Sunday, June 8, 2014

Books, books, books!

With LeVar Burton's kickstarter to bring back Reading Rainbow, I decided I would like to talk about some of my favorite books. I shall start with the most recent I've read:

The Giver by Lois Lowry
Genre: Dystopia

"Jonas' world is perfect. Everything is under control. There is no war or fear or pain. There are no choices. Every person is assigned a role in the Community. When Jonas turns twelve, he is singled out to receive special training from The Giver. The Giver alone holds the memories of the true pain and pleasure of life. Now, it is time for Jonas to receive the truth. There is no turning back."

Recently my husband and I were at the movie theater and saw a preview for The Giver. For years he's been commenting upon and quoting this book, a book that he read back in middle school and still remembers. Interested, I picked up the book and gave it a read. I was not disappointed. Although it is aimed at young adults, the first of it genre to target children and teens, it was an engrossing read. I would have finished it the first night if I hadn't needed to go to work the next day. The future we are presented with, how normal it is to Jonas and how much you begin to question alongside him, makes you hope that one day this book does not speak true. I highly recommend reading this book.

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
Genre: Urban Fantasy

"Under the streets of London there's a place most people could never even dream of. A city of monsters and saints, murderers and angels, knights in armour and pale girls in black velvet. This is the city of the people who have fallen between the cracks. Richard Mayhew, a young businessman, is going to find out more than enough about this other London. A single act of kindness catapults him out of his workday existence and into a world that is at once eerily familiar and utterly bizarre. And a strange destiny awaits him down here, beneath his native city: Neverwhere."

Another book suggested by my husband and one that inspired me to want to try my hand at urban fantasy instead of flat out fantasy. Upon opening this book, I quickly found that I was drawn in, following Richard and Door's ever move, wondering what would happen next, absolutely hating Mr. Vandemar and Mr. Croup, and curious of lie around the corner. You can imagine the great sadness I faced when I loaned the book out to a friend never to see it again. I really wished I could learn more about Door and her family, wished she could have a book all her own. All in all, it was a highly intriguing read.

Dies the Fire by S.M. Stirling
Genre: Dystopia

"Michael Havel was flying over Idaho en route to the holiday home of his passengers when the plane's engines inexplicably died, forcing a less than perfect landing in the wilderness. And, as Michael leads his charges to safety, he begins to realize that the engine failure was not an isolated incident.Juniper Mackenzie was singing and playing guitar in a pub when her small Oregon town was thrust into darkness. Cars refused to start. Phones were silent. And when an airliner crashed, no sirens sounded and no fire trucks arrived. Now, taking refuge in her family's cabin with her daughter and a growing circle of friends, Juniper is determined to create a farming community to benefit the survivors of this crisis.But even as people band together to help one another, others are building armies for conquest…"

Dies the Fire is a book that really makes you wonder "what if." Suggested to me by a friend, I decided to give it a try. It was the first book I ever read in the dystopia genre and it had me hooked. It brought to question if I was faced with a similar situation, what would I do? How would I survive. It was the first book to interest me in the genre and made me want to try me hand at it. I was not entirely fond of Juniper's character, but I did enjoy reading Mike's (oddly enough my friend who suggested Dies the Fire is also named Mike). If technology as we know it was to suddenly stop working with no means to fix it, what would you do? My only main complaint is how fire and other burnable matter, such as gun powder, as well as hydraulic pressure was also affected.

The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander
Genre: Fantasy

"Taran dreams of adventure, but nothing exciting ever happens to an Assistant Pig-Keeper—until his pig runs away. A chase through the woods leads Taran far from home and into great danger, for evil prowls the land of Prydain. With a collection of strange and wonderful friends whom he meets on his journey, Taran finds himself fighting so that good may triumph over evil, and so that his beloved home will not fall to a diabolical fiend."

This book series, The Chronicles of Prydain, is the reason I write fantasy. One day years ago while at the local library, I borrowed this book. Before I knew it, I was hooked. I ended up borrowing the following four books in the series, reading them all in a span of a few days. And it didn't end there. I began borrowing several fantasy books by various authors and found my home. It was then that my love of fantasy and the desire to write that genre was born. Disney made a movie based loosely (and I use that term generously) of this book and the following book, The Black Cauldron. That movie by no means does this books justice, especially the Princess Eilonwy of the red-gold hair. Although aimed at a younger audience, it is a wonderful read--if you don't mind stumbling over the Welsh character and place names.

The Call of Cthulhu by H.P. Lovecraft
Genre: Horror

"This selection of stories ranges from early tales of nightmares and insanity such as 'The Outsider' and 'The Rats in the Walls', through the grotesquely comic 'Herbert West – Reanimator' and 'The Hound', to the extra-terrestrial terror of 'The Call of Cthulhu', which fuses traditional supernaturalism with science fiction. Including the definitive corrected texts, this collection reveals the development of Lovecraft's mesmerizing narrative style and establishes him as a hugely influential – and visionary – American writer."

In all honesty, I am not a fan of horror, but my husband suggested this book and one story within in particular: The Call of Cthulhu. Lovecraft's play with words allowed me to step in the main characters shoes and he searches from answers that he really doesn't want answers to. However short it may be, The Call of Cthulhu gained a major fan base with plush toys, YouTube videos, and even songs, my favorite being Hey There Chtuhulhu. Fans of horror, if you have not read this short story or the others in the collection, please check them out. 

Have a favorite book you suggest or would like to share? comment below and let me know! I'm always looking to add to my to read list!

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