I got a lot of reading done this month. The fact that I went on a long car trip at the beginning of the month and that I was sick and not feeling up to much else for another part of the month might have helped a bit.
Or Give Me Death: A Novel of Patrick Henry's Family by Ann Rinaldi
My first read of the new year was this book that my sister loaned me when we went to visit. Did you know Patrick Henry's wife was insane and they locked her in the basement? True story. Or Give Me Death is historical fiction (recommended for ages 10 and up, 240 pages) which takes place in colonial America and centers around Patrick Henry's family, specifically around his wife's descent into madness and the turmoil it causes the family as told from the perspective of two of his daughters. As with all historical fiction, some of the narrative is fact and some is artistic license taken by the author. It's helpful to read the author's notes to get things straight. It isn't my favorite historical fiction ever, but it was an easy, intriguing and compelling read and overall I really liked it.
The Maze Runner by James Dasher
I read an online review of this book last year some time and have wanted to read it ever since. I bought it for Stretch for his birthday back in November and got around to reading it this month. It is a dystopian young adult novel (recommended for ages 12 and up, 384 pages) kind of reminiscent of The Hunger Games trilogy but different enough for me to not be comparing the two the whole time I was reading. Thomas, the protagonist, wakes up with only patchy memories of his past life in the real world. He finds himself kind of dumped into this society of boys living in the center of a giant maze. Every day is devoted to making the society function and, more importantly, to solving the maze. Meanwhile he is trying to remember his past to make sense of all the stuff he has to deal with. Think Lord of the Flies meets Ender's Game (two books which the author said influenced this story), only not as good as either. The writing is okay--not awesome, but not so bad as to deter me from reading it. There were parts that made it hard for me to suspend my disbelief but overall I was sucked in by the plot and enjoyed the book. Maybe my biggest complaint was that I had a lot of unanswered questions at the end of the book. I realize that the author did this intentionally. It is the first of a series after all, but I guess I was hoping for a little more closure than I got.
The Scorch Trials by James Dasher
The sequel to The Maze Runner (384 pages). Stretch got this one for Christmas (Have you noticed that I like reading the same books as my thirteen year old son? Well, I do.). I didn't really like this one as much as the first one. It was more graphically violent, I didn't like the whole love triangle?quadrangle? (square?) that was thrown into the mix and the author's attempts at introducing more psychological elements into the story seemed kind of contrived. I felt a little frustrated by it and kept mentally asking the author what his point was during certain scenes. The ending was just as bad as the first novel's but of course I feel compelled to keep reading and finish the series. I'm hoping the last book offers more answers and ties up some of the loose ends that are bugging me. If the final installment is good enough, it may redeem this book a little in my eyes.
A World Without Heroes (Beyonders) by Brandon Mull
We love Brandon Mull at our house. He has a lot of wit and I really enjoy his writing style.This is the first book in a fantasy series intended for young adult readers (probably about ages 11 and up, 496 pages). None of the other books have been released yet but I'm looking forward to reading them when they are. Stretch bought this book with his own money and enjoyed it so much that he brought it to me and offered to let me read it. Love that kid.
Jason and Rachel, age 13, are teens sucked into another world (Lyrian) from our world. They go on an epic quest to find a magic word that will defeat an evil, dictatorial wizard named Maldor and find themselves becoming heroes in the process. It's a fun, adventuresome read with great characters, an interesting setting, some fun humorous moments, a good plot and lots of loose ends. I really enjoyed the book though, so I'm trying to just be patient and wait for the next one to come out without being too annoyed by the ending.
The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis
I've had this on my list for awhile now, so when it was chosen as the read for February's book club meeting I couldn't wait to jump in. I love C.S. Lewis and this book was no exception. The Great Divorce (160 pages) is an allegorical story of some of the residents of Hell/Purgatory, their field-trip to Heaven, their opportunity to stay (though it is initially a painful place to be) and the choices (and rationalizations for their behaviors) that many of them make which send them back to where they came from. It is full of the characteristic wisdom and doctrinal insight that make Lewis such a respected and loved Christian writer. I'm looking forward to discussing it with the other ladies in a few weeks.
So, it looks like I'm off to a good start to reach my goal of reading 40 books in 2012. Have you read any of these books? What did you think? Have you read anything else good lately? Tell me in the comments.