Fairest and Winter by Marissa Meyer
4/5 stars (for both) (spoiler, do not read if you’re reading this series)
These two books are a continuation of The Lunar Chronicles series. Again, I know they sound super geeky, but they are action packed! Fairest tells the back story of Queen Levana (think: mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all). It details her childhood and her slow but powerful rise to being queen. She is the embodiment of the beauty movement today. I questioned while reading this book, how many women wake up every day determined to paint a face on, style their hair perfectly, in order to put a specific image out to everyone and how at the end of the day, it really doesn’t matter how beautiful you are if you are rotting on the inside. I thought that her back story would make me feel sympathetic toward her, but it really didn’t. Her past didn’t really define her future, she seemed to always be above others. In Winter we see the end of the long battle between Cinder and Levana, good vs evil, of course. I did feel that it was too long, too many hiccups and roadblocks and I really felt like the build up was too long, a lot could’ve been edited out. However, I was surprised that no main character died. I kept waiting for someone to die because it just didn’t seem possible that everyone would live, although Princess Winter (Snow White) didn’t make it out unscathed. While this was not my favorite YA series, it was a great play on the classic stories we grew up with. It was also a great display of how too much power certainly corrupts.
Renewed: Ten Ways to Rediscover the Saints, Embrace Your Gifts and Revive Your Catholic Faith by Robert P. Reed
I read this book with my MOMs group at church (Saint John Vianney Catholic Church). We read a chapter every week, so I read it over a couple of months. Each chapter compared two Catholic saints that in someway related to each other in the way they lived out their lives for God. It is a very simple read, it’s not hard to get through a chapter or to understand the message. I loved how it related the saints of the past to today, it truly showed that nothing is new, nothing has changed, we are still fighting the same battles. This book forced you to look at how you (or your church) is being present in today’s society. We must be a church in the world, but not of the world, be innovative but also unchanging. I enjoyed learning about the background to many saints I didn’t know much about. It was great to see that often times they took life one day at a time, not being overwhelmed by the bigger picture and that often times we can only help one person, but that that can make all the difference. My only criticism is, as the book progressed I felt like the content/length/meat dropped off some, about half way through I felt like there wasn’t as much to the book as there had been in the beginning.
Pretties and Specials by Scott Westerfeld
3.5/5 stars (both)
I read the first in this series (Uglies) a few years ago and recently had noticed my friend Sheryl reading the series. I decided to go ahead and finish it (although I’m still waiting on the last installment). This is a YA series that is set in the future where many wars have made society collapse, on which a new society has emerged, where there is no war, no strife and everyone has a surgery to become pretty (and basically brainless). I love how much this series makes me think about how we should live our lives, what society should look like, what we are wiling to give up (power?) in order to have peace and what the human condition really looks like. I’m not going to go too much into the actual stories, too much happens but the story follows Tally, the main character and her ability to fight against the surgeries that she has undergone to remain her true self, that even though we are flawed as humans and many people do horrible things, that at the heart of our society we can still be good.
My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout
I have to be honest with you (the 1-2 people who are still reading this), I have absolutely no idea what this book was about, I remember NOTHING. Let me go read the premise. OH okay. I feel bad because I actually related to this book a lot, it’s very short but poignant. This story is mostly set in the hospital where Lucy is recovering from a minor illness, her mother, whom she hasn’t seen in years comes to sit by her bedside. The story flashes back to the past, Lucy’s childhood. I related to the mother/daughter aspect and the struggle to form a meaningful relationship after too much time/hurt has set in. I find it hard to understand how a mother allows time and space to get between them and their child, but I suppose I can’t understand every circumstance that others go through. I don’t remember enough of this story to really give you a sense of it, it’s a short and easy read but not super exciting. I did feel at times that I was reading the story from the point of a view of a child, the syntax seemed immature.
Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology by Leah Remini
(I actually finished this in June, but want to write about it while it’s fresh in my head)
Please note, reviewing this book probably means I can never join the “church” (CULT) of Scientology and that is just fine with me. Leah Remini, whom you probably know best from her role on “The King of Queens” writes about her time as a member (over 30 years) of Scientology (you know that strange religion that Tom Cruise is a member of too). I honestly didn’t know much about this group/church/cult before reading the book, however it had always rubbed me the wrong way. I’m huge into religions (big and small), I minored in religious studies in college. I find it fascinating how people buy into certain things and follow it without question (yeah, I know some of you are shaking your heads right now saying, “But Isha, you’re Catholic, you buy into it too!” (haha)). Remini gives you insight into her time with Scientology and all I can say is, “Thank God she made it out alive!” I enjoyed that she was very self-effacing, she spoke openly about her own mistakes and downfalls, the book wasn’t all about exposing Scientology. Scientology is very controlling, they don’t care if you go into severe debt, they don’t care if you break up your family and/or never see them again. They want you 100% into the church, using every resource you have for it, you know so you can help “clear” the world. I question if this religion is even that anymore or if it’s really just a power trip from those who are in charge. It’s bizarre and honestly, I’m still not sure I understand their point entirely. I will say that if you know someone in this religion, you should be wary. I fear for the lives of those who are in very deep, who couldn’t walk away if they wanted to. Read this book!