I adore the times spent with my fellow members of the Paige Turner Book Club...but I have a literary appetite that simply cannot be sated with just one book a month. This blog is a place for me to talk about more of my reading adventures. Reviews, summaries, highlights, warnings, praises and quotes. Because after all, it can be a jungle...er...savannah...out there.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Catching Fire

By Suzanne Collins

I'm in grad school, so I have to do a lot of reading on the specific topic of organizational and leadership theory. I like my chosen field. Don't get me wrong. But sometimes, the required reading is...less than exciting.

I read Hunger Games earlier this year and absolutely adored it. Suzanne Collins is a very visual author. Not once did I feel lost in any of the action scenes. I felt as if I was there. I could totally emerse myself in her fictional world. It was also the kind of book that you can't put down. Once you begin, you're strapped in for the ride. It was a unique book with a great cast of characters and an engrossing (yet unfinished) story.

In short, I was counting the days until the sequel.

Catching Fire did not let me down. After impulse buying it from Amazon, I forced myself not to read it as soon as it arrived (since I'm being such a diligent student). But last week I decided to take a brain break from my organizational theory and just read a chapter. Two chapters. 100 pages. Just 15 more minutes. Half the book. Well, since I'm halfway, I might was well keep going.... Yep, I read the whole thing it in a few hours without putting it down and LOVED every bit of it. (Sorry school work! I tried to resist, I really did!)

Some twists I saw coming. Others I did not. But I truly enjoyed watching these characters navigate the challenges presented to them. Stephanie Collins doesn't back away from complication. She dives in headfirst; which makes for an adventure story that's relatable and relevant, even while it's larger than life.

In short: at the end of my second helping, I'm eagerly looking forward to a third.

(I'm also wondering if I can find a real-life Cinna. I love him. And when he said "Don't worry. I alway channel my emotions into my work. That way I don't hurt anyone but myself," he immediately made me think of the quote "Every job is a self-portrait of the person who does it. Autograph your work with excellence." What a wonderful little nugget of truth from a fantastic character! ...I want more!)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Audacity of Hope

By Barack Obama

It was enjoyable to experience this book in audio version, especially since it was read by the author: President Obama. I think when books are read by the author, you get to hear their words the way they intend. They can capture emphasis, inflection, and other things much better than a performer could. It just gives that extra glimpse into the author’s message. Plus, President Obama has a great voice.

Amazon says: With his second book The Audacity of Hope, Obama engages themes raised in his keynote speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, shares personal views on faith and values and offers a vision of the future that involves repairing a "political process that is broken" and restoring a government that has fallen out of touch with the people.

I say: I was pleasantly surprised by this book. I think Barack Obama is a nice, sincere man…but I don’t always agree with his ideas and solutions. But this book affirmed a truth that I believe: there’s fault to find on both sides of the political aisle. Obama writes with passion and sincerity, and I appreciated the tone and flow of this book. My cynical side wonders if he just wrote what people may want to hear. But then again, his memoir is very honest with the fact that we face a lot of complex problems in our country (and in our world).

An interviewer asked Obama: If readers are to come away from The Audacity of Hope with one action item (a New Year's Resolution for 2007, perhaps?), what should it be?
He answered: Get involved in an issue that you're passionate about. It almost doesn’t matter what it is--improving the school system, developing strategies to wean ourselves off foreign oil, expanding health care for kids. We give too much of our power away, to the professional politicians, to the lobbyists, to cynicism. And our democracy suffers as a result.

I can fully agree with that.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Blaggard’s Moon

By George Bryan Polivka

Allow me to borrow from the Amazon description: An exciting swashbuckling tale of a pirate sentenced to die for the crime of mutiny. As he awaits his fate, this pirate ponders his life and the events that have brought him to this fate. In the process of remembering, and in grappling with mercy and justice as they have been played out in his life, a tale is spun, a tale of true hearts wronged, noble love gone awry, dark deeds done for the sake of gold, and sacrifices made for love.

A pirate tale? Sign me up!

I really enjoyed this book. One of the things that made it unique was that it is told from three points of view/ points in time. You have the pirate awaiting his fate (Delaney). He is reminiscing, analyzing, and recounting a story told by Ham Drumbone. The view shifts to this storyteller, and Polivka does a fantastic job creating a fireside scene: the storyteller and his swarthy listeners. They interject and react to the story. Ham masterfully gets them back on course. The third point of view/time is the original events that comprise the storyteller’s tale – the story of Damrick and Jenta and the pirate world of Nearing Vast. I loved how it unfolded.

I also enjoyed that there was no clear hero of the story. It subtlety communicates themes like reaping what you sow, learning to change, and living without regrets, without getting overly sappy. The book has a bit of dark feel, but there’s a lining of hope around the edges.

I would recommend this book as a fun read. It would probably make for a good discussion book as well, since all of the major characters are flawed and don’t always make the best decisions.

Plus, there’s sword fighting. *grin*