Wednesday, September 24, 2008

"That Was Then, This Is Now" by S. E. Hinton

This is one of those books I probably should have read in high school, but for some unknown reason, it was never assigned. I hate to say it, being an English major and all, but I've never read any of the author's works. I know - how in the world did that happen? Not sure, but I'm working on rectifying the situation, starting with this novel.

The book is set in the 1960s and focuses on two childhood friends, Bryon and Mark. Even though they aren't related by blood, they're as close as brothers, especially since Mark has been living with Bryon and his mom since his own parents died. (This gives a really good idea of the time setting, as I cannot imagine such a thing happening today; Social Services would get involved and Mark would probably end up in foster care or worse). The two teens have always been the best of friends and do everything together, including getting into trouble. But there's a definite change in the air, starting with Bryon's decision to date Cathy, a "good girl". Bryon gets himself a job and tries to straighten out his act, mostly because he wants to be with Cathy and treat her right. Mark and Cathy, of course, do not like each other; there's a lot of jealousy over who's spending time with Bryon.

Things get even more strained when Mark starts bringing home quite a bit of money to help out with the bills. Bryon is fairly sure that Mark doesn't have a job, so he's worried about where exactly this money is coming from. There are fights, injuries, and other such teen events, and it becomes apparent that Mark and Bryon are going their separate ways as they mature. Eventually, Bryon has to make a very important decision regarding Mark and the source of his new "income" - one that may cost him his friend forever.

This was a good book, one I thought was well-done and still relevant even in today's world. For example, Mark is very much a "in-the-moment" kid, even trying to explain to Bryon why he shouldn't be worried about the future. "You can't walk through your whole life saying If. You can't keep trying to figure out why things happen, man. That's what old people do. You gotta just take things as they come, and quit trying to reason them out." That sort of attitude is part of what leads to Mark's downfall - he's not worried about his future at all, just living for the moment, the next thrill, etc. It's an attitude that we still see today, and it's still just as worrisome for us adults. I'm not saying kids shouldn't be kids, but they've got to learn that there are consequences for their actions. You can't just slide through life, especially as you get older. Of course, kids today also have a much tougher time than the kids of the 1960s, so maybe they've already learned this lesson.

"My Trip Down the Pink Carpet" by Leslie Jordan

I have seen Mr. Jordan in several shows and movies over the year, and I always thought he was just the cutest little guy ever. Turns out, he's had a rough life, both mentally and physically. I cannot even imagine growing up as a Baptist while being gay! As he puts it, he is the gayest man he knows; when he was born, he says he just slid on out of his mama and right into her pumps. Yes, this is the sort of humor you will find in his small yet touching biography.

Mostly the book is about his days as an actor in Hollywood. He's had several "man crushes" on people such as Matt Lauer, Mark Harmon and Luke Perry. He's also had his share of bad relationships, drug abuse, and dark times. After finally admitting he was an alcoholic, Mr. Jordan has enjoyed several years of sobriety. He's also enjoyed recurring roles on shows such as Will & Grace, where he feuded with his nemesis, Karen. (never got to see that, should look for the repeats!)

I think one of the most touching parts of the book is after he's started to experience friends dying of AIDS. One such friend is actually a childhood friend of his from his hometown; they grew up in the same church and used to dress up in the mamas' clothes, then belt out the tunes. When he runs into this friend again, they commiserate quite a bit, and the friend takes a sharp downhill turn quickly. While Mr. Jordan is there with him, the friend has this revelation:
"Leslie, it's important that you listen, because I heard Him. I heard the voice of God. And it is so simple. See, first of all... the soul has no gender. So, when it is all said and done, it is not about whom one loved that is important. What is important is the quality of that love. We are on this earth for one reason and one reason only. And that is to give quality love on a daily basis."

I couldn't agree more.

"The Last Lecture" by Randy Pausch

"The brick walls are there for a reason."

And if you were Randy Pausch, you faced several brick walls in your lifetime, most of which you were able to knock down or find a way around. All but the biggest, strongest wall he faced - pancreatic cancer. He left behind three young children and a loving wife. But more than that, he inspired a lot of people when he his "last lecture" hit YouTube, then newscasts around the world.

Honestly, there's not much in this book that you probably haven't read somewhere else. That's not a bad thing, as I think we all need to be reminded from time to time of life's little lessons, things like "be honest", "have fun", and "you never know how much time you'll get". If there was one lesson that stood out overall, I suppose it's the one I've heard several times in several different ways - live your life. LIVE it, not just put up with it, or walk through it with blinders, or hope for a different one all the time.

This book is short and a good read. It was hard to get through parts of it, knowing that the author lost his battle earlier this summer. It was very difficult to read about how he felt about dying; it wasn't so much his anger at "why me?" but his worry about his kids. And it was obvious that he loved his wife and wanted to try to do whatever he could to help her with his impending death. It's one of those books that makes you want to go out and try to be a better person, even if it's just for a few hours. I think the world would be a better place if we all tried to be better people, but I'm also a realist. Change is a very slow process, better suited to building things like the Grand Canyon.

Friday, September 12, 2008

"The Wild Road" by Marjorie M. Liu

The eighth book in the Dirk & Steele series may just be one of Liu's best! Even better is that there aren't too many people that wouldn't be able to just jump in with this one. Yes, there are characters from previous D&S entries, but there's enough exposition that one wouldn't have to go back and read all the books to catch up (but trust me, you'll want to!)

A woman awakes in a hotel room when the fire alarm sounds. She realizes there are dead bodies on the floor, blood everywhere, and she has a gun. She has no memory of who the men are, how she got there - or if she killed them. Her only clue is a scrap of paper that says RUN. She manages to escape the hotel and finds herself in on a dark street, trying to break into a car, when the car's owner appears and stops here. He doesn't have her arrested, nor does he take her to a hospital, something she fears although she doesn't know why. She just knows she needs to get as far away as possible. And why can't she remember anything? It's all completely blank...

The car's owner is none other than Lannes Hannelore, one of the gargoyle brothers first introduced in the novella "A Dream of Stone and Shadow". In that story, an evil witch had imprisoned the brothers, all but Charlie, who's heart she tore out each day (it grew back, so she was able to do this for a long, long, time). Lannes is definitely what one would call a tortured soul, both literally and metaphysically. He's been spending most of his time on the island that his family owns, safe from all those who might hurt him. He's come to the mainland to visit his friend Frederick and is about to head home when he spots the woman trying to break into his car. He can sense that she needs help, but he's afraid to offer it. Once burned, twice shy and all that.

For her part, the woman is just as tortured. She has no memory of her life, but she can spout out little facts about things here and there. When Lannes reads her mind (through the ability of touch, but not in a Vulcan-mind-meld kind of way), he's able to determine that her memories are truly gone; they've been excised from her brain. As events unfold, the possibility presents itself that the woman herself might have cut out the memories. What is she running from? And what kind of life will she have if she can't remember who she was?

The Dirk & Steele series is one of my favorites, and this particular book was one of the better offerings. As these are usually a mix of romance and action, I'm always waiting to see when the leads will "hook up" - some authors have the action, so to speak, happen at the oddest moment! "Wild Road" was a bit different; I almost thought there wasn't going to be any sex this time. Sure, lots of romantic tension and possibilities, but the act itself? It was looking doubtful. I wasn't disappointed, though, because Liu did have a wonderful, very romantic scene at almost the end of the book. And surprise, surprise, it made total sense where it did, being one of the first moments the characters are finally at a safe place and have let down their guard. Very nice touch.

The plot twists are interesting, and the action is exciting. The only thing that detracts from this book is that only two other D&S characters make appearances. I've come to really like the whole team and was at least hoping to hear some of Roland's snarky banter. Oh well. I'm sure Liu will include them next time.

"365 Nights: A Memoir of Intimacy" by Charla Muller

Because I work in a library/book-related field, I get to see all kinds of books. Some are titles that I've been wanting to read and others are like this title, something that catches my eye and looks interesting enough that I eventually just check it out. I'm usually not too disappointed by books in this second category, and this one was no different.

Charla and her husband are a typical married couple with two kids. Granted, the kids came VERY early in the marriage, but things are pretty good between them. Well, except for the fact that they don't have sex very often, and that's mostly due to the author's lack of desire for said activity after chasing two small children around all day, not to mention the other duties of running a household. Despite the fact that she's not what one would call a "saucy wench", when her hubby turns 40, she offers him the most unique, personal gift she can imagine (and anyone else could, either, I dare say) - sex every night for his 40th year.

Her girlfriends thought she was insane. She thought she might be, too. But what was even stranger was that her husband didn't immediately jump at "The Gift". Was her marriage really in trouble after all?

In a nutshell, no. Her hubby was a really smart guy who wanted The Gift very much, but knew his wife well enough to be afraid that she wouldn't be able to, uh, deliver on said gift. Now, if you're looking for a how-to book full of techniques on making love for 365 nights straight, look elsewhere (pick up a copy of the Kama Sutra or The Joy of Sex). If, however, you're looking for a fairly entertaining read about a regular woman who's trying to make her hubby happy and get her life in order at the same time, this is a pretty good place to start. The book truly is more memoir than anything else, and I have to admit, I rather liked Charla. I'm not sure we'd be the best of friends or anything, but the person that comes across on the page was one I wouldn't mind hanging out with from time to time. And it does sound like she and her family have a good life, except in this one area.

I could appreciate that she learned a few things along the way, namely that even though she wasn't turning down her hubby all those previous encounters, that was how he saw it. As she stated, it's hard to make the distinction between turning down the act of sex and turning down the person. And trust me, the person who's offering IS hurt when turned down, even if he/she is trying to rationalize in his/her mind the exact same thing. Rejection hurts even when you're married, folks. I also admired her for saying that, at least for her, she could not have it all; she just was not one of those women who could be a super-mommy, working a high-demand job and raising her kids all at the same time. She has a very good "aha!" moment involving her SUV and a set of lost keys... one I thought was funny but very poignant as well.

If this doesn't sound like you're kind of book, no problem. I can pretty much sum up the basic theme - find a way to stay intimate with your spouse, especially if you have children. Look, this isn't anything new; remember how much Dr. Phil has harped that you should be a couple first and parents second? Well, much as I hate to admit it, he's right. Children need good role models, so why not model a loving, thoughtful, caring relationship for them? If you're being intimate (and this isn't only about sex - I would include hand-holding, kissing, hugging, etc, all the little things that indicate that you're connected), your kids will see that relationship and get to know what one looks like. And as the author pointed out, you're probably a nicer person when you're being intimate with your spouse; there are a lot of things that you realize aren't worth arguing over. Who cares how the towels are folded? If the man did the laundry, actually washed/dried/folded/put away everything, LET HIM. So you have different styles - neither is wrong, just different. After all, they say opposites attract!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

"Acheron" by Sherrilyn Kenyon

After slogging through a couple of not-so-great offerings by Kenyon in her continuing Dark-Hunter, Dream-Hunter, etc series, I was excited to see Ash's story. At last! She'd been promising for a long time to give us the low-down on our favorite uber-tall DH leader, and here it was. I ordered myself a copy through work and anxiously awaited its arrival.

Then it got here. My first reaction wasn't a good one - this thing is HUGE! I was a bit shocked, to say the least, seeing as how most of Kenyon's latest works had seemed to be getting shorter and shorter. This thing is over 700 pages long! Sigh. Not to mention the last 700+ page book to hit my hands was the debacle that was "Breaking Dawn" by Stephenie Meyer. Oh dear, I thought, this is not looking good.

I went ahead and started reading, hoping that this would turn out to be at least OK. It was more than "OK"; this is probably the first one of her books in a long time that I found myself not wanting to put down. The story is told in two parts, the first being Ash's human life, some 11,000 years ago. The second part is, of course, Ash as he is now, all big, bad, and still adorably hot. The author warns readers in an "author's note" at the very beginning of the book that the first part might be hard to read; Ash was an abused child. And I do mean abused in every sense of the word. Part one is a little over 400 pages long, and it was hard to read. Every little detail is revealed - Ash's parents' reaction to him and his twin brother, his very lonely childhood, his sister (maybe the only one who loves him), his abuse at the hands of his uncle, etc. It's not a pretty picture, and it was very, very tempting to skip ahead. Except that skipping this section would also mean that you don't get to see his initial interactions with Artemis, which I found very interesting. Believe it or not, at one point, I truly believe that Artie did love Ash. Being a goddess, of course, means she's got a reputation to protect, which leads to a lot of their later feuds and arguments. You find out why Ash spends time with Artemis even when he doesn't want to. You learn about Simi's origins, too. All in all, the first part IS important to read because it gives you very much needed background info on a lot of people, not just Ash.

The second half of the book is where you get to meet Soteria "Tory" Kafieri, Ash's true love. She's related to another character from another book, so she seemed very, very familiar when introduced. She is, of course, a scientist "babe" who's searching for the lost city of Atlantis, basically carrying on family tradition (sound familiar?). And she's found definitive proof, which is something that Acheron cannot let out into the world. It would mean the release of his mother, which means the destruction of the world, not to mention it would expose Ash's history to all who know him. It's the typical sort of love story from Kenyon, so I wasn't as impressed by this half of the book. It's good, but not "oh my god" good, if you know what I mean. Even though I did like this part of the book, the last few chapters could have been scripted by Hallmark; cue the many, many revelations for the main characters, the power of true love, the bonds of friendship, etc. Almost over the top, but luckily, not.

Overall, yes, it was worth the wait. And yes, it was even worth the length of the book!

"Counting on Grace" by Elizabeth Winthrop

Here I am at the ripe old age of 40 and I had "homework" last weekend, namely, reading this book. Our library has partnered with some other organizations to put on a Community Reading event; the goal is to get everyone in our county to read this book, Counting on Grace. It was chosen because it's about mill life and it's written for a juvenile level, a good thing considering that we do have a lot of people around this area that don't read all that well. As a branch supervisor, I was, shall we say, strongly encouraged to read this before the event. Sigh. Homework.

Except I should have remembered that I usually ended up liking what was assigned to me in school. LOL! This turned out to be a very well written, and interesting, little book. 12 year old Grace is the heroine of the story. She lives in Vermont and pretty much her whole family works in the textile mill in town; her father is recovering from an injury and her grandfather is too feeble in the mind to work there. Her mother and older sister are the breadwinners in the family, if you can call them that - they owe a good bit of money to the mill-owned store in town. Grace is a student at the mill-run school when the book opens. She and her friend Arthur are the teacher's best students; they both read and write fairly well, and they're both coming along in math. But things turn sour in a hurry - Arthur must go work at the mill due to his father's death. If you live in the mill village, all healthy, able-bodied family members must work at the mill, or you have to move out of the housing that's made available to you. Not entirely fair, but that's how it was back in those days. Grace is sent to the mill, too, greatly saddening her teacher.

Enter the teacher's plan to get her star pupils back into the classroom. Even though her salary is paid by the mill, Miss Lesley knows that the mill is in violation of the newly enacted Child Labor Law. Grace and Arthur shouldn't be in the mill - they're too young. She enlists Arthur's help to write a letter to Lewis Hine, a photographer, in the hopes that something can be done for her students. While they're waiting for a response, Arthur and Grace go to "classes" on Sunday after church. In fact, Grace learns to do math well enough that she starts checking the figures for her family's purchases at the mill store; seems it also wasn't uncommon for the store manager to cheat the customers. Grace gets good enough at this that several of the townspeople ask her to check their bills, too. Needless to say, this doesn't make life any easier for Grace or her family.

When Lewis Hine arrives, he brings along a camera and says he's just taking pictures of the looms and such. He asks Grace to stand in front of a machine so that there will be a sense of size; the machines are very large and Grace is small, being a young girl. When Grace realizes who Mr. Hine is and why he's really there, she gathers the other children for more photos. Will Grace be able to go back to school? Will Arthur be a famous author? Will Miss Lesley be successful in getting the mill to follow the Child Labor Laws?

Not having grown up in North Carolina, I'm not overly familiar with "mill life". I've heard people talk about it, of course, and I know a little bit just because I live here. But I don't have parents, grandparents, or great-grandparents who worked in the textile industry. I'm pretty sure there hasn't been anyone in my family who had to leave school who didn't want to leave (I'm not sure any of us have left - we're kinda geeky that way!) So Grace's story was interesting to me, not only the descriptions of the inner workings of the mill itself, but the whole "mill village" set-up. I can't imagine being that dependent on my employer; they got EVERYTHING from them, wages, housing, store credit, etc. But it's a double-edged sword, as is evidenced by a family being told that they have to leave immediately when one member can't work in the mill anymore. How scary! I'm glad I read this book, and I'm even more glad that I can recommend it to the people in our Community Reads project. See, it pays to do your homework!

Friday, September 5, 2008

"Sofie Metrolpolis" by Tori Carrington

OK, this is not something I would've probably picked up to read. I've seen it before and thought it looked, well, just OK - nothing about it screamed "read me! read me!" Then I was asked to be friends with Tori Carrington on MySpace - Tori actually being the pen name of husband and wife duo Lori and Tony Karayianni. They had included a note with their friend request saying it was obvious I loved to read and how they were impressed by my Shelfari section on my page, etc. Awww............

I accepted their request, then checked our system and there's the book! There are several of their Sofie books in our system. WOW! So I checked out the first one, aptly named for the lead character, and commenced to reading.

Sofie is of Greek-American heritage with a large, loving, if somewhat nosy family. After literally catching her hubby-to-be with his pants down on the day of her wedding (with her best friend maid-of-honor, no less!), Sofie decided to turn her life in a new direction. She did move into the apartment building that her parents had bought as a wedding gift, but she stopped working at her family's restaurant and began taking steps to make it in Astoria as a private investigator. She's currently working at Uncle Spyro's agency, not really doing any big cases yet, mostly finding lost pets and cheating spouses. All in a day's work for Sofie. Except her newest cheating-spouse case may not be what it seems.

There's also Jake, the very handsome Aussie guy who keeps showing up. He's rescued Sofie a time or two, but she knows pretty much nothing about him. He might or might not be a bounty hunter. He might be a government agent. Or, he might just be the thing Sofie needs to get her nasty ex-hubby-to-be out of her life!

OK. Let's just get this out of the way up front - yes, there are a lot of similarities to Sofie and one Stephanie Plum, and I wouldn't be a very good reviewer if I didn't mention that little fact. Indeed, there are reviews out there saying this is basically Plum-Lite (others were very mean and called it a Greek ripoff) and that you might want to read them while waiting for the next Evanovich offering. Well, I don't agree. Yes, the basics are similar - there's no getting around it. But there are enough differences, key differences in my opinion, that I think there's plenty of room for both series in the world of mystery fiction.

While both have had their share of heartache at the hands of scumbag cheaters, Steph has moved on to her childhood love, Joe (and occasionally her own mystery man, Ranger). Sofie hasn't moved on to anyone as of yet, even if she is fantasizing about Jake. I actually liked that she's not dating anyone or involved with anyone in this first book; it gave me a chance to get to know her. Both women work in a sort of law-enforcement-type deal, but let's remember that Stephanie only took the bounty hunter gig after she was fired from several other jobs. Sofie, on the other hand, chose her fate and went to work as a PI. And she's not horrible at it, she just hasn't had that much experience yet. I don't see Sof as a bumbling PI for the whole series (and I hope I'm not wrong!) but as a woman who's serious about her profession and wants to make a go of it. She's studying to get her PI license, for Pete's sake!

Here's another big difference between these series - I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this to my patrons, mostly because there's very little if any foul language in it. Don't get me wrong; I'm not a prude and I think the Plum books are hysterical. But let's face facts - Lula's language would shock and offend a lot of my library people, especially some of the older ones and/or the more proper ones (i.e. - the ones that prefer the Inspirational Fiction genre). I have to really stop and think before putting a Plum book in a reader's hands, and often I even warn them about the expletives and racy scenes (not everyone wants to read about Steph's panties, after all). But the Sofie books? Piece of cake! This was a good, clean read with a well-thought-out plot, good character development, etc.

I will definitely be checking out the next book in the Sofie series. I'm pretty sure I'm right about Sofie's growth as a character, so now I need to confirm my suspicions! Oh, and maybe Jake will make a return appearance...

"A Day No Pigs Would Die" by Robert Newton Peck

This is the story of Robert Peck, a young Shaker boy growing up in Learning, Vermont. He's just a boy when the story opens but he's soon to be man, both through his own actions and by circumstances beyond his control.

When the book opens, young Robert spies his neighbor's cow, Apron, trying to birth her calf. Robert tries to lend a hand when it becomes clear that the calf is stuck; there's some hilarity in him trying to "rope" the end that's already out with his pants and then having to run after Apron in his underpants when she takes off across a field. Eventually, the calf does fully arrive in the world, only to leave his mother panting and gasping for breath in an unnatural way. Robert can see something lodged in the cow's throat and, knowing that a cow never bites, he reaches in to try to remove the object. What he doesn't know is that the object is actually a goiter and that his belief about cows biting is no more than an old wives tale. Apron tears up his arm and he passes out...

When he regain consciousness, Robert learns that he helped Apron birth not one but two calves, twins that the neighbor names Bib and Bob. He also learns that he did indeed remove the object, the goiter, from Apron's throat and that she's just fine now. To thank him for his help, the neighbor gives Robert a beautiful piglet which the boy names Pinky. It will be his responsibility to care for and tend to Pinky and breed her down the road, thus ensuring a good living for him and his family. His father slaughters pigs for another neighbor, and recognizes that it would be good for them to have their own pigs.

But this is a coming-0f-age story, so you know that all will not end on a happy note. Pinky turns out to be infertile and Robert must help his father kill her and dress her out; once grown she's too costly to keep as a pet. Also, Robert's father, Haven Peck, is not well and tells his son that he'll soon be taking over as man of the house, a very heavy weight for a boy of thirteen.

It's a well-written story and probably somewhat autobiographical, as the author himself grew up in the Shaker community in the same part of the country. It's easy to see the yearnings of young Robert for a more "worldly" lifestyle as a universal truth, one that is all too obvious today. It was nice to read about people who knew that hard work never hurt anyone and that you should work for what you earn. I would recommend this to just about all ages.

"Dead Over Heels" by MaryJanice Davidson

This is a collection of three novellas (OK, really almost short stories, but marketing, people, marketing!) by Davidson. They fill in some time/blanks between books in her various series. We are treated to scenes from Queen Betsy's honeymoon, one of Fred the Mermaid's people rescuing a complete idiot, and the wonderful world of dating werewolves.

I enjoyed getting to read about Betsy and Sinclair's honeymoon, although the "killer" they were looking for was obvious from the start. Not the who so much as the what. If you've ever read any Anne Rice, you'll spot it in the intro. Anyway, it's not a bad story, but I don't feel like I really missed anything by reading it after Undead and Unworthy, the latest book in the Betsy series.

Reading about the world of Cain and her deadline to find a mate was, well, OK. I mean, really, just because you make a "pact" with your friends when you're all, like, 7 year-olds, doesn't mean you have to keep your word! Good grief. I found that a bit unrealistic. And of course you know who she's going to end up with at the end - it's clear as day, to us if not to her. Not a bad story, but not great.

I think the one I liked best was "Survivors" because it rang truest. Con Conlinson is a "survivorman" type TV host, a man's man who will show you how to survive the wilderness and whatever it can throw at you. Except that he's been separated from his crew by a bad storm, and the crew has all the food, all the water, and everything else he might need - and they're nowhere to be found. He's in the middle of the ocean in a little bitty boat and certain to die, a rather ironic end which is not lost on him. Enter Reanesta, a mermaid, who will help him....survive. Yes, her name sounds silly, and Davidson wisely plays up on it by having Con say so. But Ree (as Con starts calling her) is strangely drawn to this puny biped and wants to help him, even if it means that she might lose him to the land later on. It's a cute story and both characters learn a little bit about themselves in the end.

Overall, a solid C offering from Davidson.

"Breaking Dawn" by Stephenie Meyer

I wanted to love this book, I really did. I DID love the first three and found them early on, recommending them to the YA crowd and adults alike. I scanned some of the reviews on Amazon and sincerely hoped that the haters were just unhappy people who were wrong. Sadly, I have to agree with them. I didn't actually finish the book - got to page 179, closed it, and said "I quit". For me, this series will be a trilogy and nothing more, with the eternal question of which one did she choose.

The first 100 pages or so weren't bad at all, very much like the previous books. I was wondering why everyone was so upset! Then I got to the wedding, and it seemed like things were shifting a bit, but not running off the rails or anything. Then I got to the island and the honeymoon and was just completely flummoxed. WTF??? I see now why people were talking about Sci-Fi writing and such. As the teens would text, "OMG!"

I struggled on, knowing that Jacob took over the narrative in the next section. I had really grown to like Jake in the third book, enough so that I wanted Bella to end up with him. But even from his point of view, the writing was just - atrocious. As if Meyer herself hadn't been writing at all. I got to the scene with Jake and Edward outside talking about Bella's condition and just closed the book.

I don't know why Meyer went in the direction she went. I know basically what happens in the book from the posts/reviews on Amazon and other locations, but will refrain from commenting, as I feel you really have to read something to review it properly. I can only tell you that from an adult perspective, I was appalled. I work in a library and am all about free speech and speaking out on banning books, etc, but for an author to write about a girl, a MODERN girl, getting married and suddenly finding herself with a rapidly advancing supernatural pregnancy, one that will most likely kill her to bring to term, and knowing that this book is aimed at the YA market, at teen girls? I just do not understand that. I wanted to try to give Meyer a break, thinking that maybe she was trying to write something that girls might be able to relate to, those that have found themselves as teen mothers, but come on - that is NOT the market she's writing for and I think we all know that. It just came off as a little too romantic and glamorous for my taste. If this book was an adult fiction offering, I think I'd be OK with it. Just my opinion.

As I said, I stopped around page 179. I won't ever finish this book, and I am so sorry I read as much as I did. I think Meyer could've put the first 100 pages or so at the end of Eclipse, kept it as the Twilight Trilogy, and everyone would've been fairly happy. Sure, you wouldn't have known if Bella became a vampire or not, but then YOU could write your own happy ending!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

"Belle Weather: Mostly Sunny with a Scattered Chance of Hissy Fits" by Celia Rivenbark

I've read all of Rivenbark's books, and I have to say, this one is not my favorite. It's not bad and I did enjoy it, but not nearly as much as some of her previous works. Perhaps I've grown tired of the Southern take on things, or maybe the author has run out of new ways to put the Southern view, I'm not sure.

Rivenbark is at her best when she's admitting to her faults as a mother, especially when compared to the "super mommies" she finds herself dealing with at school, the playground, etc. I have to admit, I enjoy these essays the most because I probably would be much like Rivenbark; I'm not about to whip up 2 or 3 dozen homemade, hand-decorated cupcakes for little Johnny to take to school TOMORROW - I'd be over at the Piggly Wiggly, the Food Lion, the whatever buying up as many as they'd sell me.

It did surprise me a bit that she had some anti-Republican stuff in this book, only because I don't really look at her as any sort of political commentator. And she's from North Carolina, which has tended to be a fairly red state; we're famous (or infamous) for Jesse Helms and the like, after all. Granted, there are a lot of people out there unhappy with the current administration, and this is still a free country, so she's allowed to voice her opinion. She's just not nearly as funny when she's going the political route.

Overall, a solid B- of a book. Still has some good laughs in it. If you're looking for better work from Celia, try some of her previous books, especially "We're Just Like You, Only Prettier".