With My Eyes Wide Open by Brian Head Welch (Book Review)

After reading (listening) to Brian Head Welch’s first book “Save Me From Myself” I really wanted to read his newest book that came out this past May. Like I said I have been following Brian and his music for a while now and back in 2013 when he announced he was joining Korn again, like probably a lot of people I began to think he was backsliding in his faith with Christ. I even made a blog post about it on another blog I used to manage. I was very skeptical. So actually I have been wanting to read this book since I heard about it coming out earlier this year. I wanted to know what happened and why he was joining Korn again.

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Save Me From Myself by Brain Head Welch (Book Review)

I don’t like to read much, so I prefer audiobooks, so I downloaded this book in audio format and listened to it. I have been following Brian Head Welch and his music for several years. I first heard his testimony on I Am Second. I already knew part of his story but I didn’t know exactly what kind of world he was coming out of. I’d heard of Korn and heard some of their songs but I don’t like them. I started listening to this book just to understand where he was coming from a little better.

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Book Review of “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Oh, The Great Gatsby. This is one of those books that I didn’t read by choice; rather, it was my school’s required reading for this semester in English class. After hearing a bit about the Leonardo DiCaprio movie recently, my interest in Gatsby had been piqued a bit, but it wasn’t enough to make me want to really read the book. Well, now given no choice, I read it. I didn’t particularly like the book, but it wasn’t terrible either. For somebody who isn’t well versed in the culture of 1920’s America or Jazz, this book will probably be a confusing bore, as it was for me. With lots of reading between the lines and symbolism, this book is not one to be read for a straightforward tale; rather, you’ll find yourself needing to extrapolate hidden information just to get by and understand the point of the book. In the end, this isn’t a book that I would recommend to many.

The Great Gatsby was written in 1925, and it chronicles what life was like for the rich during the Roaring Twenties, where wealth and fortune abounded. Gatsby tells of parties, affairs, romance, and daily life for those who were a class above the rest. But, of course, the book is mainly about Gatsby. Told from the point of view of the main character Nick Carroway, The Great Gatsby relates the story of a man who wants nothing more in life than to reconnect with his love of five years prior, who now happens to be married to another man. Really, the whole thing is a bit confusing, but I’ll try my best. (If you want a perfect representation of the whole thing, then click here, but beware of spoilers.)

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Drums, Girls, & Dangerous Pie: Book Review

Drums, Girls, & Dangerous Pie (referred to as simply Drums from here on) actually surprised me. The book was handed to me by my brother; at his request, my mom told me I had to read it. On one hand, I really didn’t want to read it since Zach’s tastes in books usually are quite childish (i.e. Diary of a Wimpy Kid), not to mention the fact that the title didn’t look very appealing. Nonetheless, I started to reluctantly read the book. Before long, I realized that I was truly enjoying my time with Drums, and it was very good in nearly every way. Although Drums was written to target a middle-school audience, it was able to capture my attention (and I’m a junior) while being both funny and serious at the same time.

Drums tells the story of eighth-grader Steven and his five-year-old brother, Jeffrey. Steven is an up-and-coming drummer at his school, and he’s an honor roll student. His dad is an accountant, and his mom works at a nearby school. Everything seems to be going very smoothly in everyone’s lives… but that’s when Jeffrey is diagnosed with cancer. Bet you didn’t see that coming, did you? Well, neither did I.

To be more specific, Jeffrey is diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. This means that some of his white blood cells deform and multiply rapidly, choking out the properly formed white blood cells, which don’t multiply as quickly. Even worse, the leukemia reduces the number of platelets in Jeffrey’s blood, which means that it won’t clot as quickly as it should. He will bruise easier, and even small cuts could be deadly. Basically, this is a life-changing scenario for the family.

From there, things go downhill. Steven and Jeffrey’s mom has to quit working to take Jeffrey to the hospital so often, and their dad becomes a shell of his former self; he turns into an emotionless workaholic because of the stress. Meanwhile, Steven’s grades suffer, he worries about his brother, and wonders how his family will pay the bills. Things keep spiraling downward until his school counselor takes note and helps him through the situation. She presents him with a novel idea: rather than worrying about the things you can’t change, focus on changing the things you can.

From there, Steven’s outlook improves; he strives to practice drumming more for the All-City concert coming up, he improves his grades again, he takes better care of his brother, and does what he can to save his family a few bucks here and there. Then, the big moment in the book comes when they All-City Band decides to turn the concert into a benefit event for Jeffrey; the story then comes full circle as Steven learns the value and importance of making a difference. He learns that through little things, he can change lives for the better, even in tough times. He also learns the value of life, as the prospect of his brother’s death looms at any given moment.

Overall, this story is touching. Truly, it is. Because five-year-old Jeffrey is so innocent, it’s odd to think of him as a cancer patient who could die if he catches a bad fever. The story is pretty serious, it tackles heavy subjects, and it’s downright depressing at times. I hadn’t expected this from a pre-teen book, but the author (Jordan Sonnenblick) really uses his talent to drive home these important lessons with an engaging style.

Throughout the tragedies of Drums, Sonnenblick somehow manages to put a positive spin on things through the words and actions of Steven, the narrator. Steven has a sarcastic, almost snarky way about him at times. He’s not necessarily rude; he simply tries to put a comedic, light-hearted tone over a dark situation. Through this approach, Sonnenblick can really tackle those dark situations without making the overall tone of the book so deep and depressing.

In the end, Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie is a book that any middle or high-schooler should read. It drives home the importance of being a positive influence, and it causes one to contemplate the value of life. More than once I caught myself thinking about how blessed I am to be in my current position in life. This is the sort of book that makes you really glad to be alive; to have the chance to make a difference. Don’t let this book fly under your radar; check it out.

Thanks For Reading
Matt

Divergent Book Review

I spend nearly all of my free time doing one of two things: gaming or reading. Although I’ve been doing more gaming than reading lately, I decided it was time to get back to reading a bit more than I currently do. Last month, I went to see A Madea Christmas with my girlfriend (great movie, by the way) and we saw a trailer for the new movie that will be coming out soon, Divergent. We both thought the movie looked interesting, and we decided we’ll go see it when it comes out. I’m one of the people who has to read the book before the movie to see how the two compare, so I checked out Divergent from the library. I had high hopes and expectations for this book, and although it didn’t quite reach those expectations, I did enjoy the book, and I have already requested the next book in the trilogy from the library.

Divergent starts out a bit confusing, and it didn’t grab my attention initially; I had a few questions that were never really answered throughout the narrative, rather they were simply forgotten. In this setting, America is no more; the main character, Beatrice, lives in The Hub, formerly known as Chicago. The Hub is split into 5 different factions: Abnegation, who value selflessness, Amity, who value peace, Dauntless, who value bravery, Candor, who value trustworthiness, and Erudite, who value knowledge. Although each child is raised by their parents in the ways of their birth faction, they have the choice of officially choosing their faction in a public ceremony when they turn 16. Most children stay with their birth faction, but a few switch to others based on their calling, which is shown to them in a sort of aptitude test.

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Book Review: The Jungle by Clive Cussler

I had seen a lot of books by Clive Cussler over the years, but never once had I been tempted to pick one up. However, my grandpa recommended this one to me and let me borrow it; I really, really enjoyed this book. It started off pretty slow, but it eventually played out like a suspenseful action movie in my head. Read on to hear more about this great book.

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