Thursday, February 16, 2012

Can't Wait to Get to Heaven

I have a secret crush on the South. And Fannie Flagg totally indulges me. Plus she's so . . . is quaint the right word? But I always feel like I'm reading books from before my time, but they're actually fairly current. For example, Can't Wait to Get to Heaven was published in 2006! 

Elner Shimfissle is an older lady, widowed by now, picking figs from up in a tree, when she is attacked by a swarm of bees and falls. This fall of Elner's, the subsequent rush to the hospital, and the state of Elner's health, or lack thereof, affects everyone in her family and many in her town. Can't Wait to Get to Heaven shows us just how short life can be, and how important each and every moment is. It's a pretty cute book. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

A few weeks ago, Cass and I were redboxing and I saw that Snow Flower and the Secret Fan was made into a movie, so I absolutely had to get it.  It's one of my favorite books and I thought Cass would like it, since it has to do with China (he did!). 

Well, so the movie inspired me to re-read the book, so that I could remember everything as well as compare it to the movie. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan  is about two little girls, Snow Flower and Lily, preparing for their footbinding.  Instead of being sworn into a sisterhood with girls from their village, they form a laotong relationship, or an eternal bonding of two as kindred sisters. They are soul mates. Snow Flower tells the story of Snow Flower and Lily as they grow up and lead their separate lives. 

As I said, this is one of my favorite books. It is so relate-able. It is timeless. All women form intimate friendships. We all have heartaches. All of our friendships wax and wane. We all have misunderstandings. But when it comes down to it, your true friends are always there when you need them, as with Lily and Snow Flower.

Monday, February 13, 2012

The Mermaid Chair

"In the middle of my marriage, when I was above all Hugh's wife and Dee's mother, 
one of those unambiguous women with no desire to disturb the universe, 
I fell in love with a Benedictine monk."

So, I'm generally opposed to books about affairs, but The Mermaid Chair wasn't too terrible. To me, it's more of a coming home story.  Jessie goes back to Egret Island when her widowed mother chops off her finger.  Intentionally. Jessie goes home to find out why and help her mother heal. And, in the process, she discovers a little bit about herself and her history. 

The Mermaid Chair felt familiar, like I had read it before, but I couldn't remember what exactly happened and I kept wanting to know. But even when I found out, when all the pieces came together, it still felt familiar. So maybe I have read the book before? Maybe not. I don't really know.

Over all, this was an okay book.  The characters weren't developed all that well, the story line wasn't really that exciting, everything just felt the same, no real rise and fall, but I didn't really hate the book either. It's just kind of mediocre. 

Monday, February 6, 2012

Sisterhood Everlasting

I'm sure most of you have read Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. I was about 13-14 when it came out and was the perfect age. Well, at the library, about a month or so ago, I unknowingly picked up the last book of the series. When I realized it was the last book, I decided to read it even though I hadn't read the in-between-ers.  They turned out to be completely unnecessary to this story. And for the most part, I really liked Sisterhood Everlasting.  I thought it was a good conclusion to the Sisterhood and wrapped everything up nicely. I generally like friendship books [not to be mistaken for clique books!]. My main concern while reading it was that it was marketed as a young adult novel. First off, the characters are in their late twenties. They live the lives of grown ups. It's not exactly YA material. Which leads into my second concern: the content. When I think of 11-year-old me reading YA books, I wouldn't want me to read it. There were just a few things that were too sexy and explicit for my taste. There is also talk of suicide, which may also be a little too strong for some younger girls. As an adult book, I didn't find it inappropriate. And overall, I did like Sisterhood Everlasting. There wasn't anything terribly connected to the other books and I feel like it could stand alone. This was an easy read and, while not necessarily fantastic, I do give it a medium recommendation. Read on! 

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Uglies, Pretties, Specials, Extras

I have something terrible to admit.
I judge books by their covers.
I apologize.

So when these books came out and everyone was just reading them up, I was like, "Whatever. I don't want to read some stupid clique book." Even when they were recommend to me.

I finally learned otherwise. These books are exactly up my alley. Or, at least, they started that way. I really enjoyed Uglies, and even Pretties. Specials and Extras, though, I found to be overkill. And I thought Extras was pretty lame. Plus, I'm not all that into series/sequel books where it's the same society but not the same characters. [I appreciate Lois Lowry calling Gathering Blue and The Messenger companion books.] 

Here's what happens: They live in a society where you get surgery at 16 to become pretty. But it turns out, there are people outside of the city, people who don't get the surgery. And sometimes, people from the city actually leave, they choose to not have the surgery. Tally Youngblood's friend, Shay, is one of them. And if Tally doesn't find Shay and bring her back, she'll never become pretty. Anything she chooses from this point out will drastically change her life, maybe even her world. 

So, yeah. I liked it a lot. I love this futuristic, post-apocalyptic (insofar as the Rusties, aka us, had our apocalypse and their society grew out of it), utopia/dystopia theme. I'm not sure I would recommend Extras, at least without qualifying it as my least favorite. 

But I had a few questions about their society, mostly brought about by Specials, which felt a little bit like plot holes to me, but maybe I'm the only one. 
  • It surprises me that they still have their own birthdays. . . Okay, that wasn't a question. It just seems odd to me, in a society where the stress is on sameness without actually ever saying so. So why  do they let them have their own? Also, I guess this one isn't really a plot hole. But it's still my question! 
  • Do they, the government, still let people give birth? Doesn't that seem contrary to being pretty? Do they have to have another surgery after giving birth? After every birth?
  • Do littlies live with their parents? And why/how does the government trust middle pretties/crumblies to raise their children to twelve? 
  • What are crumblies? But wikipedia answered this for me: crumblies are generally parents, any middle or late pretties can be referred to as crumblies.
  • What's up with the Tally-wa and Shay-la thing? I get that they're nicknames, but I just kept wondering if they had significance, and it seems like they gave the -la to everyone, so what's the point if everyone has one? And why is on Tally a -wa? 
  • I guess the only really plot-holey one is society as a whole, how it runs. Is their still a family unit? Why does the government even allow there to be all the people they need to take care of? Like, what is the point? And if the government is in control . . .    I just don't get it. And where does the money come from? How does everything run and maintain? I just feel like I wasn't given enough information about how the society works as a whole, outside of what it's like to be a teenager ugly or new pretty. Wikipedia explains this, sort of, but it's not the same as if it's in the book. It's not as prove-able.
  • I also wanted to know the deal with David and Tally, in the end, you know?  
So, read the books. Answer my questions. And keep reading! 

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Michael Vey: Prisoner of Cell 25

Along with some of CMS's finest, I read Richard Paul Evans' Michael Vey: The Prisoner of Cell 25.  'twas a fairly exciting read. In fact, I had to read ahead of the class because I wanted to know what happened. It has a really unique premise; Michael has a 'condition' which makes him surge electricity. And then he finds out he's not the only one! Dun-dun-dun!
It's your basic teen adventure book, and the writing wasn't spectacular, but it was still an enjoyable read. Read on, bookworms!