After I've finished a good book, I usually head over to Amazon to check out the reviews and see if there were any insights or interesting tidbits that I missed or see if anyone else felt a certain way about this character or that event. When skimming reviews for Percy Jackson, I was blown away by how many people felt Rick Riordan had followed a bit too closely in J.K Rowling's footsteps. This was interesting, because while reading the book, not once did I think "Wow..this is just like Harry Potter". After discussing with my favorite bibliophile, we both agreed the reviewers panning Percy Jackson as a Harry Potter knock off had done a lazy comparison of the two books.
The Handmaid's Tale is big in my circle right now, with some reading the book and some watching the Hulu series. The common consensus: alarming, relevant, shocking. With the popularity of dystopian tales in recent cinema, it's surprising The Handmaid's Tale hadn't popped up before now. It's the perfect blend of religious fanaticism and government gone bad to control man-made environmental and population crisis. Think Divergent meets 1984 meets The Third Reich and you've got The Handmaid's Tale.
We tend to think of materialism and a desire to hold on to and collect physical objects as a modern day enigma, one born of mass production and fast fashion. Imagine my surprise when this theme popped up unexpectedly in the strangest of places, the final chapters of The Little House on the Prairie. The book ends dramatically when the Ingalls family finds their homestead, along with a few of their neighbors, is unintentionally but illegally located on Indian Land. Rather than face the soldiers tasked with removing these settlers by force, Pa decides it's best for the family to move along before the soldiers arrive.
My absolute favorite children's book of all time is the 1936 classic, The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf. My grandmother read it to me as a child and I've read it to Huck as least 1000 times in the last few years. History has it that Leaf wrote the story in a single afternoon as a way to help his friend, Robert Lawson, showcase his artistic talent. The book was a hit, and at $1 per copy the 1938 sales topped those of the ever popular Gone with the Wind. The Story of Ferdinand has never been out of print despite the many political waves this little story has caused.