All posts filed under: May & June

Scythe’s Unanswered Questions

After reading a series of intense fiction and nonfiction books, I was really looking forward to something I could escape into. I’m a fan of the dystopian series I’ve read in the past (The Hunger Games, Divergent, An Ember in the Ashes, etc), and I’m always looking forward to finding another great series. I had moderately high hopes that Scythe might be my next favorite series. I was moderately disappointed. The premise, in my mind, was stellar. A future dystopia masked so well as a utopia that even as the reader I was convinced for most of the 430+ pages that this world could be what it seemed (if it weren’t for the fact that it’s a YA series so of course I know better); a world without natural death, disease or crime. It’s a world where climate change has been reversed and people can “turn a corner” at anytime to reverse their aging and return to youth. In this world all things are supervised by an evolution of the “cloud” known as Thunderhead whose moral …

May & June Book

Spring is here! It reminds us of when we used to look forward to the last day of school… yearbooks, textbook buyback, cleaning out your locker, and putting away the required reading for a good book you could actually choose yourself. And such is our May & June pick, a dystopian young adult novel that’s the first of a new series, and definitely a book we would have chosen as soon as school let out. Scythe tells the story of two teenagers, Citra Terranova and Rowan Damisch, who undergo training as they are recruited into the Scythe organization to be society-sanctioned killers. The Scythes: a group of men and women who decide who lives, and who dies. Set in the very distant future, death by natural causes has been virtually eliminated due to the tremendous advances in technology and an advanced computer system that controls society. But overpopulation is still an issue, and that’s where the Scythe organization comes in to choose who to eliminate. With no hunger, no war, no disease, the world seems like …

Quick and Uneasy

Salt to the Sea was definitely a quick read, but left me a little uneasy. Honestly, I wish I hadn’t known so much about the fate of the Wihelm Gustoff before reading. Because I knew that this ship, [SPOILER] the end of these fictional characters’ pilgrimage, met a terribly tragic end in real life, I read the entire book at arms-length. I fought attachment to any one story or character for fear I’d be disappointed in the end. I think this sullied my reading of the book a bit, and it’s why I wish I hadn’t known at about the great maritime disaster before picking it up.  So, for any future readers, I’d recommend not reading anything about the historical event this book is based on before you start. I think it would make for a freer (less anxious) reading experience.   “How foolish to believe we are more powerful than the sea or the sky.”   That being said… I did like the book. Although a quick read, I kept postponing my progress. I …

picture of Salt to the Sea on a bench

Consider My Heartstrings Pulled

For years I’ve claimed to not like historical fiction. This book might be the one to change my mind. I’d heard it was wonderful, touching, a can’t miss, etc. etc., but for some reason I still put it off, fearful I’d have to force my way through. BUT, I am happy to report I was 100% wrong — I was hooked from the first few pages, and flew through the story in five days (which is fairly quickly for me). When I first started, I was worried I’d have trouble keeping track of the characters and their ever-changing perspectives. It turns out that was quite the opposite. The way Sepetys developed each character, slowly revealing their stories — and struggles — made me eager to keep reading, long past my bedtime. Each character was so compelling — yes, even, Alfred — I couldn’t help but cheer them on as they made their journey to what they hoped would be a better future. And can I just say, that last chapter (don’t worry, no spoilers!) KILLED me. …

Salt to the Sea: Devoured

I love World War II fiction. Quite frankly, I enjoy reading about World War II regardless of whether it is fact or fiction. The fact of the matter is, even novels and other works of fiction about World War II contain so many elements of truth that it feels incredibly real. Of course, I sometimes find it difficult to admit that I enjoy this type of literature, because what does that say about me? That I like reading about such an atrocious time in our world’s history. But if we never read about it, we don’t think about it. And if we don’t think about it, we are doing a disservice to everyone who was affected by it. Now that you know that little fact about me. I’ll get right to it. I loved Salt to the Sea. I knew nothing of the Wilhelm Gustloff before reading this book except that it was a German ship that sunk toward the end of the war. So this book served as something of an education for me, …

May / June Book

May and June mean school’s out and it’s almost summer! This time of year we like to read a good YA book to celebrate this liberation. Our pick this May / June was selected as the Goodreads Choice Awards winner for the Best Young Adult Fiction in 2016. Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys is set in the winter of 1945 when four teenagers flee four different homelands for safe passage on the Wilhelm Gustloff, a ship that promises refuge and freedom. And each of the four teenagers—Joana, Florian, Emilia, and Alfred—harbor their own secrets which haunt them at every step of their journey. The paths of these four converge along the way when tragedy strikes. This book was inspired by the greatest tragedy in maritime history. It’s estimated that as many as 9,400 people died. Sepetys’ book sheds light on this great tragedy through the story of these four young men and women, each fighting for survival and freedom.  Sepetys said she wanted to shed light on this event… “Every nation has hidden history, countless …

Revisiting an Old Favorite

I read Perks a long time ago, sometime during my middle school years, and while I remember liking it, that’s about the only memory I have. When we chose it for our May/June read I was eager to re-read it but anxious that it wouldn’t hold up to all the “I loved that book!” comments we received. Thankfully, it did. Admittedly, it took me a bit to get back into it, but once I fell back in love with the characters I was hooked. Via letters to an anonymous friend, Charlie navigates becoming a teenager–something we all can relate to. Shy and quiet, he’s not the most popular kid in school but he soon finds a group of friends that welcome him and make him feel at home. A shy and quiet teenager myself, I was surprised Charlie and his friends didn’t have more of an impact on me when I read it in middle school. While I wasn’t quite as rebellious as he was when it came to drinking and smoking, I struggled to …

Crying and Smiling at the Same Time

My journey with The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a long one. I first read the book when I was in high school, not long after it was released in 1999.I read it for the second time immediately after I finished the first reading. I remember as a teenager thinking that this book perfectly captured some of the struggles of high school. Even though Charlie and I had very little in common in terms of our experiences, I remember understanding his feelings of “outsiderness” and confusion. My next foray into Perks was in 2012 when the movie was released. I hadn’t read the book in over 12 years, and though I still counted it as one of my favorites, I had forgotten some of the details and so of course found myself a sobbing mess in the theater. Now here I am, having completed my most recent reading of Chbosky’s first novel, and I am feeling all the same things I felt 16 years ago, plus even more. Reading it this time around, I found myself, as Bill …

Have courage and be kind

I’m very glad that I finally crossed The Perks of Being a Wallflower off my list. I’d seen the movie years ago, which only made me more interested to read the book. And if you haven’t seen the movie yet you really should. I think it does a really, really great job with this story. And well cast, too. I think this book is a new favorite of mine. The only thing about it that I might change would be to have read it at a younger age. It truly is a perfect young adult read. The story, the protagonist Charlie’s authentic, pure perspective on the fragile high school years, the perfect capture of those one-in-a-lifetime friendships, and the subtle telling of a larger more grievous story all made for a powerful read. And I loved the letter-writing style. It felt like Charlie was confiding in you. Of course this is an intentional literary tool, but admittedly it worked very well for Charlie’s story. And who wouldn’t love Charlie? I mean, when he has thoughts like this you can’t help but love …

May/June Book

Images © http://www.collider.com May and June are two of our combo months (along with December and January). We read just one book for May & June. It makes it a good time to catch on some other things. And this month (these months) the theme is: School’s Out! So, drumroll please… dun dah dah dah!!! Ok. That’s enough. For May & June we’ll be reading The Perks of Being a Wallflower. It’s a modern young-adult classic. Or at least that’s what we’ve heard. It’s one of those books that’s always on our TBR (to be read) lists, but somehow we’ve gone years without picking it up. And, maybe, watching the movie instead. Ahem. Well, enough procrastinating. It’s time to officially give this one a go. You in?? Well, you should be. And if the movie trailer doesn’t grab you (trust us, the story is about a lot more than it seems), here are a few more fun facts… The Perks of Being a Wallflower was written by Stephen Chbosky and first published in 1999. Chbosky is a native of Pittsburg, as is our protagonist Charlie. …