Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

I didn't start this book right off after I checked it out from the library. I had really wanted to in some ways but in others, I didn't. For one reason is the subject matter is tough which deals with eating disorders (anorexia, bulimia) and through my reading I found out that there are other subjects included (cutting, ghosts) that are tough to read about in this book also. This book is an emotional investment and even though I may not want to think about subjects like these, it is real. This book was written in such a way that it made you feel, even empithetically, what Lia, the main character, was thinking. My heart was torn and breaking for her and at the same time I wanted her to make sense of all of it and find a way to overcome. It left me to wonder about how I struggle with my own irrationality but I don't always notice the tiny opportunities or people given to me that could help me along my path. They are so small and tender that it is hard to see clearly sometimes. It finally takes sheer "will" and difficult "work" to change. I have to open my eyes and regard it as merciful. It amazes me that Anderson could stir all of this thought process within me by her writing. I find that is a wonderful talent for an author. I'm glad she has shared this with the world and I look forward to reading other works of hers.
I can't say that I completely loved this book because it was not easy due to the subject matter to read but I do view that it is important. For some, it may even be helpful or at least that is my hope. I would recommend this very carefully.

I wish I had finished reading this book in time to attend my library's book group discussion on it which would have been interesting.

Check out these thoughts from the author at Amazon Videos.

288 pages, Pub: Speak (February 23, 2010), My rating: 4 stars

Memorable Quotes (spoiler alert):

"The lights flicker behind my eyes. I knew her whole world. I
knew her sleepovers and cookie sales and crushes on boybands and the time I
broke my leg riding on the back of her bike and the time I helped her paint her
room white after she painted it black without permission." pg. 95

"We sit in the middle of the cafeteria, a fish bowl crowded with minnows,
guppies, tetras, mollies, and angelfish. Sharks circle their prey.
Lesser spiny eels bump their noses against the glass, looking for the
exit. Bits of fish flakes and strings of poop dangle in the air.
Lime-green algae slicks the floor." pg. 105

"Beautiful when seen through the paper wings of out-of-season flies."
pg. 112

"The dead do walk and haunt and crawl into your bed at night. Ghosts sneak
into your head when you're not looking. Stars line up and volcanoes birth
out bits of glass that foretell the future. Poison berries make girls
stronger, but sometimes kill them. If you howl at the moon and swear on
your blood, anything you desire will be yours. Be careful what you wish
for. There's always a catch." pg. 253

"There is no magic cure, no making it all go away forever. There are
only small steps upward; an easier day, an unexpected laugh, a mirror that
doesn't matter anymore." pg. 278

Links from other readers of Wintergirls:

Lucid Conspiracy

Call of Kairos

Helen's Book Blog

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner: An Eclipse Novella by Stephenie Meyer

I had pretty low expectations for this one and was pleasantly surprised. Meyer explores the darker side of her vampire world. Without getting overly morbid, she gives us a sense of what it would be like for one her Vamps who is completely controlled by the bloodlust, sees herself as more God than demon, sees us puny mortals as food, but still has a lot to learn about the clandestine world she's become a part of so very unexpectedly. Meyer does a great job of getting you to sympathize with some of the "bad guys," so that when the inevitable good-conquers-evil ending occurs, you wish she could go back and rewrite Eclipse just a little bit. It also opens up the possibility for yet another storyline in the future; one that I must say, I wouldn't be sorry to read. Three stars to Bree Tanner's story.

The Convenient Marriage by Georgette Heyer

Ah, those hazy summer days. Sitting on my porch rocking chair with my bare foot dangling lazily over the arm rest whilst I rest peacefully over the other one. So relaxed my eyelids hover within centimeters of each other..


If only that were true. More likely scenario, I'm grabbing a few pages here and there while stuffing my face with Doritos and rubbing the skin off my sunburned nose while absentmindedly sort of watching my kids play/pretend not to drown in the neighborhood pool.

But alas, sigh, it's still the perfect time to read me some Heyer. The funniest one I've read of her's so far, this one did not disappoint. Taking place when England was at war with the soon to be United States, all the classic Heyer is included - kidnapping, mistaken identity, more kissing than usual, her favorite word, odious, among others - she has the knack for entering just the right word at just the right time. My heart swooned as always at her dashing, unaffected hero, and I laughed out loud more than once at a group of bumbling goofballs who in the end are at least as funny as Bottom and his acting troupe from A Midsummer Night's Dream, and that's saying something..

Yet again, I can't help but wonder: why aren't any of her books made into movies??

I'd be first in line if they were.
A great romantic comedy to read while on those cement beach sides. Just make sure a lifeguard is present lest you get distracted by those throbbing loins...
4 stars

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale

I just discovered Shannon Hale's "The Goose Girl" in the YA section and am amazed. Her story, based on the Grimm's fairy tale, is both magical and real, with characters who seem so alive they breathe right out of the pages. "The Goose Girl" is a book you can read for the joy of the story, and for the amazing things Hale does with it. She takes the elements of Grimms' fairy tale and weaves something entirely new
*Spoiler alert*

"She was born Anidori-Kiladra Talianna Isilee, Crown Princess of Kildenree, and she did not open her eyes for three days." She is called Ani, and is next in line to be queen until her mother announces that her younger brother will claim the throne and she will be married to the prince of Bayern, a country bordering Kildenree. Ani, weak and indecisive, is on her way to the country when half her honor guard massacres all those loyal to her and try to kill her in an attempt to make Selia, her lady-in-waiting, the queen.
Ani runs, and through the kindness of a few good people, survives and ends up as a goose girl in Bayern. She must find a way to reclaim her name, though, and soon--for the prince's marraige to Selia/Anidori is fast approaching and war is on the verge of breaking loose.

Shannon Hale just one a Newbery Honor for her book Princess Academy. Which I want to read now.

Death of a Valentine by M.C. Beaton

I found this one on the New Book shelf. The cover says A Hamish Macbeth Mystery so she must have others about him. . Hamish is a small village constable in Lochbuch Scotland. He is assigned a partner, Josie. Who happens to be head over heels in love with him and he doesn't know it. The book is about a death and his struggle to solve it. Also about the obsession Jose has, which is quite comical. I enjoyed this book. I liked it so much I think I will go back and get more of hers. It was a quick read also.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde

"It is exquisitely trivial, a delicate bubble of fancy, and it has its
philosophy...that we should treat all the trivial things of life seriously, and all the serious things of life with sincere and studied triviality." ~Oscar

This quote introduces this play at its beginning. Right away, this caught my attention and I found myself thinking of this philosophy as I read this play. Often I have wondered about why is it that small unimportant things invade my thoughts and at times the more important things don't seem like a very big deal? I don't know why I do this and without even realizing it because I have had times in my life when I have been serious of trivial things and almost unaware of serious things in my life without even knowing why or rationalizing it easily. Of course, the danger and the difference in doing this was that my outcome in my life usually didn't come out this brilliant and comedic. In fact, mine would be considered a tragedy. To me, this is one of the amazing things about Wilde's writing of this play. How he captured this very thing in a comedy!
In this play are intricately woven themes, i.e., the aristocracy, marriage, the literary world, English manners, women, love, religion etc..., among a cast of characters that will not easily be forgotten. Jack is the male lead in the play and Algernon is in a great supporting role and as these two characters play off each other and the women, Lady Bracknell and Gwendolen, it ends up in a comedic adventure! I love Wilde's thought-process and his portrayal of our subjectable human nature and of societal conflicts that are still generally true.

Some of my favorite lines (possible spoiler alert!):

Algernon: I really don't see anything romantic in proposing. It ... is very romantic to be in love. But there is nothing romantic about a definite proposal. Why, one may be accepted. One usually is, I believe. Then the excitement is all over. The very essence of romance is uncertainty.
Lady Bracknell: I am pleased to hear it. I do not approve of anything that tampers with natural ignorance.
Gwendolen: I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.
Gwendolen: If you are not too long, I will wait here for you all my life.
Lady Bracknell. [Pencil and note-book in hand.] I feel bound to tell you that you are not down on my list of eligible young men, although I have the same list as the dear Duchess of Bolton has. We work together, in fact. However, I am quite ready to enter your name, should your answers be what a really affectionate mother requires. Do you smoke?

Jack. Well, yes, I must admit I smoke.

Lady Bracknell. I am glad to hear it. A man should always have an occupation of some kind. There are far too many idle men in London as it is.
Algernon: Oh! It is absurd to have a hard and fast rule about what one should read and what one shouldn't. More than half of modern culture depends on what one shouldn't read.

Ever since I've read this play, I really do want to see a live performance. It would be a nice experience and I hope to be able to have this opportunity one day. Until then, I'll re-read this play and eventually find a copy of my own.

178 pages, My rating: 5 stars

Read these bloggers thoughts too:

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

Vida Winter, England's most famous and reclusive writer, is nearing the end, and before she goes she wants her amazing life story to be recorded for posterity. For this, she engages a lonely young biographer, Margaret Lea, who has a few secrets of her own. Up to this point Miss Winter has given 19 versions of her life to different biographers, all untrue. She has finally decided to tell the true story. Which is so intriguing, full of ghosts and mystery. I truly enjoyed this book.
A sentence from the book; "I still believe in stories. I still forget myself when I am in the middle of a good book."

Winter In The Morning by Janina Bauman

Yet another book about a young girl. Once I started reading it, I couldn't put it down. After forty years, the author, Janina Bauman, is ready to tell her story of her life and experiences in the Warsaw Ghetto during the Holocaust. The story begins telling what a good life Bauman has with her father as a doctor and a loving close Jewish family. Then as the story goes on the war begins and their town is transformed into a Jewish ghetto. They are forced slowly to move from place to place, within the ghetto, each one worse than the other. With her remaining family she escapes the ghetto only to find more problems along the way to freedom, but in the end everything works out. This book gives in excellent detail, Bauman's experiences of friendship, love, death, poverty, adventure, and family problems. Many of her personal diary entries are included also showing exactly how she was feeling. The story is full of adventure and feeling and it was a joy to read. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who is interested in what really went on in the Holocaust

Girl With a Pearl Earring by tracy Chevalier

This is another book about a young girl. Greit lives in 1660's Holland. She becomes the maid for the the artist Jan Vemeer because of her family's misfortune. Eventually becoming the inspiration for one of his most famous paintings. It is a very sensual portrait of a 17th century Dutch household, beautifully written.
Griet is treated very poorly by everybody in the house, even the other maid. Only one or two of the many children are civil to her, yet she holds her tongue and plods through her day. The one place where she finds solace is when she is cleaning the studio for the painter. Little does she know that the solace that she finds there and the attention she gets from Johannes makes people in the house become upset. As things get increasingly out of control, Griet must make some decisions that will affect her life and her place in the household.

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

This is a book about a young girl living in New York. She is a latchkey child and must learn about safety as she travels around her neighborhood. She learns the joys and hardships of friendship and of that first crush. I loved it

Pandora's Daughter by Iris Johansen

now I enjoyed this book. It about a woman who finds she has powers and so do others. She is fighting them and in denial. Friends are there to help her through them. And the bad guy is after her. It is adventurous, and I liked it.

The Mammoth Cheese by Sheri Holman

This book is about a town. I had a hard time getting into this book because one of the families is a young couple who goes through fertility drugs then chooses to keep all 11 babies. The local pastor is the one who convinced her to keep them and now she is suffering from post pardem depression. The book delves into the moral dilema of was it the right thing to keep all eleven. Their is a young girl and her first crush and finding out who she is. HEr mother and finding out who she is and the mammoth cheese. The town chooses to deliver a huge round of cheese to the white house. The book was okay, I seem to be getting into reading books about young girls latley. Thank goodness I have a teenage boy!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious.

-Albert Einstein, The World As I See It (1931)

I decided to read this book based solely on Karen's review at Books and Chocolate. She reviewed this book about 8 months ago and I've been thinking about it ever since. I was very impressed with what she said so you'll have to hop on over there to read it too. Since then this book won the Newbery Award which she predicted in her review and after it happened to win - that's when I saw this book for sale at Borders. I couldn't help it, since I usually like Newbery's, so I snatched it up. I went home and read it in just a few days and then I read it to my 11 yr. old daughter each night until we finished.
I agree with Karen that at the beginning it is very different, "puzzling" is the way she put it yet when you are about five chapters in you start realizing just how great this book is. Suddenly, it's like magic and realistically so. Just to illustrate, there were times that my very heartstrings were tugged by this book and what it was unfolding to me which came completely unexpected to me at the end when I didn't think I would feel so moved. But I was and I am.
I loved the way people, places and things were described in this book. It demanded and let you use your imagination to view this book in the way it was written. I love that! It let the characters stand in their own right and this is what was so exciting about it to me - my perceptions about them were not always right. It's what was underneath that counted which really brought to life the intensity of our own human nature. It expresses the sheer value of a human being. It gives new eyes to how the world is viewed through a child's eyes. It is the beauty of the unconditional.
Overall, it's very hard to describe and perhaps that's why I've struggled writing this review. Most of all, I want you to read it, no, even better, to experience it for yourself.

Hardcover, 208 pages
Random House Children's Books
July 14, 2009
My rating: 5 stars

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Abigail Adams: A Life by Woody Holton

Abigail Adams.
Doctor, therapist, teacher, entrepreneur, politician, mother, and wife, in no particular order at any particular time.
She was everything.
She was nothing.
And she knew it.

And it made me a bit sad for one main reason: in this age of the crappily short emails, texts, whatever, I thought of the lost art of letter writing. I learned an immense amount of really interesting, meaty stuff about the revolution and the people in it, specifically the women and their take on this war that affected them profoundly, because Abigail Adams was a fantastic, carefully opinionated letter writer.

If she hadn't been married to that great politician John Adams, if he hadn't been away from home as much as he was (and that was a lot, up to five years at a time - like half their married life), we wouldn't have this treasure trove of information. And it was really, really cool.

This is a good book, especially the second half when the war really picks up, how she deals with her children and family life, the rivalry between Adams and Jefferson, presidential life for wife and husband. Speaking of Mr. Adams, she rarely agreed with him. She was so feisty and opinionated for her time. An American Revolutionary heroine, a rambunctious feminist icon. The bread and butter of women's history.
4 stars