Saturday, March 31, 2012

100 Word Review: Between Shades of Gray

I taught Advanced Placement U.S. History for nineteen years.  If there's one overriding theme in the teaching of history, it's that the victors write the history books.  Because of this, so many stories remain untold.  Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys tells a harrowing "lost" story. 
Because the U.S. was an ally of Stalin's Soviet Union in WWII, Americans know very little about the Soviet removal of more than three million Lithuanians, Estonians, Finns, and other Baltic region peoples to Siberia.  They were considered a threat to Stalin's communist ideology and were deported, imprisoned, and forced into hard labor camps.  It is believed that almost half of these people died between 1941-1949.  We now know that close to twenty million Soviet civilians died under Stalin's twelve year reign, and twenty million stories died with them.
Between Shades of Gray is a YA historical novel that benefits a reader of any age.  I would certainly call this a must read.  It's hard to believe that this is Sepetys's first novel.  I can't wait to see what she writes next. 

Here's my 100 word review of Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys.

Beautifully Written...Eye-Opening...Relevant...Important...

Families torn from their homes...split apart from their loved ones...innocent, but sentenced to twenty years of hard labor...

Gently and perfectly written:
Lina's drawings...Elena's sweet spirit...Andrius's love and sacrifice...Jonas's bravery...

Although this book is full of heartache, pain, and indescribable suffering, it is really a story of bravery, compassion, hope, community, love, and the unbreakable human spirit.

It is also a reminder of what man can do to man if hate and fear are allowed to infiltrate the heart.



Wednesday, March 21, 2012

100 Word Review: The Fault In Our Stars

It's been a long time since I read a book that captured me simply with the dialogue between the characters and the emotion the author brought forth in me. The Fault In Our Stars by John Green was a wonderful surprise find (thanks Amazon recommendations). It's a wonderful read that I highly recommend.

Here's my 100 word review of The Fault In Our Stary: by John Green:

"The world is not a wish granting factory."
If it were, cancer wouldn't exist.
And then, Hazel Grace Lancaster would never have met Augustus Waters.

Their story is genuine,
laugh-out-loud funny,
a touch irreverent,
and completely entertaining.

The story of Hazel and Augustus speaks to anyone who has ever been touched by the injustice of cancer.
This book is not sappy or "cheesy".
The dialogue is real "teenager talk" without falling into silly and shallow.

Green makes you want to read more, even if it hurts.
I, for one, will read more John Green.


Sunday, March 18, 2012

Spring Reading Thing 2012...

As you can see by my many months of no blogs at all, I've been a bit busy.  More than a bit, actually.  The new job of high school principal is more time consuming than I could have ever imagined and graduate school attempted to kick my hind end.  The job is no less time absorbing, but...wait for it...I'M FINISHED WITH GRAD SCHOOL!!!!!  It took seventeen months and every spare minute was dedicated to finishing.  Now, I can get back to reading whatever I want!
That's why I'm really excited about the Spring Reading Thing hosted by Katrina @ Callapidder Days.  I wasn't able to participate in her fall reading challenge, so I've got myself a pretty good list for Spring.  In fact, I've spent so much time looking for books to read I could have read many of them already. 

I always look forward to this challenge and seeing what everyone else is reading.  The reading challenge lasts from March 20th-June 20th.  You should join the fun.  There's no pressure and just enough accountability.  Hopefully the books I've chosen are great.  I'll let you know in June.
The Fault In Our Stars by John Green
A Red Herring Without Mustard by Alan Bradley (3rd in the series--very delightfully British)
Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen
Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
Defending Jacob by William Landay

Insurgent by Veronica Roth (comes out May 1st--the sequel to Divergent--Can't Wait!!!)
Madame Tussaud by Michelle Moran
The Passage by Justin Cronin

The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff