Monday, July 25, 2011

The Postmistress

I'm not even half way through yet but it's really very good.  I'm reading an ARC I got years ago but getting pregnant, having a baby and not really being coordinated enough to hold an actual book and a baby kept me away.

The point ...

"She believes that if you are in the world without parents or someone who loves you, you are invisible.  That no one sees you, because no one needs to.  No one needs to watch out for you."

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Paris Wife

The Paris Wife, Paula McLain

I wrote a research paper on Ernest Hemingway sometime in high school.  I had just read the Sun Also Rises and he was one of the people on a list we could choose from and he was a great American writer and that appealed to me.

After I wrote my research paper, I never really liked him all that much.

The Paris Wife is a work of fiction focusing on Hem's early life in Chicago and Paris, with his first wife, Hadley Richardson.  The story is told from Hadley's point of view.  She was a good strong, midwesterner, and she was a level, even soul for the tumultuous, manic depressive Hemingway (manic depressive is my diagnosis).  He clung to her after, because she made him feel better and safer after his war years, and his jilting by Agnes, the nurse who healed him.

I mean seriously you could look at all his issues and just talk about how he was looking for a mother figure, and what that means about his mom, but this story is about Hadley.

Anyway.  So Hadley and Hem take off for Paris on next to nothing, live on next to nothing, and he's a reporter working on writing and they meet all sorts of fabulous people in Paris (Gertrude Stein, Scott Fitzgerald) and it's all fun and games and then Hadley gets pregnant on accident.

Things start falling off (at least in the books interpretation) right about then.  Hem was not ready to be a dad and Hadley just weeks before the baby announcement had lost his entire lifes work on a train.  These two events were near each other, and in the book Hemingway blames his loss of trust in Hadley on the loss of the work ... but I'm thinking the baby cramping his style didn't help much either.

Everyone knows Hemingway's story is not a happy one, so this book is not very cheerful.  There are pockets of happiness but after Bumby is born it's all down hill.  He had multiple wives (5) so their marriage was going to end, and it did, with Hemingway's affair with Pauline.  I don't believe that Pauline was his first affair (she certainly wasn't his last) but that's sort of what the book eludes to, at least from Hadley's perspective.

This was difficult to get through because the beginning is so very dry and not much happens as Hem is looking for friends to help him get noticed in the literary community, and as he tries to write his great novel.  After the baby is born it got more interesting for me, and I was able to finish quickly.

Hemingway is one of my favorite writers (probably because I know more about him than the others) but I say that with a caveat; he really was a terrible human being.  This book, though a work of fiction, didn't do anything to change that impression.  Worth reading.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Small Sacrifices

Small Sacrifices, Ann Rule

This is a genre really new to me, true crime.  It was written by a former detective and is about the story of Diane Downs, who in 1983 tried to kill her three children.  She succeeded in killing one, and left the other two critically injured.

This book took me too far down the rabbit hole that is Diane Downs life.  Her past is sad, her family life is sad, and the crazy things she did (who let her become a surrogate mother?!) just hurt my heart.  For the place that I'm in in my life (young new mom) this just was hard to read.  But she evidence (not that we needed any) that women can become addicted to being pregnant, and how everyone is so nice to you and treats you special when you are pregnant.


Mockingjay, Suzanne Collins

This was okay. I liked the first two much better. Peeta's role in this was so minor, and Katniss just isn't very likeable. The resolution of the triangle was believable but HORRIBLE. And seriously, it ended pretty quickly, without everyone understanding what Katniss figured out. That sort of bothered me. I guess we are left to assume that they all did learn. But ...

A very good series, but Peeta carries it in my opinion as the most likable character and his absence in this book is felt. I wish Katniss was a more moral character, but she just isn't. I think I would ahve reservations about my 7th grader reading this without my talking about it. First the whole series is VERY violent and the lead, like I said, doesn't seem very moral or really worth respecting as the leader of a rebellion.

Which brings me to what I think the author was trying to do ... I think the author was trying to say that rebels are just as evil as oppressers? Or at least just as guilty of violence, and Katniss's confusion is supposed to show how bad both sides are? And the fact that the rebels, as soon as they've "won" start implementing the same regime that was in place before, just sort of proves that to me. Even in the rebel camp, the rules there were as bad as the capitol, the leader as bad the oppressive leader they were overthrowing.

The end result of this book, what we're left with, is that human beings suck, and it's better to live on a farm alone than be with people.

Which, for the record, I completely disagree with.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Catching Fire

Catching Fire, Suzanne Collins

Peeta and Katniss have made it out of the Hunger Games, but they are in even more danger from The Capitol.  Their behavior in the arena has made them the match point in the beginnings of an uprising against the Capitol, and President Snow can't have that.  It's the 75th Anniversary of the Hunger Games, and an example needs to be made so that people know that even the strongest among them are subject to the capitol's rules.  As such, Katniss and Peeta are selected to enter the arena again, and surely they can't survive twice.

I don't think I can explain the draw here.  It's a dark and twisted premise.  Teenagers pitted against each other in combat to the death.  This time, they aren't teenagers, it's two teenagers against 22 adults, but the to the death part remains the same.

We still have love triangle crap to deal with, as in the early chapters Gale professes his love for Katniss, and Peeta is forced to propose marriage or risk the Capitol killing their families.

I'm totally on team Peeta, by the way, Gale is great but he isn't Peeta.

Katniss, great character that she is, is not very likeable.  And she's even less likeable in this book.  She wants to run away, she wants to let the Capitol win, she is all about planning to kill people that she's become friends with ... not very likeable at all.  She's comes round, as she did in the last book.

This story is compelling and awesome.  I already bought and started the third one.  Can not wait to see how this whole thing ends.  So glad I don't have to wait for it to be released like those that read these when they first came out.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins

I'm late to the party on this one.  Hunger Games takes place in North America, in a strange dystopian world were The Capitol is in control and the people of the 12 districts live in constant fear of violance from their leaders.  We are introduced to Katniss Everdeen on the morning of The Reaping, when the capitol holds a draft in each district for one girl and one boy to be enlisted to participate in The Hunger Games.  The tributes, as they are called, are age 12 - 18, and are drawn at random.  Slips of paper with the kids name on them are added for each birthday between 12 and 18, and then kids can "get" more slips dropped in the bucket for things like, oh food for their families.

Now the games themselves?  Brutal.  The winner is the last surviver.  The remaining 23 tributes are either dead based on the horrific elements that the gamemakers subject them to, or at the hands of one of the other tributes.

And this is young adult fiction.  I would not let anyone under the age of 16 read this book, and it's recommended for 7th graders.  Not my 7th grader.  Death is very real and the book is brutal and bloody and vicious.  I don't know how the movie (which is coming out in 2012) is going to get a PG-13 rating with some of the subject matter.

That being said ... I loved this book.  It's fascinating in it's brutality.  Though one of the commentors on Amazon nailed it on the head ... this situation would not happen.  As no parent would ever send their child to die so willingly, without a fight.    I know I wouldn't.  And our lead, Katniss, has a salient point in that she will not have children because she will not subject them to the games.

I am positive that other people would have the same thought, and thus the population would quickly dwindle.

But it's fiction, you suspend reality a bit.  And it's YA fiction (sort of) and kids always think they know more than their parents, so it feeds into that.

Katniss is a great character.  She's smart and caring but she's hardened by the life she's been forced to live and her callousness feels very real to me.  I understand it.  She does not give Peeta (the other lead, the male tribute from her district) enough credit for intelligence and that bugs me, and her treatment of him bothered me a lot.  I could not understand why she wouldn't admit that she cared about him as a person, even if she didn't care about him romantically.

It felt immature to me (it's supposed to, I know) that she couldn't figure out how she felt about her hunting partner back home (Gale) and how that related to Peeta.  To me they were two different people that held different roles in her life.  But, we all know how all YA books have to have a love triangle.

Wait ... why is this again?

For once I would like to read just ONE YA book that didn't involve a girl lead who is blindly adored by two boys.  Seriously.  Please?

Also - for those of you that are wondering.  I read so much YA because 1 - I like to know what the kids are reading and 2 - I live in an area that is very kid friendly, and as such our public library gets all the latest teen fiction, but not all the new adult fiction.  Who knew.  And most of what's available on the digital collection (my favorite thing ever) that is current, is young adult.

Monday, April 11, 2011


Spells, Aprilynne Pike

The sequal to Wings starts 6 months after we left Laurel and David and Tam.  Laurel has been summoned to Avalon for faerie training for the summer, and she goes.  She sees Tam a lot during this time, and David not at all.

Insert appropriate love triangle conversations / events here.

After her summer in Avalon, Laurel goes home and starts her normal school year with David.  She has been given new warnings about staying away from trolls, who are out for revenge after they were out manuevered for the property in the last book.  She ignores this, of course, gets in trouble, has to be saved, and then gets in trouble again, and is saved again.

All leaving room for the final installment that's due out in the fall.

This was as good as Wings.  The relationships are better than in some other YA.  But again, I grow tired of love triangles and young girl characters that everyone just seems to fall all over because they are oh so beautiful.  The foundation, I think, has been laid for Laurel to end up with Tam and David to end up with their friend who's name escapes me.  But, who knows.

If the third one is at the library I'll read it.  There is more sexuality in this book.  So not for tweens, in my mind.