Saturday, April 13, 2013

Kim's Top Ten Book Recommendations!

First off, did you notice our new blog title and theme? Thanks to Char for the new look! :)

Since my book reading has been going a little slow lately and I haven't posted a review in a while, I've decided to make a list of my favorite books to recommend to you all! I'm sure everyone and their mother have read a few of the books on this list, but I decided to include them anyways.

(These are not in any particular order.)

1. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Charlie is a freshman, and while he's not the biggest geek in the school, he is by no means popular. Shy, introspective, intelligent beyond his years yet socially awkward, he is a wallflower, caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it.

Charlie is attempting to navigate his way through uncharted territory: the world of first dates and mix tapes, family dramas and new friends; the world of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, when all one requires is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite. But he can't stay on the sideline forever. Standing on the fringes of life offers a unique perspective. But there comes a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a deeply affecting coming-of-age story that will spirit you back to those wild and poignant roller-coaster days known as growing up.

This is one of the most realistic and relatable books I have ever read. This book (and the movie) are really inspiring; whenever I'm feeling down, I just pop the movie into the DVD player and, two hours later, I usually feel much better. I'd recommend Perks to high school students, especially freshmen. The movie is home to one of my favorite quotes (which might be in the book as well, but I don't remember): “Even if we don't have the power to choose where we come from, we can still choose where we go from there."

2. Unwind by Neal Shusterman
The Second Civil War was fought over reproductive rights. The chilling resolution: Life is inviolable from the moment of conception until age thirteen. Between the ages of thirteen and eighteen, however, parents can have their child "unwound," whereby all of the child's organs are transplanted into different donors, so life doesn't technically end. Connor is too difficult for his parents to control. Risa, a ward of the state is not enough to be kept alive. And Lev is a tithe, a child conceived and raised to be unwound. Together, they may have a chance to escape and to survive.

The world Shusterman created in Unwind is amazing. This book really made me think about society and where we are headed. Some of the events in this book don't seem too far-fetched. Of course, I don't think we'll be sending kids to get their bodies torn apart, but with constantly improving technology, who knows where we're headed?

3. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
In his first book for young adults, bestselling author Sherman Alexie tells the story of Junior, a budding cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Determined to take his future into his own hands, Junior leaves his troubled school on the rez to attend an all-white farm town high school where the only other Indian is the school mascot. Heartbreaking, funny, and beautifully written, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, which is based on the author's own experiences, coupled with poignant drawings by acclaimed artist Ellen Forney, that reflect the character's art, chronicles the contemporary adolescence of one Native American boy as he attempts to break away from the life he was destined to live.

At first glance, this book may seem like a light-hearted comedy, but don't let it fool you. There are some parts that are quite funny, but they are often also mixed with depressing and oddly philosophical moments. Part-Time Indian is unlike anything I have ever read.

4. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
Three ordinary women are about to take one extraordinary step. Seemingly as different from one another as can be, these women will nonetheless come together for a clandestine project that will put them all at risk. And why? Because they are suffocating within the lines that define their town and their times. And sometimes lines are made to be crossed. In pitch-perfect voices, Kathryn Stockett creates three extraordinary women whose determination to start a movement of their own forever changes a town, and the way women - mothers, daughters, caregivers, friends - view one another.

This book is extraordinary. It starts off a bit slow, but after a while I couldn't put it down!

5. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
Flowers for Algernon is the beloved, classic story of a mentally disabled man whose experimental quest for intelligence mirrors that of Algernon, an extraordinary lab mouse. In poignant diary entries, Charlie tells how a brain operation increases his IQ and changes his life. As the experimental procedure takes effect, Charlie's intelligence expands until it surpasses that of the doctors who engineered his metamorphosis. The experiment seems to be a scientific breakthrough of paramount importance--until Algernon begins his sudden, unexpected deterioration. Will the same happen to Charlie?

This is one of those books that sticks with you long after you finish reading it. I first had to read a small portion of it for school, but I loved the story so much I bought the book and read the whole thing. Charlie is an interesting character and reading his journey through journal entries was intriguing.

6. The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams
Thirteen-year-old Kyra has grown up in an isolated community without questioning the fact that her father has three wives and she has twenty brothers and sisters, with two more on the way. That is, without questioning them much---if you don’t count her secret visits to the Mobile Library on Wheels to read forbidden books, or her meetings with Joshua, the boy she hopes to choose for herself instead of having a man chosen for her. But when the Prophet decrees that she must marry her sixty-year-old uncle---who already has six wives---Kyra must make a desperate choice in the face of violence and her own fears of losing her family forever.

This is a truly compelling and unpredictable book. I read it in a few hours. Everything about it is great, from the plot to the characters to the writing. I'd definitely recommend this book for a quick read if you have a few hours to spare.

7. Room by Emma Donoghue
To five-year-old Jack, Room is the entire world. It is where he was born and grew up; it's where he lives with his Ma as they learn and read and eat and sleep and play. At night, his Ma shuts him safely in the wardrobe, where he is meant to be asleep when Old Nick visits.
Room is home to Jack, but to Ma, it is the prison where Old Nick has held her captive for seven years. Through determination, ingenuity, and fierce motherly love, Ma has created a life for Jack. But she knows it's not enough...not for her or for him. She devises a bold escape plan, one that relies on her young son's bravery and a lot of luck. What she does not realize is just how unprepared she is for the plan to actually work.

This book is creepy, yet amazing. It's an adult novel and there are some graphic/uncomfortable scenes, so proceed with caution, but you should definitely read it. The story is told from the point of view of a five year old, and his innocence and naiveity make it even sadder. Room left me with an eerie feeling long after I finished it, but it's written quite well and the plot is executed fantastically.

8. The Fault In Our Stars by John Green
Diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer at 13, Hazel was prepared to die until, at 14, a medical miracle shrunk the tumours in her lungs... for now.

Two years post-miracle, sixteen-year-old Hazel is post-everything else, too; post-high school, post-friends and post-normalcy. And even though she could live for a long time (whatever that means), Hazel lives tethered to an oxygen tank, the tumours tenuously kept at bay with a constant chemical assault.

Enter Augustus Waters. A match made at cancer kid support group, Augustus is gorgeous, in remission, and shockingly to her, interested in Hazel. Being with Augustus is both an unexpected destination and a long-needed journey, pushing Hazel to re-examine how sickness and health, life and death, will define her and the legacy that everyone leaves behind.

I have no words for this one. Just read it.

9. Crank by Ellen Hopkins
Kristina Georgia Snow is the perfect daughter: gifted high school junior, quiet, never any trouble. But on a trip to visit her absentee father, Kristina disappears and Bree takes her place. Bree is the exact opposite of Kristina -- she's fearless. Through a boy, Bree meets the monster: crank. And what begins as a wild, ecstatic ride turns into a struggle through hell for her mind, her soul -- her life.

Ellen Hopkins is one of my all-time favorite authors. The characters she creates continue to amaze me. Written in poetry, this book is a pretty fast read, and I can guarantee you won't be able to put it down.

10. It's Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini
At his new school, Craig realizes that he isn't brilliant compared to the other kids; he's just average, and maybe not even that. He soon sees his once-perfect future crumbling away. The stress becomes unbearable and Craig stops eating and sleeping-until, one night, he nearly kills himself.

Craig's suicidal episode gets him checked into a mental hospital, where his new neighbors include a transsexual sex addict, a girl who has scarred her own face with scissors, and the self-elected President Armelio. There, isolated from the crushing pressures of school and friends, Craig is finally able to confront the sources of his anxiety.

God, I love this book so much. I love everything about it. (And I love psychology, so it was interesting to be able to read what Craig was thinking all the time as he contemplated suicide, was checked into the mental hospital, and went through treatment there. This is one of those books that I took out from the library and then, after I finished it, wished I had bought it instead.

Whew! There you have it! Sorry for the super-long post. I wish Blogspot had 'read more's.

Until next time! -Kim

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