Saturday, April 23, 2011
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
4.5 Stars of Brilliance
This book could've gone so wrong.
Let's look at the teen melodrama checklist:
- Alcoholic father - Check
- Absentee mother - Check
- Dead friend - Check
- Unpopularity - Check
- Drinking Problem - Check
- Wife beating neighbor - Check
Doesn't that sound a little bit like a Lifetime original movie? Or an ABC family TV show (only nobody is pregnant)? But this book is smart. Really really smart. It's not an "issue" book, but a story of a girl who happens to have some issues. That's a huge difference.
Vera Dietz is in high school, has a full time job (due to her father's messed up views about responsibility), her father is a recovering alcoholic, her mom left when she was 12, and her best friend Charlie just died.
Only she kind of hates Charlie. Not just for dying, but for treating her like complete crap leading up to his death. Add on top of that everybody thinks he did something really really bad and only Vera knows that he didn't. Talk about a complication emotional mess.
The book tells the story from four POV. It's mostly Vera, but we get interruptions from Vera's Dad (with lots of funny flowcharts and a honest parental perspective that isn't preachy or obnoxious), the dead kid (Charlie) and the Pagoda--a building near Vera's house where people hike and teens act stupid.
These four perspective really add the layers to this story. If we only heard Vera's perspective we might never understand Charlie and understanding him is essential to understanding the story. This book is both funny and heartbreaking. It's poignant without preaching, and completely right where it could've gone wrong.
Sunday, April 10, 2011
At first I thought "You Grow Girl" was going to be a disappointment. The introduction seemed to be very specific towards urban gardening. I'd read the summary and the reviews online and while it talked a lot about "small space" gardening it never suggested the book was solely for the urbanites. There's even one point during the introduction that suburbanites seem to be all wealthy white women with too much time and money.
That's not me. I live in my parents garage because I can't afford a place where both me and my dog can live (and living without my dog is not an option. When you make a commitment to an animal its for life. End of story).
But the problem with the book seems to lie solely in the introduction (which FYI editors & writers you don't want to exclude a whole population with your introduction if your book isn't quite so slanted).
I've been wanting to review the book for a few months. The problem is everybody wanted to borrow it. Everyone who has looked at the book likes different things about it. Different projects have jumped out at them. The easy projects are one of the best parts about this book. They're practical, inexpensive and well explained.
Another thing I like about this book is that organic is not a huge scary word. I don't feel like I have to make a political commitment or life commitment to "organic." In fact my garden is not going to be 100% organic BUT I feel like I can go mostly organic and that's A-okay. I'm trying to cut out the miracle grow (manure here I come!) and I'm going to try some non-chemical pesticide options. But the soil I buy is not Certified Organic (it's Hyponex Topsoil which I've used for years and trust) and I just buy whatever seeds/plants suit my fancy. The book did not evangelize organic--at least not in an off-putting way--it just gave me my options.
Probably the best thing about this book is that it's made me willing to try new things. I've
started seeds indoor this year (we'll see how that goes). I bought *gasp* organic seed starter rather than miracle grow. I used manure in my garden for the first time. My tomato plants are going to be heirloom because now I know what heirloom is. Overall t
he book has just broadened my gardening horizons without being fussy or pretentious.
It's got nice crafty projects without becoming a craft book. The pictures and illustrations are superb. It's a good gardening book for the beginner or dabbler.
Some of my adventures in gardening this year!
The garden I've terraced into a clay hillside (with makeshift gate)
My indoor seedling babies
Saturday, April 9, 2011
2 - A book you've read more than 3 times:
quartet. It's my happy place series.
3 - Your favourite series: Gosh which day are we talking? Harry Potter is the classic answer.
4 - A guilty pleasure book: Soulless (okay I’m not that guilty, but I blush when I read this book. It makes me feel like such a girl!)
5 - A book that made you laugh: You had me at magical donut.
6 - A book that made you cry: Harry Potter, the last 3, incessantly. (On a siden-ote Roswell the TV show made me cry today. And I am not a crier!)\
7 - Most underrated book: Garth Nix Sabriel series
8 - Most overrated book: Sorry to the fans. But it asked me!
9 - A book you thought you wouldn’t like but ended up loving: Thought it would be too girly.
10 - Favorite classic book:
11 - A book you hated: Moby Freaking Dick KILL THE WHALE AHHHHHHHHHHHH
12 - A book you used to love but don’t anymore: Lurlene McDaniels—All the depressing dying books What was wrong with young me??
13 - Your favorite author: Melina Marchetta
14 - Favorite male character: So many men. So little time. Going with an oldie but goodie. George from the Alanna seris. (Though Peeta & the yummy bread gave him a run for his money, as did Lord Maccon in a kilt)
15 - Favorite female character: October Daye
16 - Your biggest fictional crush: Peeta
17 - A good quick read: Princess for Hire (so cute)
18 - A book that disappointed you: The Replacements
19 - Favorite book-to-movie conversion: Later Harry Potter books
20 - Favorite romance: Soulless Alexia & Lord Maccon YUMMY
21 - Favorite book from your childhood: Snug the Bug (it was a reversible book)
22 - A book you can't wait for: Hex Hall 3 SQUEEEL
23 - A book you've been meaning to read for ages: (So yes I misread this question as WAITING not meaning. I'm waiting for the next Ahborsen book from Garth Nix)
24 - A book that you wish more people would read:
25 - Character you are most similar to: Is there a character who has no social life, reads books, gardens and knits? Seriously I’m really dull. Can I say Sophie just because I want to kiss on Archer? Not that it would happen in real life. Maybe I’ll be Madge who does nothing interesting but be nice and then dies. Because that’s my kind of luck. Actually she may do something halfway interesting, but not interesting enough that I remember it near midnight.
26 - A book that changed your opinion about something: A Walk in the Woods by Billy Bryson (Maybe not so much change my opinions but educate me on some subjects)
27 - Most surprising plot twist or ending: I’m saying Harry Potter or Demonglass (because honestly I suck at remembering tonight)
28 - Favorite book title: (Haven't even read this. Next on my to read pile)
29 - A book everyone hated but you liked: (someone else said this yay)
30 - Your favorite book OF ALL TIME:
Gosh not much pressure there. At the moment I would say Jellicoe Road. But let’s say Ender’s Game too for goo measure.
I repeated a LOT of books in there. Kinda odd really. It's late I'm not going to worry that I'm boring because I probably am.
Tuesday, April 5, 2011
I'm fed up with you right now. I hate all your drama queen freak-outs over the Hunger Game casting news. Why? Because its completely idiotic and unnecessary. Do you really want to live in a world where people are given jobs based solely on physical appearance? Do you realize that's what you're asking for?
Yes the characters had physical features in the books. Katniss had dark hair and olive skin (but let's get this clear: she was still WHITE PEOPLE). Peeta had blonde hair. Gale dark hair.
WHY DOES THIS MATTER?
Take a second and think about that. Why do their looks matter? Is there a critical plot point that hinges on Katniss hiding behind her dark locks? Is Peeta's blonde hair the reason he's selected for the Hunger Games? Well no…
WHY DOES THIS MATTER?
Truth be told it doesn't actually matter to the story. Katniss is not oppressed for her olive skin and Peeta is not considered a god for golden-locks. The characters have appearance because people have appearances, but its not significant to the story.
Nobody will ever be book-Peeta. In fact nobody imagines the same book-Peeta. I've heard two different people say they imagined Peeta with dark hair despite the descriptions. Why? Because that's what they're attracted to. What matters about Peeta is his heart. His sweetness and innocence even in the darkest circumstances. I want someone who can act, someone who can pull off Peeta in all his cheese-ball glory (and make it authentic!).
Yes Peeta is hot. But if that's all you saw and all that matters to you then you need to re-read the book. Or don't because you're just too shallow to appreciate Hunger Games.
So internet. Please drop the melodrama. Please quit claiming "if so and so isn't cast I'm not seeing the movie." It's unnecessary and makes us all look stupid. I spend too much of my time defending YA and it's depth to other grown-ups. What YA doesn't need is ship wars and people melting down over appearance. Hunger Games isn't that shallow. We shouldn't be either.