Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Take Offs & Landings

Probably my last Margaret Peterson Haddix book (until she publishes a new one), Takeoffs and Landings is not one of my favorites, and is definitely geared towards the pre-teen audience. It tells the story of a small-town, 4H, farming brother and sister, Chuck and Lori, who are finally spending quality time with their mother, for the first time since their father died eight years ago. After he died, their mom started speaking, publicly, about his death and life insurance, which turned her into a motivational speaker. Lori is bitter and feels abandoned, but Chuck is just grateful for the attention. It starts out as an awkward trip; the kids hardly know their mom, and Chuck and Lori, once inseparable, now find each other unbearable. But by the end of their journey, the relationship seems to mend. 

I didn't love this book, but I did enjoy it. I recommend it for a younger set, especially those kids, and maybe even parents, who may relate to Chuck and Lori, those feeling a loss or a disconnect of a parent. It might just give them the boost they need to fix their relationship. 

Monday, January 30, 2012

The Help

I may be the absolutely last person in the universe to have read The Help, but if, by some chance, I'm wrong and you haven't read it yet, you really should. 

It was amazing and touching. 

What gets me most is that it's the sixties. The sixties. And in the south, they still have their colored help. This is Bewitched. And it's civil rights. It's like my momma could be Mae Mobley, and "the help" has to use a seperate bathroom! They're good enough to raise kids, but not much else. They know how to keep house, but they're "too stupid" to take care of themselves? I'm confused. Which, I suppose, is part of the point of the book. I also liked how it tied in feminism. Everything, all these changes, were just starting. People thought things were fixed. They thought things were fine. Women could vote. Blacks could vote. Everyone got to go to school. Separate but equal. Activists knew better. And because of these people, life is different today. 

Last thought? I don't know why, but I had to check if stockett was white or black. She's white. However, she had a history quite like Miss Skeeter, so that's the connection :) 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Sing You Home

Jodi Picoult's latest, Sing You Home, is controversial, same as any other Jodi book.
It deals with miscarriage, IFV, stillbirth.
Embryos as property or people. 
It's all over the place, but so very much together. Jodi was asked why she mixed the topics together, and she said she couldn't see doing them apart. They belonged together.
And in Sing You Home, they most certainly do. 
As always, I feel a little hesitant in recommending Jodi; she's a little risque for the conservative type. I, however, found this one to be not too extreme or explicit.
And, of course, I loved it to death.
Read on!  

Saturday, January 21, 2012


Last weekend, Cass and I read Ally Condie's Crossed, a sequel to Matched, and my worst fears came true. . . Ally Condie is a Stephanie Meyers. Okay, that was rude. She's not that bad. But my fears of Crossed turning into more of a Twilight than a Hunger Games came true for sure.

1. The novel lacks voice -- esp because I read this in-between/at the same time as The Help and Sing You Home [reviews coming soon!] which were also told from different perspectives and done much better.

2. Condie says "says" too much. I know she doesn't want to be all "he exclaimed" & "she gasped" all over the page-- but just cut it out. Just dialogue it. "Blah." Enter. Indent. "Talk-ity-talk." Enter. Indent. Carry on. In all fairness, I may have noticed this one more because I was reading it aloud to Cass. I didn't notice it as much while reading silently. 

3. I'm not sure any of my questions were even answered, other than Ky's back-story. But I guess that's why there is a third book . . .

4. I still do not like Ky. He still just creeps me out.

Overall, meh. I'll still read the third when it comes out, but it's just not my type of book. Don't get me wrong, I'm all about guilty pleasure teen books. This one just isn't for me. I think I'll go read The Giver now. 

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Zookeeper's Wife

One of my dearest friends recommended this book for me after she loved it. It's a war story, surrounding WWII, dealing with the German invasion of Poland and the ghettoization, concentration, and killing of the Jews.  Zookeepers Jan and Antonina Zabinski struggle to raise their family and save their zoo, all while hosting an array of Jewish "visitors" on the zoo grounds. It's an interesting story, and clearly heroic, but I honestly found the writing a little dry. There was a lot of (to me) unnecessary background information. It felt more like a senior thesis than a book. However, it is non-fiction, which is usually on the drier side. I just was expecting it to be a little more exciting. Sometimes I think maybe I have this problem where I want all books to be fiction? But I do enjoy autobiographies. So I'm just not sure. Maybe I'm the problem? Either way, this was a good book, just not exactly a thriller. I give it a half-hearted recommendation. Read on!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Circus Galacticus

To be quite honest, I picked up Circus Galacticus by Deva Fagan because of the cover. It was on the new book display and it caught my eye. It's kind of a cute book and has a pretty good premise, but not super well thought out or creative, nor was it very well written. I felt like I was being told the story by a super hyper gossipy teenager. It was your basic where-do-I-belong teenage story. In space. Can't say I loved it.

Hawkes Harbor

As ya'll know, I loved The Outsiders and enjoyed That Was Then, This Is Now, so when I saw Hawkes Harbor, in the ADULT section of the library, I figured I'd give it a go. After all, it's Hinton.

Unfortunately, she wrote better as a sixteen year old than as an adult. Hawkes Harbor had an interesting concept, a unique take on vampires, but in trying to be mysterious she comes off as vague and the story seems lacking. And to be quite honest, if the flap had said anything about vampires, I probably would have put the book back on the shelf. I'm not entirely sure it was worth the read.

Monday, January 9, 2012

The Paris Wife

I've never been much of a Hemingway fan, though as a self-proclaimed vivid reader, I desire to be well versed and am familiar with his text. That being said, I was excited to read Paula McLain's The Paris Wife, the story of Hemingway's first wife, Hadley. I'm not so interested in the works of the "Lost Generation" -- but their lives have proven to be interesting, and I do need to give their works another go.

Ernest and Hadley were newly married on their Paris arrival, and he was not yet the literary genius many now consider him to be. It was interesting to read of The Shakespeare and Company, Sylvia Beach's bookstore and a gathering place for many of the "Lost Generation." We get to meet the Fitzgeralds, Zelda and F Scott; Gertrude Stein and her lover Alice; Ezra Pound and Dorothy Shakespear. Joyce is talked about but not present. Throughout the novel we see Hemingway's writing process and the journey to The Sun Also Rises, as well as see the connections from the writing to real life. Sadly, Hadley is not a character in The Sun Also Rises, and that is when the descent of their marriage occurs.
The Paris Wife is a love story, yes, but it is also a desperate story, a story about a writer, a story about ghosts that haunt, a story of how a couple can seem so solid, how a woman can still love a man, and their marriage cannot last. It is a love story and perhaps a tragedy. Hadley always loved Ernest, at least cared for him; he held a special place in her heart. But not so for he. 

I really liked this reading, it was thick in content, but enjoyable. It made me want to write more. It made me want to read about Zelda and Fitz (for it seems that he was Gatsby). And isn't that what good books do? Make you want to read more? Make you want to live your life just a little different? 

I have not really been exposed to the "Lost Generation" before, other than in school, and it was really neat to read about their lives and how their work was so intertwined with their very being. I can't say that I loved this book, but I highly recommend it.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

My Lucky Life In and Out of Show Business

I have a great big chimney sweeping, car flying, singing and dancing crush 
on one Mr Dick van Dyke.
Let's be real- Who doesn't? 
He's amazingly talented, even in his post-retirement age days.
He wrote this book about himself, and I absolutely adore it.
And him.
Oh Dick, I swoon.
He's quite an amazing man, in addition to the song-and-dance man
we all know and love.
His life has truly been lucky; he is so lucky.
He married his high school sweetheart and stayed with her almost 
entirely through thick and thin. She gave him four children. She stayed with him during the early, struggling years. And when they parted, he made sure she would want for nothing.
The one thing I admire most about Dick?
He made a promise to never be in anything he couldn't watch with his children.
He didn't want to tarnish his name or his character.
And you know how we all like Chitty Chitty Bang Bang but it's kind of missing that Disney Magic? That little spark that just makes you sit in awe and wonder? 
Dick knows that too. He actually turned it down quite a few times before he agreed to it.
I just love this man. 
All I want is one last Dick-and-Julie song-and-dance classic.
Dick? Julie? Robert Iger? Can you help a sister out?
I think Walt would approve!!!

So anyway, if you love Dick as I do, read this book. Watch Mary Poppins.
.: magic :.

Monday, January 2, 2012


I'd had a faint interest in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, but [as you can probably guess] I initially was interested in Uprising because it's by Margaret Peterson Haddix. Told from the view points of three young girls- Yetta, Bella, and Jane- we also see how the factory conditions, the strike, and the fire, affected all those in the building. 

This book was the perfect storm for my cravings. Historical Fiction. MPH. YA novel. It was fascinating, and factual in events. The characters were relate-able. They were very real, very much the people I would picture working at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory. And, as a side note, it showed how far women have come in the last century, as well as workers conditions. I highly recommend it. 

And for those of you who are wondering- Triangle is the name of the company, although a shirtwaist does form you, relatively, into a triangle. And a shirtwaist looks like this: