Sunday, October 25, 2009

Caring for Our Parents

Caring for Our Parents: Inspiring Stories of Families Seeking New Solutions to  America's Most Urgent Health Care Crisis is a book that I've been reading in bits and pieces here and there.  I picked it up at the library because I, myself, am taking care of my parents.  I found this book inspiring even though I cried nearly all the way through it.  It is made up of stories about families mostly like mine who have rearranged their lives in order to care for elderly or disabled parents.  It also goes into the difficulties in dealing with Medicare, Medicaid, long term care, private pay insurance and other things that most people don't realize go into caring for someone at home (such as how at times just getting a loved one up and to the bathroom can be an adventure).  It was a well written and moving book and it helps to know that other families are dealing with the same issues mine is.

Among the Hidden

Among the Hidden by Margaret Peterson Haddix takes place in a not distant future.  About twenty years ago, the government became worried that the population was outgrowing the food supply; therefore, they enacted a law that outlawed families having more than two children.  This creates a world of third children that live hidden within their homes.  Luke is one of these Shadow Children.  His family is a poor farming family but because they are farmers and have no neighbors, Luke is able to spend some time outdoors playing with his brothers and the farm animals.  Then, one day the government takes their land to build a subdivision.  This forces Luke to have to hide even more carefully in his home.  He is no longer allowed to eat at the dinner table or to go into any room with a window.  Luke is confined mostly to his attic room and the stairwell.  Then, one day, Luke notices another face in the window of the house next door - a house where he already knows two other children live.  Luke meets the girl next door, Jen, and she introduces him to a world of other third children via the internet.  Jen and her friends are planning a rebellion to give third children the freedom to live.

Again, this book was a very easy read but I enjoyed it a lot.  Peterson does a great job of character development and, as a reader, I felt Luke's fear as he gained the courage to meet Jen or hid from the Population Police.  Unfortunately, this adds six more books to my "to read" stack as I definitely need to know what happens to Luke in his bid to become a free third child living his life and not hiding in the shadows of the attic.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Bart's Bookshelf YA-Dystopian Reading Challenge

So it turns out that Bart's Bookshelf is also doing an YA dystopian fiction challenge.  In that one, you need to read between 1 and 4 books between October 15th and the end of the year.  This one works so nicely with the Books on the Nightstand challenge that I can't help but do both!

Thursday, October 22, 2009


Floodland by Marcus Sedgwick is the third book I read for the Books on the Nightstand DystopYA Reading Challenge.  Actually, I listened to this audiobook - on actual cassette tapes!  I hadn't done that in forever but it was the only audio format that my library had it in.  It was a decent audiobook although the narrator's voice bothered me a little bit but I think it was just her attempt to speak like a young girl.  Please forgive me for any misspellings in this post but I'm guessing as to how the names of people and places are spelled.  Since I listened to the book, I didn't actually see the spellings. 

In Floodland, the seas have risen to cover most of the land in the world due to global warming.  The story follows Zoe, a young girl who has lost her family and is by herself in Norridge - a small island off what I think might have been England.  Zoe finds a boat and escapes from Norridge but ends up on an even smaller island that was very Lord of the Flies-like.  She meets characters with names like Doobie, Spat and Munchkin (I kept think of The Wizard of Oz every time that name was said). On this island, Zoe struggles with other inhabitants over her possessions and her mere autonomy as she tries to escape and find her parents on the mainland.

I enjoyed the story but at times I found myself drifting from the audio.  It didn't keep my attention as well as most books do.  I had a hard time empathizing with Zoe because she would jump back and forth from being an ingenious girl to acting like the child was.  Her character wasn't consistent.  I had guessed the ending partially through the book. Yet, at the same time, I wanted just a little bit more at the end. 


Uglies by Scott Westerfeld is the second book I read for the Books on the Nightstand reading challenge.  Fifteen year old Tally lives in a world where people are separated by whether they are ugly or pretty.  In this world, every person starts off as an Ugly.  On their sixteenth birthday, they receive an operation that turns them into a Pretty.  At this point, they're able to move over to New Pretty Town and begin of a life of fun and partying.  Tally can't wait for the day she gets to become a Pretty.

However, Tally's new friend, Shay, isn't quite so ready to be made "pretty."  She likes her face as it is. Shay runs away just before hers and Tally's sixteenth birthday.  Tally is then forced to choose between turning her friend in or never turning pretty. 

This book is a very easy read and it's a good story. It's well written and manages to be entertaining and thought provoking at the same time.  It challenges our ideas of how we define pretty.  Through Tally, we also see what it means to be a person that challenges society's conventions and beliefs.  I am curious to see how Westerfield continues his ideas through the remaining books.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Life As We Knew It

Life As We Knew It  by Susan Beth Pfeffer was the first book I read for the Books on the Nightstand DystopYA Reading Challenge.  Somehow I had never heard of this book. I ordered it from the library and rushed down to pick it up when it came in.  The first thing I thought when I got was "What a cool cover!"  Life as We Knew It follows a young high school girl, Miranda, and her family as they deal with the fallout from an asteroid colliding with the moon.  The world is thrown back into the 20th century as schools are closed, gas prices soar, the weather changes and choas ensues.  Families are left scrounging for food in freezing winters with no heat. 

The story is told in the form of a journal kept by Miranda as events unfold. The first person point of view allowed the author to pull me in very quickly.  I felt connected to Miranda.   I started reading the book at 10:00 at night intending to read just the first chapter or two before I went to bed.  Four hours later I put the book down after reading the last page.  Imagine my surprise when I learned there's a second book in the series.  I can't wait to read that one.

Reading Challenges

For the first time in my life, I'm going to do some reading challenges.  I first got interested when I heard about the DystopYA Reading Challenge over at Books on the Nightstand.   Since I read a lot of dystopic fiction as it is, and young adult fiction is a favorite, I thought what could it hurt to combine the two?  I'm afraid I got a little carried away though.  I ordered every book I found on the BOTN website and over on Goodreads.  And now I have a pile of books as tall as my nightstand to read. 

On the recommendation of a good friend of mine over at the Swimming in Books blog, I am also going to make an attempt at the 101 Fantasy Reading Challenge at A Bibliophile's Bookshelf blog.  I've already read a lot of the fantasy books but there's a lot on the list that I've always wanted to read and never got around to them.  So, hopefully this will inspire to read them. 


Since this is my first post, I figure I should tell you a little bit about me.  I'm 33 years old and live in northwest Georgia.  I majored in English in college.  Mainly, I studied English because I love to read and figured that line of study would give me plenty of opportunity to read. I just didn't realize that I would end up spending all my time reading stuff that I didn't really care about and my "to be read" stack would just keep getting taller.  Now that I'm out of college and in the real world, I find that life interrupts my reading but I this past year I made a concentrated effort to read and try to get through some of the fascinating books out there. 

My guilty addiction is sci-fi/fantasy - both in literature and TV shows.  I love the classics like Lord of the Rings, The Dark is Rising, and The Chronicles of Narnia; but I flock to a lot of YA fiction series, too:  Harry Potter, The Inheritance Trilogy, The Inkheart Series, the Septimus Heap books, the Vampire Academy novels  and, yes, even Twilight is on that list.   Often times, I find myself sitting down and watching whole seasons of Lost or Supernatural or Stargate: Atlantis or X-files (the show that introduced me to science fiction).  The show with the absolute most rewatchability is Firefly.  (Browncoats forever!)   

I've never done this kind of thing before but I hope you guys will stick with me as I learn.