I always love literature that ties in with fairy tales. These poems use familiar stories as a jumping place to criticize how our culture views women,I always love literature that ties in with fairy tales. These poems use familiar stories as a jumping place to criticize how our culture views women, especially women's bodies. A lot of the poems references anorexia. I would not recommend this to young teens because of some of the topics. I wouldn't have related to many of the poems in this book as a teen - they're too angry and angst-y and interested in sex - but several of them I did find very powerful. One that made me laugh was "Big Bad Spa Treatment," while "Gingerbread" was very moving. "Nature Lesson" was incredibly applicable to my own experience in social circles where girls were sometimes expected to go swimming in a t-shirt and culottes in order to stay suitably covered so as not to cause men to lust. "The Little Mermaid" was chilling and sad about how far some women deny themselves in order to have a guy. I found the symbolism of "The Wicked Queen's Legacy" powerful, with every mirror whispering a message of condemnation.
This haiku made me smile: Art History Lesson [i]Rubenesque[/i]: the word for masterpiece curves. Screw you, unsalted rice cakes.
And I loved what she had to say in an author's note at the end of the book: "The girl sitting quietly in class or waiting for the bus or roaming the mall doesn't want anyone to know, or doesn't know how to tell anyone, that she is locked in a tower. Maybe she's a prisoner of a story she's heard all her life -- that fairest means best, or that bruises prove she is worthy of love. But here's a great thing about stories: they can be retold . . . The more I explored the darkness, the more I realized that the forest only looks impenetrable. My advice? Retell your own stories. Keep pushing your way through the trees, and I promise that, eventually, you will come to a clearing. And then you can dance."
Kept me fascinated, interested in the characters as we swung back and forth between today's world and fifteen years ago. I didn't know what kind of stKept me fascinated, interested in the characters as we swung back and forth between today's world and fifteen years ago. I didn't know what kind of story I was reading: a realistic thriller or a fantasy novel. Just when the author had me convinced that the supernatural world was real (in the book), she'd offer an earth-bound explanation and make me think that the world of faerie was nothing but an invention of superstitious or manipulative minds. The story was both poignant and creepy and a really enjoyable way to while away an evening or two. (Warning: objectionable elements and language.) ...more
I was afraid, when I first heard of this book, that it would glamorize and encourage teen suicide. Now that I've read it, I'm nJust a couple thoughts:
I was afraid, when I first heard of this book, that it would glamorize and encourage teen suicide. Now that I've read it, I'm not sure that it wouldn't.
I like the messages of the book: that our actions can deeply impact others in ways we never intended and that we all should care more for each other. But I also didn't like how passive Hannah was. She didn't open up to people, she pushed people away, and then she blamed them for not seeing past her façade. The thing is, how can we expect people to treat us with dignity if at the same time we're telling them to ignore what we're saying? At one point she tells Clay to go away, two or three times, but then sulks because he DOES. That's not really fair. And while many people bullied and used her, I disliked how the book is basically saying, "YOU people MADE me kill myself." No one was holding a gun to her head or holding her hostage. They were cruel and evil to her, sure, but SHE made the choice.
It was a little confusing reading the two different POVs presented in alternate paragraphs. Your mind is hearing one voice and you have to switch to another person's perspective which gets tiring, even though the italics clue you in as to who is speaking.
(Caution: there are some curse words and some sexual situations in this book.)
I wanted to like this book: the illustrations, setting, and theme all appealed to me. However, the climax of the story is utterly unrealistic which stI wanted to like this book: the illustrations, setting, and theme all appealed to me. However, the climax of the story is utterly unrealistic which stood out glaringly in a book that was attempting to be realistic, showing real-life, historic struggles of the time period.
The main character looks like a Pilgrim or Puritan girl (dressed not in the black and white clothes those of us over forty years old were taught that Pilgrims wore but in the more historically accurate clothes that you can see today worn by the reneactors at Plimouth Plantation.) Her name is Grace and her brother's is Isaiah. Her parents tell her to trust God and she reads her Bible. Yet, when the community sits down to a feast, no one remembers to thank God and are all about to start eating. In this devout community, only young Grace thinks to thank God? Certainly, there were early colonists who were NOT Puritans and NOT devout, but Grace's family is portrayed as Bible believers so it is completely unbelievable and unsatisfying when not one adult thanks God for their food before starting to eat. The book ends with the whole family deciding to pray before meals and calling it "saying grace" because the little girl Grace started the practice. Writing a completely made-up etymology of a commonly-used expression like "saying grace" is especially annoying to me when it's set in a book that appears to be historic fiction.
So despite the lesson of being thankful and the lovely illustrations, I am not keeping this on my shelves. ...more
I've been reading my way through the series and am mixed in my reactions. At times I find the plot very slow. I also really struggle with keeping tracI've been reading my way through the series and am mixed in my reactions. At times I find the plot very slow. I also really struggle with keeping track of the people; I wish she had a list of characters at the front of the book just to help me remember who is who in some of the large families Monk investigates. I'll still keep reading them though because of Monk, Hester, and Rathbone. ...more
I grew up listening to Prairie Home Companion on the radio on Saturday nights, and I loved the Lake Woebegone stories. This book has familiar names buI grew up listening to Prairie Home Companion on the radio on Saturday nights, and I loved the Lake Woebegone stories. This book has familiar names but lacks the homespun insight and gentle humor I expected. He was convincing in describing Clint's situation -- I believed in the quiet desperation he was experiencing -- but the way it played out in the story left me cold. Disappointed....more
I was so excited to find this book! Each page has the letter followed by "is for ___" with the appropriate word. Most of the page is made up of the ilI was so excited to find this book! Each page has the letter followed by "is for ___" with the appropriate word. Most of the page is made up of the illustrations, and that it the appeal of the book: each illustration is from a children's book illustrator of the 1800 or early 1900's. Truly delightful....more
I was originally attracted to the illustrations, but I found the book to be not particularly compelling at all. Also the illustrations that I first liI was originally attracted to the illustrations, but I found the book to be not particularly compelling at all. Also the illustrations that I first liked have weird inconsistencies in them: two cats in one picture look starved instead of cuddly and two men after a battle look as pristine as if they've been posed. ...more
The pacing is slow, but that seems to reflect the clue-gathering of Monk and Hester, which primarily consisted of painstakingly questioning and requesThe pacing is slow, but that seems to reflect the clue-gathering of Monk and Hester, which primarily consisted of painstakingly questioning and requestioning people. At times, I grew frustrated that no one picked up on certain things like questioning Damaris pn WHY she was so upset that night or even that she might not have considered it extremely coincidental that the murder happened the very night she discovered something horrible. I did figure out the motive long before it was revealed by the author, but I didn't know the identity of the other criminals and the final courtroom scene was riveting.
There were some wonderful quotes in this book too:
"When we are happy to turn from evil because it is ugly, and causes us distress, then we condone it and become party to its continuance. Little by little, we become as guilty of it as those who commit the act - because we have told them by our silence that it is acceptable."
"She does not understand virtue as a positive thing - generosity, patience, courage, kindness -- only as the freedom from taint."
This story of survival was gripping. The dialogue, however, came across as unrealistic; in real life, people don't always have these deep, meaningfulThis story of survival was gripping. The dialogue, however, came across as unrealistic; in real life, people don't always have these deep, meaningful verbal exchanges. Life is more mundane. (Also the situation was a little TOO cushy - one character owns an ocean-front home; the other was planning a honeymoon in Europe!) I felt that the author was trying a bit TOO hard to be a touching book; some of the thematic elements seem forced. I also figured out the ending before it was revealed. Still, though, I did appreciate the point being made and the survival part was fascinating....more
Still reading, but wanted to jot down these quotes:
"Words bring one nearer to the past than pictures ever can. Images emphasize the farness of that oStill reading, but wanted to jot down these quotes:
"Words bring one nearer to the past than pictures ever can. Images emphasize the farness of that other country, make it seem more outlandish than it really was, a silent film where troops march jerkily to battle and die like puppets. But words show it to you through the eyes of its inhabitants, make you wait in a sodden dawn for the shout to go over the top."
"Memories do not decay at a uniform atomic rate. Happiness has the shortest half-life, a quick fade to oblivion or nostalgia. But shame, guilt, anger, remorse: these are heavier isotopes, remaining toxic for a lifetime, even generations."
I like the writer's voice. Story after story are unfolded bit by bit: the narrator's imprisonment, the narrator's unknown daughter, the narrator's father's experience in Korea, Henderson's past, and Henderson's EARLY past on the Bacchante. I am interested to see how they turn out....more
Pretty interesting YA read. Didn't know when I started it that it was the first in a series though. Not crazy about the stuff about the Yara. Juneau sPretty interesting YA read. Didn't know when I started it that it was the first in a series though. Not crazy about the stuff about the Yara. Juneau said her mentor had picked this up from eastern religions like Buddhism. Things like throwing bones to predict the future is forbidden in Scripture. (Some language)...more
The copy of this book that I picked up at the library did not say it was the first of a series so disappointingly the book doesn't end with any resoluThe copy of this book that I picked up at the library did not say it was the first of a series so disappointingly the book doesn't end with any resolution, just leaves everything hanging which is disappointing.
Teen readers would probably like the dramatic setting - space stations above a devastated, radioactive earth, as well as the characters. Perspectives shift from chapter to chapter so readers get many different POVs. The situations in which the characters find themselves are gripping and often heart-rending, but no one is a white knight. Everyone has made choices that have had devastating results.
Like most science fiction, this book speaks to issues of government, use of resources, class structure, etc.
Cautions: curse words are far from pervasive but they do show up occasionally. Some characters are involved in sexual activity though this is not described in great detail. One character faces a horrific ethical situation [spoiler] of giving a fellow teen a killing dose of medicine to put her out of her misery [/spoiler].