Thursday, April 30, 2009

Love Undercover, Jo Edwards

Fluff Fluff Fluff Fluff Fluff Fluff Fluff Fluff Fluff Fluff Fluff Fluff Fluff Fluff Fluff

Maybe I should have read this book before reading A Map of the Known World. I might have been very impressed by the deep thoughts of Map coming off the heels of the pure fluff that is this book. I bought this because I read that Jennifer Echols had written some Simon Romantic Comedies and since I adored Going Too Far I wanted to check some out.

But I went to the bookstore today in a stupor after spending forever (literally) cleaning/reorganizing/getting covered in spider webs/& moving furniture in my classroom and generally exhausting myself. So I went to try to get some bathtub reading material, saw the initials J and E on the cover, and grabbed it. I have realized that Jo Edwards and Jennifer Echols are not the same person but I did enjoy both their books.

This was cute, quick, light, unbelievable in many, many ways and entertaining. Now I want to figure out which Simon Romantic Comedy Jennifer Echols really wrote. Actually I would like Jennifer Echols to write another great story like Going Too Far. Maybe I'll have to reread it while I figure it out.

A Map of the Known World, Lisa Ann Sandell

I don't know where to begin with this one. I was super excited to read it; I even dragged (drug? that sounds very wrong) Gnorah to 3 bookstores in 1 one evening to buy a copy when it came out. I love the cover but I have to say all the pictures online show the outlines of street grids but its not actually on my copy which is weirdly irritating but irrelevant to my thoughts on the book.

I remember my children's literature professor in college making fun of YA books with female leads who spout the oh so wise and deep pseudo thoughts of their thirty something authoresses. This is one of those books. I kept wanting to like it and remembering all the reviews I read that went on and on about the beautiful, lyrical language but I just didn't see that in this book. I kept thinking it was just a slow starter and that it would get better. But I was really struggling to keep reading. I knew I had given up when I read this quote:

"We are led through this world by our breath. There can be no going back. Breath fans out, little beads of life, dissipates and vanishes. And there can be no going back." (p.176)
I am not buying that from a 14 year old girl in mourning for her dead brother and sorting out feelings for dead brother's best friend. I started making a game of it as I trudged through to the last page (after my efforts to get this book I wasn't going to not finish it) dog earing page after page of painful quotes. When I read stuff like the above I feel like I'm hearing someone shout "Notice how deep my thoughts are and admire me!"

I know (I read enough of the reviews) that lots of people loved this book, thought it was deep, and beautiful but I'm not part of that group. I probably feel a lot stronger about this book than I would had I not just read some Laurie Halse Andersen- no one can compare with her in my opinion.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Prom, Laurie Halse Anderson

I want to be Laurie Halse Anderson when I grow up. I'm not sure if that is a viable option but if there's a chance I'll take it. She is such a versatile and skilled writer. That the same person wrote Speak (angry, creepily realistic, sad, etc, etc) and then wrote Prom (funny, happy, realistic, entertaining,etc, etc) amazes me. It seems like so many authors can do one thing really well and they write the same type of book over and over in endless variations.

I loved Ashley's family (they're happy & actually love each other even though life is hard), loved the substitute math teacher (also I'm slightly worried that I might turn into that kind of teacher), really loved the Russian seamstress/bathing beauty who lived next door, and most of all loved Ashley's voice.

"Something is always broken. Most things can be fixed...Eat some ice cream. That usually helps." (p. 175)

Monday, April 27, 2009

Chapbook Entry: Enchanted Hunters: the Power of Stories in Childhood, Maria Tatar

"In children's literature the grown-up wants a comforting image of childhood, or just a familiar name or story; the child wants a boat, a way out, an example of the life beyond. The parent wants to get back, the child wants to get out." - Adam Gopnick (p.4)

"The adult longs for a return to the pleasures of childhood through Wonderland, Neverland, or Narnia, while the child uses those same places as launching pads for moving beyond childish things. Nostalgia drives adults. Children light out for new territory and make those symbolic stories work for them, using them as road maps for navigating the real world. Contact zones are often less comfort zones than conflict zones where the wistfully melancholy adult meets the energetic child hankering to be grown up." (p.4)

Models Don't Eat Chocolate Cookies, Erin Dionne

This book reminded me of Enthusiasm- cute, happy, light, & relaxing to read. I also appreciated that this was a fat girl story that didn't make everything in life perfect when the main character loses some weight. I actually was really impressed by how thoughtfully several issues were handled in this book- the fat girl neuroses, the best friend betrayal, and the mom who doesn't understand why her daughter isn't thrilled to still be in the running to be America's next Miss Husky Peach. I am now a Celeste fan and might even be inspired enough to launch my own "Operation Skinny Celeste" sometime soon.

Dramarama, E. Lockhart

I have loved everything that E. Lockhart has written. And I am so excited for the next Ruby book to come out this summer. So I knew going into this book that it be a miracle if I didn't like it- after all I am someone with a stage name and cabaret act with several different thematic set lists. I'm currently headlining at the piano in my living room with 8 shows a week but still an act is an act.

So clearly I was going to relate to a girl who loved the razzle-dazzly jazz hands of the theater world but wasn't actually cut out for the life theatrical. Life upon the wicked stage and all that jazz... see I can't help myself with the show tunes!

"I sat right back on the couch and watched the end of Cabaret. Because it was a song, filling up the silence of my life." (p.10)

"It was like I was this supersonic, hydrophonic, gigantic person- only no one could see it. Like I had an undiscovered superpower. Like I was in a chrysalis, and when I popped out everyone would be shocked at my beauty and the breadth of my wings. Like there was a sound track to my life, and it was always blasting. But everyone in the world was deaf, except me." (p.11)

"I just performed. When I was done, I felt a bizarre mix of shame and exultation.
Had I been brilliant, or had I been a fool?
The faces of the interviewers were blank.
At least, I thought, I did something memorable.
I did something just now. Something Sadye.
I wasn't home watching musicals on television. I was here, letting my Lurking Bigness out." (p.29)

"Cats!" squealed Candie. "I love Cats!"
"Sweet pea," said Nanette. "Keep your voice down. You are not supposed to love Cats."
Even Demi and I, in the depths of Ohio, had figured out that it was embarassing to like Cats. But Candie loved it." (p.65-66)

And as a sidenote reading this made me want to watch Cabaret so much and sent me into flashbacks of that time period from ages 13-15 when I kept renting it over and over (on 2 VHS tapes) from Blockbuster. I love Liza!

Outlander, Diana Gabaldon

What can I say about this- Outlander is a book that I love to hate; a book that I end up despising myself for reading (which is not what I'm looking for in recreational reading).

I first read Outlander a few summers ago after seeing it mentioned on a Catholic blog (seriously!). I got it from the library and had no idea what I was getting into (skank-wise and lame-wise) and then bought & read the entire series compusively with that Twilight-esque need to know how things end. The problem is (besides the skank fest) is that the books get more and more ridiculous as the (thousands) of pages keep flying by. In fact, I think Diana Gabaldon is still writing this series as I type this.

I got so angry when the story took a massive turn for the stupid that I gave all my books to Goodwill. Then a year later Outlander popped back into my mind (I'd had a cooling off period I guess) so I rebought a copy. Then the same thing happened again. I was disgusted with myself (and with Diana Gabaldon) and threw the book away. Well guess what I bought over the weekend... my 3rd copy of Outlander.

At least now I have learned my lesson- yes the book is completely lame but I'm not throwing it away! I will not add to Diana Gabaldon's massive royalties. Truly the Outlander series is like Twilight for the middle aged only grosser. Except that deep down I like Twilight and it doesn't make me feel bad about myself (just silly and in touch with my inner 13 year old) which I can't say about Outlander. So for now I will just stow my copy and try to develop more high brow tastes.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

North of Beautiful, Justina Chen Headley

This is a YA title that I could see recommending to people who don't like (or think they don't like) YA novels. The writing is clear and beautiful and I liked how Justina didn't take the easy route when dealing with characters who struggle with body issues (in this case weight & birth marks). I have read so many books that deal with an unhappy heroine who magically becomes happy when she finally loses weight. Books like that reinforce what everyone who is unhappy with their body always believes- that as soon as they lose weight (or change whatever "flaw" they feel afflicted with) life will fall into place.

North of Beautiful was very believable and touching. Whenever I read books that feature dysfunctional families, especially those with jerk parents, I'm always reminded of how lucky I am to have such a normal family. More than normal my family is supportive, we get along, we actually like each other. The dad in this book was horrific but he was also a fully drawn character and not just a stock villain.

I also enjoyed how the story managed to include so many different themes without losing sight of the plot. It had me thinking about port wine birth marks, tourism in China (now I want to do more than just hold a baby panda), verbal abuse, romance, art, cartography, coffee beans, geocaching.... while still hoping that things would work out for Terra and her mom.

I definitely plan to read Justina's other books now.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Going Too Far, Jennifer Echols

Oh, I really, really do not like the cover of this book. So strong is my dislike that I almost bought it several times (I kept reading really great reviews) and put it back due to my embarrassment. So I finally ordered online so I wouldn't have to make eye contact with a bookstore clerk while making my purchase. Which is really sad because this was a great book!

I stayed up way too late on Wednesday night to read the entire thing in one sitting. In a really unexplainable way it reminded me of A Walk to Remember (which as an inveterate Mandy Moore supporter is a compliment). This was one of those books that I was really sad to see the end of. I would have kept reading to find out what happens to these characters even though the story had run its course. And I haven't moved on to a new book yet... all proving how wrong I was about this book when I judged it by its cover. I guess I should learn not be so judgmental but I also think this cover really doesn't fit the story- it just skeeves me out.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Just Listen, Sarah Dessen

This is my first Sarah Dessen title after hearing a lot about her (initially thanks to my fondness for Mandy Moore- How to Deal was based on a Sarah Dessen book). I really enjoyed this book, I liked reading it, I have nothing to make fun of, it didn't have moments of cringy-ness... but Sarah Dessen is no Laurie Halse Andersen. And that is my problem with Just Listen.

I just couldn't stop myself from thinking about Speak while I read this. Just Listen is different from Speak in many ways but both books share similar themes of isolation, the aftermath of trauma, mean girls, etc but they are handled very differently. It is hard for me to be objective about Just Listen because Speak was such a powerful reading experience for me. Just Listen was entertaining (not an adjective I would use for Speak) but I didn't have that disturbing feeling in my stomach/ the "this is all a little too familiar" feeling that I had when I read Speak. Just Listen is lighter.

Speak is a book I couldn't get out of my head and one that I plan to read again. It is one of my favorite books of my 2009 reading and I can't believe that I hadn't come across it at some point in the last 10 years. Picking up Speak is one of those happy library moments that I ocassionally stumble into. I saw it on a display table and picked it up having absolutely no idea what it was about. The library had stickers all over the back cover blurbs & I didn't google it before reading. So to find such a well crafted book but also one that was so personally meaningful to me in such a random way... I love the library!

I did enjoy Sarah Dessen's writing and plan to read some of her other titles. Just Listen was nowhere near as intense and real feeling as Speak but honestly I don't want to read books that are that upsetting and intense on a daily basis. There's a time and a place for both types of book.

I did really like the character Owen and enjoyed the subplot with his younger sister Mallory. And the traditional gender role-ist in me very much appreciated what Owen did at the end of the book. That felt real. A teenage boy with serious anger management issues would definitely respond that way to someone who hurt his girlfriend.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Nutcase, Charlotte Hughes

I really like this series.... I'm calling it a series even though there are only 2 books because I am going to be really mad if there are not many more installments of Kate's adventures. I am going to recommend them to Matilda who also shares my fondness for Janet Evanovich. They are very Stephanie Plumesque. Which, clearly in my opinion, is a compliment.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

What Looks Like Crazy, Charlotte Hughes

I love Janet Evanovich as of last summer when I finally picked up one of her Stephanie Plum novels. I kept having to go back to the bookstore (again & again) to buy the next book until I finally wised up and just bought all of them at one pass. That was enough to interest me in Charlotte Hughes' book with its gushing blurb from Janet Evanovich on the cover. This is perfect bathtub reading. It's funny, romantic, suspenseful, and completely not up my sister Norah's ally (do you hear that blog audience of one? Don't read this, you won't like it). But I really enjoyed it.

Graceling, Kristin Cashore

I always feel a little chagrined when I try to describe fantasy books. No matter how much I enjoy a particular book it always sounds silly when I try to sum it up, so I won't try. But I really liked this book, much more than I thought I would. It has such an interesting and clever premise. Katsa is a fiercely strong heroine but never in an offputtingly militant way. This is one of those stories that I truly had no clue where it was all going... it made me nervous, in a good way.

I think I am too much of a traditionalist and a romantic to be perfectly content with the ending but it is a testamant to Kristin Cashore's writing that I'm not angry about her ignoring the words of the songwriter, "evry happy plot ends with the marriage knot". I am looking forward to her next books.

"In the course of her dark and eventful tale, Cashore plays with the idea of awkwardness, how at a certain age gifts and talents are burdens, how they make it impossible to feel comfortable in the world. And in this she writes a fairly realistic portrait of teenage life into the baroque courts of her outlandish kingdoms."
-New York Times review of Graceling

"Graceling is a ... direct fantasy story, ...with its roots in abuse. Katsa is Graced; that is, she possesses magic, revealed by her odd-colored eyes. All such children are raised by their kings until they show whether their skills are useful. All her life Katsa has been told she is a savage killer, no better than a dog. The king, who is her uncle, sends her out to kill for him. The story is wrapped around the idea of a girl, trained only to cruelty and abuse, discovering her own humanity and ability to care for those who have befriended her and those for whom she comes to feel pity. She is active in her redemption; it is her choices which dictate the story, and her growing humanity that helps her to face threats to everything she comes to value."
-Tamora Pierce writing in School Library Journal's Battle of the Books

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Chapbook Entry: How Reading Changed my Life, Anna Quindlen

"How many a man has dated a new era in his life from the reading of a book. The book exists for us perchance which will explain our miracles and reveal new ones."
-Henry David Thoreau p.3

...there was always in me, even when I was very small, the sense that I ought to be somewhere else. And wander I did, although, in my everyday life, I had nowhere to go and no imaginable reason on earth why I should want to leave. The buses took to the interstate without me; the trains sped by. So I wandered the world through books. I went to Victorian England in the pages of Middlemarch and A Little Princess, and to Saint Petersburg before the fall of the tsar with Anna Karenina. I went to Tara, and Manderley, and Thornfield Hall, all those great houses, with their high ceilings and high drama, as I read Gone with the Wind, Rebecca, and Jane Eyre. p.3

"There is no Frigate like a Book-
To take us Lands away
Nor any coursers like a Page
Of prancing Poetry"
-Emily Dickinson p.4

"When I am reading a book, whether wise or silly, it seems to me to be alive and talking to me."
-Montaigne p.5

I felt that I... existed in a different dimension from everyone else. There was waking, and there was sleeping. And then there were books, a kind of parallel universe in which anything might happen and frequently did, a universe in which I might be a newcomer but was never really a stranger. My real, true world. My perfect island. p.6

"Reading makes immigrants of us all. It takes us away from home, but, most important, it finds homes for us everywhere."
-Hazel Rochman p.7

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Audrey, Wait!, Robin Benway

This is such a fun, happy book. It cheered me up and helped me forget (for about an hour) that I still feel sick (after spending the entire weekend asleep, in the bathtub, or stuck to the couch all the while feeling miserable) and that I have to lead my troops in song at the all school assembly first thing tomorrow morning. (Me: "Kids, do not wreck this for me!" as they go on stage).

Audrey is a very likable character and this book is begging to be made into a movie (I mean that in a flattering way, I'd go see this movie). Audrey dumps her longtime boyfriend who proceeds to write a hit song about her breaking his heart (hence the title) and then deal with sudden, unwanted fame.

"I'm having a life crisis. Pass me the Teddy Grahams."
He handed over the box, "All that's left are little paws and legs at the bottom of the box," he said. "It's a massacre." (p.239)

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Honey, Baby, Sweetheart, Deb Caletti

With my 2009 fixation on Young Adult books it seemed fitting to get this book after reading the first lines of this review: "If you like YA girl books, then holy crap, read this book." Simple enough since I do like YA girl books.

This book was a slow starter for me but I loved it once it got into the part with the Casserole Queens book club (senior citizen book club) rescuing a fellow book club member from a nursing home (I kept thinking of Sophia Petrillo's deadly fear of being returned to Shady Pines on Golden Girls) and taking her on a road trip down the Oregon coast to reunite with a lost love. It was not what I was expecting in a teenage girl falls for the bad rich boy story. It exceeded my expectations in many ways.

And the Casserole Queens had lots of lovely words of wisdom like this:

"There's nothing intrinsically wrong with longing," Anna Bee said. "Longing has led to lots of great things. Every great discovery and accomplishment has its base in longing. It's only when you look to someone else to fill that longing that there are problems." (p.137)

I have many more pages of this book dog eared with quotes and descriptions I liked. I'm excited to see that Deb Caletti has several other books for me to read next.

Ten Cents a Dance, Christine Fletcher

Rodgers & Hart's "Ten Cents a Dance" has been in my cabaret repertoire for years without me really thinking about the lyrics or connecting that it was about a taxi dancer. So when I saw this book I instantly wanted to read it.

The book is incredibly detailed and real feeling for historical fiction without being pedantic (no characters pause to explain slang or pop culture references of the times, thank goodness). It reminded me in slight ways of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn with the vivid descriptions of poverty in early 20th century big city slums. It's interesting to compare the fates of the two heroines- one saved by education and meeting a respectable boy to fall in love with and another slipping into a highly shady career by falling for the wrong kind of boy.

I also love the author's website; it has so much fascinating information on her research.
I definitely plan to read her other book, Tallulah Falls. And to reread A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.

Tantalize, Cynthia Leitich Smith

I am sick again. Thanks to my chosen profession I get to have my hands grabbed by sticky plump little ones, necklaces (& scarves, really anything with texture or shine to it that is within a small child's arm span is at risk) rubbed & pulled ("Oh Miss it's so pretty!"), and in the most disturbing moments my open mouth coughed or sneezed into. Which, fortunately, is a more rare event than the others.

All of which brings me to this point where I am spending my weekend feeling horrible. So I've been reading in the bathtub attempting to steam my way to breathing easily and I don't have much to say about any of the reading material that I've taken to the tub. This book was entertaining in a light, watching tv kind of way. That is all.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Sweethearts, Sara Zarr

I have mixed feelings about this book. Mostly negative ones but a muddle nonetheless. I read Story of a Girl and really did not like it. But I still kept reading it and Sara Zarr really does know how to write. So when I saw this review on the Super Fast Reader I was interested in the mystery & suspense elements of a long lost friend returning from the supposed dead. And I really liked the cover art (or maybe I just like cookies).

Another good thing about Sara Zarr's books is that they are readable in 1 hour or less. Sweethearts was my "magazine in the bathtub" reading for the evening. So it's hard to get that angry when I don't like a book that only took an hour of my life. But I think that's what bugs me the most; I like caring about characters and what happens to them and while I clearly wanted to know the outcome of Sweethearts I never really cared about the characters.

My other issue with this book are the completely random comments about Mormons. I get that Sweethearts takes place in Salt Lake and that Mormons are a majority in Utah but it felt very tacked on and heavy handed. Let's hammer it home that Jenna is the odd girl out. I'm sorry but I think Jenna would have been the odd girl out anywhere: she was the only child of a single parent who was neglecting her. Kids are going to notice the kid who gets free lunch, wears dirty clothes, and smells weird. It's sad but it's true and I don't think it has anything to do with being Mormon or not. It bugged me enough to google around a bit and I found this blog I agree with:

There was only one thing that I think did not work for Sweethearts and that was the continual mention of Mormons simply because it was set in Salt Lake City. I totally get and understand that Sara Zarr was trying to convey the isolation that Jennifer felt, that she didn’t belong. But none of the characters nor her family were Mormons. I never felt that her awkwardness or lack of friends came from the fact that she wasn’t Mormon. I think it either needed to be reworked a bit to solidify that point or else not mentioned at all. (I did laugh out loud about a couple of the high school students dressing up like Mormon pioneers. Honestly, I don’t think any high school kid, Mormon or not, would want to be caught dead in that costume.)

I also liked this conversation in the comments on the same blog entry

  1. I have to disagree with you about the Mormon thing. I lived near Hill AFB when I was the age Jennifer was and being a non-Mormon really felt like that to me.

  2. Lenore - I’m not saying that her character had no right to feel isolated because she was LDS but rather that Sara Zarr didn’t pull it off very well in the writing. They statements seemed randomly inserted rather than concrete examples to back up the characters feeling. It’s unfortunate you felt that way as a teenager yourself. I grew up in the opposite situation (LDS in a non-LDS community) and had the same feelings of isolation as well.

So I probably will read whatever Sara Zarr writes next because her books have pretty covers and get talked about everywhere and in the end it's just not that much of a time or mental investment to read them. And maybe I'll like the next one because I really do see the ability in her writing- I just don't like the characters and plots she has used so far.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Lament: The Faerie Queen's Deception, Maggie Stiefvater

After being so let down by the fairies with an e in Wondrous Strange I was hesitant to start reading this one with a big e right on the cover. But it came in the same giant box as Wondrous Strange and I already paid for it so I was going to read it or be mad at myself.

I loved this book! It was addictive and magical without being dorky or feeling watered down for 11 year olds (but it didn't freak me out either, it was perfect). I cared about these characters and stayed up way too late being scared for them. I eventually had to go to bed (today was the first day back at school after spring break, sigh) but I kept thinking about this story and how it was going to end during my long day with the first grade babies.

It was exactly the kind of escapist book I want to read right now. Entertaining but not insulting and still something new to think about. I finished it as soon as I got home from school and though the ending did make me sad it was fitting for the story.

I am really excited for the sequel which comes out in October but bummed out that there is no mention of Luke in the blurb for it. I don't want to believe that he is really gone. And I am planning on reading the author's other book that comes out later this year. Now I just have to wait!

Maggie Stiefvater's Live Journal

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Wondrous Strange, Lesley Livingston

I really wanted to love this book. I had high hopes for another Young Adult fairy story after reading Wicked Lovely (which was fabulous) and then the fact that the library didn't have this book so I paid for a hardback copy to read made me even more invested in Wondrous Strange being worth my money.

I think I need to be more cautious with these modern fairy books. I don't have a long history of enjoying supernatural stories. In fact I'm usually weirded out by them like Roger Sutton ("Magic with a k or fairy with an e and I'm outta there."). This one has lots of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" woven into the plot which sounded good but in the end the fairies with an e turned out to be as silly as most people would imagine.

If I hadn't paid money for this book I would have stopped reading. I forced myself to finish but it was a chore. The characters never seemed real, the writing was just ho-hum, and the whole thing just felt like it was trying so hard to be the next squeaky clean sensation with teen girls. Trying way too hard. Say what you will about Stephenie Meyer's writing skills but she had an award winning dream. You just can't fake that.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Looking for Alaska, John Green

Since I've gotten into the world of Young Adult literature this year I have heard about this book everywhere. It has won tons of awards and been on all the lists so I wanted to read it. It is a really well written book. The characters are interesting and (mostly) seem real. The plot is intriguing. All good things but I just didn't like this book that much. Several reviews compare Looking for Alaska to A Separate Piece which I read in high school and also really didn't like. I think A Separate Piece is another well written book and I completely understand why other people enjoy it- I just don't feel that way. I'm still planning to read another John Green book but my copy of Looking for Alaska is on its way to the Paperback Swap.

Lady into Fox, David Garnett

I was happy to find another one of Stuck in a Book's recommendations through the interlibrary loan. This was a fascinating, brief fantasy about a man whose wife suddenly transforms into a fox. Mr. Tebrick still loves his wife and is almost driven mad as she becomes more and more savage in her behavior.

"We know her husband was always trying to bring her back to be a woman, or at any rate to get her to act like one, may she not have been hoping to get him to be like a beast himself or act like one?" (p.39)

Eventually Mrs. Tebrick can no longer abide wearing clothing, eating cooked meat, playing piquet, and sleeping in the same bed as her husband. She wants to be free and because of his love for her Mr. Tebrick lets her go.

"You would not do this if you were not in anguish, poor beast, you want your freedom. I cannot keep you, I cannot hold you to vows made when you were a woman. Why, you have forgotten who I am."
The tears then began running down his cheeks, he sobbed, and said to her:
"Go-I shall not keep you. Poor beast, poor beast, I love you, I love you. Go if you want to. But if you remember me come back. I shall never keep you against your will. Go-go. But kiss me now." (p.56)

Mrs. Tebrick does run wild but eventually returns with 5 fox cubs. Mr. Tebrick accepts these cubs, even baptising them and calling himself their godfather. He visits them everyday and plays with them in the woods but you just know that this tenuous arrangement can't last long.

"this all proceeded one may say from a passion, and a true conjugal fidelity, that it would be hard to find matched in this world. And though we may think him a fool, almost a madman, we must, when we look closer, find much to respect in his extraordinary devotion." (p.63)

Friday, April 3, 2009

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Sherman Alexie

"When my horoscope said I was going to meet someone tall, dark, and handsome... who knew he'd be 14! Thankfully for me Arnold Spirit is one of the funniest, most endearing characters I've met in a very long time. This book is so original, I laughed consistently from beginning to end."
-Amy Sedaris
This is a great book made all the more fascinating to me when I read that it is semi-autobiographical. The story of Arnold who leaves the reservation high school when he realizes that he is studying from the same outdated text book used by his mother 30 years earlier to study at the wealthy, white high school 22 miles away is hilarious and sad all at the same time. I love the description that Arnold is the only Indian at the high school other than the mascot. I didn't so much enjoy the more earthy teenage boy thoughts that are a part of the story but they are a very small part.

"You can do it," Coach said....
Do you understand how amazing it is to hear that from an adult? Do you know how amazing it is to hear that from anybody? It's one of the simplest sentences in the world, just four words, but they're the four hugest words in the world when they're put together." (p.189)

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Perfect Chemistry, Simone Elkeles

This book was exactly like reading a Lifetime television event instead of watching one. I feel slightly less guilty about reading it because (hopefully) my brain had to work a little harder than it would have to just watch it. Basically the story is about some star-crossed lovers in the shape of a Latino gang member and a white cheerleader who are forced to become lab partners and in a shocking plot twist go from hating each other to loving each other. The end.

Miss Hargreaves, Frank Baker

I have been searching for a copy of Miss Hargreaves to read ever since I came across this Stuck in a Book entry extolling its wonders. Finally I found a copy through the inter-library loan. Hooray!

I knew I had to read this story when I read descriptions of Norman's habit of spontaneously lying to strangers. I can honestly say I have let go of this habit at this point but it is one I shared with Norman for a long time. There is just something so irresistable in telling people who you will never see again (or maybe just sit by for one semester in French class) that you recently left a convent before professing your final vows (because in a situation similar to Maria von Trapp your true calling was in fact a life governing small children).

If I hadn't stopped lying on the spur of the moment reading Miss Hargreaves would have scared me straight. Norman's initially innocent story of an old lady with a pet cockatoo, hip bath, harp, & volume of her own published poetry becomes increasingly frighteningly when Miss Hargreaves appears in the flesh.

"There she was, prowling up and down, tapping the pavement tiles critically with her stick. You immediately felt they were second-rate tiles; you would have said that she had always been used to walking on the best Roman tiles." (p.124)

"Where should I be- where should I be?- without the life you put into me." (p.134)

"Hats, remarked Miss Hargreaves, "were getting so abysmally dull. I felt a gesture had to be made to the world." (p.148)

"They were wretched days for me. When you make something, make it well as I had, endow it with a title, and send it out into the best society, do you sleep easily in your bed when it spurns you and treats you like dust? Do you? If you do, you're a stronger man than I am." (p.206)

"Creative thought creates," I muttered over and over again to myself. I went to sleep with those words on my mind. At three o'clock I woke in a sweat from a nightmare. I won't tell you the nightmare because other people's dreams are always boring and, if it terrified me, I can't expect it to terrify anyone else. The point is, when I woke out of that 'mare, I found myself muttering three words over and over again. And those words were "Destructive thought destroys." (p.225)

"I had from the depths of my misguided compassion for her, silently willed strength into her mysterious being." (p.243)


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