Sierra's View: BOOKS IN OCTOBER.

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Wednesday, November 2, 2016


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October books were either super amazing or incredibly boring. Yikes. I had a combination of lots of different types of books. Are you ready for this?

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand // Helen Simonson 

Genre: Realistic Fiction 

Rating: 1/5 stars (see more on GoodReads)

Summary: Major leads a quiet life valuing the proper things that Englishmen have lived by for generations: honor, duty, decorum, and a properly brewed cup of tea. But then his brother's death sparks an unexpected friendship with Mrs. Jasmina Ali, the Pakistani shopkeeper from the village. Drawn together by their shared love of literature and the loss of their respective spouses, the Major and Mrs. Ali soon find their friendship blossoming into something more. But village society insists on embracing him as the quintessential local and her as the permanent foreigner. Can their relationship survive the risks one takes when pursuing happiness in the face of culture and tradition?

My thoughts: Uh, I'm not entirely sure where to begin with this. We read this book for book club this month and I stopped after chapter five (and it was difficult for me to get to chapter five!). Yikes. The author was so incredibly descriptive that it was too much description. I kept wanting this book to get better, but, alas, it did not and I had to put it down. That is really saying something, because I really have to not like a book in order for me to just give up on it. But, as I have learned, life is too short to read books that you don't like. Other members of the book club that it was endearing and I could see that. Personally, I found Major incredibly negative and boring. I also found the author's writing to be way too detailed. You know those times in English class when your teacher told you to erase out a million "extra details?" That's what I wanted to do to this novel. Like, I'm pretty sure we don't need a two page description on Major's tea. Ugh. Any who, yes, so boring. I love British culture--I am a huge fan of Downton Abbey and Pride and Prejudice; anything old English, but I could not get into this book. My book club mentioned that it did get better in the last 75 pages, but that is entirely too much work for a reader to put in in order to get to the "exciting part." Nope. Blah. 1 star.

Note: I could see this being an adorable movie or mini series on Netflix. I am all about that Old English television. One of those stories that would be good Sunday TV...boring Sunday reading, though. 

Favorite Quote from the book: "You are a wise man, Major, and I will consider your advice with great care—and humility." He finished his tea and rose from the table to go to his room. "But I must ask you, do you really understand what it means to be in love with an unsuitable woman?" 

"My dear boy," said the Major. "Is there really any other kind?"

After You // Jojo Moyes 

Genre: Realistic Fiction 

Rating: 2/5 stars (see more on GoodReads)

Summary: For Lou Clark, life after Will Traynor means learning to fall in love again, with all the risks that brings. But here Jojo Moyes gives us two families, as real as our own, whose joys and sorrows will touch you deeply, and where both changes and surprises await. 

My thoughts: Let's just start with my two least favorite books of the month. I loved "Me Before You." Even though I didn't necessarily agree with the ending of the movie and the novel, I loved the writing and the story. This was supposed to be a sequel to it, but like many sequels, I was nervous to read it. I had an incredibly hard time finishing this book. I felt as if the author was trying way too hard to make a story out of nothing. The story was raunchy and read like fan fiction, which I do not like enjoy. I did not enjoy Louisa in this novel at all...I felt like although she was trying to deal with the death of Will, it was extreme and uncalled for in many regards. Very disappointed. The story itself was okay, but definitely nowhere near the first novel. 

Favorite Quote from the book: “You never know what will happen when you fall from a great height.”

More Than the Tattooed Mormon// Al Caraway 

Genre: Biography 

Rating: 5/5 stars (see more on GoodReads)

Summary: Being baptized and following the Lord has made Al's life harder than it ever was before. She endured criticism from friends and family for becoming a Mormon. She faced harsh judgments from Church members for her appearance. She gave up everything and felt more alone than she ever had in her life. All because she chose God. Now she shares an up-close look at how trusting God has led her to places she never expected. As a blogger, YouTuber, and award-winning public speaker, her message has reached millions. Sharing her love of the Savior, Al goes beyond her own conversion and encourages readers to choose God above anything else. This uplifting book inspires readers to build a true relationship with the Lord that will bring them real, lasting happiness.

My thoughts: Although the writing in this was not incredibly academic or brilliant, Al has a way of saying things that completely speaks to my heart. I am normally incredibly cynical about novels like this because I feel like these types of novels aren't authentic, but I did not feel this way while reading. I truly enjoyed reading about her conversion story and the experiences that she has had throughout her life. Some of the aspects of the LDS gospel that she talked about were things that I definitely needed to hear (or read). Although the writing felt more like a blog post and it was a little sporadic, it didn't seem to matter, in my opinion. She was writing things that were insightful and close to my heart. I was moved by many of the things that she had to say, and if there is anyone who is struggling with their faith in the LDS gospel, this is one book that you need to read. I follow Al all over social media and I loved to hear her experience. This autobiography helped me understand and love her more. 

I encourage everyone to read this, Mormon or not. She has great insights to the hardships (and wonderful aspects!) of being LDS-- and many aspects taught and believed in the church. Some thoughts regarding this novel will be on my blog later, but these are my thoughts on being offended. I can't stop tweeting this book!
Anytime you feel offended by something someone else says or does, ask yourself: "Is this worth giving up my eternal salvation?" YOU CHOOSE to be offended. You choose who you want to follow. Don't let anything get in the way of your relationship with Heavenly Father. As she states, "God is for us, so it doesn't matter who is against us."

Great read and super easy. Read it one night (I couldn't put it down!)

Favorite Quote from the book: "Is this worth giving up my eternal salvation?" YOU CHOOSE to be offended. You choose who you want to follow. Don't let anything get in the way of your relationship with Heavenly Father. As she states, "God is for us, so it doesn't matter who is against us."

Ready Player One// Ernest Cline  

Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy 

Rating: 5/5 stars (see more on GoodReads)

Summary: In the year 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he's jacked into the virtual utopia known as the  OASIS. Wade's devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world's digital confines, puzzles that are based on their creator's obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them. When Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade's going to survive, he'll have to win—and confront the real world he's always been so desperate to escape.

My thoughts: I don't know where to begin with this book!! I was entranced with it from the very beginning. This book is very well written, captivating, and exciting. I felt like I was a part of the story and wanted to figure out the game myself. The novel was hilarious--the main character is, especially. It was a novel that I was not expecting to love, but I absolutely LOVED it. Great book for all people to read. Although it has some inappropriate material and swearing, a book that seriously most people would love. 

Favorite Quote from the book: “Whenever I saw the sun, I reminded myself that I was looking at a star. One of over a hundred billion in our galaxy. A galaxy that was just one of billions of other galaxies in the observable universe. This helped me keep things in perspective.” 

Increase in Learning // David Bednar

Genre: Nonfiction/Self Help/Religious

Rating: 4/5 stars (see more on GoodReads)

Summary: The overarching purpose of Heavenly Father’s great plan of happiness is to provide His spirit children with opportunities to learn,” writes Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. But how can we best learn the things we need to know and do? Elder Bednar emphasizes concepts, patterns, and processes that invite each of us to act and learn fundamental truths for ourselves. Declaring that answers to our questions always are found in the doctrines and principles of the restored gospel, he provides a framework in this book for learning those doctrines and understanding with our hearts.

My thoughts: This book was not one that was a quick read for me. If you know Elder Bednar, the LDS apostle, then you know that he is very doctrine-minded, which, I am not. I loved to read his thoughts on how to learn and process the information in the scriptures. This was a novel that I read over the course of a few months because I could only handle a few pages at a time, due to its intense doctrine and gospel-oriented material. Alas, Bender's thoughts and words were fantastic and incredibly helpful as I continue to grow in my studying and learning when it comes to Gospel topics. Great book.

Favorite Quote from the book: “Each and every member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints bears a personal responsibility to learn and live the truths of the Savior's restored gospel and to receive by proper authority the ordinances of salvation. We should not expect the Church as an organization to teach or tell us all of the things we need to know and do to become devoted disciples and endure valiantly to the end (see Doctrine and Covenants 121:29). Rather, our individual responsibility is to learn what we should learn, to live as we know we should live, and to become what the Master would have us become. . . .

The Homework Myth // Alfie Kohn

Genre: Nonfiction 

Rating: 4/5 stars (see more on GoodReads)

Summary:  In The Homework Myth, nationally known educator and parenting expert Alfie Kohn systematically examines the usual defenses of homework--that it promotes higher achievement, "reinforces" learning, and teaches study skills and responsibility. None of these assumptions, he shows, actually passes the test of research, logic, or experience. So why do we continue to administer this modern cod liver oil--or even demand a larger dose? Kohn's incisive analysis reveals how a mistrust of children, a set of misconceptions about learning, and a misguided focus on competitiveness have all left our kids with less free time and our families with more conflict. Pointing to parents who have fought back--and schools that have proved educational excellence is possible without homework--Kohn shows how we can rethink what happens during and after school in order to rescue our families and our children's love of learning.

My thoughts: There is a lot of controversy regarding homework, especially in the teaching world. I am a teacher who does not believe in bombarding my students with homework. I do think that it is important for them to work on material a few hours later and to spend time going over math, reading and spelling. However, I do not believe that it is imperative for a child to succeed in school because they do their homework. I know that not all teachers agree with this mindset, but I think its important for me to remember WHY I am giving homework and this book helped reiterate that with me. I loved the thoughts of pushing your students while int he class and going over material a few hours later WHILE in the classroom. (example: do math at 9, then do a review at 3 before they go home!). There were few ideas that were a little "liberal" for me, but I loved this idea that he talks about regarding not wasting your students' time. Do not give homework JUST TO GIVE HOMEWORK. But if you are going to give homework, give a small amount and do not overburden the child. 

Favorite Quote from the book: 
“But as I mastered the material, homework ceased to be necessary. A no homework policy is a challenge to me," he adds. "I am forced to create lessons that are so good no further drilling is required when the lessons are completed.” 

What books did you read in the month of October? Have you read any of these? What did you think? I would love your thoughts! 

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