Thursday, July 2, 2015

Book Review: "As I Lay Dying" by William Faulkner

Anse Bundren made promises to his wife, Addie and he intends to keep those promises.  Especially the one about bringing her back to Jefferson to be buried with her people when she dies.  And so, Addie does finally pass away, and it is up to Anse and his sons (Cash, Darl, Jewel, and Vardaman) and his daughter Dewey Dell to do just that.  It just isn't as easy as it sounds.

This story is told in alternating points of view.  We hear the most from Darl, but all the Bundren's (including Addie) get a chance to share their perspective, as well as some of their neighbors and the folks they come across in their journey.

The narration is fully stream-of-consciousness, which definitely gives me pause (thank you Mrs. Dalloway) and I know that I don't have an easy time with it.  To add to my experience, not all (any?) of these narrators could be considered reliable.  They all have an angle that they are working, and some of them might even be a little crazy....  it isn't easy to tell the difference.  Normally I love unreliable narrators, but there is usually some sort of truth there to hang on to in comparison.  In this case, it is completely up to the reader to figure out what is really actually happening here.  And the actual series of events in bringing Addie's coffin by wagon from their country home to Jefferson - it is just disaster after disaster in kind of an amazing way.

This was certainly an experience as my first Faulkner.  I think I'm going to hang on to my copy for a future re-read.  This is definitely one that needs to be read more than once.  I'm kind of curious to see how the recent movie adaptation handled this text, and the way the narrators switch and retell the some of the same scenes from new perspectives and biases.

*****
As I Lay Dying
by William Faulkner
Vintage, 1990.  First published 1930.
267 pages
Source:  Purchased Used.
*****

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Monday, June 29, 2015

Book Review: "Nowhere But Here" by Katie McGarry

Emily doesn't really know her biological father.  Eli has only recently re-entered her life with once a year visits...  oh, and he's pretty high up in a biker club.  For the first time ever, she's going to be meeting up with him on his ground...  and unforeseen circumstances make it a much longer visit than she had anticipated.  Oz wants nothing more than to become a brother in the Reign of Terror, the biker club he's grown up in.  He is ready to become a prospect.   But first, he's been put in charge of protecting Eli's long-lost daughter as the club is having issues with a rival biker gang.   Where the Reign of Terror is an above-board nothing-illegal club, this other gang is not - and Eli doesn't want Emily caught in the middle.  In the meantime, Oz and Emily are spending a lot of time together.....

 So I'm not one to jump for books about bikers, but I do love Katie McGarry's writing and she definitely knows how to spin a love story between complete opposites.  Therefore, I went for it.  At first, I was wary because by like page 50 I could see pretty much exactly how this was going to happen.  And while I was pretty much dead-on, I still got wrapped up in it all.  The community and family relations among the members of the bike club was not what I expected, and I enjoyed getting this little glimpse into that world as McGarry recreated it.

I liked Oz and Emily together. Sure, there are some pretty steamy scenes but I also appreciated the way they worked together to tear down preconceived notions they held about each other and stepped outside themselves to see new possibilities.  This is the first book in a new series that will be built around the brotherhood of the Reign of Terror.  I don't know that I'll be jumping on the next book when it's released in March 2016, but I will probably still read on at some point.  They're just too much fun not to.

*****
Nowhere But Here
by Katie McGarry
Harlequin Teen, 2015
496 pages
Series:  Thunder Road #1
Source:  Library
*****

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Saturday, June 27, 2015

Book Review: "Say What You Will" by Cammie McGovern

It is senior year and Amy has never had any friends; Matthew used to have friends, but not any more.  Amy was born with Cerebral Palsy and uses a computer-like device to talk and a walker to get around.  Matthew worries too much, and listens to the voice in his head that tells him to keep checking something or count other things and these routines will make everything better.  Matthew is one of the students chosen to be Amy's peer helper for senior year.  They really get to know each other and their particular quirks help them be brutally honest with each other.  As the cover says, "They told each other everything except what matters most" and that could make or break their friendship.

These characters really stand out for me.  Every so often, you may come across a YA book that has one character coping with a disability, but not both of the main characters.  This really gave some insight into living with CP or OCD.  I went to elementary school with a girl who had CP and was far more limited physically than Amy, and I thought of her a lot while reading this.  As for Matthew- all I could think about was how casually someone might joke around about "being a little OCD about (insert something very trivial)" and not have a clue about how debilitating OCD is for the sufferer.  While it was nice to see these characters help each other in their particular situations, I don't know that I would recommend the way in which one of them went about doing so....  I feel like some things are better left to professionals and reading about it in a book doesn't exactly make one an expert.

As for the story itself - it is for the most part real to me.  I can see their relationship growing ever so slowly, within and around their set of circumstances.  One hang up I had has to do with the game-changing event.  It felt a little cliche and it made me question some timelines which I hate to do.  The way the characters reacted afterward was a little off-putting too.  I think this is good for teens who are curious about those with disabilities, who may enjoy a shy love story and/or friendship story (as there are a lot of different friendships in this book).

*****
Say What You Will
by Cammie McGovern
HarperTeen, 2014
343 pages
Source:  Library
*****

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Thursday, June 25, 2015

Book Review: "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian" by Sherman Alexie

This is Arnold "Junior" Spirit's story of his particular life.  This is about growing up poor on the reservation, how he is taught not to want anything better for himself, how to give up on big dreams...  it's pretty depressing because Junior is smart.  Sure, he gets beat up a lot but he likes learning, he likes to read, and he likes to draw cartoons to help himself understand and connect with the world.  One teacher sees the potential in Junior, and suggests something crazy - that Junior go to a high school off the reservation.  This is something that Junior could never take back - he is seen as a traitor to his tribesmen, a compete outcast by his new white classmates.  Junior starts to go by Arnold, and feels like he's losing part of his Indian-ness...  and what is he becoming?  What does this mean to him, for him?

This is one of those YA novels that is destined to be a classic and just something everyone should read.  It confronts racism and cultural identity head on, while also demonstrating the far-reaching affect of alcoholism within a family - and a tribal community.

I love the conversational tone of the writing.  It kind of feels like Junior is just sitting with you and telling his story.  Some of the lines are so casual at first glance, but speak to deeper meaning and understanding.  Also, the illustrations are just wonderful.  They may not have been completely necessary, but they do help the reader connect to Junior a bit more.  Honestly, I loved it all!

*****
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
by Sherman Alexie
Little, Brown and Company, 2007
230 pages
 Source:  Library
*****

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Monday, June 22, 2015

Book Review: "Station Eleven" by Emily St. John Mandel

Where do I begin?  Station Eleven is a novel that tells a story that spans years - first, a contemporary period of time in which a sudden flu pandemic kills 99% of the Earth's population in a matter of days.  Second, twenty years in the future, where those that have survived are remembering the old world, have adapted to the new world and have long ago stopped hoping for a future. Just before the flu hits worldwide, though, an aging but famous actor has fallen dead of a heart attack while onstage in Toronto.  This actor is where everything begins, even long before he set foot on that stage.

This book is amazing.  I just have to say that first and foremost.  The way the story comes together is brilliant.  I will say that it took me a little bit to fall into the story, but once I was hooked - you couldn't stop me.  The way this entire post-apocalyptic world was created really got into my head.  I had dreams/nightmares in which I lived through the flu outbreak and the ensuing chaos.  The loss.... so much loss....  it is truly heartbreaking.  It works at your soul.

This is really up there with The Road by Cormac McCarthy for me, though I am somehow leaving this book a little more uplifted than I did with his.  This is just a beautifully intricate and darkly moving novel that I am sure to recommend to many at the library.

But I seriously need a happy book now.

*****
Station Eleven
by Emily St. John Mandel
Knopf, 2014
333 pages
Source:  Library
*****

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Saturday, June 20, 2015

June is LGBTQ Book Month

ALA has designated June as GLBT Book Month to celebrate "the authors and writings that reflect the lives and experiences of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community".  

The GLBT Round Table of ALA has also come up with the Over The Rainbow Booklist which highlight GLBT books.

I thought that I might share with you a short list of LGBT books that I found intriguing, thoughtful, enjoyable or that I just wanted to share with you again.

Sweet Tooth by Tim Anderson - a great memoir about growing up in North Carolina in the late 80s/early 90s while gay and diabetic.


The Absolutist by John Boyne - an incredibly emotional story about a World War I soldier and the complete truth of what happened between him and another soldier.  I bawled my eyes out.


Beautiful Music For Ugly Children by Kirsten Cronn-Mills - who doesn't love a character you can really root for?  That is Gabe a transgender high school student who was born female.  This is his story as he comes out of the closet and starts living as his true gender identity.


If You Could Be Mine by Sara Farizan - a love story between two girls in Iran, where homosexuality is strictly forbidden by the government.  


Openly Straight by Bill Konigsburg - a different story in which the main character is out and fully supported by family and friends, but decides to change schools and go back into the closet in an effort to lose the "gay kid" label.


So, yes, this is a pretty short list.  I could have included others, but my mind went straight to these - so there you have it.  Please let me know of any titles that I may have missed and you recommend!


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Thursday, June 18, 2015

My 1,000th Post


This is my 1,000th post!  It is kind of a strange milestone I guess...  I mean I have been doing this for over 5 years, but I'm not as prolific a poster as others - as in, I don't really post every single day or anything.  In fact, the entire time I was in grad school, I was proud to keep up with a two-posts-a-week schedule.  So to get to 1,000 posts is kind of a big deal for me.  It always seemed so far away!

But here it is.  And now what?  This little moment of self-indulgence is pretty much over (thank you for granting me this), and now it is time to look forward.  What will my next 1,000 posts look like?  Will I even post 1,000 more times here?

At this point, I have no intention of stopping, though I may change it up a little bit.  While in grad school, I really just posted reviews as that was really all I had time for.  So I'd like to mix in a few more "personal" posts, or at least non-review-type of posts.  Maybe I'll start doing Top Ten Tuesday again - I always did like that, or create my own booklists for whatever reasons.  Maybe I can talk a little about what I'm doing or seeing in the library.  I can tell you that I do post every so often on my library's blog (nevinsbuzz.wordpress.com) which has been really a lot of fun.  So I guess that's where I'm at now...  I've hit this milestone, (yay!) and now it's on to the next!

Thanks for sticking this out with me!
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Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Books on my Summer TBR List

Guys, it has been forever since I've done a Top Ten Tuesday list!  I've missed it!  It is a great meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, and this week we're asked to name our Top Ten Books on our Summer TBR List.  As you may know, I am involved in a lot of reading challenges - so I'd like to make some headway on those this summer.  I'm also in the #20BooksofSummer challenge - so hopefully these ten books will help me finish that challenge!

In no particular order:

1.  A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin:  The season 5 finale of the HBO show was so incredibly fantastic that I'm eager to get back into the books again.  I'm a little behind, but that's okay.  That just means that some of my favorite characters (to love or hate) are still alive.

2.  Jesse's Girl by Miranda Kenneally:  I am just so in love with this series - I can't wait for this next release!

3.  Tell the Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brunt:  This is a book club book for work - I have to read it by September.  Since this book was one of my suggestions, I'm really okay with that.  And how awesome is it that a book club is part of my work??!!  I love my job.

4.  The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler:  It has been awhile since I've read Ockler, and this new one looks promising.

5.  I Take You by Eliza Kennedy:   This showed up for me at work the other day, and I don't really know (or remember) how or why that happened.  But it looks like a fun beachy read for summer.

6.  The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams:  Because, why not?

7.  Glass by Ellen Hopkins:  This is on my TBR List challenge and I have no idea why I haven't read it yet.  I adore Ellen Hopkins and the way she writes and how twisted up she makes me feel.

8.  The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz:  This has also been on my TBR List for the longest time.  I need to finally read it.

9.  My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick:  This has been on my radar for a while now, and so I just bought it.  (I work in a library, why do I still buy books??  Because I love them.)  The companion/sequel is coming out soon and I figure I better read this one first!

10.  The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things by Ann Aguirre:  I have no idea why this one is pulling me toward it...  but it is, and I've had it checked out of the library for a bit now - time to get on it!


I feel good with this plan - a good mix of heavy and light!  Also, I think my TBR bookcase will look better if I can move all of these books to my "Read" bookcase!  (as in, the shelves won't be so saggy under the weight of these books!)
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Monday, June 15, 2015

Graphic Novel Review: "Nimona" by Noelle Stevenson

Young Nimona convinces Lord Ballister Blackheart that she is the sidekick he needs to fulfill his evil plans against the Institution for Law Enforcement and Heroics.  He is, after all, trying to take them and their hero Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin down for the past injustices he has suffered at their hand.  Nimona brings a little something special to the table too - she is a shapeshifter who loves being on the villainous side of things and doesn't mind a little killing to reach her goals.  However, she also has a mysterious past (not to mention the circumstances surrounding her shapehifting ability) that Blackheart didn't quite expect and definitely doesn't understand.  It is up to Blackheart and Goldenloin to bring everything back under control.  When that happens, though - who wins and who loses?  Who's the good guy and who's the bad?  And what happens to Nimona?

I love Stevenson's Lumberjanes comic and had heard great things about this one - so I had to grab it as soon as I could!  So glad I did - it is fantastic!  Nimona is introduced as a little spitfire, and grows into her true motivations.  I loved the relationship that she had with Blackheart too.  Actually, I loved the relationships between all of the characters because really, even if they are arch-nemeses, there still is a relationship there.  Its a fun little world here that Stevenson has created, and not without huge battles - with dragons even - and a little bank robbery and such.  I also love the subtle humor which flows throughout!  If there is anything that irked me in even the slightest, it was just that the dialogue text got smaller and a bit harder to read as the book went on.  So, yeah, the only trouble spot for me is pretty superficial.  The art is fantastic!  I love her style so much!

Basically, I just loved this book.  Loved.

*****
Nimona
by Noelle Stevenson
HarperTeen, 2015
266 pages
Source:  Library
*****

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