February 26, 2012

Wonder - review

author:  RJ Palacio
publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
published:  February 2012
source: Netgalley

Wonder is a great creative story of a ten-year-old boy named August who was born with severe facial deformities.  He needed many surgeries and has been home-schooled.  Now it is time to start Middle School.  Should he be mainstreamed?   His parents disagree. 

How severe are his facial deformities?  Auggie says:  “I won’t describe what I look like. Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably worse.”  He becomes expert in knowing the exact milli-second a person notices him in the room, even when the person attempts to cover up the shock at seeing such a face.  We get several clues in mid-point of the book as to what he looks like. 

Auggie ends up entering fifth grade.   His favorite holiday is Halloween, because then he can wear a mask and no one knows who he is.  But something happens on this Halloween Day ....

At first, I thought the whole book would be the P.O.V. (point of view) of this ten-year-old.    I was pleased to come to Part Two, and find out the author switched to his older sister's voice.  Via is starting high school and has problems of her own, including squabbling with her mom.   Palacio did a great job writing differently for these two siblings.    The other Parts include additional characters in the book.   In sum, this is one of the most excellent books that give different P.O.V.'s in assorted styles of writing.

Natalie Merchant's song Wonder has this chorus:
They say I must be one of the wonders
Of god's own creation
And as far as they can see they can offer
No explanation 

The author RJ Palacio stated in an interview about seeing  a girl with facial deformities and being ashamed of her own reaction.  She was afraid her younger son would say something rude so she rushed out of the ice-cream shop.   This scene is in her book.   On the way home, she heard Merchant's song, thus the idea for Wonder was born.

Wonder is geared toward middle schoolers, but will appeal to YAs and adults too.  It should be nominated for and even win the Newbery Award. 

February 18, 2012

Life-Changing Conversations - review

Life-Changing Conversations
by Sarah Rozenthuler
to be published March 2012
source:  Netgalley

Goodreads summary:  So much in life hinges on the ability to say the right thing, at the right time, to the right person, in the right way. Now expert psychologist and coach Sarah Rozenthuler provides a practical guide to having the kinds of conversations that will turn your life around, from negotiating with difficult neighbors to asking for a raise to ending a long-term relationship

Sarah Rozenthuler is a British psychologist specializing in organizations.   While reading her book, I had two perspectives.   
1.  Lots of name-dropping of "well-known" psychologists -- most of whom I never heard of.   I felt like I was reading a text-book for a psychology class.
2.  The personal antecdotes or examples about conversations were interesting to read.

Two sentences I especially liked, great food for thought:
"Our relationships -- in our personal, professional and intimate lives -- are the ultimate arenas of growth."  
So true!   Life is an arena.
  "Technology is changing the way we communicate and while it means that we can more easily be in contact, it doesn't always mean that we're in touch, soul to soul." 
We text, tweet, Facebook,  Pinterest,  email.  But are we really in touch?   Rozenthuler explains in detail problems with technology.

 Rozenthuler also gives seven strategies for talking and examples of people using these strategies. 

I was glad to have the opportunity to read this book, however I do not believe I came away with a better ability to be a conversationalist or more courage to ask for difficult items such as a raise.

February 7, 2012

Erebos -

by Ursula Poznanski
translated by Judith Pattinson
publisher Annick Press
source:  Netgalley

Confession time.  I'm thoroughly addicted to computer games.  It all started with Zork.  My kids and I sat at the dinner table discussing how to get rid of the troll, while my mother sat there wide-eyed.   Hatchlings on Facebook caused me to miss Sunday School a few times.  

So it was easy for me to understand Nick's problem with Erebos.

The story starts off with Nick, a high-school student in London,  wondering why his best friend is skipping basketball practice.  Why are some students in his school cutting classes and whispering to each other?  What is this square package that is being passed from one person to another?  Finally!  Ta-da, someone gives Nick a package.  It is a DVD of a computer game, Erebos.

The issue with Erebos: 
1. you have to play the game alone  
2. you are forbidden to talk about the game. 
Nick is hooked.   He doesn't want to leave the game to even go to the bathroom.  It is "a game that talks to you.  A game that watches you, that rewards you, threatens you, gives you tasks."  Tasks  in real life, tasks that cause problems,  major problems!  Life and death problems.

The best book so far in 2012.

The book Erebos picked up the Youth Literature Prize in Germany, and is translated into several languages.   I'd love to see this filmed!

February 2, 2012

Delivering Hope - blog tour

Delivering Hope
author:  Jennifer Ann Holt
publisher:  Cedar Fort, Inc.
release date:  February 8, 2012
source:  author

summary:  Infertility.  If it doesn't affect us, it affects someone near us.  An unexpected pregnancy. We all know someone who has been a surprise baby or had one.   

Jennifer Ann Holt has written a novel about these two issues.  Olivia wants to be a mom and Allison is shocked to have a positive pregnancy test.

My perspective: At first I had difficulties enjoying the first few chapters because I'm not familiar with the LDS  terms.  I was reminded of the Biblical stories of Hannah who had to deal with watching Peninnah and of Sarah and Hagar.  The novel picked up when Olivia read her great-aunt's journal.  The best part of the whole book is the Author's Note telling about her own struggle with infertility and joys of adoption.   When I finished the book, I found myself wishing she had told more about herself rather than writing a fictional novel. 

Giveaway:  Jennifer is giving away two signed copies of Delivering Hope as well as magnets and bookmarks.  There are three ways you can enter:
1.  Follow Jennifer's blog and leave a comment there to let her know.

2.  Like the Delivering Hope facebook page.
3.  Watch the trailer and leave a comment about the book trailer on her facebook page.

An adoption attorney and adoptive father, Wesley D. Hutchins, says it perfectly:  "Somewhere in the world a pregnancy test is negative...and a woman weeps. Somewhere else in the world a pregnancy test is positive...and another woman weeps. In Delivering Hope, the miracle of adoption brings them together" 

Other stops on the Delivering Hope Blog Tour are here.