“The Maze Runner”—A Book Review *movie being filmed*

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The Maze Runner by James Dashner is a thrilling book fans of The Hunger Games are sure to enjoy.

Thomas wakes up in a steel elevator, having no memory, other than his name. He still knows basic skills and objects, but has no memory of having learned them or where he came from.

When the elevator stops, and the doors open, he finds himself face to face with a group of teenage boys. The place he arrived in is called “The Glades,” and it is run by this ragtag group of boys, each having a duty to perform. And just like Thomas, none of them have any memories from before they got there. They inform Thomas that every thirty days, a new boy is delivered, as are supplies needed for survival.

The Glades is a sort of camp, encased by a giant maze, alive with out-of-this-world mechanical creatures. Each night, the doors to the maze close, and each morning they open up again, so that the boys tasked as a “maze runner” can venture out and run the maze. These maze runners literally must run the entire time they are in the maze, to avoid being caught by one of its menacing creatures and killed. While in the maze, they must make maps, so that hopefully the boys will one day figure out how escape The Glades.

But something strange happens. The day after Thomas arrives, the elevator is back, twenty-nine days ahead of schedule. In it: a girl. No girl has ever entered The Glades. And even more disturbing: she is unconscious, frozen in a coma. And even more alarming still: the girl carries with her a message: “no more supplies or boys will be sent.”

The boys are now completely on their own, with no more mystery supplies and kids appearing through the elevator. The creatures in the maze are growing more ominous by the hour…and time is ticking.

This pulse pounding tale is sure to get your adrenaline flowing. I like to think of this book as “The Hunger Games, but at an all boy camp—with one comatose girl.”

Overall, I give this book four out of five stars.

Unfortunately, I didn’t like the sequel, The Scorch Trials as much as I liked the original, but I would still give it 3 ½ stars.
This series is definitely worth the read.

The Maze Runner movie is currently being filmed in my hometown, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and is announced to be released in 2014 🙂

“Between Shades of Gray”—A Book Review

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Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys is a hauntingly beautiful tale that shows a different side of the Holocaust.

Lina is a fifteen-year-old Lithuanian girl, whose world is thrown upside down the night Soviet officers march into her home and tear her family apart. Separated from her father, Lina, her mother, and her young brother, are shoved into train cars like cattle, and shipped to a Siberian work camp.

Trying not to lose herself, Lina keeps what little of herself she has left (that hasn’t been stripped away by the work camp officers) by drawing. She has always loved art and makes drawings, leaving tiny clues within the pictures, secretly passing them along, hoping they will make it back to her father.

Life in the camps put Lina and her family through many trials, their character literally being stamped out of them under Soviet boots. You will find yourself rooting for Lina throughout the narrative, praying she will make it out of this ordeal with a strong since of self.

Between Shades of Gray is an astounding read, shedding light on a different side to the Holocaust than the one we are taught in history class, and helping to open our eyes to the fact that it wasn’t only the Jews who were prosecuted and thrown in concentration camps. This story reminds you how to hope.

I give this book five out of five stars.

“The Running Dream”—A Book Review

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The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen is an amazingly inspirational coming-of-age novel.

Jessica was in a tragic bus crash on her way home from a high school track meet. One teammate lost her life, and Jessica lost a foot.

The story begins with Jessica waking up in the hospital and trying to come to grips with the realization of her lost limb. Being that she is a runner, Jessica feels like her world is ending:

“I am a runner. That’s what I do. That’s who I am. Running is all I know, or want, or care about.”

As anybody would, at first, Jessica just feels sorry for herself. She is completely consumed with self-pity and can’t see how she can possibly go on. The only thing she has ever truly loved—running—has been cruelly yanked out of her grasp. Is life even worth living anymore? Maybe Lucy—her teammate who was killed in the crash—was the lucky one. At least she didn’t have to try to adjust to life with running as an unattainable dream.

Soon, however, Jessica has an epiphany about life:

 “I fell off, but the merry-go-round keeps moving. Lucy died, but the merry-go-round keeps moving. Still. As much as thinking this upsets me, I’m starting to see that I need the merry-go-round much more than it needs me, and in the end my choice is to hop back on or get left in the dust.”

With this new attitude, and her self-loathing behind her, Jessica finally decides to get back up, battle life head-on, and get back to her “normal” life as much as possible. But of course, this is easier said than done.

Returning to school, Jessica faces a whole slew of new challenges, not only with being one-legged and having to figure out how to get around in a wheelchair or on crutches until she gets her prosthetic limb, but she is also confronted with the internal battle of her self-image.

It’s bad enough being a “normal” teenager. This is the time in life when you are the most vulnerable, trying to figure out exactly who you are. Up until now, Jessica has only had one way of defining herself—she is a runner. Plain and simple. But now, having to go back into the sea of her peers in the battleground known as high school, Jessica feels less sure of herself than she ever has before:

“I know it’s not my fault. I know I haven’t done anything wrong. I know it’s irrational. But still, I’m mortified. Mortified to be me.”

“It’s disturbing how fast weeds take root in my garden of worthiness.
They’re so hard to pull.
And grow back so easily.” 

When Jessica is wheeled in to her Math class on her first day back, she gets put at the “special table” at the back of the room, with the other girl in a wheelchair who has cerebral palsy, named Rosa. Jessica realizes that she has never even thought to talk to Rosa before, simply because of her condition. It was way easier to ignore her and pretend like she wasn’t there. And when Rosa offers to tutor Jessica in Math to get her caught up, Jessica realizes what an amazing and funny person Rosa is, despite her handicap.

Working with, and befriending, Rosa humbles Jessica, and helps her to realize that life could be worse, and she should stop feeling sorry for herself. Your disability doesn’t define you—you define you.

“I suddenly really get that I am lucky. I’ll never do a fifty-five flat in the 400 again, but I will stand on my own again. This wheelchair won’t be with me every day of my life.”

With the support of her family, friends, and teammates, Jessica decides not to be a victim of circumstance, and starts to hope again. And that is a beautiful thing.

“I realize something. That wasn’t a finish line for me…This is my new starting line.”

#theroadtomagic

the road to magic

Magic is waiting for you around every corner…all you have to do is turn the page!