Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Little Giant of Aberdeen County by Tiffany Baker

The Little Giant of Aberdeen County follows the life of Truly Plaice. The moment she is born into her family it is forever changed. Her mother dies during childbirth and her father never recovers. Not only that, but Truly is an oddity from the start. She is an enormous baby and continues to be large throughout her life. This would be apparent on its own, but standing beside her beautiful, dainty sister Serena Jane she sticks out even more. Life become even more different for the sisters when their father dies and they are separated into different families. Serena Jane goes to a family that dotes on her and Truly to a farm full of bad luck. Serena wears beautiful dresses and hair bows while Truly wears boys clothes or dull colored bag-like dresses. Much of Truly's life she is a giant, but mostly invisible to the entire town while Serena Jane is the object of affection to all around her. It is this beauty that leads Serena Jane into an unwanted marriage to Robert Morgan. She endures it as long as she can, but then escapes to a new life leaving behind a husband and a son. Truly comes in to pick up the pieces of the family left behind and finds herself in a way she never imagined.

I enjoyed this story. I don't have anything in common with the characters individually, but I am from a small town. I understand the views that different is odd rather than special. Truly spent most of her life as an outcast. She was either ignored or people found her gruesome. She was the "little giant"- huge in size and small in impact. As her life progresses even her actions are dictated by someone other than herself. Her sister Serena runs from the life she hates leaving a husband and a son and instructions to find Truly. It is with this note that Truly comes to run the household of her horribly cruel brother-in-law Robert "Bob Bob" Morgan. That is where she is set to spend the rest of her days, until unlocking the secret of Robert's ancestor changes her forever. Her knowledge provides her with a strength and power she didn't know she could possess. It also allows her to become more comfortable with the life and appearance she has been given. Through her few friends and her new found knowledge, Truly is able to move forward and begin to make life what she wants it to be.

I did have an issue with how shallow everyone in the town seemed to be. I stated above that a small town can frown upon differences rather than celebrating them, but that would never be an entire town. This story seemed to have only two characters who could even stand to be around Truly - Amelia and Marcus. Both of these characters also had traits that made them outcasts. I just found it a bit hard to believe that not one adult in the story showed love toward Truly. More than that they openly loathed being near her and seemed out to get her. I think this shallowness may have been over-emphasised to make Truly's differences stand out in the storyline.

I think the real focus of The Little Giant of Aberdeen County was to weave a story that confronts differences and mortality. Differences can direct our path in life to an extent, but it still within our ability and our responsibility to take a hold of our life and create what we want out of it. Truly started where her differences put her, but ended where she had longed to be. Mortality is a given in every life. Truly spent much of the novel confronting her possible impending death due to her disease, and assisting or being connected to the deaths of others. Dealing with those deaths is what taught Truly how to live. Death taught her that each person has a different impact and a different role in life and helped her see what she wanted hers to be.

I would recommend this book. I overall enjoyed the story and felt the symbolism really pulled the story together. I was only slightly bothered by the shallow townspeople, because of the depth and growth of the main characters.

I received this book from Newman Communications.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Show Me 5 Saturday 6/12/10

Welcome to My Meme!

Each Saturday You will post the answer to these questions. The number indicates the number of answers you will provide.

1 Book you read and/or reviewed this week
2 Words that describe the book
3 Settings where it took place or characters you met
4 Things you liked and/or disliked about it

5 Stars or less for your rating?

1 Book: She's So Dead to Us by Kieran Scott

2 Words: Teenage Drama

3 Settings/Characters:
Ally Ryan
- she's just come back to the town she grew up in after being gone for almost 2 years. Her family left during the night after her dad's investment idea lost millions of dollars for all the families in her wealthy neighborhood
Orchard Hill - a town where the "Cresties" and "Norms" are separated by money, and no one is allowed to cross over that line
Shannen - she used to be Ally's best friend, but since Ally has returned it seems as if she is out to get her.

4 Likes/Dislikes:
1. I had a difficult time with how superficial everyone in the story seemed to be - especially the parents. It was if they had no personality beyond being rich or poor (which was probably just middle class)
2. I appreciated how the author addressed the peer pressure that teenagers feel. It is common for many teenagers to feel torn between what they really believe and what their friends are encouraging them to believe. Even Ally who wanted to change felt herself falling back into her old patterns.
3. It was hard for me to connect with any of the characters. I grew up in a small school and we didn't deal with cliques like this.
4. I enjoyed the texting at the beginning of each chapter. It reflected what the students at the school were feeling. I thought the author did a good job of writing/speaking like a teenager.

5 Stars or Less: 3.5 This wasn't my kind of book, but I think any teens who enjoy the Clique Series would really enjoy it.

I received this book from Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing.

You can buy it at
Simon & Schuster

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Traveler's Gift by Andy Andrews

This is not a new book, but one I have wanted to read for about a year. Last year I read Andy Andrew's novel The Noticer and knew he could tell a story and inspire people. I heard this one was good as well, but had forgotten to ever pick it up at the bookstore. Last week my boss brought her copy of The Traveler's Gift Seven Decisions that Determine Personal Success to me after we saw that Andy Andrews will be at the Women of Faith conference this year and I mentioned loving his other book. Yay for my boss Penny! She always has the great faith-based books!

Anywho, The Traveler's Gift is about a man named David Ponder (I'm thinking that's symbolic wink,wink) who becomes depressed and desperate after losing his high level job. He attempts to find work, but loses even his minimum wage job. Added to that is stress over his daughter needing her tonsils out right away. David begins to feel as if he is failing his family and decides they would be better off if he dies. He believes his wife could find a man who is better at supporting her and his life insurance policy would ensure his daughter is given the medical care she needs. At the crossroads of his life or death experience he is transported around the world and the ages to meet famous people who have seven life lessons to share. He meets Abe Lincoln,
Anne Frank, and five others. Each principal they share with David opens his eyes to a better way to live and to a faith he has never possessed.

I enjoyed this book immensely. The principals presented seem basic, but they are perfect. It is like having an aha! moment every single time. Each idea presented is something we all should know in our heart, but we don't follow it or give it the time it deserves to teach us. One principal is "I will greet this day with a forgiving spirit". This talks of not only forgiving others but also of forgiving yourself.

I loved the presentation of the famous figures in our history. Imagine Anne Frank teaching us about happiness! I don't mark in books, but there were times I wanted to highlight a quote that touched me. This really is a book that can change your entire view of life if you let it.

This book is Christian and God is a very important part of the story. It isn't presented in a "shove it down the throat" manner, but may not be of interest if you don't believe in God. That being said, if you aren't a Christian the principals are still very applicable to your life.

I also found that this book has been written in a teen version. I am excited to purchase it for my daughter and then pass it on to my stepson. Another great companion to the book is Mastering the Seven Decisions That Determine Personal Success: An Owner's Manual to the New York Times Bestseller, The Traveler's Gift. This walks an individual through the seven principals while asking questions to direct you to make the changes to improve your life. I have yet to read either of those to be able to give a genuine review.

I hope each of you picks up this book. It is one that could change your life.