The Bookshelf – Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

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I made a goal this year to read all of the Newbery Award Winning Books. I’ve had this on my “to-do” list since as far back as I can remember. I was an Education major during graduate school, and I took an adolescent literature class where we spent the semester reading young adult lit. It was the first time I gained an appreciation for YA authors and YA plots and ever since, I’ve wanted to spend more time with these books. So this is the year and here is the first book. It was a good one…a really good one. I’m hoping the others can hold up…

This story is shown through the eyes of a 10 year old little girl, Annemarie and deals with the Danish Resistance smuggling nearly all of the Jewish population of Denmark across the sea to Sweden and to safety.

WHAT DID I THINK? I LOVED this book! I’ve always had a huge interest in the Holocaust. When I was young, my Dad gave me an old copy of The Diary of Anne Frank and I would spend hours in my room reading this book, take it with me everywhere I went and read it over and over again. This story is told from a child’s perspective as well and shows the innocence of children, but also shows just how quickly the children of the Holocaust had to grow up and deal with issues I couldn’t even begin to imagine as a 10 year old. It’s a great book for children and adults alike and I totally understand why it won the Newbery Award in 1990.

THE BOOKSHELF-Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer

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After Jam’s perfect, wonderful and magical relationship with Reese, she goes into a deep depression when he suddenly dies and she is left shattered, barely eating or getting out of bed. So her parents send her away to a boarding school in Vermont for “emotionally fragile, highly intelligent” teens to help her work through her situation. Although Jam isn’t happy about being there, she is chosen to be in a special English class where a small group of students study one author for the entire semester. The professor chooses Sylvia Plath for Jam’s class—interesting choice some may say. During the class, each student is given a journal to write in and when the students write in these journals—magical things happen.

WHAT DID I THINK? I really enjoyed this book. It’s certainly written for young adults and the book shows this at times, but it’s full of intrigue, twists, plot turns and revelations. It has tones of Sylvia Plath (which I loved) and it deals with issues that many kids (and many adults for that matter) deal with. Friendships, love, self-discovery, relationships and recovery. The best part of this book is that it shows the accountability of young love and the lasting impact it can have, for whatever reason, when things end.

RECOMMENDATION: Thumbs up

The bookshelf – Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham

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Have you read it? I might be a little behind the game, but I wait until my turn for the library comes, so sometimes I have to wait…that’s the name of the game (especially in a smaller town). With that said, I couldn’t wait to get into it, especially after all of the reviews and the bit of controversy that rose once it was released.

For those of you who don’t know-Lena Dunham takes her readers on a journey through all of the issues that women deal with-relationships, body image, love, sex, parents, weight, loneliness, mental illness and the job search to name a few; but it’s all written from a quintessential Lena Dunham’s perspective. It’s funny, it’s witty and it’s personal—it’s one of those “no holds barred” type of books.

So what did I think of it? I liked it, it kept me occupied, and I finished it for sure. I could relate to the general theme of a lot of what Dunham was saying, but if I’m going to be honest, I didn’t have as much in common with her as I thought I was going to. I mean, I knew differences were going to arise considering the fame of her parents, the fame of her, the fact that she lives in a huge city, the fact that she’s Lena Dunham for god’s sake, but we all have relationship issues and self esteem issues and growing up issues, so I thought that I would relate a little bit more than I did. With this said, I think maybe that’s why it lacked the humor and the affirmation that I was looking for. Regardless though, I think that she’s a great storyteller and a fantastic creative and really, really enjoyed getting a glimpse into someone’s life that I wouldn’t otherwise begin to even imagine what it would look like. And, considering all of our differences and the fact that I really couldn’t relate, I did recognize some major similarities from time to time. It just made me think that women are women and if possible, this book made even more proud to be one.

Did you read this book? What did you think? And, what did you think of the controversy that came up with the book?

The Bookshelf – The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

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I’ve been a book lover all my life. I was the one sitting in my room under a blanket tent reading at age 7 when all of the kids in the neighborhood were still outside playing. Granted, I was always up for a game of hide and seek or kickball, but I always, always, always made time for reading…and still do today. Regardless of how insanely busy I am, or how much work I have for the evening, how tired I am, or what good shows are on tv, I still find time to crack open my book and delve in. I truly think that books have made me a better person, let me explore places that I will never see, educated me on topics I would never have otherwise known and made me who I am today. Without books, without the escape into books, I don’t know where I would be in life.

With that said, I thought it would be fun to write a blog post once a month or so and keep it all about books. This month, I’m writing a review on a book that I recently read called, The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion. At first glance, I thought this book was another cheesy book about love and relationships where the woman finds a man “serendipitously,” they have a few awkward scenes, they might verge on a breakup and then eventually they live happily ever after. But at second glance, I saw a man and a bicycle on the cover and it piqued my interest, so I gave it a shot. I’m glad I did!

This book deals with a socially awkward, yet highly intelligent male character who figures it is time to find himself a wife so he creates a ridiculous, scientifically-based survey to weed out potential candidates. He meets an intelligent, fiery, and a bit outlandish woman (the book’s namesake) who checks barely any of the boxes, but somehow breaks Don out of his shell and leads him on a venture to find her birth father.

As I said, my first thought was, “why in the world is this book getting all of the hype it’s getting” but after reading it, I’m glad I did. Don’t expect highly intelligent fiction, or a piece that delves into the psychology of what it is to be human, but do expect to laugh, to enjoy the unconventional character of Don, to relate to Rosie, to enjoy the quick and witty pace of the narration, and ultimately, to remember that humanity and the human connection are the true reasons that the world is still a beautiful place.

Thumbs up for sure!