Friday, June 17, 2011

Book Blogger Hop - June 17th, 2011

The Book Blogger Hop is hosted weekly by Crazy-For-Books!  It's a fun "hop" to connect book bloggers, and really, just anyone who loves books!  :o)  Sounds fun, right?!

This week's question is...

"How many books are in your To-Be-Read (TBR) pile?"  

It's funny that this should be the topic of this week's book blogger hop, because I spent all week long with a print out of my "TBR" pile to determine if there were any books on there that I just wasn't interested in reading anymore.  The pile is starting to get overwhelming.  I also updated the list to show if my local library carried the books, what section of the library they were in, or if they were books I would have to purchase to read.  I'm a bit anal, I tell you.  I've started this "library thing" in the past couple of years to save space and money, and instead of buying books I'm trying to find as many as I can at my local library.  At the end of the year, I donate a portion of the savings back to the library.  I use to track my "TBR" list as well as the "already read" list so that I can keep track.  Anyways, there are currently 403 books on my TBR list.  Not too bad considering what it looked like at the beginning of the week.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Review: Purple Heart by Patricia McCormick

Purple Heart by Patricia McCormick
Release Date: February 15, 2011
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Genre: Young Adult
Pages: 224
Source: Library
Challenge: 100 Books in 2011
Buy the Book: Amazon

From Goodreads:

When Private Matt Duffy wakes up in an army hospital in Iraq, he's honored with a Purple Heart. But he doesn't feel like a hero.

There's a memory that haunts him: an image of a young Iraqi boy as a bullet hits his chest. Matt can't shake the feeling that he was somehow involved in his death. But because of a head injury he sustained just moments after the boy was shot, Matt can't quite put all the pieces together.

Eventually Matt is sent back into combat with his squad—Justin, Wolf, and Charlene—the soldiers who have become his family during his time in Iraq. He just wants to go back to being the soldier he once was. But he sees potential threats everywhere and lives in fear of not being able to pull the trigger when the time comes. In combat there is no black-and-white, and Matt soon discovers that the notion of who is guilty is very complicated indeed.

National Book Award Finalist Patricia McCormick has written a visceral and compelling portrait of life in a war zone, where loyalty is valued above all, and death is terrifyingly commonplace.

My Thoughts:

This book was difficult for me to even pick up, but in the end, I'm glad I did.  As a ex-military wife (retired Army), I know all too well the effects of a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), the effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and what it does to our soldiers and military personnel.  This book was about a private, Private Matt Duffy, who suffers from a TBI when he is "on the business end of an RPG."  Matt is only able to remember bits and pieces of the situation that landed him in the hospital, and he believes that he killed an innocent Iraqi child.  I don't want to spoil the book so I won't say more than that.

What I do want to say is this... Patricia McCormick interviewed soldiers, their families, and war veterans about the effects of war, life in Iraq, and returning home.  She definitely did her research and wrote a book that accurately describes (as much as I personally know from listening to stories) war.  The book does not involve politics, hidden agendas, is not swayed by conservation or liberal views.  It is simply about the people serving in our Armed Forces.  It's their story.

I'd definitely recommend reading this book.  It probably gives a much more accurate depiction of war than any news media outlet is going to give you.  It's hard to read though.  The emotional, mental, and physical demands of being a US soldier are no joke, and McCormick doesn't stray away from giving details that allow readers to understand what our military goes through.  If nothing else - read the book so that you might have more compassion and understanding on what these men and women experience.  It's only 224 pages.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Review: Hold Still by Nina LaCour

Hold Still by Nina LaCour
Release Date:  Reprint: October 5, 2010
Publisher: Speak
Genre: Young Adult
Pages: 256
Source: Library
Challenge: 100 Books in 2011
Buy the Book: Amazon

From Goodreads:

An arresting story about starting over after a friend’s suicide, from a breakthrough new voice in YA fiction.

dear caitlin, there are so many things that i want so badly to tell you but i just can’t.

Devastating, hopeful, hopeless, playful . . . in words and illustrations, Ingrid left behind a painful farewell in her journal for Caitlin. Now Caitlin is left alone, by loss and by choice, struggling to find renewed hope in the wake of her best friend’s suicide. With the help of family and newfound friends, Caitlin will encounter first love, broaden her horizons, and start to realize that true friendship didn’t die with Ingrid. And the journal which once seemed only to chronicle Ingrid’s descent into depression, becomes the tool by which Caitlin once again reaches out to all those who loved Ingrid—and Caitlin herself.

My Thoughts:

Wow.  This is Nina LaCour's debut novel, and it was amazing.  The book starts after Caitlin's friend Ingrid's suicide.  Caitlin quickly finds Ingrid's journal underneath her bed, and begins to read the words that Ingrid wrote as she was feeling sad and dealing with depression.  The entire novel is seen through Caitlin's eyes, as she deals with picking up the emotional pieces after receiving such devastating news.  LaCour did an amazing job of expressing the feelings that Caitlin was dealing with in a way that reader can understand.  I felt what Caitlin felt, and wanted desperately to reach out to her.  Caitlin struggles with the feeling of betrayal when she establishes relationships with new friends.  She also deals with feelings of guilt because she felt like she could have and should have known what Ingrid was dealing with.

This book deals with such an emotional and raw subject.  Suicide.  People who are left behind after someone commits suicide are forced to deal with losing their loved one, being all alone, and not having the opportunity to say goodbye.  Caitlin felt all of those things, and more.  The novel is beautiful, really, as readers watch Caitlin heal through art, music, and new friendships.

More than just reading words on a page, Hold Still forces readers to question their own relationships with those close to them.  I wondered often while reading if I had any friends experiencing the same struggles that I wasn't tuned into, what would I do if I lost my best friend to suicide and depression.  It forced me to look at myself and how I would feel and handle the same situation.

I definitely recommend this book.  Just know that the subject matter isn't jovial or light - but you'll want to know how Caitlin eventually deals with her emotions regarding Ingrid.  Hold Still will leave you thinking about it hours after you've finished the final word.  I was beyond impressed with this debut novel of Nina LaCour's and I cannot wait to see what she brings us next.