowness at finishing the first of the Harry Potter series by J.K.Rowling. I just smiled, likely making some small sound confirming her statement and continued reading. Dumbledore was speaking after all. I could hear the voice of that wise, delightful wizard in my head--he is one of my favorite characters! I wonder which of my relatives are or were most like him.

I can hear him now: "And I must trouble you with an old man's wheezing waffle before we sink our teeth into our delicious feast. What a year it has been! Hopefully your heads are a little fuller than they have the whole summer ahead to get them nice and empty before next year starts..."(Page 304, Harry Potter and The Sorcerer's Stone)

Old man's wheezing waffle? Where does she get these phrases?

"Snape was shaking Professor McGonagall's hand, with a horrible, forced smile. He caught Harry's eye and Harry knew at once that Snape's feelings toward him hadn't changed one jot." (Page 307)

Jot??? I have been giggling over and over of the language Rowling uses. But it is Harry's last lines, the ones where I can see his face ever so clearly speaking truth to how he might deal with the Dursleys over the summer, that really have me caught. Rowling wrote, "They don't know we aren't allowed to use magic at home. I am going to have a lot of fun with Dudley this summer..."

Ahhh, the joys of summer. I had forgotten how pleasurable it can be to slowly read, word for word, a just-for-me book. Chapters longer than blog entries and emails and story lines that create mind images of a school I long have thought would have been beyond magical to attend, and just enough terrific adults to mentor us all in battling the evils of the world. Excuse me, I need to go to the bookshelf and pull out the next title, something about some Chamber of Secrets....

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Harry Potter and The Sorcerer's Stone

What were you doing December 25, 1998? What mind memory do you recall now, 13 years later?

I recall exactly: I was reading Harry Potter and The Sorcerer's Stone. Alysa was a teeny little 6 month old, having come home earlier in the month. Oregon's winter was dark and gloomy, wet with rain and a little freezing cold thrown in for good measure. It had even snowed earlier that day but it had melted by the time I sat down with the glorious gift of this book from my mother.

She picks books really well for me-- especially this one. While I have no idea if my sister and brother even read this book or the series, I know that I couldn't put this book down. In fact, I disappeared into this gem, only to resurface later when I had finished it. This would happen 6 more times, as the other books in the series came out.

I love the Harry Potter series. Love it! Each time a new one came out, I HAD to buy it. Had to: no borrowing here. I have had several books that rank with this type of dedication: Where the Red Fern Grows, Shane, Five Smooth Stones, Dancing at the Rascal Fair, The Narnia Chronicles, Deadline all among the long list. These books I had read and reread many times. But not the beloved J.K.Rowling books. I know, I know: I can hear your surprise and scorn from here. You likely are ahead of me, having reread this series years ago. Well, just know that I am joining you now.

Surprised by the details my brain selectively forgot and warmed by all that I remember, I am loving this book AGAIN. True Harry roots guide me further into the Wizard world: those nasty relatives the Dursleys, Hagrid (I would love to hang with Hagrid), Ron, Hermoine, Quidditch. I still think I was born in the wrong time period--aging has not changed how I can see myself as a Quidditch seeker. I can feel the closed-in limits of the room under the stairs that the Dursleys force Harry to live in. I can almost feel the soft, white feathers of Hedwig. I can imagine the dire worry of sitting under the Sorting Hat. Draco is one of many bullying characters that remind me of others in my life that I find my way to have compassion for. McGonagall and Dumbledore live in me like a few other teachers, and Howarts sounds like a school that I could have seriously gotten in trouble at (while also finding my way to be a good witch!).

But greatest, my admiration of J.K.Rowling renews with each word I read. I remember my utter amazement of her writing way back on those dark winter days in 1998 when I read the beginning of the series. As her life story became more public, my admiration grew closer to worship. How many napkins have I written on in my writing past, only to ball them up and toss 'em? Rowling refused to let her dire life situations stop that inner voice that told her to write. And now 13 years later, I am reminded of the power of the printed word, of stories that hold onto dreams, of worlds that must be written about.

Excuse me, I must go read some more.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

I have always loved reading Sarah Dessen's books. In fact, she is my favorite author. So when she released a new book I was stoked. I loved it. It made my top two for her books, and probably all the books I have read for young adult books. As usual, it was very well written and kept me hanging on. I thought that she went deeper with this character, and really told her story. The character development was huge. I really, really enjoyed this story.

After McLean's parents divorced two years ago, nothing has been the same. Her mom cheated on her dad with the man he had idolized for so many years. McLean's mother seems to be living the perfect life and married to a football coach, but McLean doesn't want anything to do with her. That is proving hard, do to the fact that her mom keeps trying to contact her while she travels around with her father, helping change restaurants and get them back on the road. McLean wants to forget her past, which is why everywhere her and her father go, she changes her name and who she is. From the super popular girl to the drama geek, but none of them were the real McLean. Until she comes to the fifth town in two years. For some reason, the energy here is making it hard for McLean to be anyone but herself. She doesn't know who that person even is anymore. But the people in this new place are helping her find out. From the minute she meets Dave, she knows that he's real and that she has to be too. As her time continues, many help McLean to grow back in to the old self that she was, and McLean starts realizing that that's where she truly belongs.

I really loved this book. I hope that you will enjoy it just as much as me. You should also check out some of her other books:
This Lullaby
The Truth About Forever
Just listen
That Summer
Someone Like You
Along For The Ride
Lock And Key
Keeping The Moon

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Water for Elephants: Take 2

When I told Alysa that I was going to write an entry for Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen, she had already written one. True, she did write an entry on the book, back when she told me I had to read it. And she was right: I had to read it. But write twice about the same book on our blog?

Water for Elephants is an engaging read, filled with the tensions of loss, romance, and power. For me, the book was more about reflection, about an elderly man reviewing his life and his purpose within his 93 years of living. Gruen effectively transitions from past to present throughout the text, alternating between moments of the main characters life now in an assisted living facility to decades earlier when he worked on a circus train. He reflects on what he has lived through and makes connections to his current moments, where what appears to be an emotional end-of-life closing becomes a massive opening for him. One of the actions I loved the most was the mental image that grew inside of me throughout my reading this book. Usually pictures or photos help me "see" more into what I am reading. The photos at the beginning of each chapter did not help me this time; rather it was her writing and storytelling that helped me create a mental movie that still plays inside of me, days after I finished the story.

This was a perfect summer read for me: I got lost in it. There was a magical point somewhere mid-read where the book swallowed me, where I didn't want to put it down, where I wanted to be transported into the story and simply sit within it, listening to the words and viewing the mental movie in my head. The book offered me a chance to step outside of my own life loves and struggles, a gift that good books offer me. What a treat to disappear for a moment, to let myself off the hook of doing, doing, doing, and just read.

So, Alysa, if you are reading this, I am betting you now understand why I had to write this post even though yours was so thorough. I think I needed to remind myself of how important books are to me; the ones, that is, that slow me down and remind me of rich moments I have lived as well as the wonders of right now. I am so glad you told me that I had to read it. You, as is so often true, were right!