The Power of Six

by Pittacus Lore

This has been a season of sequels for me. I’ve looked forward to this book for quite a while, since I loved the first (which it seems I meant to review, and never did. Fail! Anyway, look for I Am Number Four).

And yet, sequels seem to be difficult to pull off, especially in the science fiction arena. The first book introduces this whole world and you, as the reader, spend a lot of time discovering new powers and a new version of our world which leads up to this epic battle.

This book introduces new characters and intersperses chapters with old. We learn more about Six and continue to hear from Four while learning about Marina who has been hiding in Spain.

As I read the book, I wasn’t impressed. It moved slowly for me, but the epic battle at the end made the book worth it, and I’m still looking forward to the continuation of the series. It’s worth a read, but I consider it a beach book. Kind of light, not very challenging, but definitely entertaining.

The Halloween Tree

The Halloween Tree a short novel by Ray Bradbury

Enter. If you will, for just a moment. An autumn evening as the sun begins to set, the smell of fall leaves overwhelms your senses, it’s chill but not cold enough to see your breath. It’s Halloween Night.

As I re-read this book every Halloween since I was old enough to read short stories on my own. It never, not once, in all these years has lost its magic. It’s single handedly a very memorable and charming read.

The short story follows the adventure of eight young boys on an amazing journey through space and time as they learn about the traditions of Halloween nights from cultures and times gone by. Led by the frighteningly mysterious Mr. Moundshroud.

Why do we wear the bones of skeletons, and carry the brooms of witches on Halloween? What is it about this one evening that enchants the mind? A night that brings the spirit world closer with the real world.

This book does a clever job of answering just those questions. With an ending so touching and enchanting that it still gets me a little choked up.

Perhaps because the book starts and finishes in a small midwest town similar to my own it hits a little closer to home. Or perhaps, that Halloween resonates a feeling of great mystery and longing that all of us can connect with.

If you’re looking for a Halloween read. Look no further than the Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury.

Catching Fire & Mockingjay

The Hunger Games Parts 2 & 3 Catching Fire and Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

For those who read the last post. This one is a long time coming. I finished both books in the span of a week. Shortly after finishing the first. So, shame on me for not getting to this review sooner.

After finishing the The Hunger Games I was super eager to pick up the box set. Catching Fire and Mockingjay are continuations of the story from the first book.

After surviving The Games in the first book Katniss Everdeen, our heroine, returns to face a whole new set of problems. Every 25 years The Capitol holds a special set of Hunger Games dubbed The Quarter Quell. And, this time the rules are more sinister than ever which ends up (spoiler!) thrusting Katniss back into the arena! However, as Catching Fire ends, the people of Panem embrace rebellion in Mockingjay, leading up to one of the most thrilling, fast paced adventures, I’ve ever read.

I can’t say that I ate, slept, or went to the bathroom during the time I read these books. In fact it’s all a big blur. Even recalling work from day to day is hazy. Was I on vacation as I read these? I couldn’t tell you. But there is a distinct chunk of time missing from my life as I read these books, in which I was right there, in post apocalyptic North America, like a fly on the shoulder of the main protagonist, fighting for my life.

I had mentioned in my previous review that the author uses a love triangle as a plot device to drive the story. Even though it seemed like people would start taking sides, similar to the Edward/Jacob bandwagons. It really “Peeta’s” out as the last two of books progress and is not overbearing. Still present, but not in your face.

These books had me from the get go. It was a story that I couldn’t put down. But had a sense of closure when it ended.

Books We Love Enough to Reread: Ender’s Game

There are some books that I read almost every year. There are some books that I close, wait a moment, and open to read again immediately. These books are in a special category. They are layered and every read brings a new detail to light, shows a new side to a character, changes how you view the relationships.

In honor of those books, let’s start a series. These books will have their own category. If you click the genre, rereadable, you’ll come across a list of these greatest of books.

To kick off the series, we start with Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card.

Some of you may or may not be science fiction readers. Sometimes books are so good that it doesn’t matter.

Ender is six when the book begins. He is incredibly intelligent and lives in a futuristic world where the government is looking for a savior of sorts. The one to save the world. Ender is the third child, a “third,” which is both an honor and a social stigma. It means that the family has shown enough promise to keep having children, hoping for that miracle.

Ender is enlisted into a battle training program on a space station. He is enrolled in different armies within the school. He fights battles and is catapulted to greatness. Ender fights everyone who tries to hold him back, from his evil brother to the school bullies who are prepared to kill him.

This book is almost indescribable in scope and detail and how well you can submerge yourself into a world completely foreign to our own.

During this last read, I found myself reminded harshly again and again of Ender’s age. Only six. I taught kindergarten for a while and tried to picture my students as characters. Engaged in battles and hacking computer systems and influencing world politics. As crazy as it sounds, every word reads as something believable. There are no moments where Orson Scott Card strays to becoming over-the-top or eye-roll worthy. You end up ignoring your family and your job and just want to read for hours. Read until that last word and then you are in that book-limbo where the real world is hard to reenter.

Read Ender’s Game. Comment when you do. Let us know what you think.

The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games is a fast-paced and explosive trilogy written by Suzanne Collins. I was told by multiple people to read the first book and I only wish that I had listened sooner. It was probably a good six months before I walked into a Half-Priced Books and asked if there was a copy available. The lady behind the book drop-off met my query with one sentence proceeded by a small laugh, “Rarely, and if we do get a copy it’s gone within seconds.” Deeming what I know to be an exaggeration, logically the only thing to sell in seconds are Lady Gaga tickets, I could only assume that the majority of people who bought the books are keeping them as permanent fixtures in their home libraries.

The Hunger Games

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

The story follows the protagonist Katniss Everdeen, using her elite archery and survival skills as she struggles through the sadistic Hunger Games. The Games take place in a post-apocalyptic North America, a country called Panem divided into 13 districts and a Capitol. The Capitol, a magnificent candy-colored city, hosts the games as an everlasting reminder of the defeat of the 13 districts at the hands of The Capitol in a previous revolution. Every year, one boy and girl are selected from each district via lottery to participate. The premise is simple: 24 kids enter the arena and 1 leaves. Everyone’s Goal: Stay alive until you are the last one standing. (For those of you that caught the discrepancy in the math, one district does not send kids. You’ll just have to read the books.)

The first book is immensely gripping, it had me actually rocking on the edge of my seat the entire time. Without giving away too much, as I progressed through the story with these characters it was no surprise, I knew all the children were marching to less than happy fates. The questions lingering in the back of my mind were: “How long can these characters survive? How will they die?” Even though I was hoping for the best outcome, it made for a rather serious dichotomy of emotions, further complicated by the relationships between the characters.

A rather unexpected, yet crucial plot device is an emotional-triangle strained by the Games. This becomes essential in Katniss’ ability to keep her life during the slaughter. It is a thought provoking element which left me feverish, like knowing at any moment a bomb could go off somewhere. Despite its seeming cliché, it did not detract from the suspense, thrill, and twists of the story.

As I read The Hunger Games, I could feel it commanding every bit of my attention. Midway through the book, as The Games started, I couldn’t will myself to go to the bathroom. I held it till the end of the chapter, my bladder angry. Akin to going to a movie and holding it to the bitter end.

Alas, at the end of this book, there is no relief. The tension grows and it grips you. After finishing this first book in paperback, I couldn’t make it a day without picking up the second. I went to Target to pick up the whole trilogy in hardcover. I am thoroughly happy and outrageously engrossed with my purchase. In short, use the bathroom before reading this book. You won’t want to miss a thing.

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

There are lessons and a bigger picture shared in the book. Societal ideals and social differences between first and second world issues are loaded into the story. Reality television, war, harsh realities, a difference in backgrounds, tolerance, and survival are major themes.