Oh my goodness. I think this is my favorite of the Butler I've read so far. I felt so invested in each story that half the time I had to resist shouti...moreOh my goodness. I think this is my favorite of the Butler I've read so far. I felt so invested in each story that half the time I had to resist shouting out because I wanted to talk to one character or another. There is a theme of learning compassion running through all of these stories that is quite humbling, and I really loved the commentary at the end of each story provided by Butler. My Kindle version also had a brief bio of Butler at the end with several pictures of her, which was fantastic. I *may* have gotten a little weepy afterwards from the book's overall power.(less)
This is everything I want from a graphic novel. It's like a cracked-out Clan Apis meets Perry Bible Fellowship meets Peter Max-style psychedelic 70s a...moreThis is everything I want from a graphic novel. It's like a cracked-out Clan Apis meets Perry Bible Fellowship meets Peter Max-style psychedelic 70s art, dark humor and existential. AMAZING.(less)
Such a beautiful and playful graphic novel! I love love LOVED Maris Wicks' illustrations and Jim Ottaviani's ability to tell three distinct but intert...moreSuch a beautiful and playful graphic novel! I love love LOVED Maris Wicks' illustrations and Jim Ottaviani's ability to tell three distinct but intertwined stories (he did a fabulous job with Feynman...I'm really going to have to read more of his work). I was obsessed with Dian Fossey in middle school, only recently learned more about Jane Goodall a few years ago (spurred by the seeming glut of awesome picture books on her life published a couple years back), and only had a vague knowledge of Birutė Galdikas, but had no idea they were all connected by Louis Leakey. That was quite a thrilling realization. I would have killed for this book when I was in grade school and middle school when I needed it most--three kick-ass, strong, independent female scientists--but I am so glad to have read it now.(less)
When I wasn't staying up til the middle of the night or waiting til the last possible moment to get ready in the morning reading it, I managed to read...moreWhen I wasn't staying up til the middle of the night or waiting til the last possible moment to get ready in the morning reading it, I managed to read part of this at work and just sighed and giggled and gasped in shock and swooned SO HARD for this book I made a fool of myself in front of my coworkers and patrons. It's made me so giddy, I've been listening to one of my fave swoony records (Brian Eno's Another Green World) on repeat again. It's made me nostalgic for how great feeling young and in love was. And I love how it's not just a totally wonderful love story, but deals with really dark issues, too. I was so caught up in the story, I TOTALLY didn't see the twist towards the end coming. This is all I can manage in the immediate wake of this book. I checked it in right away to force myself to take a breather, but I am soooooo buying a copy this weekend. WITHOUT. A. DOUBT.
Re-read 2/14/14-2/19/14 And there goes my night again...unable to sleep because this book demands I spend every possible moment with both Eleanor and Park. But despite my insomnia, it's one of the real joys about being in library school--being assigned to read books you'd read for fun anyway--so I can't complain. I had to look at this more critically, or I was supposed to, but I'm afraid it's awfully hard to do when Joy Division and U2 and Fugazi play a soundtrack to the fact that your irises have turned into hearts. I was actually afraid of reading this again because I knew it'd turn me into the gooey pulp I am this morning.(less)
I wasn't sure at first if I was going to be able to get behind this book--the prose is stylistically very like Cormac McCarthy, and the plot reads a l...moreI wasn't sure at first if I was going to be able to get behind this book--the prose is stylistically very like Cormac McCarthy, and the plot reads a lot like The Road mixed with elements of I Am Legend. My doubt only lasted about a chapter though; before long, I was quickly sucked in. While the similarities remained, it is very much its own book, and one that I prefer far more to McCarthy for introducing way more empathy and humor into such a bleak post-apocalyptic situation. To be sure, it was all I could do to put it down (and I got it from the library just in time for my trip to Denver, so there's no shortage of awesome things awaiting me outside my sister's apartment, away from this book). My heart is still racing from all the tension, the attacks, the worry for all the characters, and god dammit OF COURSE I get to the part (view spoiler)[where Jasper dies (hide spoiler)] right as it was time to get off the plane and I was doing a very poor job of trying not to be a blubbering mess in front of dozens of strangers. But as much as Heller created a dire landscape, I was continually surprised to find myself chuckling so frequently throughout the book. The prose was stunningly poetic, and Hig is just about the best protagonist ever. I love how flabbergasted he is every time he realizes that pretty much everyone he encounters is way better at this whole survival gig than he is, even though clearly it's Hig's humanity that endears fellow (cooperating) survivors to stick out their necks for him. I can't wait to put this in people's hands.
Also, I've now realized that my midlife crisis thing is going to be becoming a pilot.
***** You know, it's been a month since I read this and I can't stop thinking about it. (view spoiler)[Another thing I really love about this book is how Heller handled Hig's marriage with his wife, the details of her succumbing to the disease, and how he navigates through his feelings for Cima. While of course I've never experienced the extreme environment of The Dog Stars, I could totally relate to the heart-breaking difficulty of having to let go of someone you still love, whether by force or by choice, and that we move on in spite of resisting it. Jesus, this book is so good. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Monstrous Beauty opens by introducing the reader to the passion, alienation, and disaster of Syrenka, a mermaid to dispel any inclinations one might l...moreMonstrous Beauty opens by introducing the reader to the passion, alienation, and disaster of Syrenka, a mermaid to dispel any inclinations one might link to the Disney version of such creatures. In this world, mermaids have eyes "reminiscent of an octopus," razor-sharp wrist fins, and long tails covered in armored scales. They are beholden to Noo'kas, the witch-queen of the marine world, but Syrenka can't be content to put Noo'kas' jealous whims before her own needs. She falls in love with a young naturalist named Ezra in 1872, a relationship fraught with tragedy before they barely have a chance to be together.
In alternating chapters, we meet Hester in present day New England, a young woman who suspects the women in her lineage have a curse set upon them, dooming them to die shortly after the birth of their daughters. During this summer, she meets several mysterious characters that may provide insight on this curse and sets about on a haunting and dangerous journey to discover her connection with Syrenka.
Monstrous Beauty drew me in from the very first page, and I found it hard to put down (actually, I dropped everything I needed to do and read it in nearly a day). It is filled with such a fine balance of mystery that both allows the reader an omniscient control over the link between Syrenka and Hester and drops in new pieces of the puzzle to keep the creepiness and suspense on high straight to the end. You can tell the work that Elizabeth Fama put into researching the book--it draws so soundly upon the folklore of mermaids and the New England setting of Plymouth, MA, that it is impossible not to get caught up in the lush, atmospheric ebb and flow of coastal life. Before you can dismiss it for being "just another mermaid book," it grips you with all the gothic horror and adventure of great 19th century novels while holding its own as a modern novel. It is immediately evident that this is foremost the story of a young woman learning to take charge of her own life, fighting against the odds. Hester and Syrenka are quite different from each other and yet they share a strikingly empathetic blend of naivete and insight. Fama's characters are strong, unique, and thoroughly likeable despite all the grim and twisted events they suffer (or perpetrate). This novel makes the paranormal credible and literary again--a notion that seems to have been lost particularly in YA literature. There is a depth to it that is often absent in most other YA novels I have read, which I found invigorating, but it is characteristic better suited more for mature YA audiences and stands as excellent crossover appeal for adults. It is a bold read for adventurous readers.(less)
A former friend of mine would use the phrase "take books like medicine." It has been such a long time since I've found a book that contains so much he...moreA former friend of mine would use the phrase "take books like medicine." It has been such a long time since I've found a book that contains so much healing as this collection does. Thank you so much, Cheryl Strayed.(less)
Have you ever read a book you enjoyed so much you both wanted to devour it in one sitting and also hide it away because you never wanted it to end? Th...moreHave you ever read a book you enjoyed so much you both wanted to devour it in one sitting and also hide it away because you never wanted it to end? This was totally that book for me. Action! Adventure! Hilarity! Bad, bad guys! Computer hackers! Jinn! Just the right amount of love story! It was just about everything I wanted out of a story. I loved how Wilson incorporated folklore and traditional Islam into a story about coding. Normally, I don't care for when an author creates a story within a story--as in taking up pages and pages with another pretend author's work. It generally just gets distracting and detracts from the overall plot. Maybe it's that I tend to like Middle East folktales and Wilson mirrored them really well, but I loved the few stories she made up for the Alf Yeom. I loved all the philosophical discussions of religion, mysticism, politics, and the digital age (and how they intersect), and that they kept up with the pace of the story. I loved, loved, loved all the jinn. I loved Alif's transformation in character over the course of the book. I loved how vivid Wilson's language was--there was no point where I felt like I was outside the book just reading the words.
How did this not get nominated for an Alex Award? This is absolutely Alex material.
I generally avoid buying books for my Kindle, but I happened to snag this as a Kindle Daily Deal as I had been meaning to read it for a while. I'm so glad I did, not just because I would have gone right out and bought it after reading it, but for the extra content at the end. The Kindle version includes a short section about the five types of jinn, a remarkable essay on how Wilson actually wrote this before the Arab Spring occurred, and an interesting interview about her aims to blend and communicate the East and West aspects of her life (plus a glossary, but between having a somewhat basic working knowledge of Muslim culture and the context the words appeared in the story, I never felt I needed to skip back to it and break the flow of reading). I noticed the hardbound copy my library owns does not have any of this, which, while perhaps not crucial to the book itself, is still somewhat of a loss.
I can't wait for Wilson's next book. In the meantime, I'm going to scour her back catalog.(less)
**spoiler alert** There comes a point in every A. S. King book where you want to scream, "MAKE IT STOP!" Not because it's a terrible book, but because...more**spoiler alert** There comes a point in every A. S. King book where you want to scream, "MAKE IT STOP!" Not because it's a terrible book, but because she writes her characters so damn well that when something awful happens, it hits you right in the chest. For me during Ask the Passengers, it was when Astrid's mom, who was already hard to stomach, just wouldn't believe Astrid over anyone else in the community. But I couldn't abandon Astrid. Not when I'd come that far and found out how great a kid she is.
And she is great. This is a book all about finding oneself and, I think, makes a pretty good point that your self is always there--you just need recognize it. I was amazed from the get-go that she had the wherewithal to send love to strangers, family, friends, peers--a practice of Buddhism that she has nearly mastered if only she'd send that love to herself. I LOVE how we see how it directly impacts the passengers in the planes flying above. She is nearly always honest with herself, even if she doesn't feel comfortable enough to be honest with her loved ones, and any potential after-school special element loses steam with the sheer FIGHT of this novel.
I love how King addresses that intimidation can occur in any romantic relationship. I'm glad that Astrid acknowledges her concern about Dee's forceful advances outright and puts them in context with the notion that sex isn't the only factor in understanding one's sexual identity. Same goes for the big argument after the bust with her parents, and I like that King makes this obvious that it's a misconception people often make regardless of their orientation.
Other small notes include: -I love Frank Socrates and totally identified with Astrid's passion for her Humanities class as I experienced similar opportunities in high school. -I still can't totally wrap my head around Ellis. So she's extra sensitive and had to see a psychologist when they moved. I just couldn't understand how awful she was to Astrid when shit hit the fan and how quickly and steadfastly she aligned herself to Claire. I don't know. I'd have to have my little sister read this book and tell me if she'd done the same thing. We were near mortal enemies then, but to go that far? -CLAIRE IS A HORRIBLE PERSON. HORRIBLE, HORRIBLE, HORRIBLE. HORRIBLE. She's the epitome of every horrible person I know who lives in a big city at some point and puts on airs whenever they go anywhere remotely smaller but also tries to leech on folk-y charm. I haven't disliked a character this much in I don't know how long. She may be the worst villain I can think of, not in the way of a fault of King's writing, but in that parents never should have the green light to be that horrible to their children. And it happens all the time. I could never send her my love because she'd figure out how to turn it to poison and then slip it in my coffee. HORRIBLE. -Kristina isn't much better. I'm glad Astrid gave her hell when she did. None of her excuses were excusable because she absolutely knew what she was doing. She DID NOT have more to lose than Astrid. -The steamy bits were so great! High five, King! -And I still kinda liked the dad even though he's mostly spineless. And also I'm glad I never knew if my parents ever did any drugs while I was a teenager.
I don't know how she does it, but King writes these books that I can identify with so closely, it's scary the degree to which I could footnote how exactly it mirrors my teenage life. I'm pretty sure I'm not alone in this, which is kinda weird, but really a testament to how universal growing up is. I'm going to stop before I write something uber-sentimental and make myself gag. But ASTRID 4EVAH!!!!!!!(less)
Girlfriend needs a hug and a meal that doesn't include vodka and a Big Mac. For realz.
A.S. King, I love you.
*******************...moreGirlfriend needs a hug and a meal that doesn't include vodka and a Big Mac. For realz.
A.S. King, I love you.
Vera Dietz has spent most of her life under the radar. Once her best friend, Charlie, starts betraying her and then ends up dead, however, Vera gets pushed into the spotlight that she's tried to avoid. In her senior year of high school, she must figure out if she has the courage to clear Charlie's name even though she still hates him. She must navigate the stoic concern of her single father and the absence of her mother who never wanted a child. She must work a full-time pizza delivery job in addition to her school load in addition to battling a family history of alcoholism and in addition to getting to know a cute co-worker. And so it begins.
Vera Dietz is not a walk through the park. As an author, King does not shy away for difficult topics, of which there are scads in this book. It does maintain a razor sharp wit and intelligence throughout, though, to make the tragic events bearable. Vera is a totally personable character--perceptive, sensitive, sarcastic. Her friends, family, and foes weave a complicated web of tenderness and heartbreak, and you find yourself really rooting for Vera to overcome all the crap life has thrown her way. Along with her voice, we get occasional feedback from "the dead kid," Vera's dad (replete with flow charts to detail his points), and the tacky, observant pagoda that towers over the Pennsylvania town where this all takes place. I also really liked how King uses Vera's vocabulary homework as highlights of different characters and events. It's hard to think of many books filled with as much resonance and quirkiness, but King manages to pull it off. All in all, Please Ignore Vera Dietz is a masterfully written book, and I cannot wait to find out what lays in store for A. S. King's next endeavor.(less)
**spoiler alert** Seriously. This review has spoilers. I will give away the ending. And that would be a real shame for anyone who hasn't read it yet b...more**spoiler alert** Seriously. This review has spoilers. I will give away the ending. And that would be a real shame for anyone who hasn't read it yet but would like to.
I'll be the first to say I'm a lightweight when it comes to horror books. Since I read one maybe once a year (and that's only in recent years), it's not really my place to say where an author or book stands in the genre, but dang, I must say that this book was great. It stressed me out, but I couldn't put it down and I didn't want it to end. It reminded me of The Road meets The Grapes of Wrath meets I Am Legend, but it wholly held its own as well. I liked that the book is a right balance of contemplation and action and that the two are not mutually exclusive. Man, those discussions especially between Temple and Moses Todd. It's great when a zombie apocalypse novel can really make a genuine stretch into discussions of humanity that ask you to regard these notions in the context of your life and not just of this particular world. Of course, I couldn't help thinking of The Walking Dead comics, which I thoroughly enjoy, but dare I say got me thinking in terms of my reality.
There were a couple spots that upset me, at least initially--the mutant "inheritors" for one. For an inexplicable reason I'm super picky about sci-fi/fantasy to a point where I can accept flesh-eating cadavers, but not 10-foot-tall skeletal semi-zombies. Bell didn't give me chance, though, to dwell on that point because the story kept on moving and shit got REAL. And I am still SO MAD that Temple freakin' died at the end! What the what?! I love that girl from the bottom of my heart. And by Minnie? I can't tell yet whether that ending will work itself out for me after it's had some time to settle...whether it's ludicrous in a good way or a bad way. It appears that perhaps this is the start of a series. However, as much as Moses Todd was a great foil to Temple, I feel cheated that Temple won't be in a potential sequel. I mean, don't get me wrong, Alden Bell is a great writer and I'm going to absolutely read his next novel (apparently, yes, following Moses and Abraham), but I just wish Temple could be there for it.
I'm so glad that this book won an award--it should win more awards--though seeing as it's an Alex Award, I'm not sure how comfortable I'd be giving it to a teen considering the type of violence and sex contained here. At least a younger teen. Or the repercussions of their parents finding out that it was my doing putting it in their hands. It certainly is moving though, and I'm pretty sure I would have loved it when I was 17 as much as I do now. Do yourself a favor and read this book. It's a doozy and well worth it.(less)