Thursday, December 29, 2011


Hopkins, Ellen. Crank. New York: Simon Pulse, 2004. Print.

My Thoughts
As I read this, I kept thinking about my own daughter and how much I pray that she never meets The Monster!

Hopkins' book is semi-autobiographical. Her daughter was an honor student, "good girl" and participated in activities until she found meth. As a way to help herself cope, Hopkins began writing this book. What is created is a wonderful description of how this drug can enter a person's life and change them, even creating an alter ego, as well as how the family is changed.

I feel such empathy for Kristina because she wants to be a grown up so badly, but she isn't aware of the how others play this game of life. Because she is naive, she falls prey to bad circumstances that truly are life-changing. I HATE Brendan for using her!

Can't wait to read Glass to learn what happens next.

The Hunger Games Trilogy

Collins, Suzanne. The Hunger Games. New York: Scholastic Press, 2008. Print.
Collins, Suzanne. Catching Fire. New York: Scholastic Press, 2009. Print.
Collins, Suzanne. Mockingjay. New York: Scholastic Press, 2010. Print.

My Thoughts
I liked the first book best, as it made me want more when I finished the book. After reading the second book, I was still intrigued with the story, but by the time I finished the third (really, before I finished it), I was a little bored with how the story was dragging on and not answering my questions.

Book 1: The idea of a futuristic society that requires a "game" of survival to one intrigued me. How could the Capitol think this idea was good? Oh, they used people from the twelve districts to compete instead of their own. My heart raced as Katniss and Peeta "played" in the arena. I kept reading just to find out how would they (if they did) survive? The set up story of star-crossed lovers also interested me. Would that help? Would they actually fall in love with each other? I didn't know. The ending of the book surprised me (no spoilers here).

Book 2: The story continues. I'm still caught up in the what's happening and seeing how Collins twists the story to create a third book.

Book 3: About half-way through this one, I just wanted the story to hurry and end. I know these are science fiction, but Book 3 became more sci-fi than I enjoy. I had to keep reading to learn the outcome of District 13 and the Capitol. It seemed that I slugged through and then Collins wraps it all up in the last few pages. It didn't seem true to the story.

Overall, I'm glad I read the trilogy, and perhaps if I hadn't read them all together, I wouldn't think the same about Book 3. I'm ready to watch the movie and will hope that what I imagined will be on the screen.

Monday, December 12, 2011


Hopkins, Ellen. Tricks. New York: Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2009. Print.

My Thoughts
When I began reading this book, I was a bit confused why Hopkins started a character's story, then abruptly stopped it to begin a different character's story. I began writing down a character list to help me keep straight information about each character. I'm glad I did this, and after finishing the book, I'm glad Hopkins gave us those mental breaks in between characters.

This story is fiction, but it is not fiction. What happens to all of these characters, sadly I'm sure, is happening in our world today. Teenagers are forced into situations that are not healthy, even when they begin as innocent flirtations. Then the bad decisions just spiral out of control. This is not an easy book to read in that regard. Hopkins is graphic and does not shy away from the sexual content. As a teenager, I made bad decisions (thankfully not as horrific as some of these characters). As a teacher, I've seen the results of bad decisions. As a parent, I'm fearful for my child's bad decisions. This book had me wrapped up in all three places of my life. I'm thankful that my bad decisions did not lead me to Vegas with these characters!

This book stays with the reader. The characters, images & situations that Hopkins describes are true. I wish they weren't.

I look forward to reading more of Hopkins' books.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Captured

Zesch, Scott. The Captured. New York: St. Martin's Press, 2004. Print.

My Thoughts
After many years of a co-worker asking me, telling me, badgering me, pushing this book on to me, I FINALLY read it, and I'm glad I did.

The is a non-fiction account of several children on the Texas frontier who were taken captive by Indians in the late 1800s. The writer's own great uncle was captured and lived with the Indians for two years. The author doesn't have much information about him, but in trying to find out more, he wove a story together of other captured children to piece together his own heritage. There is a section of pictures (although none of his relative Adolf Korn) that completes the book.

The writer truly goes in a full circle to write this book. Zesch's journey begins in a graveyard (the end of Adolf's story) and ends at the possible point of capture (the beginning of the tale). Zesch is careful in his writing to not embellish or sentimentalize the story. It does not read as some rewritten, politically correct version of history. He presents the captivity narratives as he finds them (sometimes with editorial remarks of the probability of the original source being embellished or inaccurate). The Indians are neither noble nor savage. They are a group of people who did certain things. The settlers are neither noble nor savage. They are a group of people who did certain things.

There are 30 pages of "Notes" to the accounts that Zesch writes about in this book. I wish I would have flipped to the back more often (and earlier) while reading. The next time I read this book, I will try to remember to flip.

There are 11 pages of bibliography, including a list of book references. These pages are divided by topic (the person captured) and includes references specific to that captive.