My honest review of books & other products

I love to read & I love to save money on good products for my family of six. Here, I'll share my thoughts on various books and other products in hopes it may help someone else!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

A Christian's review of The Hunger Games series

Maybe it's my fascination with history.  Or my interest in preserving our nation and its heritage.  Perhaps it's my strange love of politics.  Could be there's a bit of a rebel hiding inside of me.  I'm not entirely sure why, because when I read the back of the book I was disturbed and disgusted, but I loved the Hunger Games book series.

I initially thought I'd not read these books.  I'm not one to enjoy war literature.  I shy away from gory, violent books.  I've even been one to judge such things as immoral, a threat to our society and sinful for me to read!  So, I'm not even sure what prompted me to even begin reading the books.   I think, maybe, it was the glowing reviews from friends and the promise that while it's clear when a wrong has been committed in the book, it is not terribly graphic.  Not sure.

But I did read all three and grew from them.  They are action packed, no doubt.  There are huge amounts of human lives lost.  Materialism and greed.  Shallowness.  There is government overstepping its bounds.  Sacrifice based on love.  Tenderness.  There are disparities between rich and poor, powerful and weak.  Rebellion against tyranny.  Gluttony.  There are families and children involved.  Friendship amid forced opponents.  Freedom.

As a Christian, I found the setting and circumstances of the book abhorrent.  I often find such disgust in literature.  And in life.  Yet, the overall theme is redeeming.  The message of freedom from a tyrannical government rings clear.  The idea that there are limits to what people can and should do to one another is overwhelming.  The theme of rebellion against torture and trodding on the weak is woven throughout.    The sinfulness, the shallowness of a culture, the devaluing of human life is clearly condemned by the writer--and a better way is  sought.  While the author does not indicate such, the most excellent way is through Jesus and the love He brought to us!

While the author does not seem to be a follower of Jesus (there is no indication of such belief in her writing!), sin is not glorified in these books.  Rather, it is condemned.  Yes, the story is gruesome.  Children are forced to fight to the death and their deaths are recorded in the pages of these novels.  But the murders are clearly portrayed as wrong.  The society that requires such "games" is fake, shallow, and hardly even look human any longer.  The government that instituted such a requirement of its children is the obvious villain.  The author's message is clear.

And the descriptions (which, I might add, are not as vividly described as some Christian authors may even include in their writings!) of the atrocities are not so far off from what has happened in our past, happens today, and may well be part of our own future if we do not protect the heritage our forefathers laid before us!  While I would not recommend the book for any reader under age 15 (I'm a strong believer in shielding children from the atrocities of life as much as possible!), there is much truth to what is contained within these novels.  A lover of literature will appreciate the themes and symbolism throughout.  A lover of history will take notice of the allusions to American and human history.  And a lover of our nation may be compelled to work to preserve our freedoms and the futures of our children after reading The Hunger Games.  As Suzanne Collins might say--there are much worse books to read.

* As a side note, I watched the movie based on the first book in this series.  It was a disappointment.  Critical pieces of information and meaning are omitted.  And it seems far more gruesome to see the hideous requirements of the tributes carried out on a screen than it does to read about them.  This visual picture seems to be more graphic than the books were, in my opinion....

Monday, March 19, 2012

The Captive Heart

I've long been fascinated by the Amish people.  Maybe because in my neck of the woods there are frequently horse-drawn buggies on the roads and bonnet-headed little girls at the country store.  Maybe it's just my love of Laura Ingalls Wilder and stories of days-gone-by.  Or, perhaps, (and probably most likely!) it's my own secret dream of a simpler, quieter life (though I do not think I'd enjoy the very dark nights or cold trips to the outhouse!)
Captive Heart, The, Dale Cramer, 978-0-7642-0839-3 Whatever the cause of my fascination, the book The Captive Heart, by Dale Cramer, intrigued me and even taught me some of the history of these people, the Amish.

The book is the second in a trilogy--which I didn't realize until it came in the mail--and is certainly best read after reading the first.  Cramer follows a group of Amish with a real historical basis from their days of persecution in the 1920s in the U.S. through their flight to Mexico.  I was interested to learn of the religious persecution the peaceful Amish endured in our nation -- and the ends to which they were willing to go to avoid the loss of their children and right to practice their faith.

Cramer bases the novels on actual historical characters and the outline of their lives, but the majority of the story is fictional.  He infuses adventure, love, and faith in this story from his own history (his own ancestors were among those who fled the U.S. in hopes of more religious freedom in Mexico!)

If you enjoy reading books about the Amish or simply enjoy love and adventure stories, this book may be a perfect fit for you!  It may even give you a new perspective on an old culture--the Amish!

Thanks Bethany House for the free copy of this book for purpose of review!!