Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Jenn: It's been too, too long since we've posted on this blog - but not because we haven't been reading. Rather, I suppose it's because we couldn't be bothered to blog before picking up our next books. I simply had to blog about The Hunger Games, however, because Kathryn had been begging me to read it for months. She'd read it during her sixth grade language arts class and simply adored it. She's been waiting with bated breath for the movie to come out. I avoided reading it for a very long time because the whole concept was so upsetting to me. In case you're unfamiliar with the premise, The Hunger Games takes place in a future dystopia where the government (not the U.S. government - but some distorted totalitarian regime) shows its total control over the districts by forcing each district to choose one boy and one girl to be sent to the "games" to fight to the death. Appalling, obviously, but even more appalling because so much of the book's discussion of media manipulation of the public smacks of a certain disturbing familiarity.

I will say that I'm glad I read it. It's an amazing read - I'm not at all surprised it's so popular. I especially appreciate the way it doesn't simplify love. The main character, Katniss, is torn between her feelings for two boys and isn't sure how she really feels. Until I'm able to write about love with such unflinching truth, I won't really be an author - but it seems to me it takes a lot of courage to write in that manner. Kudos to Ms. Collins. I've already started the sequel  - Catching Fire.

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley - the unfinished book...

I read this book in high school (possibly the late years of Junior High) and recently decided to re-read it. In part, I wanted to remember the details so I could figure out when Kathryn might be old enough for the book.

It's been taking me an extraordinary amount of time to re-read this book. Even David noticed the delay and inquired about it. The truth is that it's a pretty intense book. I love the parts of the book that explore the ancient religion of the goddess and found myself talking to Kathryn about the goddess and the concept that all women carry within them the maiden, the mother, and the crone. (Megan, I remember you teaching me about that also!)

I know that Gwydion/Mordred will bring down his father (Gwydion/Arthur) and there are really no surprises or shocks in store for me. Of course the Arthurian legend is the story of how the tribes of Britain were first brought together by one of their own, instead of by the Romans. From my perspective, however, the real story is one of a mother who made the horrible mistake of not raising her own son and how he turned into someone who couldn't love or lead others as a result. It was painful for me to read when I was still in the "maiden" time of life - but now as a mother myself, I can't seem to bring myself to finish the book. I kept setting it aside for days at a time and I'm finally putting it aside for good.

Don't get me wrong - it's a wonderful book...very well written with amazing detail. As a woman, don't be surprised if you find yourself looking at the moon and sun in new spiritual ways. I actually hope that there are men out there who would read this and look at women in a new way.

Kathryn usually indicates who should read her books in her reviews. In this case, perhaps the perfect reader is a woman in her early twenties, right before she becomes a mother. I'll try to remember to hand it to Kathryn when she's in college.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Food Matters: A Guide to Conscious Eating by Mark Bittman

First of all, I'm normally not obsessively drawn into non-fiction books (as I believe I previously posted...).

Secondly, I did not create this blog so that I could write about eating more grains and vegetables.

And yet, I find myself compelled to write about this book because I stayed up late reading it, and was so excited by it that my husband got his own copy to read after I told him how important it was to me that we read it together. Mark Bittman's attitude about food and eating is probably the healthiest and most realistic one out there. (And by "out there" I mean the United States.)

In short, if a person makes an effort to eat primarily plant-based foods (keeping meat in the diet but at a much lower level than is typical for our country) and avoids any processed/prepared foods which contain more than five familiar-sounding ingredients (if you don't recognize the ingredient, you probably shouldn't be putting it in your mouth anyway, n'est-ce pas?) - then that person will feel a lot better, have a much lower environmental impact on the Earth, and will probably end up losing some weight in the process. I'm telling you that after just a few days of letting myself having all the veggies, fruit and grains I wanted; eating when I got hungry; and avoiding junk - I felt a heck of a lot more energetic.

It's a short book, inspiring and (best of all) singularly realistic in it's approach.'s chock full-o-recipes. Gotta love that detail.

Percy Jackson And The Olympians BY: Rick Riordan

Kathryn: This is a series of 5 books, and each one is amazing! I started reading them a while back but I stopped. I recently began reading them again, and found that I really like them! I think that any teacher who teaches mythology should have their class read this. I would recommend this for ages 9-99. It is amazing!!

Friday, February 25, 2011

North of Beautiful by: Justina Headley

Kathryn: This is a sweet book. This book is about a girl named Terra (terr means earth) who is trying to find True Beauty. From the back Terra is amazingly beautiful but when she turns around all you can notice is her distinguished birthmark on her cheek. While she searches she finds a new friend who shows her tons of things about nature, and herself. One special thing about this book is that it has lots of metaphors about maps. I would recommend this book to anyone 12-112. If you have already read this book then PLEASE leave a comment, I would love to know what you thought of it!!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Code Talker by Joseph Bruchac

Kathryn: When my teacher assigned this book to our class I thought it was the typical class book study book, its only use is to make us feel good about ourself ( which is crazy considering I haven't been assigned one bad book!) I was so wrong about that!! This book not only deals with racism issues, but it also talks about the importance of Navajos during WW1. The great thing about this book is that it tells about the circumstances of the war that changed the whole world.

Monday, February 7, 2011

My Non-Fiction Challenge

Jennifer: I'm compelled to write about the fact that, at the moment, I'm reading (or, more accurately - attempting to read) a non-fiction book. It is slow going. I mean, I'm the woman who polished off almost 1000 pages of Ken Follet's latest in about 72 hours (give or take). I inhale good books - too quickly in many cases. Someone in my non-profit management course recommended that I read The Leadership Challenge (Kouzes and Posner). I have to admit - it's pretty good. I've certainly gained some insights...but I'm not zipping through it. And I'm starting to avoid my night-table because I'm no longer in the mood to read when that's all I've got.

I mean - when I read fiction...good fiction, that is...I can't put it down. I lose sleep by staying up all hours reading, and then I dream about it once I do fall asleep. While non-fiction strikes me as interesting theory, fiction is "real" to me.

My favorite movie of all time is Ever After (with Drew Barrymore). I suppose plenty of people would consider it to be a simple piece of fluff, but for my money, there's more truth in a well-written fairy tale than in some non-fiction business stuff. Maybe that's because I think love drives people more than money or logic.

In a way, that's one of the messages in The Leadership Challenge - not love per se - but the idea that people work harder and do more when they're inspired. Life is just more fun when you care about what you're doing and the people you see every day.

This isn't an official review of The Leadership Challenge because I haven't finished it. It's good - and maybe someday I will finish it - but in the meantime, I'm returning to the world of fiction. I've missed it. I suppose it's enough of a compliment to Kouzes and Posner that I've talked about some of the ideas in the book to friends and I kept plowing through it for a good two weeks. That's saying something in my case. Tonight, however, Morgan le Fay beckons. I'm re-reading The Mists of Avalon, which I haven't read since I was in Jr. High. I'm bound to gain some leadership insights from her and Arthur.