My Name Is Asher Lev

asher“My Name is Asher Lev” by Chaim Potok was surprisingly good.  Asher Lev is a Hasidic Jew who against his father’s wishes loves to draw and paint.  Because of the religious tradition within their household, he would much prefer he took after him and studied the religion and behaved properly by leaving his art behind.  Asher is naturally talented and his gift grows stronger as he comes of age.  The story begins when he is a young child and spans to young adulthood.  The consequences his artwork has on his family and religion deeply affect the story and the reader as we journey alongside Asher Lev.

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The Twilight Saga

twilight sagaThe Twilight Saga….I don’t know where to begin….Overall, I enjoyed the series (so far).  Individually, I was definitely not convinced after reading “Twilight.”  After I saw the movie (which was awful), I remembered liking the book so much more than I actually did.

Having said that, after more than a year, I finally gave the rest of the series a chance.

“Twilight” was typically slow moving and focused entirely on Bella and Edward’s high school romance for 500 pages followed by 50 pages of action.  Edward Cullen, never the typical high school boy – likely because he has lived for decades already and obviously because he is a vampire, and his family live in the forest of Forks, Washington to escape notice of humans.  Bella moves to Forks to live with her father from Arizona midway through her junior year of high school and that is where it all begins.  “Twilight” is mostly a sappy teenage love story.

twilightmovieThen, as if vampires weren’t enough, as we move on to “New Moon” and “Eclipse” a new element is introduced… werewolves and much more fighting and overall just more intriguing action.  These two books are my favorite right now.  Much more drama and much less sap.

Though I can’t say that this series isn’t entirely too predictable despite the neverending twists and turns, it does capture me.  (I hate to admit it after I stood by hating the first book so much)  I am currently reading the final book, “Breaking Dawn,” and will be sure to update this post when I am finished….Should be in the next couple days at the rate I am reading through these….

Special Topics in Calamity Physics

special-topics-in-calamity-physics-by-marisha-pesslThere are a lot of things I enjoyed about “Special Topics in Calamity Physics.”  The title, the chapter titles were all literary works, the first hundred pages of the book, and the last two hundred.  Pages 100-300 were on the slow side but it picked up as most murder mysteries do.  If I’m being 100% honest with myself, I bought this just because of the title and the cover.  My judgement of the cover seemed to work itself out in the end.

Pessl tells the story of Blue Van Meer’s senior year of high school….She has moved countless times since her mother died and her father continually moved to teach at a new college nearly every semester.  During her senior year, she befriends the “bluebloods” and a teacher, Hannah Schneider (the victim) and the tale continues to grow taller throughout each page.  Sometimes unbelievable but almost always entertaining, following Blue through her discoveries was definitely worth the read in the end.

Mother Night

mother_nightlargeAs you know, I love Kurt Vonnegut.  And I finished another of his books.  “Mother Night” is another war story which typically aren’t my favorite Vonnegut writing.  However, this was more along the lines of his creative stories set in the time of war.  The cleverness I love so much carried throughout the story of an American spy serving in WWII as a German radio voice who has been imprisoned as a war criminal and traitor.  As always Vonnegut takes a serious topic and fills it with wit and moments of laughing out loud….And as always, I will happily give him another chance and read more of his books.

Wicked

wicked-bookThe much acclaimed “Wicked” by Gregory Maguire took me much longer than I expected it to.  Admittedly, I started it a few times over the past three years and never got past page 37.  In an effort to finally finish it, I selected it for book club.  (Ironically, I still didn’t finish it in time for book club…but that’s an entirely different story.) Once past the first hundred pages, the rest went smoothly.

The story of Elphaba begins as a green baby and recounts her strange childhood.  I can’t help but think that the wicked witch of the west doesn’t seem quite so wicked as “The Wizard of Oz” always led me to believe.  Given her circumstances in life, she obviously faced some struggles.  She overcame a great deal of adversity through her somewhat apathetic ways yet, continually fought for issues she believed in.

Which leads me into my next point, the book was surprisingly political.  Many issues were taken head on and I’m sure if i re-read the book, I would find even more meaning in the story than at the first pass.

After seeing the musical last week, I’d have to say that they are two entirely different stories but would definitely recommend both.

IV: A Decade of Curious People and Dangerous Ideas

Chuck Klosterman IV: A Decade of Curious People and Dangerous Ideas

rating: 1 of 5 stars

Even though it was a quick, easy read, it was somehow not worth the few hours on the train it took me to read it. Unless you are very into obscure bands or knowing everything that there is to know about musicians from rock bands (like van Halen, KISS, or Morrissey), I wouldn’t recommend it. The entire book is just like reading a 400 page magazine (because it actually is just a collection of magazine articles that he wrote with a short commentary before each one).  All this means that it is the equivalent of watching the love child of VH1 and Entertainment Tonight.

I know from the author’s other books, he has potential and can be much funnier.  So maybe don’t write off Klosterman altogether, just this book might not be your cup of tea if you are anything like me.

The Power of One

41vntzdbflFrom the first page, the reader is drawn into Peekay’s story.  Written with the innocence of a child when he is first learning of the very adult issues of German National Socialism and Apartheid, it seems like this one boy will be able to change the entire world, or at least all of South Africa.  Even when he gets older, the story remains uplifting despite the bad luck that continuously befalls him.  The power of one is a theme that is so strongly woven into the story that at times it becomes impossible to actually apply it to real life; however, the story is always good, always motivational, and always a page-turner.  The writing style will make you want to keep reading more and the 500 pages will fly by with joy.  There are few books that I actually enjoy reading every page of (especially when they are long) and I did not get the anxious feeling of wanting to finish the book at any point.  The actual story deals with Apartheid in South Africa, but more than that, it shows the power of one person being able to influence thousands of people around him purely through example and the power of the spirit.